Chapter 131: Either Allies Or Enemies

Seeing her like that, Ryu thought of something fun and faked a worried expression as he placed his hand on her forehead.

“Eh? Are you alright? You’re red! Shen, did you take her from the temple while she was recovering?” → Ryu

“Nope. She was training, maybe she’s red from all that moving around.” → Shen

I answered plainly and Shiroko nodded in a hurry.

“That’s right! It’s just from the training! No need to worry like that!” → Shiroko
“See? She only needs something cool to recover. Here, this might do.” → Shen

I then focused cold mana on my palm and placed it on her neck-nape.

“Kya?!” → Shiroko

She reddened even more while even her white tail became somewhat fluffier.

“Shen, I think that simply placing it on her forehead would do better.” → Ryu
“True. Then I’ll do this.” → Shiroko

I then pulled her head on my left shoulder and with my left arm I rested my cool palm on her forehead.

No… more… → Shiroko

For some reasons Shiroko seemed to become dizzier and this only confused me while I felt like Ryu had some fun with what was happening. I wanted to ask him what was wrong but someone else was more disturbed by this view.

Cough.” → David

David coughed out while his two subordinates felt somewhat ridiculous at this sight.

“Yes, please excuse us just now. Please continue.” → Ryu

Ryu tried to control his laughter while I looked at them somewhat confused, not understanding what happened.

Oh man. I forgot Shen can be a natural gigolo sometimes. Hehe~ → Ryu

Ahem. Yes. The Liberators’ name and goals have spread all over the two continents in just a few months, acquiring many allies undercover in both Empires and almost every kingdom, gathering information and knowledge about the respective zones and creating plans to upturn them. Their goal is to “liberate” all the kingdoms from under the tyranny of the empires and give back the freedom of the vassal kingdoms. There were already a lot of kingdoms that fell under the Eliberators after using exactly such forms, for example, the Hargard Kingdom from Nostrung, the Thanao Kingdom from Vestria, the Xin Kingdom from Vestria and Padova Kingdom from Nostrung.” → David
“So many?!”

Ryu, Shiroko and I stared at David with wide-open eyes. To actually conquer 4 Kingdoms in succession just like that in less than a year. Just what kind of power do they have under their control?

“And from both continents?… Please tell me the names again.” → Shen

I took out a map of both continents and searched the kingdoms he just named. As the map said: Hargard was in the North-East point of Nostrung at the edge of the map, Thanao was in the North-West point of Vestria, Xin was from the furthest North-Western point of Vestria, right under Thanao, while Padova was right below Hargard, on the most Eastern point of Nostrung.

“So they literally took over the Northern Seas… Just who is the head leader of this clan?” → Ryu

Ryu gazed at the map with a dark face. While they were still playing the game as normal back on Earth, more than 70% of the players already had the full level and items strong enough to acquire the rank-power of Grandmaster to Saint and even Great Saint. In this world, a Grandmaster would receive the position of Royal Guard right beside a king or a great noble, while a Saint or Great Saint would either be a ruler, a great noble, or a guardian of the emperor. Even though the players lacked combat-experience and control over their own powers, it was still a fact that they were a great power over which, once someone took over, not even the United Empires could repel without heavy sacrifices.

“Ah. The Liberators, right? There was a group at one point which came to us and asked us to combine with them when I still wished to free the kingdoms.” → Shiroko

Shiroko suddenly said after recovering from her dizziness.

“What?!” → Ryu / Shen

Both Ryu and I asked together and pressed her to continue.

“U-uhm! It was a group of five people who said that we have the same goal so we should unite powers. At that time I thought it would be a great idea but they said we’ll also need to migrate to North where their main base was built. I thought that once we grow more in power we should do so, but after a while, our group grew in hundreds. I wanted to help everyone get some combat experience first so we postponed the invasions over the kingdoms to fight the beasts from Eihwaz. Well, after the apparition of the great waves, you know the story. The ones from the main base might have already accepted to unite with the Liberators so I can’t do a thing about it now…” → Shiroko

She gazed downward while feeling guilty for giving out an incredible number of people with just as an incredible amount of power to a possible enemy. Ryu and I thought for a while with serious faces and then I looked again at David.

