Tim had gotten in over his head.
The young man was taking cover on a pub. Glass and wood debris were flying around as he and his wolf had been under fire. Five armed gunmen were peppering their hiding spot with energy bolts. His plan had backfired, embarrassingly so, and would likely be costing him the lives of the villagers he should be taking care of.
Tim actively flinched, putting his arms over the back of his head when a wood chip flew nicking his cheek. His guardian wolf was keeping its head down, staring at Tim. The young man must’ve looked pathetic.
“Hey, guild dog!” The leader of the bandits yelled from outside the building, his voice was barely audible through the gunfire. “If you don’t get out right now, I’ll fry this limp excuse of a man.”
Tim could hear the familiar sound of an elder man in tears. The village of Quanny had been using an ancient ruin set in their village as a minor tourist spot. It wasn’t the village’s main source of finance but it helped taken in a lot of visitors from far places. They should have been content with the local trade. Because it was the ruin’s publicity that garnered the attention of a bandit group. The man Tim heard pleading was one of the villagers, he had been working on the next town half-a-day’s carriage ride away. It took him another few days just to request a job for a mage to help his home.
Tim didn’t know how the guild’s job system worked; it wasn’t something he had been able to find time studying. But something like retaking control of a village really shouldn’t be left to D-Rank greenhorns. But this hadn’t been something he took to heart.
Not when he first met his client, anyway.
The young man had found the villager asleep on the guild lounge. It was when Tim tried offering him some refreshments the man thought he was there to help him. Tim was qualified, and the man was too desperate to get picky.
Of course, Tim did not go in without a plan: Wait for sundown. (Tim knew the bandits would be getting drunk off their boots and security would relax during that time) Free the villagers under the cover of night. March back to the village where the man worked and from there Tim would ask for the actual military to clear Quanny out of bandits.
The plan had been working too, until they failed to notice a half-drunk bandit taking a piss who broke their cover. The gunmen who patrolled the village streets were noticeably angrier, probably because Tim and his companions were able to get past them.
“What’ll it be?!” Tim heard the bandit leader cast a spell.
A large explosion had sent Tim flying across the pub. His back slammed into a wall and was covered by very heavy wooden structures. Should he have asked for help? Surely there were some members in his guild who could spare a day helping these villagers. Tim felt light headed as he tried pushing the heavy wood aside. It didn’t matter now, did it?
“Did it finish him off?” “Look for a body! If a dog of the council gets wind of our operation, we’re screwed.” “Hey, look. That guy had a sword.”
Tim stopped moving. He was dead. The sword he had gotten from his duel with an Icebergian warrior was on enemy hands. What else did he have? His fist against a proper mage and hardened gunmen? Tim’s back felt bruised, his body was hurting from the fire and that mage felt leagues stronger than him. This was a mistake. This was no time trying to play hero.
“Wolf…” Tim whispered. His companion materialized, keeping low. “Go back to the guild and tell them what happened. I think I can keep them busy enough so you can escape.”
Tim glared at the wolf’s reply: an indignant huff. “Don’t you start this with me, this isn’t the damn time-!”
The wolf licked his face, surprising the young man. But when the mutt slowly turned its dim blue flames into Tim’s nightlike skin the young man grabbed his companion’s ethereal fur. “If you’re going to do what I think you’re doing, stop. For once, wolf, listen to me.”
It actually looked at Tim straight in the eye. “If you go down. I won’t be strong enough to take you out of the fire.”
Its answer was to nudge Tim’s hand away gently. “No! Wolf!”
“Damn it. Damn it! I’m going to kill that mutt-!” Tim heaved, pushing the heavy wooden furniture aside. The young man pushed harder as he heard the wolf howl followed by explosions and screams. It was when Tim heard a dog-like whine and a crash something snapped within the young man.They don’t deserve to be called humans, do they?
Tim’s nightlike skin quickly covered his body and the shadow like tar covering him started dripping. The pub’s ground illuminated by the fire mage’s flame attack was slowly being covered by the tar-like shadow. Tim slammed his feet up sending the wooden furniture flying like it was nothing. It was an unnatural sight.We need a little compromise; a little showcase of power to keep them in their place.
Tim’s strength wasn’t amplified. In fact, his feet were burning from exerting all that force at once. But it was a small sacrifice to pay. He needed to give these bandits their due.That’s right. This fire mage feels like a king in his little hill.
Tim, stepping out from the pub, saw his wolf companion surrounded. It had eliminated more than dozen of the bandits. Only three brass knuckle wearing ones, two of the gunmen and their leader were left. And it looked like they hurt his pet.But what is a king to a God?
“A God, huh.” Tim gurgled, his voice barely his own. “We need to show them where their place is in this world, don’t we?”Yes, like your ancestors. Set your place in this world in blood.
“Wh- what in earthland is that!?” “A monster!”
Two of the melee bandits tried to hit Tim, to no avail. They were punching into darkness. The third one stabbed Tim with his own sword. “Take that, you freak!”
Tim let the sword through him halfway and it stuck between his body. The bandit let the sword go in fear. “Freak? I suppose you’re not wrong.”
Tim let out a dry chuckle. His unnerving laugh was heard by the rest of the bandit group. “What the hell is that?” One of the gunmen shouted.
“Must be the guild dog’s magic.” The fire mage said calmly, but Tim could see the sweat slowly forming over the man’s temple.
The young man pulled the weapon free and morphed his chuckle into an audible laugh. “You’re afraid.”
“You talk big for a dead man.” The leader shot back.Fool.
“Wolf. Come.” Tim ordered. For once, his companion listened. It howled and unleashed a wave of tarlike shadow drowning the gunmen and their leader like a black quicksand. Before they could shoot the wolf then dove into the shadow and swam towards Tim like an aquatic predator. It dove out and poised behind the young man.
“You think you’re some king? Standing over this hill of a village, playing house raking suffering?” Tim walked. The bandits stopped moving, looking at Tim raise his hand. The three melee bandits closest to Tim levitated.
“Wha-” “Good lord, help!” “Monster!”
With a wave of dismissal Tim launched the three bandits into the other two gunmen. The leader he reserved last. Tim gestured the leader to come closer and, with a spell, he pulled the bandit leader. The fire mage clad himself in fire as he fought off begin pulled, but every time he did so he would only be grasping into the viscous shadow.
“Get the hell away from me!” The mage finally launched a similar fire ball that sent Tim flying earlier. But all it did was light his nightlike skin and was promptly put away from the sheer thickness of the shadow. “Monster…”
“That’s right, a monster.” Tim grumbled; his modulated voice struck fear in the mage. “See your place in this world yet? You’re no king, you’re barely a man…”Show this pile of meat what it means to be mortal.
Tim waited for the man to be pulled even closer. His gravity spell doing wonders. The young man lifted his sword and waited for the leader to impale himself into the blade.
“Oh gods, no! No!”
“Now do what men do when they see a monster.”
The leader finally fainted in fear. Not even a fraction of time after the man was unconscious Tim had stopped all of his spells: His skin’s nightlike hue completely disappeared. His gravity spell stopped as Tim fell on his butt.
“What the hell was that?” The young man dug his sword on the ground and pinched between his nose.
“…was that me?” He realized as he looked up; wolf saw Tim in tears. “I thought I was in control.” It nudged Tim’s head in response as the young man leaned in and let himself collapse into his pet’s ethereal fur.
The people had seen what he did: he had beaten the bandits and the village was freed. The village would go back to its regular routine eventually and the world, at large, did not give any accolades on what transpired. It was a typical mage’s job. Nothing more.