Luke had a bunch of free time before the reading classes in the evening started.
He was slowly making his way through a busy street, without even a slight hint of a direction he wanted to go in.
‘I think that the way Lucia mocked me basically confirmed that she was working under someone. I still have no idea who it could be, but my theory could very well be true: Lucia and the man who followed me are connected and they are either working together, or are working for someone higher up.’
Luke narrowed his eyes.
‘I should also investigate Joseph as much as I can. He is very suspicious, framing me as a murderer before executing me. It has to be a part of a much larger scheme, and I just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Of course, Joseph made sure that would be the case, him being the person that sent me to Miss Lian’s house in the first place. I should be wary of the person he assigns to “teach” me this time.’
Luke passed by various shops and merchants, peddling various goods. There were large amounts of people simply waiting outside the seemingly fancy shops, just waiting for their turn to waste away their hard-earned money.
‘This place reminds me of Earth in some aspects.’
Humans were still humans, no matter where they were. Greedy, envious, scheming.
‘I always laughed at the people’s stupidity during the medieval period, but actually living throught it like this is much different… Not only that, almost all of the people I came in contact with since appearing in this world were out to kill me or plotted against me. All to further their own interests.’
Luke wiped off the sweat that was trickling down his forehead.
‘In the modern age that I came from, everyone was feeling safe and comfortable enough to complain about the most absurd things, yet here you are forced to grow a second pair of eyes, lest you get backstabbed by even your closest aides.’
Luke bit his lip.
‘I can’t trust anyone here. If I hadn’t received the time elemental from the old man, I would’ve permanently died a very long time ago. It’s not just because of the monsters. At this point, other people have killed me more times than the monsters did. You could even say that the true monsters here are the people.’
Luke stopped walking and stared at the clear blue sky, clenching his fists.
‘To survive in a world full of monsters, I will need to become a monster myself. No matter the cost.’
That was not Luke’s will, but his responsibility. If he were to live a life that was truly his, he would need to climb to the apex of this world.
He continued walking with a bitter smile.
‘I probably wouldn’t return back to Earth even if I could, because at that point I would have learned the secrets of this world. After all, the me that was spirited away from Earth, and the me that would stand at the apex of this world… Those would be two different people.’
Luke was correct.
One was a college student looking for a good job with a nice salary, allowing him to live comfortably.
And the other… The other would be a ruthless murderer, filled with dread of a thousand lives and the atmosphere of death.
‘I want to forge my own path. I will forge my own path. That is my promise to this world and to myself.’
What was humanity?
It was a difficult question, for more reasons than one.
To Luke, it was the ability to endure, the ability to keep on fighting. He will resist and bite and struggle until he reaches his goal.
Some would call this determination as being twisted, but this was what drove Luke forward through the majority of his life.
It wasn’t an accident nor near-impossible luck that the time elemental chose Luke as a suitable host.
His true nature and value just couldn’t be noticed under the regular circumstances of living on modern-day Earth.
Luke himself didn’t realize his own worth.
He didn’t know, or maybe just pretended not to know, but it was a fact that if someone else was put in his situation, they would’ve already went insane and gave up.
But not only did he not give up, he instead fought back, with literal sticks and stones.
Luke kept walking through the busy streets, thinking about this and that, as the sun slowly set in the west.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Luke arrived in front of the Bounty Hunter’s Association building.
It wasn’t yet completely dark outside. Luke dusted his clothes, and fixed his shirt.
Entering the building, Luke could see two people.
Joseph was sitting at the reception desk, his chin resting on both of his hands, leaning on the desk.
Next to him, a woman was standing tall, examining Luke with her eyes from head to toe.
‘Are all the women I meet around this building going to be beauties?’
Calling her a beauty was an understatement. Even Lucia paled in comparison.
The girl had straight silver hair that smoothly flowed down to her waist, and blue eyes that resembled the deep sky. She had a small nose and rose pink lips; her skin was as white as porcelain, complimenting her other features.
She was wearing a white robe, with small blue lotuses embroidered all around it.
‘Do perfect people such as her even exist?’
Instantly confirming his own thoughts, Luke made eye contact with the girl.
She slightly bowed her head, and parted her lips.
“My name is Lala.”
