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Chapter 22: Turning Crisis into Opportunity (2)

In an instant, my mind goes blank.

It seems almost inevitable.

No matter how I look at it, that’s the holy sword. I’ve seen it countless times while playing game; there’s no way I could forget it.

‘But why is it broken!’

The holy sword is never supposed to break.

Well, it can break, but it’s not supposed to.

After all, as long as the wielder’s spirit is unbroken, the sword is unbreakable.

But this holy sword is shattered.

Moreover, what kind of disaster happened for it to emit such an ominous light?

‘What path must one take for the holy sword to end up like this?’

Blood and Bone was a game where the ending changed depending on your choices.

I’ve speculated several times about which ending would be considered canonical and set the stage for the sequel.

‘Since the holy sword has become corrupt, it could be the Demon King route... but that doesn’t make sense.’

A route you can choose if the heroine dies.

A route where one despairs at the world and falls into corruption. If that were the case, the empire wouldn’t be intact like this.

It’s also unlikely for the holy sword, even if it gained power through corruption, to break like this.

‘But there are no other routes where the holy sword becomes corrupt, are there?’

Like the empire’s dog route.

Or the empire revolution route.

Or the true hero route.

There are various endings, but in all of them, the holy sword remains intact.

Moreover, the holy sword is indestructible no matter what. The protagonist is not one to easily break.

The only route where the mind might completely shatter is the Demon King route, but even there, it corrupts but does not break.

What on earth must one do to reduce the holy sword to a lump of scrap metal and even corrupt it?

It was completely beyond my understanding.

...No, more puzzling than that.

“This cursed sword was found in the Demon Realm. What story lies behind this demonic sword that emits such malevolent energy...”

Why can’t everyone recognize that it’s the holy sword?

No, if it’s the hero’s holy sword, it should definitely be famous.

Moreover, there must be characters from the empire here.

Why can’t these people recognize the holy sword?

While I’m panicking, numerous magicians step forward towards the holy sword.

It’s clearly a massive magic. Dozens of magicians chant for a long time before the holy sword finally stops spewing its ominous curse.

Well, judging by the pale faces of the people, it seems the curse has only weakened, not disappeared completely.

In this situation, there’s only one thing I must do.

I quickly ask Miss Rubia about the history of the empire.

But, there was no answer.

Turning my head, I see Miss Rubia foaming at the mouth, unconscious.

Should I wait until she wakes up?

I was sighing with this thought when,

“…Is it troubling you?”

As always, Siel calmly strokes my head and asks.

At this point, I don’t even have the energy to object to her odd behavior. I simply admit it is.

However, what she says next is utterly incomprehensible.

“Then why don’t you ask me?”

“…What are you talking about? You don’t know the history of the empire.”

There’s no way I hadn’t asked her before. I did ask, and she knew nothing.

Siel, being half-elf, seems indifferent to the human world, and Lien, always holed up in the mountains, knows nothing of worldly affairs.

As for Miss Rubia, she’s been too busy running around because of my requests, so I just didn’t have time to ask her.

“I do know.”

But Siel confidently responded.

I’m completely baffled as to why she’s suddenly lying like this.

“No, you didn’t even know about the Demon Lord who appeared around 10 years ago.”

“I don’t know that.”

“And you said you didn’t know the hero who wields the holy sword.”

“I don’t.”

“But you know the history of the empire?”

“My mother taught me.”

What kind of nonsense is this?

I’m so flustered, memories of Lien flash through my mind.

When I asked Lien the same question, this was the response I received.

-I haven’t heard of such a thing. I don’t really know about matters outside the mountain...

What if it’s not that they haven’t heard about it?

If both of them have only spoken the truth to me?

I quickly grabbed the unconscious Miss Rubia and shook her.

This was no time to be cautious.

“Miss Rubia.”

Miss Rubia, regaining consciousness, still had a dazed look.

I asked her seriously.

“Do you remember the major event that happened about 10 years ago?”

Miss Rubia moved her lips.

Although her speech was slurred, I could make out her question about why I was asking all of a sudden.

“It’s really important. Please tell me quickly.”

Without realizing, I spoke forcefully, prompting Miss Rubia to break into a cold sweat and finally speak up.

