Chapter 15: There’s Always a Distinction Between a Mob and a Boss.
Hearing some loud, rough, male voices, Solyana rushes towards the stairs.
“Wait, that … “
I’m slightly impatient as one of the frightened girls in the hall clutches at my sleeve when I try to follow Solyana. I hear Solyana’s hurried footsteps thudding down the stairs.
“It’s ok, little miss shouldn’t get involved, it’s dangerous.”
The one who’s trying to stop me has rabbit ears. It slightly distracted me, otherwise I would have shaken her off.
“No, but …”
“They’re the type of guys you don’t want to anger… ah! We should have stopped Solyana!”
The other girl gasps and makes an unsteady move towards the stairs.
Nono, you two should stay here. What do you think you can do with your knees trembling like that? I wanted roughly dismiss them and charge off after Solyana, but it seems insensitive to further frighten two terrified girls.
I clap the rabbit-eared girl lightly on the shoulder and try to smile gently.
“It’s fine, I will go get her.”
I move, light-footed, chasing after Solyana. She has quite the headstart though.
Coming down the stairs, I find a few other girls are huddled in the backroom, and a few guys have also bustled into the back, like they’re hiding. Customers?
A loud thud and loud, mocking voices sound from beyond the backroom, from the main part of the shop.
I reach the doorway into the rest of the shop and see that beyond it is a short hallway; the right side opens up into a receiving area, the left is just a wall, and the opposite end from the backroom leads to more hallways.
It’s the receiving area where all the commotion is coming from.
From what I can see, the loud thud was from some unsavory characters shoving an older woman against the counter. She’s fallen onto the floor.
The unsavory characters are all men, five in all, jeering at the older women and the frightened prostitutes’ faces that peer from behind doors and around corners. They’re swaggering, acting as if they own the place.
A few men who look like they had been waiting as customers are behaving cautiously, as if wondering if it would be possible to leave without attracting any attention.
One of the unsavory men tilts his head cockily, towering over the older woman.
He seems to be the spokesperson of the group. But, man, he just looks like a mob character, a grunt. He’s probably the type to go overboard and terrorize his underlings just because he got promoted. A fox who borrows the authority of a tiger type.
“Nyahaha, Ms. Mary, you won’t want anything to happen to these girls, huh?”
“You, stop harassing the Maitresse and leave if you aren’t here for business.”
Solyana has put herself between the older woman, who is still dazed from being knocked down, and addresses the mob character.
“Oh, but we are here for business? You haven’t paid the fee for our protection after all?”
“As if we’d need you scums’ protection. Now leave.”
Aaah… Solyana, I’d thought this before, but you’re not very good at calming down situations like this, are you? The two girls I left huddled upstairs weren’t worried for nothing.
The man has driven his foot into the wall very near Solyana. He leans close to her face and grabs her arm.
“You never know what will happen without our protection, wench.”
So what they’re actually saying is, “Give us money so we won’t harass you,” huh? Tch. What a detestable strategy.
I think I’ve heard of yakuza-types doing this sort of thing back in Japan. It’s regrettable, but the worlds aren’t so different after all.
Solyana seems to have frozen for a second, but she manages to say coldly,
“If you aren’t here to buy one of our girls for a while, leave. Or is it because ‘it’ doesn’t work anymore that you’re taking your frustrations out on the shop?”
She flinches as he increases the pressure on her arm and yanks her closer.
Danger. His face has changed to an ugly color; it would be too dangerous to let this continue any longer.
In a flash, despite some of the girls trying to hold me back, I leave the backroom.
They’re desperately trying to tell me to stay out of it, but who would?
I grabbed his arm and stepped out in front of Solyana, roughly shaking it to make him release her.
He’s being persistent so I tighten my grip until he lets go with a grunt of pain.
The surroundings have gone quiet. Patrons and girls alike act like they’re holding their breath.
For the unsavory men, it’s like they can’t figure out what just happened.
The man I’d forcibly stopped grips his wrist like it hurts. Man up, weren’t you doing the same to Solyana?
“Shit, who are you, wench? A new girl?”
He finally manages to spit out an angry curse.
… Kuu… So I really am denied any semblance of masculinity, being confused as one of The Queen Mary’s new girls. I was going to be forceful when kicking these guys out anyway, but that really clinches it.
“I don’t think I owe you an explanation for visiting the pleasure district. I’d appreciate it if you left, since you’re disrupting the atmosphere.”
That statement might have meant something a little more if I was a guy, but really, it’s none of his business: this store, the girls, why I’m here… he should just butt out.
“Fufufu… Hahaha, you think I’ll let this go on without any punishment?! That’s it; we’ll show you what happens if you defy the Dark Wyverns! Balil, burn it! Burn it all!”
The man starts laughing, half-crazed.
Have I made things worse?
Before I can reflect on my actions, another man steps forward. Compared to the first mob character, I distinctly feel a chill.
This man isn’t a grunt.
His eyes glint, and he smirks as he raises an arm. He begins to chant.
『Smolder well and ignite! Spew forth, fire of disaster! Fire Blast!』
Short, the chant is too short!
I had planned to take him out while he was chanting, but like that how can I?
As the fire gathers into his hand, like a snake recoiling before its strike, I ignore the screams and commotions from the people behind me as they struggle to escape and prepare the (Barrier) Old Man Harulf had taught me …
…What was the chant again? Ah, mou, forget it, “Barrier” is fine, right?
