How unfortunate. It looks like we won’t be getting out of this place that easily after all. There are still a couple of figures in this grey guild foolhardy enough to play the hero and stand in Sorglos’ way. There’s a brief moment where I just assume that we’re not the ones being addressed here, though the contrary becomes immediately evident.
“Milord, why don’t we wait a bit before going back to that guild, indeed? Why not make just the smallest stopover on the way? Indeed, it doesn’t matter where you wish to go – I will always be watching your back.”
But Sorglos isn’t really the type to comply or even understand that sort of statement, regardless of whether it reached her ears or not and continues making her way forward without the slightest faltering in her gait, all the while looking up at me with a joyfully radiant, crinkled eye.
Um, what? That’s you being called, right? Well, if Sorglos doesn’t seem to care, I don’t see why I should.
The roar emanates from a man of large and powerful build. He appears between us and the door, apparently keen on not letting us take one step outside of this guild that we really have no further use for. With this being a grey guild, the overwhelming number of brawny men who look like they’ve long since gotten used to the occasional fisticuff is nothing new, but this man gives the impression of being a rung above even those people, of being more of a specialist in rowdy combat while the others are just passingly acquainted.
His physique, being primarily composed of bulging musculature, might be even two rungs above his fellow men. He is, in fact, so brawny that for a moment I find myself convinced that there’s no perceivable way a blade could penetrate his body.
“Ohoh, there he goes!”
“Ain’t gonna let ‘er go that easy, huh?!”
The second the others see this man standing in our way, the entire guild turns into a jumble of excitement. Sorglos, in clear defiance to them, only looks like she’s tired and of no mind to bother with these people. I wonder if that man’s famous or something.
“C’mon, Sorglos. You ain’t even taken me up on my offer yet, and you’re already leavin’?”
“Well, accepting your so-called offer or not is indeed my own prerogative… I only allowed myself to temporarily enlist here; indeed I have, and so I can leave any time I want. And besides… I would never accept any such invitations, unless they come from Milord himself, truly.”
“Aw, don’t be so cold. I’m a B class adventurer, don’t ya know?”
“I don’t see how that matters; indeed I don’t.”
‘And the Master’s way out of your league anyway, indeed he is.’
So, if I’m following this whole thing right, this gentleman right here tried to ‘invite’ Sorglos to something or another some time ago. And if the conversation so far is anything to go by, must’ve meant…
“That man’s called Reel. Indeed, he’s an irritating meathead that keeps bumping into me. He’s somewhat well-know, unfortunately, and I haven’t found the right chance to butcher him either.”
Sorglos’ explanation is whispered into my ear. So that’s how it is. And it does make sense, especially since any adventurer of the B-class tends to be one of the more formidable people out there.
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When compared to any guild that’s officially sanctioned, members of grey guilds are on average much more prone to fight among themselves, even used to it, which means that while their organizational skill certainly suffers when contrasted with their official counterparts, their level of practical skill tends to be much more uniform. Any regular grey guild dumb enough to pick a fight with an official one would probably still be completely crushed, but never mind that for now.
My point is that this man, Reel as he’s called, should have had more than ample time to hone his skills by brawling with his kinsmen.
Also… Sorglos? You finally got that ‘butcher’ word out there, didn’t you?
“That really stings, I gotta say… And who’s this ‘Milord’ yer prattlin’ about?”
“There’s indeed only one man who can be called as such, and he is right here. Indeed, you best ought to grovel before his excellence.”
The longer I listen to these two going at it, the closer I get to recalling something. Something that didn’t even happen all that long ago, something that played out in a pretty similar vein…
Oh, right. Laladi and Maho. Laladi’s admittedly harsh verbal treatment of Maho, as well as her honest and upfront treatment of her is something I’ve never seen her do with anybody outside of our own clique. It might just be that Sorglos and this man have a similar kind of relationship.
“Hey. I don’t know what you’ve done, but you’re making Milord look at me with strange eyes; indeed you are. Truly, I’m the one who’s supposed to be staring at him.”
“Huh? I ain’t got a clue what you’re on about.”
Oh dear, what’s going on now? I’m fairly sure I can feel just a whiff of killing intent radiating off of Sorglos’ delicate body.
Strangely enough, the minute but fairly dense amount of bloodlust doesn’t appear to be perceived by anyone here. Even Reel, who’s clearly one of the more experienced members of this grey guild, doesn’t look like he’s caught on. Are… Are we sure anyone here’s actually strong?
“Ohoh… So you’re the guy she’s been goin’ on about, eh…?”
Once he’s heard what Sorglos has to say, Reel finally levels his gaze at me. He’s been so preoccupied with ogling Sorlgos that I’m not even sure he’s noticed my presence until now.
Now fixed on my face, he continues to stare at me before quickly swiveling his head from me to Sorglos, then back to me. His lips form a malicious grin.
…Something tells me this isn’t going to end well.
‘Heh. So that’s the ‘Milord’ Sorglos keeps goin’ on about, huh? Guy doesn’t look like he has a single muscle on ‘im, a real weakling. Guess I’ll just…’
…Well, I’m sure he’s thinking something along those lines, at the very least.
“Hey, hey, Sorglos! So you’re absolutely sure ya don’t wanna gimme some company?!”
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“Indeed, don’t make me repeat myself. There’s not an ounce of me that would ever even consider the idea, truly.”
