From far away, the ground rumbled.
The door and window let out piercing screams. The bed sloshed like a lake disturbed by a stone.
Sam opened his eyes from his deep sleep. His vision was blurry from lying down, but he abruptly got up.
He arched his back. Everyone feared a natural disaster like an earthquake, but miners feared them even more, and Sam especially disliked earthquakes.
The earthquake soon stopped, but Sam’s heart failed to calm down.
‘Let me take a look outside.’
The earthquake might have affected the mine. He couldn’t investigate its effects carefully at this time of the night, but he could scan the mine’s exterior. He quickly put on his clothes and got out.
* * *
Hans stared at the window that Zich jumped out of.
‘What is going on?’
Hans thought Zich would return soon, but even after much time had passed, Zich still hadn’t come back. Hans even thought of going to sleep first since Zich seemed open-minded about these kinds of matters; he didn’t think Zich would nitpick about who slept first. However, the earthquake lingered on his mind. It was ridiculous to think that there would be any human involvement in a natural phenomenon, but it seemed possible with Zich.
‘It could totally happen.’
Thus, Hans couldn’t go to sleep peacefully.
While wondering if the earthquake involved Zich or if it was just a coincidence, Hans saw someone walking in the night.
‘Isn’t that Sam?’
What was he doing so late at night? Hans ran out of the window. Although he denied such claims, he was becoming more like Zich.
“You gave me a scare!”
Sam looked startled. He was walking in a dark night with only his torch to rely on, so Hans surprised him by dropping down from the sky. Sam clutched onto his thumping heart and tried to still it.
“A-Are you ok?”
“Yes. I was just a bit surprised.”’
Hans looked at Sam with an apologetic face.
Hans was someone who stuck to Zich’s side like an accessory. Zich called Hans his servant, but Sam knew that Hans wasn’t a slave, so he maintained his etiquette.
“What are you here for, Mr. Hans?”
“I was looking out of the window and saw you passing by.”
Hans pointed at the building next to them. Only one window was open with the light on from one of the many attached to the building’s walls.
‘Did he jump off from there?’
Sam looked at Hans in surprise, but Hans was calm as if he hadn’t done anything special. It almost seemed as if Sam was the unusual one.
‘I thought he was normal and meek in comparison to Zich, but as expected of Zich’s servant.’
Hans was also different from ordinary people like him.
“Where are you going in a hurry in the middle of the night?”
“I am going to check the mine because of the earthquake.”
“At this time? Wouldn’t it be better to go when it’s bright?”
“If I don’t check it immediately, my heart won’t be able to rest.”
Sam’s face looked urgent and desperate, so Hans gave up on trying to persuade him. However, it was late, and it was especially dangerous at this time. Even if there weren’t monsters, a mountain beast was enough to pose a great danger to a normal person.
‘If I just let him go and something happens to him, I will probably hear a lot of insults.’
Hans scratched his head and said, “I will go with you. If Sir Zich was here, he would have probably done that.”
“Won’t I be inconveniencing you?”
Although he said this, Sam was glad. If he was guarded by someone who hunted monsters, he would be a lot safer.
“It’s fine. Let’s go quickly and come back.”
Hans wrote where he was going on a piece of paper and went up the mine with Sam.
* * *
While crossing his arms in front of the mine’s entrance, Zich started thinking. An unusual energy overflowed and rose out of the mine. The energy, which leaked little by little, exploded out of control after the earthquake erupted. A massive piece of earth blocked the path of the energy flow, so it was hard for Zich to assess the direction and origin of the energy. However, the energy was definitely coming from the mine.
Zich felt a sense of dull robustness and vitality; it was the earth’s energy.
‘Nowem must have woken up.’
Zich didn’t know Nowem’s exact identity. He just knew that since Nowem had complete authority over the earth, it was probably Nowem who had woken up inside the mine.
‘As expected, those guys are related to Nowem.’
It was definite since right after the assassins’ leader went inside the mine, a being who sounded like Nowem appeared.
‘This is good. I came to this city to meet Nowem in the first place. I will kill him here.’
Since the mine was far from the city, Zich didn’t have to worry about inflicting damages on properties and people’s lives. First, Zich began to examine his body. He wasn’t hurting nor did he feel discomfort anywhere; and since the assassins were like appetizers to him, his body was perfectly warmed up. The dead assassins would have probably gritted their teeth in anger if they heard this, but Zich was calm. His armor was in good condition, and he tightly gripped the sword in his hand. At last, he checked the mana in his body by circling it around and stood a short distance away from the mine’s entrance.
Zich didn’t plan to go inside the mine. The mine environment would be advantageous to Nowem, who could use the earth’s power. Zich’s current strength was far from the strength he had in his prime days, and he didn’t want to go inside his enemy’s home territory if he didn’t have to.
‘And he is going to come out anyways.’
The spectacular entrance of the ‘Earth’s Tyrant’ started with Suol’s destruction; thus, Zich knew Nowem would get out of the mine at one point to destroy Suol. As if agreeing with his conclusions, Zich soon sensed a presence approaching the mine’s entrance. The earth’s energy moved with the presence, and Zich was sure that it was the Earth’s Tyrant, Nowem.
However, after he felt the presence, he tilted his head sideways.
‘This…I have sensed this presence before.’
