Aege Harbor transforms into a battlefield once the night falls.
Armed gangs and bandits, mages without staffs and knights without shields, Summoned or indigenous people… People of all different background and type were hired by a bit of gold to join in on the meaningless struggle to be killed as a sacrificial lamb.
Ahmuge was standing next to the handrails of a stairway and watched a particularly disgraceful battle to the death taking place in the middle of the market.
There was an unspoken law in Aege that forbid the use of metals in a fight between merchants. Thus, both sides used clubs and sticks instead of swords and spears and engaged in a battle that perfectly resembled a war.
Ahmuge thought to herself as she watched two factions battle it out with clubs and shouting like madmen.
‘This was definitely in the records.’
Ahmuge found an entry in the Soul Contract – Records of the End, which was visible only to her. She saw that an event had been recorded about Aege harbor that matched exactly with what she witnessed unfold before her.
‘A battle for supremacy between the Viceroy Horneko and major merchant Donald McGally. The dishonorable and barbaric battle between the two factions in the streets eventually led to the downfall of the mammonists, it says.’
Ahmuge already knew the victor of this conflict.
‘According to history, Horneko would lose here and lose control over every sector, leading to the loss of his position as the Viceroy. Afterwards, he is fated to a life of imprisonment in a small house, forced to eat poisoned food for the rest of his days.’
But from what she could see, Horneko’s faction had the upper hand in the current battle unfolding before her.
Donald McGally’s forces’ best men took to the vanguard to push Horneko’s forces into the corner of the market square. Just when they seemed cornered and surrounded, reinforcements from Horneko’s faction came flooding into the scene from every entrance, rapidly turning the tide of the battle.
‘This is different from the history I know.’
She was lost in thought for a bit, but turned around after she became aware of unpleasant figures approaching from behind.
“Oy. You. Lady.”
Several gangsters armed with clubs were approaching Ahmuge with wide grins.
“Why is a young lady roaming alone on such a dangerous night?”
“Is she a prostitute?”
“Her clothing seems too good for a prostitute.”
It was a gathering of men of poor character.
They busied their lips with unspeakable insults as they took a look around Ahmuge’s surroundings.
She was alone.
Ahmuge’s eyes began to fill with hate.
One man grinned and taunted her.
Ahmuge’s figure vanished before he could finish. There was a gust of wind, followed by everyone being torn apart. Dozens of men that had surrounded Ahmuge transformed into chunks of meat so suddenly there was no chance to even let out a scream.
Ahmuge glanced around at the corpses with cold eyes before taking out a glass bottle containing red liquid.
Once the bottle was opened and the liquid spilt over the bodies, the corpses completely disintegrated into white mist, leaving behind only red pools of blood.
By the time the last corpse was taken care of, the battle in the square was coming to an end.
“All hail Viceroy Horneko!”
“Glory to Viceroy!”
Men of the faction that took over the square shouted into the night sky in celebration of their victory.
Ahmuge realized that there was something seriously amiss.
‘Did Knights of Famine win the battle? It turned out that way but everything is happening too fast.’
She was distracted by her thoughts as she turned around, and she almost let out a scream.
A suspicious man, who not even she could detect, was hiding in the darkness.
‘An assassin…? He has extraordinary skill.’
Ahmuge quieted her breathing and prepared to kill, but the man revealed himself from the darkness. The malice in her eyes changed into a wide-eyed surprise.
Although he wore beggar’s rags and his appearance was severely deteriorated, Ahmuge recognized the identity of the man instantly.
A comrade assigned by the Assassin’s Guild. They had once worked together with him as her mentor.
All before the Enemy of the World made an appearance at the edge of the world.
“You’ve gotten much better, Ahmuge. I guess the Empire is treating you quite well?”
In the past, his arm had been imbued with a mark by worshippers of the Ancient God that granted him power to summon tentacles. Now, only an empty sleeve flapped in the wind where it used to be.
“You. Why did you disappear without a word? I’ve heard rumors that the guild is after you.”
“That’s not all that important.”
Kaz made a wide grin.
“The important thing is that I now have power.”
Ahmuge was able to quickly recognize that Kaz was no longer the same character as he was in the past.
As evidence, his formerly gloomy and sadistic gaze was now filled with nothing but madness.
“I now have the power to kill the Enemy of the World.”
Kaz said. Ahmuge stared at his face expressionlessly and wordlessly.
It didn’t seem like he was saying empty words. There was calculated certainty to be found amidst the madness in his eyes.
“There is only one reason why I approached you. Don’t touch Horneko, Returnee. It is not yet time for his death.”
