Chapter 11: Sparks of Resistance
Before long, the otherworldly Envoys were in the plaza, in front of Luther's counter.
"How are things going?" the merchant asked, eager to hear what the three travelers had to say.
"We've cleared the town of the Tanuki." Miyuki spoke on behalf of everyone, with a smile on her face "You will be able to enjoy some peace and quiet from now on."
"Really?" Luther replied, with a smile of surprised relief "Thank you so much! They've been causing quite some noise in the town for the past few months…"
"Yes, Breeze-san told us about that..." Satoshi added.
"I'm also glad that you decided to go to me instead of reporting to her directly." Luther remarked "For now, I'm sure she just appreciates the quiet..."
"Um… Luther-san?" Soukichi asked "Can I ask you a question?"
"Ask away." the merchant replied, with a smile, eager to hear him out. The amber-eyed boy thus expressed his doubt.
"Why don't the people of this town just band together to resist the pirates? Who do they think they are to be pushing you around like this?" Upon hearing those words, Luther's smile faded, and he let out a long sigh.
"The people here just want to leave in peace, and they trying avoiding any problem or harm as best as they can..." he explained "If they can solve the problem by throwing money at it, that's what they'll do..."
"Well, this is a mercantile port, if I'm not wrong..." Satoshi mused, to which the merchant nodded.
"You're absolutely right, Satoshi." he replied.
"But, come on!" Soukichi protested "You can't just be afraid of problems and try to run away from them! If you keep this up, those pirates will trample upon you! That is, if even worse people won't show up and do it first..." At that point, his older brother put a hand on his shoulder, prompting him to stop immediately and look at him.
"It's also true that just resisting blindly couldn't possibly work, and would only lead to a brutal retaliation." he stated "The best course of action would be to continue collecting supplies, and to think of something that could take them by surprise in the meantime." After taking in his brother's explanation, Soukichi grinned from ear to ear.
"You bring up a fantastic point, Nii-san!" he exclaimed, as the merchant smiled at the resourcefulness and willingness to help of the travelers.
"We're truly lucky that you've come to this town when you did." he said "You'll surely be happy to know that not everyone in town shares this viewpoint." That statement won him the attention of the Envoys, as well as their Eidolons. He continued "If I remember correctly, the younger of the Fisherman Brothers, Braeden, doesn't want to hand over the cash or goods."
"At least someone willing to take action is in here..." Grimm said, with a relieved smile.
"Perhaps you can find his older brother, Isaac, and come up with a way to convince Braeden with him." the merchant continued "We could really use Braeden's help collecting supplied...
"Not to mention, we can use our little idea as a bargaining chip and use his help for thinking of some defense measures..." Satoshi added, much to his younger brother's amused joy.
"That's the brainiac of a brother I know and love!" he exclaimed, still with a huge grin on his face, prompting the amber-eyed youth to blush in embarrassment, and Miyuki and Luther to giggle at the scene.
"While you take care of that, I'm going to help the Town Mayor with checking the supplies, and then I'll look for clues of where Selena might have gone." the merchant then stated "You make sure to get some rest when you have the chance."
"Ah, before we forget!" Miyuki remembered something she had to ask him "When's the deadline for handing over the protection insurance?"
"Oh, it's in about 4 days." Luther replied "I'm sure that with your help, we can get this done much faster." Miyuki, along with the Yatsumura brothers, nodded with a smile, as they headed off further in the town, looking for the eldest of the Fisherman Brothers. They didn't take long to find him. He had brown hair and eyes as blue as the ocean he fished from. He was handling a stand, in which he sold not only his produce, but also some fishing tools, from rods to baits. There were no clients close by. It was the perfect timing for them to speak with him.
"Excuse us?" Miyuki asked, as her and her fellow Envoys got closer to the stand. The young fisherman noticed them.
"Yes? Can I help you?" he asked, eagerly.
"We're helping with the pirate insurance problem." Miyuki explained. At that, Isaac couldn't help but let out a concerned sigh.
