|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 1377 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 3177 words|
Once the man had calmed down, or rather I made him calm down, he sat in front of me and drank from his glass of water. I called him pops because his mustache made him look far older than me, but maybe he was younger than I thought. I prompted him to talk again, and the man, his name was Gurassy, began mumbling about why he was so annoyed and why he was getting drunk to not think about it.
Gurassy came from a large city to the west. He owned a small store, had a wife and children, and while he wasn’t overly wealthy they were happy. That all stopped when the demons attacked, they destroyed the city and killed the inhabitants, pillaging everything they could. Most of the inhabitants of the city perished, with only a few lucky ones surviving the attack. Gurassy had been out in another city stocking up for his store when it all happened, so he managed to survive that way.
As soon as the reports of the attacks came, all cities in Strom entered into high alert, prohibiting people from entering or leaving any city, travelers and merchants included. Gurassy was essentially trapped away from home, had to stay in an inn arranged by the government, and impatiently waited for the moment when he could leave. Once the restrictions were lifted, he hurried home. But…
“I found my city, but everyone was dead. The old man who lived next door, the granny who always looked out for me, the regulars of my shop, and my family too…”
He seemed to spit out the words as he said that. I had expected something like that, losing his family to the demons. He didn’t know exactly how his family died, but it was easy to imagine it was a pitiful and worthless death. There were no bodies or traces left, so they were either fed to monsters, used as guinea pigs for magic experiments, or something worse I refuse to imagine.
He essentially lost his will to keep on living then, wasting away without even worrying about his business, and eventually he came to the capital. He didn’t get here of his own will, but the government had started gathering people like him who had lost everything in the capital. There the government had built temporary shelters in the outskirts of the city and started handing out rations, but apparently that help would not last for long. Even if only a handful had survived, it was a large city so the number of refugees was very high. They were only considered a burden for the government, so after helping them out a bit they would just get cast out to the wild.
“Now that’s harsh…”
“You think so too? But that’s what the people up there think, they act all high and mighty and never care for the common folk!”
I knew the government had its reasons to act this way, but I still sympathized with Gurassy more, and I could see why he drank all day long. Though he was still pretty much a stranger to us, so no matter how I tried to comfort him he probably would assume I did it out of politeness. But there was one last thing to tell him.
“Say, pops. Ya plan on drowning your sorrows with drink and more drink for the rest of your life?”
“What do you mean?”
His eyes were burning with anger. I knew that if he could, he would take a sword and kill as many demons as he could right now. But he was a mere merchant, and no matter how well he was at trading that did not translate to physical strength. He knew that much, so he just came here to get wasted and forget his sorrows. I still wanted to provoke him though, emotions are one of the strongest driving forces behind any person. Be it anger or anguish, if I wanted to push someone to act, I just had to poke at those feelings.
“You know exactly what I mean. Do you want to get revenge? You don’t feel sorry seeing yourself like this?”
“I would if I could! If I was strong I would’ve gotten a weapon and fought a long time ago! But I’m not strong like that! There’s no way a muscular guy like you could understand how I feel!”
Gurassy sprung on his feet, his chair falling back from the momentum, and he yelled while holding the neck of my clothes.
“Then…just get stronger. You can always get stronger regardless of age. It’s not too late yet, if you want…you can do it.”
“Yeah, and I can tell you how. I know of a place where anyone, no matter how experienced or not, can get stronger almost instantly. If you really want to, I’ll tell you where it is. Though you’ll never make it if you aren’t resolved to.”
Strom did not have those training schools, but Bordaule was nearby and had them, including the one taught by probably the strongest instructor in the continent. If he trained under Lapis’ direction, even someone like Gurassy would become much stronger in a short time. He seemed to hesitate for a bit, so I held the neck of his shirt instead and glared into his eyes.
“So what will you do? I couldn’t care less whether you decide to grow a pair and avenge your family, or if you keep running from reality until you kick the bucket. I just know your family will never rest easy though.”
“What was that?!”
He used all his weight to pin me down on the table. He raised his right fist, ready to hit me with it. The waitress and other clients watched in suspense, though my sisters and I remained calm. His fist began trembling, and eventually he lowered it and released me.
“Can I really get stronger in that place?”
“Yeah, you will. You’ll feel like you’re about to die throughout your training though…or rather, you’ll never get stronger unless you taste death.”
“I don’t care about pain. I’ll die many times over if it means I can avenge my family!”
I saw a dark determination burning in his eyes as he declared that.
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“I got it. Then, go to a city called Surfour in Bordaule. They have a training school there, known as the harshest one in the entire continent. But at the same time it can turn a novice like you into a full blown warrior. If you’re a merchant you should know how to manage your resources to keep attending.”
“…I’ll go then.”
Saying that, Gurassy seemed to lose all interest in me, going to pick up his stuff from where he sat earlier and headed to the exit. He placed one hand on the door frame and turned his head back to mutter something.
“Thanks, by the way.”
He never turned around again after that. Once he was gone from view, everyone took a deep breath after all the suspense.
“Bandit, are you sure you should’ve said all that? He might actually die.”
“Yeah, isn’t it a bit reckless to push him like that?”
It was painful hearing that from my sisters, but I brushed that off with a smile and refreshed my throat with the bitter ale.
“It’s still better than leaving him rotting in here. If he keeps moving, he might find a new joy in life. I doubt his family would want to see him live as a drunkard and die like a stray dog too.”
“You might have a point…”
It was true, I probably hadn’t done him any favors, and maybe I even sent him on a suicide mission. That was the opposite of my role as a hero, but I still wanted to see Gurassy find a purpose in his life.
“We’ll have to work harder from now on for people like him too.”
Killing the Demon King was our ultimate goal, but for now we had to get rid of the demons infesting the city. I drank the remaining ale as I reaffirmed my resolve.