Sungchul continued to inspect the interior of the device. And eventually he found a metallic box that seemed to store something. The fact that it was sealed under several layers was an indication of its importance to the device. Making this assumption, Sungchul was presented with a shocking revelation upon opening the box.
Inside the box was something similar to fragments of the Calamity. Something similar to the object inside Sungchul’s pouch. Sungchul tried touching the black fragment. There was a clear difference though. Its purity was vastly lower than the one Sungchul possessed. If the fragment of the Calamity Sungchul carried had an ominous aura, the one he found from inside the Colossus was having more of a feeling of a hollow empty shell.
‘Just what is this thing?’
The fact that it resisted being put into the Soul Storage proved that the thing was inordinary, but there was next to nothing that Sungchul knew about it.
‘I guess the conclusion I can make is that the fragment of Calamity is a type of energy source.’
From what he has observed, it can be surmised that at least three factions are utilizing the fragments of Calamity.
One was Aquiroa’s Soldiers of Salvation.
Another was Order of Extinction.
And finally Eckheart’s Colossi.
Of these, it could be deduced that Eckheart was aware of the existence of the Fragments of Calamity. Because even though he was not included as one of the Seven Heroes, he fought by their side and had experienced facing and resolving the Calamities. But there was no clue as of yet on how the other two factions managed to obtain and gain knowledge about the Fragments of Calamity.
‘Fragments of Calamity is the reward for resolving the Calamity.’
In the current era, the only person working to end the Calamity was Sungchul alone. Furthermore, the Fragment of Calamity had been given to him. This leads to one possibility. That Aquiroa and the Order of Extinction’s origins might have some connection to the Calamities of the previous era, or maybe even the era before that.
Of course, this theory wasn’t without flaws. When the Calamity begins to spread, the species living at that time will go extinct if they do not manage to overcome the Calamities. Even if they got lucky and were able to escape from the Calamities itself, they would eventually succumb to the Curse of Extinction that prevented the birth of a new generation, bringing about a complete end to the species.
This was a point that was emphasized by the bibles of the Mura sect and the Horasan sects which were the dominant religious groups of the Humans. If this was true, then Sungchul’s theory couldn’t possibly be true. From the point the people of an era are unable to stop the Calamity, any potential ancestor of Aquiroa or the Order of Extinction would have all been wiped out. And along with it, all the knowledge or inheritance they might have had.
‘My obvious enemy is the Seven Heroes, but there might be something even more insidious hiding among the people.’
Sungchul had no idea what that might be. It was possible that Adelwight knew something about it, but it was doubtful if she would tell him since she was, in many ways, a woman detached from the world.
But as he always done until now, Sungchul will destroy any enemy who dares to stand in his way, wielding Fal Garaz forged from the fragments of the sky.
‘Whatever it is, I’ll crush them all.’
Sungchul made a vow and then turned around.
“So daddy’s Colossi were making the golems. Well, that means it was daddy who made them after all. Even that large golem army.”
Bertelgia was letting out a sigh of relief. She must have been tense about the possibility that some unknown individual was somehow making her father’s patented golems. It was a possibility that Sungchul hadn’t considered.
‘I guess you can see it that way.’
It is easy to forget, but every person has their own unique perspective. Sungchul had become someone who thinks and acts for his own benefit, but he wasn’t always like this.
“Where are you going to go now?”
Bertelgia asked him. Sungchul shook off his thought that Bertelgia’s questions were distracting before answering with his signature calm voice.
“Habrus. I’ll kill him right away.”
Sungchul hurried towards Habrus with due haste. It wasn’t like he was giving his full effort, but he alternated between using magic and his legs to cross the length of the vast eastern regions to arrive at a port city located at its tip. But when he arrived there, Sungchul was reminded of an old korean saying.
That a dog chasing a chicken will stare at a roof.
‘Son of a…’
Desfort had definitely been here. There were perfectly preserved signs that his Colossus had stood here. But the trail led to the ocean. Sungchul, who followed the tracks of the Colossus to the distant horizon had to face the aggravating reality. Desfort, the leader of the Seven Heroes, had taken the Colossus and escaped to the endless ocean.
‘What kind of result is this?’
It was something he didn’t even imagine. The source of evil had run away! And across the great ocean, where tracking or search was impossible.
Demon King Hesthnius Max may have been a slippery one, but at least he didn’t do anything like leave the Demon King’s Palace.
“He’s actually insane.”
