“Won’t you be the emperor?”
Cats became tigers after three years of military life. They could read the timing just looking at the movement of the soldiers. It wasn’t hard to know what was going on after Grid had been with Lauel for a few years.
“Grandmaster, you betrayed the emperor and stood on Edan’s side.”
“The expression ‘betrayal’ isn’t appropriate. I’m just exercising my right.”
The grandmaster was very kind to Grid. He told his story in great detail, “A long time ago, a man came to me and offered me a deal. He asked me to make him the emperor. He said that if he became emperor, he would surely fulfill my heart’s desire.”
“Yes, it was Saharan. I made him emperor, but coincidentally, he failed to keep his promise to me. The promise he failed to keep was to be fulfilled by his descendants. However, time passed, and the imperial family forgot about their promise to me, reaching the present point.” The grandmaster’s gaze turned to inside the audience hall.
In the aftermath of the free farming, the audience hall was gradually becoming farmland. Edan and Piaro could be seen fighting among the ripened rice.
The grandmaster pointed to Edan’s sword. “That sword is a token of the promise. Saharan gave me a sword that contained his red energy, which accelerated his death. Saharan told me. If the imperial family breaks their agreement with me, I will prove my qualifications with this sword and ascend to the throne myself. Then he made policies to fulfill my desire in the long term.”
Grid listened to the friendly explanation and stabbed at the core, “Who are you?”
At this moment...
“...!” Everyone in the audience hall had wide eyes. All of them wondered about the grandmaster’s desire. Based on that desire, they could infer the grandmaster’s identity. However, Grid asked about the identity of the grandmaster. Asking for this person’s identity without even mentioning the contents of the desire...? It wasn’t prudent. The grandmaster wouldn’t answer. People expected Grid’s question to be ignored.
It was as expected.
“...” The grandmaster was also a bit baffled. The question of his desire was expected, but the question of his identity was unexpected.
Grid shrugged. “Won’t you ask me to fulfill your desire if I become the emperor? I can’t make a deal with someone I don’t know.”
“Kukuk...” The grandmaster burst out laughing. It was extremely rare for him to express his emotions, and this was the first time the emperor had ever seen the grandmaster laughing, despite having spent decades with him. “...The only sinner of the seven.” Sorrow permeated his bored eyes. The grandmaster’s clear eyes stared straight at Grid. “The incarnation of the betrayer, who was blinded by the light and turned a blind eye to the crisis of his companions who couldn’t see the darkness. That is who I am.”
It was like lightning striking Grid’s head. Grid knew the identity of those who were ‘blinded by the light and couldn’t see the darkness’.
‘The seven malignant saints...!’
It couldn’t be... The grandmaster’s identity was the incarnation of the seven malignant saints? It was unimaginable for Grid, who had long known that they were sealed between the ‘ground and hell.’ Grid had stiffened completely while the other people were scrambling. It was the sound of their thoughts trying to catch up. It was rare for anyone to know the truth of the seven malignant saints, even if they searched the entire world. None of the people in the room could understand the conversation between Grid and the grandmaster.
In the midst of the turmoil, the grandmaster said, “I wanted to remove my guilt, so I did a great deal of work. In an attempt to overcome the terrible boredom, I gained time by pushing this present body into the ranks of a transcendent. I studied how to save the incarnations of my colleagues who confronted the gods and lost the ‘past life qualifications,’ unlike me. The reason why so many other races on the continent were captured and experimented with, why I needed by-products of a great demon and my desire for the evil eye… It was all part of this research. No matter how long I spent on it, I couldn’t make a difference. It was impossible to fully overcome the boredom, so I made mistakes at every critical moment. However, I know the cause of my colleagues’ failure. The biggest reason for the failure was that they didn’t rely on the ‘expelled’ gods.”
Who were the expelled gods? The chaos inside Grid increased. The other people’s unrest was also growing. No one directly linked the grandmaster to the seven malignant saints, but an increasing number of people noticed that the grandmaster had been ‘something other than human from the beginning.’
The grandmaster read the situation and lowered his voice. As he whispered into Grid’s ears, his voice contained a deep annoyance. It was troublesome. The grandmaster wanted to beat everything. These desires started to dominate him.
“I felt great hope when I found out that you have the power of Taren.”
“The answer lies in the Abyss. Become the emperor. Become the emperor, explore the Abyss, and trace the whereabouts of the expelled gods. The Second Seven Evils War will save the world from the fallen gods.”
