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Chapter 16: Adults

“Hey.” I waved my hand and mustered my most sincere smile. “I almost fell down just now,” I said.

The man came out and approached us, then four more people followed after him, all holding metal rods and other similar weapons. “What did you hear, kids?”

Three of them were clearly adults, and the other two were kinda young, so I couldn’t tell how old they were.

“Just passing by, sir.” I shrugged.

The man stared at me for a few seconds and then pointed at Jair with his chin.

Fucking fool. The idiot was standing with his back ramrod straight and sweating bullets as he held his breath. “My friend ate too many chocolates.” I lifted the bags full of snacks and jiggled them.

“What did you hear.” The man asked again.

“I’m telling you, we didn’t hear anything.” I insisted.

The man clicked his tongue and crossed his arms. He stared at us intently and the began scratching his beard. “We all know you kids heard at least the last part of what I said. The thing is, I can make you promise not to tell anyone, but any reasonable adult knows kids are not to be trusted, right?” He lifted an eyebrow. “So let’s do this,” He pounded his metal baton on his hand. “We beat you up—break a few bones, maybe a leg—and you can crawl back to the plaza knowing that if you tell anything of what you heard, you won’t be getting off with a slap on the wrist next time. Deal?” He nodded as if he was just telling us he was going to call our parents and tell on us.

I dropped the bags, the hammer and the bucket of bolts and took my spear from my armpit, pointing it at the man.

A second later Jair and the others also dropped their stuff readied themselves.

“Ohoho.” The man laughed and tapped the guy next to him on the chest with the back of his hand. “We got us some unruly kids.”

The other adults smiled and began swinging their weapons threateningly.

“Jair…” I gave him a meaningful glance.

He opened his bucket and grabbed two handfuls of bolts.

“They’re all level 2…” Brian whispered.

Shit.

“Look, sir, we were just passing by. There’s no need to get violent.” Veronica tried to mediate. “We’ll just go the other way and pretend we never even turned on this corner, okay?”

He looked at Veronica up and down and then shrugged with disdain. “I would’ve considered it if you weren’t an ironing board, but as thing stand, we need some insurance. And what best insurance than fear?” He smiled and began walking towards us, the other adults following.

“Jair!” I shouted and thrust my spear at them, trying to make them stop for a second.

Jair yelled and swung both hands, making a bunch of bolts turning into liquid rain just in front of the adults. A little of it got on the bottom of their pants, but it mostly solidified on the sidewalk in front of them.

They stepped back, their expressions darkening as they saw the patches of metal on the ground. “Going all out, huh?” The leader of the group glared at us and held out a palm.

A loud booming sound came from his hand and then an extremely powerful gust of wind pushed us back at least two meters, knocking us down.

As I scrambled to my feet I heard the sound of hundreds of bolt from Jair’s bucket clinking all over the sidewalk and the road.

Before any of us could regain our bearings, they were already upon us.

It took every drop of strength to get my spear in front of me and block the leader’s baton swinging towards me.

The shaft of the spear let out a crack but still held together.

I threw a kick at the man but he just jumped back and avoided it.

I tried to thrust my spear at him but another guy struck my ribs with his weapon.

The only woman in their group was staying some distance away without participating, but the 5 men were more than enough to overwhelm us.

There was simply nothing we could have done. They were more than us, stronger, and had the lead.

When I tried swinging my spear, it ended up broken and I backing away so I wasn’t hit again.

While I successfully avoided the leader’s attacks, that was all I could do. Well, that and watch how the other four guys pummeled Jair and the others to the ground, beating them even after they had fallen.

The guy stopped chasing me and swinging his baton and looked behind him. “You can run if you want,” He shrugged. “I don’t think I can catch you if you do. Just know that your part of the ‘insurance’ will be on them.” He pointed at the guys with his thumb.

I gritted my teeth and glared at him, looking back and forth between him and my beaten up companions. I let out a groan and threw broken part of the spear I still held at the guy’s face.

He swung his baton at the flying stick, but all he achieved was making the stick spin in the air and hit his eye.

