The man that came in yelling was bald and wore a cassock. He seemed very much out of place.
Unlike Sem, who wore a black cassock, he was wearing a deep blue one, meaning he served Lowell, the god of chance.
But much like Sem, he was missing the cross that should hang from his neck, meaning he was also an excommunicated priest.
However, something stood out even more than all of this.
“…You people are strong.”
“No, that’s our line… I’ve never seen a priest with a body like that.”
He was shockingly muscular.
His upper arms and back of the neck peeked out of the cassock, and they seemed like solid steel.
[This is bad.]
As a chill ran down Nick’s spine, the man took a big step forward, taking advantage of Nick’s hesitation to get closer. They could not tell whether it was magic or some form of martial art, but this incredible speed was on par with high rank adventurers.
Karan was the only one that could react, using her Dragon Bone Sword as a shield to protect everyone, rather than trying to attack.
The man’s palm was clinging to the Dragon Bone Sword. They were at a standstill, but it was a very dangerous situation.
A skilled hand could use magic or pure physical strength to deal fatal damage from this position, but Karan’s partners would not stand by and watch, and Nick was ready to thrust his knife into the man’s chest.
A chilling silence was felt around them.
“…Who are you with? This here Bedroom is neutral.”
“Wait wait. We don’t live here, we’re just after a bounty.”
Said Nick, and the man looked at Hale, who awkwardly turned away.
“What did Hale do?”
“Apparently everything short of murder. He’s definitely guilty of fraud and human trafficking, and he has a bounty on his head.”
The man grumbled with disgust, before slowly disengaging from his fighting stance.
Nick and the others were relieved to see this. If they fought him they probably would not lose, but they would have to be ready to suffer heavy or even fatal damage.
“Help me mister Nargava!”
“I heal wounds and treat illnesses, but I can’t clear away crimes or cover for people with bounties on their heads. If I get captured because of you, the other patients will resent and kill you anyway.”
Survivors had heard the name Nargava before, near the entrance, when they were told not to mess with him.
“Hmm, so we can have him?”
“There is nothing I can do, and he did do something bad right? Most people here have a guilty conscience, and if they have to pay for something, I have no reason to keep them here.”
Said Nargava, looking disinterested.
“Still, he is my patient, so if he is going away for a long time, I want to at least treat him one last time.”
“Ahh… What are you treating?”
“Yellow devil disease. Hale, do you feel nauseous or like you want to cough?”
Yellow devil disease was one of the STD’s rampant throughout the Labyrinth City.
It felt like a heavy cold, put people out of action for a long time, and was especially dangerous to children and elderly people.
Sem had treated this quite a few times, and knew it was not something to be taken lightly
The woman that was with Hale was very angry when she heard its name.
“H-Hale! You gave me yellow devil disease!? Hold on…!”
“Shut up! You’re probably the one that gave it to me!”
“No no! It wasn’t me! Don’t try to pass the blame onto me…!”
The woman protested, almost crying, to which Hale let out an annoyed sigh.
A feeling of anger was being felt in this place, and it was coming from all members of Survivors.
“Let it go, that’s just how people are in this place. You just need to deliver him to the guild right? I’ll treat that woman.”
Nargava felt their anger building up and quickly continued.
“Anyway, I’ll leave this medicine with you two. Take it right away if you start shivering.”
“Couldn’t you help me out…”
“Give up already. I told you there’s nothing I can do.”
But Nargava carefully examined Hale.
“…Well, it doesn’t look like it’s getting worse. You can take him.”
And then, the patient that was carefully examined, was handed off to Nick and his partners.
Nick then asked a question without thinking.
“Are you sure?”
“Well… If we take him, your treatment would have been for nothing.”
Nargava giggled at what Nick said.
“Boy, that’s not…”
“That’s not right Nick.”
“No one knows if it will have been for nothing. Maybe more serious crimes will come to light and he will be executed, maybe he’ll be sent to jail and die in a scrap with other inmates…”
“H-hey, stop that!”
Hale protested, but Sem continued.
“But, maybe he’ll be declared innocent and set free. If he’s lucky, he can be sent to a peaceful prison. Perhaps the king can suddenly die, and the new king can offer amnesty. No one can know for sure if it’s pointless or not.
We can take this to an extreme and also say that everyone dies eventually, but that is no reason to think that treating people is pointless.”
Nick was impressed, and Nargava was very interested in what Sem had to say.
Nargava: “You’re young. Are you a priest too?”
“I was excommunicated.”
