“Who are these so-called Bounty Hunters?” – Rueben asked. Mack took a deep sigh and started to explain - “Bounty Hunters was a secret society of foul mercenaries. These voracious mercenaries craved only one thing – Gold. Give them the right amount of gold and they’ll cause absolute mayhem. Known as the masters of strategy and camouflage, stories say that they could easily take down heavily guarded castles.” “Camouflage? So that’s what the green capes were for!” – Reuben mulled. Mack nodded his head and continued - “During the reign of King Leron’s father Adam–The Brave, the notoriousness of Bounty Hunters was at its peak. If there was any immoral activity going on in the realm you could bet your ass that they had to be involved in one way or the other. People started calling them the Hounds, because some of them fed on human meat. The King had no choice but to pass a search and kill order for every cape bearer. It was a dark time! Soon, most of the Bounty Hunters were killed. The ones that were left fled away never to return, until now!”.

        “I want those bastards to be found before Sunrise. I need them alive, so that I can skin one myself.” – Sazar grumped. “I have picked up their trail. Follow me!” – Scarface said. “Why do you have to run? They won’t know what’s wrong until morning. We have plenty of time.” – Figar was limping. Nico ignored his partner and tried to find his way in the dense jungle. “My Lord! It looks like they are following the Ugic star.” – Scarface pointed out. “Then they must be heading towards the ancient Valley of Loot.” – Sazar murmured. “Why can’t you keep up with me?” – Nico exclaimed. “I think I broke my leg when I fell from that roof.” – Figar dropped near a coconut tree to regain some strength. “Hear that?” – Nico became vigilant. “Shit! They weren’t supposed to start the search this soon. Fuck that lord! We had everything covered up, he had just one job to do and he fucks it.” – Figar punched the tree in anger. “My Friend! Don’t get me wrong but, you’ll just slow me down and no matter what people tell you, it’s always better to die a quick death at the hands of a friend than a painful one at the hands of a foe.” – Nico sliced his partner’s throat and left him to choke on his own blood.

The green caped deserter with a small black purse tied to his waist sprinted at his peak…..He opened the purse to peek what was inside. It was THE CUBE.

Back at the Horrow’s Summit, the caravan started its long journey towards Herz. Blasius was exhausted from being tied up and beaten. His mind was going all erratic but still he sat calmly on the comfortable cushions of his cart. Drowsiness slowly creeped upon him in search of some solace.

     The Sun spread its bright wings open yet again to engulf the prosperous city of Herz. Herz was quite strategically built. The architects roughly divided it into four circular layers based on population. The outermost layer contained the Army Barracks, Training Arenas, Watchtowers, Protection Houses and Castles for immediate defense against enemy attack. Beyond this layer lived the immense population of the commoners with their religious places, public grounds, the Herz bazaar, education centers and all the other rudimentary utilities. The third layer housed the noble men and lords of Fortis. In the middle of the city, stood the magnificent Great Mansion, seat of King Leron. The two gold centaur figures on the top of the mansion reflected the yellow Sunlight all over the city. An ancient thick stone wall surrounded the entire settlement which led to the city being given an alternative name – The Resolute City.

       The Herz bazaar had strict partitions as per the items that were sold. The iron street was lined up with black-smithy shops which supplied weapons to the army and did all the metal work. The wheat street sold all kinds of food materials like wheat, barley, fish, rice and soy. The silk street was the prime destination for clothes and garments. This kept the busy bazaar, well-organized.

       Inside a small weapon-smithy shop on the iron street, a tall and lean man was hammering down an armor into shape. The man seemed to be completely indulged in his work and the handful of masterpieces that decorated the walls of his forgery told the tale of his skills. His arsenal housed swords of different types and sizes, a few shields and armors. The intense whiffs that came from the furnaces were strong enough to suffocate a child. “Father! It’s time…” – A small boy with long wavy golden hair and green glittering eyes came running inside the shop. The weapon-smith had just finished his art which was evident from his satisfying smile. “Of course, it is!” – The man grinned at his young son. “Come with me!” – he put his hand around the shoulders of the young boy and for the first time ever, took him inside his cabin.
     The immense darkness inside the cabin receded at the blink of a small candle. The cramped-up space had some old furniture, a shelf of books and a large trunk in one corner. The front wall boasted some of the rarest weapons and tools. However, in the center was the most captivating piece of metal, the little boy had ever seen. The legendary Eagle-Guardian. “This is our most prized possession. Imbibing its name from the eagle shaped hilt, this sword was forged by our ancestors when the art of weapon-smithy was first discovered.” – The man said to his gleaming son. “Father. What are those inscriptions?” – The curious boy asked. “That’s the answer I have been trying to find for years in all these books.” – the man pointed to his book shelf. The boy’s eyes seemed to be frozen on the old yet majestic weapon. “However, this is not what we are here for.” – The man said. He unlocks the rusted trunk which seemed to be waiting for years. Taking a sigh of relief, he picks out a seemingly heavy book wrapped in pure white silk cloth. With the whiff of his breath he carefully clears out the dust and says – “The Eagle-Guardian is not the only legacy left behind by our forefathers. Here’s the gift I promised you. It has been a tradition of our family to give this book of knowledge to a child when he turns 12. It’s time I pass this into your young hands.” The boy was bursting with excitement but the moment brought about an unnatural calm in his behavior, as if he wasn’t a little boy anymore.
The man hands the book to his son who carefully unwraps the silk cloth and written on the canvas of red cover, he reads the golden letters – GYANSHASTRA.


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