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Her sparkling pinkish eyes began emitting clear light. Blink, blink. She blinked her eyes a couple of times, and a thin smile spread on his lips.

"Good morning~. Did you sleep well?" (Teresa Hussey)

She used her right arm to prop her upper body up. She rubbed her eyes and yawned softly, too. Seol Ji-Hu was rendered speechless from her asking him if he slept well. For a moment there, he thought they were a blissfully married couple waking up on the same bed to greet a refreshing morning together.

‘But, our reality is in the pits, though…’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

He mocked himself just a tad but quickly changed his mindset. Their situation certainly wouldn’t get resolved by stomping one’s feet in anxiety. Of course, being calm didn’t leave them in a better position either, but he thought that, at the very least, they needed to be realistic and be more relaxed about their fate.

‘Okay, my body first….’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

Fuu-woo, fuu-woo…. Seol Ji-Hu regulated his breathing and slowly forced his body.


Knife-like pain stabbed him. He oh-so-wanted to give up and lay down again, but gritted his teeth and pushed his upper torso up anyway. Leaning against the nearby wall infinitely made it better.

"You gotta move your body, even if it’s only by a little." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa Hussey stared at him quietly before offering up her opinion.

"I’d love to tell you that you can take it easy for a while but unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury. If we’re planning to move again, it’ll be better to get used to the pain." (Teresa Hussey)

He briefly recalled the forced nighttime marches he had to partake during his military days and unconsciously nodded his head. If one developed blisters on his feet, it might hurt like hell initially, but by walking on continuously, one would eventually grow desensitised to the pain.

However, there was nothing he could do about the state of his left shoulder. There was a hole the size of a bottle cap on his shoulder muscles, and he could just barely feel the connection to his arm. He tried to clench his fist only to be subjected to pain so severe that he nearly blacked out again.

"Hah-ah…" (Seol Ji-Hu)

In the end, he gave up on his left shoulder and took a look around. To the side, he spotted an altar with transfer magic circle on the surface, just like the other hideout.

Hoping against hoping, he activated Nine Eyes but the altar rapidly changed colour to red. Indeed, it was a pie in the sky. No, make that a poisonous pie - taking a small bite would lead to one’s immediate death.

"Is this true? What’s written on here. That we are not supposed to use that." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa Hussey spoke while looking at the map.

"If you’re referring to the transfer magic circle…. Yes, I heard that it’s connected to the centre of the Empire." (Seol Ji-Hu)

"What the f*ck? Let’s just forget about it, then." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa Hussey immediately gave up on the idea.



For a long while, they didn’t say anything. It wasn’t as if either of them knew what to say, anyway.

Thank each other for the rescue? Or, be happy that they managed to survive?

It was already a lot to ask for in their current situation.

So, then. How about, "how does your body feel?"

Both of them knew that they weren’t okay in the slightest.

Right now, they had to focus all of their might on escaping from this place.

Eventually, Teresa Hussey broke this rather awkward atmosphere.

"We have two options available to us." (Teresa Hussey)

Her powerless voice was closer to ‘We have no other choice’ rather than ‘I have a brilliant idea’.

"The first one is to wait 72 hours before going back to the hideout." (Teresa Hussey)

That would have been the most ideal option. If only that was possible, of course.

"….I don’t think the hideout would be in one piece by now." (Seol Ji-Hu)

"According to that b*stard’s personality, yes, it’s probably destroyed beyond repair." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa Hussey helplessly sighed before continuing on.

"The second one is… We somehow escape out of this place and walk our way back to Haramark. That’s it." (Teresa Hussey)

Seol Ji-Hu was about to chuckle hollowly but his expression hardened, instead. This was no laughing matter; if the hideout was really destroyed, then that was really the only way out.

The problem was, the odds of success were just too low. Not only that, he had suffered a grievous wound, too.

