Chapter 34

Chapter 34

Porti was a big city. It was a business city that placed the greatest importance on logistics, so its roads were well-polished and clean. Although the roads weren’t made from stones or gravel, the tidied dirt road was wide and stretched far across the city.  

Of course, no matter how wealthy the city was, it couldn’t have set all the roads. As they walked farther away from the city, the road gradually grew rougher. The ground became bumpy, and little pieces of stone and sand stubbed their feet more frequently. Soon, resilient weeds and bushes began to invade their path.

“Huff! Huff!”

A person was breathing extremely roughly; the breathing was too intense for walking on a road, even if the roads were getting rougher. It almost seemed as if the person was exaggerating his breaths to demonstrate his struggle. 

This person was Hans. If a person in front of him kept breathing and making sounds as Hans did, Zich thought no one would blame him for throwing a rock at the person’s head and cracking it.

Hans dragged his shaking legs and shouted, “S-Sir Zich!” He was exhausted enough to bite his tongue by mistake.

“What?”

“Don’t you think we’ve made enough progress, sir?”

The look on Hans’ face could’ve stirred up sympathy in anyone’s heart, but to Zich, it was useless.

“You can endure it a bit more. Stop being a crybaby.”

“I-I think I will really die!”

Hans’ joints cracked, his muscles seemed to scream at him to stop, and his clothes were drenched in sweat. Zich stopped his steps and walked in front of Hans. His movements were light as a feather.

In comparison, Hans looked ridiculous. Thick metal chains were tied to his arms and legs, and heavyweights dangled from every part of his body. Hans was bound to feel tired even on a sleek, smooth road with all the extra weight he carried.

“Hmm.”

Zich stroked his chin and looked at Hans, who looked as if he was about to die. Hans hoped that Zich might take some of these iron chains off of him and exaggerated his expression.

Grab!

Zich grabbed Hans’ arms and squeezed them a couple of times.

“Your muscles can still afford to do more. It’s fine. Just endure for a bit longer.”

With those words, Zich walked back to the front again; and as if the world was ending in front of him, Hans squirmed in despair. Hans was only relieved of his suffering when Zich stopped to set up camp.

“I-I am going to die!”

Hans slumped down to the dirt ground. He didn’t need a blanket or a cushion. Even if the ground below him was hard and uncomfortable, he wanted to lie down forever. Happiness surged his heart, and Hans felt like no splendor or spectacle could give him the happiness he felt at the moment.

However, this happiness didn’t last long.

“What are you doing?”

Demon Lords from storybooks would have sounded like this voice, and in surprise, Hans rose like he was giving an offering to the Demon Lord.

“We have to make camping preparations.”

“But…my muscles are aching quite a bit…”

“Didn’t I tell you? That much is fine. Quickly get up and help.”

Hans begrudgingly stood up again.

“You can let down your weights while preparing for camp.”

“…Yes, sir.”

Zich told Hans this as if he was granting him a great favor, and Hans sniffled. Soon, the camping preparations were complete. They chose a spot on the ground, made a fire, and gathered leaves to place under the blankets. It was a very simple camp, but it was enough to spend a night in. But unfortunately for Hans, his suffering wasn’t over.

“Your arms are dropping.”

At Zich’s words, Hans squeezed out all the energy he had to raise his arms again.

“I-I really can’t do it anymore, sir!”

“You can. You kept saying that you couldn’t do it, but you endured it so far. Or have you been lying to me?”

“No, sir!”

“Then, endure it. Believe in yourself.”

Hans whimpered. He kept his stance with his sword raised. The sword he raised wasn’t the short sword he used to have, but a long sword. It was what Zich had gotten him on their way out of Porti.

At first, Hans had been glad to receive the long sword since it looked much cooler than the short sword. However, that happy mood was short-lived. He wanted to punch himself for smiling so widely when he first received the gift and heard that Zich would teach him swordsmanship.

“Your skills will only improve if you endure pain. And you will be able to use those skills in any situation. Weren’t you able to do it last time thanks to what I taught you?”

After leaving the Count’s residence, Zich had trained Hans in the fundamentals of swordsmanship. He had taught Hans how to use a little bit of mana to move quickly so that they could shorten the time it took them to travel, and Hans could escape in emergencies. Zich also trained Hans in endurance and strength to order him to do more things. 

Zich had taught Hans for his own comfort and half out of a joke, so he was surprised to discover Hans’ potential.

‘He has talent.’

Zich stared at Hans who kept grunting, ‘Shh! Shh!’ like a diseased bird with his sword raised.

‘An immense amount of talent.’

In terms of talent, Hans was above Greig who had been evaluated as an excellent successor. And he was maybe—really maybe…

‘Similar to Glen Zenard.’

