Til said, “If that’s the case, you should’ve at least given me a heads-up when I said I was going to use him.”
“I’m sorry about that, but aren’t you surprisingly calm? He’s someone who tried to trick you.”
“I’m already using him now. There’s no need for me to hold vengeance in my heart for that.”
“It’s no fun because your response is so bland.” The robed figure seemed disappointed but Til snorted.
“Didn’t you say it yourself? That guy is trash. Didn’t you think I would have the same feelings as you?”
“Did you already know he was bad beforehand?”
“I have been with that guy for a long time. Although his skills are lacking, he has so much greed in his heart. Of course I noticed. Even if he backstabbed me, I would think nothing more than ‘oh, I see.’ Like you said, that guy is utterly hopeless.”
“Haha! We really did pick the right collaborator.” The robed figure seemed gleeful; although his laughter sounded strange in his raspy voice, he sounded clearly entertained by the current situation.
“Moreover, I am quite offended that you asked that guy to collaborate before you came to me.” Although his words sounded rather calm, the way Til’s fingers lingered around his sword’s hilt seemed to indicate that he felt anger beyond simple rage. Sensing a foreboding feeling from Til, the robed figure reached out with both his arms.
“Calm down. How lowly do you think of that guy that you are so enraged by the mere fact that we asked him before you?” the robed figure said before laughing crazily again. Yet, when Til grabbed onto his sword’s handle, the robed figure quickly continued, “It wasn’t because your skills are lacking compared to his. The only reason why we contacted him first was that we thought he was a guy completely capable of backstabbing his companion for his gain. If I had known you were similar to that guy, I would’ve made the offer to you first.”
“Does that mean I'm as bad as he is?”
“Admit to the obvious, man. The world calls guys like you who backstab others for their gains a ‘human insect’.”
It was a harsh assessment, but Til removed his hands from his sword’s handle. “I have to admit, what you say is true.”
“I really like people who are objective about themselves. It was truly a great idea to make you our new collaborator. I bet if I had told Nick the same things, he would’ve jumped up and down like an angry kid.”
“It’s true that the guy has no self-awareness,” Til agreed.
“So, is everything related to that guy over? Is there nothing else that’s important?” Til asked for confirmation as if he was trying to finish the conversation, but he stopped when the robed figure spoke again.
“Somewhat—although I gave that guy the Pyramid of Vengeful Souls.”
“…Have you gone mad?” Til asked. He said in a low voice but with an obvious sense of shock, “How could you have given something so precious to that guy? Are you fucking serious!”
“Hey, come on. Let’s not get too worked up.” The robed figure calmed Til down. “First of all, I won’t make any excuses regarding that decision. If I had known how utterly incapable he was, I wouldn’t have given the item to him.”
“Are you seriously expecting me to just accept…!”
“Again, calm down. We can control that guy easily anyways. Furthermore, we have Ellie as a hostage.”
“This is good actually. I was already planning to put all the blame on that guy anyways, and if he has the Pyramid of Vengeful Souls, it will make the task that much easier. He won’t be able to make any excuses. After all, he was a traitor in the first place. When they investigate him, they will find more and more evidence,” the robed figure said.
“…You really are using him thoroughly,” Til replied.
“Even among trash, there are some useful ones. It’s important to use such things well.”
“I agree with that. That’s why I used that guy, Nick, for that long.”
“You’ll fit right into our group.”
“Nonsense. Anyways, no matter how incapable that guy is, he must not know about the plan. We don’t know what kind of obstruction will come our way.”
“I don’t think that would matter much, but all right. I’ll be careful. Anything else you’re curious about?”
“Good. Then, let’s see each other again later.” The robed figure then disappeared into the darkness of the forest. Til also disappeared into the forest on the opposite side.
Some time later, the inside of the forest was quiet again and only the sound of grass bugs could be heard. Nick left the forest much later, as the grass bugs sang their chorus again. His face was incredibly stiff—so stiff that he could’ve been mistaken for a corpse.
Drip! Drip! Trails of blood trickled down his fist. He gripped so hard that his fingernails had dug into his palms. Yet, Nick didn’t seem to be in pain, as the rage burning up inside him blocked him from feeling anything else but anger.
‘I see. So that’s how it was.’ Listening to their conversation had given Nick a rough idea of the whole situation.
‘My kidnapping plan failed, so those guys immediately approached Til.’ Perhaps something had instigated this new turn of events, but Nick didn’t care about the little details. The important part seemed to be that he had been backstabbed, and he now knew what Til and the robed figure thought of him.
“Fine. If those guys are going to be like that, I can’t sit idly.” Nick gritted his teeth. From the sharp sound, it seemed his teeth were on the verge of breaking. After letting out a fierce display of rage, Nick disappeared back into the forest.
* * *
Swish! The grass rustled as it distorted. A robed figure who had been sitting on a hastily-cut tree stump turned his head toward the direction of the noise. Someone came out from the bushes—it was Til. Why were the two meeting each other again after separating not too long ago? Did they still have things left to discuss?
