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Tigris, Doloren, Toji, Xphil.
The four monsters that Orden sent out caused a stir around the globe. 'Orden's Monsters' made front-page headlines all over the world. Hopeless news continued to pile up as people watched the despairing report that the monsters destroy their homes and loved ones.
—We're currently in Shanghai, China.
With the reporter's words, the TV screen s.h.i.+fted.
Rachel watched the news with graveness in her heart.
—Downtown Shanghai has been destroyed completely.
The word 'completely' was spot on. The sidewalks were overturned and the skysc.r.a.pers that once touched the sky were reduced to nothing but bare bones and ashes.
—1,300 Heroes were summoned to fight against one monster.
Ceaseless cries of pain resounded over the wreckage of the buildings.
The bodies of the Heroes sprawled out all over the ground were blurred on the screen.
—'Mei Chun', considered by some to be one of China's most prospective Heroes; 'Tulei', who returned home after graduating from Cube at rank 6; and 'Li Jufeng', China's leading high-rank Hero.
The reporter continued gravely.
—…A total of 987 Heroes, including the three mentioned, fell during their heroic endeavor to protect their country from the monster.
A streak of tears trickled down Rachel's cheeks.
Despite the diplomatic compet.i.tion and the petty disagreements she had over the years with China, she grieved from the bottom of her heart. The deaths of the Heroes were a great loss to humanity.
—This is a photo of the monster that caused this devastation.
A full body photo of the monster appeared on the screen.
Tigris, a monster that resembled a tiger.
The shape of his body was too human-like for him to be called a two-legged tiger; however, his fur was too thick and his claws were too sharp for him to be considered a human.
—……And Paris is still under attack by 'zombies'. Zombies kill people, transforming their victims into more zombies. Authorities have not been able to subdue this 'death-borne transmission' yet.
If Orden dispatched his monsters as a warning to humanity, his plan was more than successful. The world began to tremble in fear as he intended when it witnessed the cruelty of the monsters.
—But not all countries were defenseless. With the help of Lady 'Ah Hae-In', an 8-star magician who happened to be staying in England, and Player 's.h.i.+n Jahyuk', who served as the Knight Commander of the Royal Knights of Crevon, England successfully stopped a humanoid monster's attack….
However, if Orden's goal was to completely destroy the Earth, then he had clearly failed. Not only did England successfully stop the monster, but it also immobilized it as well.
—Although England's defensive tactics have proved to be successful, it appears the 'World of Wish' will continue to remain popular among its citizens. Experts attribute the growth of popularity to the widespread rumor that says 'the World of Wish will remain intact even when Earth shatters to pieces'.
At that moment, Rachel's old butler returned to the room.
Rachel brushed away her tears.
"You should come on out. The guests will be arriving soon."
"…Ah, is it really that time?"
The heads of different countries were scheduled to visit England today. Not only the Prime Minister and the rest of the cabinet but Rachel was also expected to greet them.
Rachel got up in a hurry.
"Evandel, take some rest."
Before she left, Rachel patted Evandel who had fallen asleep on the couch.
Evandel gave a small nod with her eyes barely open.
'She must be tired from taking care of all the wounded summoned spirits yesterday,' Rachel thought as she kissed Evandel gently on the forehead. Then she left.
It only took about 10 minutes from Buckingham Palace to Toji's jail by limousine. A number of magicians were charging the jail cell that Knight Commander s.h.i.+n Jahyuk had specifically built for Toji with their magic power.
"Thank you for coming, Princess."
"It's nice to see you."
Rachel smiled and exchanged greetings with the Defense Secretary. Other ministers seemed busy preparing to welcome the VIPs. Rachel studied their faces.
"Cut down all the trees around here."
"But I heard that the Immortal loves nature."
"Really? Uh… Then get some more trees from somewhere."
Chae Joochul was coming to observe Toji. In addition, Yoo Yeonha, who was currently in demand by virtually all authoritative figures in the world, was also coming to visit.
The citizens of England had high hopes for this meeting, yet the Prime Minister who should be leading this meeting from the front was currently talking on the phone in a corner.
"Yeah, yeah, so you arrived at Busan safely? Yeah, sure. I'll take care of the permanent residency, don't worry."
The Prime Minister spoke Korean even during personal calls.
"Huh? Oh, yeah. I'll be right with you. There's not much time left until my term ends anyway…."
Rachel's eyebrows wriggled to form a frown.
That man had secretly evacuated his entire family to Korea. How could he put his family before the entire country that he was responsible for?
Rachel was baffled.
