37 Chapter 37: Ask Around

Since Roy had decided to investigate the matter, he'd have to take a day off from his job. Before he went back to the watermill that evening, he told Ruhr and Tross about it.

Tross agreed to it readily. "You want a day off tomorrow? Sure. You've done great over the past two weeks. You'll still be paid the agreed wage. But why though? Do you have a girlfriend in Aldersberg? Going on a date with her? I've been where you are right now, lad, so here's a piece of advice: a woman's greed runs deeper than hell. Your crowns are going nowhere if you spend them on her. They'll never be satisfied."

"Stop teasing me, Tross," Roy shot back. "I don't have a girlfriend. I'm searching for someone in the lower city, but I can't tell you who I'm looking for."

Tross gave him a solemn reminder. "Then, be careful."


After resting at the watermill for the night, Roy went to the lower city the next day. The sky was overcast. If he wanted to verify Vivien's testimony, he had to see the drunkard who'd come to the House of Cardell a day ago to ask Vivien for money. In other words, her father.

There's no way he'll forget about his son, no matter how drunk he is. Roy found out where Vivien's house was a couple weeks ago. It was a rickety wooden house in the easternmost part of the lower city. The house was easy to find, and Roy had gone in the morning to avoid bumping into the Sparrow Triad thugs again, but luck was not on his side.

The moment he stepped onto the slums' streets, he felt someone glaring at him from behind. When he looked behind him from the corner of his eye, he saw a bald, burly man with a tattoo on his neck following him. The man was wearing a thick, yellow coat, black pants, and long boots. He looked like Letho, but his expression wasn't the same. Letho was a distant man, while the burly thug looked brutish, as if his rage were about to explode any minute. He was around six feet four*, his neck short but thick, his coat bursting at the seams. The man looked like a bear standing on its hind legs.

PR/N: Six feet four is around 1.93 meters.

The morning wind cut through him like blades. There weren't many people on the streets at that hour. Most were either still sleeping or already in the marketplace, working. Roy pretended not to notice him. Instead of yelling or calling for help, he hastened his steps and left the streets, turning into a remote, dark, squalid alley. The man sped up too.

A short while later, they started to jog, and the chase went on for a few minutes. Roy's turns eventually made him run into a dead end — a wall filled with algae and putrid fluids that was blocking him. The man behind him took out a handkerchief laced with drugs, approaching Roy with a sneer.

"Hey man, I don't think I've crossed you, huh?" Roy turned and forced a smile, showing his hands to the man who was thirty feet away. "I'm harmless. Can't you let me go? I can give you all the money you want."

The man stopped twenty feet away, and greed gleamed within his eyes. "I can take whatever I want once I get my hands on you anyway," he said gruffly."But you can try asking for help. See if anyone will lend a hand." Their difference in size was like that of a child and an adult. The man didn't see any weapon on Roy, and he thought Roy was just harmless prey, nothing more than something he could easily kill. No harm in telling him something before he dies.

And then a crisp clang rang out in the alley as Roy suddenly tossed a handful of crowns onto the ground, stunning the man. It was the first time he'd faced such a situation, and he reflexively went to take the crowns.

Roy asked a question. "You're one of them, aren't you? The Sparrow Triad. Didn't expect thugs to be more professional now. It's not even seven, and you're already staking out here? Aren't you guys cold?"

"It's your fault for being stupid, brat." The burly man quickly took the crowns before snapping out of it and darting toward Roy. "Save your questions for the mine — " The man stopped moving before he could react. The last thing he felt was pain in his right eye, and then he was gone.

The man's brutish body still took two steps forward from the inertia before falling with a thud. He knelt on the ground before falling face first, as if he were groveling at Roy's feet. A moment later, blood started pooling around him, flowing out of the holes in his head.

A message showed up in the character sheet. 'You have killed Fossa. Twenty EXP gained.'

Roy heaved a sigh, and the hand crossbow disappeared into thin air. He went to pat the carcass, and it disappeared too. After everything he'd been through, human corpses were no different from animal carcasses. He went to pick up the crowns and the bolt that had blood and flesh stuck to it. Once he placed those in his inventory space, he couldn't fit in a single more thing.

Roy was happy with his kill. If this were in the past, the bolt would've just stuck into his victim's head if he'd shot for the eye. Since the man was less than ten feet away, the bolt pierced through his head thanks to the activation of Crossbow Mastery and Massacre's added damage. It's better than I'd imagined. He spent so much time talking just so he could confirm one thing.

Being tailed by the Triad for the first time might have been a coincidence, but the same thing happening a second time — and at such an hour — couldn't have been a coincidence. Someone sold me out. Not many people knew he would come to the lower city that morning, and when he thought about why he'd gone to the lower city last time, he had a suspect in mind.

So the Sparrow Triad was tipped off, and they were going to sell me off to the dwarves as a miner, huh? Roy sighed, his mood marred. Being sold out didn't feel good. He thought they could've been friends after getting along for a few weeks. He thought he could have trusted that person.

"Am I too naive?"

Then Roy left the alley, leaving nothing but a pool of blood behind that told of an unknown murder.


