Chapter 349. Pieces (1)


Even after Eren pledged allegiance to Prihi, not much changed. As usual, Eren was keen on training, and Puharen was still stuck in his room. There was only one noticeable change: a small pill would find its way to Eren every night.

Prihi stuck to her promise to help Eren’s master and ordered her servant to deliver medicine to Eren every night. Deeply grateful, Eren gave the medicine to his teacher.

As each day passed, Eren’s master recovered his health, and Eren grew rapidly. The boy was now skilled enough to compete against an adult. Though of course, his opponent used a wooden sword, whereas Eren used a real sword.

Those were the happy days.

Then, one night.

Eren, who returned home after his usual training routine, delivered the medicine to his master as usual and shared a rather pleasant conversation with the recovering patient. He then went back to his room.

“Huaaa….”

Eren sat in a chair and looked outside the window. Suddenly, a sense of fulfillment began to overtake him. Some would describe this feeling as happiness, or joy.
Eren put his hand on his chest and smiled.

“Ah, right.”

Now that everything was under control, Eren remembered something he had forgotten— namely, the nuns who had cared for him.

Eren took out a paper and a pen and began writing. He wanted to let the nuns know how well he was doing so that they wouldn’t have to worry about him.

===
[To the Temple of Kterin]
Hello, this is Eren. How are you? Master and I are well. The Royal Palace is so big and amazing. I get to eat on time, and my sword skills are improving, too. Every day is a happy day.
But sometimes it hurts when I think of you. I miss you a lot….
Today I received a stipend. They don’t usually pay the squires, but I think I got it because I worked hard. I’m sending it to you because it’s useless to me anyway. Please use it well. I’ll keep the letters coming. Thank you for everything.

May the grace of the Lord always be with you.
===

Eren sealed the letter with two gold coins, a stipend he had received from Prihi, in an envelope. The bottom of the envelope was considerably thickened by the coins.

“Huhu….”

Eren looked at the letter with satisfaction. He stayed that way for quite some time until scarlet light began penetrating his window.
The light was at first about the size of a firefly. It quickly grew bigger as it passed through the window and shone brightly on Eren’s face.

“…?”

Eren looked out the window with his head tilted.

“What the….”

Under the night sky, in the garden of the Royal Palace, an army of soldiers stood with torches in their hands. They were fully armed and clearly hostile, trampling on the grass and the flowers in the garden.

Eren quickly grabbed his sword and stood up.

“…Ah?”

However, when he saw the small figure at the center of the army, he paused.

Eren and his master’s benefactor, Prihi, was there.

**

…Orden woke up in a cave.

He saw the light from a lamp swaying faintly over the surface of the stone ceiling.

Orden couldn’t grasp the situation. He remembered he had felt this same way when he first gained intelligence. Just the fact that he was alive confused Orden.

—Kururu. Kururu.

At that moment, he heard Kurukuru’s voice. Orden slowly turned to the direction that the voice had come from. Kurukuru was kneeling beside him.

—Kururu….

Kurukuru was apologizing. He felt guilty that he had disobeyed the king’s orders and saved his life. But the humanoid monster did not regret his decision. In fact, Kurukuru was prepared to die. He was prepared to take his own life if the king wished for him to do so.

“…”

Orden stared at Kurukuru in silence. He read his servant’s memory. All the things that Kurukuru had done over the years slowly seeped into Orden.

Kurukuru traveled all over the world to save Orden. He did everything he could do to get his hands on the ingredients for spirit medicine, such as ginseng, herbs, ores and seagrass. Sometimes he even stole from others.

In the process, Kurukuru cut off the Kraken’s leg, broke into the Tower of Heroes, pulled out an Ancient Dire Wolf’s Teeth, and purchased the skin of a Basilisk.
He crossed mountains, explored the seas, ran through jungles, wandered through deserts, and dove into boiling magma.
In the meantime, he lost his arms, became blind, and his antennae burned down. But none of that mattered to Kurukuru.

If only he could save the king.
If only he could be with him again.
The servant was willing to give his own life for it.

“…”

After taking in Kurukuru’s memory, Orden suddenly realized that he had become smaller. He was still larger than an average human, but slightly smaller than three humans combined. His horns, which he had managed with care, were gone, too.
Because of this, his body didn’t feel too heavy.

