Kaz looked over the corpses of his family members in disbelief. Everything had happened in a single night. His brother, sister, and parents had all met their untimely demise without discretion.
“Are these the corpses of your family members?”
A man wearing a shiny golden helmet asked matter-of-factly. The ones that gathered the bodies were the Dragon Knights of the Human Empire that had been dispatched to Golden City last night. They swiftly dispersed within the entirety of Golden City to seek out any traces of the most dangerous man, which led them to find the unsightly form of the four corpses.
“They are my family’s remains.”
Kaz gritted his teeth as he spoke, then looked around his surroundings before shouting.
“Where is this Enemy of the World? Where did that bastard go?”
“The forward team is tracking the Enemy of the World. You don’t have to concern yourself with that. The air fleet led by Retainer Medioff will arrive here soon. When the military might of the air fleet is on full display, there will be nowhere for even the Enemy of the World to escape to.”
Kaz nibbled on his nails as he held his silence. He felt as though his anger would explode out of his chest, but the cold calculations of an assassin led him to believe in the Dragon Knight’s words.
“On a subject besides the Enemy of the World, the Inquisitor of Heresy from the Order of Purity sent notice that a Purification will occur today at the Airfruit Magic Academy. If there is any indication that the Enemy of the World has joined hands with the Heretics of Airfruit, it may be that he’ll show his face at that location.”
The Knight fixed his helmet then hopped onto the large Wyvern waiting for him.
The Wyvern rose up into the sky with an ear-splitting cry as it flapped its massive wings. The air current formed by its wings caused Kaz’s hair and clothes to thrash about wildly.
Kaz, who stood alone now, gave a silent prayer to his family’s remains, then left the scene.
‘Sungchul Kim. You will die by my hands.’
His eyes flashed with killing intent denser than ever before.
When the sun reached its peak, those that wore shining armour gathered in front of Airfruit Academy. A pyre with wood stacked high sat beside an aged tree decorated with dangling corpses with rotting flesh. The Inquisitor of Heresy, who was still wearing his crow mask, arrived in a Palanquin with a solemn atmosphere about him. A bloodied old man with his hands tied behind him rode on a donkey which followed the carriage.
The executioner pulled the man off the donkey and tied him onto the pyre while cuffs that interfered with Magic activation were strapped on the old man’s wrists. A priest in a crow mask appeared in front of the restrained old man on the pyre holding a long scroll, then listed his sins one by one.
“Sinner Altugius Xero, despite his responsibilities as a professor of a Magic Academy and a guardian of knowledge, could not overcome the temptations of corruptive knowledge and had fallen to become a member of the Followers of Calamity. For the countless crimes that he has committed and the greatest crime of murdering his friend and superior, the Grand Magnus…”
Altugius shut his eyes and did not refute a single charge. Trying to reason now was an effort in futility, and shouting and begging would only serve to further humiliate himself. He wanted an honourable death as a student and educator of the hallowed Airfruit Academy. Even though the servant in the crow mask continued listing false crimes while smearing his image, he no longer cared for it. Still, he had but a single regret.
He sought out through the crowd of countless people in the Plaza for a single face through cracked eyes.
He couldn’t find his precious granddaughter, who was the apple of his eye. It could have been that she alone hadn’t heard the news from the House of Recollections, or the man named Sungchul had taken her away from here.
“…for this, Altugius Xero has been charged for judgment by the Purifying Fire.”
The announcement of his execution, which he had ignored for a brief moment, rang out clearly in his ears. Altugius let out a dull sigh before gazing out towards the people staring at him.
They were students wearing robes of various colors, professors of unpopular schools, and faces that he had met once or twice without knowing their names. He discovered anew that their faces were drained of energy with shadows of depressive dread looming over them. It might have been due to the endless years of deterioration wearing down on him, or out of the literal fear of imminent doom, but he didn’t like it. The school he had protected his whole life was far more honorable, worthy, and proud than any other.
Altugius’ mouth, which had been tightly shut during this whole time, opened shortly after his execution had been announced.
“Why are you looking at me with rotten eyes like some dead fish?!”
Altugius suddenly shouted. It was a booming voice that couldn’t have come from a dying old man.
