Right after, Shen continued with the same revolting tone as his indignation and revolting feelings increased as he spoke.
“When I was reading stories about the Mythological heroes and how they sacrificed themselves, I always thought how stupid they were. How they died for others or lost everything without gaining one Thank you in return! Even more! Some of them were critiqued and looked down upon by those high-nosed fuckers which did nothing but sit nicely on their futons to warm their asses! But lately I finally understood; they do so because no one has enough backbone to do it. Everyone else is too weak, thinking only about their own skin, expecting to die before the end of the world is coming without giving two s**** about the future! What! Do you take me for a damn masochist? You think I like to go meet those ugly flying pieces of s**** again? You really think I like playing this retarded role of a hero?! I hate this! I don’t want to go back in that Hell-hole! But I refuse to die like a dog, not knowing what struck me, just because I was too lazy to move my body in doing what it should do: fight for survival. For existence!” → Shen
I asked confused, thinking that Shen might be instinctively thinking that he has to do everything alone, just like he did up till now. However, when he answered his tone was that of a mocking one, mixed with fury and indignation.
“What s*** are you spouting now? By what I observed inside the kingdom, I am the strongest of you all and it would be the most foolish move to actually move everyone against such monsters. They would die the moment they made eye-contact with them. And what I said about people slacking, wasn’t for you guys so stop feeling all offended. I was simply referring to the idiots who got power but don’t use it!” → Shen
A hand appeared from the shadows that pointed upwards as the two eyes shone with hate and irritation.
“Maybe they don’t know?” → Ryu
“Haha… don’t know? If they didn’t know then they wouldn’t be wearing the title of God in the first place… When you’ll fully absorb the dragon blood, then we’ll talk about it again. For now, I’m sure that your senses aren’t strong enough to feel the danger which is lying in wait. When the time comes, I might ask for your help, but until then just do what you’re the best at: ruling your people to a great future.” → Shen
“Ah…” → Ryu
I sighed exasperatedly as I understood what he talked about now. All his actions till now were based on the same mentality perhaps: If not me, then who? Although he was aware of the dangers and sacrifices he had to suffer at some points, he tried to diminish them by only relying on himself. Still not aware of how this world works, he decided to find out through his own powers, ending up growing to an incredible level of power, but remaining alone as his weights on his back were simply too heavy to share with the others.
And now that he lost his memories of the ones around him, he can’t even judge if we truly have the potential to be of help or not… In the end, he’s doing whatever he wishes like a prideful fool, even though he doesn’t really wish to do so… A dumb, contradictory mentality which kills him but helps him die with no regrets… I feel quite conflicted at the decisions of this weird bro of mine. → Ryu
I shook my head helplessly then looked again at Shen. With shrugging shoulders, I answered back.
“Okay, I understand. However, you’re now stronger than me, so don’t expect for me to simply defeat you, yeah?” → Ryu
“I’m sure you’ll find a way to kill me once or twice.” → Shen
“Come again?” → Ryu
I blinked dumbfounded at Shen’s last casual comment, a little bit unsure on how I should react.
“Yeah. You know? I’m immortal now. In case I get out of there completely insane then you’ll be free to go as far as trying to kill me without needing to worry about my life. I won’t die even if you burn me with that fire of yours. I’ll need to be subdued to regain my sanity. Now see you.” → Shen
“Eh? Wait, OY! What the hell man?!” → Ryu
I waved my arms exasperated as he disappeared completely inside the cave, his aura vanishing as well. I remained alone dumbfounded while staring at the two-deep dents made by my legs on the ground for more than 200m, ending in front of a landslide which a deep hole inside the mountain. Those were the traces of when I was punched and flew all the way inside the mountain, forming another cave.
Really… How am I supposed to kill such a monster…? → Ryu
With a headache, I flew away toward the middle tower of Antara and felt a strong aura inside the underground researching room under the middle tower.
Must be Tara. → Ryu
I shot out and entered inside the tower, going down the stairs at the lower levels. After arriving at the penultimate floor, I opened a thick iron door without thinking too much about knocking and a sudden explosion resounded as a silhouette was sent flying, crashing on the wall of my right. I froze in place while Tara rushed toward the crashed person in a hurry with teary eyes, a somewhat apologetic expression on.
