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 Other World, but that was nothing compared to his current predicament.
“The week is ending soon; all the Mages will be made to report on the physical conditions of their Charges before the next sunrise.”
The muscular Grand Knight from the Order of the Iron Blood Knights made this announcement in a gravelly voice. The Order of the Iron Blood Knights were one of the three greatest factions from the northern region of the main continent. They were known for their immovable strength, as well as holding their own against the mightiest of the Demon tribes’ main forces.
It had just been a year since he had been summoned. Krill couldn’t afford to offend such a powerful faction. He had lost contact with the newly summoned Preselected whom the Iron Blood Knights had put him in charge of. Death was a common occurrence within the Summoning Palace, and a failure of this magnitude would almost guarantee his execution. Just how had this happened?
Krill anxiously began to recall the day he had lost contact with his Preselected. Hyunsuk Jang had asked for his name; it wasn’t an unusual event when the Preselected asked for their Guide’s name. Krill didn’t think much of it and had replied properly; there hadn’t been any risk in doing so.
Being Preselected within the Summoning Palace meant they would have a faster growth and also have access to valuable secrets of the large factions. Investment of goodwill with an upcoming big shot was well worth it. The problem was that his charge had asked for his name twice.
Because the communication via telepathy through the Observer’s Eye was unstable he could not be certain, but he suspected that something big must have happened between the first and second time his name was asked.
‘The image through the Observer’s Eye got cut off. Did it get hit?’
The 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, though it wasn’t uncommon for a stray rock or bird to bump into them and put them out of commission. 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 Mage. They could ask their own Preselected Charges and easily verify his suspicions.
However, these grounds weren’t so amiable. There were forty-eight Mages residing within the Northern Observatory of the Blanche Plaza, and only twenty-five of among them were in charge of the Preselected; Not a single one of them were on good terms with Krill.
It was because taking care of the Preselected was among the best possible jobs to hold as a low ranking Mage. Competition for the position was why no one was willing to help one another. Instead of helping, they would more likely search for any mistakes to report to the supervisors to eliminate a competitor.
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 Observatory’s only mid-grade Mage. She was a senior from the same Magic School and a member of the same faction. 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. But all he could hear was a snicker. Not good. It was enough to completely shatter all hopes he had of salvaging the situation.
“You expect me to treat someone that can’t even keep track of his own Observer’s Eye like my underclassmen? No, I refuse. Get out of my sight, you disgust me.”
“I won’t report you to the higher ups. You won’t last another day before they find out anyway.”
After looking at him with disgust clear in her eyes, Dolorence left the Observatory with proud strides. He could hear chilling words 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 Mage 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 out on some meals?”
Krill would never associate with such a character. The man might be older, but these fallen Mages had already had their names removed from the Mage Guild’s ledger. There was no reason to treat them as fellow Mages.
However, things were different at the moment.
“Did you lose your pet rabbit?”
The middle-aged Mage smiled widely and took a step towards Krill.
“I do not wish to talk to you, sir.”
The middle-aged Mage 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 were 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; they were satisfied with taking just one arm. If it was anyone else, they might have decided to take my tongue or neck instead.”
He spoke lightly, but his tone was vindictive. Krill shook slightly.
“Yep. I was also a candidate sitter. No luck though. Who knew he’d get stabbed by an ally before the Rank 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 to.
“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 handed 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 reliable 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 while deep in thought, but eventually hurried away after 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 was 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 odor 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 who were breaking the slaves’ wills through the use of 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 Mage came here for some playtime? You can already see the slaves here, so take a pick.”
Krill gritted his teeth and picked up his pace. It chilled his heart upon hearing another pitiful scream intermingled with the sound of burning flesh.
He saw a pile of corpses further down and a pair of red eyes that flashed within the pile.
“Kekek…Human! Do you have any candy?”
“If you have any candy, hand it over immediately!”
It was a group of Homunculi. However, these Homunculi were much more disfigured than the average ones. They all wore ripped clothes and a broken expression; some were even lacking a limb or two. These were the outcasts.
“Human! Why are you ignoring us?!”
A Homunculus missing an eye and a leg grabbed onto Krill’s pants after crawling over to him with its arms.
“Give us your candy!”
Krill’s face crumpled. He simply crushed the Homunculus’ head with his heel.
He was classified as a Mage 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 gritted 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 Tome of the Echo Mage 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 Magic Power, but the staff itself is quite fragile! Use with caution!
Its capabilities weren’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 it would also 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 than expected. I should just barely be able to obtain enough Palace Tokens as well. 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 Mage, 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 life was extended without his knowing.
As Sungchul stepped back inside, a loud noise, followed by shrieks, reverberated within the plaza.
Note: 3 more will be released in a few hours or so. We don’t want to crash the website by releasing them all in one go ^^ Hope you all liked it 🙂
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