Chapter 319

Aruwen didn’t stop speaking.

“You should do the same. Mmm... You're called Sir Russell? Am I right?”

“Just call me Russell.”

“You too, Mr. Russell. You should give the Mage Gem to...”

Aruwen furrowed his brows as he looked at Grace and tried to recall her name.

Grace introduced herself to him once again.

“My last name is Taylor.”

“Please hand it over to Ms. Taylor.”

“I’m not opposed to that.”

Grace was like a niece to Russell. Moreover, both of them were Connectors affiliated with England. He had no problem handing over the Mage Gem to her since he couldn’t even use it.

If it would bring about the destruction of Grenoid, he would gladly give it to her. 

However, someone disagreed with this plan.

“Wait! Wait! Wait a moment!”

The Mayor waved his arms as he put himself between Aruwen and Russell.

“I understand what you're trying to say, Mr. Aruwen. However, one person with the ability to use the portal has to remain on the Moon at all times! If an emergency happens, we'd need the portal!”

“That can’t be.”

Aruwen immediately shut down the Mayor’s opinion, and this response surprised the Mayor.

“Our people don't possess all the knowledge about the special Gems. However, we do know that all of them have to be in one place to reveal their true power.”

“Can’t we give them the Gem when they decide to confront Grenoid?”

“You want them to go into the most important mission without training and experience with the Gems?”

Even the Mayor realized that it sounded like an impossible task, so he hesitated.

“Shouldn’t we give them some time to get acclimated to using the Gems later on? We have no reason to do this right now.”

“I’ll agree with you if you can set the date of the final battle.”

“…”

The Mayor had no idea how the war would progress the next day, so of course, he had no idea when the final battle would take place. If he had the ability to look ahead like that, he wouldn’t have lost Armstrong city in the first place.

“It seems your words are more sensible than I initially surmised. I agree with Mr. Aruwen.”

“Sir Russell!”

The Mayor yelled. The tide was turning against him. Russell’s words showed that he was leaning toward Aruwen’s suggestion, and the Mayor's sigh became deeper than ever before.

“… I’ll send the reports to each country and ask for more reinforcement. They are going to chew me out.”

“What can we do? It's your job, Mayor.”

Russell had spoken to comfort the Mayor, but to the Mayor, it didn't sound even one bit comforting. He glared at Russell, then sighed again while clutching his head.

He then left to avoid arguing on the topic anymore.

“Take this.”

Russell tossed the Mage Gem toward Grace.

“It's yours now. Use it well.”

“Are you sure about this?”

“The Mayor didn’t say no, so it should be ok.”

Russell looked in the direction where the Mayor had departed.

“If it were truly something worth thinking over, he would've asked us for more time. Since he didn’t do that, he somewhat agrees with our reasoning. Moreover, it means he's confident that he can resolve this problem. He's a capable man.”

“He kept his mayoral seat even after he lost Armstrong city. Moreover, he gained the cooperation of all the countries in reclaiming Armstrong city. He will continue to be the Mayor. You don’t have to worry about him.”

Sungyoon provided a further explanation.

Finally, Grace slowly put the Gem into her Device.

“So, I should give my Gem to you?”

“Yes, yes!”

Plu-El presented her Shaman Gem to the nervous Emily, who carefully received it.

“Try activating them.”

Plu-El had the most experience in using the special Gem, so she spoke toward the three new owners.

It seemed Aruwen had thought his job was done, and at some point, he had ducked out of there. Russell hadn't left since he was curious. He observed the three of them as they tried to activate the special Gems. Russell hadn’t been able to awaken the Mage Gem, and he was curious if the three of them would be able to do it.

“… Nothing is happening.”

After concentrating for a brief moment, Grace spoke in a disappointed voice.

Emily continued to pour her magical energy into her Gem, while Tim’s face became red. He had physically exerted himself while pushing his magical energy toward the Warrior Gem.

None of them could activate the Gems.

“Well, everyone is like that in the beginning. You should always keep the Gem on your body and inject it with magical energy.”

“Even I was unable to awaken it. It will be a while before you can activate it.”

In some ways, his words sounded condescending as if he were pleased with their failure. However, Russell didn’t have such a poor personality.

“The Mage Gem was sealed when you were carrying it, Sir Russell.”

“It has been several days since the force field has gone up. The Mage city has started functioning again. Do you really think I didn’t try awakening the Gem during that time? I am one of the top five Connectors of Earth, yet I was unable to awaken it. If the three of you could do it right now, I would have to bite my tongue in embarrassment.”

Russell’s exaggerated words brought a faint smile to Grace’s lips.

“You should always be conscious of your Gem. Moreover, you should try injecting your magical energy into it whenever you have time. It might awaken faster if you stay close to Mr. Sungyoon, who has the Royal Gem.”

The three of them paid full attention to Plu-El as she advised them.

