Genius Warlock
Chapter 416

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“It’s been a while.”

With sunken cheeks, hair resembling straw, a scruffy beard, and dressed in tattered rags, it was not a beggar who responded, but rather Puppet.

His appearance differed significantly from their previous encounters in the contaminated area or District A Park.

Oliver extended a polite bow, extending his greetings.

“Yes, it’s nice to meet you after a long time, Mr. Puppet. How have you been?”

Oliver’s salutation was offered with genuine sincerity, perhaps seemingly inappropriate, but he couldn’t help it considering their prior engaging discussions.

After all, wasn’t it Puppet who initially educated Oliver about the theory of the apocalypse?

“It’s nice to hear you’re glad. It doesn’t seem like it though.”

Puppet remarked while astutely discerning Oliver’s subtle gestures, the ebb and flow of magical energy within his being, and the nuances of his emotional aura.

And, to some extent, his words proved accurate.

“Ah, I apologize, Mr. Puppet. I am genuinely pleased to meet you… It’s just that, given the situation, I might have been overly cautious.”

“What situation?”

Puppet inquired as he perched on a jutting section of the grimy sewer floor.

Despite appearing as though he could collapse at any moment, he emitted an unexpected combination of a gentle yet weighty aura of authority.

Lucian’s associates exchanged hushed comments behind Oliver.

“Isn’t that old man a rat who’s been hiding in the sewers for ages?”

“Right… He even begged from us…”

“What’s really going on?”

While overhearing their murmurs, Oliver posed a question.

“Have you been living in these sewers for a long time?”

“I am everywhere. From the highest places to the lowest.”

“Oh, that’s quite poetic… Is there a reason?”

“To observe.”

Puppet’s response appeared to leave out a crucial detail.

Oliver inquired again.

“May I ask what you have been observing?”

“How greedy.”

“Excuse me?”

“I asked you first and even gave you an answer, but you keep asking without responding. That’s greed.”

“Oh, I apologize. I was just curious… To be honest, the situation doesn’t seem good. The state of this city.”

Oliver recollected the scenes he had witnessed en route.

“Giants trampling the city, werewolves jumping between buildings, griffins and harpies flying in the sky, and even zombies armed with guns and people under black magic attacking others… And I’ve seen three members of the Black Hand myself.”

At his final words, the people behind Oliver were taken aback.

Three of the infamous villains were present in the city.

It was difficult to fathom how calmly Oliver discussed it.

“Mr. Human-meat Chef, Mr. Eternal Child Pan, and Mr. Immortal Puppet – all three are here. That’s why I was on guard, unintentionally. If you were offended, I apologize. By any chance, has the Mr. Pied Piper also come to this city?”

“He might visit this city someday, but not today.”

Puppet shook his head.

Oliver felt relieved yet somewhat disappointed.

He had hoped to encounter Pied Piper.

‘No, this is better. According to Mr. Ewan, he’s someone with a very long memory.’

Assuaging himself with these thoughts, Oliver continued.

“I met Mr. Pan earlier. He attacked me but then suddenly changed his mind and stopped. It was the same with the people behind me.”

“That’s typical of Pan. Impulsive and whimsical.”

“Did you, by any chance, help me, Mr. Puppet?”

“Why do you ask that?”

“If you did help, I’d like to thank you. It’s only polite.”

Upon hearing Oliver’s words, Puppet chuckled.

“Quite an amusing conversation. It would be perfect with some ice cream.”

“I’ll buy you some next time you come.”

Jane, Murphy, Lucian, and the others who were eavesdropping on the conversation once again found themselves utterly perplexed.

It was tantamount to extending an invitation to one of the Fingers, Puppet himself.

What was even more astonishing was that for those who had some familiarity with Oliver, like Murphy and Jane, this bizarre behavior somehow seemed perfectly in character. Because, well, it was Oliver. Nothing he did ever came across as odd.

“Ha!” Puppet burst into laughter.

“It’s been a long time since someone who knows my identity invited me… Sorry, but I haven’t helped anyone today, nor do I intend to. I just came to watch. To see the ritual that Human-meat Chef will initiate.”

