Chapter 152. 3 Years (6)


2029, April 3rd.
In Chameleon Troupe’s secret hideout located in England’s Bristol Channel, I was fully relaxed and reading a newspaper on the couch. Next to me, Boss was playing a game.

[English Royal Court guild partners with mercenary groups….]
[English Channel’s high-intermediate rank monster, Megalodon, has been defeated by English Royal Court guild’s Team 1. Rachel, the guild’s youngest team leader, shows her exceptional skills…]
[Princess Rachel appointed as the Royal Court guild’s youngest vice leader.]
[Trust in England at an all-time low.]

Currently, popularity of England’s leadership was steadily going downhill. Ordinary newspapers and even the Violet Times predicted a grim future for the country.

“Hm…”

Looking at the headline, I sighed and put down the newspaper. The news I was hoping to see was nowhere to be found.
The news about ‘entrance tickets’ should be popping up soon. How much longer was I supposed to wait?

“Knng~”

Feeling a bit sore, I stood up and stretched. Then, I looked around Chameleon Troupe’s hideout which was about 65% complete.
A lot had changed in the past 3 years. In a way, it was quite dramatic.
To be honest, I was proud of the changes I brought.

The dome ceiling above had crystal chandeliers and gem-like lights beautifully hanging down. The red, vintage-style walls were full of art Boss brought back from her secret stash.
It wasn’t just the interior I was proud about. The hideout had many convenient facilities.
The goblin coffee shop in the corner of the lobby provided highest-grade coffee, and many of my magical furniture pieces were also placed around the hideout.
In the center… what was that again?
A ginormous mana crystal that was almost as big as Cheok Jungyeong’s thigh was purifying the air inside the cave.
For the record, that almond-shaped crystal was something I took from Boss’ secret vault. I remembered Boss throwing a tantrum about not wanting to keep it. She reluctantly agreed when I threatened that I wouldn’t comb her hair ever again.

However, that was still only the tip of the iceberg. What I just described was only the hideout’s lobby.
Outside the lobby, there was a hot spring, a shooting range, a training room, a library, a game room, a cafeteria, etc…

“Kuhaha—!”

The door to the lobby suddenly shot open, and a giant stormed in. Boss, who was playing a game on the couch, looked up with a frown.

“It’s crazy out there, Boss!”

“…Did something happen outside?”

“Oh, Newbie! You’re here too?”

Cheok Jungyeong smiled brightly as he held something up. It was a sea monster twice the size of his body.

“Monsters underwater are going crazy!”

“…Gyeong, what is that.”

“A sea monster. This blind bastard kept bumping into me, so I hooked it up. It’s a blue ocean fish.”

Blue ocean fish. It was a delicious species of fish that was classified as a fish rather than a monster.
Hearing these three words, Boss smacked her lips. Then, she glanced up at me.
She was clearly telling me to cook it for her.

“Blue ocean fish, huh.”

I started cooking for Boss three months ago, mostly because controlling her with just combing her hair could get difficult.
Like how the monkey in the story of the ‘monkey’s flower sandal’ grew too used to wearing sandals, my strategy was to slowly get Boss addicted to things I provided until she couldn’t live without me.
Not that Boss was a monkey, of course.

“You know about it?”

Cheok Jungyeong laughed and threw the blue ocean fish down.
For the record, other members didn’t know I was good at cooking. Because I was too lazy to cook for everyone, I only revealed it to Boss. She considered it special treatment and enjoyed it.

“You can keep this guy in the fridge and eat it later.”

Hearing his kind offer, I looked down at the blue ocean fish. I wasn’t sure if it was still alive or spasming out after death, but the way it violently flopped around was scary.

“Boss, come out if you’re bored. It’s really fun.”

“…I’m fine. You can enjoy it alone.”

“Hehe, don’t regret it later.”

Cheok Jungyeong’s latest hobby was fishing. Because having to use the Portal was too troublesome, I created a secret pathway connecting the hideout to the ocean (obviously, it was covered with an illusion magic and a fortress-grade seal to prevent outsiders from recognizing it). Ever since Cheok Jungyeon took a liking to it, he’s been using it once a week to go fight sea monsters. I remembered him saying something about wanting to overcome the restraint of the ocean.

“Anyways, I’m going back out!”

Cheok Jungyeong left the lobby.
KOONG!
He should really stop slamming the door close.

“Oh right—!”

Cheok Jungyeong quickly came back in.

“I almost forgot. Oi, Bling, give me an americano.”

The barista goblin quickly reacted to Cheok Jungyeong’s command. As expected of a barista with a year’s worth of experience, the goblin named Bling made an americano in the blink of an eye.

“Perfect.”

Gulp, gulp—
Cheok Jungyeong emptied the 2-liter cup in only three seconds before leaving.

