Regardless of the number of troops one can rally, they are meaningless if they only exist on paper. Aquiroa fully realized this truth when she noticed that Sungchul didn’t even act as she called for reinforcements.
‘Could it be that this man had already eliminated all of my subordinates before arriving here?’
It was the only sound explanation for what was going on. Aquiroa’s leg gave out giving her the sensation of falling endlessly. It was utter despair. However, Aquiroa couldn’t allow herself to collapse so easily. She waved her hand vigorously and shouted in a sharp voice.
“Ahmuge! Kill him!”
Sujin melted away into the shadows, and Aquiroa’s mind began to work overtime.
‘With the wild factor of the Mythic Soul Contract with a Legend grade assassin’s blade, even that monster will not be able to act carelessly. I should make use of that time to gather my remaining spell power and what remains of Soldiers of Salvation to force him to a corner…’
Everything was planned in a moment. Sungchul then made his move. He first clobbered the Soldiers of Salvation that surrounded him with Fal Garaz.
He didn’t even have to strike much either. The Soldiers of Salvation were turned to jelly by a single blow despite possessing a remarkable 90% value in physical resistance. They were originally believed to have their sense of fear removed, but it didn’t seem to be true. When they saw how simply and pitifully their comrades were being cut down by Sungchul, they began to tremble violently and emit a strange noise.
It was like an eerie chorus that one might expect to hear beyond the gates of hell, and Sungchul moved like lighting and erased that chorus. Aquiroa could feel the chains of despair that she had shaken off just moment ago strangling her neck once again.
‘Ahmuge! Just what are you doing!’
A golden opportunity had arrived, but Ahmuge did not step forward. She was aware that Sungchul’s movements were fast enough to be difficult to follow with one’s eyes, but Sungchul was currently preoccupied with other opponents. It should have been more than enough for Ahmuge to have made even a single attempt from the shadows, but she did not reveal herself even when all of the Soldiers of Salvation had fallen. It was only at that moment that Aquiroa realized Ahmuge’s intentions. She swung her staff and shouted at the empty air like a crazed person.
“You damned Summoned bitch. I accepted you, a Regressor with no backing, and you betray me?”
Of course, there was no response from the shadows. It might have been that she had already long since left this place as the Mythic grade Soul Contract, Disappearance, prevented even Sungchul from guessing her location.
Once every Soldier of Salvation was slain, Sungchul approached Aquiroa. She knew that nothing could be gained from fighting him and only one option was truly left for her.
“I’ve got questions.” Sungchul spoke firmly.
“I might even let you keep your head depending on your answer.”
“Is that right?” Aquiroa gave a faint chuckle. It was a dry laughter of someone that had given up on everything.
“I have nothing to give you.”
Aquiroa’s hand reached for her mask and a dark shadow-like aura of Calamity overwhelmed her. Sungchul felt the unsettling energy and raised Fal Garaz as he leaped towards her.
The moment Fal Garaz reached her, a brief voice could be heard behind the mask.
“For the Unborn God.”
The dark shadow swallowed her completely the next moment and Fal Garaz hit nothing but her empty clothes too late.
She was gone. She had destroyed herself before he could do anything about it. Sungchul looked toward the tattered clothes on the floor and fell into thought.
‘This confirms it. Aquiroa’s group is conjuring the power of Calamity.’
It was regrettable. He managed to gain nothing from Aquiroa, but as the final enemy fell, Bertelgia broke the long silence from her pocket and said her piece.
“Ugh… so terrible. Really. Just how many did you kill today? Phew! I hope you don’t rub off on me!”
Sungchul wanted to comment that it might already be too late, but he caught the words within his throat in time. For some reason, he felt the joke would be crossing some line.
“In any case, what are you going to do now? Even that masked woman is dead.”
“I’m thinking about it.”
Unfortunately, he didn’t gain enough to offset his efforts. He thought that he might be able to seek out the surviving crew members to interrogate, but this plan’s efficacy was also in question.
As he hesitated on what to do next, the sound of a wailing woman could be heard from the darkness.
It was Sujin’s voice. It could be heard just out of reach of Sungchul’s ability to track its source. Sungchul moved his head to where the sound was heard, but there was nothing but empty space. Sujin continued to change her location as she spoke.
