Inside the training hall of Gorgon, Yun Yong sat with his head hung, after he finished telling his story to the two Arks, Jae Hwan, and Chung Heo.
“…. That’s what happened.”
Heavy silence dominated the hall after he finished. The ones in the hall felt fear from this unexampled arrestment of a Fort.
“….. I find it hard to believe this still.”
“Forbidden Heavens have gotten that strong over the last few years? Enough to overrun a Fort?”
Kang Hwang Gua and Kaiman exchanged their opinions. Jae Hwan also opened his mouth to ask,
“What kind of sect was the Forbidden Heavens?”
“It’s the 10th sect. Basically, the weakest sect.”
Kang Hwang Gua answered.
“That’s why this is so inconceivable. I still am not swayed that he is speaking the truth.”
“His words are probably true.”
Chung Heo interrupted.
“How does the Saint know that?” He asked in surprise.
“Because Forbidden Heavens also targeted Gorgon.”
As if he realized something, Kang Hwang Gua’s complexion changed.
“Then that disturbance in Gorgon a week ago was….?”
A week had not passed since Forbidden Heaven’s elder, Maihan was apprehended, or more accurately, killed. If Jae Hwan had not assisted Gorgon that day, the Fortress would be in their hand already.
The brief silence was broken by Kaiman.
“It seems that Yun Yong is telling the truth. I just received a confirmation message that we can’t contact our branch in Manticore.”
“Haa… But the question is, how did Forbidden Heavens get their hands on such power….”
Yun Yong explained.
“I do not know who, but I am sure that they are receiving support from outside influence.”
There were not many groups who could give sufficient support as to change one of the ten sect’s fighting forces that drastically. The answer was plain.
“Then…. One of the Sovereigns.”
“That can’t be! They made a pact to never again interfere in matter of Chaos!”
“But there is no one other than them who could fund them.”
Kaiman agreed to Yun Yong.
“It’s not impossible. I heard that currently there is another war going on in the Great Lands. Someone could have found an opportunity to bring in assistance using that disorder.”
“How about we contact the Palace of Revival?”
“Are you suggesting we request help from them?”
Palace of Revival. The groups that governed over all the [fruit]s in Chaos, and the point of resurrection for the Sovereigns and the Five Families. It was managed by those either affiliated with them, or those in that family. Kang Hwang Gua tried again.
“If it turns out to be one of the Sovereigns who provided assistance, wouldn’t it be they who broke the treaty first?”
900 years ago, as compensation for appropriating the fruits the Abyss Expedition had reaped, the ones from the Great Lands made a treaty in benefit of those in Chaos: that the Sovereigns and the Five families will never interfere with matters regarding Chaos again. It was named the Treaty of 295 Great Sovereigns.
“It indeed is them who broke it, but….”
“We have to call them to account on this!”
“But we don’t have any evidence yet. It will be difficult to blame them. And furthermore,” Kaiman spoke as if grinding his teeth.
“I don’t like the idea of requesting them for help.”
Kang Hwang Gua inwardly clicked his tongue seeing the wrath in Kaiman’s eyes. The man in front of him would rather die than to ask those of the Palace of Revival for help.
“And what if they are also in on this too? The ones in Palace of Revival.”
He had not considered that. Kang Hwang Gua turned silent. As the training hall once again began to be enveloped in silence, Chung Heo asked Jae Hwan,
“What are you going to do?”
“Manticore was seized and three of the ten sects fell. If this continues….”
“War would break out.”
The only war Chung Heo knew was the war between the Abyss Expedition and the Palace of Revival from 900 years ago. It lasted but a day, but the amount of casualties that appeared in Chaos from the attack of the Sovereigns… Chung Heo knew the weight war.
“Doesn’t matter. It’s better this way.”
“They were enemies we had to fight anyways.”
“That means…?” Kang Hwang Gua asked.
“You plan to assault Manticore?”
Jae Hwan did not answer.
Manticore? His plans did not end at just that.
“….. Did you really mean to unite Chaos?”
“Yes.” Jae Hwan answered Chung Heo.
Kaiman laughed from the side.
“Kahahaha! Lord! Are you serious! Unite Chaos?”
His laughter abruptly stopped. Chung Heo also froze. He had heard from Yulewen, but he did not imagine Jae Hwan was genuinely thinking of that.
-I think the Lord plans to resign after making Chaos into one and killing all his enemies. He thinks that without the need for a Fort there doesn’t need to be a Lord.
