Boom- boom- boom-
Early morning as the darkness slowly disappeared and the sun started to rise… The sound of drums echoed throughout Puzzle City.
Not a single one of the many birds were chirping. The sound of the drums was the only thing that was heard, as if it would cover up all of Puzzle City.
“Human! Wake up! The drums are sounding!”
“It’s today, nya!”
“Today, today is that day, nya!”
Today was the 50th celebration, the day to offer the sacrifices.
Cale couldn’t breathe for a moment. He barely let out a breath and quietly mumbled.
“T, take your feet off.”
‘These little punks.’
The children averaging ten years old. The three children who were chubbier than when they were children averaging nine years old were pushing down on Cale’s stomach.
‘I thought I was going to die.’
“Aigoo. Human, you’re so weak!”
“It’s okay that you are weak, nya.”
“…It’s… a bit understandable.”
Raon, Hong, and On commented one after another and shook their heads. Cale had expected it from Raon and Hong, but looked at On with a bit of a betrayed gaze as he had not expected this from her as well.
On raised her front paw and pointed to the clock.
“It’s almost time to head to the temple, nya.”
Boom- boom- boom-
Cale listened to the drums as he observed the clock.
The celebration was to start at noon.
However, the preparations had started early in the morning.
Knock knock knock.
Ron knocked on the door and entered the room.
“Young master-nim, it looks like you will need to get ready.”
A cold gaze slightly revealed itself through Ron’s fake benign smile as he looked at Cale whose hair was a mess and overall look was shabby.
Cale grabbed the cup of lemonade and quickly got up from the bed. He started grumbling.
“They’re telling us to come and go for no reason in the morning.”
Cale and the rest of the people staying in this place…
They were people who came as the person in charge of the sacrifices delivered from the different nations and territories or famous people who received the threat veiled as an invitation from the central temple. They were all forced to watch the celebration.
All of them had meaningless tasks to fulfill from the early morning. Furthermore, they had to do it all together.
“They’re just trying to tame all of you.”
That was right. This schedule was a taming process by the central temple and the White Star as Ron mentioned.
Cale’s glabellas scrunched as much as his temper.
“Tsk. How annoying.”
* * *
In the end, Cale ended up coming to the central temple to do those annoying things.
Of course, he was alone.
Ron, Raon… He could not bring anybody else with him here.
He was currently on the third floor of the central temple where he could see out clearly unlike the first and second floors that were surrounded by the rock wall.
He could see all of Puzzle City.
There was a simple reason as to why Cale and the rest of the forced celebration spectators were brought here.
‘It’s an altar.’
Outside the rock wall surrounding the central temple…
There was an altar on a wide area that used to be a plaza in the past.
‘That’s where the sacrifices will die. Close to 2,000 lives will be lost there today.’
They had been called here early in the morning to watch that and get scared.
“Young master Cale Henituse of the Roan Kingdom’s Henituse territory?”
Cale looked away from the altar after hearing a voice.
“Mm. You’re here. Your identity has been verified.”
The priest smiled warmly before moving to the person in line behind Cale.
“Prince Pen of the Breck Kingdom?”
“What is it?”
“What else? You ended up coming in the end. Your identity has been verified.”
Cale listened to Rosalyn’s younger brother respond with a grumble as he looked around.
There were hundreds of people gathered here from all over the Western continent.
The people who made eye contact with Cale quickly looked away.
There were people throughout the room peeking at Cale and unable to hide their shock.
‘That person is here?’
After the initial shock, their faces were filled with curiosity, scorn, disappointment, or grief.
“Sayeru-nim. We have confirmed everybody on the list.”
In front of the room… Bear King Sayeru, who had been standing facing the group of people, nodded his head at the priest’s report and addressed the crowd.
“The celebration starts at noon, so please wait here until you all move together when the time comes.”
He was telling them to watch the preparation of the altar to its completion.
“Just so that you are aware, priests are stationed all around so please let us know if there is anything you need.”
Basically, he was saying that priests are keeping their eyes on them and not to do anything useless.
“We will prepare chairs and refreshments. Isn’t this quite great of a treatment?”
Sayeru smiled and then suddenly clapped his hands.
“Ah, in addition.”
He pointed toward the sky with his finger.
“The White Star-nim has said that he would like to see some people face to face before the celebration starts. He wishes to have tea with those people. I’m sure it will be an extremely honorable place to be.”
The fifth floor of the central temple… The White Star was there.
When the celebration starts at noon… That was when the White Star would reveal himself to the people in front of the altar.
‘Honorable my ass.’
Cale was calm despite his completely different inner thoughts. His face just looked cold to the others.
Sayeru peeked at Cale before continuing to speak with joy.
“His highness, crown prince Alberu Crossman.”
Cale’s gaze headed to the front of the group.
Unlike Cale, who was to the rear of the middle of the group, Alberu was in the front as he would be giving the congratulatory speech.
“A time of refreshments with the White Star-nim. You’re happy, aren’t you, your highness?”
