Two days had gone by since Jae Hwan received the position of Castle Lord. In that two days, lots of things happened. Under the pretext of greeting the new Lord, countless people lingered at the gates, and numerous clan leaders knocked on the door. Yulewen declined all those visitations and pushed away all the work for now. There was a bigger issue at hand.
Inside the main chambers of the palace, the same argument had been going on between two people for two days. Sitting on the Lord’s seat was Jae Hwan, leisurely feeding self will.
Yulewen opened his mouth again.
“Excuse me, Lord?”
“I'm not a lord.”
“Now you are.”
“I told you I’m not doing it.”
“That's quite different from what you promised?”
“Promise? It's your turn to keep that. I already did what I promised.”
“I’m afraid you have forgotten the terms. I will read them to you once again.”
<Jae Hwan’s promise>
*Save the Castle Lord
*Get rid of all the collaborators
*Help with creating a Chaos expedition team
Seeing that memo, Jae Hwan frowned.
“Are you telling me to be the lord because he died? As compensation?”
“Yes. Something like that.”
Jae Hwan had nothing to say. He was the one who couldn't keep the promise, if put that way. He was silent for a while, before speaking as if he thought of something.
“Wait. So i’m the Castle Lord.”
“Well, since that Castle Lord died, but the new Castle Lord, me, is alive, so…. That matter is resolved.”
“Yes. It’s resolved.”
They were just sophistries flung out impromptu, but it was surprisingly accepted so easily. Jae Hwan spoke in a slightly doubtful tone.
“Then I kept my promise.”
“Of course. And we expect you to keep it in the future also.”
“.....What are you talking about.”
“Oh, did you not say yourself that you are the Castle lord?”
“Please read this part again.”
*Save the Castle Lord
Seeing it, Jae Hwan frowned again.
‘Damn it. That works like that?’
Strictly speaking, Jae Hwan couldn't meet his conditions; the Castle Lord had died after all. That was why Jae Hwan had been stubbornly persisting, saying that it was fine because although he let the person called ‘Lord’ die, the position called ‘Lord’ was still alive. However that was nothing more than spitting at himself. Because for that sophistry to be true, he had to continue in the position of the Lord, as the ‘living Castle Lord’ of his promise.
“I don't have time to be cooped up in here.”
Jae Hwan had no interest in fame nor political power.
“I have to reach Abyss.”
Being rooted in one place brings weakness, and weakness brings degradation. Degradation brings rooting down further. A cycle of inescapable deterioration.
“I give the position to you.”
Yulewen shook his head.
“No one can become the lord except you.”
“Because Gorgon will not acknowledge them.”
Jae Hwan figured out that what Yulewen was talking about was not ‘Gorgon’ the fortress, but something else. The black snake on his left arm twitched. It was that tattoo that Yulewen was referring to as Gorgon.
‘This thing chose me?’
“The Lord can only be released from the position at death. Even if you wanted to, you are not able to hand down the title.”
Jae Hwan had a mind to dash out of this place. But the memories of the previous lord he had been bequeathed along with the snake kept from doing so. What happens to a fortress when she looses her Lord. He knew.
But he also couldn't meekly accept the title. He absently looked at the stacks of laws and statutes of Gorgon. That stack was too tall for someone who had only been thrusting the last 30 years of his life.
“You must authorize these documents by tonight. And this is…”
Yulewen was yapping about something. It went in one ear and out the other. The body of Jae Hwan who suddenly went listless rummaged through the stacks of files. They all caused him a massive headache, and there were some weird laws in there too.
Gorgon Special Law article 11 section 43. Malign Disparagement of the Lord in public is sentenced with flogging
Gorgon Special Law article 11 section 44. The Second time Malign Disparagement of the Lord in public is sentenced with soul separation
Gorgon Special Law article 11 section 45. Third time Malign Disparagement of the Lord in public is sentenced with soul eradication
There were a lot of articles that had to do with the Castle Lord in the special law part. That ridiculous laws like this existed in the first place told just how sensitive the previous lords were.
‘....Is this the reason everyone was praising the Castle Lord?’
There was really nothing else to say than that he was a good person if belittlement meant death. Jae Hwan also looked through the pile of manuals the previous Lords left behind. After selecting a book with great hesitation, he read through it. The title was: [How to be a good Lord 101] by the 17th Lord, Arbaut.
‘For a book that has 101 things in it it’s thin.’
The book was hardly the thickness of a thumbnail.
-Congratulations!! That you have picked up this book means you have become the Lord!
That was how the book started.
-I am sure you have a lot of worries. You think because you are a new Lord, the tasks given to you are very important. Ahh. I feel your distress. How can we make Gorgon a better place! You are undoubtedly agonized over that matter and suffering from insomnia every night!
Distress? Worry? What's that.
-Do not worry! For you have maxed out on you luck! Because I will tell you something essential: there is only one task that you, the new Lord, must do.
Despite the third-rate-lottery-commercial-esque prose, this caught Jae Hwan’s curiosity. He grabbed the page and flipped it.
-That is……. Leeching off.
Jae Hwan’s finger froze in the air.
-yes. A good Lord is a Lord who knows how to suck the blood and tears of their subordinates.
…..What is this guy on?
Jae Hwan flipped another page.
-you mistrust my words if you are a new lord. But what I have told you is the truth. There is only one thing you must do. Leech off. Delegate the matters concerning laws to the laws department, the public order to the executive department. Get a secretary to authorize the papers. Entrust the palace work to the Chancellor, and the foreign matters to the Foreign Minister. They will do the jobs well enough.
