Nathan and the group arrived at Banya city about 30 minutes ago.
It was a one-hour ride via speedboat from Liit town to the docks of Banya city.
At the moment, they were walking in the downtown area of Banya city, looking for a good place to drink.
There were a lot of people walking around, celebrating the Holy Week.
There were stalls that offered food, drinks and different kinds of merchandise.
There was a live band performing a heavy metal song.
Heavy metal and rock were the popular genres in the south, unlike in the central and northern regions where pop and hip-hop were the prevalent genres.
But, of course, there were bars in Banya city that caters to the people who prefer pop and hip-hop.
Nathan's eyes wandered all over.
This was his second time visiting Banya city.
The first time was 2 months ago when he had to leave Latif city.
However, during the first time, right after he arrived at the airport, he went straight to the pier to board a boat headed to Liit town so he wasn't able to explore the city.
Banya city wasn't as big and as modern as Latif city because it wasn't among the largest cities in the southern region of Muwin.
Nathan and the group stopped in front of a bar called Good Times.
The sound of a heavy metal band performing inside could be heard.
Maaz ordered Baar to check if there was an available table inside.
After a minute or so, Baar came out.
"Bro, it's cramped inside and there's no table available."
"Let's look for another one," Maaz said.
"Bro, Lena is asking where are we drinking," Khalid said.
"Tell her we're still looking for one."
After about an hour of walking around and checking out bars, they finally found a good place to drink.
It was called Rivers Cafe.
Nathan and the group entered.
Inside, the lights were dimmed except for the light pointed at the live band performing an alternative song.
They got on their table.
"Finally!" Baar said.
"Bro, I've already texted Lena to come here at Rivers Cafe," Khalid said.
"Okay," Maaz said.
Nathan and Omar were quiet.
A waiter approached their table and asked what they were ordering.
"I'll take care of the first round," Maaz said.
He ordered four pitchers of beer, a bowl of ice, some dishes and 2 packs of cigarettes.
When the waiter told him the total, Maaz took out his wallet which surprised Nathan.
The wallet was loaded with so much cash that he couldn't help but wonder how in the world could his cousin comfortably sit with that bulging at the back pocket of his jeans.
'That looked like 3 months worth of my pay…' Nathan thought.
Maaz gave the waiter the money and said, "Keep the change."
"Thank you, sir," the waiter said and left.
'Is Maaz always this loaded?'
In the past 2 months that he stayed at Liit town, Maaz only came home 3 times.
And on the first and second time that Nathan witnessed Maaz came home, he brought a lot expensive things and food but uncle Mabrook threw them away.
'Grandfather did say that I should really focus on accumulating financial success. And by the time I reach the age of 30, things would get better. Perhaps if I…'
The waiter returned with the things they've ordered and placed them on the table.
Maaz poured himself a glass of beer.
"Come on, let's drink!"
Nathan dropped what he was thinking and then poured himself a glass of beer.
The others also did the same.
"Cheers!" said Maaz.
"Cheers!" They said and clinked their glasses.
A few minutes later…
"So, your name is Nathan, right?" Baar said.
Nathan put down his drink and looked over at Baar.
He was still holding his glass.
For some reason, he didn't like this guy. There was this feeling of animosity or something coming off from him.
However, based on what he has learned so far, this Baar guy was like Maaz's right hand or closest friend.
In fact, they were supposedly childhood friends.
"Why is your name Nathan? Why isn't it like a true south Muwinian name?"
"I don't know. Go ask my parents."
"I heard you got fucked over by a north Muwinian woman."
"What are you doing?" Maaz said to Baar.
Baar looked at Maaz and said, "Hold on, hold on, bro. I just want to know more about your cousin. That's all."
Maaz was looking Baar straight in the eye before switching to Nathan.
"What in the world made you decide to seriously date a north Muwinian woman?" Baar said.
With his size and strength, he could easily snap the bones of this skinny drug addict into two.
However, he decided not to and just ignored Baar.
He took a sip from his glass.
However, Baar wasn't letting him go that easily.
"So are you going to tell us? Those women are nothing but good for fucking only."
Nathan put down his glass and pursed his lips.
As much as he hated Karen, he still had some feelings for her and he would be a liar if he denied it.
However, in this situation, it wasn't about Karen or this blatant sexist taunt that Baar was spouting that was pissing him off, it was about himself.
