“You wish to learn magic?”
Christian looked at Sungchul with a surprised expression. Sungchul nodded as he scooped out some red pepper and soy paste from the clay pot he had taken from his soul storage. He then mixed a whole ladle worth of sauce into the boiling pot.
“I want to learn magic. Using the identity of a newbie.”
Christian was quick to catch on; He knew figures of infamy like Sungchul didn’t appreciate being asked questions. He also realized that a unique opportunity had presented itself for him to prove his worth.
“There are a lot of magic guilds and academies inside Golden City, but there aren’t many places which can compare to Airfruit Magic Academy.
“I’ve heard of Airfruit Magic Academy.”
And killed many of its alumni.
Sungchul added some soybean paste into the boiling water containing some of the river minnows, then tasted the seasoning using a spoon.
“Mmm. It’s good.”
He had also gathered vegetables from a nearby farm and added them into the pot that was on top of a fire. Next to it was a stone cauldron, which was releasing a crisp aroma while being heated by the fire. Christian was a little shocked as Sungchul continued cooking.
‘I wonder what kind of a person is he? Filling a precious Soul Storage with food… precious and rare ingredients that aren’t so readily found anywhere.’
The Soul Storage was a personal storage which was earned through a soul contract; any item could be pulled in and out from it at any time. However, as with most soul contracts, obtaining soul storage was a difficult task and required an enormous sum of money. The most common variety, Soul Storage (Common), had 10 slots and cost as much as a property located in the inner city. It wasn’t necessary to explain how valuable such a storage space was. Yet this mysterious man was using such a precious soul storage for storing food. He hadn’t seen or heard of someone doing the same. It left Christian speechless.
Sungchul pulled out another consumable from his soul storage – an emerald wine bottle and a shot glass. He poured himself a shot and tossed it back whole.
He put down his shot glass and vigorously mixed the boiling Spicy Stew with the fluffy rice he had prepared into the stone cauldron before giving it a taste.
Sungchul closed his eyes, enamored in the taste of his own cooking.
[This Food’s Score is… 24 points]
It was a below ‘average score’, but he didn’t mind. He didn’t know how the Chef Class’s scoring system worked, but it would frequently give a low score to traditional Korean cuisines. Especially something like pickled shrimp, which never received a score that was higher than 10 no matter how tastefully he had prepared it.
‘I don’t know on whose tastes the Chef Class’s scoring system is based on, but he or she has the preferences of a child.’
He cleaned out his bowl of rice along with the distilled drink in his green bottle before speaking to Christian who had been spacing out.
“I’d heard that it’s tricky to get into Airfruit. Is that true?”
“Yes… It is a bit tricky to get admitted. You have to be young and dressed properly. Also, they weigh the recommendation of the referrer quite heavily.”
“And the exam?”
“They do give an exam, but it doesn’t mean much.”
“Is that right?”
Sungchul wasn’t young, and he was dressed quite poorly. He also didn’t have someone to give him a recommendation.
“Is there no other place? I want somewhere easy to get into that teaches a lot of magic, and also guarantees fast growth.”
When Sungchul asked again, Christian replied confidently with his plan.
“There is nowhere within Golden City that is comparable to Airfruit. It is easy enough to lie about your age, and your appearance could be sorted out by giving your hair a good comb. The most important part is the recommendation, but I am prepared to find someone for you.”
Christian pulled out a gem from his clothes and smiled. The gem was the same one Sungchul had given him as a sign of trust.
“With a gem of this quality, it should be a piece of cake to prepare a recommendation. I am personally acquainted with a professor who is in charge of admissions. I’ll try leveraging him with this gem.”
Christian spoke with a confident smile.
After hearing his spiel, Sungchul pulled out another small pouch. A pleasant clinking sound could be heard coming from within.
Christian briefly looked into the pouch and swallowed loudly at its contents. It was filled with gold coins with 99.9% purity.
“T-this is too much. A single gem would be enough, but this kind of fortune…”
Sungchul rose from his seat.
“I’ll head over to Golden City first. When can I expect results?”
“With this much, I should be able to get it done in no time at all. I will prepare a report by this evening.”
