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Chapter 282 – Followers of the End (1)

“King of the end?” It was a title, and Theodore looked at the other person’s face as he reiterated it.

The woman was neat, well-cleaned and had pale white skin. Her features had a lily’s simplicity that completed her beauty. Who would want to hurt this tearful and beautiful woman? A normal male who didn’t know the situation would’ve pulled out their handkerchief.

However, Theodore just looked down at her mercilessly.

‘…What, this woman?’



He had seen many beautiful women and knew that Hipatia was very beautiful. She was a white beauty comparable to Veronica, Aquilo, and Ellenoa. Nevertheless, his head was cool. All his senses were alert, and he wouldn’t be tempted by lust or sympathy.

Just after that, something came to Theodore’s mind. It was the ‘Jerem, King of the end’ that had emerged from the white woman’s mouth. ‘Jerem’ was a name he had heard once before, and the distant memories of the past popped up.

Finally, Theodore remembered the origin of the name, and his expression stiffened.

‘Jerem, is it that grimoire…?’

As if in response, the information window of Death’s Worship came to mind.

 

[Death’s Worship]

[-This grimoire contains the soul of the legendary warlock, Jerem. As a 9th Circle necromancer who attacked mankind on the side of the demons, Jerem will steal the body of any creature who reads the grimoire and turn them into an undead. He dreams of the perfect resurrection as his soul awaits in the abyss.]

 

It had already been several years since Theodore obtained the grimoire. Back then, the grimoire, Death’s Worship, had taken over the body of a Meltor investigator in the Miller Barony and was now sealed in the inventory by Gluttony.

However, it was a grimoire that a 9th circle magician dwelled in. At that time, and even today, Theodore hadn’t  been able to consume Death’s Worship, so it was just an object left in the corner of his inventory.

How did this woman, Hipatia, know the name of the warlock, and why did she call Theodore ‘Jerem’?

‘There are a few possible hypothesis, but…’

It was just a hypothesis. His super sensitivity warned him that one wrong word would cause an antagonistic relationship with this woman. Of course, he couldn’t have a friendly relationship with a warlock.

However, he could use this misunderstanding. Theodore’s experience whispered to him. Rather than denying it, he should see what the other person was mistaking him for.

Theodore made a decision and boldly spoke to her, “King of the end? I’m sorry, but I can’t remember.”

Was it the right answer or wrong answer? Hipatia’s eyes widened at his answer and looked at Theodore with a mournful expression. “Ah, our king…! Did you lose your memories? I am White Rider Hipatia, one of the four riders of the end! I judged that with the wonderful skills you just showed, you must’ve been secretly growing your power in the magic kingdom…”

“Too verbose. If you don’t want me to leave, you better explain right away.” Theodore moved his magic power, pretending to be angry. His seven circles turned lightly, but the magic power shook the area and gave off a strong pressure. A body wouldn’t be able to handle this pressure without good skills.

However, there was no shaking at all in Hipatia’s posture. She kept prostrating herself politely, looking up at him with soulful eyes.

‘This woman is the death knight’s controller.’

He had roughly guessed it based on the magic power he felt, but now he was fully convinced with this test. A necromancer who had reached at least the 7th circle was enough to cause a disaster in a small kingdom.

If she was hostile, he had to end her here.

Additionally, if the four riders of the end were four warlocks, it meant that Hipatia’s organization possessed four masters. It was a variable sufficient to overturn the course of this unification war.

It seemed like Death’s Worship was something important to them, but Theodore hadn’t admitted that he possessed it. As Theodore was swallowing his dry saliva, Hipatia looked at him and started speaking, “...I am your subject, but I will dare to speak.”

She put her hands on her lap in a defenseless posture. “My king, we started watching you since we missed Charlotte’s Necklace at the Kargas auction house.”

Indeed, Theodore nodded. He had guessed it since that Orcus Company appeared with the death knight. This type of power wouldn’t be mobilized if the necklace wasn’t an important object.

“Didn’t you go the Pirate Archipelago with it? In retrospect, I don’t understand my folly. Rather than following Your Majesty’s will, I hastily tried to grab your ankle…”

“What do you mean?”

“You yielded to that arrogant sea dragon, Aquilo! Since your body isn’t yet complete… And this Hipatia… I don’t doubt that the day of the end is coming.”

If a ring was attached to the ear, it was an earring. If it was attached to the nose, it was a nose ring. Hipatia kept saying things that couldn’t be understood. If Aquilo were here, she would’ve torn Hipatia apart.

As Hipatia’s explanation continued, Theodore’s expression grew more serious. Her speculation about Aquilo was completely wrong, but all the reasons cited afterward were plausible. From when Theodore summoned the high ranking demon, Magnus, on the Sipoto Plains up until when he had taken out Death’s Worship to escape…

Finally, there was one crucial part in Hipatia’s understanding.

