Extinguished, soaring sparks of fire
Editors/Proofreaders: Ferro, Namorax, Skythewood, SifaV6, Rockgollem, JcqC
Lower Fire Month (9th Month), Day 3, 12:07
“The shop is through this door and according to the assassin; there is another entrance over at that building.”
Standing in front of the entrance of the brothel, in front of the door where Tsuare had been thrown away, Sebas pointed to a building several doors down. Although both Brain and Climb were present when extracting the information, they had never actually been to the brothel and obediently accepted Sebas’ explanation.
“That’s what I heard as well. They said that entrance is used as an emergency exit and always has at least two people guarding it. In that case I think it would be better for us to split up into two groups. Considering our fighting strength, how about letting Sebas-sama take the main entrance by himself while Climb and I attack from that side??”
“Although I have no objections, what does Climb-kun think about it?”
“I have none as well. But Unglaus-sama, once we go inside, what then? Should we conduct a search together?”
“Please call me Brain, same goes for Sebas-sama. Anyway… though we should stick together to be safe, there could be a secret passage even the assassins didn’t know about. I think we’re going to have to search quickly while Sebas-sama is distracting the enemy head on.”
As if he was recalling something, Brain muttered how it’s common for there to be a passage that only the boss would know of.
“Then how about we split up once we get inside?”
“… As long as we’re prepared for the dangers, we have to act and hope for the best.”
At Brain’s words, Sebas and Climb nodded their heads.
“Then since you are stronger than me, could I leave searching the interior to you, Unglau— Brain-sama?”
“I believe that would be best. I will leave Climb-kun with securing the exit over there.”
Needless to say, searching the interior carried a high risk of running into the enemy. Since Brain was much stronger than Climb, the task would fall to him.
“Then this will be it for our final confirmation.”
Although they held a general discussion before arriving at the brothel, because they had not yet seen the actual location, there were parts that were still uncertain. Now, all of that had been decided and there were none who objected to Sebas’ plan.
Sebas placed a foot forward and approached the thick metal door. The door that Climb thought he himself would never be able to open no matter what he did, when compared side by side with Sebas, looked like a thin piece of paper.
The front was where the defenses were naturally the highest. Even though they were about to attack such a place, it was not a concern. Brain Unglaus, who fought on equal footing with Gazef Stronoff, the strongest in the surrounding countries, such a person stated that ‘both of them together would not be able to win’. The being who could only be described to be in a different league was now stepping forward.
“Then you should be off. According to the assassins, four knocks on that entrance should be the signal to show that you are an ally. I do not think that you’ve forgotten, but just in case.”
He did not forget, but regardless, Climb thanked Sebas.
“And if possible, I will try to capture them alive. But should they resist, I will kill them without mercy. I assume that will not be a problem?”
Both Climb and Brain felt a shiver down their spines as Sebas spoke with a gentle smile.
He was not wrong, his was the obvious response. Both of them knew that if they themselves were in that same situation, they would opt to do the same. The reason that they grew fearful and felt a chill down their spines was because Sebas’ face looked as if he had an alternate persona.
A kind gentleman and a cool-headed warrior, the extremes of kindness and heartlessness were coexisting with one another. They felt a premonition; if Sebas were to go in as he is now, everyone inside would die.
Climb nervously spoke to Sebas.
“If it is to avoid needless bloodshed as much as possible, then it can’t be helped. After all, we are few in number. But if you spot someone who seems like a high-ranking member, could you capture him alive? Interrogating that person could prove to be more beneficial in the future.”
“I am not a murderer, Climb-kun. Please rest assured, I did not come here to purposefully slaughter them.”
Climb felt relieved by his gentle smile.
“I apologize. Then I leave myself in your care.”
♦ ♦ ♦
“Now then, allow me to swiftly destroy this place and buy some time.”
If Sebas destroyed this brothel, it should stop their dealings with him, albeit temporarily. If he was lucky enough to find confidential papers and the like, they would have to focus on how to retaliate and may even forget about Tsuare completely.
In the worst case, even if the result ended up only buying some time, it could provide an opportunity for him to let Tsuare escape. He may even be able to find a better way.
“Now that I recall, there was a merchant in E-Rantel who spoke to us amicably. Perhaps I can ask him for assistance.”
Even if Tsuare’s mind were to make a full recovery, she would be happier if she had the support of someone she could trust.
Sebas turned and looked again at the thick door. He touched it while remembering the scene of Tsuare being thrown away. The door was imposing, with iron lodged into the wood. A single glance was all that it took to know that it would be difficult for a human to destroy it without using tools.
“I worry about Climb…”
He did not have to worry about the man named Brain Unglaus. Even if he faced off against Succulent, his chance of winning was high. But Climb was different. He would not stand a chance.
Climb was the one who volunteered to take part in the raid— seeing how he offered his aid, Climb seemed prepared. However, the loss of a young life who tried to help him would be regrettable, especially if it was the life of such a good person.
“I wish for that boy to live a long life…”
His words were suited to be spoken by those who had lived a long time. Of course, Sebas was created as an old man so considering the time from when he was born to now, he would be younger than Climb.
“At the very least, it would be best if I am the one to defeat Succulent. I only hope that Climb-kun will not run into him.”
Sebas prayed to the 41 Supreme Beings for Climb’s safety.
If Succulent was the strongest in this facility, then it was likely that Sebas would be the one to face him. However, if he was working as someone’s bodyguard, there was also the possibility that he would flee while protecting him. With a worried heart, Sebas grabbed the handle on the door and turned it.
He could only turn it halfway through. Considering the kind of business this was, it was obvious that the door would be locked.
“I am not skilled at picking locks… no choice then. I will have to try and open the lock my own way.”
Sebas muttered in annoyance and lowered his body. He pulled back his right hand as he held out his left hand in front of him. It was a splendid stance, as sturdy as a deeply rooted thousand year old tree.
What happened next was impossible.
His arm had become lodged in the edges of the steel door, into the hinges. No, it did not stop there. His arm continued to dig in deeper.
With a screech, the hinges announced their parting from the wall.
Sebas freely opened the door that had lost its resistance.
As soon as he stepped inside, there was a hallway and a large man with spiked hair stood in front of a half-open doorway. His eyes and mouth were wide open as he wore a dumbfounded expression.
“It was slightly rusted so I forced it open with a bit of strength. You should keep the door well oiled.”
Sebas spoke to the man and closed the door. No, perhaps it would be better to say that he propped it up.
As the man stood stupefied, Sebas walked further inside without reserve.
“—Hey, what’s going on?”
“—What was that noise?!”
The voices of other men could be heard behind the man.
However, being face to face with Sebas and unable to even react to their voices, the man spoke.
The man fell into confusion and could only stare vacantly as Sebas walked up to his face. Normally, a person who worked in a place such as this would be used to violence. However, the scene that the man had just witnessed was far too estranged from his common sense that he had nurtured up to this moment.
Ignoring the questions from his allies behind him, the man gave Sebas a flattering smile. It was because his survival instincts told him that that was the best course of action. He could also have been desperately lying to himself that this man was a butler who served one of their customers. The man and his bushy beard, his cheeks twitching as he tried his damnedest to show a hospitable smile, such appearance was truly an eyesore.
Sebas also wore a smile; soft and gentle. However, there was no kindness to be found in his eyes. They held a vicious glint that could captivate people, like a sharp blade.
“Could you please step aside?”
A ‘thud’, no, more like a ‘splat’. A sickening sound rang out.
A rough-looking adult man wearing equipment would easily weigh more than 85 kilograms. A man like that went spinning into the air like some joke and was blown aside at a speed that was too fast for the eye to follow. Just like that, the man’s body crashed into the wall with a loud splash.
The house shook as if it had been struck by the fist of a giant.
“…Oh no, if I killed him a bit further inside then he would have been a good psychological barricade… Well, it seems there are more left so I will have to be more careful from now on.”
Sebas told himself that he should restrain his strength a little as he left the corpse to this side and moved further inside.
Sebas opened the door wide and stepped into the room. With graceful movements, he looked around him. Rather than someone who was charging into the enemy camp, he gave off the air of a person who was taking a stroll around a deserted house.
There were two men.
They were staring dumbfounded at the crimson flower on the wall behind Sebas.
The room was filled with the smell of cheap alcohol of the likes that you would never find in Nazarick. It mixed with the smell of blood and entrails and gave rise to a bizarre, stomach-churning aroma.
Sebas put together the information that he heard from Tsuare and the assassin and tried to map out the structure of this building’s interior in his head. Although Tsuare’s memory was filled with holes and had little to offer, he did hear that the real shop was located in the basement. The assassin had never been down there and was of no help from this point onward.
Although Sebas watched the floor, he could not find the stairs as they were well hidden.
If he could not find it himself, then he simply had to ask someone who knew.
“Pardon, I have a question that I’d like to ask you.”
As soon as he spoke to them, one of the men let out a high-pitched scream. It seemed that now, the thought of fighting itself had vanished from his mind. Sebas felt relieved. He could not control his strength very well if he thought about Tsuare and his fists would end up killing them instantly.
If they gave up the notion of fighting back, he could stop at just breaking both of their legs.
The men who were trembling in fear flattened their backs against the wall, all in an attempt to try and get as further away from Sebas as possible. Sebas watched them without emotion and his mouth tore into a smile.
They grew more frightened and the smell of ammonia spread into the surroundings.
Sebas thought that he may have gone too far in scaring them and furrowed his brow.
One of the men rolled back his eyes and fainted. The extreme tension had caused him to let go of his consciousness on his own. The other man looked at his comrade with an envious expression.
“Haa… as I have just said, I’d like to ask you a question. I have business below. Could you tell me how I might find my way?”
Sebas saw the light of fear in the man’s eyes as he considered betrayal. Although the assassins were the same way, it appeared that this man feared the organization’s purge as well. Remembering about the man who fled with the money he received and how he acted, being purged probably meant death.
Since it appeared that he would not talk without being taught a lesson, Sebas said the words that would cut down the man’s hesitation.
“It seems that there are two mouths here. It does not matter to me whether you are the one to speak.”
