Chapter 30: Don’t take it personal, please! part

The next day Both Bob and Luke woke up refreshed by the best night sleep they ever had. After meeting up at the entrance Rina greeted them politely.

“Good morning dear clients, did you find your accommodations to your liking?”

“Yes! the bed was so comfortable I fell asleep as soon as I lied down”

“Hehe, thought so, since it’s past noon already. Your village must be really far that you were so tired”

“Miss Rina, has mister Rudd arrived yet?”

Rina chuckled after hearing someone speaking about Rudd with respect.

“Yes, he’s been waiting for you since morning, he asked me many times if you were still sleeping”


After thanking Rina they went downstairs and found Rudd standing up looking impatient. After exchanging pleasentries they sat down to discuss business.

“So, mister Ironwood are you ready to talk business?”

Luke smirks

“Yes, I gathered all the funds I could before coming. But first I’d like to ask you a couple questions. Why did you choose to do business with me when you could’ve just sold your meat to Rina. Don’t get me wrong I’m more than happy to make a little cash out of our deal but you didn’t strike me as a naive person”

“The reason is simple, we need a middleman. We just arrived and don’t know the ropes, also, what would you think would happen if we were to start to sell our goods openly?”

“Well... merchants might get upset”

“Exactly. Now, instead of attempting to coerce us they will be forced to persuade us. And that would only be possible if you didn’t do your job properly”

“My job?”

Rudd now realizes that what he thought was a strike of luck and his own skill was actually Luke’s plan all along.

“Yes, your job is to protect our business from those greedy merchants. As long as you pay fair prices to us we’ll continue selling only to you, and as long as you keep supplying other merchant’s stores instead of selling directly to people they won’t have a reason to take us down”

“Fine by me, I’m going to play fair as long as you keep your end of the deal. To think that I rushed in today to keep you from doing business with others when you already thought of all this. You could’ve spared me the trouble. Anyway, I took the liberty to show your food products around and there is market as long as the price suits our purses”

Bob yawns missing his bed, all this talk and nothing to do left him feeling completely useless.

“Bob, you can leave the goods and take a stroll if you want”

Before Luke even finishes speaking Bob rushes out of the door at a speed that didn’t suit his size.

“Excuse my friend, winter doesn’t agree with him”

“If he’s got that kind of energy he could make a living at the mines”

“We don’t have proper tools, and we don’t know the first thing about mining nor how does this town works. Please take the sack and feel free to sell its content, you can pay me after you take your cut”

“That’s fine but this much is not nearly enough”

Says rudd taking a look inside the plant fiber sack

“This is nothing but a sample, the first batch should arrive tomorrow... unless something unexpected happens that forces me to send a signal to our companions to call off the deal”

“You guys are seriously paranoid”

“Like I said, we’re facing the unknown here. Why don’t you tell me more about the town? take into account that I’ve never visited any towns nor villages”

“You sound too well educated to be just a country bumpkin”

“I didn’t say I’m uneducated, just ignorant in some aspects”

Luke shrugs his shoulders. Even though his words sounds humble he’s got a smug expression on his face.

“This is the town of Ironwoods, I’m the first son of the town’s mayor. Most people in here are miners, but my crew and I are also hunters. The old mine is open to anyone willing to risk it, but it’s a bit dangerous if you can’t fend yourself since it’s also the lair of many creatures. This place was founded by my great grandfather, after he was cast out from the city he lived in, he gathered as many people he could and started anew in here”

“What kind of ores do you mine?”

“Mostly copper and iron ore, but sometimes we find some elemental stones. It’s not much but it keeps us afloat. Every so often minor nobles come down claiming they own this land, but after no more than two weeks they give up and turn tail”

Rudd laughs wholeheartedly as he stands up to pick up the bag.

“Before I leave let me give you a piece of advice. whatever you do, stay as far away as you can from Rina, she came of age recently and has many suitors among the most powerful people in town”

Luke was left disappointed, even he knew that meant trouble for the whole group and he had no choice but to back up from his intentions. Still, it wasn’t like she was the only pretty girl he’ll meet and there’ll be plenty of chances to fulfill his lust at the brothel once they get a steady source of income.

As soon as Rudd got outside, his crew joined him in silence. They were eager to help in his new endeavor, so much so that they willingly emptied their pockets to help him shoulder the cost of the merchandise they’ll receive.

Their first stop was at the grocery shop, where he had previously agreed to deliver all the meat he could get. As a hunter he already had a close relationship with the store owner, also his team was the most prolific at hunting so they were able to provide the biggest amount of food even during winter. But this didn’t mean it was enough to satisfy the ever growing hunger in town, everyday people fell due to starvation, and even if they had money it amounted to nothing if there was nothing to buy at the stores.

