There were 3 people who qualified in the end including Sungchul. The Indian man who Sungchul had made a note of for looking intellectual was also a part of the group. The last person was a blonde man with tattoos all across his body who appeared furthest from an academic, but contrary to his appearance, he possessed a mellow personality.
The hermit in charge of guiding them led them into a waiting room. As they were heading to the waiting room, Sungchul was able to glance into several workshops, and within each workshop were Summoned engrossed in manufacturing engines, generators, wind-up clocks and other miscellaneous devices. However, it seemed to not be going as well as they appeared.
“Shit! Another Gremlin appeared!”
“Let’s try lowering the ratio of mechanical devices and replacing them with more magical devices.”
“Just get that thing first!”
A fierce chase broke out among the Summoned to catch the mischievous Gremlins who were recklessly running about the workshop. Noises of destruction and violence soon rang out from within the tower not soon after they had passed by that workshop. When the noise began to fade way, the hermit came to a stop.
“Honestly, I don’t understand why Lord Porpyrius invited the likes of you people.”
His voice was steeped in emotions.
“Your technology has no meaning in this world at all.”
Sungchul realized at this moment that not all hermits were particularly fond of the technology shared by the Summoned. The man led Sungchul’s party into a room that exuded a certain ancient timeless quality.
“Wait here for a bit. He will soon arrive.”
Sungchul grabbed one of the chairs carved from stone to sit and waited for the man to arrive.
‘Who was he referring to when he said someone is coming? It couldn’t be Porpyrius himself.’
This was a meeting place for Summoned who had no social standing within Other World. Sungchul did not imagine Porpyrius himself would come to this place.
Quite a long time passed by in silence, but the man in question did not come. Within this tedious stillness, it was the man of Indian origins who opened his mouth first.
“Well, this is fate as well. Let us talk.”
A conversation typical between the Summoned, on the topic of what they did in the Old World and how long they lived in Other World and the like, was exchanged for a long while. Sungchul did not actively participate at first, but as the conversation continued he began to give short replies or respond to others and showed that he knew how to follow the flow. And in the middle of that, the Indian man brought up a subject that would be of interest to any Summoned.
“Have none of you considered becoming a Returnee? They were selecting Returnee candidates over at the Temple housing the Dimensional Gate.”
The tattooed man expressed interest and chimed in.
“I am preparing for it of course, but anything you do in this terrible world requires putting your life on the line, you know? I’ve heard that you should be at least at the Superhuman level before attempting to return. They say that you’ll just die a dog’s death otherwise.”
“Even though that is true, it isn’t always so. It looks like there were a few people that managed to return with a bit of luck and wits.”
“That’s just gambling with your life.”
“But that gamble is worth taking right now with the current state of this world. You’ll just end up dead in this war if you can’t get beyond Superhuman soon.”
The tattooed man didn’t refute the Indian man’s words. It was because the world was just that grim. The two men simultaneously looked toward Sungchul as though they had agreed to it beforehand.
“Don’t you have any interest in returning?”
Sungchul shook his head solemnly. Even if he were to return, there would be no family waiting for him nor any friends that could recognize him. And although it is said that the gods bestow upon the Returnees great deal of wealth and strengthened body that won’t disrupt the balance of the real world, none of it held any value to to Sungchul. More importantly, he had unfinished work to complete here.
In any case when Sungchul shut his lips, the flow of conversation came to a brief halt. The Indian man brought up another topic of conversation in an attempt to relight the mood.
“Anyways, I heard that it was easy to enter this place in the past. There was a tale of someone who made it in with just a water bottle rocket.”
“That’s all in the past. Isn’t then and now different? And I think it was when the army of the devils penetrated the front lines of the Demon Realm? I’ve heard that the influx of people greatly exploded since then.”
“I guess that’s why the rumors say that hazing is no joke.”
“Hazing? That’s present anywhere you go.”
All of this was quite unrelated to Sungchul. He didn’t expect to be here for long anyway, and he was planning on leaving after taking a peek at the Scripture of Calamity. Sungchul looked up and took a gander around the room instead of paying attention to their conversation. He hadn’t seen it when he first arrived here, but it appeared as though magic formations covered the entirety of this tower.
‘This place is definitely under the unfathomable influence of a god.’
Every single brick and column had magic cast onto it, and they didn’t appear to be the makings of man, but rather created under the authority of god. The Summoning Plaza was also a place protected by the authority of a god, but it paled in comparison to this place. Sungchul who was continuing to observe the place noticed manmade formations among the divine ones. What he saw through the Eye of Truth was something akin to a flow. Something that was peacefully flowing through the entirety of the tower like some kind of river.
‘What is this? It’s quite unique.’
When he extended his hand toward the flow, letters appeared before his eyes.
[Tower of Recluse – Library of Immaterial Collective Knowledge]
[Available for anyone to use freely]
‘Hm…? Ant wiki?’
It was definitely not for combat nor for support use. It didn’t have any restorative effects nor any harmful effects like a curse. It appeared to be a system only for sharing a certain type of information.
[Input the knowledge desired for perusal]
A formless keyboard shaped keypad appeared before Sungchul. Sungchul understood in a single glance that it was made by incorporating the knowledge of the Summoned. He input his own name as an experiment, typing with only his pointer fingers.
[Redirecting to category ‘Enemy of the World’.]
Sungchul watched as a new topic finally appeared before him. It contained a surprising amount of information about him.
[2. Summoning Palace ~ Time within the Rebel Army]
[3. Time as Head General of the Empire]
[4. ‘Enemy of the World’]
[5. Current State and Criticism]
[6. Cult of the End?]
