As I sensed the familiar presence of the three people, my heart started beating fast, thanks to the muscle memory that was engraved on Astron.
However, now I was different. Different from my past. Different from that time, I will no longer stay still and watch anyone torment me.
'It is payback time.'
I mumbled as I pretended not to notice their presence in any case. After all, I needed them for today's job…
With that thought, I left the training grounds. It was already reaching nighttime when I had left the training grounds, so most of the place was pretty much empty by now.
The roads were the same.
However, I knew they wouldn't make their appearance just yet because they couldn't afford to get caught by the cameras. After all, if you don't have a backing stronger than the academy, you couldn't afford to do such things in broad daylight.
But that also meant they needed to follow me for now, which served my purpose in the end.
Arcadia Hunter Academy had a pretty vast land to offer students, and it also contained quite a full forest where students would become one with nature.
I walked with purpose, leaving subtle signs and trails to entice their curiosity. Twigs snapped under my feet, creating an eerie ambiance that echoed through the trees.
"Do you hear that?" one of them whispered, his voice laced with unease.
"It's just the wind; what can happen to us inside the academy?" another replied.
I could hear their whispers growing louder as they followed my lead, their overconfidence fueling their steps.
As we ventured deeper, the forest closed in around us, creating an atmosphere of suspense and uncertainty. Shadows danced through the dense foliage, casting an otherworldly aura over our surroundings.
The rustling leaves seemed to whisper secrets and warnings, but they were oblivious to the impending danger. After all, nobody would expect what is going to happen right here now….
Finally, we arrived at a secluded clearing, where a hush fell upon the forest.
"Hahaha, look who we have here," a mocking voice echoed through the dimly lit forest imbued with nothing. I turned my attention toward the source, only to find myself surrounded by three figures.
'Ah…. Yeah, it was these guys….' I thought to myself as I saw the faces of the three. Two men and one woman…. The ones that tormented me.
The leader of the group, Dylan Miller, a burly brute with a sneer on his face, stepped forward. "What's a weakling like you doing there, huh? Do you think the training will make you stronger, huh? You little lowest rank."
It was a simple and cliched line that you could see everywhere. However, hearing this made my blood boil because I remembered the things Astron suffered, both from Astron's perspective and from the watcher's perspective.
Even though that guy before me was someone that made my life hard, he was actually not someone strong or anything. No, actually, he only ranked 2000th inside the academy.
The girl standing behind the two men, Sophia Lawson, urged them on, her voice dripping with a seductive tone. "Oh, come on, boys. Don't let him off that easily. Show him what it means to be at the bottom of the ranks."
This girl was the reason why they targeted me. After all, I had rejected her confession at the beginning, thinking I didn't deserve to have such things in my life. But, looking at everything from the outside, I knew her petty pride was hurt, and she was the one that was toying with these guys, making me a target.
With a calm voice, I responded, "I have just as much right to train as anyone else. If you have a problem, take it up with the academy, not me." But I actually knew that would not make them stop. After all, this is who they were; with a little bit of backing, they would think they could do whatever they wanted….
My body was tired, but I knew the confrontation was not avoidable.
The leader laughed, his cronies joining in. "Listen to this little rat. Thinks he's tough, huh? Well, we'll see about that."
The moment I heard this, I knew the attack was about to come.
'He will come with a right swing.' I thought, remembering the past times I have observed from the necklace.
Before I should have reacted normally, the leader lunged at me, aiming to deliver a powerful blow. But I was prepared. With a swift sidestep, I evaded his attack, using his momentum against him.
I retaliated with a quick strike to his exposed side, causing him to wince in pain. Using weapons inside the academy was strictly forbidden; thus, I didn't draw my dagger.
But, my attack was aimed at his acupuncture point, making him feel an immense amount of pain, and lose his control.
lightsΝοvεl ƈοmBut I didn't stop there as I continued to punch him in his face, throwing a bunch of rapid strikes.
Each blow landed with a resounding impact, causing him to stagger back.
"Huh?" The other two were surprised seeing the bastard lying on the ground, not doing anything.
Then, the other man, Mason, lunged at me from behind, attempting to catch me off guard. With a quick spin, I deflected his attack, redirecting his momentum into the wall with a loud thud.
However, just at that moment, I saw the girl's eyes shining for a second. She was using her mana, her skill.
Then, my movements became slippery as I felt my consciousness staggering.
'This girl is using a type of mind skill on me.' I thought. This was what made this group able to bully me.
"Fuck…. You just had to do it, didn't cha?"
As the sound of knuckles cracking came before me, I saw the leader coming on top of me. At that point, I knew there was only one thing I could do.
Stabbing myself with my leg, I inflicted pain upon myself. It hurt, but at the same time, my consciousness came back.
"It seems last time the lesson was not enough."
Dylan, his face twisted with sadistic delight, tapped into his mana reserves. A surge of energy enveloped his body, augmenting his speed and power. It was his innate trait, the one that let him increase his strength with his mana. It was a pretty common trait for most people to possess.
With a swift motion, he closed the distance between us, his fist connecting with my side.
I tried to block it, but my strength was not enough. The impact sent a shockwave of pain through my body, causing me to stagger back.
My vision blurred, and the taste of blood filled my mouth.
I knew his strength and body movements were faster than mine normally. Since he was basically a fist-type fighter, he could also easily overpower me when it came to such fights.
With each passing moment, my opponent's movements became more fluid and precise. He effortlessly dodged my attacks and countered with devastating strikes. My body, battered and bruised, struggled to keep up with the intensity of the battle.
A place I knew from the game….
Dylan, his sadistic grin widening, jeered, "What's the matter, weakling? Can't handle a real fight?"
And a punch came to my face, injuring me.
The crimson feeling over my thoughts intensified, as I felt like my thoughts were turning into a different way.
Sophia, her normally seductive but now demonic tone laced with malice, chimed in, "You're nothing but a pathetic loser. No wonder you're ranked dead last."
Mason, struggling to regain his composure, growled, "This is what you get for defying us, Natusalune. You should have learned your place."
"You're pathetic," Sophia sneered, her voice dripping with contempt. "You'll never be anything more than a weakling."
As those words left her mouth, she spat on me.
The crimson color intensified more.
Dylan smirked, a cruel glint in his eyes. "You thought you could stand up to us? How amusing."
Mason, his voice dripping with superiority, added, "Don't ever forget your place, Natusalune. We're always watching."
Dylan, Sophia, and Mason, their voices filled with arrogant satisfaction, turned to leave, confident in their victory. The pain surged through my body, but a defiant smile formed on my lips.
"Heh..." I chuckled, the sound carrying a hint of defiance that caught their attention. Their steps faltered, and they turned back, confusion evident on their faces.
"What's so funny?" Dylan sneered, his eyes narrowing.
"Man…. My switch is getting flipped…." At that moment, I could no longer contain the crimson thoughts overlapping inside me…. After all, I didn't need to since they had already set the stage for me.
Since the spilled blood of mine on the ground had already attracted the monster underneath….
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