(Story will be narrated in 1st person by Yuki)

I glanced around at my surroundings as I walked. Every step was of caution, every breath was in consideration of the oxygen and my lungs.

Humans like myself were weak. With a single slice, we could die from microscopic bacteria. Just by living our daily lives, we could die from a stroke, choke, or in our sleep.

Nature was never with us. It seemed to despise us, humans. Natural disasters, sicknesses, etc. Everything in our lives seems to be able to kill us.

Yet, humans still want more and more. Materialistic. Thats what we are. Even though people die every day, we still want to kill.

And if one has power they can use, they will use it and want more and more. People like them become corrupt and usually end up harming others for more power.

That was why I was separated from the Anemos Crew for 3 months.

I got rid of four 6th Intermediate-grade mages, three 4th Intermediate-grade mages, and one 3rd Intermediate-grade mage.

Including 7 knights ranging from 8th Low-grade to 4th Intermediate-grade.

*=*

A/N: (For knights only)

Mages go 1st circle, all the way to the 12th circle

Low Grade – (1~9)

Intermediate Grade – (1~6)

High Grade – (1~3)

Master Grade – (1)

*=*

Most of the nations despised us and we were called the Thoros Pirates, meaning Mercenary Pirates in the ancient languages. It was also commonly called the Pirate Navy by the ”pirates ” themselves.

In all honesty, we weren completely pirates… at first. But after being called pirates time and time again, we accepted the name and became pirates.

The reason we hunted down ships though, was because we were told to, hired, we were mercenaries. The founder of the Thoros Navy was the living pirate king himself. Now at the age of 78, he spent most of his time preparing plans and missions instead of taking action himself.

As I walked I noticed a slender body holding flowers.

”Mrs Lyra! ” I called out in surprise.

Her head turned, looking for the source of the voice. ”Yuki? Its been so long! ”

I ran up to her and shook her hand and bowed my head.

She was a special person, for me, yes, but for Captain, even more. She was a definition of beautiful, her voice was beautiful as well. Captain was a lucky man. She had a beauty mark above her lips, like a certain someone I knew…

Captain would turn 44 in a few weeks. I realised randomly.

”Where have you been? ” She asked in a cheery voice.

”I had a mission. ”

She nodded and so did I. I wasn allowed to give details.

”Have you seen Levy yet? ”

”Oh, no I haven , Mrs Lyra, I was actually looking for him. Has he gotten any better? ” My heart pounded as I waited for the answer. After not seeing him for a whole year, I was worried. Hopefully, he was doing much better.

”Oh yes, hes healed almost completely, hell be up and ready to go missioning with you soon. ” Mrs Lyra gave a gentle smile as she talked.

Levy is her son, she mustve been as hurt as I had been. I wonder if Captain knows, maybe I shouldve asked him…

I recalled the trip in the sailboat with the other three. There was little talk and a lot of ”zoning out ”. My mind had completely blanked as I thought about going back at that time.

I followed Mrs Lyra inside her house.

-Clack… clack… Clack… clack…

As soon as I heard the sound I began impolitely running.

”Hmm, check. ”

”Oh, then Ill move this… here. ” An older voice responded

-Bam!

”Levy! ”

”Kiki!? ”

I could feel myself cringing. ”Shut the ** up! ” I yelled and ran to give my old friend a hug.

Levy laughed. ”Whereve you been? ” he asked in a curious voice after we separated.

”I had a place to go to. Youve been feeling better? ”

”Yeah, ** the crutches, I can already run safely, with or without. ”

I chuckled at his arrogant declaration.

”You didn change a damn bit, ”

”I know I didn but you did. I think you got leaner. ”

I nodded and shrugged as I looked around the room.

”Mr Lu! Its been a while. ” I noticed him earlier but decided to irk him a bit.

Mr Lu laughed. ”I felt like a ghost for a second. You boys wanna do a two versus one? ”

Both Levy and I instantly froze. Was that a… threat?

I laughed nervously ”Ahaha… chess right? ”

Mr Lus face brightened benevolently. ”Of course! ”

”Whew. ” I sighed deeply as Levy wiped a bead of sweat off his forehead.

”Not. ”

***

”Damn, you see that kid? We spent 3 years with him but he treats them this way. ” A rich voice spoke.

”Haha, hell pay for sure… ” A much rougher voice responded.

”The boat was so quiet, why wasn he this lively with us!? ” The rich voice complained.

Burns nodded at Wills jealous remark and answered.

”Its because you
e too old. ”

”… ”

Burnss body instantly stiffened at the silence. Oops, wrong words.

***

I noticed it. Whenever I was closer to Levy, or near him in a certain radius, I would feel more lively, and happy. I had noticed it for a while now but said nothing. If he didn say anything about it, I didn have to either.

I patted the random sword I found in Captains treasury.

I had a knack for finding good weapons. It worked a stunning 1 out of 1,000 times. According to my (inaccurate) estimations, that is.

I glanced at Levy and Mr Lu.

Levy brandished two wooden swords. Mr Lu also did, but there was a difference. Levy and I would use one sword while Mr Lu would use both.

Levy groaned as he saw Mr Lu holding his swords. ”Ugh, why can you go easy on us? I haven warmed up in days! ”

Mr Lu smirked, ”Its about time you do anyways. ”

Levy threw me a sword and I caught it. I unsheathed my sword and replaced it with the wooden one. I handed my real sword to Mrs Lyra.

After receiving special armour which encased my whole body, I did arm stretches, jumps, body twists, neck rolls, and my favourites, leg stretches such as standing forward bends and dynamic stretches like lateral(side) lunges.

Next, I did a few cardio exercises such as jumping jacks and high knees.

To finish things off I did some more stretching. I wore my helmet as I brandished my sword.