Orden stood up without saying a word. He moved his stiff legs and stepped forward. The soil beneath his feet felt soft, for Kurukuru had managed the cave with care.

Orden set foot in the world outside the cave.

The dazzling blue sky greeted him. The sun poured down on him. The harmony of the clouds, the sun, and the moon in the sky were beautiful.

Orden stood in absolute stillness and felt the nature surrounding him.
The salty wind, the rolling waves, the rustling leaves, and the golden sand of the beach.
His eyes captured them all.

“This is strange.”

A chuckle escaped Orden’s lips. He had never looked so closely at nature. He was never really interested in it. Before, all he did was fight and kill in search of his own existence.

Tap, tap.

At that moment, he heard quiet footsteps approaching.

Tap, tap.

Kurukuru, his only servant, stood beside him.
Orden did not turn to face his servant, however. Kurukuru, too, stayed silent. The two monsters stood still and looked at the horizon. They stayed that way for a very long time until all the time they had spent apart had been paid for.

…That was a long time ago when Orden first came back to life.

Lost in old memories, Orden looked up at Vladivostok’s blue sky,

—Kuaaaa, kuaaaa

But a strange sound disturbed his recollection. Orden lowered his head and looked at the origin of the painful groan.
Bual, the devil who had attacked him with obstinate arrogance, was now lying on the ground. He had no arms. He still had one leg left, but it was folded at a strange angle. His stomach was torn and blood and organs were pouring out of it.

Bual had lost completely. His army, which at one point in time seemed to cover the entire surface of the earth, had been annihilated as well.

Orden had destroyed the devil’s army by himself.

—You, you insolent fool… how dare you….

Despite the situation, Bual had yet to surrender. Orden gazed at Bual. In Bual’s bloodshot eyes and angry gestures, Orden could see his old self.

Orden felt ashamed of himself, so much so that he wanted to teach this transcendent being what he himself had learned. At that moment Orden realized that he and the devil might be similar in some respects, despite the difference in years they had lived to date.

Orden looked down at Bual and spoke.

“I feel sorry for you. Do not ever wonder about yourself again. That will put your mind at ease.”

—Shut your mouth!

Bual spat at Orden. The cursed mixture of saliva and blood, however, fell to the ground without ever reaching Orden.

—You, I’ll remember you! I’ll kill you no matter what! Even if I die right here, I’ll definitely-

“People live because they’re alive. Do not search for a deeper meaning.”

—Shut up! Shut up! You-

Orden swung his fist.
Crack—! With the sound of an explosion, the devil’s head disappeared.

Orden shook his fist and turned around. He was no longer a king, so he was not obliged to teach anyone who was unwilling to learn.

Orden sighed and looked up at the sky, surrounded by the stillness of the forest. His gaze traveled downward. An artificial wall stood tall amidst the green of nature. Orden stared at the very top of the wall.

“G-Guardian….”

“Mighty Guardian!”

“He’s the Guardian of Vladivostok!”

The humans, who felt Orden’s gaze, began yelling. Slightly embarrassed, Orden looked away.

“Guardian God—!”

“What an honor! We praise you!”

Fervent cheering continued. Surprised at the fact that he was pleased, Orden stood beside Kurukuru. Then the monsters headed back to their dwelling place.

**

[Essence of the Strait Underground Facility]

Dressed in the [Black Lotus Uniform], I arrived at the underground facility where [Dimensional Entropy] was stored. Upon arrival, I heard Yoo Yeonha say “I found a way to reverse the current situation.”
I decided to hide for the time being and listen to their conversation.

"We need to transmit as much energy as possible to the Tower of Wish. Is there a way?"

"…I'm skeptical. Dimensional Entropy is powerful, but it's also intractable. Even now, we’re barely keeping it under control with the help of the state-of-the-art stabilizers. It’s too risky to release this kind of energy in bulk.”

Each of the researchers expressed their ideas.
The nine researchers gathered here were probably the brightest people on this planet, smart enough to manage the Entropy.

“Can’t you find a way? We should be able to pull it off at least once if we raise the output level to the max.”

