Is it Wrong to be the Warrior Captain in the Dungeon?
Proofread by the Members of The Usual Gang of Drunken Perverted Idiots
Thank you for reading my fanfic!
My mother language is not English, so please be patient about the grammatical issues.
I don't own the Overlord(オーバーロードŌbārōdo?) novel or anime series created by Kugane Maruyama.
I don't own Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka novel, and anime series, written by Fujino Ōmori.
Chapter 13: Three Little Angry Puffballs!
'Gnaw! Gnaw! Gnaw! Gnaw! Glug! Glug! Glug! Glug!'
"…" wordless, the Warrior Captain just watched how this small girl stuffed down all the food and drink she ordered.
Not stopping for a moment! Not even taking a breath, her hands moved without stopping!
"How she can eat so much?" Compared to how small she was, her stomach seemed bottomless.
"Buah!" finally, she finished it, leaning back in her seat, satisfied as she placed her bulky gloves on her apron. "I needed this!"
"Well, I am glad your hunger and thirst had been satiated." Even if that heavily strained his already dwindling purse, at least now the two can speak more civilized. Alas, Gazef really hoped so.
"Still, I wonder just how long she starved…" watching her, she looked quite malnourished. She must have lacked a proper meal for some time.
"So, what do you need? You obviously have eyes for quality — secondary it seems you can't take care of your equipment. Oh! Dessert!" the waiter brought forth a tasty looking cake, placing it before her. "Dig in!"
"Yes, khm. As said, unfortunate circumstances brought the destruction of the armor and my sword."
"Sword? So you even ruined one of my blades?!" she hit the table while shouting, making her drink spill.
"Well, yes. Unfortunately, I can't find its pieces after my last fight with a monster. But it served me well while it lasted."
"How long a time exactly was it?" she squinted her eyes, frustrated, suspicious it was a shorter time than she would initially like.
No matter the piece, she made all her works with great care, designing them to last for a long time. So someone managing to ruin them was a great challenge — or simply inappropriate use.
"Around a day, almost two."
"Just what did you fight to ruin one of my masterpieces in under a day?" she was sure she made them extra sturdy and dense. She remembered every one of the weapons and armors she forged, and there was no way they would deteriorate and break in a short time — unless used for stuff they were not meant for.
"Well, I used them intensely during the last day. In fact, the armor, and especially the sword, managed to bear the pressure for a long time — Other weapons would have been broken from a strike or two in those situations."
"Hmm…" the girl still glared at him, putting a piece of cake in her mouth. She seemingly holds a grudge against Gazef for ruining her equipment in that short time. "So, you want me to be your contracted smith?"
"Contracted smith?" he had some basic idea of what this means. Still, he needed to ask.
He saw too many things differing from back home to say for sure it means exactly like home.
"You don't even know this? Fine, I'll explain." she gave away an annoyed groan, gathering her thoughts. "You can contract blacksmiths to make you armors and weapons. In exchange, you only use the items they make. Of course, this also means they make your items cheaper than if you order them from someone you don't have a contract with. You can even contract all kinds of professionals, like alchemists and the like. If you provide the material, they can even make you free stuff."
"Hmm, I see. So that means if I contract you, I can't buy equipment from another manufacturer."
"Well, you can buy as I care; they will just make it more expensive than I do. Probably…" she muttered, glancing slightly away.
"Hmm, then I do want to contract you. Of course, if it's not a problem."
"Really!?" her eyes flashed up for a moment, just to the next fake cough nervously, and look away blushing. "Khm! I mean, sure, whatever. But I also have a few perquisites."
"First, you are an adventurer, right? I want to go with you from time to time to gather ingredients and to level up. If I want to make better gear, I need to open my blacksmith development skill, otherwise, no matter how hard I try and how revolutionary my methods, the gear I produce will always be inferior to those conservative pricks!"
In some way, this girl really hated those who followed the good old reliable methods. It looked like this passion of hers hinders her own advancement greatly — seeing what happened in the blacksmith shop, Gazef at least concluded this much.
"That's… manageable. What else?"
"Haah, it is unfortunate, but currently, my monetary status is as bad as we can speak about it." in other words, she was piss broke! It was obvious from how she was unable to buy basic necessities —like food.
"I need something in advance, or soon I can't even buy the crafting material I need to forge. My tools are also about to fall apart. It is sad, but without a normal hammer, I can't make art!"
"That… may be a problem. Unfortunately, recently, my monetary status also dwindled considerably."
"Yeah… that's a problem. Haah! Why am I not surprised?" she slumped back in her seat, and like melted butter, slid down, her expression turning like a dead fish. "It is always me… why can't a rich guy recognize my art, just once."
Gazef offered a sympathetic expression, pitying the fact he can't be more of a help in her situation.
"But I plan to go to the dungeon soon. You can come with me if you like."
"Really?!" once again, she was like an excited child, even jumping up and hitting the table before realizing what she had done, calming herself immediately.
"Really." Gazef smiled; this kid made him remember the children of his hometown. Every time he returned to visit his parents, they surrounded him with the same enthusiasm, albeit for many different reasons.
"Of course, it is not a problem. Though I can't promise, I can keep you safe all the time."
"Hmph! Don't underestimate me! I can protect myself plenty enough!"
He didn't doubt that. The tools that were fixed on her arms were the proof she had tricks in her sleeves — and he was sure there are more where that came from.
"Of course you can." Gazef knew well, amongst adventurers, there were just as many strong females as males. Nonetheless, his experience told him after seeing her move, she was not trained for combat.
If they go down that chasm together, he needs to give extra attention so a monster doesn't kill her accidentally. Which meant they couldn't go too deep together before the monsters get strong enough to one-shot her.
"Of course, this greatly slows my progress to collect money and investigate the whereabouts of the treasures. But something for something, I guess."
"What's your name, by the way?"
"Glas Gaibhnenn." she introduced, offering her hand for a shake.
"How strange a name." Gazef thought.
"Nice to meet you, Mr…"
"Zeff, you can call me Zeff."
"That… not important right now. Just call me Zeff."
"Right… Then just "Zeff." Let's hope our cooperation will be fruitful. I hope you can appreciate my art; else I will be forced to dismiss you." she pointed at him.
The girl had a strange style, even going so far to threaten her only customer with kicking them out. Normally, it's the one whose offering their service that fears their expertise will not be needed anymore. Yet, in her case, this role was seemingly reversed.
"The same." they shook hands in the end, sealing the deal.
"In that case, let's make that contract. Then I can equip you. I have a few spare parts in my workshop. You look horrible in that crap." she was not that kind who cared about his feelings; Gazef already recognized that. But it was fine; better to be honest and blunt than lying about things and regret it later.
"I've met many people like her. Got used to that style back then too." Most mercenaries were not famous for their smooth talk. If they didn't like something, they told you — even if it was vulgar or simply inappropriate.
Living many years in such an environment, Gazef actually came to appreciate that style more than the lies surrounded him in Ramposa's court.
"Even from my men, I demanded honesty. If they didn't like something, better say it straight to my face, even if I didn't like it." else, problems could arise from courtesy wrapped secrecy. On the battlefield, or in the line of duty, that can even lead to death.
"None taken. Let's go over it."
And thus, after the girl finished her dessert, they left.
Maybe none of them was aware, but a strange figure watched them from the far corner of the inn, resting his legs on the table. The flange of his feathered hat dropped a shadow over his face.
"Ah! How interesting! That child was indeed right…" pushing up the same hat; the man started to grin. "Indeed, what a strange presence."
Scene Change: Toth's Shop:
"How long is she going to do this?"
"I don't know. But she's almost finished cleaning the whole shop."
"Geez! I never saw her doing this before."
In the shop of the Toth Familia, something really unusual happened.
Usually, the shop was dusty, the books and scrolls all over the place. Yet, now, strangely, everything seemed too ordered, almost like someone cleaned and tidied the business from tip to toe.
"Goddess, please, stop!" in the next moment, Marion walked closer to her Goddess, trying to stop her before she does something she regrets, yet she was unable to stop Toth no matter what she did. Even yanking her a few times was worth nothing, she just ignored the Amazon's every attempt to bring her to her senses.
