Shift World I Book IV Chapter 7
by Christopher W. Gamsby
The village, however, was far more worse for wear than either of the men expected. Houses leading into the town had been burned into dilapidated refuse piles. Likely, arsonists stripped away valuables before immolating the structures, but sometimes in the senseless haze of war, people didn't act so logically. The eerie feeling of eyes watching the pair jumped around Nort's imagination.
A rat ran from a debris pile and crossed Nort's path. The clicking, squeaking critter rushed by, and they laughed. "Not quite the monster I was expecting..."
Triled shook his head, and they continued in the direction of the ocean. Smashed and burnt houses led up to the conspicuous school building that remained mostly intact despite the chaos surrounding it. Several of the building's yellow roof tiles had slid off and smashed on the ground. Its green paint peeled around the building's corners. Nort peeked inside.
The classroom remained untouched, except someone tore off the maps hanging in the room's front, only leaving perforated paper tacked onto the wall. Chairs and desks scattered through the learning area but still arranged uniformly enough to evoke the image of teachers running classes.
The area south of the village where Danil the Narwhal had set up a base of operations remained surprisingly well maintained. Compared to the village's incredibly low bar, the rat-infested, barely holding together tents might just have been nice to sleep inside. Nort and Triled opened and closed a few of the flaps, but any valuables must have been stolen long ago. The pair headed for The Sunflower's compound.
Nort looked off the side road leading to the manor and into a pristine sunflower field. Weeds didn't have much of a chance to germinate between the muddy, flooded plains and the towering plants, leaving the area looking oddly well-maintained. As they strolled watching the scenery, they noticed some of the overgrown flowers seemed to have died under the strain of growing too large to sustain itself.
The Sunflower's compound hadn't been burned like the village proper, but time cruelly choked the life from its buildings. Overgrown weeds and grass sprung out of foundations while patchwork roofs drooped or fell into the main structures. The interiors stunk of animal urine and feces. The pair quickly moved on to their destination.
The Sunflower's manor looked in the same state as the rest of the compound and not destroyed like the village. The seat of his power had been eaten away by the elements and no longer looked inhabitable. Either intentionally or unintentionally, the lanai's retractable walls had been left up, and years of rain soaked the inside, producing black mold all throughout the interior.
"One time, I forgot to lower the walls ahead of a storm. When the rain started falling, I ran around like a madman trying to get everything shut up. I heard about it for weeks. I can't imagine what Jorn would say seeing his house like this..."
"I hope he's rolling in his grave after everything he started for his stupid pride."
Triled only responded with an apathetic shrug. Nort figured Triled easily understood why someone like a grandchild to The Whitecoat wouldn't mourn for his murderer. The pair left The Bamboo Coast after finding nothing unexpected nor finding anything close to closure.
- - -
"Would you mind waiting here?" Nort stood outside of the Village of the Traitor's Tavern, talking with Triled as he prepared to enter the village proper. A full suit of armor offered the most protection but could make him stand out too much in the rural town. Nort put on a steel helm and lowered the guard to block his face. Chainmail protected his body and limbs if something happened. The hauberk and leggings were less noticeable underneath a travel cloak than plate armor.
"Are you sure you don't want me there?" Rumors had been ever-present about the Traitor's Tavern falling into the hands of a gang of thugs.
"I'll be fine if I hide my face. I just plan on seeing the state of the village, not starting trouble."
"OK... but be careful! I really don't want to feel The Nature's Wrath because I let something happen to you."
"The Nature's what? I don't want to die because then Karp would probably hunt me down in the other worlds! Ha. Now that's something to be afraid of! Not this nature's whatever."
"What? The Nature's Wrath IS... oh never-mind. Just be careful, OK?" Triled shook his head. "I'll wait nearby if something happens. Just try to flee to me."
Triled sighed and leaned against the blue and red gate that represented the Village of the Traitor's Tavern. Nort took his cue and walked up Village Square Road. A wave of relief washed over him as he watched the houses lining the road. Unlike the buildings in that unnamed village where the rocks or eggs had washed ashore, there didn't seem to be water damage. The houses weren't makeshift shanties like the Village of the Wyvern's Cove. They weren't burnt piles of rubble like in the Bamboo Coast.
