360 Physical and Mental Wellbeing
The middle-aged man’s fear-filled gaze locked onto Lumian, uncertain about what had triggered this sudden confrontation.
He wasn’t the one being deceived, nor was he one of the mobsters who held sway over this neighborhood. He wasn’t a relative or a friend of theirs. So, why was Lumian rushing up to assault him like this?
Adding to the confusion, Lumian didn’t even give him a chance to defend himself. He unleashed a blow after each sentence!
His eyes fell upon the revolver, and he discreetly glanced at his aides concealed in the shadows. Their hesitance to intervene weighed heavily on his heart.
He couldn’t afford to threaten Lumian or resist him. Trembling, he stammered, “I-I can’t produce that much money. I didn’t bring that kind of cash.”
Lumian responded with a regretful smile, “How disappointing. I’m short of 100,000 verl d’or. Who taught you the magic of counting money? Who introduced you to the Malady God?”
The middle-aged man’s throat tightened, and he remained silent.
With an air of calmness, Lumian opened the revolver’s cylinder, revealing the yellow bullets to his captive.
He then closed the cylinder and pressed the muzzle against the middle-aged man’s forehead.
“Three, two…” Lumian’s finger on the trigger moved back with each count down.
Panic and terror swelled within the middle-aged man’s eyes.
Though he doubted anyone would dare to shoot him in broad daylight, this man had started the encounter with an inexplicable beating. It was impossible to predict how much further he might go.
Just as Lumian reached the final count, the middle-aged man cried out in desperation, “It’s the Envoy!”
“Envoy?” Lumian arched an eyebrow.
With his psychological defenses shattered, the middle-aged man abandoned any hope of escaping unscathed. He blurted out, “The Envoy of the Malady God!
“He approached me, taught me some tricks, and told me about the Malady God. He asked me to help him recruit believers, promising a share of the profits.”
Is he a genuine believer in an evil god, a swindler exploiting a deity’s name for riches, or perhaps a blend of both? Lumian withdrew the revolver from the middle-aged man’s forehead and lightly tapped his still-intact cheek with it. A smile crossed his face as he remarked, “Now, that’s more like it. All it took was a little chat, didn’t it?”
A bullet tore through the air, embedding itself into a nearby felled tree.
“Sorry, it went off accidentally. I didn’t scare you, did I?”
The middle-aged man’s heart pounded wildly, and a small puddle formed beneath him.
Lumian cast a brief glance at the trembling man and offered another reassuring smile.
“What’s the name of this envoy of the Malady God? Where does he reside, and what does he look like? Lately, I’ve been running low on funds, so I thought I’d pay him a little visit.”
Inwardly, Lumian pondered,
He didn’t react to that little prank just now. He’s not a bestowed…
The middle-aged man vigorously shook his head.
“I-I don’t know.”
Seeing Lumian raise the revolver once more, he hastily amended his response, “All I can tell you is that he’s tall and slender, with pale skin, almost as if he’s chronically ill. His eyes are a grayish-blue shade, and he has black hair. It’s short, like the haircut of a wealthy boss’s secretary.
“He visits me once a week, but I have no clue how to track him down.”
Meanwhile, Jenna had joined Madame Mogana and the others, her curiosity piqued by Lumian’s actions. She stole a moment to cast a glance in his direction, wondering what her Hunter companion had uncovered and what he was up to.
However, the urgency of the situation prevented her from inquiring at that moment.
Jenna had effectively instigated several individuals who had been long-awaiting compensation. The more these wronged souls spoke, the fiercer their fury grew. Some had already taken it upon themselves to seek out other victims or their families, urging Jenna to lead them in confronting the factory owner named Edmund.
In the midst of this mounting outrage, Jenna found that she no longer needed to actively instigate. The collective anger had taken on a life of its own, and individuals were stepping forward to aid her in this quest.
As they hurried toward the neighborhood where Edmund Sr. resided, Jenna had an epiphany.
To instigate someone, she had to converse with them, but to instigate a group of people, she didn’t need to personally converse with every member of the group to incite them. Understanding the situation and igniting the spark in a few initial individuals was sufficient. The ignited ones would, in turn, become agents of instigation, rallying more people to their cause in a snowballing effect.
While Jenna and the mob progressed toward their destination, Lumian remained behind to extract more information from the middle-aged man. After confirming that he couldn’t elicit any further details, he rose to address the deceived women who had been observing the unfolding events.
“You heard him. This guy is trying to deceive you. Do you intend to let him off the hook?”
Lumian had discreetly employed the Niese Face to alter his appearance slightly when confronting the middle-aged man, ensuring that no one would associate him with the wanted criminal, Lumian Lee.
One of the women present had actually been the middle-aged man’s collaborator, assisting in the preaching and swindling of money. In this dire situation, she dared not utter a word and looked to the others for guidance.
Among the women, some were brimming with anger, ready to hand the con artist over to the authorities, while others cowered, fearing that the swindler might have dangerous accomplices who would seek revenge.
Lumian observed in silence as they voiced their opinions, casually scanning the onlookers nearby.
Among the bystanders, he noticed three men attempting to slip away unnoticed.
These three were the accomplices of the swindler, responsible for resorting to violence when required.
Without hesitation, Lumian raised his revolver and discharged three rounds.
The trio let out cries of pain and crumpled to the ground, suffering from wounds to their legs and calves, blood streaming freely.
“No need to worry about them seeking revenge,” Lumian assured the women with a grin.
The victims, their emotions running high, fell silent, almost like statues.
After a few seconds, they stammered, “It’s up to you…”
Lumian nodded with satisfaction and motioned for the trembling cheat and his injured accomplices.
