In the middle of the dark night...
A red pillar shot up far beyond the wall.
The clear red color looked as if it would burn up all of the darkness around.
That light was clearly visible in this world where everything was dark.
“Hey Sui Khan! Look at that, do you see it”
Raon, On, and Hong...
The children averaging nine-years-old had their faces pressed against the window with their eyes wide open.
The black Dragon's blue eyes looked into Sui Khan’s red eyes.
"That red pillar! I'm certain that this light is our human using his power!”
On spoke next very calmly but also very quickly.
“It is pretty far but if we can see the fiery thunderbolt from here...
It must mean that he used quite a lot of his power, nya.”
“That means something dangerous must have happened, nya!”
Hong became anxious and didn’t know what to do.
“We should have followed him!”
Raon clenched his cheeks with his front paws.
The black Dragon looked toward Sui Khan who had been silently standing by another window.
“Hey Sui Khan! Why aren’t you saying anything”
On slowly turned her gaze to observe Sui Khan.
This was a new friend who had been with them since they came to this planet.
Based on Cale, Choi Han, and especially Alberu’s demeanor, he seemed like someone they could trust.
Unlike Cale who frequently lacked a sense of vigilance, Choi Han followed by Alberu were the two most vigilant people in the group.
Those two people had accepted Sui Khan as a part of their team.
On held back a gasp after checking what Sui Khan was observing out the window.
‘He’s observing the castle!’
While On’s gaze had been focused on the red light, Sui Khan was observing the inside of the castle.
No alarm had gone off in the castle.
But On knew.
‘I'm sure they saw what we saw as well.’
That was when On could finally see people moving in the darkness, especially by the distant wall out of the precinct.
She could see soldiers, knights, and even black mages.
On, who was in her human form, opened the window.
She then looked out the window.
‘...The light in the Margrave's bedroom turned on!’
The room next to the Margrave’s bedroom was the office for his top executives and that room had the light on twenty four hours a day.
She was certain that the Margrave and the entire top executives team were on alert right now.
The castle seemed quiet but it was quite chaotic underneath the surface.
That chaos would soon rise above the surface as well.
‘What do I do’
They couldn’t let people figure out about Cale’s visit outside.
On’s mind quickly started to move.
It was at that moment.
Isn’t it cold”
On heard a slow voice behind her.
“The night breeze is cold.”
Sui Khan was looking at her.
He was petting Raon’s head with one hand while messing Hong's hair with his other hand.
On leaned back into the room and closed the window.
It was because she suddenly realized that someone might see her in her human form.
On heard Sui Khan's voice.
"Variables always come up.”
His voice was calm but it was different from Cale's calm voice.
Cale sounded crude, cold, and indifferent but his voice held warmth within it.
Sui Khan spoke slowly as if everything was boring and there was warmth in his voice as he gently called her name, but...
"We also can’t be swept around by the variables.”
It oddly sounded cold and rational.
This was something she had felt back in the Empire’s capital.
Of course, that coldness was not directed at ‘me’ or my ‘little brothers.’
“I'm sure they are in more chaos than we are.”
Toward their enemies, toward their goal...
Sui Khan did not hide that coldness.
“Hey Sui Khan! But what if our human comes back hurt What about Mary Goldie gramps Choi Han”
“That’s right! That’s what we are worried about, nya!”
On saw Sui Khan’s gaze heading somewhere outside the window as Raon and Hong could not hide their anxiety.
He was looking where Eruhaben had teleported them to before they crossed the wall.
“He’s smarter than I am so I'm sure they are heading back right now.”
On could see the corners of Sui Khan’s lips curling up.
“Or they are already here.”
Raon raised his head at that moment.
Raon's gaze headed toward the center of the room.
On could see Sui Khan close the curtains as soon as Raon did that.
The moment the curtains closed and the only light was from the candles in the room...
Mana gathered in the room.
Raon smiled after sensing this familiar mana.
“They're here! It’s Goldie gramps!”
There was a bright light and a total of five people appeared on top of the golden teleportation magic circle.
Cale, who was standing at the center of the magic circle, looked into Sui Khan's red eyes as soon as he confirmed that they were back in the bedroom and started to speak.
“Did you find the coordinates of the Margrave's bedroom”
Figuring out the enemy’s location, always confirming their movements, and making it so that they could reach their target at any moment...
