“Is that right?”
Bertelgia’s voice was filled with confidence.
“Huhu! I feel like I became Super Bertelgia? I feel like I can become stronger than you with just a bit of adjustment!”
That excessive overconfidence bothered Sungchul.
“Then lift your right arm.”
He occasionally liked to tease.
“Wait a bit.”
The ground shook slightly. Sungchul looked toward the crystal and noticed that the colossus’s left arm had been lifted. He didn’t say anything as he watched Bertelgia realize her own mistake right away.
The giant’s left arm came down and the right one came up.
“It’s been so long since I moved my arms that I confused my left from my right is all!”
Whatever the reason was, it turned out that Bertelgia truly could operate this colossus.
“Now, what shall we do now, Mr. Enemy of the World?”
Bertelgia asked triumphantly. Sungchul suppressed his desire to shove her back into his pocket as he spoke.
“… then have this head toward the Great Jungle. Toward where the ancient ruins lie.”
“Won’t Tree Mother obstruct us?”
“Even the Tree Mother wouldn’t be able to stop this colossus, but it might not be so bad to use this guy as an insurance.”
Sungchul pulled out a single flute from his Soul Storage. It was the magic flute gifted to him by the Lizardman Shaman. Sungchul blew on it experimentally, and beautiful melody flowed out naturally.
“It’s quite useful.”
“This is great. Shall I head there right away?”
Bertelgia relayed her command to the colossus. It turned its massive body and following the river, it headed upstream while Sungchul bound the magic flute that played itself in between the chains with a rope. The people of Panchuria watched in disbelief as the colossus left the city.
“Could it be that the Enemy of the World got the monster to turn back?”
“It’s hard to believe, but it has to be true. I saw it with my own eyes. The Enemy of the World fought with the man that popped out of the colossus’s head.”
“I saw it too! He killed that large man that was blabbering away from inside the colossus.”
There might have been a bit of debate to be had, but everyone in Panchuria knew the truth: a crucial role played by a single man known as the Enemy of the World was what allowed them to breathe another breath and stop the calamity that had fallen upon them today. Even the Governor of Panchuria, Laurumei Chui, who was supposed to be the most conservative person here did not deny Sungchul’s role.
“Just why… just for what purpose did this man do this?”
However, not everyone was approving of Sungchul.
“It’s clear as day that he did it for his benefit. It’s not for anyone else.”
Clarise did not like the people praising the Enemy of the World. She said as such; loudly while stomping about in every direction.
“Hear me? We’re like this cause of that person. If that person didn’t appear, none of these things would’ve happened!”
Kruut had been dragged away because of the gold they had received from Sungchul, and if that was not enough, the gold in question had been completely lost in the chaos as well. In other words, Clarise’s family had become broke. She glared at the colossus disappearing into the distance as she lost her cool.
“That person ruined everything!”
“Stop this, Clarise. In any case, shouldn’t we worry about food and survival first?”
Kruut tried to appease her, but her anger didn’t seem to subside.
“What kind of hero is that? A person that only serves himself! Only the Emperor of the Human Empire is a true hero!”
All of this was witnessed by Sungchul who had been sitting on the colossus’s head.
‘They were alive, the girl and the old man.’
Although she was hopping mad and spitting profanities, but that’s what Sungchul liked about her. It meant she was still quite healthy. They say that a small number of heroes lead an era, but it’s the average commonfolk that has to endure it. Without foolish but stubbornly surviving people like them, there is no such thing as heroes or the world. It was very easy to forget this fact, but Sungchul made sure to always remember that.
“Is that lady going to be ok? She’s lost her house and her job.”
“The old man and that woman are people that can survive anywhere they are dropped.”
As if to prove Sungchul’s words, Clarise who was cussing him out deliriously was already on a small boat fiercely fighting over the fish floating belly up along the river with the other folks.
‘I should give some sort of compensation if I return here in the future.’
Sungchul resolved to do as such before entering the cockpit. Bertelgia who had remained in the opening in the altar popped out and flew around the cockpit.
“Looks like you don’t need to stay in there?” said Sungchul.
“Yep. I left a command to keep moving without me.”
“Mmm… how do I explain this… very well.”
“In any case, I have something to show you.”
Bertelgia headed toward the table made of stone at the corner of the cockpit. There was nothing on the table, but when Bertelgia tapped on it a few times with the corner of her cover, the top of the table opened up to reveal a small box.
