Power Punch - Chapter 54

Published at 16th of January 2023 12:36:13 PM

Chapter 54

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An inn is an absurdly good way to get information about many things. Even if you don't have the hearing I have when I use my Primordial Energy to boost it. Many tend to think that you need to find an information broker or someone like that, where in fact you can just listen to what people are talking about, or ask the people yourself.

And people are talking about damn many things, even if you filter out the pointless chatter and mundane topics.

To start with, there are more than a few talks about the army, 3rd legion specifically, that arrived in Black Harbor along with Stone Heart, that low white hunter. He's probably a star, by the way, who are hunters under direct care of the Hunter's Guild. Either way, the army is here with someone called High Inquisitor Xavier, who supposedly went to Riverside to investigate the issue.

I have no idea what will come of the whole thing, but it's not like it's my concern. I mean, it is in the way that I was quite directly involved in Riverside and Aver's Crossing, but, well... I don't really care. Yup, that's it, that sounds better.

Though, speaking about Riverside, that's the second most popular topic. It happened quite a while ago, but it seems that people here still haven't gotten over it and they're throwing around possible reasons, perpetrators, and goals. The most popular view seems to be that it was an unexpected cooperation of goblins, but there are many other opinions.

Some people say it's the job of Mazoku, who live on neighboring Blue Dragon, or Beastkin, who live a bit further away on Titan's Gorge, though I don't see how it would be possible as there are practically no Mazoku or Beastkin here. Even with my magic sense, which allows me to recognize Mazoku's demonic mana and easily spot Beastkin's different characteristics, I recall seeing barely a few of the Beastkin and one Mazoku.

Anyway, going back to Riverside, another option that some people believe in is that there were traitors in the town, especially among the guards, that allowed the monsters to come in. As far as I know that's exactly what happened, but I can't be sure.

The last option I have heard is me. And that's honestly... annoying. Not like it's unreasonable, because I was there during both attacks and didn't paint a picture of innocence, but it's baseless, and it's still mildly pissing me off. The problem is that people seem to attribute a lot of things to me that I didn't do.

And for some weird reason, Letty is mostly skipped. I get that she is not very noticeable next to me, but it's weird that all the exaggerated rumors are about me, not about us. Though she has Nihility, so it's like she wasn't even there...

"What is it?" Letty asks curiously and I realize I've been staring at her for a long while.

"Ah, nothing." I shake my head. "Just that I'm listening to the conversations, and for some reason people aren't talking about you at all."

"Should they?" My girlfriend asks in confusion.

"Eh, considering that they are talking about me, and giving me credit for a lot of bad things I didn't do, then they should at least be talking about the girl accompanying me. But most seem to only be mentioning me, and they aren't even aware you were with me. For example those guys there are just now talking between them why do I have company now." I gesture sneakily to a pair sitting on the opposite side of the inn and stealing glances at us.

"Oh. That's weird." Letty nods, scrunching up her eyebrows. "Aren't you concerned about what they are saying about you?"

"Nah, not really." I giggle with a shake of my head. "Why would I be? They won't do anything to me even if they want. And there's no point in trying to dispel those rumors. That's impossible."

"Hm... yeah, that would be really hard." Letty agrees with a thoughtful expression. "That's about Riverside, isn't it?"

"Mmm, mainly, yeah. Some people think I'm behind those attacks, which is really stupid if you ask me, but what can I do about it."


Apart from the perpetrators, there are also their reasons and goals. People are really simple on that front. Around ninety percent hold the view that they did it just to do it, because they are demons, or to kill humans. Or something similar along those lines. There are very few people who actually give convincing reasons for the attacks, but they are in the end only speculations.

Someone says that their intention is to use up the weaker monsters to attack the weak towns and villages, and then, when the forces from the capital are diverted, they would attack the capital to drive humans off Beholder's Eye. Not going to lie, that doesn't sound improbable at all.

And the funny part is that not a single person here is mentioning anything about intelligent monsters being a possible cause. This possibility is always there and, as much as Elena didn't strike me as someone who would do that, I can't tell what would other groups do. Especially considering that High Arachne and Viell'Heirr are probably not the only groups other than humans out there.

There are also a few other interesting topics I have heard, one of them being about Wayfarers. Apparently they are starting to make their own groups and sort of organizations. Probably something like guilds, replicated from many other games, because I don't see what else it could be. As a side note, they got even some local free hunters interested.

All in all though the opinion about Wayfarers is... not bad, but definitely worse that I hoped it would be. Many of them are rude, though fortunately after a few incidents just after the launch of VOW there seems to be much less of those people. They still are though, and if I had to sum up the general opinion from the locals, it would be something along the lines of 'helpful, but be careful with them and try not to get too pissed off by their weird behavior'.

