The Elite Royal Guards (
Like other Chimera Ants, the Royal Guards are born through phagogenesis, but are genetically stronger than any other soldier Ant due to their position on the Chimera Ant hierarchy, and hatch with the ability to use Nen. The Royal Guards are designed to protect and serve their King, and to enforce this, they require more power than common Ants. The Chimera Ant Queen in NGL devoured hundreds of normal and Nen-using humans, and gave birth to Ants far stronger than average ones. Their genetic destiny gave the Royal Guards more strength, aura, and talent in Nen than their subordinates. As a result, dozens of other Chimera Ants refer to them as 'special beings', because of the power they possess. The guards assigned to Meruem were:
They are supposed to fight the Ant King's enemies and fulfill his every wish. Despite their loyalty to the biological project of domination laid out by the Chimera Ant Queen, they have no use for her person or interest in her well-being whatsoever after the birth of the King, leaving her to die despite having the power to save her.
Chimera Ant arc
Amid the Chimera Ant Queen's founding of her NGL nest, she conceives the three Royal Guards. One day, she summons all her Squadron Leaders and demands them to deliver her 50 humans a day. Turtle asks the Queen if they might have names and explains their meaning to the Queen. After giving her consent, the Queen goes to where the eggs of the Royal Guards and amusedly decides to name the Guards herself.
The eldest of the Guards, Neferpitou, awakens during Pokkle's confinement within the nest. Their sinister aura is immediately recognized by their fellow Ants, such as Rammot and Peggy. Neferpitou asks Rammot about "gifts", to which Rammot is happy to explain to them. However, Neferpitou senses Pokkle's presence and has him killed. They start rummaging through Pokkle's brain in search of answers about the "gifts", which they consequently learn as "Nen". Under Pitou's supervision, Rammot takes the Water Divination test. Pitou also participates, revealing them to be a Specialist. During the initiation of the Squadron Leaders, Pitou senses Kite's aura and leaves the nest to battle him. The next morning, Pitou orders for the Ants to create a freezer to preserve Kite's corpse, while Kite's head is resting on their lap. Once back in the nest, Pitou's desire to battle once again with Kite manifests in their Nen ability, Doctor Blythe.
Chairman Netero's team arrives near the nest, but they cannot go further due to Neferpitou's vast, irregular En. Morel Mackernasey uses his smoke to create bunnies that can determine how many Ants are present in the nest. While Pitou contemplates their actions about them, a second Royal Guard suggests that they wait and see. He introduces himself as Shaiapouf, and tells Pitou that Menthuthuyoupi will also awaken soon. In the next few days, more and more squadrons mysteriously disappear. Colt and Peggy ask Pitou for advice, but Pitou allows them to handle everything outside the nest. Moreover, they say that the Royal Guard will defend the nest. Sometime in between, the youngest of the Guards, Menthuthuyoupi, is already born.
Suddenly, the Queen feels intense pain. Shaiapouf and Neferpitou immediately identify it as the birth of the King. After the newly born King Meruem kills some of his subordinates, the three Guards appear and introduce themselves to him. They have also prepared his food. The King follows his Guards, leaving the Queen writhing in pain. Colt runs after the Guards and begs for Pitou to heal the Queen with the same ability they used to heal Kite. However, Pitou refuses, since they needed Kite and the Queen means nothing to the Royal Guards, now that the King is born. Ignoring Colt, Pitou explains that the King's meal is outside. Meruem punches a hole in the wall and climbs to the top. His Guards follow suit, Shaiapouf flying and Menthuthuyoupi copying Pouf's wings. The King, finding the food bland, demands to eat the same delicious food the Queen ate. Pitou identifies them as the "rares" and grants the King's demand.
The King and his Royal Guards fly over the fields and come upon a small farm. Meruem feeds on the surrounding humans but remains unsatisfied. Neferpitou offers some more advice, to which the King hits them with his tail for Pitou's mockery. The King explains how he knows, and also commends Pitou for surviving his attack. Back in the nest, Colt has successfully enlisted Morel and Knov's help to give the Queen medical assistance. However, her injuries are too severe. In her last moments, the Queen states that her son's name is Meruem and that it means "light that illuminates all". As the Queen lies lifeless, Colt discovers that there is a small baby left inside the Queen's womb. He vows to protect the child, with Morel also promising to protect both of them as long as they do not eat humans anymore.
