His thoughts did not continue for long. A sharp shout that shook the air outside stole Sungchul’s attention.
Feeling extremely fatigued, Sungchul looked down out of the window.
The King and Queen of Nimpas.
A couple that could not be described as ideal was facing each other at the garden in front of the palace.
“W…What is all this? What is this?”
The king was shouting at the queen. In his hand was an ornately letter written in gold.
“How… how could you do this to me?”
It was Sungchul’s first time seeing the King become angry at the queen.
And just what would be needed for him to be able to shout at the queen who he was so helpless against othewise?
Sungchul tried to return to focusing on trying to locate the fragments of his memories, but it didn’t go well. He had used his brain well beyond capacity, and the lack of food and rest drained his body of energy.
‘I guess I should eat something first.’
Sungchul took an apple from a fruit basket in the room and took a bite as he returned to the window to watch the King and Queen continue their bickering.
‘Mmm… This could be fun.’
It was sufficient to bring a chance of pace.
“What did I do wrong? What’s so wrong with sending and getting a few letters?”
The fight had already progressed and entered a new phase.
Oksana who had been listening to Deheter’s shouting changed her attitude and was now the one who was yelling instead.
Sungchul bit into the apple again and tilted his head.
‘Hmm. What’s going on?’
A large number of people began to gather at the garden in front of the palace. The apprehensive advisors of the court ordered the knights to go disperse the onlookers.
In the midst of the chaos, Oksana’s voice rang out loudly once more.
“And my king, why have you intercepted someone else’s mail? Does the position of King in Nimpas grant the right to censor the Queen’s correspondence?”
Unlike just a bit ago, she was speaking calmly and with proper ettiquette.
‘This fight, she’s the winner.’
In fights like these, it was usually the one who fails to calm down that ends up losing. Clarity of thought was necessary. Sungchul finished the apples and made a simple assessment.
Unlike the Queen who managed to get a hold of herself and calm down, King Deheter was trembling while wringing the letter in rage. As if he couldn’t even speak, he glared at the queen with deep resentment before shaking the letter and choaked out his next words.
“How can you be like this? Even after being caught with sending a letter to your ex-lover saying you love him… How can you be so cocky in this situation? Do you really not see me as a husband in the slightest?”
The King was close to breaking down and crying. The hand holding the letter fell to his side and he hung his head and became still.
It was a pitiful sight, but comic in a way as well. The queen glared at him a bit longer before taking her handmaidens and leaving.
“If you want to, you’re more than welcome to go to the church to get divorce papers. I am always ready at any time. Of course, because I am to blame, I will forfeit the dowry without question.”
Her words that seemed sharper than daggers and seemed to freeze the spring air whole.
The king who was left alone stood for a long time where he was before he was urged by his advisors to leave, looking forlorn.
This was a fate awaiting the kings of a powerless nation.
As a man, and especially as his idol, Sungchul felt that he couldn’t leave that pitiful king alone. Sungchul left the room and found Marakia and Bertelgia who happened to be passing by in the hallway.
“Mmm? Hey you, why are you out? I thought you had things to think about?”
Bertelgia asked him with quite an unhappy tone of voice.
Sungchul felt embarrassed but he didn’t react confrontationally.
“…I have decided to think a bit later.”
“If you were going to give up this quickly, why did you chase us out in the first place? Is it because you dislike us now?”
Bertelgia continued to speak aggressively.
“That’s not it. You know me…”
“That you don’t have friends?”
He had known that Bertelgia was going to be upset when kicked out but evidentially it cut deeper than he thought it would.
Sungchul didn’t have a reply for her. It was not anyone but his own choice to immerse himself in his thoughts after all.
Bertelgia stared at Sungchul who was exercising the right to remain silent for a bit. She then spun around a she spoke like a mage reciting an incantation.
“Well, I guess it can’t be helped. But still! You are someone who is destined to become a Creationist one day! As the guide on the path of the Creationist! I have no choice but to forgive you. Even if I tremble in anger and my pages get crumpled!”
“You’re letting me off the hook?”
Sungchul asked in surprise.
“I am simply declaring a temporary truth so that we can go help that poor king.”
Bertelgia declared before shrinking in size and forcing her way into Sungchul’s pocket. Though her movements were rougher and more emotionally charged than usual, Sungchul felt gratitude for Bertelgia’s tolerance.
Marakia scratched his beak while watching this and then commented.
“Even the Destroyer has a soft spot.”
Sungchul showed absolutely no mercy for Marakia. Sungchul gave him a malicious glare, to which Marakia responded by hastily turning his head away and pretend that he wasn’t listening.
“Let’s get going. That King, there is a possibility he chooses suicide.”
Bertelgia vibrated inside the pocket.
“That won’t happen.”
Sungchul left Marakia behind because there was a possibility that he creates new problem. With pace that was neither too fast or too slow, Sungchul headed to the King’s chambers.
