Chapter 59 : Spotted!
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After Ralf left the Adventurer Association branch…

“He’s been in there a while,” Danny said.

“Stop complaining, just be glad that we finally found him. Another day and I don’t think we’d escape punishment,” Drake said, causing him and his two companions' faces to turn grim.

The looks the trio were getting from Charlie and Boss Desmond had gotten worse and worse. After each failure, they felt the ice beneath their feet become a tad bit thinner. By now, it was no thicker than a hair. There was no doubt in their minds that punishment was afoot. However, an hour ago, they were freed from this inevitable fate as they spotted their target.

‘Ralf Fawkes, that little bastard. If not for his trickery, we wouldn’t have had to go through all this shit.’

Drake’s anger surged as he thought about the youth.

When they dropped him off last time and he refused their offer to return, they hadn’t thought too much of it. They had believed Hana was still in Lagner, so figured Ralf wouldn’t leave her behind. But five days later, they and the Red Star came to understand that Hana wasn’t in fact home.

The reason it took five days to make the discovery was due to the fact that Hana lived a very isolated life, so several days in her house wasn’t too strange. It was only by overhearing the villagers’ conversations about her absence did the Red Star pick up on the fact.

When this fact arrived before Tucker, he blew a gasket. Furious, he summoned the trio and berated them harshly for their oversight while dishing out some ‘light’ punishment with the help of an ever-willing Charlie.

The trio was then assigned to find Ralf, no matter what. With no clues, the trio headed to the last place they had seen him at, the Adventurer Association branch. They banked- no hoped and prayed that his words that he was going to be adventuring in Ganurg were true. And luckily for them, it turned out to be true.

“What do you think about the stuff floating around town, do you think it’s legit?” Serbert asked in a low voice.

The question brought an uncomfortable silence to the group.

“Hope so, hope not,” Danny said cryptically before refocusing on the newspaper in his hands.

Drake frowned at his companion’s answer, but couldn’t disagree. Over the last few days, they had become acquainted with Ralf’s tales, same as pretty much everyone in Ganurg. When combined with his story in Lagner, it painted a picture of a person best left alone.

“Same,” Drake eventually responded.

The trio fell into silence again until Danny once again spoke up.

“Hey, should I go in and ask around?”

Drake’s brows creased at the question. “No, Boss Desmond said to stay away from the branch at all costs. We’ll wait for him to come out, sit tight.”

Pacifying his companion with these words, Drake resumed his reading.

“Oh, he’s out.”

“Mm,” Drake immediately shifted his gaze from the newspaper to the entranceway but failed to spot anyone. “Where is he, I don’t see hi…” The gangster’s words instantly died down as a certain realization hit him.

The same realization struck his two companions nearly simultaneously, and the three collectively snapped their heads backwards. Capturing the person who had just spoken, their hearts quaked with fright, and like startled street cats, they jumped off the bench.

“R-Ralf!”

“That is indeed me,” Ralf said casually as he ran his fingers through his hair.

“When did you…”

“Get here? Spot you? For the former, five seconds ago. For the latter, it was when I first got here, around an hour ago. Even with different clothes and the absence of your banners, spotting you three was very easy. You see,” Ralf tapped his temple, “my memory is top-notch. Though,” he flashed a cheeky smile at the trio, “even with poor memory, I’d never forget faces as handsome you guys.”

The nonchalance and ease Ralf exuded as he sat on the side walk caused the three’s expression to twist up in agitation.

“Don’t get cocky brat, watch your words,” Danny growled out, his Psi began leaking out, “or else we’ll-”

“Danny,” Drake interjected sharply, “retract your aura.”

Danny shot Drake an irritated look but did as he was told. He knew they couldn’t afford to make a scene in Ganurg, especially here, with only the three of them.

Seeing his companion comply, Drake’s strained tension relaxed a bit. He refocused on Ralf.

“Ralf Fawkes, you know why we’re here, right.”

“I have an idea, yeah.”

Danny grit his teeth. “Bastard, you tried to run from paying your debt.”

“Run?” Ralf simply shrugged. “How can call this running? Last time we spoke, I said I’d be staying in this town to do adventuring, as you’ve seen, that’s what I’m doing - well, I was on my way anyway.”

Finishing his words, Ralf got up.

The simple action caused the trio’s tension to rise. The stories combined with the abnormal aura he exuded caused their hearts to spike with apprehension.

“I’m not running from anything. If I was, I could have gotten further away than a few kilometres over the last few days. I fully intend to settle the debt with Red Star. As proof,” pausing, Ralf’s hand moved to his waist bag and retrieved a pouch, “here.”

Using his telekinesis, Ralf floated it towards Drake, who grabbed hold of it. The gangster opened it and caught sight of ten gold coins.

“Boss Desmond will get his money as promised, I assure you.”

Drake tightened the string on the pouch and quickly stuffed it in his bag. He turned to Ralf.

“This is a start, but Ralf, couldn’t you pay the debt already?”