"Staying here forever isn’t going to work, either. Our stamina will continue to fall. We might as well take a gamble while we can still move about." (Teresa Hussey)

‘Gambling again, is it?’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

He was bitter about this, but reality was unkind. Besides the magic circle, everything within this hideout was in green colour, but that was just about it. There was nothing to eat or drink in here. Staying put just because it was safe would definitely lead them to die of starvation. By then, it’d be too late to do anything even if he wanted to.

‘It’s also unrealistic to wait for another rescue attempt.’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

Them coming here would present another problem. The high-ranking Parasite wouldn’t sit back and do nothing now that it got burned once already. In the end, all his thinking led to one inevitable conclusion, and that would be them needing to make a move.

Seol Ji-Hu deactivated Nine Eyes first. The longer he left it on, the greater the wastage of his stamina was.

"What do you want to do?" (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa Hussey pressed him for an answer.

"Will you stay here and spend some lovey-dovey time before dying of hunger together? Or~, get out of here regardless of what happens next?" (Teresa Hussey)

Before he could say it’s the latter, he asked her something else first.

"How long do you think it's been since we entered the hideout?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

"Uhm…. I’m not sure." (Teresa Hussey)

She formed a troubled expression.

"I’m sorry. After we got here, I finished your emergency treatment but then, I felt so sleepy, and well…." (Teresa Hussey)

She formed a weak smile before sticking her pink tongue out. Who could blame her, though? She also went through all sorts of hardship before being freed, anyway.

"If that creature has a short fuse, maybe it stopped searching for us already?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

"We can only hope. Before I fell asleep, I thought that guy was throwing an almighty tantrum, you know?" (Teresa Hussey)

"I guess that creature was really p*ssed off by us. Ah, can you hand me the map, please?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

She handed the map back to Seol Ji-Hu. The stairs going up or down were all located in the prison block. The research area was located on the left side of the prison block, connected by the long sky bridge in the middle as if it was an attached building. In other words, the overall design of the entire underground floor was in a ‘ㅓ’ shape.

However, the dummy hideout located in the storage facility of the research area was excluded from this arrangement. According to the village head, this place might as well be the third underground floor in its depth alone.

‘…I can’t think of anything.’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

He carefully folded the map away and laboriously pushed himself up. Teresa Hussey was right; rather than staying put, they had to move while they still could. What a relief it was that his two legs were in perfect working order.

‘How much do I have left….?’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

He had about a fingernail-sized rudium left, but there was no more use for it. Both his shirt and pants were used up as bandages. He took a look at the armour and could only lick his lips. The left side of the Boiled Leather Armour was completely gone, and its lower right side was also in a heavily crushed state. Rather than a piece of armour, that thing was more like a rag now.

‘Still, better than nothing….’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

He groaned helplessly before abruptly remembering that Teresa Hussey wasn’t wearing anything at all.

"….Would you like to wear this, at least?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

He pointed at the chain mail with a hole in it, and she faintly smiled.

"Wearing that with nothing underneath, well, that’s gonna pinch my skin, but… I guess we don’t have a choice now." (Teresa Hussey)

They gathered up their equipment and put it on. Teresa Hussey giggled afterwards.

"Don’t we look really funny like this?" (Teresa Hussey)

Seol Ji-Hu also chuckled softly. One of them was wearing a small chain mail over her naked body that barely came down to her belly, while the other one was wearing a broken armour over his underpants. Where would you find a more hilarious sight than this?

"Well, it’s refreshingly cool so I guess that’s a plus. I hope I’m not going to develop exhibitionism at this rate." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa Hussey picked up the ice spear. Seol Ji-Hu naturally let her handle it. No matter how he sliced it, it’d be better to let her handle any weapons for the time being.

"Before we leave, let’s make a deal first." (Teresa Hussey)

She suddenly pointed the spear at his neck. She was not playing around anymore.

"In a one in a ten thousand case…. No, wait. In a nine thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine in ten thousand cases something goes wrong, what should I do?" (Teresa Hussey)

"I’m saying, I can end your life before you’re captured." (Teresa Hussey)

"There’s no need." (Seol Ji-Hu)

Seol Ji-Hu replied immediately as if he didn’t even need to think about it. Teresa Hussey’s eyes went round from a mixture of surprise and confusion.

