“This Serpent is powerful. Too bad he was too lax about it. There’s nothing more I could do once he was poisoned,” Bruno said with a sigh, though his tone told otherwise. Not far from them, a young man lay on the ground, his body had turned black from the venom.
“Please don’t blame yourself Bruno. This wasn’t your fault! If it weren’t for you, we’d never have gotten the chance to kill this beast!” the four of them cheered. “Thank you for your kindness, once I get into the Boundless Academy, I will repay you! I’ll never forget you!” Bruno said to the four. “Thank you, Bruno!” the four of them said respectfully. Zephyr shook his head at this lot.
It was obvious this lot was a coalition of sorts. They had given their points to Bruno in exchange for protection and future benefits. All they had to do was kill monsters to raise their stakes. They knew they were never going to get into the academies, they were but Strengths of level eight. They thought that by helping Bruno, they would receive great boons from him once he enrolled into the Academy.
“Oh?” Bruno’s expression changed from glee as he scanned the surroundings, quickly locking onto Zephyr. “Another one?” Bruno said quietly, his eyes flashed some cunning intent. “Bruno, please, let me handle that brat!” one of them said, as he quickly turned to glare at Zephyr. “No. We need more members. The more we have, the better chance we have at getting more points!” Bruno answered. He kept his gaze on Zephyr, “Where are you from, friend?” He asked as Zephyr approached. “Starlight City!” Zephyr replied calmly once he realized Bruno’s underlying ploy. He could tell that Bruno was a wicked one, sooner or later he would abandon his comrades.
“Starlight? Isn’t that just a small village? I take it you’d have some trouble getting points. How about this, follow me, help me, and once I enter the Academy, I’ll make sure you get your fair share of desserts!” Bruno said slowly. “What dessert?” Zephyr asked, squinting. “You’re lucky to even be invited into Bruno’s team! What are you hesitating for?!” one of them scolded Zephyr for retorting back. “Calm down now, it’s alright! Maybe he just needs a clearer idea!” Bruno said with a smile, feigning hospitality, though Zephyr could feel a gust of contempt.
“I know a place where we can find delicious, tasty, fire fruits! There were eight of them I reckon, but it’s risky! If you help me, I’ll gladly give you one!” Bruno said. ‘Fire fruits?’ Zephyr thought, surprised. Fire fruits were a rare commodity, once consumed it could provide a great boost to one’s energy. However, its value stems from its ability to quickly heal any fighter.
“What? You’re just going to hand him one? Come on Bruno, the five of us are enough! Why bother with this brat?” one of them asked, reluctantly. “One more person wouldn’t hurt. After all, what’s one fruit less?” Bruno said as he beamed. “Alright, you got yourself a deal!” Zephyr said as he saw no reason to deny a fire fruit. “Great! You made the right choice!” Bruno nodded, though his smile carried a hint of deceit.
The group left soon after. Bruno’s swordskill was potent as he easily cut down every manner of beast they had met along the way. After about three hours of walking, the group came to a cliff. It was a dangerous location, covered with slippery rocks along with a bone-chilling gust of wind. “Right there!” Bruno said as he pointed his sword towards a cave along the cliff wall. “When I escaped the Golden Devil, I was transported here. That was where I found the fire fruits,” Bruno said. He looked at the people around him and continued speaking, “Sadly, there lay a great beast. I could only retreat from it, but I suppose with your help, the fire fruits would not be that far away!”