“Whoever kills me first, gets to be the lord.”
At that, the reporters of <<This month in Chaos>> moved to get a better view.
An Impossible battle between a lord and six champions, including three Arks, was about to occur right now.
Could a man be more conceited than this?
There would be no better stimulations to the story thirsty residents of Chaos for a while. The audience shouted in either approval or disapproval.
Could Jae Hwan win against the 6 quarter final nominees by himself? That group included 3 of the ten Arks, and other three persons who were on equal footing with them. If Jae Hwan is able to achieve victory against these odds, it would mean the birth of a new champion in Chaos.
From this chance to inspect the might of the lord who proclaimed to recreate the Abyss Expedition, people started to become excited.
This was as Jae Hwan intended. The reason why he was putting on this show, trying to attract the attention of others, was because he understood the propensity of humans. He understood it because he was the leader of a suicide squad back in his Nightmare tower; Carpe Diem.
Humans are animals of delusion.
They confuse complexity with the abstract and nonsensical. They periodically forget that the material and immaterial cannot be simply exchanged.
Jae Hwan was trying to use that weakness of humans. What he needed right now was their trust.
But strong trusts come from deep relationships, and deep relationship from time. How must one achieve that when they lack time?
He must show them overwhelming ‘competence’. Not just skills, but overpowering skills. Abilities that would drag respect and fear from them. Then he could compensate for the lack of time that is very often what is necessary for a bond of trust to form, albeit temporarily.
This match was the perfect opportunity.
From one end of the arena, the woman with chains laughed in amusement.
Jae Hwan put up his guard, hearing her laugh. Until now, only the strong like Chung Heo had escaped his observation using [doubt]. The woman must be at least Chung Heo’s level. He must watch out for her.
The woman laughed and continued.
“I thought something fun was going to happen. And I was right.”
She started walking in a straight line towards Jae Hwan. Those who were watching tensed from her confident gait.
“You, I like you.”
She stopped right in front of his nose. Their faces almost touched, but Jae Hwan did not push her away. He did not feel any hostility from her.
She softly whispered into his ears.
“Then this is it for me.”
“You're giving up?”
She was queer. With the chance to become the Castle Lord right in front of her, and with that immense advantage too…
The commentator panickedly said into his mike.
-A quarter finalist announced her abrupt concedence! Does she not want the seat of the lord?
The woman merely shrugged, as if something like the Lord is of no importance to her.
“I don't want to be bothered. And….”
She did not pronounce her last words. But Jae Hwan could read her lips.
-Soon, calamity will befall.
Jae Hwan held a complicated expression as he watched her retreat.
‘Calamity? What does that mean.’
He did not get the chance to contemplate on her words any longer. Because together with her retreat, another situation occurred.
“Hmm. Lord, I will also concede. Not to mention the unfairness, but with my current ability, I won't be able to contend.”
Yun Yong moved first.
He had already experienced the feeling of sailing the air by Jae Hwan. He did not want to undergo that pillory again. He was in the quarterfinals, and it was enough to meet Jae Hwan’s requirement.
This is not what Jae Hwan wanted.
Yun Yong chose the method that made him seem humble and magnanimous, yet still netted profit.
But Yun Yong was not the only one.
“I humbly recognize that I cannot even reach your feet, lord. I send faith to your confidence, and I will gratefully take my leave.”
It was Kaiman.
His leave made the spectators complain.
“Kaiman gave up?”
Kaiman was accepted for his amity and righteousness among the 10 Arks. He was also known for his fighting spirit and unwillingly to lose. That kind of person gave up without even trying?
Jae Hwan frowned. This was not good. He had somewhat expected Yun Yong to come out like this, but Kaiman was wholly unexpected.
When their eyes met, Kaiman quietly bowed and took his leave too.
‘He doesn't seem to have the same intentions as Yun Yong…’
He felt that Kaiman was stepping down because he saw this match not as an honest duel. Whatever the reason was, it was going bad for Jae Hwan.
“Something is strange? Is this some kind of scheme?”
The Thing he feared was happening. Someone from the audience started to voice their doubt. Without knowing that Yun Yong and Kaiman already faced defeat against Jae Hwan, they would naturally come to this conclusion.
With three gone, only three were left: vice-Ark and Ark of Holy maid, and the woman who beat Kang Hwang.
