Chapter 215 – Fracture (3)

The conversation with the master of the Tower, the Holy Hermit Porpyrius, concluded without much difficulty. Sungchul briefly explained his achievement of defeating Desfort and ending the second Calamity. Once Sungchul was done, Porpyrius looked concerned as he began to speak.

“The changed third calamity looks to be difficult to resolve, even for you.”

“Agreed.”

In the worst case scenario, he might have to personally slay every king save one with his hands.

“Well, that’s a problem in and of itself, but there’s a more serious problem brewing in this place.”

Porpyrius brought his hands to massage his forehead as he wore a deeply concerned expression upon his face. Sungchul drank tea as he waited for Porpyrius to speak. And finally, he let out a sigh before continuing to speak.

“Have you heard of a cult by the name Order of Extinction?”

There was a shadow of suspicion behind Porpyrius’s face as he asked. He appeared to be concerned and frightened by something.

“Order of Extinction?”

He had forgotten about them for a while, but it was a familiar name. It was a pathological cult that had declared Sungchul as their messiah and were spreading their influence all over the continent including in the Capital city of La Grange. Although his former subordinate Schnellmerker as well as some of his acquaintances like Xero and Sarasa were a part of this organization, Sungchul was mainly interested in the fact that they had the power to use the Fragments of Calamity.

“I do know of them. But do not misunderstand. They are shameless people who have borrowed my name without my permission.”

Sungchul strongly asserted his noninvolvement with them. Porpyrius let out a sigh of relief when he heard this and laid back against the chair comfortably.

“I thought it might be so, and it was true. There’s no way someone like you would join such a terrible and cruel gathering.”

“Is there a problem?”

Sungchul was concerned about how Porpyrius was reacting to the topic of the Order of Extinction. And as he had expected, Porpyrius began to speak with a low voice as he gazed out the window to the beautiful sight of the lake.

“Order of Extinction. Until recently, the only thing I knew about them was that they were a new religion that was spreading throughout the Empire. That is, until they began to show themselves close to the Tower of Recluse.”

“They did…?”

Sungchul had to be careful about what he was going to say. He already knew in the past that the Order of Calamity’s airship had come very close to the tower in the past. There, he had met Sarasa and Xero who showed animosity towards the tower and heard about their surprising objective. They claimed that the Scroll of Calamity was fake and that it needed to be burnt and destroyed.

Sungchul had sent them back, but having one airship sent back was never going to be enough to break the will of the Order of Extinction as a whole.

“Why have they come here?”

Sungchul asked. Porpyrius’s eyes flashed as if he was seized by the eye of horus as he replied as if he was reciting a verse.

“They had said as such, that the Scroll of Calamity is false, that needs to be thrown in a blazing pit.”

“…”

Sungchul shut his mouth tight and nodded.

‘As I thought. Their objective is the same.’

But it was Sungchul’s thought that he couldn’t automatically disregard Order of Extinction’s perspective. Marakia already said so, that the Scroll of Calamity used to be called by a different name in the distant past. Sungchul thought this was a good opportunity to explore what the Scroll of Calamity was.

‘In some ways, the Scroll of Calamity can be regarded as a sacred artifact. Until the Order of Extinction stepped forward, no one had any suspicions about the Scroll of Calamity and its existence has been taken for granted across the ages..

Sungchul thought to himself as such. He tried to ask a tangential question to Porpyrius about it to avoid making him wary.

“It’s not like I particularly agree with what the Order of Extinction believes, but I have a question out of personal curiosity that I was wondering if I am permitted to ask?”

Porpyrius nodded to accept Sungchul’s request and Sungchul immediately brought up a sensitive topic.

“For how long has the Scroll of Calamity existed on this land?”

To this, Porpyrius answered without a hint of hesitation.

“Before this world came to be.”

This was the most common and ordinary answer to the question. Porpyrius’s answer to Sungchul’s question revealed that he did not believe there was any argument or evidence otherwise, through his genuine facial expression and the tone of his voice. But this answer does not agree with what Marakia had told him. Sungchul asked another question.

“Has the Scroll of Calamity been called by a different name in the past?”

Sungchul noticed that Porpyrius’s gaze became much sharper than usual so he immediately added an explanation.

“I have come across ancient records that claimed as such.”

