~ Chapter 92: The collection of skins (Part 1) ~
[Alkelios' point of view]
Tamara was such a sweet and innocent child, I couldn't believe that monster of a human wanted to skin her alive and then sell her as some stuffed statue to some creepy nobleman. The very thought of this made my blood boil, and I wasn't one to forgive the sins of such a monster too quickly.
The moment I laid my eyes on the Black Company's merchant, I released my killing intent and let it pierce that foolish man's body. Feeling that his life was in danger, he screamed in panic and looked around for someone to help him. His eyes fell on Kalderan, who was still recovery from the battle, and quickly ran towards him, half naked as he was.
“Hiii! You! You! Kalderan, right? Bugah-!” he asked as he fell face first on the dirt at his feet.
You could clearly see it in his eyes the disgust the Russian held for this poor excuse of a human being.
“You... You will help me right? I'm gonna pay! I pay handsomely too! The money I would have given everyone, I'll give to you! Just... just don't let that man harm me!” the merchant begged with his eyes and nose running like a broken faucet while clinging to Kalderan's clothes.
Despite his groveling, my friend didn't even look him in the eyes. He felt utterly disgusted by his behavior, but then, the merchant said something he shouldn't have.
“I know! What if I give you back that woman? The one who sold herself for you? Your lover, right? What if I give her to you? I kept her in the best condition! I was on my way to sell her to a Duke, but you can have her for free! She's there, in the first carriage! Just save me!” he begged.
Kalderan froze when he heard this. His expression read only shock and horror. The reason for this was because there was only one life sign in the carriage, the one belonging to the woman who was barely hanging to her life after she had been skinned alive by that man.
“You want her, right? Right?” the merchant begged.
The rage flared up Kalderan's eyes and immediately kicked the merchant away from him while showering him with all the swear words he could think of. The language those curse words were in varied from the human one, to eastern draconian, Russian, English, French, and a bunch of others I never heard off. It was like his passive translator couldn't handle his rage. He then aimed his weapon at him and began to shoot around him until a whole clip was empty.
When it was over, there was a complete silence that fell over this entire place, only the whimpering trembles of the merchant and the heavy huffs of Kalderan could be heard as he tried to calm down his breath.
“Are you alright?” I asked as I got close to him.
Tamara was clinging to my clothes while hiding behind me.
“I-I'm fine... Just... that... Sofia... she... she's here... or rather...” he then looked at the first carriage and his expression turned to one of grief “AAA!” he cried out as he clenched his hands around the grip of his weapons.
Tears then rolled down his cheeks and his shoulders trembled from what he was feeling, from what he was going through.
I couldn't imagine the anguish that had just struck him. If I were to be told that Seryanna's body had been stuffed by this guy, in my grief, I would have probably unleash nonstop [Itsy Bitsy BOOM!] attacks all over this continent without caring at all for the innocents I killed in the process, and this very thought scared the hell out of me!
Maybe such a thought was a bit of an exaggeration, and I wouldn't do that. Besides, this poor excuse of a human being didn't have the power to touch even a hair on my wife's head. Either way, it was clear that I wasn't going to let him live now. If the bandits I hunted down so far were met with the sharp edge of my sword, why shouldn't this scum meet the same fate?
“Y-You! HOW DARE YOU!” the merchant shouted and pointed in anger at us.
I looked back at him and blinked surprised.
“Don't you know who I am?!” he shouted.
“Hm... does anyone really care?” I asked.
“HOW DARE YOU! I am Ghabarat Vadam, an honorable member of the Black Company! If you dare touch me, you will face our wrath! There will be no hole on this continent where you can hide! No one to back you up and help you! We even own the King of the Ten Swords Kingdom!” he declared as he pointed at me.
He had a name? Wait, that's not important. I thought and then asked “So... you are basically trash?”.
“You! You are insolent and annoying! Don't you know the fearsome power of the Black Company?!”
“Alkelios, do you remember what I said yesterday?” Kalderan asked as his hands trembled from anger.
“About him? Hm, I think so.” I tilted my head to the left.