Ralf expected the question. With the story of his grand winnings all over town, he knew that the Red Star would reach the conclusion. Of course, he prepared an answer.

“I can’t now and couldn’t back then. Before the deal with Boss Desmond was made, I had already spent most of the money on the house I live in now. The Flower District houses are very expensive. By the time I met up with Boss Desmond, 11 gold is all I had left. As for now,” Ralf dusted off his clothes, “I don’t have enough to fully pay the debt. The ten gold I’m giving you now is money I’ve earned in the last few days through private gambling by gambling with the folks in the Flower District. ”

Drake’s furrowed brows relaxed at the explanation. ‘He bought property in the Flower District, those districts are very pricey… and the timeline makes sense. They did say he was buddy buddy with Greg Larky, so it’s not too surprising. And if he’s sharp enough to beat Moriya, earning ten gold coins by hustling those rich folks would be a cinch.’

“So, you’ll pay off your debt,” Drake asked, for final confirmation.

“Yes, before the deadline’s reached, Boss Desmond will have his money, I promise. So, sit tight till then.”

Drake’s eye twitched at the ending comment but chose not to pursue it. “Okay, I’ll relay your words to Boss Desmond then. We’ll trust you to do the smart thing. You’re a genius after all.”

“I am,” Ralf affirmed with a slight nod then glanced southward. “Make sure that gets to Boss Desmond’s hands without fail, I don’t want any more trouble.”

“Of course,” Drake said, traces of disdain leaking from his voice. “Danny, Serbert, let’s go.”

The trio turned to leave but Ralf stopped them with his next words.

“Oh, one last thing.”

“What?” Drake asked with an irritated tone as he glanced back. He didn’t want to linger in Ganurg a second longer than he had to, especially while carrying such a large amount of money.

“This arrangement is between myself and the Red Star. No other parties should be bothered or become involved in our deal. You can check up on me every day if you want, but don’t bother those around me.”

The trio jolted in place. The tone he spoke his words with was light, and yet each word resounded powerfully in their minds, as though they were words delivered by a king.

Recovering first, Drake spoke. “No other party will be bothered with this. As long as you pay your debt and don’t try to flee, that is.” He didn’t wait to hear the other’s response and broke into stride, which his companions mimicked a second later.

Ralf watched the trio disappear. By the time they were out of sight, the easy-going expression from before had vanished. In its place, a mask-like blankness. The flame of enmity burned within his eyes.

The duo’s intention to destroy the Red Star was alive and well. Had they not believed that there was still room for improvement as a Rank 3, Ralf would have flown over and settled everything immediately. The flame burning in him was just that hot

Three things fueled its heat. First, it was a gang. This alone, was sufficient for its elimination. Second, the feelings of humiliation and powerlessness they felt at the hands of Boss Desmond and Charlie that day in the office. Their pride wouldn’t allow them to forget it no matter how much time passed.

With over two years passing by for them, much of their anger had cooled down. However, as Ralf interacted with the trio, that distance memory began playing through his head. His exceptional brain worked its magic, and all the thoughts and emotions he had and felt back then were vividly recalled, reigniting his anger.

Third, and most importantly, was Turner’s continued existence. The desire to kill Turner was as strong as ever. It had never waned a bit, in fact, it had only increased as time went by. To the duo, killing him was an absolute must. In video game terms, his elimination was a mandatory quest.

After some thirty seconds of fanning the flames, Ralf blinked, snuffing it out, and released it as a smokeless sigh.

‘Haa, that’s a real mood sourer. I’ll need an injection of happiness to fix this.’

Ralf focused inward. His mind’s eye moved to the cafeteria hall where he focused on a vending machine-like contraption. Tapping the first item’s button, the sensation of drinking a milkshake passed in his mind.

‘Ah, divine.’

His mood immediately rocketed up. Certain things just did it for him.

‘This is our greatest ability, hands down.’

Ralf used the playlist feature and stacked up a dozen-plus items before shifting away. About to return to the outside world, he spotted his other self.

‘Reading again, how diligen- oh…’

Registering the title of the book and making the connection, Ralf’s heart surged with joy. The book Rei was reading was a fictional novel called The Dragon Prince: Knight and Princess. It was a very famous and old piece of literature penned by the highly acclaimed and equally mysterious author, Mars Red.

Importantly, it was the exact book Hana had been reading yesterday night. She was a big fan of it, especially the first book of the Dragon Prince trilogy due to the romance in it. After learning about this from Ralf, Rei moved to read it. He was a complete novice at relationship building, and so resorted to the only tactic he knew.

Observing Rei’s deliberate efforts to strengthen the relationship between himself and Hana brought a wide smile to Ralf’s face.

‘Okay, mood recovered. Let’s get moving, we have plenty to do.’

Ralf got up with a renewed vigour in his step. Materializing the Psi Bike, he hopped on.

Before leaving, he took a second to focus on his hearing. ‘Oh, he’s already started. Spread the gospel Jeff, spread it well.’

Listening for a few seconds, Ralf twisted the handlebars and sped off.

Next, an adventure.

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