Grid returned to the Overgeared Kingdom with Piaro. The reason he chose to walk instead of using the return scroll or warp facilities was out of consideration for Piaro. The end of the emperor, which came in an unexpected form, made Piaro feel lost.
Piaro’s face was gloomy and haggard as he walked silently for a few days. Often, he would rush forward and roar when he couldn’t contain his anger. Grid felt more troubled as he chased after Piaro. He didn’t think Piaro would be able to smile again...
Grid felt anxious. Ironically, Piaro had been able to endure up to now because of the emperor. That’s right. He was the reason why Piaro managed to keep himself sane after losing his colleagues, family, and entire life. It was due to his hatred and desire for vengeance against the emperor. He must’ve dreamt of slashing the emperor’s throat every night.
Yet he couldn’t get revenge on the emperor whom he’d met. Piaro couldn’t fulfil his dreams or even let out curses. The emperor had died willingly… by the hands of someone that wasn’t Piaro.
The seizure began again. Piaro, who was eating the beef jerky Grid handed to him, shook wildly and held an axe. He charged like an angry bull and roared. The steep ridges, the rivers as big as a sea, the heavy rains, and the ferocious hordes of monsters didn’t dare restrain him. Piaro’s eyes turned white as he continued to yell and climb over several mountains without rest. Grid gradually became exhausted as he followed behind Piaro. His stamina was depleted, and his legs were shaking.
There was a reason why the imperial dukes regarded Natural State as special. The characteristic of absorbing energy from nature meant Piaro’s stamina didn’t deplete easily. It was just like it was the beginning...
“Pant, pant! Pant...”
The stamina gauge flashed red. Grid’s body seems to be completely submerged in the depths. His breathing was hard, and his heart seemed like it was going to burst. Even his vision was blurred. The hardest part was that he couldn’t share the despair and anger that Piaro was feeling.
If only he was as thoughtful as Lauel...
If only he was as eloquent as Huroi...
If only he had Peak Sword’s wit or Regas’ pureness...
If only he could comfort Piaro a little bit...
Yet Grid couldn’t do anything.
He was calling the unicorn in this mood and making it lick his cheeks...? Grid had refrained from summoning Overgeared Corn because of this, but he was now afraid he was going to die. If he died here, he was afraid that the emotionally unstable Piaro would make an extreme choice. It happened the moment Grid judged he couldn’t bear it anymore and was about to start the summoning.
[Your knight Piaro has reached new heights in extreme conditions!]
[Your knight Piaro’s Natural State skill has gone beyond the beginner level and reached intermediate level!]
It was like a blessing from everything. The rivers and seas, mountains and forest, sky and earth—all of nature extended their energy to the sweaty Piaro. Subsequently...
[Your sixth sense transcends the concept of space.]
“...?” Grid, who was far behind Piaro, realized that Piaro’s back that was looming far away was also right in front of him.
‘Don’t tell me...?’
[You feel less attached to the concept of space. Yet it is still looming.]
Grid was reminded of the memory when his transcendence rose. As if the space itself folded, the ‘absolute beings’ reached their goal in no time. The yangban Garam called it Shunpo. It was a type of method of contracting space, and Grid used it at this moment. He didn’t use it intentionally, but the important thing was that it was possible.
‘Will it be a skill if it keeps accumulating?’
Grid got a glimpse of new possibilities, but his feeling of joy was faint. Now, his mind was only on Piaro. He sat down hesitantly.
“Your Majesty.” Piaro turned his head. His passionate voice and his violently shaking eyes had all subsided into calm. The deep darkness on his face receded slowly. “It is very regrettable that I couldn’t execute the emperor with my own hands.”
“I wanted to cut out the eyes of the emperor who looked at me as he bowed and cut off the ears that heard that shameless apology.”
“In any case, the emperor is dead.”
Dawn was breaking. The sun rising beyond the deep ridges brightened Piaro’s appearance.
“My past is over.”
Was that why...? Piaro’s face looked bright and warm.
“In the future, I will live with Your Majesty.”
[You feel a deep bond beyond liking with your knight ‘Piaro.’]
[A new system is opened!]
[A list of targets you currently have deep bonds with.
★ Piaro ★
Bond Lv. 1.
All stats will increase by 1% when you are together.
-Can detect if the health of the bond target is at a dangerous level.]
How many people in the world would silently stay around a troubled man for days? No matter how they felt about that, it would be hard to do because of practical problems. Yet Grid put everything aside and stayed by Piaro’s side. His responsibilities as king, his economic activities, and his efforts to maintain his position were erased from his mind. He didn’t do it based on some calculation. It was just because he wanted to do it. He was worried about Piaro.
Although he didn’t speak any words of comfort, Grid did his best, and his heart was conveyed to Piaro.
“Thank you. Really... I really thank you.” Grid was finally able to let go of his worries and smile with relief. He cried at the same time.
Grid wished he had valued Khan more. If he had shared more time with Khan, would he have been able to share a bond with Khan? At the very least, there wouldn’t have been as much pain on Khan’s final journey.
‘Damn, I have to do well this time.’ This was the first thought that came to Grid’s mind.
The faces of Irene, Lord, Sehee, and his friends emerged in turn. He also missed Braham, Asmophel, and Mercedes.
‘Are you all doing well?’
Asmophel and Mercedes were steadily sending letters. Someone was found and persuaded while someone else couldn’t be persuaded, but they were safe at their current location. They passed as much information as they could to Grid, but he was worried because he couldn’t see them. It felt like they were hiding the hard situations.