"I think you should let her. The shop looks a lot better since she started cleaning it. I mean, a LOT!"
"Sildur!" the female Familia member glared at the male for a moment, then, her expression softened, glancing back at their small Goddess who relentlessly ordered the books on the nearby shelf—mumbling all along in her frustrated worry.
Indeed, if you asked both Familia members, the shop was better off tidied up a little bit, remembering its previous state, it was no wonder visitors were accidental at best.
"Stop? STOP!?" Toth stopped suddenly, seemingly, only now did it reach her what her children tried to ask.
She immediately started to hyperventilate, almost like her pent up rage was about to burst from her! Yet, before it happened, it was like she broke, giving up on being hysterical, hanging her arms on her sides, defeated.
"He just… he just disappeared. He might have died during that monster rampage! Why else wouldn't he come and at least say: I am fine, don't worry." her eyes moistened, sniffing as she turned to her children, looking like she blamed herself for something she didn't do.
"Well…" Sildur and Marion glanced at each other, offering an awkward smile, feeling somewhat remorseful not telling her that small bit of info they picked up that latter day. "Coming back from the guild, we overheard an interesting story."
"Yes, it was about someone who helped the Loki Familia stop a monster."
"He was described just like this Zeff guy." finished the elf adventurer.
"Huh?" Toth tilted her head in surprise, letting her arm fall on her side, dangling freely, and making a step back, almost like she was trying to stop herself from falling from the baffling news.
"He…" Her small fists clenched in the next moment, her whole body started to tremble to hear the "good" news. "HE WAS ALIVE ALL ALONG, AND DIDN'T COME TO VISIT ONCE!?"
"Ple-please! Goddess, calm down; he surely has the right reason not coming until now. Only a day passed! Maybe that man had other things to do first!"
"He… he damn right should!" she clicked her tongue in the end, biting on her finger so hard it started to bleed. "Damn right he should…"
"Come, we should…" Marion tried to herd her to sit down a little bit, catch her breath, but before she can proceed forth, someone entered the shop; that particular noise of the old bell rang its tone.
"Ah, a customer!" Toth proceeded to the lobby to welcome the new customer, ignoring her children's attempt to make her rest.
"Goddess, I will take care of it! Please, just…!"
But her child was ignored; Toth was too distracted to pay her any attention and proceeded to the lobby.
Because the shop was quite small, she arrived there in under a moment, where a tall man with a cloak and a hood covering his head was already browsing the goods. Wordlessly inspecting the neatly ordered scrolls the shop offered, inspecting how clean the counter was as he pulled his finger along its surface, chuckling almost entertained. It was evident he found something funny.
"How may I help you?" Toth inquired, offering her best smile — the best smile an anxious, introverted bookworm can offer who just came back from her "stress cleaning."
"…" wordless, the stranger walked to the nearby book cabinet, inspecting a book for a moment before cackling low once again. "Strange, never seen this shop this tidy before."
"Ah! Ra! What are you doing here?"
Her eyes widened suddenly in recognition! She didn't even recognize it was her friend at first! Ra was quite good at concealing his divine presence; even amongst gods, his talent in this regard was prodigal.
"I can't even visit my little friend?" the man removed his hood, revealing his bald head and Egyptian makeup.
"I suppose you can…" mumbled Toth while lowering her head, almost like she was shameful about her display.
"Come now, why that long face? You can tell your friend!" Ra raised his brow a few times, enticing the girl to answer, walking closer, brushing her bob cut hair, and messing it all up.
"Hey! Cut it out!" she pouted angrily as she pushed his arm away. Combined with her glare, she was extra cute.
"Goddess, is he your friend?" hearing the commotion, the children of the Familia come forth to investigate the happenings.
"Ah, yes, he is Ra. Ra, they are the members of my Familia. Sildur Earyndil and Marion Brunenth." Toth introduced the only two members she managed to recruit under her months-long stay in this lower world.
It was frustrating, but an introvert like her can only do this much.
"Oh! Finally, I can meet the two children who joined my friend's Familia!" in under a moment, the man was before the two, shaking their hands rapidly. "Thank you for joining my little friend. I was so worried she would not manage! But seeing you two, I know there is hope for her, thank you!"
"Ah… it is not a problem." the boy looked away, finding Ra quite open for his taste.
"Yeah! Goddess is nice! Yet, surprisingly, no one wants to join her! It is quite strange, and at once frustrating, if you allow me to say this, Lord Ra."
"Hmm, indeed it is. But it cannot be helped; she was never really good with people. I hope a nice girl like you can push her a little bit in the right direction. Unfortunately, I was unable to do so. I hope she is not a big burden for the two of you! She can be a little hard to bear." the last part, he whispered, leaning close to the two while subtly pointing at Toth — who stood not far behind him.
"I AM RIGHT HERE!" fumed the small Goddess offended.
"You see, I said so."
"Ah… yeah, we manage somehow." shuttered Sildur as he looked at the side. This god was really strange; now he knows what his Goddess felt.
"That's great! Now then, tell me about your story!"
"Ah, our story?" the two Familia members looked at each other, completely confused, even blinking for a second as they processed the question.
"Indeed, your story! I am curious about how my friend managed to recruit two precious individuals like you! Where do you two came from? What led you two to this city? Come now! Don't be shy! I am listening!" Ra offered a big smile, trying to be friendly.
"Ra! Don't bully my children! You meanie!" Toth started to hit the man while pouting intensely. Albeit, being that she was relatively short, and her physical build was a lot weaker than the athletic man who towered above her, she looked like a child in a tantrum after her father refused to buy her a toy.
"Oi! Oi! I see you are lively today. Fine! I will leave them alone! For now..."
"Tch! Hah! Fair enough. Why did you come?"
"Can't I visit an old friend?" chuckled the man entertained.
"I suppose you can…" she mumbled, pouting. "Still, I feel there is something else behind your coming."
"Ah, yes, that too. I just wanted to notify you about the progress of your request. It would be good if you and this customer of yours could visit me — as I requested you at the party. We still need to discuss his needs. You need to understand; the world is quite big. Even with a world map, you can't expect every country to be listed. That would cost too much; my children need specifications to know where to start to look and where to proceed with their investigation if he needs to find a specific country."
"World map? Why does he need a world map?" Sildur questioned, unable to really understand the strange request. They were deep in the continent; who needs a world map here?
"That… young friend is a good question. It would be better to ask the contractor himself, no?" Ra gazed at Toth, who could only sigh in defeat.
"I suppose you are right…"
"Well then, when can we expect you two to visit me?" Ra clapped his hands together, signing the start of his business attitude.
"I don't know… he just… he just… Grrr! We visited the monster festival together. And…"
"Oh! Really? How was it? Unfortunately, I had no time to visit it this year. Wait? Together? Oh! I see! Kukukuku!" the man chuckled, and his laugh was very suspicious for the girl, almost mocking. "My little mascot found an actual boyfriend! I can't believe it! She is growing up so fast!" 'Sniff!' Ra wiped down a phantom tear of happiness, making Toth's head swell in rage.
"THAT'S NOT IT! YOU MISUNDERSTOOD!"
"Ah! Goddess! You two, really?" Marion's eyes started to shine in excitement. As a girl, she loved those romantic stories where the hero eventually gets the girl's hand. More so since this Zeff figure was rather handsome.
"Congratulations, Lady Toth! I would have never imagined it."
"You wouldn't actually believe that…"
"Oh! You!" The girl hit Sildur's shoulder roughly, not tolerating someone ruining her romantic daydreaming. "Don't ruin it!"
Being she was more athletic and physically superior to a mage, it made the boy grab his arm in frustration and pain, nudging it to numb the throbbing.
"IT IS NOT LIKE THAT! IDIOT!" 'Boink!' by grabbing a book from a counter, Toth jumped up and hit Ra's head, making him fall to his butt. It was quite incredible how she could move that fast — it was almost like she teleported, not to mention how strong her strike was despite her malnourished appearance.
"Ahahahaha! Of course, it is not! My bad!" Ra stuck his tongue out mischievously, rubbing his bald head. Then making a zipping motion before his mouth. "Don't worry, your secret is safe with me."
