It was at Lower Solia.
Around the time when there was a moon hanging in the sky, sounds of screams spread and echoed through the corridors of the sewers.
Whenever that sound of a blade cutting through the air was heard, the screams followed immediately after the sounds of flesh being cut.
The ones screaming were the weak without any power or strength. They were the people in shambles living in Lower Solia. In other words, they were the homeless.
“That… That runt! Who is that?!”
“What’s a nobility bastard doing here?”
“That crazy lunatic runt!”
The stronger side was the young master from a noble family wearing a tail-coat, Aploc, the eldest son of Erengium.
While drooling, he was swinging the sword and going around between the homeless.
“You sons of bitches! Did you think you could do that to me?!”
Having reached the peak of the withdrawal symptoms, Aploc screamed in a strange voice and cut down yet another man.
Due to an unexpected raid by a murderous maniac, Lower Solia became a complete mess much like the Main Plaza two days ago.
On top of that, because this was Lower Solia where no patrol would come by, there was no sign of the threat being neutralized.
“Don’t panic! Just make him fall into the sewer!”
“Throw everything you can grab! Kill him!”
“Since when did the people in Lower Solia cower in front of nobles? Kill him! That crazy asshole!”
The homeless that were running away in panic started to change their attitudes. The atmosphere among them gradually took a violent turn.
‘If you are bitten, then bite back harder.’
It was because of these famous words of advice that had stayed with the people of Lower Solia for a long time.
“Look at that bastard’s eyes. There is no other answer to this! Hurry up and bring him down!”
“This bastard is clearly addicted. Slice and dice him!”
The homeless started to throw everything they could grab.
Most of the things that were picked up had some excrements on them, so they were slimy.
Squashing sounds continued on and overlapped. As the sounds continued, Aploc’s movements started to slow down noticeably.
“Hand it over… I said, hand it over! My drug…hand over my drug!”
Aploc swung his sword aimlessly and chased away the homeless. However, with his entire body covered in excrements, his body was not moving as he wanted.
On top of the withdrawal symptoms, he was also facing mana depletion. The situation was gradually taking a nosedive towards the worst.
Even the aura blade, a technique that he was proud of, was no longer active.
“Uuuu. Hand it over! Hand it over!”
“Hey! That’s enough!”
“Stop throwing stuff at him! It would be a waste to kill him!”
In the middle of this excrement-filled mud fight, the excrement attacks toward Aploc started to dwindle.
It was to make money out of him.
“He is a noble! We could ask for a ransom or sell him as a slave. Anyway, we can get a lot of money!”
“That’s right! Keep him alive!”
“Hey! Stop throwing shit!”
Of course, there were others that suggested they should just end him.
“Hey! You retards! A runt like him drenched in drugs won’t sell! Just kill him!”
“That’s right you rascals! He bit us first, so why let him live!? If you can’t handle what would come next, they will tear you apart!”
“Still, he is a noble! It would be a waste to kill him!”
“We could at least get a few loaves of bread!”
“Don’t you remember what happened to Beta? Don’t get excited over a few loaves of bread!”
By the time the excrement attacks from the homeless started to decrease in number, Aploc, who was now covered in waste, started to move and cut down a homeless man’s head.
Aploc now had blood on top of excrements covering him. He started to laugh, going, ‘hehe,’ like a crazy person as he chased after another homeless man.
“If you won’t hand over the drugs, then blood…hand over your blood!”
“As I said! We really need to kill this fucker!”
Only a moment ago, the man was completely black from being covered in feces, but now he had turned into a monster covered in blood. The homeless of Lower Solia all nodded as if they came to an agreement.
Although they quarreled among themselves all the time, in times like these, they were sure to demonstrate great cooperation.
Although they had only thrown excrements up to this point, from that moment and on, it was time for something more vicious.
“Let’s just kill him.”
Right about when they all made up their minds and were moving toward Aploc to kill him, something unexpected happened.
A translucent wall-like object appeared to the side of Aploc. It soon accelerated and smashed his entire body.
Along with the sound of bones in his entire body being crushed, Aploc’s body flew away like a kite that had just gotten its string cut and had been stuck up at a sewer wall.
Having witnessed his body being thrown by something invisible, Lower Solia’s homeless stopped their movements and looked around at one another.
“…What is it?”
One of the homeless murmured.
Soon, a response could be heard.
“…From now on, if there is anyone who steps forward, I shall personally burn you to crisp.”
With the sound of something burning, the homeless turned their gazes toward the direction of the sound.
It looked like light-blue mana was accumulating and pulsating, and there was an old man that revealed himself as he set things around him on fire.
“What? The Magic Tower’s boss?”
“That old geezer? What’s he doing here all of a sudden?”
The homeless that did not know about the connection between Lower Solia and the Magic Tower tilted their heads sideways.
Only the few who knew the truth started to flee the scene quietly.
“You little rat…”
Astroa’s face looked agitated as if he was about to explode immediately.
Using wind magic, he got rid of the dead bodies of the homeless and excrements that were getting in his way, and he walked towards where Aploc fell. Astroa said in a furious voice,
“Did you think I wouldn’t know?”
In between the obstacles that were now thrown aside, Astroa walked forward as he took out a lump of grass.
Because of the shock to his entire body, Aploc was not able to control his muscles. He barely turned his head towards Astroa who was approaching his way.
After noticing the stuff that was in Astroa’s hand, Aploc’s eyes started to twitch rapidly.