Meanwhile, Braham was still asleep. There were no signs that the faded presence was recovering in the aftermath of his soul’s destruction.
“Sleep well and be sure to recover.”
It was now a habit for Grid to talk to himself. After speaking to Braham, Grid barely recovered with the help of Overgeared Corn and Piaro and used the return scroll.
“Despite going through a pretty big crisis, you handled things a-lo-ne. I’m so glad you came back safely.”
“Yes. I feel so relieved that we were just fools worrying.”
Returning to Reinhardt after a long time, Grid wanted to meet Irene and Lord. However, waiting for him were the 10 meritorious retainers.
“Have strength,” Irene’s voice entered Grid’s ears as he was surrounded by the growling 10 meritorious retainers. Standing at a corner of the corridor with a big Lord, she cheered for Grid with clenched fists. She seemed to guess the wrath of the 10 meritorious retainers.
Jishuka, who had seen the epic just as she had been about to engage in an archery competition with the legendary archer Povia’s ghost and ultimately gave up the hidden quest, smiled brightly. “Do you have an earthworm in your ear? Did your brain move at a strange angle for a moment, causing you to forget the skill to summon your knights?”
The bright laugh sounded terrible. The panicked Grid stepped back. Then Yura approached.
The 32nd Hell lost its master after Belial’s death. After years of successfully exploring and extinguishing it, Yura moved to the 33rd Hell and confronted the four heavenly kings of the 33rd great demon. They were as strong as the fourth stats awakening Grid, and she had witnessed the epic shortly after killing three of them and immediately returned before killing the fourth one.
“Youngwoo-ssi, we’re going to an amusement park for our date this week.”
He couldn’t go on an amusement park ride even with a knife to his neck. When he was in elementary school, he rode on the Viking and pissed his pants. He already told her this before...
Grid was about to argue only to close his mouth. It was because he witnessed Yura’s mouth twitching.
“The reason you don’t trust me is because I’m weak! I will apologize with my death!” Huroi tried to disembowel himself after taking out his sword.
“Hey dude! Are you Japanese?” The grumbling Peak Sword suddenly shifted his target of anger to Huroi.
The bitterly smiling Regas seemed to accept something alone. “That’s it. We’re so weak that you have reached the point where you can’t trust and rely on us...”
Chris shrugged. “Indeed, the only one Grid relies on is me, the second ranked player.”
Pon snorted. “Did Grid call you? You or us would be there.”
“...” Faker was silent as usual while Vantner asked if he had a shield or wig.
In the midst of this turmoil...
“You must’ve brought the goods?” Lauel came forward. He looked colder than anyone else. “Did you obtain the black mithril?”
“T-That...” Grid started a long story. He explained the events that happened in the imperial palace and why he came back empty-handed. “In that atmosphere, I couldn’t mention the black mithril...”
Everyone imagined the atmosphere of the scene where the emperor sacrificed himself and opened a new era. During a time when the princes were grieving and everyone was solemn, if Grid held out his hand for something...
“...It would’ve been a problem.” In the end, Lauel had to convince himself. He was worried. “Does this mean a huge delay in the schedule?”
Basara had become the busiest person in the world. The empire—which was entering a new era as recognized by the system—would undergo many changes, and Basara would lead the entire process. She might forget about her commitment to Grid for a while. It meant that the time for Grid’s new mineral creation would be postponed.
“You want to create a new mineral right now. Can you bear it?”
“I’m going to have to endure it. If I can’t, I’ll send a letter.”
At this moment...
“Your Majesty!” Royman, who was now a senior knight, was still dressed in men’s clothes as she ran in to report, “I’ve received contact from the gate just now! Duke Grenhal of the Saharan Empire has sent a request to enter!”
Grenhal was coming here when it was such a busy time...? The surprised Grid nodded. “Take him to the audience hall right now.”
After a while, Duke Grenhal politely bowed to Grid sitting on the throne and pulled out a bundle. “This is the sincerity of Her Majesty the Empress.”
[102 black mithril have been acquired.]
The mouths of Grid and the 10 meritorious retainers dropped open.
Grenhal was once again bowing deeply. “Her Majesty says that the imperial family of Saharan will never forget the grace of the Overgeared King. She says that any enemy of the Overgeared Kingdom is an enemy of the empire and that the empire will be a dam protecting the Overgeared Kingdom from all types of winds. We have a separate palace for the Overgeared King in the imperial palace, and we would be happy to have you visit at any time.”
“Overgeared King, will you accept the empire’s alliance request? The right to destroy the alliance will be given to the Overgeared Kingdom.”
Grenhal’s words shook everyone. Naturally, Grid was happy. The result was more ideal than what he dreamed of, so his heart was overwhelmed. However, there was one thing he had to consider.
Grid looked up at the ceiling with a pained expression. He could feel Kasim. Of course, Duke Grenhal also noticed Kasim’s presence from the beginning. The killing intent would be read by the duke of the empire... As Kasim had already stated a long time ago, the skills of the dukes were one level above Kasim’s.
Grenhal continued, “The empire will change. Our armed forces will only be used as a means of defending our rights, and we will seek ways to coexist with all species on the continent. There will be no more trampling on, rejection, or exploitation of others because they are different or just because of the simplicity of governance. The new empire will repent forever for the numerous people the old empire destroyed.”
His words didn’t make a difference to Kasim. Kasim jumped down from the ceiling. His red eyes looked like they were devouring Grenhal.