“Then please come this way.”
Sayeru pointed next to him and Alberu walked over.
It was the first time Cale saw Alberu’s face in person in this illusion.
Alberu Crossman had not called over nor come to see Cale at their resting area.
The two of them were not giving any signals through their eyes or greeting each other right now either.
‘He looks terrible.’
Cale observed Alberu with a stoic expression on his face.
Unlike his tired look Cale had seen through the video communication device, seeing Alberu in person allowed Cale to see that Alberu had lost a lot of weight.
“Oh no, your highness.”
Sayeru’s eyes curled down as if he was sad as he continued speaking.
“The despair prayer must be hard on you. You seem to be losing more weight by the day. Mm. How about asking the White Star-nim about it? Ask him to allow you to stop praying. Ask him to let someone else take your place. What do you think?”
“…That’s okay. Praying is important.”
“How magnificent. Your faith is very strong.”
Sayeru laughed while Alberu just continued looking forward without any changes to his expression.
‘That son of a bitch.’
Cale was slowly losing his temper. However, his face still remained stoic.
“Okay, next is the Caro Kingdom’s crown prince Valentino. Oh, the prince from the Breck Kingdom please step forward as well.”
Sayeru continued choosing the people who would have this secret meeting with the White Star.
“Please smile, you must smile. It is rare to have such an intimate conversation with the White Star-nim like this.”
Sayeru made that comment to the people standing next to him before looking forward again.
“Okay, last person. Young master Cale Henituse-nim.”
The silent room became even more silent at that moment.
Sayeru respectfully ordered Cale.
“Please come forward.”
Some people started peeking at Cale.
Cale Henituse was the person at the center of the people who had fought against the White Star. The past did not disappear just because Cale had been defeated.
“Are you not going to step forward?”
Cale just quietly looked forward.
Sayeru slowly started to walk. He stopped in front of Cale and asked the still emotionless Cale.
“Young master Cale, are you not going to come forward?”
Sayeru’s face turned cold as if he had not been smiling at all. There was an unexplainable sense of tension.
The Bear King called out to the person who was not looking at him in a low voice.
The eyes of the person who had only been looking forward slowly moved.
Cale’s calm voice cut through the silent room. His voice was not loud, but everybody heard it clearly through the silence.
“I’ve done as much as I could.”
Cale looked at Sayeru and asked.
“But you want me to do even more?”
Cale then turned his body to face Sayeru.
He took a step forward and shoved his face closer to Sayeru’s face. Sayeru could see the scowl in Cale’s eyes.
“…Isn’t bowing down this much enough?”
His eyes were full of wrath, annoyance, and all sorts of other negative emotions. There were so many that Sayeru could see them without even trying.
The defeated person slowly spoke, as if he was breathing out, with a scowl on his face.
“Don’t expect too many things from me. This is my limit.”
Cale then took a step back, looked forward and avoided Sayeru’s gaze.
A short chuckle came out of Sayeru’s mouth.
Some people were slightly nodding their heads. They understood where Cale was coming from.
Cale Henituse. He had come to Puzzle City to deliver sacrifices.
Furthermore, he was watching the celebration where the sacrifices were being offered. He had not shown any resistance and had even shown a lot of goodwill through it all.
That alone was enough for some people to think that Cale Henituse had gone crazy.
But they realized it now.
Although he was acting calm on the outside and smiling…
This defeated person was at his limits holding himself back.
Sayeru was laughing out loud now. He could finally understand Cale Henituse well.
‘Yes, he isn’t Cale Henituse if he doesn’t act like this.’
The fact that he had done everything for the sacrifice delivery was weird.
He looked at Cale Henituse who dared to go against the White Star’s order and felt joy and pleasure.
“Well, I will show some understanding this one time since you are saying that you are at your limit. I will put in a good word with the White Star-nim.”
Sayeru patted Cale’s shoulder.
“However, there is no next time.”
Sayeru’s cold eyes glared at Cale. He warned the defeated fool who refused to make eye contact with him as well as everybody here.
“Who will be the next sacrifice? Nobody knows who it may be.”
Sayeru, who turned away from Cale without any regrets, headed out of the third floor with the people who will enjoy refreshments with the White Star and headed for the fifth floor.
Cale did not make any eye contact with anyone until that point. Many people were looking at him with different emotions, however…
‘Phew, that was close.’
Cale was relieved on the inside.
‘It’s one thing if we are far apart, but my condition might be revealed if I am close to the White Star.’
Even just using this illusion as the basis, Cale had clashed with the White Star many times.
That was why it was better for him to be as far away from the White Star as possible in order to not have his shield found out.
‘It’ll be bad if he found out before I flipped everything over.’
Cale thought that he did a good job to slither out of that situation and sat down on a chair a priest brought over.
Cale could hear some things in the room that was a bit rowdier after Sayeru left.
“Tsk. Cale Henituse is pretty much dead too.”
