Chapter 27: The Fragile Balance
Translator: StarveCleric Editor: StarveCleric
Time flew by like a beautiful fleeting melody… Alright, it wasn’t that long, I just wanted to use that saying. Truthfully, it had only been two days and Sulfur Mountain City has regained its peace.
That day, when all the escapees and villains who made use of the chaos to run amok were judged, they were either hung in the air by an intangible rope or their heads simply fell off their necks. Those who had yet to bypass the boundary or had intended to test the bottom limit, upon realizing that they were already on an invisible execution platform, immediately stopped in their tracks.
The chaos didn’t last for too long. Once the outsiders were cleared, the One Court Four Halls sent out Law Enforcers to help maintain order. Very quickly, order was reestablished in the Sulfur Mountain City.
A gigantic Red Dragon, whose body was still full of wounds after a gruesome battle, bled profusely as she glided past half of the city before crashing into the Holy Light District. When news that Sulfur Mountain City’s Guardian Deity, Ancient Red Dragon Ein Mezus, was injured to the point that she required over hundreds of Holy Knights and Priests to treat her wounds, the rumor of the Three Heads standing by a corner and watching everything happen crumbled.
Rather, under the intentional manipulation of information by some, the news that the Three Heads fought a great battle against two of the Underground Autarchs, a battle which resulted in Ein Mezus’s heavy wounds, had already spread through every street and alley.
Of course, the fact that the cause of the battle was due to the seal of the Fire Elemental God was kept secret. On the surface, the reason for the outbreak of the battle was territorial ambitions, a common reason for wars in the Underground World.
Despite the strength of the guardians being greater than that of the invaders, they had sustained tremendous wounds in order to protect the citizens. The citizens who survived the calamity due to the guardians who sacrificed themselves for them felt gratitude, pain, and relief. With the presence of all these factors and complex emotions, this diverse city was more united than ever.
If there had to be something different about the city, it was that all of the tomatoes and smelly eggs were sold out. The reason behind that? The betrayal of the Public Council had been revealed and the fact that they were sentenced to death by that miraculous judgement served as evidence for their crimes. At this very moment, the entrance to the Council Room was plastered with smashed tomatoes and broken smelly eggs, and all of the windows were broken.
Whenever the few more famous Councilors were to leave their homes, if they don’t to leave home clean and return home colored, they had to bring along bodyguards and shields to guard themselves against the firepower of the civilians.
The death count in this calamity totaled up to more than 300 people. Given how the dead had already passed away and the sinners were punished and killed, the victims and their families had to find a target to vent their resentment, resulting in the fruit stores outside the Council Room to sell out in record time. Society was harmonious. Banzai, banzai…
Some merchants had even found business opportunities at the doorstep of the Council Room…
“You’re still using the primitive tomatoes and smelly eggs? That is already outdated. Here, try the Dwarf Smelly Bomb made specially using the Dwarves’ smithing skills. Costing only three gold coins, its smell is hyper-concentrated and won’t fade away with time. We also have the Dwarf Color Bomb which costs a mere two gold coins. We have 13 colors for you to choose from and a color card is given for each one bought. If you collect the whole set, we will even give you a complimentary Dwarf Chicken Machinery! Different from the Goblins, the machinery of us Dwarves are of high-quality and definitely will not explode. I repeat, definitely will not explode!”
“Goblin Smoke Bombs! Goblin Explosives Number 1 to 7. I can guarantee you that with its might, it will blast injuries in your adversaries without killing them. It is a necessity in relieving one’s hatred! Furthermore, it is cheap!! It only costs half the price of the toys of those sissy Dwarves, just one gold coin each!”
“Enough, Roren Goldcoin from the Hall of Judgement, I have already tolerated you for a very long time! You can insult me, but you cannot insult the product of the intelligence of the Dwarves!”
