A king. Not in a million years. Sungchul had never once thought about wanting to become king.
‘Even if I were to become king, I would become nothing more than Idle King Kromgard the Second.’
All those standing above others carry with them responsibilities and duties of that position. Those that neglect those duties become useless, or perhaps a tyrant, and harm proportional to the weight of responsibility falls upon the people below. Sungchul found the idea deeply distasteful. Sungchul immediately refused his former subordinate’s suggestion.
“Fritz. I have no thoughts about becoming a king.”
Schnellmerker replied with a sincere voice as if he had been expecting this answer.
“Already we have gathered tens of thousands of worshippers who believe in you, and we have been gathering wealth for the purpose of creating a new capital city. With your permission, we are poised to create a country for your sake at any time.”
Sungchul was fatigued. He felt that the situation was uncomfortable as well as unnecessary. But he reluctantly listened to Schnellmerker’s continued plea.
“The third Calamity commanded that only a single king must exist among all of humanity. A king to rule over all of humanity. In my eyes, only one person meets the criterion. That’s you, Brigade Leader. How can the likes of the Emperor or the King of the Ancient Kingdom represent us when they haven’t done anything against the Calamities?”
“What am I supposed to do when I become king?”
Sungchul’s unemotional voice filled the room. Schnellmerker looked ecstatic as he quickly replied.
“Will you agree to become our king?”
“What is it that you want for me to do?”
Sungchul asked again. Fritz Schnellmerker was a man who was in the position to understand Sungchul’s thoughts better than anyone else. Sungchul’s eyes from his perspective looked as clear as a mirror. Enticing him with the gift of kingship didn’t shake him one bit.
‘Incredible. He should be feeling the thirst for authority more than anyone else after a decade of living like a dog in the wild as the Enemy of the World.’
Schnellmerker knew that unnecessary play on words or fancy rhetoric would do nothing positive with Sungchul from having been second in command for a long time. Petty methods would only serve to feed Sungchul’s wrath and suspicion. Schnellmerker calmly replied to his former boss whose preferred method of reply was silence.
“…Of course there’s one thing that we want you to do. And it’s right here.”
Sungchul looked surprised. Schnellmerker continued.
“Please destroy the Scroll of Calamity.”
Sungchul felt that this was what Schnellmerker was truly after. The issue of his becoming of king was probably just an afterthought.
“Why does the Scroll of Calamity need to be destroyed?”
Sungchul felt the scattered fragments of thoughts gather one by one and begin to take form as he threw his question. Schnellmerker thought in silence before he replied.
“It is because the Scroll of Calamity is the source from which the Calamities are manifested into the world.”
“So the Scroll of Calamity is the cause of the Calamities?”
“Yes, that is the case.”
Schnellmerker nodded and took out a worn out parchment. Sungchul instantly recognized what that parchment was. It was of different type, but it was something he had already seen before.
Schnellmerker placed the rolled up parchment on top of the table and looked at Sungchul as he spoke.
“This is a document from the previous ages with the name of ‘Letter of God’. This was acquired during the fall of the Kingdom of Ruteginea.”
“I understand full well what that is.”
Sungchul glared at the Letter of God as he replied. He grabbed the Letter of God before turning to look at Schnellmerker.
“Fritz. Are you able to read this text?”
“I cannot. But, there is someone on our side with the Lector skill who I assisted in understanding it.”
Face of someone Sungchul felt both love and hate came to mind for a moment. But he didn’t react to it and picked up the parchment.
“Brigade Leader. Even if it’s you, it’s dangerous to look at that directly.”
Schnellmerker knew what Sungchul was wanting to do so he tried to dissuade him. But it did not stop Sungchul. It was because he had an ability that he obtained from the resolution of the second Calamity.
Sungchul, too, had the qualifications to read the Letter of God. Though he was only a beginner, nonetheless he was qualified. Sungchul opened the Letter of God without any hesitation.
Countless words surrounded Sungchul like the endless sea of stars as it had done in the past within the Catacombs. At that time, being in that ocean of words caused his consciousness to fade slightly. But now, he was able to look at the emerging words with clarity of mind and without too much difficulty.
[Record of Lesser God Hildegarm]
A woman as beautiful as a goddess emerged from within the words as if emerging from water. She gave off the feeling of divinity, and was colossal in size. She was truly gigantic. The woman who looked like she could fill up half of the world made Sungchul feel emptiness, small, and corresponding terror.
The goddess said something to Sungchul, but there was nothing he could understand because the voice was like a thunderstorm. However, before he knew it, Sungchul discovered that he could understand her from within that chaos.
[…Upon God’s death, the world began to fall apart. In the beginning, Lesser Gods who were the servants of God took over the duties and responsibilities of God and prevented the world from total collapse. But there was no being that could replace God. From within infinite authority and ocean of duties, Lesser Gods that took upon the mantle of God melted away one by one. The solemn Lesser Gods of those early days considered this their divine duty, however the weaker unqualified Lesser Gods came up with a completely different solution.]