Unification of Chaos meant something entirely different from subjecting the other forts, or say, the sects. Simply because, there was a much more oppressing opponent for him to overcome.
<<Palace of Revival>>
Chung Heo knew their horror. He said,
“It’s beyond your current strength.”
“You don’t know until you try.”
Sometimes Chung Heo did not understand where Jae Hwan got his confidence from.
But Jae Hwan was an awakened. And awakened are beings that can back up such self-confidence with real results. Even Chung Heo, an incomplete awakened, was revered to receive treatment of a royalty in the Great Lands.
“Hey, war is not something that easy.”
Chung Heo warned quietly.
“It’s not something you can do alone, no matter how strong you are.”
Historians define war with countlessly different images. Some say that war is a battle of spirit. Because there had been times where smaller numbers triumph against larger ones. Some say it is all about strategies; the one to win with brains achieves victory with armies. There are some that support that victory in wars is dependent on the resources of each sides. The longer the war drags on, the winner will be decided on their resources.
Countless tricks, deceptions, strategy, schemes, responses and the numbers. That was what war is.
But Jae Hwan,
Chung Heo stared at Jae Hwan.
“That’s why you are here anyways.”
“Like you said, I am inexperienced, and young. But It doesn’t matter. Because you are here.”
Chung Heo did not know why he felt so emotional hearing that.
“W, when did I ever say I will be with you…!”
To get this emotional from the words of a 50-year-old kid. Chung Heo’s face turned red. Jae Hwan turned his head and looked at the three Arks.
“I also want to ask you.”
They backed up a step instinctively when Jae Hwan turned their way. They had seen something in his eyes that they had completely forgotten, having lived in Chaos for too long.
“I don’t plan to simply make an expedition team. I will first unite Chaos, and extinguish those who have stolen your fruit 900 years ago. Only after that will the expedition start. What I need are comrades who I can complete that together with.”
The sound of saliva being swallowed was heard.
“If you do not wish to join in, you are welcome to leave. Forget what you heard here today, and return to your lives.”
All the Arks held their heads down. It was not of their free will, but years they lived, the life they avoided, pressed their heads down.
The first one to look up at Jae Hwan was Kaiman.
“What do you plan to do if none of us helps?”
“Then I will do it by myself.”
“Didn’t you say you couldn’t do it alone?”
“When did I ever say that?”
Jae Hwan replied coldly.
“I reached this far alone.”
Kaiman’s eyes shone. He looked up at the sky, and laughed vacuously before replying thus,
“Fine. I will share your fights. Whether it be the Abyss or the Palace of revival, I will follow you.”
“N, North Sea!”
Kang Hwang Gua shouted, taken aback.
“I came here with the resolve to drop my title as the Ark. If you had not asked first, I would have been disappointed.”
Yun Yong bowed.
“I, Yun Yong, already made up my mind to be the lord’s faithful shadow.”
“…… I told you that’s unnecessary.”
“I am already one body with the Lord!”
They turned their eyes towards Kang Hwang Gua.
“….. I… have yet to make up my mind.”
His reaction was the most logical of them all. What did they know about Jae Hwan to accept something like that so readily? In addition, they had lots to lose; they were the leaders of the biggest sects in Chaos.
“Truth be told; I do not know if the Lord has what it takes to lead the team.”
They were frank words befitting his personality.
“The enemies you plan to face are too strong. Without proper preparation we could all be killed like flies.”
Jae Hwan nodded.
“How would I prove myself to you.”
“There is the 2nd seat, Limitless sect from Gorgon, the 6th seat Seminary from the Fort Garuda, and the 7th seat Holy maid that came here with North Sea….”
“Filthy hyenas came here to eat up the Fortress.”
Kang Hwang Gua continued, after frowning at Chung Heo.
“Anyways. If you receive the same approval from those three Arks, I will also join in.”
“Kuku. Hey, isn’t that a bit dirty?”
He did not ignore Chung Heo this time.
“….. This is essential. You have to be able to do at least this much to lead something like the Abyss Expedition. You know this as well, Saint.”
There was a difference between ‘coercing’ someone and being ‘acknowledged’. And receiving that from the three listed by Kang Hwang Gua would be close to impossible.
The 2nd Ark, who was deemed to be the strongest with his individual prowess. The 6th Ark who was personally lacking in power, but more than made up with his unparalleled intelligence. And the 7th Ark, with her charisma, was known to be the best at leading soldiers.
If those three were to accept him, no one else in Chaos would not.
