The grass rustled gently in the breeze. A bluebird fluttered away toward the blue cloudless sky, surprised by a soft snapping of twigs and crunching of gravel. A girl stood face to face with a seven-foot-tall beast. Its dense muscles contracted along with a sneer that showed off its sharp fangs. The girl moved ever so slowly without breaking eye contact with her opponent. Sweat trickled down from her pale skin and her blonde fringe matted on her temple. She didn't dare make any noise, even her breathing sounded too loud to her. A magic staff felt so feeble in her hand compared to the claw of the beast. The beast snickered, sensing the silent dread of his prey. It shook its mane and flicked its long tail as it crouched; ready to jump at the light-haired girl at any moment.
"Dang it, I shouldn't have jumped in this dungeon alone," she whispered under her breath. Fear slowly crept down her back, one more wrong move and she knew it would be her downfall. She tightened her grip on her staff while trying to find an opening to launch an attack or anything that might give her a chance to flee. ANYTHING to save her sorry life.
"I can't believe my luck to actually meet a Sheebal on my first-time run," she sourly thought to herself, "Will I die here? Is this how I am going to end my life?"
Her fuchsia eyes roamed her surroundings, the dungeon was the outdoor type. It was a meadow with a glorious expanse of grass and flowers. A narrow brook flowed through it hidden by grass and golden bellflowers. It was the actual form of the phrase 'Beauty is Dangerous' that she had once heard.
I don't want to die here., the girl winced at the thought, Not here, not now!
"Hey there, do you need some help?" a sudden telepathic voice entered her subconscious, startling her enough to make her drop the last healing potion in her possession.
"SHOOT!" the young girl yelped and lost her concentration. The beast saw an opening and it jumped to launch its fatal blow, ready to munch her down to her skinny bone. All the girl could do was wait for the dreadful pain of having her soul detached from her body. She fell to the ground and raised her arms to cover her face as the last stand. Seconds passed with nothing happening.
Then she heard shrieks coming from the beast. Its low warning growl was blended with the sound of metal clashing against something hard. Wearily she opened her eyes, peeking on the familiar scene of a battle before her eyes.
A towering man with hair like flames stood before her. He had jumped in front of her and begun to fight off the beast. No hint of fear painted on his face as he continued to engage the beast. The sword he wielded was a great sword that was as tall as his height. He swung his sword as if it was made from feather, leaving the young girl to just sit and watch him in awe. It didn't take long for the stranger to overpower the beast and eventually kill it.
"Are you okay, miss?" The swordsman turned toward her while sheathing his sword.
The girl leapt upon hearing the same telepathic voice she'd heard only a few moments ago. The same voice that made her lose her concentration and almost her life as a result. Her expression changed from admiration and gratitude to anger. She glared at the man from top to bottom. The man was a head higher than most people she knew. His face was mostly obscured by red stubble. His build was quite bulky; muscles beneath the dark arming coat, and tiger fur cape. With his hands resting on his hip, he met with her sharp gaze nonchalantly.
"YOU!!" she exclaimed, and the man looked at her in confusion. "You almost got me killed!!"
"Oh, did I?" he just stared at her with an aloof expression, "but if I didn't come to the rescue, you would have died anyway."
"NO! I-I had it covered actually. You are the one who ruined my concentration with that telepathy!"
The man laughed. "I see now. However, I saved your life too in the end. So, can I be forgiven now, sweet little pleb?" A silly grin decorated his face as he winked at her.
"I guess, yes, thank you," she blushed, not expecting the flirty wink he gave. She awkwardly brushed off the dust on her back but then stopped upon realizing what the man had called her. "What did you just call me?" The tone in her voice reflected surprise and irritation.
"A pleb?" He titled his head innocently with the same grin that, for some reason, made the blonde girl more irritated than ever.
Blood suddenly rushed to the girl's face and she gasped furiously, "A PLEB?!!"
His garnet eyes stared at her without any hint of guilt, "Is there something wrong with that?"
I wish I could just slap a big rock on his smug face. But what he said is the truth, I am a pleb, a newbie in this entire dangerous adventurer occupation, thought the girl bitterly, At least for now.
