Airfruit carefully watched the silent Sungchul’s face, and said,
“Anyway, this is all I know. Let’s end our exchange here. Your acting is too good, it’s tiring me out!”
“Why do you have this scroll?”
Sungchul asked his last question.
Airfruit answered without dropping a beat.
“I took custody of it when Galf went to prison. It was back when I was still young and kind, so I’ve treated that old man well. Although, I was secretly hoping to get something out of it.”
It seemed time to end the question and answers. Another customer stood at the entrance of the Magic shop with arms crossed as they glared at Sungchul and Airfruit.
“Are you well, Hassan?”
It was the master of the Catacombs, Roxanne. She had a cigarette in her mouth, and asked her blunt question as she watched them. It seems as though she had come to check on things because the exchange was dragging on. Airfruit smiled broadly as he held up three gold pieces. Roxanne couldn’t hide her surprise.
Roxanne stopped Sungchul who was about to walk past her.
“I noticed since last time when you showed up to work as a laborer that you are no ordinary person.”
“If that’s what you see, then it must be so.”
Sungchul answered with disinterest.
However, Roxanne’s eyes sparkled as she asked,
“Enemy of the World. Sungchul Kim, right?”
An ambush out of thin air. Yet, Sungchul did not react in the slightest. He had thought in an instant that she was just testing him. Sungchul believed it be so, and stared straight at her.
“I’ll leave that to your imagination.”
Roxanne stared at Sungchul with her scarlet eyes. The staring contest did not go on for very long.Airfruit played with the coins as he said relaxed,
“Madam. This pal is an actor type.”
Roxanne grinned and took a deep drag from her cigarette as she turned her gaze to end the uneventful staring contest. Then Airfruit spoke again.
“It was just a joke, so don’t worry about it. Our Madam is the cautious type when it comes to black haired Summoned, and tends to give it a stab.”
Sungchul did not feel not one iota of interest at her behavior. Sungchul’s attention was completely focused on something else. He shook the scroll containing the Letter of the Gods and asked Airfruit.
“Is it possible to get something similar to this?”
“If you have enough gold, then I will try and obtain more.”
Sungchul nodded and left, but Roxanne stood in his way. It seemed as though she still had things to say.
“It’s been a while since I saw someone I like. Come on by to hang out even if you have no business.”
“I like friends who look like they have a story to tell. Well, it’s not a bad thing to befriend the Roxanne Company while living in Section Eight. We’re versatile.”
Despite her words, she seemed to genuinely like Sungchul. Forming a relationship with one of Section Eight’s controlling groups was not a bad thing at all. Information and all, the relationship would be be helpful in a variety of ways. Sungchul nodded and walked onward.
“I’ll head over sometime.”
The Demon king of the far north was dead. Not so far away, the northern and eastern portions of the continent were flattened by the appearing colossi. While in the south, a city floating on a river had burned to the ground, and the Enemy of the World began to act in earnest. It was a very eventful year
There were not many days left in this chaotic year of great hardship to chroniclers of present times. Everyone should have been eagerly preparing for La Grange’s largest festival, the Night of Longevity. Yet due to the chaotic year it had been, this year’s end was uneasy. The outskirts was sick with the gathered refugees, and the downtown was infested with heretics and fanatics. Adding to the problems, rumors were plunging La Grange’s downtown into terror.
The rumor of a serial killer called the Phantom Executor.
Neither the serial killer’s name nor age were known, but when night would arrive in the Capital, the killer roamed the city’s Sections murdering people at random. All of the killer’s victims were slain by severing the head from the body.
The murders of the serial killer were concentrated between Sections Four through Six where the commoners lived, but according to rumors, suspected murders carried out by the Phantom Executor had also taken place in Section One where the highest ranking people lived.
In spite of such a rumor circulating throughout the city, the preparations for the festivities of Night of Longevity were progressing smoothly. The statesmen of La Grange wished this year’s Night of Longevity festival to be grander and more successful than ever before to restore the dismal public opinion which had fallen to the lowest possible levels from repeated scandals.
