Chapter 170: Massacre of the Unknown

“Boss Johan! I see you returned with another poll of rescued people.” → Trunk

Trunk welcomed me while blood covered both his arms.

Grrr….”

We both heard more growls from behind and observed how the stronger ones stared intently at the blood on Trunk’s hands, their eyes turning more bestial. Trunk then said to the newly saved ones with a plain look.

“You guys go toward the entrance beside that tiger woman and other people we saved. She will fill you in with the news. Also, try not to stare at anything too red, yeah?” → Trunk

Trunk pointed at the broken-down door where, right now, the tiger woman was explaining something to another group of people that listened intently. Unlike my group, that group was containing fairies as well, perhaps because of the fairy’s innate ability to easily absorb foreign energy. They all were still dirty because nobody had enough energy to use [Cleanse] on more than a hundred people at once. Through those people, I was able to see only green and purple smoke, but no red or dark like in my group, while their state was even better than the ones who almost turned bestial.

“Who are they?” → Shen

I asked Trunk after sending my group beside the others, giving the child in my arms to a bear-girl that seemed strong and sane enough to take care of him.

“They were in Room: C. We also discovered more other experimenting rooms where fairies were placed inside huge tanks and numerous tubes were connected to them, while other lots of humans with long nails inserted in their bodies, currents circulating through them and… I think that was just a form of torture. I can’t understand what kind of experiment use electric nails. Also, I’ll ask boss Johan to take care. Here and there are golems guarding the place, killing those who are not carrying a card with them.” → Trunk
“That’s called acupuncture with electric pulses. By using currents, they are trying to excite the meridians to cleanse and make them absorb more power. However, this can be dangerous as it affects internal organs and circulation. As for those golems, what’s their power?” → Shen
“Around Energy Master. But Sabin was able to bust them without a problem, so the rescue operation continues as we speak.” → Trunk
“Great. I’ll also go deeper into these facilities. I’m wondering if we could find some kind of pieces of information about the other laboratories in the vicinity. There must be some kind of living rooms for all these scientists.” → Shen
“Yes. We’ll try to uncover and bring to you any kind of documents we find. Also…” → Trunk
“What?” → Shen

I saw some kind of worry in his eyes as I had a bad feeling about what will follow.

“Many researchers became aware of our presence and retreated in the deeper parts of the facilities. My men are still destroying the machines from the closer rooms, but nobody wants to risk going deeper as nobody knows what those mad-men will take out.” → Trunk
“Understood. Our first priority now: Rescue as many as you can, use the cards to take off their collars, then retreat to the outside. Oh and also…” → Shen
“Yes?” → Trunk

I took out more cards and showed them to Trunk. He looked at them and a shudder ran down his spine as an ominous feeling made him have a bad feeling about them.

“W-what are these things?” → Trunk
“Spatial cards that can store one person.” → Shen
“W-what?!” → Trunk

Trunk stared baffled at the cards and felt like one of those cards could value a fortune. But something still felt wrong as their aura was just too terrifying.

“You observed well. These cards are locking the living inside a chaotic void, filled with negativity and corrosive energy. If you’re too weak, your body would disintegrate slowly.” → Shen

I said while frowning after remembering the young piglet. Unable to carry him with me, I simply left him inside the room where I found the cards. However, I was able to feel his soul escape and leave this place for good, being able to at least rest in peace.

“Y-you’re kidding… We also found a few hundreds of these as well. They were numbered from C to A.” → Trunk
“What? What I found were numbered from I to D.” → Shen
“Yeah… We also had to use a golden card to open the room where they were deposited…” → Trunk
“I see…” → Shen

So they are ranked… The ones from I to D can be considered as “Normal”, the ones from C to A “Rare”. They use the ranking system created by the guilds, those being the classic. But… what about the ones above A? Are they keeping them somewhere else? → Shen

I thought to myself, then a sudden thought struck me.