“…I have only come to observe the Enemy of the World. I have no business with Horneko whatsoever.”
“That’s good then. I suggest you observe carefully with your eyes open wide.”
Kaz melted into the darkness.
“The sight of the Enemy of the World dying to my, Kaz Almeira’s, blade…”
He left nothing behind as he vanished into the shadows except hollow laughter.
Ahmuge stared at the spot Kaz had dissapeared for a long while before dissapearing into the shadow herself.
On the spot where the two assassins had vanished was naught but ownerless blood soaking into the sewers.
A week had passed peacefully.
Work was progressing smoothly. Not only had Sungchul obtained usable Letters of Gods, he was also given the list of Grizzly’s merchants scattered around the world who specialized in Letters of Gods.
According to Grizzly, it was near certain that the Letters of God they obtained were still in their storage in the since the downfall of the Holy Kingdom of Ruteginea, since the only demand for them was now gone.
Meanwhile, Horneko was diligently carrying out his end of the deal.
Many ships bearing the flag of the Allied Merchant’s Coalition departed for destinations all over the continent on behalf of Sungchul, carrying Sungchul’s summon for attendance at the World Parliament.
In it, Sungchul insisted adding a paragraph, a threat for absentees to prepare to receive great harm.
Now all that was left to do was to wait.
Sungchul was standing by the storage area, staring at a tree with flower buds beginning to grow.
There was nothing outwardly different from usual, but his entire body was enveloped in a thick impenetrable layer of depression.
Bertelgia was keeping an eye on Sungchul. He was down this entire week. Everything was going smoothly as planned, but Sungchul himself was left in a state of languor.
Bertelgia knew the reason why but did not dare voice it. She assessed that it was not a problem she could or should address.
‘This problem must be resolved by a direct conversation between Sungchul and Adelwight.’
But even taking this into consideration, Sungchul’s misery was unreasonably gloom. Especially at this present time when terrible news was coming from all directions.
“The Empire finally unsheathed her sword it seems. There is news of eight imperial fleets being sent to suppress defiant vessel states as a declaration of war.”
Marakia, who had somehow become the most popular guest in Nimpas Kingdom, entered the room to share information he had just received.
Bertelgia was shocked and asked in response.
Well, truth was that she wasn’t surprised all that much.
“The message sent out by Horneko about the World Parliament might have influenced this outcome. In Empire’s perspective, they would want to eliminate smaller states that they could effortlessly wipe out and prevent them from attending”.
Sungchul who had been looking out the window did nothing more than turn his head slightly to glance at Marakia and remained quiet.
He was plunging himself into the depth of isolation while watching the seasons change with utter apathy. He was acting like himself in the past.
“That human, what’s up with him? He looks completely out of it after returning from Aege Harbor.”
Marakia looked biffed that the urgent news he brought got such a dead reaction and muttered to himself.
Bertelgia also did not like Sungchul’s current behavior. She had thought leaving him alone would solve the problem on its own, but it seemed to be getting worse in a vicious cycle as the time passes.
’Mmm. Do I really have to comment on this? I really, really don’t want to.’
Bertelgia’s thought arrived at the fork and remained there for a while. After a good amount of time had passed, Bertelgia decided upon the path she will take.
‘I’m going to do whatever it takes to turn that strange man with strange habits back to normal. It seems like leaving him be might drag this on forever.’
Determined Bertelgia flew towards Sungchul. But the closer she got to him the more doubt crept up in her mind. Especially once she saw the expression on his face, overflowing with worry and doubt signalling that he was in no mood to be talking.
Despite this, Bertelgia made use of her characteristically positive outlook and flapped her way all the way to the bookshelf behind Sungchul.
“Eh… Eh hem!”
A timid cough could be heard from behind Sungchul. Sungchul’s soulless eyes that had been watching a branch out of the window turned slightly at the sound, but that was the full extent of his reaction.
If it was normal, he would have replied by speaking her name, but he returned to looking ahead and falling into seemingly endless contemplation.
He cannot be left alone like this.
And, Bertelgia began to wonder if what happened was even worth Sungchul becoming this upset.
The incident with Ryze Hymerr and Craiya shaking him up made sense, but she found it difficult to believe that a mere acquaintance like Adelwight could plunge him so deeply into despair.
‘Everyone makes mistakes. Even you’ve done lots of horrible things too.’
Bertelgia concluded her thoughts before trying to speak once more.
Sungchul didn’t react. Though she sensed a strong rising anger in him, she didn’t give up and pressed on.
