they were real, I would bake more for them! ”
But these are still warm. Did she bake these just for us? Crane thought but didn say anything. He was secretly relieved that he didn have to spend any money.
”Make sure you finish everything, and if you three need more, tell me. I still have a lot of bread inside, ” she added, ”I plan to give them all away soon too, since the sun is rising soon, ” she suddenly looked down and her voice became heavier.
The three of them also knew what she was feeling.
”Thank you again, Gran. Well be going now, ” Crane bowed his head.
”Make sure you three finish the bread so you can grow stronger. Come by any time! ” the friendly old lady waved the triplets goodbye as they continued walking down the cobblestone road deeper into the town with Thompson leading the way with a freshly lit candle.
Knock! Knock! Knock!
The triplets passed construction work on the side of the road, which looked to be road maintenance. There were only a couple of men working, but the noises they made were enough to attract the threes attention.
”Working at this hour, Mr. De Jong? ” Crane greeted the man closest to them.
”Hi, isn it the Wright triplets? ” the man stopped what he was doing and looked at the trio. It was Henssen De Jong, a tall man in his late thirties, ”We want to get as much done as possible before the sun rises. ”
Shortly after, a woman who looked about the same age as Henssen came out of the house nearby. She was gracefully carrying a tray with four cups of milk for the people working the construction road.
”Good evening, Mrs. De Jong, ” Catherine greeted the woman politely.
She was Linda De Jong, the wife of Henssen De Jong. She was a beautiful woman with a beehive hairdo, adding to her elegant style. On that evening, she was wearing a simple yellow floral dress with a brown wool cardigan to protect against the cold.
”Hi, Catherine, and Crane and Chris too, ” she greeted the triplets back with a pretty smile, showing her dimples, ”So sorry I didn bring enough milk for you too, ” she shot a glance at the tray in her hands.
The lady handed the tray to her husband, who, in turn, passed the cups over to the other people working. They took a short break and had a sip of the hot milk.
”Don worry, Mrs. De Jong. We are just passing by. We just came back from hunting, ” Crane explained.
”Was it successful, Crane? ” asked Henssen. He looked at the full backpack that Thompson the puppet was carrying, ”Well, judging by the full backpack, I assume it is, isn it? ”
”Yes, Mr. De Jong. Fortunately, we managed to gather what we needed. What about the other hunting team? Have you seen them? ”
In the town, the trio was not the only hunting team. There were others like them since monster materials were crucial to the towns survival. Most of them were people who had gotten the approval of the towns Chiefs. Since the outside world was dangerous and they needed to make sure as many of them could survive, permission to go hunting was not given to just anyone.
”Yes, theyve come back just before you guys. Everyone returned safely tonight–at least from the South Gate they did–which is a great relief, ” replied the man. He took another sip of the milk and sighed, ”I feel really bad that the young need to go out there and risk their lives, while all I can do here is fix the road. ”
Henssen showed a heavy expression. His wife put her hand on the mans shoulder to console him.
”Everyone is doing their part, Mr. De Jong, ” Crane replied.
”And the chance of ritual failure is higher the older you are, so leave the hunting to us young folks, ” Chris added convincingly.
Henssen smiled bitterly, but he nodded in understanding. ”I guess you are right. I hope one day one of you guys will be able to find a clue to breaking the curse, but make sure to stay safe. I don want to see another tombstone added to the graveyard. ”
He was referring to the hunting teams, who regularly went out of the town to hunt for monster parts. The hunting teams usually went to the outside with an official mission from the towns Chiefs, whether to collect materials or to explore more of the world in search of anything that could aid their survival. They were divided into teams with one of the people appointed by the Chiefs as the leader. The siblings were also part of a hunting team.
In the case of the siblings recent hunting trip, it was for gathering materials for their advancement. Their strength had also been acknowledged, and on top of that, they had a strong artifact with them, that was why they could easily get the approval to go hunting in their own time.
Not all of the hunting trips were successful. A lot of times, one or more of the members would fall victim to the danger of the outside world. Due to the danger, it would be difficult to recover the bodies, so the townsfolk would usually just add a tombstone without an actual grave to signify the dead. It was a heartbreaking moment every time it happened.
”When is you guys official hunting trip? ” asked Henssen again.
”It would be the day after tomorrow, on Thursday. Thats why we want to get strong quickly so we can explore farther, ” Catherine replied. Crane and Chris nodded.
”Lets stop with the heavy stuff, shall we? ” interjected Linda, ”Its already stressful enough that my son wants to join the hunting team soon. ”
”Sorry honey. I guess I started it, ” Henssen smiled awkwardly and put his arm around his wifes waist.
”I think we should get going, Mr. and Mrs. De Jong. We need to sort out our loot quickly before dawn comes, ” Crane made a gesture of checking his watch.
After that, the three bid farewell to the couple and the other workers before continuing their way home. It wasn far from the road maintenance site. They just had to take the right at the fork and walk about three hundred more meters before finally arriving at their small house.
On the way, they passed a lot of houses and when they had a chance, they took a glance inside through the open windows. They could see a lot of parents yelling at their children, forcing them to go inside iron cages. The trio could only look ahead and suppress the heaviness in their hearts.
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