Chapter 143 - Pirate Archipelago (3)
Jack looked at Theo with surprise.
The boy's reaction was good for his age, but he wasn't lucky today. Randolph and Theodore read the falseness in Jack's voice.
In actual history, the war hero, Alfred Bellontes, was recorded as a ruthless person when it came to questioning prisoners. Theodore had inherited the experience of such a great man, so his eyes saw that Jack was hiding something.
However, it was too early to startle the snake in the bush.
"Is the question that surprising? This is like a village, so wouldn't the Pirate Archipelago have a boss? I don't think the pirates would have a democracy."
This was why Theodore took a step back. The guide was just a boy. The amount of information which could be obtain through forced means was limited. It was better to gather clues from the story than pushing through haphazardly.
"Oh, that is what you meant."
"It is my first visit, so I have a lot to ask you. I'll give this to you if you answer me." As Theo spoke, he pulled out two five gold coins, making Jack's eyes shine.
Jack's worries didn't last long. This was the Pirate Archipelago, an island of outlaws who ignored law and ethics. In this place, the most important thing was power. Those who had more power, either through violence or power, would have the upper hand. The tip of 10 gold was absolutely fascinating for a boy who had been born and grew up on the Pirate Archipelago.
Jack's lips parted slowly, "...Should I tell you?"
As if he was holding great information, Jack put on an exaggerated expression and looked around.
Theodore nodded. Then the boy started to whisper, "There are a few people on the island who behave as if they are kings. First, weren't you guided by some pirate ships when you came to this island?"
"Did you see a man with one eye, who is wearing accessories made of human skulls?"
As soon as Theo heard the description of the skull ornaments and eyepatch, a scene flashed in his mind. The man who had been chatting with the captain of the passenger ship fit that description. Jack noticed his expression and nodded.
"'Captain' Virtus, that is what the islanders call him."
Jack seemed hyped up by the story as he continued in an excited tone. According to the boy, there were four people on this island who had full authority. Apart from the captain who led visitors here, the island was divided into three zones. The lips of the boy, who smelled the scent of money, moved in a quick manner.
Red Light District's Queen Bee, 'Queen' Maeve.
Godfather of the Casino, 'Gold Toad' Todd.
Stolen Goods Big Spender, 'Thief' Lupian.
Each one was responsible for one axis of the Pirate Archipelago. They had thoroughly divided their roles and areas, so they didn't get into conflicts with each other. It was a fairly orderly structure for a lawless zone. Well, if this order hadn't existed, the island of criminals would've already collapsed.
"How interesting," Theodore whispered before flicking a gold coin. "But that isn't all, is it?"
"Even if the people you described are in balance, that is only the story for the present time. It would be strange for there to be no conflicts when the four organizations were being established." As he rolled the remaining gold around between his fingers, Theodore met Jack's greedy eyes. "Is there perhaps someone on top of those four people?"
Theo finally got to the main point. He had invested nearly 30 minutes of listening to a useless story for this reason.
The story of the four criminals was good, but it wasn't what he needed. From the very beginning, Theodore had been wondering about the identity of the person who had created a barrier around the islands and achieved the paradise of criminals.
"T-T-That..." Jack followed the moving gold coin with his pupils before closing his eyes. Perhaps he knew nothing, or maybe he was unable to speak. "I-I don't know."
Was it up to here? Theodore was about to put away the gold coin with a regretful heart when...
"B-But! I will tell you everything that I do know!" Jack called out half a beat later, in a desperate attempt to stop Theodore's hand.
* * *
"One gold for a single room and two gold for a double room per day. If it is a special room, one gold is added to each one."
The innkeeper looked at the two people with a greedy expression as he rubbed his palms together.
It was a few times more expensive than accommodations on land, but this was the listed price for the Pirate Archipelago. Anyway, it wasn't that overpriced for visitors to the island. Randolph's eyebrows twitched at the absurd amount, but Theodore handed over the gold coins without any objections.
The two of them were able to get two rooms, where they would be staying for the next 10 days. Randolph took off his heavy armour in the room and spoke first, "So, Young Master, what are you doing to do now?"
"I'm not sure." Theodore smiled wryly at the question and sat down on the bed.
It might've cost 10 gold, but the information he got from Jack was worth the cost. He didn't know about Jack, but both Theodore and Randolph thought so. There was a legend which the four zones and rulers of the Pirate Archipelago had in common.
"It is a problem if there really is a 'sea god.'"