He felt like Baar was ridiculing him for dating a north Muwinian woman.
He was about to…
Maaz threw a handgun on the table.
Fortunately, the lights of the bar they were at were dimmed. Moreover, it was also noisy from the live band performing so the people around didn't notice them and the gun.
Nathan's eyes were wide as saucers as he saw the gun.
"YOU DARE DISRESPECT MY COUSIN IN FRONT OF ME?!" Maaz growled.
They all looked at Maaz, including Nathan.
"Maaz, bro, listen, I was just…" said Baar sheepishly.
"IF YOU THINK MY OWN COUSIN ISN'T A TRUE SOUTH MUWINIAN, I DARE YOU TO TAKE THAT GUN AND SHOOT ME OR I WILL SHOOT YOU MYSELF!"
"Maaz, Baar, chill out guys. Come on, put the gun away," Omar said.
"Yeah, guys. We don't need these bad vibes," Khalid said.
Maaz looked at Omar and Khalid.
"YOU TWO SHUT YOUR FUCKING MOUTH!"
He returned his gaze at Baar.
"COME ON! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!"
"ARE YOU FUCKING SCARED?!"
Baar held his head down.
"ARE YOU A FAGGOT?!"
"I'LL EVEN LET YOU PULL OUT YOUR GUN AND AIM IT AT ME BEFORE I TAKE THAT GUN!"
"COME ON! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!"
Nathan finally had enough and didn't want things to escalate so he intervened. "Cousin, it's okay. I don't mind admitting that I got fucked over by my ex. It's true anyway," said Nathan.
Maaz continued staring with burning eyes at Baar who still had his head held down.
And after 10 seconds…
"Bro, Lena just texted me. She said they're outside. I'll go get them and bring them over," Khalid said and stood up.
Hearing what Khalid said, Maaz grabbed his handgun on the table and put it away.
Baar got up as well and went outside.
Omar looked at Nathan, "Sorry, bro. Baar is a good guy. He just doesn't really like it when a new face joins us so he likes to do shit tests." He then looked at Maaz, "Bro, I'll talk to him and get him straight."
He left Maaz and Nathan on the table.
"Nice friends you have, BRO," Nathan said.
Maaz finished his glass of beer and then lit a cigarette.
"Cousin, I'm really sorry about that."
"It's okay. I understand, " Nathan said. 'Sigh... I really shouldn't have come here. God, what the fuck was I even thinking? What a fucking waste of my fucking time. These disgusting addicts act like they're above me when they're nothing but vermin in the society.'
"Baar's actually a good guy. He's just... He's cautious."
"I mean, I'm well-aware of Baar's attitude because we've been best friends since we were kids. And given that I introduced you to them as my cousin, I thought he would at least treat you with respect. I'm really sorry."
"I mean, you've heard stories about me, right? That's why we don't easily let anyone enter our circle. I hope you understand."
'Your circle of criminals and drug addicts?' Nathan thought and then flashed a friendly smile. "Of course, I understand."
"Anyway, let's forget about that. I'm sure Omar will straighten him up. If he doesn't, we'll beat the shit out of him and then I'll let you beat the shit out of me as well."
"That's not needed…"
Maaz clapped his hands together.
"And plus, Lena brought her friends along. And trust me, they're cool girls who are quite outgoing and aren't Number Twos."
In the south, there is this term called Number Two.
In the South Muwinian culture, especially to those who practice the Iklas religion, marrying a virgin is one of the main factors considered in picking a bride.
If the groom finds out that the bride isn't a virgin, he can take back the dowry given to the bride's parents and dissolve the wedding, causing the bride and her family to be marked with shame.
Because of this, there are certain women who would preserver their virginity by doing anal instead.
"Wait… So they're prostitutes?"
As far as Nathan knows, another part of the South Muwinian culture is that men should act like men and women should act like women.
And if a woman acts improper or indecent, a man that is related to her has the right to hit her.
Meanwhile, if a man doesn't act like a "real" man, he is publicly ridiculed to the point that things could even get physical.
"No, they're not prostitutes. Let's just say it's complicated."
"Complicated? They're not slu--"
"This is our table, ladies," Khalid said with a smile.
Nathan and Maaz looked over at Khalid who was with 5 women.
I hope you guys enjoyed this chapter. Thank you for reading!
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