The man started to sweat profusely from his forehead and his body trembled.
“O-O-O-Over there! There, that’s where the secret entrance is!”
Looking at where he was pointing, it really did look like the seams of that floor were different.
“I see. Thank you. Then you have done your part.”
As Sebas smiled, the man understood the meaning hidden behind his words and trembled, his face growing pale. Even so, he held onto a tiny, thin ray of hope and spoke.
“I-I’m begging you, j-just don’t kill me!”
The immediate reply froze the room in silence. The man’s eyes grew round, the expression of a person trying to deny what he did not want to believe.
“But, I told you! Hey, I’ll do anything, so let me live!”
“That is true, but…”
Sebas breathed out a sigh and shook his head.
“You… you’re kidding, right?”
“If that is what you wish to believe. There is only one result to come of this.”
Sebas remembered when he picked up Tsuare and slightly narrowed his eyes.
What right did a man of this kind of profession have to ask something of god? And to Sebas, the 41 Supreme Beings were his gods. It felt as if they had just been insulted.
“This is what you deserve.”
From the steely voice that rejected everything, the man seemed to have realized that he was going to die.
Was he going to run, or fight? The moment when that choice was placed before his very eyes, without hesitation, the man chose— to flee.
Even if he were to fight Sebas, the result was obvious. Instead, no matter how small it was, he had a better chance of surviving if he ran. The thinking behind his decision was correct.
Because for a few seconds, no, even though it was only for a tenth of a second, his life had been extended.
Having instantly caught up to the man who was making a break for the door, Sebas lightly turned his body. The gust of wind went past the man’s head and he collapsed like his strings had been cut. A round object hit the wall with a thud and rolled down to the floor, leaving behind a trail of blood.
A moment later, blood sprouted from the man’s headless neck and sprayed onto the floor.
That was truly a splendid technique. To blow away a head with a roundhouse kick, although it had the speed and power to make something like that possible, the most frightening part was that not a single stain could be found on Sebas’ shoe covering his foot.
With the sound of his footsteps, Sebas walked towards the man who had fainted with his eyes rolled back and brought down his foot. With the sound like an old tree breaking, the man’s body convulsed. After a few spasms, he no longer budged.
“…Is it not self-evident what would happen to you from everything that you people have done thus far? But rest assured, at the very least, you have atoned with your bodies.”
Sebas retrieved their corpses.
He lined the area around the stairs with the utterly destroyed bodies. Even looking at them was horrifying; it would strike fear and hesitation to any who tries to flee. It was a method that Sebas thought of should he be unable to destroy the point of entry.
After moving the corpses, Sebas brought his foot down on the secret floor entrance.
First was the sound of mechanical parts being destroyed. Following that, a large hole opened up on the floor. The broken floor cover loudly tumbled down the sturdy stairs.
“Aha… If I just destroy these stairs, then it would be difficult for them to escape through this way.”
♦ ♦ ♦
The room was not very large.
The desolate interior had a wardrobe to store garments and a bed, nothing else.
The bed was not the shoddy kind which would only have a sheet on top of it. Rather, it was a mattress stuffed with cotton, a luxury used by nobles. However, as if they focused on functionality, the design was plain and its ornaments lacked flavor.
And on top of it was a naked man.
He looked to be well over his middle age. Due to a life of indulgence, his body was fat and unattractive.
Although his looks could have been passed off as barely average, the blubber on his face lost him points fast. Looking at him, anyone would think that this man was like a pig. Pigs were smart, charming animals that liked things that were clean. However, in this case, the pig was stupid and base, used as an insult.
His name was Stafan Hevish.
He brought down his raised fist— towards the mattress. The sound of hitting flesh rang out.
A look of euphoria rose to Stafan’s flabby face. It was because the sensation of crushing flesh was transmitted to his hand and he felt a quivering pleasure ride up his spine. His body then shivered.
As he slowly raised his fist, it came away sticky with blood.
Stafan was lying on top of a naked woman.
Her face was swollen and her skin was dyed with red spots due to internal bleeding. The blood flowing from her crushed nose matted her face. Both her lips and eyes were swollen as well and her former attractive face was nowhere to be found. The bedding was discolored, the scattered blood staining the sheets.
The hands that had been raised in the air to try and protect her face now rested on the bed. The image of her hair sprawled out on top of the sheets made it look as if she was floating on water.
“Hey, what, you’re already done? Ahn?”
The woman no longer seemed to be conscious.
Stafan raised his fist and slammed it down.
Smack. The fist and the cheeks, along with the cheekbone inside, pain from the collision was also transmitted to Stafan’s hand.
“Che, it hurts!”
In a fit of rage, he struck again.
The bed creaked along with the sound of beating. The woman’s skin that was swollen like a ball split open and his fist became covered in blood. Fresh, sticky blood splattered onto the bed sheets and stained them in red.
Even though she was being beaten, the woman no longer moved and her body barely showed any reaction.
If this repeated beating continued, her life would be in danger. Even so, the reason that she was still alive was not because Stafan was controlling his strength. It was because the impact was absorbed by the mattress. If she had been beaten on the hard floor, she would have already been dead.
Stafan didn’t hold back his strength not because he knew this, but because there would not be any problems even if the woman were to die. If he just paid the cost to have her disposed, then everything would be taken care of.
In reality, Stafan had killed multiple women in this shop.
Since he had to paid the disposal fee back then, leaving his pockets lighter, perhaps he unconsciously held back the strength from his hands.
Stafan licked his lips as he stared at the woman’s unmoving face.
This brothel was the best place to fulfill a certain fetish. Something like this would never be allowed in a normal brothel. No, even if it was allowed, Stafan did not know of such a place.
He liked the days back when there were slaves.
Slaves had been considered property and those who had abused them had the tendency of inviting scorn. It was the same reason that people frowned upon those who squander away their fortune. But for someone like Stafan, who had a peculiar fetish, slaves were the easiest and only way for him to satisfy his lust. Now that they were taken from him, Stafan had no choice but to vent his lust in these types of places. What would he have done if he hadn’t known about this place?
Without a doubt, he would have been unable to endure it. He would have committed a crime and been arrested.
And the one who introduced this brothel to Stafan — though he had to make backroom dealings and use his legal influence for their benefit — he was truly grateful to his master, the noble whom he served.
“Thank you— master.”
A quiet emotion rose to Stafan’s eyes. Although it was hard to believe considering his nature and personality, at the very least, he felt a deep gratitude towards his master.
Fire rose from the inside of his stomach— anger.
It was his emotions regarding the girl who was the reason why he lost his slaves, his outlet for his lust.
His face was dyed red in anger, his eyes were bloodshot.
The face of the royalty that he had to serve— of the princess, overlapped with the face of the woman he was on top of. Stafan gathered the anger building inside of him in his fist and brought it down.
With a smack, fresh blood splattered once more.
“How, refreshing, would, it, feel, to, mess, up, her, face!”
Over and over, he beat the woman’s face.
The inside of her mouth must have been split open by a tooth. An alarmingly large amount of blood trailed out from between her swollen lips.
The woman’s only reaction now was to twitch every time she was struck.
After several hits, Stafan’s shoulders heaved and both his forehead and his body were wet with oily sweat.
Stafan looked down at the woman beneath him. Her appearance was now past the point of being hideous. She was half dead, no; her body was already a few steps deep in death’s mire. She was truly a puppet that had its strings cut.
Gulp. The sound of Stafan’s throat rang out.
Nothing excited him more than doing it with a battered woman. Especially if they used to be beautiful, the more beautiful they were the better. There was nothing that sated his sadism more than when he destroyed something beautiful.
“How good would it feel if I could mess her up like this?”
Stafan recalled the mistress of the residence that he had visited earlier. He remembered the arrogant face of the woman whose beauty rivaled that of this country’s princess, the one who was hailed to be the most beautiful.
Of course, Stafan knew that he could not do anything to a woman like her. The ones who took care of his cravings were the daily scraps of this brothel before they were disposed of.
A beautiful woman like her would be bought by a powerful noble for a huge sum and imprisoned in their domain as to not reveal their illicit trading.
“Just once, if I could beat a woman like that— beat her to death.”
If something like that was possible, how enjoyable and satisfying would it be?
Needless to say, it was an impossible dream.
Stafan looked at the woman lying beneath him. Her exposed chest was slightly moving up and down. Having confirmed this, his lips became wickedly twisted.
Stafan grabbed the woman’s chest, causing it to contort greatly in his hand.
The woman showed absolutely zero reaction. She could no longer react to a pain of this level. Currently, the only difference between the woman beneath Stafan and a mannequin was that she was soft.
Only that Stafan felt a small dissatisfaction over her lack of resistance.
Please don’t kill me
Please forgive me.
The woman’s screams were revived in Stafan’s mind.
Should he have raped her when she could still speak like that?
With the tiniest feeling of regret, Stafan continued to play with the woman’s chest.
Nearly all of the women who end up at this brothel, their minds were already broken and their hearts fled elsewhere. Looking at it that way, it could be said that Stafan’s partner for today was better than usual.
“Was that girl like that too?”
What Stafan was recalling in his mind was Tsuare. He didn’t even want to hear what happened to the man who had let her go.
However, Stafan could not stop the jeer from showing on his face when he thought of the old butler whom he had visited earlier in the day.
What use was there in sheltering a girl who had done it with countless men and when the situation called for it, with women and even non-humans? He could barely contain his laughter when the butler showed that he was willing to pay a fortune of several hundred gold pieces.
“Now that I think about it, that runaway woman’s voice was pretty good.”
He searched his memories and recalled the girl’s screams. Compared to the others who ended up here, she hadn’t been all that bad.
Stafan grinned and moved to fulfill his carnal desires. He grabbed the woman’s leg with one hand and wrenched it open. The bone showed through her emaciated leg and was thin enough to fit in one of Stafan’s hands.
With the woman’s crotch spread bare, Stafan mounted her.
He grabbed what had hardened from his lust and—
With a click, the door slowly opened.
Stafan quickly turned towards the door and saw an old man who seemed familiar. He then immediately recalled the old man’s identity.
He was the butler he met at that residence.
