Finngradus? What a bizarre name... Luis contemplated as he basked in the sun. I guess I just have to get used to it... Luis didn't realize that being given a name had deeper meaning in Bryn's culture.
It was for this very reason that they hadn't named him yet. Luis had indeed wondered why it had taken them so long, and it turns out this was the reason.
Apparently, Finngradus was an ancient language's word for family, hence why Bryn felt like it suited Luis.
"Ancient and powerful," was how Bryn described it. Ignoring it's strange sound, Luis was quite touched by the symbolism. The good news was that instead of calling the full name every time, Bryn simply called him Finn.
Finn the lizard huh? Luis would definitely need time to get used to that.
Currently, Luis was enjoying himself in the sunlight. Ever since he grew, Luis found that sunlight invigorated his body more than before.
If he circulated his power and released it, it would "recharge" faster when he sunbathed. It was as if he became solar powered. A pleasant side effect was that it felt amazing when he did both simultaneously, basking in the sun and circulating the energy from his core.
"Finn!" Luis' quiet relaxation was interrupted when Lily called out his name and ran over. Luis made a show of ignoring her, and thanks to his much bigger size, it made for a comical scene when Luis stood up, turned his back to her, and plopped back down.
"Hey!" Offended, Lily tried climbing over the bigger frame of Luis, only to figuratively melt over his scales. "Your scales are warm..." She sighed in bliss. Luis snorted and the peaceful relaxation continued.
"Finn!" Another voice called
Ugh... Can't an old man relax in peace. These kids have too much energy... Luis huffed and rose, Lily hanging carefree off his body. Moving slowly to avoid knocking her off, he sought out the source of the voice who called him.
"Lily! Get off of Finn you brat!" Bryn demanded with a chuckle.
"No! He's warm..." Lily rebuttled. Luis rotated his head back and scooped up the back of her dress with his teeth, lowering her to the ground gently. He completely ignored her pout the whole time.
"No fair! You get to be with him all the time. I want a turn!" She demanded.
Bryn laughed. "He is not a toy..."
Luis nodded in affirmation. I'm glad he understands...
"Besides, he is mine," Bryn finished with a beat to his chest. Luis glared sharply with his slit eyes, but he resisted the urge to slap the boy with his tail. He had been doing so much better after that incident a couple days ago.
However, he never considered himself a pet... more like a guardian for these impudent punks.
Lifting his crutch, Bryn hopped on to Luis' back, and the duo headed for the city. Luis had taken it upon himself to carry the boy where he needed to go. He would continue to support him until Bryn fully overcame his injury.
Luis' larger size meant carrying Bryn was easy, and since Bryn still hadn't quite grown into a man yet, it posed almost no trouble. Although Luis only had three legs, he managed to compensate for it quite well.
Besides, I can always fix my fatigue with this unique power... Luis felt grateful for its usefulness. As long as he kept it circulating, he could theoretically run forever, unless he ran out of the special energy, which could happen if it became cloudy.
When Luis couldn't see the sun, he found his power replenished slower. How interesting... Luis would test this more later.
I really need to learn more about this world... This was Luis next objective. There were things he had seen here that defied what he considered to be common sense.
Withholding the fact that he was now a lizard that could shoot beams of light, there was that wolf and bandit who utilized a strange green energy that made them stronger. There was something special about this world, a new science that he had yet to grasp.
"Finn, let's go to the blacksmith's first. I want to request something from him." Bryn tapped Luis on the neck. Luis looked back and nodded.
Entering the town was easy. It happened to be the same two guards who had pranked Bryn before, but they didn't bother stopping Bryn this time.
Word got around about what had happened, and there was no way they would bother a young boy crippled by a disgraced magic knight. What they had heard made them sigh in pity.
In fact, the only mystery was how the boy managed to survive. Apparently, the magic knight had been killed in the attack.
The most popular rumor was... The guards eyed the much larger magic beast warily, as it carried the boy through the gate. Comparing the cute little lizard to what he had grown into, the difference was astonishing.
The two guards knew that magic beasts grow when they break through to a new rank, but they didn't think they would grow so much.
Then again, they weren't experts on the subject. However, one thing was certain. All clues to the death of the magic knight pointed to the boy's beast.
The guards often speculated and debated when they were bored. It was hard to believe a magic knight would be overcome by a mere rank one beast. However, even those who are powerful can be taken out if they get careless.
They both took this as a lesson to never underestimate any beast no matter how cute or weak they seem.
Luis and Bryn passed through the city, drawing many curious onlookers. Luis was far more eye catching than before, and it was quite obvious that it was still the same lizard Bryn had brought the first time.