Crossing over countries, the King and his entourage reach the Republic of East Gorteau. Soldiers arrive to confront the Ants, but the King kills them effortlessly and feeds on one of the rare human soldiers. They later find Ming Jol-ik hosting entertainment in a room. After the dictator's series of threats, the King kills him and Neferpitou suggests they can use the corpse to control the humans. Meruem finds a courtyard behind the palace, and, liking the view, decides it will be a meat orchard wherein to process humans to Chimera Ant soldiers. Shortly afterward, Pitou starts using the corpse to manipulate the East Gorteau citizens into rallying in the palace within ten days. Morel informs the others that Colt thinks it might be some kind of ploy. With a time limit of ten days, the Chimera Ant Extermination Team splits into four groups: Gon Freecss and Killua Zoldyck versus Neferpitou; Knuckle Bine and Shoot McMahon against Menthuthuyoupi; Morel and Knov against Shaiapouf; and Chairman Netero against Meruem.
Nine days before the selection, Pitou senses someone disabling their puppets. They decide whether it is an assassin and a decoy, but after getting frustrated at being unable to fight, they go and ask for Pouf's advice. Shaiapouf suggests that Pitou should not go, thinking it only as a ploy of their enemies to lure them. Instead of fighting the enemies themselves, Pouf suggests to let others take care of it, while the Royal Guards focus on protecting the King. Leol's Squad comes forward and receives an order from Pitou to get rid of the assassin. Once they leave, Youpi asks Pitou if it is okay to trust Leol, but Pitou knows they want to earn their trust first, before finding the opportunity to stab them in the back.
Two days later, the King begins challenging champions of various board games. Shaiapouf accompanies him and introduces the champions, while Menthuthuyoupi drags them one after the other. The King keeps playing games, until the Gungi world champion Komugi enters and defeats him in every single match. At length, Shaiapouf becomes concerned with the King's continuous losses and his listening to Komugi, but he decides to ignore it for now. In the next game, the King proposes a bet, where he would give anything Komugi wants if she wins but would take her life if she loses. Komugi, on the other hand, offers her life instead, explaining that she is useless to her family if she ever loses in Gungi. Realizing that Komugi might have asked for his life, the King calls himself imprudent and proceeds to rip his left arm as a form of apology. Shaiapouf immediately reacts and asks the King to have it tended. Meruem insists on playing and subsequently hits the Royal Guard when Pouf proves to be stubborn. Komugi refuses to play as well, telling the King that she would not play until his arm is better. Annoyed, the King sends for Neferpitou.
Neferpitou summons Doctor Blythe and tends to the King wound, while the latter continues playing Gungi. In the room's corner, the two Royal Guards confide to each other: since Doctor Blythe requires Pitou's energy, they cannot use the puppets or En to monitor the area. Shaiapouf, although admitting that his En is nowhere near Pitou's range, proposes that he would be on the lookout for the time being. Unbeknownst to them, one of the Hunters—Knov—has managed to infiltrate the palace grounds during the absence of Pitou's En. Knov reaches until the central stairway, where he senses a sinister smoke-like aura from the second floor. Knowing that he cannot proceed any further, he places an exit by the staircase. He successfully exits the palace, though the previous encounter with Pouf's aura gives him a mental breakdown. Deep underground, another Hunter—Palm Siberia—infiltrates the palace due through Bizeff, and after drugging him, takes an elevator that leads to the palace.
Three days before the selection, Shaiapouf notices that Komugi is at her physical and mental limit, which would ensure the victory of the King in the next game. However, Meruem allows the girl to have a break and leaves the room. Perceiving that she is a liability and might pose problems in the future, an idea crosses Pouf's mind. He stops himself before he could do anything rash, thinking that he if kills her now, then Meruem would never be able to defeat her in Gungi anymore. The next day, Shaiapouf gives reports to the King, but the latter scolds him and orders the Guards to do everything. Chased out of the room, Pouf joins Youpi outside, who is amused to see him. Pouf expresses his worry about the King's losses, but Youpi assures him that there is no need to worry. On their post, Neferpitou senses that someone disables their puppets, whom they identify as someone who uses smoke puppets. They express their want to fight him, but they cannot leave their post.
On the last night before the selection, Komugi requests to take a break, to which the King allows. Before she can leave the room, he asks for her name. She answers and asks for his name as well. Realizing that he has no name of his own, the King summons his three Royal Guards to answer his question. Shaiapouf answers that he is the one and only "King", Menthuthuyoupi deems himself unable to provide for an answer, while Neferpitou proposes that the King can choose a name he feels personal. The King falls silent for a while, and after some encouragement from Pouf, he confides that Komugi's body was bathed in light. He starts to understand the capacity of his powers, which reduces Pouf to tears. Pouf admits that he failed as a Royal Guard for nearly insulting the King. The two other Guards acknowledge the change in the King since Komugi's arrival; Youpi suggests that if she becomes too much a problem, then they should kill her, much to Pouf's relief.
