System Change

Chapter 64: Interlude/Anomaly

Chapter 63: To the City

“Sorry to keep you waiting.” Derek said to Bronson as he walked out of the house.

“Its fine. Are you ready to go?” Bronson asked.

“Yup, everythings done. Just got to make a quick stop on our way out and pick up my sidekick.”

“Oh? So you are taking that boy with you?”

“Yeah… Oh, and his grandpa is the guy with the map. You should return it when we see him. Im pretty sure that thing was like a second grandson to him.” Derek chuckled. Bronson frowned for a moment. Seeing the frown, Derek continued. “What? Will it really be that hard to remember where the dungeon is and put it on a map when you get back? Are you really that daft? Sheesh…” Derek shook his head. “Fine, if your memory is that bad, Ill put it on the map for you.”

Bronson shook his head. “Its not that. Its just that Wallace…”

Derek cut him off. “Will no longer be needing a map. Well, wont be needing that map at least.”

“Youre right.” Bronson muttered, then produced the map and handed it to Derek.

“Of course Im right. When have I ever been wrong? I say the map belongs to Richard, and it belongs to Richard. I say the ale tastes like piss… and guess what? It tastes like piss.” Derek patted Bronson on the shoulder.

The duo continued walking, soon, they reached Thomass residence. “Wait there. Ill go fetch the kid.” Derek said. He walked up to the door and knocked.

Delilah answered. She looked at Derek with squinted eyes. “Derek.” She said. Then she sighed. “Come in. Thomas is almost ready.” He followed her inside and shut the door behind him.

Delilah took a seat, but only nodded to her and kept going to Thomass room. Inside the room was Thomas, standing with an outrageously big sack full of stuff, and Richard standing in the corner shaking his head.

“Remember what I said.” Richard said as Thomas walked out with his sack. Thomas nodded his head. Richard sighed.

Derek turned to Richard before leaving the room. “I believe this is yours.” He said as he moved the map out of his storage ring and tossed it over to Richard.

Richards eyes went wide as he held his map. “This… Thank you.”

“It was yours to begin with.” Derek walked out of the room.

Back in the living area, he was greeted by the sight of Delilah giving Thomas a big hug. “And you listen to Derek. He said hed keep you safe.”

“Alive.” Derek said, interrupting the two. They both turned their heads and looked at him. “I said Id keep him alive. He wont grow stronger if hes always safe.” Just as with Richard, Derek was not going to lie to Delilah.

The older woman sighed. “As long as hes alive and can come back home.”

Derek nodded. “That, I can promise you.” He looked at Thomas. “Nows your last chance to choose to stay here with your loving family and friends. You wont have that if you follow me. Are you sure you want to go?” He gave Thomas a final opportunity to stay.

“Ive made up my mind. I cant grow as fast here. I have to go with you.” He replied back.

Seeing the resoluteness in the boys eyes, Derek nodded. “Okay. Lets go. Bronson is waiting outside.” With that, the two joined Bronson and began their journey to the city.

***

They traveled for half a day before they stopped. Both Derek and Bronson had gotten some entertainment out of Thomas and his sack of stuff. Thomas had no problems lugging it around, but because the sack was almost as big as the boy itself, he was having a hard time not dropping or dragging it. Honestly, Derek had no clue what the boy was carrying that would be so difficult to store.

The three of them and Silvi had been moving towards the city at a slow pace. It was Dereks first time to the city, so he wanted to familiarize himself with his surroundings more and not just rush straight in.

“I guess this is as good a place as any.” Derek said. They were on some moderately flat land that would be a good place to set up camp. Not that they actually needed a good place for camp. With Derek, Bronson, and Silvi, Derek would feel sorry for anybody or thing that got the nerve to ambush them.

The group made camp and got settled. They all chatted for a bit, Silvi went to the forest and returned a couple hours later with some blood staining her face. Apparently, she did not think about sharing whatever she found with the rest of them. Afterwards, they all decided to turn in for the night and get an early start the next morning.