"Don’t you know what will happen when you’re captured?" (Teresa Hussey)

"We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Besides, even if the heaven collapses, there always will be a way out." (Seol Ji-Hu)

"But, you go back to Earth when you die, right?" (Teresa Hussey)

"Even then, I’d like to do everything in my power to survive." (Seol Ji-Hu)

Heh-eh~~, Teresa Hussey jaw hung loosely just a tad.

"That’s new. You sure you’re an Earthling?" (Teresa Hussey)

Seol Ji-Hu inwardly replied with the words of ‘I don’t want to give up on the life on this side that quickly.’

A short while later.

The two of them made up their minds and took their first steps. The exit of the hideout could be reached by the long staircase.

One step forward, and another one, before taking another.

As they slowly climbed up, Teresa abruptly opened her mouth to speak.

"If we go back there and find the magic circle intact, we are going to feel really stupid about ourselves, won’t we?" (Teresa Hussey)

"Even then, there is value in going back there, I think." (Seol Ji-Hu)

Seol Ji-Hu replied to her.

"Even if the magic circle is destroyed, there must be something we can salvage." (Seol Ji-Hu)

"If you’re talking about supplies, wouldn’t they have taken everything back with them?" (Teresa Hussey)

"Not at all. There is a weight limit per transfer, so they wouldn’t have taken anything back with them." (Seol Ji-Hu)

"In that case, that’s good. One more reason to go and check, then." (Teresa Hussey)

‘….It’d be wonderful if that’s the case.’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

The best-case scenario was to find the abandoned supplies and return to the second hideout, then wait 72 hours to reactivate the transfer magic circle. Unfortunately, the odds of that happening for real was as good as zero.

‘From the get-go, going outside like this is also….’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

Seol Ji-Hu had to work hard to swallow back the sighs of lamentation from leaking out of his mouth. Soon, they reached the end of the staircase. A brick wall was blocking the end.

"You know, I really struggled to open this thing." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa complained unhappily while pressing her ear against the wall.

Even if they were taking a gamble here, he had no thoughts of walking out without a plan, so he re-activated Nine Eyes. He figured that, at the very least, he should be able to tell the right time to leave. However….

‘….Huh?’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

Once he confirmed what colour it was, he had no choice but to be surprised. Just like before, Teresa had no colour, which wasn’t strange since that’s how she had been always.

No, the truly strange thing was the brick wall, which was now in green colour.

‘Did they give up on the manhunt for real?’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

"I can’t hear anything from the other side…." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa lifted her ear away from the wall and squatted on the ground. She pulled out the bricks at the bottom and the top before swapping their positions. He wordlessly, and in a bit of daze, too, watched her back as she swapped around the bricks before regaining his wits after hearing the distinct ‘Click!’ resound out.

"Yes! I’m really smart, aren’t I? Look, I memorised everything after doing it just once!" (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa proudly boasted herself before looking behind her.

"Shall we?" (Teresa Hussey)

Seol Ji-Hu nodded his head.

She lightly pushed with her hand, and a part of the wall rotated like a revolving door. He peered at the outside through the slightly-open gap and realised that the same green colour was pretty much everywhere. He tilted his head this way and that before taking large strides out of the door.

"Uh, uh?" (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa panicked and quickly chased after him.

"Even if you’re in a hurry, we should at least check out the enemy’s movements first…." (Teresa Hussey)

She lowered her voice as much as she could and whispered to him. But, he couldn’t really think of anything to say because everywhere he looked were dyed in green colour. It really seemed that the Parasites had stopped searching and withdrew from here. That’s what it looked like right now.

"Let’s head to the first hideout." (Seol Ji-Hu)

"H-hang on!" (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa tried to stop him, but Seol Ji-Hu still took the lead anyway.

The further they walked, the more puzzled he got. It was way too quiet in here. And everywhere was still dyed in the same green hue, too. Even Teresa had formed a confused face now. He took a long, hard look around their vicinity before addressing her.

