The miasma of death made landfall in the east and the World Parliament collapsed. The Human Empire was betrayed by allied nations and isolated.
All of this took place in the span of months.
People had thought the news could not get any worse than this.
But as if to belittle their expectations, another earth-shattering event occurred in the south western part of the continent.
The Enemy of the World had sustained a major injury by the blade of an infamous assassin.
This news soon spread across the whole world. This was as shocking news as the news of the miasma of death spreading from the east. The Enemy of the world, who seemed impervious to harm, was gravely wounded by an assassin’s dagger.
Of course it was also known that he had not died of this attack. But it was enough to show people that Sungchul who seemed immortal was in fact another mortal among them that can bleed.
This news came across as but an interesting topic of conversation in bars among the commoners, but for the ruling elites of the world, this was a major incident.
“The Enemy of the World. He’s undoubtedly an amazing person. But the reputation he enjoys is not without exaggerations on his true ability.”
The one who benefited the most from this event was the Viceroy of the Allied Merchant Coalition, Horneko.
But like a man who had led the merchant coalition for many years at the helm, he did not openly show his reaction to the world.
He listened to the Arch Parish priest of the Illeboro, Altugius Xero’s explanation with a rigid expression. Altugius continued his explanation.
“He too was a man who had been overlooked by all others. But yesterday, an assassin of our order shattered the legend of the Enemy of the World with but a single dagger. I trust that Sir Viceroy already know of this.”
Of course the old Horneko knew about this.
Just the day before, Horneko’s subordinate hidden in all areas of the Nimpas Palace had delivered him the news. That the assassin was killed but Sungchul had sustained a near fatal injury, from which he lost enough blood to fill a basin.
Of course among the report was an unbelievable story of how the front of the palace was briefly engulfed in inexplicable darkness moments after the assassination, but it was not Horneko to pay attention to nonsensical details.
There was only one important and meaningful detail in the report.
The untouchable monster responsible for robbing the Bottomless Vault, Sungchul, was hurt.
Now, all things became possible for Horneko.
He could, for example, use this as an opportunity to solidify his relationship with the Order of Extinction and use their support to take out his rivals, or even manipulate information to trick Sungchul himself to go and take care of them instead.
But his business rivals were no longer a subject of interest to Horneko.
He was looking further ahead.
“We have fulfilled all of our obligations towards you. It is now time for you to uphold your part of the bargain.”
Altugius’s forcefully pseudo neutral voice was registered in Horneko’s ears as he stared off into the distance.
Horneko’s daydream continued nontheless.
‘If only the Enemy of the World can be killed…!’
An unthinkably reckless idea. But now there was a real possibility it could be done, and the method was available for Horneko to use.
‘I can’t even imagine it.’
The things he couldn’t even imagine or think of in the past were now beginning to look more and more real.
‘The King of Illeboro…no, even bigger ambitions are possible. Becoming the last king standing in all of the world is not a dream!’
Though his instincts he so dearly treasured didn’t respond in the slightest to this possibility, Horneko was going to test his luck anyway.
Horneko turned to look at his business partner.
“Are you able to provide one more assassin?”
Altugius shook his head definitively.
He no longer tried to conceal his displeasure.
“I have not yet heard your answer about your promise.”
He was demanding Horneko pay the price.
The right to spread propaganda across all of Aege Harbor, control over select but important buildings of interest, as well as the provision of ships bearing the flag of the Allied Merchant’s Coalition and the like were very important issues to the Order of Extinction. And they were all things he could immediately provide for them.
But Horneko was planning on getting a bit more out of the order still.
“It would be difficult in the current state of affairs. The war is not over, and the Enemy of the World is still alive.”
Horneko replied disapprovingly. Altugius’s expression grew cold.
“This isn’t what you promised.”
He no longer kept pretense of respect towards Horneko but Horneko didn’t care.
