Chapter 131. Theory of Relativity (3)
“In a rhombus formation,” Nangnang said. Chi-Woo stood on Shadia’s left, while Snowy Mountain moved to the right. Nangnang then took point with Hawa falling to the back. Chi-Woo looked around his surroundings.
It was red. Not exaggerating one bit, the whole world was simply crimson: from the entrance in front of him to the soil that made up the ground, everything in his vision radiated a reddish light, like they had been doused with blood. The only other color was the night sky. It was completely black without a star in sight. And was it just his imagination, or did it look like the b.l.o.o.d.y insides of a monster’s mouth, stretched wide open to swallow the expedition team?
Sniff, sniff. Nangnang pushed his nose to the ground and smelled it. “It’s different,” he said, stroking his nose with his cat paw and twisting his face.
“The soil here is completely different from that of the outside. It’s not just the makeup of the minerals… It’s most likely soil belonging to a different planet, and it appears that it has gone through considerable erosion.”
“That would make sense since centuries have pa.s.sed since that incident. We should consider this place part of an entirely different world one way or another,” Shadia responded and then looked behind her anxiously. “Would we even be able to return…?”
They couldn’t see anything from where they had come from. As if obscured by a curtain, the area was cloudy and hazy.
“I don’t have a good feeling about this… Sheesh. I suppose that was why the advance payment was so high,” Nangnang said.
“Exactly what I wanted to say,” Shadia replied. ” I am the fool who took the offer without thinking more about it. So stupid.”
The two conversed to relieve some of the hesitancy and nervousness they felt. Eventually, Nangnang walked forward and placed his paw gingerly on the tightly shut entrance door. As if he was doing a cat punch, he tapped on the door with his paws, and his eyes narrowed.
“Why? Is something strange? Is there a spell cast on the door?”
“No, that’s not it.” Nangnang shook his head. “But...I think we’ll have to watch where we go once we’re inside.”
“What is it? Can’t you just tell us?”
“A guide has to relay only definite information to his team members. I can’t bring confusion with uncertain information.”
“How precautious of you.” Shadia shrugged.
“Well, I’m planning to go to the entrance for now. What do you think, Captain?” Nangnang turned around and asked for Chi-Woo’s opinion. Chi-Woo nodded; he was a complete newbie in these matters, and he planned to follow the judgments of experts as much as possible. After getting his approval, Nangnang turned his gaze onto Snowy Mountain.
“Could you open the door for us a bit? Carefully if possible. If you can’t be careful, it’s fine even if you use all of your strength.”
Snowy Mountain stepped forward and placed both hands on the entrance, leaning his body forward. Creaaak. The steel door gently opened without resistance. Nangnang’s eyebrows twitched, but for now, he quietly entered. Once they were past the door, the interior was revealed to them more clearly.
As soon as he saw it, Chi-Woo was reminded of a high-end complex. There weren’t more than a couple of buildings, and the site was huge. It looked like a school where children from rich families attended.
‘It really looks like they poured a lot of money into this place. It’s clean and…’ Chi-Woo’s thought was interrupted by a strange sensation.
Then someone let out a soft click. Nangnang suddenly stopped walking while cautiously making his way across the area.
“What is it again?” Shadia asked in a disgruntled tone.
“Wait.” Nangnang wrinkled his eyes slightly. The whiskers on his face stretched out horizontally and trembled.
“…The smell,” Nangnang said. “I can smell something.”
“Smell of blood.”
Everyone fell silent.
“Here,” Nangnang turned, and they continued advancing. After they pa.s.sed below a bridge connecting two twin towers, they came upon a building that was two times bigger than the buildings they had just pa.s.sed. It was the building that they had been able to see faintly even from the outside. Judging by its towering size over the other structures, it looked to be the main building. Nangnang headed to a stairway that appeared to be connected to the entrance door. Visible blood stains cast a red light on the white staircase, and at the point where the staircase met the floor, they saw the origin of the fishy smell. It was a human—a knight in full plated armor as well as a helmet. Perhaps he had been attacked while running away, or had exhausted all his strength, causing him to collapse at the ends of the staircase.
The knight’s entire body was still soaked in blood, and Nangnang quickly approached to study him. He carefully removed the knight’s helmet, revealing a young man with neat, brown hair. Judging by the way his face contorted and hardened, he probably had been in tremendous pain right before his death.
“How is he?” Shadia asked as Nangnang placed his paw on the young knight’s neck.
“He’s already dead.” Nangnang checked the knight’s pulse and shook his head slowly. “And…” Nangnang didn’t immediately continue. He hesitated and studied the corpse carefully again, lifting the knight’s arms and legs before dipping his paw into the collected pool of blood.
“You might find it hard to believe…” Nangnang finally raised his head with a dazed look on his face. “It’s a corpse…that has died not too long ago…”
“…What?” Shadia doubted her ears. It was too unbelievable.
“It’s true. It’s been only a couple of days since he died.” The blood stains were still fresh, and the corpse hadn’t decomposed much.
“Well, before we came in, we saw traces of someone who had forced their way in…” Shadia said and looked at the corpse like she was wondering if this young knight was the trespa.s.ser.
