|Author: Ryuusen Hirotsugu||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3567 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1654 words|
The ruler of the underground fighting arena, Thatsbard Bloodycrimson Kingsblade. Mira and Soul Howl had interacted with him during certain events in the past, so his appearance now was a stark difference from what they remembered, and it made them curious as to what had prompted that change.
The Thatsbard they remembered would constantly say that the utmost joy lay in the heat of battle, that bathing in the blood of his opponents was his only mission in life. He was always ready to fight, baring his fangs at anyone, his eyes piercing through everyone like he was already pummeling them. But now he appeared calm and meek, his face filled with kindness as he preached to the pilgrims gathered there.
Anyone who had seen him during those events would assume the underground champion and the priest were different people. But in reality they were one and the same.
「From champion to priest, huh. I wonder what happened.」
「I wouldn’t know. That’s a change I would’ve never anticipated.」
Both Mira and Soul Howl wanted to unravel that mystery. Almost on cue, another adventurer group arrived, and once they saw the priest they instantly became quieter and tried to sneak away.
Seeing that, Soul Howl signaled at Mira to go ask them. He knew that in such situations it was better for a cute girl to talk, rather than a suspicious looking guy.
「I guess I have no option,」 was Mira’s response, and she went to catch one of the adventurers. 「Hey, you. Is it alright if I ask you a few questions?」
Mira whispered at the young adventurer she just grabbed. He turned around and looked back and forth between Mira and the priest. 「What is it? You can ask anything you want,」 he finally replied, his voice filled with resolve. He had been deciding between being scolded by the priest, or talking with a cute girl, and eventually chose the latter. Though his voice was still as quiet as he could humanly make it.
「That priest doesn’t look like an ordinary person, do you know anything about him?」
Mira glanced at the priest, while lowering her voice even more, getting closer to the young man’s face as if talking about something secret.
「Umm, you mean priest Kingsblade? Could it be that this is your first time here?」
His face got red as Mira got closer, but he seemed to be ready to disclose any information.
「Yes, I got here not too long ago. Anyway, I heard he got called the Iron Fist Priest earlier, but I don’t really see why a priest would gain that moniker?」
「I know what you mean. He’s actually pretty famous, and I can tell you have good eyes to notice he’s no ordinary person. Apparently that priest used to be the champion of some underground fighting arena.」
He revealed what he knew, smiling as if showing off. But Mira already knew that, she wanted to know how that champion became a priest.
「Ohh, that’s incredible. But what could’ve caused that champion to become a priest then?」
Pretending to be surprised, Mira asked him about the one thing she was most curious about. He lowered his voice even more and started saying 「I’ve only heard rumors, but…」 before telling the story.
The name of Thatsbard Bloodycrimson Kingsblade was still known in the underground fighting arena of Ozstein. After a troubled early life, he came to believe only in strength, winning fights his only way to prove his existence, and thinking that defeat would make him lose his identity. He was basically the epitome of being a musclehead.
But those beliefs gave him strength, pushing defeat away, and throwing him into an endless cycle that only reinforced them.
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After many long years of fighting, his name became known, and he turned into a living legend.
Then, seven years before the current day, that legend reached its end. His boastful undefeated streak was broken by a girl, who was supposedly on an enlightening journey to become stronger.
His spirit was in shambles, feeling like everything he stood for had vanished. But then the girl spoke to him, saying that strength was only a part of one’s existence. If someone was still alive after being defeated, that was not the end of the world.
He could not accept those words though. Admitting that would be synonymous with denying his entire life until now.
Seeing he was still in denial, the girl tried to convince him again, saying that she who was stronger was saying that, so it had to be true. It was a bit paradoxical, someone using strength as an argument that strength was not everything.
But putting it that way got through to him. She was so strong, and yet she was adamant that there was more to life, so that managed to change his mind.
Now that he had woken up from the world he used to live in, he asked the girl how he should continue living.
So she told him to try doing the exact opposite of what he had done so far.
「And so he was baptized, studied, and became that priest. It’s kinda incredible, right?」
The young adventurer looked somewhat proud of being so knowledgeable about the priest’s past. Rather than using his fame as a living legend, he built a new steady place to be in from scratch. That made Priest Kingsblade feared, but also respected.
Now adventurers were mostly afraid that he would use that strength that once made him a legend against adventurers. Apparently there was already a time when a group of rank A adventurers were too loud in the chapel, so the priest roughed them up like a bunch of rags and threw them out. That was when he began being called the Iron Fist Priest.
「I see, so that’s the origin of that name…」
Mira smiled slightly as she looked at the priest preaching passionately on the podium. His story had moved her a little, letting her see how tightly he adhered to his ideals, almost to a ridiculous extent.
「By the way…I guess you also like strong guys then?」
Seeing Mira turn to look at the priest with what seemed like admiration prompted the young adventurer to ask that.
「Hmmm…I have nothing against strength, but I guess I think men should be more gentlemanly instead.」
Mira mentioned the ideal she had always strived to be, a gentleman with perfect manners. Now it was a distant and unattainable goal though, even if she still longed for it. The young man replied with a muted 「A gentleman… I see,」 before clearing his throat and looking straight at Mira.
「Milady, if I’m not intruding, would you like to…later have dinner-」
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He awkwardly tried to put on the best manners he could to invite Mira out for dinner, but he could not finish.
「What are you doing all the way here, the priest might notice…wait he’s already looking at us?!」
One of the other adventurers that came with him returned to the chapel wondering what the hold-up was, and barely had time to look at the podium before he grabbed the back of the young adventurer’s neck and quickly dragged him away. The young adventurer really wanted to finish his invitation, but he could not raise his voice in the chapel, so none of his next words reached Mira. Not like she had any interest in hearing him either.
「And apparently that’s what happened.」
Regardless, they had discovered the way someone known as a fierce fighting beast had turned into a priest. Mira made absolutely no comment about the adventurer who had been dragged away, nonchalantly turning to Soul Howl, who had been listening in from the side.
「I guess everyone has a story. Like the way he became a priest.」
Soul Howl sounded both impressed and baffled. Mira also nodded vehemently, adding 「I truly struggle to comprehend the thoughts of those who can only talk with their fists though,」 showing she too was taken aback by Thatsbard’s past rowdy lifestyle.
「Though if I had to say, I think you’re also like them, Elder.」
「Hm, what did you say?」
It seemed like Mira had been unable to really hear what Soul Howl had said.
「Either way, you know. That girl on a journey of enlightenment or something, could that have been…」
It was easy to suggest living in the opposite way one had done, but an exceedingly difficult task to actually accomplish. Soul Howl was impressed seeing Thatsbard had done it, but he was more curious about that girl that supposedly told him to do it.
Mira was thinking the same, muttering 「It could be her…」
One certain person appeared in both their minds. She was one of their fellow Wisemen, Meilin.
Journeys of enlightenment were basically a daily occurrence for her. Maybe there were other girls who also went on trips like that, but considering it was someone who was more powerful than the fighter considered the strongest even amongst the players leading armies of the Three Gods Countries, there were very few options. Or rather, they were convinced there was only one.
「If it was Meilin, do you think the priest knows where she’s at now?」
「I don’t know, but I doubt it. That happened seven years ago, right? And I don’t think Meilin really does rematches in her enlightenment journeys, not to mention she’s not the type to really spend a long time in a single place.」
「Hmm, that’s a fair point…」
Meilin always had a rather nomadic lifestyle, even in the game days, where she would always be on the move in what she called enlightenment journeys. In a way, her being back at her tower meant war was about to break.