Roland Mors woke up to the sound of birds' singings, he felt the sun beamed through his bedroom window as he winced at the crack of dawn. He was never a morning person and hated having his sleep disturbed, his face scowling annoyingly while rustling in his sheets, but he had to put up with it.
Today was a special day, after all.
He threw the sheets away and got out of bed. It was around this time that Roland's father, Balder, had opened shop, and he did not wish to receive an earful yet about being late for work, again. Ever since he was a small boy, Roland helped ran his family's bakery in the small town of Amber Hills and sometimes did specific odd jobs for extra money. He never did well in school, not because he was stupid or lazy, but because it never excited him, and although he enjoyed working with his family, Roland desired more out of life.
No time to be thinking about that now.
Roland walked up to the small mirror hanging on the wall. Staring at his reflection, he combed his hand through his unkempt black hair and tried to fix his bedhead, which frustrated him much as it was one of the things that fueled his hatred for mornings.
He stood tall and quite toned. With broad shoulders, fair skin, and had blue eyes. Roland got dressed, covering up his nude body, a plain white tunic, and a pair of brown trousers that fit his slender frame nicely, a typical fashion for those living in the countryside. He was quite comfortable in his attire and learned from his father to save as much money as possible, not wishing to spend on frivolous stuff but only on things that provide some use to him.
Roland climbed down the stairs and headed to the first floor. A delicious aroma wafted in the air, and his mouth watered, confirming him that the bakery was open. After roaming through the double doors, he arrived and donned his apron that hung beside the doorway. He spotted his father tending to the brick oven and watched the bread bake while his mother, Beatrice, stood at the counter, checking each customer of their purchases, and accepting their money. The place being immediately packed, customers lined up through the front door, escaping the cold morning outside for someplace warm.
Baldur noticed his son's presence.
"Well, it seems you finally got out of bed on time, son."
"Ha. Ha. Real funny, dad." Roland grabbed the trays of freshly baked goods, motioning to the shelves to stack them up. "I'm just here to get the job done. I got a lot of things planned later with Josephine."
"Aren't you excited about your birthday, Roland?" His mother asked. Her long black bangs fell to her face. "You only turn twenty once, and it's going to be fun."
"I wouldn't miss it for the world, mom. It's something I've…"
"That's good to hear. Everyone in the village will be coming, an important milestone for someone officially becoming an adult, and it'll make a fortune in catering." Baldur smiled at the thought. He scratched his prodigious girth absentmindedly before leaving the ovens to work their magic.
Roland and his mother glowered at the baker, amazed (that is, vexed) at how he can make a profit out of a situation. However, Baldur had already left outside to bring in another cord of wood to feed the fire. Nevertheless, the two resumed mending the shop until he returned.
Roland worked, and, in a few hours, the afternoon came in a flash. He gradually grew tired by this point as he sold and stacked all of the pastries. But Roland did not complain as his father had agreed to pay him fifteen pence at the end of his shift. Fortunately, the line of customers diminishing with the shelves becoming empty and the flames of the ovens becoming simmering embers.
With the hour growing slow, Roland decided to take a break. His stomach growled, and he grabbed one of the pastries, he tasted and took notice of the sweet and salty textures. After telling his mother, Roland strolled out to the front door. However, right before he could walk out of the bakery, the front door opened as another customer staggered in with the bell overhead ringing, stopping the baker's son in his tracks with one hand raised at his face.
Roland was confused as he stared at the skinny man, taking notice of how out of place his attire seemed to be. His slim blue suit and cap contrasted the baggy clothing everyone else in Amber Hills. Evidently, he appeared to have come along way with his hands fell to his knees, and he breathed heavily, beads of sweat falling from his brow as he tried to regain his composure.
Out of good conscience, Roland helped him up and brought him over to the closest table. He seated him before bringing him a wooden pitcher of water. The man was parched, and he drowned half the pitcher right away, not caring that his uniform was partially soaked, while Roland waited patiently for him to finish.
"Is there something we can do for you, Mr.…"
"Sorry, but I don't have time for formalities." Getting up out of his chair, he reached into the satchel that hung beside him, taking out an extended package wrapped in brown vallum. "I'm a courier from Crown City, and I just came to deliver this package to a…" He skimmed at the note stamped at the front. "…Mr. Roland Mors. I heard that he lives in this establishment. Is that correct?"
"Yes, that's me."
"Oh, thank God. You have no idea how long it took me to come here," the courier simpered. "I have for miles, lugging this parcel from the capital to this village without a steed."
How he could run from such a long distance without a horse, Roland did not ask, not wanting to pry any further and keep this man from his duties. The courier sighed in relief, happy his journey was over, giving him the package as the courier felt a weight lifted from his shoulders. After receiving his signature, he went on his way with a spring in his step as Roland watched the courier walk out the door.
Well, that was strange.
