Chapter 43: Disciple
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POV - Tobias

Rin and I backtracked through the rain to search for Bai Xiaobao.

Finding Bai Xiaobao wasn’t difficult. Actually, it was rather simple.

Once we reached Bai Xiaobao’s village, we only needed to follow the crowd.

Apparently, the villagers weren’t bothered by the two of us joining their midst. They led both of us right to him.

Which leads to the current situation.

Various people from the village were taking turns attempting to destroy the barrier surrounding Bai Xiaobao… and they were succeeding, albeit extremely slowly.

It’s only been around a day... how could he end up in this situation?

What exactly happened that resulted in him being surrounded like this?

Glancing toward Rin, who was quietly absorbing the whole scenario. I pondered what to do.

Taking my musket off my back and using the extremely loud noise program, I shot into the air.

BANG! The noise echoed throughout the small cave.

Since it’s impossible to rescue him quietly without attracting attention, I’ll just scare them all into submission.

People quieted down and turned toward us surprised, but otherwise undisturbed by the noise.

Hmm… Well, for now, surprise works.

Fishing for information, I called out, “Can someone explain what is going on?”

People seemed dazed by my question.

Before one of them could answer, unsurprisingly, Bai Xiaobao spoke up to exonerate himself. “Help! They’re planning on robbing and killing me!”

Wow… how shameless.

If I was an ignorant hero, I might have actually believed he was the actual victim in this situation.

Bai Xiaobao, I really wasn’t asking you… Still, it’s actually irrelevant who’s at fault here. I’m here to rescue him and accept him as a disciple. I’ll work on fixing his troublesome personality later.

People started shouting over each other, some tried to explain the actual situation and others shouted denouncing Bai Xiaobao as a liar.

Bang! I fired the musket again, using less mana.

Narrowing my eyes, I stared at everyone and said. “Shut up.”

Rin had apparently decided she didn’t want to get involved, instead, she wandered to the cave entrance and examining the situation.

Realizing that, to be threatening, it was probably best to be direct, I stated my goal. “I don’t care about the actual situation. I will be taking him.”

A woman with fiery rage in her eyes, spoke up, “Do you think owning a gun allows you to leave with him?”

{Sidney Umbra – Weak, her body is corrosive.}

Examining her, I replied, while speaking casually. “Nope, the gun is just a decoration. I’m able to leave with him because I’m vastly more powerful than all of you combined.”

Once I finished speaking, I stopped restraining my mana pressure.

Most of the people, presumably the ones classified as extremely weak, fell to the floor. Few managed to stay upright, but judging from the trouble they were having to stand, they weren’t in a position to fight.

Their bodies aren’t prepared for high densities of mana. If I continued, they would probably die in several minutes.

This universe isn’t fair.

There are clear divisions between people.

Even without the presence of protagonists and superpowers, people with enough mana can, if they chose to, kill you in an instant.

The only way to escape that is to become powerful enough or rely on someone powerful.

Ironic, in a way.

People choose Easy Difficulty because they fear death. Yet, it leaves them constantly on the brink of death while interacting with others.

Walking up to the barrier that's protecting Bai Xiaobao, I placed my arm on it and applied some pressure which caused it to break apart.

They must’ve spent thirty minutes attempting to break it. Yet… it still breaks extremely easily for me.

I hadn’t realized I had gotten this powerful.

I mean... logically, I knew.

But, I didn’t fully understand it.

Every time I’ve fought it has been against monsters or people as powerful or more powerful than me. I've only survived because of my abilities and plethora of tricks.

More people collapsed on the floor.

It felt unreal. There were only around thirty people in this cave, yet nearly all of them were lying on the floor.

Watching them barely able to breathe, I felt nothing.

When did I become so disassociated with people that I feel nothing for causing their suffering.

Shaking my head, I restrained my mana again to prevent further problems.

This was completely unnecessary. I could’ve simply ignored all of them. Even if they struck me with all their power combined, they wouldn’t be able to break through my scales.

But, a thought poisoned my mind.

As easily as I can kill these people, monstrosities and monsters from outside the zones can kill me.

Even monsters from higher zones of Hell Difficulty could probably kill me this easily.

Without providing even the slightest chance to fight back.

I needed to become more powerful. If I wanted to survive and protect Rin, I needed enough power.

With a thud, the remaining people fell to the ground in exhaustion. Everyone besides Rin, Bai Xiaobao (who the barrier protected from the pressure), and myself was on the ground.

I was about to converse with Bai Xiaobao, but was interrupted by the girl who bothered me earlier. “You think being powerful gives you the right to do whatever you want?”

Turning back toward the fiery eyed speaker, who utilized her sword to stand back up.

Well, that’s interesting.

Examining her more carefully, she had black hair and seemed to be around 27 years old.

