Krill Regall was being faced with the greatest disaster of his life. He had skirted life and death several times after he was first summoned into the Other World, but that was nothing compared to his current predicament.
“The week is ending soon, all the magicians will be made to report on the physical conditions of their blood charges before the next sunrise.”
The muscular Grand Knight from the Order of the Iron Blood Knights made this announcement in a gravelly voice. Iron Blood Knights were one of the three greatest guilds from the northern region of the main continent. They were known for their immovable strength, as well as being capable of holding their own against the mightiest of the demon tribe’s main forces.
It had just been a year since he had been summoned. Krill couldn’t afford to offend such a powerful guild. He had lost contact with the newly summoned Preselect whom the Iron Blood Knights had put him in charge of. Death was a common occurrence within the Summoning Palace. A failure of this magnitude would almost guarantee his execution. Just how had this happened?
Krill anxiously began to recollect the day he had lost contact with his chosen. Jang Hyunsuk had asked for his name, it was a unique event when the preselect asked for your name. Krill didn’t think much of it and had replied properly, there hadn’t been any risk in doing so.
Being chosen within the Summoning Palace, meant they would have a faster growth and also witness valuable secrets of the large guilds. It was an investment towards goodwill with an upcoming bigshot. The problem was that his blood charge had then asked for his name again.
He didn’t have a deep connection with his charge, and he couldn’t really check his connection. He could only suspect that something had happened during the first and second question.
‘The Observer’s Eye had lost vision for a while. Could it be that the Eye had been targeted during that time?’
Observer’s Eye was an extremely convenient tool, but its combat capabilities were pitifully lacking. It wouldn’t survive an assault against even the average stray cat. This was why they were veiled by an invisibility spell, but it wasn’t uncommon for a stray rock or bird to bump into them. Krill placed all of his hopes on this being the case. He had to hope that the Eye was just down and that Hyunsuk was still alive within the group. The simplest way to confirm this was with another magician. They could ask their own chosen charges and easily confirm his suspicions.
However, these grounds weren’t so amiable. There were 48 magicians residing within the Northern Observatory of the Blanche Plaza, only 25 of who were in charge of the ‘elite’ charges, none of these people were on good terms with Krill.
Babysitting these kids was the highest position among the low-rank magicians. This meant that the competition was fierce enough that no one would be willing to share anything. They would be happier eliminating their competition than to help him in any way.
It might have been a bleak hope, but there was one person that might be willing to help him.
“What? You want to borrow my Observer’s Eye?”
Dolorence Winterer. She was the Observer’s only mid-rank mage. She was a senior from the same Magic School and a member of the same guild. Normally, he would never dare talk to her, but now she was his only hope.
“Yes… I’m begging you!”
Krill poured out all of his sincerity and bowed at the waist. Both his eyes were clenched shut in desperation as he waited for her reply. All he could hear was laughter. Not good, It was enough to completely shatter all hopes he had of salvaging the situation.
“You want me to take care of some person that can’t even manage watching over his Observer’s Eye? That’s a disgrace. Get out of my sight. It feels stupid in here.”
“I won’t report you to the higher ups. You’ll at least have a day before you get caught.”
After looking at him with disgust clear in her eyes, Dolorence left the observatory in proud strides. He could hear a chilling word from down the hall.
His body trembled, and cold sweat trickled down in beads. Humiliation and anger suppressed all the air in his lungs.
“….Shit! Damn bitch!”
He wanted to tear her apart, but he lacked the strength, he didn’t even have the power to fix his own pitiful fate. He couldn’t do anything but fall to the floor and cry silently. He cried there until a middle-aged magician found him.
Their eyes met. Krill didn’t know his name, but he knew of the man’s identity. A slave hunter. They were tasked with poaching any talented recruits among the newly summoned batches. Krill couldn’t be proud of his own position, but it was still several times better than a slave hunter’s. It was a heartless job meant for heartless people. Now, a slave hunter was looking at Krill with great interest.
“Why is such a young man crying so pitifully? Did you miss your meal?”
Krill would never associate with such a character. He might be older but these fallen magicians had already had their names removed from the Magician Guild’s ledger. There was no reason to treat them as fellow magicians.
However, everything could change according to the circumstance.
“Did you lose your pet rabbit?”
The middle-aged magician smiled widely and took a step towards Krill.
“I do not wish to talk to you, sir.”
The middle-aged magician feigned surprise, but kept smiling mockingly.
“Looking at you, you’ve definitely lost your pet rabbit.”
Krill didn’t bother hiding his irritation and stood up to walk away. The man’s final words clung onto Krill’s back.
“Such a shame. I might not be completely out of ideas on how to help…”
It was enough bait to successfully hook Krill. He reluctantly turned around and approached the man. His eyes still bloodshot from his crying.
“You remind me a lot of myself.”
The man stretched out his left arm as he spoke. His arm began revealing itself from the long sleeve of the robe. Amputee. His left arm had been completely removed down from the elbow.