The next day, the citizens receive instructions to gather in front of the palace at 3 PM. The Royal Guards are gathered in a balcony overlooking the fields. Pitou informs them that they sense new enemies, and all three conclude that the most dangerous part of the selection is during the sorting. Since the King wants to participate personally, the Guards decide that someone should stay by the King's side, despite the latter's annoyance of their presence. Shaiapouf proposes to be the one to do the job. Later that day, the King confronts Pitou about the previous attack of a hawk on Komugi and orders them to watch over Komugi as well. Once the citizens are outside the palace, Pouf uses his scales to hypnotize them.
Despite the King's annoyance, Menthuthuyoupi follows him, which earns him a smack to the face. Neferpitou amusedly notes that all three Royal Guards are now hit by the King. Youpi flies towards Pitou and informs them that the King is irritated with the latter's En. The King and Pitou come to the conclusion that the Guard could only use En on the palace's first floor, so as not to invade the King's privacy. Due to the change of plans, Shaiapouf posts Youpi to guard the central stairway for any underground attacks. Welfin encounters Youpi on the staircase while investigating an intruder's trails. The Guard warns him of going upstairs. Welfin questions Youpi about the extent of Pitou's En, and learns that Pouf had been in charge of the security when the King was injured.
Neferpitou notices something and suddenly looks up into the skies. They direct their aura towards the skies; both Pitou and Pouf see that the creature descending towards the palace is a shining dragon, from which two riders jump off. Confronted by Zeno Zoldyck and Isaac Netero, Pitou becomes excited and turns off their En to prepare for battle. However, their plan backfires when the dragon splits into a multitude of smaller dragons raining to the palace. Pouf immediately defies the King's orders and flies to his location. Unable to find the two humans, Pitou leaps into the air and comes across Netero. They use their Terpsichora to fight, but Netero only chuckles and tells the Guard that they chose a bad move. Netero uses his 100-Type Guanyin Bodhisattva to force Pitou to several miles away. To keep themself in the fight, Pitou summons Doctor Blythe, its restrictions stopping Pitou. They watch as the dragons penetrate the palace. Meanwhile, the Extermination Team encounters Youpi on the stairway, when the dragons rain upon them.
Youpi transforms himself to counter the danger at hand. Unbeknownst to him, the invisible Knuckle and Meleoron approach and hit him, thereby activating Knuckle's Hakoware. Shaiapouf arrives in the throne room and finds no King, but he smiles silently to himself. A confused Youpi thinks about the sudden attack on him, but he doesn't find anything detrimental. With the Hunters passing him by, he transforms yet again, producing numerous eyes on his head and arms. The transformation leaves Knuckle in awe, who believes that the Guard's aura might be limitless. Outside the palace, Pitou uses En to locate the King, realizing that the two enemies are also using En to locate him. Pitou rushes to the King but regrets it when they feel the King's negative aura. Once inside, Pitou finds the King holding Komugi's wounded body.
After gently laying Komugi's body on the floor, the King asks for Pitou to heal her. With tears in their eyes, Pitou complies. The King suggests that they should fight somewhere else. Netero agrees for he enlisted Zeno's help for that sole purpose. When Pitou activates their aura, Netero and Zeno are momentarily distracted that it allows the King to easily walk past them. Then, the central stairway crashes under Youpi's strength, splitting the intruders. Morel's Deep Purple attacks Youpi, while Knuckle punches the Guard one more time. Another unseen attack enrages Youpi. Shoot keeps Youpi occupied while giving Morel the chance to find his opponent, Shaiapouf. In the throne room, Pouf has a breakdown, scolding himself for failing as a Royal Guard; he knew from the start where the King is, but still did not go there. When he finally decides to go, Morel confronts him and traps themselves inside Smoky Jail. In retaliation, Pouf uses his Spiritual Message.
Netero and Zeno separate the King from his Royal Guards. While Gon and Killua enter the tower where Pitou is, Shoot continues evading Youpi's attacks and manages to take a single eye from the Guard's shoulder and store it in his Hotel Rafflesia. Youpi's increasing caution makes his attacks deadlier, to the point where he almost whittles Shoot's life. Knuckle and Meleoron watch invisibly in the sidelines as the onslaught continues. After ten seconds, Knuckle becomes impatient and decides to attack Youpi. Meleoron stops him from attacking recklessly. One of Youpi's claws nicks Knuckle on the cheek, and the interest in A.P.R is cut in half. The two of them hide for a moment to let Meleoron catch his breath. Just then, Youpi notices the presence of A.P.R.. Agitated, Youpi believes Shoot is the source and fires needles made from his own body. Shoot, knowing that he cannot dodge it, uses his two floating hands to punch him and propel him backward. As Shoot is approaching his limit, Knuckle suddenly shows himself and calls out for the Guard. Youpi then realizes that A.P.R. actually belongs to Knuckle.
