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Even though he was still cautious, the old man invited Mark inside their humble home.
Since he was invited to enter, Mark would not hesitate to. But first…
Mark turned his head towards the bystanders that heard what he had just said about the Cristobal Family. His glowing red eyes stared at the people in a threatening manner. Not only that but they were able to feel a sort of heavy pressure in their minds as his eyes landed on their bodies. The people could not help but turn away as they felt the danger. It seemed that these people were really used to being under such threatening manner and were sensible enough to know what they had to do. This time, they only need to shut up about what they had heard or their lives might face peril.
Nodding at their reactions, Mark entered the house casually and the old man closed the door.
Looking around, the house was really small. The living room in Mark's house was even bigger. There was only one single bed with a mattress while a cardboard slightly covered with a tattered blanket was on the floor beside the bed. Obviously, the two children slept on the bed while the old man slept on the floor. On one corner of the house, a makes.h.i.+ft stove made of three pieces of charcoal stained hollow blocks was made. There was only one stool and a small table in the house due to the lack of s.p.a.ce. As for their source of light, an old tallow lamp could be seen on the small table.
The whole house seemed to be cleaned as much as possible but since they were cooking using firewood inside the house, the underside of the roof and other places in the house had traces of thick soot.
"Sorry if our house is small and I can't offer anything. Please sit here."
Pulling the only stool in the house to give to their guest, the old man cautiously and respectfully spoke. The old man then sat on the bed and called over his grandchildren. Still, the old man was keeping the shotgun to his side but it was a reasonable thing to do. Although he invited Mark into his house, his intentions was still vague.
It was not like it mattered to Mark though.
Mark turned at the two children. The older one was a girl about nine years old and the younger child was a boy about seven. Strangely, the boy had scars on his arms and face.
Unexpectedly, the older sister was holding the [BloodChild] with bare hands without any kind of protection. Normally, it was rather impossible since the [BloodChildren] had a high tendency to attack.
This made Mark smile a bit. The [BloodChild] was surely treated good to open up like this to these people. Still, Mark was surprised inside for another time. The color of the [BloodChild] was not red like the normal ones. Grayish white, it was the color that the [BloodChild] had.
Seeing Mark looking at the slime on his granddaughter's hands, the old man spoke as his grandchildren sat to his side.
"Can I confirm one more time? Are you really not one of the men from the Cristobal Family? If not, what are your intentions to visit us this late."
Looking back at the old man, Mark replied.
"I have no connection to them or anyone living within this settlement. I'll be frank. I came to this settlement to take that back."
Mark pointed at the [BloodChild].
That made the faces of the two children bitter. The older sister then spoke.
"Take it back? Did it perhaps belong to mister? We accidentally found it by the sh.o.r.e near the port when we accompanied grandpa to fish."
That was another surprising thing. From the site of the plane crash to the sh.o.r.e of East Port Settlement, it should be more than fifty kilometers following the Ungos River and the shallow coast line. If what the girl said was true, then, this [BloodChild] probably travelled more than that distance to arrive there randomly. The experiences that this [BloodChild] had might be the reason that it turned into this color.
To the girl's question, Mark shook his head.
"She doesn't belong to me. She belongs to her home where her brothers and sisters are waiting."
"Home… Brothers and sisters…" The girl muttered and glanced at her little brother before turning back to Mark. "If that's why, I'll return it… no, her. She's a girl right? Mister said so."
"Are you sure Layan? You really like it right? Rather than a pet, you treated it like your sibling. Alois even got jealous about it one time."
The old man asked the girl, Layan. Hearing his grandfather, Alois who was not talking since the start blushed.
"It's fine grandpa. Alois and I know how hard it is to not be with Father, Mother and Older Brother anymore. Salacia might also feel the same."
The girl smiled but the loneliness in her eyes could not be masked at all even in the dim light of the lamp.
Mark's eyes lit up this time. The girl had a mature mind compared to her age and a kind personality, it was no wonder she was able to tame the [BloodChild] on her hands who was apparently named as Salacia.
"Salacia, huh… The Roman G.o.ddess of Salt Water is it? It's good choice for a name. Did you give it to her?"
Mark looked at Layan who looked surprised.
"Mister knew about it? Mother always told us stories about mythologies around the world. That is where I got the name."
Layan stood up in an enthusiastic manner. Alois had a helpless expression while their grandfather shook his head with a bitter smile. It seemed that this was not a new thing.
Realizing that she had made a blunder in front of their guest, Layan timidly sat down. However, it seemed that her fear of Mark who was a stranger was totally gone now.