Roland arched his brow but brushed it off. He examined the package, his curiosity piquing high. The parchment molded against the item, previewing the shape of what lay underneath. He checked the note, but it didn't say who sent it. So, raising his hand to the top, Roland prepared to tear it open.
"That's a large package. Who's it from?"
His mother and father approached him, the former lifting the helm of her bland dress while walking with her husband from behind the counter. Beatrice witnessed the whole exchange, and even she was curious as to what her son received. Standing behind him, she looked over Roland's shoulder, her gaze glued while watching him open the wrapping. Beatrice turned white and, for an instant, looked like she was about to faint, taking a step back while covering her mouth.
Baldur, clenching his fists, sneered with contempt. What has that old man done this time?
The torn parchment on the floor and its contents exposed. In Roland's hand, he held up a broadsword, one of such high quality that should belong to a knight. It almost seemed strange to behold. Unsheathing it from its brown leather prison, Roland got a better look at the sword. The bluestone wedged at the hilt glistened in the light and touching it sent chills, feeling warmed and alive. With the handle wrapped in black leather, it felt soft against his palm. Roland moved his fingers gently to the blade, the touch felt like cold steel against the skin, but the texture resembled polished silver. At the bottom of the edge, the words White Fang was etched, a name that seemed quite fitting.
Fluttering onto the table, Roland saw a letter and picked it up. His eyes lit up as he read every word.
I hope life is treating you kindly. Sorry if this is the first time we ever talked, but I want you to know that I haven't forgotten about you. It took me a long time to find the perfect gift, but at least I delivered it to you on a momentous occasion. Obtaining this sword—White Fang—sacrificed half of my lifetime, so treat it with respect and be grateful for it.
Roland could jump with glee, his eyes twinkling with excitement. Jason Mors was a famous adventurer who, for a long time, traveled around the continent to seek fame and fortune, and was also Baldur's father. For as long as he could remember, Roland had never once met his grandfather, only knowing him from the stories his father told him, which were not always pleasant. When Baldur moved to Amber Hills, before his son was born, he tried his best to distance himself from his father.
"Toss that fucking thing in the trash! Whatever that old man wrote, it's never any good!"
Roland flinched at the sound of his father's voice, nearly dropping both the sword and the letter from his grip. In all of his life, he had never heard his father cursed before. Baldur crossed his arms, his glare growing intense as Roland and his mother felt their blood turn cold.
He opened his mouth and was about to ask his father why, but Roland realized his father was in no mood to answer his inquiry, seeing his face turn as red as a tomato. Nodding his head, Roland complied as he left his parents alone.
"I can't believe it. After all these years, my father is still pulling the same routine again." Baldur plopped in the chair, pinching the bridge of his nose while feeling the vein on his forehead throbbing.
Beatrice placed both hands on his shoulder, massaging them as she helped him relieve his frustration, a frown forming on her face while feeling her husband's grievance. "It's been a long time since you two spoke, Baldur. You never know, he's getting old, and all those years must have changed him."
"My father is a thrill-seeking adventurer gallivanting throughout Aestraia, and even all over Sage, to any exciting and dangerous ordeals just for glory and women," Baldur stated. He sighed and threw a vague gesture. "Even if he is getting old, Beatrice, he'll never change, and he'll always find a way to continue his legacy…"
Beatrice comforted him, her arms wrapped around his neck, sharing the same grimace as her husband. Baldur always wondered how he wound up with such an attentive and commiserative woman as his wife. Baldur scowled, not at her, but the situation.
"…A legacy my father tried to force onto me, a long time ago."
Out on the town, Roland walked as he waved at every passerby, greeting them while making his way down the dirt road. The sword and its sheath hung over his right shoulder, catching the attention of his fellow villagers.
Amber Hills stood in the middle of vast farmlands in the center of the Aestraian Kingdom. The town took up a lot of space with which comprised of small houses and shops, the buildings made of wood with straw roofs, and stood on cobblestone brick foundations, set in a large clearing surrounded by pastoral lands and cultivated fields. On the outskirts of the town lay the Adamant Forest with its thick trees standing tall for hundreds of years. It had persisted since the days of Ragnarök, and it has divided Amber Hills from its neighbors if not for a few routes that kept them connected.
It was there that many of the townsfolk would toss their garbage, thanks to a decree passed by the village elders to which prevented Amber Hills from smelling like a bog swamp. As he passed the church and reached the gate, Roland stopped in his tracks, a tinge of guilt reflected on his face. He took a deep breath as he looked back at the sword. A gift from his grandfather, someone Roland barely knew anything about, and because of that, Roland wouldn't have a problem tossing it away. However, he still could not bring himself to do so.
