“Should we call it quits for the day and go back?”
Bertelgia nodded to Sungchul’s suggestion. It was because she understood that he was in a foul mood.
To go back out of the world, they headed back towards the entrance of the manor.
Bertelgia suddenly spoke up.
“She seemed quite the active kid? I don’t know if she’s only like that in front of her family, but it didn’t seem like she was the quiet type at all.”
“Now that you mention it, it seems that what you say isn’t unfounded.”
Sungchul felt fatigue wash over him once again.
‘I need to get out of here quickly and get some rest.’
But while they were walking down the hallway, Sungchul and Bertelgia heard a hair-raising sound. It was the sound of Craiya crying.
The sound was coming from the room located right next to the stairway leading to the ground floor. The door that had been closed when they first passed by was now wide open. Cast in the dark light of setting sun leaking into the room between the curtains, the mother and daughter were alone in the room.
This was the first evidence of darkness discovered in Craiya’s dream world. Bertelgia grabbed and pulled Sungchul’s sleeve.
Sungchul was going to just pass by without looking because of his overwhelming fatigue. But to Bertelgia, the scene shown in the room was an opportunity. Even to someone from an outside perspective like Bertelgia, Craiya’s ordinary familial life looked like the perfect physical manifestation of happiness itself. Although they could return to the dream world at any time, there was no guarantee that they would be able to witness a scene like this ever again.
‘Now’s the chance.’
Bertelgia this time went as far as to spread her arms out to block Sungchul’s path completely.
“Please, just look over there. Sleep a bit later!”
Bertelgia wasn’t thoughtless. She was fully aware that Sungchul was suffering greatly when he was watching Craiya’s blissful everyday life. So she perfectly understood that it was draining Sungchul of his will and energy. But since he was already being tormented by all of this, it might be wiser to take all of it in at once and be done with it once and for all.
“Let’s just look at this one thing before we leave, hmm?”
Sungchul stared at Bertelgia indifferently for a while before letting out a shallow sigh and turning towards the room.
The room was completely covered in a suffocating dark atmosphere that seemed wildly unnatural in the light of the rest of the dreamworld that they had seen so far.
“This might be the answer to getting the kid to return to reality!”
Bertelgia excitedly encouraged Sungchul with conviction. Sungchul entered the room feeling a crushing sense of exhaustion. The desolate and bitter sounds grew louder.
“Dad… where is dad?”
Sungchul knew how Kreigfreid died. Though to no fault of his own, he who was one of the idols and symbols of Ruteginea faced all sorts of fierce attack from all sides and was beset by plots and schemes.
In the midst of losing his vast fortunes little by little by enemies that swarmed him like a vast cloud of locusts, he suddenly went missing without any warning. Many people assumed that he had chosen to suicide, following the ancient tradition of the nobles of Ruteginea who took their own lives in secret like dragons.
“This is your chance. How about trying to talk to her?”
Bertelgia shook Sunghul’s limp arm. Sungchul nodded and walked forward. And soon, the voice of the woman hugging Craiya tightly echoed throughout the room.
“Your father has left to go fulfill his promise.”
“It was a promise he made long ago. So do not worry, your father is by god’s side.”
It was Ryze Himerr’s voice. Sungchul stood in his tracks. Following those words were low voice as cold as the foggy night sky that filled the room.
“My beloved Craiya. There is also something that you must do. My kindest daughter, you can do one last thing for your mother, right?”
Craiya wiped her tears as she asked. Ryze Himerr opened her mouth slightly.
Sungchul felt the fatigue gripping his being evaporate and his mind focused and attentive. The scenery transformed suddenly. Sungchul and Bertelgia found themselves not in a dark room but in the garden with white marble tiles.
“Hmm? Where are we? What happened all of a sudden?”
Bertelgia looked around and made a fuss.
“It was such a perfect moment!”
But Sungchul’s reaction was opposite of Bertelgia. His eyes reflected the utter shock he experienced.
How could he forget this place. It was a place he had called home for over ten years. Although it was enveloped in a thick white fog, Sungchul could recognize immediately that this was his residence located in the first district of La Grange.
“Hey! It’s that kid!”
Bertelgia pointed towards the fog. And indeed, on the other side of the fog was Craiya walking alone along the marble tiled path.
“Let’s follow her!”
Bertelgia grabbed Sungchul’s hands and ran forward. Sungchul chased Craiya as he was being pulled along by Bertelgia.
As expected, beyond the fog was Sungchul’s former residence. But although it was Sungchul’s manor, the mood was completely opposite of Kreigfreid’s manor. If Kreigfreid’s manor was like a garden paradise enveloped in warm light, then Sungchul’s manor was like dreary and haunted execution grounds.
While feeling a clamor of feelings echoing deep within his heart, he grew closer to the small girl who had her back turned towards him. Once he was within arm’s reach, the doors to the manor opened up. Sungchul saw a bulky and strong looking man on the other side of the door that opened.
Dark blue modest yet imposing uniform, with imposing Krombui strapped to his back. It was unmistakable. This was Sungchul’s former appearance, in the nostalgic days he was known as the Commander in Chief of the Empire.
While feeling a vague sense of pride deep within himself, he gazed up. He was curious. About how Craiya viewed his old self.
But once his eyes locked onto his own face, he saw something he did not want to see. In the place where the face of the Imperial Commander in Chief ought to be was a terrifying stone statue of an expression bearing down on them. The moment Sungchul saw the rigid and silent stone-like expression that neither laughed nor spoke, he froze in place. Bertelgia put her hands up to her mouth to stop herself from screaming and tried to calm herself down the best she could.
‘My goodness… how…’
The reason why Craiya did not wish to wake up was in a completely unexpected place than what they thought. The truth was as follows.
Craiya disliked Sungchul.
Bertelgia felt tears well up in her eyes as she grabbed and pulled Sungchul.
“What are you doing? Let’s go. Quickly.”
Sungchul froze for a moment, but otherwise seemed unphased. It wasn’t like he was putting up a brave front or trying to conceal his vulnerabilities.
He actually did not feel any emotion.
Despite the fact that he needed to be sad in this moment, he failed to experience any feeling whatsoever. Could it be because the most hated person of the child he was putting his life on the line to save turned out to be none other than himself? He understood full well that this couldn’t be the only explanation. Sungchul was not such a narrow hearted man.
Sungchul recognized that something important within him was fading away.
The drowsiness that had temporarily abated returned once more.
Tower of Recluse.
Before the Scroll of Calamity were the many representatives of countless countries standing in a line.
The reason for their assembly was just one.
To confirm the ominous phenomena the Scroll of Calamity was undergoing and the consequence of it.
It became commonplace once the text prophesying the third calamity began to unpredictably and endlessly transform at random. One of the hands rose up to point towards the Scroll of Calamity amidst the constantly rowdy crowd of diplomats.
“Look! The words changed!”
All the eyes of the representatives were focused onto the Scroll of Calamity in an instant upon his shouting.
Under the burnt second entry of the Calamities, the third passage was becoming solidified and stable. In complete silence, the gathered crowd watched intensely as the new passage for the third Calamity took form.
[Before the yellow cloud of death from the oceans to the east touches the ancient pillars, there must stand but a single crown in the entirety of the continent. Failing this, the mortals will all come to witness the wrath of the true god manifest itself on the land.]