༺ Bizarre (1) ༻
Vera’s body trembled.
‘Why is this…’
Why is this dagger crying?
His mind was racing as he recalled the exact moment the change occurred.
Vera’s gaze was directed towards the King, who was moving closer with each step.
The dagger had begun crying when that man appeared from between the army.
In an effort to calm himself down, Vera focused his thoughts and stared at the King.
He wasn’t fooled into thinking that it was just a coincidence.
There had to be a reason for that change, because nothing other than the trace of the Demon King reacted.
At that thought, Vera turned stiff as the King came before him and Dovan.
“Nice to meet you, Imperial Descendant. This is the first time we’ve met.”
He greeted Dovan first.
“And… you must be the Apostle. Allow me to introduce myself. I am King Todd of the Federation’s Third Kingdom.”
King Todd smiled. Vera returned a smile while calculating his next course of action.
‘I shouldn’t reveal my hostility so rashly.’
There was no information. Vera could only speculate that he had some sort of connection to the Demon King, but didn’t know how he was connected, or why he came personally. The actions of the Third King in his previous life were shrouded in mystery.
‘There’s no sign of any imminent hostility, either.’
He didn’t know if the King considered him an enemy, or if he was simply hiding it.
‘…I’ll wait and see.’
Instead of acting rashly, he would observe the situation.
“…Nice to meet you.”
“I am always grateful for His Holiness’ grace. May the Lord’s grace be with you as well.”
Todd drew a cross.
Vera didn’t ease his tension, but observed each of Todd’s actions closely while also drawing a cross.
At that moment, Dovan opened his mouth.
“…Go back. I have no desire to participate in your political bickering.”
They were words filled with malice.
As Todd finished exchanging his greetings with Vera, he directed his attention towards Dovan upon hearing those words. A dark smile formed around the corners of his mouth.
“I am already aware of the Imperial Descendant’s wishes. I came here today to apologize for my rudeness.”
Dovan’s fingertips twitched. His eyes were filled with hostility as he scowled at Todd.
Behind the apology was a hidden motive.
Todd lowered his head and met Dovan’s gaze.
“There’s something I hadn’t realized before. The Third Kingdom won’t receive any of the glory by crying out for legitimacy. Only the Imperial Descendant will be recognized.”
As a result of Todd’s excessively large body, his head was still taller than Dovan’s despite being lowered.
From a distance, it appeared as though Todd was looking down at Dovan.
In that position, Todd continued.
“In the end, even if we persuaded the Imperial Descendant into achieving unity, won’t it still be an incomplete unification? The kings and ministers of the other kingdoms who have yet to let go of their delusions will all rebel. Their cries for legitimacy will become meaningless at that point, and war will break out. They will even deny the Imperial Descendant’s right to the throne.”
An ominous smile was on his face.
“Is that not an insult to the Imperial Descendant? Will that not lead to forgetting my respect for the past Imperial Family? Curse this foolish man who has only realized this now. Forgive this one who brings such a late apology.”
Todd spoke in a position where it was unclear whether he was lowering his head or looking down at Dovan.
“I desire a true unification that will not disgrace the Imperial Descendant. That is why I came here to deliver the message that the Imperial Descendant will not be sought after again, and I felt it was necessary to tell you myself.”
Todd raised his head.
As he returned to his full height, he ended his speech with the same unpleasant smile.
“With this, the matter is settled. I will now return.”
Todd turned his body.
At that moment, Vera felt Todd’s gaze piercing him.
And then Todd completely turned around, walking away. The army split into two lines as Todd passed through before regrouping and following their King.
Dovan’s mumble was filled with both shock and questions. He momentarily frowned, but then shook his head and cleared his thoughts.
“No, it’s none of my business. Whatever they do is none of my business.”
Despite the fact that the King’s words sounded absurd, they were intended to inform him that they would no longer make an effort to persuade him into joining them.
It couldn’t have been a lie, since he came and told him personally.
As Dovan concluded his thoughts, he turned to Vera and said.
“Let’s go inside. The Saint is waiting.”
A slightly late reply.
Vera’s gaze was still fixed on the spot where Todd had vanished from view.
That same evening.
After Vera finished celebrating his birthday with a somber heart, he wore a full-body robe and covered his head, put on a mask, then left the forge.
To look for Todd.
It was because he thought there was something suspicious.
The dagger’s reaction, coming here just to say those words and then leaving, and the gaze that seemed to penetrate him.
All of those things were making Vera suspicious.
‘He would not have returned right away.’
They were in the middle of a mountain range.
It would take several days to reach the western interior, where the Third Kingdom was located.
There was a chance that he would rest in a nearby village after descending from this mountain range, or set up camp.
He had to sneak in and find out what he could.
Vera ran through the darkness.
Every inch of his body was engraved with divine arts.
[Night Walk] to erase footsteps.
[Twilight] to eliminate presence.
[Mirage] to cloud perception.
As Vera engraved onto himself the divine arts he had memorized, but never used, his body melted into the darkness.
Not a single sound remained.
Not even a silhouette.
A single man became a shadow traveling through the darkness for a long time.
After running for a while in the direction of a village at the base of the mountain, Vera discovered the presence of a hundred individuals gathered together slightly beyond the village.
It had to be the army of the Third Kingdom from before.
Vera quickly turned and headed towards the place he felt them gathering in.
A vast open space in the middle of the forest.
There was a single large tent surrounded by smaller tents, and a wooden fence around the outside.
