Yelled Nick after hearing what Sem had to say.
“A lot of parts are based off conjecture but… I don’t think it’s wrong.”
Tianna, Bond, and Scott were quiet and looked uneasy. There was no room for doubts.
“By the way how did it go with you Nick?”
“I’m ready. I have enough to counter Stepping Man.”
Nick strongly nodded.
“Training went well, and I came up with something interesting.”
Asked Sem, but rather than answer, Nick messed with something in his hand that looked like a metal square. Its surface was matted and its gloss was removed.
“Oh, that’s the 《Ignition》 magic item isn’t it? Why do you have it?”
“Redd lent it to me.”
“Make sure you bring it back. It was quite expensive.”
There was a jewel embedded in the metal. When Nick pressed it, a small flame came out from the tip.
Similarly to a Magic Lamp, it was not a cheap item but one that could generally be used by the average person. It had a lot of uses such as lighting tobacco and cooking.
“Do you smoke?”
“I’ll explain that too. Well then… It’s time to make the final preparations.”
Everyone felt the ambition in Nick’s words.
It was time for the bounty hunters to go to work.
The three moons could rarely be seen in the sky together, but this was one of those nights. They were Angetsu, Yuugetsu, and lastly Shingetsu.
Shingetsu drew the most beautiful perfect circle, and gently illuminated the night sky with its golden glow.
Angetsu was big, but upon closer observation, its surface was rugged like a potato, so it was not very popular. Yuugetsu was small and more difficult to see.
Some people prefer the other two, but most people were fascinated by Shingetsu.
As always, he was wearing a cloak with a hood, avoiding moonlight.
It was a useful magic item, the Phantom King’s Orb embedded in the collar. Something he bought from a shady broker that dealt in magic items.
He was not sure about it at first, but its effects were better than he could have hoped.
Erasing his presence and making it so people could not remember his features had fantastic synergy with his abilities.
It felt familiar, and ironic considering his circumstances.
At that point, he was nobody.
Family, status, job… He had lost it all. He was close to achieving something, but would not get much in return. His job and honor may be returned to him, but what he wanted the most would never be attained. Every night, every time he woke up, he felt the pain of losing his family.
But it was only pain.
Neither joy or excitement moved his body, only pain.
He would stop at nothing to heal this hopeless fury.
He knew that doing this would lead to people targeting him and getting in his way, but he was out of money. He could not buy more magic items to break the deadlock, and it was too late to stop.
So he looked at the city, searching for healthy children.
He had to.
If they did not contract Yellow Devil Disease in the same way his daughter did, and he healed it from there, there would be no point.
He was deep in thought, when suddenly a voice called out to him, from a place where it shouldn’t have.
“You’re not curing the disease, you’re creating sick people and fiddling with them, aren’t you?”
There was a young man in the darkness, one he met several times before. Two with his face showing, and two with his face hidden.
He could see his firm body even as it was covered with clothes. His eyes were also strong.
He could feel something radiating, perhaps jealousy of his youth and potential. Or maybe envy of a person that did not know the despair life could bring him.
However, at that moment, there was something that required his attention more than his emotions. The young man was standing in the same place he was.
They were standing somewhere so high it should have been impossible to reach, unless you were a cat or a bird. Moreover, he appeared suddenly and without making a sound.
The Labyrinth City had many sturdy buildings such as temples, government buildings, and factories. They were standing on scaffolding meant to aid in the demolition of a factory.
There were many routes where one could move in these kinds of roofs and scaffolding, but considerable skill was necessary to leap from building to building.
Was the young man using some sort of magic he didn’t know about? Was he also a Stepping user?
In any case, the young man was an enemy.
He adjusted his breathing and moved his body.
One of the most fundamental parts of Stepping was controlling the body clearly and according to one’s own will. Not moving in accordance to outside reactions, and instead exactly as one thought.
In this manner, it was possible to reach a state of mind as free as a petal gently falling, or a firm bedrock.
He closed in on his opponent.
Light enough to freely move in unsteady footing, and heavy enough to overwhelm his opponent.
Targeting the chin, solar plexus, and leg tendon in order.
“Eh, that’s it?”
But the opponent shrugged it all off, as if he knew it was coming, and countered with a spear hand strike.
In a situation where one could not use one’s body weight, it was more effective than a fist. But the target was very obvious, the throat.
When he moved to block, the trajectory changed.
The spear hand was a feint, the real goal being catching the hand that moved to defend.
His left wrist was caught by the young man.
“I thought this was the best way to catch you. If we’re holding hands, there’s no problem even if you suddenly become light.”
“I was confused at first, but if I know how light you can be and how you can move, I can more or less understand what you’ll try to do.”
“That’s not all. You can use it too, can’t you?”
“But it’s not enough. I can tell you’ve only recently learned Light Body. You’re far from understanding even the basics of Stepping.”
Both had one hand sealed, and one hand free, and their footing was too unsteady to kick.
This situation would surely turn into a brawl, but that wrong impression leads to carelessness.
The young man was surprised.
After all, his opponent jumped off, even while he was grabbing his arm.
In order to support his opponent’s weight, he deactivated Light Body and put his body weight firmly on the ground.
The hooded man’s body was left hanging like a pendulum, but he used the centrifugal force to release himself, causing him to drop straight down.
However, this was a construction site, and there were many things for him to grab a hold of. He threw a rope from his cuff while continuing to use Light Body, and moved several meters away from the young man… To the roof of the factory.
“You’re a real trickster.”
“Hmph, you make me laugh if tricks are enough to surprise you. If you are going to stand in my way…”
“Nargava. It’s you, isn’t it?”
The young man suddenly said a name. His opponent glared at him, saying nothing in response.
Time passed, but sensing the young man was sure of what he said, the hooded man gave up.
“…How did you know?”
“First of all, you’re too skilled. It doesn’t matter if you’re an adventurer or a ruffian, not many can do those tricks while handling a rare magic item, and using defensive and strengthening magic. You’d be top of the class even if we lumped everyone in Manhunt and the abandoned area together.
“You’ve been treating people with nowhere to go.”
“If you’ve been treating people, how come the spread of the disease isn’t dying down? Yellow Devil Disease isn’t that infectious.”
“When it infects, it infects. That’s all that matters right?”
“When you look at people one by one , it’s a strange disease. Sometimes it spreads through one or two brothels and prostitutes losing their livelihoods, but there has to be a reason for new cases to be popping up in the red-light district and the entire abandoned area. Someone has to be spreading it.”
“Well, that’s not my theory, I’m just parroting what my partner said… But I believe it. Get ready.”
And then, the young man… Nick, went into a fighting stance once again.