"You should speak with my brother, Braeden, then." he replied "He's the one in charge of our produce, as well as the one who should be handing over the supplies on our behalf, but..." His eyes lowered as he spoke, until he thoughtfully stopped at that word.
"We know about that." Satoshi intervened, catching the fisherman's attention "And we might have a way of convincing him to give the supplies."
"I hope so..." Isaac sighed, looking down "I'm worried about Braeden… He just won't listen to me. There will always be more fish to catch! A few trout aren't worth his life. He just doesn't understand..." he then looked back towards the three travelers "Well, I guess since you're willing to convince him, it's worth a try..." Soukichi slightly narrowed his eyes, less than pleased with the young man's passive ways. His Eidolon shared his sentiment.
"Where can we find Braeden?" Miyuki asked.
"You should be able to find him in the warehouse in which we store our catch." the fisherman replied, pointing the travelers in the direction of what looked like a small house "It's over there."
"Thank you." Miyuki said, with a slight bow, before heading in the direction where Isaac had pointed them, and before long, they were in front of the door of the house that the Fisherman Brothers used as storage. They knocked, and another young man opened up. He had the same blue eyes as Isaac, but his hair was blonde, and he was slightly shorter, which hinted at him being the younger brother of the two.
"Braeden, correct?" Miyuki asked, to which the young man nodded.
"Yes, that's me." he replied "Can I help you? If you want to buy fish, you should speak with my brother, Isaac..."
"So, we've been helping with the protection insurance issue." Miyuki began explaining, making Braeden immediately narrow his eyes in annoyance. "And, as much as you don't like the idea, and we've already been told by your brother, we need your help with the supplied, especially since it could allow us to-" At that point, the woman was interrupted by a peeved Braeden.
"Now let me tell you something." he sternly said "I won't let those rascals threaten me. They need to know that they can't think to scare us, take our stuff and get away with it. I'm not giving them a dime!"
"Braeden, we agree with you! We really do!" Satoshi retorted.
"Oh yeah?" Braeden replied, annoyed "Then why did you come ask me about this?"
"Simple." Satoshi spoke again. "To just resist and refuse would only provoke them and leading to make Helonia pay. We think it would be best to think of ways of driving the pirates away while preparing the supplies for them." The young fisherman stared at them for some moments, his eyes still narrow as he pondered the amber-eyed youth's words, and finally agreed with him.
"You know what? You're right. I didn't think of that. We can't just blatantly resist them. To think of a way to fight back while they're too busy trying to threaten us is a much better idea!"
"Oh, and once we'll be ready, it'll be a lesson that those bastards will never forget!" Soukichi added, scarcely hiding his excitement.
"Of course, we'll need to be as careful as possible if we want this to succeed." Satoshi added. A smile had sprung on Braeden's face as he understood that the travelers were eager to help him fight back against the pirates and free the town of their oppression.
"You can count on me." Braeden replied, with a nod and a thumbs up "I'll prepare the supplies for the pirates, along with some tricks up my sleeve to take them down. I already have some ideas.", then he grinned at the Yatsumura brothers "Say, the two of you are brothers, aren't ya?"
"That's right!" Soukichi answered enthusiastically, as he nodded along with Satoshi. The fisherman looked at the older of the two, his grin widening "You look like a smart one." The remark prompted Satoshi to blush furiously.
"I know, right!" his younger brother added, making him blush more intensely. He sighed as he covered his face with his palm.
"What are your names, by the way?" Braeden eagerly asked, and so the travelers introduced themselves to him.
"Well, it's nice to meet you all!" Braeden cheerfully greeted "You know, I've just met you, but I have a feeling we're gonna get along just fine." The three otherworldly Envoys smiled at that remark, happy ti have gained the fisherman's trust.
"So, what's our game plan?" Soukichi asked.
"I have some more fresh fish." Braeden began explaining, beating his fist on his palm "We've caught it not that long ago, so I still have to bring it here. Add that to some of our stock, and we should meet the quota. But..." his smile faded once he reached a particular point of his explanation.
"What's the matter?" Miyuki asked, concernedly.
