Sam was completely healed from the potions Hans brought. It was the result of using not just one but three potions.
However, Sam didn’t recover consciousness right away. Since he also received mental damage, it would take at least one or more days for him to gain consciousness. After sending Sam safely back to his house, Zich leaned in front of the Monster Exterminator Building and waited. It was obvious who Zich was waiting for.
Paul Chenu came out of the building a few times and then said, “Hey, honestly, we don’t want to be involved in this conflict. Since that Sam guy has already been healed, the security officials also won’t enforce severe punishment on Drew.”
To the high officials, the victim was just a miner. Moreover, it was not a conflict that occurred inside the city, so there was no reason for security officials to actively resolve this conflict.
“If you cause a scene here and harm this building, it would be troublesome for us. This is an important national institution.”
This building was more important than the life of one miner. This was not a surprising development since life was cheap in this world. Zich also knew this, and he didn’t feel the need to complain.
“Don’t worry. I will resolve this conflict without causing harm to the surrounding areas.”
“Also, it would be troublesome for us if you actually kill Drew. He was one of the adventurers we hired after all.”
“Of course. You might not believe it, but I want to live a kind life. I’m not going to easily kill someone, so don’t worry too much.”
And as if to support his statements, Zich smiled brightly at Paul Chenu.
“…I don’t really feel reassured by that smile.”
Paul Chenu flinched and took a step back.
“Anyways, just don’t create a situation where we have to be involved.”
That was the main reason for Paul Chenu’s pestering; he didn’t want to be involved in a dangerous and complicated affair. Zich also didn’t blame or insult Paul Chenu’s self-preserving attitude.
Although Paul Chenu said everything he wanted, he didn’t go back in and stared at Zich.
Zich was about to ask Paul Chenu if he needed anything more from him when Paul Chenu first said, “Are you confident that you can beat him? Our team specially recruited him. Even among the mercenary soldiers, he is very skilled. If you attack him with mediocre skills, you’re the one who’s going to get beat up.”
Zich blinked his eyes. He stared at Paul Chenu as if he was seeing a strange, new species for the first time.
“W-why are you looking at me like that?”
“…Ah, I guess. Yes. Yeah, I guess you can think like that. You said something I didn’t expect at all, so I was a bit taken aback.”
“Really, what’s up with you? Did it not even cross your mind that you could lose?”
Zich nodded, and it was Paul Chenu’s turn to be surprised. Zich’s confidence was over the roof.
‘No, thinking about it, Drew is also super cocky. Are all adventurers or travelers like these guys?’
Paul Chenu’s house and career seemed very precious to him then. No matter what happened, Paul Chenu firmly resolved to stick to his career and views for the rest of his life.
* * *
It was common to exterminate monsters multiple days in a row. Thus, Zich planned to wait at the exterminator building for several days.
However, to his good fortune, Zich did not have to wait long. Drew appeared the day after he assaulted Sam.
On that day, Paul Chenu was surprised to see Zich still standing in front of the entrance and quickly went inside the building. Then in the afternoon, Hans provided a simple meal for Zich to eat. After Zich finished his meal, he continued to stand in front of the building like a stone statue.
It was now almost sunset. The shadows were getting longer, and the blue sky was about to turn yellow. Zich, who had his eyes half-closed, fully opened his eyes. There was a spark in them. He felt a presence near him—a presence he had desperately wanted to see.
Zich uncrossed his arms and stopped leaning against the wall. After a few moments, he saw someone strolling towards the building.
It was Drew.
Drew’s footsteps were light; he showed no signs of even an inkling of guilt at his heinous actions. There was even an easygoing, giddy aura exuding from him, as if he felt refreshed after taking out an aching tooth. Even without looking at Zich, Drew tried to get into the exterminator building.
Drew crinkled his face. But when he saw who stopped him, he let out a mocking smile.
“Well, who is this? Aren’t you the comrade of that weak ass who took his sweet time defeating a barely developed troll?”
As expected, Drew was quick to insult him, and Zich’s expression did not change.