“Guys.”

When I clapped, the six normal goblins gathered around the blue ocean fish.

—Krrk.
—Kururu.

The goblins discussed which part of the fish to grab then ended up equally putting it on their shoulder.

“…Newbie?”

Boss, who was watching from the couch silently, suddenly asked. For some reason, she was already drooling.

“Yes?”

“When is breakfast?”

Boss was honest when it came to food.
In fact, most strong people were like that. They could rein in their sexual desire or desire to sleep, but they couldn’t withstand hunger because of their bodies’ high metabolism.

“30 minutes later.”

“…I see, ssp.”

Boss nodded with a look of anticipation.
I grinned and turned on my smartwatch. Just in case, I checked Violet Banquet for any news on ‘entrance tickets’, but the only thing that popped up were tickets to amusement parks. Disappointed, I checked the trending topics.

[Fenrir unseen for six months! Was he just another seasonal mercenary?]

There was another article about Fenrir. When I was active, they criticized me for using my Gift for money, but now that I wasn’t, they were berating for a different reason.
I skipped the article and checked the comments.

[Rachel0418]
Then what, you expect a mercenary to work for free? -.- I’m sure Fenrir is taking a rest because people like you keep bothering him. -.-

“Pft.”

As I expected, there was another comment from Rachel. Was she looking at online articles all the time?
Click.
I liked the comment without much thought.
Then suddenly, a lightbulb went on in my head.

“…Oh right.”

The Royal Court guild was fated to obtain ‘entrance tickets’ faster than other guilds.
When it came to entrance tickets, their ‘rank’ was the most important. Still, it was nice to have extra tickets. Since I was also worried about England’s situation which was worse than what I predicted…

“Boss.”

“Mm?”

“I have an idea.”

Staring at Boss’ eyes, I began to choose words for a negotiation.
But regardless of what my idea was, Boss was likely to agree with the blue ocean fish being my negotiation tool.

**


April.
The Royal Court guild greeted its new apprentice heroes. In any other year, England should be booming with tourists who would come to enjoy its beautiful spring.

“…Haa.”

The weather was great, but the Royal Court guild’s vice-leader Rachel was sighing.

“I didn’t learn any of this in Cube…”

She became the youngest vice-leader because the previous vice-leader was scouted by a guild in Korea. As the position was practically pushed onto her, she didn’t know what to do with the heavy responsibility she now had. England and the Royal Court guild’s situation was that bad. Rachel didn’t blame the vice-leader who ran away either.

“…Ehew.”

Rachel scrolled through the emails on her computer screen and sighed.

[Thank you for contacting Desolate Moon. We received the Royal Court guild’s request for aid, but military negotiations should be done through the Association…]

The Royal Court guild’s requests for aid were all declined. Of course, as the above example showed, not all were flat-out rejections. In fact, most advised to request aid from the Hero Association.
However, Rachel knew all too well what that meant. Once the Association was brought in, the Royal Court guild would lose too much influence and control. Just like how Roton Corporation schemed to take control over Clancy Islet, the Association was likely to ask England something similar.
England couldn’t afford to set its house on fire to catch a flea.
…Though, the flea was absurdly big.

“Sylvie, how many representatives are we scheduled to meet today?”

Rachel called her personal secretary.

—13 in total. 11 of them are already waiting in the building.

When the number of monsters exploded, the Royal Court guild decided to partner with mercenary groups. It only made sense as they were separate from the Association’s influence.

“So most of them are here.”

Of course, as the number of monsters in England increased, the Royal Court guild and its Heroes would gain more experience. Then, their guild ranking would naturally go up and they would have more monster corpses to use for research and development.
However, the question was whether England had the power to overcome the odds.

—Shall I send them in?

“Yes, one at a time.”

**


England, London outskirt.
Ordinary citizens were full of tension as they walked around the streets. Nowadays, they didn’t feel safe even in their country’s capital. The monsters living in River Thames were too ferocious.

“I’m going to leave the country for a while.”

“Where are you going?”

“Korea. My older brother has residency there. He’s not in Seoul, but it should still be safer than here.”

“Ah, I’m jealous.”

They didn’t sound too hopeful either as they worried about their country’s future and their loved ones’ safety.
Almost as if to confirm their worries…

Wiing—
Wiing—

The siren suddenly went off, alerting that monsters had invaded.
At the same time, a manhole in the middle of the street shot open and monsters began to climb up. Sea Moles, Greed Toads, Giant Catfish, etc. They were all low-rank ~ low-intermediate rank monsters, but not only were they too much for ordinary civilians to deal with, there also were just too many of them.

“Uu, uwaak!”

Monsters that popped out of the manhole quickly took over the streets. Flashing their bloodthirsty eyes, they chased people who were running away.
The civilians did all they could to avoid being devoured.
However, without guns, even low-rank monsters were too much for ordinary people to handle.

