Chapter 15 - Chloe
It took three buckets of water and special healing brew to wake Anguis. The fellow even looked like he wanted to fall back into slumber, entering a coma before Draco returned and brought the bill before him.
Unfortunately for Anguis, his sister wasn't of a similar mind due to her infatuation. She pestered her older brother until he finally relented, although somewhat unwillingly.
"Others have sisters who support them yet, I got a traitor…" Anguis mumbled to himself while giving Sasha the stink eye.
"Oh come now. Are you the type of person who defaults on his agreements, brother?" Sasha retorted with a winning smile.
Seeing her so elated almost drove Anguis mad, "You do realize that if we pay him what we owe, the two of us can barely buy anything from the shop, right?"
Sasha's eyes twinkled mischievously as she tutted. "That only applies to you. Lord Drake has made me shopkeeper and said I can take anything I need teehee."
Anguis felt so stifled that he had to take in a few breaths to calm down. What was this? What did he ever do to get such a turncoat sibling?
Draco entered the planning room to see Anguis looking like he wanted to die and Sasha with a smug expression. He felt amused and could roughly guess what occurred earlier.
"Well, Anguis. Do you have my money?" Draco asked with a small smile.
Anguis felt like crying. He did have the money to pay Draco, but he didn't want to. He would do almost anything to escape this debt. He considered running away, but where would he go? He'd be marked a deserter by the guild and chased by the behemoth known as Drake.
With a pained and unwilling expression, Anguis finally forked over the money he owed to Draco, glaring at him hatefully all the while. Draco had a bitter expression on his face as he received his money. What on earth had he done to make this fellow look at him like he had f.u.c.k.i.e.d his wife?
The agreed price was 50 silver per head and Draco had cleaned 225 heads off their owners. That equaled 11,250 silver, which also meant that Anguis had to pay him a whopping 112 gold!
If 1 bronze coin was valued at $3, it meant Anguis had paid Draco the equivalent of $3,375,000! No wonder the fellow looked like he wanted to eat his flesh and savor his marrow.
Draco turned to Sasha and placed a few gold coins in her hand. "Here you go. This is your advance salary for being the manager of my shop. Take care of it well and remember, no discounts for family!"
Those words and actions were the last straw for Anguis. With an enraged roar, he leapt at Draco with reddened eyes. Draco smirked and waved as his form blurred away – he had blinked.
Poor Anguis fell to the floor and burst into tears. Sasha sat down and consoled her big brother while staring at the spot Draco stood.
Her eyes were bright with the same look Draco always made towards legendary treasure chests.
'Time to find out the natives response to my actions.'
Draco appeared near the indigenes outpost and activated Appearance Deception: 9 Forms again. He took on his caramel skinned alter ego and walked into the place casually.
Unlike before, there was hardly anyone loafing around casually. Rather, they were all gathered in front of a clearing in the middle of the hamlet. Zaine stood in the center with Kwaku, the two of them wearing grim expressions as they gave a speech.
When they noticed Draco approaching, they abruptly stopped and watched him warily. This made Draco ponder. It was obvious the two were slightly suspicious of him, but were unsure of their speculations.
After all, Draco's pitch towards them was harder to swallow compared to the guild members. Now, a fellow had suddenly massacred their whole forward assault. All this occurred on the same day that a random fellow that seemed to be one of them offered to supply them in exchange for currency that was only valuable to the other side.
"Hello, Zaine, Kwaku. How goes the shop's construction?" Draco asked neutrally.
His unfeeling tone made the two glare at him for a while.
"We'd like to ask you a few questions. Which outpost were you assigned to?" Zaine ignored his question a fired one of her own.
Draco simply smiled and turned around to leave. As much as he'd like to play this game, he didn't want to waste his words. He could still make a killing off the guild outpost by slaughtering these people. He wasn't particularly obliged to help them as much as the guild folk.
"Hey! We asked you a question!" Kwaku roared, leaping towards Draco to stop his exit.
"No, stop!" Zaine cried, but it was too late, nothing could stop Kwaku's charge.
Draco actually stopped, turned around and faced his assailant. There was a rare expression of disdain on his usually neutral face, as well as a tinge of irritation.
'It seems like I have to set an example.'
Without even moving much, Kwaku's assault was easily halted by Draco when he was a split second away from him. All the crowd saw was Kwaku flying towards Draco one second and in the next, his throat was his Draco's grip, being crushed slowly.
Most of them felt fear grip their hearts. Kwaku was the second best fighter in their group, but he couldn't even approach Draco at all. In fact, they themselves hadn't even seen how he ended up like this.
