Marakia’s eyes reflected his surprise when he examined Kha’nes.
“Ho? A dragon?”
Marakia instantly recognized the immense magical energy and presence hiding within Kha’nes’s human body. Then, an unconcealable pride manifested in his gaze; the memory of his greatest accomplishment during his rather short reign crossed his mind.
“If it’s a dragon, I have slain one on my own. It was a magnificent battle that lasted seven days and seven nights… I’ve had a renowned elvan poet be brought to me to compose words of poetry for my deed… And though it was composed of verses with difficult and strict constraint of containing twelve lines per stanza, the poem was beautiful, perfect.’
No one asked nor were anyone listening, but he continued to mumble on. In some ways, it was quite a sad sight to behold.
“It’s been a while, Enemy of the World!”
Kha’nes smiled radiantly as she enthusiastically waved her hand to greet Sungchul. It was impermissible for someone to not say a word in response if someone were to go so far to greet them. Sungchul forced open his mouth with great difficulty to utter a reply to the glowing welcome he had received.
“…Been a while.”
“Mmm? You got another friend that I’ve never met before?”
Kha’nes soon discovered Marakia stuck to the back of Sungchul’s coat.
“Wow! Isn’t this a Nahak? There’s still Nahaks around to this day?”
Kha’nes instantly pulled Marakia out of the pocket the moment she discovered him as one would when harvesting a radish.
Marakia flailed around with his wings to resist, but he was already deep within her embrace.
“So soft and fluffy. How can something be so cute?”
“I…Insolence! Unhand me this instant, reptile!”
Marakia struggled but he was already captured. He was at her complete mercy for quite a while before she was done.
Once the punishment was over, Sungchul stored the completely slack Marakia into his pocket before stating his business.
“I have come to check the Scroll of Calamity.”
“Well, the Scroll of Calamity is this way. I’ll lead you the way.”
Kha’nes hummed happily as she took the lead.
Soon the doors to the Tower of Recluse opened. Sungchul and company followed Kha’nes’s energetic footsteps to the storage location of the Scroll of Calamity. Within the main hall where it was stored were countless representatives of many different countries. The ambassadors were mostly historians with expertise on Calamities and antiquity, or mages. One by one, they sleepily turned to look when Kha’nes entered the hall so early in the morning.
And then finally, an alarmed voice rang out from within the silence.
“Th…isn’t that the Enemy of the World?”
His short utterance had an explosive and immediate reaction.
“My god. He looks exactly like the wanted posters.”
“He…why did he come here?”
“Did he come for us…?”
Sungchul silently watched the quiet space instantly transform into something resembling a battlefield. It has been a while since he experienced the ramifications of it, but he was most certainly called the Enemy of the World. The most hated and feared man in the world.
Sungchul was able to reaffirm his position as he looked out at the fear stricken faces looking back at him.
It did not take long for someone to bring about another scene Sungchul was accustomed to seeing.
“Everyone, prepare to battle! We must protect the Scroll of Calamity even if it costs us our lives!”
The mages and scholars of the Human Empire all readied their swords and staves. Kha’nes who had been passively watching finally interfered when the tension reached a breaking point.
It was right as she was about to speak. The tension in the room that had heated up as rapidly as a wildfire suddenly went cold as if put out by water. It happened naturally without anyone having suggested or insisting upon it. It was as if a blade of grass was put into fire and burned for a moment before withering and going out.
Not a single one of the many representatives gathered there took a step forward. In fact, as if they had arranged this ahead of time, they all turned to leave. The ones who were shocked were the representatives of the Human Empire.
“What are you all doing? The leader of the Order of Extinction himself has come to destroy the Scroll of Calamity. Will you not stop him?
One of them called out to the representatives of other nations that had turned their back on them as if to incite them. But the only thing that came back was contempt.
“Why don’t you who serve the king of the world take care of it?”
The vein on the envoy of the Human Empire popped out as his facial features became distorted. Kha’nes’s voice spreading throughout the room after that was a foregone conclusion.
“This man is my guest.”
