BOOK II - GREAT DESCENT
VOLUME V - RUINS OF THE FORGOTTEN KINGDOM
BEGGAR AND HIS DOG
Divine Dynasty - the utmost power of the Western Continent - rested on its easternmost shore, stretching all the way from the entrance to the Demonic Battlefield through the expansive desert standing between it and the other side. Its sheer size alone was enough to intimidate all other forces present on the continent, to say nothing of its military which is entirely composed of cultivators.
Though it has numerous cities under its borders, the greatest and by far the most famous was its capital - City of Sun. It was stationed at the heart of the Empire, and housed at least five million people at any given time. It was by large the most prosperous city on the continent and the dreamland of many young people who sought to make something of themselves.
Divine Dynasty had ruled Western Continent for tens of thousands of years with a single family remaining as royalty for just as long: En’gar family. From the first En’gar who rose to the throne to the current one, they remained with a firm grip on the power without ever allowing another force to rise and threaten them.
Current King’s name was Althone and he had six children altogether; four sons and two daughters. Unlike the King, who mainly remained behind closed doors in cultivation, young Princes and Princesses left the Palace often and interacted with people, trying to buy enough favors to keep them closer to the throne when the time comes for a change.
One of them was Annel, third oldest Prince who was currently sitting on a chair in his chambers, his hands at his head, expression livid yet helpless. He was staring at the reports one of his servants just delivered and had the urge to just set them aflame and throw them out the window. Next to him was his younger sister, Evelyn, who was drinking tea while holding back from laughing.
Their appearances were very much alike; both had striking, black hair and strange, purple eyes. The difference lay in their statures; while Evelyn was very much slim and slender, Annel towered at two meters tall with broad shoulders and muscles that even loose robes couldn’t hide.
“... so... what did that beggar do this time?” Evelyn asked.
“Report’s from Lady Innoy,” Annel said. “In it she states she was taking her afternoon walk down the Windstrut Street when she saw a dog chewing on the bone. Since she loves animals, she approached over and tried to pat him, upon which the dog bit her bottom while a man dressed as beggar emerged from the alley and robbed her of her purse, both disappearing immediately after.”
“Holding back all that laughter isn’t good for your health.” Annel said, smiling bitterly.
“Pfft... no, khm, it’s, uh, it’s terrible what happened to Lady Innoy,” Evelyn said, barely withstanding the urge. “She’s, after all, a very important member... uh... I’m sure she’s important someplace.”
“Leave it to Eve to forget the wife of our Third General...”
“Oh, right, Rico’s wife! How could I ever forget?”
“That’s the, what, sixteenth one this month?”
“Yeah,” Annel said. “He’s really driving me insane. No matter what I do I can’t seem to catch him.”
“... eh, you’re worrying over little things,” Evelyn said, pouring him a cup of tea as well. “He never committed a truly heinous crime. Occasional theft, public urination, peeping... even if you caught him, you could at best send him to a prison for a year.”
“It’s about making a statement,” Annel elaborated. “We can’t allow people to simply commit crimes. What if others start acting like him?”
“They already are. It’s just that they aren’t nearly as clever so they get caught.”
“Just relax,” Evelyn said. “It’ll eventually sort itself out. I just feel bad for that dog. The things he’s forced to do because of his terrible owner...”
“... have you not read reports on that dog?”
“I chose to ignore them.”
“He... he defecated in front of Church every day for a week while his owner was on the other end of the city, swindling noble kids from their pocket money!”
“... they’re really made for each other, aren’t they?” Evelyn said, smiling lightly.
“Haii...” Annel sighed yet again, shaking his head. “He’s been here for two years and I can’t even get a proper description of his appearance.”
“What about those witnesses from the brothel?”
“... they actually cursed me when I asked them for their help,” Annel shuddered. “Do you know what it feels like to be stared at by ten women who all look like they’re ready to skewer your heart?”
“I can’t say I do.”
“... there’s nothing, really. I’m beginning to think I should start strolling out daily and hope he chooses me as the target.”
“Wow, that’s really desperate.”
“Tell me about it. Anyway, what about you? Is Felix still pestering you?” Annel asked with concerned expression.
“... of course he is,” Evelyn said, her charming expression wiped and replaced by an angry one. “He’s coming over nearly every day recently.”
“... I don’t know why Father tolerates him,” Annel mumbled angrily. “He’s a complete failure. Knows nothing except drinking and visiting brothels. And the bastard took Father’s silence as consent!”