"Idiot…!" the Goddess huffed, annoyed, clicking her tongue. "Anyway. We will visit you once he returns to my shop. Unfortunately, I haven't seen him since the festival."
"I hope nothing bad happened. In all honesty, I was worried. I heard about the accident at the festival. All those injured, and those rampaging monsters. It is very unusual." Ra clicked his tongue. "I know Ganesha. He may play the fool, but he is quite smart and thorough. Usually, he himself checks every cage before every important event. There is no way it was an accident…"
"Are you saying someone let those monsters out?" Toth didn't like what her fellow god referred to. If this is true, that means someone intentionally planned to hurt others by letting those monsters out. But why? It made no sense!
"Possibly, I don't know. We can't just start pointing to others without evidence."
"You are right…" indeed, Ganesha was always like that. Merry and goofy, but not an idiot. He surely made sure everything is ready before the festival — double-checking everything. However, they needed more information before they can make a conclusion.
"So, what were you saying about him? You and he visited the festival together and?"
"Me, him, his advisor, and my children visited the arena to watch the show — nothing perverted like you may imply happened." shrugging, Toth looked away. Why her friend is always teasing her, she can hardly understand.
"My bad…" Ra raised his hand in surrender, smiling all along.
"I wanted to say this before you so rudely interrupted me…" she muttered in the end, then after a sight continued. "All in all, in the first break, he, his advisor, and Sildur left to get some snack. And then, he didn't come back. Only after returning, Sildur notified me something happened, and he had to leave."
"Yeah… he was quite strange, he said he wants to investigate something, then, he left." added the boy. "It was strange though; the games continued when we returned to our seats, we only got to know about that monster rampage after we left the place and saw the destruction all around."
"Yes, that's Ganesha for you. He know well what would happen if the people get notified about the released monsters. Chaos! There would be more causality from the civilians trying to get out and trampling each other to death than from the monsters themselves released amongst them."
Sildur and Marion paled, gulping audibly. They never thought about this. Now they thoroughly understand why simple people were not notified about the rampaging monsters.
"And now, as I'm getting to know, he went out and helped the Loki Familia dispatch some monsters." Toth continued, shaking her head disapproving. "That buffoon at least could drop by and say he was fine. Making me worried and all…"
"Oh! It was him?" Ra blinked in surprise, never expecting such a turn.
"Yeah, heard about it?"
"You don't know? Everyone in the city heard about it! Many gods are already seeking him for recruitment purposes, even sending their adventurers out to collect information about his whereabouts. A mystery adventurer! He appeared out of nowhere, saving many civilians during the calamity! Defeating a monster with one attack, a monster even the Kenki struggled with!"
"WHA-WHAT!? THE KENKI!?" All three of them shouted in unison, baffled by the new development. This was too much! Just who the hell is Zeff?! Where did such first-class hide until now?!
"Moreover, many say he is the same person who beat Fenrir unconscious a few days ago before the Hostess of Fertility."
"HE DID WHAT!?" Toth can only gape! This was too much! She even lost her balance and fell on the nearby chair. "This is too much…"
"Goddess! Are you alright!"
"I need a drink…" she muttered in a low tone, her expression all blank, her tanned skin turning pale.
"That guy gained fame in no time. No one knows where he came from! No one knows which Familia he belongs to! So many people saw him, yet, no one heard of a First Class adventurer with the same appearance and name before! Though, I don't think he can really hide anymore. Damn, to think you are meeting such interesting people! I am more and more impressed with your progress, little one, and at once, jealous." the man fondled his freshly shaven face, grinning in excitement. "I hope you can introduce me to such an interesting person. I am curious about his story."
"Sod off…" Toth's expression was still blank, sitting motionless on her seat, almost like she died inside just now.
"Now, now, don't be depressed. Instead, why not drink something to drive away your depression?. " the man recovered a bottle from under his cloak, grinning as he presented it. "Let's drink! It is not Soma, but close enough. Come, join me. Don't let me drink alone!"
"Haah! Why not? It can't be worse anyway…"
"Goddess? Are you sure?" Sildur asked worriedly. "To drink in this state?"
"It can't be any worse. I might enjoy some liquor." she snatched out the drink from Ra's hand, opening it with a smooth move.
"Let's drink! Let's get wasted!" Ra laughed in joy.
"Marion, I am afraid…"
"You're not the only one…" muttered the Amazon, watching as the two gods started their intense drinking party.
That day, the two children got to know details they didn't want. Especially when booze can indeed make people's tongues loosen, speaking out loud things they never wanted to tell anyone.
Scene Change: The dungeon:
"Haaaaa!" with just a spin, Gazef killed multiple War Shadows and Killer Ants that surrounded him, leaving their sliced up carcass on the ground.
"Tha-That's amazing! So many… I mean…" 'Cough!' "It is good enough, I suppose." the girl tried to contain her excitement but failed miserably before Gazef.
"Sure…" Gazef, of course, was not dense, recognizing her failed attempt to hide her awe.
"Lo-Look out!" however, her excitement didn't last long, as, in the next moment, a war shadow rose behind Gazef. The girl's hand trembled as she raised her arm and pushed the button on the fixed crossbow, unfortunately, due to her trembling hands, the bolt went astray, speeding towards Gazef's head.
"No!" she panicked for a moment, fearing her only contractor will die out of her own fault! Yet, before her eyes, something unbelievable happened!
"[Counter Evasion]!" it was like the man blurred for a moment, twisting himself out of the way of the creature, striking down the shadowy being using the same momentum! Then, when not even looking, caught the bolt in the air, breaking it into two by his mere grasp.
"Tha-That…! I am sorry! I didn't do it intentionally!" she made a dogeza pose, pushing her head to the dirt.
Why is she so clumsy!? She almost killed him!
"Please aim before you shoot." Gazef dropped the broken bolt to the ground, proceeding to the nearby corpse. "Let's remove the stones before more will come." as nothing happened, the Warrior Captain recovered his knife, starting to work on the corpses. Doing this before, his moves looked practiced, digging deep in the creatures and recovering the stones. At the moment their cores were removed, the corpses turned to black powder just like that, leaving no trace of their existence!
It was really strange for the man; it was like only these magic stones sustained these beings' existence; without them, their physical existence ceased.
"Yet, when I cut them with Razor Edge, they turn into dust immediately, only leaving the intact magic stone and maybe drop items." maybe it was because of the sword's nature? Or because it was enchanted? He didn't know, but he intended to find out.
"Yo-You are not even mad?" Glas shuttered, watching how the man just dismissed such a big blunder.
"I expected something similar might happen. Please excuse me saying this, but you are not well trained using weapons and even in combat. It is obvious from even looking at you moving and fighting."
"Tch! It is not my fault. I have been here barely a few times, doing it all alone to earn some cash for materials. In truth, I have no interest to delve this dull place." she shrugged defiantly, looking away, almost offended. "I don't want to be a pesky warrior; I am a smith above all."
"Hmm, I see. Still, it is better safe than sorry, especially in this place. If you want, after we return to the surface, I can show you a few moves. If you want to come with me, especially to proceed deeper, we need to prepare you. I can't always be here to protect you. Moreover, if I accidentally die, you need to get back alone. If you are not prepared, you will die."
It was the hard truth. She was honest with him. So the least he can do is to give her the same treatment.
"It wouldn't hurt, I suppose…"
"Then, it is discussed." Gazef gave his approval, and the two started the messy process of removing the stones from the dead monsters.
They spent more than a half-day in the chasm, going a few levels deeper, not too deep — thanks to the smith Gazef want to keep safe from the stronger monsters — but deep enough, so they earn a respectable amount.
All under their stay, they farmed monsters, collecting stones, and drop items. The two worked nonstop after finding a good farming place on the upper levels.
"Fortunately, I brought that map from the upper levels; Misha handed me over…" with that, at least he didn't lose his way like last time, and actually, the two could proceed relatively fast.
Like an oiled machine, Gazef dealt with most monsters; meanwhile, the girl removed the stones.