There are also rumors about something called Black Hand. I'm not sure, because there are very few people talking about it, but I think it's something like PK guild in other games, or an assassin organization. It was made by locals, but apparently there are a lot of Wayfareres interested in joining it. And judging by the fact that the few Wayfarers in the inn are talking about someone being killed by them, they aren't very afraid of any repercussions of their actions and consequently are probably very powerful.

Another thing is someone called Demon Hunter, about whom people are talking about with not small amount of fear and apprehension. I haven't heard who exactly that person is because people seem to be avoiding talking about him, but apparently he is extremely powerful and set himself on exterminating demons. And he will be coming to Black Harbor, or is already here, according to the rumors, but that is the extent of what people are willing to talk about.

I wonder what would happen if we met. I certainly wouldn't mind a good fight, though it's also worrying what would happen if Xethu stumbled upon the guy.

"I should handicap myself next time I'm fighting." I grumble.

"Hm?" Letty asks from my side and I sigh lightly, leaning on her shoulder.

"I really like challenge and thrill of battle, but, with all I've learned, there's nothing that can beat me, basically. It would probably need to be a Primordial or something just as powerful if I wanted to use my full power to fight and still have satisfaction from it." I explain.

"What about that eye? That tentacle thingy?" She asks curiously and I give her a look.

"I didn't use up a single mote of Primordial Energy when I was defending from that attack." I say and my girlfriend blinks in confusion.

"...Huh? How did you repel it then?" She asks finally.

"I used the mana in the tentacle to push it away, basically."

"Oh." Letty says blandly and stays silent for a while with a thoughtful expression. "So you're like... in a completely different realm of power, aren't you?"

"Yup, that's how it looks like to me." I nod. "The simple strength doesn't mean shit if your abilities and skill are good enough. I'm guessing the situation is pretty similar with your Nihility. When I saw you messing with space, you weren't moving space with Nihility itself, but with its influence, weren't you?"

"Um, yeah, I think so." She nods slowly and we lapse into silence for a while.

A short while later I see the door to the inn opening in my perception field and Catherine along with the rest of the group entering. I stand up and wave to them, and the Wolfkin all but dashes across the room with distressed expression on her face. And holding a piece of paper in her hands.

"Helia! There's a message to you, fro-!" She starts loudly before I place my hand over her mouth and look at her with raised eyebrows, noticing more than a few curious, hostile, and inquisitive eyes from the inn turning to me.

"Take a deep breath and say it quietly, 'kay?" I ask and see the Wolfkin getting redder on her face and averting her eyes.

She gasps lightly when I take my arm away and takes a breath, then extends her hand with the letter. "Um, you've a letter from the Inquisition." She says in quieter, but still concerned voice.

"Thanks. I assume the Guild put up a request to deliver it and you jumped on the chance?" I ask, using one hand to ruffle her hair, earning myself an annoyed growl, and look at the thing.

I see my name written in neat handwriting, with a faint, large sign of the Inquisition over the front of the white envelope. I would say it's similar to the cross Christians have, but it is pale yellow in color and looks really like a sword with a star in place of its crossguard. I probably shouldn't associate the two for now.

I wonder what do those guys want from me. As far as I know, the Inquisition is a group supposed to look over the country and keep dangerous magic practices contained. They have a few other goals, of course, but those are the main ones.

"Um, yeah, more or less." Catherine nods in response to my question as the rest of the group comes.

They all get seated after I and Letty slide to the end of the booth and Daria calls a waitress while Catherine sits herself on my side and looks curiously at the letter. Worth noting that Xethu sits on her side, because while Vulcan makes it hard to fit on the other, she could have easily sat in Daria's place before the spirit seats herself.

"I'm not eating, Daria, before you ask." I say to the spirit, who nods in response, and break the seal on the envelope.

I'm about to start reading it when I see a mana construct, some sort of spell most likely, flying out of the broken seal and attaching itself to my chest. Hm. Pervert. Crush it. And done, it breaks.

I push the thing to the back of my mind for now an start reading the letter, which might shed light onto this funnily weak and harmless structure of mana I assume to have been either a tracker or a bomb. I mean, well, it's quite strong, but it doesn't mean anything in front of the eye in the middle of the island.

Miss Helia,

We, the Inquisition, ask for your presence in our temporary office at Black Harbor, located at the market in Black Harbor, in regards to the recent incidents in Riverside and Aver's crossing, at your earliest convenience. Please rest assured, for we do not consider you to be the perpetrator of either of those events, but your information might prove invaluable to our investigation.

