Chapter 172: Unwanted Meeting

Outside the fortress, Sabin and his group were nervously waiting for Shen to come out with good news. Sabin was now walking back and forth, murmuring on his own while the saved ones stared around amazed by the nature around them, their eyes shining with complex emotions of which they couldn’t give voice, feeling like they weren’t yet in a safe location.

“I don’t understand. Just for how long is he going to remain there? If I’m not wrong, one hour must’ve passed after we separated. If he failed then we’re screwed.” → Sabin

Sabin mumbled to himself then Trunk suddenly slapped his back, letting out a sound loud enough to attract everyone’s attention.

“OUCH! What the f*** you’re doing?! You f*****!” → Sabin
“Listen up, brat!” → Trunk

Trunk shouted out with a severe face on his face then continued.

“Our leader Alexander recognized Johan as his boss. Our leader! The guy who would rather die fighting than bow to someone! You might not be aware of this because you’re still new in this group, but not once has Alexander choose the path of war over peace if his pride was placed at stake. He does wish for a peaceful life, but not at the price of bowing to someone!” → Trunk
“A-alright… and why are you telling me that now?” → Sabin
“It’s for you to understand just how hard-headed our leader is, and how amazing Boss Johan must be to actually win our leader’s respect. Alexander would look at many, talk with few, and admire almost no one. If Boss Johan was able to win his trust and respect, then I can only say that just a few mad-men won’t be able to kill him no matter what they’ll throw at him. Understood? Now stop worrying like a little s*** and show some spine! For God’s sake, you’re the strongest here right now!” → Trunk
“…Tsk, who’re you calling a little s***, you perverted drunkard.” → Sabin

Sabin rebuked back annoyed but his heart was now at ease as he slowly calmed down. The other bandits also felt how the tension was lifted because of Trunk’s words while the victims also felt like calming down for a moment. However, that moment was a short one as the ground started to shake and tremble.

“W-what is this?!”
“Tremors? Is this an earthquake?!”
“S***! What bad timing! This will panic the forest’s beasts! We’ll have to expect a beast-wave at any moment now!”
“F***! Defend the weak ones! Oy white-heads! Who can fight will assist as well! If anyone dies now after finally taking you all out, Boss Johan will make cups out of our heads!”
“At least if not him then, leader Alexander for sure will.”

Everyone mobilized and surrounded the weak and sick in a protective circle, the strong experiments also taking part in the formation.

The tremors became more and more violent until the fortress itself started to collapse.

-BOOM~!-

-GROWL~!!!-

-ROAR~!!-

-GROAH~!!!-

A pillar of dark and green energy shot out from the middle of the fortress toward the sky, and dozens over dozens of monsters crawled outside from inside the hole created by the dark pillar, the hole having a width of around 30 meters and emanating an eerie aura.

“What the f*** is that…?”
“It looks like a gate to Hell just opened…”
“Are we… gonna die now…?”

The bandits stared with white faces and hopeless eyes at the monstrous beasts which flew, crawled, and ran right toward the outside of the humongous hole, breaking and destroying the fortress entirely.

-GRWOL~….!-

After more than 800 monsters with different mutations crawled or flew outside the hole, a deep growl with a powerful aura resounded, quaking the ground once again and trying to appear from inside the hole.

-CRACK, SNAP-

Two huge claws appeared on a side and another of the hole, enlarging it to let out a monstrously huge head to the outside.

“No f****** way…!”
“Is that… what I think it is…?”
“Nah… no way.”

Everyone looked completely baffled at how the humongous being which barely got out from inside the already huge hole, tried to take out its entire body of a green four-legged humongous winged lizard outside the ground.

“A f****** dragon… I lived to see this as well.” → Trunk

Trunk smiled stiff, but what almost made him pass out was that atop of the dragon’s head there stood  Shen with a small smile on his face and a small white fairy in his arms.

[This hole is simply too small for me, human Johan.]

The dragon growled irritated but anyone was able to tell the slightly excited tone from his voice. Shen then answered with a calm tone, sitting comfortably atop the dragon’s head.

