“Please take care of the rest.”
A smile appeared on her shadow-covered face in the sunlight filtering through the trees coming in from outside the window.
She no longer had much time left, and the time given to her was also little.
The times were changing rapidly, the world was changing, and those who could not adapt would be left behind.
Whether she wanted to or not, the flow of time had abandoned her.
“Understood. Everything is for you.”
She vowed to continue to fight. She could not give up so easily.
To save her from illness, she ran to the east, to the west, to the north, and the south.
Still, no change came. No matter how hard she tried, no matter how much she struggled, she only grew weaker and weaker.
Her hope was crushed; she repeated the days of wandering in the darkness with despair on top of despair.
The boy told her one word, and as her eyes went blank, she heard the sound of her world collapsing.
With a surging rage, she needed someone to blame in order to keep her world from being crushed.
Shallow and foolish emotions were directed at the boy.
“Why? Why is she dying while you’re here?”
An ugly, disgusting, unbearable emotional outburst. The boy kept apologizing to her.
She called him heartless for never showing his tears and continued to blame him for not being able to help her.
But it was not because he was heartless that he never cried.
He was broken. His heart was broken, his smile was gone, and the boy had lost his emotions.
By the time it was realized, it was too late. And the means to get his smile back was gone.
“Oh… I’m sorry. I have broken my promise to you.”
It was foolish, and truly, it was ugly to be who she was. As a result of thinking only of revenge and putting her own feelings first, she had nothing left in her hands and met the end of her life as a death in battle, which is a fitting end for a fool.
But salvation was right in front of him. There was still an opportunity left to be found.
Guided by the light, she opened her heavy eyelids to find a pretty, red-haired girl by her side.
She knew without asking. She didn’t need to probe. She didn’t even have to think about it.
It was her. She was right in front of her. That was the only thing that mattered.
“Next time, I’ll make sure of it.”
The hesitation was gone. She was still running on the ground with fierce feelings.
For the coming day, the white wolf howled in order to fulfill her wish.
Chapter 1 – Continent’s Crisis
In the northern part of the Grantz Empire, there was a vast territory covered with perpetual snow.
People mainly built their houses in the south, and the economy of the north was supported by agricultural products produced in the fertile black soil area. The three most famous families, the Scharm family, the Bromell family, and the Heimdall family, govern this land of snow and soil.
The most famous of the three was probably the Scharm family, which was the leader of the northern region. They produced many of the Prime Ministers of the Grantz, and their fame was such that they were counted as one of the five great noble families. The next in line was the Heimdall family, which stood guard over the “Spirit Wall” in the western part of the north, and was more well-known than the Scharm family, which was the leader.
Among the three families, the Bromell family was the least well-known. However, since it had served the Scharm family for many years, protecting and assisting them in their reign, they had become an indispensable presence in the north, even though they were not as well known as the Scharm and Heimdall families.
However, that was a story of the past.
Recently, the Bromell family had taken advantage of the decline of the Scharm family to expand their faction and rise to prominence, and the rift between the two families has deepened.
The headquarters of such a prominent family is a city called Log in the eastern part of the north.
This place was considered one of the strategic points because it connected the kingdom of Levering and the north. Its scale was comparable to that of a large city. However, the people who lived in the city were not so enthusiastic, and there was no sign of life in their expressions. Even though the decline of the Scharm family had brought about a revival, there were no words of congratulation from the people. They could not afford to smile, for they are all expecting a large-scale war in the near future. In addition, the people’s hearts were still tormented by anxiety, as the Kingdom of Levering, which sat to the east of the country, had launched an army.
Above all, the lord who protects the people’s lives also had no intention of avoiding the war, and the army sent by the nobles who agreed with him―their camps were located around the city.
“It’s a sight to behold. The greed of humans is truly unfathomable.”
