Chapter 2 : The Dark Street
“How could you let Liola wander off by himself? Didn’t I tell you to look after him?”
Kaiser grabbed his principal by the collar and yelled with raised eyebrows and widened eyes.
The three people whose presence caused Kaiser’s arrogance, were also standing behind him with long faces.
If Barbalis couldn’t give them Liola, or if he gave them Liola’s corpse, Barbalis could very well become the first principal ever killed by his own students in the history of Aklan Academy.
“He just took Baolilong to the infirmary, and I told him to go by himself only because I was cheering you guys on. The infirmary is so close, and the path there is very crowded, nothing could go wrong! Liola is definitely waiting inside the infirmary until Baolilong’s wounds are healed.”
Barbalis screamed on the top of his lungs for being treated unjustly.
“Yeah, Kaiser, the infirmary is really close. Liola-dage should be fine.” Purity quickly tried to calm Kaiser, and at the same time, she felt Kaiser had gone a little overboard.
Kaiser angrily let go of Barbalis’ collar, and with a gloomy face, he said,
“If Liola isn’t in the infirmary, then you better be prepared to surrender your neck to Daylight’s sword.”
Meinan frowned, “Kaiser, did you also feel there’s something strange with Liola? I’m worried h-he might leave without saying goodbye…”
“Stop. We’ll know when we get to the infirmary.”
Kaiser answered impatiently. His face clearly show his insecurities. Even Purity and Daylight seemed to be infected by Kaiser’s face, and they all hurried towards the infirmary. Barbalis’ face, however, displayed a moment of hesitation.
However, before they got to the infirmary, Jasmine and the guilt-ridden Lanski were already carrying Baolilong towards Kaiser and others.
Jasmine anxiously rushed towards them, and as soon as they arived, she asked, “Have you seen Liola?”
Kaiser and three others, along with the now pale-faced Barbalis, moved their gazes to Baolilong.
All ten eyes staring at the “should-be-next-to-Liola” Baolilong.
Kaiser took several deep breaths before he gritted his teeth before asking, “Baolilong! Where the hell is your dad?”
Baolilong’s big eyes were already watery. After hearing Kaiser’s inquisition, large drops of tears immediately fell out of its eyes, “Waah, papa is gone, gone. Baolilong can’t find papa!”
Kaiser’s angry face sank. He raised his head to look at Jasmine and Lanski, and became suspicious of the uneasy looks on their faces.
‘Looks like Liola’s disappearance had something to do with these two.’
Kaiser coldly questioned them, “What happened? Liola wouldn’t go missing for no reason.”
Jasmine anxiously looked towards Lanski, who said with guilt,
“Sorry, it was my fault. I thought the wounds on Baolilong’s body was the result of Liola’s physical abuse, so I blamed everything on him.”
“Papa would never hit Baolilong.” Baolilong loudly protested, which made Lanski’s lower her head even more with guilt.
‘Would Liola go be missing just because someone blamed him? An Assassin shouldn’t be as childish as that, there should be something else…’
Could it be what he had thought before? Kaiser hesitated, then turned around to ask the others, “Hey, do you think that Liola might not want to be a burden to us, and therefore ran away from home?”
The other three’s expression suddenly changed. Purity sat on top of the Mecha and said, “That’s definitely it. I felt that, ever since Liola-dage woke up, something had always bothered him.”
Kaiser hit his own head and said, “Damn! The meaning of that smile of his was good bye.”
Barbalis gulped, and lifted his long robe as he tried to tip-toe his way to another continent.
Unfortunately, even with his back to Barbalis, Kaiser pointed his index finger, and Purity’s Angel Mecha raised its giant bow, and the giant arrow pointed at Barbalis’ little head. If the arrow was released, Barbalis would definitely not die from an arrow through his body, but rather from a headshot.
Kaiser’s devil-like voice echoed,
“MR PRINCIPAL, please use all your money, time, patience, and whatever other powers you have to look for Liola, otherwise, be careful for those two things of yours!”
Although Purity blushed, the Mecha’s giant bow was not ambiguous, and it slowly moved downward from Barbalis’ head.
“No! I still don’t have a Barbalis Jr. I’ll go look, right now!” Barbalis sank in bitter contemplation, trying to think where he should start looking for Liola.