“Trunk. What room did you say you found? They must be numbered with A, B, C, and D. I found D, what about you?” → Shen
“Hm? Err… If I’m not mistaken, there was a plank above the door with a huge C on it.” → Trunk
“C?” → Shen

So he found the cards of C to A inside Room: C… Will there be cards of higher ranks beside the Rooms B and A? If yes, then we must secure those as well before they start using them as bio-weapons. → Shen

Thinking of the worst, I suddenly saw Trunk’s face pale more and more.

“Trunk? Is there something wrong?” → Shen

Trunk flinched and looked behind at his teammates who weren’t listening, then he whispered in a low tone.

“S-sir… Remember what that mad-man said when we asked about our family and friends kidnapped from the slums?” → Trunk
“About how he said that they might be-… Ah.” → Shen

I finally remembered and couldn’t help but blame myself for actually forgetting.

“Shouldn’t have told you that.” → Shen
“No… I’m thankful for the piece of information, boss. Like this, we know that those cards are important and we shouldn’t destroy them. Good thing I said to decide how to deal with the cards for when you’ll return… By the gods, this place makes me sicker the longer I stay here.” → Trunk


“Stay strong for a little while longer. The night has almost ended.” → Shen

I patted his shoulder then I walked toward the tiger woman, not before giving out some other orders to Trunk.

“Trunk, I will ask of you to bring another team in the direction I came from. There were another two other halls I didn’t get the time to walk-through. I already cleared the dungeon filled with prisoners so the rest must be either other researching facilities or living rooms for the ones who work here. Destroy everything and steal all the documents you find. This place is like a labyrinth so be wary.” → Shen

Then I searched through the inventory and passed to him a crystal orb.

“Also, I almost forgot. Use this recording to catch some proofs. I will be sure to make this kingdom aware of what it’s hiding.” → Shen

My sharp eyes made Trunk understand that there is no room for kindness even with allies, his eyes flashing with some hate for the kingdom as well.

“Yes, Boss! Oy you guys! Come here!” → Trunk

He rushed toward another group that just exited the interrogation room while I also turned around toward the tiger woman. At the moment, she started explaining to the group from Room D the news and what was happening. Feeling my presence, she excused herself and got closer.

“Sire Johan?”

Calling me by the name, I suppose she heard it from the other bandits so I inquired about it no further and got straight to the case.

“I need to know where the rooms A and B are. The bastards found out about us so we’ll need to move faster from now on.” → Shen
“Yes. But I’m sorry. I never visited the Rooms: A or B. I only heard about A from the researchers around while I’m still not sure if B even exists.”
“I see…” → Shen

I frowned while wandering if the bandits were able to get anything from the ones they captured, only to have my sleeve pulled by the tiger woman.

“A-although… I did hear that Room: A is with… a floor below ours. And you need a platinum card… to enter there… The defenses are also tighter there… gargoyles and golems guarding the place at every corner… It’s unlike here to a far margin…”
“Platinum?… Hey, from where do you know so much about the lower levels?” → Shen

I felt like she knew too much only for a lab specimen as I asked reflexively even though I had no clear reason for doubting. Perhaps something inside me was still wary of the ones around. Her eyes widened as her ears and tail fell, feeling hurt by me doubting her.

“I-I’m not lying…! They spoke of all of this while being inside the rooms…!”
“She is right, Sire. Their mouths would never stop even while choosing a prisoner for the experiments. They never worry about letting us hear their secrets because they know we could never go out to impart them.”

The one who spoke in her defense was one of the five men who almost lost their minds after seeing blood. The one who talked was another dragoon than the first one, this one being younger and more fit, with a sharp glare he unconsciously wore all the time.

Seeing her pitiful but sincere expression, together with his serious and firm eyes, I was unable to doubt her anymore as I nodded and opened my [Inventory].

“In that case, it’s my fault for doubting. Here, I almost forgot. Impart these but only to those who really need them. Don’t even think of eating or drinking them if you’re not at least half-dead. Understood? Prioritize the sick.” → Shen

With a wave of my hand, multiple plants and potions appeared from inside my inventory. All of these were from the Alfheim, gifted by the queen herself. Although I wasn’t sure how much it would help them, at least it might give them enough time to not die while we still searched around.

