As usual, the ancient ruin was packed with people. Although the city changed their main tourist product to the story about the heroes who saved Violuwin, they didn’t do such a crazy thing as throwing their past, popular site away.
Zich and his companions trespassed into the ruin. To hide their identities, they moved separately. Zich complained about having to make up a plan to just enter a tourist site, but everyone knew that Zich was in a sour mood not because they had to hide their identities but because of the ‘hero’ title that had been attached to his name.
Zich and Lyla traveled together while Hans, Snoc, and Leona followed from a distance. Fortunately, people couldn’t recognize them with their simple disguises. Although statues of them were stationed in the square, these statues differed slightly from the original since they weren’t made while directly looking at their faces.
Like before, the two lightly passed through areas blocked by tourists. Zich and Lyla trespassed deeper inside so tourists wouldn’t notice them and waited. Soon afterward, the rest of the group joined them.
“You didn’t get found out, right?”
It didn’t matter if people found them out, but it was better to avoid bothersome things; of course, the story changed if the bothersome thing was doing a kind act, but this wasn’t even the case. Hearing Hans’ confident answer, it seemed like no one had really spotted them. Zich nodded like he was satisfied and turned around.
“Let’s go.” They went deeper inside the ruin. Zich stared at Lyla and asked, “Do you feel anything?”
Since she felt something in the last ruin, she might do the same in this one. However, she shook her head.
“No, I can’t feel anything here.”
‘Well, yeah. If you felt something here, you would have tried to find it before.’
Lyla had used this ruin as her hideout at one point in time. With her high sense of judgment, she would have searched the ruin immediately if she had felt something strange.
“Didn’t you say that you know this ruin really well?”
“I know all of its secret passageways and its structure.”
“I guess we won’t have to even draw a map then.”
Otherwise, they would’ve had to search all over the ruin. Since they had Snoc with them, that wouldn’t have been difficult to do, but the process took too much time.
‘Since Lyla can’t feel anything, I guess we can think that monster won’t be here.’
Or it could already be dead.
“Was there a spot that looked suspicious?”
“I don’t know.”
“I guess we have to run around and look for it then.”
Even though they didn’t need to draw a map, it seemed like they still needed to look through the ruin.
“Let’s go back to the secret room first,” Zich asked Lyla to guide them. He had forgotten the way to the room where they found Estellade or the passageway that led to it. After all, they had found the secret room after getting lost in the first place.
Snoc probably remembered the way, but since Lyla knew her way perfectly around the ruin, there was no need for them to solely depend on Snoc. Lyla took a step forward, and Zich and his companions followed. It seemed Lyla had told the truth when she said she knew the ruin’s entire structure, as there was no hesitation in her steps.
The ruin looked the same everywhere they went, and Zich followed Lyla with a bored expression on his face. Then, he turned his head forward.
“What is it?” She turned around, and Zich grabbed onto her shoulders and walked forward.
“I will be in the lead for a bit.”
“Is there something?”
“There’s something in front of us.”
“Is…there a strange presence?”
Lyla’s expression hardened as she remembered what happened in the last ruin.
The others also tensed up, but Zich waved his hand. “Don’t be nervous. It’s not something like that.”
“Then, what is it?”
“There’s a person.”
“Really? Is it a lost tourist?”
There were many cases where people secretly went inside a blocked section of the ruin and got lost. This was the reason why they only opened a specific section of the ruin, and somewhere in this ruin, there were corpses of those who had lost their way and starved.
“No, it doesn’t seem like a tourist.”
This was a presence that Zich had felt before.
“Is this someone you know?”
“Yeah, it’s probably someone you know too.”
Lyla tilted her head. Since she didn’t have most of her memories, she didn’t know many people. When she soon saw the person, she couldn’t help but be surprised.
* * *
“It’s been a while, sir.” Zich stretched out his hand. Whatever happened between them before the regression was in the past now, and Zich didn’t pull out his sword since they were no longer on opposing sides.
“Yes, it’s been a while, sir.” Glen also reached out with his hand, and Zich grabbed it tightly.
Before the regression, they were constantly trying to kill each other; but now, they were only supposed to know each other’s faces.
“Did you say that your name was Zich?”
“Yes, and you are Glen Zenard. Right, sir?”
In front of the Demon Lord of Strength, Zich Moore, there was his archnemesis, Glen Zenard. His face, handsome enough to make Zich want to spit on him, was the same as ever. Zich didn’t expect Glen at all in such a place, but he didn’t have a particular reason to question it. Thus, he addressed Glen calmly.
“We haven’t met since we defeated those Bellid guys from before.”
“Yes, you’re right. How have you been since then?”
“I’ve been doing okay. How have you been doing, Mr. Zenard?”
Small talk passed between them. There was nothing strange about their words. It was the type of soulless conversation that passed between people who were familiar with each other but were not very close. Yet, there was a tense atmosphere between them. Glen stared past Zich’s back.
“Your companions…have increased.”
“I met them on the way.”
Lyla and Leona slightly bowed their heads at Glen. Likewise, Glen also bowed his head.
“Mr. Zenard, you seem to also be traveling with a new companion.”
“Yes. She is a very important companion to me.”
