The Fighter relaxed his shoulders and with a smooth motion of his arm threw a dagger — at sonic speeds it flew past my side and stuck in the wall. I tensed up, I couldn’t even react. Did that mean? I was… I stood no chance—
“Hahaha!” He began laughing. Eh? “God, you had me there. It looks like she is one of us.”
“Good going.” The woman smiled. Both of them sat back down. Eh?
I felt a pat on my back, from the Alchemist himself. But for some reason I couldn’t sense any hostility in the room; sweat ran down my head — Was this just an act to lure me in? What kind of trap was thi—
“We wouldn’t have it any other way. Conditions are part of our work. Asking you to join without agreeing to anything wouldn’t be very nice, would it? Besides, any type of contract even verbal requires agreement from both parties.” Even though his voice sounded genuine, there was something.
It just didn’t make sense. Why would they agree— they know I am here to kill people, and yet they even accept me. It just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Why would it be like that?
“Although you had me for a second, you truly have changed.” His tone was an impressed one. “No longer a scaredy-cat I see.”
“I don’t know how the both of you know each other, but may I ask — How did you even end up as the new Collector?” The woman asked.
I was a bit confused. From everything — wasn’t I, their enemy?
I felt another pat on my back. “By the way, don’t trust any of us. We are your comrades but after this we might turn into your enemies. Our lingo is work first, relationships second. As long as you can adhere to that, everything will be fine between all of us.” I didn’t want to believe it, but everyone simply nodded in agreement.
“Well girl, now that we cleared up the misunderstanding about enemy or ally. Can you answer my question?” She asked once again — slightly direct and yet quite aggressive.
I was still pretty confused, but about the question: wasn’t it obvious? I mean, I suppose there isn’t a single method. Everyone was looking at me with anticipation, I didn’t want to answer… But if it’s between dying or forming a bond — then I suppose I have to make them trust me. I highly doubt they trusted me at the moment. Even if they say not to trust anyone among themselves, just acceptance is good enough for now.
“I killed him…” I bit my lip, it was still painful to say it. “I killed him and a few moments later after looting his corpse I got an alert about being appointed…”
“Wait, you mean to tell me a midget like you killed that guy?” The fighter guy questioned as he puffed his cigarette. I suppose it wasn’t convincing.
I didn’t even want to say how I killed him — it was disgusting, the way I did it. It shouldn’t have happened like that, all for a mission… What was more important; the mission or my feelings? It was nature contradicting itself — and something I had no answer to. It was painful.
“Forget that, you brute. If she got appointed doesn’t that mean that the mayor did it himself?”
“Now that you mention it…” The Alchemist said with growing suspicion. “She could be brainwashed.”
Eh? I mean I suppose that does make sense albeit completely nonsensical for my circumstances. I am sure brainwashing is possible, just for my circumstances it wasn’t. Although that didn’t matter as I sensed the increasing hostility inside the room.
Before they could murder me on it I opened my mouth.
“I haven’t met the mayor, it happened in the middle of the night… Two hours ago actually…” What a complicated situation… Also... the fact that it happened about two hours ago was surprising in itself... But, that wasn't the issue... Was I going to need to fight my way out of this?
“Hmhm, I want to trust your word little pet, but what about the other two.” He turned to them. “Do you guys trust the little one?” He still gave me a bad feeling.
The scarred woman got close to me and examined me, first she looked at my eyes then at my whole body. She ogled for a minute or so until she finally sighed.
“I suppose I trust her, we are short on people anyways. Besides, she seems to be cut for this line of work — trust doesn’t get work done; determination does.”
Both of them seemed fine with it I guess…
“Well, little pet, isn’t that wonderful. We are now your comrades.” Ha… “And as such you are free to ask for our help whenever you need it.” Aha. “Just a few pointers, Fighter 2 is good at fighting one on one. Mister tomboy is also good at fighting, and at herbal things.” Why was he telling me all of this again? “And for me? I am an Alchemist as my name implies, I can make potions or give you potions.”
That was… I needed potions. But what if they carried poison with them? I… I couldn’t really request it from him or from anyone. My best bet was probably following along with them — and finishing my mission. After that I guess a little discussion would take place — things are uncertain afterwards…
But ignoring that…
“Here.” He shoved something onto me. “A gift from me.” Eh. It was a box. “It contains some potions. A welcome gift I suppose, also as a thank you for not killing me on the stairs — I saw you were getting quite excited over there.”
“Ah…” I did ponder about killing him a lot… “Thank you.” Was that how it went? Whenever you got a gift you thank them?
