A refreshingly clear sound of impact rang out in the room. The queen of Nimpas, Oksana fell to the ground after a brief cry in pain.
The cheek that had been struct immediately began to swell and her wide open eyes were trembling in fear and terror.
Horneko was not someone who easily showed his emotions. Even when he was younger, it had been said that he probably wouldn’t even bleed if you were to prick him with a needle.
But nonetheless, he was still a human being after all.
As the most critical moment in his entire life was approaching, it was nonother than his own blood that was about to unravel and ruin everything by doing horrible things he didn’t think possible.
“If the King of Nimpas obtains the backing of Sungchul Kim, I shall never forgive you.”
Horneko stated coldly as he glared down at the queen of Nimpas who was still on the ground holding her cheeks.
What he meant was that he was going to expel her from the family.
The frown Oksana had from being stunned quickly transformed into that of sheer terror.
She who inherited a bit of his intelligence could quickly surmise what being expelled from her family would entail.
It meant the loss of every luxury and protection she had taken for granted until now. And awaiting one who had no safeguard or protection was a life of misery and tragedy.
Even if she was his daughter, Horneko would not bat an eye at whatever fate befell her.
“Unnie, that sounds bad.”
Derha who had been born from another mother was fondling a bag of money as she looked in Oksana’s direction with a smile.
Oksana’s eyelashes trembled. She turned around to face her father and began to plead.
“Don’t come begging to me, Oksana. This problem is yours and also yours to solve.”
Horneko declared coldly before turning his eyes out the window.
He was fully aware that punishing his daughter wouldn’t change a single thing. But if he didn’t at least do this, he would not be able to calm his anger.
‘It just had to be now… in such an important period of time!’
The struggle for the position of Viceroy of Aege Harbor was now stablizing back to normality.
In the nightly battle that took place, Horneko was proving that he had influence that did not lose to any of the new contenders.
It has long been tradition in the Allied Merchant’s Coalition to grant the seat of power to the incumbent if the level of skill of the candidates were about the same.
Sungchul who was staying at Nimpas was to become the climax of Horneko’s plan to restructure his kingdom. And in one week’s time, he will be gone.
The only people who knew this was Sungchul and Horneko himself.
He was going to use this as a way to create a deed for himself.
The man who had once brought the Allied Merchant’s Coalition to the brink of ruin once again returned to Aege Harbor and revealed his ill intentions. But using his way with words, his cunning, and fearless courage, he would chase him out legally through an agreement and be remembered for this deed.
It was trivial to generate evidence of Sungchul’s malintent against the alliance. Even if he was weaker than the combined strength of his rivals, the reputation he had built up all this time with his modest meals gave him a great deal of influence and power.
Now all that remained was to show the other merchants that he was steadfast and strong for the next week or so. But at the very end right before it was done, nonother than his own daughter threw flames on the table.
A completely unexpected turn of events took place.
Horneko was fully aware through experience just how dangerous it was for the person in power. Especially if Sungchul decided to get involved in the affairs of Illeboro because of the friction between the King and the Queen, it was possible that everything he was working towards would have been for nothing.
And as if to confirm his fears, a subordinate of his came running into the office in panic to convey urgent news.
“There is report that the Enemy of the World and the King of Nimpas held a secret meeting in the king’s personal chambers.”
“W… What did you say…?!”
Horneko’s face became twisted.
He gave Oksana, who still lay on the ground in a corner, a murderous glare for a moment before returning his attention to the messenger.
“How did this happen? Did the King of Nimpas form an alliance of sorts with the Enemy of the World? That must not get involved in the affairs of Illeboro…!”
“We do not know that at the moment. It’s just, it was also stated that the King’s madness relapsed after their meeting was over.”
“Is that so? But that could also be a deception. The King of Nimpas is more cunning than he seems.”
Horneko knew to what length the king went to protect his crown. Although he had given up on it completely, having his intentions uncovered by such a young man was an unforgettable humiliation for Horneko.
‘What should I do?’
The unpredicted development has already come to pass. How this will turn out in the end is known by the King of Mediation alone.
