The Song of Sword and Magic - Chapter 2
Chapter 2 Setting off
[Translator — Asuka]
[Proofreader — Karane]
When the sun was starting to rise from the horizon the next morning, Fern stepped into the tavern. The fire was crackling in the fireplace. A waiter was cleaning the floor, and some alcoholics were resting their heads on a table. Meanwhile, Rodd was already waiting for him by the table nearest to the entrance.
“How are you feeling, my friend?” Rodd asked joyfully.
“Great. After we left your place last night, we went to buy some supplies that were needed for the journey.” Fern untied his sword and took a seat. “The young lady was pretty generous as she only bought the finest stuff.”
“She must be from a rich family.” Rodd shrugged his shoulders. “Why has she even decided to learn sorcery? Of course, they call it magic. I’m not sure what her parents are like, but I swear to the God of War that if I had such an adorable daughter, I would never let her learn magic.”
Fern wondered why Rodd would swear to the God of War as the owner of a tavern, but he still asked, “Do you know what her surname is?” Despite knowing that Rodd might not know more than he did, he still couldn’t help asking him about it. “I even think that Niss is just her nickname. Or, it could also be a fake name.”
Rodd pressed his lips together. “I know that you’re going to spend a long time with her on the journey, but since she isn’t willing to tell us, we shouldn’t ask her about it.”
“Of course you don’t care about it, because you’re not the one going with her.” Fern shook his head helplessly. “Moreover, I still don’t understand why I would accept this task in the first place.”
Rodd looked at him to motion for him to continue speaking.
“Maybe it’s the allure of a thousand gold coins. Maybe it’s the uncertainty of the journey that has ignited my desire for adventure. I don’t know, but I have never accepted a task without finding out all the details first, not to mention that I don’t even know her surname.”
“Listen to me, Fern. You can see it as your destiny.” In a mysterious way, Rodd picked up a sword, which was covered in a piece of expensive flannel, from the chair and held it out at Fern before he pulled away the flannel so that Fern could see the sheath and the hilt clearly.
Other than the sapphire which was engraved with an emblem on it that was embedded at the end of the hilt, this was a rather ordinary-looking sword. The sheath and the hilt appeared to be seamless. This sword was shorter and thinner than Fern’s weapon, but it was a nice-looking sword that tempted Fern to grab it in his hand.
Unable to recognize the emblem, Fern looked at Rodd in puzzlement. “Is this the best sword in Deville that you mentioned earlier?”
“Yes.” Rodd gazed at the sword in a cherishable manner. “It’s the best.” After he finished talking, his expression turned serious.
In that instant, Fern saw a rare sense of determination on Rodd’s face, but Rodd soon put on his usual warm smile.
All of a sudden, Fern was curious about Rodd’s past. Judging from his figure and appearance, he didn’t look like a typical owner of a tavern. Although his sideburns had turned gray, he still looked very energetic. His figure was sturdier than most warriors out there, including Fern. According to Rodd himself, he was also a mercenary in the past, but he stopped doing it when he realized that his health had deteriorated. With enough money in his hands, he decided to settle down and open a tavern. His statement was impeccably logical, but Fern was starting to be doubtful.
“Certainly, the young lady is hiding something from me, but Rodd…” Fern looked into his eyes and said, “You’re also hiding a secret from me.”
“Stop it, my friend. If you don’t know about my background, then no one in Wallis does.” Rodd guffawed and passed him the sword. “Bring this sword with you. This is going to be a long journey, so you’ll need a proper sword in your hands. Meanwhile, you have to leave your sword here because I need a weapon to protect myself as well. However, I need to bring your sword to the smith as it is pretty rusty now.” Upon finishing his words, he picked up Fern’s sword and flicked the rust-covered blade.
Fern had wanted to reject him, but Rodd was right to say that he needed a proper weapon to face the unknown. “I will not pay you an extra referral fee or anything.”
“There’s no need for that. Miss Niss has paid me enough money—” Rodd caught himself as he realized that he had revealed too much information. “What the heck did I just say? Anyway, I’m sure Miss Niss will arrive shortly. I’ll wait for her at the door.”
Fern picked up Rodd’s sword and drew out the weapon slightly. Then, he plucked a strand of hair from his head and held it out in front of the sword before blowing it. The hair broke into two as soon as it came into contact with the blade. When Fern put the sword back into its sheath, Rodd was waving his hand at Niss, who was slowly walking toward the Queen’s Blessing.
