Just like how the Act 1’s Main Plaza was booming with people, Espo City’s Main Plaza was crowded with people.
There were people looking for comrades to train with and protect each other. There were others who just came back to the city with return scroll and were drenched in blood. There were also others who just arrived at Act 2 for the first time and were looking around to see if there were others of same race as themselves.
Yakumbo and Shakun, a party made of a warrior and a mage, were amongst those people in the Main Plaza.
They were waiting for an elf who was going to go with them to the Forest Area to get rare herbs.
There was still some time left until the meeting time they promised with the elf. To kill the time, Yakumbo said,
“That Fowaru, he seemed to be out of wack?”
“It’s been a while since his personality changed. What about it?”
“I’m saying it because he had gotten worse. Today was really…”
Yakumbo cringed big time and talked about what happened earlier.
Having heard what he said, Shakun asked with surprised look,
“Really? I’m finding it hard to believe.”
“Do you think I’m making this up? Why would I? Go to a pub later and ask anyone about him. They are all badmouthing about Fowaru.”
“Still… He was getting weird since 40 to 50 years ago, but to think he had gone that far…”
Shakun was also cringing like Yakumbo. Yakumbo said,
“He is past the point of being just a little weird. Now… I could say he is a completely different person. His personality is that broken. Until now, all I remembered was his kind personality from the past, so I went to see him, and it was totally… It is just too much. I don’t plan to ever go there again.”
“Um… Still, isn’t the potion there the most effective one in the market?”
If it was some trivial item, then that would not have mattered to them. However, when it came to potions, the item was directly affecting their life, so Shakun wished he could continue using Fowaru’s General Store, which sold certified potions.
However, after listening to Yakumbo, he changed his mind.
“Instead of Fowaru’s store, there is a new place, and the rumor has it that this new place is pretty good. The store is run by a high-elf and a god beast. I heard that the potion has superb effect.”
“Ah, really? In that case, before we go to the west islands, it would be a good idea to visit the store…”
Their conversation continued on without interruption.
They were such chatterboxes that they were putting veteran gossipers to shame.
What they were talking about weren’t secrets either, so they were speaking loud enough for people passing by to hear.
So, the man under black robe sitting at a bench nearby, Vulcan, was able to hear their conversations.
After hearing their conversations, Vulcan was swimming in loads of questions.
‘Mr. Fowaru’s… personality has changed?’
It was not like Fowaru was going through chaotic adolescent years from teenage to adulthood.
He was one of the figures in Act 2, and they had average age that went over a thousand years. It was puzzling for Vulcan to hear that someone so old could have a sudden change in personality.
Vulcan could not understand this.
He thought about Fowaru he remembered from 100 years ago when he went to Fowaru’s shop to purchase potions.
He had kind smile hanging on his face. Fowaru looked like a good man.
‘… I don’t think I’ll be able to believe this unless I saw him with my own eyes. Did something happen?’
It was not like Vulcan was very close with Fowaru, but Fowaru was one of very few people who Vulcan knew, so Vulcan was indeed worried.
However, Vulcan had to handle his own business first.
After picking up on the two men’s conversation for a little while longer, Vulcan walked away when they started to keep on talking about useless things.
Vulcan was headed to Oracle, the only information organization in Espo City.
* * *
As always, Oracle handled Vulcan’s inquiry with expediency.
This time, Vulcan requested a lot of information, so instead of a neatly folded piece of paper like the last time, Vulcan left the store with a thick stack of papers.
Of course, in proportion to this, the cost had increased as well. However, Vulcan had enough money to handle it.
He had enough money because Vulcan received cash in addition to all potions from Fowaru’s store last time for selling the items to Fowaru. Vulcan’s items were worth that much during the transaction.
‘To think all that money ended up going down the drain for these… These bastards…. It is no different from a highway robbery.’
Vulcan shook his head and badmouthed about the Oracle. Vulcan went to a room at an inn and started to read the information slowly.
Actually, Vulcan pondered hard about if he should go to Oracle.
He felt that information about himself was leaked a lot more ever since he had been visiting Oracle.
After Vulcan finished the violent battle against Hellmout and returned to Earth, Vulcan wondered about the following throughout the 100-year grinding,
‘How did Bae Su Jin obtain information about me?’
Vulcan could understand how Chimera Maker could. Vulcan ran into the Chimeras that he made many times.
However, it was different with Bae Su Jin.
Vulcan never once ran into anyone who he suspected of being a part of the organization. Vulcan never caused any big stir to make his name known to the entire city either.
Still, the other possibility, which was Chimera Maker selling information about Vulcan to Bae Su Jin, didn’t seem plausible.
In the end, there was only one suspicious party.
It was highly likely that Oracle, the mysterious organization who kept tabs on everything in Act 2, was the one that spread information about Vulcan.
At first, this was just a guess. However, Vulcan was almost certain of this now.
Vulcan was not particularly angry.
From the start, Vulcan was aware that there was not even one bastard in Act 2 that was trustworthy. Adding one more to the long list didn’t make him feel disappointed.
However, Vulcan went to the Oracle despite such distrust and ill feeling toward the organization because it no longer mattered to Vulcan if anyone knew of his whereabouts.
‘When it comes to nobodies and small fries, they were no match against me since 100 years ago… Now, I have enough Vitality Marbles to make a mountain, so…’
Vulcan was confident enough to wipe the floor with anyone from Act 2.
He was so certain about this that he thought there was no danger in letting information about him leaking out.
