Chapter 222 – Burning Lake (4)

“Bertelgia. Wait here for a little bit.”

With a foe as mighty as a Lesser God, he could not guarantee Bertelgia’s safety. Bertelgia who understood this very well obediently left his pocket and stayed close to Baron’s side. Sungchul gave a faint grin as he spoke calmly.

“It will not take long.”

“Yeah!”

Bertelgia shook as if to wave to Sungchul.

“…”

Sungchul kicked off the ground with his god-like strength. In just a single leap, he passed dozens of trees in a blur. Sungchul discovered the downed Airship of the Human Empire on the way to the tower. It was sticking out of the white forest vertically, but thankfully there seemed to be not very many casualties from the crash, as the surviving members of the crew were moving busily to try and recover the situation.

‘They must have gotten hit by a bolt of thunder.’

He had completely forgotten about them. Perhaps because they were already downed by the time he had emerged from the caves, there was nothing in the air to remind him of their presence so it didn’t cross his mind.

“Are our reinforcements almost here?”

Colonel Brev had a bloody bandage wrapped around his head but otherwise looked intact. He was busily scolding the mages of Divination school.

“We have sent out requests for reinforcements, but we have not received back any confirmations yet. We’re making attempts to establish communications, but it’s being blocked by some mysterious barrier that makes long range communication impossible.”

Witnessing just this moment was enough for Sungchul to get a grasp of what was going on with them.

‘They’re stuck in a thoroughly isolated situation without the possibility of calling for help.’

The crew of a downed Airship typically becomes easy prey. But this will not come to pass today.

Sungchul focused more power into his step. He soon got close enough to see the airstrip. And there, aside from the Human Empire’s Airship, Sungchul noticed that Airships of other nations were moored in perfect condition.

None of them had technology surpassing that of the Empire, so the fact that these ships were unharmed when the Empire’s Airship was downed indicated an underlying cause.

Sungchul decided to figure this out later and headed to his destination of Toporo Village. 

The Home of Hospitality and Good Will was reduced to rubble. It was impossible for it to have survived the dual attack of the destructive rain of thunder and the two devastating tornadoes. All the picturesque small homes were demolished and not a soul could be found anywhere in the village.

A village was wiped off the map in an instant. If Tangrit was alive to see this sight then he would have been unable to do anything but make a bitter laugh. The village he gave up his life to protect was now exterminated. Sungchul passed the desolate ruins of the village to arrive at the bridge leading to the Tower of Recluse.

“It’s him!”

Those hiding in the shadows wearing black robes shouted out briefly. Sungchul recognized them to be the same individuals hiding at the entrance of the cave earlier. He had given them mercy at that time, but it was different now.

Squish!

A refreshing strike after moving faster than the eye could see. There was no need for him to swing at all. Lightly tapping the sentinels of the Order of Extinction was enough to cave in their skull and kill them before they could even scream.

The sentries of the Order of Extinction were hidden intermittently throughout the area. Whenever Sungchul saw a head concealed by black robes, he moved towards it to lightly tap it with his hammer.

‘It’s like playing whack-a-mole.’

He killed more than a dozen sentries in short order. But he wasn’t able to finish before the rest of the Order had noticed his presence.

“Inagi! Jenka!”

The gigantic black figure beating away at the Tower of Recluse shouted strange words as it turned to face Sungchul. Sungchul momentarily felt powerful anxiety strong enough to make his entire body tense up, but he wasn’t intimidated by this. After all, he had already battled a Lesser God before.

Under the black figure, Sungchul could see the outline of a person burning in white flames.

‘So I guess that’s the primary medium of the Ascension.’

The air around him felt unpleasant. Although there were no visible changes, Sungchul detected that the energy in the air at the moment was even more dangerous than the air filled with the Miasma of Death from the island in the far east.

It was an inexplicable sensation, considering there was no harmful nor detectable spell in the air. In the midst of countless ideas coming and going in his head, Sungchul recalled something this situation reminded him of.

‘This is the same feeling as when something is being broken. Everything in my surroundings, myself included.’

One of the people praying in the group evaporated into a black mist that was then sucked into and consumed by the white flame. The moment the mysterious man had disintegrated, Sungchul detected a earthquake-like tremor in the ground as well as the air itself.

“…”

It was all ill boding.

‘I suppose the source of energy sustaining the Lesser God’s form is not limited to just the lives of the sacrifices.’

Sungchul looked around his surroundings with his sharp eyes so that he could end this situation as fast as possible.