“The faces of my companions, my friends, and my beloved, the ones killed by you who wielded the Seven Weapons of Calamity.”
Sungchul’s brow began to furrow.
“Are you trying to say that I’m wrong?” said Ahmuge.
“Stop whispering in the darkness and come show yourself. I won’t kill you immediately.”
“You’ve always lied.”
“I’ve heard of it. How you’ve betrayed people and broken their trust. You might want to deny it, but you should know better what kind of person you are.”
“Don’t get full of yourself.”
A rusted short spear appeared in Sungchul’s hand. It was a Weapon of Calamity, Oom Bruuk. A wretched laughter could be heard within the darkness.
“You’ve used that accursed weapon to not only drive the people I love to death through madness, but you abandoned them in the endless abyss.”
Her voice was gradually dying away. Ahmuge’s final words were faintly carried by the wind until it became engraved into Sungchul’s memory.
“I shall never forget, and I will get my revenge..”
Oom Bruuk flew toward the direction of her voice in an instant, but it only struck air and couldn’t find its mark. Sungchul’s brow twitched.
‘Did the Soul Contract, Disappearance, not only hide the body but make the physical form disappear?’
A faint voice was heard from beyond the darkness one final time.
“I deeply curse that tool of god.”
That faintly uttered single sentence made Sungchul freeze. His hand trembled slightly.
And Oom Bruuk, who lost its target, fell to the floor causing a strange sound to ring within the dark cabin.
Beyond the gaping hole out the bottom of the airship, the cold night breeze produced an eerie sound as it swept in.
“I went around tasting all kinds of dishes for a thousand years, but such fine dining is a first for me.”
Kha’nes patted her stomach with a happy expression on her face. The dishes that had been piled on top of the table were all licked clean. There was enough food to feed thirty people, but apparently the amount was no big deal for Kha’nes. However, Sungchul didn’t look so happy despite the unexpected compliment. Sujin’s parting words as she vanished were weighing down Sungchul’s heart like a heavy boulder. Kha’nes peeked over at Sungchul through the corner of her eyes before taking an opportunity to speak.
“What are you thinking about so hard? You don’t perhaps think that the future that Returnee saw will come to fruition, do you?”
“… Not at all.”
“Then why do you look so glum despite that?”
“Don’t you fear me?”
It was a sudden question. Sungchul spat out the words himself, yet he felt slightly regretful as his question was blemished with significant discourtesy.
Kha’nes looked shocked at the question as expected, but she laughed boisterously as though she wasn’t all that bothered by it.
“Why would I fear you? You’re a human, and I’m a dragon. Why would I, a Dragon, need to fear you? In any case, it has nothing to do with us Dragons whether you become a Calamity as that woman said.”
He spoke briefly, but complicated emotions were passing through his eyes. Kha’nes had been the first one to remain civil toward him after he had donned the name Enemy of the World after accepting to stand against the Calamity. However, she was also an entity unrelated to the Calamity. Whether or not Sungchul is able to end the calamities or not didn’t matter to her. Sungchul felt an unfamiliar sensation at the fact that such a person had expressed friendliness with him for the first time.
“Are you upset?”
Bertelgia carefully spoke after gauging Sungchul’s expression.
“Not really, there’s nothing to be upset about.”
Sungchul spoke calmly before bringing the wine glass that was placed on the table to his lips. It was the cheap alcohol that Kha’nes had brought. His mouth was filled with a bitter and fishy flavor and his expression changed slightly.
“… and suddenly my mood is ruined.”
Kha’nes carefully looked Sungchul over with her lizard eyes before speaking again.
“You. Are you aware what the next Calamity is?”
Sungchul nodded at her question.
“Are you talking about the Calamity of War?”
“That’s right. What do you think of the third Calamity?”
The third Calamity was distinctly different than the other two. Unlike the first two Calamities which had well defined enemies, the third Calamity was described in a vague language and hence led to disagreements as to its interpretations. On the Scripture of Calamity it said,
[The faint embers left aglow in ruins in the aftermath of betrayal will swallow death and despair, and envelop the Continent whole in the flames of war. Only a single flag will be able to extinguish the flames while those wearing crowns will only move according to their calculations.]
