Chapter 168

Zich stared at Leona. She looked like she wanted to screw Scholl’s forehead with an arrow, and it seemed like her rage would physically materialize and rip Scholl into pieces.

‘It’s understandable.’

Zich heard what happened when the Lake’s Tear was stolen from Leona. During the time when Leona lived in the forest, she gained interest in the merchants who came to the elves’ dwelling from time to time. Old elves forbade young and naïve elves from making direct contact with humans, but this was not an easy rule to enforce. There were always young elves who made contact with humans in secret, and Leona was one of them. She had met Scholl then.

Scholl told her of all the interesting things in the world and gained her favor. At first, Leona put up her guard, but as Scholl gave her mysterious objects and told her stories whenever he came to visit, she opened up her heart to him. She thought he was her friend, but what she got in return was a cold betrayal.

She didn’t know how, but Scholl knew of the Lake’s Tear’s existence. It was difficult for Scholl to get it as it was inside the center of the elves’ dwelling. Thus, he used Leona to retrieve it.

‘She is way too naïve.’

Therefore, Leona had come out to the human world because it was her fault for losing the elves’ treasure, and she felt a strong sense of guilt. So, she ran out to take responsibility for her wrongs, but she basically ran away from home.

‘Tsk tsk tsk! She should have doubted people more since she already got betrayed.’

Even if Zich had used his experience and skills to convince Leona, she had believed in him too easily right after Scholl betrayed her.

‘Well, that made things easier for me.’

Her personality wasn’t to her advantage though. Thus, Lyla sometimes took Leona around to teach her the ways of the world when she wasn’t busy. Of course, since Lyla knew the world mostly from books and knowledge rather than experience, Zich intervened from time to time to add his commentary.

‘…Although Lyla hates it whenever I do that.’

Most of the time, Lyla chased him away, saying that he was teaching an innocent kid some strange things.

“I-I’m sorry! Have mercy!”

Leona still pointed her arrow at Scholl. However, she couldn’t pull her bowstring, and her hands trembled.

“What are you going to do, miss?”

“…I don’t know. Hey, Zich. What should I do here?” Leona responded to his question with a question. It seemed like she was struggling to make a decision.

“You should do what you want to do. Kill him, let him go, or leave him alone after half-killing him—it’s all up to you, miss.”

“…Yes, Zich. I should’ve known you would respond like that.”

Zich never pressured her to make a specific decision. Whenever she took her aim, Zich moved according to it. Of course, he chose his own method to fulfill the purpose, which Leona was very grateful for. Leona genuinely thought she had done the right thing to believe in Zich.

“Give me some advice.”

“What kind of advice, miss?”

“What should I do with this guy?”

“How do you feel right now, miss?”

“I am angry.”

“Is that the emotion you feel towards Scholl?”

“I want to kill him.”

Scholl gulped, sensing that his life depended on their current conversation.

“Then, what are you hesitating for, miss?” Zich said calmly while smiling, “Kill him.”

“W-Wait! I’m sorry so please just spare my life—!”

Kick!

Zich kicked Scholl away. He stomped on Scholl’s mouth as he rolled on the ground. Scholl squirmed on the ground, but for some reason, he couldn’t free his face from Zich’s feet.

“Even if he is a different species from you, I’m sure your first kill is going to be difficult. If you don’t plan to fight from now on, I think you should let him go. The fewer people you murder, the better.” It was hard to believe that kind of advice came from the ex-Demon Lord, and that wasn’t all. “If you plan to continue battling, there’s a high chance that you might have to kill someone in the future. I think it would be good for you to get your first kill here. The guilt you’d feel from killing him would be less than killing someone you feel no resentment towards.”

Hans and Snoc shuddered. The reason why they didn’t feel much hesitation in killing a person was simple: Zich had pushed them to the point that they couldn’t even feel something like guilt. Complicated emotions lingered on Leona’s face. Scholl also looked at her eyes straight-on—his life depended on her decision.

“…Zich, move your feet aside.”

Relief passed over Scholl’s eyes. However, it was too early for him to feel this way.

“I don’t want to pierce your feet by accident,” Leona said, and Scholl’s eyes burst wide open.

However, Zich didn’t remove his feet and said calmly, “Just do it. Your archery skills are not that lacking anyways.”

“That’s true.”

Bam!

As soon as Leona let go of her string, there was the sound of something piercing through. Zich removed his feet, and they could no longer hear Scholl’s screams.

*     *    *

There was a rumor circulating around Tungel. It said that the person who had ruined the auction house was hiding inside a nearby mountain. Since it was just a rumor, the investigation team didn’t dig deeper into it. Still, some people went to visit the rumored mountain. The mountain was considerably steep, and most people turned back after taking a couple of steps inside it. Among those looking for the suspect, there was a group of highly suspicious-looking people. 

Whish!

A dark shadow quickly passed between the trees. Dark robed figures circled the area as if they were looking for something inside the forest. Although it was a deep and steep mountain, it wasn’t a very big one; they soon found one carriage in the middle of the forest. The sparkling gold reflected the sunlight that shone past tree leaves, and the robed figures got down to the front of the carriage.