“And so the leader of this clan is called?” → Shen
“His name is Shen. The members of the Liberators are calling him Leader Shen while chanting his name every time they take over a fortress of an enemy kingdom as if saying they gift it to him as a tribute.” → David
“And what’s up with the Warlord title?” → Shen
“This is a title given to those who prove to be a danger for the entire globe. Warlord is a title given to tyrants who wish to take over the entire world and use any forms of power they have at disposition to take over great territories. A good example of such an individual would be Demostius from more than five thousand years ago. He used dark forms of magic to take over the demonic beasts, using them to take over a good portion of the Vestria Continent.” → David
“Hah, then shouldn’t the actual emperors be called Warlords as well? Otherwise, why keep up the wars for?” → Ryu

Ryu asked mockingly as David said nothing. We both understood that he couldn’t talk about such things, but at the same time, he didn’t deny either.

So the history is repeating itself, but rather than monsters, the players are the weapon this time…

After hearing this explanation, Ryu and I locked gazes, we felt some kind of silent agreement while smiling together then I still asked just to be sure of his quite obvious answer:

“Shall we?” → Shen
“Nah~. Too much trouble.” → Ryu
“I feel the same. This is not our problem.” → Shen
“Indeed. We already have a lot on our shoulders with the monsters.” → Ryu
“Exactly.” → Shen

Then both of us took the cups of tea in our hands and took small sips while feeling more relaxed, leaving the others, even David, to look at us with surprised expressions on, confused about the sudden relaxation. Ryu then started a telepathic conversation and asked me:

Tell me if I’m not right but, now that the two empires have to deal with the Liberators, we won’t have to stress over them invading us anytime soon, do we? → Ryu
Exactly. The Demon Lord will take 50 years until he prepares for an all-out war against us, while the players will still have a ton of work to do until they take over at least 10% of just one continent. The four kingdoms they took might seem a lot, but they’re just poor countries with small lands. If we are to expand until we hit the borders with the other kingdoms and tribes from Eihwaz, we would still have more land than those four kingdoms placed together. Just half of Vestria has around 50 kingdoms, while the other part is filled with titans like the Vestria Empire and its close vassal kingdoms. Even if they keep on this momentum, they would still need around 20 years to at least reach us. → Shen
Yeah. The fact that the players still have such momentum might be because the empires haven’t placed them in their eyes yet, the war between themselves being more important. Haha~ and once they reach us we will be long above them in might and power. → Ryu
If everything goes right, we might be able to help Jian get back his Kingdom and take revenge over the Sava, then strengthen our alliance with Victoria and Alfheim. Victoria alone has enough power to resist waves of demonic beasts, the fact that proves its military might, while Alfheim can rival an Empire in power, or even exceed it. → Shen
The Liberators are on the most Northern parts while our future allies are on the other side of the continent. And who knows? We might as well ally with those Liberators if the future proves it beneficial for us. → Ryu
We’ll see in the future. → Shen

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“…”

David, Denisse, Daniel, and Shiroko stared at us two who were grinning and drinking tea in silence, unable to understand what we were thinking. Daniel was unable to keep his curiosity in check so he asked:

“So we can understand that Lord Shen is not Shen the Warlord and the leader of the Liberators?” → Daniel
“Exactly so. Shen here did and will do, a lot of great things, but he’ll never search world domination. Rather, I think I would be a more suitable person for such a thing, but this guy here would never let me do so.” → Ryu
“Don’t even think about it.” → Shen

I glanced at Ryu with a tired face, making him feel quite amused by my reaction.

“King Ryu.” → David

In the end, David interfered and asked with a dark face:

“The reason why I’ve been brought here, was it just for this piece of information? I’m positive that you could’ve gathered such news from almost anywhere inside a capital.” → David
“Oh. This was indeed one of the reasons, but not the main point.” → Ryu

Ryu nodded his head then he stared at David with sharp eyes and said:

“General David. You attacked my people but ended up with half of your army decimated and the rest taken as prisoners. Because of the huge loss, I’m sure you won’t take that easily and the Urius Kingdom will ask for some heavy compensations which, right now, we’re unable to pay. What do you think is our best option at this point?” → Ryu

Death. Is it?” → David

David asked in a heavy voice and the air started to vibrate, making for a pressure to befall everyone present inside the office.

