Headed by a Snake
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287 Provocation
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Headed by a Snake
Author :CouchSurfingDragon
© Wuxiaworld

287 Provocation

Tycondrius watched the exchange with great interest. 

The Lone Shadowdark was... a coward. He was also often a fool. But he had his good traits. He was a natural with weaponry, wielding sword and hammer to great effectiveness. He also had a great eagerness to prove himself. His battle fervor, as it were, allowed him to cross metal rankings and defeat stronger opponents on more than one occasion. 

Were Lone to face a single adventurer of the same rank, he'd surely win... but Lone faced a potential three-to-one situation. With only a Bronze-Rank physique, a single attack catching him unaware would nullify any advantage of pure skill he had. 

Tycon also kept careful tabs on the one other Gold-Ranker in the tavern. If that person chose to move against Lone, Tycon would be forced to intervene-- the goal being to escape rather than to prove his dominance. It was more important to keep his companion alive than to gain a few paltry coins or for an adventurer's sense of 'pride.' 

The bearded adventurer responded to Lone's provocations.

...He insisted that his mother's cooking was the greatest in the nation-- a very bold statement and one likely marked by bias. The conversation continued for some time but ended with Lone being invited... to the adventurer's mother's home for a meal. 

Lone politely thanked the adventurers at the table, before returning... defeated. 

He sat back down at the table, lips quivering. He opened his mouth to speak-- but no words came. Tycon waited patiently... Lone had indeed tried harder than his previous attempt, so he wasn't upset. 

"Boss... I... I don't understand," Lone ruffled his hair in frustration. "That was... that was my greatest move."

Tycon was just as surprised that the young man's tactics had failed, something he didn't allow to show in his expression. 

Instead, he smiled politely, "May I offer a suggestion?"

The young Ranger took a deep breath and sighed, "Y-yeah... Go ahead, Boss." 

"The Tyrions have a great love for their religion. Maybe if you... insulted their High Oracle?"

The High Oracle was the highest existence in the Church of the Eternal Flame. It was said that she could speak directly to their deity. 

...Just why that Oracle was so celebrated and respected was beyond Tycon's understanding. Oracles weren't a common class-- none of the Divine classes were particularly common, but they weren't unheard of. 

Empty night, even Sol Invictus had one. 

...But then again, Tycon was very proud of her. 

Lone stood up... "Well, yeah. I guess I could give it a shot."

"I believe in you, Mister Lone," Tycon nodded. "Do your best."

"Thanks, Boss."

Lone walked off, slightly less confident than earlier. He approached a table with a smaller, less-dangerous looking adventurer. 

⟬ Bronze-Rank Human Expert. ⟭

Severely lacking in enthusiasm, Lone insulted the Tyrion High Oracle. 


He immediately received a punch to the face. 

"TABLES!!" Someone yelled-- one of the tavern goers or one of the staff. 

Like a practiced battle formation, the adventurers worked together to push the surroundings tables back, creating an impromptu fighting ring in the tavern's center. Plates of mediocre food spilled onto the floor and various persons amongst the crowd grumbled in annoyance. It appeared that fights were a common occurrence. 

Lone boxed his opponent with hands and knees. He won quickly enough, knocking the other party unconscious-- but took a strike to the ribs and a few shots to the face for his troubles. 

He looked very proud of himself. He should not have been. Tycon made a mental note to emphasize hand-to-hand combat in Lone's training regimen. 

An adventurer wearing heavy chainmail and a two-handed sword on his back approached Tycon peaceably from the side, "That guy yours?"

Tycon narrowed his eyes slightly in thought. The honest answer was yes. The correct answer was... not that. 

Thinking of a proper response, he had a sudden, lucrative idea. He placed his wallet on the adjacent table, the silver bits inside jingling in temptation. 

"That guy is who I'm betting my coin on. Care to have a wager?"

...

Over three solid rounds of betting, Lone was victorious against each opponent. Tycondrius made some decent coin-- enough for a comfortable stay in the city, as well as market-stall money for the children. Those who lost coin grumbled about Tycon hosting only the three. 

With each of Lone's successive fights, the betting odds grew... as did the probability of Lone losing. Tycon decided to only risk that much. 

The adventurers continued to bet amongst themselves. The crowd grew into a cheering frenzy as the coin that would feed and shelter them in the coming weeks was consumed by their greed. 

Lone placed a finger of his blood-covered hand against a nostril and blew, expelling snot and blood. Then he raised his hand up in an arrogant victory pose, "Another one BITES THE SANDWICH OF DEFEAT!! Who remains to challenge the Ranger of Sol Invictus?!?"

The crowd both cheered and booed, depending on where they had placed their bets. It seemed that the reasons for fighting had been forgotten. 

Tycon figured that was not an uncommon occurrence in human history. 

A thin figure stepped forward out of the crowd, their form wrapped in a heavy cloak, "I will be your next challenger, Sol Invictus."

Tycon furrowed his brows, quietly observing Lone's newest opponent. Two long blades hung from their waist. They removed a longbow and quiver worn on their person, setting it upon their table. 

⟬ Gold-Rank Elven Hunter. ⟭

...He was glad he had not continued betting. 

Though the elf was a Gold-Rank, he (or she) seemed to prefer minding their own business. They hadn't moved other than to help push back the tables. It was because of that fact that Tycon was confident in betting his coin as he had. 

Then Lone blurted out the name of his guild. 

...Sol Invictus had a reputation in the Holy Country... something that he was fairly certain the Ranger was well aware of. Regardless of the particular reasons behind it, it appeared that Lone's thoughtless declaration was the reason for his newest challenger[1]. 

[1] This is the Author testing this fancy new footnote button. Hello. Thank you for reading SNEK.

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