Sayla’s statement caused Asley to almost bust a vein.
Asley’s hair jolted up, and his eyes were bloodshot red.
His bulging muscles, waves of arcane energy, and powerful murderous intent in his eyes, prompted Sayla to stop in her tracks.
[Anna: Whoa. Hold on! Asley actually went berserk?]
Asley shattered the floor below his feet with every step, so loudly that the chatter outside the door immediately ceased.
In an attempt to hold him back, Sayla put her hands forward and released her own arcane energy to create a shield. At the same time, Dallas opened the door behind Asley to get a look at the situation.
Surprised by how dense the waves of incoming energy were, Sayla grew more and more worried. Dallas, despite being tasked with defending Sayla, stopped all movement upon simply seeing Asley’s back.
The energy, so strong that Dallas was immobilized and Sayla was visibly worried, made even the people behind Dallas scream.
Although Sayla’s wind magic had sent the books and parchment sheets in the room flying, Asley’s rage-induced aura did not move them even a single inch. Then again, the arcane energy certainly was causing damage, as one could clearly hear creaking in the walls, the floor, and all the furniture.
Sayla’s energy shield, clashing with Asley’s constant waves of energy, did not last long before it was crunched down in size. In the end, the shield had its arcane energy completely eliminated, and Sayla was overwhelmed by the wicked aura.
“What… is this… energy…”
Sayla’s voice, barely wrung out against the choking pressure, went unheard by Asley.
Asley, apparently absent-minded, held his hands forward. Seeing that, Sayla tried to take a defensive stance, but an instantaneous discharge of arcane energy lifted her up, and then flung her backwards, slamming her fixedly into the rock wall behind her.
“Ngh!? Ga… h…”
Sayla coughed out blood, her face painted with an expression of anguish.
At the same time, Dallas finally managed to move himself.
He rushed in front of Asley, holding both his hands out to protect Sayla. He seemed to be struggling badly under the pressure as well.
Dallas had reasons to not draw his sword. One was to make a point to Asley that he meant no harm.
Another was because of what he’d realized by instinct – that even if he were to fight back, he would not fare well against Asley’s current state.
“Asley! Get a hold of yourself!”
Asley stopped for a brief moment upon hearing Dallas.
His waves of arcane energy did not stop, however, and the whole Resistance hideout continued to suffer under the pressure.
Dallas shouted at Asley again, but the latter would not calm down.
The pressure now was so great that a few people started to faint. Dallas managed to take it head-on, and Sayla was still fully conscious, but they were not able to do anything more.
Dallas’ breathing discomposed more as he kept shouting.
Meanwhile, a figure casually walked up behind Asley, and then leaped onto his back.
“What’re you doing, Master? Your eyes are looking really creepy here!”
Pochi clung to Asley’s shoulders and shouted into his ears – the usual routine.
“And look at your hair! It’s all messed up!”
She pulled Asley’s hair, and then crumpled it up.
Dallas was taken aback, and Sayla was utterly horrified. Although Pochi was his Familiar, her course of action was clearly out of line.
The scene that unfolded before Dallas was that of Pochi approaching the explosive situation without worry, trash-talking, and then… poking Asley’s face with one of her nails.
“Ahahaha! You look like a roll of barbed wire!”
Asley’s barbed-wire hair reverted to silk thread, the discharged arcane energy returned into his body as if sucked in, and all creaking sounds ceased within the Resistance hideout.
The shaking pushed Pochi’s nail deeper into Asley’s face, causing a little stream of blood to flow down.
“…It hurts, Pochi.”
“Good morning, sir!”
Asley put Pochi down on the ground, then turned to look at Sayla.
Now out of the bloody human-shaped hole in the wall, Sayla looked with fear back at Asley as she was helped by Dallas to sit back in her chair.
“…How about you leave unrelated people out of this business?”
Sayla cast her eyes down and apologized, her words sincere. Asley agreed to end it at that.
Dallas stood himself in front of Asley again and bowed deeply.