Albeit these creatures were no challenge for the warrior captain in the levels they passed, they proved to be challenging for his new companion — a few times when he allowed her to deal with the creatures.
Naturally, Gazef made sure neither of them could hurt her, yet still she needed to practice and fight to actually level up. Without a struggle, there was no improvement after all.
"Her goal is to level up. She can't get stronger by standing in the backside and watching me fight. The best way to gain strength and improve is by experiencing things firsthand."
He as well did the same back then. Training endless and risking his life on the field of battle.
"In truth, the best way to improve is to suffer a grievous injury and survive, or experience near-death moments. But I suppose, in her case, that is not necessary. It is enough for her to experience real combat."
"We collected this much!?" and now, as they finished their daily dungeon delving and the time closing to nighttime, they were on to distribute what they earned today.
"Ah, Misha really slapped me hard when we returned to the guild to exchange the stones. But I guess I deserved that." though the Warrior Captain didn't even budge when his advisor slapped his face, he still felt miserable after what trouble he brought to her head.
"I still don't know how to compensate her. I need to come up with something really good. Maybe her co-workers know what she likes."
Though one thing immensely bothered him, the numerous gazes he received when they arrived in the guild. It was like many carnivores just await their turn to bite a piece from him.
"Hmm, less than last time. But I guess it will do. 60-40 will be ok? Or would you rather want 50-50?"
"What are you speaking?" her eyes widened suddenly, watching the man flabbergasted. "I barely did anything, and you want to give me 40… no! 50%!?" it was absurd! What is this man thinking!? She barely did something!
"Well, I suppose, you gave me this sword and armor for free, and you are my contracted smith. So, it is only right to pay you in advance, right?"
His new sword was better than the old he bought back in that shop. It was just as thick, somewhat heavier, having an extra-long braided handle. Yet, it was perfectly balanced despite its strange look - somewhat resembling Brain's curved sword, just a little bit longer.
From the forging pattern on the blade, it was visible it was made by layering the metal, making it stronger, but at once lighter in the process.
"It is obvious; this sword had been given more care than the previous. Still, its weight and balance are perfect for me."
As well, his current armor was fitted better than the last, covering his chest and abdomen, but not his arms, segmented to not hinder his movement, equipped with chainmail and studded leather as the second and third layer. Metal protectors cover his forearms so he can block strikes with them.
"They were made of some reinforced metal, resembling hardened steel. But I guess, better than nothing. She can probably make better ones if she has access to resources, stronger metals, and she actually can level up, and learn that development skill she spoke about."
Either way, having no other option, he need to suffice with these upgrades for the time being.
She gave him these items for free; in exchange, he helped her with her journey through the dungeon, collecting stones and drop items. It was a win-win for both sides. She gets to level up; in exchange, she will make him stronger equipment.
It was the least he could do by giving her 40 or 50% of today's income for her service; she earned it, not by her skills in combat, but by her sheer skills in smithing. For Gazef, it was a long time investment to help this girl early, then reaping the rewards later when she can craft better items for a reduced cost.
"I admit she has strange ideas I never saw before. But, she is talented. It would be a waste to let this talent go waste."
Even if he planned to find the Royal Treasures as early as he could, then find a way home, it never hurt to plan for the long term whenever he can.
"Her place though is quite ramshackle. It needs a great investment to renovate it. Not speaking proper tools most likely will be expensive."
Her workshop where they currently stayed was quite worn, positioned near the walls, close to the Free Market, where all kinds of shady figures did business with each other.
"By the way, your workshop is in a really rundown place. Aren't you afraid someone might attack you here?"
"Are you trying to infer something!?" she glared at Gazef, feeling belittled by his words.
"I mean nothing malicious, only pointing out a little girl like yourself might…"
"WHO DO YOU CALL SO SMALL SHE WOULD DISAPPEAR IN A GRAIN OF SALT!?"
For a moment, Gazef caught off guard, berated so suddenly by the screeching of this girl was indeed intense.
"Please forgive me; you may misunderstand what I intended to say. I only meant: a young girl like you might be in danger in a place like this."
He needs to be more careful about how he put things in the future; it seems his contracted smith is quite explosive about her height.
"That might be true. In fact, there are a few thugs who often try to harass me for protection money — which I didn't really have until now. But aside from that, I am mostly left alone."
"Hmm, if you need any help with them, just say."
"I can solve it, don't worry." she sighed, shaking her head. "I always managed it alone."
"You were always alone?"
"…" she remained silent, turning her head away. Gazef recognized that look; he saw it too many times in the face of broken people who lost someone important.
"I see, then I won't push it. You will speak about it when you feel like it. Or don't, your choice." Gazef didn't want to push things; she will ask for help if she needs it. Yet, he can't help but keep his eyes open. Like in the case of the Eight Fingers, often shopkeepers and simple people were intimidated to work for them. They were the ones who suffered the business of the higher circles.
"I nonetheless want to look around; maybe I can find some info about the Royal Treasures in the black market too."
He wanted to do it since he made his decision to find all of them. Now, as he found this place, he had some idea where to look for it. Indeed, even in the Capital, the Black Market was hidden in the must rundown places.
"By the way. You seem to be a high-level adventurer, yet, I never heard the name Zeff. Not speaking, someone with your skill could most likely afford better gear than the likes of a newbie like me. You can also contract a more famous smith. How come you're still choosing my gear over the others?"
"Hmm, you can say, I am new in the town, just arrived recently. Unfortunately, I lost most of my gear on my way here, so I decided to start from square one, working my way up from zero." she doesn't need to know about his mission to find the royal treasures. Not yet, at least.
"Yet, that still doesn't explain why you don't use that sword on your back…" the girl deadpanned, pointing at the wrapped sword on Gazef's back.
"Ah! So you recognized!" she is more observant than he thought; he needs to be careful around her. "It is really important to me. Let's say I rather not stain its blade with unworthy opponents, and let's leave it like that. Now then, my adviser said smiths could make and upgrade armors with drop items. Can you do something with what we collected?"
"Hmm, I definitely can. Though, it may take a day or two. I also need to buy some quality metal and replace some of my tools to do so. They are rather…" she raised her tongs, which already was on to fall apart.
"Do you need help carrying them here? If you want, I can help with it."
"Do as you like. I can solve it alone, but I won't say no to a little help. At least I don't have to take multiple turns to carry them all here, and look out for thieves on the way."
"Hmm, I see. Well then, tomorrow, Miss Glas. Have a good night. I will come to see you early in the morning then."
"Umu…" the girl waved him away like he would be bothersome, inspecting the drop items the Warrior Captain left for her on her worktable.
She was indeed a strange girl. Nonetheless, Gazef felt she was just the right person to contract. She had a bright future in this profession; he was sure of it.
It was rare he saw such quality work, especially from someone so young — and he witnessed his fair share of armors and weapons in his life. He even tried this profession once — learning the basic things so he can at least hammer out the dents from his armor and maintain his equipment when no proper smith was around.
Scene Change: Twilight Manor: Next Morning:
"Guuuh!" Loki made a strange sound, wrinkling her forehead in the effort.
"What is Loki doing?"
"I don't know…" The passing Loki Familia members watched their leader astonished and once worried, trying to figure out what she was doing.
The woman sat before the double-sided door of their manor, seated on the lavish seat — she dragged herself here last night — leaning forward while leaning on her folded hands.
Her intense glare towards the main entrance was on to burn a hole in it, never faltering a moment!
Everyone who watched her recognized her weird behavior, questioning what the reason for this strange act was. She did this for long hours, never stopping for a moment! She seemed really determined.
"Loki? What are you doing?"
"Don't ya' see? I am busy!" she waved away her Captain, seemingly bothered by his interference.
"With what?" in the end, Finn needed to ask. It was honestly painful to watch her struggle. The strongest Pallum tilted his head with a confused expression.
"He said he would come, and we can make a deal. Tha's it!"
"Hmm, when did he say that?" Finn scratched his head; now, his Goddess made no sense! When did that man say such a thing? And which man, that was a more important question.
Albeit, he suspected who she spoke about, the last time they talked to that man was a few days ago — he himself was also being present under discussion.
