Chapter 66: A recall of the past
In a forest with the subtle melodic singing of the birds and a fresh morning breeze, Lazarus couldn’t help but spoil the mood with a heavy sigh. It had been a day since his meeting with the Sage and he’d headed to back to the forest to complete his ‘water carriage’.
He’d already finished the engine and what’s left was the boat itself. He could make it from wood, but it wouldn’t be able to withstand the powerful waves of the open sea.
Left with no other choice, Lazarus simply heaved a sigh as he could only wait for Jensen to go over his order. It should be complete in a few more days, six and counting. Till then, he had nothing to do.
Lazarus quietly sat down and leaned against the tree. He couldn’t help but let out another sigh. After all, after reviewing the videos from the Elven Sage’s memory since that time, it was filled with nothing but curious questions about him, nothing worth notable nor posing any sort of threat.
He had indeed, doubted his meeting with the Sage couldn’ve all of been a front. But after reviewing the videos, Lazarus realized that the Elven Sage was indeed, kind at heart.
Lazarus shook his head, now wasn’t the time to be thinking about these things. There wasn’t much to do other than wait, so what could Lazarus do with his time?
Maybe go on some goblin quest again. Or just roam around the city. He wasn’t sure what to do exactly.
[Ah-....] A thought occurred to Lazarus, with the image of a bald man behind a desk. [That’s right. I haven’t thanked Gallios for introducing me to Jensen.]
Dusting himself up, he continued along a path to the city. Although it usually took hours to walk back to the city, Lazarus wasn’t particularly in a hurry, which is why he never brought Rigel with him.
Just walking by himself along the road, sometimes passing by a party of adventurers and even merchant caravans, unlike them who had companions by their side, he was alone. It made him think how, in a sense, he was unique.
The only manaless man in this world.
Lazarus smiled wryly. Thinking about his situation of being hunted down, he held his chin as if coming to a sudden realization. “Isn’t this like a witch hunt, but the logic in reverse?”
-= Affirmative. =- Replied the robotic voice in Lazarus’ mind, that only he could hear.
Alone with his thoughts, and seemingly amusing himself. The time passed by in a flash and he had already arrived back in the city.
Following his usual route, he went inside a shop with a wooden hammer sign displayed outside. Expecting the shiny head of the smith upon entry, Lazarus eyes narrowed the moment he was greeted with the figure of a long silvery haired girl that was seemingly like the snow.
“Ah-..Rex.” Said Eris, gazing at him with her usual calm demeanor. “Morning.”
“Morning.” Replied Lazarus as he made his way to the desk beside Eris. “Have you seen that bald man anywhere?”
Just before she could reply. An irritated grumble resounded. “Who’re you calling bald?” And like a bunny emerging from its hole, Gallios suddenly popped out of from under his desk, holding on to what seems to be a figure of a sword, wrapped in a piece of white cloth.
“Here.” Said Gallio, handing the sword over the silver haired beauty, who received it with both of her slender arms befitting her goddess like image. “I’ve finished the repairs and added a few enchantments just like you’ve requested.”
“Thank you…..” Muttered Eris, her voice soft and low almost as if she was muttering to herself.
“Yer welcome.” Replied Gallios with a broad smile.
Eris gave Lazarus a subtle nod, signaling that she was going, though he wondered where she was heading, he didn’t ask and simply returned a nod.
As soon as the door closed with a click. Gallios let out a soft sigh of relief. “That was dangerous. For a second there I thought I’d have to apologize to my wife.” With a face filled with an expectation to be asked, Lazarus obliged to humor the man and asked. “For what?”
“I was almost charmed by that lass… heheheh.” Replied Gallio, scratching the back of his shiny head and laughing at his own deluded joke. “Speaking of that lass, you seemed to be familiar with her.”
Lazarus nodded. “Yeah, we did a quest together.”
“That’s all?” Asked Gallios, his tone barely hiding his slight disappointment.
Although Lazarus could say that it was a relatively long quest with their lives on the line. He simply shrugged the thought as he didn’t want the conversation to trail off from his original reason for coming here. “Yeah, that’s all.”
“I see. Well, considering how that lass always is, I guess it was to be expected.” Said Gallios, as he crossed his arms, with a slight shake of his head. “That reminds me, ya here to buy some more raw materials?” he grinned as if it was the only thing Lazarus ever came here for.
Much to his surprise, Lazarus shook his head. “No, not this time.” Prompting the Smith to ask with brows furrowed. “Then why’re ya here?” He wasn’t being rude, he simply found it strange considering how Lazarus always just waltz in here, asking for raw materials then leaves just as soon as he’d accomplish what he’d come here to do.