I didn't see why it should matter to me personally, but I could understand that they were a group who didn't back away from using kidnapping and other underhanded means of persuading their targets to do as they pleased. In other words, they were a threat to all those around me who were weaker than I was and from what this man said, they could influence the country's laws in such a way that I could become enemy number one.
Then again... aren't I already an enemy of Ten Swords as a Duke of Albeyater Kingdom? I thought to myself.
“If the Black Company can't hunt you down, it will hunt down all those close to you! Every man, woman, or child who got close enough to you to even be called an acquaintance will be targeted! And don't think they won't ever know for I have recorded everything with this ring of mine! Right now, someone in the Black Company knows about you and this fight!” shouted Ghabarat who looked like was going to pop a vein.
“Hm, is that so?” I said and then moved in front of him faster than he could see.
With a swing of my sword, I cut off his hand at the wrist.
“GYAAAH!” he screamed in pain the moment he realized what just happened.
It was the hand with the ring. Looking at it, I then used [Identificus Processus Juridicus] on it. This was what the window only I could see showed me:
(Ring of Absolute Vision): A creation of a powerful enchanter, this ring can be connected to a (Sphere of Vision) on which it can project a perfect visual representation of everything that's happening around the user on a 20 meters radius. By fusing it with magic, it can also send an audio recording.
So basically, it's a mini-camera. I thought and then said “Interesting.”
“M-My hand!” Ghabarat cried as he held his bleeding stump.
“Oi! Can you hear me over there? I gave this thing enough juice to work, so it should. Well, here's the deal.” I said as I looked at the ring while showing a smile. “I would advise this Black Company of yours not to meddle with me or those acquainted with me least they wish to be completely destroyed. I don't have the time to hunt each and every you down, but you need only give me a good reason, and there won't be a hole in which you can hide from my wrath.” I showed them a kind smile.
“What sort of fool threatens the Black Company?” the merchant asked.
“The type that has both the strength and the backing to put your little company to shame.” I said and showed him a smile, then I looked back at the ring. “Your little friend here, the owner of this hand, messed around with me and managed to get on my bad side. Now, you wouldn't be the first criminal organization I crushed, nor the first army I turned to dust, so don't think you can threaten me with force. But I suppose you would need a bit of proof. So here's the thing, starting today, keep an eye on your profits and sales. You'll see the extent of my network... You'll see against whom you are fighting. Don't worry, I'll make sure it stops in a week's time, but... certain aspects of your 'business' will be gone for good.” I showed them a smile and then crushed the ring, cutting the transmission.
“A-Are you mad?” said the merchant surprised.
“No, I'm perfectly crazy.” I laughed.
Kalderan didn't say anything, he just looked at me to see where I was going with this.
What I planned on doing was simple. I was just going to make a few simple wishes.
So I took a deep breath and then shouted at the sky: “I wish that all the members of the Black Company will suffer incredible losses for the duration of seven days starting now. I wish that all the members of the Black Company will have the lowest sale numbers ever registered and if possible none for the duration of seven days starting now. I wish that the authorities and officials of settlements where the Black Company members operate will find an increasing number of compelling evidences to use against them. I wish that all those targeted by the Black Company in the following seven days will find some way, outside help, or lucky chance to escape their clutches. I wish that the Black Company would effectively stop using, buying, and selling children slaves and that those already owned by them would be set free in a way that they can have a new chance at life.”
It was both a limited and complicated way to express the simple idea of 'I wish to crush the Black Company', but if I were to use that wording, I might have unwillingly caused continent-shattering earthquakes that would have affected the whole world. Then again, I was a bit afraid of wishing for something that could be seen as blunt abuse of my luck. The words the God-like told me in that place, that we all had our own natural counter, still remained etched in my mind. If I ended up threatening the safety of this world, it was clear that he would send a counter after me. This time, I was Kronius' counter because he was the one that went wild. I had to do everything I could to avoid such a fate and safely returned to my redhead dragoness wife.
“Are you mad? Do you think wishing like that will stop the Black Company?” asked Ghabart.
“Who knows? So, Kalderan, what do you want to do with him?” I asked as I pointed at the merchant.