“Open it. The design of it is not suitable for me to open it.”
Sungchul broke the lock attached to the box with his strength and popped the box open. There was a lengthy piece of writing written onto a piece of paper. The calligraphy was orderly and not a single character was out of place as if it was printed. Sungchul read what was written on the paper.
[Eckheart’s Record 3]
[A sudden thought came to me. How far are we permitted in our means to stop the Calamity? The pitiful screams of the Lizardmen will not leave my ears. Brother Sajators keeps trying to convince me by saying that we need to become a necessary evil, but I cannot accept it. However, the news of the people of the Eastern Sea suffering under the Calamity wiped my doubts clean for a while.]
The writings on the paper broke off here. Underneath it, there were more writings hastily scratched onto the paper that were different from the ones before. Sungchul read on.
[I negate everything I said before! The Seven Heroes have betrayed everyone! If you wish to know the motivation behind their accursed actions…]
[Regrettably, you will come to know if you find the five other Bertelgia units!]
[Also, you must feed my daughter the Mage’s Stone. That’s not edible?! Could that actually be true? Try and find out!]
“This… is definitely your father’s writing style.”
Sungchul felt Eckheart’s personality from the final part more than anything.
“This matches my father’s handwriting, but to hide this within a golem… what could be the reason?”
“There must have been something urgent.”
He couldn’t rashly form any opinions based on the information provided thus far, but Eckheart must have had a deeper level of cooperation than Sungchul had ever imagined. More than anything, the colossi that bore his daughter’s name was a true testament to Eckheart’s abilities as an Alchemist.
“Let’s go ahead and eat the Mage’s Stone first.”
Sungchul held up the Mage’s Stone that was glittering atop the altar.
Bertelgia ran away in a hurry, but it wasn’t so easy to escape Sungchul’s pursuit. She was soon caught.
“It’s no good to be picky with your food.”
“Why would you eat this kind of thing? No, rather HOW are you supposed to eat it anyway? I’m a book to begin with!”
“If you have no teeth, use your gums. If you have no gums, use your covers.”
“Stop saying such nonsense!”
When Bertelgia opened her covers to complain, Sungchul moved as fast as lightning to shove the Mage’s Stone into Bertelgia.
She swallowed it whole. To be exact, the Mage’s Stone faded away like a mirage before it could touch her body. The stone lost its form before geometric symbols and letters floated around her as though they had will of their own and absorbed into her body.
Curiosity rose in Sungchul’s eyes.
‘Just how many safeguards did he place?’
Even the Imperial Seal would not be guarded this stringently. As he contemplated this, Bertelgia’s body that had absorbed the stone became wrapped in brilliant light. Within that brilliant light, Sungchul peeked in with squinted eyes and saw what was underneath. Something hidden under that brilliance caught his attention. For a moment, Sungchul could not believe his own eyes.
A faint image of a girl huddled in a fetal position appeared for a brief moment within the light before disappearing altogether. Instead, the energy of the light that lingered around Bertelgia flew toward Sungchul and entered him instead. Sungchul experienced a deja vu. It was because the same thing had happened when he had finished the Creationist quest.
[You have created the Mage’s Stone and proven your qualifications in becoming a Creationist.]
[Create the remaining 5 stones to complete the path of a Creationist. The recipes for each stone will be found in each of the other colossi.]
Reward: Magic Power +20, Intuition +20
A rather meaningless reward at this point, but the fact that the Creationist quest was still progressing in this situation was quite encouraging.
Bertelgia descended as though she was quite fatigued. Sungchul grabbed her and put her into his pocket.
“How do you feel? How does it feel to have met a vestige of your father after so long?”
“… Not that happy or sad.”
“But the Mage’s Stone. It was quite tasty.”
A brief, but a soft smile rose onto Sungchul’s lips at those words. Bertelgia didn’t dare miss it.
‘This man… He’s definitely a lot softer than when we first met. Not quite sure why though!’
The Human Empire’s rescue fleet that was headed toward Panchuria had only managed to arrive after the situation had been resolved. Most of the people in Panchuria complained why they had arrived so late, but a portion of the residents, like Clarise, rejoiced at their arrival.
“As expected, the only thing maintaining this world is the Human Empire!”
