Chapter 4 – The Worst
LEVEL 4: Chapters of the Chosen and Choosers
Chapter 4: The Worst
Part 1 of 2 (translated by Lono)
“Don’t you think you should give it a rest, already?”
It felt as if someone was speaking to her.
But who? The man next to me, I suppose. But I don’t know who he is, and I can’t discern his expression.
She strained her eyes, trying to see. He was terribly blurred. Just who is he? Why is he sitting with me? I don’t understand.
“Who… are you, again?”
“Huuuh?” he drawled. “You’re asking who I—”
“—And why are you sitting here…?”
“Now you’re asking why? We came to this joint together.”
“You came together… with who?”
“You. With you, Mary.”
“…Yeah, someone’s had too much to drink.”
“Well, you, of course.”
“Is that right….?”
Mary sighed and lifted her cup. She brought the contents to her lips, but there were no contents.
A joint? What joint? What kind of place was it? Mary surveyed her surroundings. Ah. It’s a bar.
A cramped and unfamiliar bar, with nothing but stools. She didn’t know this place at all.
Mary pushed her empty glass to the side, in front of who was probably the barman. She was about to call for another glass when the man held her wrist.
“Stop it already.”
“Leave me alone,” she snapped.
“As if I can. Do you even know how much you drank?”
“Maybe not. What does it matter…?”
“Don’t give me that,” he said. Somehow, he looked fed up with something.
Why do I have to deal with someone I don’t even know, scowling at me? This is ludicrous.
“…Fine, have it your way.”
Mary stood up from her chair, staggering. The man moved to support her, but she shook him off.
“Don’t touch me!”
“You were about to fall over.”
“So what…?” said Mary. “You have a problem… with people falling over…?”
“Anyone would have a problem with that,” he argued.
“Don’t say that…”
“Your… opinion…” she said. “I couldn’t give a damn…”
I don’t know what I was trying to say, let alone what I actually did say. Whatever. It doesn’t really matter.
Mary left the bar.
When she awoke, she was somewhere unrecognizable. A dark and unknown street.
My staff is gone. Did I mislay it? Where? She couldn’t even begin to guess.
“Hey, are you alright?!”
Who is it? The man from before. What‘s he doing here? Why is he following me?
“The hell do you want….?”
“Huh!” he exclaimed. “Is that how you talk to someone who foots your tab?”
“My tab…? What do you mean?”
“Your booze tab. You didn’t pay, did you? I had to take it all on myself, Mary.”
“Why do you know my name…?”
“You told me, obviously.”
“I… you paid…”
Mary hadn’t a firm grasp of things, but she didn’t want to get caught up in whatever nonsense this was. She tried to retrieve her money. If she handed it to him, he would probably be satisfied.
But her hands shook, and her legs; she couldn’t remain standing. She was just about to fall when he propped her up in his arms.
“That’s not what this is about, Mary. I’m not telling you to pay me back.”
“Let go of me…”
“Let go of me—”
Mary tried to free herself from the man’s arms, but she couldn’t budge him.
He embraced her still tighter and drew his face closer to hers, but she pushed it away by the chin.
“Listen to me, you—!”
“Quiet, you dumb bitch! After all of this, you really think I’ll let you go? Don’t forget, you wanted this!”
“What? Wanted what?!”
“You were feeling down, so you came to me for a good time! Didn’t you?! Any fool could tell that much!”
“A good time…?”
What is this man talking about? I understand nothing. A “good time”? I am not in the mood for a “good time”. What really happened? What exactly could this fool tell?
A chill passed over Mary’s heart.
“I… what exactly did we talk about?”
“Huh?! You told me your name and, oh, what else… well, it wasn’t much of a talk…”
She felt relief from the bottom of her heart. It would have been horrible had she confided anything in this man.
No matter how drunk she was… and Mary was certainly drunk. Not any run-of-the-mill drunkenness either. Mary was considerably drunk, extraordinarily drunk… she was hammered, far beyond belief.
This is bad. With myself in this condition, in this situation, I am without a doubt in danger. I have to get out of here.
“Mmph!” Mary head-butted the man with everything she had.
He recoiled and cried out in surprise, but he still didn’t release her.
“You bitch! That’s it, no more playing nice!”
part 2 of 2 (translated by NanoDesu)
Mary felt herself hoisted up. Her feet were no longer in contact with the floor. She thrashed around but the man’s grip did not budge. What did he want? It seemed he had an aim to take her somewhere. In the darkness, Mary couldn’t see very clearly, but she could see he was ferrying her into a narrow alley. She tried to yell out for help. He slapped a hand atop her mouth. Mary bit down.
The man yelped and threw Mary to the floor. Mary felt the collision bang at her waist and again at her skull.
Her vision blurred and twisted. She had to escape. She tried to crawl away, but the man caught her by the waist, and pulled her close again. He forced her onto her back. Mary was pinned, and once again she felt a hand clasped against her mouth.
Was he going to…
Right here, right in this place?
Not happening. Go to hell. Mary sent her knee straight into the man’s crotch.
“Hngh…?! Dammit! This little…!”
A fist smashed into her face, and for a moment, Mary’s consciousness flickered.