“Why are you so gloomy? Get a hold of yourself.”
Sungchul replied with a forlorn voice.
Bertelgia had a momentary hope that Sungchul might shed a bit of his negative energy, but his next words mercilessly trampled on her expectations.
“I would like to be alone.”
Bertelgia felt challenged rather than disappointed when she heard this.
“I mean, is it really such an important issue to you?”
Bertelgia couldn’t stand it any more and spoke her mind directly. Sungchul’s eyes turned until it reflected Bertelgia’s floating form.
And soon, his characteristically calm voice filled the room.
“Bertelgia, I think you’re mistaking something. If you’re talking about Adelwight, I’ve put it out of mind long ago.’
“Then why are you doing this? You haven’t spoken all week. If all you do is sit next to a window and stare at a tree, it makes me and that bird over there feel bad for you, you know?”
“You don’t need to worry about me. Act as you please. If I am bothering you, I will ask the King of Nimpas myself for another room.’
“That’s not the issue.”
Bertelgia insisted on continuing the topic with her voice tainted with irritation, but Sungchul didn’t budge.
Eventually, he went as far as to send Marakia away to stay with Bertelgia somewhere else.
“You’re really going to be like this? Fine… then do whatever you want!”
Bertelgia was pissed but it couldn’t be helped. He didn’t have it in him to add that to his attention.
Like he had stated, he was long past caring about what happened with Adelwight. But it ultimately led him to ask the most fundamental question. And that was an existential question about Sungchul himself. About things that he had forgotten, or the important mission he was in the middle of carrying out.
This entire week, he had been carefully going over all the different things that had happened to him until now.
There were countless betrayals and orders of magnitude more of disappointments. He even thought about the beginning and the end of things.
The start of everything as well as its motives were clear. The end was still veiled in an uncharted terratory, but a conclusion will come about one way or another.
The problem is in the middle, something that had been lost on the way.
Without eating or drinking, Sungchul put himself deep in isolation within his head for a week in search of that ‘lost something’.
Strictly speaking this was a meaningless effort, to Invest his precious time and energy in something he himself had no clue as to what it could be, without even the smallest of hints to follow.
And yet, there was something.
The malicious account of Adelwight, who he had trusted completely, had prompted Sungchul to notice something deep within him that had been buried away at the depth of his consciousness.
Sungchul was gripped by powerful need to find an explanation for this. This was highly unusual for him. However, the level of his obsession proved to him that this something was he had to do at any cost.
At the end of his long but ultimately meaningless pursuit, Sungchul finally located a clue hidden in his own Status window.
One was found in his Blessings page, and the other within his ability points page.
In Sungchul’s Blessings page was the following entry.
And likewise, the part he was focusing on was as follows.
Charisma 28 Luck 28
Most vows do not appear anywhere, neither in blessings nor curses. Checking Horneko’s status page would not reveal his vow with Sungchul. It was because the proof of the vow was impaled within the heart.
But Sungchul’s vow was prominently and unmistakably displayed in the Blessings page.
Sungchul had thought that this was a part of the accursed power he had obtained after climbing the stairway to god and receiving the divine mission directly from God. There was no good alternative explanation available otherwise.
But now Sungchul was overcome with suspicion that the vow was hiding something secret from him.
And as a proof of this, Sungchul turned his attention to his unnaturally low Charisma and Luck stats that he had dismissed without a thought.
‘Could it be that I don’t remember the full extent of the conversation I had with God at that time?’
Sungchul tried to calmly recall what had happened at the top of the divine stairway. But he soon felt pain as if he had been struck in the back of his head with a hammer.
“How can this be…”
The memory was still there. A memory so clear it seemed like it could be readily recalled at any time.
But the problem was that his memories were not organized into one coherent whole. Like small fragments, his memories were scattered and hidden in all different places.
He had never suspected this might have happened. And the fragments of memories were so sharp and narrow that he didn’t notice until now.
But now one thing was certain. The fact that his memories were not intact.
As if with magic, Sungchul could hear faint voices coming from the depth of his consciousness.
“…the reason why you were able to climb to the top of the stairs was not because you were outstanding.”
The voices continued, but it became so faint that it became indiscernible.
Amidst shock and tremors, Sungchul was filled with certainty. That the faint voice was an important link in connecting the pieces of his memories together.
‘Just what… what was said in that place…?’
Long chapter this time, hope you enjoyed it. We got more releases coming this coming week:)
Another mention to our release of Master Hunter K’s last book on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited in case you haven’t checked it out yet.