The old man— Sebas entered the room without restraint, his steps ringing out the sound of his heels. From how he walked in so naturally, Stafan could not say a word.
Why was the butler from that house here? Why did he enter this room? Faced with a situation that he could not understand, the inside of Stafan’s mind became blank.
Sebas stood next to Stafan. And after looking at the woman who was lying beneath him, he turned his cold eyes in Stafan’s direction.
“Do you enjoy beating others?”
The strange atmosphere prompted Stafan to immediately get up and reach for his clothes.
However, even before that, Sebas had already begun to move.
Slap. Such a sound rang out right by Stafan’s side and at the same time, his vision shook greatly.
A moment later, his right cheek grew hot and he could feel the pain spreading wildly.
He had punched him— no, he had been slapped across the face. Stafan finally managed to realize what had just happened.
“You bastard, doing something like—“
Slap. Again, Stafan’s cheek cried out in pain. And just like that, it did not stop.
Left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right—
Stafan had always been the one who hit others but had never been struck himself. His eyes welled with tears.
He covered his cheeks with both hands while retreating backwards.
As if his cheeks had been burned, the pain slowly began to spread.
“Y-you bashtard! You shink you can get awhay vithe thish?!”
His swollen red cheeks throbbed every time he spoke.
“Of courshe not! You imbeshile! Who do you shink I am!”
He easily closed the distance that Stafan had put between them and— Slap! Once again, Stafan’s cheeks burned.
“Shtaaahp! Please shtahp it!”
Stafan covered his cheeks like a child being scolded by his parents.
Although he liked violence, the people he beat on were always the ones who were powerless to resist. Even if he were to go up against Sebas, who looked like an old man on the outside, Stafan would be too scared to hit him. He could not when he had no guarantee that his opponent could not fight back.
As if he had understood what was inside Stafan’s heart, Sebas’ eyes seemed to have lost interest as they turned towards the woman.
“What a horrible thing you have done…”
Stafan ran past Sebas who had walked up next to the woman.
Stafan’s head filled with heat. What a stupid old man.
He would call for the men in this building and teach him a lesson. Now that he has done something like this to him, he would never forgive him so easily. He would have him taste horrible pain and fear.
In his mind, he thought of the butler’s beautiful master.
The master was responsible for the errors of the servant. He would have them both take responsibility for this pain. He will make them realize who they had struck.
With such thoughts in his mind and his belly flopping up and down, Stafan ran outside.
“Hey! Ish anyone there?!”
He shouted in a loud voice. One of the employees should be coming soon.
However, he realized that his thoughts were betrayed after stepping out into the hallway.
It was quiet.
Quiet enough to feel as if the place was empty.
While naked, Stafan nervously looked around his surroundings.
The silence that lingered over the hallway— the strange atmosphere instilled fear into Stafan.
Looking to either side of him, there were many doors. It went without saying that no one would come out of them. A shop where people with special fetishes— even dangerous ones, visited often would be perfectly soundproof.
But there was no way that the employees could not hear him.
He had seen several employees back when he was ushered to his room. All of them had been rough-looking men and had splendid builds that an old man like Sebas could not compare with.
“Why ishn’t anyone coming?!”
“—because they are either dead or unconscious.”
A low voice responded to Stafan’s shouting. He hastily turned around and saw Sebas standing quietly.
“It seems there are a few inside… most of them are asleep.”
“T-thatsh’s not posshible! Just how many do you shink are here?!”
“…Three people who look to be employees, ten below. And there are seven people like you.”
What was he saying?
Stafan stared at Sebas with that kind of expression.
“For the time being, there is no one here who will come running to your aid. Even if they should regain consciousness, I destroyed their legs and broke their arms. They will have to crawl here like maggots.”
An expression of shock surfaced from Stafan’s face. He thought that it was impossible, but the strange atmosphere within the brothel made him realize that Sebas was speaking the truth.
“However, I do not feel the need to keep you alive. I will have you die here.”
He made no move to draw a blade or a weapon and merely approached in silence, seemingly unconcerned. Stafan feared that incredibly normal movement. He realized that Sebas was really going to kill him.
“Wait! Wait! I half a gooh proposhishon for you!”
“…It is difficult for me to understand you. Do you mean to say that you have a good proposition for me? Let me think… I am not interested.”
“Shen why are you shoing shomshing like thish!”
There was no reason for him to end up in a situation like this. Just what reason could there be for him to die? For the first time, Sebas was able to understand his thoughts.
“…Even when you think of everything that you have done thus far, you still do not know?”
Stafan tried to remember. Did he do something that he shouldn’t have?
At the same speed as his words, Sebas’ delivered a powerful front kick to Stafan’s stomach.
“So this is what it means for someone to not deserve to live.”
Stafan was assaulted by the unbelievable pain of several of his internal organs exploding. Although it wouldn’t have been strange for him to fall unconscious from the pain and die, he only felt faint while his consciousness still remained.
Even though he wanted to scream and thrash about, the pain was so intense that he could not even move.
“Die as you are.”
Stafan heard a chilling voice. Although he wanted to beg for his life, his throat did not move.
Sweat entered his eyes and his vision grew murky. Within it, he saw Sebas’ back as he walked away.
I’ll give you as much money as you want so save me!
The one who could respond to the silent voice begging for help was already gone.
In the end, Stafan died slowly with excruciating pain flaring from his abdomen.
Lower Fire Month (9th Month), Day 3, 12:12
“Climb, I’m going to kill all of the guys upstairs. We don’t have anything to tie them up with and it’ll be bad if something goes wrong and they scream for help. Even if I knock them unconscious, it’ll be dangerous if they wake up when we’re going in blin… what, what’s wrong?”
“N-No, it’s nothing.”
Climb shook his head to rid himself of his unease. Although his heart was beating loudly like when he ran with all his might, he ignored it.
“My apologies, I’m fine now. I am ready to begin whenever.”
“Is that so? …Hmm, it seems you’ve changed the way you think. You’ve been different since we got here. Right now, you have the face of a warrior. I know you’re anxious. After all, there are a lot of people here that you can’t beat. But relax, I’m here and Sebas-sama is here as well. Just focus on staying alive for the person who supports you.”
He patted Climb on the shoulder and with his katana already drawn, Brain knocked four times on the door.
Climb also gripped his sword.
They could hear footsteps approaching from the other side of the door and the sound of it being unlocked rang out three times.
Like they planned, Climb threw the door open.
Before they could even hear any panicked voices, Brain charged. The sound of flesh being cut could be heard, soon followed by the sound of something dropping to the floor with a thud.
Climb followed him inside.
Brain who had gone ahead of him was already cutting down a second man. Other than that, Climb saw a man in leather armor holding a short sword. Climb closed the distance between them in an instant.
“Wha! Who are you?!”
In a panic, the man swung his short sword but it was easily deflected by Climb’s blade.
He then brought down his overhead swing in a single breath.
The man tried to block it with his short sword but it was just not enough to stop the slash that had Climb’s entire body weight behind it. Climb’s sword knocked away his opponent’s weapon and slashed through the man’s shoulder and through the nape of his neck.
As the man collapsed groaning in pain, an incredible amount of blood spilled out onto the floor; enough to make one wonder just where it had all come from. His body went into convulsions as he neared death.
Having determined that it was a fatal wound, Climb maintained his stance and remained cautious as he retreated to a corner of the room. Behind him, he heard Brain run up the stairs leading to the second floor.
Having confirmed that the only things in the interior were ordinary furniture, Climb ran for the next room.
A minute later.
Having searched around each of their respective floors and confirming that there were no more enemies, Climb and Brain met up at the entrance.
“I searched the first floor and saw no signs of other people.”
“Same with the second floor. The fact that there aren’t even any beds here probably means that this isn’t where they sleep… Like I thought, there’s a secret passage and they live on the other side.”
“About that secret passage, did you manage to find it? I doubt that it would be on the second floor.”
“No, I couldn’t find anything like that. Like you said, it’s probably the first floor.”
Climb and Brain looked at one another and searched the interior.
Climb didn’t have any thief skills and could not find anything by simply searching the area. If they could take their time and had fine powder like flour with them, they could have scattered them over the area and blown on it. The powder would have fallen into the cracks of the secret entrance and made it easier to find. However, they had neither the flour nor the time to spare. Climb took out a magic item from his pouch.
It was a set of small hand bells given to him by Gagaran of Blue Rose.
『Even if it’s dangerous to go adventuring without a thief, there’ll be times when you won’t have a choice. When that happens, this’ll make a world of difference. 』
That was what she said when she gave him this item. Climb compared the pictures drawn on the side of the three bells and picked out the one he wanted.
The name of the magic item that he had taken out was ‘Bell of Detect Secret Doors’.
He could feel Brain looking at him curiously as he shook it once. A refreshing tone rang out, a sound that only the user could hear.
In response, a pale light gathered at a section of the floor. The light flickered repeatedly, indicating the location of the secret door.
“Hoh, that’s a convenient item. All of mine are only for strengthening myself and things useful in battle.”
“But is that not obvious for a warrior?”
“A warrior huh…”
Having memorized that spot, Climb separated from Brain who was wearing a bitter smile and circled around the first floor once. The magical effects of this item had a time limit. It was necessary to investigate as many places as possible before the time was up. Although he did a lap around the floor, aside from the first, there were no other areas that reacted to the magic.
Their next course of action was to infiltrate through this door. However, Climb narrowed his eyes and stared at the secret entrance. He then breathed a sigh and again, took out the set of three handbells.
The one he chose this time had a different picture than the one before it. And like before, he shook it.
A sound that was similar yet different from the other rang out.
‘Bell of Remove Trap.’
Be cautious of your surroundings. As a warrior, Climb had neither the ability to detect traps nor a way to handle them should he fall into one. If they had a magic caster, then even if he were to get hit with a paralyzing poison, he could be treated. However, there were only two warriors here. Among martial arts, ones that nullified poisons did exist. However, Climb had not learned them and didn’t have an antidote with him either. He had to assume that he would be doomed if he fell into one.
That was why he had to use an item with a limited number of uses per day without hesitation.
A heavy click sounded from the secret door.