After hearing the basic precautions, Sungyoon’s party intended to board the spaceship. However...

“Mr. Sungyoon!”

The Mayor, who had disappeared, came running toward them with several pages of documents.

“You have to open many... many portals before you go! Let’s take care of that first!”

“Didn’t I tell you? This fellow is meticulous.”

Russell winked at Sungyoon’s party.

***

It had been a while since Sungyoon had returned to Earth, but he didn’t have the time to spend with his family.

He greeted Jimin and Shinhae for a short time, then immediately left to find Kevil. He and his party went to Italy where Kevil’s traces had been found most recently.

“Monsters have stopped attacking once the force field was put up. We had assumed that Kevil would lay low until a certain amount of magical energy returned to Earth. However, our prediction was wrong.”

The Italian guide spoke. No one within Sungyoon’s party spoke Italian, but thankfully for them, their guide was fluent in English.

“That bastard became more active.”

The Italian guide led them through a rural town located in the southern part of Italy. The warm sunlight and the beautiful scenery distinct to Southern Europe was on full display.

However, the atmosphere around the town was very dark. It wasn’t strange to see country people be wary of outsiders, but what the town's residents displayed wasn't wariness, but fear. The party could clearly see that something was out of the ordinary with everyone's behavior.

At that moment, a child appeared in front of them. It was an adorable five-year-old girl. She looked at Sungyoon’s party with eyes full of curiosity.

Hoo-dah-dahk!

An old man rushed in and took the child in his arms.

The girl became frustrated, and she complained to the old man, but he ignored her as they quickly entered a nearby house.

Boom!

As if to block any intrusion from the outside, the old man shut the door.

The guide looked a bit embarrassed by the old man’s behavior.

“Everyone in this town is panic-stricken because of the chain of events that happened here.”

“We understand.”

Even if the guide hadn’t explained, Sungyoon had no plans of holding a grudge against the people of this town.

“The ritual site is about ten kilometers away from here.”

The guide started climbing a mountain. The road wasn’t paved, but it was pretty well-kempt. However, one could see fresh tree sap from the cut trees, which implied that this path was cleared just a while ago.

Their destination was a cave. The cave's ceiling was high, but it wasn’t deep. That was why the tragic sight immediately appeared before their eyes.

“… How many are there?”

“From what we can discern, eight hundred at least. However, we believe the number to be close to a thousand. As you can see, the bodies are too damaged to get an accurate count.”

Sungyoon walked toward the pile. The corpses were thrown atop each other as if they were packages. No, they couldn’t be called corpses. It was more accurate to call them ‘human body parts.’

Splash!

Sungyoon put his hand into the sloshing liquid.

“When did you find this place?”

“Around three days ago.”

“Three days…”

Sungyoon moved his hand through the liquid and vividly felt the frighteningly sticky liquid on his hand.

“That means the ritual was performed before three days.”

“That's correct.”

Sungyoon looked at the liquid. The stench that the blood gave off was overwhelming.

“So many days have passed, but the blood has yet to dry.”

The massive amount of blood was enough to show how horrifying the death count was. 

Sungyoon looked at one of the body parts within the container. It was an arm, the arm of a child.

“We believe they are all children under fifteen.”

“That bastard!”

Tim punched the wall of the cave, Grace’s face turned pale, and Emily closed her eyes as she turned her head away.

Sungyoon wanted to cuss, but he silently gathered all the information.

“Are there any other peculiar characteristics?”

“We’ll have to investigate further, but I believe that no 1st Gens were used for this ritual.”

Sungyoon looked at the guide.

“This has been the case in all the rituals we found recently. To be precise, this change occurred after the force field was put up. Instead of using 1st Gens in the ritual, Kevil has just increased the number of sacrifices.”

“It seems he's starting to adapt.”

“That's our analysis too.”

Sungyoon took out a handkerchief and wiped away the blood. The blood that was filled with the resentment and blame of the innocent couldn't be wiped away that easily.

***

The Moon showed its face.

It was deep within the night and almost everyone was asleep. However, Sungyoon’s room was brightly lit up.

Sssk!

Sungyoon moved his hand. The pen smoothly flowed as he circled various locations on the large map of the world.

The southern part of Italy.

He had marked the place where he had seen the massacre today, but that wasn't the only marked location. He had circled all the locations where a ritual had been performed.

There were triangle marks on the map too, and they referred to the ritual sites where 1st Gens were used as sacrifices.

‘There's no pattern to his movement.’

Sungyoon tapped the desk with his pen. Its noise was unpleasant to the ears, but Sungyoon was too deep within his thoughts to notice.

“Shit!”

In the end, he threw the pen atop the desk and scratched his head. He let out a sigh as he cracked his neck.

Knock! Knock!

A knock interrupted him.

“Who is it?”

Sungyoon got up and tried to clear his muddled brain. He opened the door to his room.

“Do you have some time?”

Grace asked him.

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