Chapter 3: Discerning The Truth
“Sorry man, but I don’t plan on you dying here. At the same time, I guess I can show you a cool little trick of mine…”
Expecting blood, I searched around me for any traces of it. But there was none. Replacing it was the sound of iron being struck.
Huh? What’s that sound? Is Valtan alright? Did something else save us?
My mind once again entered a state of confusion. My eyes darted around the surroundings frantically, looking for whatever that had made that sound, but it couldn’t find the source of it. Contrary to my adverse reaction, Valtan instead had closed his eyes and showed a countenance of absolute tranquility.
He had placed his consciousness in a state of deep concentration.
In the next instant, a layer of lustrous silver which seemed to originate from his back, enveloped his body and face, coating his fair, white skin within seconds. It was only then, did he open his eyes once more.
“I guess I should introduce myself again. I was Valtan of the “Six Gods of War”, a former general of the Empire’s forces and also a part of the Emperor’s personal guard. Many in the empire would know me as the one who has the willpower of steel, manifesting itself in the form of my ability that allows me turn my body into steel.”
“Sorry, I don’t know you.”
I answered back with a short reply and gave him a blank look. It’s true! I was just a simple and ordinary villager going about daily life with my beloved sister before this. There was no need for me to dabble or associate myself with whatever the empire does, much less know who Valtan is. However at the same time, it had also popped question marks in my mind.
Wait? Why is a general of the empire, much less the emperor’s personal guard, leading a rebellion against the Empire?
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a good time to ask such questions as there was still a hungry Saber Tooth tiger that had set its sights on us.
To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure if Saber Tooth tigers usually show expressions of shock, but this one did. Seeing its sharp paws bouncing of Valtan, much less be unable to penetrate his skin, it was probably as confused as I was. It reeled back and stared at its paws for a moment, as if wondering “Are my claws really that weak?”. But it did not relent for long, continuing to launch attack after attack on Valtan’s back.
Ping! Ping! Ping!
It swiped its claws from left to right and right to left, each one failing to do any sort of damage to Valtan. As if growing impatient, it decided to speed up its attacks.
“I think this is enough.”
Saying that, Valtan flicked his backheel into the stomach of the Saber Tooth tiger and pulled off a backflip. With the added momentum from the backflip, the body of the Saber Tooth tiger made an arc that traced the path of Valtan’s heel and crashed into the earth with a thud. Its body reverberated slightly from the shock of the impact, causing it to bounce a little before falling still and lifeless on the ground.
“Well that’s the end of it! Are you okay? Ah right right, we still need to patch up that arm of yours… Gimme a moment…”
Lifting his foot off the limp carcass of the Saber Tooth tiger, he turned his face towards me with a look of concern, completely neglecting the fact that he had just killed a Saber Tooth tiger that weighed about as much as he did effortlessly.
Woah, I know my health is important, but killing a Saber Tooth tiger, and with a single blow no less, is definitely not normal! Don’t give me that kind of look of concern!
Using my right hand, I supported my broken left arm and slowly crawled away from the monster that is Valtan.
Can I actually trust him? He’s an empire general! What if this was all a ploy? What if he was the one who led the attack on Varich in the first place?
As if knowing that the looming threat of death was gone, the floodgates to all the questions in my mind opened once more.
“Wait, where are you going? You shouldn’t be moving that much when you’re injured! Oh… I see. Relax. Trust me alright? I was a general but I’m no longer one anymore. If I truly were with the Empire, you’d be long dead before this. They have absolutely no care for human life other than that of nobles… So, just trust me alright? Here”
Seeing the scared expression that was plastered across my face, Valtan shrugged his hands and looked at me with eyes full of compassion. He wanted me to trust him. He wanted me to believe him. However, I couldn’t. I didn’t know who he was. To me, he was still a stranger.
What if he was one of those infamous slave traders disguising himself as a good person? Who exactly is he? Can I really trust him?
Valtan then took out a red vial from his pocket. It was a tiny vial, just barely larger than a pinky finger. Inside it was a familiar yet foreign-looking crimson red liquid.
Is that what I think it is? That’s a vitality potion isn’t it? How did Valtan get his hands on one? They easily go for over a hundred gold denims back in Varich. From what I heard, they were really effective and could fix up whatever wounds one may have. However, only the really prominent adventurers or high ranking village officials could afford it though.
“Here, take this. It should fix up that broken arm of yours. The value of that alone should be enough for you to trust me right? The bear den is just past this pair of trees.”
As if on cue, he tossed the invaluable red vial towards me. I scrambled to catch it with my right hand and stared at the vial for a short while. The surface of the vial was encrusted with elaborate shields and crests of various noble households, leading up to the grand crest of the Emperor himself. All of this was just to signify the Emperor’s hold on the potion industry.
Is this the real deal? There’s no way it is, isn’t it? But hunting a bear with a broken arm is like committing suicide. I guess there’s nothing to lose if I take it, right?
With a quick glance towards Valtan, I resolved myself and opened up the cork sealing the vial, gulping down the contents within seconds. Instantly, I felt the effects of the potion working its gears in my body. A faint yellow light blanketed my arm, feeling slightly warm as my sense of touch and strength was slowly restored to my arm. Within my body, waves of strength flowed through my veins as my fatigue dissolved away into nothingness.
Woah! It actually worked! But how and why does Valtan have this? He’s no longer a general is he? With the Emperor’s tight hold on the industry, it should be impossible for a rebel like him to be able to get his hands on this! But even if I’m up against this monster, what exactly can I do? I could barely win against Empire soldiers, how could I win against the personal guard of the Emperor himself?
More and more questions sprouted in my mind.
First was the attack by the Empire on Varich, and now this?
However, as clueless as I was to the winds of change that swirled around me, I could only accept it as it was and plough on ahead, hoping that I’d one day understand it all.
“Alright. I’ll trust you for now…but I’m still keep my guard up so don’t think about doing anything funny okay?”
“Sure sure. Let’s go!”
Valtan replied enthusiastically as we continued forth past the trees.
Written by: Emelia-Tan
Edited by: Schwarz13 and Mega14343
Proofread by: Yakult
Author's note: Bonus chapter because Curse of the Vampire Coast DLC for Total war warhammer (I'm a massive fan of the warhammer fantasy series) just dropped and I'm so so so excited for it right now :))))