“Human beings have a tendency to become obsessed with heroes. Ruteginean nobility, virtuous, and physically powerful. He was used as a billboard to redirect attention away from the myriad of horrors that was occurring inside the colosseum. Of course, I had no ill will towards him. He was, in some sense, a sacrificial lamb as well.”
“Have you fought him before?”
Sungchul swallowed loudly and nodded at Bertelgia’s question.
“Day before our battle, a Ruteginean Mage came to inject a strange medicine into my body. It was a slow acting lethal toxin.”
“But it sounds like you won anyway?”
To this, Sungchul shook his head.
“It was a draw. The King Kromgard, who’s now known as the Wandering King, saw our fight and declared our fight a draw.”
Sungchul’s eyes became unfocused as if he was seeing the scenery of that day and muttered to himself.
“It was a gruesome battle. The sunset that day was magnificent.”
Bertelgia approached Sungchul slowly as she made strange noises.
“What is it?”
Once Sungchul asked, Bertelgia returned to her original spot.
“No, it’s nothing. But I don’t understand it at all from your story. Why you despise that man so much.”
Sungchul answered bluntly.
“Do you need a reason to dislike someone? If you don’t like them you don’t like them.”
“That is the correct response.”
Marakia suddenly interjected from the side. He was sitting cross legged by himself off to the side and looking like he was deeply pondering something, but he must have been listening to Sungchul’s story.
“That is why there is an institution of duels.”
Marakia continued. Bertelgia peeked over to Marakia for a moment before turning back to face Sungchul and speaking.
“What’s your relationship with that Ryze woman? From the sounds of it, you got rejected.”
“You weren’t rejected?”
“…I was the one who did the rejecting.”
Sungchul stood up. He was strongly appealing with his body language that he no longer wanted to continue this topic.
Bertelgia wanted to torment Sungchul a bit more, but she resolved to just let things end here for now and laid to rest next to a rock. Once Bertelgia fell quiet, the campfire was shrouded in silence. Sungchul lay down in the middle of the grasslands alone and watched the countless stars above.
He heard small footsteps. Marakia was coming towards him.
“That Miasma. It was unbelievably potent. Successful you may have been in plugging the hole whence it came, if the portion of the Miasma that did escape are carried by the wind and reach these lands, then although it wouldn’t be at the level it would end the world, it would leave a considerably devastating damage.”
“Is that so?”
Marakia nodded and returned to the fire. Although he looked and behaved adorably, he was someone who spoke only the truth. But that story was not something that was important to Sungchul at the moment.
He was busy reminiscing about the past he had buried away in the corner of his heart long ago. Even though much of those memories were filled with misunderstandings, fatigue, and suffering, the small moments of happiness sprinkled here and there were like gems that gave him hope and strength to continue living.
And finally, he was now finally within reach of reviving the hope of his past. But for some reason, this part is what struck him as worrying. He wasn’t as happy as he thought he would be. Even during the moment he obtained the Final Elixir.
Although it was true that he thought himself as having a rather stoic personality, the feeling of something missing he was experiencing was something entirely different altogether.
‘I must have become fatigued.’
If the body becomes exhausted, then the mind was bound to suffer as well. Or perhaps it was something caused by Gorgot. Sungchul ended his thoughts there and decided to sleep.
That night, Sungchul did not dream. He had a peaceful and reinvigorating rest.
“I knew it, we should have undergone the trials of the Creationist.”
Bertelgia said as they were moving along the Ruteginean road that stretched endlessly to the east and the west. She glared at Sungchul, who was walking along slowly with an emotionless face, as she shouted.
“If I knew we were going to be traveling so slowly like this!”
By traveling to Ixion and the nameless island, Sungchul and company obtained two units of Colossi. They had onced belonged to Vestiare and Desfort. If they were to complete the Trials of the Creationist within those Colossi, then only two more would remain to be finished and the completion of the Creationist quest would come that much closer. But Sungchul had his own hierarchy of priorities. The rescuing of the child sleeping in the Fae World was the cause for Sungchul to begin on his long journey. Therefore, she took the highest priority.
Of course, Bertelgia was fully aware of this, which was why she agreed to depart right away at the time. But the pace of Sungchul’s travel was driving her crazy.
“If I knew it was going to be like this, I should have held onto your legs and dragged you along to do the Trials first!”
Unlike the clearly agitated Bertelgia, Sungchul looked at peace.
“You don’t have to worry about that, Bertelgia.”
He looked up into the sky and watched a cloud floating by as he spoke slowly.
“The Colossus in Ixion may have legs, but it’s not something that’s going to run off somewhere, and the Colossus from the island is likely still walking on the ocean floor on its way towards the continent as we speak.”
Sungchul had not abandoned the Colossus on the nameless island without taking any measures. Since Sungchul had the necessary authorization to command the Colossus, the ordered Desfort’s Colossus to head towards Ixion.
