SYS (Novel) Chapter 335

C335 - Debt, Debts, and More Debts (2)

Neru closed his eyes as if in deep contemplation.

It wasn't that he didn't care about saving the small beastmen; on the contrary, he wanted to save them even more than Jin did.

That's why Neru and the Cat Tribe had resolved to face death.

As if making a decision, Neru met Jin's gaze.

[...Alright. But you must keep your promise. If it looks like you're going to die, you must escape.]

Jin nodded and took out the ruby.

[Nya!]

Shuri approached with a cheerful cry and rubbed her face against Jin's cheek.

In response, Neru's eyes widened.

[My goodness, it's the Witch Heluram's Cat!] (Note: It seems Shuri is female)

"I see you recognize her."

[I've read in the newspapers of the human world that you travel on a Ruby Cat, but I never imagined it would be Shuri...!]

[Nya, nya-nya, nyaa!]

Although the meaning wasn't clear, Shuri also seemed to recognize Neru. They even nuzzled their noses together as if they were very familiar with each other.

Nya, nya, nya, nya...

For a while, they communicated in their own incomprehensible language, which Jin couldn't understand. But their adorable appearance made the dire situation seem less grim.

While conversing with Shuri, Neru's expression kept changing.

When he heard the story of how Shuri had been abandoned and cursed with immortality by the Witch Heluram, his expression darkened.

And when he heard that Shuri had been alone in the Black Sea Forest for a thousand years, tears filled his eyes.

And he smiled when he learned that she had met Jin and left the forest.

Not only did Neru's expression change, but Shuri also had large watery pupils that gleamed and emitted purring sounds as if she was enchanted.

Neru, once the conversation was finished, turned to Jin with a much lighter expression.

[Shuri endured terrible thousand years as well... Jin Runcandel, maybe even Shuri meeting you was part of Solderet's plan. For moments like this.]

[Nya!]

The reason for Neru's lighter expression was none other than that.

In his view, as long as Shuri was present, Jin could escape from pursuers at any time.

[You didn't have to worry about helping the small beastmen. I'd love to have a longer conversation with Shuri, but for now, it's best to go see them.]

Jin climbed onto Shuri's back.

"Mr. Neru, will you stay here?"

[I have to maintain the barrier, so I can't leave this place. As I told you before, head to that beach over there, find Lulu, and ask her to guide you to a safe place, preferably a cave.]

"Understood."

Just as Jin was about to set off with Shuri, Neru affectionately grabbed Shuri's leg. Jin and Shuri turned to look at Neru.

[Thank you, Jin Runcandel]

Neru wanted to express his gratitude.

"You're welcome."

Thanks to riding on Shuri, Jin quickly found Lulu.

Lulu was exactly like Neru, making it difficult to distinguish between the twins when looking at them up close.

Neru, Lulu, and Miru, the triplets, formed the core of the Cat Tribe's barrier.

[What, Shuri? How long has it been, no, how is it that you're alive...?]

Lulu was visibly delighted to see Shuri, just like Neru.

However, Jin thought they couldn't have a long conversation, so he explained the situation and expressed his intention to go to the cave.

Lulu briefly greeted Shuri and led Jin back to the Cat Tribe's cave.

[Once you reach the cave, we can only maintain the barrier for a maximum of ten minutes. Taking travel time into account, be careful because the Specters will immediately enter the cave as soon as the barrier breaks.]

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

During the two days of continuous Specter attacks, there was not a single safe spot left in the cave.

Each time the barriers took a hit, the cave would tremble, or the interior would shake.

The gold-coated rocks would shatter, and the tools of the Watertails Tribe were completely destroyed.

The small beastmen huddled under an improvised net hanging from the ceiling, trembling in fear.

So, the small beastmen could only look to Jin, who had returned, as their savior.

"Jin Runcandel!"

"Jin is here!"

"Well, he's here. Jin."

Peng, Song, and Darkflame all shouted at once. The gazes of the small beastmen all fell upon Jin simultaneously.

Fortunately, amidst the misfortune, none of the small beastmen were severely injured.

Thanks to the net set up by the Cat Tribe, not even falling rocks caused any harm.

"Is everyone alright?"

"What the heck happened? The earthquakes started shortly after you followed the Cat Tribe... The cave is blocked!"

The cave was blocked, not by the attack, but by the barrier.

"The Zipple Magicians are attacking the Cat Tribe's barrier. The barrier will break in 10 minutes. Everyone needs to escape. Gather only what's strictly necessary as soon as possible."

Jin briefly explained the imminent danger.

Why the Zipple Magicians were attacking this place, and how the Cat Tribe defended against them.

Naturally, he also conveyed the fact that he was the cause of the attack, but the small beastmen didn't blame him at all.

"It's alright, Jin. We... can handle it. And escape..."

"For goodness sake! Don't open your mouth until it's safe! Get ready to run! Can't you see it? Everyone, someone must have realized that our cosmetics business was about to explode... Very soon, Zipple, Vermont, and Kinzelo will come after us!"

Peng clenched his fist and spoke.

"That's right."

"We made a contract with you at such a ridiculous price precisely for moments like this. Seeing that you didn't flee alone proves it was a good contract."