"I don't remember him agreeing on something like this…"
Loki came back last morning — early, he might add — stinking from cheap booze, having a huge grin on her face, mumbling something about everything is set.
After that, she disappeared into her room for a whole day — probably going to sleep, or doing something else, honestly, he had no idea — and now, a day later, she is sitting here, calling the attention of many, yet, neither of them daring to approach her to question what she is doing.
When he woke up not long ago, he was just as confused as everyone else seeing her here.
"More than a day ago we discussed it!"
"He said he would come today?" Finn blinked, surprised. "When?"
"I waited for him before Royman's office after that accident happened with those monsters, then followed him in the inn he stayed, offering him a chance to be hired by us — as he absolutely refused to join us, no matter all the charms I offered!" she pouted, pushing forth her nonexistent chest.
"Right…" Finn can't help but offer a bitter smile hearing this.
"Still, he agreed to be hired and said he would visit us soon! Yet, he is not here!? JUST WHAT THA' BLOKE IS THINKING ABUT' HIMSELF!?" she hit the arm of her chair, gritting her teeth hard.
"Then… he never specified when he comes, does he? Wait? You stalked him?" This was too much, even from Loki. Just what does she think of herself?
"Maybe…?~" Loki glanced at her Captain, earning a judgemental blank stare from Finn. It was too much even for the Pallum who was famous about his patience and understanding.
"Well…" Loki pondered for a moment, frowning in the end. "No, I guess, he said, he will come in a few days, when he feels like it. WHEN HE FEEL LIKE IT!"
Loki was immensely frustrated, squeezing the soft arm of her chair again as she slumped into it.
No one before neglected her like this! No one dared to be this disrespectful! But this man! He already did two times! Just what does he think of himself!? Isn't he afraid of her or her Familia's wrath!? Isn't he aware people get beaten up for less by other Familias?! For mere disrespect!? Doesn't he know who she is!?
Her enemies feared her wrath! Even her allies kept their distance and urged themselves to always stay on her good side! And this... human daring to neglect her like a mere annoyance?! Oh, how furious she was now!
"Then, it is useless to sit here, don't you think? The sun only rose. Sitting here for days, solve nothing. He will come when he comes… probably." Finn concluded. Sometimes it was hard to bear such a moody Goddess.
The Goddess clicked her tongue, tasting the sour-tasting word of defeat. Her Captain was right. Mercilessly straightforward, but there was something about what he said.
Sitting here and wasting time was useless. Instead, she should spend her time with more meaningful things. Like investigating this strange warrior who so easily ditched her and said "no" to her offer — two times in a row, she might add.
Alternatively, she could even stalk her beloved Aizu — trying to steal a peek from her naked body or squeeze her "accidentally"! Anything but sitting here and wasting time! Moreover, it just made it all worse — doing nothing and waiting for him to show up! It is driving her nuts!
"I jus' wana' to sit here and say: "I expected yer' arrival." When he set foot thrugh' that door!" yeah, it would be so satisfactory for her ego to see his surprised face when he comes begging before her door to join, and for his surprise, he finds her here—questioning how she knows when he will arrive?
Unfortunately, she lacked the spinning chair she had in her heavenly domain to give her welcome the proper meaning.
"I also need a cat for that kind of welcome. Dammit! Where are all those stray cats when ya' need them?!"
"Tha' is probably the case; still, it bugs me! I mean… I personally invited him, offering him work. And he just ditches me! Don't mess with me! Isn't our Familia good enough? Now I'm angry!"
She grimaced, shaking her head, only to recognize something strange on Finn — who already offered a face that said: "I give up…"
"Are ya' going somewhere?" Yeah, seeing his authentic spear resting on his shoulder and his adventurer gear equipped, Loki raised her brow, questioning where her Captain wanted to go so early in the morning.
"Yeah… you see. The repair of Aiz's sword was quite costly; we need another trip to collect money for her."
"How much exactly did that ol' geezer want this time?" under the "Ol' geezer," of course, Loki meant the smith god, Goibniu, who himself took the task to repair Aiz's special sword. If you asked her, that old man always liquidated too much for his work.
"Haah! 40 million." After a defeated sight, Finn told her the exact amount.
"HOW MUCH!?" her eyes almost jumped out from their socket as she heard the amount! Standing up like an overstretched spring, just to fall back in her seat and slump like melted cheese, releasing the aura of defeat.
Whether Goibniu was a smith god or not, asking 40 million was nuts to repair an supposedly unbreakable sword!
It didn't break as she knows it — as it was supposed to be "UNBREAKABLE" — just dulled! It only needs sharpening! WHAT COSTS 40 MILLION ON A SIMPLE SHARPENING!?
It was too much! Her Familia might be rich, but even for them, 40 million was too much for a simple sharpening!
"Yeah… he is a smith god, after all…Hahahahaha!" Finn laughed, nervous, brushing the back of his head with a bittersweet expression.
"Captain, we are ready!"
"Oh! A moment, Tione." With a smile, Finn turned toward one of the Amazon twins and the group who approached the entrance.
"What Loki is doing?" Tiona blinked as the group reached near Finn and Loki, whispering baffled as she witnessed as Loki sat on her out of way seat, pulling her leg in her hug, and releasing a strange aura of depression, repeating: "40 million…" continuously.
"Haah, not important. Are you ready for the trip?" Finn asked her companions in the end, ignoring the miserable state of his Goddess.
"Umu…" all agreed with a firm nod, especially Aiz, who needed the extra money.
"Aiz-tan! Comfort me!" Suddenly, without any warning, the Goddess jumped on Aiz, burying her face in her chest and starting to sob.
Usually, the silent girl gave her head a repellent 'bop' to keep the shameless Goddess away from doing inappropriate things with her. But being she suspected Loki's current state was her fault, she allowed this much to her — this time — caressing her red hair gently.
"Come, Loki; I have something for ya' that will help." Gareth came forth, seeing what happened, gently nudging Loki away from Aiz and allowing her to lean on him.
Just now, as the adrenalin left her body, Loki started to feel the aftereffects of not sleeping almost two days and getting piss drunk on top of that.
"40 million… 40 million…" As the two proceed deeper into the mansion and eventually disappearing in the vast halls, Loki can only mumble, still staggered from the amount.
Seeing her leave, Aiz can't help but lower her head apologetically, feeling it was her fault that her Goddess fell to such a depressive state.
"In that case, let's get going. Gareth will take care of her. Hopefully, he will manage." Finn announced the moment the two left, really hoping his friend can manage the moody Goddess.
"Yeah…" the adventurer party was strangely doubtful it would be easy. Unfortunately, neither of them can do anything in the current situation. Hopefully, Gareth can heal her mood. Drinking always brought back the trickster Goddess's good spirit — that is if she even wanted to drink with that kind of hangover she started to experience just now.
"Let's go then…" Finn waved, and the party started to depart.
"A-Aiz-san, are you alright?" seeing Aiz standing motionless and watching the disappearing Loki and Gareth. At the same time, Finn and the rest already heading towards the door, Lefiya had to ask, squirming timidly, concerned why Aiz froze so suddenly.
"I am fine…" in return for her concern, Aiz patted her head gently.
She didn't show it, but Aiz's mood turned gloomy. Seeing the state of Loki made her remember why they needed to return to the dungeon.
The Sword Princess not only knew how much she owed for the repairs but now, she also made Loki sad. Moreover, now even her companions had to work on their days off.
These things burdened her greatly — admitting; these things were not the only things those concerned her nowadays.
Just now, remembering the trouble with her sword made her recall what happened on that square that day, remembering that man Loki mentioned.
She started to ponder as she recalled the events…
What technique did that man used? Who was he in reality? Why did he make her remember a certain someone from her past? These and many similar questions ran through her mind constantly, making her distracted ceaselessly.
"A-Aiz-san! My hair, please!" she didn't recognize, but she continued to caress Lefiya's head in the meantime, messing up her hair.
"Sorry…" she blushed, recognizing her blunder — though, under the small redness, her expression remained the same. "Are you sure you want to come? Your wound…?" she pointed at Lefiya's abdomen where around two days ago, was once a wide hole gape.