Nort veered onto an offshoot road instead of marching on toward the Traitor's Tavern Inn. He stopped at the Widow's Bridge and looked down into the water. After ensuring that nobody lingered by close enough to recognize him, he flipped open his visor and took in the sight of the river unencumbered. The water still looked peaceful as ever, and if he didn't know better, he might want to jump in armor and all. Though, that would be a death sentence because the deep water ran violently under the calm surface. Underwater currents would drag him under, sticking him to the riverbed because of the weight of his gear.
He decided to move up the road to check on the school he used to attend. The building itself had seen better days, but it still looked functional. A few of the wood-slat siding needed to be repainted or replaced, but otherwise, the outside remained intact. Nort opened the building's main door and peeked his head inside. The sounds of learning children filled two of the four classrooms, and, for some reason, someone had removed all of the rooms' doors.
The third and fourth classrooms, which trained the children of lords and teachers, were empty of pupils and teachers. The second classroom held students diligently working on stone slabs. They appeared to be doing some kind of calculation exercises. Nort recognized a few of the children but didn't see many of the faces he expected.
Nort moved to the first room, which housed younger children who learned the basics of reading, writing, and history. Really, the space functioned as a way of occupying the children while their parents worked their businesses. At the room's front, Tolk the School Master gave his all explaining the Traitor's Tavern's history. Despite his flowery language, fervent pace, and possible hyperbole, most children apathetically stared off. The vision reminded Nort of his time spent in the class daydreaming of being a shifter, which had not turned out remotely close to what happened in real life.
Tolk looked up and saw Nort standing in the doorway. His face shallowed before abandoning his lecture and pulling Nort from the entrance. He spoke in a whisper, "Is there something I've done to displease Cont?"
"Cont? What does he have to do with anything?" Nort only recognized the name Cont as the son of a graybeard The Demon's Wrath killed during a raid on the village.
"He didn't send you?" The School Master looked dubious but partially relieved.
"I don't know what you mean, School Master. I'm an old student of yours who came passing by on an important mission. I thought I would see how things have changed."
"Oh, are you..." Nort shook his head, and The School Master picked up on the hint. "right, never mind. Yeah, as you can see, things have gotten a little rough..."
"Enrollment is down, I guess..."
Tolk leaned in closer to Nort so that none of the students would hear him whisper. "Those that could afford to leave already have. Cont abolished the third and fourth classes as a waste of money and sold off the supplies. I don't think he realizes we made more money from those classes than we spent on them..."
"Hmmm... I'm not sure lords would be sending merchants or their children here with everything happening outside the village."
"What do you mean?"
"Well..." Nort bit his lip, unsure if he should say anything to his one-time teacher. "There's basically a civil war happening right now. Even the minor lords that sent children here are probably keeping them safe at home instead."
"Well, even the worst merchant may buy steel, mistaking it for iron. Don't think too highly of that decision. Anyway, I have to get back to teaching. Tell your mom I said 'hello.'" Tolk winked and returned to the classroom. After a momentary pause, Nort left the building and headed toward the Traitor's Tavern Inn.
Village Square Road remained largely the same past Widow's Bridge Road. The buildings stayed in good shape but not as clean or well-maintained as Nort remembered. He entered the merchant's district. The conspicuous lack of goods on display outside of the leatherworkers, cobbler, woodworker, and grocer stuck out immediately.
On entering the town's square, the building constructed to replace the town hall grabbed his attention. The last Nort knew, the village had agreed on erecting a simple meeting hall and viewing platform identical to the destroyed building. The simple job wouldn't have taken more than a couple of months to complete after gathering the supplies. Still, it had remained unstarted because dealing with the crisis of The Mandrake took precedence over fixing a structure mainly redundant to the Traitor's Tavern Inn or empty storehouse.
At some point, though, construction had begun, and the results stupefied Nort. A knee-high ring of quarried stone spread around the field. The foundation looked to be about twice the original hall's size. A skeleton of wooden beams divided the building in a layout similar to a stone keep. However, construction must have stopped long ago, and the untreated wood showed weather damage. Dry rot splintered and cracked apart around the base of the wooden frames. Uncovered stacks of lumber rotted and distorted in the open field with piles of unused stone bricks nearby. Nort didn't need some past life's experience in construction to know just how poorly the site had been managed.