“Even if I die, or the scraps of the Followers of Calamity die, Airfruit will remain. Are you all not the proud educators and pupils of the proud school of Airfruit? Even if we are unable to practice Magic some day, Airfruit will live on as long as even a single person etches the name Airfruit into his heart. It will live on!”
Altugius agitated the shame within the survivors. Their ashamed faces looked towards the floor and let out a sigh. Altugius turned his head and then glared at the Inquisitor of Heresy who was sitting arrogantly in the corner of the Plaza.
The Inquisitor didn’t react, as usual, but Altugius smiled towards such a man and soundlessly mouthed a message.
No sound could be heard, but the message was deciphered clearly by the Inquisitor. His hand rose.
Suddenly, a massive Magic formation appeared at that moment.
“Look at that! It is the Air fleet!”
“It’s the flag of the Human Empire! The Air Fleet of the Human Empire has arrived!”
Following a ship resembling a massive plate, a total of six ships appeared above Golden City airspace from the Dimensional Door. It was the appearance of the oppressive Airship Fleet that represented the might of the Human Empire.
Dimitri Medioff, a powerhouse within the Human Empire, was looking at the distant ground below with a scornful gaze within the flagship, Bengard.
“The Enemy of the World appeared here? He’s got balls. Why couldn’t he just continue to linger around the Demon Realm? How dare he show his face this deep into the continent!”
He swung his baton as he barked his orders.
“Disperse the ground forces to seal this city!”
At the same moment, a particular man was looking over the scene from Robert Danton’s study with aloof eyes. The man was Sungchul. He quickly ran to the secret passageway, and then stopped to gaze up at the Dimensional Gate which stood at the center of a large cavern hidden underneath the academy.
Several corpses were lying about with eyes wide open around the Dimensional Door’s activation device. Sungchul approached Robert’s corpse at the center of the many corpses and tore away the necklace around his neck.
It was the key to the activation of the Dimensional Door.
The slabs of stones surrounding the Dimensional Door rotated slowly as soon as the amethyst key was entered. The rotation of the stones grew increasingly rapid until it caused a crack in the space at the centre of the Dimensional Door.
“Uuu…are you really going through with it?”
Bertelgia asked from his pocket. Sungchul nodded as he looked over at the Dimensional Door.
“It’s to reduce casualties as much as possible. The Demons are easier to fight against than me.”
Sungchul saw a familiar earthen flame beyond the crack.
At the same time, he could also hear the cries of beasts in the distance.
Sungchul left the cave while leaving the Dimensional Door activated.
The execution was about to proceed. The man wearing the crow mask was pouring oil over the wood, and the executor with a torch was waiting for his moment. The Inquisitor of Heresy rose from his seat and held up his hand as all the preparations were finished, and the moment he lowered his hands, the pyre below Altugius would light ablaze.
The Inquisitor’s hand soon fell.
The torch fell onto the wood below, and it began to burn with dark smoke pouring into the air. Altugius shut both his eyes and prepared himself for death, but at that moment, a powerful gust of wind blew onto the execution ground with enough force to blow away Altugius’ beard, if not even his skin. The fire that had been growing with vigor disappeared without a trace, and the execution ground fell silent. One of the students gathered the courage to look over in the direction of the wind.
“T-that man is?!”
One of the Alchemy students pointed a finger at the man in question. The man who wore a tattered field jacket with shabby jeans was a famous figure within the School of Alchemy. However, he was holding an item that hadn’t been seen on him before. It was a beautiful and extraordinary hammer with a lengthy shaft.
“Who is it?!”
The Inquisitor of Heresy roared in anger.
Sungchul suddenly moved. His movements weren’t fast or slow, but they exuded heavy pressure that didn’t allow just anyone to stand in its way. The soldiers of the Inquisitor wearing glamorous armour hesitated, making the sergeants and the commissioned officers bark their orders at them.
“What are you waiting for? Stop that man!”
With the command, the soldiers pulled out their short swords and stood before Sungchul.
A dull sound filled the execution ground. The people could see dozens of soldiers flying into the air. These dozens were blown away by a single blow of the hammer. Sungchul pushed past the soldiers as if it was as easy as sweeping a dusty floor. One of the spectators recalled something and shouted at the top of his lungs.
“T-That is the Enemy of the World!”