The subject of the Calamity was not specified, but because of that, the kings and their lords viewed the third Calamity as a lesser threat compared to the others. It was reasoned that if the third Calamity was one that occurred amongst humans, then an agreement among said humans could easily resolve it. The reason that an unqualified merchant was placed at the lowest seat of the Thirteen Champions of the Continent and the World Parliament, presided over by Aquiroa, was held regularly with the power to act as the binding force that moved each nation to attend were all in preparation for this third Calamity. And as long as the Emperor of the Human Empire was giving the World Parliament his powerful backing, it was extremely unlikely that a war between Human nations could ever erupt.
Even if a war did occur, fleets of airships that could cover the skies would quickly put an end to it. Sungchul had at one point been part of the ruling inner circle of the world government and knew this very well, so he never gave the third Calamity much thought.
“That Calamity will be resolved without much difficulty.” He replied assuredly.
“Is that right?”
“I don’t want to praise the sovereign forces of this world, but they did manage to produce an answer to that part.”
Images of the past flashed before Sungchul’s eyes like pictures. His time as the Head General of the Empire, the time when he traveled to various nations wearing a tightly fitting suit that felt uncomfortable and tried to persuade the kings and lords, were a bitch so to speak, but it wasn’t without a silver lining. There was a being who brought a sliver of hope to his previously desolate heart.
Although Aquiroa, the masked hag, had swiftly swallowed the fruits of his labor, but Sungchul believed that to be a rather good thing. It lead to the formation of the World Parliament which brought them some immunity to the third Calamity.
“Do you really believe that?”
But, Kha’nes seemed to have a different opinion to Sungchul.
“Humans are foolish to an unimaginable degree. They are all the same regardless of what they look like or what they wear. Regardless of how wise one is, they are bound to commit sins when faced with temptation.
“That is when I step in.”
Sungchul said as such and tossed the rest of the cheap alcohol down his gullet. Kha’nes made a strange smile as though she had something to say, but then covered her lips with her hand.
‘My lips are itching, but I better stop here.’
Instead, she brought up another topic. She pulled out two magic tomes from her possessions.
“I’ve heard from the book girl. You’ve got 6 Soul Gems, but only mastered a single school of magic?”
When Kha’nes held out the magic tomes, Bertelgia flew out readily and bit down onto the books to retrieve them for Sungchul.
“They might be some worthless tomes of a lower grade, but they should be of some use. You won’t be restricted by Magical Fingerprints either.”
Sungchul checked the contents of each book immediately after receiving them.
Series of Magic that even an Ogre can Learn: Fly
Let’s Make Our Own Formation! Introduction to Incantation Formation
They were truly tomes for common magic as Kha’nes had said, but the utility of these common magic could not be ignored. A faint smile formed on Sungchul’s lips.
At that same moment, at the frontier of the eastern region of the Human Empire. A fleet of airships composed of hundreds of ships filled the cloudy sky. On the other hand, Eckheart’s Colossi Unit 3 that boasted a gigantic size rivaling that of mountains, stood side by side upon a ruined city.
At the center of the fleet of airships, there was a burly man wearing a golden armor and helmet standing with his sword in the ground. His name was William Quinton Marlboro. The Emperor of the greatest nation of this continent, the Human Empire. Standing across from him was a sorry-looking man with a distinctly smaller frame, wearing rags with a piece of cloth covering his face like a thief, but his name didn’t have any less value than that of the Emperor himself.
“Are you Ga Xi Ong of the Seven Heroes?”
When the Emperor tossed out a question with a dignified voice, the smaller man nodded while pulling out the abnormally large blade slung across his back.
“Kikiki… a Summoned with no background dares to call himself the Emperor of this land… the world is truly done for!”
The blade cast a dark cloud akin to shadows of death as it let out a strange cry. The commander and the soldiers that lined up behind the Emperor were startled and immediately drew their swords, but the Emperor who stood before the blade didn’t seem to falter.
“Hoh? Looks like you’ve got enough balls to call yourself an Emperor.”
Ga Xi Ong glared at the Emperor with his twisted and bloodshot eye before sheathing the great blade casting the dark cloud.
“Then, shall we get started? Kukuku… what are your conditions?”