“I told you he just started his training…well, whatever. Actually, aren’t you really sick in the head? No wonder you don’t remember what I said to you recently. I’m sorry about that. I should have been more considerate of your stupidity.”
It was a miraculous sight to see Zich apologize. However, it was far from a proper apology.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s not a sin to be sick. Even though it would be really hard to live like that, you have to stay positive. Do you understand what I’m saying? Cheer up!”
As Zich continued, Drew’s expression worsened. When Zich waved his fists to “cheer” him up, Drew’s face looked as if it was going to explode.
“…I thought this last time, but I really have to crush you down properly. It would also be a good idea to pull out that smart tongue of yours.”
When Drew pulled out his sword, Zich also pulled out his sword.
“This is such a dilemma! I don’t want to fight with a sick patient!”
Zich continued to talk while laughing. But a second later, his face became serious.
“But I just want to make sure. Did you beat the crap out of Sam?”
“You know, that guy who came to complain to you right after you threw away that Snoc kid.”
“Ah, that trash?” Drew did not deny it. Instead, he insulted Sam and laughed, “No wonder you were waiting for me. Have you come to avenge that trash?”
“For now. He’s my friend.”
“Friend?” Drew laughed out loud. “As expected of someone who hangs out with a weak ass! You make friends with losers. No, no—this is perfect. You guys are perfect for each other! Yeah! Like a loser, all of you should roll in mud together! Won’t everything be better with a friend? Don’t you think so?”
“What’s up with you? Are you that type of person…who judges people’s skills based on their friends’ skill levels?”
“Birds of a feather flock together! I can tell how strong you are by the company you keep!”
“You’re flat out wrong. Well, I guess this is not something a person of your level would know.”
Zich clicked his tongue and continued, “Listen carefully. People with mediocre skills like you befriend people who are similar to them so that they can make useful connections. You guys make friends based on people’s social status or skill levels. But you know, people like me are different.”
Normal societal standards did not apply to Zich at all.
“I don’t care about my friend’s social status or skill level. Do you know why? It’s because I’m a super genius who doesn’t need help from anyone. I don’t need to care about stupid and foolish people who judge my skills based on the company I keep. Why should I care about standards or status? I only care about hanging out with people I have fun with.”
Zich pointed his sword towards Drew.
“Not that someone like you would know. You only know how to use your friends to lift yourself up.”
“You are all talk.”
“Usually, people say something like that to me when they are unable to understand my profound words. But if you can’t even beat me in trash talk, what can you beat me in?”
Drew gritted his teeth.
“If you are so confident in your skills, try showing them to me!”
Drew began moving. He lowered his body and moved straight towards Zich. It was a simple movement, but Drew’s whole body was surrounded by mana, so it had a tremendous amount of force.
Drew rapidly stopped in front of Zich. The dirt underneath him made a loud ‘crack’ sound at his sudden stop. His joints creaked at the immense force of his movements. Then he transferred the force of this movement into his sword.
‘I’m not planning to kill him, but—’
‘I’m going to cut off one of his arms!’
How dare this punk mock him. If they were not in the middle of a bustling street, Drew would have cut off Zich’s neck a long time ago. That was the punishment for a person who mocked him.
‘If he dies from blood loss, it’s not going to be my fault.’
Drew was going to be merciful and cut off just one of Zich’s arms, so if Zich died, it would not be his fault at all. Drew honestly thought he was being merciful as he moved his sword towards Zich’s shoulder. Even though Drew was now very close to cutting one of Zich’s shoulders, Zich made no reaction at all.
‘He really was all talk. It’s too late to react now.’
Drew put mana into his sword, and it became strong enough to cut a person’s arm like it was a slice of meat.
The pathway of Drew’s sword was disturbed.
‘Did he just flick off my sword?”
With just his thumb, Zich flicked off the side of Drew’s sword. Drew could not even see Zich’s movements, and it was even more disturbing that Zich was able to block his mana attack with just one finger.
‘What is this…’
Drew could not believe what was happening. His situation felt unreal, and he watched his body spin like he was an outsider to his own body.
Drew lifted his chin up; he was suddenly able to see the sky. Then, he felt a floating sensation. From start to finish, he was unable to grasp the reality of his situation.