Climb stuck his sword between the edges of the door and forced it open.
The bent side of the wooden floor sprang up and fell to the other side. A crossbow had been set inside the secret entrance. Light reflected oddly off of the tip of its quarrel.
Climb changed his position and stared at the crossbow.
The tip was covered in some viscous liquid. The odds were ten to one that it was poison. If they had tried to open it carelessly, it would have fired the quarrel dipped in poison.
With a small breath of relief, he looked for a way to get rid of the crossbow. Unfortunately, it was set quite firm and it did not seem like he would be able to disarm it without tools.
Having given up, Climb peered into what was through the secret door.
A steep set of stairs led downwards and he could not see anything beyond it due to the angle. Both the stairs and areas around it were packed with stones, making it seem very sturdy.
“So, what’re you going to do? Are you going to wait here?”
“It’s a bit difficult for me to fight indoors. If possible, I would like to go and find a place that’s wide and easy to fight in and attack their position there.
“Considering a 1v1 situation, you’d have a higher chance of winning if you waited at the top of the stairs. But if there’s a battle, there’s a chance that I would be too far ahead to hear it… And since reinforcements might come running, we should definitely forget about that idea. Then let’s go together.”
“Yes. I leave myself in your care.”
“I’ll lead the way. Follow a bit further behind me.”
“Understood. And although the item that I used a moment ago to clear the trap can be used three times per day, it can’t be used consecutively and need a thirty minute interval between uses. We can’t rely on the item.”
“Got it. I’ll advance with the utmost caution. And if you detect something then give me a shout.”
After saying that, Brain moved to the front and walked down the stairs. Just in case, he advanced one step at a time while prodding the ground in front of him with his katana. Climb followed him from behind.
At the bottom of the stairway, the ground and even the walls were lined with hard rocks. A few meters ahead, they saw a wooden door with its edges reinforced with steel.
Although it was difficult to imagine that they would place a trap at the level of the crossbow in the passage with the emergency exit, it was common for heavily armed warriors to be incapacitated by a single floor trap. That had to be avoided at all costs.
Despite the short distance, Brain advanced carefully and took his time reaching the door. Climb was on standby at the bottom of the stairs. He did so to avoid being dragged into any accidents should they occur.
Brain first poked the door with his sword. After repeating this several times, he grabbed the doorknob— and twisted it. His movements then stopped.
As he worried over what might have happened, Brain turned to him and spoke with a plaintive voice.
Of course. A door would be locked.
“Ah, I have something. One moment.”
He rang the last of the three handbells at the door.
With the power of ‘Bell of Open Lock’, the faint sound of a key unlocking the door could be heard.
Brain turned the knob and opened the door slightly, searching for a presence from within.
“No one’s there. I’ll go in first.”
Climb followed behind Brain and broke in as well.
They were in a hall.
In one corner of the room, there was a cage that was large enough to fit a person. Countless number of wooden crates was stacked up against the wall. Was this where they stored the luggage? Even so, it still seemed a bit too spacious.
There was a door with no key on the opposite side. When Climb listened carefully, he heard a faint noise, as if there was a commotion in the distance.
Brain turned around and asked Climb.
“What about here? It’s certainly big enough, but… you’re probably going to end up having to fight several people at once.”
“If that becomes the case, I will open the door leading to the exit and fight at the stairs.”
“Alright. I’ll take a quick look around and be back soon. So don’t die, Climb.”
“Good luck. Brain-sama as well, be careful.”
“If you don’t mind… could you let me borrow that item from before?”
“Of course. I apologize for not having thought of that.”
Climb handed all three bells over to Brain who put them into his belt pouch. He then wore the determined face of a warrior.
“Then I’ll be going.”
Leaving only those words, Brain went through the keyless door and moved deeper into the brothel.
Now that he was alone, Climb looked around the quiet interior.
First, he checked to see if anyone was behind the crates and whether there were any other passages. Although it was the searching skills of a warrior at best, there did not appear to be any hidden doors. He then investigated the vast number of wooden crates.
If possible, he wanted to find information on Eight Fingers’ facilities other than this one. It would be great if there were contrabands or illegal goods. Of course, the real search would have to wait until after this place was taken over. But he had to conduct his own investigation within the scope of what he was capable.
Among the countless crates, both large and small, he approached the largest of them all. Its length, width, and all, everything was about two meters tall.
He checked the large crate for any possible traps. Needless to say, it was the same as before. He had no skills of observation and could not imitate the skills of a thief.
He pressed his ear up against it and listened.
Although it didn’t seem like something was locked inside, in a place like the underworld, anything could happen. They could even be smuggling illegal creatures.
In a way, maybe it was to be expected that he didn’t hear any noises. Climb then placed his hand on top to try and open it.
—It’s not opening.
It did not budge.
He looked around for something like a plank or a stick but a quick look revealed that there were none.
“…No choice then.”
Next, he moved over to try and open the next biggest crate measuring about a meter on all sides.
This one opened easily. Peering inside, there was a variety of garments. Starting from a shabby one-piece, there were even a number of clothes a noble’s daughter would wear.
“What is this? Is there something hidden beneath these… it doesn’t appear that way. Are these spare clothes? Some of these look like work clothes, and this is a maid outfit? What in the world?”
Climb could not understand what all these clothes meant and twisted his face. He held one in his hand but it was normal clothing. If these were related to a crime, then they would be stolen goods. However, it was not enough as evidence for bringing down this brothel.
Leaving the stuff that he didn’t understand alone, Climb headed for a crate that was a similar size to the one before. That was when he heard a loud rattle fill the room.
That was impossible. He had checked the entire room and confirmed that no one was here. At that moment, a thought flashed across his mind. Someone could have used ‘Invisibility’ to hide themselves here from the beginning.
Climb was startled by the thought and hastily turned in the direction of the noise, the 2 meter crate that did not open. One of the sides of that crate had been up against the wall, and the opposite side was now open.
There was no luggage inside the exposed interior. Instead, there were two men. The inside was a passage and there was a hole where the wall should have been. The inside of the crate had been connected to a secret tunnel.
While Climb blinked, the men stepped out of the crate one at a time.
Cold sweat ran down his back.
The appearance of one of the men closely resembled the description that he had heard from Sebas. His name was Succulent, the one who was considered to be their biggest obstacle in this attack and at the same time, the one they wanted to capture the most.
He was a member of ‘Six Arms’ who was said to be equal to adamantium ranked adventurers. The enemy that Climb could not hope to defeat drew his blade and spoke while narrowing his eyes.
“I knew that there were intruders from ‘Alarm’ so I went out of my way to take the secret passage but… …Maybe you should have prepared more paths, after all?”
The man behind him responded in a shrill voice.
“Even if you say that now, I can’t do anything about it.”
Meanwhile, the man saw Climb and spoke while tilting his head.
“Huh? I saw that kid from somewhere.”
“A boy that you’re familiar with? Even I will get angry if you say something like that in this situation.”
“What’s with you, Succulent? There’s no way that that’s what I’m talking about. No doubt, he’s a subordinate of that female I hate the most in the world.”
“You’re saying that he’s a subordinate of that princess?”
Succulent looked over Climb from top to bottom like he was licking him all over.
Although the eyes of the man behind him, frighteningly enough, were filling with lust, his eyes seemed to be trying to gauge Climb’s abilities as a warrior. They were like the eyes of a snake trying to determine if the prey would fit inside his mouth.
The man behind him licked his lips with his tongue and asked Succulent.
“I want to take him with me, can I?”
A shiver ran down Climb’s back and he felt an itch in his butt..
That bastard, he swings that way!
“I will require additional fees.”
Succulent ignored the screams of Climb’s mind and turned to face him. Although Climb could not spot any openings in the first place, he was ensnared by the feeling that he was facing off against a strong citadel.
Succulent abruptly moved a step forward.
The pressure forced Climb to retreat a step back.
Without a doubt, it would not take long for a fight where the difference in skill was clear to finish. However, Climb had to overcome that difficult crisis.
If I maintain my defenses and focus on blocking, then I will be able to buy time until either Brain-sama or Sebas-sama arrives.
But there was something that he had to do before that.
Climb drew in a big breath.
“Please help me—!!”
He shouted in a voice loud enough to force all the air out of his lungs.
Winning the individual battle was not victory. They would only be victorious if they tied up the men here so that they could not run away. Another way to put it would be that if they let a man of his skill— and by extension, a man who seemed to possess a lot of information get away, then that would mean their defeat. If so, there would be no reason for him to hesitate to shout for help.
Succulent’s face turned savage.
The other side was now pressured by the need to finish this fight as quickly as possible. In other words, there was a considerably higher chance that he would mainly use bigger skills.
Climb did not let his guard down and observed them.
“Cocco Doll-sama, it’s become a bit more difficult to take this guy with us. It looks like I have to finish this fight before his reinforcements come.”
“What the hell! Didn’t you say that you’re a member of the Six Arms? You can’t knock out a kid like him? You’re making your name cry, Devil of Illusions!”
“If you say it like that, then you’re putting me in a difficult position. Well, I’ll do my best but don’t forget that our victory lies in Cocco Doll-sama getting out of here safely.”
Climb maintained vigilance and glared at Succulent as he tried to figure out why he was called the Devil of Illusions. He wouldn’t get a nickname if it was completely at odds with his abilities. As such, if he could find its origin, then he could read at least a sliver of his opponent’s abilities. But unfortunately, he couldn’t tell anything from the man’s appearance or his equipment.
Even though he knew that he was at a disadvantage, Climb yelled to encourage himself.
“I am guarding this door. While I still stand, I will not allow you to escape!”
“We’ll know if that’s possible soon enough. When you fall pathetically to the floor, that is.”
Succulent slowly raised his sword.
Climb doubted his eyes.
The sword was swaying. His eyes were not mistaken. Although that strange phenomenon quickly subsided, he had seen it clearly.
Some martial art—?
It probably had something to do with the reason he was called the Devil of Illusions. If so, it meant that his opponent had activated some power. Although he hadn’t let down his guard, he now had to be even more cautious.
Succulent closed in on him while raising his sword.
