Chapter 90 – The Abandoned (1)
The eight towers within the land of the devil worshippers .
At the top of each tower, a human that had managed to evolve into a High Devil reigned . Every tower contained a small world in itself with different colors and personalities decided by the characteristics of the High Devil that ruled over the tower .
Decadence, order, vanity, craftsmanship, etc . Their personalities and their conduct were vastly different, and it was difficult to place them into a single category . Each High Devil had its own nemesis, and they had created the Tome of the High Devils in order to inconvenience their enemies or eliminate them outright (although the chances of the latter were quite slim) .
Sungchul planned to get his hands on all eight volumes of the Tome of the High Devils . He had managed to get his hands on four of them in a single day, and he cleared all of the quests except the final mission at the end . Ordinary people easily lost track of time in the Demon Realm where the sun couldn’t be seen, but Sungchul had an incredibly meticulous alarm- his stomach .
It was his principle to eat at every appetite . Sungchul who worshipped diligence in everyday life valued proper rest as highly as his growth . He set up camp on top of the hill overlooking the eight towers once he had completed his rounds on the four towers . Of course, the Breggas siblings acted along with him .
The campfire set up by Sungchul spit red ashes as it burned while the siblings sat in silence . Sungchul had disappeared off to somewhere and was yet to return . Sophia was the first to speak in this heavy silence .
“Brother . Are you ok?”
Her eyes were filled with deep concern . They had experienced an unbelievable growth in stats as they traveled with this existence known as the Enemy of the World, but strictly speaking, the siblings did little else but accompany him . A predator was an unpredictable existence by nature . The oppressor could easily be struck with a foul mood and kill them… or demand worse things than that . Wasn’t Sungchul a healthy male?
‘It must have been a while since that man had interacted with a female . ’
She didn’t want to imagine it, but fear was growing in her mind like a poisonous mushroom .
‘What if that man demands my body… what do I do then? In front of my brother… If I were to suffer such actions… I couldn’t bear to live with such a body!’
The mind is prone to distractions when the body is relaxed .
“It’s ok, Sophia . ”
Elijah was struggling with a different issue .
‘The Enemy of the World… what is that man thinking? Why is he forfeiting the opportunity to become a High Devil right at the cusp and only doing these lowly quests?’
The increase in stats was worth celebrating . Elijah had always been told about his great potential as a successor, but he had achieved amazing growth in a single day . However, Elijah had his sights on a much higher goal .
High Devil .
He idolized the strength of Devils that transcended humans, but Sungchul didn’t seem to have any intentions of joining him . He would have to see how things progressed for a bit longer, but it seemed like the man was more interested in the tomes than the High Devils .
‘Crackle Crackle . ’
The withered firewood gradually burned through and settled at the bottom . Elijah grabbed a dry branch from the pile beside him and used it to stir the stack of firewood before lapsing into an unintentional silence .
‘If that man doesn’t take care of the High Devils, what should I do then? Do I have to face the High Devils on my own?’
However, he didn’t have the confidence to do so . The High Devils that he had seen personally were overwhelmingly oppressive, and he saw no path to victory . His struggle grew deeper within the silence . Soon, footsteps could be heard from nearby .
The sound of military boots that was now so familiar . Sungchul was approaching . He was carrying something large on his back .
‘Thud . ’
He placed the object on the ground . It was some form of a cow with long feathers . The creature looked young, but its size was quite impressive .
Sungchul pulled out a blade and began to butcher the cow without a word .
“Are you… preparing to cook that thing?”
Sophia carefully asked a question .
Sungchul looked back at her with sharp eyes as he nodded .
“If it’s food, how about we consider eating over at the Tower of Euphoria? I have a meal ticket from a quest . ”
Sophia held out the meal ticket to Chef Minamoto’s that she received as an additional reward .
“Do you see a farm anywhere?” asked Sungchul .
This simple question caused Sophia to look around her surroundings carefully . Forget a farm, she couldn’t see any sign of a single field anywhere . She shook her head helplessly .
“Where do you think the ingredients to feed those huge number of people comes from? If you still want to eat over there despite this knowledge, I won’t stop you . ”
Sungchul continued to prepare the meal . The Breggas siblings looked over at Sungchul with complicated emotions . Sophia’s eyes were filled with admiration .