That was the basics of the work Kim Rok Soo and Lee Soo Hyuk used to do for the company.
* * *
"What the heck is going on!”
Marquis Helson was seated at the center of the top executives’ meeting room connected to his bedroom.
He was dressed lightly because he had been sleeping for a bit but an attendant would soon bring his armor.
“Have you determined the cause of that light”
Marquis Helson, who had felt the fluctuation of a strong power not too long ago, had seen a red light shooting up from the distance through his bedroom window.
The black mages had said that they detected some faint vibrations after that as well.
“Not yet, we have yet to determine the cause, sir!”
“Tell them to hurry!”
The red pillar of light had been temporary but it had definitely happened quite far from the wall.
However, the vibrations had been detected by the black mages who were in the basement located at the center of the Lord’s Castle.
There was probably a much stronger vibration at the center of that pillar of light.
‘Shit! What could it be’
Marquis Helson was getting a headache.
His mind was so complicated that it felt as if it would blow.
The true identity of this woman who was known as the top aide was actually the Chief of the top executives.
Some of the top executives were currently disguised as aides to observe some of the candidates.
“Will it be difficult to dispatch a team beyond the wall”
Eaen frowned and was deep in thought for a moment before she shook her head.
“It may be possible once the sun comes up but it is dangerous right now.
We don’t know when the black rain cloud might come and suddenly dispatching people like this may cause a different kind of issue.”
It wasn’t that Eaen didn’t want to send a team past the wall.
In fact, she wanted to send people so that they might at least get a clue about what happened.
We have a lot of individuals missing.”
“I know! That’s why I am asking!”
The past half year...
Quite a lot of the Dark Elves, black mages, and scouts they had sent out in the past half year had gone missing.
The Imperial Palace had ignored the reports about these missing individuals as mere accidents but the Margrave and his team had seen this as a sign as well.
The Marquis slammed down on the table with his palm.
“The Second Imperial Princess didn’t come back either.
I'm sure something must have happened beyond the wall.
We shouldn't have accepted the candidates!”
“Please calm down, Marquis-nim.”
Eaen calmly continued to speak.
"But I'm certain that the Imperial Palace will pay attention to the current situation because the candidates are here.
It will become possible to figure out what is going on past the wall.”
Marquis Helson preferred political neutrality.
The reason this man, who had dedicated his life to protecting the edge region, had accepted the candidates’ test being in his precinct was to learn about what was going on beyond the wall.
I'm sure that the Imperial Palace will pay attention to our report this time.
They will want to save their precious candidate.”
The Marquis said candidate and not candidates.
“What about the First Imperial Prince and the Fourth Imperial Prince”
"They are quiet.”
“It is highly likely that the two of them know what is going on beyond the wall.
Of course the Fourth Imperial Prince might not, but I'm sure the First Imperial Prince does.
He is with the young lady of the House of Huayans.”
“I have already increased the level of surveillance on them already.”
The Marquis was not thinking about only getting information through the candidates.
He was certain that the Imperial Palace had some knowledge of what was going on beyond the ten edge villages.
That was what he believed, so he was thinking about stealing information from the First Imperial Prince who was being supported by the Imperial Palace and the House of Huayans.
‘And one more thing.’
The strong candidate who could keep the First Imperial Prince in check...
He was planning on secretly contacting that candidate.
‘The Margraves of the North and East have agreed to be with me as well.
The Margrave of the South agreed to remain neutral.’
North, South, East, and West.
The Margraves responsible for the defense of the Empire were all from families with deep histories that have continued on for generations.
They had fought valiantly in the edge precincts generation after generation to protect the Empire.
There had been quite a lot of support from the center for them as well.
However, the intentions of the center, the intentions of the Imperial Palace had been a bit suspicious lately.
‘Are they really trying to protect the Empire’
This was a thought that most of the Margraves have had and they were currently suspicious of the House of Huayans.
The House of Huayans.
Most people saw them as people who did not seek out power and protected the Empire as the Emperor's instructor.
The respective Margraves had their own reasons for suspecting the House of Huayans.
Marquis Helson had a reason to be suspicious as well.
‘...The House of Huayans was the ones who most strongly emphasized a need to set the Church of the Fire of Purification as a heretic cult.
