Chapter 50: A harsh reality
A ear-piercing round of screams first sounded, then all sorts of noises followed, coming from a house on the left side of the alley. After a while, Beacher and the others came out dragging a bedraggled Claude, who wasn’t quite there.
Irene’s face was full of rage as she grimly lectured Claude while staring at him. She spoke vehemently, “Claude, you’re disgusting. I never want to see you again! Katie, let’s go.”
With the way that things had developed, Han Shuo knew that his revenge had been exacted and that there was no further need to stick around. When he saw Irene and Katie walking quickly in his direction, he hastily hid himself and leisurely made his way back to the hotel.
Back in the hotel, Han Shuo washed up and then sat cross legged on the bed to practice magic. The magical yuan slowly expanded his meridians inch by inch. Han Shuo grit his teeth against the heart wrenching pain and continuously circulated his magical yuan according to the instructions of the “open passages realm”.
Unbearable pain often accompanied the process of practicing magic. This caused Han Shuo’s personality to shift from its previously lackadaisicalness to firmly resolute. Whether it was his willpower or ability to stoically endure pain, Han Shuo had significantly increased both.
Han Shuo’s entire personality and character had unknowingly continuously changed with the advent of practicing magic. As his strength slowly increased, the previously timid and cowering Han Shuo had already experienced great changes. The way he viewed and understood things were vastly different from the thoughts that he had held prior.
A solid, dull footstep suddenly sounded in Han Shuo’s heart. Han Shuo abruptly stopped all magic practice, held his breath, and concentrated. All his bodily functions instantaneously sank into a frozen and unmoving status.
The footsteps that had sounded until now had been from the southern intersection of the town of Drol and the Dark Forest. Based on the dullness and rhythm of the thumps, Han Shuo could draw the conclusion that this came from a magical creature with high speed. This creature’s weight was definitely heavier than a battlesteed, and their numbers consisted of more than a few.
Creasing his brow, Han Shuo thought for a while and walked out of the hotel, slowly moving towards the direction of the magical creatures, wanting to see what the situation was.
Just as Han Shuo had emerged from the hotel and arrived at the southern streets of Drol, two figures had also rushed over with a look of haste. It was an elderly, thin wizard and a female elven archer with green-tipped ears. The two displayed expressions of shock seeing Han Shuo upon arrival, as if they hadn’t thought that Han Shuo would be here.
“Little fellow, what are you doing here?” The thin, small wizard gazed at Han Shuo and asked with a smile.
From their cautious attitudes, Han Shuo understood that they had most likely also detected the disturbance coming from the south. Weighing things up internally, Han Shuo made a slight bow and responded, “Noble wizard, I’ve become separated from my companions. They said they would return here after a few days, so I’ve been waiting here.”
The wizard nodded and frowned in consideration. He said to the female elven archer next to him, “Blanche, go scout and see if it’s wolf riders from the orcs. They always send wolf riders every year before winter to raid and loot the villages on the outer edge of the Empire.
But the town of Drol is in a unique location and is filled with large quantities of adventurers and mercenaries. The orcs had never sent wolf riders to attack Drol, why would they act so oddly this time? Not to mention that there was still quite a bit of time before winter!”
“Yes, Master Felix.” Upon hearing the old wizard Felix’s words, the female elven archer called Blanche immediately headed south, floating in front of Han Shuo like a gust of wind.
“Little fellow, the town of Drol isn’t a peaceful place. It’s late at night, so you should head back early to rest. Your companions should come looking for you when they return, so there’s no need to continue waiting here.” Felix looked at Han Shuo with a smile as he tried to convince Han Shuo.
“Alright, then I’ll be heading back now.” Han Shuo responded calmly and started picking his way back as soon as he’d finished speaking.
After Han Shuo had left, Felix mused as he stared oddly at Han Shuo’s retreating figure. He finally murmured to himself after a while. “I must be overthinking the situation… there’s no way that this kid is more perceptive me, a wind archmage!”
On his way back to his hotel, Han Shuo noticed that a few others walked out from nearby hotels with the same surprised expression, hastily making their way to the southern street. It looks like they too had detected the disturbance and had gone to the southern street to check things out.
“Bryan, I have some matters with you! Come here for a second!” On the way back, Han Shuo bumped into Claude on the street to the hotel. Claude’s face was heavily overcast, and it appeared that he was in an exceedingly bad mood.
His heart skipping a beat, Han Shuo had a vague premonition of unease. He could strongly feel repressed rage emanating from Claude. Although Claude looked at him with a calm gaze, his teeth were gnashing slightly, still enabling Han Shuo to feel the strong ripples in his emotions.
