Eh? “The one who…” what?
Rosabhi’s presence suddenly disappeared and Sylvia found herself with a still unanswered question.
Suddenly the door at her entrance was opened in a hurry and a frowning Shen rushed inside. He looked around then he locked gazes with Sylvia. Still scared, Sylvia evaded eye-contact but Shen didn’t mind her reaction and asked furiously.
“Rosabhi! Did he bothered you just now?!”
Sylvia’s eyes opened wide amazed that Shen was actually able to feel their connection. Seeing her confusion, Shen explained while forming a strong barrier around Sylvia’s room,
“When I entered into another trance, I felt a dark string leaving my body and connecting with someone inside this room for a while now without me knowing anything. I understood almost immediately that this bastard was doing something to you so I hastily severed the connection in the most painful way. Right now that insect should be swirling in pain for having its consciousness abruptly severed.”
A terrifying glint flashed through Shen’s eyes, making Sylvia remember one more time the cold expression Shen showed in her dream so vividly. With a weak voice and while covering herself with the blanket, she said:
“H-he didn’t harm me… You don’t have to be so mad…”
“What are you saying-… No, alright. Sorry for busting in like that.”
Finally seeing her troubled appearance, Shen thought that Sylvia was actually naked at the moment, also a reason why she was hiding under her blanket. Although she showed herself naked in front of him before, that did not mean she would simply show herself whenever just like that, and Shen understood that all too well.
“Alright, I’ll leave now.”
I think he misunderstood something… Ah, never mind then.
She faintly smiled with a light blush then she wished to return meditating. However, because of all her worries and because of the vision she had just now, Sylvia was unable to enter into a trance once again.
H-he’s finally here!
If at first she had a helpless appearance for being unable to recover from her shock, now her eyes shone with a hopeful glint and quickly turned into smoke and flew outside the window, without Shen detecting her and quickly followed a huge black raven in the sky.
Time passed by as Sylvia would continue to do as before while trying to hide her feelings and keep her distance from Shen more and more, while Shen continued to train the golems and form a strong barrier around him which will stop the devil’s consciousness from escaping like before, trying not to mind Sylvia’s weird behavior.
Meanwhile, the bandits were busy as they separated into two groups; one searching for the group of players, while the second one left to assist the young merchant into expanding his influence.
Since the moment Shen separated from the Queen and her circle, one month passed like this and now was about time someone would come to take them away toward the capital.
A loud knocking sound resounded at the villa’s door, making the Earthen family stop what they were doing and focus their attention on the door.
Thinking that it might be another villager, William walked with calm steps toward the front door and opened it sleepily, only to stare surprised at the one behind it.
“E-Elder King Leorio!”
William immediately kneeled down while Leorio touched his shoulder with a mild smile.
“Get up, Lord William. I’m just here to bring founder Johan back inside the capital.”
Just as William got up, his wife walked toward the entrance with a big wooden spoon in her hand, perhaps she just started cooking.
“Dear~ was there someone at the door- M-my king?!”
The same reaction as William, Amanta kneeled down while bowing her head to Leorio. Seeing the exact same reaction, Leorio let out an awkward laugh then tried to help Amanta get up as well.
“It was about time. However, I expected for Yuri to be here.”
Just as Leorio entered the villa accompanied by the married couple, Shen’s voice resounded as he walked down the stairs and glanced at Leorio with a neutral look, making him flinch in reflex. With slight sweat falling down his forehead, Leorio mildly bowed his head and said,
“My apologies, founder Johan. But Yuri has been solicited by her highness to watch over the nobles once again to determine their true motives. We want to be sure that a second rebellion will not happen again.”
Leorio smiled while trying to be calm, his skin buzzing while feeling Shen’s presence,
His aura seems more threatening than before… I wonder just what happened in just this one month?
Shen’s sharp eyes stared intently at Leorio and out of nowhere he threw at him a silvery card, making Leorio catch it by reflex between two fingers.
“You know what that is?”
“Hm? A card made of silver…?”
Leorio looked better at the card and saw a familiar figure standing aloof with a book in his hands, a mighty beard falling down like a sage’s.
“Oh? Isn’t this Omnio? The god of knowledge? From where has Sir Johan acquired such refined handiwork? It looks magnificent!”
Leorio applauded the one who was able to sculpt on a silver card such a perfect appearance of Omnio, but he immediately stopped after feeling Shen’s sharp glare.
“I-Is there something wrong? Maybe… have Victoria’s nobles wronged founder Johan with something?”
Noticing nothing strange inside Leorio’s eyes, Shen sighed out and simply commented,
“Sorry, I just had a hard time while meditating.”
