As a blue stream of light aimlessly streaked through the night sky, Cassandra the Demonic Weapon sliced through the cold night air to scatter White Shadow’s clones interspersed in the crowd.
When each of his clones disappeared, White Shadow felt pain akin to a needle pricking his flesh as his vitality was cut away. But that pain was constant and unceasing. It came once, twice, then until he could count no more. Rather than a prick of a needle, it was closer to being struck in the head by a hammer. When the pain he assumed he had become numb to appeared again in a new form, White Shadow felt fear he had never felt before.
‘Could it be… this bastard already figured out where all of my clones are?”
The last of his clones disappeared. It happened quicker than the trace of the bullet that had been fired into the sky to fade away. White Shadow felt a horrible sense of fatigue and emptiness and staggered. He had lost too many of his clones at once. They weren’t simple illusions, therefore damage to his clones was transferred as damage to his own vitality. All that was left now was the original form, White Shadow.
Sungchul turned his head toward the unrecorded assassin hidden within the mob. White Shadow’s eyes revealed unveiled terror.
Only then did he realize it. The one being hunted wasn’t Sungchul, but himself.
Sungchul glared at White Shadow and spoke in a voice mixed with contempt.
He had no hobby of mocking his enemies. Regardless of how weak the enemy was, Sungchul acknowledged those who had the courage to stand against him on their own two legs as a warrior. But it was a different story for assassins who relied on cheap tricks and ambush to face their enemies. He didn’t see assassins as warriors. Sungchul couldn’t help but glare at the trembling White Shadow while walking with a pace that wasn’t too fast nor too slow.
White Shadow pulled out Water of Vitality from his Soul Storage and focused his attention. And then something unbelievable with it unfolded before Sungchul’s eyes. White Shadow was being split apart. One to two, then two to four. In moments, he created over a hundred clones who looked just like him. The refugees who saw this finally recognized the battle of giants happening amongst them and stepped aside to make room for them. Sungchul and White Shadow prepared themselves within the empty area the refugees created.
“Why do you help the humans? Why does someone who possesses such great power as you help these irredeemable humans?”
White Shadow asked from between his clones in a voice that was different from when they first met.
Sungchul made no response. He was concentrating on the sound of battle that was unfolding ahead of him. Tangrit was still alive and fighting with all of his might. Baron’s howl rang out amidst the clashing spears.
“Are you looking to be called a saint? Or maybe become a hero? However, remember this, Summoned. Humans do not want a living hero. They only desire heroes buried in graves!”
White Shadow continued his speech.
“You seem to be mistaking something.”
Sungchul opened then closed the hand that gripped Cassandra the Demonic Weapon before speaking in a calm manner.
“What? Just what have I mistaken?”
Sungchul sighed as he replied to White Shadow’s question.
“I haven’t once said from my own mouth that I wanted to save the humans.”
Sungchul raised the hand that gripped Cassandra the Demonic Weapon and replied briefly to the question.
“I only seek to resolve the Calamity.”
The whip that held the flames of hell split the air. The whip that was fast as lightning while possessing unprecedented strength split the neatly arranged clones in half before they could even react. White Shadow rallied his remaining clones to retaliate by throwing their daggers at Sungchul, but the moment an assassin was to face off in a face-to-face battle against a famed warrior, there was no chance of victory. The flow of battle had already been decided once the bullet he had fired from Demonic Crossbow Aege missed.
Cassandra, the Demonic Weapon, slithered like a snake to tear White Shadow’s clones to shreds. White Shadow continued to drink Water of Vitality in order to fight back by producing endless amounts of clones.
Sungchul who saw this couldn’t help but think to himself.
‘No matter how many ants there are, they can’t overcome an anteater.’
Like his thought, Cassandra the Demonic Weapon, devoured the clones of White Shadow like the anteater that Sungchul liked so much. White Shadow desperately created more clones and threw daggers in order to fight back with all his might, but they were meaningless resistance. It didn’t take much longer before Cassandra had torn apart all of the clones, and a rough hand gripped White Shadow’s collars.