"Sun Crabs. That's the matter." Braeden replied. "The pirates' activity has forced them to gather closer to the town. It's plain to see that they're drawn to the fresh food… They won't make it easy to get the fish… There's even one larger and stronger than the rest. The townsfolk call it Mobray, the Giant Crab."
"Sounds like something on which one of those bounties could be put..." Soukichi commented.
"Close enough." the young fisherman replied, with a giggle. "I think that if you beat it up and bring a trophy to the guards, they'll give you something for sure..."
"Say no more, Braeden!" Grimm said, not containing his excitement "We're gonna take down Mobray for you!" Braeden was surprised by that confident claim.
"You're really up for it?" he asked, concernedly "Those Sun Crabs are no slouches, you know? Their pincers can snap straight through human bone! That only leaves to imagine what the pincers of a bigger one can do."
"In our actual state, that fish represents our best hopes of freeing Helonia." Tyr intervened sternly "We cannot afford to back down."
"Tyr here's right." his partner added "We'll clear the beach of the Crabs and bring back the catch." As he noticed the confidence exuded by those three travelers and their companions, the young fisherman couldn't help but feel hopeful himself, as he smiled at them.
"Thank you, guys." he said "You can find the fish in the southmost part of the beach." The Envoys nodded in understanding, before heading out. "Be careful!" Braeden shouted from behind their backs.
"We will!" Satoshi replied, as he went on with his fellow fighters. Upon entering the beach, they looked at their right, where the area Braeden had told them about was located, and they could see that it was being swarmed by hermit crabs who were approximately the size of a dog.
"Whoa, he wasn't kidding!" Soukichi exclaimed at that sight, as he and his fellow adventurers hid behind a large rock.
"Where's Mobray, though?" Miyuki couldn't help but ask, not seeing the larger crab around. Satoshi looked around and spotted it, between a pair of palms.
"There it is!" he exclaimed, also noticing a net filled with fresh fish behind a boulder, to which the crab seemed dangerously close "And I can see Braeden's fish, too!"
"Oh boy!" Grimm exclaimed "He's close to that mouth-watering fish!"
"There's not much time to act..." the amber-eyed youth murmured, before turning to his partner "Tyr, can I count on you?"
"Always." the blue-clad young warrior replied, with a firm nod "I'll fight by your side."
"Thank you." his partner replied, with a smile. Then, his expression became determined "We're going for Mobray."
"What?!" the youth's brother exclaimed.
"Satoshi-kun, that crab looks far more dangerous than the others!" Miyuki remarked, concern audible in her voice.
"Not to mention, the other crabs will definitely come at you, too, if you try to get to their boss..." Soukichi added.
"Which is why I need you and Grimm to keep those other crabs off of me, Soukichi." his older brother replied, with a firm voice. Then, he looked at the raven-haired woman "Miyuki-san, you help him clear the coast. In case things go bad, I'll call for Merrilee-san's freezing power." Both Soukichi and Miyuki thought for a moment about the plan laid out by Satoshi, before finally nodding in agreement.
"Just be careful, Nii-san..." the amber-eyed boy murmured in concern.
"Don't worry, Soukichi. I will." his brother smiled reassuringly at him, before looking back to the crab-filled coast "I'll rush at Mobray as soon as you shoot and draw their attention." Immediately, Soukichi took out his cannon and aimed at the crabs.
"We're about to see some action!" Grimm exclaimed, excitedly.
"Oh, definitely." his partner agreed with him, before firing a shell, blowing away a portion of the crabs and drawing the attention of all of the others towards them.
At that point, Satoshi and Tyr jumped over the rock and rushed towards Mobray, as his two fellow travelers, along with their Eidolons, got out of their hiding spot as well and began taking out the crabs with cannon shells, fire breath, flying ice shards and damaging shockwave spells.
While the four of them were taking out wave after wave of Sun Crabs, Satoshi drew his blades and slashed the largest one of them, drawing its attention while damaging it visibly. The crab tried to grab them with its oversized pincers, but the swordsman and his parter quickly jumped out of his reach, as Tyr aimed his bladed guns at it, and began shooting volleys of small thunder spheres, further damaging and paralyzing the beast. It cried out as it felt the electricity coursing through its body, almost crippling its movements. Satoshi took the time to turn to his fellows.
