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Chapter 23: Turning Crisis into Opportunity (3)

Rubia seemed on the verge of losing her mind.

It was, perhaps, to be expected.

Amidst the auction, an odd demonic sword was suddenly presented as an item for sale.

And then, losing consciousness only to wake up to that monstrous captain inquiring earnestly about the empire’s history.

Moreover,

- Boom!

A massive explosion erupted.

A group in black robes, marked by a fanged emblem on their chest, had infiltrated the auction house.

The Black Fangs. Or more precisely, impostors of the Black Fangs had orchestrated this act of terror here.

Rubia, trembling, sought out the captain’s figure.

However, the captain’s expression was one of utter calm.

He barely furrowed his brow before regaining his composure.

Even as an organization impersonating his own caused terror, his face showed no sign of disturbance.

His serenity was such that it seemed as if he was unaware such an incident had even occurred.

Such a reaction seemed inhuman.

Upon reflection, that man had always been so.

Amid the ominous aura emanating from the sword, when everyone else couldn’t even bear to face it, he alone remained unaffected.

Even as she trembled under the vile curse, he was the picture of tranquility.

He even looked bored, for heaven’s sake.

‘What kind of person is he, really...’

While Rubia was still reeling in shock, the captain calmly observed the chaos from a high vantage point and muttered to himself.

“The name of the Black Fang will hit rock bottom now.”

His tone was utterly indifferent, as if the fate of the Black Fangs mattered not in the slightest to him.

But Rubia couldn’t help but tremble even more.

The implication of those words, especially to those two, was crystal clear.

Upon hearing this, the determination in the black-haired girl’s eyes shifted instantly. As if to prove her utmost loyalty to the captain, the young girl named Siel promptly asked,

“Can I step out for a bit?”

It was a request for permission.

After a brief contemplation, the man instructed the white-haired girl to accompany her.

“Make it quick and come back.”

He ordered.

With those words, the two vanished from the scene in the blink of an eye.

Rubia was terrified by his tone.

The implication to ‘make it quick’ was horrifying—a chilling command to annihilate everyone, delivered with such nonchalance.

The way he casually ordered human lives to be taken, as if sending someone on a mere errand, was profoundly disturbing.

It was too much, utterly inconceivable that they were of the same species.

“Ah, Miss Rubia.”

The monster turned his gaze upon her once more.

Words of pleading surged up to her throat – ‘Please spare me, I’ll do anything, I’ll give anything, just save my life’ – but they never made it out.

She simply couldn’t bring herself to utter them, feeling as though she couldn’t even breathe without the man’s permission.

“Why are you trembling so?”

Rubia understood the implication of his words immediately.

She had just disrupted the man’s mood.

A slave who had been barely clinging to life by serving and financing this man had just shown him something displeasing.

Collapsed on the floor, Rubia could do nothing but weep inconsolably.

She knew it wasn’t right to cry like this, aware that any further annoyance might lead to her immediate execution right then and there.

But the tears just wouldn’t stop.

“It must have been frightening because of the terror, I presume,” he said, his expression sickeningly malevolent.

It was as if he genuinely cared, his face contorted in feigned concern.

To an onlooker, it might appear as though he was genuinely perplexed and trying to console her. That made it all the more terrifying.

A monster, not a human, was mimicking human emotions.

“Don’t worry about those people. They’re nothing to be concerned about.”

But Rubia wasn’t foolish enough to voice her true thoughts, ‘Are you kidding me? It’s not them I’m afraid of, it’s you! You’re the scariest one here, you insane monster!’

So, she tried her best to look compliant and answered timidly, “R-right. So, so scary.”

The man then chuckled at Rubia’s trembling figure as if he found it adorable and said, “Don’t worry. It’s nothing. Give it a few hours, and it’ll feel like none of this ever happened.”

As if he intended to erase this black market and everyone in it from existence.

That was the last straw for her psyche.