[7. ‘Enemy of the World’ from virtual media]
Curiosity lit up in Sungchul’s eyes. It wasn’t a common experience for anyone to have been researched about this thoroughly by someone else, and the words that appeared before Sungchul could only be seen by Sungchul’s eyes and no one else.
Sungchul found it amusing and selected one of the topics about himself to confirm. He chose the 6th topic: Cult of the End. An explanation regarding the 6th topic appeared as soon as he finished selecting.
[Recently, rumors of a budding cult known as the Cult of the End centered around the capital of the Human Empire has been spreading like wildfire. The exact size or form of faith is not known, but according to one rumor, it is believed that this budding cult worships the Enemy of the World.]
That was it for the explanations, and to Sungchul, it didn’t seem to be anything more than a collection of groundless rumors. But the idea of there being a movement in the capital that wanted to worship him was a completely new concept.
‘It must be nothing more than false rumors. I’m not someone to be respected or even more so, worshipped.’
He closed the sixth topic and attempted to open another one when the tightly shut door to the waiting room opened revealing three men. They were wearing everyday clothes unlike the strict and formal hermits and had an overall lighter atmosphere.
They were Summoned.
Judging from the glasses they wore which were rare, their physical ability points couldn’t be all that high, but one of them audaciously and out of nowhere began to point his finger and began to speak harshly.
“Are you all the new recruits?”
The men besides Sungchul nodded, and when they did, a man wearing glasses smirked before introducing themselves.
“We are your seniors as well as veterans. As your seniors in the Tower, we will be testing your knowledge before Porpyrius nim arrives.’
‘Porpyrius is coming in person?’
Sungchul felt shocked. The self proclaimed senior Summoned tossed out a question at the Indian Summoned that Sungchul also could not answer.
“Explain the 3 Laws of Newton in order.”
The Indian man was taken aback by the sudden offensive and hesitantly answered, but that wasn’t the end of it. The three men continued to pour out question after question. All of them were questions that Sungchul could never answer without exception, but when the questions kept coming, Sungchul noticed a strange coincidence. Each one of the men who was assaulting the group with questions had their hands on the imperceptive groove of knowledge. Sungchul knew what that meant.
‘Are they pretending to be knowledgeable using the Ant Wiki?’
Sungchul was not wrong in his suspicions. They were using the imperceptible system of information in order to corner the Indian Summoned. Regardless of how much knowledge one holds, there was no way to be as accurate as the information recorded onto a medium. In the end, the Indian man encountered a question he couldn’t answer. The three men met their eyes and smiled with self-satisfaction.
“You’re trying to work at the Tower of Recluse without knowing this much? This person doesn’t even know the basics. You should at least have some sense of shame if you don’t have the skills!”
They aggressively berated him as though they were waiting for this moment. It was an exceedingly uncomfortable moment that was difficult to watch, and after a while, the self-proclaimed seniors revealed their true character.
“They say that if you know one, you know them all. I don’t think we need to test the rest of them. They’re all worthless. It’s irrational for incompetent people like you to meet High Priest Porpyrius.”
“That’s right. Get out of here before you embarrass yourselves!”
They were essentially half forcefully chasing out the group Sungchul was part of. When Sungchul noticed this, he recalled the conversation that the tattooed man and the Indian man were having before.
‘Hm. Is this perhaps what they call the hazing of the weak?’
It was pathetic and shameful beyond imagination. It would have been one thing to try and drive out others because they themselves had superior ability, but Sungchul did not like that they were going so low as to rely on an invisible information network to help them pretend to be superior.
“Don’t overdo it.”
Sungchul became involved in the end. The Indian man and the tattooed man, who were driven into a corner, were looking wide-eyed over at Sungchul while the self-appointed seniors were looking quite annoyed.
“What is this?”
“You’re saying you know the answers?”
“Hey, newbie. You’re next.”
They put on savage expressions as they circled Sungchul. Sungchul looked toward them with expressionless eyes. One man’s lips were just about to lift up into a grin. They were undoubtedly planning on subjecting Sungchul to an impossible barrage of questions to break his will
“I won’t let you.”
Sungchul’s clear voice burst out within the room.
“Shut it off.”
The men’s voices grew louder. Sungchul grew more assured and spoke with a bit more pressure.
“Turn the Ant Wikipedia off.”
With those words, an imperceptible hostility poured out from Sungchul’s eyes. There was no way these feeble weaklings could endure this pressure that even Superhuman rank knights couldn’t withstand.
The shock of being revealed what they had done along with meeting Sungchul’s bloodlust head-on was too much for them to handle and they fled as fast as they could. From the door, the three men had run out of, entered an old man shrouded in a black robe who had an energetic gait.
“Huh? Why are slaves screwing around in a place like this? What a strange behavior!”
Sungchul recognized the man with a single glance. The owner of the Tower of Recluse; The Holy Hermit Porpyrius. Sungchul had met him once 8 years ago back when Sungchul was still the Thirteenth Champion of the Continent. A lot had changed since then and now regarding the circumstances, but he could still recall the man’s appearance exactly.
Porpyrius scratched his head as he entered and looked over each qualified member once. It was when his eyes passed over Sungchul, Porpyrius’ pupils contracted sharply.
‘T-that unbelievable stats… could it be?!’
Deep within the eyes hidden in the shadows of his robe, there always resided a magical formation with five vertices. It was something known to a small number of people, but Porpyrius’ eyes held a power known as the Omniscient Eye that had the ability to see through all things.
‘The Enemy of the World?!’
Sungchul’s identity was discovered by Porpyrius with a single glance, and Sungchul also knew that the man was now aware of his identity.
Sungchul rose from his seat and slowly walked over to Porpyrius. Combustible atmosphere filled with tension began to flow within this rather small room.