Chapter 76

“You bastard!”

“Yep! That’s it! Humans have to portray their emotions like that!” Zich laughed while watching the man suffer. Even though the cloaked man gritted his teeth, he coldly assessed his situation.

‘The plan has been completely ruined.’

It was even worse because he failed in converting Joachim, out of all people, into a Demon Person. Moreover, he accidentally revealed information about his plan and organization.

‘He is not an ordinary variable.’

The man glared at Zich. Since the man hated extraneous variables, he worked extraordinarily hard in getting rid of Zich. However, even after numerous attacks against him, Zich managed to survive and totally shattered his plans. 

‘Can I kidnap him?’ The man wanted to figure out what more information Zich knew. ‘Considering the unknown variable’s skills and the skills of his companions, it would be too difficult.’

The man felt regretful. As soon as he heard sounds of battle outside, he should have knocked out Joachim and dragged him out. ‘Trying to capture that extra variable has backfired on me.’ The man initially thought that he could definitely capture Zich if his reinforcements came, so he tried to drag out his time with Joachim. He didn’t think that Zich’s group would be strong enough to reach the castle’s jail.

‘I guess it can’t be helped. I should first get out of this place.’

Since the plan failed, he had to make a report about Zich and how some of their plans got found out.

“Hey, you! Are you trying to get away?”

With his keen instincts, Zich noticed right away what the man was about to do.

The man moved.

Clang!

The iron bars that locked Joachim broke off with ease. The man jumped into the prison cell; his plan was to use Joachim as a captive to escape.

“Snoc!” Zich loudly called out to Snoc. At the same time, the prison shook intensely.

Crash!

The prison collapsed, and an enormous amount of soil and debris poured out of the prison.

“S-sir Joachim!”

Hans, Snoc, and the knights who supported Joachim all screamed.

“Sir Zich, w-what are you doing?” Brod, the leader of the knights, fervently protested against Zich. Since he knew one of Zich’s followers, Snoc, had the power to control earth, Brod knew who caused the prison to collapse.

“Do not worry. Sir Joachim is fine.”

“He is fine?”

Shake!

The earth shook again; however, the vibration was smaller than last time. Brod’s feet wobbled like waves. Then, as if he was rising from the water surface, Joachim rose from the ground. 

“Sir!” Brod shouted and ran to Joachim. Joachim’s face was dazed as if he could not understand what just happened to him.

“Are you injured anywhere!”

“Ah, no. Fortunately, I don’t think I’m hurt anywhere.”

Even though he said this, Joachim touched his body to make sure. However, other than the injury he got from resisting capture (which was starting to swell), he had no other injuries. 

“Good job, Snoc.” Zich complimented Snoc who was able to perfectly execute his orders. In response, Snoc held Nowem in his arms and smiled in embarrassment. However, it was way too early for him to smile.

“So from now on, do a good job in fighting him.”

“What?”

Crash!

As soon as Snoc’s words faded, the pile of debris and soil exploded.

“Ugh! Arghh!”

Rough breathing rang throughout the whole room. A figure broke through the pile of soil and crawled out.

“…What is that?” Joachim asked in surprise. However, he was not the only person who was surprised. Almost everyone around him stared at the mysterious monster in front of them.

Only Zich was calm.

“Sir, it’s that man who covered himself with a cloak.”

“You mean that is the cloaked man?”

“Yes. My hypothesis is that he is using a technique that trades his life span for an intense boost in strength.”

“You are very knowledgeable about this.”

“It’s because I fought a guy that used the same technique as him. Moreover, that man is the leader of the assassins that collaborated with Sir Clovey.”

“…As expected, that attack was connected to my elder brother.”

Even though he expected it, Joachim was still shocked. How far did his brother’s hands reach? Was power so important to him? Rather than anger, Joachim now felt despondent. However, Zich was skeptical of Joachim’s thoughts. 

“Hmmm. Is Sir Biyom Dracul really the mastermind behind all of this?”

“…Are you saying that my brother didn’t instigate all of this?”

“Let’s first head back up. Since the situation has reached this point, let’s see how this entire situation will end. Then we might be able to find out everything.”

Even though Zich seemed like he knew something, it didn’t seem like he was going to reveal it now. Joachim gathered his thoughts and finalized his decision.

“That sounds good. I don’t think this situation will end even if I kneel down and beg my brother. Let’s do it.”

By this time, Joachim’s trust and respect towards Biyom was at rock-bottom; he had no qualms about opposing his older brother now—even if it meant dragging himself into a bloody power struggle that he absolutely detested. There was no other way to end this.

“But let’s first deal with that.” Joachim stared at the monstrous figure in front of him. With a glance, it seemed superfluous to say that their opponent looked tough. However, Zich shook his head.

“It’s not an urgent matter, but I guess it’s also not good to spend too much time on that. Let’s quickly head upstairs.”

“Then who will take care of that…”

“Snoc can take care of him.”

Snoc suspected that this was Zich’s plan, but he was still shocked that Zich just dumped the monster on him. His mouth hung open in complete shock.

“Let’s go.”

However, Zich just ignored Snoc and urged the rest of the people to leave. People hesitated; they felt uncomfortable leaving such a dangerous monster to a boy who looked like a country bumpkin. But Zich was firm.

“Snoc will be enough.”

Joachim peered into Zich’s eyes for a moment as if to gauge his true intentions. However, he soon nodded his head.

“Let’s head upstairs!”

Since Joachim said this, the knights couldn’t say much in protest. In addition, they were running out of time.

“I leave it up to you.” After Brod tapped Snoc’s shoulders a few times, he carried Joachim out of the tunnel. A bunch of people followed quickly after him.

“Huh? What?”

