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The Weary and Wise [Shadow Mission]

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1 The Weary and Wise [Shadow Mission] on Wed May 20, 2015 1:14 pm

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There had been plenty of rumors floating around about one of Syne's resident janitor, Alfred Walters, or just Mr. Walters to most of the students. It was often whispered that Walters had once been a good, if not a great, Huntsman, a rising star in his time who would've had his name almost worldwide if he hadn't quit his career. No one was really quite sure how the rumors had started, and plenty of people had tried to find out if Mr. Walters really was a Hunter or not, but to no avail. He seemed like your regular janitor for the most part. With the opportunity to shadow people now as a sort of extra-curricular activity, Warren figured he'd try and find out if these rumors were true himself. If they were right, then Warren hoped that he might have found himself a new mentor, and if he was wrong, well... He'd have a little bit of extra pocket change, he supposed.

So far though, things were not going well for Warren. For one, every time Warren had tried to ask Walters something about him being a Hunter, he'd simply deflect it talking about having bad memory, getting old, or simply pointing at some stain or dirty hallway and getting Warren to clean it for 'work experience'. Hell, Walters didn't look like he was all that old anyways, at least not old enough to be losing his memory.

The day was beginning to near its end, the sun just beginning to set when Warren found himself in a small flat area just outside the walls of Syne, somewhere near the back of the mountaintop that the academy sat upon. The field was apparently used by a small gardening club to to grow whatever it is they grew, a small vegetable garden sitting in one corner, small fields of flowers surrounding the sides, and an apple tree off in the corner. It was all very picturesque, and Warren would've enjoyed it a little bit more if they hadn't been on their hands and knees weeding as a favor to the gardening club.

"I didn't realize gardening was one of your many talents." Warren said a little ruefully as he stretched out his back, still sitting on his knees in front of the small vegetable garden.

"Oh, yes, I find it quite relaxing honestly," Walters responded, not even looking up from his work. "You really ought to go out and learn a few things, you know? You won't be a Hunter forever."

Warren frowned at that, but said nothing on the subject, wiping some of the sweat off of his brow instead. By contrast, Walters seemed to be barely sweating at all. "I didn't realize being a janitor could be so tiring," Warren finally said after a moment.

Walters gave a dry laugh. "Hah! What, a little bit of cleaning too much for ya? Well don't worry, we're just about done here. Just gotta get rid of all these weeds we've pulled up now." Walters stood up, pulling off the pair of gloves that he'd donned for garden work, moving to a small shed to the side to grab a rake and rake aside the small pile of weeds to be disposed of later.

Warren stood up as well, rolling his neck, a little disappointed that Walters really was nothing more than an old janitor, but still more than happy to be done with work. "So, is that it then?" he asked, wanting to confirm if he could really leave now.

"Hmm? Oh, yea, sure. Got nothing else for you to do, and I'm about to head home myself. I'll see you around, kiddo."

"Alright. I'll see you around at school th-" Warren's sentence was cut off by the sound of shuffling, and a couple of rocks falling from behind him. He turned around and was shocked to see a rather stubby looking creature, with two legs and a rather large mouth, it's black body and white shell giving it away to be a Grimm. A Creep to be exact. Warren's eyes widen and he stiffens as the Creep lets out a screech, running at them, picking up speed for a few moments before leaping, jaws wide open. "Get behind me!" Warren shouted, moving himself in front of Walters on instinct, his arms up in a combat stance. Warren was even more shocked when the wooden handle of a rake shot over his shoulder, straight into the Creep's mouth, before being swung, hooking into the Grimm's cheek like a fishing hook and flinging the creature aside and into the tree with a 'crack'. Warren blinked, then looked behind him at Walters who stepped forwards, past Warren.

"I can handle myself, kiddo. Besides, you aren't even armed." Walters said, spinning the rake around and holding it in front of himself like a polearm. "It looks like our uninvited guest brought a few friends too. How nice of him." Warren simply blinked as he looked from Walters to the side of the mountain again to see that, yes, there really were a couple of other Creeps climbing up, too shocked to even think to mention to Walters that he usually fought unarmed, though not without the protection of armor...

Warren wasn't sure who moved first, but either way, both Walters and the Grimm met each other in a headlong charge, Walters staying silent in contrast to the baying screeches of the numerous Creeps. Walters moved with grace entirely unbecoming of an old man, spinning the simple rake in front of him into a blur, catching one of the Creeps across the face with the front end of his make-shift weapon, leaving a nasty gash, before catching another with the back end, sending it sprawling into another group of two, the three of them ending up in an undignified pile of flailing bodies, each of them trying to regain their balance and get away from the others, snapping with their jaws at each other the entire time. It was truly a sight to see, and Warren was awestruck by how easily the janitor handled so many opponents at once, catching a Creep who had attempted to jump at him from the side with a roundhouse kick. It seemed so much like the pictures he'd painted in his head whenever he was told stories about great Hunters, facing down impossible odds and dangerous enemies. It didn't take too long for Walters to handle the Creeps, smashing the last one over the head with the haft of his rake.

