This is the start of Arc 2
71. Chapter 71
A year had passed since the man entered the bar. His carelessly stretched hair was tied, and his beard was unmaintained, making it difficult to infer his age.
Gangut, the owner of the bar, had seen various human beings for many years. An adventurer who seemed to have jumped out of a hero tale, to a waste of humanity that couldn’t be helped. If someone wanted to evaluate a person, he should be one of the best people to ask.
Smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol from morning till night. However, the man didn’t have a conversation with other guests, and even if he was invited by an amateur or an experienced prostitute, he refused. He always gulped alcohol with all his might, and the appearance of inhaling purple smoke into his lungs, was as if he wanted to die, but it seemed that his real purpose was to lose his sanity.
There was no doubt that the man had money. Gangut had made dozens of complaints about the man’s health, but he had never received a decent response, only vague remarks.
Even now, in the corner of the store, which had become a vip seat for the man, the man looked down and drank distilled liquor as if it was water. Originally, it should be taken in small quantities or mixed with something. While his throat was screaming as the liquid passed through, with a cigarette in the other hand, he was looking at the ceiling with his empty eyes.
Gangut’s store wasn’t a high-class store that aristocrats and powerful people would visit. It was for sure a popular store, where day laborers, citizens who wanted to enjoy temporary luxury once in a while, and adventurers who relied on their own skills to jump over between demon territories and battlefields, would gather. Naturally, there were no paintings or “skylights” on the ceiling that cost money. If there were any, only the stains of cigarettes and the remnants of the food thrown out by a fight.
Gangut occasionally scolded the man, for just consuming liquor and cigarettes. It had been a scene that had been on repeat for the past year, but today it was different. Even in a group of adventurers who got drunk, usually, there would be at least one person who would take of the drunkards, and that person was approaching the man.
“Why are you always drinking alone? Wanna join us?”
“Stop, and leave”
The man said without turning around.
“Drinking alone would make the liquor taste unpleasant.”
“Not, that bad.”
“… Is the liquor you drink without working every day delicious?”
“eah, that’s, right.”
At first, it was just a tease to a man who was immersed alone in a bar, but the adventurer’s anger swelled in the “don’t care” attitude of the man. Seeing the scene, Gangut held his head.
“You, you’re mocking me, aren’t you!?”
“I, am, not.”
Gangut, was a B-rank adventurer. He dedicated half of his lifetime diving the most famous labyrinth in the Archipelago, survived, and was able to leave the Labyrinth City and set up a store on the border, Kopetsk City. Given a myriad of adventurers scattered around for a new venture after retiring, his store could definitely be categorized as a success.
In the life of passing through the deadly line many times, it was inevitable that the intuition to feel the crisis became keen. It hadn’t changed even now after he retired and became the owner of a bar. And so, Gangut set out a rescue boat. He got out of the counter and cut in between the man and the adventurer.
“Don’t make a fuss in my store. I’ll serve you a glass of beer. So, Be quiet.”
“If Gangut-san says so… I understand.”
The adventurer returned to the seat, not trying to hide the unyielding attitude. Those who would quickly pick a fight and get blood in their heads couldn’t all be called bad guys. It was just how most of the adventurers would be, Gangut himself was an adventurer, so he could understand.
The man vaguely said so.
Gangut had no intention of saving the man. He thought of the man as a guest, and he only sent a rescue boat to the poor adventurer. But. even now, the stupid adventurer didn’t try to hide the anger, and just carefreely drank the beer. Really, a stupid adventurer.
“It’s nothing much. I’m much more grateful to have someone who patronized my store for one whole year. But, can’t you behave a little more social?”
“eah, you’re right… since, I’m indebted, to you. I’ll, try.”
The man’s eyes looked up, though they were supposed to be golden, they looked terribly muddy.
At the moment, although Gangut had become weaker, his body sensed danger and made a stance.
“!… I’m glad I heard a good reply.”
Occasionally, the man’s muddy eyes could freeze the spine of a skilled adventurer, Gangut. The man was usually a good guest who paid for the drink and drank quietly, but for Gangut, who knew what he looked like before, he was a man who was hard to predict what he would do if stimulated in the wrong way.
None of the customers, who saw the first time the man visiting the store, whether they were afraid of him or not, they wouldn’t look down or tried to mess with him. Gangut still vividly remembered the first time the man visited his store. With a rich dead odor that seemed to stick forever, countless scratches on the armor, and the shacky muddy eyes, the man came. Gangut had a hard time to even letting out a word for him.