The general consensus, that Luis could decipher from the murmurings, was that they were shocked that he had grown so big, only some used a new word he had yet to decipher.
I'll just ask Bryn later... Luis maintained his pace to the blacksmith's forge. When he got there, Bryn called out to the blacksmith, same as before, with the dwarf blacksmith coming out of the forge room with his clothes smoking, same as before.
Even the red salamander that hated Luis' guts was present, only this time it was much more reserved. Guess my new size isn't so bad after all... Luis laughed internally at the salamander's reserved reaction to him.
"Ah, I see yer beast has evolved to rank two. Must be quite strong now eh?" Grum the dwarf walked around Luis, examining him head to claw.
There is that term again... Luis heard the people in town him saying the same thing. What does it mean... Luis would be sure to ask Bryn when he had the chance.
"I have named him. His name is Finngradus. I call him Finn." Bryn explained as he hopped of Luis, utilizing his crutch he brought along.
"A named beast, eh? You are quite lucky to have been able to find a beast loyal to you. You treat them fairly, and they will respect ye..." Grum tossed his salamander a piece of dried meat, which it caught out of the air.
"Ain't that right, Flamey"
Bryn snorted while asking in disbelief, "You named your fire salamander Flamey? What... do you have a wind salamander named Windy?" Bryn laughed hard.
"You dare mock me boy! I be a simple dwarf with simple name sense. What about yer beast? Finngradus? Too fancy for me..." Grum huffed in his defense.
"Anyways, I would say I'm sorry for yer leg, but I bet you have recieved enough pity eh? So I'll just ask ya why yer here." Grum cut straight to the point.
Grateful for his bluntness, Bryn spoke his purpose. "I want you to fashion me a spear. Like the ones used by war beast riders..."
Grum looked from Luis to Bryn and replied, "I think I see what yer planning boy, but I would advise against it. However, I will honor your request."
After doing some mental calculations, Grum came up with a figure. "This commission will cost ye forty-seven silver"
Bryn felt that Grum was a breath of fresh air. His parents had been treating him like a piece of fine glass, like he would shatter at the slightest touch. Grum was like a blunt hammer, and Bryn relished in the contrast.
All that being said, the single gold he had earned many months ago was already almost half gone with one purchase, and he wasn't even done yet.
"I also want you to fashion me a saddle for him," Bryn pointed at Luis. "And some leather armor for me. Make what you can from this..." Bryn tossed a singular gold piece that he took out of his pocket to Grum.
The dwarf caught it without even looking, instead staring at Bryn with the same intensity as the heat of the forge he worked in.
"Boy, I can vaguely guess what is going through yer head. I can see you haven't given up on yer dreams of fighting quite yet, but yer asking me to outfit a cripple to fight beasts..."
Grum walked right up to Bryn, and despite the dwarf being slightly shorter, Bryn felt like he was facing off against a mountain. Putting a hand on Bryn's shoulder, a sliver of gentleness appeared on the old dwarf's face, surprising both Luis and Bryn.
"Boy, some dreams are worth fighting for, even dying for. I understand this, which is why I haven't outright refused you yet. But, can you look me in the eye and tell me, with no doubt'n of any kind, that you are willing to risk your life for this? To die for this?"
For someone so short, he commands such a large presence... Luis was impressed with Grum's words. These were some of the questions Luis wanted to ask Bryn himself, for he had the same vague understanding of Bryn's intentions as the dwarf did.
Bryn, standing on one leg, felt a stable confidence swell within him. With Finn by my side, we can accomplish anything... Bryn had bonded quite deeply with Luis, and believed they could make a great team.
"Yes, I am willing to die for this. I won't let this injury decide my fate!" Bryn spoke with a powerful confidence.
Grum smiled and nodded. "Very well boy. I will see what I can do." Walking up to Luis, Grum patted him on the shoulder. "Take good care of this boy. He's young, and likes to bite off more'n he can chew." Luis nodded, already fully intending on doing so.
Smart beast... Grum grinned and walked back into the forge area, the flame salamander following closely behind, leaving the two alone. Bryn sighed. One gold... one-hundred silver... ten-thousand coppers, gone, just like that...
Bending slightly, Luis helped the mopping Bryn hop on his back. "Let's stop by the guild..."
When the got to the front of the the guild hall, Bryn hopped off of Luis and sighed before entering. All of the heavily equipped personnel present, upon noticing who entered, mobbed him.
The rumor mill never slept, and now everyone was dying to know what happened for real. It had been quite a while since they had seen Bryn.