He didn't have a good idea of the specialty stores' dispositions before he left. He had no idea if goods should stuff the buildings jam-packed or if artisans strictly made merchandise to order. So, if he entered and saw little, he couldn't gauge how much their prosperity changed. He did, however, practically grow up in the general store his mother, Slart, had managed. He rounded the corner and balked at the side door leading to his old apartment above the store. Someone had lazily nailed a few pieces of wood over the otherwise empty entryway.
Nort shook his head and entered the sales floor's side door. He remembered the store from more prosperous times. Salespeople stood at the rear surrounded by iron weapons and armor of all shapes and sizes. Customers could try on different armor pieces or swing around arms under the supervision of guards. Wealthy clients looking to purchase steel goods contacted the store manager and arranged a time to pick up the items and pay.
Karp adjusted a different but similar item to the customer's satisfaction in the rare instance that the store didn't have an item duplicated in steel. That tended to happen mostly with hard to fit pieces like a breastplate or helm. Any good made in sunshine steel or better had to be directly bartered for with Slart or Korg. Those people, generally, headed straight for The Whitecoat's compound to get the customized gear.
The largest money-maker had always been cloth, though. Adult peasants and all high-status people wore cloth to festivals. Sometimes, nobles even wore cloth just to lounge in their chambers or dining rooms. That made the goods very expensive, and only The Whitecoat's general store sold them in the local area. That meant cloth in a rainbow of colors embroidered with various patterns routinely sat on display.
The store even sold consigned merchandise from the leatherworker, grocer, or anyone nearby known for making quality goods. Since the store opened for travelers in off-hours, the local businesses completed many sales they wouldn't typically. Those looking for the best price just went directly to the craftsman. Those willing to pay extra for convenience went to the general store. Almost everyone involved in the system benefited, a rare accomplishment in life. Though Nort had heard from his mother on several occasions, some customers who bought from the general store later complained they paid more than when at the craftsman.
In comparison, the general store that Nort looked at had almost nothing. No metal goods filled the displays. The store's manager didn't even bother posting a salesman to pretend like some valuables still rested in storage. A few pieces of cloth thrown in a single cubby near the store's center made up the entire selection. There weren't any consigned goods and barely any non-perishable foods. A harried-looking man approached Nort. He had on the leathers typical in the southern Lush Forest with a white stripe down his left side and a single iron stripe in the center.
"Good afternoon! Is there anything I can show you?" The greeting had been so halfhearted that Nort got the impression the man hoped the customer would answer no.
"What happened to this store?"
"Oh, well..." The man inspected Nort as he gauged what response his customer might expect. "Well, you see, there's a bit of a disruption in the supply chain..."
"Just tell me what's going on, Gnot" The store worker seemed surprised that the customer knew his name. "There should have been years worth of stock saved up, even if the supply chain's completely cut off..."
"YOU'RE ALIVE! HOW WONDERFUL! The manager must be so thrilled!" The man had worked at the store Nort's entire life and had seen him grow from a finicky child to a young teen and suddenly become an adult. His face twisted from jubilation to worry in a matter of moments. "You need to get out of town as soon as you can."
"Why would you say that? Oh, also, please don't tell anyone you saw me... I think Tolk knows too."
"Don't go see people that have known you your whole life if you don't want anyone to recognize you..." The worker put his hand against his temple. "Anyway, Cont blames your mother for everything going on in the Traitor's Tavern, so he might take that out on you."
"Huh? What did she do? She never would have let this happen!"
"That's true, which is why someone like him would blame her. He has this fantasy that she could have built that monstrosity out there and not bankrupted the town." Gnot pointed in the direction of the half-built hall. "He poured everything this town has into building that keep, and we still haven't recovered. The Bog Djinn won't send anything but some food to the grocer, and I don't blame him! Any more wealth than that, and it will just be squandered."
"If that's the case, how come the rest of the village just let him."
"The night he chased your mother away, he started palling around with these soldiers. He used them to silence anyone that spoke out, and this is the result." The man sighed.
"I'm surprised no one has come to stop him."
"I guess you could say that's the greatest tragedy of all. He's running this place just competently enough to keep nearby lords off his back. I guess that's a skill in and of itself."
"That makes a lot of sense. There are towns out there under siege, destroyed by monsters, burned down by war, and this probably seems pretty alright compared to that."
"That doesn't make it much easier. The town's SLOWLY dying under him, but it will eventually fall..." The man shook his head in resignation. "I guess if he's there, then we at least won't worry about bandits. Maybe."