Sungchul couldn’t hold it in and said it out loud. But Sungchul knew. That something bad was bound to happen to a being that had become the Calamity itself but deserted its duty and escaped. They would likely receive divine punishment directly from a god. Sungchul was aware just how terrifying that would be. The cross of the Covenant buried in his own heart gave a silent testament to this fact.
“Mmm. The one who calls himself the leader of the Seven Heroes ran away because he was afraid to die. What an embarrassment.”
Bertelgia complained as she gazed out into the ocean giving off an awful stench. At the beach was a large number of half bloated corpses of the merfolk rotting away. Judging by its current state, it was likely that it had been carried by the waves from a great distance.
“Now what will you do?”
The regions beyond the oceans were an unexplored territory. No maps in existence show anything beyond the seas. Not only was it unnecessary to cross the ocean in a world where one could obtain just about anything with enough power, the ocean was filled with unknown perils.
Even though Sungchul possessed god-like strength, he could not overcome divine power or the entire ocean. It seemed as though the only option open to him were to give up for now.
‘Whether it be through Colossus or an airship, it would be a good idea to go back for now and think about how I could pursue him.’
He spent the night in Habrus. No one lived here but this place had a kitchen once used by humans, and Habrus was a great place for making sea food.
While open-mouthed clams were cooking over a grill, Sungchul was enjoying sushi made of freshly caught fish along with Blood Iron Spirit. The Blood Iron Spirit had been obtained through a Blood Iron survivor living in La Grange and therefore was not as good as Spirits made in its home town. However, it had more than enough of the flavor Sungchul had been wanting. Sungchul placed the Spirit inside a pile of Ice he had created using a Scroll of Ice Bolt, which had been expressly purchased in anticipation of this kind of occasion. He savored his first feast in a while without holding back.
“My world. Your strange eating habits grow weirder and weirder as time goes on. To think you’d eat raw fish! Not even Lizardmen do that!”
Bertelgia was not alone in harsh assessment on his food. The judge residing inside Sungchul also gave it a terrible score.
[Score of this dish is… 9 points!]
[Consumption of raw meat is for four legged animals.]
Although he had ignored the Judge until now for having a childish taste in food, he was a little interested now. Just what was the nature of the being that assessed the quality of food every time regardless of place or time?
‘I had thought that it was probably an Ashin with a weird hobby somewhere.’
The category of Ashin (亞神) were given to all those who were neither gods and mortals but something in between. According to legend, mortals who obtain power greater than what is allowed will disappear from this world. The reason was said to be that the world could no longer contain their form. As a result, those who become Ashin would end up in a different world. To an incomprehensible realm that are given various names such as Heaven, God’s Realm, or Space of Emptiness. It has been told that those who become Ashin instantly lose interest in the world they used to live in and have no lingering attachment to the world.
The moment Ashin loses their mortal coil and ascends, they transform into a being that is different from before and therefore forget all the small things that had happened in the past. But there is a rumor that some Ashins operate secretly in niche domains.
Sungchul had been thinking that the so-called judge of the Chef class contained in his broach must be one of these kinds of beings.
‘But according to what Adelwight had said, there might be a method to meet with this guy.’
Sungchul thought as such as he turned his attention to a squirming worm-like creature on the plate. It was a Fat Innkeeper Worm.
It was a rare and sought after delicacy where he had lived, but here it was a deeply abhorred food that nobody was willing to eat. Sungchul picked up a worm and placed it on the chopping block and began cutting it.
“Urk. You’re going to eat that?”
“Do you have any idea how delicious this is?”
Sungchul put the Fat Innkeeper Worm into his mouth without adding anything else and waited for a score to pop up. But no matter how long he waited, there was no score on the worm. The Judge must have run away.
‘Not knowing the greatness of seafood. How pitiful.’
When Sungchul finished one Fat Innkeeper Worm, he turned his eyes to the clams cooking on top of the grill. The smell alone made him salivate.
His meal continued without mercy. Battle with the Seven Heroes, Alchemy, and finally the pursuit after Desfort, all expanded a great deal of energy so his appetite could not be compared to the usual.
A mountain of food and alcohol was consumed. To the extent that even he himself felt he had over eaten. But there was always a separate stomach for dessert.
He opened the box that had once contained Dalphain’s head and took out the cookies Adelwight had given him to savor with warm tea and cleanse his pallet.
“You sure love to eat. Really.”
Sungchul gave a small smile at Bertelgia’s complaints and then looked up into the sky.
“One ought to eat well.”
It was starting to become night. Sungchul decided on an abandoned house to use and went to bed. Although the mattress was a little worn out, it was still comfy so Sungchul was able to get a decently satisfactory sleep. There was no break better than having a great meal and rest. Sungchul left the abandoned port city while feeling physically refreshed.
