Altugius looked towards the Inquisitor of Heresy with disbelief.
“No…How did you…”
The Inquisitor of Heresy shoved past the surrounding people and approached Altugius. He spoke to him in a quiet voice that only Altugius could hear.
“This is an act. All for the effort of restoring your school.”
The entire situation was like a bolt from the blue, but since the Inquisitor said it, then it must be true. Altugius’ eyes shook restlessly, but his shoulders finally gave way and accepted the situation. The Inquisitor’s minions bound Altugius and gagged his mouth.
Sarasa ran towards the minions with a sad look on her face, but Altugius only shook his head. His words couldn’t be understood at the moment due to the gag around his mouth, but he sent out a warm gaze instead. Finally, he looked towards Sungchul. He tried to signal Sungchul with his eyes, but Sungchul was also trying to convey something. He had a rigid expression as he shook his head, then glared coldly at the Inquisitor.
‘Does he mean not to trust the Inquisitor of Heresy?’
There wasn’t much time for thought. The Inquisitor of Heresy, Magnus Maxima, left the building, and his minions roughly dragged Altugius along with them. When the crowd of people departed, the pale girl and the silent man were left behind with the cold corpse.
“W-what should we do? What should we do now?”
Too many things had happened at once. Sarasa could feel all of her strength leaving her body as she collapsed where she stood.
“W-what should I do now?”
She suddenly became alone. There was no one left to look after her. To make matters worse, the Preservation Magic contained in her left cheek had been shattered, causing her skin to start withering slowly. She would soon lose her beauty until she would look no different than any other Liches with their mummified face. Despite all this, the thing that shook her most deeply was the frustration of the unforeseeable future unfolding in front of her.
When sorrow replaced despair, she felt enough pain to make her chest ache, but her eyes could not shed a single tear. The dead cannot cry.
It was at that moment.
The man of mystery spoke firmly, yet with force.
“Stand up and face reality.”
It was a simple command, but his words contained some strange persuasiveness. Sarasa found herself righting herself as he had told her to. The preservation in her right arm had been partially destroyed during the battle, causing her right arm to also shrivel up like a corpse.
“How should I face this reality?”
Sungchul pointed towards the House of Recollections at the words of Sarasa, who had turned into a half-corpse at this point.
“When there is nothing you can do, you will have to rely on someone you trust and just wait.
Sungchul let those words linger and walked forward.
“Wait here. Without fear. Time will give you an answer.”
Sarasa tightly made a fist and nodded. Sungchul stood before the sound-sealing barrier which was on the verge of collapse and spoke once more.
“Don’t forget to feed the Sky Squirrel.”
He then stepped past the barrier.
‘That Assassin. He was looking for me.’
He had no intention of returning empty-handed today.
Kas Almeira was a genius among geniuses that the family managed to produce for the first time in decades. He had narrowly escaped the threshold of the Curse of Extinction and had all the qualities of an Assassin, such as brutality, precision, and patience in spades, along with his innate talent, allowing him to master a variety of assassination techniques from the maternal family along with the paternal family.
He also carried the inevitable characteristic of arrogance that all geniuses had, but for him, it was closer to a form of confidence from knowing the exact measure of his abilities than true arrogance. He put himself in extreme situations and enjoyed pulling himself out of any obstacle, and he managed to gain great benefits from this dangerous method. The Almeira family gave warnings regarding his methods while ultimately being unable to stop him.
“Thanks to the commotion you’ve created in Airfruit, our existence has been made aware to the Inquisitor of Heresy. If I didn’t make negotiations, we would have had the Order of Purity, the Enemy of the World, and the Followers of Calamity besetting us on all three sides.”
D’Vici sternly scolded his son, but he knew that his words were falling on deaf ears.
“Ah. I don’t know, Father. I only heard that the Mage held hands with the Enemy of the World and decided to take a stab at it.”
“So, was Altugius someone you could handle?”
“He was plenty powerful. Honestly, I might lose by myself with my current abilities. That guy is a Mage, but moved with the Dexterity of an archer and suppressed me with Magic that was difficult to dodge while sneaking in some powerful spells.”
Kaz spoke without any particular joy in his expression or voice. Pict, who had been watching beside them, rose from his seat to leave. He didn’t want to look at his more powerful and successful brother. Kaz peeked over at his brother’s backside as he spoke again.
