Side Story Chapter 59
The Poison King carefully examined the man that looked like Joshua Sanders and was capable of using killing intent, but he didn’t have to think for a long time. The man in front of the Poison King wasn’t a phony. It made everything sense, and the Poison King, one of the Twelve Superhumans, could instinctively realize that through his sharpened senses.
Of course, the Poison King still had his doubts because he still couldn’t detect a single trace of mana from the man. However, if this was also due to the severe difference between their levels…
“…Stand down,” the Poison King decided.
The murderous energy in the pub dissipated.
“Let me officially introduce myself. I’m Reisen Uraha. It’s a real honor to meet the famous Martial God.”
“That’s your name?”
Joshua smiled faintly, drawing a sigh of relief from Reisen.
“I don’t like it,” Joshua said. Reisen gave him a blank look. “You know who I am now, but you’re still holding up your head pretty high.”
Reisen's eyes widened. “I’m one of the Twelve Superhumans.”
“Didn’t you say you’re honored to meet me?”
“That’s different. Besides, I’m not from Avalon. I’m the leader of the Hashashin Guild, which isn’t part of any country.”
“Even a dog barks louder in front of its own house, so you should understand how an emperor would feel.” The corner of Joshua’s mouth curled upward.
“The other empires have respected the information guilds’ independence for generations, so it’s difficult to accept your command to treat you differently.”
There was a good reason why Reisen was so desperate to take the lead in this negotiation. An information guild was a profitable organization that literally dealt with information. In that regard, taking the initiative was basic. Politeness? That was useless for making profits.
“I let you do business in my country, so you could at least be polite.” Joshua raised an eyebrow.
“That’s why I’m paying my taxes.”
“Don’t be absurd. Your taxes are from the profits you made from this pub, not from your business in the shadows.”
“No country puts a tax on intangible information,” Reisen said firmly.
He had another reason for his confidence. Getting on the wrong side of an information guild opened up a host of problems—like all of a country’s sensitive information getting delivered to their enemy. What could be more troubling than that?
However, Reisen forgot that he was dealing with Joshua.
“So what?” Joshua tilted his head. Reisen stiffened. “You’re in Avalon, so you have to follow the law of Avalon. If you don’t like it, get out of my house.”
“Do-Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. You’ll regret it later.” The Poison King clenched his fists, suppressing his nervousness.
“Regret?” Joshua’s smile deepened. “Do I look like a person who would feel such emotions?”
“The fact that an assassin guild’s office is in the center of an empire’s capital alone is ironic. If you don’t like it, this place will be taken over by a real information guild—the Moon Gate. Effective today.”
With that, Joshua turned around and raised his hood.
Reisen’s hands trembled faintly. Joshua showed his back to an assassin without hesitation. That made Reisen certain about what exactly he was dealing with—only an Absolute could afford to be relaxed and behave so boldly as Joshua.
Reisen didn’t have the time to ponder any longer. If the man that was walking away from Reisen was really the Martial God, Reisen had to avoid making the worst choice even if he was going to end up choosing the second-worst option. As a leader of the guild, Reisen had to be proficient in risk management.
“I-I’ll take your reverse-hit request,” Reisen stammered.
Joshua came to a halt, smiling widely. Zero, Lilith, and Iceline were the only ones close enough to see it. The three chuckled, dumbfounded. It had been a while since they’d seen Joshua’s penchant for blackmail.
“My Hashashin Guild will abandon all requests that involve the members of the Moon Gate and never take any similar quests in the future,” Reisen pledged.
“Of course you should.” Joshua turned toward Reisen again. “But that is not exactly taking a reverse-hit request.”
“Give me a break. As you already know, this hit was put out by the big shots in the Hubalt Empire. If it hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t have accepted this reverse-hit request. I’m risking a financial penalty to terminate the hit itself—”
“Why do I have to worry about that?” Joshua asked back, shamelessly revealing his true temper to the world.
“I see his thuggish nature hasn’t gone anywhere,” Zero murmured.
“Watch your mouth. You’re talking about the emperor of Avalon.”
“I’m sorry. He really doesn’t look like one right now…”
“…I agree, actually.” Lilith nodded.
While Zero and Lilith whispered among themselves, Iceline was smiling very contentedly as if she was proud of her husband.
“You also love this side of him, don’t you, Your Majesty?” Lilith asked Iceline after noticing her mood.
“Of course. It’s beneficial to the family finances,” Iceline answered.
“What emperor ever managed the family finances…?” Lilith trailed off.
“Of course, I understand why you don’t share my happiness since you haven’t gotten married, Miss Lilith.” 𝑙𝘪𝑏𝓇𝑒𝑎𝒹.𝘤𝑜𝘮
A vein bulged on Lilith’s forehead as she thought, ‘Maybe I’ll just seduce him in front of her.’
Meanwhile, the negotiation was still ongoing.
