Chapter 364: Metal with a Will

Chapter 364: Metal with a Will

“There are still working clockwork puppets here?”

“Where did this thing crawl out of?”

Ayrin and the others looked on in shock as the clockwork puppet staggered to its feet.

It was a female puppet similar to the ones which Ayrin and his teammates had encountered during the first trial. It had pale silver eyes and hair which were like blades, and its lower half bloomed out like a skirt.

But unlike the ones they had encountered before, this one’s hair and body were all bronze. Furthermore, this puppet seemed extremely old and worn down, regardless of it they were comparing to the ones they had previously encountered or the wreckages around them.

From its appearance, it seemed as if its body was covered with strips of bronze colored metal, upon which several chaotic patterns had been inscribed. Several of these strips of metal were missing or broken, revealing the faint luster of metal from within.

Embedded in its chest was a circular metal carving which depicted a blooming sunflower.

Now that it was standing, Ayrin and the others realized that one of its legs was missing, exposing several metal springs reminiscent of blood vessels.

“It seems to be a broken clockwork puppet?”

“This isn’t something prepared by the Office of Special Affairs right?”

“The Office of Special Affairs carefully picked through this entire area, yet it didn’t find it?”

Ayrin, Rinloran and the others exchanged looks.

“Could it be that the tremors caused by Ayrin and Rinsyi’s battle collapsed the mountain of debris it was trapped under, allowing it to free itself?” Chris suggested as she looked dumbfoundedly at the clockwork puppet and recalled the presence of several towering piles of metal which had been around here prior to Ayrin and Rinsyi’s battle.

Perhaps the clockwork puppet before them had originally been buried at the bottom of one of them.

Perhaps this was why the team sent by the Office of Special Affairs had not found it.

The eyes of Liszt, Ciaran and the teachers were also filled with shock.

But it was because they were familiar with the practices of the Office of Special Affair’s arcane masters. Unlike Chris, they knew that while the arcane masters sent here had not turned over every pile of debris, they certainly had other methods for determining if anything of interest was hidden within.

If the clockwork puppet before them had been still working this entire time, just the arcane energy fluctuations it released should have been enough for it to be discovered.

So the most likely scenario was that this clockwork puppet had just woken up!

……

Everything became calm as a blanket of silence descended over them.

Stingham was the first to break the peace as he shouted, “So does anyone know what kind of clockwork puppet this is, and what it is doing here?”

After crawling out and struggling to stand up, the strange clockwork puppet had not done anything else as it stood on its one good leg and slowly swept its gaze back and forth across them.

Its silver eyes seemed to flicker with a faint light.

It slowly became apparent that it was not looking at them, but rather the sea of metal and debris around them.

At this moment, it seemed less like a puppet made of metal, and more like a human lost in memory.

However, this should not be possible! Because clockwork puppets were created by the arcane masters known as Madmen of Metal to be emotionless machines for battle!

“Cough…”

Liszt abruptly coughed and blew his nose, breaking the strange atmosphere which had descended due to the appearance of the curious clockwork puppet.

“I mean, doesn’t it look a little different from normal clockwork puppets?!” Stingham shouted once more. “The ones we saw before were completely silver or completely gold, yet this one is bronze, and it is in clearly defined strips…”

“Idiot!” Rinloran interrupted. Everyone else had noticed these facts long ago, yet Stingham had only noticed just now

“Perhaps it was awakened by Rinsyi’s aura?” Ayrin muttered to himself. As he observed the broken bronze clockwork puppet before him which looked like a little girl, a feeling of sympathy inexplicably emerged in his heart.

It had woken up, only to find that it was alone in an era far beyond the one it had once known.

The once powerful and majestic Clockwork Corps had fallen and its territory had been turned to ruin, and it was the only survivor.

Even if it was made to be emotionless, it still must have felt something back then when it was surrounded by its fellow companions.

“Are you talking about its unwillingness to give up? So it was awakened by the strong aura of unwillingness released by Rinsyi when he passed through here? It won’t try and attack you will it?” Moss stammered tensely as he heard Ayrin’s words.

It was right at this moment that the clockwork puppet before them began to move once more.

“What’s it about to do?”

Everyone stared closely at the clockwork puppet in anticipation.

“It knows how to repair itself?” Rinloran stiffened as if he had been petrified.

He watched as the clockwork puppet started digging through the wreckage around it and using what it found to repair its leg.

Before long, its left leg was basically fixed. However, the new leg was not bronze, but silver. It was evident that it could not find the same material, and so it had simply gone for the leg closest in shape.