Gangut was sensitive to rumors. Since his store was a bar where people with various backgrounds would gather, various information came to his ear, regardless of the accuracy.
Considering the time when the man came, it was about the time of people talking about how “Flame Emperor Dragon” and “Great Ourbreak” had caused Ferrius and Highserk to collapse.
Based on the timing, Gangut concluded that the man must be a defeated soldier who survived the war between Highserk and The Four Country and also the Great Outbreak. He must be from one of the collapsed countries that decided to move to the Archipelago. In fact, to varying degrees, there were many drifters from the perished Highserk Empire.
It had been almost a year since Gangut was asked to introduce a place to rest and a general store. He was pushed into a corner of the store as if he were a dangerous drug dealer. While he was trying his best to hide his fear, he introduced the man to someplace.
Now, the man’s dead odor was fading, and his fearful eyes were hiding behind the muddy color.
And yet. The stupid adventurer was trying to provoke the owner of the eyes and get into a fight. Gangut wasn’t interested in who would win or lose. Of course, if it ended with just a simple quarrel, that would be good―― but, if that muddy eye was awakened in the store, even giving a piece of advice and a glass of beer was a lot cheaper. Still, Gangut couldn’t help but resent the bad behavior of the adventurer.
“Here. Thanks, for the drink.”
The man politely greeted and walked out of the store after giving Gangut the money.
“Watch out for your steps. And, have a nice night.”
The man who fluttered out of the store took out the flask from his waist bag and started drinking again.
Gangut looked back at the approaching footsteps and sighed. The adventurers also tried to leave the store with a slight delay, as if they wanted to follow the man. It wasn’t just a coincidence.
“It’s outside the store… I wouldn’t stop you.”
Being read, the adventurers stopped for a moment.
“Fighting may be a part of the bar experience. Still, never use weapons. Hear me, just fight normally.”
The adventurers smiled stupidly, pushed through the saloon doors, and headed out of the store. The man’s residence was close to the insecure slum. It wasn’t a popular area.
Gangut didn’t plan to stop them. Since they weren’t children, the owner of the bar wasn’t so caring about what might happen outside. Still, he prayed that the fragile-looking man had mercy and self-control.
The adventurer couldn’t get rid of the sour taste since this morning. Normally, an ordinary adventurer wouldn’t chase fights. But, the timing was bad. That’s all. This morning, a member of the party was seriously injured. Brawling wasn’t something strange for adventurers, so long as their life wasn’t taken. The adventurer drank so much to distract from it and called out to a lonely man.
Being looked down on wasn’t an option for an adventurer. If that happened, the adventurer won’t let it pass by. In addition to being a credit-related job, there might be a chance of being belittled and targeted by other adventurers.
The adventurer would forgive the man if he let being punched one or two times and apologized. In a thought circuit of a dull brain, there wasn’t enough reason to calm down the outburst of anger. The companions gave up at first, but now they were following to keep an eye on what would happen. If one of them was to go too far, they would have a reason to act as a stopper.
Shortly after, the adventurer caught up with the man. In the late-night like now, there were no figures on the road from the back alley to the slums. It was an unsafe area to the extent that stupid drunkards and vagrants were stripped of their belongings.
Even on the way home, the man was still pouring distilled liquor into his mouth, from a flask into his esophagus. The odor of rich alcohol irritated the adventurer’s nasal passages. The adventurer thought to be a better person than the crazy drinker and screamed at him.
“Oi! Bastard, what’s with your attitude?!”
The man replied lazily to the adventurer’s question.
“A, titude? I’m, always, like this.”
The man didn’t even look at the angry adventurer, and instead, he took out the second flask, and pour the liquid to fill his stomach. At that moment, the adventurer’s face was dyed red with anger and alcohol.
“If you’re too drunk, I’ll sober you up!!”
In anger beyond the boiling point, the adventurer kicked up the ground and jumped at the man. When the arm with the elbow folded was stretched, the fist would suck into the man’s chin. An adventurer who imagined a direct hit, didn’t get a satisfactory response.
The fist that should have felt human skin, could only feel the wind. At the moment, intense pain occurs in the abdomen, and the accumulated alcohol was exhaled together with gastric juice.
