Tower of Recluse. Storage room of the Scroll of Calamity.
A slave of the tower was busy sweeping the floor while humming. He dexterously cleaned the complicated machinery located below the Scroll before sitting down on the floor to take a break. Although he could not see it, his hand brushed against an interface that became visible via stream of mana. Thus, words appeared before him.
[Welcome to Ant Wiki.]
It was a knowledge base network well beloved and oft used by the hermits of the Tower of Recluse. It’s intended purpose was to preserve knowledge, but it contained a great deal of trivial information so it was a perfect place to waste time browsing through the information page.
The slave who was a Summoned recalled the memories of his homeworld as he browsed the Ant Wiki. The trending topic with the most discussion was on the topic of so-called La Grange’s Night of new year’s eve incident.
The news of the incident which resulted in tens of thousands of deceased, one of the fleet of the Empire literally bursting into flames, and the Emperor himself becoming seriously wounded had more than enough impact to shake the continent whole and then some.
The Slave sat crumpled up on the floor as he watched new information flow in real-time.
One new topic caught his eye.
A new page was created for an individual who was appointed to the position of the Protector of the Capital after the late Admiral Arquebus had perished in the incident.
The matters of who took important office positions in the Empire were of paramount interest to even those from other lands. Therefore, whenever someone unknown rose to a high position, then they naturally attracted a great deal of attention.
The slave opened the information page to read the entry about Ahmuge. But there was no information about her except that she was a woman of Summoned origins.
“Just what kind of backing did she need to rise to that position?”
The man continued to anxiously read through the nebulous information but he couldn’t have possibly dreamed that right behind him, the Scripture of Calamity was spread wide open and emitting lights from words written on the page. It wasn’t until the shadow in front of him became illuminated that he realized something serious might be happening and turned to look behind him. His mouth flew open.
“Uhh… uhh… wha… what?!”
Scroll of Calamity, an object said to records all Calamities that are to come. Each and every word written by the gods themselves were giving off a wondrous yet terrifying light.
The master of the Tower of Recluse, Porpyrius, came running into the chamber containing the Scroll of Calamity completely out of breath without having changed out of his pajamas.
There, he could see the Scroll of Calamity enveloped in glowing lights.
“What happened here? What did you do?”
He questioned the slave fiercely. The slave shook his head in terror as he replied.
“I didn’t do anything. Other than checking Ant Wiki really quickly!”
“But, I told you not to use the Ant Wiki in this room!”
Porphyrius rebuked angrily but it was not time to be wasting his time on a slave. He squinted to examine the Scroll.
Porphyrius’s eyes grew wide in surprise.
The words of the Scroll of Calamity enveloped in bright lights. The portions containing the prophecy of the third Calamity were shaking and the words were continuously changing and shifting.
‘Could it be that the calamity is changing…?’
Porphyrius discovered a few words that repeated themselves amidst the endlessly churning and unstable letters of the Calamity and unconsciously brought them to his lips.
“Harvestors… Three banners… Army of Calamity…”
The third calamity in the Scroll of Calamity was still undetermined.
Bertelgia flew towards the book that looked identical to herself and asked. The mysterious book in question remained closed and floating upright in the air and did not answer.
“What is this? A living book no better than a Cave Elf but now there are two of them…!”
Even Marakia whose pride was unparalleled could not help but be surprised by the situation. Although Sungchul also felt a great deal of shock, he was the only one who remained level headed. It was because he had been told previously by Adelwight of the existence of other books that look identical to Bertelgia. Sungchul did not put too much importance on her words at the time but he did not forget. Sungchul spoke calmly to the book that appeared before him.
“Identify yourself, living book.”
Once Sungchul asked, the book which floated motionlessly in the air finally moved. The book responded.
“My identity is not important. What is important is the mission given to you.”
It had the same exact voice as Bertelgia, but it had a completely different feeling. If Bertelgia was like a loud and rowdy girl, then this one gave the feeling of a well educated and composed lady.
“I shall open the path to the Abandoned Island. All you need to do is travel through the portal and defeat Desfort. It would not be a difficult task for someone of your strength to kill that psychopath.”
The moment the book was finished speaking, the covers flew open and magic formations covered its entirety. But then Sungchul’s cold voice reverberated in the air.
“I shall not move a single step from here unless you give me a satisfactory explanation.”
The book stopped casting the spells. It returned to an upright position and resumed being an inanimate object. Sungchul glared at the book and spoke with a voice full of dignity.
“I am not a tool nor a doll to command as you please. If you wish to move me, then it would do you good to first seek my consent.”
His words contained his strong will. No amount of flattery nor threats would have any effect. The book stared blankly at Sungchul.
Once some time passed by, the book was the first to bend to his will.
“…I have no choice then.”
After a brief moment, the mysterious book resumed speaking with her elegant voice.
“There’s not much to say about my identity, but to explain my…”
“Probably an imitation. An imitation of this Bertelgia nim.” Bertelgia aggressively growled out the words from Sungchul’s side.
“…Imitation…?” The book’s voice that previously lacked semblance of human emotions now shook slightly. But only just then. The book regained composure and resumed speaking.
“Imitation!” Bertelgia interrupted again.
“Um… Please do something about that defect!” The book requested Sungchul for help. It wasn’t like Sungchul didn’t understand the reason for Bertelgia’s reaction, but it was important that he hear her story.
Sungchul spoke softly to Bertelgia.
“Bertelgia. Let’s listen to this imitation for now.”
“Wait… How can you be this way too?” The book finally snapped and shouted.