“He should just fully submit if he wants to survive. What’s with this half-assed stuff?”
“…He’s done for.”
Cale closed his eyes without saying anything.
Time quickly passed by.
Boom- boom- boom-
It was now noon.
Cale looked up at the person sitting down at the chair at the top of the altar as the drumming continued.
The White Star.
The bastard wearing the white half-mask that covered above his nose was sitting on a white marble chair looking down.
At an area a bit away from the altar… The residents of Puzzle City and people from all over were cheering.
The people who were forced to come to observe were at the center of the cheering crowd looking up at the White Star.
It was set like this on purpose with dividers to separate the cheering crowd with the forced spectators. Furthermore, Cale and the others got chairs as a form of consideration.
Sitting on the chairs made it so that they could only see the people cheering and the White Star on top of the altar.
They’d probably be able to see the sacrifices as well as they step onto the altar.
Cale looked around.
There were some people who had no choice, but to cheer but the crowd had a lot of followers of the White Star and the God of Despair.
Cale felt the fervor spreading out of the cheering and raised his head.
He could see the White Star.
At that moment…
The White Star looked toward Cale.
It could have been a mistake but he was certain that the White Star was observing him.
Cale frowned but did not avoid the White Star’s gaze.
The White Star laughed and turned his head.
It was a clear sign that he was ignoring Cale.
It was for that reason.
‘Ah, that scared me.’
Cale was relieved.
‘He didn’t find out.’
He had been anxious that his shield, his current condition, would be found out.
Thankfully, the White Star seemed to not figure out Cale’s condition due to the distance.
How did he know?
The White Star’s eyes were definitely looking down at Cale without many emotions in them.
It was as if he was looking at an annoying bug. That seemed to be the right comparison.
This was good news for Cale.
“We will now start the ceremony!”
Cale leaned against the back of the chair and slumped down.
He then lowered his head.
“…Young master Cale.”
Rosalyn’s young brother, Prince Pen, who was next to Cale, called out to him as if he was concerned, but… Cale covered his face with both hands and lowered his head even more.
The White Star saw this and smirked. He then completely looked away from Cale.
The ceremony continued as all of that happened.
Boom. Boom- boom-
People wearing different battle attires moved toward the temple from the North, South, East, and West with a flag bearer in the front as the drums beat on.
It was a performance to show that the White Star was the strongest force on the Western continent and Eastern Continent right now.
Cale did not raise his head.
Sayeru shouted in a cool voice at that moment.
“His highness, crown prince Alberu Crossman will give the celebratory speech!”
Boom, boom, boom-
The area roared with cheering and the drumming mixed together.
The moment when the sun was at the highest point in the sky…
Alberu slowly put his foot on the step headed up to the platform.
He was able to get on top of the altar and look down at everyone just as he thought to himself that the few steps seemed quite high.
Only the White Star… Everybody other than the White Star, who was located at a higher point on the altar behind Alberu, could see him.
Alberu saw Cale with his head down. The moment he saw Cale buried in the chair as if he was disappointed…
Alberu’s eyes clouded over.
He opened the paper with the celebratory speech written on it. Of course, this was prepared by the central temple and not Alberu himself.
He opened his mouth to speak.
“The fact that I can be here with you today-”
Alberu saw it at that moment.
He saw Cale lower the hands that were covering his face.
He saw that the face underneath the hands was smiling.
‘In the end.’
Alberu started to think.
‘You’re going to cause an incident in the end.’
The crown prince subconsciously laughed.
Cale raised his hand at that moment.
There was a loud rumbling and the ground shook.
Alberu turned around.
The starting point of the rumbling…
It was the rock wall protecting the central temple.
The rock wall was shaking.
– Cale, just flip everything over right?
The Super Rock asked and Cale nodded his head.
– Sounds good. I’ll go all out since this is the last test.
The drumming stopped.
The cheering stopped.
Instead, a loud noise shook Puzzle City.
The rock wall started to break apart.
No, it started to crumble.
“W, what is going on all of a sudden-?!”
Bear King Sayeru was shocked for a moment before he turned his head.
Caw. Caw. Caw.
He could hear crows cawing and getting closer.
The Bears knew the person who could do such a thing.
The Tiger shaman Gashan.
He knew how to control crows.
The tribe that had lost their home on the Eastern continent and ran away without any victories until they went into hiding.
The Tiger tribe.
They had been quietly waiting in the Forest of Darkness for the right moment.
There was someone leading the Tigers and climbing over the walls of Puzzle City.
Choi Han. He had a black aura around him as he jumped over.
Choi Han looked up at the sky.
The rock wall had been made by destroying the rock towers that had been full of numerous desires.
The barrier that had separated the central temple from the rest of the city and protected it…
It was gone now.
Instead, thousands, no, tens of thousands of rocks shot up into the air.
It was as if they were trying to cover the light of the sun.
It was as if they were trying to take over the sky.
Rocks covered the sky above Puzzle City.
Cale was seated comfortably on the chair smiling.
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