“I was considerate and even gave you a discount for the stuff you wanted, but if you do something like this and betray me…”
Astroa was showing Aploc the grass that he wanted badly. Astroa then started to gently shake the lump of grass as though it was a fan.
Through Lower Solia’s abhorrent stench, the faint scent from the grass came to tickle the tip of Aploc’s nose. Through the bloody carnage, Aploc was barely suppressing his withdrawal symptoms, but now, he reached the limit.
“Ah, uuuu, ahhhh!”
“Is this what you want? Is this the reason why you have been running around like a rat wearing a mask?”
Aploc nodded like crazy.
Perhaps it was because he was out of his mind, but it looked like he didn’t hear anything that Astroa said toward the end.
“But then, what should I do? It’s such a shame.”
Astroa cracked a smile. He reached down in his pocket with his other hand and produced a badge that looked similar to Aploc’s.
“It turns out you dropped this and left.”
The grass that Aploc wanted went up in flames right in front of his eyes.
After the grass turned to ashes and scattered on the ground, Aploc did not know what to do as he touched the ground. Although his entire hand became smeared with ash, he continued to scratch the ground as if he believed that doing so would bring back what he wanted.
Astroa was looking at Aploc’s foolish and pathetic state, but then he squinted.
Because his arm was cut off, and because he was infuriated from it being cut off, his brain was not functioning very well, but now, it started to roll again.
‘What’s this? Something is…not right?’
Astroa was a man who had never experienced any serious peril in his life, but now, for the first time in his life, Astroa realized something strange was going on.
‘That bastard…was he weak like this?’
It was after the dinner.
Ian was on his way back to the hotel, but he suddenly stopped walking and said,
“… I…I think I will have to go stop by at Solia Castle for a moment.”
“At the Solia Castle?”
The three people who were walking in front of him turned their heads and looked at Ian.
‘It couldn’t be…’
Having witnessed his serious face, Sera tilted her head sideways with a quizzical expression on her face.
“No matter how much I think about it, something is suspicious about the people from the Erengium House.”
“What do you mean suspicious?”
Hearing Ian’s words, Iris floated a question mark on her face and asked.
“Sera probably figured out the majority of it… It seems that the people from that House had been handling something they should not have.”
“Handling something they should not have?”
“I’m talking about narcotics.”
Iris covered her mouth with her hand and stepped back.
It looked like she was not expecting narcotics to come up in the conversation.
“The truth is, two days ago in Solia, during the day of the tournament, I had a confrontation with the eldest young master of the Erengium House. He showed off his abilities…but ever since then, I felt that something was suspicious.”
The thing that was suspicious about them was now apparent from how the match of the Erengium’s second young master went today.
The dual-wielding swordsman, the one who was the strongest contender for winning the tournament, lost without being able to put up a fight. However, Apolion, the one who defeated that dual-wielding swordsman, lost in the next match in a way that was far worse than how the dual-wielding swordsman had.
‘Does this make any sense?’
As Ian thought about it, it made no sense.
There was a problem.
“This is why I think I should go to the castle and do a background investigation on the Erengium House. This is an important matter,” Ian said with a serious face.
It was understandable.
20 years ago, during the days of the Great War when Ian worked as a mercenary, the cause of the war was actually none other than narcotics.
Ian was worried about the Great War happening again.
“I will just make a report and come back. Please wait at the hotel…”
Ian was about to raise his hand and convince Riley and Iris, but his words were interrupted in the middle.
“…I want to go too.”
It was because Riley started talking in the middle.
Hearing those words, Ian’s face became filled with panic.
“Let us all come along too. Mother, is that alright?”
“It is fine with me, but…”
Iris responded to Riley and then looked at Sera to figure out how she felt about the matter.
By the looks on Sera, it appeared she was not against it in particular.
It was because Ian was expecting his young master to say that it was bothersome, or that he was tired and then would go straight to the hotel. Now that Riley said he wanted to come along, Ian could not believe what he just heard.
Riley looked at Sera and said,
“By yourself, don’t you think it will be too much?”
He was talking about guarding Riley and Iris by herself without Ian.
“If I went back, I probably won’t be able to sleep anyway…”
Riley, who had plenty of sleep when the tournament was in full swing, shrugged his shoulders.
Ian gave a blank stare at Riley. It was because the corner of Riley’s lips was slightly bent upwards, indicating that Riley was up to something.
Ian could not believe this, but after exchanging a few looks with Riley, Ian soon lowered his head and after a while answered,
“…I understand. Let’s all go together.”
Something was not right, but still, the young master that Ian knew was someone that, deep down, always knew to take good care of his own people.
Ian was certain that Riley was not up to something bad. In front of everyone, Ian led the way to Solia Castle.
“Ah, wait… Wait a minute.”
Before they could even take a few steps, Ian’s steps stopped because Riley grabbed his sleeve.
“What is it, young master?”
Ian turned to Riley and asked.
“Before we go…”
Only a moment ago, the four were on their way to the hotel. The place that the four were standing in now was the Main Plaza.
Because of the magic attacks that Nainiae had poured out to the scene, some of the stores or street vendors were closed, but most of the street vendors were still open and selling foods or beverages.
Riley looked at one of those street vendors and continued,
“Would it be okay if I bought a few brown-sugar beers and brought them with me?”
Because Riley made the suggestion as he smiled widely, Ian, Sera and even Iris could not help but to bring up question marks on their faces.
“It’s just that I’m a little thirsty.”
Because of the three people’s blank stares at him, Riley explained the reason as he scratched the back of his head.