Tupoeus von Bromell, the lord of Log, was happily watching the soldiers gathered in the courtyard from the balcony. These poor soldiers, forced by their lords to participate in the war, whether it was cold or hot, had no choice but to obey. If they ran away, they were relentlessly pursued. If they hid, they would be found and executed. Above all, if their lord was defeated, the families they left behind in their homeland would suffer. What was the state of mind of these people whose lives had been forcibly distorted by the decisions of their lord?
“But whatever their feelings… the unity of these humans is remarkable. The demons, who had been so strong in the face of this synchronized thinking, were defeated. The humans, who despised those far inferior to them as an inferior species, have lost. With that explosive power, we would not have lost to anyone even a thousand years ago. Don’t you think so, Ceryneia?”
When Tupoeus turned around, he saw the hooded figure of Ceryneia, the Twelve Demon Lords, kneeling down on one knee and hanging her head.
“Yes. However, it was only because of the presence of Altius, a non-standard being, that the humans were able to demonstrate their true value to such a great extent. If it weren’t for the genius of the king who supported him, that hero king Schwartz, there would have been no future for humans. In this day and age, such a dragon and tiger would never be born.”
“Hmm, no heroes will be born at this age?”
“The humans have become too lukewarm. Heroes will never be born in peaceful times. Heaven does not need turbulence, and it is necessary to protect the foundations of the next generation, and even the emperor must not be extraordinary but rather mediocre. History has proven this, as evidenced by the actions of the third emperor of the Grantz in his campaign to eliminate various races.”
“That was the result of his father’s greatness. He was not extraordinary; he was mediocre. But that doesn’t matter; the heroes of our time have returned, even if they were never born.”
At Tupoeus’ words, Ceryneia finally lifted her head.
“But there is no Altius, and there is no one in the Grantz who can help him out of a critical situation. Schwartz’s presence will not help. The “king” had endured for a thousand years and had laid out a thousand-year plan down to the smallest detail. No one can stop him now.”
Her words were laced with resentment. The exuberance of her words made her speak quickly, and her confidence could be heard in her tone of voice.
It was not hard to understand why Ceryneia feels this way. There had been many opportunities to destroy the Grantz, but they were only possibilities, not absolute guarantees. So, even though they had their favorite food in front of them, they endured and waited for a thousand years, dreaming of the destruction of the Grantz.
“Finally, we have come this far. Our dream will come true in a few more days. So don’t let your guard down. It is said that haste makes waste. Nothing is perfect.”
“You have to be very careful. This also applies to the future. One wrong move, and there is a margin of error that will reverberate for years to come.”
“What are you trying to say, Faceless King-sama?”
Perhaps thinking that there was something suspicious about her lord’s behavior that became talkative, Ceryneia looked at Tupoeus with a suspicious look.
“Faceless king, huh…? Even though we are called the “Five Great Heavenly Kings,” we could never become a God. Though ordinary people worship us as Gods.”
“Only the “Spirit King” has failed to reach “God,” but the Faceless King will surely grasp the heavens.”
“I will not make the same mistake as the “Spirit King. I am sure that I will become a god. So, as a start, I need the power of the ‘kings.'”
Tupoeus raised his gaze from below, turned around, and motioned to Ceryneia.
“And what about the Iron and Steel King, who has fled to the northern continent?”
“Here, I have it for you.”
Ceryneia brings the object hidden behind her back to the front of the room. On the pedestal were the heads of several dwarves. In the center of the pedestal, between the heads, a large mineral-like substance glimmers.
“It is the “steel stone” of the Iron and Steel King. These heads belonged to the king of the dwarves and his family.”
“Well done, you have achieved your goal. I commend you.”
Tupoeus picked up the mineral, held it up to the air, and squinted at the brightness of its light.
“It is wonderful. As expected of my brother, it shines brilliantly.”
Tupoeus tossed the mineral into his mouth without hesitation. An eerie sound of chewing occasionally emanates from between his sealed lips. He must have been masticating. He moved his tongue over and over again as if savoring it, making a final slurping sound.
“Now we are one step closer, but it is lamentable that this is the end of my brothers.”