"What do bandits have to do with anything?"
"Bandits tend to go where there's easy money. They wouldn't attack a town with a sociopath leader and armed guards. If he were defeated and the town left abandoned... Well, eventually someone else would step up, maybe even someone worse."
"I guess I see your point. That does make this a difficult decision..."
- - -
Nort walked into the Traitor's Tavern Inn and approached a barkeep standing between a counter and large ale casks. Patrons filled almost every chair and acted in alcohol-fueled mirth, almost like celebrating something, but Nort couldn't possibly fathom what made the villagers happy. The throwing board had fallen in shameful disrepair as knife strikes had chipped away the image which no one ever redrew or touched up. If Nort didn't already know the board well, he probably couldn't guess the images' nature theme among each smudge of color left.
Nort arrived at the bartender. "I'll take a mug of ale and dinner for one."
The bartender looked over Nort with an unsure expression. "You don't work for Cont, do you?"
"No... does that matter?"
"Well, I can't sell you food, and you're limited to one drink. If you want food, you must go to the grocers..."
"Oh?" Nort looked over the tavern again and noticed that almost every table had multiple drinks lined up with food plates. On further inspection, the people drinking looked muscular and equipped to be guards or possibly bandits. "Oh!"
The bartender nodded as if his foolish client might have just saved themselves. "I suggest you head to the grocers right after you finish your drink. That'll be five steel."
Nort balked at the price but wanted a little taste of his hometown. He slid the coins to the bartender, who poured a mug and placed it before his patron. Nort picked up the cup and sipped after sliding up his helmet's face guard just enough to expose his mouth. Nort frowned. The Traitor's Tavern Inn never had the fancy seasonal beers other villages specialized in. They had always been famous for deserts like cookies or pie or sweet drinks like mead, but the slog Nort drank may have been the most disappointing moment of his life. "I see the hospitality in the Traitor's Tavern's not what it used to be."
The bartender shook his head, but in a way that didn't suggest agreement. His overall body language asked Nort not to say anything more for both of their sakes.
Nort turned from the counter and scanned the crowd, trying to find anyone he recognized. Not surprisingly, he didn't know a single person eating and drinking at the tables. Nort expected as much since any of the guards loyal to Slart or Korg wouldn't tolerate Cont's incompetence and mismanagement. Nort hoped they joined The Bog Djinn at his castle or helped secure the Milling Town. He didn't like the idea that they died for the sake of someone like Cont.
Speaking of a devil, Nort caught a glimpse of Cont sitting on a throne on a raised platform in the back of the bar. The throne's lacquered wood with cloth padding reminded Nort of The Bog Djin's throne. It may have actually been more luxurious, which Nort found incredibly presumptuous. A man driving a single town to the brink of financial ruin was trying to flaunt wealth equal to the man who oversaw the world's economy. Nort found it harder to just walk away.
While thinking, Nort recognized the one person who he had hoped to see the most, Malise. The young barmaid cleaned the floor at Cont's feet with a brush. She swirled the bristles in a bucket of water and continued scrubbing. As she went on, she eventually turned to face Nort, and he took in the sight of her face. She had aged a few years in his absence, but the change hadn't been as dramatic as Karp's transformation. She stopped work for a moment to brush away a lock of nearly black hair away from her face and revealed what looked like a healing black eye.
Nort struggled to make out if she had been injured or merely couldn't sleep between the stress in town and taking care of her sickly mother. He brushed away the thoughts as merely wishful thinking, and anger began to boil under the surface. Malise continued working, but as she drew her brush from the bucket of scuzzy water, she accidentally sent a line of the liquid across Cont's boot. She looked up to say something, but Cont kicked her side, sending her flying into the bucket. Soapy, partially used water spilled out onto the raised platform drenching Malise. Cont shot up.
"You can't even clean!? What's wrong with you?" Cont let out a mean spirited laugh, and his cronies followed. Malise picked up the fallen bucket and slinked off to the bar to get more soap and water. When she arrived, she handed the bucket to the bartender who had just helplessly watched the exchange.
"Come run away with me..." Nort had initially planned on introducing himself in private and arranging everything, but his blood boiled.
"Oh? What will it cost me?" Malise had an annoyed look on her face while she waited for the bartender. Needless to say, this wasn't the heartfelt reunion that Nort expected.
