“Son of a bitch…”
By now, Krill was almost entirely consumed by his anger. He couldn’t help it. He had failed the important mission that his respected senior Dolorence Winterer had entrusted him with.
The Slave Hunters were following behind him.
“You know how hard it was to raise those Swordslaves? You’ll have to pay us back in full.”
They were greedy and filthy mongrels, but Krill had no allies more reliable than them. He pulled out two gems and handed them over to the Slave Hunters.
“Thank you for your patience. Come, everyone, let’s get this taken care of”
A very jubilant smile formed upon the Slave Hunter’s lips. They never expected to receive enough money to live like kings in a brothel for a whole month, even after splitting it evenly. It wasn’t often for Slave Hunters, who were the bottom feeders of society, to get an opportunity like this, but not everyone was so pleased.
“This isn’t good.”
It was the one-armed Slave Hunter that had extended a helping hand to Krill in the past. He refused Krill’s request when it was offered, but when Krill began offering it to the others, he caved in and followed. It couldn’t be helped.
If he hadn’t followed, his companions would have killed the one-armed Slave Hunter and tossed him into the Homunculi’s feed.
“Messing with the Summoned is strictly forbidden by Palace rules. Don’t act rashly.”
He continued to caution Krill. Krill had first let him talk out of gratitude for the past, but even when his goal was so close, the man wouldn’t shut up. The anger he had been suppressing burst out.
“Hmm? But you do it all the time. I don’t think that’s something a man whose very job is to turn the Summoned into mindless slaves should be saying to others.”
The one-armed man turned silent.
He knew very well that he had nothing to retort with. But he couldn’t simply stay quiet. He gave a final warning with heartfelt sincerity.
“…I am also an Airfruit alumni. I am your senior.”
At this, Krill glared icily at the right-armed man.
“I don’t remember having a Slave Hunter as my senior.”
The right-armed man lowered his head and didn’t open his mouth anymore. They soon arrived at the Forsaken Cathedral. Krill couldn’t hide his joy at seeing the man he was looking for waiting there as requested.
“Hey, Mr. Sungchul.”
Krill stood in front of Sungchul with six other Slave Hunters by his side. Sungchul indifferently looked over at Krill and his group of Slave Hunters.
“Who are these people?”
“Can’t you tell, as someone who has come from the outside?”
“Anyways, you seem to think the world is an easy place since you became a bit stronger. Did you think I was such a pushover?”
Krill’s voice gradually grew louder. By the time he finished his question, he was practically shouting at the top of his lungs.
“Do I look like a fucking pushover to you? Huh? You smelly Asian son of a bitch!”
Some laughter spilled out of the Slave Hunters standing behind him.
Sungchul slowly opened his mouth.
“Are these the only people you’ve come with?”
It was the same, firm voice, no different than before.
Krill smirked again and nodded his head.
“Of course. There’s only us here.”
“Is that so?”
Sungchul replied indifferently, but that only aggravated Krill even further. Getting red in the face and extremely agitated, Krill declared,
“Should I inform you what we’re about to do to you? I’m going to capture you with the help of my friends behind me. Then I’m going to torture you until you beg me for death. Finally, I’m going to turn you into a slave. Though I’m going to have to think a bit about just what kind of slave I should be turning you into.”
“It is a good plan”
Sungchul was still calm.
Krill moved to one side and gestured towards the Slave Hunters.
“Now. Let’s begin.”
Each of the Slave Hunters held their own weapon and walked towards Sungchul. They were Slave Hunters now, but they used to be Mages and warriors worth their salt in the past. Their battle experience and skills were on a different level. One man with a blade scar across his face spoke mockingly.
“Someone from the outside with lots of power, coming to a beginner’s training center to show off to complete newbies, don’t you know shame?”
Sungchul turned his head towards the man and gave a short reply.
Sungchul’s form briefly shook. By the time Krill’s eyes registered the visual cues, he heard a dull thud reverberate in the air in front of him.
Sungchul’s fist had dealt a massive blow to the Slave Hunter’s chin. Krill could clearly see what had happened to the Slave Hunter’s face after being struck so hard. The Slave Hunter’s face had splattered into tiny pieces.
Sungchul didn’t stop. After disintegrating one with his fist, he pulled out his sword and slaughtered the others.
They were no match for him.
The Slave Hunters were dead before they even understood how they had died.
The massacre hadn’t even lasted ten seconds.
The one-armed Slave Hunter quickly embraced reality and fell to his knees to beg for his life. Seeing that Sungchul was still approaching, he took out a stake with a red cloth attached to it and pierced it into his heart. His eyes shook intensely, but he bit his lips and quickly spoke with a ragged breath.
