SYS (Novel) Chapter 329

C329 - Temar's Third Tomb (1)

June 5, 1799.

Jin, dressed in a brown robe, disguised as an ordinary traveler, walked along a forest path in the southern border region of the Zhan Kingdom.

"I think I've memorized this route too."

Although it was the beginning of summer, the forest path remained pleasantly cool.

The thought of meeting handsome and straightforward friends after a long time put Jeremiah in a good mood.

As Jin strolled leisurely, he suddenly stopped and grinned mischievously.

Once again, the aroma of grilled fish filled the air. The scent of freshly cooked fish wafting through the southern Zhan Kingdom forest meant that the nearby Watertails tribe was preparing their meal.

Thump, thump.

The sounds of excited chatter from the Watertails grew nearer.

As always, they were dancing and celebrating around the freshly roasted fish, completely oblivious to Jeremiah's approach.

There were three Watertails, and Jin recognized all their faces.

"Darkflame."

"Eh? This voice, is..."

The dancing Watertails turned abruptly toward Jeremiah.

"So, you're Big Nose and Big Eyes."

"Jin Runcandel. Ah, always. Find us. How?"

"Well, I've received your help quite often. This time, I also have a gift. This time, I'm not a needy fugitive."

When Jin pulled a high-quality dried eel from his bag, the eyes of the three Watertails lit up.

"This is eel. Dried. A precious fish."

"Is it for us? Really?"

"Are you serious?"

The Watertails salivated.

"Not only serious but really. Did those stingy Golden Snows never share money? It's high-quality food, but if you're financially strong, you can buy it for three meals a day without any problem."

The Watertails were too busy devouring the dried eel to respond. Jin extended the eel to them, and they pounced on it, devouring it eagerly.

Chomp, chomp, yum!

Jin patiently waited for them to finish eating and realized he had to talk to the members of the Golden Snow Tribe when he met with them.

"Oh, sorry, I ate too much. It's delicious."

The Watertails, with their mouths full, nodded enthusiastically.

"It's okay."

"Are you going to the cave?"

"Yes."

Following the Watertails, Jin headed toward their secret cave.

"Every time I come here, I realize that this cave is truly like a labyrinth."

No matter how good someone's memory was, it was easy to get lost within the structure.

The entrance to the area where the Golden Snow Tribe and Watertails lived could not be found without a guide, and the dwelling of the Cat Tribe was completely inaccessible. There wasn't a single guide in the world who knew their location.

If someone were to search for the Cat Tribe within this cave, they could only find them by destroying the entire cave.

Even then, they wouldn't be able to find that tribe. The destroyers could only catch glimpses of traces of their presence. The Cat Tribe would retreat deep into the cave.

When they reached the space occupied by the Watertails and Golden Snow Tribe, a faint yellow glow emanated from within.

"Oh, you've arrived! Our strong and mighty comrade!"

"Do you know how many letters we receive in each of our branches addressed to you? It's so strange how humans, regardless of their age or gender, write love letters and send them. It's hard to understand, even when we know it."

"But still, they're all lovely customers, aren't they? You should expect great things, Jin Runcandel. Since we started advertising with your face, our sales have literally skyrocketed. Noble customers line up, willing to pay ten times more for top-quality cosmetics, even if production is delayed!"

Seeing Jin, Suny, Dori, and Song poured out their words with delighted expressions.

"... What's all this? Gold? Are you kidding me? Have you decorated the entire cave with gold?"

The inside of the cave where the members of the Golden Snow Tribe were sitting was completely adorned with gold. The faint yellow glow that Jin had sensed from afar now had a clear source.

"Well! We tried the gold bath once. How does it look? Impressive, isn't it?"

Peng, who was perched on a pile of gold coins, smiled at Jin, his front teeth gleaming under the light emanating from the gold.

Swoosh!

Peng descended and reached out a hand to Jin.

"Thanks to the promotion we did with you, our Peng Clan business is booming, Jin Runcandel. I need to give you a business report. We have some matters to discuss."

"To discuss?"

"Our researchers have recently developed an incredible cosmetic product. But the ingredients are quite unique, making the supply challenging."

"How unique are the ingredients?"

"There are flowers that only grow in the Hidden Palace Forest. Their whitening effect is tremendous, so it had to be done. So we thought about establishing trade relations with the Hidden Palace, but... I've heard rumors that you... have become the son-in-law of the Hidden Palace?"

"Where did you hear those rumors?"

"We encounter quite a few humans in our business. Is that story true?"

"They are baseless rumors."

"Hmm, but smoke doesn't come out of the chimney for no reason. Is it possible to establish a line of communication with the Hidden Palace?"

The word "line" made Jin remember Lucas's direct line and he let out a wry laugh.

"I can't guarantee it. I'm still a human with some sense of shame."

"Sense of shame?"

