"Stark, I'm sorry."
The girl's voice woke the red-haired man from his slumber. He sat up as sweat slowly covered his face.
"Damn it. Not again."
After getting out of bed, the man threw on his visor, cloak, and dual katanas, he left his motel room.
Upon stepping out of the motel, a fierce sandstorm slapped Stark, making him hold his visor and cloak over his head.
"I'm sorry, Paige. If only I had stopped it."
The swordsman trudged through the storm while a few others did the same. A lone figure stumbled into Stark and jiggled his katana.
In response, the swordsman drew his other one and impaled the stranger with it.
"Tah, you bastard," the thief said as he hit the sandy stone. Without looking back, Stark sheathed his blade and continued on.
Eventually beating the storm, the man entered a saloon and sat at the counter as the few customers chatted.
"Ah, another stranger," the old bartender said while organizing his drinks. "What brings you to Monato, sir?"
"Just traveling. I'll take water."
"Water while traveling? You should try out Monato's best drinks."
"No, I'm fine. Alcohol doesn't work with me."
"Okay then." The old man quickly poured Stark's water. "I wish you could have come at a better time. This time of year, there are nightly storms, so people can't enjoyed the cool nighttime."
The bartender handed Stark his glass. "There's also missing reports going on. Civilians are being abducted, and no one knows who's being it. Would you happen to know something?"
"No, and I don't want to know about it." Stark chugged his water.
"What has you troubled, traveler? What's on your mind to not worry about others?"
"It's my business. Don't ask."
"That may be, but everyone needs to vent their problems eventually. You can lose stability in your life if you don't."
"I doubt it."
While Stark drank his water, a tall, burly, light skin man trudged into the saloon.
"Give me the Monosa, old man," he ordered as he sat next to Stark.
"You got it, sir."
People around them quietly panicked as they gossiped about the man.
"I heard a swordsman attacked one of my men. Could that be you?" the man asked while peeking to see Stark's swords.
"You're looking at the wrong man. Piss off." Stark placed his glass down and glanced at the stranger, noticing the huge scar over his left eye.
"There's not that many swordsmen around here, so I'm pretty sure it's you."
"I'm not dealing with this." His eyes still on the man, Stark rose, but a hooded man on his opposite side lunged at him.
Fortunately, Stark kept the man back by hitting his chest with his sheath. At the same time, the big stranger punched at Stark, but it was avoided.
Once the swordsman landed away from the bar, multiple cloaked figures emerged from the shadows to attack him.
"Archfiend's Aura." After Stark mumbled, a red aura surged around his body, causing the thieves to stop. "I said I'm not dealing with this. Anyone who annoys me further will get cut down."
Scared of his aura, the attackers kept their distance except for one. With his bare fists, the brave thief charged Stark. Sadly, that bravado got him nowhere.
The swordsman swiftly slashed the attacker's chest, and he fell a second later.
Seeing that no one else would step up, Stark strolled to the exit. However, a thief with a wily moustache blocked his path. Before he could move him, the sound of wood breaking came from behind.
Unable to fully turn around, Stark was rammed in the back by the big man's arm.
"Did you really have to ruin my counter doing that?" the bartender said as he looked at his broken counter and stool.
After ramming through the swordsman's aura, the big boss grabbed onto the back of his neck and slammed him face first into the floor.
"You'll have to pay up for hurting my men. Your life might suffice."
As the man released Stark, he ripped his visor and cloak off. The swordsman stabbed his ankle as he did.
"Archfiend Oga." Stark waved his right sword, and every thief on his right was swept off their feet.
"W-What the hell? He didn't even hit us," Wily moustache said while Stark began to rise.
As he did, he kept his blade in the boss's ankle, noticing honey orange lines form hexagons all over his skin.
"He's overpowering me," Stark thought.
The swordsman blocked with his second sword, but he was still sent flying into the bar counter, leaving his blade in the enemy's ankle.
"Keep fighting and I'll be forced to kill you. However, we could use a skilled swordsman," the boss said.
"Go to hell," Stark responded as he stood.
"Fine then. We'll strip your corpse." The boss took out Stark's blade and snapped it like a twig. As if it was a signal, the thieves all attacked.
"Archfiend's Thrust." With his sword sheathed, Stark leapt forward and passed through his attackers without being touched.
When he landed, gashes ripped through their torsos and dropped them to the floor.
"What the hell did I just see? He didn't even use his blade," Wily observed.
Stark took a step towards the enemies, making Wily tremble. The man's sword came out rushing towards Wily's neck, but the boss's arm stopped it.
"Hurry and use your magic, idiot," the boss ordered.
Stark watched as Wily began to deform until he was completely mist that brushed past him. After feeling his pocket's rustle, Stark diverted his attention, giving the boss an opening.
He quickly threw his fist forward and struck Stark in the face. The impact sent him flying through the bar counter and into the drink shelf.
"He didn't have much on him, boss," Wily said as he reformed next to the tall man. "I did find this though."
The honeycombed man took the red gem from his subordinate.
"This looks pretty valuable. We'll sell it along with what else is on him."
"Give it back," the swordsman demanded as he pulled himself up, blood dripping from his nose and mouth.
"That punch should have knocked you out, but whatever. I guess this will be part of your payment for the damages."
"I'm tired of this. Archfiend's -"
"Light Arc: Chosen Brilliance!"
A shout followed by a blinding white light interrupted Stark. The light filled the entire saloon, blocking everyone's view.
As Stark growled into the light, a hard force impacted the back of his neck, knocking him dizzy.
"Who the hell is that?" Stark thought as he noticed long black hair before being held.
"Boss, what will we do?" Wily asked.
"Find the exits and block them."
"That's impossible, sir." The assistant spoke as he bumped into something.
A second later, the light ended, and Stark was gone.
"Damn it! Someone helped him get away," Wily said.
"It's fine. We took this after all," the boss said while raising the gem again.
"That isn't like you, Kukaku. You're usually a lot more greedy," the bartender stated, causing the tall man to slowly approach him.
"You shut your mouth and get me another drink, old man."
"Is that anyway to talk to your father? You've always been a problem child."
"Sir, what about your men?" Wily questioned.
Kukaku looked back at all his injured men.
"Anyone who's injured, go look for that swordsman."
"What?!" some of them said.
"The injured are on the same level as the swordsman, so bring me back everything on him, even his clothes."
"That's more like you," the old man commented.
"But sir, you saw what he did, right? We can't beat him alone," a sharp-nosed thief said.
"Then you have no right being here, do you?" Kukaku gave them a deadly glare, making his men leave to search.
"You truly are a selfish man. Where did I go wrong when raising you?" the old man asked.
"I'll go help in the search, sir," Wily said before leaving.