Chapter 329 – Researcher Veral
Shang didn’t stay in his hole for three entire days. Obviously, he left pretty quickly and joined the barbarians in their rampaging.
He wasn’t very interested in killing people and beasts much weaker than him, but he joined a couple of battles against Peak General Stage Summoners and beasts just for training.
About a day later, Shang left the barbarians as they continued ravaging the lands and returned to the Mages.
The Mages had already started to rebuild the black castle and were reorganizing it as a new base for operations.
As Shang reached the newly rebuilt gates, he was stopped by two True Mages, who looked at him with disdain. “Barbarians are not allowed in here,” one of them said.
“Researcher Veral told me to return to him after the mission,” Shang said.
The two Mages looked at each other with furrowed brows.
One of them snorted, but they let Shang pass.
“Researcher Veral is inside the basement,” one of them said.
Shang nodded and entered.
Inside the castle’s domain, Shang could see several Mages lifting heavy stones with their minds, rearranging them on the walls of the destroyed castle.
Shang entered the castle itself, and thanks to his Darkness Affinity, he quickly found the way to the basement.
However, someone else was just coming out of the basement, and he saw Shang.
When Shang saw the person, he saluted respectfully.
It was a young man with blue hair and a cold expression.
It was the general of the closest Governor, a Peak True Mage. He was the highest-ranking person in this entire Zone right now.
The man inspected Shang for a second with cold eyes.
“Name,” he said.
“Zero,” Shang answered.
The general frowned. Obviously, Shang’s strange name gave him pause, but he believed it in the end. He didn’t think that Shang would lie to him.
“We will contact you again if the need arises,” he said before passing Shang.
“Thank you, sir!” Shang said respectfully with a salute.
Shang was now on the radar of the powerful Mages of the Grandmountain Kingdom. A person just below a High Mage had asked for his name.
Shang continued descending into the basement, where he quickly found the grey-robed Researcher Veral with two of his assistants. They were currently constructing a complex Magic Circle.
Shang decided to wait at the entrance since he didn’t want to interrupt them at a critical moment. Something like that could get him killed.
About half a minute later, the Mages relaxed, and the Magic Circle stabilized.
At that point, Researcher Veral turned to Shang with a smile. “Well done, Zero!” he said.
Shang saluted respectfully without saying anything.
“Operation Primal Offense was a resounding success,” Researcher Veral commented. “The Plague Rat Zone belongs to the Grandmountain Kingdom now!”
“You performed extraordinarily under the enemy attacks, and you even managed to survive. Someone like that is very valuable to the Grandmountain Kingdom.”
‘As if they cared that I survived,’ Shang thought. ‘They probably had planned on losing their tool after it had fulfilled its use, but surprisingly, it managed to survive. The only thing they are happy about is that their tool can be used once again.’
However, Shang didn’t say any of these words and remained in a respectful salute.
Researched Veral’s smile transformed into a smirk. “I presume you are here for your reward.”
“I am here for further orders, sir,” Shang said, carefully avoiding any potential traps.
“Good answer,” Researched Veral answered with a smirk. He believed that Shang truly meant what he said. After all, Shang was a barbarian, and barbarians couldn’t possibly win in a battle of the minds with a Mage.
“Approach,” Researcher Veral ordered.
Shang stepped forward until he stood directly in front of the grey-robed man.
Researched Veral chanted a complex Spell, and just two seconds later…
Shang’s collar split in two by itself.
“The services you have rendered to the Grandmountain Kingdom far outweigh any crime you could have possibly committed in the past,” he said with a smile. “Additionally, I alleviate you of any punishment you have received in the past.”
Shang looked with a bit of discomfort at Researcher Veral. “Sir, the punishment was handed out by a Governor.”
Researcher Veral’s smile faded into an annoyed frown. “I don’t care. You belong to me, and I have full power over your life.”
Shang only meekly looked at the ground, seemingly afraid.
Obviously, Researcher Veral didn’t like being questioned by a mere barbarian, and he had shown his dislike by flaunting his power.
“Don’t take this to heart,” Researcher Veral said as his smile returned. “You will be happy that you belong to me now. I treat my people very well.”
“Forcing you into any kind of punishment is a waste of your talents,” he said. “You have a tremendous talent for withstanding and controlling several augmenting Spells. Having you serve on the frontlines would be stupid.”
“For the next few years, you will work for me personally,” he said. “I’m sure we can improve the Primal Offense Project even more, and I need your help and cooperation for that.”
“Naturally, I’m not a monster, and I will take care of the resources you need. Do you already know the full technique for strengthening your body?” he asked.
Shang quickly recounted how he trained.
Researcher Veral nodded. “That’s good. What’s your Affinity?”
“Fire, sir,” Shang answered.
“When was the last time you strengthened your body?”
“About five days ago, sir.”
Researcher Veral nodded again before turning to one of the other two Mages. “Geron, I need a bi-weekly shipment of a Peak Fighter Stage fire beast heart starting one week from now.”
Geron had heard the entire conversation, and he nodded. “Will be done.”
“Thanks, Geron,” Researcher Veral said with a smile.
“How much longer until you can reach the Champion Stage?” Researcher Veral asked.
“With regular strengthening, about a year, sir,” Shang answered.
Researcher Veral smiled in positive surprise. “That’s far faster than I anticipated. Wonderful!”
“We will be staying inside the Plague Rat Zone and Deepcore Turtle Zone for at least five years. We have conquered too much land in too little time, and we need to consolidate our land and our new defenses.”
“I will be busy in this castle for the next month or two. Until then, I want you to lead the barbarians in the assault,” Researcher Veral said. “I think you have quite the smart head on your shoulders, and us Mages can’t always spare time for the little details. Do you think you can lead them?”
“What are your goals, sir?” Shang asked.
Researcher Veral had said the comment about Shang being smart just to make Shang like him more, but he was still a bit surprised about the smart question. He would have anticipated that question from a Mage, not a barbarian.
‘Might as well not completely look like an idiot,’ Shang thought. It was a bit risky to show more of his power, even if it was only intelligence, but it was also necessary for Shang to live a better life.
“Good question,” Researcher Veral said. “I want you to kill any human not belonging to the Grandmountain Kingdom. Sometimes, the rebels can be quite smart and hide. We don’t really have time to search for the rebels since we have other things to do, but if you manage to catch them, you would be a big help.”
“It would also be great if you could teach the barbarians some basic forms of strategy. Looking at them charging at beasts without a plan gives me second-hand embarrassment.”
Shang nodded. “I will do my best, sir,” he said.
“That’s all I wanted to hear,” Researcher Veral said. “One week from now, return to the castle. Geron will have your fire beast heart ready.”
Researcher Veral summoned a grey emblem with a cloaked person on it. “If any Mage gets confused about you ordering the barbarians around, just show them this.”
Shang took the emblem and saluted once more. “Thank you, sir,” he said respectfully.
Researcher Veral nodded with a smile. “Good. Now, go! We have things to do here!”
Shang performed another short salute, turned around, and left the basement.
After leaving the castle, Shang looked at his surroundings.
He could see several groups of barbarians raging through the lands without any plan or tactic.
‘Might as well make myself useful for the next couple of months,’ Shang thought. ‘I think I should be at my limit in about eight months if I continue to strengthen myself every two weeks. The beast Mana will slowly accumulate since I can’t truly get a beast with my Affinity, but I think I can somewhat counteract the beast Mana with the Procedure and my control over Mana.’
‘Eight months, huh?’
‘Eight months, and I’m outta here!’