"By the way, you said that, just before you fell asleep, you heard a really loud commotion outside, yes?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

"Excuse me? Ahh, that. Yes." (Teresa Hussey)

She quickly admitted to it.

"The dummy hideout was too deep and I couldn’t hear it properly, but still, I thought there was some kind of an earthquake or something." (Teresa Hussey)

"How long did the commotion last for?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

"Not really sure. I can’t remember it all that well. But, I don’t think it went on for long." (Teresa Hussey)

They arrived at the room with the first hideout while deeply immersed in the conversation. It was rather messy inside, probably denoting the fact that the place had been turned upside down. The bookshelf was shattered into million pieces, too.

It was the same story with the hideout, as well. They were expecting it, and sure enough, not only was the magic circle broken, the whole altar had been turned into powder. Fortunately, they still got to discover a small bag discarded to the corner of the room, which proved to be a huge relief.

"Is there something to eat in there?" (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa’s eyes sparkled in anticipation, but unfortunately, the rescue team hadn’t packed any food. The stuff in the bag were four bottles of healing potion, a canteen of water, plus a coil of thick, long rope as well as a handful of daggers all brought along just in case. That was all.


She was visibly disappointed, but…

"Oh, well. This is still better than nothing, I guess." (Teresa Hussey)

….She quickly recovered and popped the cork off one of the healing potion bottles. The two of them used a bottle of potion each and carefully applied the liquid throughout their various wounds. Afterwards, they drank a bottle each to heal their internal injuries. Now that their thirst had been quenched somewhat, the condition of their bodies felt a step better than before.

"Hah-ah! Now that really woke me up." (Teresa Hussey)

As if she was trying to clean herself using this chance, she began rubbing her wet skin here and there. Meanwhile, Seol Ji-Hu sneaked another look at the corridor.

‘It’s the same story over there, too?’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

He hadn’t seen it wrong, and it was really ‘green’ over there. Not only that, the exit he could see faintly at the far back over yonder was also dyed in the green hue.

‘But, that doesn’t make any sense.’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

Half-convinced and half-confused, he stepped outside the room. His puzzlement grew exponentially greater the closer he got to the exit. Only after he completely walked across the passage did he run into another source of disharmony.

‘….The sky bridge isn’t here anymore??’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

It wasn’t just the sky bridge, either; he also couldn’t see the prison block on the other side of the chasm, too. No, all his eyes could capture was the darkened empty void. Literally, everything had vanished.

‘W-what the…. f*ck….?’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

Dazedly, he looked around before raising his head up only for his jaw to drop to the floor. He saw the night sky - past the hole with the circumference he couldn’t even begin to fathom just how wide it was. That chilly-blue thing floating way up in the sky was definitely the moon.

‘Am I dreaming?!’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

Seol Ji-Hu turned around and flinched. He found Teresa standing there with a shocked face, her line of sight looking diagonally at the bottom of the hole. He followed after her, and even his eyes tore open really wide next.

"I-isn’t that….?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

"….Yes, it’s the research facility." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa muttered in a hushed voice.

As the word implied, the bottom of the hole was in a state of pure chaos. Although it was not clear to see, debris that must’ve been from the buildings were liberally strewn about. The structures above ground, the prison block, the hatchery, and even the experimental area, all of them had collapsed straight down to the ground.

Looking at this sight suddenly brought about a nasty case of goosebumps all over his skin. He recalled reading a news piece online about a sinkhole in the past.

Was it in Japan? The ground in the middle of a city caved in and created a giant hole. He remembered feeling his bowels tighten after seeing a convenience store hanging precariously on the edge of the sinkhole back then. And this was exactly that spectacle. The previous layout of ‘ㅓ’ was gone and now only ‘-‘ remained.

"….Princess?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

"D-don’t ask me. I don’t know either." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa Hussey looked just as confused as he was. What on earth had happened while they were knocked out inside the dummy hideout?

The first one to recover her faculties was Teresa. She quickly estimated the height of the hole’s edge from where they were; it was about five, maybe six metres from the first underground floor to the surface.