Luke’s cheeks flushed red, this time uninfluenced by any skills.
He scratched one of his cheeks and smiled.
“I’m Luke. Nice to meet you.”
Luke and Lala kept making eye contact.
“Cough! Let’s get on with it then.”
Joseph interjected awkwardly.
“As she said, her name is Lala. She is a priestess of the Water Temple from the Kingdom of Istorial.”
“She wasn’t supposed to be the one to teach you, but she overheard me talk with one of my subordinates about this matter, and offered to teach you herself. With this, we’re square.”
“Yes, we are.”
He wouldn’t let Joseph off the hook that easily.
Lala and Luke bid Joseph goodbye, before turning around and leaving the building.
Luke asked curiously as the two of them walked through the street:
“Where are we going to?”
“I am staying at an inn nearby. We’ll have some privacy there.”
‘I can’t let my guard down anymore. The moment I find this girl suspicious, I’ll be out of there.’
They soon arrived at an inn. The wooden sign said: “Old Man John’s”.
‘Doesn’t sound as cool as “The Drunken Woodsman”.’
They walked into the inn, drawing the gazes of everyone inside.
‘Maybe girls on this level of beauty are actually rare here too?’
Luke couldn’t have known, as he kept running into beautiful girls since arriving in Millef.
Lala gracefully walked in front of Luke, not minding the gazes of everyone.
Luke had to ask:
“Doesn’t it bother you?”
Lala turned her head around towards Luke and slightly smiled, as if she couldn’t help it.
“Guess I’m used to it.”
They walked upstairs, and entered the room that Lala was renting.
This one room was bigger in size than the small house that Luke was staying in at the forest.
It was nicely decorated and furnished, having its own fireplace, a square table with chairs, and a very big bed.
It was eerily silent. Luke could only hear the wooden floor creaking as they walked across the room.
Lala turned towards Luke and pointed at one of the chairs.
“Please, take a seat.”
Luke obliged and sat down.
Lala bent down near the bed to grab something, and then sat down next to Luke.
“Let’s get started.”
Luke nodded, and Lala began teaching him the written language of this new world.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Luke had a good memory, allowing him to learn things such as this pretty fast.
He paid the utmost attention to Lala’s words, and also jotted down notes in his memo pad, so he wouldn’t forget some of the more difficult symbols.
“You’re a better student than most people I’ve taught.”
“Most people? So there is someone better.”
Luke teasingly smiled.
He surprisingly got along with Lala, completely opposite of his expectations.
She was a pretty agreeable girl, and Luke felt like he could talk to her without putting up too much of a guard, even though they only first met a few hours ago.
“Well, there was one impeccable student that I’ve taught years ago…”
Lala looked down at the table, smiling bitterly.
‘I shouldn’t pry any further.’
“Anyways, when can we continue the lessons?”
Lala looked up at Luke.
“We can continue tomorrow, around the same time we started today.”
“Alright. I’ll go find a place to stay the night.”
‘Although I have no money…’
Luke was about to stand up, but stopped after hearing Lala’s question:
“No offense, but do you even have enough money to stay somewhere decent?”
She was staring at Luke’s clothes, prompting him to look at himself as well.
Luke’s clothes were battered and dirty.
He smiled bitterly.
“In all honesty, I have no money at all.”
Lala took something out of her robe and handed it to Luke. He took the small round object and examined it.
It was a coin with a strange symbol on it, made out of a bronze-colored metal.
Luke couldn’t be able to know what the symbol meant in the past, but after Lala’s lesson he knew exactly what the symbol meant.
“Is this a 100 denar coin?”
Lala proudly smiled and nodded.
“Get yourself some new clothes and a place to sleep at. Consider this a gift from me.”
‘Maybe there are a few good people in this world after all…’
“Thank you, Lala!”
Luke smiled as he left the room. He walked downstairs to the inn-keeper.
‘I might as well just stay here.’
“Boss, how much for your cheapest room?”
The inn-keeper was a grumpy old man with gray hair and a thick beard.
“20 denars a night.”
“I’ll take it.”
Luke paid for the room and went back upstairs.
‘Let’s call it a day here.’
Luke slumped onto the bed and quickly fell asleep.