Morel confronts Shaiapouf in the throne room. Enveloped by Smoky Jail, Pouf takes the opportunity to use Spiritual Message to read Morel's emotions—vigilance, resolve, and confidence. Pouf introduces himself but receives no reply from Morel. He resorts to enveloping himself inside a cocoon and asks for the Hunter to wait for his rebirth, but Morel remains confident despite whatever creature might emerge afterward.
After encountering Zeno, Gon and Killua proceed to Neferpitou. Gon angrily introduces himself, but Pitou does not hear him. Instead, the Guard is focused on completing the King's orders and protect Komugi. Killua tries to analyze why Pitou is not summoning any aura to fight Gon and is reminded that Pitou appears to be protecting Komugi. Gon, however, only sees a dismantled Kite in place of Komugi and demands Pitou to fight him. Pitou lays both hands on the ground in a sign of surrender and begs for Gon to wait. Killua realizes that Komugi must have been hurt during Zeno's Dragon Dive and it is the King's order that Pitou should heal her. As Gon closes in on Pitou, they keep imploring for him to wait, explaining that they have to save the girl, that she is someone special to the King.
Gon is conflicted with the situation and directs his increasing anger to both Killua and Neferpitou. Pitou then breaks their left arm and offers to break any part of their body that is not required for the healing. They beg again to let them save Komugi. Gon breaks down and releases a strong surge of aura, ignoring Pitou and Killua's pleads. Gon prepares to use his Jajanken, but Killua once again distracts him, reminding him that they cannot save Kite if Pitou is dead. Gon dismisses Killua's calmness and tells him that the mission means nothing to Killua anyway. He asks Pitou how long he has to wait; Pitou answers they need at least four hours, but Gon deems that too long. Pitou begs for an hour to stabilize her to ensure her survival. Gon makes Pitou promise that they will go to Peijin in an hour, to fix Kite. Then he sits in front of Pitou to wait for an hour, while Killua disappears from the room.
Menthuthuyoupi remains occupied with the Hunters and attacks A.P.R.. He demands an answer from Knuckle, but Knuckle runs away from him. Shoot collapses to the ground, but Meleoron is unable to help him since his mission is to help others with his abilities. He leaves the room and spots Morel's Smoky Jail, concluding that Morel and Pouf must be in battle. He later decides to assist Gon and Killua but encounters Welfin on the way. Meanwhile, Youpi ceases his assault on Knuckle and goes to the first floor, looking for the King. He comes upon the Smoky Jail and calls out for the King and the two other Guards. Morel, hearing Youpi's voice, starts to question whether their plan is going in the right direction. Shaiapouf reads Morel's emotions and identifies suspicion, anxiety, and impatience, but those are not enough to sway Morel's resolve—an admirable feat deemed by Pouf.
Getting more irritated, Youpi returns to his original position and finds Knuckle waiting for him there. In his anger, Youpi begins to change forms and attacks Knuckle. His sheer strength destroys the entire building. His rage keeps building up and explodes in the area, creating a massive crater. Youpi starts to understand the nature of his own power, and he detaches himself from his ego to fight with passion for his master and with a presence of mind. He calls out for his opponents, drawing them to him with his false rage.
Shaiapouf disperses himself as microscopic bugs small enough to slip between Morel's smoke. Without Morel noticing, Pouf escapes Smoky Jail. Knuckle plans that he has to confront Youpi again. With his target on sight, Youpi keeps raging and pretending to be extremely angry, shouting at both Knuckle and A.P.R.. The Guard starts morphing again and Knuckle takes the opportunity to land another hit on Youpi. However, as Knuckle swoops in for the punch, Youpi suddenly reverts to his normal self and catches the Hunter off-guard. Youpi's hand morphs into a gigantic fist and attempts to kill Knuckle with a single punch. Suddenly, Killua's Thunderbolt hits Youpi, which renders him paralyzed for a few moments. Then Knuckle takes advantage of Youpi's dazed moment to punch him on the face. He assaults Youpi with a barrage of punches, before escaping once again. More confused now, Youpi tries to analyze the situation and looks up to see Killua approaching him. Killua bombards him with his electric attacks, making it impossible for Youpi to either attack or transform. Finally, Killua uses all his aura and attempts to escape as well. Youpi chases after him but loses Killua's trace in an instant. He figures it is an ability that lets them disappear at will.