Some were even desperate enough to venture themselves into the forest only to never come back. Others recurred to selling themselves into slavery as a last resort to have the slightest chance at surviving just one more winter.

The store owner greeted Rudd with an amicable smile.

“Good afternoon Rudd, did you come back from a hunting trip already?”

“Not really, but I got my hands into some meat nonetheless”

“What do we have here? boar, deer and fish. You know fish is going to be cheaper than meat right?”

“I know, just pay the coins and I’ll be out of here”

“I’m just curious why would someone attempt to fish on this season, I mean, it’s almost as difficult as hunting and the price will still be low for a couple weeks until the river freezes. You didn’t rob someone did you?”

“Listen, I’m not going to spill the beans so just pay the price or I’ll go somewhere else”

A single deer provided enough food to last for weeks, even if it took five days to hunt one it’ll still be worth it, but no amount of fish was worth the effort to spend hours under the cold breeze fishing. This raised suspicions on the storeowner who nevertheless paid the price in full and went back to stocking up his shelves.

The next stop was the brothel, this time the madame was not pleased to see his new business partner.

“What took you so long kid?”

“Don’t call me that”

“If you’re not married nor visit my place you’re a kid no matter what you say”

“Listen, if you’re not interested in what I showed you yesterday I can...”

“How much you did you manage to bring?”

Rudd places two small bags into the counter to which the madame frowned.

“This isn’t nearly enough”

“It’ll have to do until tomorrow”

The madame, a well dressed woman on her mid fifties, she was well mannered and always had a smile drawn on her face, but she lost her patience with Rudd years ago since he’ll never fall into her claws.

Most citizens would visit the brothel to dine or stay, especially after a long shift at the mines, making her business the most lucrative in the whole town. At this point there wasn’t much her money couldn’t afford, thus making her focus in politics more than money. To her a simple customer meant nothing, but failing to bring under her wing the first son of the town mayor was a big let down.

He wouldn’t fall in honeytraps nor in bribes, so as long as he was destined to rule over the town after the mayor’s passing she won’t be able to fulfill her plans. To add insult to injury this new food source can take down the efforts she’s been doing for the past years to force people into heavy debt until they had no choice but to sell themselves into slavery.

“Remember, I’ll keep buying this new food products as long as you don’t sell to anyone else. If you keep your word I’ll buy as much as you can get”

“Understood, now if you’ll excuse me”

Rudd didn’t want to spend a single spare minute inside that place. He and his crew were among the few citizens that avoided the brothel like the plague. Its not that he didn’t enjoy the company of a good woman, but he wasn’t interested in paying for that kind of service. For as long as he can remember the madame has been trying to bring him over to her side, but he’s always been wary of the cunning lady.

Bob, on the other side, didn’t have the last clue about the madame’s intentions nor did he know he was in that kind of place. At the same moment Rudd was having that conversation, Bob was enjoying the attention of a girl who he thought he met by chance.

Despite his looks he was actually only twenty years old and very inexperienced in anything related to the opposite sex. On this world, people became adults at the age of fifteen and they were expected to get by on their own, but on Bob’s world he was still a student living at his parent’s house.

His kind demeanor added up to his naive upbringing were the reason why he was in his current situation. The moment he stepped foot into the brothel without knowing, his fate was sealed.

“What do you mean I have to pay you?”

“Don’t tell me you thought I fell for you on first sight”

Says the curvy beauty as she starts dressing herself

“Of course I thought so! you should have warned me beforehand!”

“There’s no free meal honey, if you don’t have money I’ll have to call in the guards”

Bob was frozen on the spot

“Call Luke! tell him I’m in trouble and he’ll pay for me”

“I don’t know any Luke, now if you don’t pay you’ll end up becoming a slave”

Bob’s mind started to spin its gears wildly but he couldn’t find a solution, yet he didn’t give up.

“Rudd! call mister Rudd and he’ll settle the debt!”

The woman walked out, went downstairs and found her madame speaking precisely with Rudd at the precise moment he was about to leave the place

“Madame Bianca, could you spare me a minute? there’s a guy who won’t pay, he says he knows Rudd”


Rudd lifts up an inquiring eyebrow. His crewmates aren’t supposed to be at the brothel. Madame Bianca was also astonished but did her best to cover it up behind her usual smile.

“Call him down dear, and what have I told you about interrupting me when I’m doing business”

The woman bit her lip realizing just now the mistake she made. In her mind she wanted to take the chance to speak since Rudd was already there, she was more concerned about the money than anything else since that’s how she earned a living. If a client doesn’t pay, she doesn’t get paid. But to the madame it was such a waste to let go of a chance to make Rudd owe her a favor.

