22 Up the Slope

Garry walked on ahead with the others following him. They were walking straight up through the main road that passed in between two quadrants that rarely anyone used.

This road had two small streams flowing down on either side, which went around the Defenders headquarters that was at the cross-section of the four quadrants.

It wasn't that people weren't allowed to use this road, but that no one needed to. If someone had something to do in another quadrant, they could simply cross the road over to the next quadrant and didn't have to walk through any of the rest of the road.

Stanley had been on this road before, but never for this long and never this far up.

Every few steps, they would come across a small set of stairs as the land was elevated because of the slope already. The stairs were on either side of the road, while the main road was instead of the slope so that carts could be pushed and pulled without having to carry.

Stanley looked around at the houses and the higher he went, the better the houses became. Not only were the houses better built with seemingly stronger architecture, but they were also starting to have colors on their wall, something that wasn't available for people of the lower quadrants because of the steep price of colors.

Stanley didn't know how the colors were made, but he had heard it had something to do with the many flowers that the Mayor had gardeners grow in his garden. They apparently grew the flowers for their colors.

'The mayor's mansion,' Stanley thought and looked toward the top of the road. At the very top of the slope, he could see a wall and a gate. Beyond the gate, he could see a tall, thin pillar of some sort that he couldn't make out from this far down.

He had never been up there, at least not while conscious, so he wasn't even sure what the mansion actually looked like. All he knew was that people generally weren't allowed there and only those that had work inside could ever go in.

Even those weren't that many in number.

"Straighten your back, boys," Garry spoke. "You are going to be a Defender soon. You can't walk around as if you have no backbone. These people depend on us, so the least you can do is show that you are dependable."

The group suddenly all seemed to get taller all of a sudden with straighter spines and puffed chests.

"Since I have actual work to do today, instead of just walking around the town, I'm afraid I won't get to show you much about what it means to be a Defender but worry not. I will still try to do my best," Garry said. "Now, let's finish this thing quickly so I can go back to my wife."

"Brother Garry, you're married?" one of the 2nd year boys asked curiously.

"Haha, yes," Garry said. "I'm not just married either. I have a child on the way. My wife is already 5 months pregnant."

"Woah, congratulations brother Garry," the group started congratulating him one after another.

"Haha, you guys pass the Defenders exam too, and you will get have girls coming after you in droves. You can then marry any girl you want to," Garry said proudly.

"I can't wait, brother," one of the 1st years said.

Stanley was quite surprised about it all. "Brother Garry, you don't stay in the quarters, do you?" he asked.

"Quarters? No, I left the quarters long ago. I bought a home in the lower half of the 2nd quadrant. It's close to the headquarters," Garry said.

"If you don't mind me asking, how much did your house cost?" Stanley asked. "My brother has been thinking about buying a house of our own for a while, but I'm not sure if he should if it costs a lot."

"Hmm, you can just rent a place instead of buying the whole thing. There are places around town where older men and women live without anyone, so they are usually agreeing to have people rent out their place," Garry said. "That way, they have a sense of security too and they can earn some money without having to do any actual work."

"Hmm," Stanley thought. "But buying would still be better, wouldn't it?"

"It would, but…" Garry turned around. "Your brother, he's Bradley, right?"

"Yes, that's him," Stanley said.

"I remember hearing he was a big help in Crawler attack a few days ago," Garry said. "Aside from your brother, do you have anyone else?"

"N-no," Stanley said. "Our mother… she died 3 months ago during the attack. Our father died a long time ago."

"My condolences," Garry said and the few others beside him gave theirs as well. "But if that's the case, then I don't suggest getting a home."

"Why?" Stanley asked.

"The truth is, a house is useless without anyone to tend to it," Garry said. "With both of you being Defenders, a house would be useless for the most part. You won't even have someone to cook or clean for you, and after a long day of working out in the streets or next to the veil, you need that."

"If you rent a place with an older man or woman, they will stay at home all day and with a bit more money, they will even make food for you," Garry said. "So, I suggest looking into that."

"I see, that makes sense," Stanley said. "Thank you for the insight, brother."

"You're welcome," Garry said. "The truth is, I found out about the troubles too after I bought myself a house. Thankfully, my wife accepted my marriage proposal and I didn't have to suffer for much longer."

Garry suddenly stopped walking and looked around. He looked to the top of the slope and started counting houses.

"This is the 4th row, isn't it?" he asked. "2nd Quadrant, 4th row. This is it."

The group looked at the houses next to them.

"Here comes our first job today. Be sure to watch me closely and learn from what I do."

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