There was a reason why Jae Hwan followed everyone to the inner palace chambers of Gorgon Fortress and into the office.
一He said he was looking for a Nightmare?
Gorgon Fortress is huge. Although they are rare to come across, it was likely that there was at least one in Gorgon Fortress. There was something that Meikal had said.
一Go to Gorgon Fortress' executives and show them the sheath I made and tell them my name. Then you'll be able to view the entry logs.
It was possible to find the location of a Nightmare by looking at the entry logs as Meikal had said.
It was what he planned to do at first. But on his way to the palace, he was implicated in various different events, resulting in his current situation.
‘Things were so unnecessarily complicated.’
No, who knows, things might be better now.
The person in front of him was without a doubt a high-ranking official. In any case, it might be even easier to obtain information about the Nightmares now.
Jae Hwan calmly looked at the middle-aged person in front of him.
He had a neatly trimmed mustache and a dignified air.
And eyes glowing with wisdom.
This man was the picture perfect depiction of a military counsellor or a trusted advisor.
On the surface, the chancellor seemed to be in his mid-forties.
But actually, he was one of the elders of Gorgon Fortress, someone who had died in the 《Great Lands》two hundred and eleven years ago.
Yulewen Cheever opened his mouth.
“So, before we get down to business, I believe I should introduce myself. My name is Yulewen Cheever. I am the current steward or chancellor for 'Gorgon Fortress”.
"I am Jae Hwan.”
Listening to such a short introduction, Yulewen laughed.
"It's just like the saint said.”
He took a glance at the Neglected Cut Medical Saint Chung Heo and heard him mumbling something along the lines of "I told you he was that kind of guy".
"But I suppose you should know already. We're not interested in your name.”
It was a business-like, but polite tone. Given the general nature of those in high positions of authority, the chancellor's attitude was very unexpected.
“Jae Hwan-ssi, I'll be straightforward with you. Jae Hwan-ssi, are you Nokmyeong's Lion?”
"Ah, as expected.”
There was no agitation whatsoever on Yulewen's face after hearing Jae Hwan's response. The one who was surprised was instead the Magic Extermination Squad's Daeju.
“……Weren't you the Nokmyeong's Lion?!"
“Look, I told you I wasn't.”
Chung Heo added his own two cents while looking like he knew this would happen.
"Oy, little chick. Let me ask a question this time. If you aren't a Nokmyeongga, then where exactly did you get those 'Neglected Soul Stones'.”
He said while gazing at the stone dancing around Jae Hwan's fingers. Jae Hwan replied.
"I picked it up."
"Do you expect me to believe that? What happened to the original owners of the stone?"
"They died?" Just who would dare to kill the members of......"
"I killed them.”
The Magic Extermination Squad's Daeju's jaw dropped.
It was chancellor Yulewen who made the first move in order to placate the saint who was on the verge of fainting.
“Please don't get mad, saint.”
Considering how calm Yulewen was given the circumstances, even Jae Hwan couldn't help but be impressed by his grace and bearing.
"He killed all of them!”
“We still don't know what exactly happened between Jae Hwan and the Nokmyeongga.”
"Let's hear what he has to say for now. I believe that Jae Hwan-ssi must have had a good reason.”
Yulewen sent a glance towards Jae Hwan.
Jae Hwan opened his mouth.
“Those guys made the first move. They wanted to steal my horns. That's why I did what I did.”
Jae Hwan pulled out the last of his remaining horns.
Yulewen nodded his head.
"......so that's what happened.”
The Nokmyeongga had an exceptional greed for raw materials. There was definitely a possibility that a person carrying around such high quality items like the garnak's horn would be targeted by the Nokmyeongga. You couldn't fault a man for trying to protect himself and his belongings. Hearing up until that, Yulewen was curious about something.
If that's what happened, then what happened for him to come to this point?
"Jae Hwan-ssi, could you tell us more of your story?”
Then after a few moments.
"I see. So let me organize some of the things you said.”
So while grasping his hands together, Yulewen opened his mouth.
“One, because of some unforeseen circumstances, Jae Hwan-ssi accidentally ended up in《Chaos》."
Jae Hwan nodded his head.
“Two, Jae Hwan-ssi accidentally got into a conflict with the Nokmyeongga and arrived at this fortress.”
Jae Hwan nodded his head.
"Three, Jae Hwan-ssi accidentally got caught up in the most recent crisis, met the Saint, and successfully used the saint's Death Slash on your first try simply after observing the saint's actions.”
Jae Hwan nodded.
“So that's what happened. I know now."
Hearing those words, the only thing Chung Heo could think of was that it was frustrating.
"......Steward. Do you believe what he said?”
“I believe it.”
“You, did something happen to your head after the castellan fell ill?”
At the end of Chung Heo's response, Yulewen's lips lifted in a faint smile.
“You must first trust someone in order to gain their trust.”
The saint had a dumbfounded expression on his face because of Yulewen's words.
“Jae Hwan-ssi. If you do not mind, can I ask you a few more questions?”