With the blast of fire hurtling towards me, I don’t have much time to yell anything else anyway, so,
The result was kind of unexpected.
The (Barrier) I erected is nothing like the one Old Man Harulf taught me. For one, it extends to a far greater area. Not a single wall or ornament behind me was touched from the cone-like blast of the fire attack.
For another, the fire attack magic was sent careening straight back towards its castor.
… Well, I had certainly thought it would be nice if that had happened to wipe that damn smirk off his face.
Magic, you’re too responsive.
Later on, in reflection, I would remember that Old Man Harulf had said that the power and wishes of the castor could affect the size and effectiveness of (Barrier), but currently the situation didn’t let me remember it.
He hadn’t expected his attack to be sent flying back, but that fire castor, Balil, is, unfortunately, talented.
He slurs the words together in his haste, but an instant before he would have been consumed by flames he erects a (Barrier) as well, saving himself. His companions standing directly next to him, however…
The screams as they are hit directly with the fire are horrible.
Casually, like it was an after thought, he glances over at them, and
『Incindere, come hither to me.』
The fire on them floats towards his open hand. When they had gathered at his palm, he clenches his fist and extinguishes the flames with another small chant.
The entire time, though, he kept his eyes on me.
His expression is somewhat unreadable, but it’s definitely unpleasant. His eyes are glinting dangerously.
What, you want to fight? Fine, I’ll take you on.
But contrary to my expectations Balil merely lowers his hand slowly, then breaks off eye contact by turning suddenly.
His frightened companions hesitate. After all, being run off by a group of prostitutes and a random girl would be bad for their reputation.
In the end they scamper off on his heels, dragging the injured, unable to understand what had just occurred.
There was a silence again as everyone watched them leave. Then…
“Kyaa! That was amazing!”
“Good job, miss!”
Patrons and the girls alike erupt into cheers.
Erina-sama came out of nowhere, tackling me with her over-powered hug.
Solyana helps the older woman to her feet then shyly puts a hand on my shoulder.
Quietly she whispers,
[PASSIVE: (Secret Trait) (Resilient Body) (Magic Enrichment) (Otherworldly Knowledge) (Accelerated Learning) (Keen Instincts) (Translate)]
[SKILLS: (Inventory) (Friend Chat) (Status) (AnalyzeIV)]
[PASSIVE: (Secret Trait) (Boundless Magic) (Chantless Cast) (Well of Magic) (Magic Sense)]
[PASSIVE: (Steady Balance) (Perceptive Sense) (Light Foot)]
[SKILLS: (Augment Body) (Augment Mind) (Farsight) (Ground Shrink) (Accel)]
[PASSIVE: (Magic Sensitive) (Magic Intuition) (Magic Control)]
[SKILLS: (Magic Sensory) (Magic Channeling) (Magic Dispersion)]
[SKILLS: (Barrier) (Reflective Barrier)]
[Combat Magician]: (Reflective Barrier) – Repels incoming attacks exactly.
At first, I didn’t understand why Torinelle insisted on thanking her.
If you owe someone from high society, it’s best to just do as they say. Especially a woman. Even if they decide to be altruistic, most women would try to limit their contact with prostitutes and just get annoyed if you continue to persist.
As if being a prostitute is a disease they’d catch by being around them.
Those women who have never experienced real hardships would never understand the comforts of a warm roof overhead, being allowed to keep part of what we make, and having a Maitresse who doesn’t beat us and actually cares about our well being.
Just last week at the pleasure den operated by the Black Rats, the Maitresse had beaten a girl until she had broken bones because a client complained she didn’t meet his expectations. They threw her out, telling her not to come back until she recovered. Such an unreasonable thing. It’ll be more likely that she’d die than that they’d take her back in.
What? Why didn’t I do something for her? Don’t be ridiculous. I can only live like this because of Maryiste’s benevolence. I would never betray her by bringing the anger of the Black Rats onto us. Just giving her medical attention would be too dangerous. That girl was used as an example for the rest of their girls, after all.
Even if this girl says she’s not part of high society, it’s hard to believe anyone would bother to be polite to prostitutes if they didn’t have other reasons for it.
… Though my opinion of her changes as I watch Erina lock-on to her.
If I had to say, this Jun is probably just a naive girl from a sheltered town. It’s a lot of fun to watch Erina toy with her.
If that’s the case, then I guess it’s alright to try to help her out a little. She seems uncomfortable at looking at our girls, but it’s not a look of disgust. She even seems to be embarrassed to change in front of someone; she has no resistance to this type of thing, huh?
And then the evening takes another bad turn.
The Dark Wyverns should just go get themselves involved with politics in some country if they’re so power hungry. What’s the fun of picking on prostitutes who are just trying to make a living?
The man from the Dark Wyverns grabs my arm and twists. It hurts, but I can’t let them lay a hand on Maryiste. I have to stand up here…
I can already feel tears filling my eyes despite trying to act tough. The man just gets angrier the more I try to make him leave, and when he pulls me closer, face full of anger, I can’t resist trying to shrink away.
Someone shakes his hand away and I look up.
Despite being a girl, and being younger than me, somehow for a second Jun’s back appears broad and reliable when she stands in front of me. In no time at all, she’s sent them running.
Afterwards Erina showers Jun with her skinship, and when she places Jun’s hands on her enormous breasts, Jun flushes bright red and freezes.
I can’t help but laugh loudly.
In a previous life, Jun must have been a man weak towards women.