She was clad in an elegant-looking set of brown woolen top and pants with a gray cloak on top. On the right of her yellow belt tied a dagger, which was a demand from Fern. Although Niss wasn’t familiar with using a dagger, she didn’t object to the idea. At that moment, she was holding an oak cane in her right hand. The cane appeared to be smooth, and a transparent gemstone was embedded at the top of it, which could easily catch other people’s attention given her low-profiled outfit. The bottom of her woolen pants were tucked in a pair of leather boots. Although Fern couldn’t recognize what animal skin was used for her boots, he was certain that the shoes had to be expensive as they were embroidered with intricate patterns.
“Miss Niss, you’re such a punctual person.” Rodd rubbed his hands together and spoke to her politely.
In response, Niss flashed a smile at him. Her hair was tied in a tidier way than last night as no hair was hung loose on the sides of her face. Also, her eyes seemed to be brighter than the previous day. Perhaps it was because she had a good night’s sleep or that she was sincerely looking forward to the journey they were about to set off on. “Rodd, have you prepared breakfast for me?”
“Of course, Miss Niss.” Rodd stepped aside so that she could pass. “Please come in and enjoy the breakfast I’ve prepared for you.”
Niss nodded joyfully and turned to Fern, who was looking at her in silence. As the morning breeze that smelled of grass and morning dew swept up Niss’s ginger ponytail and gray cloak, the wooden signboard of the tavern was also swaying along with the wind. Fern had wanted to say something, but he was so mesmerized by the sight before his eyes that he couldn’t utter a word.
Eventually, Niss broke the silence by saying with a smile, “Come with me, Fern.” Then, she stepped into the tavern.
Just when Fern wanted to turn around, he caught a glimpse of a moving figure from a hundred yards away. Alerted, he immediately looked in that direction, but he was only greeted by the sight of an empty street.
“Rodd, you don’t have to see us off.” Holding the lead rope of the horse, Fern said to Rodd, who was walking in front of him. He bought the gray stallion last night. It was a well-built horse with great stamina. Of course, it was expensive as well. Fern aptly named it ‘Dark Cloud’.
“Don’t worry about it. I don’t have many customers early in the morning other than those alcoholics.” Rodd turned to look at him. “My workers can handle them. Sometimes, they’d accidentally break the cups, but I’d just deduct the cost from their salaries,” he said with a smile.
“You should treat your workers better. After all, your tavern is the busiest in Deville. It’s not easy to serve so many customers.” Fern shook his head helplessly.
Rodd arched an eyebrow and looked at him from the corner of his eye. “When did you become so sympathetic?”
“I was just saying. It’s up to you.” Fern shot him a look and spoke no further.
Niss was walking alongside Rodd with a yellow mare. She was so focused on fiddling her oak cane that she didn’t hear the conversation between Fern and Rodd. When she saw that Rodd had stopped in his tracks, she realized that they had reached Deville’s entrance. It was still early in the morning, but tradespeople were ready to leave the city as they were checking on their horses and goods. The guards were looking at them languidly as they waited for their colleagues to take over the shift.
It was unnecessary to have an army in Deville as they just needed a small number of soldiers to ensure the city’s safety. This wealthy city had never experienced any wars since its inception. It was because it was located in the Southwestern region of the Wallis Continent, which held no strategic significance. Also, the city had always taken a neutral stance as it never got involved in wars nor joined any alliance, which allowed it to stay clear of any destruction and develop peacefully.
After the tradespeople left the city, more carriages and travelers reached the entrance and were ready to go. It was always so hustling and bustling in Deville every day. The sun could be seen rising from the horizon. There was not a single cloud in the azure blue sky, which looked like a blue abyss that could suck everyone into it. The weather had turned warm recently, so the wind wasn’t so chilly anymore.
“Let’s go.” Fern looked away from the splendid view and said gently to Niss.
Niss turned to look at him and nodded with a smile. “Sure.”
Rodd walked up to Fern and clapped his shoulder. “Good bye, my friend. May the God of War bless you.”
“Take care, Rodd. See you.” A sense of melancholy washed over Fern, which made him doubt whether he had made the right decision to accept this task.
Approaching Rodd politely, Niss gently thanked him and bid him farewell.
All of a sudden, Rodd’s expression turned from flattering to serious as he stared at her. “I hope you’ll always be guided by the light. Niss, don’t ever question your faith even when you’re in the dark.”
Niss gazed at the tavern owner in his fifties in shock and thought she heard it wrongly. “Rodd… can you say that again?”
Rodd immediately put on his usual polite smile and replied, “Oh, Miss Niss… I’m just sad that I have to part with you so soon. Please accept my sincere blessing, and I hope the God of War will bless you as well.”
Although Niss was puzzled, she didn’t ask any further. After all, Rodd was just an average tavern owner. With a smile, she nodded at him to thank him.
When the sun completely revealed itself, Fern and Niss set off on their journey. Rodd watched as their figures became smaller until they were out of sight.
The Wheel of Fate started turning on its own will, and no one could escape from their destinies.
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