Chapter 257

After revealing his inner thoughts, Tiotudo worked with Plu-El to come up with a plan. They had to somehow acquire the outsiders' help, and at the same time, convince their comrades that it was the right move.

Despite brainstorming, they failed to form a clear plan. Neither of the two could comprehend how the outsiders' society worked, and they didn't know who was an ally and who was a foe. When they had made contact with the outsiders the first time, the worst possible outcome had occurred.

Just when their minds had stopped working, something favorable happened.

“Look at this, Plu-El!”

Tiotudo raised his Device.

“This is….”

Plu-El’s eyes turned round. One of the Gems mounted on Tiotudo's Device started glowing. It was the copper-colored Gem.

“Yes! The Warrior Gem is awake.”

The Warrior Gem was one of the special Gems alongside the Royal Gem and the Shaman Gem, and that same Warrior Gem was announcing its presence.

“It is as I had thought. The Royal Gem and the Shaman Gem awakening around the same time isn't a coincidence.”

“You were right. Congratulations.”

Plu-El congratulated him, but she looked wry. Tiotudo had awakened his Warrior Gem, which had remained non-respondent over a very long period. It should be an occasion for a celebration, and being his friend, she was happy. Moreover, the might of their people had increased, and Tiotudo's influence would grow amongst his people. He would be able to encourage others to join forces with the outsiders.

The scary part of this awakening was that it gave more credence to Tiotudo’s theory about the creature’s seal unraveling. Tiotudo knew it as well, so he wasn’t disappointed with Plu-El’s lackluster reaction.

Plu-El soon got rid of the bad aftertaste and focused her attention on the Gem.

“What ability does it have?”

“I only awakened its basic ability.”

“Do you mean the Mental Shield?”

This power shielded the user from any negative influence on their mind.

“You have to quickly awaken the other abilities. That’ll give us some leeway.”

“We have work to do. That’s more important than awakening my abilities.”

“What work?”

“Our plan.”

Plu-El scrunched up her face.

“Are you talking about the cooperation with the outsiders?”

“Yes.”

“You're rushing this.”

Plu-El said in a tense voice. The distrust of outsiders had taken a deep root within their people. Even if Plu-El and Tiotudo raised their voices at the same time, the probability of their comrades listening to them was slim. Rather, the move might buy enmity from their own people.

However, Tiotudo didn’t back down.

“We have no time. Magical energy is starting to leak out of the labyrinths. It's proof that the unraveling of the seal has begun in earnest, and soon, their officers won’t be so passive. We have to set up a cooperative system before that happens. It’ll increase our chance of victory by a little bit.”

“Even if we try to convince them, how many would listen to us?”

“You're missing the forest for the trees, Plu-El.”

Tiotudo spoke in a low voice.

“The chances of us winning the fight against the creature is minuscule in the first place.”

Plu-El had no response to that.

“Don’t worry. I have a plan.”

Tiotudo spoke.

“We use the authority passed down for generations amongst our people.”

“What authority?”

“The descendants of the royal, the shaman, and the warrior families hold no sway over our people now. You, me, and Aruwen do not have much authority over our people.”

In spite of that, some followed Aruwen. This remained true for Plu-El and Tiotudo too, but the number of their followers was tiny. Them being descendants of these important families didn’t earn much prestige.

“However, it's an entirely different story if a real royal, shaman, and warrior show up.”

Their people longed for the days of their past: the golden age of peace in their large kingdom. As they faced more adversities in their lives, the yearning only deepened. This yearning was what gave Aruwen, Plu-El, and Tiotudo a modicum of power.

“Soyoung is the daughter of an outsider, yet she can somewhat live amongst us. It's because your husband was one of the few outsiders who took our side. At the same time, you awakened the Shaman Gem and received the authority that came with being a shaman. You used this authority to shield your daughter.”

Plu-El didn’t deny Tiotudo’s assertions since it was all true.

“Yes. It also bought Soyoung much more hate.”

Tiotudo didn’t deny it either. Plu-El possessed proof of the power they revered, yet she had a daughter of mixed blood. This colored the eyes of those around her when they viewed Soyoung.

“You can be the proof that the authority of old is still alive. Let’s break this down. You have the authority of the shaman. I awakened the Warrior Gem, so I have the authority of the warrior. If these two pillars join forces, we can create a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

That opportunity was the opportunity to come in contact with outsiders.

“Moreover, Aruwen no longer has the authority to oppose our opinions. No, his opinion is worthless. He lost the Royal Gem, and the one who stole it awakened it.”

Tiotudo stared straight into Plu-El’s eyes.

“You don’t have to do anything. I just want to borrow your authority as a shaman. I’ll carry out the plan, and if things go wrong, I’ll bear the responsibility.”

Tiotudo's eyes remained firm, and it was enough to make her want to trust him. He was blunt and wooden, and on top of that, he was the friend she trusted the most.

“Alright. I’ll trust you. However...”

This time Plu-El spoke in no uncertain terms.