Tupoeus’s body showed no sign of change. Nothing had changed in his appearance.
Yet, Ceryneia, who was skilled at reading signs, shook her shoulders with delight. She looked as if she was trembling with joy.
“I don’t want the head. Throw them away.”
Kicking the heads away, Tupoeus returned to his room and sat down on a chair.
“And what about the others? You’re the only one who returned, Ceryneia.”
He took a silver cup from the desk, and Ceryneia took a bottle of wine and poured the purple liquid into it.
“Augeas was slaughtered by the Iron and Steel King, and so was Stymphallides. As expected of the Five Great Heavenly Kings, even though he was weakened, we gave it all we had and finally killed him.”
“What about Erymanthus?”
“He was killed in the eruption of Mount Vias, which had lost its hold on the Iron and Steel King. It must have been an amazing sight to see the great city at the foot of the mountain disappear in an instant. It is a pity that my “eye” was not there to enjoy it.”
“It must have been a magnificent sight. “
After slurping down the silver cup, Tupoeus turned his gaze to the corner of the room. The darkness is stirring eerily. Noticing this, Ceryneia also turned her head.
“Four people, huh? ――You have returned, Ladon.”
A hooded figure emerges from the darkness. The man called Ladon crawled across the floor and approached Tupoeus, a large amount of blood dripping from his abdomen. Tupoeus, noticing that something was wrong, stood up.
“Hmm, I sense a strange presence. Ladon, what happened?”
He asked, but there was no answer. Only the sound of moaning echoed through the room.
“Stomach, huh… something’s implanted there.”
Bending down, Tupoeus turned the suffering Ladon on his back and stroked his own chin.
Next to him, Ceryneia held her hand over Ladon’s body. The hand eventually dropped to the side of the body and stopped at the wound, which was flooded with a great deal of blood.
“I can feel a terrible curse coming from here.”
“It’s obvious where he got it. Let me see.”
Tupoeus snickered and dug his fingertips into the wound. The pain was so intense that Ladon’s mouth let out a scream. While holding Ladon, who was flailing about, Ceryneia let out an unusually startled cry.
“What are you doing? You don’t know what kind of curse it is!”
“The Black Dragon King took the trouble to send me alive. Don’t you want to give it a try?”
“Didn’t I just tell you to be very careful…?”
“If it were you, the curse wouldn’t kill you. He knows this. The Black Dragon King would love to kill me in person.”
Tupoeus’ hand stopped. Then he pulled out his arm at once. Instantly, the entangled organs of a single mineral are extracted. Ladon let out an inaudible scream, but Tupoeus paid no attention as the organs were ripped out from the inside, and a large amount of blood spread on the floor.
“It’s a strange principle stone. I’ve felt this presence before.”
The blue crystal with the strange pattern―a principle stone―was held in the gap between his fingers.
“I see――Stobel… no, it was mixed with the ‘curse’ made by the Nameless, huh?
Tupoeus realized what this meant and what the Black Dragon King wanted, but as he narrowed his eyes, the principle stone cracked and shattered. The black light filled the room for a moment, and then the principle stone was gone, leaving not a single piece.
“A-are you alright?”
“Hmm, the curse; it seems he really wants to kill me. I feel his emotions flowing into me.”
Tupoeus, his mouth agape at the intricate design on his hand and his gaze cold, saw that Ladon’s breathing was fading and asked.
“Ladon, tell me what happened before you died.”
“…..The God of War….. The Black Dragon King, I fought him.”
Wrapped in his own guts, the voice that popped out of Ladon’s mouth as he sank into a pool of his own blood was a small one.
“Hydra is dead?”
“Yes….. he killed him.”
“Even though he wasn’t as strong as he once was, how dare he challenge him? The God of War had gouged out his eyes and stolen his magic stone, and there was nothing he could do about it.”
Looking with interest at the pattern carved on his hand, Tupoeus returned to his chair, let out a wild sigh, and leaned back against the backrest.
“So, did you get that thing?”
“…..There is… in my chest.”