Just as she was about to approach the Prime Minister, a portal activated with a huge tremor. Essential Dynamics called it the 'portable portal', which was not exactly a suitable description considering the device weighed 3 tons. But it was the only device that could help people travel to a specific destination without the use of a 'Gift' or 'Skill'.
"Everyone get ready! They're coming through!"
The technician shouted and the cabinet gathered near the portal. Rachel stood next to the Prime Minister as well.
Soon, the portal activated with an azure glow, and they could see a man and a woman on the other side. The first person to arrive was Chae Joochul, followed by Yoo Yeonha.
The Prime Minister approached the two guests.
"I'm Ray McKean. It's an honor to meet you."
"Pleased to meet you."
Chae Joochul shook hands with the Prime Minister. Rachel quickly stepped to the Prime Minister's side.
"I'm Rachel Elizabeth Louise. It's an honor to finally speak to the Immortal."
Rachel held out her hand, but Chae Joochul only stared at her with a mysterious look in his eyes.
'Should I withdraw my hand, or should I keep it still?' Rachel wondered when Chae Joochul finally spoke.
"…You seem to possess a Gift that is similar to mine."
Rachel tilted her head in confusion. However, a moment later, when she realized that Chae Joochul had just praised her, she could hardly breathe.
A Gift similar to Chae Joochul's. The Immortal had just announced that he and Rachel were alike.
'Does that mean he's been watching me all this time?' Rachel was overcome with joy and pressure at the same time.
Of course, Chae Joochul meant it in a completely different way. Similar Gifts meant similar side-effects.
He continued to stare at Rachel to see how she would react….
"Ah, t-thank, thank you."
'Just as expected, Heroes of the new generation are oblivious to side-effects,' thinking so, Chae Joochul pa.s.sed Rachel without a handshake.
"Good to see you."
A woman came up and grabbed Rachel's trembling hand.
"Ah, yes, Yeonhssi. It's good to see you, too."
It was Yoo Yeonha.
Yoo Yeonha smiled and cut to the chase.
"Could you show me 'Toji'?"
"…Of course. Follow me."
Rachel tried to soothe her pounding heart as she led Yoo Yeonha and Chae Joochul to the Toji Jail.
Not that it was necessary, because the blue cubic jail was clearly visible from miles away.
Yoo Yeonha looked up at the cube somewhat admiringly and said, "That's the jail? I'm surprised it's holding up."
"Yes, but the magicians have to inject their magic power to maintain it."
Jin Sahyuk's 'Reality Manipulation' had one limitation. To maintain itself, the product needed a steady supply of magic power. But that also meant that the jail could be maintained forever so long as there was a continual delivery of magic power.
"Is the monster sleeping?" Chae Joochul asked as he studied Toji inside the cube.
"Yes, he has been for a while," answered Rachel, at which Chae Joochul approached the cube and tok tok— knocked on it.
"…What are you-"
Startled, Rachel sort of lunged at Chae Joochul.
But the Immortal appeared calm. He asked, "How do I get inside?"
Toji's defense was impregnable. Rachel and Ah Hae-In had already reached the consensus that the best way to deal with Toji was to imprison him for as long as possible. And Chae Joochul had already been informed of their decision.
Still, Chae Joochul seemed slightly confused by Rachel's reaction as he said, "I have to get inside. Or else I won't be able to kill that monster."
…Of course, Chae Joochul, the strongest man of the present era, was full of confidence.
[Central Asia, Pandemonium]
The residents of the presidential suite of Pandemonium's most extravagant hotel, 'Sauron's Respite', were having a peaceful afternoon despite all the commotion that was happening in the rest of the world.
In a room set to the perfect temperature, laced with tranquil cla.s.sical music and beautiful scenery just outside the window…
"Bell! Sahyuk was taken!"
Rumi finally shouted, unable to contain her frustration any longer.
"…Yeah, I heard you," Bell answered flatly as he lay on the couch.
"Aren't you going to save her?"
Bell responded to Rumi with a smile.
"No. Why would I when I was the one who sent her there?"
"I sent her there."
He instigated her to go, to be exact. He had to work his way up to it because she was the type of person who would never agree to do anything if she wasn't convinced it was her idea.
'You won't be able to change anything even if you go.'
'You shouldn't go; you'll only end up getting beaten.'
'If you win against Byul, I'll do anything you say.'
Bell provoked Jin Sahyuk and she fell for it.
A part of his original plan was to introduce her to the Chameleon Troupe, but he also wanted to bring her down a peg or two. She'd been too arrogant for his taste recently.
"Are you insane?! Who knows what they'll do to her?"
"Nothing. They're gonna leave her alone. …Haam~"
Bell gave a big yawn. Rumi glared at him in aghast.
"How can you be so sure?"