High Inquisitor Xavier Molan

Oooh~, the guy got me interested! And a really interesting thing is that what he wrote could mean, for all I know, that I'm the biggest suspect, but he still doesn't think I'm the perpetrator because he hasn't put me in prison and interrogated yet.

"Hey, you know High Inquisitor Xavier?" I ask the group sitting by the table.

"You can read it?" Catherine asks from my side and I blink, looking at her in confusion.

"What? Yea, I can?" I half confirm, half ask, since I've no idea what she's asking about, and she looks at me with questions in her eyes. Speaking about it... I flick the Wolfkin's forehead lightly with my tail and with disapproving expression and watch as she pulls back with an accusing squeak.

"Don't peek at other's letters, wolfie, because cuteness won't always protect you. Go look at your own demoness." I say and the cute Wolfkin, just about to say something after taking a deep breath, shuts her mouth with her cheeks painting beet red.

"About Xavier," Daria says, having finished ordering the food. "We've only heard about him. They say he's a good man, and very powerful. The leader of the group sent here to investigate Riverside. Nothing apart from that, and who knows how much is true."

"Mhm." I nod, folding the letter and looking at Letty. "You up for a visit when we're done here?"

"Where?" She raises her eyebrows, looking at me leaning on my shoulder, showing her inclination to moving anytime soon quite well.

"To the Inquisition." I reply casually and Catherine almost whips her ears into Xethu's face as she turns around with wide open eyes.

"What? Inquisition?" The Wolfkin asks as the demoness only leans back a bit and looks at her with amusement. "You're not in trouble, are you?"

"Nah. I mean, in trouble maybe, but not in danger." I wave my hand dismissively and look at Letty with a smirk, to which she replies with the same, and a glint in her eyes probably mirroring mine. "I don't think it will come to fists, or at least the letter doesn't suggest as such. It's only about my involvement in Aver's Crossing and Riverside." I explain to the group around the table and I don't miss the relieved sighs coming from most of them.

"I wouldn't mind." Letty replies quietly. "Maybe they'll give us some useful information."

"Maybe." I muse.

"You know there are some... quite demonic descriptions about you, right?" Vulcan asks and I turn to him with a grin.

"You mean how I was slaughtering goblins?" I ask, eliciting a flinch from Daria and nods from the rest. "Yup, I know about them, and do remember there's no smoke without fire. But as long as they don't accuse me of something I didn't do, we'll be fine."

"Alright." The Hellcarver nods in response and I squint my eyes a bit as my thoughts about him resurface. Hm. I'll really need to ask Shiva about it.

"How are you so strong, by the way?" Crimson, up to now rather quiet, asks curiously. "I mean, how you flew off with that shockwave... You know that it was so strong it dealt us damage?"

"Hm, I suppose that would warrant an explanation. Sorry 'bout the collateral." I glance at Daria, who is sitting on the side and way too successfully pretending she knows nothing. Not even a twitch of her eye. Suspicious. "Letty? When could we reliably meet?" I turn to my girlfriend.

"You mean like us all?" I nod lightly and she makes a thoughtful expression. "If we move according to the schedule, I think seven days would be perfect."

"You heard her. For now I'll just tell you that I've got a really powerful thing in the randomizer. When we meet, I'll explain everything properly." I reply, unfazed by the stare Daria gives me. "As for that burst of flame, I just used my Primordial Energy to push me away from the air. And with Newton's laws of motion the result is as you've seen."

"Alright..." Crimson mutters and drops his gaze, seemingly thinking about something.

"By the way, Helia, you can read that letter? I looked at it and it's not written in Universal." Catherine asks, seemingly unable to let go of the subject, but now that I look at it...

Damn. It's not in Universal. It's written in completely different language that at first glance resembles some fictional runic languages.

And I can read it as if I was using it on daily basis. And I don't understand it in the way that it gets translated for me to read, but I understand the very runes.

Hm. Shit. That's... I don't want to say it's concerning, because no way it's more concerning than everything around me being a Demoness and about VOW in general, but it's still something worth noting and asking Shiva about when I have the chance. I mean, it's not everyday you learn you know another language.

"Hm, yeah, I can read it. Dunno why you can't. Don't concern yourself with it for now." I reply to Catherine, taking a sip from my mug, and lean more on Letty with a sigh. Damn. So many questions.

At this point the waitress arrives with our food, and everyone starts eating after Daria gives the coin. I order another mug of Devil's Booze as well, and we lapse into silence as we think about things individually.

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