When she came back to her senses, her priest outfit was already half removed.
Maybe this is it, Mary thought. Maybe this is my punishment.
She had let him die.
Yet again, she had let a teammate die.
Even though she was a priest.
Even though she was supposed to protect her companions. That was her one, her only job.
She had one job and she failed.
She couldn’t even claim that she failed despite trying her best. No, she had slipped.
Mary had slipped fatally.
[LIGHT OF PROTECTION].
It was a light spell that enhanced an ally’s physical abilities, defenses, and natural healing rate. For a priest that was no longer a beginner at her craft, it was also the most basic of spells. Most of all, its magic could never be allowed to expire in the midst of battle. Even sliver-sized differences could mean life and death on the battlefield. So when [LIGHT OF PROTECTION]’s effects ended after around thirty minutes, it was the priest’s duty to recast it without a moment’s delay. This duty had to be engraved into a priest’s very soul. It was a duty that should never, ever, ever be forgotten. And yet…
“Just give it up already. Stop struggling…!”
The man let out a brutish chuckle and tugged on Mary’s clothes. She could hear the stitching rip apart.
“It’s not like this is your first time anyway, right?! Just take it easy and have some fun!”
“You really think she’ll have fun like that?”
The voice of a second man was heard, and the thug turned around.
“I apologize in advance, but I don’t think I can go easy on you.”
The brute toppled, landing right on top of Mary, but the other man helped Mary peel him off.
What in the world was happening?
Someone had saved her, but why? Who was it?
“You okay? Can you stand?”
Mary didn’t respond to the question. He sighed and scratched his head.
“Look… I’m not suspicious, really. Honest. Your clothes okay and everything?” This new man’s tone was surprisingly blunt.
He had gotten her out of a tight spot; that, she couldn’t deny. What would have happened had he not appeared? Well, Mary could imagine, but…
Mary picked herself up off the ground and dusted herself off. There were a few tears on her sleeves, and plenty of dirt everywhere, but nothing else seemed very far out of order.
“… Sorry. And thank you.”
“No worries. Glad you’re okay, I guess.”
The area was dark and Mary couldn’t see the man’s face very clearly. But there was something about him… the voice, maybe? She felt she had heard it before… and there was also something about his proportions. He was really quite tall. Did Mary know this man from somewhere?
“Umm…” The man took half a step back. “Probably shouldn’t say anything to anyone. About this, I mean. Yeah, that’s probably for the best.”
This man probably also knew Mary, judging by his tone.
“… Who are you?”
“Me? Ah, I mean… my name’s Kuzak, but that probably doesn’t ring a bell…”
He was right. It didn’t. When Mary stood up, Kuzak began to back even further away. It seemed he refused to move within a certain distance of Mary. Perhaps to make clear that he wasn’t going to try anything.
Mary looked down at the thug from before. She didn’t know if Kuzak had punched or kicked him, but either way he was entirely passed out. She felt an urge to kick his body, but fought it down.
She walked out of the alleyway. Kuzak stood off to the side, still maintaining his distance.
With the moonlight now striking his face, Mary could see him clearly for the first time. She recognized him immediately.
“We were in the Green Storm Regiment back at Capomorti…”
“Ah. So you remember?”
“I almost died back there, yeah.” Kuzak looked down at the ground. “But then I didn’t. Someone healed me, and the next thing I knew I was there all alone.”
“… I see.”
“Sorry. I wish I’d gotten here sooner. Actually, I’d been watching you guys a while. Since the two of you left. I felt curious, so I tailed you. That’s how it goes, I guess.”
“… I was in really bad shape back there, wasn’t I?”
“No. I mean, I was drinking too.”
“Kuzak.” Mary inclined her head. “Let me apologize once again. I’m sorry… and thank you.”
Kuzak stayed silent for a while.
“… Okay,” he said, after a long deliberation.
Mary lifted her head and strode past him. Of course, she was still feeling the effects of the alcohol, the nausea. How much had she drunk? She couldn’t even remember that much. But it was surely too much. This was the first time in her life that she had drunk enough to affect her memory.
But she had wanted to abandon reason. She had wanted to ruin herself as much as she could.
If she could manage that, then she might feel better afterward. So maybe that was why she drowned herself in drink. Maybe that was why she didn’t tell the thug to leave when he sat himself next to her.
Kuzak had interfered. He had crossed personal boundaries to help her. But, what if the thug really had done something? Just thinking about it sent a chill down Mary’s spine. It disgusted her. She was never one for touching others or being touched. But this time, he had touched her, touched her everywhere. Groped her, felt her up. It was the worst. The absolute worst.
Mary suddenly had a strong urge to vomit, and she stopped in her tracks.
She wanted to vomit. But there was nothing inside her to vomit. So she could not. She squatted to the ground. It hurt. She wanted to die. She wanted to just fall apart and die right here.
But some people actually had died. Not just once, but twice. And for a useless priest, someone who had failed to protect a teammate not just once, but twice… for such a useless priest to sit, going on about dying herself… for this useless priest to even have it cross her mind…
“… There is nobody here worse than me,” Mary murmured.