The king had shut himself in the room containing his collection of Sungchul related goods. The knight guarding the door recognized Sungchul and moved aside to let him pass. No words were exchanged but he seemed to want Sungchul to try and cheer up the king.
Sungchul quietly opened the door and entered the King’s chambers.
The king was curled up in front of one of Sungchul’s statues.
Sungchul thought it was strange that the sword of the Imperial Commander in Chief he had gifted was in a random corner but he ignored it for now. Because unlike a king of a nation, the man before him looked so frail and dispirited that he looked like an adolescent boy.
Sungchul wordlessly approached him. The King glanced at Sungchul before resuming staring ahead.
“I apologize. I have once again failed to conduct myself properly like a king ought to.”
Sungchul took a quick glance around the room before joining the King by sitting on the floor. Now that his eyesight became much lower, the Sungchul collection seemed even more imposing than before.
It was as if Sungchul had entered a different world made solely for Sungchul.
“It is said that a fight between a married couple is like slicing water with a sword.”
Sungchul said calmly. But he had no idea what he was saying. Sungchul had never been married whereas Deheter was a married man. It seemed wrong that an unmarried man gives a married man advice about marriage.
As if to prove this point, Sungchul experienced the miracle of being unable to speak after uttering just one sentence.
Sungchul began to panic as he racked his brain to figure out what to say next, but luckily Deheter spoke up first.
“I’ve never heard that before. Well, thank you. For coming all the way here yourself to console someone like me.”
“It is no big deal. More importantly, what happened?”
Sungchul smoothly moved onto his question after getting out of the tight spot. The king applied pressure to his eyes with one hand as he replied in a frustrated voice.
“The queen was still exchanging letters with that man during all this time.”
“Oksana’s previous fiancé, the prince of the Ancient Kingdom.”
“That’s a clear violation of the marriage vows.”
“If it was just an exchange of letters, I could tolerate it and move on. But… The letter I saw today… It was an invitation to meet in Aege Harbor. With the comment that she’s looking forward to reliving that steamy night…”
There was nothing he could say. Her letter explicitly revealed her unfaithful intentions.
Bertelgia seemed to be quite surprised as well as she vibrated strongly.
“And she was acting like that despite having that letter discovered?”
Bertelgia asked the King directly.
The King sighed and nodded.
“That letter was delivered directly to my study, as if to rub it in my face.”
Bertelgia popped out of the pocket slightly and sounded incredulous. Sungchul was likewise surprised as well.
While everyone was stunned from the truth, the lonely King continued his story.
“I even think this now. The reason why she was so harsh with me was to influence me to lose my love for her and ask for divorce myself… although now she’s doing that blatantly out in the open without trying to hide it anymore.”
Sungchul thought to himself.
‘He understands his situation well.’
But he couldn’t bring these words to his lips.
‘I need to say something that can be reassuring to him…’
But nothing in particular came to mind.
Not only was his brain was already over taxed from a strenuous week long search for something lost, Sungchul was also the type of man who was not good at expressing his emotions.
‘Mmm… Should I just say things as they are?’
Sungchul was torn this way and that being unable to make a decision. The king suddenly stood up before Sungchul made up his mind. Sungchul stood up at the same time out of reflex. The king quickly took a step in his direction and suddenly kneeled.
“I beseech you.”
This was completely unexpected.
King Deheter kneeled before Sungchul without any warning and was begging for something. Sungchul quietly awaited Deheter to speak as he tried to get over his surprise.
“Give me strength.”
“The part about you I found admirable is not limited to only your heroic deeds and conduct. The most inspiring part for me was that unlike anyone else in the world, you achieved everything using your own two hands.”
He must have dwelled on how to say this for a long time. The King spoke everything smoothly as if it was prepared ahead of time. Sungchul was able to quickly guess what it was the King was thinking.
‘King Deheter… Could you be…?’
A moment of disappointment showed in Sungchul’s gaze before they were darkened by the shadow of discontent.
The King remained kneeling as he continued to speak solemnly.
“Be as it may that I was born with the blood of a lineage of Kings, there is very little difference between me and you, a Summoned. I have no one to turn to or rely on. No one to trust. But in spite of that I… I too… Wish to be strong. Forgive my imprudence, lord Imperial Commander in Chief, but I wish to be like you, the Enemy of the World…!”
Sungchul’s predictions were correct. He felt as if he was doused with a bucket of cold water.
Sungchul waited for the King to continue with mixed feelings.
“I want to become strong like you. Please, teach me the way. The way to become strong on your own without having to rely on anyone else…!”
It was true that King Deheter respected Sungchul deeply.
But the true object of interest of the King was not in Sungchul who stood before him, but the process of becoming powerful itself, the process that transformed Sungchul from a clueless Summoned to someone that could face the entire world alone.
Born as a prince of a small kingdom, having in-laws who were essentially his superiors, enduring the neglect and apathy of the Queen who didn’t even see him as a man… It became clear now why he came to hold Sungchul in such unusually high regard.