“Oh yea? I’ll be below the Clock Tower when the sun sets. Give me a progress report then.
“Do the dishes too. Make sure to scrub down the pots.”
Sungchul left his empty dishes with Christian then headed towards the city that was lit with golden lights.
It was an independent city, free from any external faction’s grip, and was also a gathering point for adventurers, which meant that it was the ideal starting point for all rookie summoned to begin their journey at. A festival was being held within the Golden City in honor of the newly graduated rookies within the Summoning Palace that have overcome all of their trials. The scattered few that entered the city were greeted at the entrance by a welcoming crowd.
“For the new bloods of Other World!”
“Over here. To the Other World, we welcome you.”
Women wearing garlands carrying beautiful smiles on their faces guided the summoned over towards the plaza. The summoned, who were completely oblivious to the proceedings, were led by the hands of the city folk to the plaza to receive a surprising grand welcome in the middle of an audience.
Food and alcohol were provided to the summoned while a gaudy music and dances were being performed in various places within the plaza. People called this the Celebration of Beginnings. It celebrated the memorable moment in which seedlings would arrive from the modern world to overcome the trials of the Summoning Palace and take their first steps into Other World. This event was attended by not only the citizens of the Golden City but also by people of all classes, including: adventurers, clergymen, and even figures who possessed enough power and influence to shake the Other World.
An obvious objective was the welcoming of rookie summoned to congratulate them wholeheartedly, but the real reason was to observe and recruit them. Dimitri Mediov, the favored retainer of the powerful Human Empire located at the center of the continent, came with that purpose in mind. He lazily watched the summoned who were raucously socializing while eating and drinking heartily.
“How is it? Anyone worthwhile?”
A middle-aged man with a flashy robe took a seat next to Dimitri and struck up a conversation. His name was Armuk Bakr. He was the Admiral of the massive Allied Battle Fleet ‘Storm’, which was one of the three most powerful forces of the northern regions. Two individuals, each holding enough of a reputation to leave others slack-jawed, had gathered here. Several people had focused their attention on them and many whispers had started spinning fantasies regarding the purpose of such gargantuan characters in coming here, but the people on whom all of this was revolving around didn’t pay them any mind.
“Meh, I don’t see anyone useful.”
Dimitri swirled his wine glass while furling his brow.
“Didn’t you know? The Summoning Palace stopped spitting out rough gems ever since the ‘preselects’ became common practice.”
Armuk nodded in agreement at Dimitri’s rhetoric, but he pointed at one character. It was Jungshik Chun.
“It turns out Blanche Plaza managed to turn out one decent item. He’s a rare breed that has the battle sense, ability, and the fighting spirit.”
“So what? He’s already taken by the Ancient Kingdom. They’ll probably take him away after the festival ends to eat some dust with them in that worn down palace.”
“Probably right, but did you know…?”
Armuk broke into a knowing smile and tried his luck. Dimitri tipped his glass in indifference, but Armuk’s last few words had managed to pique his curiosity.
“They say the Memorials of the Seven Heroes has disappeared. Not just one, but three of them.”
“That can’t be true. Weren’t the remaining memorials determined to be impossible to complete after numerous attempts that were made through several thousands of years?”
Dimitri’s body shivered at the memory of Vestiare’s Trial.
‘It was traumatic to look into that crazy woman’s insanity. No way any sane person could have gotten through it. Yup. No way.’
However, Armuk looked to be telling the truth.
“That used to be the case.”
He was clearly speaking in the past tense.
Dimitri stared blankly at the empty ground before taking a swig from his wine glass.
“Is that really true?”
“Why would I lie?”
Dimitri’s eyes turned back to the rookie summoned who were now standing there and enjoying the festival.
“So you’re saying that among the summoned gathered here, there are three individuals that managed to obtain the secret tomes of the Seven Heroes? Someone who even managed to watch Vestiare’s horrifying nightmare…”
“It could be just one. We can’t ignore the possibility of it being a regressor.”
Like the others in power, Dimitri did not think highly of regressors. It was an infallible rule of reality that those who failed once, would continue to fail. Armuk observed his expressions and continued to speak.