She shook her head trying to get rid of the boiling anger. Putting up her best smile as she gritted her teeth all the way, "Oh nothing, I am a pleb and I am really grateful because of your help, MASTER." Despite her faux smile through gritted teeth, there was little sincerity in her words.
He nodded, pleased to hear the exaggerated respect she poured on. "So, what are you doing here all alone?" He asked while brushing off the blood and dirt that covered the loot. "Either you are too stupid to notice that this is not a dungeon that you can solo with your skill level or...," he gazed up and gawked at her with scrutiny, "don't tell me, you have a death wish?"
"None of that!" she tried her best to lower her volume before he noticed the exasperation, "let's just say I made a mistake.”
A stunned look appeared on his tanned face, his eyes widened in surprise due to what he had just heard. He then leaned back and held his belly as his entire body shook with uproariously laughter. The man laughed so hard that she was sure it would raise the beast from the grips of death.
"A mistake?!" he said while trying to catch his breath, tears brimming on the corner of his eyes, "Oh, my dear Goddess! You almost got yourself killed and you call that a simple mistake?!"
The young girl couldn't hide her annoyance anymore. Her face color had turned to that of an over-ripe tomato. Contorted with the desire to outburst, her eyes squinting meanly at the towering man, she had to stop herself from shouting curses at the one who just saved her life.
"Fine, just call me stupid or whatever. Thanks for your help. I am going now!" She made a quick bow and stomped off toward the dungeon portal.
"Wait!" the man called out between his chuckles and caught her hand to stop her.
"What!!?" She couldn't hide her irritation any longer. She pulled her hand free roughly
"Your share," he dangled a pouch full of crystals and gold fur in front of her nose, "unless you don't need it?" Another teasing smirk rose up on his smug face.
A battle between her need for the loot -loot that would totally help her friends in the orphanage- and pride showed all over her face. But, in the end the former won as her right hand quickly tried to grab the pouch, only to have the man pull it away at the very last second, leaving her grasping at thin air.
"Is he taunting me?!" her thoughts were filled with frustration as she gave him a death glare.
His laughter exploded once more, filling the serenity of the meadow. "Not so fast, my little pleb. Not so fast." He playfully threw and caught the pouch as his garnet eyes watched the young girl’s expression in amusement.
She had to clench her hands really hard to keep herself from launching a blow at the man's jaw; a blow that would probably break her hand instead. The girl then inhaled a long breath and exhaled as harsh as she could before she forced a thin smile that didn't reach her eyes. She had to control herself as she couldn't win a fight against the swordsman if she ended up offending him. Being in that dungeon was already a big mistake that she quietly regretted and didn't want to add another to her list of regrets.
"Give me your True Name and I will give you all of the loot, including mine," he dangled the pouch once more.
The girl gasped at what she just heard. No one in their right mind would just give out their True Name that easily. It was important and unique to every individual and should only be given to the people you trust the most. It was different compared to common names. Not only was there no limit of distance for sending telepathic messages, True Names gave the person power over the individual. It was like a free pass into the other person's mind and, if the other was strong enough, they could even take over the weaker person's body and mind and bend them to their will. Or just simply ruin the person's sanity should they choose to do so. And even though he had saved her life, it was not something she would ever give out so easily.
"I may be a stupid pleb, but I am not idiotic enough to give my True Name to some random weird guy, not even for the sake of that magnificent loot!" she barked
The man chuckled gleefully, "Oh really? Not even to this weird guy who happened to be your savior?'
She couldn't stand it anymore; the conversation was going nowhere. She didn't want to waste any more time. With a scowl on her face, she stomped out with large steps toward the portal.
"The name is Zeke. Zeke Valdez. I was just trying to help you, little pleb. Call me anytime if you need my help." a sudden telepathic voice popped into her mind once more.
She spun around -shocked- and thought to herself Is that his True Name? Is he that confident over his strength? The surprise added on when she realized that the guy already stood right behind her. He dropped the pouch on top of her head, giving her a side grin before dashing through the exit.
"I'll see you around, pleb!"