“The, the Mana Stone Mine incident? The one where someone tried to destroy all the mines but failed?”

In an instant, my mind goes blank.

The situation where no one remembers an event that almost led to the world’s destruction. There was only one conclusion this could lead to.

For some reason, the Demon Lord did not descend.

The empire never faced the threat of destruction.

This is a world different from any route in the previous story.

Where people are unaware of the hero, the empire never faced destruction, and..

The holy sword is corrupted and shattered.

‘How did things get so twisted?’

The one who caused the Mana Stone Mine incident must be the protagonist. It was a quest in the previous game.

But the protagonist wasn’t known as a hero.

Furthermore, they corrupted and shattered the holy sword.

Yet, the world is still intact.

It’s impossible to grasp what’s going on.

But if there’s one thing I’m certain of,

“Miss Rubia, I am truly, deeply sorry.”

I must acquire it at all costs.

Even if I have to spend one’s entire fortune.

Miss Rubia’s face turns pale.

“I’ll pay you back. Please don’t worry too much.”

Even as I say this, Miss Rubia’s complexion does not improve.

After all, who would believe a promise to repay? It’s admirable that she hasn’t slapped me after hearing such words. Truly, a saintess in her own right.

But the thing is, I can really pay it back.

I could even make this person the wealthiest in the empire.

So, let’s just sell a little, just a tiny bit of our conscience.

I was about to press the button with that thought in mind when suddenly,

-Boom!

An explosion erupted out of nowhere.

Through the glass, the auction house was seen in shambles.

Those who appeared were clad in black robes.

Emblazoned on the chest of those robes was a fang symbol, as if flaunting their identity.

“This place is now under the control of the Black Fang.”

*****

‘...Let’s calm down.’

I calmly collected myself and quickly assessed the situation around me.

Those calling themselves the Black Fang were terrorizing this auction house.

The distant sounds of explosions made it clear that this was not a minor terror act but one aimed at the entirety of the black market.

So, what was their objective?

It didn’t take much to figure that out.

Money and slaves.

Items necessary for expanding their influence.

‘Should I run?’

After a brief moment of consideration... I concluded.

There was no need for such measures.

Certainly, the Black Fang is a dangerous group.

Thus, if the Black Fang were indeed present in this auction house, the right move would be to flee immediately.

‘If these guys are really the Black Fang, that is.’

I looked at the figures who had unleashed terror upon this place. Their faces were covered, but it didn’t matter.

I had the clairvoyance magic I learned from Siel.

‘As expected.’

No matter how I looked, they weren’t the main characters from the game.

They did have a menacing appearance, though.

They are neither beautiful boys nor girls, nor middle-aged men with a rugged charm.

…I know it’s strange to judge people this way, but what can I do? This is the world inside a game.

‘There’s no way that kind of person could be a member of such a major organization.’

If they were that strong, given that this is a game, surely more care would have been taken with their character design. But that face looks just like any common thief.

Understanding that, it’s not hard to grasp the current situation.

Someone is impersonating the Black Fang.

“The name of the Black Fang will hit rock bottom now.”

This is the problem with secret organizations.

It’s impossible to distinguish the real ones from impostors.

It feels almost pitiful for the genuine Black Fang, earnestly aiming to revolutionize the empire, to be exploited for petty theft.

“Can I step out for a bit?”

While I was pondering this, Siel asked me.

The words ‘Where are you going in the middle of this chaos?’ almost slipped out, but then I realized why Siel was acting this way.

Those eyes.

They must have been bothering her.

I had heard roughly how Siel’s mother had passed away. Siel doubted those were her mother’s eyes, but still, you never know.

Taking advantage of the situation, it was very likely she could sneakily retrieve those eyes, now that the auction had ended.

Logically, I should advise against it, but emotionally, I wanted to support Siel.

If someone had taken my mother’s eyes to sell, I’d do whatever it took to get them back.

After a brief moment of contemplation, I instructed Lien to accompany Siel.

There’s no better bodyguard than Lien. When it comes to protection, she’s practically invincible.

With Lien by her side, there should be nothing to worry about.

Still slightly anxious,

I added one more thing to Siel.

“Make it quick and come back.”

‘I’m worried.’

‘I hope you return safely.’

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