"Haaa! Haaa!" Panting heavily, I trudged my boots up the stairway one stair at a time.
Funny long story short, on my way to the location Nero had sent us, I got lost… again.
B-But this time it wasn't my fault, I swear! The GPS of my smart bracelet is trash!
Given all the technological advancements that this world has achieved, you'd think they would create something more reliable than this trashy GPS system.
I still have to rely on this unreliable GPS and cross my fingers that it will lead me to the correct destination.
Well, anyway, after I got to the apartment building Nero sent us the address of, I decided to run up the stairs instead of waiting for the lift.
I severely overestimated Lucas' physical capabilities. And more than that, I gravely overestimated the comfort level of my leather boots for running upstairs.
But I had to admit, the white and black leather boots I wore looked sick!
Coupled with black jeans and a loose blue t-shirt, I looked quite handsome.
A smile crept up on my sweat-covered face as I thought of my beauty. Yeah, being this hot should be illegal!
"Hehehehaaaaa haaaa haaaa!" My soft giggle turned into hard gasps as the stairs going up showed no signs of ending.
Just how big was this apartment building?!
I knew high-rankers were receiving better facilities but god damn!
Instead of an apartment building, it would be more suitable to say that I was climbing up the stairs of a skyscraper or something!
Finally, after a few too many curses and desperate gasping for air, I arrived in front of apartment number 567. This was the room number Nero told us to come to.
I looked at my smart bracelet to check how late I was.
[5:45 P.M.] the time showed.
Yeah, it's fine. I was just 15 minutes late. It's fine, it's fine. It's totally fine, right? Right? Right…?
Without wasting another second, I sighed and knocked on the door thrice.
Knock, Knock, Knock—!
-"Coming!" a loud, crisp voice came from the other side of the door.
After a second or two, the door opened inward, and Nero peeked his head out. After checking that it was indeed me, he opened the door wider.
He was in his casual clothes– black trousers with a matching t-shirt under a loose hoodie.
Why was he wearing a hoodie in March?!
What kind of psychopath wears a hoodie in March?!
I knew Nero had a few screws loose, but what the hell?!
"Lucas, you came." Shaking me out of my thoughts was Nero's voice. He greeted me with an expressionless face and stepped into the hallway.
"Sorry I was late," I said and stepped in myself. After following him to the drawing room, I added, "I got lost on my way here."
"Oh, that happens. It's a confusing neighborhood," Nero waved his hand and spoke up with a look of reassurance.
"Hmph. What kind of idiot loses his way while using GPS?"
Right when I thought the welcome was warm, a bewitching yet irritating voice resounded in my ears.
Who else could it be but Amelia. This girl had some serious problems with me– or should I say with the former owner of this body.
"Amelia, you agreed to cooperate."
Trying not to let this situation escalate any further and stopping it from possibly turning into an all-out fight was Anastasia's voice.
She was sitting on the short edge of an 'L' shaped couch right beside Amelia.
"Ooh, the atmosphere is so intense ahahaha!"
And on the long edge of the 'L' shaped couch sat a boy with long, pointy ears. His light blue eyes matched perfectly with the color of his hair.
He had a face that was both idiotic and cute, with sharp features that were accentuated by his messy hair. This combination of rugged handsomeness and boyish charm made him quite attractive to young maidens.
Loose red artsy tee-shirt and black cigarette pants hugged his thin body and masked his frail-looking pale skin.
Dare I say that for an extra that played a comparatively non-significant role in the story, this guy was handsome.
Not more handsome than me, of course. Hmph.
On the other hand, both girls were dressed casually too, with Amelia wearing a yellow off-the-shoulder crop and black high-waisted jeans while Anastasia sported a loose cherry-colored top and blue denim shorts.
And while Amelia bickered about how she thought I would only drag the group down, Anastasia tried to calm her down.
As it happened, Kent just kept laughing with an idiotic goofy smile plastered on his face all the time.
"Fine! I'll cooperate, but I don't trust this guy one bit," after declaring that, Amelia turned to face me and gave me a fierce look. "Got that?"
What? Was that supposed to be a warning? Hah!
Because it did sound like one….
And the chills I got all over my body after meeting her fierce gaze only affirmed further that it was a warning….
I-I wasn't scared of her though.
So in retaliation, I clenched my fist and yelled, "Fuck off, bitch."
…Or at least I wanted to.
But instead, I found myself awkwardly shrugging and mumbling, "Yeah, whatever."
A frown appeared on Amelia's face when she heard my casual response.
Huh? Was she not expecting me to reply so calmly?
Yeah, sorry to disappoint you, but I have decided to be on my best behavior around Nero in order to improve my standing in his eyes and avoid receiving any beating from him.
"You guys done?" right then, Nero clapped his hands from behind me. "Lucas, Amelia, I know you guys had a past, but I don't want it to get in our Unit's way."
With a serious look, Nero looked at me and Amelia one by one and then said, "I don't want you to be friends, and I don't expect Amelia to forget what Lucas did or anything like that, but don't let your emotions get in your way while working together."
Woah. He was serious. I almost forgot he had this side to him as well—his… dark side.
In the novel, most of the time, Nero played the role of comic relief despite being the main protagonist.
There were only a handful of instances when Nero lost his composure and dropped his cheerful act.
On the top of my head, the scene when he went out of his way to humiliate Lucas during their duel and beat the crap out of him comes to mind.
That class clown persona of his sometimes made people forget about the monstrous strength that he possessed.
On the outside, Nero was just a happy-go-lucky goofy guy who used jokes and sarcasm as his defense mechanism. That personality of his was just a mask, however.
In reality, Nero was a goal-oriented boy with a sense of purpose driving him to push through his extreme limits.
More than anything, Nero sought justice. Justice for his mother, who got killed by his father for just giving birth to him.
But it was not that easy. His father was one of the 12 members of the Central Government. He was above the law itself.
And Nero… well, he was just too powerless and young to do anything at the time. In fact, no one in the entire world possessed enough power to go after his father.
Because, as I said, his father was above the law itself. He was untouchable.
So after learning that there's no justice in this world unless we make it ourselves the hard way, Nero made that his goal. He decided to make his own justice.
And by doing so, he realized that he could only achieve his goal by getting stronger and gaining power. Unimaginable power that no one in this world, not even the Central Government, can ignore!
Thus he became obsessed with getting stronger and taking revenge for his mother's murder.
I don't know whether he achieved his goal in the novel at the end or not… but I hope he did.
For a child, this boy had seen too much darkness.
"Understood?" Nero's voice shook me out of my thoughts again as he asked whether we got what he was trying to tell us or not.
Instinctively, Amelia and I nodded our heads as his dead serious gaze fell on us.
Seeing us nod, the seriousness on Nero's face vanished, and an amicable expression took its place.
His lips curled up into a warm smile, and he announced with his usual cheerful face, "Great, with that out of the way, let's get this spell-casting training session started y'all!"