“Then this is my first question. Then your body is currently alive. Is that correct?”
Jae Hwan's fingers which were playing with the Neglected Soul Stone momentarily stiffened.
“……how did you know I didn't die?”
"Didn't Jae Hwan-ssi directly tell us? 'Because of some unforeseen circumstances, you accidentally ended up in《Chaos》’ is what you said."
“I did say that.”
"Did you know? Nobody in《Chaos》describes 'death’ in such a way.”
He was someone with sharp senses.
Jae Hwan raised his guard to the extreme without even realizing it himself.
“Then the second question. Is there any reason why you don't want to identify yourself?”
Jae Hwan answered after a moment of silence.
“Is it because of danger to those who know?"
"Maybe, maybe not.”
“So it could be, it also could not be.”
Letting out a 'hmm', Yulewen tapped the table.
"There's one thing I want to apologize to you for.”
“What is it?"
“To be honest, my men have been watching you for the last four days."
“I already know.”
“As expected you already knew.”
Jae Hwan recalled the figure of the man in dark clothing that had been hiding around the vicinity of〈Twilight's Shadow〉. The guy he barely touched with Light Thrust, making him fall unconscious. As it turned out, he was one of the chancellor's men.
“Your skills were much better than was expected, and it was very hard to observe you, but it was not without any results."
“There are a few things we figured, care to listen?"
“Go for it.”
Hearing that, Yulewen's eyes curved into a smile.
"This document summarizes everything that has happened to you since you entered the fortress."
Jae Hwan held up the document and began to read it.
On the document was written〈Target's Log〉.
Target, confrontation with Northern Checkpoint Inspector Carlton.
Target, pulled out a Neglected Soul Stone, astounding the masses.
Target, eliminated a group of good-for-nothings in a back alley.
Target, confrontation with the vice head of Twilight's Shadow after forcibly entering.
Target, illegal occupation of Twilight's Shadow for three days (we believe there was roughly 180 million horen done in damages)
Target, SS Grade material 'Garnak's Horn' has been processed.
Target, large destruction at the northern stalls. There is an estimated 40 million horen in damages.
Target, altercation with the Savage Night brothers and other members of Forbidden Heavens (Northern Checkpoint Inspector and 14 others were severely injured in the process)
Target, the Savage Night Brothers and Forbidden Heavens were eliminated with thrusts.
Target, Medium Sized Deceased altercation.
Target, estimated 3 million horen done in property damages.
Target, meeting with the Saint.
Target, successfully utilized the Saint's 'Death Slash'.
Target Danger Level: SS
Target Power Level: Can not be determined
Identified Damages Done : Approximately 380 million horen
“People like this, do you perhaps know what these kinds of people are called?”
The saint who had been watching from the side chipped in.
"A crazy bastard.”
The Magic Extermination Squad Daeju said.
“Haha so that's it, you are neither a hero nor a villain......"
Yulewen laughed with a smile on his face.
"That's right. Some will call you a hero, others will call you a villain. There will also be other who'll simply just call you a freak. Everyone will call you by different names.”
Yulewen was tapping the table with his fingertips.
"Me, I call those kinds of people 'Protagonists'.”
Chung Heo frowned.
“He's just a crazy bastard!”
“It was a metaphor. Unfettered by the laws around you, living in such a way that corresponds to your heart, wouldn't that kind of person be the 'Protagonist'.”
Yulewen ignored Chung Heo and continued to speak.
“All of these 'Protagonists' share a common characteristic. Do you know what it is?”
“What is it?”
Jae Hwan asked.
“They're all famous.”
After a moment of silence, Jae Hwan spoke up.
"......so after four days of investigation, the conclusion you came to was that I was a 'Famous Protagonist'?”
Yulewen shook his head again.
"No, to be truthful, there was a slight problem."
“You're not famous at all.”
Yulewen kept speaking.
“Those Protagonists that gain an inkling of what they are become drunk on their power and leave massive amounts of information about them behind. The stronger they are, the more it rings true. Whether it be birth, identity, or success stories. Even if you don't personally disclose such information, those kinds of stories would spread through the people around you……"
Jae Hwan silently listened to what Yulewen was saying.
“But when it comes to you, I couldn't figure out anything about you aside from your name. There is no mention of you in either Chaos or the Great Lands. We could have looked up information related to you with just your name thanks to the Interface System, but even using that, we couldn't figure out anything about you. Do you know what that means?”
Jae Hwan did not answer.
Yulewen gave a direct answer.
“There is someone blocking the proliferation of information related to you."
“There is someone hiding your information. What I'm saying is that someone has plans for you.”
Jae Hwan stopped breathing.
“On top of that, I don't think the forces behind this see you in a favorable light.”
"Why do you think that?”
“Because if such a force powerful enough to manipulate information to that extent was 'supporting' you, then you wouldn't have faced problems at such a nonsensical scale at the northern checkpoint because of something so minor and unimportant as a certificate."
Jae Hwan was truly astonished at his reasoning.