“We’ve reached the end.”
White Shadow’s eyes flared up as he tried to say something, but nothing left his lips because Sungchul increased the strength behind the hand that was wrapped around White Shadow’s throat. There is no honorable death for the vile assassin.
Sungchul pulled out the rope he kept in his possession at all times and hung the limp body of White Shadow by his already crushed throat onto a nearby tree and grabbed his arm.
White Shadow’s arms were bent into grotesque shapes. White Shadow who had already lost all strength and will to resist slowly suffocated to death hung on a tree. It was an unbelievably pitiful and ordinary death that couldn’t be called the final moments of a legendary assassin.
The refugees watched Sungchul’s back with bated breath. Sungchul who resolved the immediate Calamity turned around.
Even the rage of the refugees that was like an uncontainable wildfire immediately wilted when faced with the appearance of a truly powerful man. Sungchul shove passed the refugees as he moved forward toward where Tangrit’s presence could be felt. No one dared think to stop him nor dare to embrace such thoughts. Coincidentally, within the solemn mood, a woman recalled a story that had been circulating near the airship of the Church of Extinction.
“That… is the Enemy of the Word.”
“The Enemy of the World?!”
Sungchul soon discovered Baron amongst the murmuring crowd. Baron was still alive.
Bertelgia popped out of her pocket and inspected Baron’s condition. He had been stabbed here and there, but none were life-threatening. However, Tangrit who was riding on top of Baron was not so. His eyes were closed as he gripped the shield of the Holy Kingdom of Lunteginea filled with broken spears and dyed with blood. A broken speartip that had managed to pierce through the gap between the worn armor plates that appeared fatal. The wound must have been terribly painful since his face was horribly twisted.
His life savior was dead. His murderer was a nameless refugee, but Sungchul knew fully well that Tangrit’s death was related to his own choice. If he had chosen to give up White Shadow, Tangrit might have lived. However, Sungchul did not make that choice.
‘Is this always how passing hope ends?’
Sungchul’s eyes alternated between disappointment and rage until fierce murderous intent poured out of his entire body. The refugees who were suppressed by his murderous aura simply relinquished their bodies to the terror, unable to utter a single word.
“Who did it?”
Sungchul spoke toward the refugees, but no one dared speak.
“I asked who did it?”
Strength entered the hand that gripped Cassandra, the Demonic Weapon. It was the moment the wave of irrepressible murderous rage burst from his eyes.
“Look. Look over there!”
Bertelgia shook her body as she slipped out of her pocket and pointed toward one side of Tangrit’s body. On one area of Tangrit’s corpse that had been laid on top of the injured Baron, something was flashing as it received the moonlight.
Sungchul approached the corpse and confirmed the flashing object.
Curiosity filled Sungchul’s eyes. It was the seal the recluse had always been boasting about. The lord’s seal that he had hidden deep within a cupboard, never to be seen, had overcome the barrier of time and found itself on his finger again.
Sungchul looked toward Tangrit’s face once again. Did a miracle occur, or was it due to a simple delusion? The pained expression on his face looked different..
“Look? Isn’t he smiling? He must have gone to somewhere nice!”
Bertelgia pointed to what Sungchul hadn’t see and asked in a slightly cautious voice.
His rage that was pouring out like a ferocious storm began to calm as his faded rationality slowly began to return. Sungchul realized with his clear mind that the uncontrollable rage that he had felt was not solely from Tangrit’s death, and thus there was no need for more blood.
Fal Garaz appeared in Sungchul’s hand and he powerfully smashed the earth with the hammer forged from the sky. The earth’s axis shook. The quaking of the earth caused all fighting, even those in the distance, to stop. Sungchul walked to the center of the two opposing forces under the serene autumn night, and he spoke in a calm voice under everyone’s gazes.
“Everyone fall back. The interlude has ended.”
“Even the Seven Heroes aren’t all that impressive.”
Arquebus snickered aboard the airship and shook his head. Reflected in his eyes, White Shadow was nothing more than a pathetic marksman with an unusual ability.
He took in another gulp of wine before turning toward Ahmuge.