‘It would be a big loss for me instead if I cannot use Oracle because of such a concern.’
So, Vulcan threw away the hesitation and got the information he wanted from the Oracle. Now, the resulting information was steadily piling up in his brain.
‘List of names and power of all bastards who are targeting me, and their locations… These are quite a lot. I thought there would be many bastards who I don’t know about, but I never thought there would be this many…’
There was no need to be surprised about Bae Su Jin and the Chimera Maker who decorated the front page. They obviously belonged there.
However, reading about long list of people in later pages, who he had never seen before, Vulcan almost wanted to sigh because of unlucky and unfortunate life he had in Act 2.
‘The ones I got to have positive connections with are… Phantaero, Blue Dragon, Fowaru, Kiba, Toolkas, Elcane… Fuck. I can’t think of more people!’
Vulcan had walked the lands of Act 2 for over 100 years, yet his personal networks were in shambles.
His face crumpled on its own.
However, there was nothing he could do when things had ended up the way they did already.
Instead of complaining about this issue, Vulcan focused on reading the list of bastards that he was going to hunt down and give thorough trampling.
“Who is this Chilma… Wow… I think these guys might be pretty strong… Um. Still, are the rest of the list on the average side…”
Vulcan received a lot of information, but as he checked their estimated strengths, he tore off the pages of the ones that he thought was not a threat to him. The thick stack of paper he had grew thinner.
Eventually, Vulcan tore off most of the papers. He scratched his head and thought,
‘Still, compared to the number of bastards on the list, there aren’t that many that I should watch out for. I suppose that’s a good thing… No. I shouldn’t be saying that. I did nothing wrong, yet I had to stay in hiding and grind because I was being hunted like this. Ugh…’
Vulcan eventually checked most of the information. He was looking at the man on the very last page.
Vulcan’s eyes instantly popped.
He was like a shocked person who was not able to get a grip because of an unexpected situation. Unable to lift his gaze off from the paper, Vulcan read the name on the paper.
Vulcan looked infuriated. He raised his hand and brushed his hair back in exaggerated motion. Vulcan ignited fire and turned the last page to dust.
If Vulcan was to name the one person he was closest to in Asgard, he would be naming Dokgo Hoo. However, Vulcan had established just as good friendship with Jake, the Act 1’s merchant.
Fowaru was acknowledged by a man like Jake. Also, Vulcan only had positive experiences with Fowaru, so Vulcan never suspected him. However…
Vulcan went to the bed and plummeted on it.
Lying down on the bed, Vulcan held his forehead with his hand and said in quiet voice,
“… There really isn’t anyone I can trust.”
Vulcan didn’t think the Oracle would have added false information on purpose. Vulcan was certain now that Oracle was selling information about him at will. However, the Oracle never sold him false information to him before.
Vulcan figured that Oracle just didn’t care who it was that they were taking advantage of and will sell information as long as there was money to be made. He thought that Oracle would keep the basic principle as an information organization.
‘… Still…. I don’t like the Oracle bastards, but… Dirty bastards…’
Vulcan closed his eyes and organized his thoughts.
Chimera, Bae Su Jin, bunch of nobodies…
In addition, there were Fowaru and Oracle.
There were so many out there who were pestering him. To handle all of them, it looked like Vulcan was going to have to go on a tour.
Vulcan’s face was turning red like a volcano that was on the verge of erupting.
However, Vulcan quickly overcame the shock.
He developed hardened mental strength from 100 years of grinding. It was also because he didn’t expect much from Act 2’s residents.
In the end, what he had to do didn’t change much.
He just needed to repeat the work a few more times.
‘I’m glad that I collected the marbles for 100 years instead of getting out of the dungeon in the middle of the grinding.’
Vulcan had mountain worth of Vitality Marbles in his inventory.
When he left the Lava Demon Cave, he thought he won’t end up spending all of the marbles. Now, Vulcan was not certain.
It seemed Vulcan completed organizing his thoughts. With focused look on his face, Vulcan left the inn.
He then glared at the Fowaru’s General Store in the distance.
‘Well, fine. I don’t know what it is that you are trying to gain by targeting me despite the fact that I’m a friend of Jake, but… If you are going to come at me, I’ll fight you. I’ll chew you off like a ferocious eater.’
Vulcan’s eyes gradually fired up in flames.
However, Vulcan didn’t go to the store and cause trouble.
Espo City was protected by the Gods.
He couldn’t just go in there and destroy Fowaru. This was not the right place for that.
Also, Vulcan was still not completely certain if Oracle was telling him the truth about Fowaru, so there was a bit of hesitation in Vulcan.
So, Vulcan decided to handle Fowaru’s case later.
However, if Fowaru tried to sneak up on him, Vulcan was intending on ending Fowaru’s life without hesitation.
‘Ah, Of course… You will be next after Bae Su Jin.’
Vulcan moved casually so that he won’t draw attention. He walked slowly and left Espo City. He started to move quickly once he reached a place without anyone around.
In the end, his biggest foe was the Bae Su Jin.
Vulcan never forgot about this fact through the past 100 years.
It was making the back of his head itch. It felt like Vulcan was not going to able to do anything properly unless he went and resolved this matter by ending the bastards.
‘In that case, I’ll go destroy you bastards first.’
A battle was going to take place soon.
Actually, what Vulcan had in mind was more of a one-sided slaughter. Running that simulated battle in his head, Vulcan smiled.
The smile was unlike anything Vulcan ever had on his face before. The smile was a merciless one of an executioner.