Floating Archipelago situated high above in the sky was experiencing powerful winds. Sungchul stood at the edge of the floating island while withstanding winds strong enough to make him sway. He looked far out towards the dark navy ocean that spread out before him.
“…What did you guys talk about?”
Bertelgia rustled around inside Sungchul’s pocket and carefully asked. She knew from his expression and heart beat that he was in a terrible mood.
Sungchul let out a sigh as he looked at the horizon.
“It’s not something worth listening to.”
Bertelgia asked with an unusually insistent tone.
“It’s a story I’ve heard repeated so many times until now. Nothing new.”
Sungchul stroked a new medal attached to the inside of his jacket as he explained. It was not gold colored, but a diamond colored, luminous broach.
A proof of chef among chefs. The symbol indicating a Master Chef.
According to Androa, the Overseer of the Chef class, there were two conditions to earning the Title of Master Chef. First was to be skilled enough in cooking to earn the golden broach. Evidently, only a few of the most prolific of chefs were able to obtain the golden broach.
Second was to figure out the preferences of the Chef Class and make a meal that fits that particular taste. Only then were the chefs considered to be at the pinnacle of the culinary arts.
‘I should have punched him back there.’
Be as it may, Androa’s bizarre preferences did not diminish the value of the diamond broach in the slightest.
Having enough skill to recognize even the most unusual of preferences to deliver a meal that an individual can be satisfied with meant that beyond just other humans, he carried the potential to delight the tongue of any race.
Whether it was the meal-worm special eating Lizardmen or Marakia who enjoyed rotting meat. The happiness that comes from the ability to transcend the boundaries of species and present anyone with a meal they find wonderful, this was the privilege given to only the best of the chefs.
And the Diamond Broach was the proof of this.
“The more species you are capable of satisfying, the brighter that broach will shine…!”
Sungchul sighed at his recollection of Androa’s words. But what appeared on his face was a faint smile.
‘I have heard every insult that could be said. I’ve received more than enough curses as well. Everyone has told me that I will fail.’
But Sungchul was not wrong. Despite everyone’s misgivings, he persistently walked his own path and has accomplished all his previous goals until now.
‘I am not a mere Tool of God.’
Far in the distance at the edge of the blue ocean, there was a peculiar light beginning to shine. It was not from the sun.
Aurora. It was the mystical lights that can sometimes be seen at the tips of the world.
Bertelgia poked a bit out of the pocket to look around at the wondrous sight without any restraint.
Sungchul thought of the next steps to take as he watched the gathering of a million colors dance in the air.
‘For now, resolve the remaining Calamities.’
And then he will go to see them, the beings behind the Calamities. Who they were, what they wanted, it didn’t matter. As always, Sungchul will chase his own ideals. Using the god-like strength imbued in his body along with his beloved weapon, Fal Garaz.
A new strength invigorated his tired body.
The third Calamity demanded a single crown. It meant one faction must unify the entire world.
The most dominant nation on the continent was the Human Empire. No other kingdoms had a way to deal with the fleet of airships that represents the military might of the Human Empire.
Because the northern and eastern regions were devastated by the Colossi, the only factions that had enough power to put up resistance against the Human Empire was the Ancient Kingdom in the south west, Dwarven Kingdom in the mountain range that connects the western lands to the center, and the Elves who dwelled deep in the forest in the north west.
But counting smaller nations that didn’t have the power to retaliate or historical client states, the number of crowns increases dramatically in number.
At the anchorage of the Tower of Recluse were airships from twelve different kingdoms. These were the airships that belonged to client states or weak kingdoms who were there as allies.
Including airships that represented a gathering of nations that didn’t swear allegiance to a single king, there were fourteen in total.
Of course, even the kingdoms without an airship at the tower must be counted for a correct count of the crowns.