Zaine however, had seen quite a bit of Draco's movement and what she saw made her almost release her bowels on herself. To others, it would seem like Kwaku was hanging limp in Draco's grip as his throat was crushed, but she saw Draco punch out and kick at Kwaku's four limbs, shattering them all before returning to the spot he stood in originally and then grabbing Kwaku's throat easily.
To her, this was inhuman. Draco moved so fast that the average person couldn't even follow it, seeming like he never moved at all.
But the most terrified one was Kwaku. At this moment, he was cursing himself. It seemed like his anger had made him forget that this fellow was the king of speed – he had easily sidestepped him when the first clashed.
All he wanted to do right now was to apologize and plead or even struggle, but his limbs were dislocated and his throat was seconds away from being destroyed. The fear of death gripped his heart and Draco's form morphed from a reasonably good looking fellow to the form of a flesh eating monster in his eyes.
Just as Draco was about to finish him off, Zaine's voice sounded in his ear as she appeared beside him suddenly. Her form was slightly different, a forked tail protruding from the small of her back and two horns emerging from her temples. Her fingers were also sleeker, possessing long and sharp nails.
Most noticeably, her eyes had become bright purple and radiated an ethereal charm.
Her sudden presence slightly surprised Draco, but the reason he stopped was because of two things. Zaine's aura was potent and even though it wasn't effective on him, it had managed to stall him a bit. Also, he was surprised she was willing to show her true form in public.
As a half-devil, doing so wasn't exactly life threatening, but led to a lot of bullying and headache. Demons and Devils were two different races in Boundless. While Demons were the enemies of humankind and had a kill-on-sight relationship with all the races, devils were mostly just disliked, but not hated.
Most didn't go out of their way to attack humans, but they were known to be mischievous and tricky. For example, imps were devils that stole treasure from others. Succubi and Incubi were typical housebreaking devils. Brokers were the dealmakers who always scammed you in an agreement.
And it was a fact that the natives were far more critical about this than even the surface kingdoms. In Sturgehaven, she might receive the occasional teasing and hard time in occupational/educational societies, but no one would lay a finger on her unnecessarily.
However, in the underground world of the natives, it was very likely that she might be disowned and shunned from communities.
"Yes?" Draco asked her coldly, looking at her as if her charm was worth dogshit in his eyes.
This made Zaine feel a pang of uneasiness and embarrassment. As much as she loved suppressing her devilish side, she still had the blood of a succubus and the pride of one. Seeing her charm fail to work in her true form caused her heavy emotional and mental damage.
Still, she was willful enough to suppress it and put on a calm front.
"Please let him go. As you know from the last time, Kwaku is rash and tends to act before he thinks. He didn't mean any real harm and you could probably tell that. There's no need to take his life. Spare him and he could become friend and a possibly useful ally in the future."
One thing about Succubi was that they had a very high charisma stat, so their words tended to be more sensible and appreciable by those who heard them. Even Draco acknowledged that her words were sound, high charisma or not. It wasn't like they had a death grudge.
He let go of Kwaku and tossed Zaine a health potion.
"Give him this and he'll be fine in a few minutes."
Saying his piece, Draco left the village without looking back once.
All those in the outpost, especially Zaine and Kwaku, felt like they had lost a great opportunity to turn their lives around.
Draco was a bit irritated but decided to not let it get to him. He eventually realized that since the launch of the game, it had been more than 16 hours in real life and 64 hours in game. The time in Boundless was four times time faster than that in the real world, so what should have been days felt like just a single day to him.
Draco opened his menu and selected the logout button, going through the dynamic animation for logging out of the game.
When he returned to the real world, he took of his helmet and discovered that his body ached. That wasn't surprising to him, as he had been lying down unmoving for more than half a day.
Right now, it was the early hours of morning and the moon was still up in the sky. Draco exited his bed and did a few stretches to get his body loosened up. Groaning in pain, he cleaned himself up a bit in the bathroom, donning outgoing attire as he exited his apartment.
The streets were not as noisy at the city center, a few signs of night life in this particular district available, especially neon lights and shitty advertis.e.m.e.nts.
"Hey little brother, wanna go for a round? I can make you feel good."
A Hooker with overdone makeup and far too little hidden called out to Draco as he walked by. Draco looked at her and put on a thoughtful expression. Making a decision, he walked over to her.
The Hooker's eyes lit up as she thanked her stars. She had been struggling to get customers in this shitty part of town, but she had her own reasons for choosing this area despite her relatively above average s.e.x appeal.
"Young fellow, you truly have good taste. Big sis here can show you the true meaning of euphoria for $300 an hour. We can do anything you want, little brother." She coaxed with a sweet voice, pulling up her skirt to give Draco a peek of the goods.