“Sissy Miheuer Suicidestorm from the Hall of Legislator, you are the one who verbally attacked us first. To think that you Dwarves would dare to talk bad about the products of us Goblins? Yes, the gadgets you make might not explode, but the unintended functions of your tools are even scarier than explosions. Touch your heart, do you dare to say you have never been transported to the middle of the sky by the Dwarf Transportation Device, never been electrocuted by your Dwarf Electrical Net and never been miniaturized by your Dwarf Death Ray? The products of you Dwarves are just like your name, Suicidestorm, professionally made for committing suicide!”
“It is Magicstorm, Magicstorm!!”
Hearing that, the Dwarf lad with a kid-like figure was enraged.
“Taste this!!” He took out a gadget that resembled a toy gun and fired it. Then…
“BawkBawkBawkBawkBawkBawk!” A small chicken appears on the spot and jumped around while the chicken-transforming gadget fell to the ground…
“Hahaha! Look, the gadgets of you sissy Dwarves aren’t reliable at all!” Laughing crazily while pointing his finger at small chicken, Roren takes out three small silver balls and started juggling them.
Despite handling the bombs without any protective equipment, there wasn’t a hint of fear in him and his hands were steady. Through his actions, Roren displayed to the audience the courage the Goblins possessed.
“Look at the miraculous work of us Goblins! We had never tried to deny the unpredictability of the results of the mystical engineering study, but as long as we, the intelligent Goblins, continue on with our research and pass on our heritage from one generation to the other, the Goblin’s engineering industry will become more and more advanced. Even though my father and my grandfather had died in accidents in the midst of their research, I will continue to push on. I believe that even if I were to fail, my sons and grandsons will continue working towards that ultimate goal!!”
Ignoring the attacks by the angry little chicken by his foot, Roren raised his head, protruded his chest and declared loudly, as though he was prepared to sacrifice himself anytime.
The Goblin’s sacrificial spirit in pursuing the study of engineering unexpectedly won applause and cheers from the audience.
“Well said!” There were even people who intended to step forward to purchase Roren’s goods. But Roren continued on:
“When my grandfather died, it was only a 13-meter hole. My father accomplished in exploding an entire 30 meters. When I die, I must create a 100-meter massive hole! Our Goldcoin clan must successfully create a big bomb that could destroy an entire city!!”
Alright, as soon as the true nature of the Goblin showed through, all of the buyers immediately backed off. The audience also took a huge step backward, and it was fortunate that they did…
“Ah, what is this bent copper plate?” The fierce attacks of the small chicken finally attracted his attention. Roren looked at the copper plate that just dropped from his clothes and went into deep thoughts. After that, he started sweating profusely…
“It’s the safety screw!!”
“Boom!” “Boom!” “Boom!”
“This… This is only a small failure, I won’t give it up! I… I will be back!”
Alright, while displaying the courage of the Goblins in pursuing their dreams, he exhibited the frequent suicidal tendencies of the Goblins once again.
After three consecutive explosions, our Goblin Engineer merchant was blasted into the sky with a trail of black smoke trailing behind him. But from the looks of the energetic roar, it seemed like it was just the start…
Standing behind the crowd, I had witnessed this farce. I turned toward Elisa, who was standing beside me, and said:
“The situation in the city isn’t sufficiently stable yet for them to be causing such trouble. Record it down, this will be the order from the Head of the Supreme Court: Ban all engineering activities for the next month. Find some excuses, throw all of these troublemaking lilliputians into detention and have them reflect on their actions for a month. All of the Town Security and Hall of Judgement personnel will be mobilized for this movement.”
“As long as it is an Engineer, capture them before conducting a search. They are definitely guilty. What if we make a false arrest? I will go and apologize to them personally then. Don’t worry, just like how there isn’t a man in the world without lust, is it possible for there to be a Goblin who doesn’t cause explosions and a Dwarf who doesn’t commit suicide?”
“Oh right, are the Beyar brothers still under detention?”
“Yes, they still have 3 days left in there.”
After receiving confirmation, I nodded my head in satisfaction.
“Tomorrow, pass them some engineering tools. They will definitely be unable to resist the temptation of playing with bombs in the detention barrack. We would then have another reason to lock them up for another month. Without these two leading authorities on explosions causing trouble outside, those troublesome Engineers will find themselves without a head and the ban would be easier to impose.”