“Forgive me for that, but I had some companions waiting for me outside. Because of all the layers of anti-detection spells from the upper floors, I was unable to tell if they were close or far away from the fortress.” → Shen

[Hmmm…. I will excuse you this one time.]

“I’m glad. Now I wish you did not forget about the promise. Yes?” → Shen

[A dragon shall never go against his own words. I will do as I’ve spoken. But not before eradicating this place off the face of our Sacred lands.]

“You’re free to do as you wish after I evacuated my people out of here.” → Shen

[Very well then.]

After chatting with the dragon, Shen jumped off his head and with quick steps mid-air, he appeared in front of everyone else, making them stare at him with eyes as big as apples.

“Err… Boss Johan…?” → Sabin

Sabin wished to ask something, but Shen simply stopped him raising his palm and said in a hurry.

“Save your words for later. Now we better leave. This place will be turned into a dessert and we might be part of the sand if we remain here.” → Shen
“W-what? What do you mean?” → Sabin
“Just go!” → Shen

Shen rushed everyone in a hurry and they all retreated in the West where the bandit’s base has been built. After they arrived on a higher point on a mountain, a strong green flash lightened up the entire sky as a powerful pale of wind almost blew off the weaker ones off the mountain. They all looked behind and observed how the huge green dragon breathed out a green beam that completely obliterated the ground and the mountains around, making Shen form a protective barrier around that one mountain. However, he wasn’t alone. More other flying monsters, either still normal or mutated, shot out their own elemental breaths or other forms of projectiles, venting all their hate and pain onto the underground facilities that made them suffer a life worth of pains.

“…”

The saved ones stared with big eyes, hate, excitement, and a feeling of a fulfilled revenge flashing through them as they all clenched their fists tight. The bandits started shouting and jumping in satisfaction, then some victims mimicking them and jumping in happiness, knowing that the root of their living nightmares has been completely destroyed to the ground.

“…”

Shen looked with a grave face at how all the monsters and the great dragon continued to destroy the facilities, thinking on his own about the future and unconsciously tightly holding onto the little fairy that he saved.

Putting aside the experiments and the morals they’re breaking, these laboratories are true fabrics of dark energy which poison Sario at every second… The amount of Karma this world is accumulating only raises by the day and I only fear what the backlashes would be like once the time of Change will come… → Shen

While they all were retreating toward the bandit’s base, Shen relaxed the mental barriers around his mind and the first person to contact him was Sylvia.

Shen. Where are you? I heard what happened and you’re still not back. Also, I feel great disturbances in North-East-… Your heart is disturbed, Shen. Is there something wrong? → Sylvia
You can always read me like an open book. I’m fine, thank you. → Shen

With a rare and sincere smile, Shen calmly answered back while feeling a rare feeling of calm after hearing her voice.

Hearing the warm tone, Sylvia was momentarily surprised but she tried to calm down and continue talking.

N-no problem! And, where are you now? I suppose you’re also at the place of the disturbance, that’s why you aren’t back yet, right? I’m on my way there as well so shall we- → Sylvia
Don’t come. → Shen

Shen firmly stopped her, a complicated frown on his face as he moved forward while Sabin stood at the very end to be sure they protect everyone. He was unsure how to explain the situation to her, knowing full well that she was also an experiment and a pariah at that. A moment of silence befell then Sylvia asked after feeling his conflicted mind.

Shen. Is there something you can’t tell me? → Sylvia

Her voice calm but serious, Shen understood that whatever he tried to hide she will find out no matter how well he would hide it. So he thought that he’ll rather say it, but-

Not now. I will tell you everything, but not now. Just understand that this is the best for both of us. Believe me on this one. → Shen
Hmm… Are you meeting another girl? → Sylvia
…What the hell is with this random assumption, Sylvia… → Shen

Shen almost tripped from what he just heard, making for the ones behind him to stare with a complicated look at him.

“Boss? Everything fine?”
“Don’t worry… I just spaced out and almost tripped. I’m a little tired after today. Someone hold her in my place, please.” → Shen

With tired eyes, Shen answered to a bandit while passing the little fairy to another one, then continued forward. Sylvia’s voice then resounded in his mind once again, this time more amused.

