The man atop the sword was rather gobsmacked; before coming here, he was repeatedly warned not to antagonize the boy if possible, as it wouldn’t be a wise decision. He never had any plans on attacking the boy or causing trouble, regardless, and merely wanted to scare him away from Sylvia. However, his hopes were ignited, imagining he’d find someone else in his generation who could stand up to him and fight. The only thing he saw by now was a young fool who wasn’t all there in the head.
“...” he found it difficult to find the perfect words to express his confusion. In the end, he decided to simply reiterate his main point. “Just stay away from my fiance.”
“... can’t you just take a hint...” though the boy mumbled the words, he heard them clearly. In addition, Lino’s playful and foolish expression flashed cold for a brief moment, the man barely catching it. Their eyes met in that brief second, causing the man’s heart to freeze as though he was thrown into an ice pond. Every fiber of his being suddenly screamed at him to pull back and retreat, as only death awaited down below. However, it all lasted for a brief second, before the boy beneath him went back to his foolish demeanour. “Fiance? What fiance? You have to be more precise!”
“...” he realized that the words of the warning he’d received weren’t for naught. The boy was really dangerous. Perhaps more dangerous than the Branch Patriarch realized. “Don’t you get tired of playing the fool?”
“...” Lino suddenly sighed and looked up to the sky, lamenting the fact that the man in front of him seemed to be a complete moron. In the end, he gave up to fate. “Do you drink? Ah, I don’t care. Let’s go inside. I need a drink.”
Without even waiting for the man’s answer, Lino turned around and walked back into a small-sized mansion. The man remained stunned for a moment before carefully descending, putting the sword away into his void equipment and following Lino inside. A moment later, he found himself within a small, but rather comfy living room with several sofas and tables strutted around in careful arrangement. The boy was already sitting on one of the sofas, a few bottles of mead on the table, one in his hand, already half-drank. The man cautiously moved closer and sat opposite of Lino, paying great attention to boy’s every move, lest he gets sneak attacked.
“Why are you so stiff?” Lino asked, tilting his head briefly. “You think I’ll fight you? Come on man. I just spent five fucking hours crafting, there ain’t no way in hell I can even rub one off, let alone fight a talented Mythic Realm idiot. Relax and have a drink. It’s been so lonely here these days, and I had to drink alone all the time. It’s nice to suddenly have some company, however... weird he is.”
“...” the man’s eyebrows stiffened for a moment, nearly shouting ‘You’re the weird one!!’ but holding back in the end. “You’re a crafter?”
“Crafter? Who taught you that word? It’s blacksmith.”
“Oh. What did you craft?” the man asked, realizing the boy could really get on someone’s nerves as long as they weren’t ready. Lino reached into the void world and took out the bow he crafted for Shaneine, handing it over to the man. At first, the latter merely took it over out of courtesy, but as soon as he looked at the stats, he got so frightened he nearly dropped it. “What the hell?!! You crafted this?!!” he exclaimed, unable to keep his cool any longer.
“Bingo! It’s great, right?” Lino felt his ego being fed, and if those who knew him were here, they’d realize it was a bad sign.
“Great?! It’s amazing!” the man exclaimed, not noticing Lino’s gloating expression. “How much?”
“I want to buy it,” the man said, his expression that of a young boy who just discovered his favorite toy. “Name your price.”
“It’s not for sale.” Lino said casually, dampening man’s spirits immediately.
“Ah, come on! Why show me then?! You’re just enticing me to increase the price, right? Hah, you can’t fool me! My grandma warned me that all businessmen were like that!”
“...” Lino stared oddly at the man in front of him. Rather than man, though, Lino realized that ‘boy’ seemed more appropriate despite him being slightly older than Lino. “Fine. I want Sylvia.” Lino sneered.
“...” the boy put down the bow, his expression so distorted like someone bit him and then poured half the bottle of alcohol on top of the wound.
“Ha ha, damn, I didn’t think you cared for her so much.” Lino laughed at the boy’s reaction. “Relax, I’m only playing around. I have no intention of stealing her from you.”