“Take them to the nearest… Uh, Steam Cathedral.”
At the intersection of Quartier de l’Observatoire and Quartier du Jardin Botanique, 5 Avenue Sèlbù, a swarm of men and women dressed in tattered attire surged toward a beige three-story building.
The two guards stationed at the entrance observed the approaching, agitated crowd and swiftly withdrew their legally owned semi-automatic revolvers. Their voices rang out, commanding, “Halt!”
Confronted with the sight of firearms, even Madame Mogana and her determined followers involuntarily slowed their advance.
The presence of the weapons was undeniably daunting.
Sensing the hesitation, Jenna rushed to the forefront and hollered at the two guards, “We’re here to demand our rightful compensation. The court has already rendered its verdict!
“You sons of bitches, go ahead and shoot if you dare!
“Do you even have enough dogsh*t bullets? Can you take down all of us? If not, each of us will take a bite out of you that you won’t recover from!”
With fiery determination, she strode toward the entrance.
Beads of sweat formed on the palms of the two guards as they peered out at the sea of faces. The sheer number of debt collectors was overwhelming, their exact count obscured by the throng.
It was impossible to predict the response if they opened fire on the crowd. They felt exposed and isolated, like logs confronting a relentless flood.
Jenna, utilizing her Instigation ability, pressed forward with her rhetoric.
“If we disable or kill you, do you think you’ll still receive your compensation?
“Look at us. Our due compensation has been withheld for years. Are you certain you’ll get your payment from that stingy old scrooge? His family might flee town tomorrow!”
The two guards were taken aback.
This was indeed a problem.
Furthermore, they were well aware that the boss’s family had liquidated most of their assets and were on the verge of fleeing the city in two days, seeking refuge in another province. Would they take two injured and incapacitated bodyguards along? Would they seize the opportunity to withhold compensation?
The harsh reality was laid bare before them!
As the guards hesitated, Jenna had already reached the entrance, with the crowd of debt collectors close behind.
Instinctively, one of the guards followed standard procedure, raising his right hand and firing a warning shot into the sky, attempting to deter the approaching horde. The other guard tried to subdue an elegant-looking young woman who appeared to lack substantial combat prowess.
Jenna recoiled momentarily, grabbed hold of the guard’s arm, and unceremoniously brought him crashing to the ground, causing his firearm to skid away.
Spurred by the gunshot and Jenna’s boldness, Madame Mogana picked up the semi-automatic revolver. Although she wasn’t familiar with its operation, her resolve surged, and she sprinted toward the entrance, cursing all the way.
The remaining guard hesitated for a fleeting moment before relenting, opting not to open fire on the advancing crowd and instead allowing them to swarm into the house.
Inside the living room, Edmund Sr. and his family, on the brink of departure, found themselves instantly encircled by Jenna’s nearly hundred-strong assembly of debt collectors. It was an impenetrable wall of humanity.
Clutching a revolver, Edmund Sr. voiced his trepidation, “What do you intend to do?”
“We’re here for our money!” Jenna seized the revolver from Madame Mogana’s trembling hands and leveled it at Edmund Sr. She declared, “Without the compensation we’re owed, we won’t survive. Let’s find out who meets their end today!”
Edmund’s hand trembled, as though he had contracted an incurable ailment.
Outside a Steam Cathedral that bore a resemblance to a small factory, Lumian gave instructions to the woman assisting the injured swindler.
“Take them to the padre and have them explain the money conjuring magic and their association with the Malady God. If they refuse to talk, provide an account on their behalf.”
The women nodded solemnly and, with their black eye, guided the swindler’s group into the cathedral, a trail of blood marking their passage.
Lumian holstered his revolver and observed silently from the doorway.
He reflected with a touch of amusement, Madam Magician’s suggestion is indeed on point. It’s healthy both physically and mentally to let off some steam now and then.
Of all things to believe in, they choose an evil god, and on top of that, they’re swindlers!
After a mere two minutes, Lumian casually strolled away, while the police officers hurriedly arrived on the scene.
Lumian unexpectedly crossed paths with Jenna and the jubilant debt collectors outside 5 Avenue Sèlbù.
“So quickly?” he inquired, surprise evident in his tone.
Jenna pursed her lips.
“I didn’t anticipate it happening this swiftly either. I was prepared for someone to call the police and handle the situation accordingly. However, once we had Edmund Sr. and his family surrounded, and we issued our threats, he yielded and began paying according to the list.
“Damn it, his family’s cash, gold, and other valuables added up to more than enough for our compensation. There’s even a surplus. And that doesn’t even account for his assets that haven’t been liquidated yet. He delayed our compensation for so long!”
“Giving always stings. Sometimes things seem complex, but when you truly commit to them, they become simple. And then there are situations that seem straightforward but turn out to be fraught with twists and turns that nearly cost you everything.”
His words carried the weight of experience.
Jenna knew that Lumian needed gold, and the compensation she had received came in the form of various types of gold jewelry, which were collectively worth 3,000 verl d’or at their pure gold value.
She offered, “Here, I’ll sell these to you.”
Lumian fell briefly silent before responding, “I’ll withdraw the money from Salle de Bal Brise.”
He only had banknotes and silver coins totaling just over 600 verl d’or on him.
In the evening, Lumian found himself with some free time and leisurely returned to Auberge du Coq Doré. He descended to the basement bar and spotted Charlie, beer in hand, regaling a group of patrons with stories.
Lumian grinned and declared, “Drinks are on me!”
Amidst the cheers of 20 to 30 people, Lumian added a playful twist, “Charlie’s footing the bill!”
Charlie’s expression froze.
Lumian chuckled and shouted again, “And if he does a strip dance, I might even cover that too!”