Below the kings were Dukes who were warlords of a lower ranking but still in control of a region. Because they lacked a crown, they were not a subject of consideration within the scope of the calamity. But they had the right to declare themselves king, so they couldn’t be discounted entirely either.
The biggest problems were the newer kingdoms.
After the conclusion of the second calamities, Dragoman and Ga Xi Ong, the surviving members of the Seven Heroes, were gathering displaced people to try and form their own nations in the north and the north western regions. Although the exact details were unknown, they were borrowing the power of the Colossi to generate food and were keeping a great number of people fed, attracting new refugees to their kingdom.
The possibility of a new faction arising in the previously devastated regions of the north and northwest couldn’t be ignored.
The new allied coalition in the east led by Ixion’s former princess McRaed had the support of a powerful but reclusive gathering of individuals that were called the Heroic Eastern Seven. They were absorbing all the nearby refugees of formerly affluent eastern people like a sponge and were growing in strength.
They are also the only faction that explicitly took a hostile stance against the Human Empire, vowing to never make any deal with the traitors of the west ever again.
In the midst of all the tensions and hostilities between all these nations, there was a suspicious organization by the name of Order of Extinction working from the shadows.
Sungchul judged that this organization on its own already possessed enough power to face the Human Empire alone. The Lesser Gods they could summon were temporary but had enough strength to take down one or two Airships of the Human empire with ease.
And the probable head of the order was Schnellmerker who was an incredible tactician. In what he lacked in response time or reflexes he more than made up for it in his extraordinary creativity and precision in making an overall plan without missing out on the smallest of details. This ability to plan meticulously would elevate the already-powerful Order of Extinction to the biggest threat to the Human Empire.
‘The reason why he decided to wait until I was there to call upon the Lesser God was probably to show everyone else. To entice client states and hostile nations who were suppressed by the overwhelming power of the Human Empire to come join their side.’
If Sungchul had taken Schnellmerker’s offer, then it was conceivable that the Order of Extinction could have been already laying siege to the capital city of the Human Empire, La Grange.
Who could possibly stand before the combined might of god-like Sungchul and the Lesser Gods?
The details were unknown, but according to reports from the Human Empire, Sungchul was able to obtain information that the airships of other nations have been visited by people from the order.
He didn’t know exactly what was offered to these ambassadors but he had no doubt that it was going to be the start of a huge headache.
It was not Sungchul’s strength to be using his head.
He placed a haphazardly drawn map on top of the table before walking away to take a seat and closing his eyes.
Bertelgia, who had been playing next to the table, looked at the stones Sungchul had placed on the map and asked.
“Is this it?”
The stones represented the number of total crowns that currently still existed. Sungchul had placed a total of eighteen stones on the map. It was not a small number. And it was that number that made Sungchul hesitate on trying to resolve the third calamity on his own.
But Bertelgia tossed another stone atop the sloppy mask on the southern end of the continent.
Sungchul, who had been resting, opened his eyes and asked her.
“What do you think you’re doing, Bertelgia?”
“What do you mean what am I doing? I’m covering for the ones you forgot.”
Bertelgia opened up the covers to show an empty page. On top of the white paper appeared a sketch of a lizard man licking his tongue.
“You said these mealworm eating friends have their own kingdoms, right?”
“… We don’t have to include them. They’re one of the outer region races.”
Outer region refers to places on the continent humans do not normally live. Demon Realm was the most representative of an outer region. And jungles or the wastelands that lie south of Panchuria are also a part of this classification.
Researchers and scholars often exclude the races that live in these places from those who are considered the same class as humans.
Sungchul agreed with them. Because otherwise if one-crown quest included even those from the outer regions, then it meant that they were expected to conquer and unify even the merfolk living at the bottom of the ocean far beyond human reach.
That approached near impossible, and the Calamity doesn’t demand the impossible.
“Of course if the Calamity demands it then we can talk about them, but ignoring them for now is the right thing to do.”
Sungchul explained as he pushed away the stone Bertelgia had added to the map.