"They're not a group of thugs, especially now that Byul is the boss and Kim Hajin controls them."
A director- that word suited Kim Hajin quite well. The way Bell saw it, Boss depended on Kim Hajin and wouldn't do anything to upset him.
"Just let her be. Sahyuk is the type to grow stronger by overcoming obstacles anyway."
And if by any chance Jin Sahyuk happened to be in danger for real, Bell would simply need to save her before she ended up dead. She was as resilient as a c.o.c.kroach anyways.
"…What are you gonna do about Orden then?"
Recently, the name 'Orden' had become synonymous with fear.
But apparently not to Bell.
Bell only smiled and said, "I don't know. I'm not too worried about him."
Looking up at the ceiling from the couch, Bell muttered, "He admires humans too much to eradicate them."
For someone to destroy humanity in its entirety, he had to truly loathe humans— and Orden didn't.
Bell knew this all too well.
"You have to eat. No, no snacks. You have to eat real food."
Monster King Orden was looking at a child. The name of this child was Yeonhee and she was three years old. Currently, she was playing with two dolls, speaking to them in a play of her own, "Your name is Cindy and your name is Yeonjoo. Wow! Yeonjoo, you're a good eater!"
Suddenly Orden began to wonder where this child came from. She was originally born of two humans but died from illness, and Orden had reconstructed her body and soul afterward.
Then who exactly were her parents?
"Cindy! You should learn from Yeonjoo!"
Orden continued to watch Yeonhee play with the dolls. The girl placed the two dolls in front of her and beamed.
Orden thought, 'Are all human children like this, or is there something wrong with this one?…'
It was definitely disrespectful of her to play with dolls in the presence of the king. If any of his servants had done this, Orden would have disintegrated them immediately. But Orden wasn't angry. Rather, he was overcome with a strange desire to watch the girl forever.
"T-This is where you were."
At that moment, Park Hanho showed up.
He rushed to his daughter and held her in his arms.
"I sincerely apologize. My child is still young and foolish…."
Park Hanho bowed his head and apologized.
Orden stared at Yeonhee in Park Hanho's arms. She was trying to wriggle out of her father's arms to pick up the dolls lying on the floor. Orden stretched strands of his magic power out towards the dolls and delivered them to the girl.
He spoke "…I see her wander around here and there. Are children supposed to be like that?"
"Yes, most young children are naturally curious."
Orden turned his gaze to the child again. Yeonhee was smiling at Orden, grateful that he had returned her dolls to her.
"Well then, we'll leave now."
Park Hanho lowered his head. Yeonhee did the same.
But it was the wrong greeting.
Orden unconsciously let out a smile.
"No, Yeonhee. You have to say 'goodbye'."
"Oh. Goodbye. Cindy and Yeonjoo says goodbye, too."
Yeonhee tilted the dolls forward. Orden stared at Yeonhee in silence.
At that moment, Park Hanho turned around, and Orden watched the two leave the room.
Orden surprised himself by thinking so.
[Pandemonium, a shady alley]
I left the Tower of Wish, or technically, the World of Wish.
The sun was starting to set as I walked through an alley in Pandemonium, looking over the list of requests I had received. Some of these requests were addressed to the Truth Agency, some to the Jeronimo Mercenaries, and the rest to the Chameleon Troupe. I attributed my overflowing mailbox to the 'Four Monsters of h.e.l.l'.
"…There's so many."
The Truth Agency was flooded with Orden-related questions. I answered whatever question I could answer with the Book of Truth, and I chose to decline most of the requests addressed to Fenrir asking me to exterminate the monsters. I then kept walking….
Suddenly, my body floated into the air. I didn't realize that I had fallen until my body flipped upside down.
Fortunately, Aether protected me from the impact, but the next attack was even quicker than Aether.
There appeared to be multiple a.s.sa.s.sins. One sliced the Aether s.h.i.+eld open, the other pushed a dagger through the gap, and yet another cut into my Achilles tendon.
I felt burning pains in my shoulder and ankle.
It seemed that the dagger was coated with poison.
I fell to the ground. All of this happened in less than a second.
I tried to activate Bullet Time but my Gift didn't respond. Only then did I realize why I wasn't able to detect the ambush in the first place.
'A Gift that nullifies other Gifts.'
One of the settings that I ended up discarding included a description about a group of a.s.sa.s.sins. One of its members, the Mountain Sage, possessed the nullification Gift. But I wasn't sure why he was here in Pandemonium when he should be working in the Middle East.
'…Too bad a.s.sa.s.sination doesn't work on me.'
His Gift had nullified my Gift but I still had my Skills.
I activated my unique skill, Time Reversal before the blade reached my throat.