“I-I swear! This…I, Christian Ashwood, will not speak of what I have seen today with anyone…If this oath is broken…the cost for such a transgression shall be death…So do I swear to the God of Mediation!”
Once the oath was completed the stake in his heart magically disappeared, and the red cloth burst into flames turning to ash.
“Ho? An oath. Clever man.”
Sungchul left him alone and headed towards Krill. Krill’s eyes grew wide in fear. Sungchul’s rough hands grabbed his face. And only when an unbearable strength transferred from Sungchul’s grip into his skull, did Krill come to a realization.
‘I-I picked the wrong side…the real monster wasn’t Dolorence…It was this person…’
However, it was too late to regret now. Sungchul gripped harder and spoke in his usual firm voice.
“Now let’s hear it. Tell me everything from start to finish.”
Krill told him everything he knew. From the moment he saw the advertisement that had led him to the Summoning Palace to the moment he met Dolorence. He told Sungchul about how she had wrapped Sanggil around her fingers and ordered Ahmuge’s death. He revealed everything that had occurred within the Observation Tower to Sungchul. After hearing his story, Sungchul quietly stood up from his seat.
Krill trembled as he carefully looked up at Sungchul.
“I-it was all that Dolorence bitch…the red-haired woman’s scheme. I just did as I was told.”
“Is that so?”
“Of course. If you let me live, I’ll pry Dolorence out and present her to you. I swear by my name.”
“I don’t need help from someone like you. She’ll show herself to me on her own in any case.”
Sungchul’s fist struck the top of his skull. The young Mage’s eyes spun in different directions, and all of his seven orifices spat out blood before he finally fell over.
The Sky Squirrel stayed near its dead master, licking its master’s feet.
Sungchul gestured towards the Slave Hunter that was watching the scene with fearful eyes.
Sungchul gathered the corpses with the Slave Hunter and set them all on fire. A black smoke rose from the already burnt Forsaken Cathedral. Sungchul peeked over at the Slave Hunter while he burned the corpses. The man didn’t move as he sat on the floor. He seemed to have lost all strength after watching such a murderous spectacle. However, Sungchul didn’t care to kill him. He was no longer in the position to tell anyone about this scene even if he was allowed to live out the rest of his life. Even if he did try to tell anyone the truth, the oath would immediately activate, and he’d be sent to cross the river Styx. That was the power held by this oath.
However, to be able to perform the oath so brazenly in that kind of situation; A smile formed on Sungchul’s lips. More than anything, he wanted to praise this man’s decisiveness and quick thinking. As he continued to think to himself, the Slave Hunter approached him and lowered his head.
“Sir Warrior, whose name I do not know.”
Sungchul calmly raised his head and looked at the man. He looked to be in his mid-thirties. He also had relatively intelligent eyes.
“What did you want with me?”
“I have no way of knowing who Sir Warrior is or where Sir Warrior came from, but I have seen it. Sir Warrior is definitely not a normal person.”
“Speak briefly. I have to go back to the Plaza soon.”
“Will you not take me as your underling?”
“It looks like you had some kind of deal with Krill Regall…I don’t know much else, but I know I can do a lot better than a greenhorn like Krill.”
Christian Ashford was genuinely lowering his head. He had seen it. Brock, who had been a Knight of the empire, was split in two with just a single strike and Giron, who held a high-ranking position in the Thief’s Guild, had his neck twisted in just one punch. It wasn’t enough to simply call this ’very strong’, it was simply monstrous.
If anything, the man was at minimum at the same level with the Royal Guards of the Empire, and in context of the Order of the Iron Blood Knights, he would easily deserve a high ranking position. If Christian could tie himself to such a person, it might be enough to pull him out of his current pathetic life.
“P-please use me. I…I’ll do anything.”
However, Sungchul’s reaction was lukewarm.
“I don’t really need anyone. What did you do before you became a Slave Hunter?”
“Mage…I was a Mage. I was even an Airfruit alumni. I can’t use Magic now, but I know just about everything when it comes to Magic.”
There might be a couple of uses. A Mage would know the path which lay ahead of him and would also be able to guide him along the way.
Sungchul wrapped his hand around the Sky Squirrel that was pitifully standing near the pile of flame and gave it to Christian.
“Take care of this little guy, and come find me with him during the graduation ceremony.”
He then pulled out a gem and tossed it over to the Slave Hunter. This was a symbol of the faith he held towards Christian. Christian tightly held the gem in his hand and watched Sungchul leave with a mixture of fear and anticipation filling his eyes.
