”Do you think my scales looked good? ”

”Hm? I guess they
e pretty shiny. ”

Theodore and Merlin made a stop at a nearby river, they still had plenty of time before the sun set so they were taking their time to catch up with each other, mostly they talked about the past and how things used to be, then the conversation shifted to how much of an ass Rhys Giffins is, but they would shift their attention back to other positive things after Theo had accidentally burned down a tree using his fire breath.

He was once again examining himself in the reflection of the water, noticing that the hoods of a cobra had disappeared from his figure. His dark green scales overlapped each other, like those of a viper, but the patterns on them were a green mambas. ”The cobra look was cool for a moment though. ”

”Yeah, as if your size doesn already look threatening enough. ” Merlin rolled his eyes as he dipped his feet into the water. The redhead was right though, currently, Theos length was 15 meters while his body was as thick as an average man.

”Anyway, tell me more about this era, is the Stella Academy still standing? ”

Merlin went silent again before nodding. ”Mm, itd been five years since I graduated from there. Im actually one of the instructors—Though its just so that the Griffins family can have connections. ”

e an instructor? ” The Stella Academy was built from the ruins of Manhattan after a wave of monsters thatd appeared out of the portals had swept the whole place clean. It was also the place where the Delphi Forest was located, its the most dangerous zone to go out of all the other gate creature-infested areas, but despite that, they still use such a death zone to train the students of the academy.

”Yeah, I teach in Hunting class, Im also a homeroom teacher for Class 4-10. ” There are a total of five levels within the academy, each one having ten classes. The levels are assigned based on strength, five being the weakest and one being the strongest, the class number that goes behind the level doesn discriminate power though.

Stella Academy doesn care for the students age, a 14 year old could be grouped with an 18 year old. As long as one has the qualifications to become a future star of humanity, the academy will accept them. When Theo and Merlin were invited, they were around 17 at that time.

”…How is the job? ” Theodore asked, genuinely curious about his friends reply, the Griffins had forced Merlin to become an instructor although, judging by how hed been talking about it so far, he didn seem to dislike the job.

The ginger smiled after a chuckle. ”Oh, its okay. I kinda like those kids, they remind me of our time at school. ”

”… ”

”Anyway, lets quickly head back now, the suns dangerously close to the horizon. ” Merlin looked up at the orange sky before he pulled his legs from the river before standing up and stretched lazily. ”Don think too much about it, after all, The Coldest Flame Duo is back together now! ”

It was the stupidest name hed ever heard in his life, but he couldn help but laugh. ”How nostalgic, now I feel like an old man reminiscing about the past. ” Before his death, he and Merlin used to be one of the most powerful heroes in the world, and people would jokingly dub them as the Coldest Flame Duo, while Merlin doesn have any fire attributes, his attitude was fiery enough to create that name.

”Haha, you
e a month older than me after all, its only natural. ”

”Whatever you say, kid ”

Theodore slithered past Merlin and they would eventually continue their journey out of the woods. The Delphi Forest is quite big, spanning over into Bronxs territory and it is said to cover that entire state, although due to the dangerous creatures living in the forest, no expedition had been sent to explore just yet.

After around twenty minutes of walking and chatting, they finally emerged from the bushes and into an open field. Theodore was familiar with this scenery since it was where theyd grouped up before entering Delphi five years ago. ”Wheres this HQ you talked about anyway? ”

”Ah, after you and our teammates died, the Griffins bought this entire area to cover up the story. ” Merlin explained with a slight frown. ”The building is over that hill. ” The redhead pointed towards a steep hill somewhere on Theos right.

”Alright. Lets go. ” He was curious as to what sort of things Rhys Griffins had been doing ever since hed died. He couldn help but smile to himself as he thought.

”My path of revenge has officially begun. ”




Over the hill Merlin had mentioned, there was a large tall tower seemingly built out of steel, its architectural designs were similar to the Spiral Skyscraper Theo once saw on a MineTube video. There was a big fancy sign hanging near the middle of the building saying: ”Griffins Commissioning Guild ” with a griffin balancing the letters with its back.

”Wow, I wonder how many organs they sold to build this. ” Theodore spoke with an unimpressed tone, everything thats the property of the Griffins family would always look unnecessarily fancy.

”Probably a few brains and a liver. ” Merlin replied in a serious tone, although he was being sarcastic.