‘What? What is happening?’
Even though Drew had experienced all sorts of things as an adventurer, he had never felt anything like this. But an inkling of suspicion began to enter his mind. He could not believe it.
‘Am I getting beat up?’
It was hard to believe, but right now, reality was pressing down hard upon him.
Drew rolled many times on the floor. He had no time to even cushion the force of his fall, so his whole body was completely sore. Moreover, his left cheek burned.
Drew spit out stuff from his mouth. Two white substances dropped onto the floor.
They were his teeth. He spit out more of his blood and put one hand on his cheek. In that short time period, his cheeks swelled up to a great size.
“W-wha is harpe—"
His pronunciation was off as the wind whistled through the missing holes in his mouth.
“How is it? Isn’t it exciting?” Zich laughed and shook the fist that he used to hit Drew. “Get up, you little shit. I wouldn’t have even started if I was going to end this with one punch.”
Drew stood up quickly. If he had just stayed on the ground, he would have gotten attacked without being able to defend himself.
“Wha kin of cheawt did yew use!” Drew shouted at Zich. His pronunciation made his words sound funny, but Drew was completely serious.
“A cheat? Are you actually sick in the head for real? Ah, no wonder. I understand why you don’t want to face reality right now.”
Without even being able to properly resist, Drew got completely beaten up. Zich was leaps above Drew’s skill level. But Drew’s arrogant personality would not let him accept this.
“Have you never thought that you could lose because you only target guys weaker than you? I will change that mindset for you. In that sick head of yours, I will squeeze the reality that this world is filled with people way stronger than you. You don't need to pay me for this lesson. I will specially make it free for you!”
Unlike before, Zich was now the first to attack. His sword moved straight like a wild horse.
Drew tried to block Zich’s attack.
Zich did not use any special technique or movement, and he did not even move fast; he just used brute force. But this was enough to make Drew let out a cry of pain.
Zich’s sword came down on Drew like thunder. Even though it seemed like Zich was wielding his sword without much thought, his sword precisely attacked any gaps in Drew’s defense. Drew frantically backed away and tried to block Zich’s attacks. His hands felt like they would rip apart from blocking Zich’s constant attacks, but if Drew lost focus for even a second, his sword would have dropped from his hands.
“You have a gap here.”
Zich kicked Drew’s ankle.
When Drew was about to change his center of gravity, Zich landed another attack. Drew lost his sense of balance and faltered. Zich used this to his advantage by quickly landing another attack on Drew with his knees.
Zich’s knees landed directly on Drew’s celiac plexus, which was located in the middle of his abdomen. It was a sensitive area, and Drew could not breathe. But that was not the only hit that Drew received.
An ominous sound rang through Drew’s heart, and an awful pain came flooding into his body.
Drew didn’t roll on the ground like he did last time. He was smashed into the ground like a piece of trash.
Drew clutched his heart and cried out in pain. He could not even breathe.
“Hmmm, from my judgment, I think two of your ribs are broken.”
Zich had a lot of experience breaking bones. In a way, he might have more experience breaking bones than eating a meal. By just looking, Zich could tell how severe Drew’s injuries were.
Drew used his sword like a staff to get up. It was hard to stand from all the pain he was going through.
“Cat got your tongue? Don’t you have to keep insulting a weak ass like me? Why, you are an amazing adventurer who can even hunt down a full-grown troll.”
Zick mocked Drew, but Drew was in no condition to reply.
“It’s no fun now that you are quiet.”
Zich swung his sword and came closer to Drew. His movements were like a cat playing around with his catch.
“By the way, your skills suck ass. I thought you might have some skills because you were so arrogant, but you are way below my expectations. If my opponent is this weak, there’s no fun in crushing them.”
Drew still didn’t reply. He was barely able to breathe and stand while leaning his whole body onto his sword.
“Well, whatever. I also didn’t expect this to be a serious competition.”
Zich stopped right in front of Drew.
“Just be destroyed like this.”
“I wonv giv up!”
