In the end, the objective was not to win a duel, but to arrest the Steel Tiger Crew.
After all the fraud they committed using the Telepath Stones came to light, it seemed like everything was explained. Not just cheating in duels like that, but also card games in bars, badger games with Claudine, etc, all sorts of suspicions were being dug up one after the other, to the point where the concerned parties realized it was beyond something that could be resolved by the guild. They were handed over to the Order of the Sun and detained, something that Nick and the others considered a huge victory.
But there was a miscalculation. They won, but this story became the talk of the town, which brought about unexpected circumstances.
“Who would’ve thought so many victims would start raising their voices… I don’t know if I’m going to get everything that was taken from me…”
Said Nick with a sigh, in his room.
It was the day after the duel.
“It cannot be helped. If we were the only ones to receive money from them, people would be jealous and that would certainly lead to trouble. We received a reward from the guild, is that not good enough?”
Bond made an excellent point.
“You earned a solid share. For now, how about you rest like Karan?”
Surely, the most difficult part of this endeavor was Karan continuing to solve math problems until they used the Telepath Stones.
The Steel Tiger Crews’ plan to drag out the match and decisively win in the end backfired, but Karan was so exhausted after studying around the clock, that she was still sleeping in the room next door.
They thought she would be awake in the morning, but when they knocked, she responded with ‘I’m still sleeping’. Even in the evening, she was still resting.
It was the first time this happened. Usually, Karan would wake up first, wake Nick up, and go out all day to eat all sorts of things.
“I think we should get something for her to eat later.”
“Yeah, she did study a lot. You should rest as well.”
“No, my body isn’t all that tired, if anything I’m more mentally fatigued. This whole thing was such a pain.”
“You do not seem all that bothered about being hit.”
“Sem healed me… I’m going out.”
“To check out the park where idols do guerrilla live concerts from time to time.”
“You sure like idols a lot…”
“Humans need to be spoiled sometimes. Don’t you have anything like that Bond?”
“Hm… When the network infrastructure still lived I did stream videos.”
“Videos? What’s that?”
“Well, no point in explaining that. More importantly, I want to watch it as well.”
“Eh… What a pain…”
“Come on, it will not be a problem. If there is a lively event happening, I want to see it.”
There was always a lot of commotion by the fountain in the center of the western park.
It was a place where it was permitted to set up stalls, exhibitions, and all sorts of personal businesses, so it had a lot of foot traffic and a bright atmosphere.
If it was a sunny day that is.
“It sure is raining a lot.”
“Well this is no good.”
The weather was fickle in the Labyrinth City ahead of summer, and sudden rains were not unusual.
Nick and Bond took shelter underneath a nearby tree.
“It is showing no signs of stopping. What should we do?”
“I guess we need to run home even if we get there soaking wet.”
Said an exasperated Nick, before someone else ran to the tree, also seeking shelter.
“Ah geez, I’m dripping wet…”
The girl, whose face Nick and Bond knew very well, shook the water off her robe.
“Nick and Bond? What are you doing here?”
“We came here because of all the guerrilla live shows that happen in this spot but…”
“But the weather is in this state.”
Said Tianna with a dry smile.
“What about you? The usual dragon races?”
“Dragon races don’t stop just because it’s raining. I went out shopping today but…”
“Walking around in the rain isn’t very nice. What a bad day.”
“We’re in the same boat… Ah, I know.”
“How about you come with me for a bit?”
Tianna took Nick and Bond with her as they walked through the rain.
No matter how many times Nick asked where they were going, Tianna would always evade the question and tell him to just keep going.
Before they knew it, they reached an high end area in the border between the shopping district and an high-end residential area, and this was where Tianna stopped. There was a building that looked like a high class hotel, but the sign said otherwise. It was always illuminated by lamps using magic energy, but there were no drunk customers in sight or anything of the sort.
For all its flashiness, it still retained a high class feel.
Nick nodded towards the employee, but felt a little flustered.
It was his first time in such a place.
“It’s their first time here.”
“Should I explain our establishment?”
“I’ll do it.”
“Understood. Please take your time.”
Tianna stepped on the rug and continued walking as though she was in her own mansion.
There was a faint sound of music, but the sounds of coins hitting other coins, and cards being shuffled lightly echoed.
“…It’s my first time in a casino.”
“It’s my treat this time.”
Tianna was given a bucket full of coins in the entrance, which she handed over to Nick.
“Hey hey, I don’t know the rules!”
“You know how to play cards, right?”
“No, I tried not to get into that too much…”
Nick, embarrassed, turned away.
“That’s surprising. Are you scared?”
Tianna snickered, and Nick awkwardly turned away.
“I”m sure they do nothing but fight swindlers. It’s a good thing it was discovered that they were using Telepath Stones, because it’d be trouble otherwise.”
“Don’t be silly, proper casinos like this have counter-measures against magic and magic items. The cards are all made of special paper and ink that makes them difficult to be affected by magic.”
“Then, I’m sure these places are full of incredible people that can do pure tricks that don’t involve magic. When my old party went to places like these, there was always some that go broke. I guess you really can’t beat pros.”
“It’s true. Sometimes people get taken for a ride, and before they notice it they’re penniless…”
“That’s exactly why I need to teach you how to play.”
“Oh, I’m serious, leave it me. Let’s see if we can find something you can play even if you don’t know the rules…”
Tianna walked forward with no hesitation, and Nick and Bond hurriedly followed her.
She stopped at the bar counter, and the three sat down.
“Bartender, give this boy something sweet.”
The man in the back nodded and started moving briskly.
As Nick watched him, he asked Tianna a question.
“So you do more gambling than just the dragon races?”
“This one really is just for fun. If we add it all up, it’s obvious I’m not making money here.”
“It’d be weird if you were. By the way, do you know the rules Bond?”
“…I am limited by my code of ethics, so I cannot take part in things such as gambling. I will feel sick if I break it.”
Answered Bond while puffing his cheeks.
“Oh… Can’t you close your eyes or something?”
“I can, but it would be too much of a bother. I will stay here and rest.”
Said Bond with a displeased expression, before the bartender placed a plate on the counter. On that plate, was vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.
“Ooh you have ice cream! Good good!”
Bond started happily stuffing his cheeks with no trace of his earlier displeasure.
“I am very fond of this civilization’s food, even if not to Karan’s extent. You primitive beings go be swallowed up in the madness of gambling, and be sure to regret it.”
“Oh? Well now we have no choice but to win. Come on Nick.”
“I told you I’m an amateur!”