'He seems like the real deal.'
'Yeah, I think you're right.'
Having seen Grano and Turu's interactions, Kang Oh and Eder glanced at each other once more.
"I am indeed Turu," Turu said to Kang Oh and Eder.
'He's a god, so let's try some flattery.'
His skill in flattery, which had proven effective against the Gladiator Master, Burkan, was now being used again after such a long time.
"Hehe, of course."
Kang Oh laughed and was about to say, 'Your overwhelming dignity made that clear at first glance.'
Right when he was about to flatter him...
Turu suddenly struck Kang Oh and Eder's foreheads with his question-mark staff.
"Ugh. Why did you hit me!?"
He wasn't able to dodge it even with his Hyper Intuition.
As the staff came towards him, his body had frozen stiff.
Eder held his forehead.
"That's your punishment for doubting me, you rascals."
Turu smiled impishly.
Seeing that, Kang Oh didn't attempt to flatter him again.
Flattery didn't seem like it would work on this ill-tempered old man.
This old man was a human, no, god, that loved causing trouble rather than being flattered.
"Ahem. Honestly, you don't really look like a god," Kang Oh said as he rubbed his forehead.
"Gods without believers typically look shabby like me," Turu said.
"You have no believers? What do you mean? Aren't you a famous god within the Bariton Desert?" Eder asked, also rubbing his forehead.
"Being famous and being believed in are two different things."
"So you're saying you don't have any believers," Grano said.
"What happened to the Order of Truth? Aren't they your followers, Lord Turu?" Grano asked.
"Rather than call them believers, it would be more accurate to say we had a relationship of mutual dependence," Turu said.
"Could you please be a bit more clear?" Kang Oh said, assuming a slanted posture.
"Want me to hit you again?"
Kang Oh assumed an upright posture and remained silent.
"I am the god who keeps and watches over books that contain forgotten knowledge. I'm also the god that imparts wisdom to those who come here. The Order of Truth was created by truth-seekers who came here to ask me about various truths," Turu said.
"I see. So you passed on your knowledge and wisdom to these truth-seekers, and as your believers, the truth-seekers watched over this place in your stead," Grano said.
"Yeah. But there was a fool who joined the Order of Truth, who wrought disaster upon the order. That's why there's no one here anymore."
Turu sported an unpleasant expression.
"What exactly happened?" Kang Oh asked.
"That's all I'll tell you. Now, each of you can ask me one question. I'll do my best to answer that question," Turu said.
He still looked ill-tempered, but now he was serious as well.
"Then I'd like to ask you a question first."
Eder raised his hand and Turu nodded his head.
"Is there any way to heal my original body?"
Eder's voice was filled with desperation.
As a price for mocking the Goddess of Death, Deborah, he was cursed with an incurable disease.
He'd done everything he could to cure the disease, but nothing had worked.
Now, the only recourse he had left was to travel to Deborah's Temple and beg for forgiveness.
However, another god had appeared right before his very eyes.
Perhaps this god knew of a way to heal his body. That's what he'd been hoping for with his question.
However, Turu disappointed him.
"There is no way to heal it. But I can say that the path you're taking is the right one," Turu said solemnly.
"Ahem. As I thought."
Eder could understand him. Turu was basically telling him that healing it on his own was impossible, and that he needed to go to Deborah's temple and beg for forgiveness.
"Then I'd like to ask next."
Grano raised his hand.
Turu nodded his head.
"I'd like to know about the disaster that occurred here," Grano said.
Kang Oh quickly grabbed him.
"Mr. Grano, this may be your chance to ask him how to make the Bariton Desert into a rich, fertile land again."
Grano shook his head.
"That's ok. I'm going to do that on my own. That's why I'd like to know more about what happened to the Tower of Wisdom and the Order of Truth."
Kang Oh had confirmed Grano's intentions, so he didn't say anything more.
"Hmm. It seems like you've made your decision," Turu said.
"Yes. Please tell me what happened here," Grano said clearly, looking directly into Turu’s eyes.
"Let me show you."
Turu tapped his question-mark staff on the ground.
A video was then played before them.
* * *
'There is truth in the unending mirage.'
There were several truth-seekers that had come to the Bariton Desert, believing in the old proverb and the oasis of truth.
Some left halfway, others discovered the hidden oasis and the Tower of Wisdom and had met Turu.
However, even Turu didn't know what exactly ‘truth’ was. The best he could do was tell others what path would best lead to their respective truths.
Despite that, the truth-seekers served Turu, watched over the Tower of Wisdom, and tried to find ‘the truth’, even though it eluded them like a mirage.
That's how the secret society, the Order of Truth, had come into being.
As said, the Order of Truth watched over the Tower of Wisdom, and also led other truth-seekers to the Tower of Wisdom and Turu, living peaceful and meaningful lives.
But one day...
One man had, without assistance from the Order of Truth, found Turu's Slate, passed the Final Journey, and had come to the Tower of Wisdom.
His name was Monique.
At the beginning, he seemed like a good and honest man, who loved and pursued knowledge.
Monique became a part of the Order of Truth, and by demonstrating his abilities, gradually attained a higher and higher position within the organization.
Once Monique became the head of the Order of Truth, he finally showed his true colors.
"Rather than simply watch over this knowledge and pass it on to future generations, we should use it to obtain power," Monique had gathered the Order of Truth and said.
Obviously, most of the members opposed this ideology and believed that Monique's beliefs were too dangerous; thus, they attempted to exile him.
However, Monique's followers struck first.