Horneko wanted to eliminate unpredictable variables, introducing artificial variables if need be.
He recalled a panacea he had access to.
It seemed to be usable but the true effectiveness has not yet been tested, so he was reluctant to resort to this card. But there was nothing too precious at the present moment for him to hold back and be frugal with.
Horneko concluded his thoughts and turned to the messenger to speak emotionlessly.
“Send a message to the Order.”
The Letters of God was not an item that was permitted for just anyone one to read. It was an item only powerful beings with necessary qualifications had permission to use. The immortals stigmatized as the Evil Gods did not want for blind men who were unaware of what’s ahead of them to have access to their documents.
The stat Intuition was the measure of understanding the world. It was the only objective measure for the ability to discern truth from deception.
But not all Letters of God required high Intuition. At least, the one Kaz Almeira carried was so.
“Time has come.”
An envoy of the Order of Extinction arrived at the tavern to deliver the assassin his assignment.
Kaz Almeira grinned and took out a document that was hidden in the pocket closest to his heart.
“Hear thee. The amount of time you are capable of lasting using that item is but one minute.”
The envoy informed him.
“One minute is plenty.”
Kaz could tell the immense value of the unholy text he carried simply by placing it on his palm.
The document was written in black fragments. This material, sometimes called God’s Clay or Fragments of Calamity, made up each and every letter of the document.
Kaz had not been able to hold back his curiosity and had peeked into the document, and witnessed a magical sight of a black sword suddenly appearing in the air as the letters disintegrated.
As a result, he was able to hear a voice.
[Do you desire power? Kaz Almeira.]
What ever happened next did not matter to Kaz. All he cared about was waiting impatiently to take his revenge.
The envoy threw a dagger to Kaz.
It was the simplest yet the most widely used tools of the assassins. Kaz did not appraise this weapon whatsoever.
All he cared about was that the edge was sharp and the feeling of the hilt in his hands were good. Any other information about the weapon or its properties did not matter. Even if he was given but a kitchen knife from the market, he would have taken it gratefully, for he now had power.
The power to end his nemesis, to inflict harm and kill him.
The envoy presented yet another item to Kaz.
It was a fake identification card, pendent with a family picture, and an assortment of letters and documents.
Kaz picked out the identification card among the pile and took a look at the content.
[Allied Merchant’s Coalition Merchant Licence: Royce Champaign]
“What is this?”
“There are the items you must drop as you die,” the envoy informed him.
A cold smile spread across Kaz’s face.
“Who’s side is this Royce Champaign on? Is he a subordinate of Horneko? Or perhaps subordinate of his rivals?”
“That depends on what you do. However, the bishop has high expectations of you to bring out the full extent of your potential, Kaz Almeira, O’ the last surviving heir of the Almeira family.”
The Envoy spoke courteously now unlike how he was behaving before. He was trying to provoke Kaz’s confidence to rise. Kaz stared at the envoy without any emotion before giving a cold reply.
“There’s no need to go out of your way to try and evoke my pride in my family. I will dutifully carry out my assignment. And then…”
Kaz used his only remaining arm to pick up all the items off the table and store them in his vest.
“More than anything else in the world, I am content just being able to stab that man’s heart.”
A small gust kicked up between Kaz and the envoy. Once the gust settled down, Kaz was nowhere to be found.
The night sky as seen from the window showed a unusually bright glistening star.
The shining star was called the murderer’s star, the celestial guardian of assassins.
“Mmm. I’ve thought about this real hard last night.”
Bertelgia began to speak during breakfast.
“Isn’t this too mean? Even if that King has a twisted admiration for you, we all saw just how much he suffers.”
Sungchul was chewing eggs and vaguely let Bertelgia’s words wash over him without showing an emotion. It wasn’t until he finished his eggs and downed them with water that Sungchul opened his mouth to reply.
“Short of teaching him a way to climb the stairs, no combination of sweet words or consolation would have satisfied him. He would taken all of it as me trying to dodge giving him what he wants.”
“Is that so…?”
“There was a time when I had the same mindset as him.”
“I see. But why have you come to our room and eating like it’s normal?”