"Holy shit..." Warren mumbled out, not having moved a single inch from his previous position, completely transfixed by the sight before him. He opened his mouth to say something else, but his train of thought was quickly crashed into a brick wall by a familiar scream from behind him, turning around to see that the first Creep that'd been sent crashing into the apple tree was getting up and preparing to jump at Warren. Warren readied himself to leap to the side, but found it unnecessary when the Creep found itself being slammed in the side of its head, the haft of Walters rake finally shattering into splinters, the Grimm flying off the side of the mountain and disappearing from view with a roar that slowly grew more and more distant. "That was awesome!" Warren cried turning around to look at Walters, only to find the man on the ground clutching at his back. Warren quickly moved to try and offer the man his aid, but was stopped as Walters held up a hand.

"I'm fine..." Walters said, slowly pushing himself into a sitting position. "I just pulled a muscle, that's all." Walters attempted to stand up, only to collapse back on the floor, his face twisting up in pain. "Okay... Maybe I could use some help."

About twenty minutes later, Warren found himself in the nurse's office, with Walters sitting on a small cot, a cup of water in hands as he waited for the pain killers that the nurse had given him to kick in. The nurse had recommended for Walters to lay down, but the man had refused, insisting on staying seated.

Warren sat silently in a small chair off to the side for visitors, wondering what to say. When he finally opened his mouth to say something, however, he was quickly silenced by the old man. "Don't say anything... I know what you're going to ask. I've met plenty of kids like you when I went through my academy." Warren slowly closed his mouth. Another minute of silence passed by before Walters sighed. "You want to know why I quit?" Warren gave a slow nod. Another sigh from Walter. "I quit because I saw what was happening to everyone... My friends, acquaintances, even rivals. They were breaking. All of them."

Warren furrowed his brows, looking at Walters questioningly. "What do you mean?"

"I mean what I said. They were breaking, and so was I. You can only be in this business for so long, you know? Everyone's got an expiration date, and you only make it shorter by doing the things we do. Every broken bone, every snapped tendon, everything... It all adds up you know? People like us, we don't get to rest, and the more you push yourself, the more injured you get, until those injuries just won't heal no more. That's just how it goes."

That wasn't the answer Warren was expecting. He frowned at that, turning his head down in thought. "Okay... Well, why'd you become a janitor then? I mean... If you could still fight like that at the age you are now... You must've been good, really good! You could've become an instructor, or... Something! Surely something better paying than just being a janitor!"

Walters gave a snort. "Hey, watch it kiddo, I ain't that old yet..." Walters turned away, looking out the window, the sky outside hued red and orange as the sun slowly disappeared over the horizon. "I quit because I was tired of it... Teaching just... Seemed like more of the same to be honest. It wasn't for me. And I dedicated my entire life to being a Hunter. Didn't have too many other marketable skills when I entered the job market again. I don't mind though, it's a living." Walters gave a bit of a half-hearted shrug. "Hey, get another pain killer, would ya, kiddo?"

"But the nurse said to only take-"

"Bah, I don't care what the nurse says, another one ain't going to kill me!" After a moment of hesitation, Warren grabbed a bottle from the nurse's desk and handed another pill over to Walters, who quickly downed it with a swig of water. "Thank you."

Another moment silence. This time Warren broke it. "Hey... Earlier you said you knew plenty of kids like me when you were my age... How many of them actually made it?"

Walters thought for a moment. "Not many... Most of them gave up after a while to be honest. Some broke. Some found new priorities. Hobbies, friends, hell some even started families, and trust me, everything changes when you start a family. It's just how it goes. The great ones are great because there are so few of them that can do what they do." Walters scratched at his chin, his other hand unconsciously going to nurse his side. "Just how it goes," he repeated. "You want my advice? Don't be an idiot and think you can keep on trucking if you get hurt. You strain an injury too hard, and it'll never heal right. Seriously. Don't be that guy. Anyways, the day's getting old. You have better things to do then spend the rest of your day with a washed up old man."

Warren gave a bit of a numb nod back, reluctantly standing up. "Alright... I guess, I'll uh... I'll see you around at school then. I'll keep quiet on this whole business too, if you'd like."

"Much appreciated." Walters said with a nod. Warren turned to leave, and just as he was about to make it out the door, he heard Walters speak up again from behind him. "Hey, kid... If you need help with something... Have any questions... Feel free to come to me for help, alright? I figure I ought to pass on what I know, so you don't end up as badly as I did."

Warren turned around, blinking in surprise. "Really?"

"Yes, really," Walters said sounding annoyed. "God knows it's probably a waste of time, since all you young kids feel like you know everything, and you'll probably end up sweating the same blood and tears I did when I was your age and I ignored what my teachers tried to tell me, when they learned it the exact same way. It's just how young people are." Walters shook his head. "Now get out before I change my mind."

Warren swallowed unsure what to say in response, so he simply nodded and said "Thanks... You've given me a lot think about... I'll do my best. I promise."

Walter gives another snort. "You say that now... Anyways, like I said, out." Warren gave another nod and with that, he left.

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