They got up the next morning and dismantled their campsite. They gathered their things and got ready to leave. Derek and Bronson watched as Thomas struggled to get his pack righted. Derek shook his head. He turned to Bronson. “I cant take it anymore.” He said, then yelled to Thomas. “Kid, are you an idiot?”

“Huh?” Thomas asked, bewildered.

“Youve been carrying that pack for an entire day. Im starting to think that the older you get, the dumber you become.” Derek said, shaking his head.

Thomas stood there, confused. He did not say anything.

Derek was having fun at the boys expense. The last conversation he had with the boy about the storage ring was to not show it to anyone, so it made sense that the boy was not using it. Derek let out a big sigh. “Why arent you using the storage ring I gave you?”

Thomas stared at Derek for a moment. Derek saw the moment it all clicked for the kid. Thomass face went red. Bronson would most likely think it was from embarrassment for forgetting about something like a storage ring, when it was most likely anger and embarrassment from Derek not telling him he could use the ring.

They watched as Thomas fished the ring out of his pocket and placed it on his finger. The boy put his hand on the pack and it vanished.

“Isnt that much easier than carrying it around all day?” Derek teased.

Thomas looked at Derek, then turned his head away.

‘Storage ring. I want. When do I get mine? Silvis thoughts flowed into Dereks head.

‘Ill try to find one soon. Were heading into the city. Ill see if I can get one of the dungeon ones from the head of the Gracefall house. Im sure hes a smart man, especially after Bronson gives him a report. Derek explained to the bunny.

‘Fine. Ill share meat next time.

Derek chuckled and shook his head.

Bronson broke into laughter. “I have to say. You have definitely chosen a… special apprentice.”

“Yup. He never ceases to amaze me.” Derek agreed. “You should have seen him the first time I took him out to train. I found some really low-level ants and had him fight them one on one.” Derek began laughing. “The first one… He almost died fighting the first one. He had a wrestling match with an eight centimeter long ant, and he almost lost. It broke his arm, and he passed out.”

Bronson shook his head. “Kids today… Always so pampered. Wallace made it all the way to level 30 without a real fight. Just had servants hold monsters in place. Its probably why he died the way he did.”

“Well, hopefully I broke Thomas from those bad habits. I did promise his grandparents that I wouldnt let him die, but I didnt say that he wouldnt get hurt. If he gets complacent again, I dont mind seeing him suffer some.” Derek said.

Bronson nodded his head. “Thats good.”

With the camp cleared up, the four of them continued on their journey.

The group traveled for two weeks at a scenic pace. Through their travels, they ran into very few beasts. The small number of monsters showed that the forest was healing at a quick pace. The few beasts that they did see were all very low level and would pose no danger to any of the villages around the area.

They did, however, run into two groups of bandits. It was a familiar situation for Derek. He had always believed that people were much more dangerous than monsters. The system coming to Earth only reinforced his ideals.

The bandits were not much, only level 15 to 20. However, neither Bronson nor Derek chose to fight them. He used the attacks as an opportunity for Thomas to gain experience. Killing his first person was one of the hardest things he had done on Earth after the system, and he knew that Thomas needed that same experience.

Oddly, Thomas seemed to get over the experience pretty quickly. Derek guessed it was because of the difference in people being raised in the system and people being raised pre-system.

Bronson surprised Derek after the second bandit attack. He captured one of the bandits and forced him to lead the group to their camp. It was a small camp. Bronson made short work of it and freed the few people being held against their will. They left after with a small group of survivors following after them. They were already close enough to the city, and Derek did not mind having the group following behind them. Bronson occasionally tossed them some food and water to keep them satiated for the trip.

A few days later, they arrived at the gates of Torith. The city walls were outstanding. They made the walls around the village look like a white picket fence. The guards identified Bronson and let everyone in, the survivors going their own way.

“This is Torith.” Bronson said. “What do you think?”

Derek looked around. “Smells like shit.”

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