‘This man, in the end what he wanted was power.’
Sungchul also predicted the next question that was sure to follow. The method to climb the stairs to God. His expectations were, once again, right on the mark.
“Commander in Chief… Have you ascended the stairs?”
The king asked. Sungchul nodded expressionlessly. King Deheter’s face brightened up considerably. He wore a smile close to euphoria as he bowed to Sungchul and asked Sungchul what he was expecting to be asked.
“Please… Please teach me… This unlovable husband and the king of a powerless nation… the way to ascend the stairs and back…!”
Bertelgia felt for a moment, Sungchul’s heartbeat taking a strange rhythm. Luckily, this change didn’t persist for very long.
Sungchul felt the now-familiar exhaustion as he answered calmly.
“Yes…! Lord Commander!”
“There is no such thing as a method to climb the stairs safely.”
The king tightly made a fist and made a reply steeped in despair.
“Do you understand the pain of a husband who, let alone hug his wife, can’t even share the same room?”
“I rather choose death, so please teach me the way. I will take all responsibility for whatever happens next.”
The King was desperate. But the intensity of his desperation and sincerity only made Sungchul’s languor grow ever stronger.
“That stairway puts everything to the test. From the moment you place your feet on the first step, your entire life from beginning to end becomes like a horizon unfolding before you.”
Sungchul looked far away as he answered. The King who had bowed his head gazed up to look at Sungchul.
“The problem comes after that. Every aspect of a person is laid bare to be thoroughly tested. Not only the deeds and achievements of the person, but even the strength of mind.”
A faint voice reverberated in Sungchul’s head.
[… The reason why you were able to climb to the top of the stairs was not because you were outstanding.]
The moment the voice was gone, he heard the voice of the First Dragon.
He didn’t remember the exact wording, but the dragon had said something along the same lines. That the reason why Sungchul and Eckheart were able to climb the stairs had nothing to do with their ability but simply because it was the right time and the stairway had allowed them to pass.
But no matter how generous the stairway becomes, there is no possibility of it tolerating a mediocre man who can’t even manage his own problems at home.
There was two choices available to Sungchul.
One was to say what the King wants to hear and encourage him. Or, the other was to tell him the truth to disappoint him.
Sungchul’s choice, was of course, the latter.
“There is no way to climb the stairs. King Deheter, even before you reach the 3rd step, you will have melted and disintegrate completely in the God’s foundry. Therefore there is nothing I can do for you or to tell you.”
Sungchul was able to watch in real time as his brutally honest words progressively twist and crumple the King’s face into that of despair.
Sungchul left the king behind where he kneeled and left the room.
“To me, it seems that the only choice left now is the divorce.”
It didn’t sit well with him but he had no alternatives. Sungchul carried his heavy heart out of the King’s Chambers. So he couldn’t see the shadow of madness take over the king’s entire body from head to toe.
It wasn’t too long after Sungchul left the room.
The king’s voice had changed as he began to mutter.
“You want me to Divorce…? Me…?”
The King jumped up and glared at a statue of Sungchul standing at the center of the room with dangerously twitching eyes.
“You dare speak such filth through the hole in your face? You piece of Summoned garbage… You dare… I… Do you know how much I love that woman…? I fell in love at first sight! With that arrogant bitch!”
He grabbed the Sword of the Imperial Commander in Chief that had been rolling around in a corner.
He drew the blade from the scabbard.
“You unfair piece of shit! You sordid fucker! Is it difficult to share just that?”
The deranged king became unhinged and began to swing the sword against the statue of Sungchul. The statue developed cuts all over the place until finally an arm was severed along with Bertelgia it was holding.
The king breathed in air with difficulty after having swung the sword for some time.
“Do you think you know… What the fuck do you think you know? You don’t know anything!”
King could not suppress his emotions anymore and shouted at the top of his lungs. The Knight standing guard at the door came running in the room.
“My King! Are you okay?”
The King glared briefly at the Knight with an exhausted but still-demented look before his expression loosened as if losing steam. He answered without any strength.
“Go and remove this garbage from my sight immediately.”
The Knight immediately jumped to obey his king’s order and fetched some servants to clean up Sungchul’s statue that now lay in pieces.
The remains of the broken statue was carried away by two maids to the back of the palace where firewood were kept.
The handyman that had been splitting wood saw the statue arrive and clicked his tongue.
“Another statue of the Enemy of the World? Why does he keep making more of these if he’s going to destroy them every week? It’s not like the country has a large amounts of money or something.”
He grumbled as he opened the door to the storage shack.
Within were a disturbing and uncountable number of humanoid statues left discarded in an eerie pile.
The faces all looked different, but each and every one of the statues were representing a single individual.
The man who obtained strength necessary to fight against the entire world on his own.
In other words, Sungchul Kim.
Y’all are going to love this arc.
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