Nargava: “Me too. I was excommunicated from the Lowell temple.”
Sem: “Why are you here treating people?”
Nargava: “…Because this world’s a pain. What about you? Is bounty hunting your main occupation?”
Sem: “I don’t work as a priest. I’m an adventurer.”
Nargava: “That’s nice too.”
Sem: “Do you have any intentions of being a priest again?”
Nargava: “Who knows, I kind of want to go back, but it feels like a pain. In any case, I’m too old to change the way I live. I can’t get away from acting like a priest.”
Sem: “I’ve had enough of it.”
Nargava: “I’m jealous. I can’t get away from it…”
Sem: “So you’ve been treating people here? Someone like you that can diagnose and treat yellow devil disease so quickly must be in high demand.”
Nargava: “It’s precisely because I’m here that I can diagnose it so quickly. I can’t teach it.”
Sem: “It’s not something that it’s easily taught, right?”
Nargava: “Yes, it’s all about experience.”
Their exhaustion was seeping through their casual conversation.
Nick felt like he shouldn’t interrupt them, so he only listened, but someone felt differently.
“You’re a priest too… How come you’re going around bounty hunting!?”
It was the bound Hale.
Host clubs were full of jerks.
Because of this, Hale had a past one would not be proud of, even though he learned how to make money.
It was often said that women were scary, or that women’s worst enemy were women, and Hale knew very well how scary women could be… But men were scarier.
To Hale, women were prey or commodities, and men were customers and enemies.
Rather than relying on kicking and punching, he was more devious than women.
Competition in host clubs was fierce. Sales would be stolen, clients would be taken, but above all else, people would do their best to trip up their rivals.
If one was not careful, they could easily find themselves hitting rock bottom.
It was not much different outside of these clubs.
Former adventurers, ruffians, people with good social standing… No matter how honest they looked, they could cheat, lie, and silence people with violence.
The people that were least trustworthy were the ones that seemed convinced they were clean.
Priests were particularly vicious.
Some would even deliver noble sermons while behind close doors buying up all the women they could.
Some people would operate loansharking businesses. They were very liberal with how they spent their money, but they would sometimes be annoying with their requests, and could not be said to be good customers.
The man in front of him, acting like a bounty hunter, was no different.
Some of the accusations being thrown at Hale could be false, but at least eighty or ninety percent were true. He was going to be having terrible meals for a long time, so he wanted to at least make the man in front of him grimace. In his desperation, Hale started talking.
“Eh? Can’t you answer, mister bounty hunting priest?”
“I’m not a priest in the first place, I’m a former priest turned adventurer. Any questions?”
But Sem did not seem at all fazed by Hale’s grumbling.
“You’re a cold bastard. Everyone here is here for a reason. There’s got to be a reason why you’re a former priest too, right?”
“Yes, I can’t deny that.”
“Then you’re the kind of guy that sells out his partners. Learn with mister Nargava here. Doesn’t it hurt your heart?”
Sem suddenly grabbed Hale by the collar.
Their eyes met, but for some reason he could not turn away, and a chill ran down Hale’s spine.
“You want people to be saints while being blind to your own faults. What goes through your mind when you deceive and trap women? Do you feel guilty? Corrupt? Do you enjoy it? Or is it strictly business?
When you were a victim and tricked by someone else, did someone help you?”
“I-I don’t care.”
Hale scornfully said as he looked away, but such things had no effect on Sem.
“What do you care anyway…!? It’d be one thing if you were healing me like mister Nargava, but I don’t care about some priest that doesn’t do anything!”
“We’re on the same page then, because I hate healing people for free.”
“Ha, and you call yourself a priest?”
“Exactly. I’m always worried when I heal someone for free.
Was it worth it? Is the person I saved going to waste their life and pile on more sins? I probably helped some people commit more wrongdoings. I started to really want to find out if lives were worth saving…
It’s a lot easier to receive compensation rather to be a prisoner to these doubts. Free healing is a terrifying thing, don’t you think?”
Hale was the sort of person that would take advantage of healers and laugh at their hatred and despair.
But for some reason, he could not laugh this time.
“I want to know the answer. Are people like you just emotionless stupid beasts, or are you victims that were corrupted by evil and need to be saved? Which one is it?”
It was more than just grumbling about the harshness of the world, he really wanted an answer.
Was there a meaning? Was there a purpose?
It seemed Hale did not understand at all.
“Answer me… What are you!?”
That voice sounded like it came from the depths of hell.
In the middle of this anguish and fear, Hale thought back to his childhood.