Jang Il Han knew better than anyone what happens to those who experiences the Eight Gates of hell. As they beg for mercy in their astral form, their minds starts to corrode with fear and anguish, until they are made into a slave of the caster.
One of the major advantages of the skill was it’s clandestine nature. Only the caster, and the one under its influence had any idea that the spell was used.
But this place was a large hall filled with the strongests, and the most learned people of Chaos. Not to mention most of their attentions were gathered at Jae Hwan at the first place. Lots of them had their own personal view towards the skill, and some of them had even experienced the skill firsthand before.
[Isn’t that fucker using the eight gates of hell?]
[To a 50 year old child!]
Few of the onlookers sent direct whispers to Jang Il Han.
[Stop that, Jang Il Han! Even if you are the vice-Ark of the seminary, he is a Lord!]
Jang Il Han frowned.
‘What a bother.’
Jang Il Han had no inclination to stop. Getting the sect license he came for should be as easy as climbing a 2 feet wall if he succeeds. Why should he stop? Jang Il Han blocked the whispers coming to him and focused on his spirit power. His hand started to sweat from the effort.
‘It’s about time he showed a reaction.’
Something was wrong. The one performing the skill was Jang Il Han himself, a 6th order adapter. Even the ten Arks should have shown a reaction by now. But the man in front of him maintained his neutral expression from before. Jang Il Han started to put in more force behind his grip.
‘Was he hiding a trump card? So he can endure the third gate, huh. Then how’s this!’
Jang Il Han opened the sixth gate, which was the final gate he could open at his level. In the sixth gate, the Frost Dragon King Belrkisus resided in his kingdom of ice prison.
‘If it’s this much….!’
An indefinite amount of time passed. Jae Hwan opened his mouth.
“What are you doing? Could you let go of my hands now?”
“Hrmm? Ahh, m, my apologies.”
He could only betray his usually calm demeanor to express panic and shock. What did this mean? Did the skill not work? How else could he be fine after facing that frost dragon? But that could not be the case. The skill could not have failed. Then what was with his relaxed form then?
‘Does that mean he overcame the eight gates of hell?’
There was no answer apart from that, because there was no such way as a ‘gate of return’ in the eight gates of hell. The only way for someone to come out of it is for the caster to cancel the skill, or for the prisoner to face the calamities of each gate, and overcome it.
When he let go of Jae Hwan’s hand, Jung Il Han felt an extreme dizziness and stumbled. He momentarily saw something.
‘Wh, what is that!?’
It passed away in a second, but Jang Il Han saw the world change. His heart pumped audibly. He had never felt this kind of dread even against the eighth gate that the Ark of the seminary had once revealed. The scene was truly apt to be called a purgatory.
When Jang Il Han regained his senses, he was sitting on the floor, trembling uncontrollably. The audiences were mumbling.
[Did he cancel it?]
Jae Hwan looked down and spoke.
“I could have you charged for insulting the Lord, but I feel lenient. Be careful next time.”
“W, what are you….”
Jae Hwan walked away, leaving the man on the ground.
Chung Heo, who had been watching, had a displeased face.
‘That's it? How boring.’
He was expecting to see something amusing. He was confident that Jae Hwan, with the personality he had, would make the offender full of holes. But the commotion ended unexpectedly dully.
As he saw it, Jae Hwan ended things by letting Jung Il Han see is unique world. The Jae Hwan he knew would not have stopped at that.
Chung Heo knew better than anyone that Jae Hwan was someone who did not care about anyone other than him. That kind of tactless person was holding something back.
‘.....What are you planning?’
When a prearranged disaster did not strike, Chung Heo felt a strange apprehension. He heard Yulewen’s voice from far away.
“Next, the lord will give his inauguration speech.”
Chung Heo’s eyes became sharp. Although the ceremony this time was also an inauguration, a speech….
‘A speech? From him? This might be fun.’
Chung Heo could not imagine what Jae Hwan would possibly say. It might be something amusing, but he felt a strange unease at the situation.
Jae Hwan promptly walked up to the podium.
All eyes in the banquet hall were focused on him.
“My name is Jae Hwan. I became the new lord.”
