Sungchul does not think much of anything when he is in the process of working on alchemy. He gets down to work on the task at hand mindlessly like some sort of machine. He was like this since he was young. Although that was a fuzzy and distant memory.
Back when Sungchul was tasked with soldering work that nobody seemed to like, he wordlessly held soldering iron and solder and stood before a multipurpose circuit board for hours on end. It wasn’t because he thought soldering was particularly fun. He just enjoyed being focused on something. If not, he couldn’t escape from the cruel reality he was stuck in.
Whenever he returned home from school, he saw unfamiliar men taking up space in the living room. They were men his sister had brought home. She probably dragged them home after meeting them at the bar. It happened often enough that he just ignored them and returned to his room.
But among them, a few of them didn’t leave Sungchul alone. They would start a quarrel with him in their desire to be treated like an elder after noticing that he was wearing a school uniform. And if this happened, Sungchul beat them up to an inch of death. Sometimes he also beat up his sister who would try to stop him.
Bertelgia’s shouts of glee interrupted Sungchul’s recollection.
“…What’s so fun?”
Sungchul stopped working on alchemy for a moment to look in Bertelgia’s direction. Bertelgia had sprinkled gold dust on a table and were busy rolling around in it.
The gold dust was one of the ingredients provided for completing Eckheart’s quest, but it was a trap. There was no use for it, so it seemed like Bertelgia upended the content and were busy messing around with it. Sungchul grinned after seeing Bertelgia sparkle in the light and resumed combining materials. As he focused on his work, his recollection resumed naturally as well.
After their parent’s death, there wasn’t much inheritance to speak of, but a sizable insurance payment were provided for Sungchul and his sister.
The problem lay with his sister. She had already been a problem child who frequently ran away from home, but she became even more unhinged after their parent’s death.
It goes without saying that she wasted what little remained in their bank in frivolous shopping, drinking alcohol, and smoking. She even brought home boy toys, so it was impossible not to become enraged.
But since she was his last blood relative, Sungchul toned down his strength when he hit her. Pent up frustrations were one thing, but him raising his hand to his sister was done more because he wanted her to wake up and realize what she was doing. But there was once when he had beaten her with all his strength.
“Ahh so fun!”
Again Bertelgia interrupted him in the middle of an important part of the recollection. When he looked over, she was busy gilding the other side.
Alchemy was once again put on pause. Sungchul carefully inspected the things that were made until now. Neatly arranged before him were egg sized female cow miniatures that he had made using crafting tools. All of them were made by Sungchul’s hands out of the bark of a bubble tree that was prepared by Eckheart.
‘Only two more to go.’
The item he was making this time was called the Warrior’s Stone. It was in the same category as the Mage’s Stone he had made before. It was likely that each of the remaining Colossi all had their own stones waiting for Sungchul to craft them.
Sungchul got to work on the piece of wood with the crafting tool as he addressed Bertelgia.
“Hey, Bertelgia. You said you were an only child?”
“Yeah. I don’t have brothers or sisters.”
Perhaps she was already bored of gilding, she was shaking off the gold dust that had stuck onto her.
“Do you have brothers or sisters?”
“… I don’t have anything like that.”
It had been a long time since he had thrown that away. Sungchul had been alone long before when he came to this world through the Summoning Palace.
Bertelgia approached Sungchul, then put herself right up next to the female cow miniature he was working on.
“You’re quite good at crafting. I thought you wouldn’t be able to do this since you were so awful at drawing.”
“I don’t enjoy it, but there’s something called decorations in cooking. Whether it be shaving ice to make a dragon sculpture, or cutting fruits to make a flower. This is one of the skills necessary to become a chef.”
“Then why are you so bad at drawing?”
“I simply do not like drawing Vestiare.”
He finished the two cow miniatures while they were talking. 10 adorable cow miniatures were lined up on top of the table.