“Ah, I’ll figure something out,” Evelyn said. “Worst comes to worst, I’ll just become a nun.”
“... robes would suit you rather well.”
“Or, perhaps, I can ask that beggar for a favor; he makes Felix go away, you pardon all his crimes. What do you say?” Evelyn asked with a beaming smile.
“I’d be happy to,” Annel replied. “And I’m fairly certain he’d do it just for fun. He seems to enjoy pissing people off.”
“And he just happens to be really good at it...”
While the two talked in one of the side mansions next to the Palace, on the other end of the city where streets were woven like threads around two-story buildings, there was web of narrow alleys interlinking all the major streets. Recently, those alleys have gotten notorious reputation; according to rumors, there lives a beggar and a dog, both shameless beyond human capacity. Apparently, the two shooed away all other beggars from the area and proclaimed those narrow alleyways their ‘kingdom’. Though a lot of people could use those alleyways to quickly get about, they instead choose longer routes just to avoid them.
However, that isn’t the case with everyone; there are few who either don’t know, don’t believe or simply don’t care. Such was the case with Maria, a young lady in her early twenties who works as a child caretaker for noblewomen of the nearby mansions. As she was running late to her job, she decided to cross the alleyways despite the numerous warnings from both her family and friends.
Because of it, she found herself in the current situation; in front of her, standing by alley’s exit, was a beggar-looking man and a dog. The former had thick, black beard and hair which covered nearly the entirety of his face. He wore tattered clothes and stank so hard Maria smelled it nearly ten meters away.
Dog was a silver-haired husky with beautiful, crystalline azure eyes and enchanting muzzle and whiskers. Yet, that strange gaze in his beautiful eyes sent shivers running down Maria’s spine.
“W-what do you want?!” she gathered enough courage to break a minute-long silence. “I’m late for my work! Can you... can you please just let me go? I promise I’ll come back later today and give you some money.”
“...” neither did the man talk nor did the dog bark, they merely remained staring at her with strange eyes. Though she felt slightly frightened, she didn’t see any true malice in those eyes, mostly playfulness.
“P-please? What do you want? How much? Just tell me.”
“Ten billion.” the beggar said.
“Woof, woof!” the dog barked, actually nodding.
“T-ten billion?!! I don’t have that kind of money!!”
“You don’t? How? You look rich.” the beggar said.
“Stop repeating what I say,” the beggar suddenly berated the dog with angry expression. “Are you that dimwitted you can’t come up with your own stuff to say?”
“Woof, woof wof woof!”
“Cursing me?! Are you cursing me?!” the beggar suddenly launched his leg and struck the dog squarely against the latter’s chest, sending him barreling into the wall. “Curse your mother, you goddamn degenerate!”
“W-woof, woof!! Wooff!” as she watched the two of them bicker and banter, with dog biting at the beggar and latter kicking the former, she realized... they didn’t even care about her. They were just... having fun.
“Hey, you, where are you going?” the beggar suddenly interrupted her as she tried to leave.
“T-to my job?” Maria pleaded helplessly with her eyes.
“No, forget that. Let’s sit down and chat about life.”
“You know, life! The day-to-day struggle, the night terrors, love, hate, friendships, immortality, mortality, such and such. Don’t you find those topics interesting.”
“No, I really don’t! Please, just let me go!”
“But I want to chat with you.”
“I don’t want to chat with you!”
“Why are you screaming and crying?” the beggar asked, titling his head in confusion.
“I... I just want to go to work... please...”
“... haii, look at what you did, you damned dog,” the beggar berated the dog yet again. “You made an innocent girl cry. How can you live with yourself?”
“:.. c-can I go now?”
“Yes, yes, good luck and have fun!” as the two watched the young lady sprint as though she was a runner at Gladiator Games from fear she would be stopped, both seemed to have grinned for a moment before looking at each other.
“Yes, yes, a new record, ha ha,” the beggar laughed loudly as he sat down and leaned against the wall of the building, taking out pieces of jerky from seemingly nowhere, throwing some toward the dog while chewing on some himself. “This is going to be difficult to top. That girl was really weak.”
“Don’t bark while eating, you uncivilized swine!”
“W-woof!!” the dog barked angrily as he raised his paw and pointed at the beggar.
“What do you mean I’m doing the same? You’re seeing things. Looks like you’ve really grown old and senile... I should just put you out of your misery...”
And thus, the legend of the beggar and his dog continued when people witnessed a young maiden running out of the narrow alleyway in tears, running so fast she stirred dust behind her.