The mood within the audience hall grew somewhat chaotic. Sungchul’s group was led to a VIP reception room. The servant who had brought them there informed them that there was a slight problem between the royal couple and asked them to wait for a little bit before leaving the room.
Once only Sungchul’s group remained in the fairly large reception room, Marakia crawled out of a bag that had been sown into the back of Sungchul’s coat. He wore an arrogant expression as he walked over and took a seat on the sofa.
Sungchul suppressed an intense feeling of repulsion that rose up from deep within his heart as he asked Marakia.
“How did you know that woman just now was the queen of this country?”
It was not possible. That he, who had visited every corner of this continent and met countless dignitaries, knew less than a chick that emerged from the egg only a few months prior.
Sungchul did not show it every often but he was someone that had a strong sense of pride within himself. And Marakia just directly challenged it.
“As you were making those Carbuncle Golems, I frequented the Tower of Recluse to gather a great deal of information.”
Sungchul hadn’t seen for himself, but he came to learn through Bertelgia’s tattling that Marakia was coming in and out of the Tower very often.
Marakia was said to have met with the master of the tower, Porpyrius, through an introduction from Kha’nes and had an enthusiastic and lengthy discussion together.
In Porpyrius’s perspective, finding out that the King of the final age who was briefly entered into the Scriptures of Calamity then came to be known as the ‘Cancelled Calamity’ now had the form of this cute chick, was interesting to say the least. Then, once he found out that the identity underneath the cute exterior was an ancient species of legends in unrecorded history, he became greatly enthusiastic in receiving Marakia.
Marakia, who had been treated very lowly within Sungchul’s party, was treated like a king inside the Tower of Recluse. And this revived Marakia’s confidence like never before.
“As you know, I am the king of the age of extinction, born of black feather. My intellectual excellence cannot be compared to that of the inferior humans. Knowledge that would take humans entire lifetimes to obtain can be understood by me after just one day.”
Sungchul’s eyes twitched upon hearing this.
“So what’s your Intuition score?”
Sungchul, who felt his dignity scratched asked him. This side of him was rarely if ever seen.
“Intuition? Why do you ask?”
Sungchul grinned when Marakia hesitated and continued.
“Does it surpass 600?”
“What about 500?”
Marakia made a sheepish grin and tried to act as if this question was not that important.
“I did in the past. Before it was halved by handing it over to you.”
“So you mean to say that it’s less than that.”
“I…Intuition is not all there is to knowledge!”
Marakia couldn’t stand it and shouted. Sungchul leaned back and turned his head. Marakia’s eyes were trembling.
Sungchul, who demonstrated the difference in their power once more, took a sip of tea the maid had brought before resuming to speak.
“The conversation got side tracked the wrong way. I would like to hear the rest of what you were saying.”
“Hmph. In the end you need to rely on me!”
Marakia’s briefly suppressed confidence resurrected like a phoenix as he recited the information he knew of the Kingdom of Nimpas.
“That woman, the queen of Nimpas, goes by the name Oksana. She was married in from a different family, but it seems as though she took control over the kingdom and is the true ruler of this country.”
“The queen is the true ruler you say.”
That seemed believable. The young King’s fear of the queen, the queen’s commands taking priority over the king’s could be easily surmised from the incident earlier.
“Hmm hmm. It seems to be that the Queen is a daughter of a very influential family.”
Marakia said as he gazed off into empty space. Sungchul felt suspicious of Marakia’s direction of sight but he did not comment on it and decided to continue the conversation.
“What family is it? It couldn’t be… Horneko, could it?”
Sungchul remembered something that he had been forgetting.
The Merchant King Horneko had a great number of daughters, and he worked hard to marry his daughters off to powerful families. But only a few were successful. The rumors surrounding his circumstances were readily passed from one to another in the Palace where everyone was searching for weaknesses of others and even reached Sungchul’s ears.
Marakia gazed off into space as he replied.
“It seems she’s the fourth daughter of Aeghe’s Viceroy Horneko.”