Terror filled everyone by that single phrase. Soldiers no longer moved, despite the commands from their superiors, the spectators began stepping back, and the state workers started to struggle to leap from the platform. Only a single man, the Inquisitor of Heresy, stood before Sungchul.
“Who dares disrupt the holy procession of the God of Order!”
Sungchul’s only reply was a single blow from his hammer.
The Inquisitor’s upper body was crushed and embedded into the ground, but the Inquisitor of Heresy was a man blessed by the God of Order. He was the embodiment of holy strength. His broken form was reborn to its original shape under a blinding light. The soldiers of the Order of Purity watched the holy scene with tears in their eyes.
“Oh! Look and see! The Inquisitor of Heresy, Maxima Magnus, has received the blessing of God!”
However, resurrection did not resolve the root of the problem. Sungchul fixed the issue of Maxima’s resurrection with a very simple method.
Slam! Slam! Slam!
It was to whack away at him until he died. The final thing that Maxima witnessed was an irrational hammering and a similarly irrational strength behind it. Maxima continued to resurrect until the seventh time, upon which he died, flat as a pancake.
‘Inquisitors of Heresy are definitely cockroaches.’
Sungchul, who had killed the Inquisitor, headed towards Altugius who had been restrained to the execution grounds. No one dared to stand in his way.
Altugius looked at Sungchul with shock in his eyes.
“A-are you the Enemy of the World?”
Sungchul nodded, then spoke bluntly.
“But why does that matter?”
It was a simple sentence. Altugius was taken aback by the excessively haughty phrase, yet simply smiled. However, the danger had not yet passed.
The ground troops of the Human Empire swarmed to the execution grounds by teleportation and on foot.
“There! The Enemy of the World!”
“Engage with all forces to stop him!”
Elite fighters and mages numbering in the hundreds gathered with Sungchul in their sights. Altugius looked at them, coughed, and then spoke.
“Shit. Leave me and go. You should at least be able to save my Granddaughter, right? Isn’t that so?”
Sungchul freed Altugius from his restraints, then spoke in a firm voice.
“No one can stop me from doing what I intend to do.”
As soon as the final word escaped his lips, a blood-curdling scream pierced high into the sky and a black mass rose into the air like a cloud of locusts. They were the invasion forces of the Demon Realm, summoned through the Dimensional Door.
The soldiers of the Air Fleet that had surrounded Sungchul with glee fell back into a defensive position and began to shout.
“It is the Demons! The Demons are here! Raise the alarm!”
A hurried sound of bells rang into the air causing Airfruit to descend into chaos. Sungchul took that opportunity to grab Altugius and disappeared in the madness.
“The Enemy of the World! You shall not escape!”
There was one who followed after them. It was the orphaned Kaz. He had taken on his mist form, a technique passed down within his family, to transform into a fog and stalk Sungchul. However, transforming into fog did not make him immune to Sungchul’s attacks. Sungchul lightly swung Fal Garaz, splitting the fog, and it did not reform again. The fog soon took a human shape and fell onto the floor.
Sungchul, who had rid himself of all the pests, now fled towards the Observatory of the School of Cosmomancy with Altugius. It was time for Altugius to keep his promise.
“I will not judge you for who you are. I would have helped you even if you were the Devil himself as the only one that extended a hand of salvation was you alone.”
Altugius spoke the words in a simple manner before removing the Magic-suppressing cuffs. As he felt the power of Magic flowing back into him, he pointed towards the roof of the Observatory.
The beam of light shot from his extended finger easily tore away the plaster on the roof. Dust fell onto the floor, and in the midst of the rain of dust, Sungchul could see the glittering constellations beneath the plaster. After Altugius revealed all the constellations, he spoke in a solemn voice.
“That is the Secret passed down within the School of Cosmomancy.”
Altugius displayed his Glare once again. The beam of light which was fired from his hands accurately hit a gem arranged into a constellation, covering the entire constellation in a bright light. Once it received enough light, it fired a beam of light into another gem in another constellation.
From the scorpion, to the unicorn, to the oyster; once all twelve of the constellations were lit, Sungchul was gripped by a strange feeling, as if a secret he could never come to comprehend was revealing itself to him.
The true Secret of Cosmomancy was now in his grasp.