Wah. This is turning serious. → Shiroko

Shiroko felt the pressure and prepared to strike the moment they showed any signs of striking at her two lords.

“Even if you wish to kill us all. The Urius soldiers will never fall without a fight!”
“Hold up.”

Before David could release his entire aura, Ryu raised his palm and made David freeze in his place.

H-he stopped me with only his aura alone?! He is… a legendary Spiritual Power-rank?! → David

For the first time, David broke out in cold sweat and sat back down, unable to move or comment anything. His two subordinates also felt the pressure and all they could do was freeze in place and sweat bullets.

“I’d wish to leave the death sentence as a last resold. First, I have more options for you.” → Ryu
“… What might those be?” → David

David asked while feeling for the first time in a while, completely hopeless. From the very moment, he was taken as a prisoner, he was confident about getting out without any problems. He first thought that a group of ridiculously trained and prepared pirates were able to defeat them, a fact that made him quite embarrassed but not hopeless. Now that he understood the respective troops were actually trained people under someone who was able to gather incredible names under him, and someone who reached Spiritual power-rank, he understood that his chances for revenge already reached rock-bottom.

“First of all. I can keep you all here to work for me like prisoners, and after a few years in case you all show good-will toward the Antara Kingdom, to free you and give citizenship to you and your future families.” → Ryu

David and his two subordinates were shocked by such statements but couldn’t bring themselves to betray their own kingdom for another. Not when they already lived under it, they and their ancestors before them. David then said with a serious face, his eyes shining with resolution.

“We are thankful for such a proposal, but we’d rather die than betray our kingdom.” → David

We both stared at the three of them, then we let out a sigh as Ryu continued unperturbed.

“Ah~ by your expressions, I can tell your King is not the tyrant I hoped him to be.”  → Ryu
“King Geffrey Urius is a righteous man and loves his people. He might be a hot-blooded man and quick at taking action, but his heart is just and filled with love for his Kingdom. We could never betray him for all the gold on Sario.” → David
“Understood. Then you leave us with the second option: You will remain here until we gather the gold and materials for your deceased soldiers as compensation and we’ll send someone with you as a representative of Antara to sign a treaty of nonaggression, approving of the fact that the payment has been paid and any kind of other misunderstandings to be completely done with.” → Ryu
“… What happens if this treaty won’t be signed?” → Daniel

Daniel asked, just in case the worst case scenario were to happen.

“If the treaty won’t be signed then we can only understand that another army will be on its way to us and prepare for a fight. However, if not only do you not sign the treaty, but you also kill our representative-“ → Ryu

Then Ryu’s aura shot out and the stone under us started to crack. I had to cover Shiroko between us with my own dark barrier so she won’t feel pressured, while David and his companions could barely breathe at this point.

“-then you’ll have to understand that there won’t be any other kingdom to return to, and your dear King will be condemned by us.” → Ryu

His voice deep while his aura domineering. I sat atop the sofa with a neutral face on while Shiroko also had a serious expression on, thinking whenever a war will break out anytime soon.

“I have no problem if your king wishes to start a war with us, we’ll welcome him accordingly. However, if you dare to kill my people where I can’t reach, then be sure to pay a heavy price, for King Geffrey is not the only one with love for his people.” → David
“… We will send out your message to our king.” → Daniel
“Very well.” → Ryu

Ryu smiled then after shaking hands with David, he walked outside and commanded out a place to be built for David and his people, until more materials were gathered from the beasts inside the huge deposit where more killed beasts were frozen so they won’t rot. All the soldiers were set free and David ordered them to behave or a severe punishment awaited.

“Good, we’re done with this as well. What else do you have on your mind?” → Ryu

Ryu asked me after we walked Shiroko back to her place.