Alongside its bronze body, the new silver leg gave the clockwork puppet a hint of mysteriousness and charm.

The graceful and delicate patterns atop its new silver leg contrasted greatly with the rough patterns which covered the rest of its body.

“A clockwork puppet which knows how to repair itself…”

Everyone fell into a state of bewilderment.

Just what kind of clockwork puppet was this?!

Nowhere in the records had there ever been a clockwork puppet which could repair itself!

“What is it doing now?”

“What is it made of? It seems to be sharper and harder than the ones around it?”

After a short pause, the clockwork puppet began to pick up relatively intact puppets from the wreckage around it once more. They were all shocked once more as they watched it use its bronze fingernails to easily slice these puppets apart!

It looked like it was made of cruder material, but in reality, it was at least a whole level stronger than the sturdy yet beautiful silver and gold puppets!

A square case quickly formed before it!

The case was only slightly shorter than itself and had been created using only the metal which it had salvaged from the other puppets. Strip after strip of metal was woven perfectly together by it, forming a truly unique and beautiful object!

Strangely enough, it finished by adding a lock to it.

Satisfied, it began throwing the other parts and scraps which it had collected into it, as if it was preparing for any future injuries.

Even the faerie dragon, This Great King, seemed dumbfounded as it watched with wide eyes which seemed to be on the verge of falling out.

“…… Is this a human or a puppet?” Stingham thought to himself as he felt a cold breeze blow past him in his mind.

Once everything was settled, it locked the case and slung it onto its back before walking directly towards Ayrin.

“What’s it doing?”

“Why is it walking towards Ayrin?”

Under everyone’s shocked gazes, the clockwork puppet showed no signs of aggression as it walked between them and stopped right at Ayrin’s side.

It looked like it was waiting for Ayrin to lead the way!

Ayrin entered a state of complete confusion.

After being lost in thought for quite a while, Ayrin turned towards the clockwork puppet and asked, “You wish to follow me?”

The clockwork puppet merely shook its head in response.

“It can understand Ayrin’s words?” Stingham exclaimed as he nearly fainted from the shock.

Meanwhile, everyone else couldn’t help but exchange looks.

No matter what kind of clockwork puppet it was, it was certainly not an ordinary one.

It was no wonder that it had managed to survive a battle which had caused such great destruction. It was not due to luck as they had originally assumed, but due to its own specialness.

“Why?” Ayrin asked blankly, completely forgetting that he was talking to a clockwork puppet.

The clockwork puppet slightly raised its head, but still didn’t utter a sound.

Suddenly, the light flickering within its eyes brightened as if silver flames had been ignited within them.

Such a strong fighting intent… but were those flames of unwillingness or of anger?

The same thought emerged in everyone’s minds.

Perhaps what had woken this curious clockwork puppet was not the aura of unwillingness radiating from Rinsyi, but the strong fighting intent radiating from Ayrin. Perhaps it was his fearlessness in the face of an opponent who surpassed him.

“Just what kind of clockwork puppet is it?” The same thought emerged within everyone’s mind time and time again as they stared motionlessly at the puppet for a long time.

“Mer… lin...”

Two syllables abruptly rang out from within the clockwork puppet’s body.

Although was clearly created by the turning of cogs within the puppet’s body, it was no different from a human voice.

“Your name is Merlin?” Ayrin asked as a faint sense of understanding surged within him.

“Mer… lin…”

The clockwork puppet merely repeated the same two syllables as if it did not know how to say anything else.

But its head nodded as if in agreement.

“Did my fierce fighting intent wake you up? Do you also wish to fight against powerful opponents?!”

“If so, then come with me!”

Ayrin tightly clenched his fist as he shouted at the top of his lungs.

“Are you an idiot? Its enemies all died long ago. Why would it fight alongside you?” Stingham couldn’t help but mutter. He couldn’t understand what Ayrin could possibly accomplish by shouting so loudly at a piece of metal.

But in the next moment, he almost fell over as the clockwork puppet nodded in response once more.

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Reiji's Thoughts

A question for you all, do you prefer using it for the puppet or using she (since it looks like a girl). I've been using it since it is not alive, but I thought I'd ask you guys because this new character will be around for quite some time. 

Also, I am curious if you guys are okay with the fact that I stopped referring to it as "the female clockwork puppet" and just simply clockwork puppet. It just feels less clunky to me. In cases where I have to distinguish, I will make sure to make clear references.

Anyways, enjoy the chapter! Shout out to @taongbuhawi for saying something in the novel discord! Let's try to make it lively again.