Peng deliberately spoke as if it were no big deal.

He didn't want the other small beastmen to get even more anxious.

Peng had a strong intuition that the situation was dire.

"When the barrier collapses, the Zipple Magicians will either enter the cave directly or get close. I'll give you some time, so everyone has to escape."

There were a total of about 150 small beastmen inside the cave.

Jin wanted to save them all.

Thinking about how to make it possible was futile.

The Specters' reasons for the attack, their intentions, and everything else were still unknown.

He needed to know what the enemy wanted in order to respond appropriately.

"It's more likely that their goal is to ruin my business rather than sniff around Temar's Tomb. Besides, I was a wanted criminal by the Lutero Magical Federation until last year. From Zipple's perspective, it must have been intolerable for someone like me to boldly advertise cosmetics in their territory."

It wasn't just a matter of being intolerable. Since the start of the advertising campaign, most of Zipple's elders had been consumed by anger and couldn't sleep at night.

That's why Zipple sent the elite magician's secret division, the Specter Corps.

Recently, Zipple's elders had developed unfavorable feelings towards Runcandel.

Not only did they make Jin, a wanted criminal by the Lutero Magical Federation, their flagbearer, but they also dared to advertise cosmetics in Zipple's territory.

Therefore, the assault on the cave was a justified action.

"If I play my cards right, maybe I can turn this situation to my advantage. If I can rescue just the small beastmen... I might be able to use my clan as a shield for my business in the future."

Crack! Crack!

Among the small beastmen bustling to gather their belongings, an unexpected sound of something breaking and exploding was heard.

It was the sound of the invisible barrier of the Cat Tribe being shattered.

Following the sound of the rupture, cracks in the air appeared out of nowhere. From these cracks, a powerful flow of mana could be felt.

It was the mana of the Specter Corps.

"Hey, Jin! Our comrade! After saving us, you must definitely escape too!"

Swoosh!

Jin unsheathed his Sigmund.

"Why worry about me? When the barrier collapses, run straight to the entrance. Judging by the mana flow, it seems like the enemies enter the cave immediately after breaking the barrier. Now, go. Run to the entrance. Once outside the cave, seek protection from the Runcandels through the Zhan Kingdom. Mention that it's an order from the Twelfth Flagbearer."

When the barrier breaks, the sealed entrance of the cave will open.

"Understood. Promise to come back alive, okay? And don't think we'll blame you if we suffer because of you. It's not entirely untrue, but we already decided to accept this level of danger when we chose to work with you in the first place."

"Jin, don't hurt yourself, thank you!"

"It's not 'thank you,' it's 'thank you very much'! Alright, enough with the compliments, let's go, Watertails! We're just going to be a hindrance to our comrade."

"Excuse me."

"It's not 'excuse me,' it's 'I'm sorry'... Never mind, let's go, let's go!"

The Golden Snow Tribe pushed the Watertails forward.

Jin couldn't help but chuckle.

Even though they had every right to be resentful towards him, seeing that the small beastmen didn't blame Jin made him think it was a good decision to come and save them.

As the small beastmen fled, they looked at Jin several times.

Although they were completely unfamiliar with mana, they could sense it.

They felt the tremendous power flowing into the cave as the barrier broke.

'The mana felt beyond the barrier... I was expecting this, but there's no chance of winning in a direct confrontation.'

Three members of the Specter Corps.

They were no less formidable than three Black Knights. It wasn't an easy task even for Luna to face three Black Knights at once.

For Jin, at this moment, it was obviously impossible.

However, Jin decided that there might be an opportunity.

Beyond buying time, he could inflict significant damage on the Specter Corps or even kill them.

"They don't know I'm here."

As formidable as the Specter Corps was, they couldn't predict that Jin was inside the cave.

Of course, the Specter Corps could perfectly respond to unexpected variables.

If the enemy was "strong" in the common sense, they could handle it.

Swoosh...!

Shadow Energy spread from Jin's body, quickly extending throughout the cave and shrouding it like a curtain.

Shadow Energy expanded so rapidly that it filled the cave, completely concealing Jin.

It was the release of Shadow Energy, extended to erase his presence.

Jin, covered in Shadow Energy, looked like a shadow among the various shadows scattered on the cave walls.

Jin remembered the day he sowed terror at Mamit's Moonlit Tavern when he was in the intermediate class.

The attack Jin was about to attempt now was the same as back then. Completely hiding his presence and energy with Shadow Energy and unleashing it at an unexpected moment.

Back then, he had spent hours accumulating Shadow Energy while sitting in an inn room, but now, that amount of time was more than enough.

Especially in such a confined space as this.

Crunch, crunch...!

The barrier began to crumble completely.

Whoosh!

And within the curtain of Shadow Energy, a small spark ignited.

That spark was the reason Jin erased his own presence.

Even if they were members of the Specter Corps, they wouldn't be able to perceive the mana of that small spark beyond the barrier and the curtain of Shadow Energy.

That spark was the ignition point of Runcandel's Secret Sword Movement.

'I'll finish them off in one strike as soon as they arrive. Not even the Specters will emerge unscathed if they're hit by a surprise attack.'

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