The Town in the Forest
It was a shameless, all-out cry for help. I screamed at the top of my lungs and hoped there would be people near the entrance of the town. The wolves were at my back and would pounce in any moment as I ran to the gates.
My prayers were answered. An old man wielding a spear jumped out from behind the gates. The first person I met in this world. Town resident number one!
“What is it!? What’s happened!?”
I was in such a panic that I couldn’t form sentences. But that word was all that was needed for the old man to realize. He quickly blew into the whistle that was around his neck. Right then, six more men appeared from the other side of the gate. Were they sextuplets? No.
“It’s a pack of forest wolves! A traveler is being attacked!”
“Hey, you! Over here! Come inside!”
You don’t have to ask twice! I trembled and nodded, then ran as fast as I could. It felt like the sounds of the wolves were becoming distant. I kept my momentum and rushed passed the group of old men and tumbled through the gates.
Wa-, water…! My throat was so dry as I forced myself to breathe and then turned around. The old men with spears were facing the wolves…the forest wolves in two lines of three and four. The forest wolves showed no signs of fear, and they charged towards the men. I gasped in surprise. The spears crashed into the fangs, and the fight began. But even though these men had spears, they were several against many. Now that I had caught my breath, I picked up my chipped billhook and went to join the fray. But, right then, something grabbed me by the shoulder and threw me to the ground. Hey, who the hell? I’m busy right now.
“Now, you sit right here, chicken liver.”
I looked up and saw a haggard looking old man with a smirk on his face. He wore leather armor and carried two unsheathed swords in his hands. Who the hell was he?
“Haha, that was a good sprint back there! You looked just like a rabbit running for its life, hah!”
Now a gangly looking man with a somewhat offensive face appeared holding a short sword. Well, this wasn’t the best first impression…
“What is with you guys… This is important. Let me go.”
“Annnnd as I was saying, what good would it do for a coward like you to go? What will you do with that rusty old billhook? Eh?”
“I’m going to go and help those men fight off the wolves, of course!? Do you see how many there are!”
The haggard man and the gangly man looked at one another. Then they erupted into a boisterous laugh.
“Buwahhaha!! You, you! Don’t you think you are panicking a little too much over some forest wolves!!”
“What even are you!! Are you a traveling minstrel!? You do make us laugh hah!!”
I didn’t understand… So those numbers were nothing serious to them? Or, was this somehow normal?
“The-then, what did you two come here for…? Why the weapons?”
“Why? We brought them for you of course.”
So saying, the tip of the sword was pointed at my throat. In a second the two men became very serious.
“Don’t try anything funny. If it turns out you’re a dangerous one who is only pretending to cower like a rabbit, then we might have to kill you.”
“That’s right. Now, will you hand over that filthy billhook of yours?”
Ah, I see. Those old gatekeepers had to go to fight the forest wolves, so these two were sent to monitor me.
“I’m sorry then. Here, take the billhook. I won’t leave this spot. Just please don’t point that at me.”
“As long as you understand. You will shut up and sit here quietly.”
The gangly man received the billhook wordlessly and inspected its chipped blade.
“Hey, you. You came through the forest with just this?”
“Ah, yeah. I stole it from a goblin.”
“Huh? A goblin?”
“Well, I didn’t have anything else.”
The gangly man stared at me doubtfully.
“Well then. How did you, how did you steal it from the goblin?”