“So this is my conclusion. You are a 'Protagonist' that 'accidentally' found his way to《Chaos》while being chased by some incredibly powerful power."
Yulewen had a pleased expression on his face.
“So what do you think about my analysis?”
"It's amazing for sure.”
Yulewen's conjecture was in line with what Jae Hwan had suspected.
‘It should be about time for that Sovereign of Darkness to start to stir.’
It was reasonable to think that the Harvesters who had been keeping a close eye on a certain Product would start to notice that something was wrong with the Cultivator they were in contact with. If so, it was certain that steps were earnestly being taken to contain the situation. Perhaps blocking information was one of those steps. Regardless, it was only a matter of time before they excluded all possibilities except for Chaos.
Jae Hwan opened his mouth.
"Do you perhaps have something you want to say after all?”
"Thank you for the reminder, in fact, I do have a rather simple proposal I would like to offer you.”
Chancellor Yulewen spoke.
“Gorgon Fortress will protect you.”
Chancellor Yulewen nodded his head.
“We will not ask you for your identity or affiliations. You will not be asked for any reparations in regards to the damages you've inflicted on the fortress, and Gorgon Fortress will protect you. In exchange, you'll have to do one thing for us.”
Jae Hwan already had an idea of what the request was.
It probably had to do with all of the Whispers he had been listening into recently. On top of that, that powerful aura he felt from within the depths of the castle had already revealed what the chancellor's request was going to be.
Yulewen opened his mouth.
"Please save our castellan.”
Two hours later Jae Hwan was following Chung Heo out of the main palace and towards an annexed villa. A woman from the Shadow Squad that had been assigned to wait on them spoke.
"In the meantime, please stay here. Detailed instructions will be provided by the attendants in the annex.”
"Additionally, the northern checkpoint inspector and the woman you were asking for have both entered recovery. The medical officer said that the checkpoint inspector should recover within two weeks while the woman should recover within three months.”
“You have my gratitude.”
"If you need anything, please feel free to call me.”
The Shadow Squad attendant melded into the darkness and disappeared. Jae Hwan turned towards Chung Heo and asked him a question.
"Why are you staying?”
“……there's something I am curious about you. Come follow me for a moment.”
Calmly staring at Chung Heo, Jae Hwan followed after him. The two of them were heading into the inner depths of the annex basement. Candles were lit sporadically through the passage, revealing the sheer darkness of the passage.
While walking through the dark passage, Jae Hwan couldn't help but recall a conversation he had with the chancellor. Jae Hwan had asked him a question at the time.
—Is your Gorgon Fortress strong enough to face against the 12 sovereigns of the Great Lands?
—Are you saying that the 12 sovereigns are the ones chasing after you?
—It's possible that it could be one of them.
After thinking about it for awhile, Yulewen finally gave his answer.
一Only sovereigns can fight against sovereigns.
一If you plan to hide me, you'll take massive damages.
一It doesn't matter. In the end, everything's worked out.
一Why is that?
一The sovereigns are not allowed to get directly involved with the goings-ons of《Chaos》.
一What kind of…….
His train of thought broke the next moment.
Seeing how Chung Heo had paused, Jae Hwan frowned.
".......what do you think?”
In this basement was a giant drill hall. It was a giant drill hall with weapons of war on one side, and provision on the other. It was clearly a training ground for the palace's warriors.
“Young'un. The way I see it, you're not from「Fissure」. Although your spirit is as violent as theirs, you're not as mechanical as they are."
Chung Heo took a look at Jae Hwan who looked like barbs had dug into his skin and continued to speak.
"You also don't seem to be a subordinate under a sovereign. I cannot feel any vestiges of energy from the 12 Zones on your person."
The sight of a few soldiers training with their swords in one of the corners of the drill hall was visible. Noticing Chung Heo's presence, they bowed towards him.
"You don't belong to any of the sovereigns, and you're not from Fissure. You are an Awakened that I do not know......"
Chung Heo spoke while waving his hands to dismiss the soldiers.
“Then there could be only one answer.”
Chung Heo calmly looked into Jae Hwan's eyes.
“Young'un. Could it be that you're the kid who cleared the「Master」's Tower?”
Chung Heo only needed a moment to read Jae Hwan's face, after which he laughed.
“……Old man, do you know something?”
"I know enough.”
As Jae Hwan opened his mouth to speak, Chung Heo cut him off and pulled out his sword.
“Let's have a bout, young'un."
“Between your Thrust and my Slash, don't you want to know which is stronger?”
Jae Hwan slowly drew Self Will. In fact, Jae Hwan was curious as well. This old man was the first opponent that could face up against him since coming to Chaos.
As someone who had repeated Thrust so many times, Jae Hwan instinctively knew. This old man was the same as him. Just as he had been using Thrust and only Thrust his entire life, this old man must have been using Slash his entire life.
It was perhaps likely that this old man had been at it for much longer.
“Come at me youngster. If you manage to win, I'll answer any questions you may have for me.”
Chung Heo said while chuckling.
"But to be fair, it's probably impossible.