Hearing Ladon’s words, Ceryneia searched his chest and pulled out a glass cylinder. In it was a golden eye. When Ceryneia held it out to Tupoeus, he took it in his hand and looked into it by the light of the candelabra.
“The eye is beautiful, but… I don’t feel its power, perhaps because the blood has been diluted. It seems to lose its legitimacy if it is mixed with the blood of the long-eared race.”
Perhaps losing interest, Tupoeus threw out the glass cylinder and threw a sharp look at Ladon.
“You only brought back the curse.”
“Oh, well, that’s what I expected. After all, the “real” one is probably in the possession of the Black Dragon King. Altius also thought it over. If he had envisioned the future 1,000 years in the future, he must be even closer to God than I am. Or it could be the work of the Spirit King, who has failed to become a God and continues to hide…”
Without even a glance at Ladon, who was apologetic, Tupoeus trampled on the eye that Ladon had risked his life to bring back.
“The pathetic long-eared race who clung to the past also began to move. At the same time, my sweet children trapped in the Spirit Wall are also on the move. At last, we can leave this rotten place.”
Tupoeus stood up and approached Ladon again. Ceryneia called out to him as she stood behind him.
“The Vanir Three Kingdoms are unscathed so far, and the strength of the long-eared people is a threat. If we destroy the Grantz, that girl will use the momentum to destroy us as well.”
“Everything is in my hands. She may have thought she was using us, but she is just another pawn. Of course, so is the God of War and the cursed child.”
Tupoeus tilted his head as he clutched Ladon’s guts and shoved them into his mouth.
“The organs do not return to their original state even if they are consumed. The strong life force is in the way, so you can’t die with ease. The same is true of the lives of the pawns: if they are broken, they cannot be restored. But they didn’t die for nothing. They will leave some kind of mark on us.”
Removing his hand from the guts, Tupoeus looked away from his hand, which was wet with Ladon’s blood.
“As for the future, you are welcome to follow me, Ceryneia.”
Ceryneia bowed her head, but then she seemed to notice something and opened her mouth.
“Shall I call back Chimera, who is in the Six Kingdoms?”
“I don’t know what he’s playing at, but it’s too late to call him back now. Let him do as he likes; he will come back when he gets tired of it. Above all, he will be responsible for keeping the main force of the Grantz glued to the west. Just like that restive horse.”
“Then… what about Ladon?”
“There are many alternative organs for him, but he is useless, and there is no value in keeping him alive. There is no need to waste power.”
Tupoeus looked down at Ladon with a cold stare.
“I’ll make it easy for you. You have served me well for a thousand years. I will allow you to be my food.”
Without waiting for a reply, Tupoeus bit into Ladon’s nose. The sound of chewing mingles with the sound of flesh splitting. Even in the face of this atrocious sight, Ceryneia kept her head bowed without the slightest movement. A sticky smell filled the room, and the sound of chewing was also muffled.
Eventually, Tupoeus, his face red with blood, sat down in his chair, looking unconcerned.
“This is a reward for Ladon. After all, he has become food for the Faceless King.”
“Can you call it sustenance? He had only a little power. It seems that even the Twelve Demon Lords are inferior to the humans when they are this weak. It’s a new discovery, but I’m not particularly moved by it.”
Staring again at the pattern engraved on his arm, Tupoeus licked his reddened lips, wiped the blood from the edge of his mouth, and let out a muffled laugh.
“I was just beginning to feel the limits of this vessel as well.”
When Tupoeus touched his face, the skin peeled off like glue. But he was not upset by the sight of his own peeled skin. He just stared at it as if it were a completely different subject.
“O God of War… O Supreme Masterpiece. Come and kill me quickly.”
Spitting out a mouthful of human teeth on the floor, Tupoeus looks outside, sipping a glass of wine on his desk.
“It will be the last time we will fight in the long war. Let us settle the score that was brought a thousand years ago.”
Tupoeus raises his silver cup to the window and smiles unusually.