“K-Khalid?! Are you alright?! I-it was my fault again…?” → Tara
“Grrr… I’m fine, it wasn’t your fault…” → Khalid
Khalid spat some blood as he moved slowly from the ground, wary to not move anything that might have been broken. While coughing blood Khalid got up slowly, ignoring the blood from his mouth then stared at me with neutral eyes. He bowed his head politely and said with a somewhat irritated tone:
“I salute King Ryu. Next time you might be kind enough to give a word about your coming beforehand, my king. Sudden intrusions like these are quite dangerous and bound to injure someone. In this case, injure me.” → Khalid
“W-wait! Take it easy, it’ll cause your injuries to deepen-…? Ah! Y-your majesty! Welcome!” → Tara
Tara on the other hand just saw me and bowed her head in a hurry, not before whipping the blood from Khalid’s mouth and looking at him to see if anything else was fine. A dumbfounded smile was etched on my face as I asked completely confused.
“Eh? That explosion was my fault?” → Ryu
“Indeed. Taking control over the Energy Stones is a more delicate operation than I thought, and any little distraction might cause the energies inside the stone to get out of control, ending in such a result. Although Lord Shen used telepathy on them to take control from a safe distance, my concentration is still limited, and asking Tara to do so would only mix the control of the stone between us… Now, may I ask why the sudden visit, my King?” → Khalid
Even though his words and tone were as polite as ever, his aura and cold eyes, on the other hand, were just as menacing, making me hear his words something like You better have a damn good reason for intruding like that. Because of your stupidity, I almost died. Can’t you understand how delicate my work is? Get out if you have nothing important to say, damn lizard-man.
Woah, I still can’t deal with Mister Khalid at all. Even so, this one might really be my fault. → Ryu
Feeling his stabbing gaze rushing me on giving an answer, I hastily spouted out some random questions in a hurry.
“Uh, uhm! How was your reunion with Bururiba?” → Ryu
The first question was as bad as possible, seeing Khalid’s expression darken then turn around, going toward the Energy-furnace and grab another Energy Stone.
The furnace was built in a way to resemble the engines from the Warships, turning the Energy Stones into pure energy which is stored inside a tank that later can be used on strengthening or even give attributes to different items. Even though that energy is poison for the living, anything that can be called material, with the exception of fresh wood or skin, can be infused with this energy and give the respective material a circulation which enchants it. This is also a way how, Rare and higher graded items, are created. The stronger the material, the more energy it would require while the enchants depends on what kind of materials are used. At the moment, Khalid tried to craft different objects which I wasn’t able to discern what in the world they represented, and tried to master the furnace whenever he took a pause from trying to take control over Energy Stones.
Sighing out to calm himself, Khalid brusquely answered.
“Bad. May I know the reason of his highness visit?” → Khalid
With a ridiculously short answer, Khalid asked back the same question with an even more unwelcoming aura around him. This time Tara tried to calm him down and got in front of him with pleading eyes.
“S-Sir Khalid. I’m sure that King Ryu didn’t wish to make you any bad. Can you please forgive him and let him remain? Being such a busy person himself, I’m sure he won’t try to give you any hard moments. Please?” → Tara
Both me and Khalid felt ridiculous at Tara’s words. I mean, we both know that I am the king here yet I must be forgiven.
You can tell from a glance just from what kind of background this king emerged. → Ryu
I couldn’t help but shake my head with an awkward smile while covering my eyes, not knowing how to react to such a comment. Khalid also glanced my way with a somewhat sympathetic expression, feeling sorry for me while shaking his head as he sighed.
“No, please. At least don’t feel sorry for me.” → Ryu
“What can I say, for someone who carries the title of royalty, I can only pity you. Stay strong your highness.” → Khalid
“Brat. I see you’re enjoying this.” → Ryu
“No? Only respect for you, your highness.” → Khalid
“Eh? Huh?” → Tara
After shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head with unnecessary compassion for me, he sighed and got back on working with the Energy-Furnace with a small grin, leaving the control over the Energy Stones for after I leave. Tara looked back and forth at me and Khalid, unable to understand what happened. But seeing how Khalid calmed down, she happily bounced on her legs my way.
“King Ryu! How are you feeling lately?” → Tara
Unable to even get mad at her after seeing her beaming smile, I brushed away what happened and simply answered with a sigh.