“Argh, uck, uuh”
The man didn’t seem interested in the adventurer who was bending to the front, and just kept tilting the flask.
What had happened was simple. Just tilted his head to avoid the fist, and used the momentum of the adventurer to land an impact on the liver over the armor with his palm.
It wasn’t by chance. The adventurer who was accustomed to fighting realized that the man couldn’t be just a useless drinker. The counter he did couldn’t be done unless the angle, timing, and strength were aligned. The fact that the attack land on the liver, which was a vital point, and the ability to pass the attack through armor, made the adventurer feel like the man must be someone used to kill humans.
The man had great skill. It was hard to believe he was just a rotten man you could find in any bar. The adventurer knew that he was at disadvantage. Still, adventurers had pride. When looked down, it instead, stimulated the fighting spirit and anger.
“Fine, you’re asking this yourself!!”
The sourness left in the oral cavity was spit out together with spit, and the adventurer jumped into the man again. The adventurer put a feint on his face with the left hand, rearranging the legs, aiming at the man’s lower abdomen, and pulling out the right fist. But the man’s elbow was in the vision when the adventurer closed the gap. It banged the adventurer’s face.
The nose was broken and fresh blood dripped in the alley. In addition to dull pain, the adventurer’s nasal passages cause major bleeding, which makes it difficult to breathe only by mouth due to suffocation.
Even though they were facing each other, the focus of the man’s eyes wasn’t on the adventurer, as if saying that he wasn’t interested in the adventurer at all. It didn’t matter. Being an adventurer meant, you had some skill to back your life. It was a world where violence spoke louder. It was no exaggeration to say that an adventurer was a devotee of power.
But that was also the reason. Being treated as if a powerless person, a trash, was unacceptable. The man horribly still unwilling to let go of the flask and kept swallowing the contents. Contrary to the fierce adventurer, the fellow adventurers who were looking at the situation objectively felt chills on their spines. Because, they couldn’t predict what kind of action would the man take next.
“Stop it there. Let’s go back.”
“Stop that eye!! I’m telling you to stop. Don’t you understand?”
There was no reply and the man was busy tilting the contents of the flask. Something snapped in the adventurer.
“Stop looking down on me…”
The passionate adventurer put the hand around the waist and pulled the longsword out of the scabbard. Both monsters and people were equal in front of the sword, and the adventurer could stay alive thanks to it.
“Can you still look down on me now!! HAAH!?”
Fellow adventurers rushed to stop.
The adventurer didn’t plan to kill the man. Just wanted to see the rotten man’s terrified face.
“Calm down, your opponent is just a drunkard. A sword is too overkill.”
“Pulling out a sword in the city is too much”
“Shut up!! This is my pro―― “
The adventurer closed his mouth before he finished speaking. The viscera trembled, the nape was upright, and goosebumps run over the body as if to keep the sanity.
The air in the back alley, which should have been cold, felt hot.
“W-what. What is that?”
The mana that could be seen from a man who lacked emotions overflowed, and a strong sign of death was released. When noticed, a longsword that had been smeared with blood was held in the man’s hand. The experience as an adventurer screamed in the brain. The man wasn’t a false threat. As the eyes locked on the sticky blood, dismay was showing on the adventurer’s face.
The out-of-focus eyes caught the adventurer. Although it should be a pale golden iris, it looked terribly muddy. Not only that. The pupils were narrowed vertically like a monster.
There were a group of people that shouldn’t be touched. The adventurer noticed that the man was a person belonging to the group.
“A, ah, AAHHhh? War? Ah, yes, war. Enemy? Ah, yes, enemy.”
The man threw the flask, which he kept holding like a loved one and wouldn’t let go, to the ground. In a moment, the man’s body vanished into thin air. There was no doubt that the swaying blade which had mana kneaded into it was the skill, 《Strike》.
The adventurer reflexively stiffened and protected the vital points with the sword. Burning pain ran on the cheeks and hands. When the adventurer realized that the man would slash the dangerous-looking sword, the adventurer’s body fall down to the ground.
Dead. The brain was screaming for such a danger, but the body didn’t react at all. It couldn’t. The torso was trampled, pushing out the air in the lungs.
“Hey, wait, stop. Stop.”
“Please. Don’t kill him!”
At the same time as the begging of the adventurer’s companions, the longsword was approaching the adventurer’s throat.
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