Morel destroys the cocoon, much to Pouf's surprise, as he did not think the Hunter would do it. Morel deactivates his Smoky Jail and finds Pouf outside the throne room. He explains that it is Shaiapouf's lack of reaction that made Morel understand that he was not inside. In his defense, Pouf explains that it was his plan to kill the other Hunters one-by-one, while Morel is distracted inside the smoke. Morel laughs it off, stating that Pouf has a low opinion of him. However, Pouf disagrees, countering that he gives Morel too much credit. Then, Pouf disperses himself again to thousands of particles, transforming them into smaller versions of himself. Morel attacks the smaller versions with his Deep Purple, but Pouf's clones can divide and reassemble once destroyed. The real Shaiapouf appears behind him and steals his pipe, then he knocks Morel to the ground as he flies away.
Without his pipe, Morel is practically defenseless. Youpi then appears behind him and asks if he is the teleporter. Knuckle also appears behind Youpi and demands what happened to Shoot, who has disappeared from his original post. Morel transforms his smoke to resemble Knuckle and uses them to assault Youpi. Youpi produces several tentacles to fight the smoke, anticipating that the real Knuckle would attack him. He is confident that he can impale Knuckle and tactfully leaves an opening for Knuckle to hit. One clone comes close to the opening, but when Youpi hits it, it disperses into smoke. All the Knuckle clones disappear, with Morel taunting Youpi that there never was a real one. Extremely angered, Youpi starts transforming again. The real Knuckle lands a punch just before the Guard could explode.
Shaiapouf discards Morel's pipe in a nearby river. He plans to locate the King and uses his Beelzebub ability to find him. His clones find Neferpitou tending to Komugi, with a boy sitting next to them, identified as an enemy. Other clones fine Hina with Shidore and Bizeff stalked behind by Welfin. He also identifies the human captured a few days earlier and Youpi fighting about 50 enemies. Feeling confident with Youpi, Pouf decides to go to Pitou. Neferpitou begs that he shouldn't come any closer. Pouf questions why Pitou should be fearful when he could have killed Gon from behind. Pitou explains that they cannot risk Komugi's safety. As the two Guards discuss, Gon demands Pouf to shut up. Sensing that he is needed, Pouf attempts to leave, but Gon stops him since he can manipulate people with his scales. Again, Pitou begs to Pouf's compliance. Despite his confusion with Pitou's sudden change in behavior, Pouf agrees to stay as long as they inform him of what happened. Pouf wants Pitou to give subtle hints regarding the King's whereabouts, else there would be bloodshed in the room.
In the field, Youpi studies his powers and starts to understand the consequences. Again, he feigns extreme anger to the point that his rage manifests into a new ability, Rage Incarnate. Upon witnesses the transformation, Morel and Knuckle are impressed with Youpi's inexhaustible aura. Youpi keeps attacking the smoke clones, while the two Hunters are merely waiting for Youpi to "bust".
Neferpitou explains to Shaiapouf everything, subtly pointing to where the King and his enemies left. As Pouf realizes they went south, his clones disperse from his main body to go to the King.
With Morel's energy vastly depleted, he could no longer move by the time all his smoke puppets are destroyed. Youpi acknowledges his admiration and respect for their strength. He moves to land a final blow to Morel, but Morel suddenly disappears. Again, he knows it is the teleporting ability and observes the blood on his blade. He follows the trail Morel leaves behind as Meleoron tries carrying him away. Knuckle shows himself to Youpi and pleads to let Morel and Meleoron go. Youpi refuses as it is not a fair trade. He would consider the offer if Knuckle removes A.P.R. on him. Meleoron leaves Morel to become visible. Faced with the consequence to save Morel's life, Knuckle removes A.P.R. as they all know they have no means to defeat Youpi now. Knuckle challenges the Guard to a fight. Youpi refuses and goads them to take Morel to a hospital, while he will go in search for the King. As he searches around the area, Youpi comes across Pouf, who explains everything that happened thus far. Together, they leave the palace.
Meanwhile, Knuckle finds Shaiapouf's clone waiting with Gon and Pitou, and challenges him to a fight. Elsewhere, one of Pouf's smaller clones finds a confrontation between Killua and Palm, who was captured a few days before and was turned into "Experimental Specimen Number One". The clone urges Palm to finish Killua, but Palm, retaining her memories as human, crushes the clone instead. The real Shaiapouf senses the failed experiment. His other clone accepts Knuckle's challenge. However, the clone admits that his real body is on the way to the King. Knuckle confirms it since Morel told him earlier about Pouf's ability. He also asks why Pouf would tell him so, to which the Guard says to convince Gon. Gon, on the other hand, calls him a liar because Pouf initially wanted to kill Gon. He continues to warn Knuckle not to be tricked since it could be the real Shaiapouf standing with them, and not his clone. Everyone in the room realizes Gon's unwavering determination, and Pouf is mentally relieved that the boy is preoccupied with Pitou. Suddenly, the clone disperses into hundreds of smaller clones and tells everyone that he will be waiting at the front gates. In a panic, Pitou apologizes for Pouf's behavior. Gon orders them to heal Komugi ten minutes faster than what they agreed. With Komugi's healing time actually only one hour, Pitou agrees to the changes. They start thinking when and how to kill Gon without risking Komugi's safety since both their fellow Guards do not care for the girl. Gon then reassures Knuckle that he can handle the situation here.