The atmosphere between the two was strange to say the least. Before, there had been almost visible sparks floating in the air. This was expected of people who didn’t trust each other but were forced to collaborate, yet that sharp tension had now completely disappeared.
“You came.” Unlike before, the robed figure’s voice wasn’t rough or scratchy, and he spoke with a normal voice. The robed figure lifted his hood—surprisingly, it was Zich’s face. He got up and approached Til. Even though Til’s face had looked extremely cold and serious just a few moments ago, it now looked drenched with exhaustion.
“Mr. Til, you’ve done well.”
“Was there anything off about me?”
“Not at all. Even I was shocked. I think you can even change your career and pursue acting.”
“That will never happen.” Til had practiced extensively to trick Nick, but he had suffered so much in the process that he would rather hold a sword and rush towards monsters instead of acting. “Besides that, did we successfully complete our goal?”
“Of course. Nick heard our entire conversation.” Zich was full of confidence. He was confident because just like how Nick had tailed Til, Zich had also tailed Nick. After making sure that Nick had found a place to spy on Til, Zich had put on a robe and met up with Til as planned.
“That’s good.” Til was relieved that his hard work had paid off. “We’ll be able to see the results, right?”
“Of course. With this, Nick won’t be able to believe his collaborators anymore. It’s always a great strategy to cause internal strife among our enemies.” This was the reason why Zich had staged this play. However, even after hearing about the success of their plan, Til’s face didn’t look too happy. Zich could easily guess why.
“Do you feel uncomfortable about tricking your former comrade?”
“Yes. Isn’t it funny?” Til sounded lost and sad, but Zich shook his head.
“Not at all. Everyone reacts differently, and it’s not like we can control how we feel. As long as your emotions don’t impede our plan, it doesn’t matter.”
Til’s heart felt a bit more relaxed as Zich affirmed the feelings he judged as pathetic. ‘As expected of a Karuwiman Honorary Knight.’ Til made an assessment that would have given Zich’s comrades the chills had they heard it.
“Moreover, that wasn’t the only result we obtained. Honestly, I did think that there was a high possibility that we could get it, but it was so easy that I’m a bit taken aback.”
“Yes. We obtained the Pyramid of Vengeful Souls.”
Til looked at Zich with a surprised face. This had been part of Zich’s plan. He had purposely gave the artifact that Lyla produced to Nick. Then, he had sent Til out during a time that made it easy to tail him. Of course, Nick would definitely try to tail Til—it was not difficult, since Til had the One-Sided Pyramid of Lamentations that Nick had secretly put on him.
However, to tail Til, Nick also had to separate from the Pyramid of Vengeful Souls, so he had buried the Pyramid of Vengeful Souls underneath the ground. Zich had seen the entire process while following Nick. What needed to be done after this was simple—Zich had taken the Pyramid of Vengeful Souls and hidden it somewhere else before following Nick.
“But if he finds out that the Pyramid of Vengeful Souls is gone, won’t he overreact?”
“It’s all right. I replaced it with a fake one.”
“Yes. It’s a model that imitates the Pyramid of Vengeful Souls on the outside with a One-Sided Pyramid of Lamentations on the inside. Since the energy emitted by the One-Sided Pyramid of Lamentations and the Pyramid of Vengeful Souls is the same, as long as he doesn’t try to directly use it, figuring out the difference will be hard. Well, it's very fortunate that the One-Sided Pyramid of Lamentations is smaller than the Pyramid of Lamentations.”
How far could this guy see and plan out his ideas? Til was sincerely glad that Zich was not his enemy. “So, we erased the possibility of monsters ambushing Pialu. That’s very fortunate.” Til felt relieved that their biggest danger had disappeared, but Zich had no plans to be satisfied with just this result.
“Yes. With this, we can also carry out another plan to increase the strife between Nick and the robed figures, and we can also decrease the robed figures’ power at the same time.” Zich laughed, and Til moved a few steps back. Zich’s laughter was so chilling that even Til, who had a very favorable impression of Zich and also had a lot of unique experiences, drew back.
* * *
On one of the large peaks in the Denest Mountain Range, there were a great number of monsters gathered. The monsters had come together due to the energy emitted by the Pyramid of Vengeful Souls. It was a terrifying sight to see so many small monsters and extremely strong monsters together in one place, and yet, strange figures were freely moving among the monsters. They all wore robes and their hoods covered their figures. They were the people that Zich usually called 'robed figures'.
Monsters that looked like they would beat the shit out of all humans who came near them strangely did not touch the robed figures, as if they had all received a command. Moreover, the robed figures also seemed to be aware of this fact, as their movements didn’t carry an ounce of tension or a sense of danger. Therefore, it took them a while to notice that the monsters’ movements were a bit stranger than usual.
“What?” One person wearing a robe raised their head. They saw a titan in front of them. It was a monster that should have stayed still like a doll due to the Pyramid of Vengeful Souls’ influence. However, that monster’s gaze shifted towards the robed figures.
Shiver! Goosebumps popped up all over the robed figure’s body.Previous Chapter Next Chapter