Sorglos breathes out a sigh, her patience stretching thin. Reel, however, doesn’t seem too bothered by this rejection and only laughs loudly as he looks my way.
“Yeah, figured you’d say that. So, how ‘bout a little showdown? We duke it out. Ya win, I’ll never bother you again. I win, you’re gonna just clam up and come on over to me. And stay with me, way late into the night…”
Sorglos’ response to his words comes with a piercing glare, leaving the words, ‘What’s this bloody meathead even talking about’ unspoken, but definitely delivered. This doesn’t deter the other grey guild members from a newfound and uproarious excitement, though.
“That’s the stuff! Do it, c’mon!”
“Hey, Reel! If ya ever get tired of ‘er, just send that sweet thing over on my way!”
The guild’s collection of rubberneckers breaks out into the most discomforting kind of cheering imaginable. Well… It’s really only to be expected from a grey guild, I’ll admit that much, but that doesn’t mean that I have to feel good about it.
“Indeed, I see no reason to accept this wager. I see nothing in it that would benefit me; indeed I don’t.”
Sorglos wastes no time in rejecting the whole set-up. Just the way it should be done, really.
Losing would mean being forced into that man’s company, and the spoils of victory were essentially an unreliable verbal agreement of him keeping his distance. Who in their right mind would jump in to fight under those terms?
…Actually, now that I think about it, there might be plenty of girls in Yelquchira who would, the rambunctious lot that they all are. It’s a good thing, then, that Sorglos is one of the more reasonable girls in there…
Reel looks surprisingly calm for someone of his character, especially one who’s just been rejected.
“Yeah, figured you’d say that too. But what if I do this?”
With that, Reel casts a quick glance behind me. By the time the first hint of confusion crosses my mind, it’s already too late.
Two sturdy-looking men suddenly stand behind me, each one grabbing an arm and twisting it upwards.
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…See, I knew this wouldn’t be ending well. Thankfully, however, the two grabbing me don’t inflict enough pain to bother me. Whether or not it’s because they’re lacking in strength, I can’t quite tell.
“Hahahaaa! How ‘bout that, your precious Milord just got taken hostage! Can’t back outta the fight now, can ya?! Nah, there really ain’t reason to fight, is there? If you don’t want us to snap that guy’s arm like a damn twig, just play nice and be my girl, Sorglos!”
Reel laughs, in his mind already the victor. The sheer gall. Trying to force Sorglos to follow his whims by taking me hostage, is he now?
That’s definitely not something I can just let slide. As her guild master, and perhaps more importantly, as her parent, I can’t allow Sorglos to sacrifice her dignity just to keep me safe.
That settles it. I’ll just let them have my arm, even both of them if they want them so bad. Anat should be able to fix me up once I get back home. And then, just when I’ve gathered the magic needed to cut off my own arms…
…Sorglos mutters something ever so quietly. I can’t even hear the full extent of what she just said.
“What was that?! C’mon, say it louder! Say you’ll be mine as loud as ya can!”
Reel raises his voice, clearly as deaf to what she just said as I am. It looks like he’s already completely convinced himself that she’s become his, too.
I’m not about to let that happen. All I have to do is sacrifice my arms and give enough room for Sorglos to make it out of this place. That’s all that’s going through my mind, when…
“…I told you to keep your filthy hands off of him, you lowlifes!”
Sorglos’ eye looks in my direction. More specifically, it’s looking at the two men twisting my arms. There’s something unspeakable dwelling in that eye of hers, a kind of glow that no normal man could ever truly comprehend.
Of course, being her parent, I’m not frightened of her in the slightest. The two men holding me are a different story. They both yelp a little, their grip on me slackening just enough for me to wriggle my way out of their hold. And then, not a second later, both of their heads are seen flying through the air.
While Reel is the only one to express his astonishment verbally, his feelings are already disseminated among his comrades, reaching every last one of them. None of them seem to be able to properly internalize what just happened, and why the heads of those two men just flew off.
My eyes had managed to follow Sorglos as she bent her leg like she would a whip, reaching out and lopping the two heads clean off the shoulders of their owners.
Whoa! In an attempt to rescue me from being drenched by the fountain of blood that spurts from the toppling corpses, Sorglos wraps her arms around me, moving to a separate location in the blink of an eye.
As much as I’d love to express my gratitude, I find that a bit difficult as she presses my face into her bosom, her arms still around me. I, uh… It’s hard to breathe…
Back when Anat did the same, I don’t even remember being able to draw breath. With Sorglos, on the other hand, I’m still able to catch a little bit of air, albeit with some difficulty. Well… Sorglos isn’t the same as Laladi, so I doubt she’d take it too much to heart if she winds up knowing that, but I think it’s for the best to keep quiet about this. She’s still just a young girl, after all.
“Gutter scum, the lot of you. If you dare to lay your dirty hands on my precious, oh-so-precious Master, then I have no reason to hold back. I won’t bother with facing one of you after the other, no, I’ll just kill you all here and now…!”
I have no way of knowing what kind of expression she’s making right now, partly because of my own face being crushed into her bosom, and partly because of the cloth that covers most of hers. But I don’t need to see it for myself – the mere feeling of pure, unadulterated terror that now hangs thick in the air is enough for me to know that whatever expression she’s making must be absolutely ghastly.