Bertelgia and Sungchul glanced at each other. Bertelgia soon moved herself as if to nod. With Bertelgia’s consent, Sungchul gave the book a chance. The mysterious book that lost a significant portion of its original mystique began to tell her story with a hint of bewilderment left in her voice.
“… I have been commanded by a being you refer to as God to appear before you.”
“God? Which God was it? God of Order? Or maybe God of Chaos? If not that, then the God of Mediation?”
Sungchul threw out questions in quick successions unlike how he usually behaved. Situation being as it were, he did not think it proper to be sitting back with his arms crossed and listen passively.
The book thought for a moment before answering Sungchul’s question.
“To be precise, it is not one of the Gods you recognize. It’s a being comparable to a God. But, since the being manages the world on behalf of the Gods, it wouldn’t be wrong for mortals like yourself to consider it a God.”
“So, an agent of God?”
The book lightly shook before continuing to explain.
“You are one who confronts the calamity. If you continue to resolve the calamities as you have done until now, there will be a day when you stand before him. Please save your questions for that day, because it is not all that relevant right now.”
The moment the words left the book’s lips, a magic formation unfolded before Sungchul and a painting appeared. Within the floating painting that looked like a type of mirror, Sungchul could see a tanned smoke covering the sky of a lonely island far out into the sea.
“Why is the sky that color?”
Sungchul asked while taking note of the color of the sky. The book answered.
“Long ago, a malicious Lesser God created a deadly Miasma. The Miasma of death was sealed within that Volcano. Desfort is attempting to agitate the volcano to cover the world in the Miasma of death.”
“Why is Desfort doing this?”
“That is because he wishes for the death of all living things.”
The ground shook slightly once more. It was unmistakably an earthquake. Although it was only a mild quake here in Ixion, there must have been an enormous explosion in the nameless island far away.
Sungchul could tell in a glance the seriousness of the situation as he watched the insidious tan colored clouds eat into the earth and the skies. But he had a question on his mind.
What was Desfort’s objective?
The unnamed book had stated that his goal was the end of all life, but there must be a reason behind it. He wouldn’t have chosen to do something so drastic without a reason.
‘He carries the fate of Calamity itself within his body. But despite being a calamity, he is trying to bring forth a level of destruction far worse than the one prophesied. That is probably why this servant of the agent of God has appeared before me.’
His next point of interest was the identity of the book with the likeness of Bertelgia. Sungchul glared at the book and asked clearly.
“Is your master Eckheart?”
The book did not respond in any way. After a brief pause, an emotionless answer came.
“The agents of Gods are those who have left behind the limitations and boundaries of the world. The concept of names used by mortals to identify one another don’t apply to them.”
“So it’s a nameless being?”
“Either way, there is no time left. Desfort is trying to destroy the world as we speak. If he is left alone, then the agent of the Gods will have no choice other than to take drastic actions.”
“What do you mean by drastic?”
The book responded firmly to Sungchul’s question.
“There will be a revision to the content of the Calamity. From a calamity that humans are capable of resolving to one that humans are not.”
“Calamity that humans are not capable of resolving?”
The book did not answer. Instead, it silently showed the impending disaster about to occur on the abandoned island through an illusion. The volcano erupted and a dense and deathly yellow smoke billowed out in great quantities into the sky. The book indicated the scene as it spoke.
“What Desfort is trying to do will bring about a worse result than any Calamity. Once the color of the sky changes, no one will survive. Let alone humans, even down to the last blade of grass will everything perish.”
Once Marakia heard this, he turned to Sungchul to speak.
“I have once heard of a land far to the east beyond the ocean where not a single tree nor blade of grass are able to grow. I do not think that the words of this Living Book are a lie.”
Sungchul emotionlessly stared through the portal to the other side as he fell into thought.
‘My purpose in coming here was to kill Desfort.’
He remembered his objective.
‘I have only paused because the solution to the Curse of Extinction revealed itself.’
The path becomes obvious once one takes time to simplify the issue. Sungchul asked the book.
“Is Final Elixir able to cure the Curse of Extinction?”
Sungchul turned to ask Bertelgia.
“…So this imitation says. What do you think?”
“What do you mean imitation…” The mysterious book grumbled as it shook.
Bertelgia didn’t seem like she liked the imitation. But Sungchul’s decision to ask for her input in what to do next was enough to win her over.
“Isn’t it alright? Listening to what this Imitation had to say?”
Bertelgia said as she gazed at the book that looked identical to herself. A faint grin appeared on Sungchul’s lips. Now he had two different ways to resolve the Curse of Extinction. One potential answer was to use the Fragment of Calamity, but it was not a trustworthy item. It might cause sacrifices of others like in the Settlements.
Another answer could be obtained by slaying Desfort.
‘It’s not bad to kill two birds with one stone. Though I don’t see a way to bake the cake and eat it too.’
His direction became clear. Sungchul addressed the book that looked identical to Bertelgia.
“Open the way.”
As soon as he commanded, countless magic formations appeared over the mysterious book.
Long distance teleportation gate magic.
It was made of many strange formations that Sungchul had never seen before.
After many magic formations came and went, a portal appeared before Sungchul and the gang. It was a doorway to the a abandoned lonely island out in the sea. Sungchul put Bertelgia into his pocket and then turned to look at Marakia.
“Will you come?”
“Of course. Experiencing the world as a King is a great joy.”
Marakia’s participation was settled
‘He is a helpful one.’
Sungchul thought as much as he headed towards the Portal.
That was when he detected the presence of someone.