Without even a horse to pull it, the carriage stood in the forest like it was abandoned and let out a chilly atmosphere. However, the robed figures didn’t seem to mind it.

“Wips Midas.” One of the robed figures asked, “Explain the situation. Were you also able to secure the Lake’s Tear?”

Creak!

The carriage door opened, and the robed figures were taken aback. Since the golden carriage was made with Midas’ power, the carriage could change according to Midas’ will. Since Midas caused a huge commotion in Tungel, it was likely that he used his golden carriage in that commotion.

However, Midas rode a carriage completely made out of gold, not a carriage plated with gold.

“…You are not Midas.”

“Yep, I’m not Wips Midas.”

A man came out of the carriage, and the robed figures immediately raised their guard.

“Who are you?”

“Ah, you don’t have to know. Just...”

The man who came out of the carriage was Zich, and he smirked at the robed figures.

“Just remember me as the grim reaper that you guys detest so much.”

*   *   *

Beneath the mountain where Zich planted his trap, Zich’s companions were resting in a small hut. 

Open!

The door opened and Zich came inside the hut. Everyone in the hut stared at him.

Lyla said, “You are back.”

“Yeah.”

“How did it go?”

Instead of replying, Zich tapped Windur a few times. Windur was completely clean, but Lyla knew that it probably had been soaked with blood a few moments ago.

“Snoc.”

“Yes, sir!”

“I left the carriage outside, so take off the gold.”

“Yes, sir!”

Snoc was the one who plated the carriage with gold. With Zich’s command, Snoc went out of the hut, and Zich put his butt down on an old bed with a shabby rag over it. Lyla’s gaze followed Zich’s movements. 

“Then are we all done?”

“Yeah. I’m finished with everything I planned in Tungel.”

Zich found the Lake’s Tear, brought justice to the thief who stole it, destroyed the auction house, and even killed Wips Midas. Zich lit Midas’ corpse on fire and carelessly scattered his ashes on the streets. As a strong suspect for destroying the Tyroul Auction House, the city was trying to find Midas, but they would never be able to find him now.

“Are you that happy?” Zich asked Leona who was sitting on a chair in the corner of the room. Zich now spoke informally to Leona. After finding the Lake’s Tear for her, Leona was the one who suggested he speak informally to her first, and Zich did not refuse this offer.

“Of course.”

Leona tightly hugged the Lake’s Tear. She showed clear determination to never lose it again. However, her face looked uncomfortable after killing someone, even if that person had been basically her sworn enemy. Zich stared at her and moved his gaze towards the Lake’s Tear. 

‘I guess that treasure probably has a very good ability.’

Since it was an elf tribe’s treasure and the robed figures were after it as well, the Lake’s Tear probably had an amazing ability. However, Zich did not know what that ability was. The reason for his ignorance was simple; it was because he hadn’t asked Leona about it, nor did he plan to ask about it in the future.

‘Well, there’s no point in knowing more about it.’

That was the only reason why he didn’t ask.

Then Zich asked, “You’re going back home, right?”

While Leona was with them, Lyla had trained her in various matters about the world, but Leona was still very naïve. Moreover, she basically ran away from home. For many reasons, it was better for her to go back home; with the help of other elves, she could slowly make contact with the human world and gain more experience. 

Zich was not her parent or guardian, so if she wanted to continue traveling, he thought of just letting her go. In that case, Leona would have to travel around the world by herself without Zich’s protection, and Zich predicted that Leona would probably not meet a pretty end.

“Yeah, I have to go back.”

Fortunately, Leona seemed as if she was willing to peacefully go back home. Zich saw Lyla let out a sigh of relief as Lyla had been worried about her.

Leona asked, “You said that you were going to explore the same ruins we went to last time, right?”

“Yeah.”

With Lyla’s suggestion, their next plan was settled for exploring the ruins.

“Can I just participate in that and go back home?”

Zich stared at Leona’s eyes; there was clear curiosity in them. It seemed as if Leona became curious about the ruins the last time she went there, but he could also see another emotion on her face—no, this emotion was much more noticeable than all her other emotions. 

‘Is she trying to forget her guilt?’

It was a good idea for her to focus on other tasks to distract herself from feeling guilty about killing that thief.

‘I mean, I don’t really care either way.’

Zich stared at Lyla. She seemed to think deeply for a moment, and then she nodded her head. Although Lyla was worried about Leona, she did not think it would be problematic to bring her along to the ruins.

“Okay, you can join.”

With Zich’s permission, Leona’s face became a little brighter.

*    *    *

Zich and his companions followed the same pathway to reach the waterfall in front of the ruins. The waterfall was still letting out cool streams of water and falling onto the ground. Like before, they walked on the stone path that Snoc made and walked into the cave. As they entered the cave, the humidity that pressed down on them disappeared and the ruins appeared in front of them. Like last time, Zich opened the door, and everything looked the same as well. However, the golems that were made out of mithril lumps did not come out again. 

Zich turned back. Each of his companions was staring at a different part of the ruins that grabbed their interest. Last time, they didn’t have much time to observe the ruins because of the golems and the auction house’s schedule. Zich gathered everyone’s attention by clapping his hands.

“Well, my friends. Time to find out what kind of ruin this is.”

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