Browning nodded towards Zich. She seemed to be very pleased about being called an important companion as her face beamed with pride.
“May I ask why you came here? Isn’t this a restricted area of the ruin?”
“Isn’t that also the same for you, Mr. Zenard?”
Glen shrugged. “I heard that monsters barged into this city a couple of days ago. While I’m on break, I thought I should patrol around this place. I thought that some monsters might have entered this complicated ruin and hid here.”
“Yeah, I thought it was weird that you wanted to take a break.”
Browning complained behind Zenard’s back. Glen turned around and consoled her. “We’re still resting in the end. If monsters don’t come out, won’t this be the same as taking a break?”
“You’re really…!” Browning let out a sigh. Even though her voice sounded frustrated, she could not disguise the obvious pride she had for Glen in her voice.
After consoling Browning, Glen looked at Zich again. “Since I told you the reason why I’m here, would it be alright for me to ask why you’ve come here?”
Even though Glen’s words were soft and gentle, there was a forceful tone in his voice.
“Yeah, there are too many people in other areas.”
“…You know this is a restricted area, right?”
“I know.” Zich was shameless about breaking the rules; in contrast, Glen was the one who got taken aback by Zich’s confident reply.
“…I think that it’s a bit off-putting to talk about entering a restricted area so confidently.”
“Oh my, as someone who’s made the same mistake, are you seriously saying that to me?”
“What do you mean by mistake! We came here to check if any monsters are hiding here!” Browning intervened in their conversation. It seemed as if she could not endure Glen receiving the slightest insult.
However, Zich didn’t even blink. Instead, he folded his arms and stared at her with a slouched posture. “Did you receive permission from the city?”
Browning was not able to answer.
Zich continued, “If you’ve received permission from the city, there should be at least one or two soldiers accompanying you two. I’m sure the city would like accurate information about what you two are doing, and there’s something called ‘procedure’ that people have to go through.”
Browning hesitated; it seemed as if she wanted to reply but did not know what to say. In the end, Browning stared at Glen with a troubled expression.
“…I understand. Then we should act like we never saw each other, right?”
“Hahaha! As expected, we speak the same language!” Zich tapped Glen’s arms a few times.
Glen let out a sigh and pushed away Zich’s arm. “We will leave first. Mr. Zich, what will you do?”
“We’re going to look around a bit more and go back.”
“I hope you don’t lose your way. Then goodbye.”
Glen pulled Browning and moved towards the ruin’s exit. The meeting between the two groups, which had begun rather cordially, ended with an awkward, tense atmosphere.
* * *
“What the heck is up with those guys?”
As soon as they were a good distance away from Zich and his companions, Browning let out her frustration. She swung her fists as if Zich was standing right in front of her.
“Restrain yourself, Browning.”
“How can I restrain myself! He was talking as if we are the same as him!”
“There was some sense to his words though. We did come here secretly.”
“But we came here for the city’s protection! It’s completely different from those guys who came here to sightsee!” She stared at Glen. “How do you know him?”
“I got to know him through Karuwiman.”
“Is he related to the Karuwiman?”
“He’s a Karuwiman Honorary Knight.”
Her eyes were full of disbelief. “An Honorary Knight? The same as you? That guy?”
‘Yeah, it doesn’t make sense.’ Glen agreed with Browning inside his mind. He couldn’t believe that Zich of all people was a Karuwiman Honorary Knight; things were going completely amiss.
Browning continued to complain; Glen heard her saying things like, ‘I can’t believe it’ and ‘what the hell is up with their standards.’ Browning seemed to have been very shocked to find out that Zich was a Karuwiman Honorary Knight. Then a thought popped up in her mind.
“Come to think of it, except for the elf, don’t they look like the statues that were raised in this city?” Then she shook her head. “No, that can’t be. There’s no way that a hero who saved this city would have such a shitty personality.”
“Can you be a bit quieter?”
“Ah, yeah, yup. Sorry, I was a bit loud, right?” She closed her mouth and stole a furtive glance at Glen.
It was the first time he had ever directly scolded her. Browning wondered if there was something that she said that might have crossed Glen’s mood and she blamed herself while thinking back on her words. However, Glen paid no attention to Browning at all as his mind was full of thoughts about Zich and his companions.
Zich was supposed to be his archrival, the Demon Lord of Strength. After the incident with the Northern Branch of Bellid, Glen wanted to attach a spy to Zich, but Zich had disappeared too fast. Now, they had met each other in such an unexpected place. Just his existence in Violuwin’s ruin made his head hurt, but the sight of his companions hurt his head even further.
‘The Earth’s Tyrant Nowem.’
In the future, the Earth’s Tyrant Nowem should have extinguished an entire country as a Demon Person. During the incident with the Northern Branch of Bellid, Glen had only seen him briefly from a distance so he didn’t recognize him, but now that he had a good look at Snoc, he was sure that Snoc was the ‘The Earth’s Tyrant Nowem.’
Leona was the elf who was going to be his companion in the future. A companion that should have helped him eradicate ‘The Demon Lord of Strength, Zich Moore,’ in the future was now working with the Demon Lord.
And there was more.
After seeing that sword on one of the man’s waists, Glen’s eyes burned with fury.Previous Chapter Next Chapter