At the entrance to the city was an unexpected visitor.
No, it was a little girl that resembled Vestiare.
Sungchul was aware that it was Vestiare’s familiar, similar to Homunculus.
“Vestiare nim wishes to meet you.”
The child Vestiare said with a beautiful voice
“She said that there is a very important thing to tell you.”
After giving its brief message, the child Vestiare disappeared beyond a dimensional gate. In her place was a map to Ixion.
“Hmm. That’s a really suspicious invitation.”
Bertelgia peeked out from the pocket she was hiding in and commented.
“More importantly, how did she know we would be here?”
“They must have had informants watching Habrus due to its importance to them. Furthermore, I’ve had a fire going all night in an abandoned city so it might be more strange if they didn’t find out.”
Sungchul briefly fell into thought.
If what Dragoman said was true, then Vestiare was an enemy that no longer had any value meeting. It was because there was nothing to be gained by killing her. But at the point where Desfort had escaped, it didn’t seem like a bad idea to meet with her just once.
Dragoman said it himself. That the one who knew the man named Desfort the best was the Echo Mage Vestiare.
Whether it was to go get the Colossus or an airship, the fact that her base of operation was on the way factored into his decision to go meet her. Sungchul was thinking that getting an airship rather than a Colossus would take more time but would be more appropriate for the job. He would be able to see further, riding an airship that flew at a high altitude. And it would travel much faster than a Colossus.
On top of everything, he possessed Aquiroa’s flagship Procrustes, which was considered to have 1st rate performance among airships. The airship he had obtained after slaying the second Aquiroa and her crew near the Tower of Recluse was hidden deep within a nearby forest.
‘It wouldn’t be bad to go visit Vestiare’s base of operation on my way to the airship. I will not spare more than 1 hour on her.’
Sungchul resumed his journey after deciding on his path. To Ixion, the city of Mages said to be built in a single day.
Beyond the ocean of the easter regions was a nameless island. There is no one in the current era who knows of its existence. But it was a different story for a person from the previous era, especially one capable of deciphering the Letter of God which was kept in utmost secrecy.
Desfort did not have the ability to read the Letter of God. But he did possess high enough intuition to be able to comprehend small portions of it. In the days he despaired after feeling his own powerlessness and limitations, acquiring the Letter of God by chance was a type of revelation to him.
[…Unrelated to the Calamity… the world… pushed to extinction… lonely deserted island of the eastern ocean… the merfolk… released… outsider’s entry… prevent…]
Desfort began to dig through the records of the past using this passage as the starting point. And soon he was able to obtain the information he wanted.
In a very distant past, a volcano in the east erupted extremely violently and pushed everything on the continent to suffer and struggle for survival under yellow colored fallout that represented death.
Most importantly, that event being completely unrelated to the Calamities recorded in the Book of Calamity fed Desfort’s curiosity.
The earth trembled terribly, causing the foul stench of sulfur and other vile smells to fill his nose. Desfort turned his face. Next to a nameless volcano, Eckheart’s Colossus was using its hands to dig through the surface of the Volcano. Dark smoke and yellow toxic materials ominously rose into the sky above an island where no one lived.
Desfort watched the progress with his arms crossed while humming away with a lively song.
After who knows how long, Desfort turned his head when he detected a familiar but unpleasant thing next to him. There was a single book. It was identical to the one in the control room of the Colossus. A sickening sarcasm escaped his lips.
“Did you grow anxious because I am trying to create an unscheduled Calamity?”
The book floating in the air did not move nor speak. Desfort glared at the book and said calmly.
“If you really don’t like it, then kill me here. It would be a trivial matter for you, is it not?”
The book did not speak. But its silence steadily gave Desfort an increasingly unbearable sense of pressure. Desfort’s expression which had been calm until now began to twist.
“I am not a cow at a slaughterhouse! I am not a dumb animal that would sit quietly and wait for my turn to die!”
But the book replied once more with silence. But unlike before, an important change was occurring in the background.
The Colossus that had been agitating the Volcano stopped moving.
“Did you think that I would give up just because of that?”
The silence continued for a long time. And then finally the book disappeared without a warning. It had left as suddenly as it had appeared. A small sigh escaped Desfort’s mouth.
“That’s pointless, child. You can’t escape doom.”
He glared at the Colossus that had stopped moving. An intense wrath began to burn from deep within his eyes.
“…From the moment you, instead of me, became a god!”
TL Note: Another name for Fat Innkeeper Worm is… Chinese Penis Fish.