"Sure, you want my life savings? Or my body, maybe?" Malise moved her hips closer to Nort but then thrust them back to the counter. "You aren't the first to come up with this genius tactic. More like the 100th, and I'm not dumb enough to fall for it again."
"I don't want anything... just come with me."
"My body it is, I guess. I can't just leave, though. My mother's sick, and I need to take care of her..."
"Bring her with us..."
"You seem sweet..." Malise sighed as though her dejected facade started cracking. "I've been waiting for years for someone to come get me. That hope's gone now. I know the one I'm waiting for must have died a long time ago. Cont had locked down the town citizens from leaving since most people fled when he took over. Just give up already. There's no way it would work unless you got permission first..." Malise gave a reproachful smile as she received a new bucket from the bartender and left for a new corner of the bar to clean.
"Don't feel too bad. She gets an offer like that every week. Some young, dumb traveler promises to take her away, but it's always a lie." The bartender sighed and patted Nort's shoulder. "You seem more genuine than that filth, but since the one she loved died in the Crossroads a few years ago... I don't think she's interested in finding anyone else. To be honest, I think she still secretly holds out that he'll show up someday."
"I didn't know she had anyone like that..." Nort's voice echoed with enough sadness that the bartender seemed to genuinely sympathize. "You seem like a nice guy yourself, so I want to leave a message with you. Tell Malise that I'm sorry the one she loved died, but no matter what happens after this, I will come back for her when this war is over."
Nort raised his faceplate to show the bartender his face. The man's jaw dropped, and he paled. Convinced that the man understood his sincerity, Nort returned the visor, turned to face Cont, and marched toward the back of the bar. The bartender muttered, "Are you kidding me..." but Nort paid it no mind.
Nort arrived at Cont lounging in his throne, swirling around a drink in between gulps. "Oh, another fighter wants to join my retinue... how quaint."
"What? No, never. I'd like to ask that you withdraw the restrictions on people leaving the Village of the Traitor's Tavern."
"Aren't you cheeky just strolling up and making demands like that? No. Simply, unequivocally, no."
"Uh, why not?" Nort hadn't thought through any counterarguments to the rejection he should have anticipated. He relied so much on Karp or Slart because Karp could intimidate anyone, and Slart would have prepared 100 answers.
"We need them. A town can't run without people, and if they all leave, the Traitor's Tavern will collapse. Besides, it's for their own good too. It's dangerous out there. Without my protection, something'll surely happen." Cont seemed to be losing patience once he realized the warrior wouldn't grovel for his attention.
"Shouldn't they decide on their own if it's worth leaving?"
"I don't expect an errand boy like you to understand the responsibilities of a ruler such as myself. Sometimes, the leader needs to make decisions that are best for the people even if they don't want it." The last comment came out through clenched teeth, and he leered toward Nort.
"Some leader! Have you seen the state of the village?" The bar calmed and turned toward Nort as his questions on Cont's policies turned to borderline insults.
"The state of the village is a result of mismanagement from the last person in charge." Cont's face darkened, and he openly scowled.
"I can't imagine The Whitecoat ever being accused of mismanagement."
"Not him! Slart. She's the one who got in my way! She invited in traitors and plotted against me the whole time. She turned The Bog Djinn against me! It's all her fault things turned out this way."
"Slart? Are you joking? If she was still here, there'd be food and commerce instead of that thing out there..."
"Grab him!" Guards and fighters from the nearby tables jumped up and restrained Nort, who didn't struggle but wasn't happy about the sudden aggression. "Drag him outside."
The group of fighters gleefully dragged Nort out of the bar, knocking over chairs and tables. Once outside, the group threw Nort to the dirt. Cont strolled out with a condescending smile. "I think I humored you enough in there, but I won't be insulted in my own town. You're looking at the future Royal Envoy for this area, so show more respect. Just lick my boot, and maybe I'll let you go."
Cont stuck out his foot toward Nort's face, but he shied away instead of lifting his face mask. Cont kicked Nort's side with a dull thud. Compared to the painful strikes he had endured while training with Karp or Korg, Nort barely felt anything. The lack of reaction just enraged Cont further, and he released a volley of kicks into the fallen man's sides, chest, arms, and legs. As he wasn't inflicting any damage, he called over his goons to join.
