༺ Underground Arena ༻
A week later, the dark alley was still filled with unrest and a dangerous atmosphere.
If there was a difference from the last time, today’s dark alley had a slight sense of excitement.
Previously, there were many people who looked menacing, such as retired soldiers, illegal mercenaries, and underworld adventurers.
However, today, there were far more people on the streets who appeared to be ordinary guests, such as civilians, merchants, and even nobles.
With these people, the dark alley seemed more lively.
“A potion that heats up both customers and partners with just one drop! No need to look anywhere else! We sell the cheapest here!”
“Magic scrolls you can’t find even in magic towers! If you’re interested in forbidden magic, take a look around!”
Of course, they didn’t want to know what kind of deals they were making, so they didn’t pay any more attention to the street and headed straight for their destination, the brothel.
Since the tattooed man seemed to have already remembered my face, he immediately guided Sylvia, and this time, they were able to enter the brothel without any difficulty.
For some reason, Sylvia, whom they met after a long time, was again in the appearance of a freckled girl.
“How long are you going to keep that disguise?”
“Why? Don’t you like it? It’s still a pretty face, though.”
It wasn’t that it looked bad. It just felt awkward because the expression didn’t match the face.
The appearance of sitting with crossed legs and a seductive smile on the face of an innocent-looking country girl was mixed with the atmosphere of this place, giving a quite dangerous vibe.
Sylvia grinned and propped her chin.
“She was originally a girl working in the brothel. I borrowed her face.”
“As you know, my original appearance is wanted, right? If I come in as a new person, I’ll be suspected, but if I disguise myself as someone who already existed, I won’t be noticed as much. To avoid a headache in advance, I usually work in the brothel like a real maid. Everyone is completely fooled.”
Sylvia’s disguise skills don’t just change the face. She can perfectly imitate height and voice by transforming bones and vocal cord muscles.
Whether it’s the Empire’s intelligence department or members of other criminal organizations, finding Sylvia in hiding is never an easy task. Moreover, this area is her territory.
By the way, if she borrowed the face, it means there are two people with the same face in this brothel.
“What happened to the original owner of that face?”
Then, Sylvia smiled dangerously and said.
“She seemed to be sold because of her debt, so I sent her back to her hometown with a generous compensation. I also took necessary measures so that she wouldn’t be sold by her parents again.”
Why does she make such a wicked expression after doing something good?
Anyway, I have a strong intuition that the proper measures she mentioned are by no means peaceful. She’s always loathed people who sell women to brothels.
Anyway, that’s enough for the introduction.
It was time to get to the main reason they came here.
“Is the information ready?”
“Of course. Who do you think I am? Even if I’ve retired from active duty, where do you think my skills have gone?”
Sylvia put her hand into her collarbone and pulled out a piece of paper. Then, she casually handed it to me.
“You’re not taking it? My hand hurts.”
I took the paper with a stiff expression, trying not to hide my nervousness. From the paper, I could smell a strange woman’s scent, whether it was perfume or the smell of skin.
For a moment, I closed my eyes tightly, put the thoughts about the scent far away, and immediately unfolded the paper to check its contents.
The content written on the paper was not very long. However, as I read the short text, my expression became stiffer and stiffer.
All my speculations about Ella were true.
This document contained detailed information that supported my speculation concisely.
Based on Ella’s personal information and a comparison with the records of the Empire’s information guild, the mercenary group that visited our village 20 years ago was actually the disguised Iona Royal Knights.
They were accompanied by a girl who matched Ella’s description and took her to the royal castle of Iona.
However, it was written that her whereabouts after that could not be found.
The next content contained information related to Ella’s identity.
The last king of the Iona Kingdom, Vittore the 3rd, had once studied at the Philion Academy.
And during his study in the Empire, he spent a short night with a maidservant. That maidservant gave birth to a child with the same blond hair as Vittore the 3rd.
In addition, it was written that the maidservant continued her life in the capital and eventually returned to her hometown village with her father.
It was easy to guess that the maidservant mentioned here was Ella’s mother, who used to run an inn in the village.
The meaning of this document was one thing.
Ella was not living happily within the capital.
Although I wished it wasn’t so, that was the truth.
After checking all the contents, I tore the paper and threw it into the fireplace.
The paper was soon engulfed in flames and burned, leaving only ashes behind.
I stared at the burning fire and black ashes in silence for a while.
Sylvia, who had been watching me, cautiously asked.
“It’s a rule to burn the information right after reading it… but you seem unusually emotional, don’t you?”
I sighed deeply and opened my mouth.
“Is this all you found out?”
Although the document stated that Ella was the illegitimate child of the Iona king and her last whereabouts were the Iona royal castle, there was no information about what had happened to her afterwards.
Sylvia nodded in response.
“That’s all we could find out in a week. You know, don’t you? That the Iona Kingdom was almost destroyed overnight.”
I knew. The capital of the Iona Kingdom, Carya, had collapsed from within due to an unidentified ritual conducted by the Immortal King.
The horde of undead that appeared from within the city, not outside the walls, had transformed the city into hell in an instant.
With a slightly fatigued expression, Sylvia crossed her legs the other way.
“The Dark Guild and the Information Guild in the city disappeared that day as well. So, it’ll take some time to find more detailed information. We have to ask the survivors of the kingdom or something. We can’t send an informant to a land that’s practically no different from a different continent.”
Sylvia looked at me with a meaningful expression.
“There was one person who might have known royal information, but that person died a few days ago.”