"Are you doing alright, over there?" he asked, as he saw them fighting hordes of incoming crabs.
"While we mow them down, more keep coming!" Soukichi replied, as he fired his shells upon the crustaceans. Hearing those words, Satoshi immediately had an idea, as he turned towards Mobray.
"Maybe, if we kill the leader..." he thought. He then turned to Tyr, who, understanding what his Envoy had in mind, nodded, and twirled the bladed guns in his hand, lifting the barrels vertically. Now, his weapons were no longer bladed pistols, but bona fide short swords imbued with the power of electricity.
Suddenly, Mobray managed to break through the paralysis of his body, and was able to move again, albeit only to a certain degree. It extended its arm towards the two and attempted to squeeze them in its pincers, but they quickly jumped away, and then at its sides, before they slashed cleanly through the limbs connecting it to its pincers, and then, with a quick spin, drove their blades between its eyes, snuffing out its life.
"Forgive me..." Satoshi said, in a whisper, right before the beast drew its last breath. After the deed was done, Tyr looked at his Envoy, surprised by his gesture.
"You showed it respect?" he asked, to which the swordsman looked back at him and nodded.
"It was the least I can do..." he replied, looking down a bit "It's still a living being. To kill something living is not a joke..."
"That's very admirable of you, Satoshi." the blue-clad warrior complimented, with a serious smile "Never lose sight of the value of life." Satoshi nodded upon hearing that statement. As they realized that their leader had been killed, all of the Sun Crabs scurried swiftly back to safety, towards the ocean.
"Satoshi-kun, Tyr-kun, you did it!" Miyuki exclaimed, smiling at the youth as she put her Grimoire back on her waist.
"That was awesome, Nii-san!" Soukichi added. Both the duelist and his partner nodded in reply. Merrilee smiled warmly, while Grimm grinned.
"Now, let's get the catch and go back to Braeden." the youth stated, to which his fellow travelers nodded. Soukichi went to the boulder where the net with the fish was, and grabbed it.
"Mmmm~ This fish looks good!" he smiled, as he saw how fresh the fish was.
"No wonder the crabs were going for it..." Miyuki added, to which Merrilee nodded in agreement. Just as he had finished speaking, however, they could hear the voice of a youth.
"Hey, guys!" The three otherworldly Envoys and their companions immediately turned to the source of the voice, and were surprised to see that it was none other than Braeden, who was running towards them with a wide grin plastered on his face.
"Well, look at that!" Soukichi exclaimed, smiling himself "We were just about to come to you." he then presented to him the net he held in his hand "Here, we got the catch."
"I saw what you did there." the young fisherman said, still grinning as he took the net from Soukichi, his eyes filled with awe "I've never seen someone with such skill! You scared the living heck out of those Sun Crabs! They were all scampering away with their tail between their legs!"
"All it took was taking out their boss..." Grimm remarked, remembering how it had been Mobray's death that had been the reason the crabs left the beach.
"I had no idea you had such battle prowess." Braeden continued "You guys could teach me a thing or two." he ended his statement with a chuckle, who was quickly joined by Soukichi's own.
"Is there anything else we can do for you?" Miyuki asked, to which Braeden pensively put his fingers under his chin, glancing at the setting sun, before shaking his head.
"Nothing else, right now." he replied "It's getting dark, you should get some rest right now. You definitely deserved it! I'll think of ideas to counter the pirates, and then I'll tell you what I'll come up with." The three travelers nodded in understanding, with bright smiles on their faces.
Little did they know that someone was watching them from atop the roofs of Helonia: a man in a black garb, his head covered by a hood, with two swords hanging on his hips. He had witnessed as the otherworldly Envoys had cleared the coast of the crabs.
"They did well..." he thought "But they were not professionals… Not in the common sense..." his eyes were fixed on the smiling wanderers, unsuspecting of their observer, until he finally reached his conclusion, and jumped away from his spot.
"There's no doubt about that… They're..."