Floating Palace. It was the dwelling of the Emperor and the heart of the most powerful nation within the continent, the Human Empire. A special guest had been invited to the Floating Palace by the Emperor and had been granted audience by him.
The Emperor who sat on a throne made of gold spoke in a low voice, and the young woman who was prostrated before him finally raised her head. Her identity was none other than Sujin Lee. She took care in speaking to the first among the Continental Champions and the one most deserving of the title of ‘the most powerful man in the Continent’.
“That’s right, your highness. Sungchul will take care of the Devil King all by himself after revealing himself to the world. This is the future I have seen with my own eyes.”
“How did Sungchul kill the Devil King?” asked the Emperor.
It was rare for the Emperor to inquire about the details. For a man who was the head of an imperial hegemony which was in control of the continent, he was only given vague reports on the situation. But he asked about such seemingly negligible detail nonetheless.
Sujin felt the Emperor’s curiosity weighing on her body like countless tons of weight, but she calmly proceeded to answer him.
“I do not know as I wasn’t able to see it myself.”
“Is that so?”
A brief look of disappointment flashed across his eyes. Sujin spoke again.
“However according to my companions, an explosion on a scale never witnessed before took place. They say a massive explosion comparable to the atomic explosion in the world of the Summoned enveloped the surrounding area.”
“Is it magic? I can’t imagine that Sungchul brought a nuke with him. Well… more importantly, that kind of intricate device would become unusable due to the curse.”
“It becomes recorded historically as magic, but the important part is the aftermath.”
“Isn’t the result that the Devil King is killed?”
Sujin firmly shook her head at the Emperor’s question.
“The Enemy of the World also becomes swept up in the explosion and is left in a critical state.”
A strange light flashed across the Emperor’s eyes. Sujin nodded and spoke in a stern voice as though she had understood his thoughts.
“If we had pushed back against the Enemy of the World a little harder, the future I have seen might have been avoided.”
Sujin hadn’t seen it directly, but everyone of her period spoke of the same thing; that moment was the final opportunity to kill the Enemy of the World. If they had a bit more soldiers with a bit more talented fighters, they might have been able to squeeze the life out of Sungchul’s throat.
The Emperor looked at Sujin. There wasn’t a single mark of deceit in her eyes.
‘The first priority is to keep the Devil King breathing, but if that becomes impossible, it might not be a bad option to eliminate that guy who might become a threat.’
Once the decision was made, the Emperor rose from his throne. He gestured with his arm to command the generals bowing toward him in the vicinity.
“Sortie every deployable unit!”
The Generals of the Human Empire let out a shout at his command before rushing out in perfect order. It was a display of power befitting the strongest nation. Fleets of airships, the pride of the Human Empire, soon took to the air around the Floating Palace.
“We will deploy 5 fleets. The direction is north-northwest. The target is the Enemy of the World.”
The nose of the airships that had lifted into the air faced north-northwest. The powerful sound of the marching horn rang out in the entire area around the palace, and the Emperor ordered an attendant to hand Sujin some particular items. A single sword embedded with a red ruby and a single glass bottle filled with some black liquid. The Emperor watched Sujin put the items away while he spoke.
“I’ve been told that you have a unique ability. The sword might not be anything special, but it has a legendary sharpness, and this glass bottle contains poison of a legendary strength.” The intention behind his words was clear.
“When the opportunity arrives, kill my old friend.”
Sungchul allowed himself a faint smile as he turned around; tucking the scroll away. His figure suddenly disappeared from Vestiare’s sight.
A rough grip clenched down onto Vestiare’s neck. He gave no time for her to reflect on the situation. Sungchul applied more pressure onto the hand holding her neck, and her slim neck was snapped like a flower. A pale apparition briefly appeared on Vestiare’s body before disappearing again. It was only then that Sungchul realized that it wasn’t Vestiare’s true body.
‘This is also an illusion. She’s playing a clever trick that’s difficult to see through at a glance with the Eye of Truth.’
Her consciousness had taken hold of another’s living body as a vessel. The fog-like aura that was emanating from the entire body and her appearance that was still beautiful even from beneath it made it hard to distinguish the truth. The woman whose neck had been snapped by Sungchul was a different woman. He didn’t recognize her face, but it would have been one of the Followers of Calamity.
Sungchul threw the corpse onto the ground and gazed at the illusion that was pulled away from the corpse with disinterest.
“I knew it’d turn out this way.”
Vestiare’s illusion spoke with a smile.
“But you’ll end up moving according to our will.”
“Me? Move to your will?” mocked Sungchul
Vestiare’s illusion laughed coquettishly as she floated up into the air.
“I know you’re diligently learning magic, but how much have you progressed in only a year’s worth of time? At the most, you’d only have reached the level of a beginner magician. The road of magic is a difficult and winding path.
“Sadly for you, there isn’t much time left for the humans. They haven’t yet realized that delaying the Calamity isn’t a solution.”
“You say some interesting things.”
It was something he had heard many times before, but Sungchul pretended like it was new information.
Vestiare’s illusion began her tale as though she was dreaming.
“The world is crumbling. The tide of Calamity is crashing oppressively onto levees built by the humans. The foolish humans believe that it might be possible to buy time by plugging up the levee, but leaks will spring from all over until the flood of Calamity drowns the continent in death and anguish.”
“But, there hasn’t been any incident within 8 years. The way I see it, there’s still plenty of time left.”