Everyone made huge eyes after they saw the potions and plants beside me. The tiger woman felt in full the healing smell of medicinal plants filled with chi and mana from Earthen rank to even Heavenly.

“T-these are…?”

Although they didn’t know what these plants were, the scent of medicinal plants alone made most of them feel revitalised already.

“Be sure to use most for the weakest.” → Shen

Everyone looked completely baffled at me, even the bandits were staring with their wide-open eyes at the extremely rare plants. I saw them eyeing the plants and potions then glared at all of them.

“Don’t even dare.” → Shen
“O-of course, boss! We wouldn’t steal from the weak and poor! That was part of the terms for you being our boss, right?”
“Good, you remember.” → Shen

The bandits smiled helplessly as the thought of taking even just one leaf evaded their minds the next second.

As the freed experiments were now dividing the healing potions and rare medicinal plants to each other, the bandits formed another five groups and rushed toward the place I came from.  Meanwhile, I rushed forward right through the great door at the end of the middle hall.

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If we’re already discovered then I don’t need to use this for every door anymore. → Shen

I placed the golden card in my inventory and simply busted down the door with one good [Emperor’s Punch].

-BOOM!-

The tall iron door flew back with a huge dent right in the middle of it, letting out screeching noises as sparks flew around while it slid on the stone floor. After a few dozen or so meters has the door finally stopped, right at the feet of a black humanoid golem.

“Hello. Goodbye.” → Shen

Without even trying to examine its powers, I shoot out forward, ignoring the golem as I had no time to play with every toy in my way. Just as I rushed past it, in a flash the golem’s right arm turned into a blade and wanted to cut my forehead.

“Oh?” → Shen

I observed the blade but did nothing as the blade simply broke at the contact with my strengthened forehead.

“Black iron? The strongest metal right below the enchanted ones. First an entire fortress, now a golem? I see that you guys love to use this metal for ridiculous stuff.” → Shen

The golem stared at its broken blade, then again at my forehead that shone with a metallic luster.

Using [Iron Body] only on a respective part of the body is more efficient and the power output on the respective zone makes it much more resistant. → Shen

While I thought to myself, the golem shot out with a speed comparable to Sabin and appeared right behind me, ready to use its other blade to cut my neck.

Ah, whatever. I’ll think of all of this at a later date. For now, I need to hurry. → Shen

I shook my head and got lower to prepare to shot out toward the end of the hallway. The blade cut nothing as I got down, and with a chi-release from my feet, the ground, the walls, and the golem behind me shattered and broke all together as the shockwave from my ridiculous leap made space itself to bend and vibrate. With a sonic wave, I shot out forward where other dozen or so of golems and what looked like gargoyles, waited to welcome the intruder. However, not even able to detect me in time, I shot out, right through all of them as they all turned into bits and pieces of unmoving black-iron dolls.

-BAAM!-

At the end of the great hallway, there was another great door that shattered the moment I landed on it.

“Ah.” → Shen

Because of the ridiculous speed, I penetrated through the door and the stonewall behind it, having to walk around 5 meters back to reach the stairs that were going downwards in a spiral.

I’m too relaxed. It seems I can’t control the fluctuating AP if I’m not into real combat. → Shen

While going down the stairs I suddenly heard Sabin’s voice in my head as he used the ring of telepathy.

Boss! Golems and gargoyles of power-rank at least Grandmaster are getting closer from the same hallway you left to! We need to retreat, now! → Sabin

As he reported to me, his voice was panicking while trying to use the golden and silver cards to stop the wave of golems from advancing. However, after a few moments of staying still, the golems would restart advancing, disregarding the will of the card-holders for a few seconds.

