A stone inside of one of Sungchul’s pocket began to glow slightly and Stew’s voice could be heard.
[This is one of the places we suspect the Order of Extinction has set up their base. You should be able to see a cave just a bit ahead.]
It was the Communication Stone. These stones contained mana of a mage from the Empath School of magic, and it enabled long distance communication for a set amount of time. Maximum operational range of the stone was short and only functioned while it still contained the mana imbued into it, so it wasn’t a reliable method of communication. But in the right circumstances, it could come in handy.
In truth, the price of the stone as well as its rarity was extremely high, so even the wealthy and powerful Human Empire could only afford to supply one pair or so per airship.
The fact that this item was handed over meant that Imperial Colonel Brev was more invested in Sungchul’s foray than he let show.
‘If he were to go back now after having lost his subordinates, at minimum he would face a disciplinary officer, and if things go wrong, face court martial.’
Of course this wouldn’t be a problem if he were from a powerful family, but Colonel Brev in Sungchul’s eyes was a man far from a privileged background.
Sungchul entered deep into the forest as he listened to Stew’s instructions. Baron followed in the air at a low altitude above Sungchul so that Stew could track his location. Thanks to them, Sungchul was able to soon discover an ominous looking cave. The air surrounding the cave seemed to be steeped in familiar cold malice.
Sungchul hid his presence and approached the cave entrance. It was at this moment when the Communication Stone lit up.
[Do you see the cave? You see it! That’s the evil Order of Extinction’s hideout! They hide when a large army comes, and comes out when a small group approaches!]
Stew’s flippant voice echoed in the otherwise silent forest. All the malice surrounding the cave instantly disappeared.
‘Son of a…’
Sungchul just barely managed to suppress his urge to crush the Communication Stone to pieces as he moved towards the cave in question. The presences he had detected earlier returned again.
“It’s the enemy.”
Feeling the same presence, Marakia, as he always did, spoke.
“Leave them to me and go on.”
Sngchul looked towards the whitened forest and spoke loudly.
A deathly silence enveloped the frozen winter forest. Sungchul realized that the opponents were well trained elite assassins.
Sungchul poured all of his attention to his five senses and amplified them to detect the assassins around him.
He noticed a small movement.
Right before Sungchul was about to move to capture the assassin,
The Communication Stone lit up again to broadcast a blast of Stew’s idiotic voice.
In the moment Sungchul was frowning in response, the assassin he just managed to detect disappeared.
For once, Sungchul felt rage build inside of him as he pulled a scroll out.
The scroll gave off a menacing purple glow. It was the Scroll of Harmageddon he had received from Vestiare.
“Get out this instant. Before I destroy the cave whole.”
But there was no response from the other side. Sungchul was about to rip the scroll in anger when a cute little hands covered in cotton-like feathers moved to stop him.
“…That’s a dangerous thing.”
It was Marakia. Marakia squinted and inspected the glowing purple scroll before shaking his head. Sungchul understood fully well that Marakia was a far superior mage than he was, so he listened and did not rip the scroll. Sungchul moved the scroll to where Marakia could see it better and asked in a barely audible voice.
“Is there a problem?”
“This. This is a trap.”
“It’s an object designed to unleash Harmageddon in the immediate vicinity upon being ripped. In other words, the moment you rip it, boom! Is what I mean. I don’t know who gave that to you, but it is quite literally a manifestation of pure malice.”
Sungchul made a bitter smile before returning the scroll to the Soul Storage.
“I suspected it might be so, and I was right.”
“Since I just saved your life, make me 2nd…”
Someone appeared from the cave before Marakia could finish his demands. Sungchul’s gaze immediately fell upon the figure. A man was walking his way.
The man wore white uniform whose design gave off an impression of military outfit. He was handsome and tall, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Upon his face was a forgiving smile. Sungchul doubted his eyes for a second.
‘Wait… this guy…”
Back in the grim days of the rebellion with never ending series of desperate hopeless battles, there was one unit that never lost a battle, even against the elite Ruteginean Royal army.
Lion of Death brigade.
Sungchul was the commander of that legendary unit. As with any successful group, this unit also had excellent subordinates working for Sungchul. The man before him was one of those men.
Sungchul looked upon him with surprise and called out his name.
It was Sungchul’s former lieutenant. He looked the same as he always did and looked towards Sungchul with a relaxed expression and gave him a respectful salute.
“It’s been a while, Brigade leader.”