“One additional assassin could finish off the Enemy of the World. I do not believe this is an unattractive idea to your organization either.”
Altugius glanced over at the scroll that had been placed on the small table next to the window the first time he had met Horneko.
It was an item provided by the Order of Extinction when Horneko reached out to ask for aid, to be used as a last resort.
Altugius left the item as payment for the establishment of their agreement, but clever Horneko had not put a finger on it and left it where it was.
There was no way that Altugius wouldn’t know about this. He no longer held back his booming voice.
“There will be nothing more.”
It was a definitive declaration with not the slightest of room for negotiation.
“It would be problematic for all of the promised things to be carried out as things are at the moment. However, the most pressing issue for your order, the provision of the flag of the Coalition, that could be provided immediately.”
Altugius’s expression softened slightly upon hearing this.
‘As expected of an ex-professor. He’s so easy to deal with.’
Horneko awaited Altugius’s answer with that thought. And soon, Altugius opened his mouth to reply.
“If you desire a tool for assassination, that we can provide.”
“The important thing is who. The previous assassin had the strongest desire in all of the world to kill the Enemy of the World. That was why it was possible for him to deal meaningful damage against the man.”
“Ho. So that’s…”
“Unfortunately, I do not have anyone under my employ who carries comparable will. They are all cowards. And cowards are not capable of killing even pet dogs.”
It was then that a boisterous laughter filled the interior of the building.
A woman who everyone knew was hiding behind a curtain walked out to reveal her presence.
“If that’s the problem, would you like to give me another chance?”
It was the disowned child, Oksana.
“I have an idea.”
A day passed since the commotion.
Sungchul’s injury was quite severe.
The blade of the knife that scraped against his ribcage and penetrated almost all the way to his heart left a deep cut that bled profusely.
Sungchul had many legendary tier potions that could immediately close his wounds available to him but he did not make use of them.
Instead he chose to use the leaves of the World tree for a slow but effective treatment.
And because of the circumstance he was in, he did not accept the help of any healers provided by the Kingdom of Nimpas.
There were two reasons for doing so.
One was the practical reason of not wanting to waste precious potions.
Sungchul had not allowed any injury, not only to himself but also to his clothing, since he had obtained god-like strength. But the Lesser Gods were different from all other foes. They were powerful and unpredictable. If he were to fight them more in the future, he had to be ready to accept small and big injuries.
The more potions he had the better.
It was a forgotten lesson Sungchul had learned during his long tenure as an adventurer.
Of course, saving the potions for later wasn’t his only reason for choosing a slow method of healing.
His true objective lay elsewhere.
Sungchul knew just how manipulative and treacherous humans could be from when he used to be among the men of power who controlled the world.
Sungchul’s injury, it would not end at just an occurrence. There was going to be a change of some kind. For better or for worse.
Whatever he decides to do next would have to wait until after this happens.
‘I will bring it to light.’
There was no doubt that Order of Extinction had a hand in this event.
But it was probably not just the Order of Extinction. Other factions must have also played a part as well.
Sungchul wanted to reveal who those hidden players were.
All of this was just an act for that purpose.
Sungchul watched Bertelgia resting in the book case filled with Marakia’s chick feathers to fan the flames of his desire for revenge.
Bertelgia seemed to wake up and slowly made her way out of the book case.
“Bertelgia. Are you feeling better?”
Sungchul asked in a soft tone of voice.
“Yeah. A bit. But I feel strangely tired. I guess it’s because a hole was cut through me.”
Bertelgia replied in a tone of voice not much different from usual.
“Don’t push yourself and make sure to rest well.”
Unfortunately, it seemed like she who was a book could not recover naturally like Sungchul could. And this broke Sungchul’s heart.
Instead, there was a leather band aid put on her that was made by Marakia. Evidentially fighting her over hierarchy had slowly engendered endearment over time.
‘He’s not a bad guy.’
