Chapter 634 - Time (6)

“Has he eaten anything? Did he say he wanted to eat something?”

Ice King smiled bitterly and shook his head at Twice’s questions. “I don’t expect anything different this time around.”

“Ah!” Twice sighed.

Their group wasn’t anything special, but they were content. However, when Faceless visited two years ago, everything changed. Nocturne had followed Faceless somewhere, only to return and lock himself in his room without a word.

It did not seem like Nocturne was eating anything, so Ice King tried several times to bring food and take care of him. However, Nocturne rejected all of Ice King’s efforts, and Ice King had grown exhausted. Taking care of a person with no motivation only made one feel helpless.

No matter how positive Ice King was and even though he continued to be thoughtful and helpful towards Nocturne, it was difficult and frustrating. Nocturne also refused to explain what had happened to him. The only thing certain was that there had been a mishap in the One-horned tribe’s village. Because of that, rumors circulated that the Martial King had gone missing, and Ice King could only speculate that the Martial King’s recent disappearance had something to do with Nocturne’s depression.

“Well, I guess there’s nothing we can do about it.” Twice frowned, and eventually got up from her seat with a bag swung over her shoulder.

Ice King scratched the back of his head. “Have you decided to leave?”

“You know how long I’ve been waiting. Don’t you think it’s enough?”

They were mercenaries, and mercenaries earned their living by selling their services—a life not much different from a salesman’s. Twice had taken a break for two years over this situation, and Ice King knew better than anyone else that she had tried everything. He nodded heavily. “Yeah, I guess so. Even though I’m retired, you’re not.”

“Grandpa, what are your plans? Are you going to stay with that bum?”

“What else can I do? If I’m not around, he might just crumble and die.”

Twice puffed up her cheeks. “If Grandpa keeps taking care of that bum, he’ll continue acting like this!”

“What else can I do? He may be terrifyingly powerful, but he’s still an ignorant little child when it comes to worldly things.”

“How many times are you going to say ‘what else can I do’? Why don’t you just leave him here and come with me?”

“What else can I do?”

“Argh, forget it! Do whatever you want, Grandpa! I’m leaving!” Dissatisfied, Twice angrily kicked a small stone on the ground before turning away.

Ice King waved his hand while smiling good-naturedly. There had been many ups and downs during their time together, but Twice was still someone that Ice King cherished like a granddaughter. Ice King wished that she would have a good future, wherever she might end up. Twice possessed many talents and was smart, so Ice King had no doubt that she would do well enough.

After walking for a while, Twice suddenly stopped and looked back at Ice King, her face full of regret. “Are you really not going to come with me?”

“Goodbye. Take care of yourself. Stay in touch. Call me from time to time.”

“Argh!” After her final offer was rejected, Twice kicked another pebble angrily. “Damn it! You’re making me the bad one!” Twice huffed and puffed back towards Ice King.

Ice King automatically burst out laughing at Twice’s cute reaction. “Hahaha!”

“Don’t laugh!” Even when Twice shouted loudly, Ice King’s laughter did not stop.

***

‘Master, what should I do? This stupid disciple of yours doesn’t know… I still don’t know.’ Nocturne sat cross-legged with his eyes closed. Although a couple of years had already passed, Nocturne could not erase the images that constantly flashed through his mind.

He was troubled and wanted to find the Martial King, to understand what the message that the Martial King had left for him meant. He wanted to ask the Martial King what the meaning of life was.

***

The attendees followed the leaders and moved quickly from one place to another. They left the subway station and were now at the outskirts of the city. After passing what appeared like a forest of concrete rubble, the group soon reached a clearing with withered trees and a barren plain.

‘Are there other meetings?’ As time passed, the number of people in the group steadily increased. The leaders were constantly communicating with others, and it was clear that they were receiving orders. ‘It’s a typical encirclement around a target. We’re located…approximately northwest. We seem to be on the leftmost tip of the encirclement formation. Where did all these people come from?’

There were at least a thousand individuals with them, which startled Yeon-woo. When it came to the Tower levels, the sixty-sixth floor was considered quite high. If they could mobilize so many people on this floor, it meant that the Sea of Time possessed a tremendous amount of power and reach.

Yeon-woo had been keeping his senses on high alert after entering the sixty-sixth floor, but he frowned in frustration when he could not sense the target they were chasing.

『I think it was fortunate that Creutz decided to follow you.』

As Yeon-woo scanned the surroundings, Leonhardt’s abrupt remark drew his attention. Creutz had once been a unit commander of the Fantasy Regiment, but he was now a leader of the Illusion Knightage, which was completely committed to serving Arthia. 『I’m guessing Creutz isn’t a part of the Sea of Time?』

Since there were many people around them, Leonhardt and Yeon-woo conversed through Open Speaking. Leonhardt licked his lips and pulled his hood down to avoid being recognized. 『If he were a member of the Sea of Time, I wouldn’t have kept him around. He’s one of my most cherished friends.』

『You sent him to me because you feared he might cross over to their side, right?』

『Sort of. I also wanted to make a personal connection with you. However, things didn’t work out that way.』

Yeon-woo quietly nodded. He had never received any reports that Creutz had anything to do with the Sea of Time. If he were a spy, Creutz would have been caught in Doyle’s investigative net by now. 『How many people do the Sea of Time have?』

『I’m not sure. I’ve only seen one small part of their operation. However, one thing is certain.』 Leonhard continued speaking in a lower voice. 『They are deceiving the people in the Tower.』

Yeon-woo had no choice but to agree with Leonhardt’s assessment. Considering that its influence extended from the lower world to the Central Bureau and the heavenly world, the Sea of Time was not a normal clan. Yeon-woo recalled that Hou Yi, who was part of Trinity Wonder, also belonged to the Sea of Time. In other words, the Tower’s system recognized the Sea of Time as a society of transcendents.

