Plu-El inwardly let out a sigh when she saw the familiar group of four surrounded by her murderous comrades. The four stood with their backs to each other to maximize the protection. Plu-El’s eyes landed on the man clad in the silver armor.
‘Was his name Woo Sungyoon?’
He was the person who had awakened the Royal Gem, and also the person that Aruwen hated with every fiber of his being.
Plu-El then turned to look at Tiotudo, who stood beside her. His helmet covered his whole face, so she couldn’t see his expression, but she was sure he had the same expression as her.
Lastly, she turned to look behind her, and her gaze landed on Aruwen. He looked as proud as a peacock when he pointed his arrow toward his enemies.
‘That son of a bitch.’
Plu-El ground her teeth.
She thought about what had happened when she, along with Tiotudo, had tried to convince their comrades.
“Of course, you're going to help me, right?”
He spoke as if they were buddies. Aruwen always looked down on others as he armed himself with extreme confidence. That was why it was almost hard to believe that such a tone of voice had come out of his mouth.
However, neither Plu-El nor Tiotudo felt a sense of closeness to Aruwen, and in fact, the repulsion they felt for him increased.
“That is what we wanted to talk about with the others.”
Tiotudo barely opened his mouth.
“We think differently.”
The friendly smile was gone from Aruwen’s face in an instant.
“What’s the difference?”
Tiotudo stalled for a brief moment, and everyone looked at him. Plu-El became worried about him, so she stepped up behind him as a show of support.
“We believe we should seek cooperation with the outsiders.”
The words caused a stir amongst their comrades. Evidently, their comrades weren’t happy with it.
Everyone glared at Tiotudo, and the glares were especially fierce from those that held enmity toward outsiders.
Tiotudo raised his Device.
“I awakened the Warrior Gem.”
The Gem radiated a copper light and showed the crowd that it was awake. A commotion broke out amongst his comrades once again, but the reactions this time weren't hostile. The hostility had been replaced with surprise.
Tiotudo and Plu-El also saw hints of respect and admiration in the gazes directed at Tiotudo.
Aruwen, who had kept any emotions off his face up until now, also looked surprised.
‘I might be able to do this.’
Tiotudo could see the hope of being able to convince his comrades. Plu-El also unconsciously clenched her fists.
“The Warrior Gem has been silent since we left our homeland, but it has awakened now. I believe there is great meaning behind this.”
Some frowned at Tiotudo’s words, while some nodded. The reactions differed with the age of these people. The older generation was more conservative.
“As I’ve said before, I believe we should seek an alliance with the outsiders. Plu-El, who has the Shaman Gem, also agrees with me.”
Plu-El stepped forward to stand next to Tiotudo.
“I know a lot of you don’t like the idea of working together with outsiders. However, do you think it's a coincidence that the two of us, who wanted to cooperate with the outsiders, could awaken the Warrior Gem and the Shaman Gem?”
“It could be!”
One of their comrades pushed back on that assertion.
“You're right. It's a more compelling view, but it's also true that the two of us awakened our respective Gems. I don't plan on wielding the authority of a warrior, but I would ask you to think about what we had just suggested.”
Tiotudo raised his voice.
“Magical energy is already leaking out of the labyrinths! Monsters are appearing out in the open! You should start accepting the truth that is in front of your eyes! ‘His’ seal is unraveling!”
The third round of disturbance flowed through the crowd. The first one was caused by hate and anger; the second one was caused by surprise and admiration; the third was caused by fear and anxiety.
All of them had already suspected this truth before.
“We are fighting to stop that event from happening! Does that mean all our work was for naught?”
One of his comrades threw out the question.
“No! We ran interference, and we made a noticeable difference in slowing down the unraveling! However, it's impossible to indefinitely stop the creature! In the end, we have to fight a head-on battle with the creature and its minions! We have no chance of winning with just us! The cooperation of outsiders is essential!”
“They stabbed us in the back before!”
A rough voice yelled out. The person didn’t even bother hiding his hostility, and his face was red from anger.
“Yes, I know. My father also died by their hands!”
The veins in Titotudo’s neck bulged, and his forehead became pinched in anger. The one who had fiercely retorted to Tiotudo's words backed down when he saw his current state.
“They do not represent all of the outsiders. When we went down to their homeland, you saw for yourselves how numerous they were. There is no way all of them are like the ones we encountered. If we can create an alliance with them, we can also take revenge on those who betrayed us.”
“What if all the outsiders are in it together? What if they attack us?”
“If that happens…”
A sad expression appeared in Tiotudo’s eyes.
“The only thing left for us is extinction.”
Everyone shut their mouths at his devastating words.
“What will you do?”
When Tiotudo asked, his comrades started to talk amongst themselves.
‘It's going pretty well.’
Plu-El’s eyes shone. They had appealed to the others using the authority imbued to them by their special Gems, then Tiotudo had given his speech. The mood of the group wasn’t too bad. The situation had yet to tilt in their favor, but none of their comrades had opposed the plan outright. It was enough for Plu-El to be hopeful.
However, while trying to convince their comrades, Tiotudo and Plu-El had forgotten something, to be precise, someone.