Under the Emperor’s decree, theatrical companies gathered from all corners of the continent to perform wonderous plays in each Section. Furthermore, daily necessities previously piled up in the Empire’s storehouses were distributed to the citizenry. Leaders of each Section all planned events in their respective territories.The Emperor’s estate, the Floating Palace, announced that never before witnessed spectacles will be displayed for people to see.
On the streets of Lagrange that had gone cold, the revelry typical to the end of the year party were slowly being relit, but there were always exceptions.
“For my child to blossom, your mother will give anything and everything.”
Largo sang pregnancy songs in a horrible voice. It was said to be good to sing for the fetus, but when Sungchul heard her singing, he thought that it would be preferable to listen to Homunculi sing instead.
‘It’s killing me.’
The plan to get closer to Largo did not progress in any way. He tried several times, but Largo seemed completely unwilling to teach Sungchul any information about herself. In fact, she showed her ugly side where she tried to take advantage of Sungchul and look for ways to exploit him.
“Did you finish with the onions?”
Largo entered the kitchen while humming a lullaby, and turned to gaze at Sungchul as she hung an outer coat up on the wall. The pile of onions she had ordered were already all cleanly prepared by Sungchul’s hands. Largo picked up an onion from the basket and examined it carefully before speaking.
“You did well for a man. But the finish is a little iffy. You still have a bit to learn.”
Outrageous. Let alone a chef, she had skills worse than the average housewife. She was in no position to critique Sungchul’s work. Largo placed the prepared onion on the cutting board before sloppily chopping them as she hummed her song.
“Mom gives her everything to her beloved child. Blood and bones and even soul. Like so, the torch of light is handed from one person to another in a line~”
Largo who was singing her song suddenly turned to face Sungchul before asking,
“Sorry, caretaker. Can you please cut the onions for me? The baby seems to be kicking in me. Perhaps the baby was destined to become a general, the strength of the kick is extraordinary.”
Sungchul wordlessly stood at the cutting board and began to cut the onion on Largo’s behalf. Largo sat on a chair placed in the kitchen and stared at Sungchul with thinly open eyes and asked,
“Why do you wish to meet the Cult of Extinction?”
“Have I not said this many times?”
Sungchul’s voice was mixed with subtle frustration. He had forgotten how many times he had answered. Largo always asked this question again and again after pawning off her work to Sungchul. Each time Sungchul answered that he wanted to join the Cult, but nothing changed. It was because the question was nothing but a carrot that Largo came up with in order to exploit Sungchul as much as she could.
Largo checked her fingernails as she wore a subtle smile. Sungchul concluded that this woman was not going to release any more information on the Cult of Extinction any time soon.
‘As I thought, talking is not going to work with this woman.’
One week. Sungchul resolved himself to endure for just one more week.
“Ergh! That lady. So detestable! I really don’t want to hear her sing too!”
The one who ran out of patience first was Bertelgia. Largo’s dumb malice was apparently more frustrating to watch as a observer rather than as the target. Despite this, Sungchul did not reduce his promise to wait one more week. If there were any changes, the questions increased in frequency. The next day, Sungchul was preparing ingredients under Largo’s order as she sat next to him as she cleaned her nails. He threw Largo a question.
“Do you really believe that if you bear the child, Anglo Saxon boy will look after you?”
“Of course! The more powerful the man, the more attached he will be to his genes. If I have a child that looks just like him then, that woman? He’ll probably immediately kick her out.”
“I don’t think so.”
“There’s no way a small man like you who work for others doing chores can understand how he thinks. Just peel the onion properly. That is, if you want to meet the Cult of Extinction.”
Largo said like a sergeant as she made a coy smile. Sungchul did not open his mouth any more. Instead, he counted the days left for Largo.
‘Six days remain.’
Another day passed. Largo did not come to the kitchen. Despite being past time for work, she was nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t until noon that Sungchul found out the reason why. Largo entered the kitchen with her whole face and swollen eyes black and blue with bruises.
“What are you looking at? Just do your work. Don’t stare.”