As the Poor Man's Rose detonates, Menthuthuyoupi and Shaiapouf watch it blaze from afar. They immediately understand the situation and rush faster. At the same time, Pouf's clone meets Knuckle but it escapes. The two Royal Guards arrive at the mouth of the explosion; Youpi goes inside the melting epicenter while he urges Pouf to search the area if ever the blast threw the King away. Youpi transforms yet again into a creature with multiple tentacles and eyes. As he searches the center, he finds something and starts to scream. Pouf cries before he could even reach Youpi, who now holds an extremely deformed and burned body of the King. Meruem opens his eyes, giving his Guards a little relief, but Youpi exclaims that they cannot take him back to Pitou in time. Instead, Pouf offers himself and orders his cells to heal the King. The latter becomes somewhat animated a little and describes the taste as an exquisite delicacy. He continues that now he has tastes as such, nothing else could satisfy him—which brings Pouf extreme happiness. Youpi also offers himself to the King, liquefying his cells. Meruem describes the taste like a rich depth of flavor, akin to dewdrops of angels. He demands more of these, to which his Guards are honored to provide, prompting them to tears. Then the King persuades them to call him "Meruem", as it is the name given by his mother.
In the palace, Gon senses that the surgery is finished and demands Pitou to stand. Komugi awakens, asking what happened to her. Pitou starts to speak out, but Gon threatens to kill Komugi if Pitou speaks out of line again. As they are leaving, Knuckle, Killua, and Palm block the exit. Knuckle asks if he should use Hakoware on Pitou, but Gon declines as he trusts Pitou. Instead, he asks them to watch over Komugi, much to Pitou's horror. They both leave the palace and head towards Peijin to heal Kite.
The King regenerates from his previous state and becomes stronger. Since Pouf and Youpi shared their cells to the King, they could feel him, as if sharing his body. That same moment they realize that the King is confused. They ask how the King feels or if he wants to feed again, but Meruem answers that he cannot remember why he is there. Then he asks why they both look small; Pouf answers that they sent their segments to find the enemies. Meruem threatens Pouf about lying to him. Pouf starts questioning him about his memories, and Meruem states that he remembers both of them but not recent events, leading Pouf to believe that the explosion must have caused a temporary memory loss. Pouf explains that the King had been in a battle with one of the enemies and tried cheating on him, but Meruem's memory conjures a blurry image of a different kind of battle. Youpi suggests that they should return to the palace so that the King could recover his memories faster. Pouf's clone, which was on its way to the palace, immediately turns back in an attempt to kill Komugi before the King remembers her. Meruem produces wings similar to that of Youpi's and flies towards the palace. Pouf fears that the King's speed would take him a mere five minutes to arrive. His clones reach the room but finds no Komugi there. Suddenly, an invisible Knuckle punches him, activating A.P.R.. Palm can also see Pouf through her abilities, giving him nothing to hide. Then, the King notices A.P.R. by Pouf's side, asking what it is. Pouf explains that one of his clones is hit by the enemies. By then the Hunters realize that the King is still alive.
While the Hunters scramble for ideas on how to defeat the King, Youpi explains that A.P.R. is the enemy's ability and would not disappear until the enemy himself is hurt. To test that, Meruem uses Youpi's Rage Blast on the mascot, which surprises Youpi. He realizes that his power is not his own, but for the King. A.P.R. emerges unscathed from the attack. It leads Meruem to think that the ability was used on Youpi before. The Guard confirms this, and further explains that he let the enemy escape on the condition that Youpi lets his other friend live. Pouf scolds him for passing the opportunity to eliminate a threat. Youpi apologizes and accepts punishment, but the King says otherwise, only commending Youpi for answering his question truthfully. He goes on to say that since they share bodies now, they cannot keep secrets to each other. Pouf feels guilt but that does not stop him for searching for Komugi.