It could not be said to be the movements of someone who rivaled adamantium ranked adventurers. Rather, looking at his movements alone, it fell slightly short to Climb. He raised his sword to match the path of the swing and— felt a shiver that caused him to quickly retreat back.
At that instant, he felt a sharp pain in his side and was almost knocked away.
He staggered back just like that against the wall. He did not have the luxury to think about what just happened. Succulent was already in front of him.
His sword was raised like before. Climb raised his sword to protect his head and leapt towards his left side as if he was rolling headfirst.
Pain ran down his upper right arm.
He rolled using the momentum and as soon as he stood up, swung his sword without even looking.
The sword cut through air.
He realized that his opponent had no intention of giving chase and looked around while pressing down on his right arm. He saw Succulent run towards the door leading to the stairs while being wary of him.
Climb ignored Succulent who was about to open the door and directed his gaze at Cocco Doll. He deemed that if Succulent was in charge of Cocco Doll’s protection, this would be enough to keep him in check. His prediction was correct.
Succulent’s hand stopped abruptly. He then placed himself between Climb and Cocco Doll and clicked his tongue. His eyes moved to the door, Climb, and Cocco Doll in that order and his face grew twisted.
“He got me! I apologize but I’ll have to kill this brat right here.”
“What~? If we keep him alive then he’ll be a good card to use against that bitch.”
“I was mistaken because of him. I focused on the fact that he was guarding the door and… that was the reason why he babbled about guarding the door. This bastard… toying with me.”
…Alright, he fell for it! As I thought, they don’t seem to have any information about what’s happening outside. Now they won’t be able to run.
In a situation where Succulent was the only bodyguard, it was a foolish idea to run while leaving Climb alive and able to continue fighting. The reason was because they would be hit with a pincer attack should one of Climb’s allies be at the top of the stairs. For the same reason, he also couldn’t let Cocco Doll escape alone before he finished the battle with Climb.
Climb separating himself from the door after announcing that he would guard it and showing signs that he was aiming for Cocco Doll caused Succulent to fall for his bluff. He was now deeply entrenched in the thought that someone was on standby beyond the door and that they would use a pincer attack to capture Cocco doll alive. In order to escape safely, he should have determined that he had to first defeat Climb here.
Of course, this was because he did not know the situation outside. If he did, he would have simply opened the door and fled.
Having won his gamble, Climb received the rising killing intent and raised his sword.
Climb endured the pain being transmitted from his side and upper right arm. Several of his bones might have been broken but he was lucky to still be able to move. No, if that pervert did not harbor any weird lust towards him, then Climb might have died to a single stroke of the sword. Even though he was wearing a chain shirt, it didn’t protect him from the slash completely
But what was that attack? Did he slash with an incredible speed? But it didn’t seem that way…
Gazef’s face rose to Climb’s mind.
Gazef Stronoff’s original martial art, ‘Sixfold Slash of Light’, was said to deliver six attacks at once. If so, perhaps he was using something similar, but not quite as powerful, a ‘Twofold Slash of Light’.
However, that meant that Succulent was using a bizarre technique where the first attack was normal speed and only the second attack was fast.
It doesn’t connect. I’d be able to deal with it somehow if I knew what kind of technique it was but… anyways, it’s dangerous to be on the defensive. Should I attack?”
Climb swallowed his saliva and ran in. His eyes switched from Succulent over to Cocco Doll, causing Succulent’s face to twist greatly.
A bodyguard won’t like it if you go for their target, even if it’s only a threat. I know that from experience.
Approach while doing everything that he himself would not enjoy.
Devil of Illusions; a devil that uses illusions… there’s a chance that the nickname itself is a deception but… it’s worth checking.
He brought down his sword while closing the distance. But as expected, it was easily repelled. He endured the impact that was being transmitted and swung again. It was not an attack that was raised high so there was no strength in it. Regardless, it was enough.
As his broadsword was again deflected by Succulent’s sword, Climb nodded his head in satisfaction and widened the distance.
“An illusion! It’s not a martial art!”
He felt that something was out of place when his sword was repelled. Rather than the weapon he could see with his eyes, he had felt his sword being deflected by something slightly in front of it.
“Your right arm itself is an illusion. Your real arm and your sword is invisible!”
The sword that he thought he blocked was an illusion and the invisible blade was what slashed his body.
Succulent erased all expressions on his face and began to talk in a flat voice.
“…That’s right. I just combined a spell that made a part of the body invisible with illusion magic since I chose classes in Illusionist and Fencer. Now that you know, it’s a boring trick, right? You can laugh if you want.”
Just how could he laugh? Without a doubt, it sounded incredibly simple when said out loud and even made one wonder how they didn’t notice it before. However, in a battle where a single slash could mean your death, there was nothing more frightening than a sword that you could not see. And the fact that the illusion was visible on top of that made it that much easier to forget about it.
“My strength purely as a warrior might be less than yours since my skills are split, but…”
Succulent turned his hand holding the sword with a flick. But was that truly his real arm? There was a chance that the arm he could see was an illusion and that his real hand was holding a dagger while looking for an opportunity to throw it.
Cold sweat trailed down Climb’s body as he realized the terror of illusions.
“Among magic casters, an illusionist can only use illusion spells. The higher tiers have damage spells that attack with illusions and kill by tricking the brain, however… I have yet to reach that level.”
“That sounds like a lie. Where’s your proof?”
“I guess you’re right.”
Succulent spoke with a smile.
“Well, but there’s no reason for you to believe me. So, hmm, what was I going to say… right. As such, I can’t cast any spells to strengthen myself or weaken you. However… will you be able to tell the difference between illusion and reality?”
As soon as his words ended, Succulent’s body became divided and it looked as if several Succulents were overlapping.
Although it seemed like one of them would be the real body, there was no guarantee that that was true.
Why did I give a magic caster time!
Climb’s objective was to buy time, but giving a magic caster time to cast buffs was incredibly dangerous.
With a roar, Climb activated the ‘Ability Boost’ and the ‘Strengthen Perception’ martial arts and closed the distance to Succulent in one breath.
Climb felt a portion of his vision fade away. However, the effect disappeared immediately. It seems his magic resist had succeeded.
Having endured with his feet planted, Climb swung his sword like he was trying to slash through all of the clones. But only one of them was within the reach of his swing. As expected, if he wanted to hit all of them, he had to engage the original. Otherwise, there would be no strength in his sword.
The Succulent that got hit was cut in two. However, there was no blood and the sword passed through him without resistance.
A chill rose from his guts and the area around his neck grew hot. Climb covered the area where he felt the heat with his left hand.
He felt a sharp pain from the hand covering his neck and the ominous sensation of his clothes being dyed in fresh blood. If he had not sensed his bloodlust, if he had hesitated to sacrifice his hand, his neck would have been severed. Relieved to have escaped death, he gritted his teeth to endure the pain and slashed his sword horizontally.
Again, the sword only cut air with no resistance.
Anymore was dangerous.
Having realized this, Climb used ‘Evasion’ and retreated back. His eyes reflected the image of two Succulents simultaneously raising their swords. Climb knew that all the swords were illusions and focused his ears.
The chain shirt he wore and the beating of his heart sounded noisy in his ears. The only thing that he had to listen to was the sound coming from the man before him.
—No. —No. —This one!
The noise was not coming from the sword that was heading towards him. The faint sound of a blade cutting through air came from the empty space in front of him. It was heading for the middle of Climb’s face.
Climb hastily turned his face and— felt heat graze past his cheek as well as the pain of his flesh being slashed open. Hot liquid spilled from his cheek and flowed down his neck.
“One in two chances!”
Climb spit out the blood that was trailing into his mouth and poured everything he had into this attack.
Because he had used it for earlier to shield himself, he could feel nothing but pain below his left wrist. He wasn’t sure if his fingers could move properly. It was even possible that the nerves were severed. But even if he could only hold on to it, Climb grasped the handle of his sword.
The pain exploded and caused him to grit his teeth. However, his left hand moved properly and he could grip the sword’s handle. Perhaps the pain was the reason his hand felt like a swollen balloon.
He firmly gripped it with both hands and brought down his sword from overhead with as much strength as he could muster.
Blood— sprouted. Along with the sensation of cutting through something hard, blood erupted like a fountain. It seemed that he had managed to hit the real one this time.
Succulent fell to the floor like he had been stabbed in the vitals. Although it was hard to believe that he had won against a man who was as skilled as adamantium ranked adventurers, the fact that he had collapsed was the undeniable truth. Climb forced down his rising joy and turned his eyes to Cocco doll who was quietly looking in his direction. He didn’t seem to have any intention of fleeing.
Perhaps because he lost a bit of his tension, the flaring pain from his cheek and left arm made him nauseous.
“This… can’t be called a complete victory.”
Although it would have been ideal to capture Succulent alive, that was impossible for Climb. Even so, they should be able to get a lot of information if they capture the man that the Six Arms were protecting and helping to escape.
Climb stepped forward to capture him but felt something out of place with Cocco Doll’s expression. He was too calm.
What was the basis for that composure?
At that moment, he felt a hot sensation stab through his stomach.
As if his strings had been cut, strength left his body. For an instant, his vision turned pitch black and when he came to; he was lying on the floor. He could not understand what had happened. It felt like a hot, metal rod was lodged in his stomach. The pain spread and made him violently expel the air in his lungs. A foot entered his vision that could only see the floor.
“Unfortunately, it seems you can’t call this a victory at all.”
He desperately raised his face and saw Succulent who was almost completely unharmed.
“’Fox Sleep’. It’s an illusion that I can activate after receiving an injury. It hurt, you know. You probably thought that you killed me, right?”
He moved his fingers and slowly traced a straight line across his waist. It was probably the path of Climb’s sword.
“Haa. Haa. Haa. Haa.”
His breaths were short and rough. Climb could feel the blood sprouting from his stomach stain his chain shirt and clothes alike.
—He was going to die.
Climb desperately clung onto his fading consciousness that seemed like it would be torn away by the tremendous pain.
—Losing consciousness here meant certain death.
However, even if he stayed awake, it was only a matter of time. Succulent will probably come over to personally finish him off.