“Sorry. That was entirely our fault.”
“You didn’t need to apologize for anything, Sir Dallas. Besides, this isn’t the thing you needed to discuss, is it?”
Dallas raised his face and nodded.
His actual business had come up before Sayla had even entered the picture. It was only coincidental that Sayla had received the message from Warren at around the same time, resulting in her wishing to meet with Asley, and in turn sending Dallas to invite him over.
Asley, hearing Sayla’s full explanation, came to the conclusion that Dallas had been sent because the latter was already acquainted with him.
“So… how is he, Miss Sayla?”
“He’s good and all, but his power is far beyond what I can employ for the cause. Dallas, you agreed to bring him here knowing full well that this would happen, didn’t you?”
“I’m bad at explanations, you see. As the saying goes, one eyewitness over a hundred hearsays.”
[Anna: A lunatic spotted.]
Dallas chuckled as he said so to Sayla, then proceeded to let Asley borrow his shoulders as he led the latter out of the room.
Pochi called out to Sayla, prompting the latter’s shoulders to slightly shudder.
“When you want something from my Master, you’d be better off being upfront with him!”
“…I’ll keep that in mind. And next time, I’ll have Warren deal with things instead. He seems to be far more familiar with Mister Asley, so…”
“Oh, and thank you for the stomach drug!”
“…Heh, it’s the best brand for dealing with fatty foods. It’ll help you not feel bloated afterward.”
Pochi herself knew what the ‘drug’ she had been given was. That was part of the reason why Sayla appreciated the advice that had been given to her.
She had attempted to tie Asley down with an ultimately empty threat, and that had turned out horribly wrong for her. In the end, it was Pochi’s intervention that had prevented things from going further off the rails. It went without saying that Sayla was grateful for that.
The front room was now filled with quite a variety of reactions from the people – there were those who hid under tables, those who had their backs against the walls, those who avoided Asley as he walked by, those who drew their blades, those who were still unconscious…
Pochi had a feast put on her table, with a little piece of cut-off paper stuck to one of its corners.
It read: “DO NOT EAT THIS MEAT”.
The letters were practically scribbles, which was understandable since it had been written with the sauce of the steak in question.
Considering how much sauce had been splattered around, and the time from Asley’s enragement, to Sayla’s panic, to Dallas’ failed intervention, to Sayla’s wall hug, to Dallas’ semi-successful intervention, to Asley’s refusal to stop… one would be able to deduce that Pochi had been wolfing down her meal as much as she could, up until the last second.
Pochi, running past Asley and Dallas, sat in her chair and proceeded to start eating again.
Pochi probably had a pre-planned order of what she gulped down for her meals, as apparent from how she bit into the steak as if refitting her teeth into the half-chewed teeth marks.
Asley gave Pochi’s head a single light stroke before sitting in the chair beside her. From the look on his face, he had already calmed down, without a shred of anger remaining.
Following the pair, Dallas sat down in the chair opposite to them.
With everyone else utterly silent, only Pochi’s eating noises resounded through the room.
This also meant that, if the supposedly important discussion was to start now, everyone present would hear it loud and clear.
But of course, if they cared about that now, they would have gone somewhere else instead. Since Dallas had decided to bring his guests here, surely there would be no issue.
“So what was the thing you wanted to discuss, sir?”
“You might… want to reconsider associating yourself with this one person. A mutual acquaintance of ours, in fact.”
“You mean I know them as well? I don’t think I’m acquainted with any dangerous people, though?”
Asley asked while grabbing for a cloth to wipe the juice Pochi had spilled on the table.
Dallas answered with silence, showing apparent hesitation to say any more.
The deadlock continued until the cloth was completely soaked, thus depriving it of its usefulness for wiping, the moment at which Dallas put on a grave expression and opened his mouth,
“…Billy the Holy Healer.”
The unexpected name drop prompted Asley to stop his hands, and Pochi to stop her chewing.
Dallas then proceeded to elaborate on his story…