“But even so, eighteen crowns. That’s quite a lot. Right?”
Bertelgia looked down upon the map as if she had become a strategist and fell into deep thought.
Sungchul needed a break due to having to use his head, so he sat on the chair to organize his thoughts.
‘As long as there’s no major changes, the crowns of the smaller kingdoms should be taken care of in less than a month.’
It would only take one fleet of Imperial Airships to defeat one of the minor countries, and even that wouldn’t take too long.
If the empire and other more powerful nations eliminate the smaller countries, then only ten or so crowns remain.
That would be the timing when Sungchul would become involved.
Problem was what method he should use.
Does he make himself king and subjugate the kings, or pick a king to stand behind and demand the crowns to be surrendered.
The lack of direction on how he would go about solving this calamity hasn’t changed since the beginning of the third Calamity. He had vowed to solve the third calamity at the edge of the world, but the details of it were still being pondered over in this room.
This was going to require quite a bit of time.
Sungchul leaned back against the chair comfortably and ended his thoughts. He could see a small black bird on the other side of the tent flaps, lifting up heavy stone and exercising vigorously.
“… Million twenty one! Million twenty two!”
It was Marakia.
‘That one is also a king, now that I think of it.’
Sungchul chuckled before closing his eyes.
High Forge Kingdom was a small nation located to the south west of the Empire. Although on paper they were an independent kingdom with their own king, they were a long time client state to the empire with the nickname Empire’s smithy.
This was a mutually beneficial arrangement for both nations. As a militarily deficient country, having the guarantee from the Empire prevented invasion from abroad. In return, the Empire was able to obtain essential but exorbitantly expensive components for the Airships like the magic amplification device for relatively cheap price.
But even this long arrangement has come to an end.
The palace of the High Forge Kingdom was in the form of a giant foundry, complete with a giant waterwheel. From the passageway of the great halls of the smithy entered a group of suspicious robed individuals.
They were escorted by heavily armed dwarven guards and were led to the audience room through the hallway made of steel and marble.
Lean physique with half of his beard being gray, the indecisive king of High Forge Kingdom looked apprehensive as he watched the unfamiliar guests approach. He stood up to greet the robed individuals once they entered the audience chamber.
“Are… Are you from the order?”
This was no way for a King to behave no matter how desperate he was, but no one corrected the king.
It was because the fate of the kingdom was like a candle before a coming storm, and the guests who had come to visit the king were worthy of such a treatment.
The one standing at the front took off her mask.
It was a girl with platinum blonde hair.
She wore a glistening silver mask on half of her face, but the other side unapologetically showed a beautiful and graceful features. The king of the kingdom of High Forge knew who she was from the rumors.
“Ohh. You are the saintess of the order. Sarasa Xero?”
“That is so, your majesty.”
Sarasa gave a light greeting to the King.
The king’s advisors standing to either side of the audience hall looked visibly disappointed to find out that the famed Saintess of the Order was but a adolescent girl, much younger than what they had expected. She looked to be in her late teens at best. She looked far too young and inexperienced to be entrusted with the fate of the Kingdom.
But Sarasa Xero smiled and let out the energy that was hidden within her. And instantly, everyone could see clearly, the aura of death that came out of the shell in the shape of an ordinary looking girl.
The head of the royal mages who was present began to tremble as he muttered to himself.
“Lich… is it a lich…? It doesn’t seem to be an ordinary lich but…”
“I am an Arch Lich.”
Dark smoke arose from the eye hole of Sarasa’s silver mask, giving off an eerie atmosphere.
Mage who had reached the rank of Grand Magician lost his composure and trembled terribly. The King didn’t know exactly what this entailed, but he could tell from the reaction around the room that the person who had come to visit him was no ordinary individual.
“I…I see. Anyway, Is it possible to receive what we were promised, O’ Saintess of the Order?”
Sarasa nodded to the King’s question. But she wished to speak with him alone.
