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162 Zonyan Grayclaw’s Demons

 Zonyan Grayclaw was sharpening his dagger.

He was perfectly aware that his weapon-an item dropped from a dungeon needed no polishing, its sharpness being unaffected despite the stat known as durability and that it would be as good as new after a visit to the blacksmith.

Nonetheless, it was a habit he had developed as a warrior, and he continued it to clear his mind and stopped remembering the past.

He liked the atmosphere of the Church of Games: thought there would be killing and fighting day after day, there were not many grievances between people-perhaps because they had vented enough in the dungeons.

And even if there would be the occasional conflict, they could simply throw the gauntlet just outside the gates of the Unnamed Town. Then, after that life-and-death conflict, they would head to the tavern to chat idly about everything in the whole wide world, good brothers once who watched each other backs once again.

There was no need to worry about the day's hunt, no need to stiffen oneself to lay their hands on the old, the women and the children, much less aim their blades at their own friends or family.

Even if the divine oracle issues quests to slaughter an enemy tribe, everyone would work together and accomplish it with all smiles.

Everything was perfect... save for those who start screaming 'Aaaaaaargh! It's the Black Hand!' whenever they saw him and flee out of reach.

'My last name is Grayclaw, damn it!'

Zonyan complained inwardly.

It was a nickname made for laughs, and while there were Players who had therefore become unhappy to party with him, Zonyan's skill was undoubtedly first-rate and the reason many top Players would invite him when they frontline a new dungeon. As such, he wasn't actually bullied but made many friends instead.

So why was he unable to forget his past pains even though he was clearly very happy?

He gasped then, realizing that he was done sharpening the dagger and that it had slipped through his fingers, disappearing after leaving a faint trail of blood while a red [-1] appeared in its place.

Unlike most Players, Zonyan did not turn off his pain sensation aside from just lowering it slightly. As a former warrior, he knew how pain was a way the body warned against harm, and getting used to it would allow the individual to understand their present condition.

He sighed and sheathed the dagger into its scabbard.

Being one of the first of the refugee Players to arrive at the Unnamed Town, he was naturally one of the leaders to the newcomers. Though he was unlucky in terms of item drops, his game coins never decreased following each dungeon session. That was why he wasn't staying in inns unlike many Players who joined when he did, but bought a house.

Not only were the System-built houses tidy and neatly arranged, the interiors were also built the same and basically identical aside from the doorplate.

Naturally, Players could collect wallpapers, furniture and completely random decorations from accomplishing quests to create the ideal house in their minds. Zonyan, however, wasn't interested in such things, which was why his house still had its basic template, which includes a plain dressing mirror that stood in his bedroom and was perhaps a part of welfare for female Players.

Zonyan picked up the hairbrush from his dressing table and straightened his thick hair, exposing the two ears over his head that was apparently different from normal human ears.

Those were a pair of beastly ears: yellow-brown, wooly, and triangular.

***

Zonyan was a Leo.

His former tribe Grayclaw was once crowned with such an honored and revered title by other nonhumans.

Born with powerful physique, frightening speed and stunning strength, they were natural warriors who stood above the many nonhuman races as the King of Beasts.

Zonyan Grayclaw was the eldest son of the last tribal leader of the Leos. His strength was unmatched amongst the new generation of his tribe too, but something unexpected transpired when he should have inherited his father's place as leader and assumed rule over the tribe.

Swordtail Grayclaw, tribe leader Grayclaw's second son and Zonyan's young brother who he once defeated had challenged Zonyan once again.

And yet, Swordtail was not pitting brawn in a direct match. He had instead defeated Zonyan with sorcery he learned from somewhere unknown, even killing their father to directly claim his place as Grayclaw's leader.

Afterwards, Swordtail would kill every person in the tribe who fought his rule. Their own mother protected Zonyan with her life, but was still killed by Swordtail who was now a completely differently person-Zonyan, caught in the sheer force of the spell was sent flying into the sea.

In this world, the seas were much more dangerous than land, and therefore landing underwater had less chance of survival than falling off a cliff itself.

Even so, Zonyan didn't die in those waters. Instead, he hung on to a piece of wood that floated towards him muddleheadedly, staying adrift on the ocean for three days. Old Vanke eventually found him and fished him out of the sea, and he escaped with his life then.

With that, he made a name for himself as a mercenary at Lovinia.

He didn't abandon old Vanke when the registrar fell to hard times either, completely dropping his mercenary life as he escorted the old man down to Cromwell. Later, with Vanke's recommendation to Marni, he became one of the first refugee Players.

"I guess I really couldn't let that go."

Zonyan's fingers gently brushed over the mirror, staring his own face that was growing in resemblance with his father's while a fire burned in his heart.

The more blissful life was now, the hotter the fire burned.

He didn't know when he had clenched his fingers into a fist, but he shattered the mirror with a single punch, leaving a shattered reflection.

His identity as a Player had genuinely broken his past shackles-since the nonhumans' combat ability was essentially based on their physical bodies and talents-and allowed him to become a warrior greater than his father, but that was not enough.

The horrific sorcery that Swordtail had used then was still coiling around Zonyan like a demonic nightmare, forcing him to dream of those very scenes of that fateful day.

Even after changing class to become a Berserker Swordmaster, he still wouldn't win against Swordtail now.

"Dear god, what should I do..." He whispered with a face full of anguish.

He wasn't pleading answers from his own god, but merely sleep-talking out of either habit or instinct.

Nonetheless, this nonhuman from the Western Continent knew not that his god was watching (peeking) over him from his divine kingdom.

Hence, a crisp sound rang in his mind in the very next moment.

Ding!

[Side Quest started: Triumph of the King of Beasts]