* * *
If he doesn’t go far, then Kaiser and others would probably easily find him. If he was to be found, then he probably wouldn’t be able to leave so easily next time.
However, he stayed with Kaiser and the others, wouldn’t their fate end up identical to Anise’s? Having her dreams taken away because of him, then becoming a cold corpse?
Remembering the scene of Anise closing her eyes for all eternity, Liola felt a sharp pain in his heart.
He could not stop his footsteps, and he walked towards a darker and quieter street, as if it’s where he really belonged.
The crowded streets Liola had passed by gradually became less and less populated, and the tall buildings reaching high up into the clouds were no where to be seen. There were only some old buildings scattered about, and a few homeless guys lying on the ground, looking at Liola walking around with his elegant robe with envy and malice.
Liola realized the hostile glares directed at him. Although he lost his Kung Fu, his experience of being an Assassin for many years, his instincts remained, as well as his dexterity. Though Liola knew he couldn’t handle professional Assassins, a few homeless guys shouldn’t pose a problem.
Perhaps ten of them would be a problem.
Liola stopped his tracks, when he saw more than ten hobos congregating in front of him, and greed was flashed in their eyes. Their intention was obvious.
Liola said to the person leading the pack, “I don’t have money.”
The guy in front who wore a dirty vest laughed and revealed his stained teeth,
“Says who? You’re worth a lot of money, little lost lamb. If we take you a part, your organs would be worth quite a sum, and it would be enough for me and my fellow friends to eat several meals.”
All of them let out a sinister laugh. A few of them even started drooling at the thought of food, and they all started to close in on Liola.
Hearing what the man said, Liola knew this ordeal couldn’t be resolved peacefully. He lowered his body and pulled out Broken Silver, but Liola still didn’t unsheath the dagger, so he wouldn’t accidentally kill someone.
“This is great. How many more meals do you think we can get out of that thing?” Greed continued to flash in the leader’s eyes, and he beckoned the people behind him,
“Go! Tomorrow’s meal is in front of your eyes.”
Before the man finished his sentence, the hobos were already holding weapons and charged at Liola.
Even with ten people running towards him, Liola’s face was calm as usual, but in his heart, he knew he couldn’t get away completely unscathed.
Being in the Assassin industry for more than ten years, Liola knew at the very least that he wouldn’t end up having his organs sold.
Liola tightened his muscles, and ran toward the hobos with Broken Silver.
Though his speed was incomparable to what it was before, but to an ordinary person, Liola was agile enough.
A few of the hobos who charged in first were hit by Liola a few times and fell to the ground. However, because Liola’s couldn’t hit as hard as before, they weren’t knocked unconscious or break any bones, but the hits were hard enough for them to be moaning in pain on the ground for quite a while.
But the following fight would not be so easy.
More than ten other people were waving their weapons around. Even though Liola could see or sensed their attacks, his body didn’t have the ability to dodge them, so he took several hits.
Thanks to his Assassin’s training, he was able to endure pain, and not a single noise escaped his mouth.
At the same time, to prevent getting hurt further, Liola hurried to try to take and care of his enemies. All of his hits efficiently landed on the back of his enemies’ heads. For the ones he missed, Liola would immediately add a few more hits, though on some occasions he received a blow because of his mistakes.
“Little runt, stop struggling!”
Seeing his men falling down one by one, the leader yelled angrily, and swung his wooden spiked club towards Liola’s face.
Liola agilely dodged his attack, but he couldn’t escape the man’s knee, which landed heavily on his stomach. Liola held his stance despite the pain, and used Broken Silver to hit the man’s chin.
After a street fight, tens of homeless guys were moaning on the ground, and their leader was unconscious.
The only person left standing, was the man with the gray Sorcerer robe, with his right hand holding on to Broken Silver, and left holding his stomach. Liola’s calm yet pale face was covered in sweat.
A faint clap came from a shaded wall and Liola held tighter onto Broken Silver.
He knew since a while back that someone was observing at him, but he couldn’t do anything about it. Liola looked in the corner, and warned the onlooker with his eyes.
“Quite amazing skills you have.”
A man with a deep voice complimented Liola, at the same time, a middle-aged man wearing a suit walked out of the dark corner. He had a square face, greasy but neat short black hair, and a pair of dark sunglasses.
He looked quite dignified.