“But, Father, I have learned it. I learned what Altugius’ secret is.”
“Is that so?”
“That person is hiding a weapon called Dimension Magic. It was remarkable. If I hadn’t retreated halfway through the fight, I would have been flattened like the Vice-Captain.”
“It won’t be too late to explain all of this later. For now, go to your dwelling and confine yourself.”
“Yes, I understand.”
Kaz, who was returning from his scolding, met his youngest brother Pict again. Pict looked as though he was waiting for Kaz. He laughed as soon as he saw Kaz.
“I’m going to go hunt the Followers of Calamity right now.”
“Ah? Is that right? With your strength?”
When Kaz mocked him, Pict gave him a frosty glare and left.
“Let’s see how long you can mock me for. Ten years. I’ll catch up to you in ten years, you bastard.”
“Calling your brother a bastard. You bitch. Did I let you have it too easy for too long?”
“You only got the respect you wrought. Anyways, just watch. I’ll bring the head of the Enemy of the World.”
Pict stuck out his tongue and disappeared into the darkness in a hurry. Kaz looked at such a brother with a smile and shook his head.
“Catch up to me? You’ll have to train for at least a thousand years.”
He said this, but he knew that his brother was a possessor of great talent. That kid had handled his first torture brilliantly. He unmistakably had the Assassin’s characteristic of brutality and apathy towards his victims.
‘Brat. Once you’re a bit older, I’ll guide you myself.’
Pict was too lacking for Kaz to teach personally, but he planned on going on assassinations together with Pict after his brother accumulated more experience and intuition. Without knowing his brother had such intentions, Pict could only feel bitter towards Kaz.
“A genius, my ass! I’ll teach you that true geniuses need time to cultivate.”
Pict’s mission of the day was to hunt down the Followers of Calamity picked out by the Inquisitor of Heresy. D’vici had told him it was enough to hunt down a single one, but Pict had decided for himself to find three of them and interrogate them all at once. He had failed his first interrogation due to a Covenant that bound the man, but he knew he could succeed this time. He could still vividly feel his blade cutting through his victim’s flesh.
There were Mages wearing robes dyed in blue on the other side of the road. They were insignificant in Pict’s eyes. They were weak folks that could be killed with a single slice, but his objective was live capture. He began to stalk the Mages while waiting for his opportunity. His deft movements allowed him to roam from alley to alley while pursuing the Mages diligently and watched with bated breath as the Mages retreated to their individual quarters.
Like beasts who lower their guards within their nests, humans were also the most relaxed within their beds. Christian, the Slave Hunter, had also been captured in his bed. Pict relived the sensation of that day and revealed himself slowly from the darkness. It was at that moment when he discovered a vague figure reflecting in the moonlight standing on the ground beside him.
There was no time to react before a hand gripped his throat. It contained a tremendous amount of strength. When the grip held his throat, he felt a terrifying pain as if his eyes would pop out and his brain would burst.
Rather than the cry of a person, it sounded like something from an ugly fowl. The man who held his throat soon spoke.
“Are you guys the ones responsible for killing a Slave Hunter named Christian?”
That person’s identity was Sungchul. He relaxed his grip on the young Assassin’s throat ever so slightly with indifferent eyes.
“Answer the question.”
Instantly, Pict tried to squeeze all the strength in his body to let out a scream to call upon his family that had surrounded the area, but Sungchul’s reaction on his throat was faster than the time it took for the voice to spill out from his throat.
Pict could feel the voice being squelched within his throat and his vision being dyed with a yellow tint.
‘Assassins are a tenacious bunch as expected.’
Assassins of the Assassin’s Guild were taught to tolerate pain from an early age. The result was that half-assed interrogations had no effect at all. Not only that, the greatest virtue of Assassins was to put their mission ahead of their lives. They were actively developing and practicing countless methods of suicide in case any secrets could be leaked. Pict was also thinking up methods of taking his life.
‘This…looks to be my limit.’
He firmly decided to take his life, regardless of the method, at the first opportunity. However, Sunghul would not relinquish such an easy death to the Assassin. He discovered torture tools and some effective medicine on Pict’s body. Sungchul tore Pict’s clothes and shoved it down his throat before striking his right arm. Pict’s arm twisted in a strange direction before being torn away in a mess. The youth thrashed about wildly, but he couldn’t let out a scream.