“You know, don’t you? The last princess of the destroyed kingdom who fled to the Empire. The intelligence department was keeping an eye on her because of her importance, but she managed to pull off such a wicked act during a lapse in surveillance due to her inactivity over the past decade or so. She must have had a deep grudge against the elves.”
The lightless green eyes flashed through my mind and disappeared.
Well, it wouldn’t have made much difference even if Daisy had been alive.
This information was obtained from her, and since Daisy would have been young at the time, she wouldn’t have known anything more detailed than this.
The unidentified ritual was conducted by the Immortal King. The Iona bloodline was offered as sacrifices.
However, this information alone wasn’t enough to confirm Ella’s fate. Perhaps it was impossible to completely rule out the possibility that Ella had escaped alive.
Or maybe I just wished for that.
To be honest, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do after finding out this information.
Whether I wanted to meet her if she was alive, or if I simply wanted to relieve my guilt.
But once started, it was right to see things through to the end.
“You said you had a favor to ask me.”
For the first time, a girlish smile appeared on Sylvia’s face.
“Now― ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the undefeated hero! The indomitable warrior! The new star of the underground arena!”
I entered the arena wearing a black mask that completely covered my face.
In the center of the arena, a beautiful woman with a flamboyant appearance was introducing the contestants through a magical loudspeaker, and that woman was none other than Sylvia in disguise.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome with a round of applause! ‘Iron Fist Ian’!”
I clenched my eyes shut at the terrible name.
For reference, the pseudonym Sylvia had initially suggested was much worse. Chaos Devil, Black Heart, Silent Lancer… they were all nicknames that were hard to listen to with a clear mind.
I desperately refused the nicknames Sylvia suggested and decided on the pseudonym ‘Ian’, slightly altered from my real name. Sylvia, however, insisted that just ‘Ian’ was boring, and reluctantly added the nickname ‘Iron Fist’ in front of it.
Still, ‘Iron Fist Ian’ was better than ‘Chaos Devil’, so I had no choice.
Despite Sylvia’s enthusiastic hosting, the audience’s response was not very enthusiastic. Most of them clapped out of courtesy, but they were not passionate, and it was understandable. To the audience, I was just an unremarkable newcomer.
However, the audience’s reaction to my opponent was completely different from mine.
“Now, let me introduce the next contestant! You all must know him well! The legend of the underground arena! The terrifying man who brutally tore apart 99 challengers! ‘Bloody Storm Sword Gurun’!”
“Bloody Storm Sword!! Bloody Storm Sword!!”
“We’ve been waiting for you, champion!”
Amid the passionate response of the audience, the man who entered the arena was unmistakably a swordsman of Eastern origin.
He tied his long hair back like a nobleman and stared at me from the opposite side, full of energy like a sharp sword.
Bloody Storm Sword Gurun spoke to me in a heavy voice.
“You are not a swordsman.”
“However, you should wield a sword. You don’t seem to be able to use magic, and if you collide with my sword barehanded, you will die.”
Half of what Bloody Storm Sword said was correct.
It’s not that I can’t use magic, but I’m just suppressing it.
If I were to use my Body strengthening technique, my dark magic would be exposed, and rumors of a demon appearing would spread, causing chaos in the area.
I crossed my arms and answered casually.
“I think I’ll be fine without one.”
Even without weapons and magic, I didn’t feel a sense of crisis in this situation at all.
Though I simply stated a fact, Bloody Storm Sword twisted his lips and exhaled a deep murderous intent, as if he thought I was provoking him.
“Heh heh… I intended to show mercy out of sympathy, but you chose death yourself. This outcome is of your own making.”
“You’re quite talkative for someone who’s said to have torn apart ninety-nine.”
“Ha! And now you’ll be the hundredth!”
Sylvia raised her hand outside the arena and shouted.
“The match begins!”
As soon as the declaration started, red magic flickered like flames from Bloody Storm Sword’s sword and entire body.
The flickering magic like flames meant that his Body strengthening technique had reached the highest level, and unlike the usual blue magic, the red magic was evidence of impure power, which meant he had mastered dark martial arts.
Affected by the dark martial arts, Bloody Storm Sword charged at me with a cruel smile in his murderous eyes.
“Hahahaha! I’ll finally see blood after a long time!”
I didn’t focus on the charging Bloody Storm Sword, but instead looked at Sylvia outside the arena.
She winked at me with one eye as if she had no doubt about my victory.
She had told me to knock him down as overwhelmingly as possible…
“What are you looking at, kid! Die—!!”
In that brief moment, the tip of Bloody Storm Sword’s sword stabbed towards me. At the same time, my thought speed accelerated dramatically.
It felt as if the sword’s tip, which seemed to pierce my chest any moment, was slowing down, and the excited noises of the surrounding audience became more distant.
In the slowed-down reality, only I moved at my original speed and grabbed Bloody Storm Sword’s sword with my bare hand.
Horror filled Bloody Storm Sword’s eyes as the sword imbued with sword energy shattered by my bare hand.
I threw a punch at his face.
The surroundings sped up again, and Bloody Storm Sword flew to the end of the arena, crashing into the wall.
There was no consciousness in his expression as he drooled, jaw agape, possibly with a broken jawbone.
All the audience saw was Bloody Storm Sword, holding a broken sword, flying in the blink of an eye.
Unable to comprehend the spectacle, the audience opened their mouths in a daze.
The arena was engulfed in silence.
You can rate this series here.
Advanced chapters available on genesistls.com
Illustrаtiоns on our discоrd – discord.gg/genesistls