He fought well, considering that he was up against a man at the level of adamantium ranked adventurers. Since it ended up like this, he had no choice but to resign himself to his fate. The difference in strength was clear.
However— he could not give up.
How could he?
Climb gritted his teeth as if he was trying to shatter them.
He could not accept death. He could not allow himself to die without Renner’s orders.
“Ku, guh! Ugh, urk.”
With the sound of grinding teeth and a forceful shout that was more like a groan, he filled his heart with anger, the heart that was about to cave to the pain.
He could not die just yet. He could not die.
Climb desperately thought of Renner. Today as well, he wanted to return to her side—
“There isn’t much time so I’ll just finish you off. Die.”
Succulent pointed his sword at the boy who was groaning.
It was a fatal injury; his death was only a matter of time. However, he had a hunch that it would be better for him to kill him here.
“…Um, can’t we take him with us?”
“Cocco Doll-san, please give it a rest. There’s a good chance that this brat’s allies are through that door. And even if we do take him with us, he’s probably just going to die before we get to someplace safe. Please just give it up.”
“Then at the very least, let’s take his head. I’m going to send it to that bitch with some flowers.”
“Yes, yes. If it’s only that much… huh?!”
Succulent leapt back.
The boy had swung his sword.
For a boy who was almost dead, the cut was sharp and steady. As Succulent was about to give a look of disdain at the last-ditch resistance of his pitiful prey, his eyes grew wide.
The boy was rising to his feet by using the sword as a crutch.
That was impossible.
Succulent, who had killed in numbers that could not be counted in the hundreds, was certain that his attack from a moment ago was fatal. It was a wound that you could never get up from.
But the scene before his eyes too easily betrayed the knowledge that he had built up from experience.
“H-how is he standing up?”
He felt goose bumps. He was truly like an undead.
With a long string of saliva trailing down his mouth, the boy’s pale face could only be described as someone who had thrown away his humanity.
“I… can’t… die… yet. Not… before… re…pay… ner-sama… kind…ness.”
For an instant, his breath stopped in his throat when the boy’s eerie eyes turned to him. That was terror. He was scared of the boy who had done the impossible.
Seeing how the boy staggered on his feet, Succulent came back to his senses. What seized him then was shame. For a member of Six Arms to be afraid of someone who was so far beneath him, he couldn’t accept it.
“You half-dead bastard! Die!”
Succulent charged forward. He was certain that the boy would die if he stabbed him.
But he had been too arrogant.
Looking at them as a whole, there was no doubt that there was an overwhelming difference between Climb and Succulent. But Succulent who had two classes in Illusionist and Fencer and Climb who was only trained in the Warrior class, when comparing the two from a warrior’s perspective, there was not that big of a difference. Rather, Climb would be above him. The only reason that Climb was weaker than Succulent was because of the existence of magic. In a situation where he wasn’t strengthened by magic, Succulent was the weaker one.
With the sound of cutting through air, the sword shot up high and the high pitched noise of clashing metal rang out.
The reason that he was able to block the boy’s overhead strike was because his body was close to dying and his movements were dulled.
Cold sweat ran down Succulent’s face. He had been too focused on the fact that his opponent was almost dead. This preconceived notion was completely blown away.
As a Fencer, Succulent who was trained on how to evade the enemy’s attacks, had used his sword to defend himself. That was how far past the norm the boy’s attack had been.
—That wasn’t an attack that could be done by a half-dead human.
This thought brushed past Succulent’s anxious mind.
No, the speed of his sword was even faster than before he was injured.
“Bastard, what’s with you?!”
To become stronger in the middle of a battle. Thought it wasn’t impossible, Succulent had never seen something like that in reality.
Rather, it felt as if he had shed a layer of something.
“What the hell is going on?! Is it a magic item? A martial art?”
His panicked voice sounded desperate, so much so that it was hard to tell which side had the upper hand.
What happened to Climb was simple.
Thanks to Sebas’ training, the function in his brain that protected the body was thrown into disarray.
He had experienced death during Sebas’ training. His tenacity for life overlapped with the death he now faced and like back then, the limiters in his brain were released, granting him superhuman strength similar to the one that was sometimes displayed at the scene of a fire.
Although he had only seen a single blow during his training, without it, he would have died here without being able to do anything.
Succulent blocked a powerful blow and was suddenly blown back a great distance.
The impact from being dashed against the ground escaped through his back and shook his stomach. Although the orichalcum chain shirt blocked the impact, for an instant, the air in his lungs was expelled and he could not breathe.
What happened? Even though Succulent, the one who had received the impact, could not figure it out, it was obvious to Cocco Doll who had been watching from the sidelines.
He had kicked him with his leg. As soon as the overhead slash was blocked, the boy had immediately delivered a kick to Succulent.
Unable to understand what had happened, Succulent hastily got back on his feet. For fencers, being nimble was their creed. Lying sprawled out on the ground was fatal.
“Damn it! This bastard doesn’t act like a soldier! To think you would even use your feet! You need to just stick to textbook swordsmanship!”
Succulent rolled on the floor while quickly getting back up and with the sound of clicking his tongue, he poured out his criticisms.
It was a style that was different from what the soldiers trained in. It was dirtier; it felt like he was facing off against an adventurer. That was why he couldn’t let down his guard.
A feeling of anxiety ran down Succulent’s back.
At first, he thought that he would win easily, that he could quickly finish off a brat like this. However, now he could feel that composure start to disappear.
Succulent drew in his breath as he saw how the boy who he deemed dangerous was slowly weakening.
His complexion looked as if their previous series of clashes had burned out the flame of his life. No, that was probably the truth. Like how a candle burns brightly just before it goes out, that power was the same.
Now, he will really die even if he were to simply touch him.
Succulent felt a tiny relief and after a moment of hesitation, was dominated by anger.
He was angry at the fact that as one of the Six Arms, he had this much trouble with a single soldier. Also at himself for thinking it was dangerous. However, the fight was decided. He just had to kill him and run.
He had just barely made it on time.
Climb who was lying on the ground, his face was a mess of dirt and sweat. It had gone past the point of turning blue and was now completely pale. Even so, he was still alive. But being stabbed through the stomach was fatal and if he was not treated immediately, he would die in a matter of minutes.
Brain entered the room, unable to feel relieved.
Inside, there were two men. One of them didn’t seem to be a combatant.
“Can’t you just kill the kid quickly without paying attention to that suspicious guy over there?”
“If I do then that man will close the distance in an instant and blow me away with a single slash. He’s on a whole different level compared to this brat. I won’t be able to win unless I concentrate and fight with everything I have. If I let my guard down even slightly or let my mind wander, it’ll be over.”
—Then the one who just answered must be Succulent.
That’s how Brain understood it. It was clear that he closely resembled the description. Honestly, that was what he thought back when he saw him with a clone and holding a bloody dagger. But he was done confirming it.
Brain stomped over without a word and half-heartedly used a draw slash. Succulent retreated back with a leap and the katana sliced through thin air. But Brain had only attacked with the intention to separate the enemy from Climb. He stepped over the collapsed Climb and stopped his feet at where he could cover for him.
“Climb, you okay? Do you have any items that can heal injuries?”
He did not have the luxury of time and thus spoke quickly. If there was nothing to treat him with, they would have to quickly find another way.
“Haa, haa, haa, haa. I… do.”
He glanced over and saw that Climb had put down his sword and was moving his hand.
Brain replied with a deep sense of relief and looked at Succulent with a penetrating stare.
“I’ll be your opponent from now on. I’m going to have to take revenge for this guy.”
“…No wonder you seem confident. You have a katana, an expensive weapon that rarely travels up from the south. I’ve never heard that a warrior like you was in the Kingdom…Mind if I ask for your name?”
He had no intention of answering him.
Climb was someone who he shared a common objective with— his comrade. In a situation where that comrade might die, he didn’t have time to go back and forth with questions and…
All of a sudden, Brain asked himself.
Is this me?
Didn’t he throw away everything that did not involve improving his skill with the sword? As Brain was about to slightly tilt his chin, he let out a quiet laugh.
…Ahh, I see now.
His heart, his dream, his goal, his path in life, what made life worth living, all of it had been destroyed by that monster, Shalltear Bloodfallen. And the one who found a place in its cracks was Climb. When he himself broke under the savage bloodlust of the mysterious figure named Sebas, the figure of Climb enduring despite being weak won Brain’s respect and admiration. He saw the resplendence of a man who possessed what he did not.
While he stood in front of Climb, he and Succulent stared each other down. Seeing him like this, could Climb see the same brilliance that Brain had seen from his back?
If his past self saw this situation, he would have laughed until tears came from his eyes, saying that he got weaker.
He had thought that a warrior grew weaker if he had to shoulder something. He used to think that the only thing a warrior needed was sharpness.
However— now he understood.
“So this kind of life existed as well… I see now. Gazef… it seems that I’m still no match for you.”
“Didn’t you hear me? Mind if I ask again? Your name is?”
“Sorry about that. I don’t think there would be any meaning in telling you but I’ll answer… it’s Brain Unglaus.”
Succulent’s eyes opened wide.
“Oh my! The real thing?! He’s not a fake?!”
“No, there’s no doubt, Cocco Doll-san. An expensive weapon reveals a warrior’s worth. For the Brain Unglaus that I know of, a katana would be a fitting weapon.”
Brain smiled bitterly.
“Most of the people that I meet for the first time today seem to know about me… if this was the past then I would’ve been happy but I’m not really sure how I feel about it now.”
Succulent’s smile suddenly turned friendly. Brain was puzzled but his confusion was immediately lifted.
“Listen, Unglaus! What do you say we stop fighting? Someone like you is more than qualified to become our comrade. How about you join us? If it’s you, I can tell just by looking that you’re strong enough to become a member of Six Arms. You’re the same as us. Aren’t you seeking power? That’s what your eyes tell me.”
“…You’re not wrong.”
“Then Eight Fingers will be pretty good for you. It’s the greatest organization for those with strength! You can get magic items with powerful abilities. Look at this orichalcum chain shirt! This mithril sword! Ring! Clothes! Boots! They’re all magic items! Now, Brain Unglaus, become our comrade. Like me, you’ll be a member of Six Arms.”