‘Even his swordsmanship isn’t average . ’
She practiced both sword and magic, but as her knowledge of the sword was greater than her actual skill, she could clearly see how proficient Sungchul was with his blade . There were no excess movements in his handling of the blade . A significant portion of the cow’s carcass was removed with each movement of his sword, and it was completely dismantled in perfect order .
Sungchul grabbed a portion of the cut meat as the blood dripped off and began to sniff it .
“Mmm… the meat isn’t very good . ”
It was quite savory, but there was a slight smell and was also a bit tough to chew . Sungchul grabbed a flat rock from his surrounding and started to mince the meat on top of it with a knife . As he began to chop at a rapid pace, Bertelgia who was inside his pocket became a hindrance to his movement .
“Come out . ”
Sungchul pulled her out .
“No! I hate being seen by some strange kids!”
Bertelgia struggled to stay in his pocket, but she couldn’t overcome Sungchul’s strength . She was eventually pulled out, and she began to flap herself into the air . Elijah and Sophia looked towards Bertelgia with surprise .
“A living book?”
Sophia asked as she stared with eyes dimmed by curiosity .
“This your first time seeing a living book?”
Bertelgia, whose mood was soured, shot back sharply . On the other hand, Sungchul pulled out a secret ingredient from his Soul Storage . The cooking container with dried mushrooms, vegetables, pepper, and various herbs appeared before him . Sungchul mixed the ingredients from the container with the minced meat and continued chopping with his knife .
Elijah turned his gaze towards Sungchul’s direction . Elijah, who had been sighing relentlessly, grew visibly brighter as he noticed Sungchul cooking . He hadn’t had a proper meal in a while and recalled his previous experience with Sungchul’s food; unknowingly he began to look forward to the result .
Sophia who was watching this scene rose from her seat and approached Sungchul from behind .
“What is it?”
“Could I… help you?”
Sophia had made a once-in-a-lifetime decision before making her request, but Sungchul’s response was callous .
“I’ll decline . ”
He refused it point-blank .
‘I might as well starve before I leave any of the cooking to you . ’
However, Sophia was not one to give up easily . She feared Sungchul, but she stood her ground and asked once more .
“I’ll help just a little bit . Since we are eating as well . ”
At this point, Sungchul tore off a portion of the meat he had been mincing and handed it to Sophia .
“Prepare your portion yourself then . ”
It was not her ideal resolution, but Sophia received the meat gracefully with both hands and celebrated in her mind .
‘Great . The time has come to show brother my cooking skills!’
Unfortunately, she didn’t notice it . She didn’t notice Elijah’s eyes twitch in fear .
Sophia discerned that the dish Sungchul was preparing was a form of a hamburg steak . The preparation of the ingredients and most of the cooking had already passed through Sungchul’s hands, and she only had to mince the meat a bit further and grill it .
The mincing wasn’t difficult, but the problem was in the grilling . It was difficult to find appropriate cooking tools out here . It took Sophia considerable amount of creativity to prepare an adequate cooking utensil . She noticed a branch rolling on the ground .
‘It’ll be fine if I just stick this stick through the meat like a bone and grill the surface, right?’
She looked over her shoulders at Sungchul who she considered her rival . He was still mincing the meat . It was almost a stupid level of persistence . Sophia reminded herself that the greatest spice was hunger and began to put her idea into action .
She washed a branch with an appropriate thickness and stuck the minced meat into its center, but the meat didn’t stick properly . It had lost most of its viscosity during the mincing, and it fell apart even when she rolled it into a ball . She had to borrow the power of magic in the end .
Sophia, who had studied the art of Cryomancy, conjured an air of frost from her hand and succeeded in freezing the meat solid onto the stick .
“…That woman . What is she doing?”
Bertelgia who had been kicked out of Sungchul’s pocket was wandering the area, and she began to mutter to herself when she noticed Sophia’s antics . Sophia was grilling the frozen meat, as it was, by placing it onto the cooking station attached to the campfire .
Unfortunately, there was no way to properly cook frozen meat .
For a moment, it seemed that the frozen meat was cooking well, but then it suddenly caught fire which turned the entire clump of meat into a piece of coal . A plume of black smoke rose from the fire .
Sophia vaguely recognized that there was something wrong, but didn’t completely understand . She pulled out the black mass that was the source of the smoke from the fire, but the branch that had held the meat also suddenly caught fire . She quickly froze the meat, put out the fire, and served the frozen black mass to Elijah .