“Are you done? Is it ok if I talk now?”
Aruwen opened his mouth after keeping silent all this time. Plu-El and Tiotudo raised their guards.
“First, I agree with your assessment.”
These words shocked everyone, including Tiotudo and Plu-El. Aruwen was the most insular among them all, yet he had agreed to the plan to cooperate with outsiders.
‘What is he planning?’
Of course, Tiotudo looked suspicious.
“Don’t look at me like that. I agree with your opinion.”
“If so, I’m grateful.”
He said those words, but suspicion didn’t leave Tiotudo’s eyes.
“However, we have to do something before that.”
As expected, Aruwen wasn’t agreeing with Tiotudo for nothing in return.
“What are you talking about?”
“We have to recover the Royal Gem.”
“Did you not listen to what I just said?”
Tiotudo sounded disgusted as he spoke.
“I said we should ally ourselves with the outsiders, yet you want to fight against them? What nonsense are you spouting!”
“Calm down and listen to me.”
Aruwen spoke in a gentle manner.
Plu-El and Tiotudo wondered if Aruwen had eaten something wrong, and for a moment, they even became worried. The current Aruwen looked completely different from his normal self. They were on the opposite side of the issues, but Plu-El, Tiotudo, and Aruwen had been close when they were young.
Aruwen pushed past the crowd and twirled his body around to face his comrades.
“Even if we join hands with outsiders, they are outsiders in the end. Do you think we can completely trust them?”
Aruwen directed his words to his other comrades, and all of them agreed with him. Tiotudo’s words had shaken them, but their distrust of outsiders was too deeply rooted in their hearts.
“I don’t mind joining hands with outsiders like what Tiotudo suggests. But, I believe we should have the upper hand in such a relationship. And... we can gain it by having three special Gems.”
The faces of Tiotudo and Plu-El hardened.
“Plu-El has the Shaman Gem, and Tiotudo awakened his Warrior Gem. The only thing left is the Royal Gem. The Royal Gem had always been awake to a degree even after we left our homeland. Unlike it, the other two had remained dormant. These two Gems awakened almost at the same time. It means that the Royal Gem didn’t awaken because the outsider was talented. It awakened because some specific condition was met. That means...”
A smile appeared on Aruwen’s lips.
“It means it will awaken even if I use it.”
He placed a hand on his chest.
“If I’m able to awaken the Royal Gem, I’ll make sure our people will have the upper hand even if we ally ourselves with outsiders. I can use it to keep them in check and in case the alliance goes bad. Of course, there is always the danger of being corrupted.”
Aruwen then swept up his hair and spoke in an anguished tone.
“I believe all of you will put me down before that happens. If I can die helping our people, it’ll be my honor.”
Normally, Aruwen was full of arrogance and spite, and that was why his words hit home harder. His comrades' eyes watered.
Things weren’t going well, so Tiotudo quickly jumped in.
“In the end, you want us to attack and steal the Royal Gem from an outsider. This means it’ll be that much harder to receive the outsiders' help.”
“We’ve already ambushed them many times. One more time wouldn't increase the enmity by that much.”
The mood of the crowd was shifting toward Aruwen, and Tiotudo ground his teeth in silence.
“There is something off about him, Tiotudo. Aruwen isn’t like his usual self.”
Plu-El spoke in a soft voice.
“It probably has to do with his obsession with the Royal Gem. That bastard… I would have preferred if he had yelled like he usually does.”
Aruwen reached out his hand toward the two of them.
“If you help me reclaim the Royal Gem, I’ll be fully behind your plan, Tiotudo, Plu-El.”
The two looked at Aruwen’s hand. It was a tough pill to swallow, but the crowd had long switched their side. They firmly stood behind Aruwen’s back.
‘We have no choice.’
The new plan didn't seem all bad when Tiotudo thought for a while. If Aruwen reclaimed the Royal Gem, everyone would be behind the idea of cooperating with outsiders.
‘That fact makes this deal much more attractive. We can’t turn it down.’
“Alright, Aruwen. I’ll help you reclaim the Royal Gem.”
Tiotudo grabbed Aruwen’s hand. Plu-El had no choice, and she placed her hand above their clasped hands.
“Thank you very much. Both of you are my true friends.”
Tiotudo and Plu-El wanted to punch Aruwen’s detestable smiling face.
An incredible battle took place on this surface that had no air and weak gravity. The ambushers placed Aruwen at the center as they attacked Sungyoon’s party. None of them held back. Since things had turned out like this, they had to reclaim the Royal Gem and exit as soon as possible.
'Their defense is solid.’
Plu-El jumped backward as she mumbled.
Sungyoon’s party had been prepared for this, so they were defending all attacks coming at them. Of course, the party didn’t even dare attack, but this way, they would be able to extend this fight for a long time.
Plu-El noticed that they were buying time.
‘If they are focused on defense, it means they are waiting for backup. That’s the only logical conclusion.’
If reinforcement came, this fight would turn into a major headache. Plu-El raised her sword to end it as soon as possible, but—
Plu-El’s sense sent out a fierce alarm.Previous Chapter Next Chapter