Upon the edges of a rooftop, a figure winked into existence as Kayden dispersed his invisibility. He had escaped to a place that was both hard to access and the least expected, which is the rooftop of the Adventurer’s Guild. Nobody would think for a second that he would return to the scene of the crime after running away.
The building that he was sitting on was three stories tall, and it took quite a bit of effort for Kayden to climb up here. His long legs hung off the edge as his feet dangled in front of a window. If anybody were to look outside this particular window, they would receive the shock of their life.
“Well, probably not. Adventurers are a tough bunch, having faced countless extraordinary situations. They would simply open the window and drag me back in.”
Kayden sighed and crossed his legs, hiding them from anyone viewing through that window. He wasn’t sure how many people were coming after him as the whole incident had been completely blown out of proportion. He knew that his reputation as his master’s disciple might attract unwanted attention, but this was the first time a huge accident happened because of him.
‘Master’s reputation can’t protect me forever. Due to the discovery of the new dungeon, foreign adventurers had come to take a piece of the pie. She is like a big fish in a small pond. If you introduce new fish to the pond, those fish won’t know who’s at the top, and they might even be capable of taking over the top spot. The outside world sure is scary…’
Speaking of his master, he had followed the advice his master had repeatedly given him, that it was okay to run away. Kayden had no qualms about it, after all, running was one of Kayden’s greatest strengths.
However, he began to question this advice. If one keeps running away at every sign of difficulty, how could one improve? How would one know if they don’t try? This was one of those topics where both sides are valid yet invalid at the same time.
Kayden thought back to his fight with Matou and realized that things could have ended up differently if he did not choose to follow his master’s advice.
His first reaction back then was to find a way to escape, which ended up with him getting cornered, and it progressively went downhill from there. It may just be hindsight, but there was definitely a better way than he could have gone about it.
For one, if he had chosen to confront Matou right at the entrance, the city lord’s son would have been forced to hold back his full strength so as to not hurt innocent bystanders. The kid was already noticeably holding back from destroying the place, with innocent lives at stake, the kid would be forced to compromise in some way, and that would have been the perfect opportunity to escape.
Instead, he had run into what was basically a death cage where the only exit was going through his opponent. Using hostages as a means may seem terrible to some, but hey, it wasn’t him that chose the battlefield. Besides, it wasn’t in his nature to care about those that didn’t care about him.
He supposed that the advice his master had came from her own life experiences. Being blessed with dimensional magic, running away was even easier for her than for Kayden, so it might have worked out in her favor. She could constantly ‘leave’ to fight another day.
‘I can’t fault her for her advice… Running saves me the trouble of spending money to heal my injuries…'
“Hmm?” He was broken out of his contemplation by the System’s voice.
“I-I’m sorry for what happened. That was my fault. It was set to auto, and I forgot to change it to manual.”
“It’s okay…?” Kayden had no idea what she meant but he assumed that it wouldn’t happen again.
“What’s going to happen now? They seemed like a well-known party and there could be no end to the troubles that they bring to you in the future.”
“Ah, don’t worry about that. My master will probably handle everything— Ah, speak of the devil.”
A pitch-black tear apparated in the air beside him, and a slim leg stepped out, followed by the rest of the body. It was his master, and she nearly tripped from trying to gain a foothold on the slanted roof he was sitting on.
“Kayden! Here are the potions you bought. You left them when you decided to run away.” From a small black portal that floated mid-air, she pulled out the crate with the potions still intact.
Kayden decided it was best to apologize before doing anything else. After all, he had caused quite a big mess and it must have taken quite the effort to clean it up.
“Master, I’m sorry about the—”
“Ah, I already dealt with the people trying to chase you.”
‘As efficient as ever…'
“More importantly,” she grabbed the sides of Kayden’s face and brought it close to his. She had been doing this since he was young, and it no longer flustered him like before. Morgan looked him straight in the eye, before opening her mouth. “Give it to me straight, has something been stressing you out lately?”
‘???’ Kayden was confused. “Excuse me?”
“I heard many things while I was out about fixing things. For example, back at Amon's—”
‘So, this is what she meant. Amon betrayed me!’
Kayden immediately spoke up to deny it.
“I didn’t buy any drugs, I swear!”
“—you were talking to yourself!”
‘Oh, never mind. So this was what she’s worried about.’
“I’m not crazy! I’m perfectly fine.”
Kayden has had enough of people calling him crazy. He wasn’t crazy!
“Pffftttt—Ahahahaha!” A peal of joyful laughter filled his ears as the System couldn’t help but laugh at Kayden’s misfortune.
“Oh, don’t start laughing again…”
“See, you just talked to yourself again!” Morgan shook his head back and forth rapidly as if trying to shake off the voices in his head. He started to grow dizzy.
More laughter filled his ears, making him dizzier than he already was.
Morgan once again stared at him with eyes filled with concern. She then let go of his face and stood up with her fists clenched in front of her.
“Don’t worry, I have a plan to fix this.”
“Okay… and what’s that?” Whatever plan she had couldn’t fix him as there wasn’t anything to fix in the first place.
“I’m bringing you to see a therapist!”
“What? Wait! I’m not mentally ill—”
Morgan clasped Kayden by the shoulders as she shouted, “Get ready!” Sweat started pouring down the sides of his head.
“What for? No! Stooooooo—”
A loud crack silenced Kayden’s desperate screams as they vanished from the spot. Further below, just outside of the first floor of the Adventurer’s Guild, Aisha’s head perked up.
“What’s up?” An attractive, curvy woman with purple hair asked, white smoke flowing out of her mouth from the pipe she just smoked.
“Nothing… I swore I could hear Kayden screaming just now. It’s... probably nothing.” Aisha looked over at her newly assembled party. She had kicked Brandon out of her party after that whole fiasco and Ryan, a friend of his, left with him.