Jae Hwan thought that even if he wins against them, the result would not be satisfactory. What could he do?
“What a pity, Lord. Things are not going the way you wanted.”
The Ark of the Holy maid sect, Ja Guk Lyung*, sneered.
Jae Hwan nodded.
“You are the ones who should be sorry. Your chance of winning went down. Well, whatever. Shall we start?”
“.... Your truly are in a fool’s paradise. The others stepped back in your consideration.”
Anger seeped from her voice.
[Ark, let’s just go for it.]
The vice-Ark, who was wearing a purple robe, sent the Ark a message.
[No matter how strong he is he can’t escape all three of us.]
Unfortunately, the vice-Ark, being only a 6th order adapter, could not measure Jae Hwan’s strength. But even if she had been able to, she would probably have said the same thing.
Despite being an all-female sect, the Holy maid only contained close combat fighters. And the vice-Ark was the strongest in destructive force.
[Calm down, vice-Ark.]
The Ark shook her head.
[You know we did not come here to fight the lord in the first place.]
Jae Hwan had an amused expression. [Doubt] was really useful at times like these.
‘Didn't come here to fight, huh. Then what is their goal?’
The Ark also spoke to the woman who defeated Kang Hwang. They seem to be on familiar terms.
[What will the investigation department leader do?]
[I will wait and see how this ends.]
The woman in loose clothing replied, and the Ark asked again.
[Who is backing the Forbidden Heavens that made the sovereign of Steel to involve himself?]
[As I have explained before, I cannot disclose that. Try not to get involved in this matter. All you have to do is carry out the request we have sent.]
Her tone held authority, which pissed the Ark of.
[..... Okay. What do we need to do?]
[We want to know the Lord’s character.]
Character? What was character exactly? Was it a person’s flexibility? Their thought process? Their attitude towards others? Their desires and wishes? It was a vague term. But the Ark knew what she meant.
[... You want to know how useful he is in the long run.]
The Investigation department leader did not answer right away.
She stood quietly, before saying this,
[The Sovereign of Steel will not regard your assistance lightly.]
[What if the Lord of Gorgon doesn't meet your criteria?]
The silence continued for a brief moment. The Investigation department Leader finally replied, gazing directly at the Ark.
[Then a new personage must be introduced. We trust in your wisdom.]
They were calm words, that were uttered according to situation as if she read the Ark’s thought. The Ark of Holy Maid sect replied with a satisfied voice, with her pride gratified.
After their triologue, the three turned towards Jae Hwan. Jae Hwan also looked at them.
Things were getting interesting.
The Ark opened her mouth.
“Lord of Gorgon, we do not wish to fight you.”
“Then is that a surrender?”
“A surrender… That seems to be the wrong expression to use. The situation is quite different.”
“What do you mean?”
“Before, you said this. That the loser of the duel must become one of the members of the Chaos expedition.”
The pattern was recognizable. Jae Hwan said in mild annoyance.
“You don't perhaps plan to argue what 1 vs 1 means like the Seminary’s Ark, do you? You want something else than a fight?”
“No, that’s not what I am saying at all.”
Jae Hwan felt the Ark smile from inside her veil.
“We won't lose to you.”
“.... What are you getting at.”
She said ‘We won't lose to you’, not ‘we did not lose to you’. They were not past tenses, but future tenses.
The Ark of the Holy Maid sect said in a leisure tone.
“We are voluntarily joining the Abyss Expedition team.”
At the same time, inside the palace office, a blue hawk post arrived. He was a hawk of huge stature and gorgeous feathers. When no one came to receive him after some time, he let out a cry.
Yulewen entered the Lord’s office. He had been in the adjacent room, busily dealing with the tournament.
“Who is it when i’m so bu- Hmm?”
His face changed when he saw the blue hawk. Blue messengers were only used in times of emergency.
[Lady of Dryad, Aisa Rindkroft.]
The hawk was from the south fortress.
Yulewen opened the letter with caution. Why did Aisa Rindkroft send something like this?
Yulewen’s hands started to tremble. His enlarged pupils looked outside the window. He saw the south sky of Gorgon.
He could not see, nor touch it, but he felt it approach with intense speed. Dark clouds that destroys worlds.
The army of dead was heading towards Gorgon.