Sungchul put them all into a mobile alchemical cauldron that had been provided by Eckheart, along with other materials he made earlier, and began to stir with his ladle. Bertelgia placed herself right next to Sungchul to inspect his work like some slave driver.
“Don’t try and cut corners and make sure you scrape all the way to the bottom as you stir!”
Sungchul quietly did as Bertelgia ordered him. He felt a large amount of Mana drain from his body. Sungchul had the magical capacity to use his most powerful spell, Starlight, three times in a row. If he had not trained his magical abilities, then he would have had to stir for quite a long time.
But large quantity of mana being drained was an indication that an excellent alchemical item was going to be created. And finally, Sungchul’s hard work bore fruit.
All the ingredients in the cauldron disappeared and a single resulting item remained. Sungchul picked up a round stone giving off a vibrant red color.
Effect: Gather five stones. Then the path to the truth will open to you.
It was nearly identical to Mage’s Stone aside from the color and slight difference in the shape of the written words decorating its surface. It was an item that exuded an extraordinary mystical feel. Sungchul brought the item that could no longer be made by anyone else in the world aside from himself to the altar. A bright text appeared as if it were waiting for him.
[Excellent. You have completed the Warrior’s Stone.]
[If you had come with my daughter, then a blessing. If not I will curse you.]
“I have come with your daughter.”
There was no way that Eckheart was in front of him, but he said it calmly nonetheless. For a moment, he questioned his eyes. The book on top of the altar moved. A very short period of time appropriate to be called a blink of an eye, the book on top of the Altar moved as if a person was nodding.
‘What was it? Perhaps, this book…’
Sungchul suddenly recalled the story he had heard from Adelwight about an adventurer who had the same book as Bertelgia.
“Hey. You. Are you alive?”
Sungchul asked the book. The book did not reply. Instead, another message appeared before Sungchul.
[Bertelgia Unit 1’s true purpose of meeting a successor has been achieved. The Key of Knowledge will soon cease all functions.]
[Please check Eckheart’s message before you leave the Colossus.]
The barrier cast over the altar slowly faded away. The book that had been upright among the swirling lights lost its strength and fell to the ground on the far side of the barrier that now disappeared. Sungchul bent his knees to pick up the fallen book.
‘Just what is this?’
Sungchul opened the book to check its contents.
The book was filled with countless words. But these words ran away towards the deeper part of the book as if they were trying to escape from Sungchul’s eyes until only a blank page remained. Sungchul opened other pages as well but had the same result. There was nothing left in the book.
“What are you doing?”
Bertelgia asked suddenly.
“No. It’s nothing. Anyway, let’s go check Eckheart’s message.”
The Luminous Ore were illuminating one part of the control room. A hidden box. It was likely that the Seven Heroes were never able to find this item.
Sungchul opened the box to check its contents. As expected, it contained Eckheart’s records. His hand writing were uniform as if it had been printed.
‘I wouldn’t be able to write like this even if I had died and been reborn.’
Sungchul read through the words on the pages.
[Eckheart’s Record, the first.]
[1 year since becoming a Creationist. Finally the Seven Heroes acknowledged me. Sajators hyung was happy so I felt especially ecstatic. I do not doubt that this state of the art Alchemical weapon named after my daughter will one day bring hope to everyone on the continent. But I do have regrets. If I was able to make this just one year earlier I could have gone back to the Summoning palace like the Seven Heroes and leave behind an evidence of myself!]
Sungchul read this and thought to himself.
‘This is Eckheart’s original goal?’
It was an innocent and small dream. It was like looking at an old picture of a scholar in his youth when he was burning with desire to find truth in reality and dream of the future. Of course he knew that this was not the end of the record from experience. Sungchul instead read the scribbled text located below the neatly written words.
[I did not imagine at the time that the tool created to combat the Calamity could become the catalyst of destruction equal to, no, greater than the Calamity itself. I was foolish. Too foolish. If you wish to find out what the Seven Heroes are trying to do…]
[ … ]
[ … ]
[ … ]
[ … ]
[Too bad! You can find out after you find all five of the Bertelgia!]