“I can’t assassinate the higher-ups in Hubalt,” Reisen said.
“No ‘Your Majesty’?”
“I can’t… Your Majesty.”
“Don’t worry. I have a conscience, so I have no intention of making you risk your life for me.” Joshua nodded.
“Th-Thank you.” Reisen finally let out a sigh of relief.
“Just give me the intel on the internal affairs of Hubalt.”
“Everything about Hubalt. Who wants Lilith Aphrodite to die? Which organization or faction is trying to knock down the Moon Gate? Is there a mastermind behind all this? Oh, I want you to give me a list of the countries that secretly support Hubalt too. Wait, I almost forgot—you know about the paladins that have manifested the Four Angels’ Authorities, right? Find out their appearances and who they are,” Joshua rattled off.
“What the f—!” Reisen had to bite his tongue.
“I misheard you, didn’t I? I think I heard f—”
“I did?” Joshua tilted his head.
“…You misheard me, Your Majesty.”
“Good. Now we’re talking.” Joshua smiled contentedly. “I’ll let your discourtesy slide today. I hope we can become great partners. R… Sorry, what is your name again?”
“…It’s Reisen, Reisen Uraha, Your Majesty.”
“Yeah, Reisomething. Don’t try anything funny in the future. If anything happens, I’m going to annihilate your guild myself.” Joshua strode to the door and waved his hand. “I had fun. Thanks.”
“Urgghhh…!” Reisen couldn’t help pulling out his hair in anger.
* * *
After checking that they were far away from the Hashashin Guild’s office, Zero let out a long sigh.
“Phew! I don’t think I’ll ever die a natural death if I accompany you one more time, Your Majesty.”
“Wasn’t it thrilling in some ways?” Joshua chuckled.
“Yes, it was so thrilling that I think I can still feel my heart pounding. How in the world did you do it?”
“You said you can’t use your full power,” Zero clarified. He had clearly seen Joshua’s immense killing intent energy dissipate the thick murderous energy released by the Poison King’s mob of assassins. It was said that a river could no longer be a river in an ocean, but it was still an unbelievable sight.
“Mana and murderous energy are two different kinds of energies. Mana originated from the question of how to use one’s body more efficiently; on the other hand, murderous energy is a primordial instinct and the resolve to kill another person., Joshua explained.
“But I still can’t understand it. How can you do such a thing only with your resolve?”
“It’s the same as herbivores instinctively cowering in front of predators. Well, it’s said that once a swordsman reaches a certain level, he can kill another person with his willpower alone.”
“That’s just a legend,” Zero said, even more confused.
“Do you really think so?”
Zero became quiet.
“Where are you going to go?” Lilith interrupted. “We didn’t get the information we wanted in the end.”
Lilith had to ask this question because this journey was about finding Joshua’s other four friends.
“We put out the biggest fire for now, so let’s head back to the Palace first,” Joshua answered.
“You could have asked Reisen back in the pub. The Poison King would’ve been able to give us something.”
“He’s full of spite right now, so would he have done nothing if I asked him about my friends?”
Lilith’s jaw dropped. “You thought that far and in such detail?”
“He’s always like this.” Iceline furtively linked her arm with Joshua’s and walked on ahead.
Lilith stared vacantly at the couple for a moment before coming to her senses. “…Yeah, he is. It looks like he acts recklessly, but he always had a plan in his mind.”
“What should we do?” Zero asked.
“We should follow them,” Lilith decided. “That is the promise I made with Joshua.”
“Follow them even to the Palace? Once the nobles in the Palace find out who you are, it might cause a serious diplomatic issue.”
Zero’s concern was understandable. Ever since she had manifested the authority of a demon king, she had been a fugitive, so what would happen if she showed up in the palace of the Avalon Empire?
It was obvious. Black mages and demons were to be killed on sight, so a demon king—a higher-ranking demon—was despised even more. There was a precedent in the Avalon Empire, the country that had almost been taken over by a demon.
The Hubalt Empire would probably demand that the witch, Lilith Aphrodite, be turned over. If the Avalon Empire rejected their demand, that was fine for the Hubalt Empire too because that would justify starting another Continental War like they had been desperately wishing for.
Lilith shook her head. “Since the Hashashin Guild found out about it, it’s just a matter of time for other people to find out I’m in Avalon.”
“But I’m still very worried. The Avalon Empire has nothing to do with our problem, so we might be inconveniencing him and the Empire. Besides, the First Paladin has manifested the Archangel of Battle’s authority and already surpasses the level of the current Nine Stars. Avalon has been devastated due to the civil war, so—”
Lilith smiled reassuringly. “It’s okay. What are the Nine Stars or Four Paladins?”
“We’re currently with the man considered the strongest man on the continent. He himself said that he’ll regain his original power after a year, so if we successfully protect him until then…” Lilith trailed off for a moment. “We aren’t going to lose to anyone,” she said with conviction. “Ever.”