A hard time meditating?! Don’t tell me…
Leorio immediately misunderstood Shen’s lie for the possibility for the devil to awaken, but then Shen’s next words left Leorio baffled,
“Anyway, I’ll ask his highness to thoroughly investigate all the fortress surrounding Victoria, small or large, don’t leave a single one of them without trying to at least examine under the ground. Also, be sure you do all of this without being detected.”
“Huh? But what might you be-“
Shen looked firmly at Leorio, making him understand that whatever it was, Shen was unable to speak of it out loud. With a calm voice and a solemn expression, Leorio answered to his request,
“I understand. Although I’m not yet sure what’s going on, I will be sure to move out more inspecting groups undercover to see if there’s anything questionable that the royal family is not aware of.”
“Wait. You don’t know what’s going on?”
Has there been no reports about the constant exploding sounds coming from the Northen fort? I mean, the dark sky was lit up for a few hours continuously while the monsters continued to destroy everything, flattening the valleys and mountains to sand. How come there was nobody to report back what was happening?
A deep frown appeared on Shen’s face and Leorio caught on his confusion, asking somewhat worried,
“No. I know nothing of what founder Johan is talking about. Is there something I need to know?”
“… Then if you’ll do what I told you, everything will be revealed. Just be sure to use trusted personnel. Anyone you don’t know or don’t personally trust is out of discussion. Also, anyone who might be a follower of that Omnio shall be placed under high surveillance.”
Leorio was momentarily confused, but seeing how there was no further explanations, he simply gave up and invited him outside. Shen walked with Leorio towards his carriage, only to be greeted by a humongous sack filled with gold coins, at the moment guarded by five strong-looking heavy armored royal guards. Each of them was riding a winged black lion with ridiculously long fangs and blue eyes, also called as Dracolei, such beasts also appearing as tigers, pumas, or jaguars, with wings of bluish-black dragon-like. Shen was impressed by the beauty of their mounts, and even more so when he observed that what pulled the great carriage appeared to be phteromoses. Let alone the black flying felines, the phteromoses are known to be extremely aggressive even between themselves. To actually tame such monsters, Shen couldn’t help but look at Victoria’s militaristic might with other eyes.
“This is the promised amount. One thousand gold coins as you asked for.”
“Alright. Thanks for the trouble of carrying it here.”
“No trouble. Ah, and-”
Leorio turned around toward William, but just as he wished to ask, William took out a pouch filled with 200 golden coins, surprising Leorio and having him glance at Shen.
“Don’t look at me. I gave the Earthen family not even one bronze coin.”
Sylvia did. So I have nothing to do with this.
Seeing no sign of lying in Shen’s eyes, Leorio simply shook his head and took the pouch with a business smile.
“Alright then, Lord William. From now on, you and the Earthen family are pardoned for trying to raise again the throne. I wish it won’t be a second time in the future.”
“O-of course! Your majesty!”
William bowed down with fearful eyes, not daring saying otherwise and hastily returned to his villa. Leorio nodded once then invited Shen inside his carriage.
“Now, lord Shen. Shall we?”
Shen then looked at the four Phteromoses harnessed to the royal carriage and asked shortly,
“How much till we reach the capital?”
“Hm? Well, it should be around 3 days without pause.”
“Quite fast. Alright then, let’s go now.”
However, just as Shen was about to enter inside the carriage, he suddenly feels another presence and a loud shout made him stare somewhat confused at the running bandit,
“Boss! Please hold up a sec-“
Sabin hurriedly rushed toward Shen, only to be stopped by a guard riding atop his great winged fanged Dracolei. Rather than get surprised, Sabin stared sharply at the guard and stepped right in front of the growling lion, his aura fully exposed and his daggers in full view. Although normally he would feel some fright from this mighty appearance, after experiencing Shen’s terrifying aura from up close and after raiding an eerie underground laboratory, some mounted soldier couldn’t impress him anymore.
“Listen up, tough guy. Better step aside or I’ll make some nice leather boots out of this lil’ kitty.”
The guard said nothing while staring just as menacing, quietly taking out his sword and pointing it at Sabin. Energy started to circulate through the entire sword, making it make a buzzing sound and shine blue, the tip forming a small sphere of energy.
“Oh~? A man of action, aren’t we?”
Sabin also took a combat-ready stance and prepared to strike. The two of them were already ready to leap at one another’s throat when two pressuring auras made them freeze in place.
“Sabin. You did enough.”
“Gavril. I suppose a simple warning would have been sufficient.”
Shen’s red eyes made Sabin freeze in place, unable to move from the ridiculous pressure, while the guard named Gavril did the same but only because of the royal crest which now shone with a bluish-white light.