"Looks like we received the graces of the gods with those potion bottles." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa spoke in an excited voice and roused up her Magic Power. Bluish aura enveloped both of her hands.


Her five bent fingers stabbed deeply into the bedrock as if they were crushing a block of tofu. Seol Ji-Hu was momentarily taken back before remembering that she was an upper-level being.

"Nice. With this…." (Teresa Hussey)

She proceeded to create two holes in the wall first, and then, stabbed the spear deeply in a spot just below them. She stood on the spear shaft and shoved her arm powerfully into the wall. After that, she placed her foot on the newly created hole and climbed up.

The spots she dug out became footholds; her arms proceeded to move up and down, her climbing speed rather rapid to behold.

He looked up in awe at her excellent rock-climbing skill before lowering his gaze while feeling a bit sheepish. Even if the current situation was like this, it didn’t seem well-mannered to ‘look up’ at her.

Not too long after, Teresa managed to escape out of the hole. Seol Ji-Hu felt lost, however; all he had to was to climb using the footholds she created, but his problem was with his useless left arm.

It was at that point that a thick rope dropped down before his eyes. Teresa was waving her hand at him from the surface.

"Don’t try to grab it with your hand, just wrap it around you, instead! I’ll pull you up!" (Teresa Hussey)

"….Ah." (Seol Ji-Hu)

Now that he thought about it, there was a rope in the bag, wasn’t there? He pulled the ice spear out from the wall and tied the rope around his body. She roused up her Magic Power as much as possible and began pulling him out.

He became even more certain once he got near the surface. There was literally no moving thing here. The surroundings were decorated by collapsed ruins of buildings as if their current state was the result of poor construction.

‘Seriously now, what happened here?’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

Did the high-ranking Parasite get p*ssed off and….? But, that made no sense. Or, maybe, a sinkhole really opened up quite coincidentally and with great timing?

"Fuu-woo!!" (Teresa Hussey)

Having successfully dragged him out of the hole, Teresa spat out a long, heavy sigh and plopped down on the ground. She might have consumed a bottle of healing potion, but that didn’t mean her body had fully recovered. Seeing how tired she looked, he felt really apologetic. It felt like he had become baggage, a burden.

"I’m sorry." (Seol Ji-Hu)

Teresa Hussey had been catching her breaths with a relieved, light-hearted face, but her eyes went extra round from his words.

"About what?" (Teresa Hussey)

"Because of me, you…." (Seol Ji-Hu)

The end of his sentence blurred, but she simply snorted disinterestedly.

"You’re speaking nonsense. Paying you the hefty tribute isn’t going to be enough for everything you’ve done for me, you know? Hang on, you didn’t say that because you really wanted to apologise, right?" (Teresa Hussey)

She grinned playfully and teased him while looking straight at him. At that moment, Seol Ji-Hu felt this strange mixture of emotions.

‘Her lips are smiling, but….’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

Her eyes weren’t laughing at all. Her two irises, the ones he always thought were rather pretty, were gleaming meaningfully under the chilly moonlight.

"Isn’t that right? You said that because you were being polite, yes?" (Teresa Hussey)

She asked him again, this time a little more probing. Seol Ji-Hu swallowed back his saliva. He definitely didn’t say those words because he was being polite at all.

Looking back, it was also the same story back during their first meeting. He felt this unexplainable attraction from her. For some reason, he wanted to stand up for her and take care of her. She was someone he wanted to help out. No strings attached.

However, he didn’t know why. If he were to forcibly put it into words, then the feeling he got was akin to paying off his debt. Something like that.

"I guess I was right. You were saying it out of courtesy." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa’s eyes were now slightly lonesome as she averted her gaze, but then…

"No, not at all." (Seol Ji-Hu)

….He finally addressed her.

"Excuse me?" (Teresa Hussey)

"Before coming here, I was warned of a possible sniper. But I completely forgot about that, and it resulted in our current situation." (Seol Ji-Hu)


"I’m truly sorry for being unable to rescue you properly. I’m serious." (Seol Ji-Hu)

All traces of smiles were wiped off Teresa’s expression. Her always-carefree face suddenly became scarily emotionless. He had never seen her react like this before.