They are basically the reason the Church of the Fire of Purification became a cult.’
The former patriarch...
His grandfather had believed in the Church of the Fire of Purification.
Marquis Helson was hiding the fact that his grandfather was a member of the church because any members would be executed on the spot, but...
‘That church is not a cult.’
Marquis Helson had seen the Pope's abilities when he was young.
Destroying dead mana, that red-
The Marquis jumped up from his seat.
The chair he had been sitting on fell backward.
A shocked Eaen approached and called out to him but the Marquis didn't even look at his niece’s face.
He headed toward the window.
‘That red pillar just now-’
That was different from a pillar of fire.
There was a reason the Marquis had been calling it a pillar of light.
‘It felt as if a thunderbolt was shooting up from the ground toward the sky-’
Yes, it was definitely that kind of power.
And that clear red pillar had been so so visible.
It was because the darkness retreated temporarily to avoid that pillar.
The dead mana had avoided that red pillar of light.
The Marquis recalled something the former patriarch, his grandfather, the person he loved and respected the most, had once told him.
The god that I believe is said to have defeated darkness and death with a fire imbued with a thunderbolt.’
He put his hand in his pocket.
His hand was shaking.
There was a note he had been keeping on him because he couldn’t let anybody find it.
< I heard heretics are to be executed immediately >
The note from her people...
They knew that Marquis Helson had some relationship with the church.
‘...I thought they were going to use this to grab my weakness.’
He had also been curious as to how they knew this information.
It had made him anxious.
‘But what if-’
This red pillar of light...
‘What if they are people from the church’
This pillar of light-
‘What if this is that Fire of Purification or something’
Marquis Helson's fingertips that were holding the note were still shaking.
‘That would mean that the church has a strong necromancer who could rival the First Imperial Prince.
If that is the case.’
He had a hypothesis.
‘Heni Wishrop is not the leader.’
Although a necromancer could have a high-ranking position in the church, she could not create this pillar of light.
Marquis Helson recalled Heni Wishrop's subordinate he had made eye contact with when he received the note at the tower.
Now that he thought about it all of her subordinates had the same hair color and eye color.
It was as if they were trying to camouflage on purpose.
‘Is that guy perhaps-’
It was at that moment.
The Marquis’ bedroom that was connected to the top executives’ meeting room...
It was like this because the Marquis had given up his personal life to defend the edge precinct.
The closed door to the bedroom opened.
Although there should be nobody inside the bedroom.
That door was opening.
The Marquis raised his hand the moment a shocked executive was about to shout.
His action made everybody close their mouths.
The door creaked and completely opened in the silence.
The Marquis felt as if he knew.
He felt as if he knew who was in the bedroom.
May we have a chat in private”
The man in a white mask who appeared in the door...
The smile on his face was visible as his mouth was not covered by the mask.
The man he believed to be Heni Wishrop's subordinate...
The man who had smiled when Marquis Helson had received the note...
‘He might not be her subordinate.’
The man was standing in the bedroom alone.
“None of you come inside.”
“Obey my order.”
Chief Eaen called out to him but the Marquis gave an order to all of them before entering the bedroom alone.
The man was standing in the room alone with a smile still on his face as he welcomed the Marquis inside.
“We should probably close the door if we want to chat in private”
The moment Marquis Helson spoke calmly despite not feeling that way...
The man raised his hand and...
The door closed.
It was as if by magic.
Marquis Helson's mind became complicated again after thinking of that word and almost as if this person understood the complicated mess in his mind...
Inside the dark bedroom that now had the curtains closed and only a candle was lighting it up...
The man reached his hand forward.
A rose gold fiery thunderbolt crackled and pushed away the darkness in the bedroom.
The Marquis stiffened as if he had been paralyzed by poison.
Cale slowly started to speak at that moment.
‘We don’t have time to chat for a long time.
I guess we need to suppress him thoroughly to start’
He called for someone.
Marquis Helson could see dark blue eyes in the darkness.
Although it was small, a real black Dragon appeared.
“Nice to meet you, Marquis Helson-nim.”
Cale greeted the Marquis in a new way.
I never expected to say this with my own mouth.’
He had an oddly unsettled smile on his face as he introduced himself.
“I am the purifier.”