“I await my punishment.”
Sabin staggered on his feet, a forced smile forming on his face while sweating profoundly, feeling somewhat embarrassed for angering Shen. The guard also turned toward Leorio and bowed his head in a solemn manner, ready to accept his punishment. The two superiors looked at their subordinates then sighed out at the same time.
“I’m sorry for having to make sir Leorio witness such an embarrassing moment of one of my underlings.”
“No, same here, Founder Johan. I suggest to let bygones be bygones and focus on what’s at hand.”
“Agreed. As for him…”
“If he is one of yours, then we can take him with us. However, I’m rather curious when he came to Victoria? Or does Lord Johan also have allies outside of Antara?”
“…In this one month, my people made a few preparations for my accommodations. Because we-… I left in such a hurry, there were no subordinates, guards, or maids to follow me inside Victoria. Please excuse this and the future intrusions of my people.”
“Oh? You always gave the impression of a lone man. Didn’t expect for founder Johan to need something like a maid or guard.”
“I don’t. They’re here to watch me. As you know, my spiritual balance is not yet in equilibrium and neither are my future plans set in stone. Am I right? Mister Sabin?”
At his words, Sabin couldn’t help but freeze in place with a nervous smile on his face, while Leorio also thought that, for the best of his kingdom, they shall not make enemies, not necessarily only with Antara, but with Shen especially, as the wonders he’s hiding prove to be more dangerous than the strongest kingdom in their vicinity. Sabin was indeed made by Alexander to keep an eye at their boss, unable to fully trust Shen with giving them the promised money. As expected by Shen, Alexander has been already fully informed about what happened and his first thought was the prize Shen promised them. Leorio on the other hand also felt like there was something between Shen and Sabin, his guts telling him that, even though Sabin was holding some secrets from him, Shen already found out and, although really subtle, he warned Sabin not to play any tricks on him. And for the last part, Leorio felt like Shen was referring to him as well.
T-this guy… He saw right through Alexander’s plans… Just how much he knows…?
Oh, more than you think.
Sabin twitched then looked at Shen’s smiling eyes with a nervous gaze, even with some fear, unable to understand what he was thinking at this moment.
Leorio also felt the tension and hastily tried to brighten the mood, inviting everyone inside his carriage and ordering his guards to prepare for departure. But before this, Shen finally remembered something and offered a light pouch to Sabin.
“Here, the payment for your friend’s assistance.”
Sabin took the little pouch and couldn’t help but feel insulted. Before he could argue, Shen inserted his fingers, his hand, then his entire arm inside the little pouch that didn’t seem to be able to contain more than 5 golden coins.
“Woah, what the hell is that?!”
“Is that… A spatial storage item?”
Sabin stared gobsmacked while Leorio also seemed surprised to see such a spatial storage at that moment. Although his kingdom had some, and quite many at that, they were still used only by the elites as the sheer number was still too small to say that they can simply be placed on the market. At most on the auction houses, but even there it would be a rare sight, it’s usefulness being just too priceless.
Shen then answered indifferently while throwing the pouch to Sabin.
“Here are the one thousand gold promised. That pouch is a bonus, be sure to take good care of it. It can contain only 4-meter cubes so don’t fill it with useless stuff.”
“Y-yes boss! Thank you very much!”
While Sabin looked with sparkling eyes at the little pouch, Leorio couldn’t help but frown in confusion, thinking about the money he just gave to Shen.
Don’t tell me, those money were for-…
He then saw Shen’s meaningful smile while he was staring outside the window of the carriage, making Leorio shake his head and massage his forehead completely tired.
The fact that he can think so far ahead is scary… But the fact that he can do all of this even in front of an Elder King like myself is completely terrifying. He might be mad, but not a fool, and God save our kingdom from a genius madman.
Sabin and Leorio both felt somewhat conflicted cause of Shen, but in the meantime of 3 days of traveling, the three of them relaxed around one another, freely chatting without too much mind of ranking, especially Sabin who was no-good with courtesy or anything like that.
After they finally arrived inside Donaria, Sabin and even Shen felt impressed by the might of the great city with a magnificent white palace right in the middle with great towers piercing the skies, giving off a domineering feeling of royalty.
“Last time I was here I was simply too preoccupied with helping against the rebels. But now that I’m looking, this place really gives off a royal and glamorous impression. The fact that this place was almost in ruins not long ago really leaves me baffled.”
“Hahaha~! I thank Founder Johan for his kind words. I have heard of your dislikes of great castles so thinking that you might feel uncomfortable inside our palace really made me nervous.”