“Is that so?”
Sungchul asked as he turned his gaze towards Marakia. Marakia nodded and continued to stare off into space as he spoke.
“It is said that she was originally engaged to a prince from the Ancient Kingdom, but her twisted personality put an end to that. According to the evaluation of the Sword King of the Ancient Kingdom, it was great that she was like her father in intellect and earnesty. But her will was too strong and it was determined that someone so arrogant down to her bones was fated to overpower the king, so she was rejected. And the Sword King’s evaluation was proven to be accurate here in Nimpas.”
“You know much, I see.”
Sungchul was honestly impressed by Marakia’s knowledge. It was no easy feat to memorize details about an unknown individual from an obscure kingdom to such minute detail in such a short time. Let alone details of their personality and personal lives.
This kind of information was something that Sungchul would otherwise have to go to a bar, seek out an information broker by bribing the locals, then bribing the broker for a small chance of being informed.
But Marakia’s direction of gaze had been bothering Sungchul since a bit ago.
Normally, Marakia would try to keep his appearances as a monarch and look straight in the eye to look dignified on purpose. But that behavior was nowhere to be seen at the moment.
Sungchul felt something was odd so he suddenly asked a question.
“What are you looking at as you speak?”
Marakia jumped up in surprise. It was now for certain that he was hiding something.
Sungchul stood up and walked briskly over to Marakia.
Marakia flapped his wings to back away from Sungchul and keep their distance.
“What do you mean look? I’m searching through my massive archive of memories.”
Sungchul felt that there was something behind Marakia’s strong reaction but did not pry any further.
Bertelgia was watching quietly for a bit before commenting.
“What if he’s looking at Ant Wiki?”
Marakia was one again greatly shocked. Judging by his screech, he seemed to be more surprised than last time.
“W…What lies are you spreading, you bargain priced Living Book!”
Sungchul felt certain something was going on, but then there was a knock on the door to interrupt him.
“Excuse me. My apologies, but the King is seeking your audience.”
It seemed as though the meeting that had been interrupted by the appearance of the queen was to be resumed shortly.
Sungchul felt a strong suspicion about the origins of Marakia’s knowledge, but he knew his priorities. Instead of interrogating Marakia further on this, he instead threw another query.
“What kind of person is the King of this nation? He seems to be loose in his head in my eyes.”
To Sungchul’s question, Marakia nodded and crawled into the bag-like pocket sewn onto the back of Sungchul’s coat.
“The king of Nimpas is Deheter the third. He’s famous for being the most unintelligent of his brothers since he was young. To the extent that it has been recorded that he is mentally ill.”
“Mentally ill you say.”
Bertelgia trembled and muttered to herself.
“I’ve recently had that thought as well for some reason.”
She then turned her body towards Marakia. Marakia completely ignored Bertelgia’s taunt and opened his beak.
“Anyway, after all of his siblings were killed in mysterious accidents, he naturally rose to the throne as the rightful ruler. But once he took in his queen as his bride, he became nothing but a puppet. A scarecrow.”
Kings who possessed nothing but their crowns. It was a common sight among weaker nations. At worst, some kings could be swayed by mere thugs.
But however the truth may be, the obsessive fascination of the Scarecrow King towards him was genuine.
Sungchul couldn’t help but recall a similar level of zealous fandom that he had witnessed.
Back in the gladiatorial days, the faces of his few fans came to mind in a flash back.
Most of them were human trash alcoholics who were crazed with gambling. But once the combat began in the arena, they shouted Sungchul’s name louder than anyone else. Once night fell, they would shake glowsticks in the air gleefully to cheer him on. Each of them carried as much enthusiasm as a hundred spectators.
Even a man of solitude like Sungchul couldn’t help but acknowledge that he had been inspired by them back then.
‘What a fucked up place I’ve come to. But I have no reason to reciprocate.’
Sungchul already knew something like this might happen and knew exactly what it was he was here to do.
The fundamentals were simple.
He had come to inform them, not convince them.
