Still visibly confused, Luke opened his mouth:
“Thanks for saving my life, sir.”
The old man lightly jumped off of the tree he was standing on, his silver robe fluttering in the air. Landing next to Luke, the old man smirked.
“Oh, so you do have some manners, kid.”
Getting irritated for being called a kid even though he was in his mid-twenties, Luke again asked the old man.
“So, will you answer my questions now? And stop calling me a kid already, would you?”
The old man glanced at the butchered Gleems and then back at Luke.
“Sure, kid, but I have a question of my own to ask you first.”
‘This old man…’
Trying to stay calm, Luke answered:
“Alright, go ahead old man.”
As if being annoyed, the old man simply asked Luke.
“Kid, would you take my life?”
Luke was bewildered to say the least. He doubted his hearing at first, so he jokingly asked.
“Old man, are you perhaps going senile?”
At that question, the old man’s vein on his forehead popped, completely enraged.
“Kid… You are really lucky that I need your help, otherwise I would’ve lopped your head clean off for insulting this lord.”
A lord? Was Luke perhaps making a mistake by not respecting this old man in front of him in the first place?
“Hey, old man, you’re the one asking someone whose life you just saved to kill you out of the blue.”
The old man turned his head and looked into the sky. The sky kept getting darker and darker as they kept talking. They would need to move soon, if they didn’t want to run into “that”.
“Just come with me for now, I’m going to explain everything to you once we’re in a safe place.”
Luke was thinking about what would be the best thing to do in this situation, and after contemplating for a few seconds, he decided that following this old man would probably be fine.
“Okay, lead the way.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
After running for quite a while, Luke saw a small brick house, reminding him of a medieval style building. The old man stopped running when he saw the house, prompting Luke to stop as well.
“We’re here, kid. Welcome to my home.”
Luke’s mouth was agape in disbelief. The old man saw his reaction and smiled bitterly before continuing ahead.
‘His home? This little thing? Wasn’t he calling himself a lord earlier?’
Shaking his thoughts, Luke followed after the old man as he made his way to the entrance of the brick house. By the time they had arrived here, night has almost settled in.
“Phew, we made it in time kid. Come in already!”
Saying that, the old man entered the house and Luke followed. The interior of the house could be described as very minimalistic. There was a simple bed, a fireplace with cooking utensils, as well as a wooden table and three wooden chairs. Some kind of an animal hide was strewn across the floor. Luke liked this kind of an interior himself, making him comfortable in no time.
The old man took some husk and made an ember using a flint stone and a piece of steel. He placed the ember in the fireplace, and a blue flame soon sprouted from the fireplace.
This made Luke furrow his brows.
‘A blue flame? But I’m sure that the ember he used had a red flame…’
Noticing Luke’s confusion, the old man explained:
“The flame is blue because of the wood type I’m using. This type of wood is called Ro-wood, and a fire that uses it as its fuel can last much longer than a fire that uses regular wood.”
Luke nodded. This information wasn’t that important to him right now, as he had bigger concerns. The old man pointed at the wooden table and chairs.
“Come, sit here.”
Luke followed the old man as they sat down at the table. The old man continued talking.
“Before I can answer any of your previous questions, you must first promise me that you will take my life. I cannot reveal why, but you must. If you cannot do that, then I will have no other choice but to take your life instead.”
Luke was puzzled. His mind started racing, as he seemed lost in thought. The old man simply looked at him as he was making his choice.
‘This whole situation is too weird. First of all, the last thing I remember before waking up in this forest is waiting for Alex while we were on our way to the job interview. The thing is though, when I was still with Alex, it was relatively early in the morning, yet it was around late afternoon when I woke up here. The forest itself didn’t look too different from what you could find on Earth, but after those bird-like creatures made their appearance, I started doubting my sanity.’
Time was ticking away.
‘Was I hallucinating?’
As if doubting his own mind, he looked around the house once more, when his gaze landed upon the old man. He was looking at Luke and simply smiled.
‘And this old man, now that I think about it, how did he even kill those creatures? He was not carrying any weapons with him, but there’s no way that he killed all three of those creatures bare handed before my swing even landed on any of them. Nothing seems to be adding up. Even after that, he bizarrely asked me to kill him. Am I really capable of taking the life of another human? But, he said the I would be the one to die if I do not kill him. He won’t even answer any of my questions if I don’t promise to do it.’
Luke sighed. This was too much to drop on a 24 year old all at once. But he had to make a choice.
“Fine. I’ll do it.”
The old man grinned from ear to ear.
“You’ll do what?”
Luke narrowed his eyes.
“I promise that I will kill you.”
The old man’s grin grew even wider. Luke couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable.
“Alright kid, a promise is a promise. Ask away.”
The night Luke would remember for the rest of his life was about to unfold.