217-216 Puppet Theater without a Spectator, Rikuyuki Part 5

 Well, well, well, well. Here you are.
 It's been 436 days since our last visit.

 This is the laboratory of the great alchemist, Master Marriage.
 Since the master doesn't like people and doesn't talk to anyone, I will be happy to oblige.
 Are you in need of my master?

 Your fancy clothes.
 I see.
 You have come to offer your services to our master, haven't you?

 Is it the Demon King who wants his master's brilliance?

 But I am sorry.

 My master, Lady Marriage, no longer wishes to serve anyone.
 She cannot bear to use her wisdom for the sake of an irredeemable fool.

 That was not the case in the past.
 It is said that in the past, Master once tried to serve those in power, hoping to use his incomparable brain for the good of the world.

 But he couldn't do it.

 The foolish Demon King was unable to understand his master's sublime research and turned him away, saying, "No more dreaming.

 This happened before I was born.

 From then on, the master gave up on the mundane world and shut himself away in this laboratory.

 And he carried out his great research.

 I, too, serve the master and assist him in his research.

 What's your research? I beg your pardon?
 Well, I will tell you.

 I'm going to study the annihilation of all mankind.

 Because you know what?
 A world that does not understand the competence of its master is a world that deserves to perish.

 You are making a face like that, aren't you?
 It's all right.
 Master could have done it.
 He's a genius.

 I, of course, serve my master and help him with his research.

 I work very hard and make up for it.

 A hundred?
 A thousand?
 No. No, more.

"When you have an army of 10,000 men, the extermination of the human race will be carried out.

 Master said.

 Hey, you know what?

 To tell you the truth, there are already over 9,800 of us, and we're almost at the 10,000 mark.

 We are close to our goal of 10,000.

 When we reach this goal, we will celebrate with a big party.
 Together with the master.

 And after that, we will carry out his wish to kill the human race.
 Together with master.

 The world that was foolish enough not to accept the Master will be destroyed, and this world will exist only for us.

 Our own world that glorifies the Master.

 When that happens, My Lord Marriage Master will be the God of this world.

 The Master.
 The Master!

 Oh? What are you doing?
 A light from the end of that stick-like thing...?

              * * *

 Yes, sir.
 This is Hakkai.

 I'm in good spirits again today, the traveling party led by Prince Arowana.

 Once again, Songgokphong was the first to go.
 He fired Manakanon without permission.

 Thanks to that, the guy who was talking so proudly just a few minutes ago has been shattered.


 Prince Arowana is screaming even more than usual.

"Songgok-chan! Sunggok-chan? Didn't I always tell you not to fire on me without asking!
d*mn it! I'm scared! I'm scared...?
That's right, I'm scared! I find it scary too! But that's no reason to fire an unauthorized shot! Though I'm scared!

 Even Songgokphong-chan is trembling with fear.
 What's so scary is that we were talking just now........or rather, the other side was talking down one way or another.

 That person.

 The guy who has now been turned into a shattered wreckage by Manakanon's direct hit........

 It's not a human being.
 It wasn't a human race, a demon race, or even a living being.

A self-moving doll, an automaton.

 Master Puffa looks down at the wreckage of the doll.

'If you come here when a nearby lord asks you to investigate a suspicious person lurking in the mountains. I didn't expect to come across this kind of thing.

 No, it was really scary.
 The way a life-sized doll that halfway resembles a person speaks passionately and full of resentment towards humanity.

''I had heard about the Alchemist Marriage from my lord, but I didn't expect that he was directly involved...''
I'm sure that Marriage is the one who created this automaton, based on the story. She resented the fact that the Demon King didn't use it, and with that single-minded determination, she made a great invention come true...

 Well, you were saying that this automaton.
 He said that the master - I mean, Marriage tried to serve the demon king and was refused.

''Eh? So that marriage is the mastermind behind this? You're in big trouble if you don't get your hands on this guy.
'Sunggok-chan, didn't you listen to what the lord had to say? That Marriage or whatever that guy was called...

 Master Puffa said, a little sadly.

That was 150 years ago.

 We explored the lab in detail.
 And what we found was this.

 A single, dried-up corpse.

This is the Marriage...?
The alchemist, who failed to acknowledge his service and grew to resent the world, tried his vengeful invention in this mountainous laboratory. That was the automaton.

 A doll that moves by itself.
 It would definitely be a great invention even by today's standards.

