The serene area around the Tower of Recluse was teeming with an unprecedented amount of people. There were several airships anchored to the top of the tower while flying their various flags. There was only one possible reason for all of these representatives of prominent nations to have been gathered at the Tower of Recluse. It was due to a single piece of news.
[The contents of the Scripture of Calamity has been altered]
The Kings and the feudal lords of the many nations were gathered because of the letter sent out in the name of Porpyrius, the master of the Tower of Recluse. The visitors gathered at the holy site of the Scripture of Calamity, filled with concern and fear. They had witnessed it with their own eyes; The new contents detailing a brand new Calamity.
But soon, the tower became filled with murmurs.
One man tilted his head from confusion. It was because the contents were no different than before. The contents were listed in order as they were in the past: the Calamity of the Demon King, the Calamity of the Seven Heroes, the Calamity of the War. There was nothing new.
Porpyrius’ face froze. He immediately called over one of his servants that kept the grounds of the holy site and spoke in a low voice.
“What just happened?”
“The Calamity of the Avian King suddenly disappeared.”
“What kind of nonsense are you uttering? How could that be possible?”
Despite his disbelief, the Scripture of Calamity clearly revealed in deafening silence that the words of his servant were correct. The atmosphere within the holy site was growing restless. No one spoke as such, but the gathered sovereigns looked towards Porpyrius with eyes of reproach.
Within these piercing gazes that were sharp and painful as arrows, Porpyrius swallowed deeply and attempted at an explanation.
“T-that is to say… The Calamity ended up disappearing due to an… unexplained circumstance.”
Porpyrius the Reclusive became the boy who cried wolf. The reputation that he had built for half of a century crumbled overnight. That day, he had to swallow more insults than he ever had in his life so he decided to use the strongest card in his hand.
“The Scripture of Calamity does not lie. Following this logic, we did not witness a lie, and there is no doubt that a power that we’re not aware of has intervened with what was foretold by the Scripture of Calamity.”
The one that was prostrated before Porpyrius lifted her head. Her red draconic eyes glowed underneath her deep hood.
“…Understood, incapable old man.”
Half dragonkin Kha’nes. Her name wasn’t widely known, but all those who were well-informed knew about it. This woman whose blood was mixed with that of the dragons, the most powerful race, was a being who existed outside the boundaries of the ordinary. This exceptional figure had just received a special command and had now set forth from the tower for the first time in several centuries.
However, Kha’nes’s personality was anything but diligent.
“Wouldn’t it be human of me to graciously accept all the delicious food out there since this is my first outing in a long time?”
This is how the most powerful Recluse, Kha’nes, began her hunt for famous restaurants in search of the most delectable food.
The Suicide Unit was swept up in an uncomfortable silence. The reason was simple. The vice commander, Aaron Genghis, was in a foul mood. He had taken a hundred members of the unit on an airship, and he only managed to return with the single magician that followed him. There were no other survivors.
It was a frequent occurrence, but he confined himself in his private tent for a month now as though this instance came at a great shock to him. The veterans of the Suicide Unit who had seen this assumed that Aaron had realized his own shortcomings, but only a single man, number 34, knew the inside story.
‘He is right to be scared now that he abandoned Willie Gilford. He’s not a man known for his forgiving nature.’
This man, Sungchul, had returned to the Suicide Unit. There was no special reason behind it. The unit didn’t particularly restrict his activities and allowed him easier access to information, but these weren’t decisive enough reason for him to return. In truth, he returned without much thought and spent his days following a stable routine.
Recently, he had become acknowledged for his Alchemy and had begun to make Alchemic items for his fellow soldiers. He left the unit early in the morning to gather materials and returned to synthesize the items in his cauldron later in the day.
He had made everything from antipyretics to decorative lightings and all sorts of miscellaneous sundries in between. And no one rebuked him for spending his time this way because he did everything on his own. He was sometimes commanded by the higher ups to create healing potions or other medicines, and this was met with favorable reception as they were known to be highly effective.
Sungchul who made the transformation from a bold patrolman to a talented Alchemist in one month’s time had a secret nobody knew about. He snuck out once a week to test his magical prowess on the Deep Sea Demon known as the gatekeeper of the entrance to the demon world.
He had mastered a new spell since the time he absorbed Marakia’s power. Meteor; A powerful offensive spell that symbolized the might of Cosmomancy. He ruthlessly struck the back of the demon’s head with this fearsome spell whose power had few equals.
Glare could only singe the creature’s skin before, but the situation had changed now. The meteorite that fell from the sky possessed enough force to cause the Deep Sea Demon’s body to go weak. He also gained another boon through his empowered magic power.
[Echo – 1]
Through supplementing his magic power, he was able to activate Echo, the skill of an Echo Mage. Although he was limited to a single Echo, the might of consecutive descent of the meteors was destructive.
Against an opponent he couldn’t damage with his spells just a month ago, he was now able to injure it critically with the power of magic.
Even the basic magic, Glare, had become intensified by the multiplicative effects of the echo and grew powerful enough to pierce through the thick skin and burn the soft tissue underneath, spreading the sweet scent of freshly cooked meat through the air. Sungchul pounded the Deep Sea Demon to the inch of death before leaving.
“Hm. Not bad”
Bertelgia who had been floating in the air observing the fight gave her thoughts. However, Sungchul shook his head and downed a magic essence.