After passing down my orders, I turned around to leave. The City Lord Residence wasn’t too far away, but upon catching sight of the charred Magicstorm lying on the floor, I stopped.
“Right, I almost forgot. When Suicidestorm recovers from him ‘fried chicken cutlet’ status, tell him and Roren: ‘You two don’t have to collect their wages for the next 2 months. I don’t care what you two do privately, but the next time you all claim that you are members of the Supreme Court and soil its reputation, I will…'”
At this point, I suddenly stopped. These lilliputians were born with astounding guts. Explosions and traveling across dimensions were like daily routine for them. Exactly what kind of punishment could frighten them? I am at a loss.
But Elisa’s whisper solved my dilemma.
“Make the two of them exchange their engineering tools and products. Order the Goblin Engineers to use the Dwarf’s engineering tools and the Dwarf Engineers use the Goblin’s engineering tools to make ten of the other party’s engineering toys.
Looking at this ice-cold face and hearing this bell-like voice, I was stunned for a moment.
“This is even worse than killing them outright. Goblin Engineering and Dwarf Engineering may seem similar, but their principles all the way down to the core are totally different. Ten toys? It might even take them a lifetime. Furthermore, they have to use the tools they hate and study the principles they detest. It really is a cruel punishment. But…”
I displayed a thumbs-up. “Good idea, your style is becoming more and more similar to mine.”
Cough, back to the main topic. The reason why I chose to walk towards to the City Lord Residence was because I wanted to see how the restoration of Sulfur Mountain City was coming along after the conflict. Seeing how they still possessed excessive energy to cause such a farce, I am actually quite relieved.
As the mastermind, I am quite satisfied with ‘Observer’ and the Sulfur Mountain City Thief Guild’s combined ability in manipulating intelligence. At least, on the surface, nothing had changed.
Yes, only on the surface. Two Underground Autarchs allied together to conduct an attack, but only the Autarchs themselves managed to return back safely; their entire armies were destroyed. After such a huge incident had occurred, how could there be no changes at all?
“Tell me straight, what do you intend to do by creating the South Ascension Law Academy, poaching the members of the Holy Church and expanding the personnel of the law system by three times?”
In the City Lord Residence, Margaret and Adam were already chatting as they sipped on tea. Little Red was absent as she was still recovering from her injuries. But the instant I sat down, Margaret started to interrogate me.
“Hehe, those lasses fought bravely, sacrificing themselves just to protect the citizens. I am only giving them a chance to integrate fully into the law system. It has been their wish for many years. Don’t tell me that you aren’t aware of it.”
With a bone knife in my hand, I carefully carved on a black-colored wooden scepter.
Ever since the judgement ended, I started to get hooked on wood carving. This was a skill-based chore, requiring me to focus all my attention on it.
“It’s too troublesome, I don’t feel like explaining.”
Margaret shook her head and sat back down. As usual, the Lich was scheming something. However, it is impossible to get anything out of him when he is unwilling to reveal anything.
Try to guess his thoughts? The mind of this fellow is weird and unorthodox. There were many times when he seemed to just be playing around, but when the time comes, it turned out that everything was actually a complex design of his plans. If he really intended to do something secretly, even if the Saint had been watching the scenes all along, she would still be unable to figure what he was up to.
Margaret had once questioned him about it but, in return, she received a baffling reply.
“Your thoughts are too direct. It is just like the Magic War Chess that you all love to play. You all scramble over every single gain and loss to accrue tiny wins to achieve the final victory. It may seem like a wise strategy, but in reality, the weapons that you are pointing toward your enemies become very apparent. This made it easy for others to see through your thoughts. Instead of being on the upper hand, you are actually in a disadvantageous position. As an expert on Go, I scatter my pieces around the board and wait patiently most of the time. I don’t try to aim for the small wins. Instead, I go for the big one from the start.”
“Go? Is there such a chess in this world? Could it be a game that had disappeared in history?” Margaret pushed further on this topic several times afterward but Lich Roland seemed to be focused on other stuff and ignored her questions.