Sea god... If a church had heard it, Theodore might be accused of blasphemy.
Jack had never been there, but the island at the center of the Pirate Archipelago seemed to have a temple dedicated to the sea god. In the end, it was nothing more than a rumour which floated around. Nevertheless, both of them sensed it.
The sea god was the true ruler of this island.
'If the sea god created that fog... we can't afford to go against it.'
Theodore had encountered several master class and legendary brings in the past, so he guessed it easily. There was only a little bit of power left in the fog, but his whole body had gotten goosebumps.
The sea god had control over the sea. As for how much strength it had, the present Theodore couldn't even imagine. It was an ability that was the exact opposite of a magician, who produced results efficiently. This was a limitless power which could twist reality.
"...It is just a guess, but I don't think the opponent is a human."
A human with such power wouldn't use it in such primitive ways. Just the fog covering the Pirate Archipelago exceeded the magic of an elder class magician. Theodore wasn't of a common standard, but he wouldn't be able to endure half of it.
In order to maintain the fog so naturally that it was like breathing, a minimum of eight circles would be needed.
Randolph accepted Theo's assumption without questioning it. "I think so as well. I have seen a few of the empire's Seven Swords from a distance, but the presence on this island is from an entire different category."
"The whole island seems to be its realm, so the environmental conditions are disadvantageous to us. It isn't something we can face, even if we combine our powers."
"Right. Then what do we do?"
Theodore shrugged. They didn't come here with the tremendous mission of subjugating the Pirate Archipelago. It was just a coincidence since they were running away from the Orcus Company. There was no reason to recklessly go against an opponent they had no animosity with.
"Our top priority is hiding from the Orcus Company. I don't think they can chase us to the Pirate Archipelago. Well, anyone who does chase us will be blocked by the fog."
If he looked at it differently, this island was a fortress. No uninvited guests could wander through the fog, so there was no need to reveal their identity. The presence of the being which ruled the island was scary if it was an enemy, but it was reassuring for those in hiding.
"It is a rational choice. I understand."
Of course, Randolph might be tempted to call Theo's choice cowardly. However, Randolph was a mercenary, not a knight.
Rather than risking his life in a meaningless battle, he would step back and wait. Just like in the case of the elder lich, it was unknown if there was an exit, so there was no point gambling. He didn't have a hobby of crawling toward death.
The two men finished their consultation and entered their rooms.
Theodore, whose mind had been busy racing, starting breathing calmly. The choice of fighting the sea god was dismissed, so what should he do with this time?
'My goal of escaping the Orcus Company's hands is achieved.'
At least, as long as they stayed in this Pirate Archipelago. It would also take some time for the next cruise ship to arrive. Based on Jack's explanation, the cruise ship stayed for around 10~14 days before leaving for the original destination. Theodore thought about what he could do during this break.
This was a chance to find out more about the 'Transmission' feature.
-You called. As always, the voice came from the hole in Theo's left palm.
"You spoke to me last time about Transmission."
"You said that it is different from what I went through with Alfred, and that there is a process. Gradually assimilating the soul, or something like that."
Gluttony had only quickly mentioned it, but Theodore's extraordinary memory recalled every moment of that time, without missing a single detail. In the end, Gluttony answered the question.
-Yes, that's right.
"Teach me how to use Transmission. This is a question regarding your function, so it doesn't count as a question and answer."
Theodore carefully listened while inwardly suppressing his delight.
-First, 'Transmission' is my 4th stage function. It was designed as a means of using 'Overwrite' more efficiently. If the author's soul is loaded, you can use that ability be absorbing the soul.
He knew this much. After using Transmission on Alfred, Theodore had suffered terrible pain as the soul was absorbed. If Superbia hadn't attacked, there might've been a chance of his ego collapsing and he would've died. Soul fusion was a dangerous and unstable act.
However, according to Gluttony, it wasn't originally like that.
-As you've experienced before, mixing the souls directly is a great risk. So, there is a separate process in Transmission.
-Yes. That process is called a Quest.
As Theodore rolled the word 'quest' around in his mouth, Gluttony continued explaining.
-User can talk to the authors of the eaten original books and absorb the fragment of soul by solving the desires that they've left behind.
"...In other words, do something for them?"
-That's right. If you want, you can ask them their wishes right now by calling 'Lee Yoonsung' or 'Satomer.'
-Who do you want to call first? Gluttony asked.
Theodore replied, "The author of [Battle Song], Lee Yoonsung."