At this point, the other two people in the room went to doing their things and discussing among themselves. Essentially leaving me alone with the Alchemist, was there nothing of relevance anymore?
I mean, even though I wasn’t the best at being objective. I still couldn’t completely understand human traditions or anything else for that matter. Although… I can’t really comment much on anything, this whole turn of events has been unexpected and a bit shocking.
“Oh right, your term. As the operation leader as an Administrator, I accept.”
“But you haven’t even heard it yet.” Seriously, what was all of this?
“You mean kill everyone that is downstairs, right?” I…
“That’s quite ambitious, but I don’t mind. They are not part of my team either.”
“Mine neither. It’s fine if you kill them all.”
The both of them said as they paused their argument for a second.
“Well, there you have it.” The Alchemist smiled. “You are free to do your request. While I don’t really understand why you insist, I suppose you can gain a title or two from all of it. The party is for slave traders anyways, I wanted to gain some intel but found nothing useful, so there is that.” Isn’t it his party though? I mean… how could he be so careless about it... "Ah, if you wonder why I was with Gartz it was the same reason. Again, I found nothing. A waste of time..." His voice trailed off.
“Although there is something I find surprising — that determination to kill so many people to grow stronger. It’s something surprisingly rare…” He said. “Well, ignoring it being rare. I didn’t expect that from you.”
“I am not the same anymore… Even if it’s a path of no return I shall take it on.” I was sure of this. “Perhaps it’s not the right thing, perhaps I might not be forgiven, but I will stand on what I believe.” That’s right.
I didn’t need approval from anyone, this is what I believed in. And that’s all I needed to exist. Between not existing and doing something. I will choose the second one. Perhaps I might change my decision in the future, but right now. I just want to fulfill this mission that I decided to call my own.
That’s all I needed, even a simple purpose like that. That was fine.
The Alchemist tilted his head for a second. “We don’t get forgiveness often, this path of work doesn’t get it often rather. But if that special someone does forgive you, I suppose it’s a good thing. I don’t particularly care though, I was just curious.” Ha. “It’s great you now have a life purpose though, last I saw you; you were quivering and looking to die.”
Very much true.
He leaned to my ear. “For the record. We don’t care about your race. So feel free to take your hood off anytime.” Ha — that wasn’t happening. “Well, I doubt you want to. Just saying that we don’t discriminate between co-workers.”
That was my answer — a polite and cold one.
“Glad you understand it.” He smiled. “Well, go on your way! Everyone is fine with people dying downstairs right?”
“Yeah sure, slave trading is annoying anyway.”
“Hm… I feel like I am forgetting something, well it probably isn’t important. Go ahead girly.”
I tilted my head. I half-expected to be stopped or to simply be told “no”, but the overwhelming acceptance certainly feels weird. There are two possible reasons for this — they either don’t care about the people downstairs, or they are planning something. Although…
I made sure to look at them once again. The Alchemist had joined their chatting and then they started playing a type of card game… I guess they just didn’t care. But, just to make sure.
“I am leaving after I am done downstairs, I am not coming back for a while.” I sighed. “So if you have a—
“A way to contact us?” The Alchemist completed my sentence. “Don’t worry about it; everything is going to plan. Just keep being a collector, and you will realize when to come back. Not this place, but you will know. Promise.” He winked. “By the way, your em… Was it request? Yeah, it’s now an order— kill everyone downstairs.”
... He had suddenly turned serious as he said with shark-like eyes. I was slightly confused, but after a quick breath, I opened my mouth.
I left the room with a cold sweat. This wasn’t planned at all. Not like anything was planned to begin with, but… This? Joining an organization that you can’t leave… Well, if it’s between living and not dying… I suppose that’s fine…
Now onto the things that matter… An order? The hell is with that… It gives me a bad feeling… But, I… I need to grow stronger for the final goal… I suppose I have no choice? If it’s between instinct and brain… It’s a battle that is in a permanent stalemate, and right now… I think I will listen to the latter. Whether to grow stronger or not. Then I have my choice.
I looked at the box I was still holding, the potions I got gifted? I opened it, and to my surprise, there were multiple potions, a few low-grade ones, a few better ones, and even some performance-enhancing ones... Or at least I thought that's what they did.
I chugged some of the potions in a desperate attempt to not die, even though I was pretending everything was fine, I felt like fainting any second... The only reason I was still able to stand up was because of all the active effects I had at the moment, but as soon as that ran out... I was done.
I spared a potion for Rin, although I already had the other one. The one that I was given in case of an emergency. Hopefully, I would be able to save it.
I prepared my daggers and doublechecked the status icons. Let the final journey begin.