Chapter: 2

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“Hu?!”, the nearest aggressor; a bald man with a tattooed head; looked at me over his shoulder, unimpressed but quite pissed off, since I stopped him from punching down the child, holding his wrist.

“What, skinny boy, want some of this too?”, a second man, shirtless and muscular, joked as he stepped down on the curled-up kid, and the third suspicious man, who had a distinctively white smile, laughed at it and shrugged.

“I don’t know what caused all of this, but isn’t it enough?”, I asked, surprising even myself with the ease, and coldness those words left my mouth. “If the child’s crime was such a serious one that he deserves even more beating, you should take him to a proper authority. If that’s not the case, just leave him already.”

“Hmph!”, the handsome man harrumphed, smug. Turning to the first thug, whose wrist I still held, he ordered: “deal with him”, and turned back to the child.

“This will teach you to not try to pretend to be a hero no more!”, the bald man smiled widely.

Then, he raised his left foot and his boot briefly shone with gray speckles, becoming involved in rock, and turning into a dangerous spike. Kicking backward with all his strength, he hit my knee with the huge stone spike.

“What?!”, his face was contorted in surprise when he saw his magic stone spike simply break against a blue shield over my knee, leaving me unscratched.

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“I see. You leave me no choice, then”, I stated. And simply crushed and burned his wrist with a tiny explosion.

Once the cries of pain from the defeated and thrown-away bald thug filled that alleyway, I caught the attention of the remaining two villains once more.

“Hoho~ So the skinny boy had some fire in him”, the muscular aggressor stepped ahead, no need of another order from the apparent group leader. “Show me, skinny boy!”, close enough, he started to wildly throw punches at me, and there was magic in them too, both his arms involved in a red mist that looked like blood.

Dodging the punches one after another, and slowly retreating, I frowned; that was hard.

“Hahaha! What’s up, skinny boy?! Is this too much for you?”

“No, I just don’t want to accidentally amputate your arms off.”

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“What?”

He clearly was not properly able to control that power, and if I simply tanked the hit, as I did with the first villain, he could end up crushing his own arms up. But that didn’t matter anymore, for I was finally able to bypass the parade of punches, crouching beneath the strong man’s left fist. Then, pulling my right fist back, creating a shield behind my elbow, and using an explosion behind the shield to boost my arm forward, I pushed.

“Wooah?!”, the muscular man screamed in terror and surprise, as he was sent flying across the entire alleyway. “Guh…”, he wheezed, hitting a wall beyond the opposite end of the alleyway, and immediately passed out.

“…Fool”, was all that the group leader said, staring at the defeated companion with disdain. Looking back at me, fully confident, he suggested: “Hey, kid, you seem quite capable. Say, why don’t you start working for me? I’d reward you quite well.”

“Is this a joke?”, I tilted my head to the side, as I walked closer to the boss villain.

“So, no? What a shame”, the man with a distinctively white smile replied, smug, as he also started to walk closer to me.

As soon as I had the opponent within punch distance, I threw my boosted fist at his face, but the handsome man was clearly more capable than his goons: he easily dodged my attack, and answered it with one of his own, a fiery fist hit me straight in the nose, and I stumbled backwards, blood dripping from my nostrils.

“I’ll give you another chance, kid: become my underling, and I won’t kill you” the gang leader laughed, confidently.

Touching my nose, and staring at the red that stained my fingertips, I answered:

“…I’m sorry, it seems I’ve underestimated you.”

“Good kid, now-”, the thug leader started, but I cut him off:

“I’ll go all out, then”, I said, straightening myself back up, and looking directly into my opponent’s eyes. And he must have seen something in my eyes, for he finally lost his confident smug.

“Tch! What a bloody night” the strongest of the aggressors complained, and proceeded to ignite both of his fists, and get back to punching me.

This time, however, I forgot subtlety since that guy probably wouldn’t end up killing himself with his own magic, and simply created a huge shield before me, which stopped every punch thrown by the opponent with ease.

“What?!”, the handsome man retreated, impressed by the barrier that he failed to break through. Frowning, he warned: “very well! So, I’ll go ‘all out’ too, boy, don’t come back to haunt me if you die!”, he pulled both his fists back, and the fire crawled up to his shoulders, burning ever hotter, brighter. “Raagh!”, he pushed his palms forward, and a fireball the size of a head came flying towards me. Just before the fiery magic hit, I could see the kid looking up to me, concerned.

“BOOM!”, the explosion was such that the ground shook, and a curtain of smoke filled up half of the alleyway, and raised above the surrounding buildings, even.

“Should have accepted my offer”, the smug returned to the face of the thugs’ leader.

“…Why?”, I asked back, my shield parting away the smoke as I walked forward. And the handsome man went pale, mouth gaping.

“W- Wait!”

“No.”

As the thug’s leader gave me his back and tried to run away, I extended my palm in his direction and created another shield, this one right above my opponent. And when I brought my palm down, the shield also came falling down, crushing the handsome man against the floor with just enough strength to not turn him into a one-dimensional red paint on the ground.

There was a long and silent moment, as the battle in the alleyway came to an end suddenly.

I relaxed, and unmade my shields. Looking closer, the guys I defeated were the same annoyed trio I came across in the market sooner that day, but then, they didn’t have those magic items… Whatever, I had something more important to do than play detective: putting on my kindest smile, I turned back to the boy on the ground, who stared at me in awe.

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