Staring at Claude dumbly, Han Shuo thought furiously. At this moment, Han Shuo understood that his actions in the hotel just now had still been too heavy handed and impulsive. When Claude had sobered up, he would have surely detected his body’s condition and certainly deduced that it was something caused by the Purple Leylan in the hotel. Claude wasn’t a stupid person. Only Irene and Han Shuo had been at the table then, and Irene would never do anything like this. Connecting the dots to when the waiter suddenly tripped, Claude must have sussed out the entire situation.
“Okay.” Han Shuo thought carefully and knew that the situation was bad. He was prepared for a brutal beating from Claude as he followed behind the knight, walking slowly out of Drol and arriving at a secluded patch of forest to the south of Drol.
Moonlight filtered through the forest as bugs chirped lightly nearby. However, Han Shuo’s sensitive ears were able to catch the low breathing from Claude’s strongly repressed fury.
Looks like it’ll be quite a beating. Han Shuo thought wryly, but didn’t feel too much fear. He had gotten used to the beatings during this time and knew his body’s situation quite well. He knew that the usual type of blows would be unable to hurt him, so his heart was relatively calm.
Just when he was thinking wryly, a ringing slap sent him staggering towards the left before he was able to react preventatively. It was a good thing that Han Shuo’s body far outstripped normal people’s. He steadied himself in the mess, regained his footing, and scrunched up his face as he smiled wryly at Claude.
“You damned lowly slave. Pig! Who do you think you are to scheme against me!?” Claude’s firmly repressed anger had finally exploded. An ugly, vehement face stared at Han Shuo as his usual, sunny, gentlemanly demeanor had long since vanished above the clouds.
Pilapala. A wave of attacks rained down on Han Shuo’s body. Han Shuo clutched at his head with both hands and didn’t raise them to defend himself, taking the hits from Claude’s thundering rage. He finally abruptly curled into a ball and fell to the ground, looking like he couldn’t take any more hits.
“Well, does that hurt? I won’t let you die so easily. Do you know who I am? I am Claude Asche, the son of the commander of the Empire’s Gryphon Legion, Commander Bob Asche. You lowly errand boy dares to scheme against me and ruin my relationship with Irene. I will make you experience agony and pain in full before letting you die slowly. Ahaha.” Claude stared venomously at Han Shuo as he drew his longsword with a cold smile, walking slowly towards Han Shuo.
Up until now, Han Shuo had finally understood that he had always committed a huge error. Whether it was Fitch or Bach, his methods had always embodied a large amount of risk. With his status as an errand slave, no matter who killed him, they wouldn’t have to endure too much backlash. Even if Bach killed him, the Academy would probably only admonish him for a few words and demand a few gold coins in compensation.
Han Shuo had originally thought that Claude would at most brutally beat him up for a prank like this, but the result now had finally facilitated Han Shuo in understanding the harsh reality. Claude not only wanted him to die this time, but also wanted him to fully experience agony and pain before dying. This was the harsh reality.
At the moment, Han Shuo finally understood what kind of world this was. Status and position were a foundational, integral existence. A yawning difference in status existed between the two, allowing Claude to kill him without reservations and without a need to bear any particular responsibility. Claude had called him to this deserted forest because he didn’t want to ruin his noble status and self. Even if he’d killed Han Shuo in Drol, it would have been quite matter of fact with no one thinking about it twice.
Growth always came at a cost. Han Shuo curled up on the ground, still emitting loud wails and pleas for mercy. A heart, that only held vague thoughts of evil, slowly hardened with cold.
“I will dice you into several pieces, letting you wail as you bleed. You will slowly, fully experience pain before dying. Remember your status in your next life. You’re a mere errand slave, a pig. Never attempt to challenge the temper of your superiors.” Claude snickered sinisterly as the long sword in his hand pierced towards the chest of a Han Shuo who had seemed too long since losing the ability to defend himself.
At this moment, the continuous howls suddenly disappeared as Han Shuo’s curled figure abruptly moved, rolling towards Claude’s feet. His speed was such that it caught Claude off guard.
When Claude was about to dodge, he suddenly emitted a ghastly wail. A few iron needles stuck out from the tops of his feet, firmly nailing his feet to the ground. A wave of bone-cutting pain emanated from his lower abdomen. Claude lowered his head to find a dagger sticking out of his stomach. Han Shuo looked at him with a cold and distant gaze, the look in his eyes giving Claude a very foreign feeling.
“I am the son of the commander of the Gryphon League. You damned errand slave, how dare you harm me?” Claude’s body was wracked with pain as he yelled furiously with a weak voice.
“Thank you for letting me know the harsh truth of reality. It’s because of your vaunted status that not only will I harm you, I’m going to kill you!”
After saying this words in a remote tone, another iron needle appeared in Han Shuo’s right hand and directly pierced through Claude’s throat amidst Claude’s terror-filled screams.