Sungchul made an immediate judgement. He decided that Vestiare and the other Seven Heroes weren’t aware of his movements. They seemed to only know that he had overcome a magic related objective of the Seven Heroes, and other details that became widely known when he revealed himself to the world. There were many opportunities for Vestiare to appear before him if she had seen through his movements, but she had shown herself at Harupaya Ridge only after four days at that. It was only after the news had spread across the world that she had appeared.
‘It was a good thing that I adjusted the Deceiver’s Veil after I met with Kha’nes. These bastards don’t know much about me yet.’
She didn’t even seem to know that Sungchul had acquired Meteor. Their ability to gather information was sub par. Sungchul figured all this out while he stared her down. Vestiare had a mystical expression on her face as though she still believed that she had all the information at hand.
“That scroll is my gift to you. Please hurry up and kill the Devil King. If you don’t, even I can’t say how the Calamity will change.”
Sungchul looked at the scroll in his hand that contained some sinister power. It reeked. It reeked with a fetid rotting stench. If Sungchul had not obtained magic power, this might have been the sole, irrefutable offer. However, he had other options available to him.
“This scroll looks like a trap.”
Sungchul stared her down as he spoke. It was obvious, but her expression remained unchanged as she withstood his accusation.
“Every rose is bound to have thorns. To use it or not is up to you.”
Sungchul threw the scroll onto the ground.
Vestiare’s lips twitched slightly.
“You can’t take care of the Devil King without it.”
“Is that so?”
Sungchul glanced at the scroll without a shred of interest before answering unemotionally.
“I want to raise my Intuition.”
The wind blowing up the mountain ridge ruffled Sungchul’s hair and clothes as it blew past. On the other hand, Vestiare’s appearance was unaffected.
“The scroll doesn’t require Intuition.” she replied.
“No, this is my personal desire apart from the scroll. It’s been quite fun dabbling in magic recently.”
Vestiare wasn’t fully aware of Sungchul’s current situation, but when Sungchul brought up the topic in a cunning way, a warning light flashed across her eyes.
“Are you perhaps attempting to get rid of the Devil King by learning magic?”
“I’m just the type of person to stick to stat points, personally. I only feel good if I manage to raise it, even by a single point. In any case, I could consider using it if there was some quest.”
This was a battle that Vestiare could not win from the very beginning. It might have worked if she had approached him with the offer earlier, but her window of opportunity had already passed.
“I don’t make bad offers.”
Sungchul was planning on taking his time to deal with the Demon King, even if it took another month or so.
‘This man… just what is he planning?’
Vestiare fell into deep thought trying to decipher his intentions.
‘Could it be that he already has the magic power to kill the Devil King?’
She could not see through Sungchul’s stats because of his Soul Contract – Deceiver’s Veil, but Sungchul shouldn’t be at that level yet. If Sungchul had, the Devil King would have long since departed from the living.
Another possibility was that this was an old-fashioned bluff. Vestiare had seen plenty of men trying to pull a fast one.
‘But, I can’t lower my guard just because this man is bluffing. I can’t know if this man had already reached the magic power to kill the Devil King somehow.’
Vestiare held a smile once again after organizing her thoughts.
“You’re saying that you’ll be satisfied with a quest that can raise Intuition, correct?”
Sungchul nodded. Vestiare then chanted a spell with a hushed voice that formed countless magic formations around her entire body.
Sungchul could see that these weren’t ordinary magic formations, but communications or an urgent request with a god.
‘Is she making a quest?’
It usually took a great deal of time and dedication for a human to make a quest. It was because they were an existence far apart from god, but Vestiare who had become a Calamity herself seemed to have little difficulty in making a request to god. When the countless magic formations around her body had disappeared, Vestiare held a faint smile as she pointed below her own feet. There was an image resembling her own face below her feet. When Sungchul laid his hand on the image, bright letters appeared in his eyes.
[Admiration of Beauty – To draw 33 portraits of Vestiare who is the most beautiful in the world / Reward – +1 Intuition, Vestiare’s portrait drawn on Jewel Papyrus]
The quest contents were one thing, but the rewards were also quite something. It only raised a single point of Intuition as he mentioned earlier even though it was possible for Vestiare to raise it by more than 10 points at a single time. The worthless portrait was just tossed in there.
Sungchul burst out laughing, and Vestiare watched him with leisure as she casually spoke again.
“I made the quest as you requested. You aren’t someone that doesn’t keep their word are you?”
“My, you’ve made a shit of a quest.”
Sungchul held a bitter smile and picked up the scroll that had fallen to the floor.
“I’ll be waiting then.”
Vestiare flashed a captivating smile toward Sungchul and disappeared like smoke. Sungchul looked around the vicinity where she disappeared. Other than the gazes of devils in the distance, he couldn’t feel any presence of magic.
Maybe from holding his expression for too long, he could feel a slight cramp on his lips.
“Hm? Why are you calling?”
“It’s time to learn drawing.”
Vestiare would never be able to imagine that that one intuition was exactly what Sungchul needed, nothing in this world that is worth having comes easy. Clouds in the southern skies rumbled as massive magic formations began to appear. Sungchul who had been sloppily drawing pictures of Vestiare looked toward the southern skies. Dozens of Airships had popped out from the magic formation. The Golden Flag of the Sun flapped high in the air. The main fleet of the Human Empire made its appearance on Harupaya Ridge.
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