Both of them began to walk closer to the front door. The automatic doorway parted as they got in its range and allowed them to go inside.

Within the building, the first thing Theo saw was the reception hall. It was busy with people constantly walking in and out of doors and elevators, the whole design of the place made it looks like a large tech company with multiple steampunk-like machinery powered by magic stones, the core of monsters which has a higher chance of dropping the stronger that monster is, from Theos calculations, the gate creature had to be at least level 60 to be able to drop those cores.

”This place is huge. ”

”Yeah, they have hundreds of personnel on this one floor. ”

”One floor? ” Theodore perked his head up and looked around. He couldn imagine how many people the Griffins had under their command. ”Damn…This isn going to be easy huh? ”

”Oi, Merlin, you
e back. ” Out of the blue, a dark-toned man made his way over to them. He was wearing a tattered red vest and dark blue puffed shorts, he was barefooted and had his veiny hands rested on either side of his sheathed blades. ”Did those other guys die? ”

”Yes, Mister Ronald, a seven-headed hydra got them. ” Merlin lied through his teeth, but luckily for him, Ronald didn catch on. The black man had his attention on the direwolf pelt draped across the gingers shoulders and the bloodied sack filled with hydra fangs.

”Well, it doesn matter. You got us the items—and a very large snake. ” Ronald turned his head towards Theo and stared at him with his bright blue eyes, his scarred face became stern the moment his eyes landed on his figure.

”Ah, this is my new familiar, I tamed him on my way back. ” Merlin quickly spoke, looking at Theo worrily.

However, this snake didn waver under the big mans judging eyes and stared back at him.

They were locked in a stare-down for about a minute, but suddenly Ronald let out a booming laugh. ”Ha! This snakes attitude is great, lucky you, its quite smart. ”

”Haha…Yes, hes very intelligent. ” Merlin swallowed a nervous lump down his throat as he continued to stare at Theo as if asking for help.

”Welcome to the team, danger noodles. Hopefully youll be of use. ” The dark-skinned man gave him a pat on the head before turning his attention back towards the redhead. ”Aye, give me those stuff, Ill register them in for you. ”

”Thank you, Mister Ronald. ” Merlin hurriedly handed the man the two items.

Ronald inspected them for a moment before letting out a satisfied huff. ”Great job, no wonder why Young Master told us to be good with you. See you around! ” He would wave with a bright smile on his face before turning around and disappearing into the crowd.

”…Who was that? ” Theodore didn like the fact that he was being treated as a pet, but he couldn do anything about it right now. He knows that if he wants to stay under the radar, then he would need to act like an ignorant snake.

”Thats Ronald Raymond, he oversees everything within the Slaves Department; Their well-being and their records. He knows them all. ” Merlin explained. ”Despite his cheery attitude earlier, if hes just feeling bored or not satisfied then he can get very violent. Many slaves had gotten their skulls crushed by him. ”

”Picking on the weak, typical. ” Theodore muttered to himself. ”Anyway, where are we going next? ”

”Ah, right. I was given special privileges and I have my own room, unlike some other slaves. ” Merlin began to walk to one of the many elevators of the reception hall, its design was just like a regular elevator apart from the fact that it wasn powered by electricity but magic crystals. Due to the gate monsters, it was necessary for humanity to stop relying on their usual technology and adapt to the new world. Even the way people access the internet has become different.

”…Rhys seemed to be planning something. ”

”Yeah, I have no idea why hes treating me and Eugene so well. ”

Theodore stopped crawling after he heard the other persons name. ”Eugene? You mean Eugune Brooks? Hes still alive? ”

”Yes, Im guessing that Rhys would only keep those he could still make use of. ” Merlin said bitterly, he pressed the button to call down the elevator and waited. ”Though Eugene was assigned to a different group, so I don get to meet him as much, they probably didn want us scheming behind their backs. ”

Theodore was deep in his thoughts; What could Rhys possibly want with these two? Are they perhaps connected as to why he was killed?

Murdered because of rage? That might sound like a plausible excuse, but why do it at that exact moment? With Rhys influence, making him disappear wouldn be out of the realm of possibilities.

He snapped back to reality when he heard the soft ding coming from the elevator, signaling its arrival. Theodore and Merlin stepped inside while the ginger pressed a button on the control panel; ”B2 ”.