“Is that ritual related to the massive flow of emotions running beneath us?”

Oliver pointed downward.

Puppet appeared slightly taken aback by the unexpected inquiry.

“Oh… Did you notice?”

“More than noticing, I just saw it.”

Oliver recollected the moment he had emerged from Rokuri University to aid Jane.

The commercial district in front of the university had been partially devastated and set ablaze by the giant’s footsteps, with individuals under black magic and others embroiled in chaotic combat.

Chaos and violence had indiscriminately spread in all directions, and their byproducts—fear, dread, anger, hostility—had flooded the entire city.

“And those emotions slowly but surely settled beneath this city.”

“Remarkable. To think you saw that. Impressive.”

Puppet expressed admiration. It appeared sincere judging by his emotional state, but Oliver couldn’t help but be puzzled. It had been quite evident to the naked eye, so what was so remarkable about it?

When Oliver raised this question, Puppet responded.

“No, normally one wouldn’t be able to perceive something of that scale.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes, it’s like how fish in water can’t see the water. People fail to notice even the most obvious things when they exceed a certain scale. They can’t handle it.”

Puppet tapped his temple contemplatively.

Perhaps that did make sense.

Back in the mines, betraying other children who were trying to escape or scheming to gain extra food had been an obvious tactic in hindsight. Yet, at that time, no one had realized it.

Even if they had, there would have been little they could have done.

“Interesting… Then, I suppose I should repay you? Probably, Human-meat Chef intends to open the gates of hell.”

Puppet mentioned this chilling possibility matter-of-factly.

Even Oliver, who rarely found himself surprised, was taken aback.

“The gates of… hell?”

“Yes, I came to watch that.”

“What can I say? There’s a lot I want to ask, but is that even possible?”

“It’s difficult by normal means. Even after consuming countless lives over hundreds of years to accumulate power, it’s not something a mere human can do. That’s why he’s using a workaround.”

A workaround. The moment Oliver heard that term, he instinctively grasped its meaning.

Not inserting a key, but knocking on the door.

“Are you saying… he plans to summon a demon to open the door?”

“Ding ding ding. You know quite a lot. Have you studied demons?”

“No, I haven’t. I never had the chance.”

That was true. Despite his considerable reputation and experience in Landa, he couldn’t obtain books on demons in the black market.

Someone always beat him to it. Yet, Oliver guessed it right because of a feeling.

“A feeling?”

“Yes… Just a hunch. And it seemed like Mr. Human-meat Chef is proficient in spatial magic.”

“An interesting speculation. You do have a knack for noticing odd details.”

“Thank you for the compliment.”

Puppet responded to Oliver’s words with a smile that held many layers of meaning.

“But is it alright for you to tell me this? I appreciate it, of course, but isn’t Mr. Human-meat Chef a member of the Black Hand like you, and didn’t you come here to watch the gates of hell open?”

Puppet raised a finger.

“Firstly, as I said earlier, I don’t intend to help anyone, Human-meat Chef included. Secondly, while I did come to see the gates of hell open, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that. If there’s something more interesting to see, then that’s what I want.”

“Something more interesting?”

“Something more beneficial to me. Honestly, I’m not that interested in hell, demons, or the apocalypse. I’m more curious if there’s any knowledge to learn or things to consider.”

Genuine curiosity. Oliver nodded.

“Now that you mention it, Mr. Puppet, you’re interested in creating souls and resurrecting people, right?”

“Well, that’s one way to put it. They’re in similar realms. But I’d prefer if you don’t make too much of a fuss about it. I get embarrassed easily.”

Puppet cast a sharp glance from beneath his disheveled hair at the individuals behind Oliver.

Upon witnessing this, Oliver kept his silence. It appeared that this was Puppet’s personal domain.

However, as soon as he pondered that, he couldn’t help but wonder why Puppet was fixated on souls and resurrection.

‘Come to think of it, Mr. Ewan said Puppet is full of complexes. Could there be a connection?’

“Now, should I ask my question? It’s only fair.”

Puppet addressed the contemplative Oliver.