Still as popular as ever... Luis noted about Bryn as he waited patiently for him to sooth the insatiable curiosity of the adventurers.
At least, that's what Bryn told me what they were... Luis was interested himself in what the job description of "adventurer" entailed. Bryn seemed to want nothing more in the world than to be one.
"He saved me..." Luis' excellent hearing perked up at his mentioning. Deja vu settled in as Luis once again was surrounded by many dangerous looking individuals. Luis wanted to shove them away. It was like personal space didn't apply when you were merely a magical beast.
Bryn patted Luis' neck. "I have named him Finngradus. He will be my hunting partner."
There was a collective sucking of breath from the surrounding adventurers, the deeper meaning of naming a magic beast not lost on any of them.
The way they looked at Luis changed subtlety, but Luis could tell they were noticeably less cautious around him. I guess names really do mean more than I know... Luis thought, recalling what Bryn told him.
Unfortunately for Luis, now that they weren't as cautious, they seemed to be getting a bit too comfortable around him for his liking.
One of the adventurers in particular was starting to get on his nerves...
"Quite a bit bigger than before, ain't he?" Spoke a skinny bald man as he tapped a dagger against Luis' scales, seemingly testing their strength. This was going too far...
Luis moved his tail and swept the man's legs out from under him. Dropping the dagger as he fell, the man yelped as Luis grabbed the dagger out of the air with his teeth in one quick motion. He then let it fall into the floor below him, sticking straight up from the wood.
Instead of retaliating, all the adventurers laughed uproariously at the man's misfortune.
"Serves you right for antagonizing him you dolt," Spoke a pretty female adventurer wearing beautifully crafted leather armor. Walking up to Luis, she gently rubbed his scales and scratched the side of his neck, much to Luis' delight.
Giggling, she said, "His scales are gorgeous, I would pay to have some sown into my armor."
Sensing a business opportunity, Bryn mentioned that his mother had been collecting Luis' scales and would be likely willing to sell some. She agreed to discuss it further later.
Don't I get a say in this... Luis didn't really care so much about the money as much as the principle. In the end, he decided he didn't have it in him to be so petty.
Bryn continued to entertain curious individuals before a receptionist from the front came to him personally. "The guild master wishes to see you..."
Bryn was expecting this. "Thank you, please take me to him."
Heading to a room further in the back of the guild, Luis was taken by surprise. Usually he was well aware of what the boy was up to, but being asked to personally meet the master of this place threw him for a loop.
What did he do? Luis could only wait and find out. They were led to what appeared to be the door to an office. Upon entering, Luis wanted to whistle with appreciation.
Bryn's family lived in wooden house with relatively nice furnishings, but this was the most elegant room he had seen since he had been here.
Beautiful tan rug with red embroidered patterns. A mahogany colored desk carved with intricate decorative patterns. A marble fireplace, which spoke volumes of the owner's wealth on its own. Silk curtains, through which golden sunlight filtered through...
Whoever this guild master is, he is very wealthy... Luis was amazed at the decor. The duo were led right up to the desk, behind which sat a middle aged man with white hair.
His looks reminded Luis of the man from "The most interesting man in the world" commercial for Dos Equis alcohol. The only difference was that the man looked stronger, and had a scar running across his face, giving him a no nonsense look.
Immediately, Luis sensed that he was strong. It was the same feeling of danger he had gotten from the bandit, only many times stronger. Luis instincts told him to escape right away, but he wouldn't just leave Bryn alone with this man.
Introduced by the receptionist, Bryn put down his crutch and took a seat in the chair across from the man, with Luis following suit beside him. The receptionist left, leaving the three alone in the office.
The white haired man spoke first. "Welcome back Bryn. I have honored your request and sent the report of what happened to the association. The response should come in the following weeks. Do not worry about payment, it's the least we can do for you after suffering that unfortunate attack."
Bryn brightened considerably. "Thank you so much! I wish to demand justice from them for allowing something like this to happen. My parents suffered a lot from what happened to me... He dimmed a bit at mentioning this.
The man nodded, seemingly understanding his frustration. "I agree wholeheartedly. The report states everything that happened word for word from your account, backed by our report from the recovered corpse."
Bryn was very pleased with this. This meeting was going exactly as he had hoped. "I cannot thank you enough-"
"However..." The guild master interrupted suddenly, throwing Bryn off.
"There is something I would like to confirm from you personally..."
Bryn, at a loss, nodded numbly. "Ok? And what would that be?"
The guild master leaned forward and put his head on the crossed fingers, smiling gently. "Tell me lad, what affinity does your beast have?"
Bryn's blood ran cold.