“Well, other than tired, I’m pretty fine. But me aside, how was the reunion with your brother?” → Ryu
“Eh? Ah… About that… It seems that there will be a duel between big brother and Sir Khalid in a month from now…” → Tara
“Eh?” → Ryu
I was left completely dumbfounded by what she just told me, staring with big eyes at Khalid who was hard-working on melting a different kind of metals, combining them inside a great crucible, and pouring the melted metals inside different molds with his mechanic arm.
Wait. Mechanic arm?! Did we just skipped the machines based on steam and gasoline, and jumped all the way to high-tech stuff?! What’s this? Civilization V with codes?! → Ryu
I stared in shock at Khalid who was molding melted metal by using a mechanic armor on his arm, as if he was playing with clay inside a mold while creating casts, completely immersed into his own work. I was able to see a lot of burn marks on his body while even more scars than before appeared on him from God knows where like it was already natural. With a concerned voice, I turned back to Tara and asked for more details. Her story then left me completely out of words. I wasn’t even sure how to react to that.
[[[POV CHANGES TO A FLASHBACK]]]
After Shen and his crew arrived and everyone settled down inside the kingdom, Tara finally reunited with Ashura and started chatting about what happened while they were away from everyone else, atop the Eastern wall. They both sat down on the edge of the wall, waving their legs freely as they chatted on the edge of the wall.
“… And then Miss Bonny created more and more gigantic fireballs and shot them all toward the waves of demonic beasts, clearing out everything from the Western wall! Even though my mana-pool is bigger than hers, I’m sure that she could easily defeat me! She’s also tall, beautiful, with a very calm and composed demeanor, just as I wish to become in the future!” → Tara
Tara described Bonny with sparkly blue eyes and a beaming smile, overly gesticulating with her free hands. Ashura listened with a rare smile, already used to her overly energetic style and rich expressions, completely opposite to his almost all the time grumpy or cold face as if showing no interest to anything in the world. The moment he met her own sister he was unable to keep his composure any longer and tears flowed down his face, surprising Freia who was right beside him. She looked at the hugging siblings with mild and warm eyes then she left them on their own, wishing to meet her own sister, Fiora.
As Tara continued to talk and describe everyone inside the kingdom, she finally reached to the last one, Khalid, showing also a calmer and warmer expression than to any she talked about until now, Ashura also understanding that something was wrong here.
“He’s a wolf beast-man of only Disciple Rank, but is like nothing can scare him. He’s sometimes quite cold and tries to evade any kind of subjects with anyone, but once he warms up to someone, he starts to show more expressions and answer questions without thinking he’s interrogated. I still don’t know much about him, but I do know that he has gone through a lot the moment he appeared in this world. Ah, forgot to say that he’s also a player, as our king and queen. He lost his friends, he was betrayed numerous times and lost his trust in others, together with his senses of taste and pain, he almost lost his will to live anymore. He’s not even aware when he’s hungry or thirsty, or even when he’s injured, having me take care of him on a daily basis. Even though at first he rejected my help, thinking I just want something from him, lately he opened up to me and he’s even eating the food I bring him. He’s even thanking me in a hushed tone as if trying not to be heard. Hehe~ I remember that once I even asked to play with his fluffy tail as payment for bringing him food. Only after I asked around five times did he let me do so in the end. You know~? When wolf-men are happy, their tail is wagging left and right, while when they’re sad, the tail drops down so gloomily! Even though his face is always expressionless and cold, I can’t help but giggle when I see his tail go left and right when he succeeds at crafting, or how it drops down unmoving when he fails. It’s just so cute~!” → Tara
She reunited her fingers in front of her mouth as she giggled with sparkling eyes as she remembered about more and more details and traits Khalid showed to her over the period of this one week.
“You know~? Lately, he even asks if I’m fine after every wave of beasts. I think he’s starting to finally notice me-“ → Tara
“Tara.” → Ashura
Ashura finally interrupted her and with a dark expression he asked her, feeling somewhat annoyed at this Khalid.
“Do you like this guy Khalid?” → Ashura
Ashura asked with a heavy tone, wishing that his assumptions were wrong. Even though he wished for his sister to get someone for herself, he still wished it would be later than too soon.
And I also don’t like that guy’s character. What the hell? Trying to be so cool and all that when you’re just an Adept Ranked weakling. Like hell, I would let my sister in the hands of a just an unreliable guy! → Ashura
Tara looked at her brother a little bit confused and asked again.