[What are you doing down there? Did you die? You didn’t die, right?]
The Communication Stone once again lit up at an inconvenient moment and blessed Stew’s annoying voice, but this couldn’t erase the grin off his face.
“It sure has, Fritz.”
Schnellmerker raised his hands, and those that were hiding in the darkness revealed themselves one by one. They were excellently trained assassins as he had suspected. They appeared wordlessly at Fritz’s hand signal, and then disappeared again into the forest.
Sungchul did not recognize any of them. Although Sungchul had not memorized the name of every subordinate that he commanded, but he at least remembered the faces of most of them. Therefore, this group of assassins were probably hired or trained by Fritz personally.
Sungchul concluded his thoughts and followed the subordinate he didn’t expect to meet into the cave. Of course, he didn’t forget to say something to the noisy Communication Stone before entering.
“Go back, Stew. I have a personal business to attend to.”
If Stew was the type of person to understand things quickly, she wouldn’t have been here in the first place.
[Excuse me…? What business? What is it? What?]
Sungchul handed the Communication Stone to Marakia for him to take care of this. Marakia who was handed the stone flapped his small wings as he shouted into the stone.
“Shut your mouth, human! Before I go and rip out and devour your liver!”
Sungchul left Baron and Marakia outside together. The reason why Marakia was left behind was to protect Baron. Even though he was very small, the number of people in the world who could defeat him was very few.
“You keep watch outside with Baron.”
“Hoh? Is it really ok to unleash the King of the Final Age like this? I might accidentally go wild?”
Sungchul took out the Oom Bruuk to silence Marakia.
Once entering the cave, Sungchul saw that the cave had stalactite here and there glistening in the torch light. And past the rows of stalactite were a large number of paths. Sungchul felt he now understood why the Imperial Knights were unable to take action despite knowing the Order of Extinction was here. The cave was a naturally formed maze, one whose depth couldn’t even be estimated.
Schnellmerker made his way through several forks in the path without any hesitation. It was a path that an ordinary person who knew the path might have difficulty finding their way through because of confusing and indistinguishable splits in the road. But he did not show one bit of uncertainty. Seeing this, Sungchul deduced that Fritz was a man possessing an exceptional mind.
10 minutes through the dizzying maze later, Sungchul was finally able to arrive at the base camp of the Order of Extinction near the Tower of Recluse.
The large cavern they arrived at had a few tents, and the members of the Order were grouped up around lights in threes or fives. There were more of them here than he had expected. Making a rough estimate with what he could see, it seemed as though there might be almost two hundred people gathered in this cavern.
“This way, sir.”
Schnellmerker entered a particularly large and elegant looking tent at the center of the camp. The warriors who stood before the tent as guards bowed their head before moving aside to let Schnellmerker pass. But they did not show any gesture of respect towards Sungchul.
“Please have a seat, Brigade leader.”
Schnellmerker continued to address Sungchul as Brigade leader. Even though Schnellmerker had still been in the military when Sungchul rose to the position of a general, he was assigned to a different unit as a commander so he had no opportunity to speak to Sungchul and address him by his new title. Even more so after he had left the military.
Sungchul looked towards a broken sword on display at the center of the tent.
“What is this?”
To this, Schnellmerker replied with a smile.
“It’s the crest of my family.”
“Ah. This is Count Schnellmerker’s emblem? I apologize for not recognizing it.”
“No, it’s no problem. I made it upon a whim, and as a countryside noble who rarely if ever visited La Grange, it’s no wonder that you can’t remember it.”
After a brief exchange of greetings, a heavy silence settled in the tent.
It was inevitable, considering Sungchul and Fritz both had their own circumstances and problems to deal with.
Hello everyone! We got a big announcement to make. Main Character hides his Strength series will soon be available in Audiobook format! Aaaaaand it will be narrated by none other than Nick Podehl himself!
For readers who arent yet into audiobooks, Nick is one of the biggest names on the platform who has narrated Kingkiller Chronicles and multiple LitRPG series and we are very proud to have him narrate this story. We have joined hands with Podium Audio who are handling all the audiobook production nitty gritty to bring this to you and we hope you enjoy it.
Book 1 goes on sale on 9th February and preorders are now open.
You can order the audiobook here-
(Audible premium plus users can use their monthly credit to purchase and first time users can get the subscription on free trial and purchase the audiobook with the credit that comes with the free trial. The audiobook will be yours to keep even after the end of the free trial.)