Someone was approaching at great speed. Sungchul stopped to look behind him.
“Wait, darling. Where are you going?”
Behind him was the red haired and eyed McRaed looking back and forth between him and the shimmering portal.
“I am going to leave Ixion.”
Sungchul answered calmly. There was no reason to wait nor hide anything. McRaed was unable to respond for a while as if she was hit over the head with a blunt object. But Sungchul couldn’t just stand there and watch her. When he turned to leave through the portal again, he was stopped by a sharp voice.
Frenzy was beginning to manifest in her eyes. Sungchul felt troubled. McRaed spoke next.
“Why are you trying to leave so suddenly? The day after witnessing the miracle of dispelling the Curse of Extinction no less.”
McRaed soon noticed the tiny but dignified Marakia standing by Sungchul’s feet and her eyes grew wide.
“What’s this? Is it an Avian…?”
“I am the King of the final age, Marakia.”
Marakia opened his wings wide and spoke in a needlessly arrogant attitude. Bertelgia hastily flew towards Marakia to shut him up, but Marakia’s behavior served to fan McRaed’s confusion even further.
“What’s going on? What’s this Avian and now that Living Book?”
There was a need to sort out the situation. Sungchul turned to face McRaed and spoke.
“A volcano in the far east is about to erupt. If the volcano erupts, then all life on the continent will perish. I am going to take this portal there to stop it.”
It was far too little information and excessive concise for McRaed to absorb what she was told. She blinked a few times and fell into thought before spitting out her next words.
“But if you leave Ixion now, then it seriously screws up my position!”
She sounded desperate. Sungchul stopped to face McRaed again.
“Is it because of Vestiare?”
McRaed looked nervous when Sungchul asked, but she nodded.
“If you leave suddenly, that woman will not leave me alone.”
“Do you mean that Vestiare is going to execute you, or somehow cause you injury?”
“That woma… I mean Vestiare nim is not someone like that. But if we were to get on her bad side and lose her favor, then we might not be able to perform miracles anymore through the Colossus. Then New Ixion and I are both finished.”
McRaed revealed everything and then turned to look at the slouching Colossus standing in the darkness in the distance.
Sungchul felt that he understood the relationship between Vestiare and McRaed now.
‘So that’s how it was.’
McRaed’s source of authority and power was not from political tradition and history but from the unlimited supplies that came from borrowing the power of the Colossus. There was almost no resident of the old Ixion left in the New Ixion so it was almost guaranteed that dependence on the Colossus was absolute. But this was wrong in Sungchul’s eyes.
“Why not just cut your ties with that woman at this point? The continuation of Ixion is happening through continuous sacrifice of others’ lives right?”
“As I said before, this is none of your business. Whether anyone from La Grange dies…”
“There are a great number of refugees from the Easter Regions, your people, mixed in the Settlements as well.”
Sungchul cut McRaed off and glared at her sternly. McRaed was silenced for a moment but didn’t look that shocked. She frowned and muttered softly.
“They’re not from ixion. And Eastern Region encompasses more land. South eastern beaches, especially the rough peasants of Insbant can’t be considered one of the people of the Eastern Regions.”
“You discriminate within different parts of the Eastern Regions?”
“The Empire discriminates people within the cities as well, right?”
Sungchul felt more exhausted than annoyed by McRaed’s obstinate answer. When Sungchul did not answer back, McRaed continued to speak.
“For the revival of the Eastern Regions, Ixion must continue to maintain its growth as it has. Once the Heroic Eastern Seven becomes consolidated and established, with New Ixion at its center, the refugees who traveled west will return to their lands of the Eastern Regions. Once that happens, we can finally obtain the strength necessary to rival the ruling elites of the world who abandoned us.”
“Burning through countless people like firewood?”
Sungchul said with a sigh.
“I don’t care how many people die. There is nothing more important to us than the restoration of the Eastern Regions. Ixion is a city that will become the heart of the new Eastern Regions. And until that day arrives, I must maintain my relationship with Vestiare.”
Sungchul no longer felt there was any reason to speak. Their perspective were too different. McRaed had a form of faith and even a strong sense of duty. No matter how misplaced the faith was, Sungchul knew that such a flag planted in others’ heart was difficult to cut down. He himself also once had such a flag within himself as well.
“There is nothing more to say. Restoration of the Eastern Regions is none of my business.”
Sungchul moved towards the portal.
“All you have to do is shut her up with a hammer. You’re so vexing to watch sometimes.”
Marakia waddled after Sungchul and Bertelgia followed hot on his tail as if she was supervising him. McRaed who was left alone didn’t know what to do. Her eyes trembled and her teeth clattered. Whether or not it was through anger or disappointment, a torrent of emotions violently clashed within herself as McRaed finally shouted.
Sungchul did not stop.
McRaed gripped her fist and shouted again.
“Weren’t we going to go traveling together?”
Sungchul stopped. But he did not turn to look at her. Beyond his lonely shoulders, the wind carried his voice to McRaed’s ears.
“I will return here after I am done.”
A single tear welled up in McRaed’s red eyes. Sungchul nodded with his back turned to her.
“I will return quickly. And about that Colossus, I might be able to find a solution for it. Maybe find a way that doesn’t require sacrifices through the Settlements nor rely on Vestiare’s help.”
Sungchul said that to her, and turned to Bertelgia who was following behind and asked her casually.
“Are you confident in being able to earn your meal, Bertelgia?”
“Of course! Don’t underestimate the skill of the one in rank 2!”
