"You bunch, show me your papers, if you don't have any slowly back off, don't think about making any trouble or we will send you to prison or kill you right here!"
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Link, the most charismatic of the bunch replied with a smile:
"Hello good sir, I hope you are having an excellent day, I have the permit for our group, the name is Rolling Rock, you can see for yourself. We would not dare cause any ruckus"
The captain happily rolled his thin mustache, he liked those who knew their place. After receiving their permit from Link, he thoroughly checked it before responding:
"Ok, your group is clear, but be mindful of the rules
1. Don't harm others and f anyone is after you report them to internal stations
2. Don't pass our outposts stationed inside without proper papers
3. Don't try any contraband, any gains must be reported to us
4. Your time in the dungeon should not be more than a week, or you will be deemed as dead"
Link said: "Certainly sir, we are law-abiding citizens and will not break any rules, thank you. Have an excellent day"
This behaviour put the small-time captain in a very good mood yet did not buy any points for Link amongst his comrades. They had all experienced many hardships, learning to be hard, not being moved by any warm words. Link had the habit of buttering up any person he talked with, but others hated the sight of this occurrence, they had lost respect for poor mage along time ago.
Link did not care about their feelings, in his view making acquaintances was a must, at the very least, these connections did not make life difficult for him. He had learned his motto from his parents, why make enemies when one can simply form friendships. Link could not count the number of times, following this motto had led to surviving endeavors. After witnessing the reaction of the soldier, he continued with a bright smile:
"Nobel sir, my name is Link, may I know your great name?"
The guards looked with suspicion, captain frowned and angrily asked: "Why do you ask? It is none of your business, now move along before I stop your group"
This response would have made any heart cold, but Link persisted: "Oh no my good sir, I simply wish to know the name of the fair hero, so I can sing your praise of fairness in far and wide"
One would not become a captain of guards in such a strategic location without proper knowledge of the game. Thus, he understood the sublime meaning of the words, this young mage was simply expressing goodwill. Since his age seemed less then 30, if he had enough strength to move out of the academy and explore, there was a good chance of a bright future. All of this depended on his survival of course, yet this small investment did not cost him anything and had possible future rewards, so he smiled back replying:
"My name is Mark, if you ever come to house Lancaster you should come find me, young Link"
They then firmly shook hands, then the company moved inside the dark cave-like structure.
Just as they took their first step inside, a strong aroma of alcohol attacked their senses.
Betsy the archer licked her lips and commented: "This smell makes me thirsty, let's finish fast and go to a tavern, the task given to us is very simple this time"
Beryl the warrior supported her sister's view with a nod.
Alvin the warrior looked at Dahlia with a sad gaze: "They waste all the money given to them, maybe we should hold onto their shares this time. Hahaha"
Dahlia the thief laughed: "That's very true, damn drunks, hahaha, but we have to give Link more budget this time, he has to buy another staff, it will help him cast spells better"
This nice gesture of team leader was rudely ignored by Link the mage. He had dull eyes seemingly remembering some distant memories.
Link was walking out of his house late at night. After a month in the academy learning magic ceaselessly, he had the chance to go back home for a day. Link used all the chances given to him to visit his old parents, assisting them in anything they needed. He felt a deep debt of gratitude towards them, as he was the only child, much love and affection were directed at him. They had passed on their entire knowledge of the world; a stall owner and a housewife did not have much to offer. However, they did their utmost to provide for their child, keeping his young smile.
Young Link had found his parents hungry on many occasions, watching him eating with radiant smiles. As he grew older, understanding of his family financial situation made him realize many hard memorize.
Once his mage aptitude test came positive, he swore to take on the role of provider, cater to any need of his family. Thus, by assisting professors in their experiments he gathered some funds, besides the portion used for his experiments and books, he would send the rest back home.
This had led to his slow progress, with his average aptitude, more resources were needed to compensate for his lack of talent. Since he used some of his time working to earn income, not much time was left for studying magic, so, unsurprisingly he had stayed a novice after 4 years.
On the fateful night, when he was coming back from his one-day visit. Link had his down, pondering some questions about the theory of magic circles and summoning. Not paying attention to his steps led to a violent encounter. Both parties fell on the ground from the impact. After getting up, Link addressed the other party with kindness:
"Hi sir, I am deeply sorry about this, let me help you up, are you ok? Again, I apologize"
The stranger grumbled at first, showing signs of intoxication, but suddenly he yelled:
"You damn bastard, I fell, I will KILL you DEAD, ye hear me *hic* boy? Fuck you and your stupid apology"
Confused from the strong negative reaction of drunk Link persisted on his motto:
"Sir, I am very sorry, here let me give you a hand"
The drunk held on to the extended hand of Link, tugging it with excess force. This act led Link to lose his balance, falling on the ground, fortunately at the last second, he used his left hand to decrease the speed of impact. Doing so protected his face, but as a mage with weak body, his hand was in extreme pain.
Out of nowhere came a punch, landing hard on Link's elegant nose.
Link yelled: "Fuck, my nose is broken, I said I am sorry why are you doing this; you crazy drunkard"
Instead of proper response, another heavy punch landed on his cheek.
Link screamed out of pain, desperation, and fear, then a hand firmly held his mouth, shocking the poor mage. The assailant used this moment of confusion to mount Link, sitting on his chest, keeping both of his arms under the solid weight of legs. Then the attacker started to heavily beat Link in the face to an inch of his life, hit after hit landed on the poor mage's defenceless face.
Due to the sudden escalation of this situation, Link was in deep shock, unable to utilize magic to save himself. Even in case of a successful cast, novice magic would not have been able to stop this man!
After the man lost his breath, he closed in on what used to be a decent looking face, then whispered:
"This is what I think about your apology!"
After such a traumatic experience, Link changed completely. He would visit his parents less and work more on magic until he had a fortunate encounter inheriting some ancient insight, which helped in breaking through many levels, making Link an intermediate magic apprentice.
Unfortunately for him, a chance at revenge never came, as all that was remembered from that night had been the strong scent of alcohol and nothing more!
This incident had shaken Link to his core, making him profoundly disgusted by liquor.
After the flashback ended, Link came to the present world and asked:
"Sorry, I got out of it for a second, did you need something?"
Dahlia laughed and replied: "You are starting to lose it sunny boy, come on it doesn't matter, let's finish this simple task"