Sungchul did not like Marakia. He behaved moronically and often caused trouble by the differences in their species. But Sungchul could plainly see what an intelligent being Marakia was.
He had not once brought up his clansmen up in the north nor did he ever seem like he will.
If this was intentional, then it was a hair raising level of meticulousness and self-restraint.
Sungchul did not like extremely clever people. Of course he also understood that not all intelligent people were evil from experience.
For now, all he would do is watch and see. After all, there were countless things that took priority.
Sungchul brought up his status window after concluding his thoughts.
Out of the status window that took up most of his sight, Sungchul focused on the section detailing his blessings that had been neglected for quite some time.
There was a change for the first time in forever.
Vow (Transcendental Senses, unknown)
There was a change in the Vow that he had obtained upon reaching the top of the stairway to god.
Transcendental Senses were one of the abilities granted by his Vow that appeared during a life and death situation.
Unfortunately, there was no real information about it.
All that Sungchul could figure out was that it was an entirely separate type of ability from the Soul Contracts which he could wield at will, and at a higher tier at that.
The true name of his enemy at the moment of the assassination, as well as the voice of his dying enemy was conveyed to him through the powers of the Transcendental Senses.
It was not all that helpful of an ability from what he could see.
But thanks to it, Sungchul had one concrete evidence. And that was the identity of his assailant.
Kaz Almeira, the eldest son of one of the most powerful families within the Assassin’s Guild.
Sungchul knew the identity of the Assassin’s guild.
But he didn’t show that he knew and said nothing and expressed nothing in response to his knowledge.
Silence could be interpreted in any number of ways.
For a powerless individual, the silence could do nothing but delay the inevitable. But for someone truly capable, silence carried a completely different meaning. It made his enemies nervous and forced their hand.
Sungchul was planning on taking his time and wait for changes that were sure to come.
The first one to act was a merchant he had never heard before called Donald McGally.
Data from the Ant Wiki that was available to Marakia once again proved its usefulness.
“After Horneko and Grizzley, he’s one of the top three in the Merchant’s Coalition. Although he’s considered the third, he commands a considerable influence over other major merchants of the coalition and is the most likely candidate for the next viceroy of the Merchant’s Coalition.”
This great merchant sent what was likely the most expensive assassin from the Assassin’s guild that he could hire quickly to try and establish contact with Sungchul.
The man who was sent as a messenger instead of an assassin politely introduced himself before presenting Sungchul with a letter.
Sungchul read the letter without looking all that interested.
The letter conveyed that McGully had absolutely no connections to the recent assassination attempt, and showed many symptoms of men who were gripped by terrible fear.
Sungchul was more interested in the assassin than the letter.
He asked a question to the assassin as if in passing.
“There was an assassin of the Assassin’s Guild who had made an attempt on my life not long ago. Though it ended in failure, I can’t help but suspect, perhaps the guild itself was somehow connected to this recent event as well?”
Sungchul was making subtle threats. Making a suggestion that it was not a contract job from the outside but one initiated by the guild’s organization itself.
The response he wanted soon appeared.
The assassin replied truthfully about Kaz Almeira that he was allowed to share.
“That man is no longer a member of our guild.”
He briefly relayed that Kaz Almeira suddenly deserted and vanished from the Frontline of the Demon Realm and was missing in action ever since.
Sungchul replied without much enthusiasm.
“Please send my regards to Shamal Rajput.”
The assassin soon departed.
Not long after, he heard loud shouting from far away. The patrol must have detected the assassin somehow.
But this did not grab Sungchul’s interest.
Next day, Sungchul heard about the assassin who was dead and tied by his feet upside down at the front of the palace from Marakia.
‘Five days remaining is it?’
The injury was quickly healing thanks to his super human Stamina strength.
Sungchul intentionally scratched at the wound to reopen the injury to dye his bandages in blood.
“What are you doing? Just why?”
Bertelgia asked bluntly when she saw him.
“It’s a bait.”