“Do not say that you’ll bear the responsibility by yourself. You might have overlooked it, but I’m the one who activated my special Gem first. I'll not be pushed around like this. If we're carrying this out, both of us will bear the responsibility. You got that?”

She winked at him. Tiotudo just silently looked at her for a while. He then smirked. It was a very rare smile from him.

“This is why I like you.”

“Oh my! Are you trying to seduce a married woman? I’m sorry, but you aren’t my type. My only love is my husband.”

“I was dumped even when I’m not even interested. That isn't fair at all.”

The two of them bumped fists as they laughed for a long time.

“Let’s go do this.”

“Alright.”

They had to convince their comrades, so they moved to gather them. However, someone had already done what they went out to do.

“Hey! You're finally here.”

A familiar face was standing at the center of a crowd. Aruwen had shut himself inside his room for a long time, so he looked gaunt. However, his eyes were sharp.

‘This isn’t good.’

Tiotudo didn’t know what was happening, but he knew it couldn't be good. Plu-El had the same thought, and she frowned.

“I was planning on calling you guys here. You have excellent timing.”

Aruwen pushed past his comrades as he approached the two of them. Unlike his rough outer appearance, his eyes were full of killing intent.

Tiotudo spoke in his usual tone of voice.

“Did you make peace with yourself?”

“Why would I make peace with myself?”

“I’m talking about you saying farewell to the Royal Gem.”

All expressions from Aruwen’s face disappeared, and his eyes became empty as if they belonged to a dead person. Plu-El felt a physical aversion to him, so she took a step back.

Aruwen laughed as if the previous blank face had been a lie. However, the sound of his laughter gave away that it was forced.

“No way! It's the treasure of our people. We can’t let that go away so easily, right? We have to get it back, and we had already decided to do that.”

“About that… we should discuss our plans again—”

“Wait a moment. I received some very good news.”

Aruwen stopped Plu-El from speaking. He then brought forward a short man who looked like a mouse.

Tiotudo and Plu-El felt a sense of crisis. This man was supposed to be monitoring the person who had the Royal Gem.

“Can you explain it to the two of them?”

“Understood.”

The short man stood in front of Tiotudo and Plu-El and proudly spoke.

“Magical energy is leaking toward the city built by the outsiders. Of course, the monsters followed the magical energy. So the outsiders are sending patrols out of their city to kill the monsters. Our target is part of the patrol.”

The faces of Tiotudo and Plu-El hardened; in contrast, Aruwen’s face brightened.

“You hear that? After we ambushed him, he hid in the city like a coward. But now, he has finally crawled out. We’ll never get a better chance. We have to kill him before he gets corrupted by the awakened Royal Gem. We have to kill that bastard and recover the Royal Gem.”

A faint trace of madness appeared in Aruwen’s eyes.

“Of course, you're going to help me, right?”

***

Sungyoon took a stride. The combination of his enormous strength and the low gravity of the Moon allowed him to jump high.

‘It's scary every time I try this.’

Sungyoon glanced upward. He felt that the abyss of space would pull him in, and he would disappear into the black sky. Fortunately, the gravity kept him bound to the Moon, and Sungyoon could look at his surroundings without worry. He used his excellent eyesight to aid in the search.

His gaze stopped somewhere in the distance.

“What do you see?”

Sungyoon heard Tim's voice through the communication device installed in his helmet. He kept his eyes fixed on his target as he answered.

“I found one. I believe it's a Troll.”

“Is that so?”

Sungyoon pointed toward the troll. Tim pushed off the ground and his body also soared upward.

“You're right.”

While Tim was in ascent, Sungyoon approached the descent part of his jump. After landing on the ground, he approached Grace, who was holding a tablet displaying the terrain around Armstrong city.

“It's around here.”

Sungyoon took a stylus and drew a circle around the region where he saw the Troll. Tim soon rejoined the party.

“Let’s move.”

Sungyoon’s party jumped across the surface of the Moon to the shallow crater where they had spotted the monster.

“I see it.”

They caught sight of it.

‘Did it come out of there?’

Sungyoon saw a labyrinth entrance next to the Troll. The labyrinth was also marked on the map. It was a mid-rank labyrinth, and the party didn't have much interest in it.

“I’ll kill it.”

Tim accelerated, and his ax flashed when he reached the Troll.

Suh-guhk!

If there was air, that was the sound the attack would have made. The Troll’s head was lopped off way too easily.

Sungyoon, Emily, and Grace arrived after the Troll’s corpse turned into a moonstone.

“Here.”

Tim handed over the moonstone to Sungyoon. When he was done, he looked up. 

“Let me check if there are any monster—”

Tim stopped speaking. Sungyoon, Emily, and Grace looked toward the labyrinth. They had spotted some people coming out of it. The party knew them, but also didn’t know them.

“They came out again.”

Tim spoke as he raised his shield. 

The group that had ambushed Sungyoon’s party not too long ago once again encircled them.

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