“And… there’s another rumor, saying that one of the rookie summoned didn’t visit the Golden City and instead chose to disappear into the Eastern Wastelands. This one had a relatively good result in the Summoning Palace too. Isn’t this a typical pattern for regressors?”
“It can’t be a regressor. The Seven Heroes aren’t so generous as to accept those pathetic bastards who have already failed once. Even if it was a regressor, it couldn’t have gone far. The Hunters from the religious order wouldn’t leave them alone.”
Dimitri lightly shook his head and looked over at a woman. She was quite a beautiful Asian woman. He called a servant to confirm her name.
“She says her name is Sunghae Bae. A niece of a High Knight of the Order of the Iron Blood Knights.”
His lips curled into a smile after hearing the name of the Order of the Iron Blood Knights.
“The Order of the Iron Blood Knights? I thought they were bygones. I guess they managed to scrounge up some money to grease up the Summoning Palace.”
He lost interest and looked over to another person.
‘What’s that? Is he trying to be some kind of a fucking bum?.’
There was a shabby man wearing drenched military fatigues and a pair of jeans. Dimitri pointed at him and made a joke.
“That guy looks like he rolled around the Summoning Palace by himself for 10 years. Look at his clothes.”
“Now that I look at it, his clothes look familiar. Just wait a bit.”
Armuk suddenly clenched his fist. A blue flame appeared and twirled around his fists before a single book popped out. He turned the pages, patiently skimming through it before letting out a shallow sigh.
“It’s some nobody, but his name is quite unsettling.”
“What’s his name?”
“It is a name I should not speak out loud. He has the same name as the Enemy of the World.”
“Ha! That’s one hell of a scary name, but his looks don’t seem to match. And his physique also doesn’t look too impressive?”
“It could be someone with the same name. There are plenty of Koreans with Kim as their first name.”
“Shall we check out our ‘Mr. World’s Enemy’s’ stats?”
Dimitri’s eyes lit up.
Several miniature magic runes appeared in his eyes that spun like a wheel before they relayed the information he wanted in front of him.
[Kim Sungchul’s Stats & Class]
Strength 24 Dexterity 25
Stamina 26 Magic Power 32
Intuition 25 Magic Resist 21
Resolve 18 Charisma 18
Main Class – Magician (Common)
Sub Class – Alchemist (Rare)
A mocking laughter spilled out of Dimtri’s mouth.
“Only his name is Kim Sungchul. There’s no way for that guy to come to this place. The entire military force of Other World would be deployed if he were to appear anywhere.”
The man in the shabby field jacket, who was taking sips of alcohol with a blank expression, did not show any sign of being aware of the powerful men that were watching him.
After the festival was over, He waited for his guest under the massive clock tower which bore the city’s time. He didn’t need to wait for long.
Christian Ashwood. The man, who had changed from the dog hide robe to a shimmering black robe, arrived with a face filled with shame.
“I have secured your admission. Even though it cost half of your gold. However…”
His words trailed off, causing Sungchul to sternly burst out.
“There is a bad rumor spreading across the academy.”
“What kind of rumor?”
Christian deeply gulped before replying.
“The Followers of Calamity. People say they are active in the academy. It made my job easier because of that, but…”
“The Followers of Calamity…”
Sungchul repeated the name as though he was savoring it.
Magicians would naturally come to study the source of magic, which they called Wisdom. If this search for wisdom were to stop at a reasonable point, it would be beneficial for both the magicians themselves and to Other World as a whole. But there were some who would sacrifice everything for their research: fortune, flesh, and even their lives. Undead Mages, such as liches, were prime examples of this. However, there were those that would go even past this point: they were the supporters of the Calamity.
These fanatics believed that the key to the true secrets of magic was held within the divinely willed Calamities. The magicians who Sungchul casually slaughtered all were these very same Followers of Calamity. Christian struggled to continue his story while wearing a pained expression.
“This was my school… but it might not be suitable to go anymore. Deaths and curses, betrayal and sinister plots plague whichever place the Followers of Calamity are active in.”
It was at this moment that he tried to carefully observe Sungchul’s face. Unexpectedly, Sungchul was smiling.
“That would fit me just fine.”