“Oh, I do hate huge houses. Just thinking how much time is wasted on keeping it clean and proper makes my stomach hurt. But knowing that this place isn’t mine, makes me let out a sigh of relief.”
“Haha~! An odd one you are.”
“I heard that a lot.”
Shen and Leorio chatted amused while Sabin continued to stare outside the window, not at the grandeurs palace, but at a great villa built inside a neighborhood right beside the royal palace, letting for a frown to appear on his face.
Shen saw his dark expression and immediately understood what he was thinking.
Afraid that you might meet your old man?
Sabin didn’t even flinch this time as his clenched fists trembled for a moment.
Do you fear him?
Afterward, his eyes turned blood-shot as a vein started to show on his neck from the fury he was feeling.
I’m afraid that…. I might rush to kill him without minding my surroundings. I can’t say I’m that attached to my family, knowing that they made a nightmare out of my damn childhood, but my mother and sister were another story. Although she wasn’t showing as much love as one would expect from a mother, at least she took care of me, while my little sister filled in the familiar love I missed from the others… But now both are dead, and only because of that fat piece of s***!
A snapping sound resounded from Sabin’s clenched fists, the joints from his hand snapping from tension. This time even Leorio felt like something wasn’t right and asked unsure,
“Sir Sabin, is there something wrong?”
He sighed out to calm himself then he smiled nervously while scratching his head,
“W-well… I prefer for my feet to touch the ground, you know? Now that I finally see land after close to three days of flying non-stop, I can’t help but start to feel dizzy from excitement.”
“Oh? Is that so? Then you should have told me sooner. We could have taken some breaks any time needed.”
“Eh? That was a possibility as well?!”
Shen smiled amused at Sabin’s perfect acting skills and Leorio, thinking that he was actually serious, also couldn’t help laughing at Sabin’s miserable expression. Shortly after their carriage landed atop a great tower in the middle of the palace, Shen and Sabin were both offered a room, having four servants show them to their rooms and attend to them in case they needed something. Both their rooms were inside the same tower, having a great view over the palace and a good part of the capital itself. Until they would be summoned, they were asked to wait inside their respective rooms. However, not even 5 minutes passed until Shen entered his room when Sabin suddenly rushed through his window.
At this moment Shen was changing clothes, right now having his top shirtless. He stared blankly at Sabin for a moment then asked with the same frozen expression,
“You know that there are doors for using, right?”
“Yep. But I’d rather not have some annoying maid nag me about how I should stay inside my room for dunno what reason.”
“… Well, whatever.”
Still finding him unreasonable, Shen didn’t mind him while he searched inside his spatial inventory for a light shirt to wear. However, he couldn’t quite focus on choosing cause of Sabin staring intently.
“I’d find even a woman’s gaze annoying, let alone a man’s. Can you please stop ogling your eyes at me like that? What, never seen scars before?”
“If we’re talking about scars, I got ‘em myself.”
“Ye, normal scars, that is. Just what in the world are those? They do look like scars, but at some parts, they seem completely healed but then they continue on, appearing to be scars made by fangs, claws, and even by blunt objects. Also, by the way these scars are formed, I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t have been alive by now, right? Almost all of them are on vital points.”
“I found a spell that can heal old or new scars, so I tested out on mine. It did heal quite irregularly, but I think it still did a good job. As for me being alive… call it luck.”
“Luck, huh…? And? What about this ridiculous tattoo? It seems to be going everywhere on your body. Before I couldn’t tell because of that muffler and mask you wore, but now I can see it clearly. Quite bad-ass I’d say, but why chains?”
“You think I’m drawing on my body just for fun? This crap is because of a seal. I tried hiding it with a spell before, but it simply won’t disappear.”
While sitting on the windowsill, Sabin looked curiously at the rusty chains which surrounded Shen’s neck, torso, went in the form of an X on his chest and on his back, around his arms a few times then down toward his lower body and legs. It literally looked as if his entire body was chained down onto the world itself.
Still feeling his stare, Shen snapped again and exclaimed,
“Alright, enough staring! I seriously don’t fancy to have a dude stare at my naked body like that! What, you have reverse tastes?!”
“Wha-?! No! Of course not! Alright, sorry! Jeez, I just find it weird why such a life-like and meticulously made seal has been drawn on you. Just what is supposed to be sealing? Your hidden power~?”
Sabin laughed amused then Shen thought for a while as his weird level appeared in his mind again:
[Level: 10 (99)]
As if a bulb lightened up in his head, Shen caressed his beardless chin and smiled.
“You know? That might actually be as well. Now I seriously have to take this s*** off. I’m curious myself just what will happen~.”