“…How boring. That’s all your gang amounts to?”
His unbelievably cold attitude filled with contempt froze Succulent’s face solid.
“Didn’t you hear me? I said that your gang with only that much power is nothing special.”
“Y-You bastard! … H-Hmph. Then that must mean you’re not so strong yourself!”
“You’re quite right. After seeing a truly strong monster, someone like me is nothing.”
Brain took pity on the frog in a small pond who believed that he was strong and gave him an honest, friendly warning.
“The strength that you speak of is the same. We’re probably speaking about similar things so let me give you a warning. Even if we claim that we’re strong, we’re nothing special.”
Brain looked over his shoulder and confirmed that Climb had finished drinking his potion.
“And there’s something that I’ve come to understand. Strength that is for the sake of others is greater than strength that is only for your own sake.”
Brain smiled. It was a friendly, light hearted smile.
“The difference might be tiny. But I still came to realize it.”
“I don’t understand a word you’re saying. …It’s a pity, Unglaus. It’s a pity that I have to kill that genius swordsman who was Stronoff’s equal.”
“You? Do you think that you who only wield your sword for yourself could kill me?”
“Of course I can kill you, quite easily, in fact. I’ll kill you, and then I’ll kill that brat lying down over there. There’s no more reason for me to hold back and I won’t play around either. I’ll come with everything I have.”
While keeping Succulent who started to prepare his magic in his line of sight, he sensed the presence of the one behind him begin to move and sent out a warning.
“Stay still, Climb. You’re not fully recovered yet, right?”
Twitch. The movement stopped.
Brain wore a smile and spoke, despite feeling the same surprise that he felt a moment ago at this side of himself.
“Let me take care of the rest.”
“—I leave it to you.”
Rather than reply, Brain laughed and sheathed his katana as he lowered his stance. At the same time, he flipped the katana, sheath and all, so that its top and bottom side were switched.
“Be careful. Succulent uses illusions. Just because you can see it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s real.”
“Oh, so that’s it… That seems like an annoying opponent but… it won’t be a problem.”
Brain silently watched Succulent without moving. He must have finished casting his spells, for the number of his afterimages had increased to five. Not only that, he was wearing a mantle that looked as if it was made of shadows. He could not even begin to guess as to what sort of spells he cast on it.
“Thanks for giving me time to prepare. A magic caster with enough time becomes stronger than even a warrior. You defeat is certain, Unglaus!”
“Right, don’t worry about it. It’s the same for me. After talking with my friend here... I don’t think I could ever lose.”
Crunch. He heard the sound of Climb, who had been lying prone on the floor, moving.
He was regretting the fact that because of him, they had allowed the enemy to cast buffs. That was why Brain made his announcement so that Climb could clearly hear it.
“I said that I’ll end this in one hit, Succulent.”
“Try it if you can!”
Succulent ran towards him with his afterimages.
As he entered the range of his katana, Brain turned his body so that his calm and defenseless back was exposed to the charging Succulent. And— his god speed slash flew towards empty space, right next to Climb.
That sound rang out and the walls shook.
Both Cocco Doll and Climb looked in the direction of where that sound had come from.
There, Succulent’s body was collapsed on the floor and did not budge. A sword was rolling on the ground near him.
Brain’s draw slash had blown back Succulent’s body and it had crashed into the wall at unbelievable speed. If he had not used the back of his blade, even with the orichalcum chain shirt, Succulent’s body would have been in two pieces. That’s how much power was behind that attack.
“… My ‘Field’ can detect your presence even if I can’t see you with my eyes. To think that you would use an auditory illusion to try and focus my attention to the front so you can attack from behind… It was a great trick, but too bad your opponent was me. And going for Climb was also foolish. You were probably planning to kill him and babble about how I couldn’t protect him and what not, but you focused too much of your attention on trying to attack Climb who was on the floor. Did you forget who you’re facing?”
Brain sheathed his katana and smiled at Climb.
“See, one hit, right?”
“That was splendid!”
His voice was overlapped by another voice that also said “That was incredible.” The two were shocked. The voice they heard belonged to Sebas, but that by itself was nothing to be surprised about. What shocked them was the direction that the voice came from.
The two turned their eyes in Cocco Doll’s direction.
There, they saw Sebas. Cocco Doll was collapsed next to him.
“When did you arrive?”
Sebas calmly replied to Brain’s question.
“I just arrived. It seems everyone’s attention was focused on Succulent and did not notice me.”
Even as he answered, Brain didn’t think that was possible.
But I had my ‘Field’ up. Its range is narrow but it should still catch anyone who ran in a straight line. And I still couldn’t sense him…? The only one who’s capable of moving like that until now was that monster, Shalltear Bloodfallen. I’ve thought this when I got hit with his bloodlust, but is he on the same level as that monster? Just who is he?
“Regardless, I have rescued everyone who was taken captive. And I must apologize to Climb-kun, several of the guards fought back so fiercely that I had no choice but to kill them. Please forgive me… or so I’d like to say. It seems that before I apologize, it would better for me to treat your wounds.”
Sebas walked up next to Climb and touched his stomach with his hand. He very briefly held his hand lightly against his stomach and immediately retracted it. But the effect was dramatic. Climb’s face that had been pale even after he drank the potion had immediately regained its healthy complexion.
“My stomach’s healed…! You were a priest?”
“No, I did not use the power of God, but rather poured in my Ki to treat you.”
“So you were a monk! No wonder, I finally understand.”
Brain nodded his head, now he understood why he didn’t have any weapons or armor. Sebas showed a smile of affirmation.
“Then what will the two of you do from now on?”
“First, I plan to run to the guard office to explain what happened here and bring some soldiers back. Meanwhile, I would like to ask Sebas-sama and Brain-sama to keep watch here. However, Eight Fingers might send reinforcements.”
“… I’m already on board this ship. I’ll ride it out til the end.”
“I do not mind either. However, could you keep me and my matters a secret? I only came to this country for business and do not wish to involve myself any further with the darkness of a foreign land.”
“I don’t care either way, Climb. Well, know that my guarantor is Stronoff for now so I’ll leave it to you.”
“I see. I understand. Then to you both, I apologize but please give me some time.”
Lower Fire Month (9th Month), Day 3, 19:05
As night began to fall on the Kingdom, Climb finally returned to the palace.
Although his injuries were completely healed, his body was tired. Not just the battle, he had to mediate several times to handle the aftermath and those took time. The reason it had worked out in the end was not because Climb was Renner’s bodyguard, but because the guards feared the Eight Fingers and remained passive. What was especially significant was the problem of responsibility.
The one responsible would be made an example of and murdered by the Eight Fingers— it was a not a groundless worry. There was a high possibility of it actually happening. That was why he ordered a soldier to deliver to Renner a document containing a brief account of the situation. He then received permission to write down his name and the name of his master as the ones responsible.
Even though it would obviously have its share of disadvantages, there were at least two benefits.
One was obvious; it would raise Renner’s reputation.
They were the organization that was dirtying the Kingdom. And not only that, she exposed the people who committed filthy acts while being involved with the slave trade. Even better, for Renner who does not step outside the palace, the fact that she sent her bodyguard to the front would raise her evaluation.
Next were Sebas and the fact that they could protect the girl that he was sheltering. If they became the ones responsible, they could hide her since she was trying to not stand out. And once that was done, it would be difficult for them to become Eight Finger’s primary targets.
I couldn’t be of much help when we charged in so I have to do at least this much…
Brain said that he was going to deliver the news to Gazef personally and told him to not worry about it.
Climb absent-mindedly pondered such thoughts as he knocked on Renner’s door.
Normally, he could just enter without having to knock. But he declined to do so when it was late, thinking that it would be rude after all. After that one time when he encountered a Renner who was only wearing a thin silk dress, even his master consented to him on that point.
Climb smelled himself before he could hear the answer. Even though he had washed, his nose was used to the smell and he wasn’t confident whether or not the smell of blood was gone from his body. There was just no way that his attire was good enough to enter the room of a princess. However, it was necessary that he promptly report today’s events with his own mouth.
More than anything, the people who had been held captive were the most important. For now, those women had been entrusted with the station, but they would have to be moved to a safe location in the near future. And since some of them were hurt, they would have to send someone like a priest who could use healing magic.
The kind-hearted Renner-sama will definitely extend a helping hand to the suffering citizens.
It pained him to cause all these troubles for his master. If only he were a bit stronger… he ended up not knowing his place and wished for something like that. Even when it was all thanks to her that he could serve such a wonderful master, that he could live like this.
…Huh? There was no answer…right?
He did not hear the reply giving him permission to enter.
There was no night watch in front of the door and according to the time, Renner should not be asleep yet. Or did she simply fall asleep without informing the person on night duty?
Climb knocked on the door again.
This time, he heard a faint voice from inside giving him permission to enter. Climb felt a sense of relief and went inside. What he had to do first had already been decided.
“I apologize for being late.”
He deeply bowed his head.
“I was worried!”
The anger was evident in Renner’s voice. It was surprising. Climb’s master rarely ever got angry. Even if she was insulted, in front of Climb, she showed no signs that she was angry. That was why he understood that Renner had been worried from the bottom of her heart.
He felt as if something warm was going to gush out of his eyes. He endured it and bowed his head and sincerely apologized over and over.
“I was really worried! I thought that maybe Eight Fingers attacked first and had done something to Climb and… So what happened, exactly? I received a brief report but can you explain it to me in detail?”
When Climb was about to start speaking while standing up, Renner offered him a seat per usual.
Now that he was seated, black tea from the ‘Warm Bottle’ was poured into the teacup placed in front of him. A faint steam rose into the air.
He gave his thanks and drank a gulp of the tea that was at optimal temperature.
Climb told of everything that he went through in the brothel. He said that he was relying on Renner’s power and that there were people that he wanted her to aid.
“So what did you think when you saw them?”
When his story was roughly finished, the first question that Renner asked seemed strange. But as long as he was asked a question, he had to answer.
“I pitied them. I thought that if I was stronger, I could have saved those people before they fell into such suffering.”