‘He doesn’t seem to be one of the recruits,’ Chi-Woo thought curiously. Of course, he couldn’t remember all the recruits, but he had no memory of seeing a young knight. He would’ve definitely remembered a hero going around in armor like this. It seemed most likely that the man was someone who had come in before they did. But overall, the situation was quite confusing.
“We lack information. Could you help a bit?” At Nangnang’s request, the group huddled together and searched the corpse. They took off the corpse’s armor and looked through its belongings. Among them, Nangnang found something that looked like a small card.
“It’s an identification card.” Chi-Woo read the information on the card. “The knight seemed to be the son of an aristocratic family. Let me see… Got it; it says his name is n.o.breium here.”
“n.o.breium?” Hawa, who had been quietly listening until now, asked in surprise.
Nangnang glanced at her and asked, “You know them?”
“They are one of the n.o.ble families who had existed since the foundation of the Salem kingdom.”
“Um…thank you for telling us that, but why were you so surprised?” Nangnang asked.
“Well, that’s because…” Hawa hesitated, unlike her usual self. “The n.o.breium family died off 70 years ago.”
“What? How do you know that?”
“Because the one who led the a.s.sa.s.sination of the n.o.breiums was my grandmother.”
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“Salem and the Shahnaz tribe were enemies united through wars. Besides war, there had been many attempts to cause internal divisions and a.s.sa.s.sinations of each other.”
“About three or four days.”
“If it’s been three or four days, then, in one day…” Shadia stopped talking and barked out an empty laugh.
“Does that…make sense?” Hawa still looked taken aback. It seemed that while she understood what they were saying, it was too much to take in at once.
“It makes sense in theory.” Shadia shook her head and looked up at the night sky. “Moreover, since Liber has been invaded by foreign intruders, Liber’s law of time and s.p.a.ce is no longer applicable to this world.”
“Then…” Hawa’s mouth slightly opened wide.
“Well, we’re f.u.c.ked. Ever since we first came here,” Shadia answered.
A heavy silence fell upon them. After a moment, Shadia purposely raised her voice and asked, “How much time has pa.s.sed since we came here? Anyway, even if we go back right away… It will have been at least several years.”
Hawa let out a small sigh and turned to Chi-Woo with a lost look on her face. They might soon see the world after it was destroyed.
“This is strange.” Snowy Mountain, who had been quiet the entire time, spoke up. “Everyone, call forth your device.”
“Device? Why our device… What?” A stunned look overtook Shadia’s face. The devices that showed their user information were objects exclusive to those who were part of the Celestial Realm. It must be connected to the Celestial Realm for it to be used on a different planet. They had been able to access it with some limitations because Chi-Hyun had forcibly created a transmission between Liber and the Celestial Realm, and the pa.s.sage of light, while unstable, captured the signal between the recruits and Celestial Realm.
However, the world that they were currently in was not Liber and had no connections to the Celestial Realm. They shouldn’t be able to use their devices. However, their devices were working smoothly with no trouble.
“There’s no need for you to worry too much.” Chi-Woo stepped forward this time. “This world is currently connected to Liber, and through the tunnel, and the pa.s.sage of time is equally fixed with Liber’s. Of course, this is only temporary.”
Everyone’s eyes widened. Since they saw evidence of his words in their functioning devices, none of them refuted his claim; instead, they looked at him with shock and curiosity. This was not something that a mortal like Chi-Woo could have done.
“A G.o.d has lent me their powers.”
“Ah, like that time…” Shadia recalled Chi-Woo’s dealings with Shahnaz and realized he must have made a deal with Shanaz to synchronize Liber’s and this world’s time. Even though it seemed Shadia had misunderstood what he said, Chi-Woo didn’t correct her since he didn’t want to go out of his way to reveal the World’s Milestone.
“That’s what happened.”
“Thank goodness! It really is fortunate!” Nangnang was utterly elated, looking like he had regained the ten years he’d lost. Then he gazed at Chi-Woo with admiration as if he was looking at a G.o.d. “You really are an amazing guy. It’s crazy that you knew this would happen and made preparations beforehand.”
Snowy Mountain nodded in agreement, and Nangnang lay flat on his belly to calm his startled heart. The fact that the tunnel was connected had various implications. The small amount of power they gained on Liber could be used as a backup, and the ‘Stabilization of the Flow of s.p.a.ce’ would be maintained, which was automatically given to all heroes when they were transported to other planets.
“Ah, what the heck~ Why didn’t you tell us beforehand? My heart almost jumped out of my chest~” Shadia muttered in complaints, but she was smiling in relief.
Chi-Woo replied, “But even then, you’ve shared with us detailed observations, and thanks to you, I received more information.”
With the great concern lifted from their chest, the heroes returned to their original state. Chi-Woo looked down at the corpse of the young knight and then looked up at the main building. Even if it was not applicable to them right now, it was still true that the time in this world had gone seriously awry from the rest of the universe.
“Considering the time axis in this place… There might still be a survivor.”
A survivor from hundreds of years ago.
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