With such a massive size, how did the Sea of Time exist so quietly without revealing much to the outside world? Some members must have lusted for power and domination at some point; it was surprising that the Sea of Time could maintain their secrecy for such a long time.

‘I need to find Harmonia and lure them out.’ Yeon-woo’s eyes narrowed.

The players who were part of the encirclement started making noise. A red portal had just opened, and three people appeared, each one strong enough to make Yeon-woo’s skin tingle. ‘They’re pretty strong.’

The black-haired man in the middle possessed so much power that Yeon-woo was unsure if he could defeat him.

Thump! Yeon-woo’s Dragon Heart shook violently. As if he sensed something off, the black-haired man opened his eyes wide and looked in Yeon-woo’s direction. However, even though Yeon-woo had sensed the black-haired man right away, the man couldn’t do the same.

Before the black-haired man had turned his head, Yeon-woo had already pulled back his magic power and blended into the crowd.

“What’s the matter?” As the black-haired man wandered around as if looking for something, the young woman who accompanied him twirled her hair around her finger and cocked her head.

The black-haired man asked with a stiff expression, “The sixty-sixth floor has been closed, right?”

“What are you talking about? Weren’t you the last one to confirm with the system that the floor was locked?” The young woman looked at the black-haired man with a puzzled expression. She could not understand why he was acting so strangely.

The last of the three new arrivals looked suspicious. “What? Can you sense their presence?”

The black-haired man looked around again with a frustrated expression, then shook his head. “No. I must have been mistaken.” His Dragon Heart had suddenly resonated, which made him alert. However, it seemed like it was a false alarm. After all, there was no way he would find any kin in a place like this. The black-haired man scoffed at the absurdity of the thought.

After the Summer Queen’s downfall, the draconic species became fully extinct. He would have known if his people had moved because he was the first demonic dragon and the king of them all. If there was another being who was strong enough to stimulate him, that being’s power and skills would be incredible—it was impossible that anyone like that could exist.

He decided that it was just a mistake and had probably sensed Hayang and the final key hidden somewhere on the sixty-sixth floor. However, he could not understand why his skin continued to tingle. The black-haired man frowned and gave the order for the troops to move.

『So, that’s Diablo.』Yeon-woo kept his eyes on the black-haired man as he stayed in the midst of the troops. Yeon-woo knew who he was: Diablo the Dragon. Diablo and Klus the Tiger were the strongest of the High Guardians.

The other two who had appeared with him were also High Guardians, Lapis Lazuli the Rooster and Rosinante the Horse. Lapis Lazuli had existed since the early days of the Tower, and she was a great mage who invented the principles of modern-day magic.

Although Rosinante appeared even-tempered and rational, as soon as he had a sword in his hand, he turned into a ruthless berserker. Even though they were not at Diablo’s level, they were strong in their own right.

‘The High Guardians are all beings who have risen to the top positions in the Tower. Some were blocked by Allforone while trying to complete their exuviation.’ The Central Bureau was one of the three major powers that maintained a balance within the Tower along with the heavenly world and Allforone. Yeon-woo understood that he should not underestimate any of the High Guardians.

‘But the Bureau eventually fell into the hands of the rebels, including Yvlke and Laplace. The Sea of Time is trying to use this opportunity to replace Allforone. So, in essence, two of the three major powers have already fallen into their grasp.’ Yeon-woo’s eyes narrowed. ‘Are they going to wage a war with the heavenly world? Or are they planning something else? Yvlke, what the hell are you thinking?’

Yvlke was known as the most secretive among the High Guardians, so it was much more challenging to understand his intentions. Yeon-woo had no clue at all and didn’t even know where to begin. ‘I’m missing something…’

At that moment, a word appeared in his mind: ‘Time’.

The Sea of Time recognized each other through time. However, it was not known exactly what time was or what it referred to. Yeon-woo had not thought about it until now. ‘Ever since I got here, I’ve constantly heard the “end of days” and “him”.’ It hadn’t occurred to Yeon-woo before just how familiar these phrases were.

『Leonhardt.』

『What is it?』

『When the Sea of Time speaks of “time”… what does that mean?』 Just in case, Yeon-woo asked Leonhardt.

『I don’t know for sure, but I heard it’s some sort of prophecy regarding the end of days.』

Yeon-woo recalled where he had heard something similar. ‘The otherworld god!’

The Crawling Chaos had talked about the end of days multiple times: “Do you think a mere mortal can bear an item that contains all the knowledge of the universe and the dimensions, the words of the great beginning and the holy oracles of the end, and the records of all space, time, and history? You must be crazy! How insolent, human!”

The underworld god spoke of the end of days as the time when the father, the Black King, would open his eyes and destroy the world. Harmonia, Moonchild, was also a successor of the Black King.

‘Then the time that they’re referring to must be the revelations…?’ Just as Yeon-woo landed on this point, he sensed a familiar aura. “They’re coming.”

It was Ananta and the others.

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