His clones realize that Meleoron is a traitor and helps the enemies by turning them invisible. Palm tries to lure his clones into the underground warehouse, but Killua shows himself carrying Komugi on his back. Choosing between hunting after the traitor or the girl, Pouf's clones aim for Komugi. Killua dodges the attack, making Pouf aware of his incredible speed. Instead of chasing Killua with full power, the clone disperses into smaller clones and chase Killua away from the palace. Pouf exclaims that Killua should release the hostage, which makes Komugi suspicious of Killua. Furthermore, she recognizes Pouf's voice as someone from the palace. She starts struggling against Killua, giving Pouf the opportunity to attack the girl. The attack knocks her unconscious. Killua creates a circle around Komugi and himself and dares the clone to come closer. When it does, Killua's electricity burns away the cells.
Finally, the King and his Royal Guards arrive above the palace. Pouf shows him the citizens hypnotized earlier and explains that it is the King's destiny to rule over them. However, the King feels something is amiss and demands that they show him the place where he usually stayed. Understanding that the Gungi pieces could trigger his memories, Pouf's clone abandons its attack on Killua and returns to the throne room to discard the Gungi board and pieces. At the same time, Gon and Neferpitou arrive in Peijin.
One of Shaiapouf's clones overhears a conversation between Palm and Killua. He uses that to his advantage and manipulates also Welfin into calling Neferpitou and claiming that they have Komugi back. Using his Body Reconstruction ability, Pouf copies Komugi's face and voice to assure Pitou that Komugi is indeed "safe" with Welfin. Pitou understands and ends the call. Gon shows them Kite's body waiting inside a room. Since Gon respected their wishes earlier, they want to be honest as well, revealing that Kite is already dead. They explain that Kite died during their fight, and their ability could only keep the body from rotting and manipulate it. They apologize to Gon. While Gon suffers from a breakdown, Pitou summons Doctor Blythe to heal their broken left arm. Palm reacts to the sudden changes, and then Pouf's clone emerges from hiding and says that Pitou already believes Komugi is safe. Killua attacks the clone and leaves Komugi with Palm, while he himself uses Speed of Lightning to get to Gon.
After Pitou's arm heals, they apologize once again and claim that they need to kill Gon for the King. Gon calls them a liar and starts summoning a powerful surge of aura, making Pitou summon Terpsichora. Pitou attacks Gon, but he disappears. They head outside the building, where they find a transformed Gon waiting by the door. Gon invites them to fight somewhere else. Pitou senses that Gon's power transformed himself to an age when he could defeat Pitou. They charge at Gon, who easily dodges it, and delivers a powerful Jajanken: Rock at the Guard. On the edge of losing consciousness, Pitou feels relief that Gon sacrificed never to use Nen again to achieve this kind of power, and that they will be the one to bear his rage.
Killua catches up to Peijin, where he could see flashing lights. He finds Gon continuously using Rock to batter Neferpitou's already broken body. As Gon acknowledges Killua's presence, Terpsichora manipulates Pitou's body into attacking Gon. It successfully severs Gon's right arm, making Gon relieved that he could be the same as Kite. Pitou's Nen, after death, makes it a puppet with the sole purpose of killing Gon. Gon stabs Pitou through the chest using his own arm and then summons another surge of aura. Killua begs for Gon to stop, ending an explosion within the forest.
Back in the palace, Youpi and Pouf come into a mental agreement never to let the King see Komugi. Pouf asks permission to hypnotize the humans again, while Youpi tells the King he would search for Pitou. At the mention of the name, Meruem remembers Pitou as one of his Royal Guards. Both Youpi and Pouf agree once more not to mention Komugi's name. The King orders Youpi to bring Pitou at once, while he would hunt down the remaining enemies. Pouf insists that the Guard should be with the King, but Meruem demands if any of them could defeat him. He then uses En to sense the enemies, immediately knocking both Knuckle and Meleoron unconscious and bringing them back in the throne room. He claims that two more reacted to his En, which makes Pouf believe that one of them has Komugi.
To buy himself more time, Shaiapouf proposes a game to the King: Youpi and himself would search for Pitou, while the King looks for the two remaining enemies. This time, the King could only use En one more time. The King agrees and adds that he will grant them one wish if his Guards win. If they lose, however, he wants to know what they are hiding from him. He claims he can feel not only their feelings of guilt but also their strong devotion. Pouf promises that he would not stall for time while he is spreading his scales to the humans. Additionally, should Pitou come back, he would persuade Pitou into hiding. Meruem agrees and adds that the two enemies he sensed were an octopus and a human carrying something. Then the two Guards proceed into the game while the King stays in the room.
Pouf disperses his scales before the humans could fully gain their consciousness. Meanwhile, at the west tower, Youpi waits for Pitou's arrival when he notices a truck leaving the underground warehouse. Welfin tells Youpi that Komugi is in the warehouse and asks him to tell the King right away. Deeming the Ants enemies now, Welfin asks the Guard if he remembers his past. Youpi answers that he is no one but a Royal Guard. Welfin asks another question and threatens that he will fight back if Youpi attacks. Annoyed, Youpi calls him a punk while blood drips from his nose.