Liola looked at the man without letting his guard down. Without the support of his Ki, Liola felt somewhat tired after finishing earlier brawl.
Without knowing the man’s intent, Liola picked himself up and asked, “What do you want?”
The middle-aged man smiled, “Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m the Dark Street’s Barker, and one of the hosts for the Dark Arena.”
Liola nodded with no expression on his face; the Assassin asked again patiently, “What do you want?”
“Ah! You are a straightforward man.” Barker placed his arms to his side, and understood Liola didn’t like beating around the bush, so he explained plainly,
“Since I am a host of Dark Arena, I come out often to find new competitors. Would you be interested in fighting in the arena?”
“No.” Liola immediately answer, and turned to leave.
Though he had seen all types of people, Barker didn’t expect this man to be so apathetic that he would reject him without even asking what Dark Arena was.
Barker thought, ‘The competitors in my arena were mostly either dead or severely wounded, so if I don’t find another contestant, the Dark Arena wouldn’t be able to go on.’
Barker hurried in his footsteps, and blocked Liola’s path.
A pair of cold, silver eyes stared at Barker, which made sent a chill down his spine.
Thinking about opening match which was scheduled just in a few days, Barker bit the bullet and continued to block Liola’s path with a smile,
“Why don’t you think about it? If you win, I’ll share the profit with you, 50 50.”
Liola didn’t even bother to respond. He took a step aside, trying to walk around Barker.
“Wait!” Barker gritted his teeth, “30 70, 70 for you. If you win the first match, you get 10 grand, second for 20 grand, third for 40 grand. If you win the whole thing, then the 10 million prize money is all yours.”
Liola stopped his footsteps, and the thought of making money flashed in his mind. He needed a lot of money to feed that chowhound Baolilong…
No! He no longer need to feed Baolilong. Liola shook his head, trying to shake away the image of Baolilong eating meat in his head.
Barker saw Liola’s hesitation, and was happy for a brief moment. Then, he saw Liola shook his head, and his face sank again.
He had been the king of the Dark Street for more than ten years and he had ten bodyguards in front and behind him. If it weren’t for the trouble he was having with the arena, and had to personally scout for good competitors, this little runt wouldn’t even have the pleasure of seeing him, so how can this little runt belittle him so much?
Barker couldn’t swallow the idea of someone scorning him. He yelled, “Little runt, if you aren’t coming with me willingly, then don’t blame me for using force!”
What was strange was that, with Barker’s yell, two large men wearing sunglasses jumped out onto the empty street.
Both men had two black and shiny guns on both of their legs, with alarming looks.
Seeing the guns, Liola’s eyes flashed. He calmly calculated in his mind, and deduced he probably wouldn’t be able to win against guns with his current speed, and if he tried to run, the chance of him being escaping was probably 50 50?
At the exact same moment when Liola took one step back, a shot was fired. Liola turned his head to look, and smoke appeared on the ground not far behind his ankle.
Barker laughed coldly, “My bodyguards are the sharpest shooters of the Dark Street, wanna run? You better ask permission from their guns first.”
Liola ignored Barker’s threat, and his silver eyes looked onto the bodyguards with the gun. The one on the left looked younger, and it looked like he was the one who fired, but the middle-aged man still had his gun firmly in his holster.
Liola’s heart was shaken a little, it appeared the two men work rather well together. Without a word being said, they decided who would open fire to prevent him from escaping.
Looks like the success rate of him escaping dropped to 30 percent, and he probably receive a couple of bullet wounds as he tries to escape.
Though Liola’s face remained expressionless, he let out a sigh in his heart. He decided to negotiate with Barker. He looked at him, and clearly stated his biggest principle,
“I can’t kill anyone.”
Barker was first shocked, and then he understood that the runt was giving him a compromise.
Thinking he finally found a competitor for his arena, Barker couldn’t contain his smile, and his threatening tone of voice was completely gone.
Barker placed his hands on Liola’s shoulders as if they were old drinking buddies and said, “Don’t worry, my friend. I was afraid you would kill the other competitors, then I’d have to compensate them with money.”
Liola thought about it of it for a while, and the desire to make money was still there. Besides… he didn’t know where else to go. If he continued to wander aimlessly, he would eventually be found by Kaiser and others.
After some consideration, Liola finally nodded in acceptance to Barker’s proposal.