“By that way, did Your Majesty make ‘that’ directly?”

“…That?”

“The death knight with the Aura Ability! Without any traces of necromancy, you pioneered the death knight to an unprecedented level… This Hipatia once again realized that the king was resurrected!”

Theodore belatedly realized what she was referring to, ‘Don’t tell me she mistook Gladio as a death knight?’

It was an exquisite coincidence. Necromancers, as those who made a mockery of life, were bound to be more sensitive to live force than anyone else. Hipatia would naturally understand that the automaton ‘wasn’t alive’ when she looked at it.

She saw that it contained a sword master’s soul. The automaton was a by-product of a time when magic engineering was common. It was natural that she would mistake the automaton for a death knight variant.

Theodore was convinced, ‘…Wouldn’t I be mistaken if I was in the same position?’

–I agree.

It wasn’t just one or two coincidences but many overlaps that caused the Hipatia to think this way. Gluttony’s voice poured into one ear while Theodore thought about it. How could Theodore use this misunderstanding?

Should he shake hands or create a hostile relationship with the four horsemen? They were already exhausted from fighting with their old enemy Andras, and now they had to deal with a warlock organization with four masters? It was something that Meltor couldn’t afford.

However, if the opposite was applied, Meltor might be able to overwhelm the battlefield.

‘Let the “barbarians fight among themselves”… is it?’

In other words, he could force the four horsemen to collide with the Andras Empire and destroy them. It might be beneficial, but it was hard to conspire with warlocks who could threaten a kingdom.

Andras wouldn’t be able to avoid a catastrophic disaster.

“Okay, I’ll believe your words this once. That… Hipatia?”

“Yes. I will do anything, my king.” Hipatia didn’t care about her white clothes being stained as Hipatia kneeled down and looked at him with eyes full of affection. Theodore’s conscience was throbbing. She might be a warlock, but was it okay to take advantage of such a pure affection? He felt some guilt. Thus, Theodore couldn’t help asking Hipatia.

“Call it a test, but I want to ask you one more question.”

He wanted to know if it was capable of coexisting with warlocks.

“What is the ultimate goal of the four horsemen?”

“Huhu, you are asking something obvious,” Hipatia’s sweet face laughed as she rose. Opening her arms widely, she exclaimed, “It is a promise that we didn’t forget after thousands of years of waiting, my king!”

Under the night sky, where thick darkness descended like a curtain, a beautiful woman dressed in white called out in a bell-like voice. There was an emptiness in her eyes as she looked toward something indescribable.

Hipatia’s body danced in the wilderness where starlight shone down, and she answered Theodore’s question, “It is our mission to put an end to this world.”

There was madness in the pure eyes that looked at him.

“The purpose of the four horsemen is to destroy this ugly civilization and the entire human race.”

“…I see.” Theodore realized it with her answer. “I understand.”

They could never tolerate each other.

 

*     *     *

Step, step.

The sound of footsteps was heard. The elementals made the tunnel, but they couldn’t pave the ground. Theodore stepped on rugged pebbles as he hurried. It would take him 10 more minutes to join the party that had departed earlier.

Theodore fiddled with something in his arms and couldn’t overcome his discomfort, eventually pulling it out.

“…Damn, warlocks are famous for their bad taste.”

It was a small crafted skull. Hipatia had explained in a cheerful voice that he could use this artifact to talk to her at any time.

She said that it shouldn’t be put in a separate space, but he couldn’t withstand the physiological discomfort for more than 30 minutes. Theodore eventually threw the dark red skull into the inventory.

He washed his hands a few times with water magic and called a companion to make him feel better, ‘Gluttony.’

Gluttony responded immediately, –What is it, User?

‘Did you hear the whole story with Hipatia?’

–Of course. Those warlocks, they seem to be the same in any age. The followers of the end… Those who believe that death is superior to life are everywhere.

Warlocks naturally worshipped death. Life was only a moment when they weren’t dead, and it was believed that true life was just before being born and after death.

They assumed that the lives of others were worthless based on their view of life and thought that they should slaughter people to return them to the right path. The fanaticism of the Lairon Church but without any morality or conscience was the essence of a black magician.

In the end, the four horsemen were nothing more than an organization aiming to destroy the world. It was a very ordinary warlock organization.

“Know the enemy or you will be burned…”

It was forbidden knowledge, but Theodore now had a close association with the four horsemen and couldn’t ignore it any longer. He took a deep breath and told Gluttony, “Gluttony, I want to hear about black magic.”

–Hrmm. It was silent for a moment, before the grimoire replied, –Okay. Let’s talk about the past.

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