The one leading the Human Empire Fleet was a young man by the name of Arcubus, who had recently been appointed the position of admiral by the Emperor. He greeted the high-ranking Panchurian nobles with a benevolent expression on his face and listened carefully to the tragedy and salvation that went on on these lands. Unfortunately, his ears overheard a story that could not be overlooked.
“The one that saved Panchuria is the Enemy of the World. If not for him, Panchuria and all the way up to the southern borders of the Human Empire, would have fallen to an unprecedented state of ruin.”
Laurumei, the Panchurian Governor, spoke his thoughts without reservation, but the expression on Arcubus who had heard this changed so menacingly that it might have been another person altogether.
“So… your lordship is saying that the Enemy of the World is the savior, correct?”
He threw a question laced with malevolence. Laurumei might have been the lord of some backwater region, but he was not someone that some upstart admiral could behave as he pleased with. Although he felt offended, he was suppressed by the extraordinary malice and was unable to talk back.
“I’m just relaying what the people are saying. These are just words in the wind.”
“Ah, so these are just rumors?”
Once his discussion with the Governor ended, Arcubus met with the evacuees gathered around the riverside directly to corroborate the story. The evacuees spoke similarly to the Governor.
Arcubus returned to the airship and relayed a command to his subordinates.
“There cannot be two heroes.”
The fleet that had been floating above Panchuria lit up with countless magic formations. The people of Panchuria could not know what this meant.
One of the reasons that Sunchul had pulled the colossus toward the river was to avoid the eyes of others, but there was another goal as well.
Sungchul spoke to Carbung who he had placed in his coat. Before him, a mountainous colossus was moving his two enormous arms to remove the debris around the ruins. This job that could not be completed in thousands of years by an average golem was being completed quite simply by the giant.
There was no changes visible to the eye, but Sungchul understood the fact that the carbuncle Soul Gem was now willing to work voluntarily on behalf of Sungchul. The reason why was because the creature Merkit Carbuncle that Sajators had called king carbuncle had the ability to share the mind with other beings.
Sungchul did an experiment where he tried to cast two spells at the same time. He used multiple back to back Glares while the carbuncle cast meteor and in the midst of Sungchul firing multiple rounds of Glare, the carbuncle diligently finished the incantations for meteor and got prepared to be fired at any time. And by just willing the meteor to be launched, the carbuncle dropped the meteor on the jungle that Sungchul had no part in the preparation of.
The Soul Gem that had been rejecting Sungchul finally relented.
‘This is quite useful.’
Multicasting. The secret technique that Sajators had boasted about was finally in Sungchul’s grasp. Unfortunately, it was not all good news. The six Soul Gems that Sungchul had take from Sajators were all rejecting Sungchul’s advancement. He could feel their will in that they would not lend their strength to someone who had killed their long time master.
‘Should I just toss these?… No, I should keep them for now.’
These were hard-to-obtain Merkit Carbuncle Soul Gems. It was uncertain whether these Soul Gems would also change their minds toward Sungchul as human opinions did about such things.
Now that Sungchul managed to get a hold of Multicasting and also kill two of the Seven Heroes in the process, there was nothing more for him to do here. Sungchul left the jungle and headed toward Panchuria, but all that awaited him was death and despair. Countless corpses were splayed about along the riverside. Stench of rotting flesh lingered in the air and clouds of flies swarmed about the surroundings.
[Enemy of the World passed by.]
Unprecedented rage passed by Sungchul’s eyes. He managed to get a complete story from the few survivors he found after tireless searching. And during these short conversations, Bertelgia could see Sungchul’s face become as desolate as a desert like when they had first met. By the time the stories ended, Sungchul turned to Bertelgia with a tired voice.
“Is this world worth saving?”
It was at this moment, the sound of something breaking could be heard from a fallen residence in the distance, and a single person sprang out from the ruin.
“Ugh! Such rotten luck! Really!”
It was far in the distance, but Bertelgia could recognize this figure.
‘Isn’t she the lady that sang really well?
Clarise pulled out Kruut who had been curled up under the ruin.
“Hurry up and move, gramps! How long are you going to keep dozing around for? We don’t know when those sons of bitches are going to come back.”
She, who was now covered in ash and dust, was tenaciously supporting her grandfather as they walked toward a place far away from the river with determination.
“The world isn’t full with nothing but bad people, you know?”
“You might be right.”
Sungchul who replied without any confidence headed North. His destination was the Tower of Recluse. Darkness eventually descended upon the scorched earth that now laid behind his back.