Sungchul smiled and replied ominously.
“One made of my blood.”
A maid entered the room carrying fresh bandages and potions.
Sungchul didn’t so much as look at the potions and took only the bandages. He returned the bloody bandages to the servant.
“I don’t really see the point of it.”
Bertelgia obviously responded negatively to it.
But in fishing, waiting was an art. Sungchul waited for time to pass with such a thought.
There was another knock at his door.
Sungchul smiled brightly as he replied.
“This time, it’s probably a big catch.”
Fishing was one of Sungchul’s hobbies. Of course it was more often the case that he would jump into the sea to catch them by hand or reenact illegal fishing practices such as throwing batteries into the water like he did in his childhood via a powerful smash with Fal Garaz, but he considered it one of his hobbies nonetheless.
Sungchul felt the same excitement as the moment a big fish tugged at the hook as he watched the door open.
Sungchul’s eyes trembled for a moment.
“Please excuse me. My name is Taigon Bosborot, inquisitor of the Mura sect.”
It was not a big catch. Just a small fry.
“Marakia, close the door.”
Sungchul said sounding blatantly disappointed.
Marakia who was by the door closed the door as Sungchul commanded.
Taigon was caught off guard by the unexpected rejection and shutting of the door, but as expected of a top inquisitor, he quickly recovered his wits and pushed strongly against the closing door to stop it from closing all the way.
“Wait, please let me speak!”
Taigon pressed against the door as he desperately yelled out.
Marakia wasn’t about to lose. He was going to go all out and demonstrate the result of having received the essence of the Fire Spirit he had received from Sungchul.
Taigon Bosborot discovered that the being pressing against the door on the other side and pushing him out was but a small cotton feathered bird.
‘That penguin, why is it so strong?’
Marakia and Taigon’s struggle continued for some time. It was quite the sight for sore eyes.
Sungchul eventually tired of it and spoke up.
“Ok, that’s enough. Let’s hear what he has to say.”
Taigon, with bright red face, entered the room.
“What’s the occasion? For an inquisitor of a sect that excommunicated me to come all this way to visit my sick bed.”
Sungchul replied bluntly.
He was currently excommunicated by both the Mura and Horasan sects, the two primary recognized religions of the Human Empire. But even before his excommunication, his relationship with both of those sects were tenuous at best.
They were strict to a fault and acted all knowing, denying any attempt to try anything new.
Sungchul did not oppose the sects themselves, but he disliked all the upper management of both sects without an exception.
And a head inquisitor was a man who likely was among the top five in his organization.
Taigon Bosborot looked at Marakia who had been on the other side of the door and clicked his tongue before taking a chair facing Sungchul’s bed and sitting down before him.
For a high ranking clerical officer, his demeanor had some rough quality.
“I apologize for coming to visit without any notice.”
Taigon apologized as he glanced at Marakia again. It seemed to have bothered him to a no small degree, about the identity of the creature that had denied him entry through the door.
Marakia seemed to have already lost all interest in Taigon, as he leaned against the bed and closed his eyes.
“I would like for you to keep it short on the account of my unwellness.”
Sungchul replied. Taigon glanced at the blood seeping into Sungchul’s bandages as he thought to himself.
‘The rumors were true.’
His eyes met Sungchul’s cold glare soon after. Taigon felt like his blood froze over.
He was being given a warning. A warning for him to say only what he needed and to leave.
Taigon, like any member of the clergy, was used to wordy phrasing in his utterances, but he put that aside for now and took out his secret weapon from his Soul Storage.
What came from his palm was a small stone giving off a gentle green glow as it floated up into the air.
It was a Float Stone.
I’d like to give a shoutout to one of our readers. He is the author of Mark of the Fool a very popular novel on RR and it has just been published on Kindle and Audible. I have read his work myself and enjoyed it. It is really worth checking out! It is a chosen hero vs demon king story where the hero decides to bail and the adventures that follow.