After a moment of silence, Lukas opened his mouth again.
“Something could be going o-’
“The circumstances don’t matter!”
Bargan seemed to be startled by his own outburst.
He immediately realised just how rude his actions were. Not only had he cut off his Lord’s words, but he’d also raised his voice at him.
Nevertheless, Lukas continued looking at him with the same calm expression as before. There was no anger or condemnation in his eyes.
As his eyes met this gaze, Bargan felt his anger cool down.
Then, after taking a deep breath, he continued in a much calmer tone.
“…the outcome of a Fighter’s match should never be decided before the match has even begun. It is an insult to the Fighters who constantly risk their lives on the battlefield, and to the spectators who cheer them on with pure hearts.”
“Kangki is… the one who brought corruption to Lirua. He poisoned the noble souls of Fighters with just a small amount of money. I couldn’t understand or accept that.”
“So you left Lirua.”
In fact, it would be better to say that he had run away.
Knowing this, Bargan couldn’t help but chew on his lip slightly.
“How many people are aware of the match-fixing?”
“…all of the renowned Fighters in the arena, and the wealthy and powerful people in the city support it from the shadows.”
“So the Dragonmen who enjoy the fights don’t know.”
Then why didn’t he spread the rumors about it to the Dragonman populace?
There was no need for him to ask such a question. The answer was obvious.
Kangki was a former Grand Champion.
Lukas had already experienced the kind of effect such powerful achievements have on most Dragonmen.
This meant that Kangki had an enormous amount of wealth, overwhelming power, and a reputation that everyone on the island raved about.
At the very least, it could be said that within his territory, his reputation was absolute.
On the other hand, Bargan was only a Fighter who had a bit of reputation for his performance in the arena.
Even if he were to cry out about the match-fixing until he spat blood, very few people in the city would believe him.
Lukas couldn’t really understand Kangki’s carelessness.
If he had been more thorough… Bargan would never have been allowed to leave the city alive.
It also couldn’t be that he’d forgotten Bargan’s existence or didn’t know his whereabouts. Himba and the other Fighters in Lirua knew exactly where he had been wandering around.
No matter how insignificant they might be, as long as there was even one other person who knew the hidden truth, they could become an unknown variable.
There was no way a man in Kangki’s position wouldn’t know something like that.
He recalled the characteristics of the Dragonmen living on Combat Island.
The good was that they were tough, but the bad was that they were simple.
If Kangki’s personality was the same, then his choice to let the secret leak out would be a bit more acceptable. Nevertheless, he still couldn’t understand.
“You said that just a few decades ago, Lirua was a small town.”
“Then it can be said that Kangki is the one who developed the small city into a major city.”
Bargan didn’t want to accept this fact, but the truth was the truth.
He nodded reluctantly.
Lukas became lost in thought for a while.
The match-fixing involved most of the Fighters in the arena, not just the Major City Lord.
The wealthy and influential people in the city also supported it from the shadows.
“As expected, I’ll have to see him for myself.”
“I’m talking about Kangki.”
Bargan’s explanation alone wasn’t enough. It seemed that he would have to see it for himself before he could make a decision.
Lukas raised his head and looked at Bargan.
“Where can I see him?”
* * *
Leaving the inn, Lukas headed towards ‘Paigwam Square’, one of the largest shopping districts in Lirua.
There was a large fountain in the center of the square, which made it easy to spot from a distance.
Since it was midday, the square was filled with people. Street vendors selling food and miscellaneous items could be seen everywhere, and many would-be customers stood, wondering what to buy.
Passing them, Lukas headed to the fountain.
Being sold next to the fountain were newspapers that showed the various news and rumors circulating the city and surrounding area.
That was Lukas’ goal.
The price of each newspaper was 5 erus.
This could be considered fairly expensive for a newspaper, but for Lukas, funds were the least of his problems.
After purchasing it without hesitation, he opened the newspaper and began to scan the information contained within.
[‘Hilla’s Twin Blades’ dethroned after keeping his seat for six years?! Who is the new Champion?]
[Relics of an ancient kingdom have been found on Adventure Island!]...