You know~? Even if you were to see another girl right now, it’s not like you’ll go straight for a kiss with her, right? I’m sure that my husband is not such a shameless man. → Sylvia
Since when have I become your husband?! And there is nobody for you to worry about here! For god sake, woman! You just wish to make me feel weird, don’t you?! → Shen
Ehehe~ have I been found out~? → Sylvia
Alright, enough. I will talk to you later. Now goodbye- → Shen
Shen. → Sylvia

Suddenly her voice became more serious as even a tone of worry resounded together with her words.

Please return safe and sound. Yes? The strong aura I felt can compare with nothing I felt until now. I understand if you don’t wish for me to get in your way, but just promise me that you will return safely. → Sylvia

Momentarily stunned, Shen was unsure of how to react as he couldn’t be annoyed at her for worrying for him. Although normally he would feel irritated at the ones who worried for him, this time he rather felt warmth than anger. A nice, soft feeling of warmth, which, after losing all his memories and his heart was locked, Shen was able to say that this is the first time he felt such warmth.

-Clang~!-

The chains around his body materialized once again and tightened around his body as if remembering him once again that if he opens up his heart the devil will be freed together with it.

Hearing the tangling sounds Shen shook his head and stared sharply forward while answering with a strong voice, the light from before dimming once again as a cold glare took its place.

Yes. No need to worry. What was the most challenging has already passed. Soon I will return. → Shen
… Alright, Shen. → Sylvia

Being a Seer, Sylvia’s mental powers were strong enough to penetrate a few layers of protection from around his soul, being able to feel how the loosening chains around his heart were once again toughened up, firmly locking his feelings in the darkest corners of his soul.

After answering with a sigh, Shen continued on forward until they all arrived inside the base. After everyone got accommodated, Shen contacted Ryu and explained everything that happened to him while he healed the injured or sickened ones, at the same time sending him strings of memories to make the explanation faster and more accurate.

Finishing his report, Shen was able to feel rage mocking inside Ryu, having him sigh multiple times to calm down his throbbing temples.

Sigh~… Locking them inside an illusory world and torturing them to insanity was the best choice I could think of as well. But putting the trash aside, just what in the world will we do with the ones you found? Just how many are in total? → Ryu
The ones from Rooms D and C are a total of around 500 experiments. The ones from A and B are locked inside cards and I’ll be sure to free them soon. But the total of the cards numbering from F to G are almost a thousand… → Shen
F***…. What about the I-graded ones? → Ryu
I comes from Inefficient, and they’re the most, having one thousand cards ranked I alone. → Shen
Then that makes more than two thousand more places to build in our kingdom. Well, that’s sure a spike in our population. → Ryu
No… → Shen

Shen’s voice was heavy as he then explained what he thought he could let out from the report, sending Ryu the information about the piglet child whose body was more fragile than a porcelain doll.

Fuckers. → Ryu

His voice cold as ice, Ryu’s one word resounded like thunder inside Shen’s mind. Although Shen wasn’t there, he was sure that Ryu’s explosive aura just broke the stone-table he was working on, in the worst-case turning it into pebbles. 

To do such things to children… Shen, please tell me you erased that plague off the face of Sario. Once and for all. → Ryu
Don’t worry. Not even dust remained of their skeletons, while not a pebble can be found in the place where the laboratories once were. → Shen
Good… Sigh~…. So to understand around half of the saved ones will die the moment you’ll free them from inside those cards… And you’ll be forced to watch them  all die slowly… → Ryu
Yes. → Shen

Ryu’s heavy voice resounded with frustration as he wished to help in a way or another, but nothing could be done when death was already at their doorsteps.

Shen I… I can’t let you go through that alone. Should I tell Sylvia-? → Ryu
Don’t! → Shen

Fury engulfed Shen as he started to rebuke Ryu with a severe tone.

How can you propose such a thing?! She went through what they went through. She had to suffer the same experiments for who knows how many years while she was still a child! She was also part of the most poorly handled of the experiments: the pariah I-ranked! And you want to bring her here and remind her all of that crap she had to suffer?! Are you mad?! → Shen

“B-boss? Is everything alright?”