—Ribbit!

A Greed Toad jumped on top of a woman.

“L-Let me go!”

She punched the toad’s face, but it was futile. The toad opened its mouth with a cheeky smile.
…It was then.
BOOM!
The toad’s head suddenly exploded.

“Uu, uuu….”

A mysterious attack saved the woman. Suddenly being covered with the fluids of a monster, the woman was unable to properly assess the situation. But knowing that she was saved, she began to escape.
At that moment, another monster jumped towards her. This time, it was a Sea Mole.

—Grrr…

“Ah…”

However, the Sea Mole’s head exploded before it could even touch her. Seeing this, the woman finally realized that something was off. Other people who were running away had also stopped to stare behind her.
The woman followed their line of sight and turned around.

“….”

Streaks of light were raining down from the sky.
It was a scene she had seen before in a YouTube video.

Tudududu—
Bullets that obliterated monsters. This terrifying barrage of bullets was lighting up the sky as it annihilated hundreds of monsters.
From the onset to the end, only three minutes passed by.
The screams of chaos ringing out from the streets were long gone.

“…Wow.”

“My god….”

The civilians were all staring at a single man who was sitting on a bike. Because of his helmet, no one could see his face.

Vroom—
His bike roared.
While everyone stared at him in awe, he quickly disappeared.

“T-That, that must have been Fen, Fenrir!”

A motorcycle-enthusiast who loved to slaughter monsters with a mystical gun.
He was a mercenary who was famous even among ordinary people.

**


Vice-leader’s office of the English Royal Court guild.
Rachel was currently in a meeting with representatives of mercenary groups.

“As you know, we achieved rank 10 in the most recent mercenary group rankings.”

Her first meeting was with the Skid Row Mercenary Group.
The group’s leader initiated the negotiation with a haughty attitude and tone. Albeit reluctant, this was something Rachel could accept. But because he was asking for too much, she instantly rejected him despite the Royal Court guild’s current situation.

“Ha, I’m speechless.”

“You can speak.”

“How can you be so beautiful?”

“…Pardon?”

Her next meeting was with the Great Tiger Mercenary Group, which was around rank 14.
Its leader was a man in his mid-30s, and he was interested in Rachel’s appearance above anything else. Although he made it seem like the meeting was a blind date, the conditions he offered were reasonable.

“England is in a bad spot, right? Of aerial, land, and sea monsters, sea monsters are accepted as the most difficult to deal with. Why don’t you just ask the Association for help?”

“That’s our own business.”

“…Are you looking down on mercenaries? You think we wouldn’t understand just because we’re uneducated?”

“No…”

Just like that, Rachel continued her meetings.
Many of the leaders were arrogant or stupid. Leaders from the higher ranked mercenary groups were especially so.
The leader of the world’s rank 5 mercenary group was particularly distasteful. The way he ogled her with his lustful eyes made Rachel want to pull out her weapon.

“Huu.”

After a long time, all 13 meetings came to an end. She didn’t feel that it was a waste of time. Rank 14 and rank 9 seemed to be reasonable.

—Um, vice-leader.

At that moment, her secretary suddenly called her.

“Yes, what is it?”

—Um, someone from another mercenary group just showed up.

“…Weren’t we done?”

—We were, but this one claimed to be a mercenary and asked to meet vice-leader.

‘Then why don’t you just kick him out?’
Rachel pressed her forehead.

—I wanted to send him back, but he seems to be someone famous.

“Oh… I see.”

‘Do mercenaries get more arrogant with more fame? I didn’t want to be biased for the sake of that person…’

“If he didn’t contact us before… ehew, just let him in.”

‘It’s not like I’ll lose anything by seeing another person.’

—Understood.

The secretary replied.
Rachel let out a deep sigh as she tapped on her desk.
After about five minutes…
Tok, tok—
Someone knocked on her door.

“Come in.”

Rachel spoke with an exhausted voice.
Kiik—
The door slowly opened and heavy footsteps rang out.
Rachel slowly raised her head. She saw the mercenary that just entered.
It was a man clad entirely in black. His hair was in a clean pomade-style and his well-kempt beard made him particularly handsome.
As soon as Rachel saw him, her eyes widened.
It was only natural. Despite the slightly different aura he had, Rachel was too familiar with him.

“It’s nice to meet you.”

The man greeted her casually with a charming baritone voice.
Then, he sat down in front of her naturally, exuding a pleasant scent.

“Ah…”

Because of their sudden reunion, Rachel was at a loss for words. Her voice didn’t come out. Her five senses seemed to have frozen.

“I’m Jeronimo’s Fenrir.”

Rachel was unable to tell whether the man knew of her plight. However, she saw the warm smile he had on his face.

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