You guys better leave now. If you can, bring everyone toward the base while I’ll stay here and save the ones from the lower floors. → Shen
Will you be okay? Should I come as well? What will you do if you find a human? Will you kill him? → Sabin

Sabin was aware of my unwillingness to kill, but I reassured him with a sharp glint in my eyes.

Do you think that death is the worst punishment? I got my ways so don’t worry. → Shen
Y-yes boss… Then we will retreat now. See you later! → Sabin
Yeah. → Shen

After finishing talking with Sabin, I finally reached the second floor where hundreds of monsters with dead eyes awaited for me in a spacious hall as great as a football terrain. I was ready to just dive through them, only to feel like something was wrong. They all had a humanoid appearance, some had tentacles as limbs, others had huge claws as big as their bodies, half human half animal, others had a body of a human and the head of an ogre or other beast’s. Some were completely grotesque as I was unable to make out their forms, but all of them had other common traits besides the dead eyes and a silver ring on their heads:

They all are covered by a dark and violet aura… Contaminated by miasma and at the same time dying…? Why have they sent half-dead monsters against me? → Shen

“GROAAH!”

I felt a slight electric current go through that ring as all the monsters suddenly screamed and shouted loudly then shot toward me with insane looks on their faces.

“After this, may you rest in peace.” → Shen

Without really suspecting anything, I took a fighting stance as my killing intent swirled sky-high. To be sure I’ll deal clean and painless strikes, I used an energy stone of which I already took control over and turned it into a sword. Unlike what I had on my mind of a classical western sword, the stone turned into a thin one edged short blade, with no guard and a simple flat handle. Unlike the bluish color of the stone, the blade turned black while the handle was now golden.

Light and darkness…? This would be the first time I see one [Energy Stone] take the form of two elements. Opposite elements at that. → Shen

I stopped thinking too much about it and, with a quick slash, a wave of darkness rushed forward and ten heads fell the next moment. I palled in the face as I used more power than needed, but simply sighed and shot out inside the wave of monsters, already too tired to care if I used more power than needed or just the right amount. I was already thankful that the amount of power used was only higher than needed and not lower.

This… I can’t even laugh at this. → Shen

“Massacre” would be the right word of what was happening at that moment as, although dying instantly, a gory image would turn out from anyone in front of my blade. One step in front, one wave of the sword, and at least 10 other monsters fell, either with no heads or cut in half, blood, fats, and organs smearing the stone floor. One werewolf-like monster appeared at my back and tried to bite my neck, but I turned while kneeling, slashing horizontally forward and cutting him clean in two while also killing the other 5 behind it from the sword wave. Then another humanoid monster with tentacles for limbs and deformed head rushed my way, and one of his tentacles coiled around my neck, trying to strangle me to death. Telepathically I used the blade, making it fly and spin like an electric saw, cutting clean the tentacles and everyone around me, especially the monster that tried to strangle me.

-SLASH SLASH SLASH SLASH~!!!-

More doors opened around and more of the same monsters started to invade the space inside the hall.

Everything is stained with a red-blood color, I was able to feel my tension rise as my eyes turned cold and blood-red. My instincts to fight slowly took over while my purpose there was slowly forgotten.

Such pitiful creatures. One slash and they fall in dozens… I wonder… just what is the purpose of the weak if they can’t even defend themselves…? → Shen

Unreasonable thoughts filled my mind as I cleansed the blood off my blade. I then looked in front of me while sitting atop a small mountain of bloody and mutilated bodies, seeing how now more than a few thousand mutated monsters slowly surrounded me. I observed how some had tears running down their faces while their eyes remained as soulless as before. But this didn’t impress one bit as I stepped toward the monsters.

“You all are just too pitiful. Let me just set you free from this Hell.” → Shen

With indifferent and red eyes, I raised up one hand as more and more dark energy shot out from inside my aura, covering the entire hall.

Growl….”

Every monster was shaking and their eyes shone with a slight glint of fear and terror.