“Fuck!” He jerked his face to the side and rubbed his eye.

Karma. I let out a weak smile.

“Yeah, smile, kid.” He growled and walked towards, his feet stomping on the ground.

By the time they were done beating us up, I felt as if not spot on my body was left untouched. I sure as hell had more than ‘a few bones or a leg’ broken.

I laid on my side, curled and trembling while the five bastards stood around us panting and wiping their sweat.

“Shit, look at what that fat fuck did to my weapon.” One of them held a stump of a metal rod, it’s end looking as if it had melted.

Nice one, Jair. Every little loss we caused them was a victory.

Then the guy kicked Jair on the side.

Ugh. I looked away.

“I’ll be taking these as compensation.” He grabbed the hammer I’d dropped and also began to pick up the bags full of snacks.

Three other guys also swarmed to the plastic bags, grabbing almost all of them.

“We can’t bring all that to the place.” The leader said in an annoyed tone.

“Oh, right...” The four men clicked their tongue and threw most of the bags away, sending all their contents sprawling all over the place and keeping only a single bag each.

“Remember, kids.” The leader crouched in front of me, tapping his finger on my temple. “You might disappear from the plaza while taking a shit at night.” He chuckled and got up. “Let’s go, folks. We lost too much time already.”

“We’ll leave your toy knives just so you can defend yourselves with them.” The guy who kicked Jair laughed boisterously.

Even after they left I did not try to get up but was already healing the worst part of my wounds. “Don’t-” I groaned. “Get up yet.”

It was best to wait until we were sure those bastards were gone.

A few minutes later, against the complaints of my body, I sat up.

Then the others tried to sit as well, but the only managed to shake a little before yelling in pain.

Brian was already standing up, though. He still looked pretty mauled, but way better than any of us. For once I was happy that he was the one to learn the skill the elite goblin dropped and have his mana pool increased.

He began healing the others while I slowly accelerated my body’s regeneration and when he was done with everyone, I had barely finished healing my broken ribs. As usual, he didn’t come to heal me since we all knew I could do it by myself, but for once I would’ve liked for him to go out of his way and do it.

Well, not really, after what happened next.

Your fortitude has increased by 1 point!

From the others’ expressions, they didn’t gain anything after being healed, so I could confirm it was one of the side effects of accelerating my natural recovery with my skill.

Jair began trudging around and picking up the stuff that douche had scattered all over along with Brian.

Veronica sat down on the curb hugging her knees and sinking her head on her thighs. Her shoulders trembled ever so slightly.

Why was she being like that? It was not that bad anyway, just some pain…

Well, they didn’t get anything from it like me. Except for a death threat and a trauma…

They were just normal kids to begin with—didn’t have the ability to detach their pain from their state of mind and move on as if it was just another bump in the road.

It took me fifteen more minutes and 10 mp to finish healing myself and even then Jair and Brian weren’t done picking up all our scattered stuff.

Veronica had lifted her head, but her stare was vacant and her eyes red and moist.

I stood up and began helping Brian and Jair pick up our stuff, waiting for them to reorganize their thoughts.

“I don’t think I can keep doing this, guys. I-” Veronica’s trembling voice choked at the end. She let out an exasperated sigh and shook her head.

Jair stopped and turned to look at her, his eyes just as decayed as hers.

Brian also stared at her, but at least he didn’t look worse than the first time he took a beating. He would get over it soon.

And the other two should also try to move on.

“I don’t think we have a choice…” I tried to offer Veronica some words of comfort, but it came out like a reprimand.

She turned to me, her eyes flaring. “Of course you’d say that.” She snarled. “You unfeeling, cold-blooded, slab-for-a-heart-” She choked on her words and buried her face on her legs again. She let out an uncontrollable gasp and suppressed the cries fighting to come out when breathing out.

I stared at her, frozen in shock. I turned to look at Jair and Brian, but they just avoided eye contact and looked away.

“Look,” I began. “I’m feeling I did something very bad I don’t know about.” I scratched my head hard. “Does anyone care to tell me what it is?”

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kleimore

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