Walking up to her, I inquired in a threatening tone. “Are you saying it doesn’t?”

The woman stood her ground, “Justice always prevails.”

“Whose justice? Yours?” I replied, smirking.

The woman didn’t reply and simply glared at me.

Smirking to myself.

She’s perfect for a disciple.

While Bai Xiaobao is an interesting character, he isn’t someone I can trust to acquire the items I need. His personality problems and general lack of regard for people surrounding him showcases that.

This girl, though… she has a strong sense of justice. Clear feelings of right and wrong. Along with the willingness to get back up even when facing an unbeatable threat.

She’s perfect.

Lightening up the mood, I let out a bright smile and said. “Congratulations. I’ll teach you.”

She seemed completely confused at my sudden declaration and asked. “Teach me?”

I explained, “I need a disciple to acquire something for me. Thus, I’ll teach you and you will acquire it for me.”

“I’m not your disciple.” She stated plainly.

“Welcome to the team, Background Character-A.” I declared, happily ignoring her protests. Signaling Bai Xiaobao to follow us, I lifted up Background Character-A and rested her on my shoulder.

Technically, this is called kidnapping.

Personally, I prefer to think of it as an investment. I’m betting that, with time, she’ll develop Stockholm syndrome.

Err… I mean, I’m betting she’ll grow to like me.

What exactly happened to the ‘willing’ portion of acquiring a willing disciple?

Willingness is overrated.

Turning to check Bai Xiaobao was following, I walked toward Rin… who had an unnatural frown.

Does she disapprove of kidnapping?

Maybe I’m overthinking it. Rin didn’t say anything as we left.

Two disciples acquired. Now I only need to figure out how to train people.

POV Swap – Stanley

Stanley took the shortest path toward the palace. Tanya had decided to follow after him for whatever reason.

Reaching the palace gates, Stanley stopped and examined the palace more carefully.

The palace seemed extremely expensive to build. The walls surrounding it had gold leaf and the gate seemed to be some enhanced fantasy metal.

[When Stanley was left pondering what to do, he chose to wait for the gate to open.]

This wall isn’t that tall? It’s only 10 feet at most. I could easily bypass this gate or potentially break it.

“Quick, open the gates!” Someone shouted from the other side, causing the guards manning the gates to scatter to open it.

…Or I could wait ten seconds for the gate to open. That works too.

A horse rushed past carrying a messenger and the gate began to close after him. Stanley took advantage of the opportunity to enter, leaving Tanya behind outside the gate.

There were guards above, but none bothered Stanley. The guards either did not care about or did not notice Stanley’s timely entrance.

Continuing onward, Stanley enter the palace. The inside was unimpressive compared to the outside. It was mainly undecorated, the lack of painting or similar decorative material was plainly noticeable.

Unexpected, considering the amount of work and effort put into the palace’s decorations outside. Clearly effort had gone into maintaining its outer appearance, while the palace itself had been abandoned.

Speaking of abandoned, the palace was unguarded. Walking further in only confirmed that. There appeared to be a distinct lack of people in the surrounding area.

[When Stanley arrived at a set of two open doors, he entered the door on his left.]

The two open doors separated into different parts of the palace. The left door headed further inside, while the right door led to stairs descending into a dungeon of some kind.

As Stanley was about to enter the door on his left, he heard a woman’s painful scream originating from the dungeon behind the right door.

Hesitating, Stanley decided.

He would follow the Narrator's instructions.

Stanley entered the door on his left, before immediately turning around and rushing into the right door toward the dungeon below where the scream originated.

Stanley understood the Narrator’s limits.

While the Narrator expected him to continue down the left hallway, it hasn't specified allowing him to take advantage of this loophole.

Downstairs, Stanley discovered three people surrounding a woman hung from shackles on the wall. The woman had cuts covering her body with and bruising along her arms.

Meanwhile, the people surrounding her had various outfits covered in blood. Too much blood to have come from one person. Whoever they are, they have almost certainly done this before.

Their motives are unclear, but Stanley lacked the patience or desire to attempt to discover their motives behind torturing someone.

Stepping forward, everyone in the room noticed Stanley’s intrusion.

“Who let you in here?” A torturer asked, confused.

Stanley coldly replied, “I let myself in.” Before punching the closest torturer, resulting in the torturer being knocked out and his body ramming into the nearest wall.

Seeing their friend so easily dispatched, the remaining two decided to run away.

The torturers intended to go and alert the entire castle to his presence and return with guards.

Stanley, however, was able to easily prevent that.

Readying Scarlet, his faithful gun, he shot an escaping captor in the leg.

The third captor realized the power difference and chose to surrendered before Stanley could shoot him.

Keeping Scarlet pointed at the third captor, Stanley began questioning him.

Stanley planned to confirm Tanya’s information, while simultaneously learning about the palace and the woman they had captured.