“Sure. Let’s do that.”
To accept that so easily. Kang Hwang Gua seemed surprised.
But Jae Hwan continued.
“Instead, I also have a condition.”
“If I were to be acknowledged by you guys, you guys have to be acknowledged by me.”
He asked petulantly. He was already one of the ten Arks. What more did he need?
“I do not believe in that title called ten Arks or whatever. What I need is real proof.”
Jae Hwan continued even before Kang Hwang Gua, whose pride was wounded, had a chance to argue.
“I will start a tournament.”
“Of course, It’s a tournament where I will wager the Lord’s seat. It’ll be boring with just the Lord’s seat, so I will also wager this.”
Jae Hwan took out a blackish horn from his dimensional storage. It was his last Garnak horn.
Kaiman let out an exclamation.
“A unique kind of horn. If it’s that much!”
“First, get in the top 8. That is my condition. I will accept you all after that test.”
Kang Hwang Gua was red with anger. How dare he ‘test’ the ten Arks.
But unlike him, Kaiman looked amused.
“I agree. There is no guarantee that we are the strongest even though we are called the ten Arks. When does this tournament start?”
“North Sea! What are you saying!”
“Kang Hwang Gua, if you want to test someone, shouldn’t you prove that you have the right to test them first?”
When Kaiman shut Kang Hwang Gua up, everybody focused their attention on Jae Hwan.
“Huh. Well…. The starting date is…..”
Someone was running towards the hall from far away. They had a strong spirit pressure, but it wasn’t an Ark. He was someone they all knew well.
It was Yulewen.
“Ready set go. It started just now.”
Yulewen looked incensed as he waved a pamphlet around.
“What is this! Just when did you do this!”
Those who wish to be Lord, come!
The first ever Gorgon tournament!
Starts today at 18!
This was the start of Gorgon’s first tournament.
South of Chaos, on the ocean.
There was nothing to the south of Chaos. Only a vast sea. This was famous for its green waters, which was surprisingly the debris of sea plants. The adapters call this ‘Ocean’s road’.
They walked on this thick, floating, green, plants to travel across the seas and hunt the oceans gaksus. If one were to walk further down, towards the middle of the ocean, the green debris got thicker in width. And in that center sat the Fortress every adapter of Chaos knew.
Fortress of the south, Dryad.
Starting from the very outermost walls to the innermost palace, this fortress was entirely made from a colony of ocean plants. It was made from the wastes of Dryad, the plant type Guardian gaksu, that lived by absorbing enormous amounts of water and the spirit powers coming from Abyss.
Dryad, along with Gorgon, Manticore, and Garuda, was called the four superpower gaksus of Chaos.
When she stretched her massive form from inside the palace, gigantic vines shot up towards the sky. And from the five horns on her body, a powerful sonar waves spread out. The sound of creatures underwater trembling in fear at her roar was heard.
On one of the vines which reached the clouds, a figure of a woman sat lightly. She was the Lady of this castle.
“Ahh, Dryad. I think something bad is happening.”
Dryad wriggled her vines at her words.
The women wore a blue Chinese dress with her hair curled up in position with an ornamental pin. Her white skin shone under the sunlight as she played with a leaf, gazing at the horizon vacantly.
Her eyes faced north; Gorgon.
Inherent skill, [clairvoyance]. The skill that allowed her to see things hundreds of thousands of kilometers away. It was with that skill that she saw the massive, monstrous, object, moving toward Gorgon.
She instantly recognized thing.
“How did a colossal deceased…”
Catastrophe, the one known as king of the deceased, had his servants.
The highest rank ‘colossal deceased’, or ‘3rd degree deceased’. The ones who were once one of the strongest, turned into a deceased. The monsters the ten Arks were no match for. It was heading towards Gorgon.
The lady of Dryad knew the person who now was that monster. She was one the Lady of the 4 Forts of Chaos. With her face on her leg, and her limbs in places where they should not be, the Colossal Deceased Magrit waved her tentacles around as she led her army of deceaseds.
-The wrench with bad manners.
The lady spilled blood from the corner of her mouth as clairvoyance was forcefully cancelled. The spirit pressure of Magrit thousands of kilometers away affected her. It was an ineffably horrible power.
‘I have to warn the lord of Gorgon.’
North Sea and Holy Maid had headed for Gorgon already. There was no time to waste. The Lady of Dryad, Aisa Lindkroft used the fastest messaging technique she knew of.
A blue hawk lifted its wings in the direction of Gorgon.