Shaiapouf finishes his task and heads back to the palace when he comes upon Youpi's corpse on the field. He immediately returns to the King and notifies him on Youpi's death. Since Pitou has not yet arrived, the King wants to commence the game, but Pouf tries to stop him. He is surprised the King has drawn a Gungi board on the ground, and later follows him outside the palace, desperate for Pitou's arrival. Then he stars coughing out blood. The King senses surprise but Pouf redirects his concern by asking if he has reconsidered. Instead, the King simply wants to hunt the enemies and uses En again, sensing several things all at once, including Youpi's corpse, an abandoned truck, footprints, and the open underground warehouse door. Then he senses someone new reacting to him and quickly identifies Welfin, demanding if he had been the one to kill Youpi. Welfin denies the allegation and explains that Youpi started coughing blood and died. The King claims that his En can now sense emotions, identifying dear and hostility towards the King in Welfin. Perceiving that Welfin's words could be trouble, Pouf convinces the King that Welfin is privy to his secret, therefore it could be spoiled. Meruem then demands if Welfin's malice has something to do with Pouf's secret, and the Guard only answers that he has no words to say.
Suddenly, the King claims he is hungry and turns back to Welfin. Seized with extreme fear, Welfin instantly ages a hundred years. He forces himself to speak one word that could reveal Shaiapouf's secret, which he later utters as "Komugi". Pouf collapses into tears and accepts any punishment from the King. Meruem does not blame him and orders him to continue searching for Pitou, and then ask the two hostages and let them go afterward. He also thanks Welfin for letting him remember and asks where Komugi might be. Although Welfin answers, he shouts that he has no other King but Gyro. Meruem understands and coaxes Welfin to find Gyro and live a human life, shattering Pouf's ideals for his King.
Meruem leaves in search of Komugi. Back in the field, Shaiapouf succumbs to the Miniature Rose's poison, dying alone. In his final moments with Komugi, the King reminisces his Royal Guards and says that they were too good for him.
- As noted by Neferpitou, all three Royal Guards have been smacked by Meruem once.
- Each Royal Guard embodies a different type of loyalty, and each of them has a different attitude towards Komugi:
- Despite one momentary hesitation when the King's safety was not immediately at risk, Menthuthuyoupi's devotion is absolute and unquestioning, which is partly due to his lack of human genes. He was indifferent to Komugi prior to the explosion, but eventually accepted to keep her existence a secret when Meruem lost his memory in order to maintain the special bond that he had formed with the King after the latter fed on him, exhibiting signs of selfishness.
- Shaiapouf is more loyal to his idea of how the Chimera Ant King should be and the biological project laid out for him than the person of the King himself, to the point he acts behind Meruem's back and tries to manipulate him, attempts to harm Komugi repeatedly, and ultimately breaks down in tears when the King implies a human life is a blessing.
- Despite occasionally showing concern over Komugi's influence on Meruem, Neferpitou obeyed his orders to protect and heal her, even putting their own life at risk and offering to help the extermination team in order to prevent her from being harmed. Neferpitou acknowledged and accepted the changes Komugi caused in Meruem, stating that if she died, the King would stop being himself, and showing they remained completely loyal to Meruem despite noticing how he was diverging from what was expected of him.
- It was implied by Colt that the Royal Guards came up with the project of the "Sorting" while they were still serving the Queen.
- Although never explicitly stated in the manga, it also seems likely that the Royal Guards had planned to invade the Royal Palace of East Gorteau before the King's birth and that they had told the Squadron Leaders where they were headed, also offering to give them powers in exchange for their loyalty. This would explain how Leol, Welfin, and Bloster were able to find them, and why Knuckle feared that Cheetu would become stronger by making contact with the King.
- The Royal Guards have been responsible for over 500,000 human deaths:
- Neferpitou killed as many as 478,594 civilians and 12,905 soldiers during the "Sorting" as well as Kite, for a total of 491,500 known victims.
- Shaiapouf indirectly caused the demise of 46,613 citizens of East Gorteau, who died of bodily failure after his hypnotic influence terminated.
- Menthuthuyoupi, on the other hand, was never confirmed to have taken a single life.
Intertextuality and References
- The cover of Volume 28 depicts the three Royal Guards similar to Diego Velázquez's "The Coronation of the Virgin". In the cover, Menthuthuyoupi takes the role of Jesus Christ, Shaiapouf is God the Father, and Neferpitou is the Virgin Mary.