Drew managed to lift his head. The concept of giving up was nonexistent in his expression. Murderous rage, stubbornness, and pain were all complicatedly intertwined in his face.
Drew reached out his hand while crying out. Mana was moving strangely around his hand, and a sound resembling a bird’s cry rang out.
‘He fell into my trap!’
This was Drew’s secret weapon. As an adventurer who was exposed to all kinds of danger, it was common for adventurers to prepare some kind of hidden weapon to use when their life was in danger. His secret weapon was an artifact that he happened to find in a dungeon. It saved his life many times before and completely changed the situation around when he was about to lose. With this artifact, Drew thought he could get Zich on his knees as Zich did to him multiple times in this fight. He thought this until…
He saw that there was not a single scratch on Zich’s body.
Drew mumbled while crying out in pain. Zich moved his thumb and middle finger. There was a small arrow between his fingers.
“I can predict what guys like you would do. Did you really think that a hidden attack will work against me?”
Zich lowered his guard to draw out Drew’s attack. It was a tactic he frequently used before he regressed, and he had also used it against Zenard.
‘But I was really about to die during that time, though.’
Anyways, pretending to die, pretending that an attack worked—all those attacks didn’t work against Zich.
‘But I’m sure this tactic worked very well for him many times.’
Just by seeing Drew’s shell-shocked face, Zich could tell that Drew didn’t understand why his plan failed. But Zich had no desire to teach him why he failed; he focused all his attention on the small arrow in his hand. The arrow was about 1/3 smaller than an ordinary arrow, but the speed and sharpness of the arrow made it very suitable for a hidden attack.
Drew managed to come back to reality and pulled out his arm again. Zich lightly kicked away that arm.
Another arrow flew on top of Zich’s head. Zich kicked Drew on the chest and when Drew was down, Zich stepped on his arms.
Drew screamed out in pain from falling down, and his body shook as Zich pressed down on his arm.
“Is it an artifact?”
Zich flipped open Drew’s sleeve with his foot. Between Drew’s wrist and the middle of his arm, there was a thin bracelet.
“It looks like an artifact that stores small arrows and lets one out whenever you want.”
Zich stared at the arrow.
“There’s even poison in this.”
On the green tip of the arrow, there was a small amount of mana coming off it. Zich was knowledgeable about tools like this because many different types of people had tried to assassinate him in his past life.
‘W-what kind of dude is this…!’
It was then that Drew finally realized he had picked on the wrong person. He realized that the person in front of him was impossible to defeat with his current level of strength.
“What are you going to do now that your secret weapon has been found out? There are some super cautious guys who prepare two or three hidden weapons, but you don’t seem to be that type. Oh? Does that mean you are completely defenseless now?”
Drew wielded his sword by instinct, but he was not in the position to instill his strength into it. Moreover, the pain in his chest prevented him from making a proper attack.
As if his sword was like the arrow, Zich grabbed the sword with his bare hands.
Drew cried out, seeing that his last attempt was completely futile against Zich’s strength.
Zich took the sword from Drew and threw it to the side.
“Do you have more?”
Zich urged Drew to keep on fighting. Compared to Zich’s relaxed and carefree posture, Drew’s eyes were drowning in darkness.
“I guess it’s all over.”
Zich pulled out all the teeth and claws of his prey. The only thing left for him to do was to end its life and disassemble the body.
Zich began to move.
Drew began to beg for his life; no trace of his former arrogance could be found.
“Ah, don’t worry. I’m not going to kill you.”
Zich laughed. To Drew’s shock, Zich’s face at that moment was akin to a saint reassuring his patient. It was so peaceful and soft that even Drew began to grow hopeful.
But what Zich said soon after shattered his hope. “I’m going to return back to you exactly what you did to Sam. What do you mean by ‘sparing your life’? I’m not going to do such a horrible thing as killing you.”
Zich pressed his feet down on Drew’s chest and exerted pressure into it. Drew screamed out in pain, but Zich didn’t move an inch.
“Why don’t we start with four shattered ribs?”
Drew’s screams rang in front of the exterminator’s building for a very long time.Previous Chapter Next Chapter