The little demon appears sit on an armchair, in a maple dressing gown old man style with a thick leather book on his lap, waiting to be noticed.
-Hello children, gather around once again. Let’s continue with this story – the demon reveals the book’s cover, where his face is printed on it -cool design huh? I chose it, I think it got close to the real deal, but this cuteness cannot be so easily expressed. Look at these eyes, this smile… I’m such a heartbreaker. -the demon was looking to his reflection on a hand-mirror, before yelling at it -Oh, time to go back to the story, don’t distract me! But I am ruggedly handsome, aren’t I? I think I will leave you with a little time skip, 5 years should do. Yeah, good times – the light fades away as the demon loses in his thoughts.
Five years have passed since the havoc on Asmund city due to the presence of one of the most wanted man in the whole Nation, Luther Darkmore. The Nation spread the news that he was taken down and killed on Asmund city by Commander Cosmo Gibbon, which served as an example of what to be expected when challenging the Nation nowadays. Not even the “Red Prophet” could stand against the Nation: there was no better propaganda for promoting the outstanding and unbeatable Nation status.
Several dissidents and other enemies were persecuted and killed for defying the Nation. Almost all the Nation’s foes were wiped out, but there is always some resistance. Even though that the Nation have control over nearly every city and person in the world, there are some exceptions to it.
Guilds are associations of individuals for mutual aid and protection, which maintain their standards to protect the interests of its members. Guilds are usually hired for turf conflicts, trivial tasks or black ops missions, events that the Nation has no interest or can’t be related to. As the world authority, to a guild to be founded it is necessary the Nation’s permission to be officially registered, which leads to the delivery of every guild’s member information to them. This data includes the member’s Essentia abilities mechanics and the family history. From the moment the guild is registered, a monthly tribute and a trimestral routine checkup is made to the Nation. Even though that the guilds become somewhat independent, the Nation can still vet their access to certain places, data, or people.
The big guilds established
commercial and warfare agreements with the Nation, leading to a no aggression
pact between them. This way, there are some areas controlled by guilds instead
of being in the hands of the Nation, exchanging for a higher monthly tribute. There
are Nation's surviving enemies who were welcomed by guilds who saw a good
opportunity in their talents, providing them with protection against the Nation.
In Asmund city it is time for the annual mercantile expedition around Jarwen Country. The Nation emits a license for every merchant business that met its requirements, which includes an awfully large contribution to the Nation.
Jarwen has a very high crime rate in this season, and the most wealthy merchant associations hire the Nation’s contractors to protect their cargo; the mid class merchant also hire Guilds to guard their investment, knowing that they could easily lose half of their total shipment. On the other hand, the small businesses don’t have the same finance power and can’t employ powerful guards after paying for the license; As such, the vast majority of them don’t even try to make profit with it, as it is a very high risk gamble. However, there are those who bet it on the thin chance to conclude the trip safely, making use of free lancers or even small guilds to warden them. These free lancers and small guilds usually do not have a great income return in terms of gold, but this is an opportunity to gain fame if their protection is successful. This could lead to being scout for bigger guilds or even for the Nation’s ranks.
DONG! DONG! DONG!
The gong’s sound breaks the silence at the Asmund city’s entrance, announcing the start of this year’s Asmund Commercial Campaign. Every 15 minutes a new group advances to their journey, and the order is predetermined based on their Nation’s tribute. Statistically, the first and last parties to go are more prone to be attacked so no one want that place. Even so there are some good points for the first merchants, that have the entire market at their disposal before the others, ensuring a highly profitable return when the event is successful.
This year, the 3 larger Asmund’s merchants association (Lee’s Syndicate, Sleipnir Company and Asmund Co) would join hands to hire Nation’s top teams to suppress any threat, as they made a pact for selling different products. This mean that they could be the first wave to leave Asmund and capitalized the profitable return of being on being the opening group. The multiple wagons from this association’s coalition were already escorted by the distinct gold and white Nation’s colors. There were big hero war names among them, like Sir Alex “Hawk” Gates or John “the Madman” Alistair. Everyone was in awe seeing the protection group: certainly no one would attack that traveling unit.
This would lead to a big commotion on Asmund’s exit, as the other traders refused to be the following group to leave, since that would mean a higher chance to be attacked and robbed; but the order was already decided. The hired escorts tried to ensure their employers that would be alright, but they knew that the thieves would target them.