“Right, I intend to create a branch in the next few days, Supreme Court Chrome Branch.”
Chrome City’s City Lord Hng Hng had already died under Margaret’s Forbidden Spell during the invasion a few days ago, leaving Chrome City without a leader. My intentions were rather clear.
“No wonder you are increasing the number of personnel. You are intending on taking over Chrome City?”
“Of course, after killing the boss, I can accept not leveling and not receiving any treasures. But if I don’t conquer their land and lay my hands on some of their beauties, my efforts would have been in vain and I would die on the street from the indignance.”
Alright, just as usual, they ignored my crazy speech straight, even though the words that I spoke were the mainstream view of the world. Personally, I think that it was sufficient to just live happily. When you’re bored, you can tell a joke and feel happy over it, or perhaps cause some trouble so that everyone can have a laugh over it. In comparison, it was more tiring to go around with a gloomy face and be obsessed with fighting and slaughter all day long just to feel powerful.
Back to the main topic, I did intend to take over Chrome City but my goal was not to claim supremacy.
“On one hand, the Power of Law requires more believers and faith. Also, we need more chips on our hand. Otherwise, how else can we deal with the Underground Alliance?”
Hearing my words, everyone went silent.
The Underground Alliance’s plan of invading the Surface was supported by a large portion of the residents of the Underground World, and as such, there’s a high probability it would be realized. The reason why we could defeat the collaboration of two Underground Autarchs was because they rushed here after hearing that the seal was going to be strengthened. They might have even used Teleportation Magic to do so. Given the limited amount of time they had, they only brought a small portion of their guards with them. In fact, the invading army probably wasn’t even a tenth of their real influence. At the very least, we hadn’t seen the powerful experts under their command.
Furthermore, even if we were able to defeat the Underground Autarchs, can we defeat the thousands to ten thousands of the Underground City Lord’s Alliance Army? I had already learned my lesson that the tide of ‘history’ cannot be stopped. If I were to try stopping it with my weak arms, I would only be crushed.
When the two Underground Autarchs invade once more with their full army, or perhaps, bring 300 to 400 Underground City Lords along to deal with us, Sulfur Mountain City would become the fool who tried to block the entire world with the strength of an individual. Eventually, it would just become a corporeal scar of history — ruins.
“Let me propose a solution. Actually, your thoughts are too inflexible. Do we really have to stand on opposite sides with them to oppose their invasion to the Surface? If we were to always sing a different tune with them, it is just a matter of time before we get isolated. You all are sufficiently strong, so it doesn’t really matter much to you all. But when Annie finally takes over, and the resentment from the enemies whom you all have offended bursts, will she be able to take them on?”
“Then what should we do?” Margaret had also thought of it but she didn’t have any solutions to deal with it.
“You know, we could just join them! Yes, join them! The status quo is four dominant figures within split into two factions, thus maintaining a fragile balance among them. However, can you imagine what will happen if another Underground Autarch were to appear?”
Adam’s face spelled of confusion but Margaret went deep into thoughts.
“Indeed, no matter what, we managed to defeat two Underground Autarchs and thus, we should have the qualifications to become an Autarch ourselves. Since only two Autarchs came, it proves that they aren’t as unified as we thought they were. Thus, if we were to show our support to the other side…”
“Yes, the leadership of the Alliance army is something worth fighting over.”
Somehow, I thought of my faraway home. Amidst five old established factions, there was a new growing power. During its growth, it kept changing factions and obtain many benefits through such. Furthermore, when it comes to decision-making, it used its rights to veto the decisions made or give up on their vote altogether, annoying the other countries. Eventually, it became the leading power of the new generation.
“Furthermore, I have an important present, a present that could drive that subtle balance into an unresolvable chaos.”
“What important present?”
I laughed gleefully as I placed the black wooden scepter on the table.
“God Equipment Eternal Night Scepter. This is the highest God Equipment equivalent to the royal authority of the Empire of Undead Xiluo. Created by the Emperor of Eternal Night himself, it is definitely authentic. We are willing to allow experts to verify it and if proven to be fake, we will refund you tenfold.”