“Like? As in, as a person? Yes! I do like him!” → Tara
“Ah, no, not that…” → Ashura
Ashura already knew that his sister liked almost anyone that showed even a little bit of kindness to her, so he tried to reformulate his question.
“No, I mean, if you love him.” → Ashura
“Yeah! Uhm~… Something like, how you told me Ryu and Bonny love each other.” → Ashura
“You mean married?” → Tara
“Okay fine! Married! Would you marry that weakling Khalid?! Would you hug, hold hands, kiss and do stuff like that with him?!” → Ashura
Goddamnit, don’t make me say such stupid things! → Ashura
Already exasperated, Ashura asked in annoyance with a gloomy face. He himself couldn’t tell what love really was like, so he tried to give examples the most lovely-dovely couples in the kingdom, the king and queen of Antara themselves.
At this question, Tara tried to remember how Ryu and Bonny looked at each other, how they tried to steal light kisses whenever they were alone and thought nobody saw them, and how Bonny would sheepishly hold Ryu’s hand under the tables when a meeting took place and they stood one beside the other. Although they tried to be as secretive as possible as to not bother the others, Tara was still able to find them out with ease, finding out their every minute movement as she was almost all the time inside the main tower. At these thoughts Tara’s face turned bright red and tried to imagine a world where Khalid would show his sincere feelings to her, hold her in his arms, walk around the kingdom while chatting about different things, relax at a cup of tea or even kiss atop the Western wall, gazing at the sunset together.
“Awawawa~! I-I don’t think he would really do such things with me… Or at least, not yet…” → Tara
While blushing she lowered her head to her chest, touching fingers and waving her legs from atop the wall.
“So, you would…” → Ashura
Ashura felt like breaking, his expression somber and his voice as if he had a stomach ache. In the end, he stood up and said with irritation.
“I won’t let my naive sister fall in the pawns of a weakling which can’t even eat on his own! Even Shen when he was crippled didn’t need to be fed by Sylvia all the time! And he was crippled! But this guy is still stronger than a normal human so he should at least take care of himself, not have others serve him! Especially not my sister! I’ll give him a piece of my mind right now!” → Ashura
Without waiting for his sister to say anything, Ashura jumped from atop the tall wall and sprinted toward the middle tower through between the little huts, to ask me, who was residing inside the tower at that time, where Khalid was residing.
“Eh? W-wait. Brother? What will you do?!” → Tara
Running like the wind, Ashura reached the peak of the tower right inside my office in just a moment. I was somewhat confused as for why he asked me about Khalid, but without thinking too much about it, I told him his whereabouts while I was still taking care of organizing the roles for the school and teachers. After he left, Tara came in through the window, then left just as fast after not finding Ashura.
“T-that explains why the two of you were rushing around my working place like that.” → Ryu
I interrupted her story while massaging my temples from tiredness. The wind pressure made by both of them made my files fly around and having me pick them up reorganize them all over again.
“Ehehehe~ please pardon us for that.” → Tara
Tara laughed awkwardly then continued her story.
Just as she finally caught up to her brother, Ashura opened widely the door and an explosion resounded as Khalid was sent flying once again, crashing the same way I already observed the first time.
“Grrr… How many times do I have to say; don’t just barge in whenever you feel like it when I’m working. Or what, do you want me dead that much?… Who are you?” → Khalid
Khalid growled while ignoring Tara and Ashura as he verified his body of any major injuries. Because his senses of pain were still quite numb, he was worried about not breaking his body too much that he would suddenly end up dead in sleep. Only after he understood that he had just one rib broken, did he raised his sight to see the two Dhavala siblings. After recovering from his dazed state of seeing someone suddenly fly to the other part of the room and crash onto the wall, Ashura stepped forward and said in a harsh tone.
“I’m Ashura Dhavala, brother of Tara Dhavala. You must be Khalid of barely Disciple power-rank. Am I right?” → Ashura
“And what does that have anything to do with me?” → Khalid
Hearing the unfriendly tone, Khalid was even more irritated by the sudden intruder. Ashura took step after the other while he released his aura on top of Khalid, his red irises shining with killing intent. Unable to feel the pain or fear, Khalid felt the pressure like difficulty in breathing and a wild rush in his heart. He stood tall in front of Ashura, his eyes sharpening and staring at him in the eyes unyielding.
