142 The Tiger's Den

  The weather was turning chilly.

Especially in the northern regions, people were already seen wearing thick coats.

Thump.

"Dip it in the sauce."

A waiter placed the food on the table where I was seated.

It was a dish made from the meat of the Northern Horned Rabbit, a creature exclusive to the north that I had never tasted before.

I followed the waiter's suggestion and dipped the meat into the accompanying sauce.

"Shall I pour you a drink?"

While entertaining a frivolous thought, I sensed someone approaching my table.

"There are no available seats. May I join you?"

I nodded my head as I had already been informed through a note.

When the person took a seat opposite me, I examined their face.

'I wondered who it would be...'

I knew someone would come, but it had to be someone I knew.

Setting that aside, it was surprising to see a dark magician openly roaming the outskirts of the northern territories.

I was currently in Borghyen, one of the cities in the north, carrying out planned actions for the gathering I was supposed to attend.

'I thought at best a messenger would come, but I didn't expect someone of this caliber to show up.'

Although it wasn't something people would recognize, I could sense that the northern boundaries were heavily geared towards savagery. If it weren't so, they wouldn't be operating in this manner, no matter how well concealed their identities were.

"Innkeeper! We'll take the Rabbit Special here too!"

"Sure thing."

A voice came from the kitchen, and my companion turned back to me.

"Yeah, the weather's been getting colder lately. Looks like you came up from down south? Aren't you feeling cold?"

I ignored his commentary and continued to eat the rabbit meat.

It had a slightly strong flavor, but that was its charm.

It also had a distinctive smell that might not appeal to everyone, but I generally liked all kinds of food, so it didn't bother me.

"You're a man of few words."

"Your food is ready. Dip it in the sauce provided here."

"Also, a beer here."

"Of course."

I ordered a beer from the waiter, and my companion on the other side started talking excitedly.

"Is your work all finished? I can tell from your early drink order."

"Brown."

As I called his name, his pupils widened in what seemed like unexpected surprise.

"Could you please keep it down during the meal?"

"Uh, sorry?"

At least that got a reaction.

After cutting a piece of rabbit meat and putting it in my mouth, I took a sip of the beer that the waiter had brought over.

As expected, the beer was from the north. Perhaps due to the cold climate, the quality of the brew seemed better than that from the southern regions, even though there might be supply trains for such quality beer to reach the capital.

Brown, whether because of my slight jab or the fact that I mentioned his name, simply ate his meal quietly.

As soon as we finished our meal, I got up from my seat, and he hurriedly stood up as well.

It was still dusk when we entered the restaurant, but it had already become quite dark.

Here, like on Earth, as winter approached, the nights grew longer.

"You have quite the temper."

Brown, who followed me out, no longer hid himself and muttered under his breath.

And this time, he began walking ahead as if it were his turn.

"Originally, someone like you shouldn't be participating. Consider yourself lucky."

"Brown, is Kruk still the same?"

{T/n: Well it's supposed tobe Crook but that is just lazy writing}

"That guy!"

He suddenly stopped and glared at me.

But knowing that his behavior stemmed from self-defense rather than hostility, I couldn't help but find it amusing.

"Why are you so worked up when I'm just asking how you are?"

"You know my name, but how do you know master's?"

"Is that really so surprising? There are many surprising things. Now, can you hurry up and guide me?"

"You annoying brat. Let's see at the gathering."

That statement sounded like something out of a third-rate villain, so I was inwardly puzzled.

I had my own reasons for provoking him, but aside from that, it was entertaining to see his reactions.

'Having Brown here means that even small fry are attending this gathering.'

Come to think of it, during the last gathering, Salem had killed everyone.

Whether they were actual attendees or just dark mages trying to steal Sloth, I didn't know.

As I followed Brown, I could see that we were taking an unexpected path.

Finally, we arrived at the place where the lord of this city resided.

'Borghyen's lord had ties to dark mages?'

This was a fact I had just learned.

I gathered some valuable information and followed Brown through the back entrance.

The back entrance was discreet enough that no one would know who was coming, and the only ones checking identities seemed to be shady individuals themselves.

"That brat from back then. An audacious fellow."

I saw a face I hadn't seen in a while as soon as I entered.

The first dark mage I confirmed upon entering was none other than Dragan from the Abyss.

Although he seemed somewhat buried in the shadows due to Salem, he was indeed quite a renowned dark mage.

'Mid-boss from the Black Sea episode.'

If you really think about it, he's in a position similar to Charon, but since he's a mid-boss from an episode that comes later, he's much stronger. Moreover, the battlefield where he fights is perfectly suited for him, making the battle even more challenging.

"Dragan."

"You're not very talkative, huh? Well, that's fine. To begin with, I don't like lecturing someone who's not even part of the gathering."

Dragan consistently appeared as a gentleman in a suit and tie.

He had a good-looking appearance, which made him popular among the ladies, and he knew how to use that popularity.

"This time, you did not came with Salem, right? What brought you here?"

"I received an invitation, so I came."

"Are you naive? Or are you pretending not to know?"

"I'm not foolish enough to warrant your concern. Thank you for caring."

Unlike Brown, there was no need to pretend with Dragan, at least not for now.