"I-I am fine; really, I am already fully healed." the elf mage patted her stomach.
"Ok…" Ainz nodded wordlessly, making herself remember to pay extra attention to her companion due to her wound two days ago.
"Come, Aiz, Lefiya. Don't waste any more time." Riveria's cold words cut their chatter, making them move with haste.
"…" Aiz followed her party behind, hoping she can atone for her sins, and at once, find answers for the questions burdened in her mind.
Scene Change: Somewhere in Orario:
It was early in the morning, the sun just rose, but Gazef and Glas were already up, moreover, was on their way back to the girl's workshop!
"Well, this went harder than expected."
"Tch! It was not my fault! That guy wanted to give us inferior quality than we initially agreed! Can you believe that?!"
"You already made an arrangement?" it was strange; last time they parted ways, there it was already night. Today, he arrived at her workshop before the sun even rose. With her just waking up at that time — going so far to even complain about why he was there so early, since she wanted to sleep more.
"Unfortunately, I want to deal with this business and move on. I have other things planned today." There was no time to waste in the Warrior Captain's timetable.
"Well, my Familia has an agreement with the suppliers — just like every production type Familia in general. We buy from them for a big batch, and they sell materials cheaper."
"I see…" Gazef hummed as they proceeded forth through the streets. Like a dobbin, he was the one pulling the cart filled with raw metal and other materials needed for her work.
It was quite heavy for most, but he could pull it easily. It was a great morning exercise to warm himself up a little bit.
He offered his help yesterday, and was willing to go along with his promise. He was that kind of man.
"This way, it is faster through here."
Cutting down the path through many small alleys, they proceeded quite fast. Alas, only as quickly as they could go in this labyrinth that was called a city.
Finally reaching her ramshackle workshop, they finally started to unload the cart.
"You know your way well here. Just how long have you lived in this city?"
"Long enough to know my way around," she mumbled, then shrugged as they continued to unload the materials.
"I see…" Gazef felt she was in no mood to speak, and thus, he didn't force an unnecessary conversation.
"Look who we have here? Little Glas seems to have a friend…". Alas, in the next moment, something disturbed their work.
"Not again…" Glas mumbled, already fearing for what to come as she recognized that voice. "Can't you guys leave me alone, just for this once?"
Turning around, several thugs came before their view, approaching the duo.
"You know them?" Gazef asked as he held metal bars in his hand.
"Simple thugs, don't even bother with them. Ju-Just leave it to me; it will be fine," she whispered for Gazef. Her voice is quivering for a moment before regaining its usual confident nature.
"The boss is missing your due, protection cost, little Glas, especially around here." a mustached short figure — most likely a Pallum — stated, offering a dubious grin. His expression always sleepy, his eyes playing with a foxy glint.
"I said, I will pay when I have the money…" the girl mumbled, glancing away.
"Hmm, it seems you already have it." the short man walked near the cart, removing the cloth that covered the wares. "And quite quality ones, I see. Not money, but it will do. Boy, follow my man; he will lead you to our warehouse."
The foxy Pallum waved to him to do his bidding, almost dismissively despite the size difference between him and Gazef.
"You will be compensated for your service, and maybe…" the small man glanced over the Warrior Captain in the next moment, clearly measuring him. "Maybe they can give work for you. You look quite capable, what do you say? We pay our men handsomely."
"Boy?" Gazef raised his brow, questioning.
It was a long time since someone called him a boy; he was not that young after all. Moreover, hearing it from someone who barely looked like a young boy with an unfitting mustache was quite insulting.
"I mean, people like the granny called me that a few times, but people close to my age or younger? They never…" Albeit, seeing Finn and a few other Pallums before in that inn, he already recognized these halflings looked a lot younger than they were in actuality.
"May I know who you are? Who do you work for, and why do you request protection money from people? Are you maybe work with the local carter?" Gazef didn't like where this was headed. He dealt with his fair share of bandits to know it will not end well.
"You see… you are stupid, you state questions when you should simply follow orders and get money for a little extra work. But I am patient; I'll offer it to you once again. Work for us, and get rich, gain prestige, whores, and many more things — if you work hard, of course. Refuse, and you may die. Alternatively, thoroughly beaten…"
"I am sorry, but I don't intend to work for criminals." no matter how bad his situation was, there were depths Gazef would never sink.
"You really would throw your life away for a little brat like her? For honor? Are you stupid? That's not profitable!" the Pallum with mustache clicked his tongue, looking immensely annoyed by his defiance.
"No… I don't intend to throw my life away."
"You see! You have smarts after all!" nodded the leader, satisfied, grinning, and nodding his head in approval.
"What…!?" Glas's eyes widened, glaring at Gazef. Such betrayal!
Although she didn't blame him, why would anyone want to protect someone vulgar like her? Nonetheless, it hurt her; she was betrayed so easily — again. "You...!?" she wanted to beat Gazef really hard just now, even curling her fist so hard, all blood left her fist.
"You see, Glas, follow the gentleman's example, cooperate. My offer still stands, work for us full time, don't waste your talent elsewhere. Now then, just as I said, load the stuff back and…"
"I will not protect a brat…" Gazef spoke up, making the goons behind the Pallum gasp.
"What did you say?"
Zeff glanced at Glas, smiling protective. "I will not protect a brat. But, I will protect my smith."
"YOU… YOU!?" she gasped, couldn't even say anything from the surprising turn, her eyes even moistened for a moment, just to force her tears back in their sockets in the next. Her pride wouldn't allow someone to see her cry!
"Tch! Don't be stupid! Someone with your stature could earn big money. Besides, the kid will have been better off with us! She's talented! Those stupid morons are unable to recognize this! She can earn big with us! Under people who recognize her talents!" it seems the man had brain and eyes at least, not sending his man to fight with Gazef right away. Recognizing behind the unusual ideas of Glas, there was an immense talent.
"Sorry, but I have to decline. I request you to leave, and leave her alone as well if you know what's good for you." Gazef glared at the bandits, in his eye no hesitation visible, but the fires of determination lighting up intensely!
"Boy, are you aware who you are trying to mess with?" the Pallum's eyes started to tick, immensely annoyed by the defiance of the man.
"No, but I'm sure I can put up a decent fight if you stand in my way. If you attack us, I will make sure your loss will be more than the possible gain." he didn't falter one moment but hold his line against the carter members.
"Hah! Got her!" in the next moment, one of the thugs who hid in the workshop managed to sneak behind the girl and grab her, pointing a knife at her neck.
It seems these people already awaited her to come back, setting up a small trap near her house.
"Now then, you little shit, you do what the boss says if you know what's good for you!"
"Let me go you, fucktard!" she was defiant, yet, in her eyes, Gazef glimpsed the spark of fear. He didn't blame her, though; every normal person would be afraid that a blade would be pointed against their neck.
"Take it easy; you'll be fine, of course, as long your friend do as we say. You're smart, aren't you? Glas…?" whispered the bald man who held her hostage.
"Tch! Idiot, you only dare to attack a girl behind! I bet your little worm is still hiding in your gullet!"
"WHAT DID YOU SAID, LITTLE SHIT!" the bandit pushed the blade deeper on her throat, shedding a slight amount of blood.
"So, that's how you are playing, I see…" Gazef lowered his head. "And why do you think you are holding her a hostage can stop me?" he played a dangerous game, but he had little choice in the matter.
He needed to rely on his experience and tactic that worked in the past. Bluff, and make the hostage-taker doubt their cover was worth something, lower their guard in their confusion and fear.
They will instinctively prepare themselves to leave the hostage behind and flee if the bluff works, loosening their hold and lowering their guard.
"Hopefully, it will work out nicely. I'll need to try it. Alternatively, if he doesn't take this bluff, then I'll need to use a different tactic." One thing was sure, Glas was valuable for these bandits; even a simple goon like the one who got hold of her recognized she was a precious resource for his boss.
Even if he didn't take this bluff, he will not likely kill her — or even dare to hurt her, or he will be the one who suffers the consequences and the wrath of his leader.