“Wouldn’t you agree, Returnee?”
However, he saw something unexpected the moment he laid his eyes on Ahmuge. She was smothered completely in fear and unable to even breathe properly. Her face was pale as a sheet, and even her hands trembled. Arquebus who saw this snickered.
‘What’s with this girl? Was it a lie that she supposedly possessed a heart of steel?”
It was a topic of great interest among the people in power regarding how a bratty Summoned that had just graduated from the Summoning Plaza had suddenly appeared and dared to attempt negotiations with the leader of the almighty Assassin’s Guild. That audacious Summoned had used the leader of the Assassin’s Guild at the fore to meet with the sovereignties, who had the continent under their thumbs, in turn and continued to prove her boldness. However, the pitiful form displayed by the current Ahmuge didn’t align with her reputation at all.
‘She’s trembling like a drenched mutt. I thought she had some gumption, having shrewdly impressed herself before the leader of the Assassin’s Guild. But she’s just some ordinary bitch.’
Arquebus left Ahmuge behind and departed while jeering at her, but one can only see as much as one knows. Ahmuge was thoroughly impressed with White Shadow’s abilities. He didn’t just hide in the shadows and simply wait for his target to arrive passively, but he acted personally to create a stage for assassination and made his target willingly enter and entrap themselves. His method evoked awe as a fellow assassin. The meticulously planned trap that had been setup for the final shot was a work of art that did not fall short of the title of the Seven Heroes at all. He had dug dozens of layers of traps, and those were just the ones she managed to get her head around.
Besides the fact that Sungchul survived, not much regarding the result of the battle was known to the world. But, as she saw it, White Shadow had at least possessed the potential of leaving some damage to Sungchul. However, the result was as it had unfolded before her eyes.
‘White Shadow died without being able to do anything.’
It could not be called a battle. It was a one-sided slaughter.
Besides Ahmuge’s stealth, White Shadow possessed immeasurably higher stats and experience along with the meticulous nature of an assassin. The fact that he lost so thoroughly indicated a lot of things.
‘It might have been better to have not seen this…’
She couldn’t see any way to kill him, but she wasn’t about to give up. No, she couldn’t give up; she recalled the faces of those who sacrificed everything for her to come to this place. A faint voice she heard moments before she returned to the past echoed in her mind.
“Go and give that selfish bastard a punch! Don’t worry about me.”
Her trembling only stopped after she took several deep breaths. Ahmuge, no… Sujin Lee, felt the airship slowly begin to move as she thought to herself.
‘It’s 3 years from now until the appearance of the Black Giant that swings the Seven Weapons of Calamity. If I can’t end this by that time, the world will be destroyed once again!’
The airship of the Human Empire that had been staying in the airspace of the Tower of Recluse began to fly northwestward.
“Why does it feel like we’re increasing the number of graves wherever we go?”
Bertelgia stretched out on the grass while watching Sungchul stoically work the shovel. No one was in attendance at Tangrit’s funeral. It was a lonely sight, but Sungchul had witnessed a worse sight just moments before. The entire village had been saved by their former lord, but no one had stepped forward to take care of his body. When the village head eventually pulled out some pocket change to have him dumped in a hole, where people without families and wanderers were buried together without even a coffin, Sungchul had blocked him. He had took Tangrit’s body to bury him beside his former residence.
“In any case,Toporo Village? Those people are so cold-hearted. If I had known they were so selfish, I’m thinking that maybe I shouldn’t have stopped you.”
Sungchul simply continued to shovel in silence until the fairly large hole was finally filled. Sungchul finally tossed Tangrit’s seal on top before throwing the final mound of dirt over it and erected a large rock in place of a tombstone.
Once the grave was complete, Baron who was covered in wounds large and small approached his master’s final resting place and quietly stood guard. Sungchul brushed its neck one final time before leaving.
“Where to now?”
Sungchul pointed northwestward in reply to her question.
A place steeped in memories and regrets. Sungchul put his savior’s grave behind him and quietly moved forward toward the capital of the Human Empire.