The Selection Match had ended successfully. All thirty Representatives had been chosen. Sungchul set out to seek the remaining memorials of the Seven Heroes scattered across the Summoning Palace with Ahmuge, but something unexpected occurred.
They set out to find the Path of Daltanius first, but it seemed as if all of the memorials, starting with this one, had disappeared. There was only a fallen pillar in place of the most anticipated memorial which was of the leader of the Seven Heroes, Desfort, and nothing reacted to their presence.
“How could this be…all of them were taken. I’m not sure what happened, but…”
It looked as though Sungchul wasn’t overly concerned. Other than Desfort, the remaining Seven Heroes were all warriors. Sungchul, who had reached the peak of warriors, didn’t have much to gain from them. He simply wanted to check out their faces.
While blankly looking at the fallen pillar, he gazed over at Ahmuge and spoke.
“Isn’t there one last place left?”
“Ah…yes. There’s still that Hero left.”
The hero that Ahmuge and Sungchul were referring to was called White Shadow. There weren’t any records of him other than some reference to him being an assassin, but on the other hand, there were also some alarming legends which had been passed down. It was rumored that the assassin, who didn’t like the thought of records being left of him, had killed all the historians and burned their books.
Thankfully, the memorial of White Shadow still remained. Deep in the woods lay a corpse with a slit throat that gave proof that the memorial of White Shadow was still there. However, Ahmuge reacted strangely. She hurriedly stopped Sungchul as he was about to start the quest.
“I’m deeply sorry…but this quest. Could I do it?”
“Tell me the reason.”
“I don’t know about the others…but I have to complete White Shadow’s objective myself. That’s the only way I can save the world.”
“I don’t think I can accept that.”
Sungchul continued to show a lukewarm reaction, so Ahmuge briefly fell into thought and responded with a resolute expression on her face.
“I am only telling this to you. Promise me that you won’t speak of this anywhere else.”
“It’s okay. I don’t have any friends to tell.”
“You don’t…have friends?”
“So…that’s the case.”
“So keep talking.”
Ahmuge settled down again and spoke with a calm voice.
“I don’t know if you’ll believe me…but I came from the future.”
Sungchul’s eyes flashed with curiosity. He knew that she was a Regressor, but for her to speak of it herself. It must have taken an immense amount of resolution. This by itself showed just how much she valued White Shadow’s objective.
“That means you’re a Regressor?”
“My real name is Sujin Lee. I came from ten years in the future. It’s up to you whether you believe me or not.”
Sujin Lee. It was a pretty name. Sungchul thought idly as he threw out a blunt question.
“Why did you return from the future to this hellish Summoning Palace?”
“I want to save the world from a Calamity of Extinction.”
Sujin spoke without hesitation. There was not a single trace of trickery or falsehood. It was an utterance filled with confidence that could only come from an unwavering conviction. Sungchul was intrigued by her words.
‘I suppose this means that the world won’t be saved by my efforts. Does this mean that I failed?’
It was disappointing news, but the future that Regressors spoke of wasn’t that reliable, either. Whatever future they had been in could always be changed or overturned, after all, anyone would be curious about what the future holds. Sungchul asked Sujin another question while not really expecting much.
“From what? It isn’t the Seven Heroes, is it?”
He, at least, didn’t want to hear that the Seven Heroes had won. If the world had fallen to such an opponent, it would invalidate his efforts to obtain strength after turning the world against him.
Sujin carefully looked up and replied after a moment.
“We overcame the second calamity, and the third.”
Sungchul found himself unintentionally sighing in relief.
‘So I managed to bash Sajators’ head in at least…’
But, Sujin hadn’t finished speaking.
“But we ultimately faced a great calamity that the Seven Heroes couldn’t even compare to…”
Sungchul felt an anxiety that made all the hairs on his body stand on end. He didn’t know why, but an unimaginably ominous feeling, which made his body shrivel, was enveloping him like a blaze.
“That…great calamity…what are you talking about?”
As he felt anxious and feeble, Sujin finished speaking.
“…The Enemy of the World, Sungchul Kim.”
Sungchul’s eyes flared. Seeing his aggressive response, Sujin put on a bitter smile and added a few words of comfort.
“Ah…don’t misunderstand. It is a different person. Your face and body are completely different.”
However, Sungchul’s face didn’t look any brighter. The Enemy of the World that she spoke of could only be himself.
‘I…destroy the world…? How…That can’t be true!’
“Why are you standing there so blankly?”
Sujin tried to start the conversation again, but Sungchul simply shook his head.
“No, it’s nothing.”
He muttered to himself under his breath as he closed his eyes. Under the darkness of his eyelids, he recalled the face of the precious existence which he had to protect.
‘I will not be corrupted.’