Largo sat down on a chair and cried bitterly for a while. Sungchul was able to hear what had happened to Largo from a member of the organization he was friendly with.Apparently Largo ran into the boss’s new mistress as she was walking in the hallway, and they had a fight.
Their paths typically did not cross within the estate, so they normally did not see each other, but they just happened to run into each other by chance. They had begun pulling each other’s hair after a short argument when Anglo Saxon Boy saw them, after which he beat Largo like a dog.
No matter how detestable and mean spirited woman she was, Sungchul felt a pang of sympathy when he heard the story. When Largo was about to ingest drugs with her shaking hands, he stopped her with words.
“Didn’t you say that isn’t good for the child?”
Largo seemed to snap awake and put away the drugs into her pocket and grit her teeth.
A bitter atmosphere dominated the kitchen for some time. After a significant amount of time passed, Largo opened her mouth.
It was probably the first time her words contained truth.
Sungchul crossed his arms and asked in an emotionless voice,
“What shall I prepare today?”
“There’s no need for preparing ingredients today. Instead, wouldn’t you like to come to my bedroom?”
Largo carefully said as she watched Sungchul with her bruised eyes.
“For the first time in a while, I want to be comforted by a man.”
This wouldn’t have worked even if Largo was at the height of her beauty. The fact that her body and mind were both ill when she threw out the question only made Sungchul feel exhausted.
“That is something I cannot do.”
“Even if there will be no Cult of Extinction then?”
“Even if you threaten me with the Cult of Extinction, it cannot be done.”
Sungchul said firmly.
Largo sounded lonely as she said,
“It’s terrible, getting older.”
“Me, who was once called a ‘rose in the shade of La Grange’, being refused by an ugly asian man like you.”
“I apologize. It’s not an excuse, but I also have my reasons.”
“What reasons? Do you have a loving wife or something?”
“If I had something like that, I wouldn’t be doing this. Truth be told, it doesn’t even stand.”
Largo laughed like a child when she heard that. It was hard to imagine she was crying bitterly only a moment ago.
“Impotent? You are impotent?”
Sungchul reduced the number of days remaining with Largo from five to three.
“I finally get it now. The reason why you were searching for the Cult of Extinction, even doing my chores.”
Largo, who laughed for a good while, said looking refreshed.
“I’ll tell you. The way to meet the Cult of Extinction. To be fair, I was going to tell you after I exploit you a bit more, but now that I know your story I feel a bit guilty.”
Largo opened up for a completely unexpected reason. She revealed what she knew while rubbing her blackened eyes with raw egg.
“Even if I tell you sooner, there’s no way to meet them. They are such a repressed group that you can’t even dream of consistent contact or even choose the meeting place.”
The method of meeting the Cult of Extinction was in an unexpected place. It was on the noticeboard in front of Section Eight’s administrative building. It was said that the Cult of Extinction boldly left behind a sign on the noticeboard that everyone watches for. They leave behind a secretive mark on a random edge of the noticeboard only they can recognize.
“The mark hasn’t appeared yet. Probably, it will appear again when the security loosens up. I am also checking it everyday, so when it reappears I will let you know.”
Sungchul was skeptical but amazingly Largo kept her promise. Two days later, she took Sungchul to go meet a higher up of the Cult of Extinction. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t an official meeting. It was a sort of preselection process for choosing who gets to attend the meet-up with the cult.
The official from the Cult of Extinction was less of an officer and closer to a bandit. He was tenaciously pressing Sungchul for his reason for trying to approach the Cult. Sungchul was at a loss for words because of how stringent the process was, and was in a pinch when Largo helped him pass the difficult preselection process.
“This man is im…I mean he has erectile dysfunction. He tried all sorts of medicine and blessings, but couldn’t find a solution and wants to borrow the Cult’s help.”
“…Is this true?”
The official of the Cult of Extinction looked upon Sungchul with pity.
“On the last day of this year, when the new year celebration at night is going on, there will be a meeting. The location is undecided yet, but it will be posted at the noticeboard in code, so make sure to show up at the right place.”
Sungchul’s second month since arriving in La Grange. The moment when a clue about the Cult of Extinction finally revealed itself.