The presence was a bit different from before, but he had definitely felt it.
A memory flashed across his mind and surprised Zich.
He heard footsteps inside the mine. Zich uncrossed his arms and pulled out his sword.
A human was in front of him. A completely normal human being that could be found anywhere in the village. The only special thing about the man was his dazed, blank eyes. However, the earthy smell that flowed out of his body told Zich that he was the Earth’s Tyrant, Nowem.
“I can’t believe it’s you.”
Zich clicked his tongue. It almost seemed like a trick of destiny—to think that the Earth’s Tyrant, Nowem, was someone he knew. Zich said his name.
Snoc didn’t respond to his name, so Zich asked, “Didn’t you get dragged off by assassins? What happened inside the mine? And what is the energy you are carrying?”
There was no answer. Snoc seemed like he was out of his mind.
“Are you perhaps familiar with the name, Nowem?”
Finally, at Zich’s question, Snoc showed a response.
His pupils came into focus and stared—no, glared at Zich.
‘It seems right.’
Snoc didn’t respond to any other questions except the one about Nowem. That meant he had some relationship with Nowem.
Snoc growled like a beast.
‘Was Nowem always like this?’
The Nowem he knew was a professional guy. According to survivors’ testimonies, Nowem was violent and cruel, and he diligently cornered his opponents by utilizing his authority over the earth. No information said that he was like a mindless beast in any way.
“Kuaaaaah!” Snoc cried out.
The ground shook lightly, and a stalagmite popped out near Zich’s feet. With the speed at which it popped out, the stalagmite was more dangerous than most spears or arrows. It looked like it could pierce Zich’s body like a skewer; but instead of Zich’s body, the stalagmite pierced the air. Zich struck down the ends of the two-meter stalagmite that now looked as if it had lost its aim and spirit.
“You seem to be out of your mind, but do you think you will be fine after attacking me?”
Zich smiled. Even the senseless Snoc twitched at the menacing smile.
“Now that I’ve received an attack, I guess I can go back to my original goal.”
The reason why Zich had come to Suol was to do the kind act of eliminating the Earth’s Tyrant, Nowem.
“Since we know each other, if you gain your senses back in the middle of the fight, I will stop. So—”
As Zich moved his feet, the stalagmite crumbled. Simultaneously, Zich’s new power shot out like arrows.
“If you don’t want anything terrible to happen to you, quickly regain your senses!”
Zich clamped down his sword.
It was a deep, clear ring. The power of the mana-imbued sword went beyond imagination. However, it failed to inflict any damage to Snoc.
The sword’s edge scratched the stone and made disturbing noises. A rock barrier burst out from the ground and blocked Zich’s sword in front of Snoc. But Zich expected it and he placed more pressure into his grip and poured mana into his sword.
The wall exploded. Between the flying stone pieces and a cloud of dust, he saw Snoc’s surprised face. It seemed as if Snoc didn’t expect the wall to break so easily. Then, with one of his fingers on his free hand, he flicked one of the scattering stones.
A small stone pierced right into Snoc’s stomach. Snoc backed off while spitting out painful groans.
‘His durability has risen considerably.’
It wasn’t a force that a normal person could’ve endured. Honestly, Zich had flicked the stone thinking that it didn’t matter if the stone penetrated through Snoc’s stomach.
Snoc raised his hand.
The ground below Zich exploded. Grains of soil and large stones flew in all directions and laid waste to their surroundings. Zich backed off while swinging his sword.
Zich used a high-level skill. For the small stones and sand that flew towards him, Zich made moving wind currents to block them, and for the bigger rocks, he individually blocked each one of them. Then, he used the ‘Air Piercing’ skill to shoot bursts of air at Snoc.
The force pierced a hole into Snoc’s shoulders, and blood spurted out. Now, there were more holes in his body. Snoc pulled up a boulder to stop Zich's attacks, but he still gained two more holes.
Zich tilted his head sideways at Snoc who was struggling to fight back with his head hanging low. Considering how he gained the title of the Earth’s Tyrant, he was way too weak.
‘Is this guy really…’
Zich began to doubt the existence of the Earth’s Tyrant.
Stalagmite shot up under his feet again.
Zich stepped on the stalagmite with his feet and crushed it. He blocked Snoc's attacks with more ease than before, and it looked like Snoc had no chance of winning. On the other hand, Zich realized something as he looked at the stalagmite’s broken parts.
‘The force is greater.’
The stalagmite’s speed and hardiness were superior to the ones before. Zich’s feet felt numb after breaking the stalagmite.
‘He is getting stronger.’
The speed at which Snoc was becoming stronger was extraordinary. This was probably how the Earth’s Tyrant formed; it also meant that it was better to end him before he became stronger. Zich swung his sword.
Snoc stationed a stone barrier as a defense again, but it didn’t work. Zich’s sword cut through the wall like mud and moved forward.
Zich’s sword, which aimed for Snoc’s neck, stopped in its tracks. The sword had been blocked by another sword, enveloped by a piercing bloodlust.
“Life should be cherished. Don’t you know that you’ll go to Hell if you kill others recklessly?”
“That’s not something a guy like you should say,” Zich said while looking at the leader of the group of assassins that kidnapped Snoc.Previous Chapter Next Chapter