BBYW Vol. 1 Chapter 10
Chapter 10 – The Night Life is Rife with Peril
The largest city in the Maxwell territory was the district capital, Avalon.
Located in the heart of the territory, Avalon was a city of two faces.
One was its daytime face: as the largest commercial district of the eastern provinces, it housed a market frequented by traders coming and going from the central, northern, and southern provinces.
The market was also crowded with merchants from the eastern province, looking to find new goods, and the local people as well, so it was bustling like a festival every day.
The city’s other face appeared at night. As the sun set, the taverns and brothels opened their doors. On the street, you would start seeing wobbling drunkards and women inviting men to follow them into their alleys. Torches burned brightly on streets filled with the smell of perfume and alcohol.
I walked through the streets of this Avalon, heading towards a certain back alley. I knew the path all too well, after walking it so many times, so I had no need for a guide.
The district I was in now had turned into a slum, so you could see vagrants and hungry orphans here and there.
“As bleak as ever…”
The district capital appeared crowded and bustling in the main streets, but one step beyond them revealed a desolate environment.
The back alleys were the places left behind by the urban development, where people that barely made enough to live the next day gathered.
Every time I visited this place I felt as if sharp thorns of ice pierced my chest. As part of the ruling class, I felt responsible.
(It’s not like the old man’s policies are failing either. No matter how many public institutions we raise and jobs we give to the poor, there’s always people that fall into ruin…)
Some ruin themselves with alcohol or women.
Some gamble until they drown in debt.
Some are cheated out of their fortunes.
No matter how able the lord was, how much he loved and treasured the people, there were always those who fell to the pits of society.
There was no point mulling over it. I knew that in my head, but…
“We have to do something about the kids, at least. Build a new orphanage, make sure they can get a minimum level of education…can’t do anything without money…”
I proceeded through the back alleys without hesitation, while I grumbled to myself.
I came to visit a man who lived in these slums.
It was already late at night: definitely not the right time for a lord’s heir to walk around on his own, but no one from the manor stopped me, thinking that I was going to a brothel anyway.
(Should I take that as trust or irresponsibility…? That’s the problem.)
I was going out for a very serious reason, but everyone thought I was just seeking pleasure, which was kind of irritating.
The person I was going to meet was not someone I could see in public, so it was necessary to act in secret.
“Why do they have to live in a place like this, anyway? That’s what I don’t get about these underworld types…hm?”
I suddenly felt a presence and stopped in my tracks.
“…looks like I have a guest.”
Someone was hiding in the surroundings. It was definitely not someone from the slums: a sticky, heavy aura of killing intent permeated from them.
It was the typical aura of an assassin, something I had learned to recognize after years of experience.
“Just my luck…if I have to play at night, I only want to do it with pretty girls, though…”
I turned a corner and arrived at an empty plot.
There weren’t any vagrants around luckily. It was the perfect spot to go a little wild.
I blew out the flame in the lamp I was carrying and put it on the ground. The only remaining illumination was the moonlight, but I could see fairly well in the dark, so that wasn’t a problem for me.
I drew the sword at my waist and asked a question to the darkness.
“Ready and waiting here…what about you?”
The answer came in the form of an arrow.
I dodged it without much effort and a second, third one followed.
As I continued dodging the arrows, I felt a presence overhead.
A man jumped down from the building next to the vacant plot. The arrow attacks were meant to lead me here, apparently.
“What are you doing, shouting during an ambush? Third-rate trash.”
I quickly dodged the man’s dagger and slashed his head clean off.
I then caught the dagger falling from his hand and threw it in the source of the arrows.
“Bingo! Who’s next?”
I doubted they actually answered my call, but two men armed with swords appeared from the front, then one with an axe from the back, attempting to pincer me.
The two swords from the front came first. I leaned to the side and slipped through the opening between them.
“Come on here.”
I pulled one of the men’s hands to make him lose his balance, then circled behind him and kicked his back.
I kicked him exactly in the direction of the axeman, who was aiming to strike me from behind but ended up splitting his comrade’s head in two.
“Don’t think half-assed teamwork like that is ever going to work on me!!”
After taunting the aggressors, I cut down the other swordsman. Only the axeman remained.
The axeman tossed his weapon to the ground and hightailed it. Surprised by the sudden turn of events, I didn’t chase him immediately.
“You killed your own comrade and now run away? What the hell did you come for then!? Aren’t you going to avenge them!?”
“Shut up!! My own life is more important than any of that!! Comrades? Screw that!!”
While exhibiting almost refreshing selfishness, the man and his presence disappeared into the darkness.
It would be fairly dangerous to chase him through pitch-black alleys, so I decided to let him go.
“Aah, damn…I forgot to ask who sic’d them on me.”
I scratched my head as I sheath my sword, then reached for the lamp I had left on the ground.
That very moment, a scream of agony came from the darkness.
A scream which, if I heard right, came from the man I had just lost sight of.
“That wasn’t…someone on my side, was it?”
“Correct, I am not your ally.”
I certainly didn’t expect an answer, but I received one from the darkness. It was a light, clear female voice, like a breeze blowing through open plains.
I heard footsteps coming closer, and eventually, the owner of the voice stepped into the moonlight.
“Oh, moonlight flower…not bad, not bad.”
