23 Scarlet bear 2
"It's done. Your arm will be back to how it was in a week." Vincent was finally done with the troublesome patient. The only thought remaining in his head now was to chase away the trio after getting paid.
Zach felt a little uncomfortable after looking at the gaze of the doctor. It was a gaze that said, "Time to pay up." Zach had only come to the forest accompanying the son of Baron Gill on his hunting trip and hadn't brought any money with him.
"Young master Nathan, how about paying for the treatment? I am not very liquid right now."
Nathan felt somewhat embarrassed. His original intentions were to make good friends with Zach and hopefully join his clique. The connection would come in real handy given the chaotic situation of the kingdom. But not only had he failed to entertain his guest, he was unlucky enough to bump into a scarlet bear. Scarlet bears were second grade magical beasts with thick hide tough enough to make it impervious to most weapons. It also possessed herculean strength and was extremely aggressive.
Nathan thought they were done for. Just as he was despairing, Zach who got attacked used a magical gear calling forth several spikes of earth. The bear was startled and fled the scene. The gear was a third grade item capable to allowing the user to use the third circle spell, 'Earth raid'. The used gear needed to be refilled with mana and it was going to be a costly process. Nathan felt responsible for it and wanted to break even with Zach as soon as possible. Only after doing so could he begin moving towards his original objective once again.
The only problem was that he hadn't brought any money with him either. He looked at Casper expectantly who shook his head indicating that he didn't have any either. Nathan found himself in an awkward position. As the son of the feudal lord, he didn't usually carry any money with him. Any business that required payment from his part were taken care of by the castle and the same could be said for Casper who was the son of a Knight serving Nathan's father.
"Cough.... ahem ahem... doctor. We can't pay you right now. I didn't bring any money with me either. But you don't have to worry. I am Nathan Gill, the eldest son of Baron Gill. I will make sure you receive your payment by tomorrow evening." Nathan was incredibly troubled. Craftsmen, warriors, wizards and skilled personnel were incredibly valuable for any fief. He couldn't be disrespectful towards the doctor as it could lead to other people learning about it. Such a thing could lead to a domino effect of valuable workforce leaving the territory.
Looking at the uncomfortable Nathan, Zach started feeling embarrassed as well. He was Viscount Rolft's only son. Never had he thought that such a day would come. He could sense mana from the doctor and knew that the other party was a wizard like him. The only thing he could do now was back Nathan. "Fellow wizard, I will assure you as a wizard myself. You will receive the payment before tomorrow evening. My words are worth their weight in gold, you can rest easy."
"It's fine. I believe you." Vincent sighed internally. He hadn't expected to run into another wizard here. He had deliberately chosen a rural place where a wizard wouldn't bother coming. Though it wouldn't disrupt his daily life anytime soon, the possibility of him getting embroiled in unwanted trouble still existed.
"How rare, you look so young, yet you are already a second circle wizard. Can I inquire about the esteemed name of your teacher?"
Zach's statement piqued the interest of Nathan and Casper as well. Unbeknownst to them, a doctor who was also a wizard had moved in and was staying in a village under their control. Additionally, he was really talented, already a second circle wizard when he looked no older than seventeen. Nathan found it a pleasant surprise and made a mental note to befriend Vincent.
"It's nothing special. I was just lucky and broke through without much trouble. My teacher is Master Rigrit, it is unlikely that you have heard of him. After all, he lives in Istria." Vincent answered without any lies. The other party was a wizard and a viscount's heir. Finding information about Vincent wouldn't be too hard if he put in effort. Wizard's circle was small after all.
"How negligent of me. I forgot to introduce myself properly. I am Zach Rolft. My teacher is Master Azur, a fourth circle wizard. What is your name friend?"
"I am Vincent Ember. I had long heard of young master Gill. It was a pleasant surprise to get to know young master Rolft as well. Who might your companion be?"
The group of youngsters made small talk and spent the afternoon getting to know each other. Vincent also learned about the details of their encounter with the scarlet bear. Though pain made Zach incredibly bitchy, he was a smart young man and could be relied upon in times that mattered. Vincent and Zach also talked about wizardry. The former was having such a conversation after almost a year and he found it rather enjoyable.
Time passed by quickly and the trio left heading towards Baron Gill's castle. Vincent sat in his chair and started reading while Alba finally came out of hiding. She had shut herself in a small room as soon as the guests had appeared. The day ended without any event.
The next day, Nathan, Zach and Casper came to meet their new acquaintance. Vincent looked at the trio riding on horses and got up to welcome them. Nathan paid for Zach's treatment and looked a little nervous. It was unlike the young man's character and Vincent found it a bit odd. Zach too looked trouble as if he had something to say but couldn't bring himself to say it. The trio exchanged silent messages with their eyes. It was Casper who sighed and spoke in the end. "Master Vincent, actually we are here to ask you for a favor. Would you care to listen?"
"Feel free to speak, Sir Casper. You don't have to be so uneasy."
"Actually, due to several reasons we have to hunt the scarlet bear now. We would like to request for your assistance."
"But why me? I am sure young master Nathan can arrange for a well equipped group if he asked the lord." Vincent asked a little puzzled. The request didn't make much sense. Specially since it would be dangerous venturing to hunt a magical beast.
"That is true. But, we can't mobilize the lord's forces. Forgive us for not being able to tell you the reasons for it." Casper answered in a stiff manner. Even he knew that he was making an unreasonable request. But he was helpless. The two young masters pushed all the work on him and he could do naught but grit his teeth and pull through.
"Who will accompany you on the hunt then? It will be incredibly dangerous with just us."
"We can hire some people. It is fine as long as they aren't a part of the lord's force."
Vincent gave it some thought. He did want to participate in the hunt and get some experience. He could also conveniently gauge the strength of his spells. If the hunt was successful, he would have established a stable relation with the trio. Zach's connection would come in specially handy since he was in need of some spell models recently. He only knew two spells of second circle so far, 'Shock bolt' and 'Fireball'. With Zach's help, he could acquire more but the trio acted weirdly and the conditions for hiring the hunting team seemed stupid as well.
"This sounds really fishy. I am willing to join if you tell me the reason. I will have to decline your request otherwise."
Casper looked at the dispirited Nathan and raised his eyebrows to ask what he should do. The latter shrugged and gave a questioning face to the last remaining man in the group. Zach grit his teeth, he looked as if he was having an internal struggle. He sighed in the end and spoke, "Fine, I will tell you. But you have to promise not to laugh or tell anyone."
Vincent nodded and waited for the explanation.