Some laughed, and some had cold faces. No one had ever heard an inauguration speech start like that, but the envoys of the sects were all interested in it nevertheless. Especially the vice-Ark of the Holy maid sect.
‘What an amusing kid. Is he showing off his audacity?’
The hall was full of distinguished people gathered all over Chaos. To be able to start a speech with such nonchalance in such a place was not something anyone could do.
“I don’t know who Aimelle Groshek is. What he did, how he lived, nor what kind of a lord he was. I don't really care anyways, truth be told.”
A shocking speech. Yulewen who had been watching from beside was turning pale and started to sweat.
“I know you all think me as incompetent. It bothers you that you have to bow to a Lord younger than you by centuries. You are probably already thinking,
‘He looks young, and has a pathetic amount of spirit pressure. How did something like that become the lord?’
‘Im sure he is useless as hell and got that position out of pure luck.’
“Yes, I understand that feeling. And unsurprisingly, you are right. I never wished to become the Lord, but I did, out of pure luck.”
At that, people turned red, or coughed, or giggled. The one who laughed was the vice-Ark of the Holy maid sect. She asked Chung Heo,
“Old man, what even is he supposed to be?”
She was met with silence. When she turned her head, she saw the open mouth of Chung Heo.
Jae Hwan’s speech continued.
“To sum it up, you don’t want me as the lord, and I don’t want to be something like that either. So I took to pains to think on how I could resolve this. How would I be able to appease your dissatisfaction and mine? Ruminating deeply on that point for almost a quarter of an hour, I found the solution.”
The crowd buzzed. Jae Hwan waited for them to calm down.
“From now on I quit being a Lord. And Gorgon Fortress will elect a new one.”
Amongst the banging of tables, the angry roars, the scream of derision, and the audible swallowing of saliva, the audience held one unified confusion: ‘Did I hear him right?’ and ‘Is there something wrong with his head?’.
Chung Heo grumbled from a faraway table.
‘So it was a retirement speech not an inauguration speech.’
From the outraged crowd came bombardments of question.
“Calm down, let's do this one at a time. You, old man with the weird hair.”
The elder of the [Thunder God’s sect], whom Jae Hwan was pointing at said with an enraged face.
“Hey, Castle Lord.”
“Are you actually saying that?”
“....Do you know what you are saying?”
“Do you mean to say, that you will die to give up the position of the Lord?”
For a Lord to hand over his authority meant the death of him. Jae Hwan nodded.
“I guess you can think like that.”
“Huu, well, this is…..”
Watching this, Chung Heo thought,
‘Looks like he’d rather die than be the lord….’
The questions were shouted out. Jae Hwan answered the most important ones first.
“Let's say you do elect a new Lord. How will you do it?”
“Anyone who can defeat me on a 1 vs 1 can have the seat.”
When details were added to the vague plan, the whole assembly was shaken up; they felt Jae Hwan’s sincerity. Someone let out a roar of laughter.
“Hahahaha! A castle lord with guts! Aimelle picked a great one!”
The powerful spirit power filled within that shout hushed everyone. The one who let out the laugh was the Ark of the ‘North Sea’ sect himself. The envoys of the ten sects whispered among each other.
“The North sea’s Ark was also here?”
“Well, he was quite close to the previous lord….”
Jae Hwan glanced at that Kaiman and started again.
“The time limit is one month. Be it an Ark, other Lords, or whoever it is, it doesn't matter. All you have to do is beat me. Then I will hand over the seat.”
“That's all? There is no other conditions?’
Kaiman spoke as the representative of the whole assembly.
“Of course there is. It's too disadvantageous for me otherwise. So I will add one more thing.”
“What is it?”
“When you lose, the loser has to listen to my command.”
Half of the gathered turned hostile at the word ‘command’; they were the top orders of the ten sects. And the sects were the ones who had the most power in Chaos. Even if the one in question was the Lord of Gorgon, they wouldn't take orders from anyone. But they were also curious as to what the order would be, for Jae Hwan to risk his life and the position of the Lord.
Kaiman spoke up again.
“What is that command you will be giving?”
And Jae Hwan answered.
“If I win, the loser has to join the [Abyss Expedition] team that will head out in a month.”