“The Scroll of Calamity is the Scroll of Calamity. The name was chosen by god, not by humans.  How could humans dare to change the name of a holy object created by god?”

Porpyrius was adamant and completely unwilling to compromise. His belief and worship of the Scroll of Calamity was befitting that of one who held the title of the Master of the Tower. Therefore, asking any more questions would accomplish nothing more than antagonize him. Sungchul decided to stop with the questions and instead drank his tea as he gazed out the window.

It was a beautiful and gorgeous sight to behold as always. Even gods would be pleased to see such scenery.

After a bit of time passed by, Porpyrius opened his mouth.

“I don’t know if you are aware of it or not, but after the details of the third calamity was revealed to the world, the World Parliament began to show signs of splitting apart. And those around the Tower of Recluse is no exception. Though there are no physical confrontation between groups, it has long been since they have split apart out of differences in interests. The problem is the Order of Extinction.”

“The Order is?”

“The assassins from the Order of Extinction are starting to target and kill the representatives as of late. The problem is that they’re targeting only the ones from the Human Empire.”

Hearing this made the image of the mutilated corpse nailed to the tree he saw this morning flash across his mind.

‘So that was the Order of Extinction’s doing?’

Sungchul honestly explained what he had observed this morning to Porpyrius. Porpyrius stroked the beard on his chin as he muttered to himself.

“So they have taken another victim today as well.”

His reaction was lukewarm. It was likely because it had happened too often for it to affect him anymore. Sungchul continued to speak.

“But none of the knights of the other nations were taking any action.”

“They’re crumbling. The foundation of the world peace established and maintained for decades after the fall of Ruteginea by the auspices of the World Parliament.”

Sungchul felt a peculiar sensation hearing these words. Though Sungchul despised the members of the world’s elite that composed the ranks of the World Parliament, the one who created it was none other than himself. He was watching the deathroes of the thing that he worked so hard to create.

“Although the Order of Extinction are insisting on the surface that their objective is to burn the Scroll of Calamity, you can never be sure if their true aim lies somewhere else entirely.”

Porpyrius continued to say.

He was talking about the big picture of the event that was taking place in the present.

“It is possible that they have ulterior motives.”

But he did not understand much about what kind of organization the Order of Extinction actually was, and Sungchul was in the same boat. What he knew was trivial at best. When Sungchul made a grave expression, Porpyrius made a low laughter before speaking.

“You do not have to worry about the tower. Not only can no one in the world get inside if we were to close the gates, we also have Kha’nes on our side.”

Even though he had told him this, Sungchul couldn’t just leave the Order of Extinction be without doing anything about it. More than anything else, it was because they were an organization that was using his name without his permission to push their agenda.

“…”

Sungchul stood up from his seat.

“I’ll be inconveniencing you for a little while then.” 

*

Once Sungchul left the tower, he took time to look around the self proclaimed home of hospitality and good will Toporo village to spend some time. If it was where people gathered, he went there regardless of whether it was a tavern, plaza, or church. He first gathered data from the locals. The information on the Order of Extinction was central point of interest for the villagers. The villagers were discussing the death of the Imperial knight that was found this morning. But the information they had on Order of Extinction was disappointingly meager compared to the vastness of their interest in the topic.

It was clear that the Order of Extinction had set up a base somewhere near the tower, but no one had any clue about where that could be. One comment from a farmer made that point abundantly clear.

“If anyone knew where the Order of Extinction were located, I really doubt if the Empire would have left them alone until now!”

Hearing this led Sungchul to come to the conclusion that trying to gather any more information from this village was likely going to be fruitless. In fact, if it were about information, the Human Empire might actually have more. After all, at this point they were most likely furious and murderously vengeful by now. After all, attacking them during this sensitive time was beyond the simple issue of loss of manpower because it also directly challenged the Empire’s power and efficacy.

As the Imperial Commander in Chief, he understood the mindset of the imperial soldiers very well , and he suspected that the senior officer in command of the airship stationed at the Tower was driven to the edge of his sanity over this issue.

‘He would probably accept a deal with a devil at this point.’

Choosing the base of operations of the Human Empire’s airship as his next destination was possible in part because of his bravery, but more importantly it was because he thoroughly understood how the imperial military operated

The Imperial airship was located in an isolated area away from the main airstrip. It was a stark contrast with how they were in the past when they were given the most prominent location between powerful allied nations’ anchorage.  Although the recent assassinations might have been part of the reason, it was probably also because the diplomacy with other countries had taken a sharp turn for the worst.