After about 4 minutes, I was finally ready.

I felt 3 pairs of eyes staring at me.

”What a warmup Kiki. ” Levy said with a wry smirk on his face.

Mr Lu gave me a thumbs up and Mrs Lyra sat down comfortably on a far away sofa with pillows, blankets, and snacks. I was slightly jealous of the comfortable surroundings.

”Ready? ” Mr Lu asked as Mrs Lyra munched on a cookie.

Levy chuckled at her mom. ”Yup, we
e ready! ”

We both prepared ourselves… but Mr Lu stood still.

”What? Do you think Im going to charge at you? ”

Levy and I looked at each other and nodded.

Mr Lu smirked, ”Im too old now but you boys are too predictable. ”

-Thunk!

Levys and Mr Lus swords clashed. Mr Lu was in his mid-forties but was still strong as ever.

-Wisp…

My whole body disappeared before suddenly appearing behind Mr Lu.

I swung down.

He had already noticed me.

With his other sword, he turned his body so that his shoulders were facing both of us.

I began reaching with my sword as Levy went on a more defensive approach.

Mr Lus sword suddenly lunged towards me.

-Thunk!

It was at that moment Levy began walking clockwise and went offensive.

A series of ”thunks ” occurred in a timeframe of seconds.

I began jabbing towards him.

-Thu-thu-thunk-hunk-thunk!

An almost harmonious sound was born from our interactions.

-Crunch crunch.

I quickly glanced at Mrs Lyra who comfortably crunched on her cookies.

-Thunk!

”Close call there Yuki! ” Levy yelled.

I nodded. ”Lets do this! ”

We suddenly went all-out offensive against Mr Lu.

***

Loud laughter could be heard coming from above us.

Levy and I lay on the ground, exhausted.

If it weren for our armour, wedve been full of scratches and bruises.

Mr Lus armour was as useless as a sticker on a sword. We couldn even touch him.

”Hahahaha! And I thought I was growing too old for this! ”

”… ”

Levy sighed. ”You could share your sword art if you want a better fight in the future… ”

Mr Lu shook his head.

”Perhaps you can buy us a good one? ”

Mr Lu shook his head again. Sword arts were expensive, hella expensive, even the most trashy ones. Mr Lus sword art was an extremely good one, it was a Rare-grade sword art.

*=*

A/N:

Common-Grade

Rare-Grade

Heroic-Grade

Legendary-Grade

…?

*=*

Just as he was about to walk away, Mr Lu asked. ”Wanna go again? ”

Both I and Levy responded negatively.

***

[ The next day… ]

”Ahh, the quest was easy, lets ask the king soon I feel like what hed- ”

Burns continued to blabber on.

”Burns, quiet down a bit. ”

Burns did, slightly.

-Rustle…

A piece of paper was folded and put in the pocket of a coat.

”Well, I mean, that was truly interesting but- ”

Will quickly put a hand on Burnss mouth, he did so awkwardly, as Burns was a bit far and taller.

Burns shook off Wills hand and quickly composed himself.

Everything was quiet, meaning the opponent was already ready and in their place.

Will quickly glanced around and put a hand to his swords hilt; Burns did the same.

-Twang!

Instantly both men knew what weapon their enemy was using and where they were.

Both of them quickly tried to evade the bolt which came at them at over 400 fps.

-Clang!

Will managed to block the bolt, but as soon as he looked up, a rain more was coming straight at them.

”Burns, we have to get to him before the man shows up… ”

Will urged Burns as they battled against the storm of bolts.

Burnss body shined gold; a barrier formed, blocking the two of them.

***

-Twang!

A bolt pierced fresh flesh.

No scream was screamed. It was an instant death.

A being was killed in the dark alleyways.

”Damn, these rats are so annoying… ”

I complained.

Levy shrugged. ”Its the best place to go for this. ”

The bolt I had shot disappeared into dust.

At the same time, a bolt appeared in my quiver.

This device had cost me a pretty penny and some blood. After defeating a few criminals, I had to stealthily buy this in the black market. Well, buy wasn a good word, as I got all my money back… How generous of them…

”Whenll they come? ”

”Soon, ” Levy replied nonchalantly. ”I hope. ”

I took a bit of time to analyze my surroundings properly. The entrances, exits, and mismatching paint colours in the building walls.

Levy and I paced around, arm wrestled, played ”thumb wars, ” and attempted hide and seek, tag, and more childish games as we waited.

Footsteps were heard approaching us. We both wore light armour, Levy held his sword and I held a crossbow.

A masked man in an expensive-looking suit held a briefcase. He was tall, around 6.1ft and was also lean, most likely, he was strong underneath that suit of his. People like him would also have hidden weapons on them as well.

This man was the reason I had left Kato for a few months. He was also why Levy got injured while hunting, not directly, but without him, he wouldn have gotten injured.

This person was why we both prepared for several months of training, gathering things, hunting, etc.

The man looked around. ”What a garbage place… ”

My heart began beating heavily.

”Do you have the requested items? ” Levy asked.

The masked man didn answer.

Where are those two? I wondered. We were separated only for a few minutes but they hadn come.

”What time is it? ” A lazy voice asked.

Levy glanced down at the watch on his wrist. ”Sir, its 4:00 pm, you came right on time. ”

The masked man nodded and threw something in front of us.

We both quickly (professionally) skipped back and activated barrier spells.

-FwooshFwoosh!

Two small barriers were formed, covering each of us.

The small box the man threw stayed on the ground and slowly expanded.

A few seconds later, the box had turned into a table.

We didn cancel our barriers. For our safety, not because we were embarrassed… yeah…

The man placed his briefcase on the table.

”Show me the items. ” The man said.

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