"Such low-class bandits were usually cowards. Following their leaders out of fear rather than loyalty…"
"What!?" it seems, he was right, and his method worked splendidly. From this simple bluff, the man lowered his blade and loosened his grip, stupefied by the lack of reaction from the one he wanted to freeze with this hostage situation.
"Now that's interesting…" meanwhile, in the background, the Pallum started to twirl his mustache, offering an intrigued expression.
"I-I am not bluffing! I-I will kill her!" from how clumsily held that blade, and how his whole body trembled signed his lack of willingness to make that crucial decision. It was clear he would rather run away if Gazef started advancing than raising his blade against her neck again.
"From this distance, and judging from how you hold that blade. I can disable you at least ten ways before you can even make another scratch." Gazef pointed at the man, offering a threatening expression.
"Release her now, and I let you go." he made another step, making the man lower his blade in confusion, then aim it against the girl's throat again, slightly trembling as Gazef started to prepare his bloodlust.
"St-Stop there! Or I will slice her throat! I am not joking!"
"No, you will not." Making another step, the bandit started to sweat, even releasing Glas from behind as he prepared to flee.
"Boss, should we do something?"
"Wait, I want to see how he solves the situation…" the goon leader waved his men to stop, thoroughly enjoying this charade.
"Really?" Gazef raised his brow, almost amused, seeing what the girl was up to while he distracted her captor.
"I-I am not joking!" now it was him the blade pointed at—the oldest error in the book for a hostage-taker.
"Not only he is too far to do any damage with that dull knife. He is holding it insufficiently to make an effective throw attack."
The worst thing that goon could do was to the point that blade against Gazef — meanwhile loosening his grip on the girl.
You should never lose your grasp from your captive or lower your weapon from their vital points. Those were the only thing that keeps them in place. Doing so risked their escape — Alternatively, their counterattack.
"Hostages close to you can be just as dangerous as any other warrior from close range. You are distracted; meanwhile, they can slip out from your grasp and attack you directly. Even steal your side weapon while you are not looking."
"Sure you don't…" Gazef just smiled, watching the girl preparing her little revenge in the meantime. "But are you also not aware; she's not that vulnerable as she looks." he pointed at her.
"Wha… Guahhh! My leg!"
While Gazef distracted the man, Glas already armed her hand attached crossbow, shooting a bolt in his leg, nailing it on the ground. The pain spike coursing through the kidnapper's body made him fell on his butt immediately, giving her a chance to counterattack!
"Eat this!" then, as the thug tried to reach to remove the bolt, she freed herself, recovering what seemed at first as a tiny rod from one of her straps — a rod that expanded by just a quick swing — starting to beat the man relentless with it.
If Gazef had to compare it to something, it was a dull, short training sword that can be opened and closed for easier storage, made from some kind of elastic dark metal that continuously bent and regained its shape after each strike — almost like a metal whip.
"EAT THIS! EAT THIS! EAT THIS!"
'Spat! Spat! Spat! Spat!'
"Ahhh! Why does this hurt so much!? Ahhh! You little shit! Ahhhh!"
"YOU THINK YOU CAN MOLEST A YOUNG DAMSEL?! EAT THIS! EAT THIS! EAT THIS! YOU DIRTY, DIRTY PERVERT! WHO ARE YOU CALLING A MIDGET SO SMALL, SHE CAN FIT INSIDE OF A TEACUP?!"
"AHHHH! PLEASE STOP! I NEVER SAID THAT! I BEG YOU! I AM SORRY! I AM SORRY! AHHHHH!" the bandit already cried, full of bruises and swollen parts, pleading to the young girl to have mercy.
"Eww! That looks painful." chuckled the Pallum bittersweet.
She beat up the man with that strange tool without stopping one moment—a cylinder tool that started to narrow down further down to its tip.
"She hits that man pretty hard. Ouch…!" Gazef knows well how much it hurts being beaten up with a training sword — not speaking the tool the girl used made from metal.
It bent slightly when the hit connected, then right away snapped back at the same place as the metal regained its original shape, almost like a whip hitting you two times at the same spot by only using one swing.
"Well, damn! She is pretty wild today. Isn't she?" the man with the mustache chuckled, watching how the small girl beat up one of his men who carelessly thought he could just sneak up on her and force her to comply.
"Idiots receiving their punishment. I don't even need to bother with them, just send them to her…" citing with a cruel remark. It seemed he thoroughly enjoyed the suffering of his men.
True she was a nuisance for some time for them. Not enough of a nuisance you'd would want to take them out as soon as you can — as she had her uses — but certainly someone who could make you chuckle when some of your men were careless enough to underestimate her.
"Oi! We can't just let her beat Bion!"
"Let's get that bitch!"
Several goons decided to help their comrade, not waiting any further for their leader's order — who just leisurely watched the show and thoroughly enjoying it.
"No one said to you; it's rude to interrupt others!"
Under no time, Gazef disabled the charging people before they can even approach the girl, using well-practiced CQC moves — even breaking a few of their bones.
Indeed, after this kind of show of strength, no criminal element dared to approach her. The sheer skill of Gazef and the relentless beating the girl offered that thug was more than enough to keep the rest away.
"Did you see what happened?"
Many just blinked, not even able to perceive how fast Gazef took them out, making no unnecessary moves; he indeed looked otherworldly.
They were running to save their comrade, and in the next moment, the ones watching the events unfold heard several booms and cracks as the armored man's hard fist connected with soft flesh and bone, sending people to the land of suffering.
"Now this is interesting…" The Pallum squinted his eyes, intrigued by this stranger. He looked familiar; he just can't place him at this moment.
"Boss… I think I've seen him somewhere…"
"Yes? Where?" one of his men whispering the details in his mangled ear, the boss hummed. "Hmm, I see! So you say, on Daedalus Street? Now this explains things…"
"And never try this again…!" meanwhile, Glas finished with her beatdown, breathing haphazard as she gave it all, pointing her strange tool against the barely conscious thug.
The man barely hung on his life, full of bruises, and many of his bones broken, from his swollen eyes, intense tears poured — Mumbling incomprehensibly.
"Boss! Shouldn't we do something? They just beat up…"
"They had it coming, idiots who acted without my order. They deserved it. Besides, I don't think any of you could get past that warrior." he nodded towards Gazef.
"You think so?"
"Yeah, absolutely sure…" the leader gazed at Gazef once more, measuring him from tip to toe. "Yeah, he has an aura of danger. Better not anger him. Still, it was something…" the foxy Pallum clicked his tongue uneasy, can't really place the thing he feels now. He can't help but feel an unnatural air around the Warrior Captain.
"Are you alright?" Gazef kneeled before his contracted smith, looking deep in her eyes. Adrenalin still coursed through her veins. Nonetheless, the girl trembled slightly; it was evident she was still a child; no matter the hardy surface, she was not accustomed to such situations.
"Tch! I am fine! You don't need to pester me!" she slapped away his hand, looking away, both annoyed and flustered.
"Bo-Boss, shouldn't we attack? He shows his back to us…"
"Don't be stupid. Didn't you see his speed? He is way over our pay grade. He must be a high-level adventurer. What do you think, what he or his Familia do with us if we attack now?"
"I-I see, you are right, like always."
"I must admit you have impressed me." After waiting a few more seconds, the leader started to clap, impressed, approaching the two, his cocky grin returning to his face.
"My employer is always looking for talent. What do you say, work for us, it pays better than being a pesky adventurer, hell, you can get girls with bigger racks than her. A lot more beautiful ones too."
"I HEAR YOU!" roared Glas enraged, it seems she was really sensitive for her sizes.
"You better leave now, or you will lose more men next time. I warn you; I do not tolerate people who threaten me or people who are under my protection." The portion of Gazef's bloodthirst made many of the thugs shiver in their boots, almost making them faint in their step as he subtly started to radiate it.
"Now, now, no need to be so aggressive. A no is a no, I understand. We will retreat for now. We couldn't possibly want to be on your bad side. She can pay later."
"Come to her harm, and you will beg for a fast release." it was unusual for Gazef to be so aggressive, but he knew well, such people only knew two languages — money and force, and he lacked the first to make them go away.