Those who opposed him were either poisoned or assassinated.
Ultimately, Monique, having gained complete control over the Tower of Wisdom, used its vast knowledge to accumulate wealth for his own selfish purposes.
Despite that, Monique's greed was endless and never satisfied.
He went so far as to attempt to bring the God of Wisdom, Turu, under his heel.
However, that proved to be his undoing.
Gods could not personally interfere with humanity unless certain conditions were met.
But if a god was insulted, then they could enact a punishment.
Therefore, Turu punished Monique.
Turu made the oasis' water holy and had submerged all of Monique and his followers' accumulated wealth into the water.
He also turned Monique and his followers into Sand Monsters, who endlessly thirst for treasure.
However, if a Sand Monster touched the holy water they would be afflicted with tremendous pain and their bodies would disperse.
Ultimately, Monique's followers (who had become Sand Monsters) thirst for the treasure overwhelmed them and they rushed to claim it, but upon touching the holy water, scattered without a trace.
Monique, who'd become a monster himself, felt the same greed and thirst, but managed to hold himself back from throwing himself into the oasis for a long time.
Even now, Monique hid himself in the ashen sand, waiting for the opportunity to claim the treasure once more.
Following these events, Turu had sealed all of the books contained within the Tower of Wisdom.
So that no one else could monopolize or misuse the forgotten knowledge for their own selfish purposes...
* * *
The video ended.
"So that's what happened," Grano said.
All his questions regarding the hidden oasis had been answered by the video.
"That means that the monster Monique is still out there..."
Kang Oh recalled the monster-turned Monique from the video.
The name did him justice: Sand Monster. Monique's body was made of sand, and he could freely manipulate his body because of it. Also, his body was huge as well.
'If I want to take him down, then I'll have to use the holy water.'
The video had already shown him the Sand Monsters' weakness.
Kang Oh formulated a plan to defeat the Sand Monster.
At that moment, Turu stared at Kang Oh.
"Now it's time for your question."
"May I take the treasure within the oasis? It seems like there's no one that owns it anymore," Kang Oh said.
This was the question that would yield the most profit.
"One or two may be fine, but you can't take them all," Turu replied.
"Why!?" Kang Oh strongly opposed.
"The treasure must remain here until Monique can no longer withstand his greed and rushes into the oasis. Now then, if you're done asking questions then move along."
Turu pointed at the stairs with his staff.
Of course, Kang Oh wouldn't simply leave just because he told him to.
"Then I'll defeat Monique myself. I'll take all the treasure after," Kang Oh said.
"It's not a matter of killing him or not. He wants the treasure so badly, but remains in agony because he can never obtain it. That's his punishment," Turu said firmly.
"All the more reason for me to take the treasure with me."
"Having something taken from you is far worse than not having it at all."
Kang Oh grinned. He was good at making people suffer after all.
Turu stroked his long beard.
"Fine. Take the treasure after you've killed Monique."
Ultimately, Turu gave Kang Oh his approval.
Kang Oh clenched his fists.
"Lord Turu," Grano said once Turu was finished with Kang Oh.
"What is it?"
Turu's voice sounded like he was saying, 'Stop bothering me already.'.
"Are you going to keep the books sealed?" Grano asked, his voice regretful.
"That's right. There may be another fool like Monique who attempts to misuse the forgotten knowledge, so I'm going to keep it sealed for the time being."
"For the time being... How long would that be?" Kang Oh asked.
Kang Oh was really interested in the books on the 1st floor. Information and knowledge were both money after all.
"I'll unseal them when the time comes."
"Like I was saying, when exactly is..."
"It's been a long time since I've had guests, so I spoke too much. I'll get going now."
Turu gripped his staff and stood up.
A pillar of light formed atop the slate once more.
"Can we meet again?" Grano asked yearningly.
Perhaps it was because he was a native of the Bariton Desert, but Grano's feelings towards Turu completely differed from that of Kang Oh or Eder's.
"My slates exist all over the world," Turu said.
In other words, they could see him again if they acquired another slate.
Then, Kang Oh grabbed onto Grano's shoulder.
"We can just get another one from that golem."
Kang Oh grinned.
The Stone Golem was a boss that only dropped the slate. However, they could easily acquire the slate again.
However, Turu suddenly turned around and swung downwards with his staff.
This time too, Kang Oh was unable to avoid it.
"Ow, why are you hitting me again!?"
Kang Oh scowled.
"No cheating! If you acquire a slate in a certain area, then you can only use that slate once," Turu said wide-eyed.
"Oh, and you! Don't even think about taking all the treasure and leaving. If you do, then as the price for insulting me, I'll turn you into a monster too!"
Turu pointed at Kang Oh with the tip of his staff.
Kang Oh was busted immediately.
If things didn't go his way, then he planned on putting all the treasure into his inventory and using a return scroll to escape.
He sure had some nerve.
"There's no way I'd do something like that."
Kang Oh smiled as good-naturedly as he could to convince Turu that he'd never even considered that.
"Remember, I warned you."
"I got it already."
Turu turned around and entered the pillar of light.
The pillar of light radiated light so brilliant that it blinded them, but soon died down.
Obviously, Turu had disappeared.
He didn't see Turu's Slate in his inventory anymore, the god's relic that activated its effects just by being in his inventory and could be sold for a hefty price.
As expected, there was nothing free in this world. Turu had taken the slate as compensation for consulting him.
Of course, Kang Oh couldn't accept it.
Kang Oh's cry resounded emptily throughout the room.Previous Chapter Next Chapter