“Brother, you must have been starving? Eat up . I decided to show off my skills this time around . ”
Elijah’s face looked relaxed, but his mind wasn’t .
‘Please… help me . I really don’t want to eat… that thing!’
His refusal to deny his sister anything had brought him great pain . His gaze passed over Sophia and landed on Sungchul . Sungchul was throwing a fist-sized rock with a flat surface into the fire, but as he was doing so, he took a peek over at Elijah and Sophia .
“What’s that? Is that edible?”
Sungchul asked bluntly .
“Of course… it’s edible . ”
Sophia showed a bit insulted of displeasure, but Sungchul noticed that Elijah was backed into a corner, so he walked over towards them with a small sigh .
“Why don’t you try eating it? That thing that you’ve made . ”
“Just try it . That food you made yourself . ”
She would have normally ignored it, but her current opponent was the legendary villain that held the ultimate authority over life and death known as the Enemy of the World .
“It’ll… be delicious?”
Sophia already realized her mistake . She already knew that the food she prepared herself was something that shouldn’t be eaten .
Sungchul quickly lifted the flat stone with the minced meat and carried it closer to the fire . The meat was stacked up like a mountain peak . Sungchul split that meat into three parts and split it equally between himself and the Breggas sibling . Sophia who watched him do so spoke coldly .
“You surely don’t expect us to eat raw meat?”
Sophia may have thrown aside the dish she had prepared, but she still had an excuse left .
‘I burned it because I lacked the proper cooking tools . Could you really do any better?’
At her question, Sungchul’s sword made swift movements . On his blade was placed the small and flat rock that had been previously thrown into the fire . He placed the steaming rock in front of them and using the dagger he placed the minced meat lightly on the rock as if it were butter .
The minced meat miraculously began to cook with a savory sound . The rock that had soaked the campfire’s heat acted like a frying pan . They had no sauce, and only minimal ingredients were used, but the moment that the grilled meat entered their mouths, an extraordinary flavor danced around their tongues .
“Mmm . ”
Sungchul, who was the first to enjoy the meat, closed his eyes and savored the flavor .[The score of the dish is… 68 points!]
It could have earned a higher score with sauce and supplementary ingredients, but this was a score that an ordinary chef could never earn with what was on hand .
A quiet exclamation escaped from Elijah’s lips . The dish had tremendous flavor .
Sophia also felt shocked .
‘It was the same meat, but the flavor is this different?!’
She felt frustrated, but she couldn’t stop eating .
Sungchul watched over the Breggas siblings that were voraciously devouring his meal . He felt his dignity as a chef slowly being recharged . Even if it was a momentary solace .
A familiar scene entered in his mind . It was that of a girl dressed like a vagrant . This child that had abruptly approached him brought up the name of the woman that he had long since forgotten . Sungchul was caught up in conflicting emotions as he watched the girl hungrily eat up the food that a servant brought up . This was in Sungchul’s glory days .
It was a time when Sungchul stood at an important crossroads in his life . He, as the 10th Champion of the Continent, was given the position of the newly formed Human Empire’s Commander-in-Chief, responsible for bringing order to the continent that had been plagued with corruption and was spiraling out of control .
It was a time when his name was well known throughout the continent .
But on the other hand, it was also the depressing period of time when he was feeling the insidious effects of internal power struggle that spread like an infection from within the empire . He had been quietly preparing to return to the original world along with his comrades, but the appearance of this child completely turned his life around .
Sungchul’s reverie was interrupted by rustling noises in the background .
“Come out . ”
A low, but heavy sound left his lips . The Breggas siblings that were completely occupied with eating looked surprised and began to search their surroundings . A dark figure revealed himself to Sungchul’s party through the fog within this heavy silence . They had seen this figure before . It was the human that was lingering around the tower of the devil worshippers doing heavy labor .
The man was wearing black clothes like an undertaker and had his pitiful face covered with a bandana as he carefully walked over to Sungchul and spoke with a hideous voice .
“Kekeke… Don’t misunderstand . I am no enemy . I simply came over with a proposition . ”
When Sungchul responded with disinterest, a hideous smile formed around the man’s twisted lips underneath his bandana .
“Do you wish to kill the High Devils? If so, I might have some information to share . ”