“For a weakling of your caliber, I can say you got some guts. I’m using enough pressure to give a hard time on standing even to a Core Warrior, three whole ranks above yours. At least you got some backbone.” → Ashura
“Even if you used enough to kill a Grandmaster, I would still feel nothing.” → Khalid
At Ashura’s approving tone, Khalid snorted in disgust, annoyed by his superior airs.
“Ho~? Then shall we try it? -Guh…” → Ashura
“Idiot brother! Stop now!” → Tara
Before he could release even more power, Tara knocked Ashura on the head with an Energy Beam, trying to stop him from doing any more than that.
“I told you that Sir Khalid can’t feel pain or fear! If you release too much power he will end up severely injured! And I won’t forgive you for that! You dummy!” → Tara
“D-dummy?!” → Ashura
Ashura felt hurt by Tara’s words and couldn’t help but feel even more annoyed by Khalid, being more favored by Tara than himself, her own brother. He then observed the Energy-Furnace and all the weird crafted objects around it, feeling like he saw something similar somewhere else. He then remembered that he heard Khalid’s name somewhere else and asked in a hurry.
“You! Do you know someone by the name Bururiba?” → Ashura
Khalid’s frozen eyes turned ferocious for a moment but then he regained his calm once again. He thought for a moment then asked with a neutral voice.
“Is he still using those guns?” → Khalid
“Oh, yeah. Even I had a hard time to deal with his toys. You created that, right? I suppose King Ryu already asked you to craft such stuff for the kingdom as well, seeing how much of a hard time they have with the monsters. You’ll do that, right?” → Ashura
“W-wait, brother…” → Tara
Ashura asked calmly as Tara tried to stop him observing minute changes in Khalid’s expression. With the same calm and neutral voice, Khalid answered Ashura’s questions in full.
“I am indeed the creator of those toys. And no, king Ryu didn’t ask for the weapons to be crafted, only for machinery which could make the daily life easier in the kingdom. And even if he asked, I wouldn’t have accepted. I refuse to create anything similar to a weapon that might as well be used against humans.” → Khalid
“… What?” → Ashura
Ashura’s expression changed to one of a mocking smile. He waved his hand and asked with incredulity.
“Oy oy oy… Are you serious? Can I at least ask why the hell won’t you help these people with your unique weapons?” → Ashura
“Because I don’t wish to have someone die because of my own creations. I created those weapons to be used against strong demonic beasts, not humans or of the races-“ → Khalid
“And I’m asking you what the f*** is that?!” → Ashura
Ashura was already angered by Khalid’s answer and he grabbed him by the collar.
“Brother!” → Tara
“Tara, stay out of it.” → Ashura
Tara wished to help Khalid by using some more spells but Ashura glanced back, making her see his clear eyes with no killing intent in them. After thinking for a moment, Tara canceled the beams of energy around her but still remained on guard, just in case Khalid would anger him too much for him to talk reason. Seeing her calm down, Ashura then continued in contempt and irritation after turning to face Khalid.
“Just what the hell were you thinking when you created those weapons in the first place? A weapon, no matter what type, is made to kill. Not just beasts, humans, or demons, but simply to kill. When you created those weapons you were also thinking that you want to kill, right?” → Ashura
“Only demonic beasts-“ → Khalid
“It doesn’t matter!” → Ashura
Ashura roared back and glanced inside Khalid’s sharp and cold eyes.
“You. Created weapons to kill. Why? To survive. Am I right?” → Ashura
Taking his silence for an approval, Ashura then continued.
“Seems that I’m right. Now people are in dire need of power to survive, a power which you can offer with ease, but don’t wish to, because, what. You’re afraid of them using your weapons to kill an aggressor? That’s it? So it would be better for them to die and be robed clean than have the power to defend themselves and the loved ones? Aren’t you quite the hypocrite then? You created weapons for a group of pirates who raid people and hunt treasures but won’t help someone who only wants to keep save the ones they hold dear-“ → Ashura
“SHUT UP!” → Khalid
Khalid boomed and pushed Ashura away, releasing himself from his grip. With a wild expression and his fur-raising, looking almost two times bigger than before. With a harsh voice, he barked back, his eyes blood-shot.