The Enemy of the World to the countries outside of the Empire might actually be the Human Empire instead of Sungchul at this point. The reason was simple. The strongest nation of Human Empire was the closest to achieving the One King objective so they were being checked.

‘The Human Empire is becoming a public enemy.’

Sungchul thought as much as he walked towards the anchorage under the Imperial Battleship. Although they were on high alert, Sungchul now had a new option available to him in the form of the spell Fly. Instead of having to rely on a balloon, he simply gained access to the Imperial Battleship by flying himself up. Of course, he wasn’t able to completely avoid all of the different wards in place and enter the ship without a loud announcement.

The Imperial Soldiers who were already on edge due to recent events were already in full combat gear and assembled on deck to fight any intruder.

Sungchul faced the unicorn statue at the bow of the ship and kept his back to the vigilant soldiers who watched on, and waited for a superior officer to come out. And soon a man who appeared to be the commanding officer of this ship came forward.

“Reveal your identity, intruder.”

Sungchul turned around, which caused the soldiers as well as the officer pale in shock.

“E…Enemy of the World?”

“So it was true that he came to the Tower of Recluse?”

Even though the soldiers who already understood his strength had temporarily lost the will to fight, they showed their elite discipline as imperial soldiers and didn’t commit the disgraceful act of turning to flee.

Well, that and the fact that there was nowhere to run away to from the battleship floating high up in the air in the first place.

Upon the deck where the cold wind blew, Sungchul took out the weapon from the Soul Storage that was the most recognizable symbol of him; Fal Garaz. Once he reinforced and proved that he was the rumored enemy of the Empire to everyone present, he glared at the commanding officer before speaking assertively.

“I will say one thing. I have not come to harm you.”

“…”

The commanding officer was in his mid thirties. Rather than being youthful, he was a man who gave off strong feelings of diligent dependable strength. Sungchul recognized that he wasn’t like Arquebus who rose to power without any personal merit or achievement, and was a traditional self-made soldier who rose the ranks by the effort and accomplishments of his own.

‘I was lucky.’

Even if he wasn’t lucky he did have other options. Sungchul began to speak again after noticing that the officer was too shocked by the circumstance and unable to make any decision.

“I have come to learn that there is a despicable gathering of people who are using my name.”

“Order of Extinction.”

The Commander replied. Sungchul nodded before speaking again.

“Turn over any intel you have on them. Location, known individuals, information. Everything.”

“…We don’t have anything like that.”

He was firm on his statement. A faint smile appeared on Sungchul’s lips.

“Are you really choosing to lie to the former Imperial Commander in Chief?”

“…”

The Commander was silent. But his eyes told the words he held back from speaking. That he was no longer the Imperial Commander in Chief. Sungchul spoke again.

“Or have the quality of imperial officers dropped into mud after I left?”

His words caused the Commander’s face to grow frighteningly rigid. Sungchul continued.

“An officer is in command of a flotilla who won’t act despite losing a number of his subordinates. It looks like the end has come for the Empire.”

The Commander’s eyebrows twitched as if to protest. And soon the voice of the Commander who was suppressing the emotions he was feeling was heard on the deck.

“We have information.”

“Hoh?”

“But we cannot give it to you. You are our enemy and we are duty bound to defeat you.”

Of course the Commander was fully aware that it would be impossible for him to physically defeat him through combat. Sungchul glared at the Commander as he moved forward. Everyone else  who was present including the Commander taking a step back automatically in response to his advance was something none of them could avoid.

“Commander, what is your name?”

To his question, the Commander looked straight in Sungchul’s eyes without looking away and spoke with dignity.

“Brev. Colonel of the Empire.”

Sungchul nodded and spoke with a completely different tone.

“Colonel. I shall ask you again. Please give me the information on the Order of Extinction.”

“I am not…”

Sungchul shook his head when the Colonel tried to speak to cut him off.

“If anyone wishes to raise an issue about this, deliver a message personally to the Emperor.”

Hearing the Emperor be mentioned brought both utter shock and respect onto the eyes of those watching. Sungchul announced to the soldiers who were still recovering from the impact of his words.

“That I, Sungchul Kim, request the Emperor for his consent and blessings.”


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