[And feed the Warrior’s Stone to my daughter. You don’t think it’s edible?! Do you really think so?! Then give it a try!]
“Mmm. This man. His pattern is always the same.”
Sungchul let out a sigh after reading the scribbled words.
“To be honest, I feel embarrassed.”
Bertelgia answered as she gave a light shake.
“Anyway, you won’t be a picky eater this time, right?”
Sungchul gazed at and asked Bertelgia who had resisted eating the Mage’s Stone in the past.
“I’ll eat it properly this time. It’s so tasty. But one’s not enough, so let’s go next door and make the other Colossus’s stone too!”
She was being demanding because she wasn’t the one doing the work. Sungchul felt slightly discontent but he judged that she wasn’t entirely wrong. He also felt that while he has certainly been very busy today, it wasn’t too bad to have a full and hectic day once in a while. He boarded the other Colossus named Bertelgia Unit 2 and underwent the same task as Unit 1.
Alchemy continued until the sun began to rise. After putting in a great deal of time, Sungchul was able to synthesize the Assassin’s Stone from the second Colossus. He was reaching the end of his mana. Sungchul felt fatigued for the first time in a while so he sat down to take a break. Reading Eckheart’s record came a bit after.
[Eckheart’s Record, the second.]
[I was unfortuately unable to receive the title of the Eighth Hero. Increasing the number of Heroes by one was not something the feudal lords wanted. But Desfort nim has hosted a ceremony of ordination of our own. I felt that the way Vestiare nim looks at me has changed. But it was too late now! I already have a loving wife and daughter that I would not exchange for all the money in the world!]
Sungchul could tell after seeing this. Eckheart’s records were chronologically ordered with the sequence of the Colossi’s unit number. It was interesting to see the evolution of Eckheart’s feeling over time. But at the end of all the records, there appeared to be scribbles added which seemed to be written around the same time period. This one also had a passage that spoke poorly of the Seven Heroes. Sungchul read through the scribbles in the records.
[I am disgusted by Daltanius’s idiocy. Ga Xi Ong’s endless complaints drive me insane. Dragoman won’t even look at me since he lost to me. Like so, the true nature of the Seven Heroes were ugly beyond imagination. Even Vestiare who had long been my role model… But even if the insanity of all the Seven Heroes were to be combined, it would not match the insanity of Desfort. He is truly a mad man.]
“Bertelgia. What kind of person was Desfort?”
Sungchul asked after he finished reading all the records.
“A good person… in my memories.”
Bertelgia answered without sounding confident.
Sungchul had Bertelgia absorb the Stone of the Warrior and Stone of the Assassin that he had made. Bertelgia’s body became wrapped in swirling lights. In the midst of the lights, Sungchul saw a form of a child like he had seen before. A little girl curled up like a fetus within the light. It had appeared and then disappeared in a blink of an eye, but the appearance of the girl was identical to Bertelgia’s appearance as could be seen in the Fog Guide.
Once the absorption was complete, Sungchul received a notification that the quest was completed. His abilities rose slightly as well. He was done with this place.
Sungchul descended from the Colossus and returned to the surface.
By chance, Sungchul discovered a partially constructed golem under the Colossus. Although there was no tools or equipment, it was for certain that it was abandoned mid assembly. Sungchul became curious and searched his surroundings. Soon, he was able to find that under the lower body of the Colossus there was a very small and curious device installed.
‘So there was something like that?’
Sungchul used fly to rise up into the sky to inspect the device. A mysterious device of unknown purpose had been hidden underneath the Colossus’s thick armor plates. It seemed to have been built with techniques that incomparably exceed those of the Magic Armaments. Sungchul used his Fal Garaz to disassemble and inspect the device.
“What is this?”
Sungchul asked but Bertelgia didn’t look like she knew the answer.