He had been restlessly running forward for 8… no, 9 years. With the exception of a few minor problems, Sungchul had only moved for his own purpose and he carried it out well. To that end, his choices at this time was quite a conundrum. Objectively, the fate of an ordinary person like Largo didn’t matter at all. The importance of Largo who was nothing more than a mistress of a gang leader couldn’t be compared to Sarasa who held the secrets of the Cult of Extinction. However, Sungchul could not easily make a choice despite this fact, and every second he struggled with the decision the distance between him and Sarasa grew and the fireworks continued to explode in succession. There wasn’t much time left.
Sungchul turned around as he could hear the sound of a lonely scream in the distance. He had chosen Largo. Sungchul felt strongly that he had made the wrong choice at the moment he had made the decision. As if the world he had so carefully sought and engineered was starting to careen to one side. It was to say that he wasn’t being himself. Questions and debate continued to pop up in his mind with every step.
‘Did even someone like me get soft?’
He was greeted by a new guard when Sungchul returned to the estate with a strange feeling of defeat.
“You’ve come at a good time, Energizer! I was itching for you to get back.”
It was the first time that the new guard who was much less social than Kimchi reached out to him first.
“Did something happen?”
At Sungchul’s question, the new guard scratched his head and spoke in a voice that left a creepy feeling.
“Something did happen. Something fucking annoying! I don’t know what kind of joke this is, but the old lady had an outburst on New Years Eve of all nights. Just head on in first.”
The new guard hurriedly waved Sungchul in. Sungchul felt uneasy as he followed in the tacky garden to the courtyard. There were few staff members squatting over to clean. When he drew closer, he could see plenty of blood stained on the linen that they were scrubbing.
He felt the uneasy feeling growing exponentially as he walked in. Anglo-Saxon Boy was at the front entrance with a blank expression while sitting on the edge of the stairs haphazardly smoking a cigarette beside himself. He let out a sigh when he saw Sungchul and let out a puff of smoke before speaking in a deep voice.
“You’ve finally come. Ey, Energizer. Go right inside, and take care of it.”
He said as such before rising from his seat and walking off somewhere while shaking his head. One of the staff lead Sungchul inside.
Sungchul followed down the hallway and asked about what was happening. The staff replied in a distressed tone.
“The boss’s mistress is dead. It’s nasty how it turned out.”
“… Who killed her?”
He already knew the answer.
“The former mistress. That old lady.”
“Christina seemed to have instigated things first. She must have shot off her mouth seeing that Largo had taken the effort to dress up, but that’s not reason enough to murder.”
Sungchul and the staff stepped into the kitchen. There were two months of memories flashing before Sungchul’s eyes. It wasn’t like the days were remarkable. But it had grown on him at some point.
“Then, I’ll leave it to you.”
Sungchul was the only one left in the kitchen. He glared over at the dark opening tore open at the cage’s entrance. The pile of onions that Sungchul had prepared were still piled high in the corner of the kitchen.
Sungchul walked through the passage.
And thus the ranch revealed itself.
Tahm Tahm who saw Sungchul shook itself fiercely and let out bestial noises.
Sungchul didn’t even give an inkling of attention to something like a Tahm Tahm. Instead, he looked over at Largo who was tied up in front of its habitat.
She had been beaten to the point that he couldn’t recognize her, but Largo was maintaining a surprising amount of calm. Sungchul quickly discovered the reason. The answer was in her hand. She had used the red tinted crystal, the Gladiator’s Soul.
When Sungchul approached her, she awkwardly raised her body with great effort.
“Just open the door for me. I did this to myself. I can’t put this filthy memory onto you. I’m sorry. I said we’d enjoy the festival together, and I ended up causing trouble for you. I’m just the worst woman.”
Largo laughed bitterly as she approached the habitat. Tahm Tahm’s massive eyes that were as large as tires twinkled as he bore his teeth, but she didn’t show any fear.
“What are you doing, keeper? Open the gate. Don’t you need to finish this quickly so you can go see the New Year’s Eve festival? The firework that the Floating Palace is set to set off.”
When Sungchul didn’t move, she walked toward the keeper’s passage herself. Tahm Tahm shook its cage violently while drooling. Sungchul who was witnessing this scene felt something twitch within his heart. It wasn’t rage nor was it remorse. It was a complicated emotion that was some combination of both.
Largo stood before the passage meant for the keepers and suddenly began to sing. It was the lullaby that she had been humming in the kitchen at some point. He had always hated hearing it, but in the moment, this song shook this space a wretched cadence like no other song.
It was at this moment, something happened. The boulder that Tahm Tahm had set up on top was falling toward her head as soon as she stepped in through the keeper’s entrance. It was one of Tahm Tahm’s common tactics to kill its keepers.
It happened so suddenly that Sungchul couldn’t respond immediately. He fired off Glare in order to shatter the boulder before it squashed Largo, but it was too late and the fragments fell upon her head and shoulders. Largo let out a piercing scream and collapsed onto the floor.
Sungchul ran over to her and looked over her condition. It was fatal. She had avoided instant death, but her spine and neck had received critical damage.
Tahm Tahm bore its teeth again and let out a happy sound. Sungchul turned to glare at the beast. It was perhaps the only time he had ever paid attention to it.
Tahm Tahm who couldn’t know better took a worn spear handle to poke at Largo. It was to scrape her toward the cage and drag her in.
When the tip of the stick was being shoved through the bars, Sungchul’s hand gripped it.