After this, the thunderous blast of noise returned. It wasn’t until the Goddess reached nearly the end of her speech that he began to understand her again.
[… The depraved Lesser Gods erased the paths of ascension to become Lesser God that God had left on the world, one by one. They hid those paths far away in the ocean, deep underground, or above the clouds where no ordinary human could hope to reach. With the exception of the most dangerous path of all. And so the disgusting Lesser Gods who flaunted their dominance over all, created something that should have never have been made.]
The moment she finished, Sungchul saw countless objects pass before his eyes. They were words written over swords, spears, slab of stones, scrolls, floating flames, and other diverse cast of items. But whatever their form was, their purpose was the same.
Propagation of Calamities.
These objects were meant to spread the Calamities across the land by the simple fact of their existence.
The goddess closed her eyes. And once they were closed, the infinite world of words surrounding Sungchul fell into darkness as well. But it was when he reached the end that he suddenly saw words inconsistent with the rest of the words appear without warning.
[This record is nothing but the personal opinion of Hildegarm who degenerated into an evil god.]
[Be wary of being seduced, by the words of those who want to prevent unity and bring about the end of the world.]
[If you desire the truth, then come to us at any time, o’ blessed one granted the privilege of learning the truth.]
In a split second, Sungchul recognized that the author of those final words were different from the rest of the Letter of God. And he was clearly conscious of some sort of seal that was put on the edge of the Letter of God and the parchment.
Sungchul was back in reality before he noticed.
‘So this is the ability of Lecter…?’
The simplest way to explain what he experienced was to compare it to watching a movie. Although the problem was that there was no way for him to escape if what he was watching was uninteresting.
‘Well, it’s certainly better than Shocking Asia.’
Sungchul concluded his thoughts and then noticed Schnellmerker watching him with great surprise.
“Are you ok, Brigade Leader?”
Sungchul returned the Letter of God to Schnellmerker.
“But I don’t want to see it ever again.”
“Everyone says that.”
Sungchul noticed that Schnellmerker was seated at his desk and in the middle of writing something. He must have been using the long time Sungchul spent with the Letter of God to do some work. In the midst of the scratching of the pen, Sungchul glared at the parchment called the Letter of God.
It was there, the seal he had seen at the edge of the infinite. He reached out unconsciously to remove the seal. But it didn’t come off easily. Sungchul looked elsewhere as he poured his god-like strength into his body.
He must have put too much strength into it. A portion of the Parchment containing the seal was ripped off together with the seal. In the moment Sungchul looked horrified, a miraculous thing happened.
The ripped Letter of God restored itself to normal without any cause or reason. The piece of parchment he had ripped off disappeared completely without a trace, leaving behind only the seal.
“Why are you trying to rip that up now?”
Schnellmerker continued to work on his writing and asked with a business-like attitude.
“My hands slipped.”
Sungchul made a completely ridiculous excuse. This was perhaps the privilege of being a superior, or maybe it should be called corruption. Schnellmerker didn’t seem to mind it.
“No matter how strong you are, sir, you cannot harm the Letter of God. As the name might suggest, it’s a manifestation of divine power. No matter how much you crumple it up, rip, or burn it, it will never lose its original form.”
But the Seal had come off. While Schnellmerker was busy talking, Sungchul stealthily moved the seal into his pocket. Bertelgia witnessed this and shook violently, but Sungchul did not lose his poker face.
“As expected of Letter of God. Remarkable.”
“Everyone says that too.”
Schnellmerker finished his work and stood up from his seat. He picked up the Letter of God from the table and placed it carefully back into his clothes as he gave a faint grin.
‘With this, we might be able to finally persuade him.’
He had thought that he had crossed the most difficult part. It was at this moment that Sungchul’s sharp question came flying like a dagger.
“How did you read that letter?”
Sungchul knew full well that there was only one known Lecter in the whole world.
“It’s exactly as you think.”
Schnellmerker did not try to hide the truth. He instead considered this as an opportunity.
“Princess Ryze Himerr, she helped decipher the Letter of God.”
Sungchul’s expression went rigid for a moment.
With great disgust, Sungchul stared at his former subordinate with a neutral expression. The mention of a single name evaporated all the interest he had. Sungchul asked with a voice much colder than he had spoken until now.
“Does this mean that Ryze Himerr played a part of the creation of the Order of Extinction?”
Sungchul fiercely asked.
‘Mmm? Why is he talking like that?’
Schnellmerker felt something begin to go wrong but nodded nonetheless.
‘Strange. Doesn’t Brigade Leader still have feelings for Ryze?’
As he was feeling rushed, he was asked a follow up question without being given chance to respond.
“What is that woman to the Order of Extinction?”
“At the moment, nothing. As you know, she already passed away. It’s just…”
“She’s the one who suggested the path we should take to decipher the Letter of God. She’s a type of prophetess in my eyes. She predicted that your heart filled with justice would lead you to readily sacrifice your body for the good of the world.”