After the door closed, the elevator began taking them downwards, he assumed that B2 meant one of the basement floors. It didn take very long for them to arrive, after another ring sounded out, the doors parted and let them out.

Merlin led Theo down a dark colloridor, only lit up slightly by the ceiling lights. This floor looked more like a bunker than an actual living quarter. They would soon come to a stop in front of a wooden door, it was lacquered nicely and the doorknob looked new, it stood out amongst the dull stone walls and floors of the basement.

The redhead took out a set of keys and unlocked the door, allowing them to go inside. ”This is my room, its pretty okay compare to my slave status. ”

Theodore slithered through the gaps and started looking around. The room was indeed nice and lit up well by a yellow-lighted ceiling lamp. There was a desk in one corner and a bed in the other, it looked just like a typical bedroom for most highschool students.

Although what caught his attention the most was the first thing that he saw the moment he entered; A window overlooking a vast grass field with trees and flowers dotting along the ground. At the back was a tall cliff with a waterfall flowing from somewhere lower than the highest peak.

”I thought this was a basement? ”

”Oh, yes it is. Thats a pocket space, although its not meant for me. ” Merlin said as he closed the door behind him. ”You see, while you weren here, I made a new friend. ”

Right on queue, something flew from within the grassy land and perched on the window frame, its brown feathers brought out some of its golden quills on the back of its head with white splattering on some areas of its body. The creature stared at Theodore with a look of…disgust. ”Master, who is this snake? ” A womans voice was heard from it.

”Ah, Eldora! This is Theodore, hes the friend I often talked to you about! ” Merlin introduced him to the bird with enthusiasm lashed in his tone, it was as if hed been waiting for this moment all along.

However, she still has a judging look on her beaked face. ”Huh? I thought you said your friend is a human. ”

”Well, its complicated but this really is him! ”

”Master, have you gone delusional? Did that Ronald human finally snap at you? ”

”Eldora! Im not delusional! Theo, say something! ”

”What do you want me to say? ” He looked at his friend with a neutral expression before turning back towards the bird. Her beautiful feathers made it obvious to what species she was; The Golden Eagle.

”I don approve of you. ” Eldora spoke as she eyed him down with her fierce eyes. She has quite the bravery despite him having the size to crush a car with ease.

”So what? ” Theodore snapped back, at first he didn want to engage with her but since she started a fight with him first, he was not about to give in to a bird. ”Im several times larger than you, and I can use magic. What are you going to do? Strike my 200 Defense stat with your talons? ”

Merlin suddenly jumped forward, landing in between the two animals, he let out a nervous chuckle before speaking. ”Hey, you two. Why don we just get along? It would be better for all of us this way, no? ”

”Your bird is the problem here, Merlin. Did you not train her properly? She has bad mannerism. ”

”I… ” Merlin became speechless, as if hed just recalled something that made him unable to protest.

”I told you before that you lack the responsibility to own a pet, and what am I seeing right now? ” Theodore sighed. ”An irresponsible pet owner. ”

”Hey! Don you dare badmouth Master! ” Eldora suddenly spread her wings and flew at him, weaving around Merlin with ease while holding out her claws. ”Youll pay for insulting him! ”

The redhead didn even have the seconds to react as suddenly something went past his face again, it hit the wall with enough force to shake the whole room and when his focus finally shifted, Merlin realized that the eagle had just been sent flying into the wall. ”Eldora! ”

”Don worry, I made sure shell live. ” Theodore put his tail on the floor as hed just counteracted the birds attack with a flick of his tail.

The bird was indeed fine, she shook her body and stood up on her own just as Merlin arrived by her side. ”You…! ”

”What? ” He looked at her with a cold gaze and she immediately tucked her wings closed, not daring to attack again.

”Eldora…Didn I tell you why to never ever make Theodore Varon angry? ” Merlin knelt down and checked her body for any injuries, sighing after seeing that she was still okay.

”Hmph! You
e scowling me but not that guy? He hit me! ”

”Eldora! Youll get yourself killed! ”

”He won kill me, because Master is here! Familiars can kill each other if the master is present! ”

”He… ” Merlin sighed. ”I told you that hes my friend, I didn make him my familiar, and that sociopath will really kill you! ”

”Im still here, you know? ” Theodore stared at them blankly as they talked like he was invisible.

”Wait, if you
e not his familiar then how can you understand me? ” Eldora asked with suspicion in her voice.

