“Just what do you want? The only thing I can’t hand over is the Soul Inheritance. I’d rather choose death.”
Marakia was feeling hopeless.
In a crumpled posture and with voice lacking energy, his appearance revealed the despair which had settled in his heart.
Sungchul gazed upon Marakia in such a state and spoke in a calm voice.
“I never asked for the Soul Inheritance. I would happily receive it if it was offered, but what I want is an adequate increase in Magic Power and Intuition. Just those two things.”
“Aren’t I in this state because I can’t give you those things? You should clearly know how ineffective and difficult it is to raise a stat of someone of your level.”
“Is there truly no crown? Something that would grant power by wielding it?”
Sungchul had already suspected that Mimi had made up the story about the crown of the Nahak King, but he asked once again with a fleeting hope. Unrealistic expectations were always meant to be broken. Marakia shook his head.
“I told you there is no such thing. This is the truth.”
It was all futile. He had spent a great deal of effort in subjugating Marakia to his will, but he had gained nothing from it. However, nothing could be done if the other was not willing to give. It is easy to kill someone, but it was impossible to steal their inherent power and accomplishments.
“I have nothing to give you, but if you desire, I can perform a ritual that might supplement your power.”
Marakia spoke feebly as he noticed the stony expression on Sungchul’s face. Sungchul turned his head slightly.
“What kind of ritual?”
At this, Marakia made a sinister expression as he answered.
“Haven’t you already seen it? What occurred to the Underground Kingdom?”
“Are you asking me to offer a sacrifice?”
“I see that there are countless Cave Elves still lingering in the Underground Kingdom. If you offer their lives to a god as sacrifice, wouldn’t it be enough to get what you desire?”
Sungchul shook his head.
“Why? Why refuse this?”
Marakia couldn’t understand at all. He had given Sungchul the greatest offer that he could muster, and Sungchul had denied it without a second thought. Sungchul immediately gave his reply.
“Unlike you, I do not wish to sacrifice the lives of others for the sake of power.”
“I thought you were wise, but it seems you still cling to a bit of your naivety. Why concern yourself with the lives of a lesser race that is not even your own?”
Sungchul didn’t respond to that question. No, he didn’t feel that the question needed an answer. The gap between their thoughts on this subject could not be closed. Instead, Bertelgia answered during Sungchul’s silence.
“Even the noble race that you’re so proud of are no more thanks to you.”
“What? They are no more? How can you utter such nonsense while I still stand?”
“It looks like you still aren’t aware of what had happened to your people.”
As Bertelgia and Marakia continued their meaningless debate, Sungchul took a step back and began to contemplate on his next steps.
‘Is training the only method? If I use him, I should be able to gain at least some… no wait.’
A thought crossed Sungchul’s mind. His eyes turned toward Marakia. The black feathered king of the Nahaks could not overcome Sungchul, but he was still a powerful and fearsome existence. It was assured that Marakia’s magic power exceeded the demon king’s.
‘If I use this guy, I might be able to take care of Hesthnius Max, the Demon King, without having to go through all that trouble of learning magic.’
Sungchul, who had let Max slip from his grasp, had been contemplating on many different ways to resolve his situation. A method was to bring a capable magician to deal the critical blow, but it hadn’t been possible due to two reasons. Firstly, there wasn’t a magician that would help him. Next, he wasn’t confident in being able to escort the magician safely to the Palace of the Demon King even if he did manage to recruit someone.
There are thousands, tens of thousands of demons swarming about in the Demon world. As long as the demons weren’t completely brain dead, if Sungchul were to bring a Mage such as Altugius Xero along, the demons would focus all of their attacks on whoever Sungchul had brought. Mental attacks, ambush, sensory alteration, large scale magic area bombardment, and mass attack with a great army. They would utilize each and every tactic and method available under the heavens.
Marakia was different. With Marakia’s power, he should be able to preserve his life at the very least and be able to destroy the astral body of Max.
As Sungchul reached this conclusion, he heart grew light.
‘This is the most assured method.’
Sungchul immediately stood before Marakia.
