It was only because it was Bryn that he accepted wearing it. Anyone else, besides the sweet angel Lily, Finn would have blasted them with a superheated beam of light.
Sure, he had carried them both all around, but that was purely consensual, and he felt no shame in doing so.
The saddle changed that.
I'm no horse, nor beast of burden! Finn still had his pride. Again, he only allowed it because it was his boy he had to protect. This was how he consoled himself.
When he finally consented to Bryn placing it on his back, he was relieved that it didn't feel uncomfortable. As a matter of fact, he could barely feel the weight through his scales.
It happen to fit like a glove too. Finn realized with a hint of betrayal that the boy must have given his measurements to the dwarf, or some leather worker in town.
Although, his bitterness dissolved slightly when Bryn expressed how much better the saddle treated his... nether regions. When Bryn mentioned it, Finn realized that his back was not soft like a horses due to his scales.
It would probably be uncomfortable riding on my back without a saddle for any extended period of time... Finn felt stupid for feeling guilty. It's not my fault I'm scaly!
I must endure... It was only for family that Finn could swallow his pride. As long as the boy never treated him like a pack horse, he would tolerate it.
As they walked, Finn heard a clinking sound above him. Using his flexible neck, he turned to see Bryn screwing metal rods together that he was pulling out of his backpack.
What's this now? Finn stopped to examine closer what Bryn was doing. By now, the metal rod was already around five feet long. When he added two more metal connections, the final length came out to around seven or eight feet.
Smiling, Bryn pulled out of his pack the last segment and the glint of pointed steel was reflected in Finn's eyes
A spear head... Was Finn's first guess. However, when Bryn rolled it over in his hand it became clear that wasn't right. Looking closer, Finn was intrigued by the design. It had the point of a spear at the end, but slightly below it there was an extra segment of metal, like an axe.
It took him a second to realize that it wasn't a spear, but a poleaxe. The final product came out around eight feet long. The edges of the blades looked razor sharp, gleaming in the sunlight. Small, decorative engravings on the blade gave testament to the superior craftsmanship.
Although, Finn suspected the dwarf did those engravings because he was quite fond of the boy. All in all, the weapon looked quite deadly.
Bryn laughed as Finn examined the weapon. "What do you think Finn? Did Grum do a good job or what?"
Bryn gave a few test swings, and Finn had to admit that he wouldn't want to be hit by such a weapon, the whooshing sounds of the pole cutting the air solidifying this thought.
Finn resumed walking as the boy swung his weapon around, getting the feel for it while on Finn's back.
"This is the most commonly used weapon by beast riders, so they say. I haven't actually seen an actual rider before..." Bryn chuckled.
"Although I guess I'm technically one now. Beast riders are almost always magic knights from what I've heard..."
This is clearly going to his head... Finn felt his back getting heavier from the boy's expanding ego.
Bryn began to grow more passionate. "This is where our legend begins Finn! We are first going to save our farm! We will grow stronger, becoming the best adventurers in the region. I will apply to become a full fledged magic knight and then travel the five kingdoms. Eventually, we will set off for what ever lies beyond the border woods!"
At least he has goals... Finn wished that he would focus more on the fact that he was currently disobeying his father. Although, I guess that makes me an enabler... Finn considered his own acceptance of this.
Truth be told, he didn't know how George would overcome his current financial situation. Finn had developed a rudimentary understanding of this land's currency, and he knew that anything over ten gold was something very few common folk could afford.
Perhaps, ignoring my own bias, this actually is the best way to help Bryn's father... Finn let that thought sink in for a moment.
Maybe I've become too passive... Finn considered long and hard about Bryn's choice as he walked.
Finn was an old man at heart, concerned with taking things slow and evaluating every possibility. However, there were two sides to every coin.
Just as there were times to pause and plan, occasionally there are times where action simply needed be taken. Where pausing and waiting to plan might be a cause for regretting missed opportunities.
If it had been up to him, he would have had Bryn train under the guild master until he was more prepared to fight. Realistically however, that would have taken a lot of time.
In that time, George could have lost his farm by then. Finn knew that the debt was pushed forward, but he didn't know when it needed to be paid in full.
Perhaps Bryn's impulsive decision could have been the right one after all. I have become too timid... Finn had to grudgingly admit.
He knew he was much stronger than when he was born. If he ran into another one of those so called earth wolves, he felt he could easily kill one.
According to what Bryn told me, a rank two magical beast core was worth between three and ten gold depending on the affinity... Finn remembered Bryn explaining the differences.
Apparently, wind and fire were the most expensive, around eight and ten gold respectfully for rank two beasts of these affinities.
In general, wind beasts were difficult to kill outside of an ambush or trap due to their incredible speed and agility. As they grew in rank, it become exponentially harder to do so.
There was no stopping one that wanted to run away unless you were noticeably more powerful.
Fire beasts cores and stones were the most expensive due to high demand and rarity. Flame stones and cores could be imbued into weapons, making them far deadlier.
Flame beasts were also rare around these parts, decreasing the supply and therefore, the price.
"Hey Finn, I see the woods!" Bryn's excited voice broke Finn out of his mental revelry.
Finn's eyes focused onto the horizon where he could see a line of trees. Yup, the sun was still rising in the sky and they had already made it to the woods.
That was fast... Finn again realized that his basic walking pace was much faster with four legs. Another benefit to being a quadruped.
In his excitement, Bryn exclaimed, "Onward to adventure! GO!" As he pointed to the distant horizon.
Only, in his elation, he kicked his heels into Finn's sides... exactly like one would do to a horse.