”Its a skill. ” Theodore gave a short reply, which caused the eagle to become angry, she spread her wings again as if trying to look threatening, which she wouldve been if her opponent wasn a 15-meters-long snake.

”Liar! Master, hes lying right? Theres no way this snake is your friend! ” Eldora glared at him. ”If you really are the Theodore my master often talks about, then answer me! When is Masters birthday? ”

”15th of January. ”

”!!! ” The eagle looked surprised, but that only lasted for a few seconds as she began to speak again in an angry voice. ”What is Masters favorite food? ”

”Fried chicken, the same as me. ”

”You just took a lucky guess! Youll never be able to answer this one! ” Eldora suddenly sounded confident. ”What is Masters favorite color? ”

Theodore sighed. ”What? You expect me to answer
ed because hes wearing red right now? That little punk likes pink the most. ”

”H—Hey! You promised you wouldn shame me for it! ”

”Im not shaming you, theres nothing wrong with liking pink. ”

”Yeah! ”

Eldora was silent as she stared while the two of them interacted. It was then she realized that her master looked very lively when talking to the snake she disliked so much. It reminded her of how he used to talk non-stop about his friend, Theodore, and how he looked so happy as he recalled those memories. ”…So…You
e really him? ”

”Hm? ” Theodore turned towards the eagle, slightly surprised by her sudden soft tone. ”Yeah, Im he Theodore Varon, you want to quiz me more? ”

”No, no, I believe you now. ” She hopped over to him while inspecting his figure. ”To think a human can become an animal, this is surely unlike what Ive learned from Master. ”

Familiars had appeared since the beginning of the First Gates incident, when monsters began to cross over to this world, there are classes called ”Tamers ” that come from the Archer starting class, these people depend solely on their tamed familiars to fight while only some put in the time and effort to learn basic self-defense in case of emergencies. Turning an animal or a monster into familiars doesn only increase the bond and trust, but it also blesses them with intelligence on par with humans.

Which is why Eldora the golden eagle had developed a sense of ego.

”To be exact, I died and reincarnated. ” Theodore replied to the bird and stared at her, although the eagles expression showed understanding instead of confusion.

”That makes more sense, I personally believe that all life would eventually return to the earth, and then be reborn again to serve another purpose in nature! ”

”Hm? Thats a possible theory, but it was a god thatd reincarnated me. ”

”Oh? Who? The Life Goddess Gaia? Or is it Geb? Oh! Perhaps it is a god of death? ”

”I never got the chance to know their name. They said Im not
equired to know. ”

”Aw, what? That just sounds unfair. ”

”I know, right? I can even know why that person chose me of all people to reincarnate. ”

”Maybe its a god of mischief? Those types of guys always want to cause mayhem. ”

Seeing the two of them finally talking to each other normally, Merlin let out a relieved sigh. ”You two are a match made in heaven aren you? A nerd talking to another nerd. ”

”Shut up. ” Both of them spoke at the same time, seemingly without a second thought since Eldora immediately turned towards Merlin and began apologizing profusely with panic in her tones.

Merlin simply laughed. ”Hey, hey. Its okay, Im used to it at this point. ”

”Ah! Master! Im sorry for my rudeness! Im so sorry! ”

”Wise-man got shut up by me a thousand times already, whats wrong with adding another few digits or so? ”

”Wah!! Im not like you, Theodore! Im his familiar! How can I tell him to shut up a thousand times!!! ”

The room became lively in almost an instant, the sound of laughter and chatter went on for hours until the sky became dark, hinting from the pocket spaces dark sky which reflected the real worlds time.

Eldoras nest was somewhere at the cliff. She liked her home to be built up high in the sky so she could overlook the vast grassland and forest within the space. Apparently, theres a live ecosystem within the pocket space too, so she didn have to worry about food at all.

Since the room would become a little cramped with Theodore there, he decided to sleep in the space too. He and Merlin exchanged good nights and both of them went to bed.

Theodore stared up at the star-littered sky of the pocket dimension and mentally smiled. He yawned tiredly before lying his head down on the cool ground, his dark green scales perfectly camouflaging between the tall grass.

”Well, this ain so bad isn it? ”

The mysteries behind his death and the unknown obstacles along his path of revenge. Both of them had been swirling inside his thoughts ever since hed reincarnated. But now, he felt like he could relax a little and take one step at a time.

After all, he isn alone anymore.

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