"….Why?" (Teresa Hussey)

She finally opened her mouth.

"Why do you think that way? You’re an Earthling, aren’t you? You became like this because of me, right? Aren’t you resentful?" (Teresa Hussey)

"Why do you say it’s because of you, Princess?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

Seol Ji-Hu calmly asked back.

"Regardless of who did it, the destruction of the laboratory had to be carried out. Am I wrong?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

"W-well, that, that is true, but." (Teresa Hussey)

She blinked her rapidly. As the light in her eyes grew stronger, the look of disbelief spread on her face even more.

‘What’s gotten into her?’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

He grew just a tad worried, wondering if he said something he shouldn’t have, but then….

"Wow, so there was a person like him in the world, too…." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa murmured to herself. The gleam in her eyes also gradually quietened down.

"I’m surprised." (Teresa Hussey)

"About?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

"You were telling me the truth." (Teresa Hussey)

Seol Ji-Hu scratched his cheek.

"Aren’t you trusting me a bit too easily here, miss?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

"Well, there’s a reason for that." (Teresa Hussey)

She spoke with a rather hoarse voice.

"Actually, I have an ability to read people, you see." (Teresa Hussey)

"Excuse me?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

"Ahh, it’s nothing much, really. One of my ancestors possessed the blood of a Sky Fairy, so…." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa Hussey hesitated slightly before quietly carrying on.

"Of course, a long time has passed by since then. Every now and then, though, a child is born with an innate ability. Like me." (Teresa Hussey)

"An innate ability??" (Seol Ji-Hu)

Seol Ji-Hu was flabbergasted.

"Yes." (Teresa Hussey)

"Princess, you aren’t supposed to reveal that to…." (Seol Ji-Hu)

"Today’s my first time revealing that. Please keep it as a secret between us." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa flatly retorted back to him. Seol Ji-Hu activated Nine Eyes and reflexively checked her Status Windows.

[Teresa Hussey’s Status Window]

[4. Abilities.]

Innate abilities (1)

Job-related abilities (6)

Other abilities (4)

‘She really has one… W-what the heck is it now?’ (Seol Ji-Hu)

There was another change that took place.

Her colour changed. A tinge of colour began seeping into Teresa’s previous ‘no colour’ state. And the blindingly gorgeous colour greeting him now was gold. The Golden Commandment, in other words.

She sneaked a couple of glances at the young man standing there like a scarecrow before trying to get up by pushing down on the ground with her palm. But then,

"In any case, we… Ouch?!" (Teresa Hussey)

She frowned and hurriedly lifted her hand up.

"Are you alright?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

Something small and sharp was digging into her palm. It was a small, scorched-black piece of something resembling grenade shrapnel.

"Argh, seriously now. What the heck is…. Eh?" (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa tilted her head before her eyes narrowed to a slit.

"Hey, isn’t this from a Thunder?" (Teresa Hussey)

"Thunder?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

She nodded her head.

"Yes. It’s a stone with the power of the Earth Spirit condensed within. It also happens to possess incredible explosive power, too." (Teresa Hussey)

"An explosive? You guys have explosives in this world, too?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

"Not explosives, but ‘Thunder’. It’s called that because it makes the similar sort of racket to a thunderclap when it goes off." (Teresa Hussey)

She corrected what he said with a simple explanation.

"In any case. I never heard of such a thing existing before." (Seol Ji-Hu)

"Eii, unless it was the Empire, we don’t have the technology to manufacture something like that. I told you just now, didn’t I? The powers of the Earth Spirit have been condensed to create it." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa hurriedly waved her hands about as if to say it was impossible.

"If Magic Power is the exclusive domain of humanity, then Spirit magic is the exclusive domain of the Sky Fairies. Besides, the result of a master Dwarf artisan polishing his technique to his limits is this thing, the Thunder. Should I say that it’s the secret weapon of the Federation?" (Teresa Hussey)

"Wow…. No, hang on. They have things like this, yet they are on the back foot against the Parasites?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

Teresa smirked softly.