“Such a precarious rank you have. How long can you defend your position, Living Book?”
McRaed looked towards the strange group with surprise. The Enemy of the World, an arrogant Avian, and a talking book. It was an absolutely surreal combination, but McRaed somehow felt that this group might be able to accomplish something great. Because at the center was Sungchul. He was a dependable man.
He was a man who willingly subjected himself to leaving the position of the Commander in Chief of the Empire and becoming the Enemy of the World in order to keep a promise he had made in the past.
McRaed hid the running tear with her hand and gave an energetic nod.
It was at that moment.
“What a disappointing turn of events, in so many different ways.”
A magic formation appeared right before the portal and a pale but beautiful woman appeared like a piece of art.
“McRaed. Do you remember my words from when we first met?”
Vestiare looked towards McRaed and asked with a profound yet dreamy tone of voice. McRaed’s expression froze up. She trembled like a small forest creature meeting its natural predator as she stared at her benefactor. Vestiare continued to speak.
“You said you’ll do anything, right? For the restoration of the royal family.”
He couldn’t watch any longer. Sungchul walked towards McRaed and stood between them.
“This is a warning. Leave my sight.”
Vestiare gave a faint smile and looked at Sungchul with a phantasmic expression. Although it was refined and elegant enough to shake a normal man to their deepest core, Sungchul was different from most men.
Without a hint of hesitation, he continued to speak.
“The reason why I did not kill you until now is because I had no reason to.”
“Hmm. Is that so? Is that what Dragoman told you?”
Sharp. She seemed to be already aware of what had happened between Sungchul and Dragoman. No, it would be more accurate to say she predicted it.
“A man like Dragoman who is strong against the weak and weak against the strong, it wouldn’t be beneath him to spill all the secrets to you. But no matter what that sordid man does, it will not affect Desfort nim and my plans in the slightest.”
Vestiare said before giving a sorrowful laughter.
“Leave Ixion immediately. If you do so, then you will be allowed to keep your life.”
Divine weapon Fal Garaz appeared in Sungchul’s infamous hands. Vestiare who saw the legendary weapon which saw blood of the Seven Heroes, but she neither showed fear nor caution.
“So it comes to this.”
“You have no hope of victory.”
“If it’s just me, then yes.”
A frightening malice colored her eyes.
“Nothing is going to change even if you were to call all your remaining friends.”
“If Sajators was still around, then it might have been doable. But even if that man is gone, you cannot leave here.”
Vestiare’s words were said with absolute certainty. Sungchul could sense that it wasn’t simply a bluff nor foolhardiness. The Echo Mage he knew wasn’t that kind of person. But Sungchul had no way to know where she was getting such confidence from. Sungchul saw the statues of Sidmia surrounding him and were overcome with bad premonition.
‘I’ll have to take care of it quickly.’
Sungchul resolved to kill Vestiare before she can speak and charged towards her. Before Sungchul’s Fal Garaz could crush her, Vestiare disappeared from his vision. She did not dodge reactively. It appears as though she had already been secretly casting the teleportation spell in silence before Sungchul even resolved to attack her.
Vestiare reappeared on top of the Verdure Greenhouse.
“I will say this again. You cannot leave here alive.”
Vestiare reasserted herself. Sungchul measured the distance with his eyes. It was a distance that Vestiare could react in time. Sungchul held Fal Garaz over his shoulders as he looked up towards Vestiare and asked.
“On what basis do you say this?”
There is not a single mortal capable of defeating Sungchul in the entire world. There are no factions that could overcome him either. He had the power to destroy the Empire by himself, as well as destroy any coalitions and allied nations and burn them to the ground.
“Do you know why I created this city?”
Vestiare looked towards McRaed who stood absentmindedly under the Verdure Greenhouse. Reflected in her dreamy blue eyes were hidden merciless malice of a viper.
“Revival of Ixion? Restoration of the Eastern Regions? Those worthless things have nothing to do with me.”
McRaed raised her head to look at Vestiare with trembling eyes upon hearing Vestiare’s ice cold voice. Vestiare gave McRaed a sadistic smile before looking towards Sungchul once more.
“You must have seen it. Her harvesting the souls of other human beings through the Settlements to duplicate goods. I taught her. That dense woman.”
“But there’s one thing I didn’t tell her.”
A viscous smile that is difficult to believe belongs to a human appeared on Vestaire’s lips.
“That Mage’s souls have a higher worth.”
Oom Bruuk became embedded in Vestiare’s stomach. Vestiare let out a cry as she furrowed her soft brows as she staggered.
“Those who speak too much die quickly.”
Sungchul was waiting for the moment Vestiare lets down her guard while speaking. Vestiare seemed surprised and gave a pitiful smile.
“E…Excellent. But… Haa… nothing… changes!”
Vestiare breathed in deeply and raised up her hands. Magic formation appeared and a large number of small Vestiares appeared to bring a giant scroll before her.
Sungchul shook the bell of Calamity.
Vestiare grimaced as if she was going mad from the terrible pain as she bent her body like a shrimp, but her will was unbroken. Vestiare grimaced as she screeched out.
“As I promised… This altar… I offer to you. Harvest your offerings… and advent onto these lands.”
Vestiare ripped up the scroll as she collapsed.
She couldn’t withstand the sound of Oom Bruuk’s bell and passed out. But once the fragments of the ripped scroll reached the grounds of the city, almost all sounds of the city disappeared all at once.
Within the sudden silence that followed, Sungchul was able to hear Vestiare’s final muttering.
“Lesser God… Sidmia…!”
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