Nope! Finn sat down suddenly, rolling Bryn off his back as he dropped the poleaxe.
"Finn! What-?" Bryn began, but was cut off when Finn sat his body on the boy causing him to let out an "ooomph" from his squeezed lungs.
I have begun to make a habit of this... Finn lampooned inwardly. This happened to be his favorite way of disciplining the boy, as he couldn't talk, and it's not like he would claw him to get his points across. This was simply the best way!
Bryn immediately realized what must have set Finn off. In his haste to avoid dying from being crushed, he patted Finn's flank and wheezed out, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"
Nodding in recognition of the apology, Finn raised himself off the boy, who gasped for breath. Writing something into the dirt, he shoved Bryn with his head, directing him toward what he wrote.
"Do not treat me like a horse..." Bryn read what Finn wrote out loud, and turned to face the lizard, who was glaring at him with his slit eyes.
Bryn raised his arm's up defensively. "You're right, you're right, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that."
Finn's glare softened. As long as he understands...
Bryn patted Finn on the head and smiled at him. "You're my best friend and partner. I wouldn't be here without you..."
Oh, now you're just buttering me up... Finn remembered how his grandkids would always do the same thing before immediately asking for something. That being said, he fell for it every time.
Finn licked Bryn across the face, and lowered himself to let the boy back on. Bryn laughed and, after retrieving his poleaxe, the duo continued on to the woods.
They made it there just as the sun reached its zenith. Finn felt its warmth douse his scales with energy, making him feel wonderful. His abilities meant he would never grow exhausted during the day.
Looking up, he noticed that the sunlight filtered through the leaves of the trees, creating a mesmerizing display of light beams.
Starting to get lost in the view, Finn was brought back to reality by Bryn's sudden request.
"Finn, run past that tree over there. I wanna test something..." Bryn spoke softly as he pointed with the poleaxe to a particular tree about fifty feet away.
Oh? What's he planning? With a questiong head tilt, Finn started accelerating towards the tree.
Bryn, with a look of concentration, raised his poleaxe in preparation. He was clearly struggling to maintain his form with Finn's movement.
Running past the tree at high speeds, Finn heard a loud whistling sound followed by a loud smack! Digging his heels in, he turned around and watched as the rather large tree began to topple over.
It fell with a loud crash, scaring away birds that were resting in the nearby trees.
Whoa... Finn walked over to inspect the tree stump. When he got close enough, he felt his jaw slacken in shock.
Smooth, perfectly smooth... Finn could scarcely believe it as he examined the perfectly sliced stump. He had severely underestimated the boy's power.
The tree was not the biggest around, but it had a diameter of about a foot. It wasn't small by any means.
When Finn had run past it at high speed, Bryn had swung his poleaxe like a scythe, and managed to cut clean through it. How?
Finn looked back to see Bryn hunched over, leaning onto Finn while panting hard. Looking at the bladed end of his weapon, Finn could see remnant blue energy dissipating off of it. It reminded him of what that bandit had done a while ago.
Through the panting and sweating, Bryn's massive grin was on full display at Finn's shock. "My teacher taught me that before I left. Said it was one of the most basic tricks a magic knight can do, applying their elemental energies to their weapons."
Finn was genuinely impressed. Even the strongest men back on Earth wouldn't be able to accomplish a feat like that in one swing. Although, the extra impact from my speed might have helped quite a bit... Finn reigned in his shocked face.
"Trust me Finn, were unstoppable around here. We are just going to hunt enough to save our farm. Then we will go home." Bryn never forgot how worried Finn had been acting about this little trip.
Finn snorted out a sigh. It was in his nature to be cautious, but for now, he would trust in the boy's judgement.
Who knows, maybe everything would turn out ok... Finn set aside his caution based pessimism for now.
After giving Bryn time to catch his breath, the duo began their trek into the woods.
For the first couple hours, they saw nothing but normal wildlife. Multiple deer, rabbits, and the occasional fox crossed their path, but nothing interesting had made itself known. Just trees and shrubbery for miles.
By the time it got dark, they had made it quite a ways into the woods. Bryn explained that they would have to go deeper before they found actual magical beasts. Apparently, elemental energies of all types grew stronger the further you went in.
For those of higher ranks, it was a method of telling how far you were into the Border Woods, by simply sensing the elemental density.
The duo stopped to rest for the night. Bryn laid a pillow against Finn's flank and fell asleep next to the fire he created, leaning into Finn's warmth. Finn curled around the boy, enjoying the heat from the flames.
In the morning, they ate dried slabs of meat that Bryn had packed before continuing on. It became almost boring as Finn's hesitation and wariness gradually faded away.
Maybe I was just being paranoid...
After a few more hours of traveling, Finn stopped to give Bryn a break from riding.
We're definitely tens of miles deep into these woods by now... Finn made a rough estimate of the distance they had traveled.
Overall nothing interesting had caught his eye so far-wait!
Finn jerked his head up. Something was wrong, something had changed. His instincts were suddenly screaming at him.
Shooting to his feet, he scanned the area to try and make sense of the strange premonition he was feeling.
"Hey bud, what is it?" Finn's sudden actions were not lost on the boy, who immediately became alert. Finn ignored him, trying to focus on what his instincts were telling him.
Although he didn't fully understand his new body, he had learned to trust the instincts that came with it. They hadn't been wrong yet.
He froze, now realizing what it was. Sniffing the air carefully, Finn could just make out a faint metallic scent.
Finn's eyes narrowed. He recognized this particular scent. Blood.
He smelled blood.