Sungchul decided to meet with the king and make this absolutely clear.
The maid led Sungchul to the King’s chambers. The palace was not very large so it did not take very long. The Maid stopped in front of a door that looked identical to all other doors.
“Please enter here.”
Sungchul entered the room without much thought. It was because what he had to do did not depend on the actions of the other person.
But the moment he entered, Sungchul was overwhelmed in a sense.
From the very entrance of the room was a statue that shocked Sungchul.
Average height with slim build, ripped jeans and worn out coat worn over torn up shirt. A statue of a young man holding an exact replica of Fal Garaz was standing right before him.
No one had to tell Sungchul for him to know that this was a statue of Sungchul himself.
“Ah, you’ve come! Please come in.”
The voice of the young king could be heard from deeper in the room.
As Sungchul walked past his own statue, he was overwhelmed by an even more outrageous state of the room that greeted him from beyond.
Sungchul-related paraphernalia completely filled the room in all directions.
There was a framed collection of Sungchul’s wanted posters arranged by their date, various sizes of carvings of Sungchul both big and small, Sungchul’s uniform from his Imperial Commander in Chief days, and a whole assortment of illustrations of Sungchul that was likely paid out of pocket hanging all over the room.
“Mmm. This is a bit envious.”
Marakia looked deeply moved by what he saw. He poked his beak out of the pocket and looked around the room with jealousy burning in his eyes.
Meanwhile, Bertelgia felt Sungchul tremble slightly as she whispered quietly.
“…At least there’s no pillow with your likeness on it.”
“If I find something like that, this Kingdom will end today…!” Sungchul was greatly enraged as he walked into the interior part of the room.
At the center of the room was the King of Nimpas, Deheter, standing awkwardly and watching Sungchul with a naive and innocent expression.
“What is all this?”
Sungchul suppressed his emotions the best he could as he asked.
“Ah, these things? They’re great works of art I’ve poured my heart and soul to collect, of the Enemy of the World… No, the Imperial Commander in Chief!”
Deheter appeared to have a great deal of pride in his collection. But he quickly realized that Sungchul’s expressions were growing darker, so he rapidly shrank as he lowered his head and spoke with a most pitiful voice.
“I apologize if you are offended. I had no ill will.”
It was obvious to Sungchul that Deheter didn’t do any of this with ill intent.
He headed to the center of the room filled with clutter to grab a chair to continue the conversation that briefly grew cold.
“I have come here today, not as the Enemy of the World nor the Imperial Commander in Chief, but as one who holds the qualification to be called the founder of the World Parliament.”
“The founder of the World Parliament?”
King of Nimpas, Deheter, asked.
Sungchul nodded and continued to speak calmly.
“I have come to announce what might become the last session of the World Parliament.”
Deheter looked quite disinterested in what Sungchul had said. And interest was not the only thing missing. It seemed as though he could not grasp anything of what Sungchul had said in any capacity.
“What do I have to do?”
Sungchul felt frustrated. But as one who had come as the founder of the World Parliament, he kept his politeness to the end and replied respectfully.
“On the month of antelope at the beginning of spring, please make your way to Ixion of the eastern regions of the continent before the first full moon. As one of the Kings possessing a crown.”
“Ah, Ixion? I just have to go there?”
It was at the moment that the King gave a hapless answer in a daze. The door to the king’s palace opened without a knock. The one who had pushed open the door was none other than the queen of the small country, Oksana.
She was fanning her face which displayed a complicated mix of distrust, hatred, wariness, and repulsion.
‘She didn’t come alone.’
Sungchul noticed a presence standing behind Oksana. And as he had suspected, a man walked out from behind Oksana with very slow steps.
A man with simple black silk clothes holding a scepter made of dragon bones. He kept his eyes on Sungchul with his hazy blue eyes as he walked into the King’s abode.
Sungchul recognized him at a single glance.
The lowest seat of the now-defunct Thirteen Champions of the Continent, Merchant King Horneko has made his appearance before Sungchul.
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