Before him was the black manifestation of the Lesser God, and slightly to the left was the praying group of people that was keeping the Lesser God anchored to the world. At the moment, there were only seven of them remaining. In his earlier observation, one cultist was consumed every 3 minute at the longest and about a minute when short. Using this as a basis for his estimation, they had roughly twenty minutes remaining. If he were able to wipe out the praying followers, then he could end things very quickly, but they were surrounded by formless defensive barriers protecting them.

Meanwhile, there were additional fifty to sixty followers on the Lesser God’s right.

‘Should I take care of these first?’

It was enough to mindlessly plow through the enemies when there was no one who could match him, but the situation was drastically different now. It was necessary to think before he committed to an action. And this was what Sungchul enjoyed.

His strategist Schnellmerker was very proficient in drawing up plans with their long time comrade, the Emperor. On the other hand, Sungchul thrived in situations where he jumped into the fight and directly entered the chaos of battle where reaction was demanded of the combatants.

Krumbui appeared in Sungchul’s left hand.

“Yo, friend. Long time no see! What dirty work are you going to have me do today?”

The talkative Krumbui immediately began to speak excitedly the moment he appeared.

‘I’ll slay the easier prey first.’

Between potential danger and immediate danger, it was proper to face the immediate danger first. But when there was no way to immediately resolve the danger before you, then reducing potential for things to get worse was not a bad idea. Especially consider that Lesser God was on borrowed time.

‘Time is on my side.’

Once he made a decision, he did not hesitate and back down. Sungchul charged towards the group of cultists on the right with the ferocity of a tiger, and swung Krumbui.

Slash!

Dozens of followers were bisected or torn into pieces in just a moment. The remaining followers immediately changed to fog form. They were buying time using assassination techniques. Sungchul’s eyes grew wide with surprise.

‘Oh?’

“Ino! Ur!”

The Lesser God immediately reacted to his actions. But that, too, was within Sungchul’s calculations. A large and powerful being like the Lesser Gods couldn’t help but cause large collateral damage in battles where enemies and allies were in close proximity.

“Jenka!”

The trident of the Lesser God came flying in Sungchul’s direction.

‘As I thought, it can’t use magic.’

Sungchul easily dodged the trident as he swung his arms powerfully through the followers who were in their fog form. Then, from the sleeve of his clothes, a blast as powerful as canonfire exploded, causing the followers in their fog form to be thrown under the path of the Lesser God’s trident.

“Ahhh!”

Even if they were transformed into mist, it meant very little before an absolute might. Under the blades of the trident that deformed the land were the remains of those who couldn’t maintain their transformation and were torn asunder.

There were now around thirty of them remaining.

It had only been three minutes since Sungchul jumped into action. But this, again, was within Sungchul’s calculation. Even if they were to rely on trickery like the fog form, he was fully capable of killing them all within a minute.

But he chose not to.

Even as he was dealing with potential threats, he was using them as his shield to restrict the actions of the Lesser God to maximize the effectiveness of his most powerful ally, time. The important thing was to demonstrate to the enemies that it was possible for him to kill many or all of them in a flash.

As Sungchul had planned, this entirely prevented the Lesser God from using his powerful magic, and the backup batteries in the form of zealous followers were at complete mercy to Sungchul.

If things were to continue like this, then the battle of the Tower of Recluse was going to end in an uninteresting manner by the expiration of time. But the enemies had a capable leader named Schnellmerker who possessed an exceptional mind.

“As expected of Brigade Leader. I had thought that he might have become dull in his thinking after obtaining unparalleled power, but he hasn’t changed at all.”

After observing and speaking words of praise for Sungchul in a tone completely free of fear from the deck of the Ancient Kingdom’s Airship, he gave an order to his subordinates.

“Inform Beck. It doesn’t matter how many brothers are killed, stop Brigade Leader. And Vanessa is to immediately lead the survivors into the Tower of Recluse, through the crack the Lesser God has made.”

Schnellmerker’s orders were immediately relayed to those below the Airship.

The Order of Extinction began to move.

A scroll appeared in the Lesser God’s hands instead of his trident. The Lesser God shouted incomprehensible words, which summoned hundreds of silver spears in the sky.

Sungchul noticed that the enemies have changed their plan and threw himself towards a gathering of followers. Hundreds of spears fell upon Sungchul like rain.

Stab! Stab!

Each of the spears carried power that would rival the hardest strike of the strongest knights. The spears that were longer than a grown man not only had enough penetrating power to disappear halfway into the ground when it struct, it also self destructed from within. If a spear like that were to pierce one’s body, it would not end with just a loss of a limb.