[Big Match of the Century! Totoran VS Archisus! An expert claims, ‘This fight has already transcended the level of ‘a friendly’…]
It was normal news about Champions and rookies who were quickly rising to fame from every city.
The analysis of the upcoming ‘Championship’ was also hot news.
Among the articles was a ranking list of the Championship candidates. It was said that this list was created after dozens of arena experts debated for a very long time.
Lee Jong-hak’s name was also included in the list.
He was ranked 24th.
This evaluation was much higher than Lukas expected.
Were there really only twenty-three people stronger than Lee Jong-hak?
‘…maybe they overestimated…’
Lukas only had this thought in passing. He knew that there was little chance of such a thing happening.
When he turned the page, a large phrase at the top immediately caught his eye.
[The first Dragon Hunter in 10 years has appeared! His name is ‘Lukas’]
Lukas’ eyes narrowed slightly.
[An outsider made an incredible contribution to the subjugation of a black dragon. Could he be a Great Sorcerer?]
[What is the relationship between the new Dragon Hunter and Dragon God Island?]
[The value of the Ancient Dragon’s corpse is estimated to be at least a few billion eru…]
[Babylon’s Fire Hammer picks up his hammer for the first time in six months after seeing the Ancient Dragon’s corpse!]
After that, there were several speculative articles written about Lukas’ true identity.
‘Rumors are certainly faster than feet.’
The entirety of Combat Island had already heard Lukas’ name before he had even reached Lirua.
‘The story has changed slightly. Instead of being slain by me, they claim that it was a collaboration between several major cities with me as the main contributor.’
Lukas had become a sorcerer who’d stood out in a major battle against an Ancient Dragon.
The Major City Lords were probably not the ones who had spread the false rumors. Instead, it was probably the people who found the truth too hard to believe. That was why it wasn’t too surprising that the rumors weren’t completely accurate.
There was a lot of interesting news in the newspaper, but Lukas hadn’t bought it to see these things.
He found what he was looking for on the very last page.
[Lirua Arena Match Schedule]
The schedule was packed.
Small letters filled the entire page with no gaps.
There were at least 20 matches per day, and there were even days where 30 or more matches were scheduled.
The notable matches were written in larger fonts and different colors. Lukas memorised dates and times for a few matches before putting the newspaper away.
Then, he headed towards the arena.
* * *
The Lirua arena was truly an amazing place. It was completely different from the one in Herui, which had a bit of a rustic feel. In particular, the lobby area, which had receptionists in charge of various tasks like organising the spectating areas, receiving applications, or posting projections, was so dazzling that it might even cause you to go blind if you were to come here in the middle of the night.
Lukas headed to a free reception desk.
“Welcome. May I ask what brings you to the Lirua arena?”
A young Dragonman woman greeted him with a polite smile.
Not beating around the bush, Lukas immediately got down to business.
“I would like to register as a Fighter.”
“I see. Do you have any experience working in other arenas?”
“Which arena are you affiliated with?”
“So you are inexperienced and independent.”
The receptionist continued with a slightly more strained smile.
“I’m sorry, but since Lirua is classified as a major city, you cannot register to be a Fighter here without experience.”
Lukas’ expression shifted slightly. This was not a problem he’d expected to experience. Why hadn’t Bargan on Min Ha-rin told him about this?
Just as he was wondering about this, the receptionist continued.
“Or, if you’ve done anything worth mentioning.”
“Anything worth mentioning?”
“Yes. Even if you’re not a registered Fighter, you can have unique achievements. Or a reputation for doing something other than fighting in the arena…”
Lukas thought for a moment before speaking.
“I killed an Ancient Dragon.”
The receptionist blinked.
“What did you just say?”
“I said I killed an Ancient Dragon.”
The receptionist froze, her pupils shaking slightly.
“Umm, may I ask your name?”
“Dr-, Dragon Hunter Lukas!”
The receptionist’s exclamation was much louder than expected, and because of the structure of the lobby, it easily resonated throughout the building.
In an instant, it became so quiet that one would be able to hear a pin drop.