She was now two members short of a five-man party, but she had found good replacements. A mage who could use lightning magic, which was the purple-haired woman, and a brown-haired priestess who could cure wounds.
They were both women, which came as a relief for her. She knew that her scantily-clad self drew the eyes of lustful men, but her abilities made it difficult for her to wear proper armor. It was definitely nice to have female party members for a change.
“Alright. We’ve prepared everything we could possibly need. Potions, gear, weapons, even a vehicle.” She raised her voice with as much confidence as she can muster. “So off we go!”
The party responded with a cheer as they began to set off for their journey.
“I’m deeply sorry, Elaine. But without a translator artifact, I’m afraid there’s not much I could do.”
Sera Silverlake was the city lord’s wife’s cousin, and they were raised together in the same household back in their homeland. Thus, their relationship had grown to become as close as siblings. She was currently doing her best to comfort her distraught cousin after what had happened to her son.
This was part of her job as a therapist, a very uncommon profession that only recently started to gain attention. She had arrived at Dragonsteel city nearly ten years ago to dish out some therapy to the public, as well as see her cousin again. The Dragonsteel family had been declining rapidly in these past few decades and was thus, accumulating a lot of stress, which made her irreplaceable to the family. She herself was also quite happy with continuing her business in Dragonsteel city.
A noble house’s influence directly affects the prosperity of their land as resources from the capital is allocated based on how powerful a noble house becomes. Thus, when a genius like no other was born within the family, they were overjoyed.
Naturally, Sera was happy for them too. Her cousin had given birth to a wonderful son that would carry the name of Dragonsteel to glory. That was why when she found out that said son suddenly lost the ability to speak or understand Common, she grew very worried.
“W-what happened to my baby? I can’t bear to see him like this.” Elaine sobbed as her hands clasped Sera’s; her voice was almost a plea. Sera made a pained expression but had nothing to say.
Max, Matou’s father, was pacing back and forth down the hallway, muttering with every step he took. The hallway had eye-catching paintings that adorned the walls and there was a singular, white door that he didn’t dare enter.
Inside the room was his wife, the therapist, and his son, now with dead, listless eyes that showed no sign of the person he was before. He sighed at the thought that the Dragonsteel family might end if his son couldn’t recover from whatever condition was plaguing him.
‘World-shaking talent! But now look at him!’
With a gloomy expression, he made his way to the velvet green sofa by the door and sat down.
“Ah… I need a smoke…”
As he began to pull out a thick cigar from a box that he kept in his coat pocket, a piercing shriek rang out from inside the room. He was caught off guard and dropped the cigar he was holding, before lunging for the door handle.
Slamming the door wide open, he shouted,
“What happened? Who screamed?”
A puzzling scene emerged as he gazed into the room. The room was sparkly clean as usual, surrounded by blank white walls with some paintings and ornaments to decorate the room. There were three sofas placed tastefully in the middle, and a large white curtain that isolated a corner, where Max presumed where his son was.
The most confusing aspect was the people in the room. The therapist was facing off another woman who he had never met before. Using her cousin’s body as a shield, his wife was cowering while sneaking glances at the other party.
On the other side of the room, there were the newcomers. A black-haired lady with yellow eyes dressed in black and white, and a tall man with brown hair who looked like an adventurer. What was weird about these two wasn’t their sudden appearance, but the positions they were in.
They mirrored the actions of the other party. The lady stood in front, confronting the therapist, while the tall man stood behind the lady, also cowering her.
When Max asked who had screamed, the lady nonchalantly pointed at the man while Sera did so as well to his wife. Now he was confused.
“What… What happened here?”
When Kayden had been dragged into a familiar room, his first thoughts could be summed up as:
He glanced around the room and found two women. Both of them looked similar to each other, like siblings and he had a suspicious feeling that he already knew who both of them were.
“Wait a minute… Isn’t that-? Appraise.”
Therapist. Wolf in sheep’s clothing.
‘Yup, that’s the therapist all right. She looks much older than she did since I last saw her six years ago… Wolf in sheep’s clothing? Level 34? F#ck.’
Kayden had learned already learned what are levels and experience points when he had questioned the System on the various Jargon. Essentially, levels were a way of quantifying a person’s strength. The higher the level, the stronger the person.
He himself was only level 13, so seeing someone nearly thrice his level made him uncomfortable.
City lord’s wife
‘Isn’t this the mother of the kid that arrested me? Her level’s pretty high too… F#ck.’
He then heard a shuffling noise, like the sounds of someone getting up from a bed. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a pale-faced boy with a familiar hairdo, looking at him with a despondent expression. It was Matou.
‘Nah, that can’t be him…’
There was a difference between the boy that arrested him and the boy who stood in front of him. The Matou he knew had an arrogant demeanor that was completely absent in the kid before him, his listless eyes were a stark contrast to the ones that looked at him with scorn. So it definitely wasn’t him.
Unparalleled genius unseen for millennia
In the few seconds that it took him to scan everyone, however, a purple blast of energy flew towards his face, and he couldn’t react in time.
[Target has cast a tier 1 spell: Mind blast]
[User took 30 damage!]
Kayden couldn’t help but yell in pain. Once the blast landed on his face, he felt as if his brain had been put in a blender, and then poured back into his head.
Before he got to even scream, a piercing shriek far more impressive than whatever he could manage blasted everyone’s ears. It was so loud Kayden didn’t even want to scream anymore.
‘Ma’am. I’m the one who got blasted here. Why are you the one screaming? Are you trying to kill me by destroying my eardrums? Is this some sort of tag-team finishing move?’
Once he thought of this, he shuddered and immediately hid behind his master’s back. Only there would he be safe from the two psychos in the room.