Schnellmerker thought that Sungchul still liked Ryze Himerr. And he had reasons to believe it, judging from Sungchul’s behavior. How many would choose to turn their back on the world and give up all that they had for the daughter of a former lover that wasn’t his own? But his thinking ended short. He did not know what Sungchul had seen in the Fae World nor what Wandering King had told him.
“…Her words cannot be trusted.”
Sungchul spoke. And his words foreshadowed what was about to happen next.
The black fragment of Calamity was placed on top of the table. Schnellmerker saw that and his eyes trembled subtly.
‘How did Brigade leader…?’
He had no way to know that Fragments of Calamity was given out as a reward for resolving the Calamities.
“How much do you know about this?”
Sungchul asked with an insistent tone. Schnellmerker was cognisant of the fact that the situation was flowing in a completely different direction from the one he had intended, but had no good reason for not answering the question. So as distressed as it made him, he decided to answer anyway.
“Isn’t that substance called Soil of God, or otherwise known as Fragment of Calamity? The thing that can be used to bring about divine miracles…”
“Is that all?”
“I asked if that is all.”
“Yes, that’s everything.”
Schnellmerker lied for the first time, but he had no choice but to answer this way.
‘If he came to find out the process of which this is made, he would not want to work with us. But the Soil of God is something that’s absolutely necessary for founding a new nation.’
It would not be late to convey the truth after the nation building reached a certain level of completion. Because packaging up the truth as making a small sacrifice for the good of the many should be more than enough to soothe his former superior’s feelings.
But this was the worst possible decision.
Sungchul let out a single condescending sneer before returning the Fragment of Calamity into his clothes and rising from his seat.
“Who is in charge of the Order of Extinction? Is it you, Fritz? Or perhaps it’s someone I don’t know about?”
“Why are you asking this, sir?”
Sungchul retrieved the coat he had taken off and turned around.
“To make them stop using my name.”
Sungchul turned towards Schnellmerker once more. Seeing emotionless but determined expression on Sungchul’s face, Schnellmerker sensed that his plans for recruiting Sungchul had failed.
It was an unexpected mistake. He had thought that even if Sungchul had not immediately agreed to join, they would at least be able to maintain a friendly relationship. But even that ended in failure.
“And I would appreciate it if you stopped murdering those innocent knights from the Empire.”
That wasn’t the end of it. Sungchul sat back down with his coat on.
“Now I will listen to the story I want to hear. Are you ready to answer my questions?”
Sungchul was going to ask about the Order of Extinction in great detail. But this was not something that was Schnellmerker was permitted to do.
“Sorry, Brigade Leader. I think we should end it at this point for today.”
Schnellmerker was standing in a dark part of the tent.
“Where are you going, Fritz? The conversation starts now.”
Sungchul had no mind to let his former subordinate go so easily. He was determined to find out everything with this opportunity. About the creation and end goal of the Order of Extinction, and it’s true purpose.
“I am sorry but I’ll see you next time, Brigade Leader. We can continue to talk about this later.”
“Why later? Who knows how long it will be until we can meet again.”
As soon as Sungchul was done talking, Fritz flipped a brazier from the shadows. Its flames grew violently, and Schnellmerker’s form disappeared along with the smoke.
Sungchul had seen a similar magic to this. A secret spell.
‘This is similar to one that Aquiroa used.’
Sungchul immediately stood up and raised the sensitivity of his five senses to its absolute limit.
‘There’s a limitation to chantless spell. He should have been able to escape very far.’
He immediately checked the area around the burning tent. But then the muscular men in black robes stood in his path. These men were armed with crossbows that emitted a strange reddish light. Looking so aggressive while holding a menacing weapon, it looked like they were going to try and fight him. Sungchul had a very uncharacteristically cold smile on his face.
“Hey, I’m supposed to be your savior.”
The men’s reply to this was very simple.
Arrow tipped with a red gem was fired towards Sungchul.
‘These damned idiots.’
Sungchul knocked away all the arrows flying his way. But the moment Fal Garaz made contact, Sungchul detected that the air around him was shrinking unnaturally.
An enormous explosion went off where Sungchul had stood. It was an explosion strong enough to collapse the entire cavern.
“Light every explosives so that he can’t get out.”
Schnellmerker who had arrived outside somehow was walking briskly but confidently towards the Airship hidden in the forest. A subordinate wearing a black robe came to put a coat around him and asked,
“Would this be enough to entomb him?”
“That’s probably impossible.”
Schnellmerker put a cigarette in his mouth and mumbled slightly as he spoke.
“But we can buy some time. Unleash all units. The target is the Tower of Recluse.”
Schellmerker turned to look at the beautiful tower standing far in the distance.
“Time has come to burn the book of the false god.”
As some of you might have noticed, the release for the audiobook has been shifted to 23rd February from 9th. Podium contacted us about it, this is due to an unforeseen issue on the production side which has resulted in a delay of 2 weeks. We apologize for the delay. The audiobook releases on 23rd February and I am sure it will please you all.