 The person who made it happen must have been a genius.

But even if he was a genius, he wasn't a genius who could turn the world upside down, was he? He poured all of his time and talent into building an automaton, and now he's exhausted it.
You completed the automaton and lost your life...

 That was over a hundred years ago.
 Did the remaining automatons understand the death of their creator?
 I guess it wasn't done.
 Before us, the automaton spoke as if the Marriage were alive.

'You have kept that body for over a hundred years without understanding the Lord's death? In such a lonely land.....

 Prince Arowana had some kind of divine look on his face.

It's a tremendous magical technique. You have created a puppet that can move at will...!
'I'm sure he was a mad genius. That's why he was clawed at. Or maybe it was the fact that he was clawed at that drove him insane.
'In any case, it was a national loss to allow so much talent to decay on the frontier like this. As for me, it's a story that needs to be taught a lesson.

 The Demon King who did not accept the Marriage was not the current Zedan-sama, but his predecessor...or perhaps even earlier.

 This was a heart-wrenching story for Prince Arowana.
 He was traveling on earth to train himself to become the Mermaid King.

I swear it," he said. When I become the Mermaid King, I will unleash every talent I have! Not a single one of these brilliant men will miss an opportunity and turn away from the rest! Of course you do, Pfa!
Don't be so abrupt with me. Well, I'll just have to hope for the best.

 I could see that Puffa-sama, who was ostensibly twerking, was inwardly happy.

'But what? Marriage is so stupid, isn't it?

 Just as the conversation was about to come together beautifully, it was Sunggokhwon who turned the water on.

'Oh? What's up with the bushes and the sticks?
Because, you know what? This Mari-something is trying to exterminate the human race, right? There's no way you can do this kind of doll in one piece. Oh?

 If you ask me, that's true.
 The doll itself doesn't have much power, and it even collapsed with a single blow from Sunggok-chan.

I don't want you to listen to a human being. Didn't this doll say so herself?
We're gonna need more people.

 He did say that, didn't he?
 Hundreds, thousands, ten thousand?

It seems that Marriage herself had a goal of assembling an army of ten thousand automatons.
With such a large army, it's certainly not easy. The Marriage seems to have died when it created its first eye, but...
But the Marriage Vendetta has taken over the project. The never-aging automaton took his time and continued to make his own.

 All we have is a surplus of time.
 What in the world do we have to do now?

Speaking of which, this automaton.... You said something that bothered you right before it was destroyed...!
''Oh, I'll complete the nine thousand eight hundred and the remaining two hundred. Then we'll reach the target of 10,000 that our late master set.
''If so, would these guys have moved on to the next phase according to the plan the Lord left behind...?

 Ten thousand automatons on a mission to wipe out the human race.

Maybe it was a pretty dicey situation...?
Even if it was a coincidence, wasn't it a fine play for Songgok-chan to destroy the oldest automaton?

 The automaton production line, which was one step away from completion, was stopped.

"Wow! Praise, Miss!
Yes, yes. But then we can do one more thing I'm interested in, can't we...?

 I'm curious too.

 Where are the 9,800 bodies that should have already been completed?
 It's only about two hundred of them, which is a mere margin of error for a number of 10,000.

 That's when it happened.
 I heard a noise from under the floor.


 We all shared a chilling sensation down our spine.

 The door to the basement opened with a deafening sound of rusted metal scraping against rusted metal.

 It was not any of us on the ground floor who opened it.

''We have a confirmed emergency.

 The automaton that came out of the basement.

 It looks exactly the same as the one that Songgok Phonechan destroyed...?

"First Order, destroy serial 00001, Kakunin.
"We don't want anyone with hostile intent on our lab.
Master's timbers are now ready to intercept.
'Master's enemy, master's enemy, master's tek, goshdin samano tek.'
"Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kolos, kolos, kolos, kolos, kolos, kolos, kolos, kolos...

 A flock of automatons appeared more and more from the cellar door.

""I'm out!"

 "There must be 9,800 of them!

"What? Return fire! Counterattack!
In the end, it's going to be a big fight? We're going to have to settle this one by force?
"Can we shoot him? You don't mind if I do?

 Even Songgophone is freaked out by the eerie movement of the automaton.
 And it's crawling out of the cancerous basement and increasing!

'Oh, it's okay! These guys are weaker than the undead and vampires, so they can be annihilated!

 Prince Arowana's battle level has definitely increased, despite his vessel as a king.