“At least you’re still fearring Death.” → Shen

I looked at everyone from above, my eyes shining red while I still had my one arm held high like the guillotine above their lives. The monsters couldn’t take one step closer even though the rings atop their heads gave out the command to attack, being completely frozen. At this sight, I felt like chuckling and commented.

“Fear of death is the only thing strong enough to push someone into moving forward in life. But most of the time, this fear would only block your path. How contradictory yet how life-like.” → Shen

Then I lowered my arm as a snapping sound reverberated throughout the entire hall then my voice resounded.

[Die.]

The darkness suddenly disappeared and my aura dissipated. However, every monster, in the next second, fell flat on their faces or on their backs, forever unmoving.

“…”

Silence befell as everything was now still like in the frozen pole on a calm night.

One of the top 5 most horrifying spells I came up with. [Silver Cutting]. → Shen

I thought to myself as I thought of the spell that appeared in my mind when I was possessed by the devil.

In a book I was reading in my childhood said that the soul is connected to the mortal body through more strings and bonds, but the main one is “The Silver String” that once cut, every other connection will disappear or be let loose, making the soul unable to remain inside the body as the main connection was severed.

This spell comes from such knowledge. And after finding my own silver string which is in the form of two 6 united at the tips, I immediately understood that once the two 6 are separated, the soul will retreat while the body would automatically shut down and fall like a doll.

Once all of this is known, coming up with a spell that can penetrate the aura of the living to cut this silver string would appear in just a matter of time. As long as the caster of the spell is strong enough to penetrate the aura of the victims with his mind alone, then my spell is as good as finished and ready to use. → Shen

What was truly terrifying of this spell to make it in the top 5 deadliest, is that it can be used on entire masses while using the minimum mana while causing close to no damage on the surroundings with no risk of friendly fire. The only shortcoming is that it can be used only against the living. Things like golems or spirits being immune.

“Hm?” → Shen

I looked in front as I saw another humanoid monster, a combination between a lizardman and a wolf, with the head of a lizard, the tail of a wolf, humanoid scaled limbs with claws of a wolf and fur appearing here and there. It seems that it was either outside the spell’s area, either its aura was stronger than expected and resisted the spell. The monster looked at me and raised its claws toward me.

“… Rest in peace.” → Shen

With neutral eyes, I simply waved my blade once and a sword wave shot out toward its neck, cutting it clean.

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“Thank ye-…”

“W-what…?” → Shen

-SPLASH~!-

I momentarily froze in place and a thought suddenly struck my head, making my temples to throb painfully.

I-it was my imagination… It can’t be… No, I have no time to think about that now. I must walk forward. → Shen

Step after step I walked away from the bloody hall, for a moment my mind still being blurred as I suddenly felt heavier, my spirit calming down and thinking better of what I’ve just done. I entered through the main hallway and looked back at the deadly still picture before my eyes. I was unable to describe what I was feeling as I simply shook my head, let out a heavy sigh then continued on forward, my eyes turning back to the normal brownish-green.

Heavy… No matter what others say, the soul can be the heaviest “thing” in the world… And I can feel the weight of many. → Shen

I killed beasts before, but something told me that these were not normal beasts. Or at least not only beasts. Even more, the fact that the last monster was able to talk even though it had the aura of at most a C-ranked, together with the words it said to me, left a deep and heavy mark on my mind, as I was unable to erase the uneasiness slowly growing inside my chest.

- my thoughts:
Hi everyone and thank ya'll for reading up to this point. I won't take much of your time with this announcement so: Because of many unexpected things happening in succession irl (nothing bad, don't worry), my time for writing went down quite a bit, such making me lower the number of released chapters (as you already observed). Now all of this turned out for the worse as I'll have to lower the number of released chapters even more to only 1 per week. Please excuse me once again and wish you'll continue to enjoy the story. P.S. Thanks a lot to the reviewers both on the novel's opening and inside the commentary section, opening my eyes to things I never expected (like, I always thought the story is slow-paced. Now to hear is actually fast-paced. My bad o/) and many other. Thanks a lot and really sorry once again.
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