“I-...” Replied Lazarus, scratching the side of his cheek and looking away. “I wanted to thank you.” Gallios didn’t reply and simply kept on staring. “You know-... for the steel, the meeting with Jensen. Thanks...”
“Ho-...hooooo. Is that how it is?” Grinned Gallios. “Hahahahahhahaha.” Hearing him in a fit of laughter, Lazarus couldn’t help but regret thanking him, just staring at Gallios with his brows furrowed.
“Haa-...haa-.. Sorry.. Haha.” Said Gallios as he wiped a tear from his eye. He took a deep breath, the clownish atmosphere from before seemingly vanished as he spoke. “ You’re welcome.”
“You should’ve said that from the start.” Said Lazarus with a sigh, scratching the back of his head, seemingly in irritation but in truth it was simply to hide his embarrassment.
Gallios couldn’t help but grin, having felt he’d grown closer to his customer almost as a friend. With that said and done, Lazarus simply turned and said. “I’ll go grab a bite to eat.” with Gallios just giving him a nod as he left.
“Heh-..” Said Gallios with a light shake of his head, smiling. “Now then, back to work.”
* * * * * *************************************************************************************************************************
Lazarus casually strolled around the city, he wasn’t particularly headed anywhere as he only wanted to pass the time. As he reached a small bridge with a small river flowing beneath, he noticed that a few kids were playing around.
A young boy with short brown hair was hiding behind a corner in between houses. A girl who looked to be around 8-years old, with a nose that resembled a cat, with matching feline ears, kept on sniffing around seemingly looking for the boy, her chestnut hair swaying from side to side.
It didn’t take long for the girl to find the boy and it made Lazarus think. Though it was just a child’s game of hide and seek, it wasn’t really fair considering that the girl was half beast.
The two kids laughed it off for a bit, showing innocent and bright smiles, before the young boy faced the wall and started counting, seemingly enjoying their little game without paying much attention to his disadvantages.
[-We never really had this kind of problem back on Earth...-] Thought Lazarus quietly to himself as he passed by the two kids. Though it was only true because it was simply humans inhabiting the planet.
For some reason, it made him recall a distant memory. He too; had played this game. Together with his virtual childhood friends. An image of a white haired young girl with deep crimson red eyes and a young boy with spiky red hair popped out of Lazarus’ mind.
“Smith….. Sena….” He unknowingly called out ever so subtly. Shaking his head, Lazarus again reminded himself that they were just virtual, just A.I’s designed to act and seem like real human beings.
Knowing this, a lonely smiled appeared on Lazarus, his eyes looking down on the road.
Recalling a scenery on top of a school, with the sun gleaming a faint orange hue made a bitter smile appear on Lazarus.
A mature version of the young girl in his memories, stood there, tears trickling down her cheeks but the expression she wore, was that of anger.
Her fist were clenched tightly, her brows almost meeting with each other as she continued to yell at a young man her age with a shadow looming over his eyes.
The bowtie in her uniform somewhat undone, her skirt, flailing violently from side to side as she made a wide arc motion with her right arm, still continuing to yell at the young man. Then she stomped forward, clenching both of her fist.
Then she stopped, her expression turned to shock. The young man, opened his mouth slightly, muttering a few inaudible words. But just from hearing these very few words, the girl’s eyes gleamed before more tears came trickling down her cheeks.
She didn’t move and kept on staring. The two had stopped talking, and with a fist clenched tightly, the young man seemingly tried to muster his courage, then he took a step forward, and continued to walk further.
The young man walked passed the beautiful white haired girl, and at that moment, she fell to her knees. Though he had heard the loud thump, the young man bit his lower lip, determined not to look back.
The scenery that was played almost like a silent movie, slowly faded into a pure cotton white.
* * * * * ******************************************************************************************************************************
Lazarus stopped walking. By the time he noticed his surroundings, it had already been painted with a soft dark touch of the shadows. As he glanced up he, he saw the soft glowing light from the sky when the sun was halfway below the horizon.
“It’s getting late…...” Muttered Lazarus to no one but himself. “I’ll probably grab a bite before I sleep.”
He followed along the same paved path he had, heading for the usual tavern to dine. Along the path, he noticed a large hairy looking creature that stood a head above him, leaning against a wall to a closed shop.
Its arms were bulky and black, and upon closer look, Lazarus noticed that it was actually a full fledged gorilla standing up, with a full steel plate armor set on.
He had seen quite a lot of beastmen but he noticed that there were only a very few among the beastmen that were full fledged animals like, with no distinct human feature other than standing like Leo.
The gorilla had a large double edged axe on his back, and on his right arm, was a bottle of booze, making Lazarus think if he had come from the tavern, drinking.
The gorilla, noticing Lazarus gaze, stared at him for a moment in silence, eyeing him from head to toe before his brows slowly curved to a frown.“What’re you looking at punk?”
