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icscib > Ashes of Gods > 42 Dreaded Return
While Shesmu and his party were talking, the rest of the players made their way towards the blue portal. The one leading to the first floor.

"Okay guys, one final thing. The key to heaven is meat buns."

"Huh?" Both Ryan and Leo were surprised.

"It's just our safeword. We have no idea what kind of monster it is, or what kind of trials there are in the tower. If there are any shapeshifters or things of the sort, we can use this safeword to distinguish between real and fake."

"Oh, that's smart. As expected of Shesy Shes," Ryan said while grinning at Shesmu.

The latter shook his head with his hand and responded, "Just please don't make that weird naming a habit."

"Okay then, do you prefer Shes-mu?" Ryan elongated the "mu" in "Shesmu" like the moo of a cow, gaining a chuckle from Leo.

"Okay, not gonna lie, that was mean but funny. Sorry, hahaha."

Both Ryan and Leo laughed at the expense of Shesmu. The latter sighed and said with a serious voice, "Well, this is all fun and well, but we still need to enter the tower. We're the only players left."

"Okay okay, Shes-mooooooo!" Ryan responded, laughing all the while.

Shesmu hurriedly jumped into the portal, prompting the duo to laugh even more. They soon joined after him.

Shesmu came out of the portal and found himself in a cave. The blue portal was still open behind him. After a few seconds, both Leo and Ryan came out.

"A cave, huh," Ryan commented. "I wonder if there are traps around. Ya know, Indiana Jones style."

"Dammit Ryan, don't jinx it!"

Just as Shesmu was about to answer Ryan's musing, a new party phased through the portal. A boy and a girl of teenage appeared. The boy had brown hair that matched his eyes, while the girl had long purple hair with ruby eyes.

"Master!"

Once the cursed words had been uttered, dread clutched at Shesmu's heart.

"It's master, isn't it?! I knew that our fates were intertwined!"

The boy lunged at Shesmu for a hug—a hug that Shesmu wasn't really looking forward to. With a sidestep, Shesmu dashed backward and hit the boy's nape with the back of his palm.

"Ouch! That hurts, master!"

"Ryuji! Are you hurt anywhere?"

The purple-haired girl sat on her knees and caught Ryuji's hands, her eyes showing concern. She then looked at Shesmu with fierce eyes and bellowed, "You! You had the opportunity to become the great hero Ryuji's master but turned it down. Now you have the gall to injure him! Death is but a slight punishment for such a transgression!"

"Woah!" Ryan exclaimed. He then turned towards Shesmu before continuing, "Are they your friends?"

"Goddammit Ryan. Don't feign ignorance on me here."

"Hehe, sorry, had to do it." Ryan scratched his head while laughing sheepishly.

With one swift motion, Ryuji stood up. He gave the purple-haired girl a hand.

"Sakura. You cannot say that to the great master Shesmu-"

"How did you know that?"

"Huh?"

"How did you know my name?"

Shesmu's eyes were cold. He knew for sure that he didn't divulge his name to Ryuji and Sakura. Ryuji saying his name so casually alerted multiple red flags on Shesmu's mind.

"You're the great master Shesmu. Of course I'll know your name."

Hearing this, Ryan teased Shesmu. "Great master Shesmu, huh? Is that what you're calling strangers?"

"Ryan, please." Shesmu didn't have time to joke around. "What do you mean by the great master Shesmu. As far as I know, I never held that title."

"You were Ryuji's hero," Sakura cut in. "I don't know what his fascination is with you, but Ryuji has been following you since your days in Demon Heart."

"Umu! Ever since the great war between The Steel Army and Dawn's Resonance, I have been following master religiously, doing my best to learn all of his techniques!"

"Huh…" Shesmu had mixed feelings of disappointment and awe clashing in his heart.

Both Leo and Ryan grinned from ear to ear while looking at Shesmu. Their star

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