His plan was to take care of important matters first before coming back to do all the trials with the Colossus at once when he was more free in time.
“Mmm. I see people over there.”
Marakia who had been quiet squinted his eyes and spoke up. Although Sungchul could not see them yet, he thought that Marakia was probably right. The eyes of Nahak that were capable of spotting prey from extremely long distances were incomparably better than the eyes of human beings.
Sungchul soon ran into a group of people. They were refugees of the Eastern Regions that had fled to the west.
“We have come after hearing that the Eastern Regions have established their own Seven Heroes. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but there is no hope or future in staying in the Human Kingdom anymore, so we’re heading back to our homeland.”
It was now a week after Ixion collapsed and the Calamity of the Seven Heroes came to an end. The news was rapidly spreading throughout the continent.
Sungchul bid good fortunes to the Easterners who were returning to their homeland. While walking along the Ruteginean road, they noticed that the number of returning refugees continued to increase as they went further west. But along the way, Sungchul came across a group composed of thousands of individuals. They had dozens of wagons as well as their own dedicated escorts. It was an impressive gathering.
They were battling a group of small golems. Sungchul could tell at a glance that they were likely remnants of the Golems that Ga Xi Ong had created that got left behind. The golems likely responded to the great noise caused by the massive group and attacked them. Although the escorts fought bravely against the golems, it appeared as though they were losing ground.
When Sungchul was about to intervene, Marakia flapped his wings and got in Sungchul’s way.
“It’s finally my turn to show my skill.”
Marakia, who seemed to have grown thanks to having plentiful nutrition, flapped his wings. But perhaps because it was still not a fully mature wing, he was unable to fly up into the sky.
Marakia was forced to use magic to bring himself into the air and headed towards the golems.
“Should we just leave them alone?”
To Bertelgia’s question filled with worry, Sungchul responded with a calm tone.
“He. Despite how he looks, he’s very powerful. The golems of that level will likely only amount to an easy prey for him.”
Sungchul looked at the shield of Calamity Gorgot still affixed firmly to his left arm. It was unclear what was the criterion for calculating the price on life, but Sungchul still owed Gorgot half a life’s worth of life force.
Although it was possible to repay this amount by tomorrow, It would be best to avoid exerting himself as much as possible. Sungchul sat down to watch Marakia go earn his meal. Marakia used his magic against the golems to instantly turn the tide of battle.
Once the battle was over, the Refugees gathered like satellites to enthusiastically welcome and worship their strangely shaped savior.
“Eh hem. Do not dare get near me, you wretched humanoids!”
Even while being the focus of all sorts of praise and accolades, Marakia appeared to be deeply revolted in having his feathers touched by human hands.
“Wow… how despicable.”
Bertelgia commented unhappily upon witnessing the scene.
Either way, thanks to Marakia’s involvement, Sungchul’s group was able to receive a grand welcome by the large convoy. The one leading this group of refugees was an elderly low noble of the East, and Sungchul was able to hear some interesting news while dining with him.
“I’ve heard that the second Calamity was finally resolved. Maybe because of that, the Human Empire became obsessed with trying to drive us all out. Well, being chased out is the fate of the displaced, but there’s a strange rumor spreading through the administrators of the empire. Something about the Scroll of Calamity being broken.”
“The Scroll of Calamity broke?”
“I don’t know if that’s the most accurate word for this but either way there’s something seriously wrong with the Scroll of Calamity. The words indicating the third Calamity is giving off strange lights as it continuously changes.”
If this was true, then it was certain that something serious was going on.
‘Problem is that the third Calamity was supposed to be the Calamity of war…’
The changing of the content of the Calamity was very concerning. The difference between predicting the future and having made preparations beforehand and having to face an unknown future without any prior knowledge was like the difference between the heavens and the earth.
But the important thing now wasn’t the Calamity.
Sungchul bid his farewell to the procession of refugees and hurried on his way. He finally ended the slow pace of his travel and began to speed his way forward.
Not even half a day after they came across the large group of refugees, Sungchul was able to reach his destination of Adelwight’s Forest. But Marakia was reacting quite hard.
“This…. this forest…?! Could it be the cursed forest of the witch?!”
The kingly arrogance he carried with him when he was with the refugees vanished like smoke and he was reduced to a cowering trembling little chick.
“It must be. The legendary forest far in the south… where the four seasons coexist simultaneously, in the ghastly forest where a malevolent Lizardman witch lives…! This forest is dangerous!”
Marakia resisted fiercely against going into the forest upon speaking. Sungchul couldn’t help but think to himself.
‘I suppose it’s possible that Adelwight could have lived even during the time that chick’s species were around. But aside from that, a Lizardman witch…’
Sungchul couldn’t suppress his grin when he imagined Adelwight as a Lizardman. Sungchul dragged Marakia along against his will using brute force.