Unlike last time where he was covered fully in metallic gear, this time his face was fully exposed. The deep cut scars over his nose and under his left eye were the most noticeable but his short prickly hair also stood out.
“What did you say you little brat?” The armoured jerk walked right in front of me with an intimidating stature.
He puffed out his chest, presenting two large pecs drenched in beer and dripping with food.
He’s a mess. Did my little bump earlier do that?
“I’m sorry for bumping into you, it was an accident.”
“Screw that, ya really think I’ll just ignore what ya just said? Huh?!!” He screamed louder.
One by one the eyes of the room doubled until the full attention of the tavern was on the muscular man towering over me.
“Is that kid with red hair and the big guy about to get into a fight?” Someone asked from within the crowd.
“Looks like it, I feel bad for him. I wouldn’t want to get into anything with someone that huge!” Someone else replied.
Even without all of his armour he was intimidating, he only had his greaves and some straps remaining but besides that he was dressed in skin-tight layer with a casual white shirt over that.
I guess I did kind of make fun of him to his face…I need to defuse this somehow though.
Just as I was about to slap my hands together and bow for an apology, my ears perked at the sound of an anxious voice.
I forgot about Kana, I don’t want her to see me like that. I’ve been running from people like this my whole life, being scared, being weak. I’m not weak anymore.
How can I clear an entire dungeon on my own and still look at a guy like this and get scared? How much longer do I want to stay pathetic!
“We’re even.” I said sternly.
“Huh?” His eyebrow lifted up with a confused glare. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that we’re even now, you walked into me last time.”
I stood my ground and kept a firm tone, my legs weren't even shaking anymore. I felt like I was in power, nothing could be worse than fighting those Shadow Prowlers after all.
“You little…” He suddenly raised an arm ready to punch me but I moved just as fast.
With a swift leap to the side I dodged out of his view before the punch could be thrown. The room was spinning slightly but I could still move freely.
A blow to the stomach should bring him down easily.
I tucked down low and sent a straight punch into his gut but didn’t get the reaction I had hoped for…actually I didn’t get any reaction at all.
He was standing perfectly still and didn’t react to my punch in the slightest.
“If that’s all you can do…then you’re dead!” Suddenly a large pressure came barrelling towards my face.
I darted back, just narrowly avoiding the blow but he didn’t end there. I celebrated too quickly and slowed down but he came charging at me.
I held up both arms to defend but it was pointless. A massive weight forced itself through my guard and lifted me off my feet. My body flew through the air like a ragdoll as it slammed into the other side of the room.
By the time I landed I was seeing double but I felt little to no pain.
Did my defence raise more than I thought, he was strong enough to shoot me across the bar but I didn’t feel it. I can’t think about it, I need to get payback.
I dashed forward past the people standing around watching and kept myself low to the ground, when I got close I launched into the air and bounced off the walls to get a better angle.
A powerful aura of white focused around my feet as I darted off of walls and ran around him.
“Stand still you little shit- Hyaaa!” He swung out randomly trying to hit me but nothing landed.
Do you really think you’ll hit me when moving like that you big oaf? I underestimated that study body of his but I won’t need that. I’ve already maxed out my Rabbit’s Foot skill, so I’ll chalk this up to speed.
With his back toward me I had a clear opening and sprang to it, using my Rush Skill I leaped into place and came flying at his back with my leg raised.
At the last second his burly hand caught hold of my ankle with a iron clad grip and spun around.
The momentum of my skill disappeared, he had me at the end of his grasp with nothing to do but wait. After two lengthy spins he eventually slammed me down into the floor, delivering a crashing blow.
“Ack- not…yet.” I planted my arm onto the ground and lifted myself up.
As I got my leg up I felt the crushing blow of his fist force me to the ground. Punch, after punch, after punch.
I tried blocking with my arms but his punches rained down just as brutally as before, destroying my strength altogether.
So this is…the power of…a higher ranked adventurer.
“Huh, get out of the way! Can’t you see that I’m teaching this brat some manners?” He yelled back.
Kana stood over me, holding onto my bruised body and extending herself over me for protection. The armoured jerk stood there still as furious as before but at least this way he stopped throwing those punches.
“Tsk, and who’s going to pay for my drink then, huh?!!”
Suddenly a powerful slam erupted from the end of the room as the lady with orange hair slammed down on one of the countertops. With a single pound of her fist she managed to bring in the attention of the whole room.
“I’m sick of your moaning, I thought men were supposed to fight not bitch! If you want another drink then pay for one and don’t be so quick to drop that one, ALRIGHT?!” Her furious glare was even more intimidating that the armoured jerks.
He quickly glanced over me and winced.
“Tsk! Fine then, someone bring me another beer!” He shouted and walked to one of the tables.
“Rei are you okay, your nose is bleeding!” Kana shifted her attention back to me with a panicked look in her eyes.
Suddenly a radiant figure stood over us.
“Are you just going to stay there in the middle of my bar?” She asked.
“I’m sorry, we’ll leave right away!” Kana replied anxiously.
“Don’t stress it, it wouldn’t be a proper tavern without some brawling here and there. Just try and dish some out next time.” She glanced over to me.
It felt really embarrassing to see Kana pay my share and then still help carry me out of the bar. So many eyes were on us, laughing at me the whole way. I felt ready for the room to swallow me whole…I wanted to die!
I had my arm wrapped over her shoulder as I steadily walked down cobble way to the large layered house. Like most of the houses at that hour, not a single window had any light shining out.
“Are you sure you’re going to be alright? I could help you upstairs.”
“I’ll be fine, I don’t want to bother you anymore. I’m sorry for what happened.” I answered with a fake smile.
“It wasn’t your fault, he threw the first punch. I’m just sorry that…it went that far.”
I couldn't bring myself to look her in the eyes when she spoke, I could hear the disappointment in her voice.
I messed up. I wanted her to see me as a man and I completely fumbled the night, I even got my ass kicked in front of a room of people. I wouldn’t be surprised if she wanted someone else as a client, I might as well forget being able to get her support now.
“I’m sorry that I…Kana?”
I looked up at her and was met with a cherry smile so large that it could almost touch both her ears.
“I can’t believe you were able to move like that! It was totally awesome how you shot around the room, did you get stronger? No, there’s no question about it, you totally blew away my expectations!”
She celebrated like a proud parent, her starry eyes and loud gestures warmed my heart.
“Isn't it bad that I lost to him though, I couldn't even scratch him?”
“Well of course you couldn't, he was easily a silver or higher rank. The rankings aren’t just based on the amount of completed quests you’ve done, it’s an assessment of strength too. He was literally out of your league.”
I don’t know if this is supposed to make me feel better or not…
“Once you get a bit stronger you can challenge him again, I’m sure you’ll beat him up then.” She said energetically while shadow boxing the air in front of me.
Wait a minute it kind of sounds like she’s excited for me to grow stronger, could it be that she’s on board?
“Once I get stronger?”
“We should aim for you to get a Rank Up, so you’ll need to go on some quests and some popularity wouldn’t hurt either. So come see me after you’ve rested okay, make sure to sleep in tomorrow.”
Well I’d count that as full support, with her on my side I could start levelling up even faster than before.