“Then why are you bothering her?” the boy asked, turning his attention from the bow onto Lino.
“Eeh, because... it’s fun?” Lino replied. “She really hates my guts, but can’t do anything about it because, as much as she hates me, she fears me twice as much.” Lino added, grinning. “So, in the end, she’s just enduring there, seething like a little hamster. Ha ha ha, aah, she’s way too much fun.”
“... are you really a cultivator?” the boy suddenly asked, surprising Lino.
“... you don’t seem like one,” he elaborated. “You drink, you fool around, you don’t have the grace or bearing of a cultivator... you’re more like a bandit than a cultivator.”
“... ‘s that so?” Lino chuckled, drinking a gulp of mead before speaking. “To me, it’s you guys that are weird. Abstaining from everything worth living for... what’s fun in that? I’d rather be called a bandit than lock myself away from every joy in life. That just sounds miserable.”
“...” the man said nothing, realizing that the two had completely different points of view when it came to cultivation. “Your name is Lino?”
“It is indeed.”
“I am Velin,” he said. “A direct descendant of the Su Main Family.”
“... oh, a bigshot.” Lino grinned for a moment. “Sorry, if I had known, I would have brought out a better mead.”
“... Branch Patriarch expressed his concerns to me in regards to you and your group,” Oi, don’t throw the poor bastard under the bus! What are you doing?! “And, to be honest, you seem far too dangerous to remain unsupervised.”
“...” Lino said nothing, merely continuing to drink.
“However, you don’t seem to be evil,” Velin elaborated. “Which is why I won’t report anything to my Elders.”
“... you’re a soft man, Velin,” Lino suddenly said, putting the bottle of mead down and burping loudly. “While that has its own charms, it’s also sad. You came here to warn me not to get close to your fiance, and further to assess how dangerous my group and I are. In the end, you somehow concluded I’m not ‘evil’, and basically turned the point of your visit moot. Do you really think that’s the best course of action?”
“...” Velin suddenly found himself confused; he couldn’t understand why Lino would suggest that he ought to be more hostile. “Are you saying I should report you to my Elders?”
“I don’t really care either way,” Lino smiled. “This isn’t as much about me as it is about you. Perhaps your family’s name so far gave you an umbrella under which you could hide, but, in time, what if you come across someone or something that doesn’t care about your family, like me? You can’t play soft with people like me just because you don’t think we’re ‘evil’. That’s how you lose your pretty little head.”
“... you’re definitely odd.” Velin said. “Suggesting I should treat you like an enemy whereas I don’t see a reason to. I’d rather befriend you, to be honest.”
“Well, that just touched my poor, cold little heart.”
“... god, you’re naive,” Lino sighed, shaking his head. Silently, he also prayed that every kid from the cultivating families and sects was like this. His journey would be much easier that way. “Though, I suppose, it’s cute in its own way.”
“You’re underestimating the bounds of human’s heart, Lino,” Velin suddenly said, getting up. “I can’t begin to fathom the reason as to why you bordered yourself from the world, but for someone who claims he’s enjoying life, it makes you seem rather hypocritical. I offered you a hand of friendship, and you mocked me. Tell me, what does that say about you?” without waiting for the answer, Velin turned around and left the same way he came in, leaving Lino alone in the room. The latter stared at the fading back for a moment, smiling briefly and sighing. He uncapped another bottle of mead and drank a mouthful before putting it down onto the table.
“He’s right.” the robotic voice interjected into the calming silence, immediately aggravating Lino.
“Instead of judging my character, why don’t you help me? Tri-Spirit Flame has pretty much ran its course by now, and is limiting my crafting capabilities. I need a better one immediately. Do your magic and gift me one.”
“Level up and I will.”
“Yeah, alright, sure. Sigh, you’re as helpful as a grain of sand.”
“...” feeling slightly down, Lino got up and took a quick shower before changing into fresh clothes and departing. There was only one way to lift his spirits up in this town: to tease Sylvia. It seems that Velin’s warning was left unheard.