He couldn't discard the sword as it was a gift that brought him a sensation of excitement. Roland unsheathed it halfway as he walked. It brought chills as he gripped the handle. The young baker smiled bewilderingly as the blade glistened in the sunlight, shining bright enough to hurt his eyes. He flinched back from it, blinking several times until his vision returned, and then put it away. A sword like that was uncommon in the countryside. They were often crafted by skilled blacksmiths in cities, or even by the dwarves that lived in the mountains, selling them to soldiers for battle, and to people from the Adventurer's Guild to complete quests, not to farmers or laborers.
That was when Roland became lost in thought as he leaned against a wooden wagon, staring at the clouds in the sky while watching them block the sun. He had always dreamed of being an adventurer. Seeing more of the world than just fields, and all the remarkable sights as Roland imagined such wanderlust.
Oh, to have a life like that…
"Hey! Roland! Wait up!"
Roland twirled and watched at the sound of his childhood friend, halting him from proceeding any further. Josephine Alder ran in his direction. Her blue overalls fluttered with each step as she created a cloud of dust behind her.
"Where have you been, Josephine? I haven't seen you all day," Roland shouted.
Josephine stopped as she had already made her way towards the wagon Roland rested on, her white ponytail waving in the breeze while cracking a wide grin across her lively, tanned caramel face. Hands behind her back, she made sure to keep them hidden from Roland's eyes, but from her expression, he could tell she had something to give him.
"Sorry, my father kept me busy at the mill. Luckily, I made it just in time to wish you a happy birthday," she said. "Didn't think I would forget, did you?"
Of course, there was that one time…
"Not at all, Josephine. I'm happy that you remembered," he mused.
Roland pivoted behind her, trying to catch a glimpse at what she was hiding. Each time he tried, she teasingly stepped away.
"So, are you going to show me what you have behind your back?"
"Uh-uh-uh. Not until you close your eyes." Raising one hand, she wagged her index finger in front of him. Her grin grew slyer. "And don't open them until I say you can."
Roland rolled his eyes. It was hard to believe she was the same age as him, asking such childish things. Still, he obeyed. He just hoped it wasn't another practical joke. "If it's another mouse in a box, I'm going to be very angry."
"It won't be. I promise."
With no way for him to see, Josephine lifted both hands in front of his face with Roland smelling the scent of pine.
"Okay," Josephine said. "You can open your eyes now."
His eyebrows rose, and Roland stared at what she had presented him. The figurine was small, yet bulky. It was carved in the shape of a falcon with its wings expanded, and its claws ready to strike. It was attached to a small stand, providing a perfect balance for it. The wood was smoothed in all places, lacking any perfects that he could see, which was not surprising since it was made by the hands of the woodcutter's daughter.
Josephine glanced up at Roland, who immediately took the figurine with a dumbfounded expression on his face.
"So, what do you think?" she asked. "It took me three nights, but I believe it came out the way I hoped."
"It looks amazing, Josephine," said Roland. "It so lifelike that it might fly off from my hand."
"You think so? Oh, I knew you would love it. I know how much you love birds. So, that's where I got the idea from."
On the contrary, Roland hated birds, especially in the mornings. However, from how excited she looked and knowing how long she worked on it, he didn't have the heart to tell her. After putting it in his pocket, all he could do was smile and nod.
"Well, you have outdone yourself," said Roland. "It truly is beautiful, though."
Josephine blushed and did something that caught Roland by surprise. She hugged him as her arms wrapped around his waist. Roland wasn't sure if he should do the same, but he did. Josephine's face nestled against his chest as he took notice but did not say anything. Then she broke away, becoming flustered while Roland chuckled at her expression. A lot of people stared at them, which made the whole thing embarrassing. After she fixed her composure (and her cotton blouse), Josephine poked her finger at his chest.
"So, are you going to tell me where you got that sword?" his tomboyish friend asked.
"It's a gift from my grandfather." Roland loosened the strap over his shoulder and then presented the sheath to her.
Josephine got close enough to see. Roland awkwardly unsheathed the sword, lifting it at an angle where the light didn't bounce off the blade. She turned away, flinching as she covered her blue eyes. Once her vision returned, Josephine took the sword, already enticed by its design. If only they made axes like this, she thought.
Putting it back in its sheath, Josephine pushed the sword back to him, hearing a soft gasp expel from his lips.
"It's a good thing you have it," she said. "where we are going, you are going to need it."
"…and where is that, exactly?"
"To the Adamant Forest. your next gift lies just outside the outskirts of the village." She grabbed him by the hand and yanked Roland to get a move on out through the gate, even though he was heading home. Despite her small and slender physique, Josephine was quite strong, strong enough to get someone as tall as Roland. He sighed and didn't protest, accompanying his childhood friend to the forest as he kicked his feet.
What's the worst that could happen?
A/N: Hey everyone. This is kman134, here, with a new story called "Legacy." I know I have a lot of stories that I have written and not finished, but this one is supposed to be a prototype, sharing elements from my previous stories into something new. Like most of my stories, this one will be a fantasy harem anime-esque story, and I hope you might enjoy it. Please, write as many reviews and provide any beta reading feedback.