Snoc suddenly had to deal with a ferocious monster, and he watched them leave while trying to grasp the reality of his situation. Hans sent a pitiful glance at him, but he also went ahead. The last person to leave was Zich, and he sent Snoc a bright smile.

“Snoc!”

“Y-Yes, sir!” Snoc’s eyes brightened up. He thought Zich might give him some advice, and he felt relieved that Zich was not going to just leave him to face a monster by himself. Yet, Zich betrayed his trust.

“It doesn’t matter if you kill him!”

“…What?” Snoc blurted without thinking. However, Zich paid no attention to his panic-stricken voice, and after giving Snoc a thumbs up, he headed outside with the others. The only ones left were Snoc, Nowem, and the monster.

“…Krgh!”

The monster gave him a mocking smile, and Snoc glanced at him cautiously.

*  *  * 

After coming out of the basement stairs, Hans asked Zich, “Um, will this really be alright, sir?” Hans had looked after Snoc as his junior, and he kept looking behind in worry. Joachim and the other knights perked their ears as they had the same doubts.

“Don’t worry. I didn’t leave him carelessly.”

“Are you saying that Snoc is stronger than the monster?”

“No.”

Hans’ heart, which had swelled with expectations, shrunk with disappointment at Zich’s sharp response. He also began to feel a bit angry at Zich for leaving Snoc without clarifying anything. Snoc could lose his life.

“But with his current surroundings, it’s a different story altogether.”

“Sorry?”

“Don’t you remember what kind of a magical beast Nowem is?”

“He’s the Earth’s…”

Hans looked around his surroundings. The prison was in the basement, and Joachim was locked inside its deepest corner. In short, the area was connected through the ground. 

‘Now that I think about it, even when we were saving Sir Joachim…’

Snoc had made the ceiling crumble and took only Joachim out through the ground, impressing even Hans. Zich saw that Hans had come to a realization and looked to the front again.

‘Before my regression, when the Earth’s Tyrant stayed inside a mine, nobody wanted to go inside.

In other words, the basement was Nowem’s home ground.

Crash!

‘It started.’

*   *   *

“Uh, um, uh, what should we do, Nowem?” Snoc clutched onto Nowem tightly, and seeing how frazzled he was, the man smiled in satisfaction of his current situation.

That fool! Does he think someone like that can stop me?” He laughed at Zich’s decision. It injured his pride that Zich underestimated him, but the man was too faithful to his organization to act just on his ego. With only Snoc left, the situation was ideal for the man who was used to making quick escapes. 

A conversation was unnecessary. The people who went outside could cast a net around the prison’s surroundings to trap him. It was better the faster he moved since he didn’t know what was happening outside. The man began to move with the intention to escape the prison and leave Snoc as a bloody pulp.

Crash!

With one push of his feet, the man’s body shot out. It seemed as if a single punch would be enough to smash Snoc, but he quickly realized how wrong he was.

Crash! Crash!

From the ground, walls, and the ceiling, rock pillars burst out. They were much harder than normal pillars and formed a lattice-like pattern to block the man’s attacks.

‘What!’

Craaaash!

The man staggered in surprise, and the ground exploded to spurt out masses of stone pieces. The man quickly jumped to the ceiling, but even that place wasn’t safe.

Crack!

“Urgh!”

Stone spears burst out from the ceiling and pierced the man. The man hastily spun his body around to smash the spears, but that was after a couple of them had already pierced his body.

Slam!

The man increased his distance from Snoc. He had already erased his disregard for Snoc. However, for Snoc who could use the power of the earth, the man was within his point of contact no matter where he ran.

“This person is…’

The man immediately heightened his sense of danger, but in contrast, Snoc tilted his head and reassessed his situation.

‘I don’t think it’s as dangerous as I thought?

* * *

“Could you explain the current situation to me?” Joachim asked while Brod carried him on his back. Brod answered through clenched teeth“I was blackmailed.”

“Blackmailed?”

“Everyone in the castle, whether they were knights or soldiers, was infected with an infectious disease.”

Joachim recalled what the robed man had told him.

“It must be true that my brother spread the epidemic.”

“You knew, sir?”

“The robed man from before told me.”

Sir, it’s not definite yet. But the person who blackmailed us was Shalom, so it seems that all of this is damn Biyom’s work!”

Brod didn’t even attach formalities next to Biyom’s name anymore, and Joachim didn’t blame him. Instead of calling him brother, even Joachim wanted to say all kinds of curses and plaster insults in front of Biyom’s name. 

“So, are you saying that you couldn’t help but follow Biyom’s orders?”

“Yes sir. Some of the others and I tried to resist, but since the majority had gone over to him, we decided to quietly observe the situation with our heads low.”

It sounded like an excuse, but Joachim didn’t blame him

“Then, what happens now?”

“Sir Zich brought us the cure.”

Admiration filled Brod’s eyes. Joachim realized that Brod, who used to call Zich’s name plainly, was now attaching ‘Sir’ to Zich’s name and using formalities. 

“Thanks to the cure, we were able to save the knights and the soldiers! Since many of Biyom’s underlings were blackmailed with the disease, we could also make them join us! Now, the only thing left for you to do is to lead them on!”

Joachim stared at Zich. His face was full of questionshe didn’t understand how Zich had suddenly gotten hold of a cure to the disease or how Zich had realized that the people in the castle were getting blackmailed. But when Joachim saw Zich wink at him, his doubts disappeared, and he couldn’t help but laugh.

‘I can hear the explanation later.’

Joachim saw the castle standing in front of them. They heard swords clashing and people shrieking all over the place.

“If Biyom’s forces have joined us, who are the ones resisting?”

Some of Biyom’s forces still haven’t turned over our side! Even after all this, they’re still following him!”

Joachim gritted his teeth after hearing that some people were still willing to fight for someone who purposely spread epidemics around.

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