Chapter 48 — The Fire
That evening, Soran left the place where the merchant squad was staying. Currently, he lacked the ability to guide Vivian on the path to becoming a successful sorcerer. Unless he decided to choose wizard as his side profession, Vivian would have to learn new spells on her own. It would be a rough journey for her, and she might cause damage to herself by mistake as well; in a sense, it was something elite sorcerers had to experience due to their talents.
After taking this into consideration, he decided to let Vivian stay with Gloria for now, but he definitely would not allow her to take her away forever. Now that they were stuck and had nothing to do, Soran decided to take the chance to go on a short adventure. He had to become stronger; that thought was further reinforced by the scene of Vivian clinging onto his clothes while crying after the lengthy conversation with Gloria earlier.
Time did not wait. If he used the same methods as he had in the game, he would not be strong enough to protect himself, let alone Vivian, when the Time of Troubles began. Now that there was an opportunity, Soran decided to seize it. Although the ancient red dragon's existence had yet to be confirmed by the people, the chain of events caused by its appearance was already occurring. In the past, he would have had to venture into the wilderness in order to find monsters. However, all the monsters living near the Dark Swamp had been flushed out by the intense dragon aura; this meant that Soran no longer had to go deep into the wilderness to find them. There were pretty much monsters everywhere if he travelled just a few days away from the city.
If he was lucky and did not encounter some dangerous monsters, he could even gain up to 1000 Slaughter EXP a day. At that rate, he could raise his profession to Grade 3 in a week. It would take at least a week or two before the roads would clear up anyway, so the timing was perfect.
Food, water, weapons, bandages, potions, antidotes, insect repellents… Soran zigzagged through the commercial district as he went on a shopping spree for supplies. He did not stop until his multi-dimensional bag was almost full and most of his savings were gone.
It was now late at night.
After hearing what had happened back at the tavern from Vivian, Soran could not let them off the hook so easily. He was now hiding in a dark alley close to the tavern. Due to the deteriorating public security recently, guards were patrolling the streets more frequently. Someone suggested implementing a night curfew as well, but that had not been approved as of yet.
Most of the customers had requested refunds and switched taverns after someone died there in the middle of the day. The tavern was now lacking customers, thus it was rather quiet.
There was a candle lamp on the bar counter, and in front of it sat Calvin and Moroder, who had cramped expressions.
"Moroder. Are you fucking retarded? The guy you sent was such shit, he couldn’t even handle an eight-year-old girl! What the hell?"
Moroder growled in response.
"How is that possible! Lascaux is by no means weaker than the city guards! Something must have gone wrong. Someone else might have taken and sold the girl and even killed Lascaux."
At the back of his mind though, he had other thoughts; namely, that Lascaux had actually failed. Not only did he fail to kidnap the girl, he was also killed by her.
But that sounded extremely ridiculous. How could a little girl kill a man who had undergone professional combat training and had an advanced profession?
The floor trembled ever so slightly, and noises could be heard in the distance. Moroder looked up and signalled his hitman to be alert. As a human trafficker in the slums, Moroder was always cautious of his surroundings.
An underling came rushing in and shouted, "Boss! The warehouse's on fire!"
It was unknown when the fire in the warehouse started, but it was now spreading across the building, almost burning the kitchen.
Gale, who was sitting at the bar counter, sounded exasperated as he yelled, "Dumbass! Go put it out!"
The dozen or so workers in the tavern began busily pouring water from the water tank in the tavern to the spreading fire. Moroder, on the other hand, calmly sat there. He looked around, then sneakily left the tavern through the side door at a speed disproportionate to his body size. His intuition was telling him that the fire was way too abrupt; someone might be trying to assassinate him. Moroder remembered that the young man who left the tavern at noon had yet to return; he might be lighting the place on fire as revenge.
After exiting the tavern through the side door, Moroder placed his hand on the hilt of his sword and looked around. He was about to dart into the main street when a crossbow bolt shot out from the darkness and struck him. He cried in pain as his body shuddered, but the cry was overshadowed by something else.
Explosions could be heard. The liquor in the warehouse caught fire, causing explosions one after another. The ear-deafening sound roared through the area, and the ground shook. The guards nearby were instantly alerted.
The second bolt came flying from above. Moroder was aware of the surprise attack, so he managed to barely dodge this time, the bolt merely scraping his cheek. Much to his surprise, the enemy was located on the rooftop of one of the nearby buildings. Moroder realised the assassin was using an enhanced crossbow at this point and rolled toward the building while drawing his weapon. Crossbows had rather low firing rates; this assassin, however, could fire two shots in quick succession, meaning he was a proficient crossbow user.
Moroder was not wearing any protective equipment; his thick layer of fat could not deflect crossbow bolts either. He gasped for air, but the numbing sensation spreading from the wounds prevented him from doing so. His body was stiffening, and he could do nothing but drop to the ground.