Bertelgia hit the corner of the table with the edge of her cover and turned her body towards Sungchul.
She continued with a stiff voice.
“This is our room! Your room is over there.”
Bertelgia still hasn’t forgiven Sungchul.
There was a brief truce because of that event with the King of Nimpas, but Bertelgia had not been given a sincere apology from Sungchul nor has he shown any sign of remorse or reflecting on his behavior.
She was planning on avoiding Sungchul with Marakia, but that plan went out the window the moment Sungchul opened the door and walked in without hesitation as if it was his living room.
The servants brought his meal to Bertelgia’s room and began eating his breakfast together with Bertelgia and Marakia nonchalantly.
He didn’t bat an eye at Bertelgia’s sharp remark and instead turned to Marakia’s meal and made a relaxed comment.
“What is the favorite spice of the Avians? Aside from honey.”
“Among the Nahak kind, the best spice is the dying scream of the animal whose intestines you’re chewing.”
“…Mmm. Does that mean that the Avians have their hearing and taste connected somehow?”
Bertelgia listened to their absurd conversation and thought to herself,
‘This man. I get the feeling like he’s getting more and more vain as time goes on.’
This situation would have been impossible to even imagine in the past.
When they first met, Sungchul felt like a spider who was struggling in the web they themselves had cast. Bertelgia knew better than anyone else because of her close proximity as she observed him.
But she thought that this kind of change wasn’t necessarily bad. It was proof that he was slowly changing. A man who didn’t act like a human being was changing.
“Bertelgia. Shall we go for a walk real quick?”
Sungchul got cocky and spoke to Bertelgia in a friendly tone.
“Haa. Really. You were a failure of a human being even when we first met, but now it feels like you’re becoming a failure of a human being in a different sense.”
“Doesn’t feel all that upsetting to hear, Perhaps that’s my true nature.”
Sungchul grabbed Bertelgia and forced her into his pocket.
“I don’t want! Let me go!”
Bertelgia was resisting but there was no way she could overcome Sungchul’s god-like strength. Sungchul felt her rebellious struggle so he added calmly.
“Let’s just go for a bit. I will tell you what was going on for the past week in detail if you do.”
Bertelgia acted unhappy but was very happy on the inside. It was rare for that man at the pinnacle of apathy to voluntarily speak about himself.
“Shall I go too?”
Marakia got ready to follow but the result was predetermined.
“Remain in the room and guard it.”
He left Marakia behind and walked across the blooming spring garden path without a word.
Although there was no sweet scent in the air nor gorgeous colors to be seen, the foliage that timidly began to dye in spring colors gave a fresh feeling that can only be felt during the transition between seasons.
Once Sungchul arrived at the flower garden filled with new buds that were almost ready to bloom, he stopped to begin speaking.
“After I finished with Craiya and Ryze thing, truthfully I was lost as to what I should be doing. Honestly, I hadn’t even thought about it before. I was always someone who had no future. Most without future tend to die off quickly, but I got lucky and survived until now. Although, admittedly my luck stat is horrid.”
Sungchul spoke with a calm tone that could not be discerned from how he normally spoke, but Bertelgia could detect deep sincerity that normally were not present, so she twisted around to respond.
“Is that so?”
“But once I was free of that burden, I could finally see beyond the objective I was chasing with all my might. What kind of human being I am.”
“And how do you assess yourself?”
Bertelgia asked in a completely different tone of voice.
Sungchul paused to think before he answered. It seems as though he didn’t arrive at a conclusion yet on this either, on the question of his being.
After a long deliberation, he finally opened his mouth.
“At the very least… Not a failure of a human being.”
“Wow, you think?!”
Bertelgia burst out shouting in anger, which made Sungchul make a faint grin and he responded by gently stroking her covers.
“It’s a joke. At the very least, I don’t think I am irredeemable. It’s a bit weird to say this about myself… but…”
It was then that Sungchul discovered a man standing on the opposite side of the garden.
It was a familiar face.
Worn out clothes with a missing arm. On his waist was just a single scroll.
That cliffhanger… don’t worry next chapter release is tomorrow:)