Marakia, who had been tongue wrestling with Bertelgia, shut his beak and looked up towards Sungchul.
“Come with me to the Demon Realm to kill the Demon King.”
“The Demon King? Are you talking about Fuhrst, the Fire Eater?”
“That demon has been gone since ages ago. I am talking about Hesthnius Max.”
“Hesthnius Max? I’ve never heard of this demon. Ok. Is this demon strong?”
“He’s weaker than you.”
“Then why do you need to take me?”
Sungchul concisely described the circumstances between Max and himself. Marakia laughed out loud after hearing the story. When the laughter finally died, Marakia’s violet eyes grew bright as he spoke.
“Ok. You want to use my magic to take care of that vile demon. What do I gain from this?”
“If you cooperate with me to kill Max, I’ll grant you your life and freedom.”
“Life and freedom, eh?”
Marakia said in a ridiculing tone, and Sungchul’s eyes grew a degree colder.
“Or I could just kill you right here.”
It was a quiet and calm voice, but it bore an unbearable weight to it. Marakia, who had been mocking the offer, suddenly felt the threat of death press down upon him. The man named Sungchul possessed enough power to kill him with ease. However, a question filled Marakia’s mind.
“Just why do you wish to kill this demon king? Is it out of vengeance? Or maybe you wish to secure peace within the kingdom you rule over?”
At Marakia’s question, Sungchul unhesitatingly made a short reply.
“It’s to end the Calamity.”
Curiosity filled Marakia’s eyes.
“I never knew that the one to defeat me would consider himself the Savior of the World.”
Sungchul’s voice rang out once again, and Marakia nodded.
“I accept. I swear upon the name ‘King of Nahaks’ that I will help you, human.”
Marakia pulled out a single black feather on his body and held it to toward Sungchul.
“It’s a symbol of my promise. It is a royal gift from the great king of the Nahaks so receive it well.”
“I don’t need it.”
Sungchul raised Fal Garaz. When Marakia saw the hammer once again, he was reaffirmed on his need to keep his promise.
“Let’s take care of it right away.”
Sungchul left the tomb with a few dexterous movements. Bertelgia flapped her pages to follow after as Marakia wrapped his one remaining wing around his body and followed them with his two feet.
The Despair of the Abyss, who was now left alone within the tomb, looked toward the departing party and disappeared into the darkness.
The second underground floor was filled with countless Cave Elves. Their purpose was a mystery, but it was clear that they were upset. Sungchul pulled out Cassandra, the demonic weapon, from his Soul Storage. Marakia saw this scene, stepped forward, and let out a clear sound. The long and crystal clear call that sounded like the cry of a Black Kite rang out throughout the dungeon causing all the Cave Elves residing within to respond simultaneously. It was out of pure terror.
The Cave Elves that simply fled from Cassandra’s noise began to scatter chaotically upon hearing Marakia’s call. It was not a rational fear. It was an instinctual terror that was residing deep in their blood. It was the call of the cold hearted avian that was their master and their predator.
Marakia who was watching the Cave Elves scatter like rats in panic asked in a relatively cheerful voice.
Sungchul moved forward as he put away Cassandra which had been made redundant. The party eventually made it through the dark and long corridors of the Underground Kingdom and reached the entrance. They waited for the pulley operated lift to arrive. However, an unwelcome guest awaited them. It was the Despair of the Abyss.
The strange being stood in the center of the passageway as though it had something to say to Sungchul’s party.
“Why does that thing exist within my kingdom?”
Marakia spoke in annoyance. Sungchul held Fal Garaz and walked toward the Despair of the Abyss.
“Begone, creature of oblivion.”
It was a troublesome enemy, but if it stood in his way, Sungchul wouldn’t hesitate to fight. However, the Despair of the Abyss began to move past Sungchul unsteadily in a grotesque manner. It looked as though it was going to leave as before, but it stood in front of a person. It stood in front of Marakia.
“Hey, can’t you do something about this monster?”
Marakia took a step back as he asked Sungchul. As Sungchul walked toward him with Fal Garaz in hand, Marakia saw it. He saw the beak of the oozing Despair of the Abyss slowly open.