“So that’s how it was… Climb thought of them as pitiful.”
“I see. Climb is kind.”
“Renner-sama, if those women require a guard then I am prepared to leave at any time.”
“…I’ll be counting on you when that time comes. More importantly, I should tell you this beforehand. Tomorrow, or two days at the latest, we’re going to attack the facilities that were on the parchment that Lakyus brought in. Because of the attack on the brothel, I predict that they’ll grow more alert as more time passes.”
“I apologize! It’s because I acted on my own!”
“No it’s not, don’t worry about it. Rather, I was able to make my decision thanks to you. Besides, what Climb did is held in extremely high regard. You managed to capture Succulent, a member of Six Arms, and the leader of the slave trade group, Cocco Doll. This should be more than enough to shake up our opponent at the roots. That’s why I want to deliver an additional attack to our enemy.”
Renner punched the air, a cute punch with neither power nor speed.
“We’ll hit them again before they steal information from the capital!”
“Understood! I’ll rest up and gather my energy for tomorrow!”
“Please. Expect tomorrow to be a fierce day.”
Climb left the room. He seemed to slightly smell of blood.
“It must’ve been hard on you, Climb. Now then…”
Renner drank the rest of the black tea that had grown lukewarm and stood from her seat. She made her way to the hand bell. It was a magic item that when shaken, the one in the next room that it was linked to would shake as well. She thought of the face of the maid who was on standby in the next room. Luckily enough, it was that girl’s turn today, thinking so, Renner wore a cold smile.
“Shoot, which face was good here?”
Renner stood in front of the mirror and stretched her face up and down while holding her cheeks with both hands. Even if a human like her did something like that, her face would hardly change. What she was doing was something like affirmation.
Renner removed her hands and smiled.
“No. This is for when I make my rounds as the princess…”
This time, Renner tried a sneer and then another smile. One after another and finally, she wore an innocent smile.
“I think this one will be best.”
Having determined that she was finished preparing, Renner rang the bell. Immediately after, a maid knocked on the door and entered the room.
“I have a request. Could you prepare me some hot water?”
Renner smiled at the maid who was bowing her head.
“Did something happen? You seem to be in a good mood. You look as if something pleasant has happened to you.”
Renner happily smiled again as she confirmed that the prey took the bait.
“Yeah! It’s really incredible! Climb did something amazing!”
She spoke like a young girl; perfectly fitting for the foolish princess who coughs up valuable information.
“Congratulations, your Grace.”
Although the maid skillfully hid the hostility she had towards Climb, she ended up revealing the feelings that she could not hide. That reaction caused a stir in Renner’s heart.
—I’ll kill her.
—I’ll kill this maid too.
—I’ll kill anyone who looks down on my Climb.
But Renner’s expression showed no signs that she knew the truth. For the current Renner was an innocent princess; the type who was oblivious to the malice of others and who forgives her maid’s rudeness, that kind of naïve— foolish princess.
“It’s amazing! Really amazing! Climb defeated some really really bad people and freed all of the people who had been captured. Now they should be… um, he said that he left them somewhere in the guard station. Now we can punish the nobles who helped those bad people!”
“I see. That is really amazing. As expected, Renner-sama’s Climb-san is splendid. But could I hear about that incredible thing he did with more detail?”
Stupid girl, Renner spread her poison to the fool who was not even suspicious.
She controls everything in the palm of her hand, all in order to obtain the object of her desire.
Lower Fire Month (9th Month), Day 3, 22:10
There was a suspicious looking group that looked as if they were melting into the darkness.
All of them each wore different equipment and their atmosphere was completely different from that of soldiers. If one had to mention who they smelled the closest to, perhaps it would be adventurers.
The one at the front was a man with a rough physique. Next was a lean man along with a woman wearing light silk. A person in a robe followed them from behind and lastly, there was a person wearing full plate armor.
In the direction that the group was staring in, there was a door that was opened wide. The inside was covered in darkness and there was no longer the presence of other people. Even when looking around the surroundings, there did not seem to be any people.
This was a strange. All of the goods that were in the brothel had already been seized and transported to one of the stations for soldiers. However, it was out of the question that they would not leave sentries behind just because there was nothing there. If one were to actually look towards the entrance that was empty of people, they would see a bright bonfire and realize that they were keeping vigil at night. But the reason that no one could be seen was because those people used their authority to temporarily remove the sentries.
The boulder-like man standing at the front— Zero, sent a terrifying gaze to the captured brothel and spoke in a low voice, as if he found it despicable.
“What a farce. I’ll have to apologize to Cocco Doll. I lent him Succulent, a member of Six Arms and they still fell this easily. And it was even on the same day… truly, what a farce.”
Zero sent a sharp glare over his shoulder at the snickering that came from behind him. The woman who was wearing the light silk knew Zero’s personality well and quickly changed the topic.
“Ah, right right. So boss, what should we do? Do we kill Succulent who got caught? He’s at a station so it’ll be hard to use force. Then we’d have to borrow an assassin from a different division… what do we do?”
“No, we won’t do that. He’s still useful. I will request the Count to have him released immediately. …This will become an unexpected expense. Find out the Count’s tastes.”
The thin, frivolous-looking man asked a question.
“And Cocco Doll?”
“He will likely use his own connections. If he asks, then we will use our connections as an apology. Also, what happened to the client list? There wasn’t any information about it falling into the hands of a patrol officer.”
“There has been no news on that front. To be more precise, I haven’t heard of any further details on the matter.”
The voice coming from the robe was dark. It was like an empty echo flowing out of a hole in a graveyard that sent shivers down the spine.
“That is something that I am very eager to get my hands on. It can be used to make all kinds of threats.”
“Don’t say something so stupid. If we kept that with us, it would only make us look more suspicious. Others may think that we had planned for all of this to happen. If we find the list, we will hide it in a safe location and hand it over later to Cocco Doll with an apology. Besides, it’s probably written in code that can’t be cracked by normal methods so it’s useless to us regardless.”
At Zero’s words, the lean man shrugged his shoulders as he spoke.
“Anyways, I’ll go in later and try to find out what happened to the list. If they have it, it’s probably in a secret safe or something. …With that said, this is pretty amazing. How was this hole made? The weapon… was it magic?”
“It was a fist.”
Everyone’s eyes fell on Zero. He repeated himself, declaring that this imprint was made by a fist.
“A fist huh… that’s amazing~.”
“—Foolish. This is nothing.”
He cut off the woman’s admiration and, collecting his breath, Zero stabbed the door with his fist. His hand became lodged in the door as if it was ripping through paper. As Zero slowly pulled out his fist, leaving behind a same hole as the one that Sebas had made.
Looking dumb-founded, the lean man opened his mouth.
“You can’t really use the boss as a comparison… Well, the enemy had enough skill to pierce through a steel reinforced door and defeat Succulent, even if he’s the weakest among the Six Arms. I’m guessing we should consider him to be a formidable foe, right?”
“What nonsense. Just because that guy lost doesn’t mean that his opponent was strong.”
The one who had his hood pulled deeply over his head spoke in a voice filled with ridicule.
“If his illusions are seen through, then his battle strength falls greatly beneath ours. He is strong when there is a clear difference in ability between him and his opponent. But if it’s similar or he falls behind even slightly, then his defeat is certain. You all should know this as well.”
There was faint laughter. It was a laugh that agreed with his comment and at the same time, one of contempt for someone whose skill was beneath them.
“With that in mind, let me ask, what do we do? Are you going to take your hand off the matter? I do not think that clashing will prove beneficial, considering the losses.”
Zero’s voice was filled with an anger that he could not suppress.
The one wearing the robe held out his hand. The hand that did not belong to a living person was firmly grasping an orb. The orb responded to the emotions of its owner and exuded a strange aura.
“‘Void Executioner’ Peshurian.”
The one in full plate armor who had been silent until now beat his fist against his chest and the loud sound of metal rang out.
“‘Dancing Scimitar’ Edstrom.”
With the ringing of the metal bangle around her arm, the woman wearing the light silk gracefully bowed her head.
“‘Thousand Kills’ Malmvist.”
The lean man brought his heels together with a click.
“And I, ‘Battle Demon’ Zero!”
As if in agreement, those around Zero all nodded their head.
“First, we pay the bail on Succulent and the others who were arrested and gather information. Once that is done… arrange for people who know how to torture. We will show the invader hell. He will greatly regret his foolishness!”
Lower Fire Month (9th Month), Day 3, 17:42
By the time Sebas had finished everything and was heading back to the mansion, the sun had already begun to set.
Climb-kun protected the ones that were being held captive and Succulent and the owner of the brothel were all arrested. It seems they will be quite busy so it should buy a bit of time.
Then what was he to do with Tsuare? The best option was to take her somewhere safe. However, as far as Sebas knew, only one place fit that description.
While worrying over it, Sebas arrived at the residence.
He stopped his hand as he was about to open the door. There was someone on the other side close by. Although this presence belonged to Solution, he could not understand why she was standing right in front of the entrance.
Was it an emergency?
Feeling uneasy, Sebas opened the door. What he saw next was so unexpected that he grew rigid.
“Welcome back. Sebas-sama.”
It was Solution wearing her maid uniform.
A shiver ran down Sebas’ back.
While acting as the daughter of a merchant, in this house where a human whose circumstances were unknown — Tsuare — existed, Solution was wearing her maid uniform. Was it because the act was no longer necessary? Or did a reason that required her to be in her maid uniform appear?
If it was the former, then it meant that something had happened to Tsuare. If it was the latter—
“—Sebas-sama, Ainz-sama is waiting for you.”
Sebas heard Solution’s quiet voice and felt his heartbeat grow louder.
He who was calm in the face of a powerful enemy, in front of a Guardian class existence, that Sebas now grew nervous at the news of his master’s arrival.
He squeezed out his words, as if his tongue was twisted. Solution stared at that Sebas without saying a word.
“Sebas-sama, Ainz-sama is waiting for you.”
There was nothing else that needed to be said. Her demeanor said as much. Sebas followed behind Solution and began to walk.
Those steps were heavy, like the steps of a condemned criminal heading to his executioner.
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