“What if the machine gets broken in the process? The whole planet could be destroyed…”

I approached them in the middle of a heated debate.

“Oi.”

“Uaaaak!”

The moment I spoke, the researchers screamed at the top of their lungs. I could see their hair stand on end. Even Yoo Yeonha seemed surprised, swallowing her saliva.

With a smile, I announced, “Don’t worry about the stability. I’ll help you out.”

I had multiple Gifts that could be used to increase the output of a machine: [Stigma], [Random Consolidation System], and [Constraints and Amplifications].
However.

“W-who is this guy? I-identify yourself!”

“How did you get here?!”

The researchers clung to each other and, as one giant ball, pointed their fingers at me. The way the middle-aged researchers screamed in panic was surprisingly cute.

“C-Chief Officer! Please do something! W-w-who is this man?”

“…Haa.”

Yoo Yeonha glanced over my clothes and sighed.

“It’s okay. He’s on our side.”

“…Our side?”

“Yes. I’m sure you all have heard of him. This is Black Lotus.”

“…”

Black Lotus.
The moment Yoo Yeonha announced my name, the researchers froze. Their lips and fingers, which had been moving non-stop until a moment ago, also stopped.
In absolute silence, Yoo Yeonha spoke again.

“It’s okay. I told you, he’s our ally.”

“…”

Despite her encouragement, the researchers were still skeptical. Left with no choice, I stepped forward.

“The plan will proceed as discussed. I can take care of the stability issue.”

Saying so, I approached the celestial-shaped machine. And I reached out to the heart of the machine, where [Dimensional Entropy] was placed.

“U-um, be, be careful.”

The researchers remarked worriedly. I gave a small smile and activated [Random Consolidation System].

Wiing—

The machine immediately began emitting a loud sound, and suddenly the number 48 appeared at its center.
48%. Truly a tremendous amplification.
I turned my gaze to the researchers again. Their jaws dropped from surprise. These people were experts in their fields of expertise. They must have realized that the machine was completely different from the way it used to be.

“…Now, let’s connect Crevon and Earth with this,” I said and glanced at Yoo Yeonha.

Yoo Yeonha nodded and came to me.

“Should I activate it now?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. Come on, everyone! We don’t have a lot of time!”

Yoo Yeonha’s clapping helped the researchers come to their senses. They quickly headed to the control room and began typing on the computer.
About 2 minutes later.

Woooong….

The celestial machine started to vibrate. The energy extracted from [Dimensional Entropy] was concentrated on one specific point.

*Guoooo….

The resonance of the vibration shook my skull.
And….

Koong—!

I felt an artificial vibration above my head. At the same time, my intuition detected footsteps full of hostility. Black water began dripping down from the ceiling.

“It’s the enemy.” I said to Yoo Yeonha.

“Right. Monsters must’ve sensed the entropy,” guessed Yoo Yeonha.

She quickly grabbed her whip. Keeping my composure, I turned to Spartan.

—Pururu.

Spartan knew what I wanted to say just from the look in my eyes. He quickly disappeared somewhere.

Kuaaaaa— Guaaaaa—
Humans are down below—! Kill the humans—! Curse the mortals—!

The howls of monsters mingled with the sound of the celestial machine and filled the building.
But there was nothing to worry about.

Jiiing—

About 10 seconds after Spartan's departure, a blue portal appeared right next to where I stood.

“Did you call for reinforcements?”

Having noticed the portal, Yoo Yeonha pouted, slightly discontented.
I smiled at her.

“I did.”

At that moment, blocks of shadows in different colors rose from the portal. They soon came into their original form.

“Let me introduce ourselves.”

They were not one but many; at the same time, many were one.
The reason for that was— if you combine them all, you ultimately end up with black.

“We are the Chameleon Troupe.”

Seat of Yellow, Jain.
Seat of Blue, Khalifa.
Seat of Green, Jin Yohan.
Seat of Violet, Droon.
Seat of Indigo, Yoo Kyunghwan.
Seat of Silver, Kaita.
Seat of Turquoise, Setryn.
Seat of Brown, Hirano Arashi.
And… Seat of White, Boss.

All the Colors of the Chameleon Troupe, except for Cheok Jungyeong, were here.

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