"Either way, if I pay for them now, they just want more later. That's how such people worked. You shouldn't negotiate with terrorists and criminals."
"You don't seem to know who you are messing with. Our leader has a friend in high places. But that's fine; it will be not me who will be beaten up by the tough guys, but you. Nonetheless, if you changed your mind and want stable employment on the side of adventuring, or leave that dull profession entirely, just come the House of Apate, say, Cicero sends his regards. I am sure the higher-ups can find some well-paying stuff for you. Don't forget; we are always looking for talent…"
"Leave, until I change my mind." Gazef's glare intensified, making his eyes look more sword-like.
"No need to be so violent…" the mustached man raised his hands, signing his surrender, yet, keeping the same twisted grin that was always on his face. "Let's go, boys; we have other places to be."
"I say we leave! Pick up those bunch, and bring them to the healer. They look like shit!" just a glare was enough from the Pallum to make the rest gulp and follow his orders. Next, the short figure turned back to the two, raising his worn top hat a little bit before placing it back his messy rust-colored hair.
"I wish you a good day until our next meeting!" With a twirl of his mustache, the pallum grinned from ear to ear while his eyes drew to the little troublemaker "Little Glas, you get two weeks reprieve. We will come back later to collect your debt. Though, our offer still stands, just as well for you, mysterious stranger. Don't forget: Cicero sends his regard in the House of Apathe. Don't be shy; we are awaiting your arrival."
"Sorry, but it will never happen."
"Fufufu! Never say never, stranger. Sooner or later, everyone finds their way to the House of Apathe. Ah, no matter! Good day the two of you, until we meet again."
The bandits finally left, leaving Gazef and Glas alone.
"Haah! Finally, they left. You should have left them to me. I would have solved the situation."
"Really?" Gazef raised his brow, can hardly believe what the girl stated.
"Really…" the girl deadpanned in return.
"Such a thing often happens?"
"Sometimes, yes." Glas massaged her throat, still feeling the blade. "They usually come monthly, taking things away if I can't pay, or ask me to make them a few things for free, but that's it."
"Can't the guild do something? Or your Familia?" of course they can't; Gazef knows how organized crime worked. Someone provides them protection from high places, and law enforcement can't get a hold of them.
He knows how things worked; even so, deep inside, he hoped things worked differently here, and the law has some meaning aside from holding back the enforcers of law themselves.
"Like the Eight Fingers. They bribed nobles to provide them cover and protection — providing the services they can't get elsewhere." and thus, no matter what they tried, or how many they captured and questioned, eventually, those criminal elements were either replaced or released thanks to an order coming from above.
Sadly, even as the Warrior Captain of the Kingdom, and the man who stood on the king's side, he can hardly do anything against the order of a noble — not without endangering the kingdom's stability or being accused by being biased.
"Not likely. These were only small fries; the corruption most likely originates from a god who likes to play the crime lord. Tch! Gods! Detestable creatures…"
"I see you don't like them very much."
"Yeah, that's obvious." she remained silent for a moment, her expression darkening, just to start to tremble in the next moment, hitting the side of the cart hard with a rage-fueled strike as she can't keep a hold on her emotions anymore!
"They call us children… don't mess with me! They are like children! Playing with the lives of others like they were mere toys, treating them as tools! They can discard and use whoever they like! Meanwhile, we can't do anything! Gods!? More like cruel children burning ants!" she clenched her teeth and fist, visibly struggling to hold herself back, almost trembling in anger.
It was apparent for Gazef; she had pent up rage against these gods. But he didn't blame her; maybe she was right. Godly figures tend to be like that. No, not only Gods but everyone who got drunk with power!
For such people, the suffering of others meant little to nothing. It was hard to see and hear what happens near the base from the top of the mountain.
"Let's hope this rage will not destroy her, and she finds something she can divert this wasted energy for."
Gazef has seen this before. He even experienced himself what it is like when rage overtakes you.
Youth is a fiery period, the time when you want to rebel against the very world. The time when you feel everything is against you! If you are not careful, this feeling can easily destroy you.
"Will you be fine? Can I help somehow?"
"Now? Not likely. Just leave me alone." she waved him away with a frown, almost annoyed. "I need to work out my pent up rage. Now I have material; I can do it without issue. Come back in a few days; I may have something nice for you."
"Are you sure? What if those goons return?" he was honestly concerned. Even if their leader forbids them to do so, some of them can garner the courage — or stupidity — to return just to get revenge for what they did with their comrades.
"That may happen, but don't worry about me. I know that pipsqueak leader of theirs, we always came in agreement before. Although, after how you took care of his men, I doubt those buffoons will try anything nasty in the near future. That threat of yours worked pretty well against them. They may look like it, but they not entirely stupid. And above all, all of them are gutless cowards. After what you did with their fellows, they not likely to try anything funny. Not without risking the wrath of their boss. He is feared for a reason in this district — be he a Pallum, or not."
"Is that so…?" Gazef doesn't even want to imagine how such a small person can incite fear in brutish thugs like them.
"So, don't worry about me. I'll just work here in the meantime. Instead, come back in a few days, then, I will be ready for another run in the dungeon — I'll also prepare something nice for you."
"As you wish, nonetheless, seek me out if they cause you any trouble. My adviser is Misha Flott; ask her the details about my whereabouts."
"Sure! Sure! Now go! Let me work in peace."
Wordless, Gazef bowed, leaving the girl alone.
He did it with a heavy heart, reluctance as he thought about those thugs who can show up at any time and any place and can simply kidnap her just like that. Yet, he can't do anything just now. If he kidnaps and forces her to leave this place in exchange for a safer one, he'd appeared no different from those people.
"I can't force her, though. It is her decision. If she wants to stay here, I can only hope for the best for her. I should visit her often to make sure she is alright, though…"
With that, Gazef left, going on his way, cutting through the city's alleys under no time.
Misha was right; one only needed to look up and follow the tower — which like a beacon, day and night, was visible from all across the city. Using this point of interest, there was no way one can get lost in this city!
Meanwhile, near Babel, the crowd was already thick; like every other day, many adventurers came to try their luck, risking death in those dark, monster-filled chasms to earn some reward.
"Ahhh! So many people already! It will take forever to get in!" Tiona complained, leaning left and right to see the end of the ever snaking line.
"It cannot be helped. We came too late." Tione shook her head, controlling her emotions — unlike her more impulsive sister.
"Yeah, many people had the same idea, like us, getting here early to get in earlier."
Every one of them recognized, time after time, they had to arrive earlier and earlier, else, the line becomes too long to wait it out patiently.
Although first-class adventurers like them unlikely had to fear for their farming place to be taken by the newbies and low-class adventurers, it was still annoying to wait for the line out to get in the dungeon.
"Yes…" Aiz nodded in the end, strangely more morose than she used to be, or thoughtful? It was hard to say in her case.
"So-Something wrong, Aiz-san?" Lefya asked, still insecure speaking with Aiz, yet, seeing something bothering her, she can't help but ask about it.
She was still shaken by the things that happened back there, sometimes feeling a phantom pain as those tendrils penetrated her stomach. Nonetheless, her pain was nothing compared to the struggles Aiz had to suffer in her life to reach where she is. Surely, she had more problems than her!
"Nothing…" Aiz shook her head, keeping her stoic expression. "What about you?"
"I-I am fine! Thank you very much!"
"Aiz! Lefya! The line is moving!"
Hearing Finn's voice, the two followed their companions.
What awaits them in that dark place? Who do they meet during their adventure? You will know next time!
Back again! Hopefully, this double chapter worth the wait, and the next chapter can come earlier!
Until then! Perseverance!
Stay safe! Stay inside! Sail safe!
Good night! Good day! Stay away from Korona-chan!
Best for all!
In the next chapter:
Journey to the mouth of Hades! Enemies who know me, but I know them not!
What adventures await the Warrior Captain next time?
Will he find unlikely allies? Or even supporters?
You will learn from the next chapter!
Read and Review!
Send a PM if you have questions!
(I put up a Pay Pal, if any of the people reading this feels I deserve some monetary support and has some to spare, asks for details through PM!)