When Bob came down the stairs, walking slow in shame, Rudd started laughing his ass off.

“Bob? what are you doing here?”

“It’s not what you think!”

“so you didn’t....”

“He did!”

The pretty woman by Bob’s side, who was clinging to his arm not only to lead him but also to make sure he wouldn’t escape, exclaimed loudly. Rudd couldn’t hold his laughter and he almost fell to the floor.

“How much is it?”

“One silver and fifty coppers”

“This is robbery!? what the hell did you ask for!?”

“I can’t disclose my client’s information”

“I know, im asking him”

“you can’t expect me to tell you...”

“listen kid, if I don’t know what you did I won’t know if you’re being scammed”

After hearing this, Bob went pale, but mustered the courage to whisper into Rudd’s ear everything he did with the lady.

“Good graces kid, how come she’s even able to walk straight?”

His remark didn’t go unnoticed by the woman who, for the first time in years, blushed genuinely.

After settling the bill both men went outside in silence. Rudd was flabbergasted, five coins would go a long way inside the brothel but what he spent was almost enough to buy a slave.

“Thanks for what you did for me Rudd, I’ll ask Luke to reimburse you as soon as I see him, but please don’t tell him what happened”

“You put me in a tough situation. I can deduct the amount from what I earned by selling your goods, but Luke will notice right away”

Bob stares blankly at Rudd making him shudder in fear for a second, but he was just thinking on what to say and didn’t mean to intimidate him.

“Fine, let’s do this, I’ll forward you the amount but you’ll go to the mines to earn what you owe me. Just be careful on the future or you could end up being sold as a slave and once it’s done it can’t be reversed”

A cold sweat runs through Bob’s forehead despite the icy wind that runs on the street.

“Thank you so much mister Rudd, I’ll make sure to repay you soon”

“Nevermind that, I’m just glad I was at the right place at the right moment. By the way, I’m going to buy some supplies, we can go together so you get what you need to go mining”

Rudd says as he hands Bob a coin purse with a single silver coin.

“just this?”

“Yes, I’m surprised it even amounted to this. Usually a whole deer would be this much, its only because of your novelty food that we got so much. You may think I’m being unfair but I only got eight coppers to myself, I meant to take 10 copper for my troubles but I’m too lazy to break a silver for measly 2 copper coins”

The group consisting of Bob, Rudd and his crewmates went downstreet to get some supplies. Bob decided to take the chance to get as many supplies as he could since he was with Rudd, thus avoiding falling into the claws of dishonest merchants.

He got two rusty pickaxes for fifteen copper, a small roll of cloth for fifty copper, and three lanterns for three copper each. The last thing he needed was fuel for the lamp, but he couldn’t find any.

“Where do you guys get oil for your lamps?”

“Why would we waste oil? these are powered by elemental stones. A small stone should last for a day”

“I don’t know how to power it”

“Just place a fire stone inside the lower compartment like this”

As soon as Rudd closed the compartment the lamp started to send off a small light that grew in size and brightness by the second. Then he moved a small lever making it shine brighter, after that moved the lever to the other side and it started to fade until it was almost extinguished.

“Ryu is going to love this thing”

“who’s Ryu?”

For a second, Bob completely forgot that he couldn’t share any information about his comrades to anyone. In his mind, Rudd was his friend already, it didn’t matter how many times Ryu asked him to not trust any strangers. But after remembering how he fared on the brothel he realized the importance on being on guard.

“Nevermind, it’s just a guy I know”

After returning to the inn they were staying, Bob attempted to go unnoticed but Luke was already waiting for him. He was so happy to see Bob return with so much stuff and even some spare change that he completely missed that he wasn’t being his usual self.

Bob would always smile and shrug off any difficult situation they were in, he was the strongest out of his companions not only physically but he also supported everyone’s emotionally. He didn’t have to speak, just his cheery smile would be enough to reassure his companions.

But something inside Bob broke that day. When he met the girl at ‘the other tavern’ he was wiped off his feet by all the female attention he got. Every single female tried to hit on him, he was even more flabbergasted when the most beautiful girl he had ever seen in his life tried to flirt with him.

Her full lips and curvy figure left him speechless but she didn’t mind it at all, she was so assertive that he just couldn’t deny what his body wanted. Whatever he wanted to do, whatever he felt like touching, caressing, biting or kissing, nothing was out of bounds.

The joy of being looked at with desire for the first time in his life, of finally becoming a man, was completely shadowed by the overwhelming guilt he now felt for being so naive as to fall head first into her cunning act.

The worst part was that he let everybody down and that feeling was eating him on the inside.

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