The forest was pleasant. Birds chirping, small critters scampering around, the sun peaking through the canopy above the two as they walked. A usual forest in the Moniyan land. Well, the majority of it, anyways. With the Abyss starting to act up more and more lately, the lands on the outskirts of the Empire had been dying. Demons popped up more and more, creating more and more hassle for demon hunters. Some had even been killed in action by the demons. Not a lot, but enough to be unsettling and force other hunters to work more than usual to kill them. Not that all of them minded doing so, of course. Some enjoyed it, the adrenaline rush of killing, some killed demons to be considered 'heroic', and others did it for revenge--one of such being Alucard.
"How many did they say there'd be?" Gusion questioned, gaze shifting over to Alucard as he spoke.
"Only one." Alucard answered. "Shouldn't be hard."
A frown slipped onto Gusion's face. "Only one? Why not send someone else?"
"You know why."
The mage sighed, gaze going back to the forest around them. "Yeah, yeah, I know. Everybody else is busy hunting other demons."
There was a brief moment of silence between the two before Alucard spoke again. "You don't always have to come with me, you know. If you don't feel like-"
"No--no," He quickly said. "That's not what I was implying. It's just.. I just know that only two won't take too long to kill, and there's provably a lot of other people who can handle it other than us, yknow?"
Hunting demons could be a sensitive subject for the hunter at times, it seemed. Gusion always tried to tread carefully around it, because he knew the story, what had happened to him when he was young, why Alucard would push himself to his limits to kill demons with no regard of his own health as long as he eradicated demons. A coping mechanism of sorts for a traumatic experience, a hole inside of him that Gusion knew he wouldn't be able to completely full. That didn't mean he sure as hell wouldn't try, though.
"So," He started, gaze going back over to Alucard. "What do you want to do after this?"
"Do another mission." Alucard responded, looking back at Gusion.
"Okay, well, after that, then." He responded, rolling his eyes. "We should do something. Go to the tavern-" Alucard gave him an annoyed look. "-or just do something at home. Nap. Sleeping is nice."
The ghost of a smile appeared on Alucard's face. "You're a dolt."
"I may be a dolt, but I'm your dolt." Gusion shot back with a grin.
Alucard shook his head and turned his attention back to the forestry around them. "Pay attention to where you're walking, it won't do you any good to trip over another root."
An offended look appeared on Gusion's face. "Hey, that was only a one time-"
"Don't think I didn't see you do it the second time either, Gus."
"Wait, which one did you see?"
"You've tripped over a root more than two times-"
"Shut up, it's hard to watch the terrain when your running fast, and I was paying more attention to the branches than I was the ground, okay?" The explanation earned a laugh from Alucard. Gods, Gusion loved that laugh--another cheesy statement, but it was true.
And it went on like that, conversation as they walked through forests until they reached the small village that had reported the demon.
It wasn't hard to tell when they were nearing the village. The smell of fire and smoke was still faintly in the air and destroyed brush could be seen near the area the two were walking. The closer they got, the quieter the area got. The birds stopped singing, the smaller critters stopped scampering around.
"Do you want me to scout ahead and see if it's still there?"
Alucard shook his head. "No. It should be gone by now."
Gusion nodded, an uneasy feeling in his stomach.
The smell of smoke and fire grew stronger the nearer they got to the village. And then there was the village--or what was left of it, rather. Blackened, charred half-walls remained of houses, what of the grass that hadn't been burnt had scattered ashes in between the blades. There were a few corpses on the roadway out of the village from those who had tried to escape, one of which was a child. Truly a gruesome sight. Gusion took out one of his daggers and twirled it in his hand--a habit he had. The weight of the dagger felt good in his hand, comfortable. Suppose it made him feel a bit safer.
The duo trudged forward in silence, their conversation had switched over to silence as soon as the smoke was smelt. Alucard had taken sword off of his shoulder as they walked. There was no true point in looking around for survivors at this point, the fires had already burnt out and flies were already gathering around the bodies. If there were any survivors, they probably would've already ran by now. And if the demon was smart enough, it would've waited, out of sight, and then when the head popped up, it'd snatch it and either kill it or take it and make it a slave, the only two things demons seemed to take pleasure in. But it wasn't good to let your guard down even with that information, because who the hell knew where the demon was or what it had planned?
Gusion remembered about the time that Alucard had told him what had happened to a member of the demon hunter's guild. The hunter had let his guard down while searching through a destroyed village and was killed by the demons that had stayed and hid, lurking on the outskirts of the town. It wasn't a quick death either. The hunter bled to death alone on the ground that day, mission failed. It was an unnerving story, honestly. But it seemed to be a rare occurrence, so Gusion brushed off his worry. He needed his attention somewhere other than a story right now.
And so they continued to search around the village.