Lazarus, not really giving a damn, didn’t reply and simply closed his eyes shut, before turning his gaze back to the path in front of him.
“I asked you a damn question you punk.” Said the gorilla as he staggered a bit to move in front of Lazarus, who stopped and raised a brow. The guy reeked of alcohol, making Lazarus think if the beastman in front of him was somehow a drunkard just picking a fight.
This seemed stupid, Lazarus thought as he glanced around. He noticed a few stares from the other adventurers on the street, some looking with excitement expecting a brawl and some looking with concern.
Lazarus wasn’t in the mood to fight so he simply glanced back at the Gorilla and sighed. “I don’t have time for this nonsense.” He then proceeded to walk past the stupid ape, after walking further up ahead, he stopped, hearing a red hot rising tone from behind.
“You really sound conceited you little shit!!!” Said the gorilla as he stared down at Lazarus with a glare. The people around Lazarus didn’t really want to get involved, after all, nobody liked to deal with a drunkard.
Around The gorilla’s neck was a platinum necklace with a ‘V’, indicating that he was a high ranked adventurer, all the more reason for people to not get involved.
Lazarus knew this and thought this wouldn’t end well. It was a hassle to fight but then again, he also wasn’t willing to apologize just for the sake of it.
The two continued to stare at one another for a moment, the gorilla’s clenched fist shivered for a moment, his eyes blinking rapidly, a droplet of sweat formed on the corner of his forehead making Lazarus raise a brow at this seemingly sober reaction.
The gorilla gulped some air, for a moment hesitating, then he released the air slowly, as if strengthening his resolve.
Then he suddenly dropped the bottle on his arm, bashed his chest and let out a savage roar, making Lazarus eyes narrow.
The gorilla’s muscular legs bulged for a moment, before he suddenly sprung forward like a bullet, his figure turning to a blur from the speed.
His figure reappeared nearly instantly in front of Lazarus with his muscular arms raised. The onlookers, simply astounded by the speed couldn’t even let out a voice.
Lazarus, knowing he couldn’t dodge, immediately raised both of his arms like a shield and clenched his teeth.
And with a slam. A shockwave burst out from the collision of their arms as the ground beneath Lazarus, trembled and crackled violently.
The onlookers eyes were widened, staring at the scenery in horror and amazement.
They weren’t sure whether to be impressed by the gorilla’s brute strength or that Lazarus, who they expected to be squashed, had withstood the immense power with his little arms alone without a hint of using mana or any reinforcement spell.
Lazarus had felt his bones ripple. Ignoring the pain, he quickly flung the beast’s arms away, his feet turning to a blur as he spun and planted his heel on the gorilla’s chin; making a faint coat of light ripple in his cheeks for a moment before the beast’s head jolted to the side.
In that instant, Lazarus with his knee bent and his arm retracted; suddenly thrust forward like a loaded gun, drove his palm deep into the abdomen of the gorilla; causing yet another faint blue ripple of light to flicker where he had hit.
Despite the protection from the mana barrier, a direct hit by the brute strength of a supersoldier still caused his innards to ripple as he let out a violent cough while staggering back from the force.
Making use of the mini-stun he dealt, Lazarus took a step forward and kicked the gorilla’s left leg to the side, where all of his weight was focused. The ape stumbled and fell with loud thud.
“What amazing technique….” A man wearing leather armor uttered. The people around him were in awe of his fighting style. One they’ve never seen before, yet it was very well refined and almost artistic.
Of course, with the years in VR, as a soldier he trained a variety of martials arts developed in earth.
Although, Lazarus himself was relatively amazed, not by his own technique but because of the resilience of mana barriers.
The blow he dealt would normally kill a person together with his enhanced strength, so he at least expected the gorilla to cough out some blood.
As much as he wanted to continue his attacks, it was better to let his opponent to calm down.
After all, it might take forever to take down his mana barrier with his fist alone so Lazarus was simply hoping not to drag it out as he didn’t want to get involved with the guards. Not to mention that he didn’t want to draw out his guns in front of a large crowd.
Embarrassed and infuriated. The gorilla slowly stood up with both of his fist clenched, glaring at Lazarus with all of his might. “You little..!” he roared out, his face turning red in anger. “Don’t get too cocky you brat!”
His statement simply made Lazarus sigh from annoyment, as it was quite obvious the idiotic ape wanted to continue.The gorilla, knowing he couldn’t beat Lazarus in hand to hand combat, was willing to take it a step further.
“Burning fury!” The gorilla shouted as his arms were suddenly coated with a bright yellowish runic circle.
“-This damn drunkard ....-” Lazarus cursed under his breath as he felt a hot throb from his head before forming a stance.