Not even the envoy of the Human Empire could dare talk back to a Half Dragon, who are known to be strong beyond reckoning. Had this been anywhere other than the Tower of Recluse, he could have used various diplomatic methods to apply pressure and resist, but Kha’nes’s words and presence were absolute within the tower. The Human Empire’s envoy could do nothing but to step away with a face deformed by humiliation.
Sungchul watched the envoys of the Human Empire leave without showing any reaction.
The scene he had witnessed this morning was not a fluke. Something serious was happening.
There was a grave change happening within the World Parliament, the body of government that represented the order and stability of this world.
‘What happened between the time I was in Ixion and the Fae World?’
There was nothing that came to mind. But there was a possibility.
No matter how well it was dressed up and presented, the World Parliament was ultimately a collection of the world’s ruling elite, whom of which gathered and cooperated for profit. Therefore, the point of fissure would have been from when the interests of the constituents no longer aligned with each other. Problem was that it was unclear what those conflicts of interests were. Sungchul was soon able to find out the reason.
“I’ll show you the Scroll of Calamity.”
Slaves under the altar pulled the lever as ordered by Kha’nes, and a complicated machinery of chains and gear controlling the steel covers began to unravel artistically in a sequence. After several layers of the protective layers gave way to reveal the Scroll of Calamity within, Sungchul quickly read the text appearing on the scroll.
‘The second Calamity disappeared as if it burst into flames like the first one. The problem is the third Calamity.’
The thing the third Calamity demanded of humanity was to have a single king.
It was an impossibly difficult task. More difficult than any other Calamity that came before. The meaning behind the creation of a single king was the abdication or dethroning of all other kings. What in the world could possibly be more difficult than this? Who would willingly surrender their crown?
Kings, faced with the possibility of losing their power, will choose death and fight to the bitter end. So many kings throughout history demonstrated this again and again. The reason why the Wandering King Kromgard of the well-hated Ruteginean Kingdom was given a pardon was because he had made a difficult decision.
“Looks like you’re feeling stuck for once.”
Kha’nes glanced at Sungchul’s profile with the corner of her eyes and grinned.
Sungchul’s words trailed off as he took his eyes off of the Scroll of Calamity.
“Meet Porypyrius before you go since you’ve come anyway. Or at least take a break here before you leave, if you’d like.”
Kha’nes offered Sungchul to recuperate here. There was no reason to refuse.
Once Sungchul nodded to accept, Kha’nes ordered several slaves to take Sungchul to the waiting room.
Once Kha’nes was gone, Sungchul followed the slaves towards the room. He was full of thoughts.
‘The unification of the world, otherwise a consolidation. The Calamity this time around might be to test the people in power in this world.’
Two solutions came to mind at first.
One way was to use the methods of the Holy Kingdom of Ruteginea and conquer all other countries in the world until a single king remained. But this method required the sacrifice of a great deal of blood. An unimaginable amount.
Second method was something Sungchul already tried to create a foundation for in the past, creating a solution by the name of the World Parliament; A path of unification and peace. If all could let go of their greed and worked together to overcome a common quandary, then it was the most rational method to take.
But Sungchul knew that it would never happen. Kings, ministers, scholars, individually excellent and wise individuals always seemed to be twisted by power and turned into something selfish, foolish, and hideous. Those who taste power never seem to want to ever let go of it.
‘So… in the end, is there no path but the one drenched in blood?’
He could not begin to imagine just how much blood would need to be split to resolve this abominable Calamity, and just how bad the hatred and curses would become at the end of it.
It was a long time since he last felt so helpless.
It was about time when Sungchul felt the need to take a break, a door opened up at the perfect time.
“Please come this way.”
The slave of the Tower of Recluse looked up slightly as he led the way to a small but otherwise a well equipped waiting room.
Sungchul discovered that the face of the slave looked oddly familiar.
‘That one is the one with Ant Witch? Ant Witcher? He was the one using Ant something that one time.’
Sungchul sat on a comfortable chair in the room and rested for once. And while he was taking a break, other slaves came to bring him snacks and refreshments. Sungchul drank his tea as he thought about how to resolve the upcoming Calamity. The more he thought about it the more it hurt his head.
‘What must be done?’
The people of the east who were destabilized and broken by the Colossi were rising up like embers on the fields of grass, and the Human Empire which was meant to form a stable center of the world has long since been unable to fulfill that role.