The faction that were against making a deal with the order was strongly against the proposal but the King had already made up his mind. The king was halfway charmed by the haunting beauty of the silver masked lady as he had everyone, including his own guards, to leave the room for them to speak alone between the two of them.
“I shall give you this gift from the order for free.”
Sarasa Xero said softly with a gentle smile. But the King of High Forge couldn’t believe his ears. How could anyone want to give the weapon strong enough to defeat the imperial fleet without any payment? Doubt was an inevitable conclusion.
Sarasa seemed to understand his concern and so she continued to speak.
“But, your majesty will have to be prepared to make a large sacrifice.”
Sarasa Xero nodded and approached the king to whisper something in his ears.
The King who listened to Sarasa’s whispers showed several different expressions. He closed his eyes slightly as if satisfied before his face crumpled into a look of horror. It then led to a blank stare as if he had accepted his fate. By the time Sarasa was done speaking, half of his expression was back to looking satisfied.
“Is that so? So that’s what the Order is able to offer us?”
The King replied with a dejected sigh.
Sarasa stared the king straight in his face before nodding.
“Any victory will demand an appropriate price. But if you are willing to make a bit of a sacrifice, the victory won’t be entirely bittersweet.”
“…But to sacrifice half of all the people…”
“However, if you do not make use of them, then the empire will cause you to lose far more citizens in war.”
The king’s eyes were wavering upon hearing this. And at the same time, an eye under the mask was flickering with a strange light.
“If you do not wish to accept the proposal from our order, then I will be taking my leave now.”
Sarasa Xero did not intend to follow through with what she had said, because she knew full well the only outcome of a decision a king without the power to protect his people will inevitably make.
“I’ll do it.”
The King of the Kingdom of High Forge, Harad the third declared firmly.
Sarasa Xero made a small grin and lowered her head towards the King.
It was the moment when the secret arrangement between the Order of Extinction and the Kingdom of High Forge was established. But this was merely a small portion of the change that was taking place on the continent.
“Hmm. Though your intentions are blasphemous, it’s worth considering at least.”
The king of the Ancient Kingdom and many other kings of the continent with long and illustrious lineage were making deals with the black robed organization that had left the Tower of Recluse in disarray.
Schnellmerker placed a wooden peg that represented his victory on top of a meticulously drawn map of the continent.
“Ancient Kingdom followed by the Kingdom of High Forge. Ancient Kingdom is one thing, but it’s an unexpected boon to be able to make deals with the High Forge Kingdom located right underneath the chin of the empire.”
“It’s thanks to the charisma of the Saintess. She has the power to make the impossible possible after all.”
Schnellmerker grinned and muttered to himself as a response.
“Unlike our Brigade leader.”
Around the same time, mysterious black robed individuals visited the kings of each kingdom on the continent. What this mystical new faction called the Order of Extinction promised was of irrefusable worth, in the name of independence and the continuation of their kingdom.
The winds of change had come to the continent that entered a state of gridlock upon the end of the third Calamity.
Not too long after at the beaches on the eastern regions.
Those who had walked a thousand miles to return to their motherland were about to take the blunt of yet another Calamity.
“Wha… what is it this time?”
The people standing on the beaches of the far east could see it: The yellow miasma of death as foretold by the third Calamity. It now enveloped half of the world and was now on the way to the land.
The time until the end of days had started to tick.
Here it is yall. This beautiful cover. The mighty colossus awakening in Panchuria arc. I cant tell you the amount of effort it takes to get these books out! Sorry about the delay, we internally planned for late July/early August release but late August it is! The 3rd book in this amazing series is releasing on 25th August and preorders on Amazon are live!
You can order yours here: https://geni.us/SevenHeroes
And If you preorder Demon Realm Book 2 audiobook simply mail us a screenshot of your preorder on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gift you a kindle copy of Book 3 Seven Heroes!