“Great, I knew you would come around. Bro, I still don’t know what your name is?”
Barker laughed loudly, and the young bodyguard behind him returned his gun to its holster. The two men backed into the corner, disappearing into the shadows.
Barker nodded and waved at Liola, then walked towards a dark alley.
Liola followed without any hesitation, since to him, walking in the darkness was like walking at home.
Barker, who was walking in the front, quietly thought it was quite strange, and at the same time started guessing Liola’s identity. The gray robe on Liola’s body puzzled Barker. He would never believe the agile Liola was a Sorcerer.
Walking in the dirty and narrow alley, Liola felt a sense of nostalgia, as if he had gone back to the time before he met Anise, living the shameful Assassin life.
Liola amused himself with the thought of him being better suited in living in the dark places, and he could caused much less trouble an Assassin than if he was with Kaiser and others.
After walking for a long time, a light shone through the dark alley — the exit was before them. Barker turned around and introduced the street to the “outsider” Liola with pride.
“This is the Dark Street, a dark place where even the Aklan government has no control over, and it’s also degenerated, dirty, and trashy street to outsiders.”
Liola raised his head to look in the street Barker spoke of.
The dark alley even did not make the Assassin raise a brow, but he frowned upon the colorful and dazzling street.
At the time, the so-called degenerated street was full of strange people, both men and women. There were hot girls wearing revealing clothes, and bucktoothed merchants covered in gold.
There were also some guys wearing a hat and cloak, with their hat lowered enough to cover their entire faces.
The surrounding buildings did fit the “dirty” description. Though the lights on the signboard were blinding, but the strange thing was, the buildings didn’t match the signs at all.
Behind the beautiful signboards were often old, damaged, and sometimes looked like they were about to collapse.
Judging from the dripping wet clothes hanging out from the windows, there were still people living inside.
Occasionally, there were a few children wearing torn clothes pouring water down from their balcony, and people underneath would cursed at them.
Despite the fact that the buildings looked like they were about to come crashing down, the bypassing crowds didn’t seem to care. They casually walked in and out of shops, try to purchasing all sorts of strange goods from ruin-like buildings.
The entire Dark Street looked like ancient ruins converted into a shopping center.
Modern and tall buildings can only be found in the distant, and they looked elegant as opposed to the surrounding buildings. This scenery created a striking contrast between the background setting of the Dark Street and its surroundings.
At least Barbalis had better taste. Liola thought about the academy’s laughing gate, no! School gate.
[T/N: ‘Laughing Gate’ sounds identical to ‘School Gate’ in Chinese]
Seeing Liola’s expressionless face, Barker, who was hoping to see Liola’s shocked or amazed expression, was disappointed. Nevertheless, he gathering himself together by reminding himself that this outsider has not seen the Dark Street’s most essential establishment — the Dark Arena.
‘Wait til he sees the Dark Arena, he definitely won’t be able to hold his calm exterior.’ Barker stomped his feet forcefully, and at the same time hurried his new competitor,
“Hurry! We’re going to go have a look at your new workplace.”
Liola stopped his wandering eyes, and followed Barker calmly. The Assassin’s sharp sense noticed Barker’s two bodyguards were closely following them, but moved from one shadow area to the next, and most people wouldn’t even sense their existence.
The two men were strong bodyguards, Liola judged determined. With his current ability, he could possibly beat the young one, but the middle-aged one seemed to be far stronger.
These two people were strong, in the eyes of a normal person. If Liola wasn’t sealed, their combined strength… would pale many levels in comparison to his.
Thinking of the two bodyguards, an idea dawned on Liola, and he asked,
“Why didn’t you ask bodyguards to be competitors? They’re not weaker than me.”
Barker sported a solemn expression.
“Little runt, Dark Street isn’t a playground. If you’re not careful you could lose your life at any moment. I would never let my two bodyguards leave me even for a few matches in the arena.”
Liola nodded. His calmly footsteps stopped, and his silver eyes looked at the giant, pyramid-shaped building with curiosity. Having never seen anything similar to it, Liola examined the strange triangular object.
Barker looked proud. The pyramid in front of them was the pride of everyone in the Dark Street, and the spiritual icon of all the outlaws of Dark Street.
In the gloomy Dark Arena, there was only one kind of people: gamblers — spectators gambling money and competitors gambling money with lives.