To make matters worse, the few nations that were still cooperative with the Empire were looking as if they were about to leave as well due to the Calamity’s edict of consolidating all the powers of the continent into a single king. The seemingly impregnable and unstoppable World Parliament was beginning to crumble.
‘That’s not the only problem.’
Sungchul was well aware.
That the Miasma of Death was approaching from across the ocean far to the east. Floating as it may be above the waters in some distant ocean, it will eventually be blown by seasonal winds and make landfall upon the continent.
And even though there was not enough of it to turn the land into lifeless desolation where not even a blade of grass can grow like Desfort wanted, it was still enough to be able to bring devastation to crops and animals over the course of a day, or perhaps even for several months.
If that were to happen, a famine would spread across the land. The famine will cause further death, and the death will bring about disease and multiply the damage. The piles of corpses will act like pyre that ignites the flames of war. The war will grow in size and destruction, exacerbated by the divine command to reduce the number of kings in the world to one, until it scorches the continent whole.
‘The Ancient Pillar must refer to the western oceans, the cliffs that form the westernmost edge of the Ancient Kingdom. In other words, the time limit is until the Miasma covers the entirety of the continent.’
The time the Calamity gave humanity cannot be said to be very long. At most about a year. If short, just a few months. Everything must be decided by then.
No answer came to mind.
Aside from going the simple route of blood bath. But that too will not go smoothly.
While Sungchul was preoccupied squeezing his brain to try and find a way to deal with the Calamity, Marakia and the arguably not-on-good-terms Bertelgia were discussing among themselves.
“That Dragon. I feel like she’s of the bad sort. Half Dragon Half Human? That means she’s a mutt, does it not?”
“Shh! What are you going to do if Kha’nes hears you? And you how the saying goes. Kha’nes listens to the day words, and the night words are still heard by Kha’nes.”
“10 years. No, maybe in 5 years, I can sla…I mean I’ll become stronger than that mixed blood. But that aside, something had been bothering me since a little while ago.”
Marakia detected magical energies that permeated the entirety of the tower using his abilities. The one he focused on was a formless strain of energy that weaved in and out of the Tower of Recluse.
Marakia brought his small hand to that and couldn’t conceal his surprise.
“Hoh. Ant Wiki? I guess it’s a type of formless library.”
Marakia accessed the Tower of Recluse’s beloved Ant Wiki with great astonishment. He had never seen nor interacted with anything like this, so it came to him with the added sensational shock. Marakia continued to smile as he greatly praised the collective that created something so ingenious.
“Mere humans making this kind of thing… this is quite a surprise. A collection of data anyone is able to contribute and edit. Of course there is the danger of malicious or ignorant editing, but this innovative invention most definitely deserves praise from the King of the Final Age.”
But Bertelgia couldn’t understand anything Marakia was saying.
“What kind of nonsense are you sputing now? Earlier you were going on and off about some poem or something.”
Marakia laughed scornfully.
“You poor Living Book. You don’t have hands so you can’t even get access to this knowledge.”
A magic formation appeared floating above Marakia’s finger. It was a completely different type of magic formation than ones used by the people of the current era. And once the magic formation disappeared, an image appeared before Marakia and Bertelgia. That image was none other than the words ‘Ant Wiki’.
“Wow. What is this?”
Marakia grinned at Bertelgia’s surprised response as he flexed his taloned fingers.
Marakia expertly typed the word Sungchul Kim onto a keyboard which then appeared on the screen.
Information about Sungchul appeared on the screen.
Sungchul who had been deeply lost in thought finally noticed what his dependents were up to.
“What are you doing?”
Marakia and Bertelgia had opened Sungchul’s history on a screen floating in air and were busy browsing through them.
“Hey, try Ryze Hymerr.”
“Ryze Hymerr? Ah, that cuck? Not a problem. But in return, I rise to the 2nd in the hierarchy from this day forward.”
Marakia delightfully entered Ryze Hymerr’s name into the Ant Wiki.
But the incensed Sungchul gave a compulsory command in the next moment.
“Shut it off.”
“Turn off the Ant Wiki.”
Marakia was finally able to see. The face Sungchul makes when he becomes truly angry.