SYS (Novel) Chapter 324

C324 - Assault on the Villa (3)

On reflex, Jin picked up the bead.

Upon closer examination, it resembled Solderet's recording device. The only difference was that it weighed slightly more than the previous ones.

"Wait, what is this doing here?"

The unexpected discovery left him speechless. Jin's companions looked equally puzzled, exchanging wide-eyed glances.

Joshua, where did he get this?

Could he have accessed Temar's tomb?

Temar's tomb was inaccessible without the proper "qualification."

And that qualification was none other than being Solderet's contractor.

Immediately, two assumptions came to mind.

First, the figure known as the "Prophet" must have used some trick to allow Joshua to enter Temar's tomb.

Second, Joshua obtained this recording device from a place other than Temar's Tomb.

Regardless of which one it was, the important question was whether he knows that this bead is a recording device.

Jin looked at the fallen demon.

The dead can't speak.

If it had been possible to revive the demon, Jin could have gathered quite a bit of information. But now, he had turned into a lifeless corpse, dark blood spilling from its throat.

A real pity.

However, it was an unexpected harvest. Compared to the near-death experiences Jin went through every time he acquired a recording device, this one practically fell into his lap.

"Young Master, it would be wise to collect the demon's other belongings as well."

"Yes, it seems worth investigating this demon."

Jin rummaged through the demon's possessions.

Apart from a stack of illegible ancient texts, demonic symbols, and a book, there didn't seem to be anything worth taking.

And then, almost unconsciously, Jin opened the book.

Whoosh!

Suddenly, the book emitted an ominous purple glow, and from within it, a peculiar voice resonated.

[You, who have dared to lay hands on the great duke of the demon world, the magical tome of Rontelgius! Rontelgius shall curse you forever. You shall turn into a stone statue while you are alive, and your body shall not die even if shattered, even if you turn to dust, blame yourself forever]

It was a voice different from the deceased demon's.

As soon as the curse ended, a translucent, purple chain with a peculiar vibration shot out from the book and ensnared Jin.

"Young Master!"

"Young Master Jin!"

Jin's companions reacted alarmed, drawing their swords. Naturally, the cursed chain did not yield to their swords.

And Jin, calmly raising his hand, signaled that he was fine.

"Do not be alarmed. After all, I am immune."

Solderet's Contractors were completely immune to all sorts of curses.

Valeria, before the regression, had described this ability as "excessively cheat."

And now, Jin was experiencing that power after a long time.

The chains that had bound Jin slowly seeped into his shadow, blending with it seamlessly.

The chains took no more than five seconds to completely disappear without a trace.

Jin's companions, unknowingly, silently watched in awe before asking,

"Young Master, are you really okay?"

"Yes, fortunately. If it had been someone else who touched this book... wouldn't they have turned into a statue? Unless Rontelgius had rigged this book with such a device just to scare us."

When the chains had enveloped him, Jin felt a chill.

Not because he feared the curse, but because Jin realized the terrible fate that would have befallen any other companion who had touched it.

"From now on, we must be more cautious when dealing with demons or those who wield dark magic. This time, we were lucky. We learned the name Rontelgius, presumably this demon's family."

Fssss...

The demon's body began to disintegrate.

There was no trace left where the corpse had lain, not even a sign of the spilled blood.

"Wretched creatures."

"Let's move on."

The group continued their journey.

Perhaps due to the sudden encounter with the demon, Jin's companions were even more nervous.

However, they didn't encounter any enemies until they reached the end of the underground facility.

Three guardians, eight watchdogs, and the rest of the members were absent.

Oddly, that unsettled Jin.

If there were so few personnel, perhaps Yulian's Guardian Dragon had been moved elsewhere...

As that sense of unease brushed Jin's mind, Yulian pointed with trembling hands beyond the underground darkness.

"Cal... Caltor...! Caltor!!"

When the light illuminated the area, a human figure hanging on the wall became visible.

It was none other than Caltor, Yulian's Guardian Dragon who had transformed into a human.

His appearance was devastatingly pitiful.

His hands and feet were impaled on large spikes, and his body bore traces of indescribable torture.

He barely seemed to be breathing.

"Caltor! It's me, Yulian! I'll free you soon...!"

Tears flowed incessantly from Yulian's eyes.

This time, Kuzan, who seemed to sympathize with Yulian, silently pulled at the spikes.

With each pull, Caltor's body trembled, but there were no signs of him regaining consciousness.

"Ah... Caltor, please respond. What have those bastards done to you?"

"He's alive, Yulian. We can take him back and get him treated. Young Master will surely summon the Saints of Vankela for you. So calm down, lower your voice. It must be agonizing now, but Joshua no longer has any means to threaten you, right?"

Kuzan patted Yulian's back as he spoke.

Jin took off his coat and wrapped the weakened Caltor in it.

"Let's go back."