It was speech. The Despair of the Abyss was speaking. Both Marakia and Sungchul immediately froze at this unexpected situation. While everyone was stunned, the Despair of the Abyss with an avian head continued to speak, this time more coherently.
In the next moment, Fal Garaz struck the creature’s head. It flew off into the distance crumbling into a formless shape before it regained its original appearance again.
“Just what is that thing?”
Marakia spoke in anger, but Sungchul didn’t respond. It was also the first time he had witnessed this situation.
‘A Despair of the Abyss spoke. I can’t believe it. It should have had its body, mind, and soul taken away as it became the Ancient God’s servant. This one managed to hold onto its consciousness?’
It was not something that could be figured out. It was not something that should be figured out. Sungchul thought these words in his mind as he got onto the lift. Marakia followed after.
“How long has it been since I came up to the surface?”
Marakia spoke in a relatively cheerful voice as though he had forgotten about the incident just moments ago. The mechanism of the lift activated, and the lift rose. When they climbed out of the hole, the sun in the sky began to blind them. A sharp scream rang out the moment they arrived at the entrance.
It was Marakia’s scream. He fell to his knees as he screamed in agony until it grew hoarse like the bellow of a cow.
Sungchul immediately stopped the pulley and inspected Marakia’s state.
He became covered in spots. Black spots blossomed all across Marakia’s body like a flower of death as Sungchul watched.
‘Isn’t… isn’t this the Curse of Extinction?’
The scene that he had never wished to see again reappeared before him in a flash.
Marakia continued to scream and thrash about in agony. Rotting discharge poured out like a fountain from the stump of his severed wing, and a disgusting stench began to spread.
Sungchul immediately lowered the lift. Once they reached the Underground Kingdom, Marakia’s condition stabilized. The spots that had spread on his body receded and the discharge from his wound no longer flowed. However, Marakia did not speak as he remained hunched over with his arms and wing wrapped around himself as though the memory of the pain still haunted him.
Sungchul spoke to him after a considerable time had passed.
“Were you afflicted with the Curse of Extinction?”
He nodded at Sungchul’s question as his body lightly trembled.
“That’s right. The curse cast down by god afflicted my people without warning. It was the reason that the Nahaks that once roamed the skies was forced into the ground like moles.”
“You must be younger than you appear?”
Bertelgia offered a question toward Marakia in a soft voice. Marakia didn’t deny it.
“One year. I was cursed by a matter of a single year. My older brothers were fine, but my younger brothers and I were at the risk of death. However, my father the king wished to hand the crown to me, who had the black feathers. That is why the ritual was performed, and I continued to live but…”
Deep concern filled Marakia’s violet eyes.
“Why does the curse still remain?”
“…Because god is cruel.”
Sungchul responded. Marakia snorted in amusement, but the fact that his body was cursed remained.
“It appears as though I am fated to die anyways.
The spots that covered his body had faded, but it didn’t disappear. Marakia laughed sadly as he looked toward the sky.
“Tens of thousands of years had passed, but my fate remains unchanged.”
Soon, fearsome anger began to burn in his eyes.
“Since this are the way things are, it wouldn’t be bad to go out with a bang and just do whatever I want until I die.”
“Burning the humans and crumbling their kingdoms. Who knows? Maybe, after I’m done, they’ll remember me… and remember the Nahaks?”
Had Sungchul not been there next to him, Marakia might have done exactly as he had said. But Sungchul was, indeed, there.
“I won’t leave you to do this.”
He glared at Marakia and spoke clearly. Marakia laughed out loud.
“I am to die anyways. What does it matter to me if I die in one way or another?”
“I will stop the Calamity. Help me. If so, it will also free you from the curse on your body.”
“That’s nonsense. Mortals cannot overcome the Trial of God. Also, Calamities are not to be overcome. It is meant to be endured like the passing seasons.”
“There are those that have managed to overcome it.”
Marakia didn’t look convinced. Sungchul was thinking of Bertelgia’s laughter as he replied.
“They are the humans that you have looked down on.”
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