"Alright. I decided."
Mark spoke which made the three suddenly look at him. Ignoring their stares, Mark faced Layan.
"I'll take Salacia back. However, I'll ask you something."
"W-what is it?"
Layan was fl.u.s.tered.
"Do you want to continue taking care of Salacia?"
This time, the old man interjected.
"Please wait a minute. If you are taking it back, how will my granddaughter take care of it?"
"Simple. I'm inviting you three to my base."
The old man hesitated. It was the same for the two children.
"I won't force you three. But, with the state you three are living here, it's better to live somewhere else. If I'm correct, you three are also experiencing hara.s.sment from the Cristobal Family, right? I'm telling you, the people in my base live better than most people here in this place."
Mark's words turned the man's expression into a very complex one.
"I'm sorry. We can't just decide this immediately. We don't even know you."
"Alright, I'll come back here next time before I leave the settlement to hear your decision. Also, forget the alias I told you earlier, the name's Mark. In any case, can you tell me the reason you all seem to hate the Cristobal Family?"
Hearing that they still have time to decide, the old man felt relieved. With his experience, he found that even though the man in front of them barely had any change in his facial expressions, he was saying the truth about Salacia and his invitation.
Then, the old man, Hamlin, told Mark what had happened. It all started when they were still living in the Middle District.
In the Middle District, a normal person was able to live there if they had a relative, friend or teammate that would live together with them. However, the Mutators whose superiority complex had reached high levels would still scorn these people. That was why the normal people living in that district always felt that their necks were tied up. They had to be careful about their movements and it was better if they stayed inside their dwellings.
One day however, when Hamlin was not around, Alois accidentally b.u.mped on the young master of the Cristobal family and was heavily beaten. Layan could only watch to the side in tears. Since the rules inside the settlement about murder could not be broken, the poor boy was spared with his life but the beating he received left scars on his body.
It was fine after that and since Hamlin was a Mutator, he received compensation for what happened to keep quiet. However, another issue came when they found Salacia.
Since it was impossible to hide Salacia the first time they found her near the port, many people witnessed it. It reached that same young master and offered to buy Salacia. However, who would want to do business with the person that hurt and left inerasable scars on his precious grandson? That was when the men from the Cristobal family started hara.s.sing them.
His Silver Card was also revoked and he was reissued with a White Card. They could only leave the Middle District and live in this poverty stricken Outer District. Since there was a lack of houses and dwellings, Hamlin built one for whatever material he could get his hands on and it was this small tattered home.
Of course, the hara.s.sment did not stop. Rumors that slandered Hamlin and his grandchildren started to spread. All of the rumors were about the reasons why a Mutator like Hamlin and his family was thrown out of the Middle District. Even though none of the rumors were true, no one would believe Hamlin even if he defended his family.
Furthermore, there were times that they would be disturbed in the middle of the night because of a rock hitting the walls of their house and roof. Sometimes, a person from the Cristobal Family would also send their men to ask for Salacia but of course, Hamlin declined them at gun point. Even though they were under orders of someone, no one in the right mind would gamble with the gun pointed at them and they all left cursing. It was until Mark came who was not even faced while a gun was pointed at him.
"Why is that young master too persistent about Salacia?"
Mark asked and the old man sighed.
"Because of a woman."
"You see, the young lady of Salvador family had a hobby of collecting strange things, animals and creatures that appeared. I heard that they even bought a few slimes similar to what we have from the people of Death Valley and those were her favorite. She also heard about ours and offered a trade but since Layan had already taken a liking to it, I declined. They peacefully accepted my rejection unlike that young b.a.s.t.a.r.d of Cristobal Family. I bet that he wanted to get ours to gift it to the young lady to gain favor."
The old man told the story while clenching his fists.
"That young master, what did he look like?"
"He's handsome man who is twenty five years old. His hair that is about as long as his nape is dyed blond. He always wears an expensive looking leather jacket…"
Hamlin described the young master's appearance and Mark immediately realized that he already saw the person. In any case, his view of the Cristobal Family was getting worse.
"Give me Salacia."
Mark told Layan and she immediately followed.
"Be careful, she might attack."
Before Layan could even hand Salacia to Mark, the [BloodChild] was already on the verge of jumping towards Mark's hands. When she landed on his hands, Mark stealthily made Salacia absorb his blood. Its grayish white color then changed and its color was mixed with a tint or red and black.
Layan was surprised. She wanted to ask what happened but before she could even speak…
"Hamlin! Come out!"
Trouble came knocking on the doors… Literally…