Rubia’s consciousness snapped, abruptly cutting off.

*****

Time and again, I’m convinced.

This person is just too cowardly.

How on earth has she managed to survive with such a weak mentality until now?

With a mental fortitude that trembles at the slightest thing, it’s beyond me how she ever conducted business.

‘She must have known that this place is protected by defensive magic.’

It’s a VIP section, after all. 

There’s nowhere safer.

Wouldn’t it withstand even a significant bomb without a scratch?

Though it might crumble under concentrated magical bombardment, logically speaking, there was no reason for that terrorist group to specifically target us with such measures.

Yet here she is, quivering in fear like this.

I even tried to empathize with her fear and reassured her not to worry, but it seemed it was too much to hope for her to have a stronger constitution than tofu.

At this rate, she seemed like the type who’d faint from fear just by stepping into a haunted house.

That’s no exaggeration; she genuinely appeared to have fainted from sheer terror.

I found myself catching Miss Rubia as she suddenly burst into tears and then abruptly collapsed, seating her back down.

Given Miss Rubia’s severe state, even as I lifted her slender frame, my normally robust physical condition seemed of little use.

I removed her mask and gently wiped away her tears and runny nose with a handkerchief.

...An adult woman. She looked to be in her mid-twenties to early thirties, and here I was, tending to her like a babysitter, which made the whole situation utterly dizzying.

’Has ‘Blood and Bone 2’ completely changed genres?’

A big-breasted noona who’s ridiculously cowardly and melodramatic sounds like something straight out of a dating sim, not the grim and dark tone ‘Blood and Bone’ was known for.

It’s gotten to the point where one might seriously wonder if the developers decided to change direction.

‘Maybe that notoriously cruel game studio finally compromised with reality.’

After dealing with Miss Rubia, I returned to my seat to survey the scene beyond the glass.

People panicking and running, bodies in black robes scattered everywhere - utter chaos.

I watched, then it hit me.

Why am I even staying here?

‘There’s really nothing for me to do here.’

Wouldn’t it be better to do something productive instead?

That thought filled my mind.

Yet, my modern conscience held me back.

Even in such a situation, the idea of resorting to theft seemed against my principles.

But then again, upon reflection, those things weren’t all that important.

Up until now, I’ve tried to live somewhat conscientiously, but in a fantasy world where one must survive against impending doom, killing can’t always be avoided.

Non-violence is an unattainable ideal in this bleak universe. I’d avoid it if possible, but hesitation wasn’t an option when action was necessary.

And naturally, theft is a far lesser crime than murder.

To be prepared to kill, yet balk at the idea of stealing amidst chaos, is nothing short of absurd.

‘Where exactly should I feel guilty about what I’m about to do?’

It seemed obvious upon reflection.

Theft is wrong, but stealing from the despicable is almost commendable.

Especially if those ill-gotten gains are used for a noble cause like saving the world?

There couldn’t be a more righteous outlaw.

Moreover, I was already fully equipped for the deed.

The mask I wore was impenetrable to most detection magic.

And my black robe, identical to those of the terrorists, made blending in effortless.

Even if caught mid-theft, there was no concern.

Thanks to the amulet given by Siel, should I sustain any injury, the pair would instantly transport to my side through the shadows.

At this point, it was as if it was divine providence.

The heavens seemed to grant me permission to become a just thief.

‘Miss Rubia would surely appreciate this.’

It’s ironic, considering my lavish spending. I’ve caused significant financial damage to Miss Rubia’s finances.

The abundant magical power flowing through me might as well be considered the tears of Miss Rubia’s labor.

But then, this event unfolded.

An opportunity to grab not only a sword worth the price of dozens of buildings but also all sorts of artifacts as they come.

Only a fool would pass up such an opportunity.

I adjusted my mask and straightened my robe.

Concentrating my magic into my legs, I leaped with all my might.

It was time to become an outlaw with a cause.

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