“Thankfully, Typhoon is a generous guild and left it out with just an arm. If it was anyone else, I might have lost my tongue or my neck.”
He spoke lightly, but his tone was vindictive. Krill shook slightly.
“So… you too…?”
“Yep. I was also a candidate sitter. No luck though. Who knew he’d get stabbed by an ally before the Rank Up match?”
The slave hunter’s confession adequately softened Krill’s guarded heart. As his natural guard fell, Krill voluntarily clung to the slave hunter as he really didn’t have anywhere else to turn.
“Before… I apologize, but… please help me. I-I’m running out of time!”
The slave hunter closed his eyes, as if sympathizing with Krill, then tossed him a single key.
“You know about the tunnel for the slaves on the lower floor, right? There will be things that are unsettling, just shut your eyes and keep on going. It’ll lead you to the summoning plaza.”
“… You mean go out personally?”
“That’ll be the most surefire way. No one’s letting you borrow one anyways, right? An Observer’s Eye.”
The middle-aged mage’s words were simply this: there were no other options. Krill held onto the key in thought, but eventually hurried away with a quick nod.
‘It can’t be helped. Since it has come to this point, I might as well check on Hyunsuk’s condition personally.’
Everything would return to normal if Hyunsuk was alive. It would take a considerable sum to summon another Observer’s Eye that is enchanted with invisibility, but what did money matter at this point?
Krill made his way to the slave entrance at an impatient pace.
It was an awful stench. The combined stench of human feces, rotting flesh, and sewage was enough to make one dizzy. He could see the slaves chained to the sides of the tunnel, and the brutal slave hunters breaking the slaves’ wills by using a special incense. All of this was accompanied by pitiful screams echoing throughout the length of the tunnel. He could hear the sizzling sound of burning flesh.
“Kukuku! Look at the bastard’s strugglin’. He’ll be a good product.”
The sharp eyes glowing from the burning embers turned to focus on the uninvited guest.
“Kukuku…. A little chick magician came here for some playtime? You can already see the slaves here, so take a pick.”
Krill grit his teeth and picked up his pace. It chilled his heart hearing another pitiful scream intermingled with the sound of burning flesh.
He saw a pile of corpses further down. He could see a pair of red eyes flash within the pile.
“Kekek… Human! Do you have any candy?”
“If you have any candy, please hand it over!”
It was a group of homunculi. However, these homunculi were much more disfigured than the average. They all wore ripped clothes and a broken face, some even lacking a limb or two. These were the outcasts.
“There human! Why are you ignoring me!”
A homunculus missing an eye and a leg grabbed onto Krill’s pants after crawling to him with his arms.
“Hand over candy, please!”
Krill’s face crumpled. He simply crushed the homunculus’ head with his heel.
He was classified as a magician trainee, but he was still someone that had survived all of the Summoning Palace’s trials. Someone like a homunculus was no match for him anymore.
“Shoo! Filthy things!”
The Homunculi scattered like roaches into the corpses.
Krill finally managed to find the rusty gate after crossing through the tunnel of corpses. he stared at the key in his hand, and grit his teeth as he looked at the gate.
‘I’ll definitely find you. For sure.’
The cave no longer emitted any magic after the trials ended. Sungchul stored Fal Garaz and the Echo Mage’s Tome into his soul storage and looked over his other rewards. 30 Palace Tokens and the magic staff ‘Moonlight’. Palace Tokens could be hidden inside his pocket, but the staff was much more conspicuous. He continued to stare at ‘Moonlight’ until its stats displayed themselves.
Grade: Rare – Low Grade
Type: Magic Staff (Rechargeable)
Effect: Fires an energy bolt after activation
Note: A staff crafted from the bark of a cypress tree bathed in moonlight. It is packed with magical power, but the staff itself is quite fragile! Use with caution!
Its capabilities wasn’t anything worthwhile, and physically it was just a wooden stick. He would normally have tossed it without a second thought, but it was significant to earn items before the first rank match.
‘What should I do. Should I keep it or just store it?’
He contemplated for quite a while, but decided to just hold onto it for now. Moonlight was a rather high caliber weapon for this stage of the trials, and also, it would allow an alternate method for him to progress without having to rely solely on his actual strength. It was not like anyone would question him, but it also wouldn’t be too hard to make up a lie about how he had gotten this weapon.
Sungchul grabbed Moonlight and walked away from the cave.
‘Anyhow, I ended up needing 9 more intuition. The Palace Token amounts is barely enough too. Palace Tokens have to be earned by standing out… but that’s not something I want to do.’
He had wanted to leave the group of the preselected when he had earned the 10 intuition. Now, if he wanted to become an Echo Magician, he would need to meet the additional requirements by tracking down some more hidden quests.
‘Can’t be helped. I’ll just have to fit in for a little bit longer.’
Ahram’s fate continued to change without his knowing.
As Sungchul stepped back inside, a loud noise, followed by a shout, reverberated within the plaza.
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