Even if I were to pretend, I wasn't sure if I could defeat Dragan with my current abilities.

'...I have the confidence to win, but it's risky to kill someone of Dragan's caliber.'

His position within the gathering and the strength of Dragan's faction were significant factors.

He had a political wizard-like vibe, and in addition to his actual abilities, there were many complicated elements.

Having heard my response, Dragan adjusted his round glasses.

"Alright, I don't gain anything by bothering you further, so let's leave it at that. I just didn't know you'd be here and was curious."

"Didn't you know I would come?"

"I didn't. Come to think of it, who invited you?"

Then, Brown, who was standing nearby, answered on my behalf.

"It was Lord Hegel who sent me."

"Lord Hegel? When did he forge such a connection again?"

Dragan, with an admiring expression, spoke as if he were genuinely surprised.

By the way, it seemed that Hegel hadn't informed the gathering about inviting me.

If Jester suddenly runs into me, he wouldn't try to kill me, would he?

"You're quite the interesting fellow. So, why did you decline to join the gathering? Don't you know that no one here thinks highly of you?"

"I can't join any particular faction yet."

That was a lie.

I had simply calculated that the disadvantages outweighed the benefits.

"Anyway, since I'm already here, I might as well go in. I also just arrived."

Since the mention of Hegel's invitation, Dragan's attitude seemed to have subtly changed. It was proof of Hegel's considerable influence.

With Brown following behind, I entered the building with Dragan. The building was inside the fortified walls of the lord's residence, and at this point, I couldn't help but be certain that Borghyen's lord had ties to dark mages.

"I didn't know Count Borghyen was involved with the gathering."

"Oh? Now that you know, are you going to report it?"

"Yes."

"You really know how to joke."

The interior of the building had already been decorated like a banquet hall. Even someone completely unfamiliar with the gathering would never imagine that it was a gathering of dark mages from the extravagant setup.

"Hey."

Brown called me and pointed to one side. As I looked to see what was going on, I saw a figure who appeared to be Hegel.

"First, we should greet Lord Hegel since he's the one who invited you."

"Well, you should at least say hello to the person who invited you, right?"

Dragan also stepped forward to offer his greetings, so I followed suit.

Around Hegel, there were familiar faces, so I didn't hesitate as I approached him.

However, just as I was making my way, someone appeared to block my path.

"Why are you here?"

I looked at the person who had silently blocked my path.

It was a warlock of the warlock caliber whom I had met once before. Jester Levan.

{T/n: Warlocks are powerful mages and warlock is also a title given to the stronger ones in the class}

Perhaps due to the harsh encounter we had in the past, he was openly displaying hostility, and thanks to that, Brown quickly fled.

"I received an invitation."

"You speak boldly. Do you think you'll leave here alive?"

"Well, yes."

I replied with a smile, wondering how his face hidden beneath that bizarre tall hat would react.

No, there couldn't be a face under that hat, right?

"Jester, what business do you have with my guest?"

At that moment, someone approached Levan from behind and spoke to him. Simultaneously, another figure rushed over.

"Friend!"

A girl with opalescent irises that shimmered in various colors, Luna Pendragon, came running towards me with enthusiasm, embracing me.

I gently received her and ruffled her hair.

"It's been a while, Luna."

"Yeah!"

Meanwhile, I could hear Jester Levan muttering discontentedly to Hegel.

"You called him?"

"Yes."

"Even after what that guy did to you?"

"I wasn't present at that moment, so I didn't know."

Hegel shrugged casually, as if he had no involvement in the matter. His demeanor suggested that he didn't care, and when Hegel ignored him, Jester began releasing mana while glaring at me.

Sensing the sudden change in atmosphere, the gazes of the dark mages in the banquet hall turned towards us.

"Don't touch my friend."

"Do you know how much we lost because of that guy? Get out of the way."

"Hegel, are you not going to stop this?"

As Luna prepared her enchantment and shouted at Hegel, he merely grinned, just like before.

He seemed shameless.

"The feud between the two of them should be resolved by themselves."

He clearly expressed his intention not to intervene.

Although I wasn't sure of his intentions, it seemed he was interested in my reaction and response...

"I apologize, but it won't go as you wish."

I had sensed the arrival of reinforcements with my keen senses.

"I won't just stand by either."

"That's your choice, Luna."

During their conversation, a shape resembling a black claw appeared on both sides of Jester.

Each claw was so massive that it almost enveloped his entire body, and they moved towards me as if to attack directly.

Seeing this, Luna quickly attempted to use her enchantment, but I stopped her.

"Friend?"

"It's okay. Jester won't move recklessly."

I had already sensed someone's presence and remained composed.

As I had predicted, Jester's black claws couldn't move as I said.

Clang!

Suddenly, a black-armored knight appeared, blocking Jester's path in a threatening manner.

It was the appearance of a Death Knight, one of the most powerful undead beings.

"Wow!"

The people attending the gathering were in awe of the Death Knight's appearance.

As those who guessed the identity of the Death Knight began to gather around, someone spoke up.

"Everyone, let's stop here."

"We didn't..."

It was Lord Dwalski.

The strongest necromancer had appeared by my side.

avataravatar
Next chapter