The statement was unexpected, but Oliver didn’t object. Puppet’s reasoning was sound.

If one had posed a question, it was only fair to provide an answer in return.

“If it’s something I can answer.”

“You probably can. Now that you know everything that’s happening in this city, are you going to stop Human-meat Chef?”

“Yes. It’s my duty.”

Oliver recalled the reason he had undertaken this mission for the Magic Tower and responded earnestly. However, those listening interpreted it differently.

It wasn’t entirely without reason.

When they heard about the widespread turmoil in Galos Capital and the Human-meat Chef’s absurd yet perilous plan to exploit it, describing Oliver’s actions as duty felt somewhat out of place.

It wasn’t inaccurate, but it seemed somewhat incongruous.

This sense of incongruity was not limited to Jane, Murphy, and Lucian; even Puppet, a member of the Black Hand, shared this peculiar feeling.

“Interesting. Especially the part that you wouldn’t care if it weren’t your duty.”

“Oh… That’s a misunderstanding.”

“Is it not?”

Puppet inquired once more, and Oliver hesitated. It was a complex matter that couldn’t be easily defined in a few words.

Honestly, it was a bit intricate.

There was a part of him that personally wanted to witness the gate to hell created by the Human-meat Chef. Perhaps it presented an opportunity for Oliver to acquire knowledge about demons that he had missed out on.

However, on the other hand, he also felt a compelling urge to prevent it.

Firstly, the fact that the Human-meat Chef was using people around him for blackmail troubled him. Secondly, it simply felt like the right thing to do.

Causing massive chaos throughout the entire city was… rather problematic, wasn’t it?

“Impressive… To stop Human-meat Chef just because it ‘seems a bit off.’ That’s one of the bravest reasons I’ve heard.”

“Thank you?”

“That wasn’t a compliment. It implies you’d have left it alone if it didn’t seem ‘a bit off.'”

“Oh… Is that how it is?”

Oliver responded to Puppet’s interpretation of his decision.

Upon reflection, it seemed accurate.

How would he have reacted if he didn’t find it ‘a bit off’?

In other words, what would Oliver have done if there were a convincing rationale behind the Human-meat Chef’s actions?

“Don’t get me wrong. That’s not a bad thing. There’s no need for a noble mission or a plausible reason.”

“I agree with that.”

Unexpectedly, Jane joined the conversation.

Startled by her input, Oliver turned to see Jane, who possessed the etiquette and composure refined in the Sisterhood, along with her own bravery and determination.

She greeted Puppet politely, suppressing her fear.

“I apologize for intruding, Mr. Puppet… I am Jane, making a modest living through investments in Landa.”

“Well… For a lady who receives backing from one of the leading tycoons of England and is trying to speculate land in a foreign land, you’re quite modest. Or should I say, cautious?”

“I think it’s both. One needs to be cautious to be modest.”

“You have quite the way with words… What did you want to say?”

“I just wanted to agree with Mr. Puppet. There’s no need for a noble mission or a plausible reason to save people… because ordinary people usually don’t think that far. They just do it.”

Jane spoke calmly, managing to quell the turmoil and tension within her.

Oliver could discern the immense courage and composure required to maintain such a demeanor. It was admirable and heartening, though he couldn’t quite pinpoint why.

“Ordinary people, huh… Not a wrong statement. I envy you for having good people around you.”

“I also consider myself lucky.”

Puppet chuckled once more and then rose, appearing ready to depart. Oliver called out to detain him.

“What is it?”

“There’s one more thing I’d like to inquire ask.”

“I don’t have any more questions, though?”

For some reason, Puppet fibbed. But Oliver refrained from challenging him on it. Answering questions was a matter of personal choice.

Hence, Oliver extended an offer.

“Then I will answer Mr. Puppet’s question later. You might have more questions later.”

“What might that be?”

“Do you know anything about Mr. Human-meat Chef?”

(To be Continued)

CH 414-423 (Vs Human-meat Chef Part3) $3CH 424-433 (Vs Human-meat Chef Part4) $3CH 434-443 (Dave Vs 100 Druids) $3444~ $1/chapter


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Chapter 416
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