"It’s the opposite, actually. It’s only because the Federation possesses things like this that they are managing to hold onto their tenuous balance. The main forces of the Parasites are truly beyond your imaginations, you know." (Teresa Hussey)

"What about the Medusa….?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

"Sure, a Medusa is the ultimate evolution among the mid-tier Parasites, but still, if I were to be honest here, they are more like the leaders of local hoodlums, you know? When things like Nosferatus pop up, it’s like, ‘Ohh, the Parasites are really serious this time’, stuff like that." (Teresa Hussey)

"Nosferatus?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

"They are the Queen’s personal elite guards. Besides all that…" (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa replied with a short answer and scanned the ground. Similar sorts of shrapnel could be found here and there. She seemed utterly at a loss by what she saw.

"This is so weird. Why are these things here?" (Teresa Hussey)

["We already thought about it. They were the ones that gave us the information, to begin with, so they must be operating their own infiltration squads, but…."] (Ian)

Seol Ji-Hu recalled what Ian told him before and spoke up.

"Could someone from the Federation have come here and destroyed this place? With that Thunder thing, I mean." (Seol Ji-Hu)

"The current circumstances say that might be the case…." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa crossed her arms across her chest. That possibility certainly made some sense. Especially if it was ‘that alien race’ that invaded the Paradise but proceeded to construct the unified nation called the Federation, there was a good chance that they were responsible. Since they were capable of flight from the moment they were born, it’d be comparatively easier for them to make their approach.

"Doesn’t sound too convincing, though." (Teresa Hussey)

"In what regard?" (Seol Ji-Hu)

"Back during the first mission, I got to find out how much importance the Parasites have placed to this place. If it weren’t for Agnes, we wouldn’t even have gotten anywhere remotely close to this place at all." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa continued on.

"And also, even though the Thunder is really, re~ally powerful, you gotta drop dozens of them in the exact same spot at the exact same time in order to create destruction of this scale. However, they have been guarding this place throughout day and night with no rest, so…." (Teresa Hussey)

She didn’t finish her sentence, but he could more or less tell what she wanted to say. This ‘Thunder’ might be an earth-shattering item, but in order to use it, one had to be in the vicinity of the laboratory first.

"The thing was, the defence perimeter set up by the Parasites that I’ve seen was just about perfect in every way. Didn’t matter whether in the air or on the ground, there were keeping a very close eye for any intruders." (Teresa Hussey)

Besides, the Parasites would have stepped up with their security after the first infiltration attempt ended in failure. The longer she thought about it, the deeper it felt like she was sinking into a quagmire.

"I don’t know what to tell you, either." (Seol Ji-Hu)

He shrugged his shoulders before briefly yelping out loudly. She watched him suffering in pain and broke out into a chuckle. She tried to get up, but then….

"Ouch! That stings!" (Teresa Hussey)

She pulled her head back and shouted out. The chains had pinched her skin.

"Urgh…. In any case, it’s not important to us now." (Teresa Hussey)

Which was true. They had no idea what happened here, but the important thing was, the laboratory had been crushed. And also, just because they managed to crawl outside, it was not the end of their trial, either.

They managed to overcome the first hurdle through unexpected luck, but they were still stuck in the middle of the enemy territory.

"Let’s go, my prince." (Teresa Hussey)

Teresa abruptly presented her hand. My prince, she said. Although his cheeks itched just then, it didn’t sound too bad for some reason. Seol Ji-Hu sheepishly reached out as well.

Two of them held each other’s hand and began looking in the same direction. It was in the direction of Haramark.

"Let’s definitely go back home alive." (Teresa Hussey)

She whispered to him, and he nodded his head in determination.

The real escape was about to begin for real now.

< 86. Strange Bedfellows (1) > Fin.

(TL note: the title of the chapter could have been TLed directly as "Bitter enemies riding the same boat through fate/circumstances" but I thought I might as well go with "Adversity makes strange bedfellows" instead. That was still too long for my liking, so ‘Strange Bedfellows", it is.)

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