“Now I understand that Warlord Shen is another guy who chose the same name as me to use as IGN. There can be a lot of other Shens out there with small differences, so I’m done with this. Next, I will ask of you to come with me to the mountains near the Kingdom.” → Shen
“Hm? Where more exactly?” → Ryu
“… Where the mountains turned red from the monsters’ blood. The place where some of our warriors gave their lives in order to protect the only home they still have.” → Shen

Ryu’s face turned serious while walking beside me then with a small smile he said:

“I’m happy you didn’t forget about that. It would’ve been saddening for our people if you forgot about their sacrifices.” → Ryu


“The reason why I remember it is because I don’t hold dear a memory of having people die eaten by monsters. However, I still hold huge respect and admiration for them.” → Shen
“Yeah… So, why do you need to go there?” → Ryu
“You’ll see soon.” → Shen

We flew away toward the mountains which, even though Yuri purified the area that time ago, the blood was still imprinted on the mountains while the improved fortress was completely covered in blood, the stone spikes and spears still pointing upwards and downward, waiting for the next invasion to repel.

“…This place truly brings forth a lot of sad memories… Gerome was devastated after Tama’s death. Shen, where is the place you’re searching for?” → Ryu
“…”

I gazed around while flying above the huge mountainous chain, then observed a slight black smoke evading the ground from the base of the middle mountain, the same one on which the spiky fortress was built.

“There.” → Shen

I shot downwards and I started to search through the huge boulders that were used in Bernard’s strategy to bury the monsters. After digging huge boulders and getting rid of the putrefied corpses of monsters, we finally found a cave that reached all the way inside the mountain. From inside it I was able to feel a dark and sinister aura evading to the outside. This time, even Ryu was able to feel what I was searching for.

“Shen… Is this the place you were talking about? Saying that I built the kingdom in the wrong place.” → Ryu
“Yes… But because of the war against the Dragon of Darkness and Chaos, our separate space turned into a dungeon… And a strong one at that.” → Shen
“Dungeon?!” → Ryu

It was known that dungeons appeared only when aggressive mobs like monsters or bandits created their own base or nest, or a village was corrupted by infested mana and turned into a zombie village. However, this kind of knowledge was only known from speculations created in-game, a baseless idea which was born after more and more dungeons with almost the same backstory appeared in-game. This time a true dungeon appeared before us and I had no idea what it might be like.

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“I’m not entirely sure what a true dungeon is, but this thing might be just like one. The accumulation of negative emotions and energy from the war, be them from our people or from the monsters, everything was absorbed by this separate space and now it turned into a place of death and terror. Once we enter the separate space, I can’t be sure that we’ll be 100% secure even with our power-rank. Are you sure you want to follow me?” → Shen
“Bah, are you really asking me that? God, you really forgot everything. From the moment we made the choice to press [Enter Sario], I said If you’re going, then I’m coming, so don’t you dare ask me again or I’ll really punch your teeth out this time.” → Ryu
“… As you see fit then.” → Shen

How can he be so emotionless now…? It’s so unlike him. → Ryu

Ryu sighed in distress while we walked inside the cave. The dark energy enveloped us then nothing but our bodies remained visible, not even the exit was in sight now as only darkness surrounded us.

“…Ryu.” → Shen

I called out but there was no answer.

…Ryu. → Shen

This time I tried to contact him telepathically and an answer finally came back right after.

I can hear you. What is this? You suddenly disappeared. → Ryu
Ryu, keep your guard up. This dungeon was made from the fear, despair, and sufferings of those who participated in the demonic war. We don’t know the amount of energy accumulated here and neither what will strike at us. Be it mental or physical, we must expect the worst outcome. → Shen
Aw man, this turned out to be much scarier than I thought. → Ryu
What? Ryu! Don’t let fear take over you! In this place, the moment you feel negativity you’ll be doomed! → Shen
Eh? Ah s***… → Ryu

Right before I said that in front of me a humongous monstrosity made out of a dark and muddy miasma suddenly appeared, its eyes shining red while the body had a dark-blue light all around it like an aura. Even though it was still dark, the monster was completely visible to me.

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