The rest of the bar's staff and patrons, including Malise, watched the spectacle. She had a dumbfounded expression, probably wondering if the stranger was going this far just for her sake. Nort looked past nearby houses, and Triled stood by half-drawing his fire steel sword. He looked at Nort as if seeking confirmation that he should attack. Nort contemplated his choices. The two of them could probably quickly dispatch the 'guard' who had the disposition and skills of regular criminals. Nort, however, feared what would happen next. The town could be overrun with actual bandits while it sat unprotected.
Nort decided that if he and Triled destroyed Cont and his goons, then Malise would more-or-less have no choice but to go with him. Forcing his long-time friend to forget the memory of her lover and come with him just to sate his childish desires to be together wouldn't be any better than Cont holding her hostage to satisfy his desires. Nort shook his head, and Triled pushed the sword back into its scabbard.
Although any individual hit didn't do much damage, the combined force of five people repeatedly kicking him started hurting. If they lost patience, they might resort to using weapons, which would be challenging to deal with without dying or killing. A surprising voice disturbed the scene. "Oh, there you are...Did you get those supplies I sent you for?"
"Who are you?" Cont asked between pants and wiping the sweat off his brow.
"My name's Triled the Wolf." He walked up to Cont and his guard but looked down to Nort.
"Your retainer came into my town and insulted me! This is his punishment."
"I see. He does look suitably punished to me..."
"Oh, please." Cont gave his typical condescending smirk. "We're only getting started."
"OK. Then you're saying this'll take a while?"
"Yes. I need to show what happens when people talk back to me!"
"Very well." Triled turned to Nort. "I'm going to continue on to The Bog Djinn and let him know that you are being held up by... oh, I'm sorry. What's your name? Cont? Weird, never heard of you... Comp."
"The Bog Djinn?" Cont's face dropped a little, but he regained himself and tried to feign a pompous look.
"Oh, yes. A coalition of Tark the Last Demon and her Dragon Guard, Karp the Scorpion, Noy the Deer, and to be honest, too many powerful people to mention them all sent us. We have a message for The Bog Djinn. I'm sure they will all understand we were held up to defend the honor of the great lord Camp."
"People as great as they could surely understand my position. Though I don't know why you'd lump The Horse Thief in..." Cont's face read of a man just coming to terms with how precarious his situation became.
"I'm surprised that a lord as great as Candle of the Traitor's Tavern who compares himself to the princess of the empire and the lord of merchants doesn't know that referring to Karp the Demon's Scorpion as The Horse Thief is now treason. Though, my Lord Crumple, it's not like those in power have just been tolerating your existence. They certainly wouldn't see injuring their representative as more than enough pretense to clear out this town..."
Cont sweated bullets as he looked to the thugs that surrounded him, but Triled spoke to get his attention once more. "Oh my great Complete, there are many who know we are here at this moment. Even if an accident befell us on the road... well, the local lord would be blamed, of course. You claim that to be you, right?"
Cont raised his hands, utterly humiliated and defeated. "Please just take this guy with you and leave. As you can see, we didn't do any damage to him because of that strange armor he had on."
Nort raised off of the ground and walked over to Triled, who greeted him with a smile. "You really aren't hurt, are you. That explains a lot..."
Nort looked over to Malise and mumbled, "Malise... I'll come back, I swear..." On realizing he might have just put her in danger, he turned to Cont, but he busied himself talking with his guards and didn't face Nort. He turned back to Malise, and she bawled on her knees in the dirt, being comforted by the bartender he talked to earlier. Nort was glad that she had at least someone to console her during the hard times.
When Nort turned back to Triled, his companion reached out the morning shield. He took hold of the armor's straps and slung it on his back, which sent a loud murmur through the gathered crowd. Nort wanted to hide his identity, but now that was too late. They marched out of the town and continued on to The Bog Djinn's castle.
Thank you for reading up to current, please consider purchasing the full book. Book IV has a special prologue summarizing the events of Book III from Karp's perspective and special Epilogues that shows events from the book from other people's perspective.
Maybe consider purchasing and reading the Light Novel. Then, enjoy new colored illustrations (also available in the illustrated edition!) posted online each week. You could also enjoy reading the tale from a new perspective once you know the 'whole' story.
Book IV Chapter 8 will be posted April 27th, Please come back then!