A hooded man walked through the countryside until he arrived at a valley overlooking the town of Lont.
The sun was just about to set, and the sky was dyed in an orange hue. The man paused to admire the setting sun for a full-minute before continuing his journey.
As he neared Lont, the Ourobro sensed his presence, but it turned a blind eye to the approaching man. He had already seen him countless times before, and he remembered his scent well. This hooded man would leave Lont for long periods of time, but whenever he returned, he would carry with him a strong scent of blood
Ezio gave the Golden Ape a brief nod before melding into the shadows. He made his way to the Ainsworth Residence like a silent spectre, disturbing no one in his wake.
When he reached the living room, he heard the giggle of a baby. Ezio smiled despite himself because his Lord would always return to being a doting grandparent whenever he was around his granddaughter.
It was the same for Matthew and William, but he could tell that James would spoil Eve rotten as she grew up. He offered a silent prayer to the fools who would dare to court the young lady when she reached adulthood.
Ezio was sure that if Modred didn’t kill them, James certainly would.
He found his Lord, writing a letter inside his room. Like always, Ezio would wait until James was finished with his task. He was not in a hurry and decided to meditate for the time being. A few minutes later, James finally finished his letter and called out to him.
“How did it go?” James inquired.
“The right hand of the minister will no longer bother us,” Ezio reported. “If the minister is not a fool then he will know what to do.”
“Well done.” James nodded his head in approval. “Rest for two days before you start your new assignment. I’m sure that you already know what it is, yes?”
Ezio nodded his head. “If that is your will, My Lord.”
“Aren’t you going to ask me why?”
“No. I believe in the Lord’s judgement.”
James tapped the armchair with a finger as he gazed at the hooded man who was kneeling in front of him.
“Show him the filth of humanity,” James ordered. “But, do not tell him what to do. Let him make his own decisions. Whether he does, or does not, is all up to him.”
“I hear and obey,” Ezio replied.
“You may go now.”
“By your will.”
After leaving the Ainsworth Residence, Ezio made his way towards the one and only tavern in Lont, the Sleeping Forest.
He removed his hood before walking inside the tavern. Ezio was now off-duty, so there was no need for him to follow the strict creed that he had imposed upon himself.
As always, he walked to the farthest stool at the bar and waited for the bartender to take his order.
“Will you be having the usual?” The bartender of the Sleeping Forest, Ryan, asked as he wiped the glass cup in his hands.
“Yes,” Ezio replied without even looking at him.
Ryan nodded and took out a few bottles from the cabinet. A few seconds later, he was expertly mixing a cocktail. This was a special blend that was not served to the other customers in the tavern. The reason? None of them were strong enough to finish the drink.
Only a handful of people in Lont appreciated this drink and Ezio was one of them.
Ryan placed the cup in front of Ezio with a wink before returning to his station. Ezio muttered a word of thanks before taking a sip from the glass.
The brown-haired man closed his eyes as he savored the burning sensation that spread inside his mouth, down his throat, and into his body.
He wasn’t able to stop the soft sigh of pleasure from escaping his lips as he bathed in the afterglow of his drink.
Ezio stayed inside the tavern for an hour before walking out into the night. Like always, he strolled around the town of Lont without any destination in mind.
For some reason, he found himself walking towards the South of Lont. It was a place he rarely visited, for he had no reason to go there. However, for some reason, something was pulling him to go in that direction.
It was then when he saw him. A young boy was lying on a stack of hay while looking at the stars in the sky. Beside him was an Angorian Goat whose head was resting on his chest.
Ezio recognized him right away, because very few kids in Lont treated a goat in this manner. In his eyes, the boy was like a burning candle light in the darkness. A fragile light that could go out at any moment if the wind were to blow in its direction.
Although he didn’t question his Lord’s order, Ezio wondered what would happen if the boy’s light were to suddenly disappear and be replaced by darkness. Would he still be the same carefree boy that laughed happily? The same boy that sang songs as he led his goats towards the valley to graze?
Would he still look at the world with those clear, green eyes that shone like emeralds? Or would their radiance fade and be clouded by a haze as he lost his faith in humanity?
Ezio wanted to know. He was dying to know.
‘One month,’ Ezio thought. ‘I will know the answer after a month.’
The brown-haired man retraced his steps and wandered through the night. His Lord ordered him to rest, and that is what he was going to do.
Two days later…
William stood inside the conference room with a serious expression plastered on his face. James had told him yesterday that his instructor had already arrived in Lont, and he was to go to the conference at midnight the next day to meet him.
William’s “new” instructor was currently standing in the corner of the room, dressed in black and wearing a hood. He was giving off the “Assassin Vibe”, and it was making the young boy feel very uncomfortable.
“Will, I would like to introduce you to your new instructor, Ezio,” James said as he made a gesture to the man standing at the corner of the room. “Ezio, you already know who William is, I hope the two of you get along from now on.”
“Nice to meet you, Sir Ezio,” William said with a smile.
“Likewise,” Ezio replied.
James patted William’s shoulder with a serious expression. “You will accompany Ezio as he completes his missions outside of Lont. You are free to act however you please, but you are not allowed to interfere with his work. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes.” William nodded.
“Ezio, look after my grandson,” James ordered. “You already know what he’s like. I’m sure that you’re going to suffer a few headaches, but be more tolerant of him.”
“As you command, My Lord.” Ezio gave James a respectful bow before turning towards William. “Let’s go, William. Time for you to start your training.”
“Yes, Sir Ezio,” William replied.
The two left the residence under the cover of darkness. William had already said his goodbyes to his Master, his Mama Ella, his Uncle Mordred, Aunt Anna, Aunt Helen, and his cute niece, Eve.
The two had just left the town of Lont when Ezio initiated a conversation.
“You have already trained under several masters and I can tell that your overall fighting ability has reached the initial stages of Gold Rank,” Ezio said as he continued to walk. “Class D Beasts pose no threat to you and-to a certain extent-you will be able to handle normal Class C Beasts on your own.”
Ezio paused for a while before continuing his explanation. “However, the greatest threat to you right now are humans, not monsters. Although I was supposed to be your instructor, I will not teach you anything unless you have fully committed yourself to take that next step.
“Until then, you will just observe on the sidelines. You are free to do anything you want as long as you don’t get in the way of my mission. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” William replied. The boy had a vague idea what his new instructor was hinting at and it was already making his stomach churn. He hoped beyond hope that he was only overthinking things.
Unfortunately for William, that small hope in his heart disappeared completely as his world was dyed red.
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