It was too early to speculate. Before his regression, Zich had been the strongest entity in the world. And Zenard was someone who led a party of heroes and defeated Zich in his prime. Thus, his talents and abilities were legendary. On top of that, Hans hadn’t been with Zich for long yet.

‘Is it too early to compare him to Glen Zenard?’

Regardless, it was evident that Hans possessed extraordinary talent.

‘That’s why he was able to get to Belri Weig on time.’

Weig had been so far away that even Lubella gave up on getting to him on time, but Hans had reached Weig with just his two legs alone.

‘It wasn’t a situation where he could’ve ridden on a horse or anything like that.’

So, Hans had pushed his body to its limits and used the tiny amount of mana he had recently learned to control to reach his destination. He drank the magic potion that Zich gave him like water and endured as the taste of blood rose in his throat to reach Weig.

‘Since he helped me completely screw Grotim over, I should really compliment him.’

If Weig hadn’t arrived on time, Zich would have never invaded the Mayor’s mansion. Then, they wouldn’t have been able to delay the ritual any longer, and Grotim would have begun his ritual. Of course, with the magic circles on Bellu’s statues, the ritual wouldn’t have succeeded, but Grotim would have realized this and ran away.

“Your arm is dropping!”

Hans raised his arms again.

‘Be happy, you twerp. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get trained by the strongest person in the future.’

Not knowing his luck, Hans looked like he was about to cry at any moment. 

Zich thought, ‘Of course, that’s not the only reason.’

It was good if this training benefited Hans, but it was better if it benefited him.

‘If I teach him a bit more, I can not only use him as my servant but as an asset to fight my enemies.’

And that could only be achieved after Zich’s perfect, admirable, and “slightly difficult” training.

‘I should stay in the same spot and make him go through training for a while. Mastering the fundamentals is important, and I also have to do some physical training.’

Zich twirled his mana slightly.

Crash!

A vast amount of mana blazed, enough to make his skin shudder a bit. It was an amount that Zich couldn’t have controlled a while ago. 

After the ritual failed, Bellu’s statue fell into the fountain that was in the Mayor’s mansion. Of course, the Karuwimans wanted to destroy the statue, but Zich stopped them. He asked for the stone statue—specifically, the core inside the statue. The core was filled with Bellu’s energy, so Weig had looked at him suspiciously and wanted to know what Zich wanted it for. 

At Weig’s wary attitude, Zich merely thought, ‘Guess it can’t be helped if he doesn’t give it to me,’ and was surprised the next moment when Weig handed him the core without saying much. Weig and the Karuwimans seemed to have great faith in Zich. 

As expected, the core contained a massive amount of Bellu’s energy, and Zich used a skill he learned before he regressed: ‘Energy Drain.’

As its name suggested, it was a skill that allowed users to absorb another person or item’s energy. Some might think that a person with a small amount of mana would be able to easily increase their mana pool with this skill, but the skill wasn’t as dreamy as it sounded. The world wasn’t that easy.

First of all, the amount of mana that a person could endure depended on their innate capacity. If a person tried to hold onto a greater amount of mana than they could endure, they were bound to face complications. Moreover, even if they solved the physical problem of holding onto the mana, there would be problems with controlling it. 

If a person mixed different kinds of mana, the mana inside would become unstable and dull; and if they combined mana with a completely different character from their innate mana such as holy power, the chances of having side-effects increased exponentially. In the first place, foreign energy was unlikely to match a person’s body well. 

However, Zich had no intention of making Bellu’s energy his. He already possessed an outstanding amount of mana so there was no need for him to go out of his way to get more. He intended to use the absorbed energy to wake up his dormant, frozen magic. It was a very dangerous experiment. 

Yet, as expected of Zich, he succeeded; and in the present, his mana had increased to an unbelievable level. 

‘If I could have used this much mana at Porti, maybe I wouldn’t have had to call Belri Weig.’

That would have surely been the case if he was able to use all of his mana. Of course, Zich had perfect control over his mana, but the problem was his physical body. 

‘My body can’t handle the sudden increase of mana right now.’

He needed to give his body more time to get used to the mana and to speed up the process, he needed to train his body.

‘This is good. I still have some time before that incident happens, so I should train until then.’

Zich hadn’t been able to recall Porti’s incident, because the incident was as common as a rolling pebble in the later years before his regression. During that period, there had been many incidents, and Zich remembered some of the vital ones.

‘There are going to be swarms of bad guys soon.’

Soon, there would be an Era of Demon Lords and Demon People, so there wouldn’t be a scarce supply of bad guys.

‘If I take care of those guys, I won’t even have to trouble myself about doing kind acts.’

And from what Zich remembered, a horrifying incident would soon break out in another city, near the area where Zich was currently in.

‘Should I make that place my next target?’

And like this, Zich’s next destination was decided.

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