“Ack!”

Therefore being in the mist form meant nothing. A silver spear landed squarely in the middle of one follower, which caused his transformation to become undone before exploding. A single drop of blood landed on Sungchul’s face. Sungchul wiped the blood off with a finger as he made an observation.

‘There must have been an order from above.’

It was no longer a good idea to be mixed in with the followers of the Order. And the Lesser God’s spears were wiping out the members of the Order without his intervention anyway.

Thirty or so followers were instantly reduced to less than ten.

Sungchul glanced towards the otherside where the praying followers were located inbetween dodging the silver spears and saw that there were only five human batteries remaining.

Not much time was remaining.

Therefore Sungchul charged towards the Tower of Recluse. It was because this place was the only remaining shelter.

Swish-

A silver spear came flying straight and true towards Sungchul, but it was knocked out of the air with Fal Garaz. This battle made Sungchul realize that this Lesser God was a grade lower than Sidmia he had faced before. If that was the case, then the fighting would be even easier.

He ran to the far side of the tower, and the spears lost their target, landing on the walls of the tower fruitlessly.

Sungchul stood at the base and waited for the Lesser God’s next move.

Something moved. But it was not the Lesser God. It was the last ten or so remaining followers of the Order of Extinction. They left their fog form and ran as fast as they could towards the opposite side of the Tower of Recluse from where Sungchul was standing.

‘What are they trying to do?’

A possibility instantly came to Sungchul’s mind. The moment he emerged from his hiding place, Sungchul saw the zealots carry out the predicted action. They returned to fog form when they reached the Tower and moved through the narrow gap created by the Lesser God.

“Hey! Don’t throw!”

Despite his objections, Krumbui cut through the air and split two acolytes in halves. The fog form couldn’t withstand Sungchul’s strength and the bisected followers reemerged from the fog as corpses and fell to the ground.

“Jenka! Ino!”

Lesser God saw this, and then looked through the scroll in hand before reciting an unholy incantation. Sungchul felt the air around him transform, so he immediately took out a piece of cloth to cover his mouth and nose. The thick violet fog appeared and melted any living thing it enveloped.

‘Damn it.’

The followers of the Order entered the tower using the moment when Sungchul backed off.

“Kill all the traitors worshipping the false god and burn the book!”

The number of cultists that entered the tower was five. Furthermore, a lethal cloud of air was rushing into the tower from outside. The Hermits could do nothing but watch in despair as death approached them.

“Fuck…”

If Kha’nes was present, it might have been different. But with her out of the picture, the powerless hermits had no way to overcome this crisis on their own.

The Master of the tower, Porpyrius, faced the enemies and the approaching lethal cloud with a staff in his hands at the risk of death.

“Come and face me!”

It was courage befitting a leader of an organization. During this time, Sungchul could do nothing but watch this unfold from outside.

‘This is a completely unexpected tactic.’

It was possible for Sungchul to force his way through the deadly fog. But Sungchul lacked the ability to turn into mist, so even if he was to get past the cloud of poison, he would be unable to enter the tower without the Hermits opening the door from within. The tower’s impenetrable defense became the very thing that interfered with Sungchul’s efforts.

‘Is there no other way?’

Sungchul was pouring all of his energy into his brain to find a solution when a miracle occurred. This miracle manifested itself on the other side of the toxic cloud-covered tower, up in the air.

A lone magic formation appeared in the blue sky, before dozens of similar magic formations appeared all at once. And from within them, a proud flagship of the fleet came confidently out as smoothly as a fish swimming through water. Sungchul’s eyes widened in unadulterated surprise.

‘Thats… Airship of the Empire…?’

The flotilla of the Human Empire suddenly covered the skies of the Tower of Hermit. At the helm of the flagship stood the Emperor himself in his iconic golden armor.

“All ships of the fleet, target the Order of Extinction on the Lesser God’s flank. Show them the wrath of the Empire.”

Emperor of the Human Empire, William Quinton Marlboro.

Finally, he issued a command in a regal tone fit for an Emperor.

“…”

Behind him was Ahmuge with her rigid expression, along with other Knights in the Emperor’s service.

There was a miracle happening inside the tower as well.

Porpyrius was staring at a book that appeared right in front of him with great surprise.

A calm voice of a girl began to come out of the large and ancient book that firmly levitated in the air.

“Bertelgia Unit 55. I shall now carry out my father’s orders and defend the tower.”


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