Tahm Tahm became overjoyed and pulled on the stick. It had finally got its opportunity. The opportunity to get a hold of the keeper who was a thorn in its hide. However, the stick didn’t move. It wavered precariously as though it had been weighed down by a boulder before breaking with a snap. Tahm Tahm was the one who fell over.
“Just wait over there.”
Sungchul said as such and kicked. The metallic grating that hadn’t budged despite Tahm Tahm’s efforts broke apart and scattered everywhere. Tahm Tahm had only realized then that the cage that surrounded it wasn’t meant to protect the keeper, but rather to protect it against the keeper. The realization had come too late.
Sungchul stomped over to the beast unarmed. Tahm Tahm tried to intimidate him by roaring and banging on its chest, but there was no way it could be properly conveyed. Sungchul walked right up to the beast. The Tahm Tahm could not hold itself back any longer and threw its two muscular fists down toward the tiny human that didn’t even reach its waist, but its fists were easily stopped by the human’s tiny hand. In the next moment, the Tahm Tahm was suddenly lifted into the air.
Sungchul embedded the creature into the floor. There was the sound of something breaking before the Tahm Tahm’s scream filled the cage. Sungchul didn’t stop there. He continued to swing his fist toward the Tahm Tahm trembling in fear. It didn’t die in a single blow as Sungchul restrained his strength. Instead, Sungchul broke every part of the creature in turn: Both its arms and legs, Its knees and shoulders, and its internal organs. He destroyed its chin last.
The beast let out a pitiful cry and squirmed on the floor like a worm. Sungchul stood before those eyes that were as large as tires. When Sungchul glared at them, it clenched its eyes shut and trembled its massive flesh. Sungchul put the dying Tahm Tahm behind him and walked toward Largo.
Various potions were revealed from the Soul Storage. Each one of them were precious things that could be worth a massive fortune. Maybe it was because he had used such care, but Largo suddenly regained consciousness and spoke in a faint voice.
“W-what happened? I’m still alive?”
“You don’t need to know the details.”
Sungchul lifted Largo up and walked out. He followed the corridor to the kitchen that he would never see again, and walked toward the entrance of the estate. Several of the staff discovered him and blocked his path.
“What are you doing, Keeper?”
“I heard some strange sounds down below. What were the sounds?”
Sungchul brought out the weapon that symbolized his identity from the Soul Storage in reply to the questions.
“Sorry, but I’m not feeling well right now.”
The staff that saw Fal Garaz recalled the legendary figure that had been forgotten in the recess of their memories and stepped back unconsciously. Sungchul left the estate without further interruptions. He saw a familiar face in the courtyard. Anglo-Saxon Boy. It was the boss of the organization. He asked in a surprise voice once he noticed Sungchul.
“You… just who are you…?”
The man who had once been performing dirty jobs beneath him was now giving him orders with a solemn tone. Anglo-Saxon Boy was infamous for his heinous deeds, but in reality, he was quite clever. He simply lowered his head and moved aside.
Sungchul stopped in front of him.
“This woman has your child, and she is ultimately trying to give birth to that child.”
Anglo-Saxon Boy’s face grew sour. It wasn’t clear what he was thinking about, but now there was nothing more stopping sungchul. He walked through the door he had always passed through. The guard looked at him with fearful eyes as he opened a path.
There was an explosion as soon as he stepped out the door. Sungchul felt light lingering around the corner of his eye and lifted his head. Flowers of light of various shapes and colors were blooming in the city skies.
“Hey, look at that. Isn’t it cook?”
The answer he was expecting didn’t come. Largo was fast asleep.
‘I should let her body rest for now.’
Sungchul walked along the roadside. He walked along the familiar path and sought out for a place to rest. Few of the inns caught his eyes.
Sungchul put Largo on his back and sought out one of the inn to rent a room and put her to rest. Largo’s consciousness didn’t return. He had healed her injuries, but the combination of the inebriation of the narcotic and the shock kept her from regaining consciousness.
When he opened the window for ventilation, a sudden scream could be heard from the outside.
“S-save me! It’s a monster! A monster appeared!”
It rang out with the sound of frantic running. The explosion of fireworks that followed buried the sounds, but another scream burst out again. Sungchul opened the window and looked below. They were La Grange soldiers. The ones that were supposed to be defending the city were surprised and running away in panic.
“Request backup! We can’t stop this by ourselves!”
One-sided defeat. Something was unfolding within La Grange. Sungchul looked toward the rhythmically breathing Largo and spoke quietly.
“Rest a bit.”
He jumped down from the window, and when Sungchul left, Largo opened her eyes. She pulled off the gloves on her hands and checked the state of her hand. There were red spotted spread hideously along it. She felt the pulse of the child moving in her body and clenched her eyes shut. The melody of the lullaby that she often hummed rang out within the shabby inn.
Sungchul felt a familiar chill as he stood on the road. Stench of death carried by the wind brushed across his nose and he could see a thick fog like the one on the seas rolling in from across the road.
Sungchul felt dejavu and recalled a word that he had forgotten about.
It was when the Followers of Calamity had been at their peak. There were not one incompetent magician among them, but the most troublesome of them were the Necromancers. Its raw power was considered mediocre, its true terror didn’t come from combat strength. It conjured corpses from the cover of darkness and disrupted the enemy and their cities on a military level. If there is ever a one-man army, the necromancer utilizing Necromancy will be that person. Sungchu watched the corpses of the dead squirming within the fog and echoed his words of the past.