After going through the dirty alleyways, he arrived in the depths of the lower city, and a small house sat quietly within wooden fences. Vivien's house was more dilapidated than Roy had imagined. The walls were cracked and filled with dirt. The roof was leaking, and only a piece of black, tattered cloth was covering it.

A pudgy, morbidly obese man was sitting on a stump in the yard, spacing out. His cheeks were sickly red, his eyes murky with a drunken stupor. "Who are you looking for, brat? Why'd you come to this shithole of a place?" Bob glanced at Roy impatiently. He thought he'd seen Roy before, but the alcohol was stripping him of his memory.

"You're Vivien's father, aren't you?" Roy went into the yard and smiled sheepishly. "I'm Roy, a student from the House of Cardell. I need to ask you some questions."

"Well, that's a shocker. What business does a brat like you have with me?" Bob snapped out of his stupor, staring at Roy in surprise. "If it's about the best inn in the city and all things liquor, I can answer every question you got, but if it's something else, then sorry. No idea." Bob then paused. "It's the morning. Shouldn't you be in the House of Cardell? Hmm?"

He sniffed the air and licked his lips. Greed gleamed in his eyes when he saw Roy take out a green bottle out of nowhere and swing it before him. Bob had been drinking for years, and he could see that Roy was holding a bottle of dwarven liquor — his favorite booze. It had been a couple days since he'd had any alcohol, for he had no money to pay for it. The familiar scent of liquor broke through his defenses easily. "Ask away, lad. I'll answer anything as long as I can get that in the end." Bob stared at the bottle like the addict he was, his gaze filled with yearning.

Roy nodded. The best way to get an answer from him is to give him what he likes. "Get a cup, Bob. I'll let you have a cup every time you answer a question."

"Alright. Give me a second, and don't leave."


"How many people are there in your family?" Roy swirled the cup of clear liquor in front of him, and Bob fidgeted. He clawed at the cup, trying to satiate his itch.

"Three," he answered. "Me, my crazy wife, and that disrespectful daughter."

"Think harder." Roy placed the cup near him and moved it the moment Bob tried to get a hold of it.

"Give it to me! I said there's only three of us, you br… No, sorry." Bob put his palms together, his flabby muscles trembling. "I swear there's only three of us in the family, Roy," he said humbly. "If I am lying, then I shall never drink again."


Bob gulped it down and heaved a sigh filled with ecstasy, as if he'd reached heaven. As Roy looked at Bob's vulgar form, he told himself to never get addicted to any substance. Roy composed himself and asked another question. "Five… No, was there anyone who lived with you for a long while ten years ago?"

"No." Bob looked angry. "They were afraid I'd be a burden."


"Does Vivien have any siblings?"

"That girl is an only child," Bob answered firmly. "She has no siblings. I might be drunk, but I ain't retarded. I won't forget how many children I have."

"Then do you have any children who died early? Or does Vivien have any siblings who died in an accident?"

"Roy, my boy, what kind of question is that?" Bob had answered with a question, holding down his urge to drink. "Why are you looking into my family so much?"

"Just answer me." He swirled the cup of liquor again. "Don't think about anything else."

"Alright then, I'll tell you. My wife only gave birth to Vivien." Then he sighed. "I want a few more children, but my body's wrecked since I have too much to drink. Do you understand what I'm talking about? Want to hear about it in detail?"

Fifteen minutes later, Bob was sleeping near the stump after finishing the liquor. He denied ever having a son even when he was half-sober. I don't think he could've lied in that condition.


Roy left the drunken man alone and went into the rickety house. What greeted him was a gaunt, pasty woman with unruly hair sitting at a round table near the doorstep mumbling to herself eerily.

Roy observed her in silence before going to sit across from her. "Ma'am, I — "

The woman said nothing. Even though her gaze met Roy's, it didn't look like she saw or heard him. Apparently, she was in her own world.

A grin would carve itself onto the woman's wrinkled face at times, but the next moment, her eyes would widen in rage. And then she'd stare down, looking crestfallen. Roy was flummoxed.

"Lowry, my dear, did you get thinner? Working too hard at school again? I made your favorite. Have some." The woman stared at her left and mumbled to the air gently. Then, she ladled some steaming vegetable soup from the cauldron in the table's center before pouring it into the bowl on the left. "Take it slow. You're a lady. Wolfing your food down won't help you get married."

Lowry? Probably Vivien's nickname.

The woman then put her hands on her hips and glared to the right. "What on earth did you do, Bob? You look like a mess. Did you get into a fight after you got drunk again yesterday? You smell like shit. Don't even think about getting into bed with me tonight. Do it again and you're getting the boot. Hmph!" She prepared more vegetable soup and dug into it. An empty bowl with a ladle in it now sat before her.

Roy watched her in silence. Once she finished her soup, he tried calling out to her a few more times, but to no avail. Since he couldn't communicate with her, Roy left the house and went around the area. He asked the residents who were smoking in the yard about Vivien's family, and as expected, they were sure that Vivien's family only consisted of three people. There's no way everyone's lying.

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