A bandit that had his injuries healed by Shen was now trembling and sweating from feeling the dangerous aura he was emanating involuntarily, his eyes red like blood and cold as ice. He then woke up from his telepathic conversation and shook his head then retreated to the outside of the cave.

“I’m tired. I’ll go and take some time alone. Don’t follow me, I have something else to do. For the ones who are still injured, you can use the leftover ingredients that remained from the saved prisoners.” → Shen
“Y-yes boss…”

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Sabin, Trunk and the others did as told but still glanced once or twice at Shen’s departing silhouette, wondering just what’s wrong with him.

After getting out, Ryu’s voice resounded again in his mind with a more apologetic tone.

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Sorry man… I forgot all about that… With all the things I got on my head lately, it seems my memory is leaving me. → Ryu
…Sigh~ no, it’s fine. My fault for suddenly lashing out like that. You are a king. It’s normal for you to forget things that have nothing to do with organizing the kingdom. → Shen


Come on, don’t say it like that. It sounds as if nothing else’s on my head but the kingdom. → Ryu
It should be like that, tho. You have a responsibility to uphold so, it is normal to forget things unrelated. → Shen
Alright, anyway that. → Ryu

Ryu was already feeling very tired after finding out the news so he tried to cut out to the case.

I understand now what you’ll do with the I ranked cards but… what about the S ones? Or G? Will you be able to handle them? → Ryu
I’ll be able to deal with them in a way. There are 20 S ranked cards and only 3 G. If I take them out one by one, it should be able to do something about them. → Shen
I see. Then, what about the mutated ones? How will you deal with them? → Ryu
… I will let them decide…. → Shen
… If they ask you to kill them? → Ryu
Then I will do so. → Shen
Shen! → Ryu

Ryu’s voice turned urgent, already knowing from Sylvia about his penalty of being unable to kill the races.

Although you already killed mutated monsters, they were only controlled puppets! From your description, they were none of the four races. But now we’re talking about beings with conscience! A soul of a human, dragoon, fairy, or beastmen! You can’t kill them! → Ryu
Then what else am I supposed to do? Ask someone else to do my dirty work? Or ask them to suicide? Oh, even better. I could ask them to fight between themselves. Like this, I won’t have to stain my own hands. Is that what you’re telling me to do, Ryu? → Shen
…Yes. → Ryu
So you really are mad, aren’t you? → Shen

Ryu’s tone was firm while Shen’s fury exploded for the second time, this time completely justified. Then Ryu continued with the same unshaking voice as before.

I understand you. But I’d rather have someone else do the dirty deeds in your place than have my brother condemned for who knows how many eons inside Tartarus. → Ryu
And why you know such details? → Shen
Sylvia told me. → Ryu
Grr… → Shen

Both of them wouldn’t let from the other. Ryu wished to protect Shen from staining his hands with killing from the four races, while Shen couldn’t let anyone else take part in this parade of death. If not for his ridiculous mental power, Shen was sure that he would’ve gone insane after only half the I ranked cards have been emptied. To let anyone else go through such traumatic experiences was against his policy.

We can’t have more mad-men in our ranks, Ryu. No matter if a simple bandit, soldier, or bystander. I won’t allow to anyone to take part in this nightmare. → Shen
… Then wait right there. I will come and do it myself. → Ryu
What?! → Shen

“What?!” → Shen

Exclaiming both telepathically and out loud, Shen remained momentarily stunned. Before he could rebuke him, Ryu continued.

I won’t accept a “no” even if you beg for me not to come. You’ve already gone through so much crap that I’m wondering why you’re still sane. I won’t let for any more experiences to continue poison your already clouded mind. → Ryu
You’re a king. Do you have the luxury to have your mind poisoned then? And also, who said I’m sane? → Shen
I don’t, and I won’t. Unlike you, Shen, I killed people before, even before arriving into this world. So I know what staring into an abyss is like. → Ryu
…You… what…? → Shen

Shen stared shocked at the truth he just found out about his one friend, feeling like he’s seeing now a new face of Ryu he was unable to see before.

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