"I owe a lot to the Hidden Palace, so what's the point of owing them even more? For now, write a business report and send it to Tikan."

"I don't know why they call you Runcandel's Flagbearer. It seems you like reports."

"But, Peng, do you have money piled up with gold nuggets inside the cave, and yet you don't even buy dried eels for the Watertails?"

"Why are you saying that all of a sudden?"

"When I gave them dried eels, they devoured them as if they hadn't eaten in days. I hope you didn't withhold the money from the sale of Bradamante and didn't share it with the Watertails."

When Jin asked in a low voice, the members of the Golden Snow Tribe vigorously shook their heads.

"No, we shared it. Definitely."

"But why are those guys still living in poverty?"

"You know what? We gave them money to save, and we told them several times they could buy heaps of dried eels every day. But instead, they have no idea how to spend it properly and just pile it carelessly in some corner of the cave. So, frustrated, I personally took it to the bank. I told them they could enjoy plenty of dried eels every day. But still, they say they're happy enough. What can we do about it?"

Jin turned to look at the Watertails.

"... And all of this is gold-plated. They're not real gold nuggets we've placed. It's time for aggressive investments, and there's no room for unnecessary money squandering. Do you think we would dare to cheat those wretched ones? We have principles, after all."

Peng looked at the Watertails with pride as he spoke.

"So, what brings you here today? Without warning. It doesn't seem to be related to business problems judging by the atmosphere."

"I've come to meet the Cat Tribe."

At Jin's response, not only the upper echelons of the Peng Clan but also the small beastmen in the cave perked up.

"Suddenly, the Cat Tribe? Do you have to meet with them?"

"Yes."

"Well, this is going to be difficult. The Cat Tribe saw you as the person who would protect the little beastmen, but other than that... They're not the type you can meet just because you want to."

"Right. You'd need incredible luck to come across them... Oh, there's no need to say something painful."

Song pointed behind Jin.

"Oh! What, wh-what?"

"Haha! This is interesting. It reminds me of a similar situation we had before."

"Yes, it was like this when Jin Runcandel was a wanted fugitive being pursued."

A mysterious race with purple eyes gleaming amidst their snow-white fur.

The members of the Cat Tribe had silently distanced themselves about twenty steps away from Jin and the little beastmen, watching them.

"... It seems that, after all, you are truly special. Could it be that you made some kind of promise?"

Peng alternated his gaze between Jin and the members of the Cat Tribe.

Truth be told, Jin was also inwardly surprised by the appearance of the Cat Tribe members.

"But, Olmango."

"Yes?"

"Do you happen to know who possesses the key to the Third Tomb?"

The conversation Jin had with Olmango upon exiting the Second Tomb.

At that time, Olmango had responded that the Cat Tribe possessed the key to the Third Tomb.

'When I asked him what to do if the Cat Tribe doesn't find me, he said he didn't know... Could it really have been that easy?'

As Jin cautiously approached the Cat Tribe members, a sudden worry crossed his mind: that they would disappear before him, as when he had fled to Lafrarosa during his time as a Provisional Flagbearer.

But soon, he saw that the Cats gestured as if inviting him to follow them.

"Hurry! Cats can be very capricious. If you hesitate even for a moment, they might vanish."

Approaching the Cat Tribe members cautiously, Jin kept a certain distance between them.

Just before the Cat Tribe members turned to walk away, Jin was certain it was the same person he had seen before.

Furthermore, they had a strangely somber expression on their face.

'What could be going on? They seem completely different from the last time I saw them.'

The Cat Tribe members walked while maintaining a certain distance from Jin.

Just following them made Jin's mind grow fuzzy.

It was impossible to know if it was some kind of artifact or a spell they had cast.

It was like wandering through a dream, gradually losing touch with reality.

However, it wasn't unpleasant or dangerous.

Amidst this seemingly endless stroll, suddenly the view widened, revealing a beach filled with violet stars.

'A beach!? And the starlight is violet.'

The nearest sea in the southern border of the Zhan Kingdom was a distance that couldn't be covered on foot in a short time.

'I only walked for about five minutes. It felt like the first time I crossed the snow garden riding on the Snow Toad, Mort.'

Looking around, Jin spotted the Cats in the distance drawing something on the sandy beach.

[My name is Neru. A Contractor of a Thousand Years, Jin Runcandel. We've met before, haven't we?]

"Yes, thank you for helping me back then. This is where I greet you properly."

[This is our own space connected to the caves. You're the first human to enter here.]

"Thank you for inviting me."

[You won't be able to see this beautiful scenery with your own eyes again, so make sure to take a good look. It will be some time before we open Temar's Tomb.]

Jin naturally understood that it was because the Cat Tribe would not invite him to this space again.

But in the next moment, Neru added something more.

[Soon, your enemies will come here to destroy this place and massacre the little beastmen.]

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