“It’s still not enough. I’m no different than a court mage at this level.”
His capabilities already surpassed that of someone like Dolorence Winterer back at the Summoning Palace, but he still was lacking compared to any of the mages on the level of the Dean of Airfruit. Sungchul could guess that Altugius’ magic power exceeded 450 at the minimum. He wanted to exceed that number and reach at least 500 before he headed to the Demon King. The reason was simple. Sungchul wanted to finish this in one go. If he made a half-assed attempt and failed, he might not get another chance. The Demon King was extremely crafty. Sungchul wanted to ambush the Demon King at a time he wouldn’t expect with an attack he didn’t think was possible. This was Sungchul’s overall strategy.
‘Primordial Light. That is my only answer.’
This is why Sungchul chose the demon of the deep sea to mark his progress. Sungchul estimated that the endurance of the Deep Sea Demon was approximately the same as the Demon King, if not surpassing it altogether.
The Intuition required to learn Primordial Light was 500. Sungchul was currently over half way through at 340. He still needed 160 more Intuition, but he was not in a hurry. He switched between combat and Alchemy to slowly train his own capabilities and would calmly gather information within his reach in the meantime.
And then one day, he heard a strange rumor within the barracks. It was a rumor that had been circulating for a while, but the information had gained fresh momentum as of late. It was the rumor that there was going to be a new offensive into the Demon Realm.
“I’ve heard they’ve organized the Crusaders of Salvation.”
Prisoner 0, Arkaard the Dwarf, spoke in a sigh.
“Crusaders of Salvation, eh?”
Sungchul’s expressions darkened. The origins of the Crusaders of Salvation went back to the days of the Seven Heroes. Various countries had ceased their wars and hostilities at the time and had joined forces in an effort to face the upcoming Calamity with their most elite of elite warriors. This was the birth of the Seven Heroes. They met and overcame the Calamity of their era.
The Crusaders of Salvation was a facsimile of the Seven Heroes. The countries would gather the elite and create punitive forces to oppose the Calamity as was done thousands of years ago in the past.
The problem was the quality of these elites. The great powers of the Other World did not send their best anymore. They sent subpar or completely untested rookies and claimed that they had done due diligence. This is what was told to the residents of the Other World that were trembling in fear.
Sungchul who had been listening quietly suddenly asked Arkaard a question.
“Which number are they at now?”
Arkaard thought for a moment before relaying that this was the 13th Crusaders of Salvation.
“Number 13, eh?”
This meant that the previous 12 returned as failures. This begged the great question; how many people were killed or sacrificed in the name of salvation.
‘They’re still doing something this stupid. Those bastards.’
They were likely to continue this practice into perpetuity. Those in power were content enough to simply preserve the status quo. They only thought of the Crusaders of Salvation as a cheap sacrifice to this end.
Sungchul thought all these thoughts but ultimately kept them to himself before leaving the area.
Next day, Aaron called up every member of the Suicide Unit. He looked emaciated as he had shut himself away for the past month, but those that had been with him for a while realized that he hadn’t changed much from the rockhead that he was before. Especially that overly confident smile on his face before he revealed a suicidal mission.
As expected, Aaron began his announcement in front of 300 soldiers.
“Lord Marquis Martin Breggas has permitted the 13th Crusaders of Salvation to pass the Frontlines into the demon world. Countless units competed for the honor of providing support to their cause, and rejoice! We, the 8th Suicide Unit, were chosen to become their support unit.”
It was like a thunderstorm in dry weather, but no one brought up any objections.
The Crusaders of Salvation entered the Suicide Unit’s encampment in the late afternoon. Sungchul who had been synthesizing in front of an Alchemic cauldron saw their large flag with a greatsword in the shape of a cross fluttering in the air and knew that what had to come had finally arrived.
‘They came quickly. It must mean that this matter was already agreed upon beforehand.’
Sungchul scanned over the formation of the Crusaders briefly. They were approximately 300 members, similar to the Suicide Unit, but the number of combat units was barely over 100. Experienced men were far and few between, and they were mostly comprised of untested youth. They looked to be mostly sons and daughters of prestigious families.
Complicated emotions ran through Sungchul’s mind as he watched Aaron head over to greet their leader.
“Oh, my. You’ve arrived? It must have been rough travelling for so long.”
Aaron was full of smiles as he continued bobbing his head up and down in an attempt to suck up to the leader of the Crusaders. However, the leader appeared to be a youth who was barely above the age for the Curse of Extinction.
“You’re Aaron Genghis? I’ve heard that you begged to escort us along our journey.”
The youth who was riding on a flawless white horse exuded elegance and haughtiness that suited it. He spoke his mind and didn’t care for the opinions of those around him.
“Truthfully, I wanted to enter the Demon Realm through the battlefront kept by the Elves rather than the Storm Battlefront managed by the Dwarves. I personally dislike dwarves.”
Aaron’s eyes crumpled visibly at the boy’s words, but nothing escaped his mouth. The boy looked over the bleak encampment of the Suicide Unit and spoke as if he was spitting.
“Goodness, what an inelegant unit in an inelegant place. Does such a unit really deserve the honor of escorting the Crusaders of Salvation?”
This was the moment that signified the end of the peace and the coming of the storm for the Suicide Unit.
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