One of these traders was Atsushi Kai, a young merchant prodigy in Asmund. He is a really cautious man, despite his carefree appearance with a rebellious hair and 3-days beard. His bleak brown eyes would match his bland clothes, which contrast with other merchants. Kai has been working under Asmund Co, and for some reason he was dismissed despite his good aptitude for business. He had to work for the past two years in Asmund bakery and spend his lifetime saves to create his own trade company and buy its stock. The gold left was not sufficient to hire some well-established escort group or to secure a good exit position, meaning that Kai would hire some locals that were searching for gaining some fame and glory, and a battle veteran and longtime friend, Dominik Turk.
Turk was known as the Warrior Ape in the past, due to his Essentia ability: gibbon deviant. This ability granted him a significant physical upgrade, being on his strength or in his reflexes. His arms’ length would also increase, giving him a bigger reach. The downside of his ability was just like any other mutation ability: primitive instinct. The overuse of his ability would grant a vast fight improvement, but his mind would slowly be taken over by his animal instincts. Another drawback of it was possible to notice just by looking at Dominik. His fuzzy eyebrows, his prominent canines, his noticeable shape beard, and hairy body resembled the embodiment of a gibbon. Now he’s just a former shadow of himself, nonetheless he was someone who Kai could trust.
-Yo, Kai. I’m getting really bored, do you have some of that blueberry pie that you used to do? – asks Turk while laying down on one cart.
-You are always the same Turk – says Kai with a smile on his face. He reached for his backpack and retrieved a box – Here, eat before we depart. I think you’ll have a truly hard workday, for a change.
-Yeah, I guess so. The gold makes everything possible, huh? – says Turk while taking a bite on his favorite sweet – Who knew that the 3 Biggies would join hands to prevent any stock casualties. Even though that they are at each other throats all the time when it’s business time.
-This just shows how this expedition is important. I heard that in the next year the Nation will reformulate the Red Continent’s power, which means that war is inevitable. This might be the last year for this event, that’s why I bet everything I had on this.
-Hmm, and this is the group of people that you could gather? You were really low on the gold…
The merchant Kai’s expedition group consisted of two wagons with his chosen stock (vests, supplies, and some weaponry), guided by his recently new trade company only two employees Chu and Yu; these two twin brothers were Kai’s errand boys in Asmund Co, and follow him anywhere. The rest of the group was 4 hired escorts, who accept a low payment from Kai: Buck, Keith and other 2 teenage boys close to the adulthood. He didn’t expect for them to defend him from the robberies successfully, but they could buy some essential time to make him get away with their lifes.
-Boss, why did you recruit him, he’s like the weakest guy in Asmund – trash talks one of them – I could take his cut and protect you without him.
-Screw you, baldie. You don’t even know how to throw a fucking punch. You cheap shot fuck.
-Oh, yeah? You wanna go now?
-Hell yeah bitch. Put your money where your mouth is, egghead.
Turk shakes his head in disapproval and lifts the two men on the air by their clothes collar, just like children.
-You know that you have a job to do, even if you are some local thugs you have to deliver right?
-I guess so. -says one of them nervously. The size of Turk was scary for him.
-Okay, okay I get it. Put me down now, you ape. – said the other one fearlessly. – what about the two kids there? What the hell do you expect them to do? They are still wet from their ears; they don’t seem even capable of holding a weapon.
-You have a really big mouth, if it weren’t for Kai saying that you are important for this job, I would hammer you to the floor. – said Turk giving a flicker to him. -If he hired you, he trusts in all of you, no exceptions.
-I guess you are right. I think he had a good eye to have chosen me, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Turk slips close to Kai while Buck was boosting himself, whispering to him: -You only get these guys for buying time in case of ambushes, right?
-Right. – says Kai with a smile, while checking if was all in order to go.
-They were really that cheap, huh? – says Dominik with a frown face.
-Yeah. - says Kai with a nervous smile – I didn’t have more funds to hire better help, that’s why you’re tagging along, Dom.
-But two kids really? One of them seems to be out of breath sometimes and looks like he’s a bookworm, will he even hang on until we reach to the next town?
-Don’t judge a book from the cover. Among the guys I hired, the two kids were the most impressive. – says Kai with a serious look.
-Huh? What is it, do they have Essentia abilities like us? – asks an intrigued Turk.
-I don’t know.
-Then how are they impressive?
-They didn’t ask for gold; they only want to travel with us and have something of their choice from our stock when reaching our final destination.
-If only we could gather more guys like them - sighs Kai.
The three big trade companies already had left Asmund, being the turn of the next ones. Kai received the signal approving their departure, along with other traders.
– Guys gather up, it’s time for our farewell to Asmund city. Our expedition starts now!