It was poisonous... Wyvern poison?!
Moroder, who often dealt with others from the Grey Realm, quickly realised what he was hit with and was overwhelmed by despair.
A shadow leapt down from the second floor of the building, drawing a gleaming cold line in the air with a curved sword. Moroder's neck was severed in an instant, his head detaching from his body.
Soran, who was wearing a mask, stood in front of the corpse and looked at it coldly. Using the walls as his footholds, he leapt back to the second floor of the building he was hiding in. The Whiterun guards would be here in less than ten minutes, meaning he only had at most five more minutes to kill his enemies in order to have sufficient time to escape. The fire began to spread rampantly as the buildings were made out of wood; the city might even mobilize priests and wizards to put out the fire using magic.
A familiar data log appeared.
"Successfully eliminated target!"
"Extracting soul energy from target… Received 180 Slaughter Experience Points."
Under the cover of the dark night, Soran ran on the rooftops and approached the tavern, reloading the crossbow as he ran. He had smeared wyvern poison on the bolts beforehand.
He only had seconds to assassinate his targets before others would react to his sneak attack; even though it was dark, the gang members would still be able to navigate freely as they were familiar with the place. They would hide under cover or in his sniping position’s blind spots the moment they realized someone was attacking them with a long-ranged weapon, rendering his enhanced crossbow less effective.
Soran began crawling instead as he was now in close proximity to the tavern. The fire was lighting the place up, but no one noticed him up on the roof. The people living nearby were all awoken by the shouts and sounds of explosions, and some of them were even trying to put out the fire along with the tavern staff members. This was not because they were close to Calvin though; they only wanted to prevent their homes from burning down.
Soran quickly spotted his target—a tall, brawny man. Due to the distance between them and the flickering flames, Soran could not see him clearly. Judging from his actions though, shouting and ordering people around, he was likely the owner of the tavern.
A crossbow bolt shot through the air.
The owner let out a cry in pain, then immediately hid behind the tavern door. He had quick reactions and was most likely a veteran in combat. After being attacked, he immediately issued orders to his men and protected himself by hiding. Soran did not have any crossbow-related abilities; hitting the target was not difficult, but hitting the vital parts was hard. That did not matter though, as the bolts were smeared with wyvern poison. The poison would take effect shortly, either paralyzing the owner or straight out killing him.
Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!
Soran fired three more shots in quick succession. He could not be bothered with accuracy now; he pointed the enhanced crossbow in the direction of the gang members and fired without aiming. One bolt hit the wooden door, while the other two landed on the non-vital parts of two unlucky gang members.
Soran drew out the curved sword, his gaze turning into one that belonged to a predator preying on their target. He leapt down from the roof, rolled on the ground as he landed, and lunged at the tavern owner hiding behind the door.
The curved sword drew an elegant arc in the air as Soran slashed at the man's waist. The cut opened up his stomach, his intestines slithering out from inside. Soran used the momentum of the slash to turn his body slightly and reposition his sword, then thrust his sword at his enemy's heart. The blow connected, and Calvin, the shady tavern owner, dropped dead on the ground.
Wyvern poison would take effect within two minutes. The strong poison would circulate around the body; one would only feel slight numbing sensations at first, but it would then turn into a paralyzing feeling spreading from the wound, resulting in drastically reduced reflexes and, in some cases, death.
This was one of the best poisons in the early stages of the game; it was something rogues always used when fighting bosses or strong enemies. A small thumb-sized vial cost 120 Gold Derahls, which was almost the price of a Rare-grade weapon.
Without wasting any time, Soran lunged at another gang member who was paralyzed due to the poison. The people of this world had tough bodies; as long as they did not die from the toxicity of the poison, they would quickly recover from their paralyzed states.
The paralyzing effect caused by wyvern poison lasted roughly five to ten minutes. For those who had below 18 Constitution, it was extremely unlikely for them to be able to resist the effect; the effect might be reduced if they had around 15 to 16 Constitution, but they would still be paralyzed for a while nonetheless.
The sound of Whiterun guards rushing toward the scene could be heard in the distance. The fire and the battle had alarmed everyone in the district; the nearby residents who could hear the pained moans and groans of the unlucky gang members were all hiding and did not dare to approach.
Soran glared at one of the hitmen who was hiding, then cut his throat in a single slash, ending his life in an instant. After that, he escaped into the darkness. Soran could not afford to get caught right now. He could only let the others off the hook this time; luckily, he had already killed the head of the gang.
The fire roared fiercely.
After the Whiterun guards arrived, a few wizards in grey robes appeared as well. The wizards furrowed their brows at the sight of the dead bodies and blood stains on the ground, but then ignored it and started to chant magic to control the fire.
Compared to the fire, the killing incident was less significant; they had to put out the fire before it was too late.
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