Back on the surface, just before escaping from the forest.

Jin turned his head and looked at Joshua's secret villa, which stood alone.

'If Father had truly recognized him during Joshua's training days here, would he have become less trash than he is now?'

A sudden question crossed Jin's mind, making him shake his head.

'No, considering the timing of my curse at the age of one, it's very likely that it coincided with the time he became so despicable. Sometimes I wonder what made him so wicked.'

--------------------

"We've discovered a hideout, my lord."

Among the three Guardian Knights, the leader reported to Joshua.

"Where is it?"

"Surprisingly, it's in a remote area of the eastern part of the Ekan Kingdom. It's called Donkey Village, with a total population of fewer than 100 people, mostly elderly."

"In a place like that? Are you sure?"

"Yes, we confirmed it by intimidating the residents. They even built a laboratory in a part of the village. I personally inspected the laboratory, and the descriptions given by the villagers about Aria Owlheart match perfectly."

"The darkest place is under the lamp, as they say. That fits perfectly."

"However, it would have been difficult to find without the demon's detection magic."

The three Guardian Knights and the eight watchdogs were supposed to be waiting in Joshua's secret villa.

The reason for their absence was to trace Aria Owlheart, who had been detected in the Ekan Kingdom using dark magic.

Rontelgius Lamphen.

Joshua nodded, recalling the demon's horrific appearance.

"Yes, he devoured a thousand prisoners, calling them ingredients for the detection magic. In the end, it seems to have yielded results. Was there any clue about Aria Owlheart's other hideout in that Donkey Village?"

"Since the routes to leave Donkey Village are limited, if we trace the expected movement routes, we can narrow down the suspicious areas. One thing is certain, Aria Owlheart has another hideout in Hufester."

"How long will it take to secure another hideout?"

"We can discover at least one location within a month. Continually reducing the scope that way, we can properly corner them."

"Understood. Make every effort to shorten the time as much as possible."

"We'll soon bring more satisfactory results."

"And provide more prisoners for Lamphen. His magic has proven exceptional."

Joshua smiled.

"Rontelgius Lamphen... If he can uncover the true nature of that pearl. I should also consider providing prisoners for my clones."

The power of the Shadow Pearl.

Joshua obtained it in the Runcandel clan's mausoleum.

It was during his early days as a cadet, on a day when he was as distracted as ever, losing to Luna as usual.

Instead of cursing himself locked in his room as usual, Joshua headed to the clan's mausoleum.

Even now, he couldn't remember why he suddenly went to the mausoleum. It was as if fate guided him or something possessed him.

And in the deepest part of the mausoleum.

In the empty tomb where the first patriarch, Temar, should have rested, he found the Shadow Energy Pearl.

"When I touched the power of the Shadow Pearl, the voice of that dog-like creature started to resonate."

The dog-like creature, the Prophet.

At first, it only existed as a voice. A voice that comforted young Joshua and offered him advice.

As Joshua grew, the voice took on tangible form.

It started as a nebulous apparition, like a ghost, and roughly when he became a Flagbearer, it transformed into the clear image of a woman, just as it is now.

"But the Prophet doesn't know that it awakened inside that pearl. She doesn't even know that I have the pearl."

Even in the days when Joshua fully trusted the Prophet, he never told her about the pearl.

It was his inherent instinct.

Even as a child, Joshua instinctively felt that the power of the Shadow Pearl could serve as a safety mechanism.

In other words, he thought it might be useful if the Prophet ever betrayed him for some reason.

"Nowadays, considering the Prophet's attitude, I have a feeling she could betray me at any moment. Either I deal with her as soon as I become Patriarch or I secure a means to control her before that, I have to choose one of the two options."

Joshua still clung to that old intuition about the power of the Shadow Pearl.

That's why, casually, or perhaps inevitably, he entrusted Lamphen, the demon, to figure out its purpose.

"I'll take my leave now, my lord."

As the Guardian Knight finished the report and saluted, preparing to leave, someone rushed in, urgently calling for Joshua.

"My lord!"

It was one of the hunting dogs that entered the room and bowed his head.

"What's going on?"

"The abandoned forest villa... was assaulted."

"What did you say?"

"Unfortunately, it happened precisely as we were heading to the eastern part of Ekan, based on the information we received from the demon."

Joshua suppressed the curse that rose in his throat.

The Guardian Knight who was about to depart also looked at the hunting dog, startled.

"...What is the extent of the damage?"

"The Thunder Dragon that was captured and the demon disappeared. And the two remaining individuals were found dead..."

The hunting dog couldn't ascertain for certain whether the demon was killed or simply vanished.

There were no traces left since there were no remains of the demon in the secret underground facilities of the abandoned mansion.

"We tried to track them, but they are exceptional. There are no traces. It's frustrating."

Phew!

Joshua took a deep breath.

In the end, he had no choice but to rely on the Prophet once again.

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