‘Why am I reading this?’
-You think me weird. I see it in your face. You think ‘what kind person tells the Lord to leech off’. But if there is one thing you must know, that is that this advice was passed on from Lords eons before me.
The book continued.
-excessive zeal calls for ailment in Chaos. You do not know this: that over half the Castle Lords end their career with suicide. According to the census from [Big Brothers], the occupation that appeals for death the most in Chaos is none other than a Castle Lord. And what did the other half die of? They died of stress. Or rather, the ‘soul corruption’ from enormous stress. As you also know, uncontrollable stress speeds up corruptions.
The book that started somewhat frivolous was turning quite grim.
-That is why, this advice is for you, but also for Gorgon. Please do not greed for change. Do not consume yourself for your desires.
Jae Hwan could feel the lethargy of this 17th Lord. He was probably suffering, writing this book.
-<<Chaos>> is much older than you imagine. And for you to rise up to the position of a lord, you must also know; know exactly how pointless change is in this land. This world cannot change. What this world needs is not change, but preservation.
Jae Hwan was on to the last page.
-That is what being a Lord is. To choose preservation over change. Sacrificing the change of a small number for the survival of the general populace. They will thank you for your very existence, for you give them security, safety. They relieve because you stand over them. We all will live a horrid, monotonous life together, but who can condemn this?
The last paragraph was full of marks of lingering.
-that is why you must stay still. Do not move. Just continue to live. And that is more important than you think. There is no such thing as 101 ways to becoming a good Lord. The only way to become a good Lord in Chaos is by being stagnant. Live. Live still, as if you are restricted by chains. Live until your soul finally gives up. Live and live! This is all I have to advise you.
That was how the book ended. Jae Hwan understood what the 17th lord wanted to convey.
‘I see. That was the kind of existence the Lords of this place are.’
Someone who throw away hope for the thing called survival. For the life of lots, obstructs changes.
‘However, can you call that a life.’
Jae Hwan felt that he could understand better the source of despair of these people. Already the Lords were this pathetic. They might not have been like this once, they might have had hope.
But they were met with the a great wall. They had shouted and banged on it in desperation, until they had given up.
“Excuse me, Lord?’
Yulewen frowned slightly.
“Lord! Are you listening?”
“I don't think so tho. What could you be thinking about?”
“I was wondering what I could do for this Fortress.”
Yulewen’s eyes opened in surprise.
“Did you decide to give your all to becoming a Lord?”
“No. But I decided to give my all to something.”
Jae Hwan dropped the manual written by the 17th Lord on the table and continued.
“I say it again. I have no notion to become the Castle Lord.”
Yulewen was wondering what kind of declaration it was this time, and looked at Jae Hwan.
“Instead, I'll do this.”
Jae Hwan paused.
“I will kill the ‘Castle Lord’ of Gorgon for you.”
Yulewen looked as if he had not understood.
His expression became complicated. What was this man saying?
“Are you announcing your suicide?!”
It was out of his understanding. This man was going to end his life because he didn't want to become a lord?
‘Wait… If it is this person….’
Yulewen carefully observed Jae Hwan. He was a species of human he had never encountered before. He had no idea what he was even thinking of, nor how he would react to what. He dislikes confinement and hates the world. If it was this man… He may be fully capable of suiciding for that insignificant reason.
“Are you drunk? Stop saying bullshit.” Jae Hwan glared.
….As expected that was not possible.
“....... I apologize but I cannot understand what you mean.”
Jae Hwan made a face as if to say,
‘You didn't even get that?’
Yulewen’s pride was a bit hurt. He contemplated deeply. What could it mean by getting rid of the Lord?
Jae Hwan interrupted his thought.
“The title of ‘Lord’ can exist because there is something called a fortress.”
After evaluating that phrase, Yulewen expostulated in shock.
“Do you mean to say you will destroy the Fortress? Kill everyone inside?”
Jae Hwan said he will get rid of the ‘Lord’, and that the Lord exists because of the fortress. Then considering those two, the logical reasoning was that ‘Lord’ will disappear when the Fortress is destroyed!
‘If it’s him then it's fully possible!’
Jae Hwan squinted his eyes.
“What am I, a devil?”
“Then what are you trying to say?”
Jae Hwan threw another question in reply.
“Yulewen, do you know what the thing called a Fortress is?”
What a fortress is? That was a laughable question. He had been living in this fortress for over two centuries. There was no one in Gorgon who knew the fortress better than him. Yulewen answered without missing a beat.
“A Fortress is a stronghold.”
“You know what a stronghold is?”
“A military facility.”
“And you know what that is?”
Yulewen was getting a bit annoyed. What did he want to tell him? Yulewen decided to entertain Jae Hwan a bit further.
“A place to protect allies from the enemy.”
Jae Hwan nodded.
“Then, if I infer from what you said, a Fortress is basically a structure made to protect the allies from your enemies.”
“Another question. What if the thing called ‘enemy’ did not exist?”
“Im asking what would happen if there was nothing to protect your allies from.”
That made Yulewen think. There was no reason for a Military facility if there was no enemies. No Military facility meant no stronghold, and no stronghold meant no Fortress. Thus, the reason for a fortress disappeared. Those who no longer needed these giant walls would explore the world freely. That was as far as Yulewen’s thoughts went before something obvious hindered it.
“That is impossible. There cannot be ‘no enemies’.....”
Yulewen looked at Jae Hwan. Does this man realize what he is hinting at?
And to affirm Yulewen’s doubt, Jae Hwan nodded and said in a calm voice.
“I will unite the whole of Chaos."