Vera crossed the wooden fence and scowled.
‘It’s heavily guarded.’
Their camp was so heavily guarded that he couldn’t simply write it off as the King’s procession. No matter how Vera looked at the situation, he couldn’t see it as anything other than suspicious.
It wasn’t just a hunch.
It was far too impractical to set up a wooden fence around camp when they would only stay for one day, or a few days at most.
The dagger’s cries were becoming much more intense than earlier in the day.
There was surely something going on.
Perhaps there was a clue here.
The turning point for the completion of Dovan’s resentment, and the motive behind why Aisha would take up the Demon Sword.
Although it was just a wild guess, Vera couldn’t ignore it and went in the direction Gilly’s dagger had pointed in. He headed for the central tent while holding the dagger he had received as a birthday present.
He wasn’t worried about being discovered.
His divine arts were still concealing him within the darkness.
He went past the outer tents.
After avoiding all the soldiers resting by the campfires and those coming and going from the interior, he arrived at the central tent.
As Vera neared the tent, the cries turned into screams. He grasped the wailing dagger by his chest and squeezed it firmly, pouring divinity within.
It was some sort of drastic remedy.
By infusing the dagger with divinity to counteract the Demon King’s crimson light, he could silence the cries.
Vera watched as the dagger began to calm down slightly before leaning against the wall of the tent, and focusing his attention on what was coming from inside.
– How are the preparations?
– They are progressing smoothly.
– Good. Very good.
The voice of Todd who was full of laughter, and the voice of a soldier who was fearing for his life.
– How foolish. Truly foolish. Are they not all fools?
A chuckling voice.
Vera’s eyebrows narrowed upon hearing that.
It was an intimidating voice, different from the one filled with formality he heard that day.
– What of the Imperial Descendant? What of legitimacy? Everyone has already experienced something much more important than those, but they are turning a blind eye out of fear.
That voice was tinged with something that could be called joy as it continued speaking.
– It’s overwhelming power. That’s all that matters. Resistance? Arguments? What will those things do? They’re all meaningless if I crush them.
It was a voice drowning in emotions. One that began to shake, as if feeling that his reason was becoming blurred.
– You’ve seen it. The Tiger King proved it.
Vera’s body jolted and his eyes widened.
It was because he realized the meaning behind the words he heard.
– They are trying desperately to ignore the fact that with Haman’s power, they could crush and rule over all.
– Absolutely right…
– So they must be eradicated. They must all be destroyed.
Grrr. Todd’s voice was boiling.
– Those stupid and cowardly fools. The Imperial Descendant. Even that bastard Apostle. All of those who dare get in my way.
The flame blew up.
– Must be destroyed.
Vera clenched his fist.
The dagger he received from Renee shimmered sharply.
‘I have to kill him.’
Todd was targeting Dovan.
And he was aiming for the kings of the other four kingdoms.
He was trying to do something.
I should kill him now, but…
The aura flowing from within stopped Vera in his tracks.
Vera was certain whose aura this was.
‘The Demon King’s Aura.’
The same inhumane aura he felt from Gilly was emanating from within.
It was the phenomena that caused Todd to drown in his own emotions.
Suddenly, a doubt arose in Vera’s mind.
Why wasn’t I aware until I was this close? How could I not feel something with such an obvious, bloodthirsty aura?
As Vera continued to think, he recalled a thought he had and brushed his hand across the tent.
What he felt at his fingertips was an aura of mana.
The tent had a seal engraved.
Vera held his breath, dulled his presence, and remembered his resolve.
‘I need to check inside.’
He needed to find out the identity of what was being kept secret.
Vera added another divine art to his body and faded into the darkness.
Exactly seven steps.
[Sky Step], a divine art that allowed him to walk on air.
A very faint divinity arose beneath Vera’s feet, and then vanished.
Vera stepped on the tent and began walking along the wall carefully.
A shadow was cast over the darkness as he walked.
From the walls of the tent onto the ceiling, and then the center of the roof.
When Vera reached the very top, he used his dagger to cut a small hole in the fabric and peeked through the opening.
There was an extremely small gap. A gap he could barely see through unless he twisted his body here and there.
All of Vera’s attention was directed towards the interior.
As he originally suspected, the edges of the tent acted as a boundary for the barrier.
A magic circle was drawn with long, complex shapes.
Vera narrowed his eyes and examined the magic circle.
It was unfamiliar to even Vera, who had studied many spells and magic circles in order to improve the Sanctuary.
A single straight circle.
And four lines dividing the circle into eight equal parts.
Each line was composed of strange characters, and in the dead center was a gigantic body.
Vera held back his suffocating breath as he fixed his gaze on that location.
There was a curled back against the floor, and there was a writhing crimson pattern crawling like a snake.
As the mark slithered across the body, the muscles contorted. The blood vessels bursted and regenerated. Then a crimson aura exploded and flowed back into the body.
A congested noise dug into Vera’s ears.
The soldier said. It wasn’t until Vera heard the soldier that he realized it was Todd.
Meanwhile, that giant, Todd, spoke again.
“Haman… Kuh… I will become Haman.”
Can that even be called Haman?
An obvious doubt came to mind.
It wasn’t just because of its bizarre appearance.
Vera already knew what it was called.
Not now, but in the near future. As the battle against the Demon King raged on, Vera saw that creature from afar.
He could guarantee.
It was not Haman.
The name it was given by the continent at that time was.
The spearhead of the Demon King’s army that destroyed half the continent, Galatea.
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