(TL Note: Dyngir uses the name of the flower as a pun. In Japanese, it’s literally “Moonlight Beauty”)
“I’m not exactly sure what you mean, but I’ll take that as a compliment. I suppose I should say thanks.”
She was a beautiful woman with silver hair stretching down to her waist. In her hands, she carried a lance.
She twisted the handle and pointed the tip of the lance towards me.
Every single one of her movements were graceful and refined, almost mystical.
(I see…going out to play tonight was really worth it…!)
The night was turning out to be more fun than I expected.
My lips curved into a feral smile as I pointed my sword to the moonlit beauty.
My eyes narrowed as I examined her closely from head to toe, then I nodded vigorously.
(She’s killed her fair share, no doubt about it.)
I could not find any real opening in her stance.
Her aura made it clear that any hesitation or reckless strike would end up with her lance impaled in your body.
She was either a veteran mercenary or a knight.
(A whole nother level from the guys in black before. Definitely my greatest threat today, or maybe…)
The woman wore a simple white dress with a leather half-plate over it. The dress had long slits that generously exposed her bare legs. Fair pale skin that gleamed in the moonlight. Honestly speaking, she looked terribly appetizing.
“That’s quite the provocative dress you’re wearing. Doesn’t that get in the way during your assassinations?”
It was a real pity that she was an assassin. If she was a woman of a *different* trade, I’d gladly fill her pockets with gold.
Her response, however, was pretty unexpected.
“Oh, please do not misunderstand. I’m not an assassin, but an adventurer.”
Adventurers were people who explored ancient ruins and other unknown lands, dug up treasures, exterminated dangerous beasts, and similar things for a living.
There were few such ruins in the Maxwell territory, so I rarely met any, but in the northern province, where ruins were scattered everywhere, the guild — an organization created to manage adventurers and their activities — had enough power and authority to rival the state.
“Last I remember, I’m not a monster. Nor did I do anything to become the target of extermination.”
“Maybe not in this country, but unfortunately I come from the eastern empire. The adventurers’ guild there put a price on Dyngir Maxwell’s head, enough money to buy a castle.”
“Well, isn’t that an honor.”
It turned out the lady was a killer sent by our neighbors, the empire.
The empire occupied the lands to the north and east of the Lamperouge kingdom: we had several military conflicts in the past.
I had participated many times in those battles. I took down famous commanders — more than once, so there was plenty of cause for me to be targeted.
The adventurer beauty pointed her lance to one of the corpses sprawled on the ground.
“Though I must say that I joined forces with those people for the first time today, and I do not know where they come from. They seemed used to ambushes in the dark, so they might be actual assassins.”
“Is that so. Anyway, you killed the guy who ran off earlier, right? Won’t that be a problem for you? Even if they aren’t adventurers, I thought killing your comrades was taboo in your line of work.”
I brought up the fact that she killed one of her comrades, but she just laughed.
“No, that’s not a problem, thank you. We were just hired by the same people, they don’t qualify as comrades for me. I was actually opposed to this ambush. To fight against a renowned warrior such as Dyngir Maxwell like this, many against one, hiding in the dark? A complete waste of an opportunity.”
“A waste, you say?”
I asked with a suspicious frown on my face.
“Yes. I proposed to challenge you to a duel, to face you one by one, in order. Though, they didn’t even consider it and left me out of any further discussion.”
So the beautiful adventurer explained, with a disappointed tone in her voice.
I found her willingness to fight fair and square commendable, but it wasn’t an intelligent strategy.
Despite her calm and collected exterior, could it be that she was just an idiot?
“Well, now it’s just you and me, so all’s well that ends well, I guess. I took this request because I wanted to fight you, actually. There’s no one in the way anymore, so let’s cross swords to our heart’s content, shall we?”
“…I see, so that’s your type.”
There are some people who feel most alive when they fight with their lives on the line. They call them “battle junkies”, though for me they’re just troublesome fools. Apparently she was one too: the only thing she was thinking about was fighting me in a duel to the death.
“…personally, I prefer to have my battles with beautiful women in bed.”
I sighed and expressed my honest opinion, and the lady adventurer replied with a serious look on her face.
“You can do what you want after you’ve killed me. I won’t be able to resist anymore, so you can just go all out, right?”
“Do you take me for a maniac or something…? If I slept with a woman after killing her, I bet I’d have nightmares later.
“You’re difficult, aren’t you. You could put up with that much.”
“What? I’m the weird one here?”
Talking wasn’t getting me anywhere, evidently.
I exhaled a long breath, then readied my sword in a fighting stance.
My blade was then pointed to my opponent’s ample bosom.
“No point in wasting words, huh. Looks like it’ll be faster to let our weapons do the talking. I’m going to capture you alive: I’ll hit you until you can’t move, then drag you to the nearest inn.”
“How interesting…let’s see if you are truly skilled enough to take me alive!!”
“Rest assured, I will….I’m Dyngir Maxwell. Name yourself, princess of the night.”
After I introduced myself, my beautiful opponent bared her fangs, like a lioness targeting her prey.
“I am Shana Salazar!! Let our bodies and souls burn in the joy of battle!!”
The princess of the night — Shana thrust her lance, which I met with my sword.
The two weapons clashed loudly, scattering vivid sparks into the darkness.