Draco however, paid no heed to her words or actions and directly made a statement with a cold tone.
"The dragon gate is a myth that only carps believe in."
Instantly, the Hooker's playful demeanor shattered as she wore a serious expression, pulling out a gun and pointing it at Draco.
"Who are you? Who sent you?"
Draco waved away her concerns nonchalantly. "None of your business. Now take me to the arena, I'm busy tonight."
Draco's casual disposition despite having a gun pointed at him scared the Hooker. Only those who had been through multiple life and death fights could possibly be so calm in such a situation. She, who was just an outer member of the organization, was cannon fodder compared to him.
She immediately holstered her weapon before taking a wary step back and observing Draco.
"May I know your name, sir?" She asked with respect.
"Draco." He replied simply.
The Hooker tried to remember such a name but couldn't remember anyone being called that. That meant that Draco walked in much higher circles than she even knew of in the organization, which further instilled her with fear.
"This small girl is Chloe. I'm a member of the p.r.o.s.t.i.t.u.t.e division, working under vice division leader Jones."
"Jones huh? That kid isn't dead yet?" Draco asked with a wistful tone.
Hearing her handler being spoken as such, Chloe's heart almost stopped. To the p.r.o.s.t.i.t.u.t.es in her division, Jones was a nightmare who used and abused them wickedly and without care for their lives, yet this lad spoke as if he were his underling that he nurtured.
Unbeknownst to her, such was exactly the case. Draco and Eva – Riveting Night's real name – had both commandeered the top two underworld organizations in this city as the arms and ears of their guilds.
This particular organization focused in prostitution, money laundering and drugs, while Eva's was more assassin and espionage oriented. The group was simply called the Cartel and they had belonged to Draco in the past. He knew each and every one of the big leagues and had nurtured them himself – both in real life and in Boundless.
All their secrets and personnel was at the tip of mind. He even knew Chloe, who had later climbed to lead a cleric division for Hellscape in Boundless. He obviously wasn't going to act like he knew her in this life, otherwise that would be far too suspicious.
He also didn't attempt to enter the Cartel's headquarters on his own, as he'd be killed on sight. They didn't know who he was in this life, so he'd have to walk in with someone on the inside and slowly take over the organization from the ground up.
If he could get them working on his side this early in this life, his future actions would be safe and untraceable. Right now, the announcement for the Battle Maniac thing had already gathered him worldwide fame.
Any who could dig deep enough to find his information could easily deal with him in the real world. Boundless wasn't like those VR games where people let things go. It was akin to discovering a second earth and everyone wanted to monopolize the resources. He had even been assassinated in his past life as the number 3 player in the world and the most powerful guild leader of a God-tier guild, much less now when he was a nobody.
Draco had Chloe escort him to one of the local hideouts for the organization – The Arena. The name was self-explanatory. It was essentially a fight club with no rules and death was allowed.
The rewards were plentiful enough that a good percentage of deaths per year for his area was caused by the arena. The authorities turned a blind eye because they didn't know what to do with all these poor people, and if they killed each other for money and lessened their burden, why stop them?
This was the reality of life. Something Draco learned the hard way growing up.
The Arena was bustling by the time Draco and Chloe arrived. The stands were packed full of people who came to watch desperate individuals trying to change their financial situations – even by a little bit.
Upon entry, Draco was greeted by the roar of the crowd as they enjoyed a spectacle ongoing in the ring. A burly fighter was having a good time with a screaming and crying female fighter who had been badly beaten and could barely struggle.
The crowd laughed and jeered at her suffering, even going as far as to offer to take turns with her. Draco watched this with a cold expression, a rare trace of disdain flashing through his eyes. He felt disgusted by the actions of the fellow, but he made no move to stop anything.
He wasn't superman and he couldn't even go against the organization as he was, so he could only watch. When the fellow was sated, he left the ring and the crowd called for another match. The victim was carried away by some of the hookers in the organization who wanted to help her.
Draco walked over to the bookie – a fatty who had a lecherous expression and a little pencil poking his flap from the earlier activity. Draco and Chloe were incomparably disgusted, but knew better than to show it.
With a neutral expression, Draco spoke to the fellow. "I'd like to sign up for the gauntlet."
His words stunned both Chloe and the Bookie. If Draco had signed up for a regular fight, that would be normal. If he had signed up for a few rounds of fights, that would have been shocking, but acceptable. However, this scrawny kid asking for the gauntlet was mind blowing.
The gauntlet was the same as the survival mode in dungeons. You fought until you dropped and rewards were tallied based on your performance.
Only… no one had even completed a gauntlet. Not because of difficulty, but because they were always killed by the fighters placed by the Cartel.