“I have no intention of interrogating you, Assassin.”
Sungchul applied Pict’s medicine to the open wound before hanging the feline mask to the wall with Pict’s arm placed below it; then he wrote a message with the blood flowing from Pict’s arm that was cut off.
[If you wish to save the kid, come inside. You must come alone.]
Sungchul forcefully turned Pict’s head to have him witness the message.
“You lot sure like to think your level of brutality is something spectacular.”
Sungchul dragged Pict in a way so that his stump of an arm, which bled despite the medicine, painted the floor red, and then threw him into a storage room. The bloodstain marked the route from the feline mask to the storage room like a red carpet.
“Today, I’ll teach you a little about brutality.”
Sungchul leaped onto the roof of a building where he had a clear view of both the mask and the storage room. A different Assassin soon followed in. It was Myra, who dealt in venomous insects. She flinched at the scene of Pict’s mask and amputated right arm. They were Assassins trained to tolerate great amounts of physical pain, but in the end, they were still human. They were apathetic towards their victims but warm towards one of their own. She hesitated again at the message written in Pict’s blood, but she stepped forward as though she had already prepared her heart.
‘No! Sister! Don’t come in!’
Pict flailed about with all his might, but it was all pointless. Myra mentally prepared herself for battle and slowly moved step by step into the storage room. It didn’t take long before a dark shadow appeared behind her.
The man had appeared like a ghost. Before she had time to blink, he grabbed the back of her head and lifted her straight up only to smash it down into the ground and grind her face against the rough floor. The feline mask shattered and Myra’s bloodied face revealed itself.
Sungchul, who had shredded her face across the floor, tied a rope around her neck and lifted her above him. The person’s body spun around like some toy. At that moment, all the venomous insects hidden on her body rained down onto the floor. Myra gripped the rope tied around her neck with both her hands and all of her strength, but ultimately succumbed to exhaustion and fell unconscious.
Sungchul had no intention of allowing her a comfortable death either. He slugged her bloodied face to wake her up before hanging her upside down in front of Pict. Sungchul glared at Pict before speaking in a steady voice.
“Are you guys the ones who killed a Slave Hunter named Christian?”
Pict did not answer. Sungchul searched the floor while stomping on the venomous insects until he found the most suitable one. It was the stinkbug that lays eggs in human flesh.
Sungchul grabbed the stinkbug and held it over Myra’s body until it laid its eggs. Myra’s body resisted weakly, but Sungchul kept his eyes on Pict. Pict realized that the man had no intentions of showing mercy.
At that moment, a miracle occurred. Myra, who looked as though she had lost consciousness, suddenly opened her eyes.
“Pict! I’ll be going first.”
Myra’s bloodied eyes shook violently before they rolled over, revealing only the whites of her eyes. Sungchul confirmed her death indifferently. Pict found renewed confidence at his sister’s exemplary death and glared at Sungchul with hate-filled eyes once again.
‘Try whatever interrogation you want. I’ll take it all with the name of the Almeira family at stake!’
However, Sungchul gave it no importance. He let Myra’s corpse fall to the floor and squatted down to start some kind of procedure. The stench of blood began to flood the room. Sungchul then held the corpse and walked out of the storage room. His two hands held Myra’s corpse that hadn’t even cooled yet and pressed on it tightly. Soon, something unbelievable occurred.
The corpse began to cry out. It was something unintelligible, but it had Myra’s distinct vocals. Sungchul held the corpse and looked puzzled before muttering to himself.
“It’s not working so well since I haven’t done it in so long.”
He lifted the corpse and began to manipulate it to his whim.
Myra’s jaw flew open and let out a terrifying shriek. Much more strongly. Pict, who was watching the scene, knew the monster’s intentions.
‘That bastard…he’s calling them. He’s calling my family…!’
It would be problematic for more victims to come out of this incident.
Pict began to thrash about wildly to draw Sungchul’s attention to himself, and when his eyes finally met Sungchul’s, he nodded vigorously.
“That’s right. I killed that Slave Hunter. We done now? You happy?”
Sungchul only continued to look at him indifferently and shook his head.
“I’m just getting started.”