“Hey isn’t this kinda bad? His already using magic….” Said a man in the crowd with concern. “And his also a platinum ranked adventurer… this is seriously bad….”
“I’m calling the guards….” Said a concerned female knight with brunette hair before she dashed away and left.
The gorilla raised his fist and swung down on Lazarus, who quickly jumped to the side to prepare for a counter attack. But the moment the beast’s fist plowed the ground, the runic circle in his arm, pulsed and exploded with the force of a grenade, sending Lazarus flying to a nearby wall.
His head bashed against the concrete, creating a human sized hole; inside a panicked young girl holding a teddy bear, stared at Lazarus in horror before she screamed. Dust was filling the air so there was no way for the outsiders to see there was someone there.
Feeling the subtle but rapid shaking of the ground, Lazarus immediately realized that the Gorilla was already rushing towards him with great speed. He arched his hips, both of knee, nearing his face, placed both of his arms behind him, then kicked with both legs as he shoved the ground behind him away.
Now on his feet, Lazarus clenched his teeth as he shot a livid glare at the Gorilla in front of him, its right arm already far at the back of his head, prepared to swing at him with crushing force.
Knowing the girl who was behind him, Lazarus heart throbbed violently as he moved his head to the side, with the Gorilla’s fist just passing an inch away from his cheeks, in that instant, his legs sweeped to the side, turning on his back, pushing his left shoulder on the Gorilla’s chest as it was still being carried forward by the momentum of its powerful punch.
Lazarus gripped his chest fur, his muscles bulged before the ape’s body was suddenly lifted into the air, then slammed to the ground with a thunderous crashing sound. All in a split second.
The people were silenced, eyes widened and staring. Lazarus’ forehead trickled down sweat as he let out a soft sigh, somewhat relieved that the Gorilla’s fist didn’t make contact with the ground, as it would’ve in fact, caused yet another explosion, hitting the young girl in the process.
In that moment of silence, the crowd suddenly erupted into a violent cheer.
“WOoooOOOoO!!!!” A man screamed, his fist pumping into the air.
“Incredible skill, perfect execution and that astounding strength…..” Muttered a fully armored adventurer with spiky hair, his eyes staring at the irritated Lazarus, with admiration and amazement.
Everyone felt the adrenaline rushing through their veins, the thrill of the battle was something that rekindled their battle spirits.
But then the cheers were silenced. The Gorilla slowly stood up. Of course, it was to be expected. After all, how could a mere throw even deplete his mana barrier?
Lazarus knew this and slowly stepped away, walking back slowly keeping his attention on the Gorilla, then turning his gaze back to the girl through the hole in the house.
Nodding to himself, he was already sure he was already far enough away from her.
The crowd immediately realized that there was indeed, an innocent bystander. The Gorilla was also staring at the young girl in horror, her tear filled eyes caused his heart to squeeze. His Jaw slacked, his eyes widened and his palms opened and slightly quivering.
Clenching his teeth, he looked away, realizing what he’d done.
“HEY!! Who’s causing so much Ruckus!” A loud yell could be heard. The people turned their eyes, only to notice several fully armored men with a badge on their shoulder.
Amidst the confusion, Lazarus turned a corner. The guards, noticing the Gorilla nearby the hole in the house, immediately ran towards him, surrounding him.
The Gorilla didn’t move, his eyes slowly turning to a black corner in between the houses. [-With this-...... with this-.... you’ll let my son go….-] he thought quietly to himself.
The guards seized the Gorilla, pushing him to the ground and locking his arms with chains that had several runic symbols.
Though the guards yelled, the Gorilla couldn’t hear them. He simply continued to stare into the dark corner, his eyes tearing up. “-I’m sorry….I had no choice...-” he muttered. to the guards, and to the young girl.
But the man he had wanted to apologize most was the man that was long gone from the scene.
* * * * * * *************************************************************************************************************************
In that dark corner, a robed figure with bluish skin revealed by his hands grinned. “Skilled and strong….Not stronger than me... But, still impossible to catch.”
“Glaid. He seemed to be holding back.” Said a larger robed figure behind him.
“No matter. If we have something to keep him, then he won’t go. At least that much is guaranteed.” Said Glaid.
“And what about the bratty Gorilla?”
“We can’t let him go. Not yet. Not until we’ve accomplished what we’ve came here to do.”
The larger robed figure clenched its large fist, that was even larger than a head. His body trembling slightly, aching to crush something.
Seeing this, Glaid snickered. “Falon and the King are expecting results. You will have your turn Belphagor, worry not.”
Hearing this, Belphagor grinned, revealing large wide teeth.
“For now, let us meet with Illidin” Said Glaid, as he left, seemingly satisfied with the newfound information on the combat style of their target.