He glared at him and then looked at his weapons. A single bullet was enough to kill him. An enchanted one would simply be too much.
I watched Kalderan as he struggled with his inner emotions, trying to decide whether he should pull the trigger or not. If he did, it wouldn't matter. As for reasons, there were plenty. Not only was this merchant a ruthless bastard, but he was also affiliated with the Black Company. If this wasn't enough, the remains of Sofia, Kalderan's lover, were inside that first carriage. He had more than enough reasons to put a bullet in his head.
“So, what will it be?” I asked when I thought that he finally came to a conclusion.
“P-Please d-don't.” the man begged as he held his bleeding hand.
I was surprised he didn't faint already.
Kalderan lifted his gun and aimed at the merchant. He looked him in the eyes and then pulled the trigger. The bullet cut through the air and barely grazed the merchant's cheek.
“Hiii!” the merchant cried and stumbled back.
“You are a THING that's not worth killing. I feel like if I were to shoot you, I would not get revenge, I would just stain my weapons with the most filthy garbage in this universe.” he threw these words of disgust at the merchant and then lowered his gun.
“Ha-haha-ha! Y-You cannot k-kill me! Y-You are a-afraid of the B-Black C-Company!” he said with an ugly smile filled with snot and tears.
“Well, I think it's the right choice.” I nodded and then stepped between the merchant and Kalderan.
“W-What are you trying to d-do?” the merchant asked.
“He won't kill you because you are a piece of trash. It just so happens that today I'm the garbage man.” I showed him a smile and then plunged the tip of Hell in his stomach.
“Guh!” he looked in shock at the sword as the blood flowed out of his gut. He then raised his head and looked into my eyes “W-Why?”
At the angle I was at right now, nobody could see my face except for him, so I turned my eyes into those of a dragon.
“Because you disgust me.” I replied and then twisted the handle of my sword.
He screamed in pain, but this wasn't the end. As I turned my eyes back to normal, I fueled Hell with Magic Energy and released several Shadow Spikes from it. His body looked as if a needle grenade exploded inside of him. When the spikes retreated, I made my sword devour his remains. A black shadow extended from the handle and engulfed the merchant's body. A moment later, he was no more. The shadow had turned him into spare energy.
“You don't even deserve a grave.” I said as I sheathed Hell and turned around to look at Kalderan.
“Thank you.” he said and lowered his eyes.
“No problem.” I nodded “But don't think that I just take someone's life whenever I please. No matter my noble rank or authority in a country, a man's life can only be judged by their actions. Those who choose to reform may get a second chance, while the others will be sent to pay a visit to the gods of death.” I said and then looked at Risha, the woman who refused to join her companions in battle. “Being hired as an escort doesn't mean you become an assassin the client can command as he pleases.” I told her.
At that time, I didn't realize that I was passively using my Golden Scale authority and released the same pressure Feryumstark often used when he was sitting on his throne.
Risha flinched when she heard me and then nodded with a tremble.
I then looked at the three whom I defeated. They kept their distance from me and waited for my orders, or rather decision regarding what was to become of them.
“Take your horses and return to Soldra. If the Black Company contacts you, tell them that I will keep my word and show them my might.”
“Understood.” they nodded and then left without asking any other questions.
There was no reason for them to remain here, no profit and nothing to gain. Today, they simply picked the wrong job, but people like them were usually paid partially or in full before leaving on the escort quest, to ensure their loyalty on the road, so they probably had their repair bills covered.
It was only after they left that I came to realize that I was passively using my authority, leading me to promptly deactivate it.
“Kalderan... What are we going to do about this?” I asked him as I walked up to him.
When he looked back at me, I pointed at the half-flayed woman who was left for dead in the carriage.
We both then turned our heads and looked into her eyes. She was begging us to end her suffering. Thus, without hesitation, Kalderan put a bullet between her eyes.
“An unfortunate fate...” I said and then shook my head.
Kalderan walked up to the first carriage and opened the side, to reveal its contents.
“S-Sofia...” he said and then fell on his knees with tears in his eyes.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
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