[★Hidden Quest★ The Sixth Evil’s Proposal has occurred!]
[The Sixth Evil’s Proposal]
[★ Hidden Quest ★
The sixth evil Zik, who has the sin of sloth, is suggesting that you become the emperor.
If you accept the offer, you will become the new master of the Saharan Empire!
Quest Clear Condition: Accept Zikfrector’s offer.
Quest Clear Rewards: The Saharan Empire.]
[Would you like to accept the quest?]
Grid had experienced countless hidden quests, but he had never seen a hidden quest on such a scale. This was a quest to devour the whole empire. Grid naturally...
“I don’t want to.” He refused it.
“...?” The grandmaster was shocked. He had spoken honestly and hadn’t expected Grid to reject the offer.
Grid explained, “If I become the emperor, won’t there be rebellions all over the empire? How can I handle it? In the first place, I can’t lead such a big country, and I don’t have the manpower.”
If Grid—who wasn’t of Saharan’s blood—was crowned the emperor, many nobles would revolt and an era of war would begin. Grid and the Overgeared Kingdom would be swept up in the war on a daily basis. By the end, the empire would be divided into dozens of pieces, and the security of the Overgeared Kingdom couldn’t be guaranteed. It meant that he was more likely to lose everything and suffer.
The grandmaster shook his head. “The thing you should pay attention to is the exploration of the Abyss, not the management of the empire. The empire isn’t a matter of concern at all.”
“What on earth are you saying? Rather, it is none of my business what you do.”
It was true that Grid respected the seven malignant saints who fought the gods for humanity. This didn’t mean he intended to sacrifice himself for them. In the first place, Grid didn’t want to be tied to the seven malignant saints. He could lose everything overnight if he drew the anger of the gods to himself. Grid had already resolved to be neutral after going through the Crossroad of Good and Evil quest and the Hexetia incident.
“Your Majesty the Emperor! I’m on your side!” Grid shouted.
“...Turning away even after knowing the truth.” The grandmaster was furious.
Grid hurriedly cried out as the grandmaster’s face distorted like a demon, “No, I don’t want to be hostile to you. I’m just going to stop Edan’s treason.”
“It is just sophistry. Edan is my agent unless you accept my offer. Don’t you know that going against him is going against me?”
This was really upsetting. Harmony with the empire was really important, but was it right to be hostile to an incarnation of the seven malignant saints? He might just be an incarnation, but the seven malignant saints were the seven malignant saints. The grandmaster’s power was likely to be far beyond what Grid expected. It was terrible to imagine what would happen if they fought.
Then it happened while Grid was feeling restless.
“Shut up, Zikfrector!” Edan yelled after easily defeating Piaro. The prince stared at the grandmaster with red eyes. “Weren’t you trying to throw me away as soon as an opportunity came? I’m your agent...? Then you should consult me! I’m not a pushover!”
In response to Edan’s wrath, Saharan’s sword started to exert a stronger force than before. The power was so great that it cracked Piaro’s sickle which was made from Belial’s by-products. The strength that had been absorbed from materials all over the capital finally started to manifest. It was great enough to overwhelm Piaro, who had yet to achieve a new ground in Natural State. At this moment, Edan was strong enough to threaten the grandmaster with his extreme temper.
“Zikfrector! I’ll kill you first!”
It was an unexpected development. Grid’s eyes lit up when he witnessed Edan rushing to the grandmaster, and he hurriedly left his position. The grandmaster’s sword and Saharan’s sword collided, blowing up the imperial palace. The imperial guards and Red Knights were thrown into confusion by the powerful shockwave.
This luck was truly dirty. The moment that Grid was going to spit out the shards of a stone that had flown through the corridor...
“Grab on!” Chensler rushed to the emperor in the turmoil and reached out to Grid. Grid hurriedly grabbed his hand. He was distracted by Edan going crazy in the area and couldn’t control his dexterity.
“Huuung,” Chensler groaned, but he didn’t blush. He barely resisted the rush of pleasure. “People have different orientations... I will respect it...”
“...?” Grid was wronged by Chensler who misunderstood, but now wasn’t the time to pay attention to such trivial (?) things.
Grid, who entered the side chamber with Chensler, immediately supported Piaro and stood by the emperor. The emperor bowed to Grid, causing doubts if this was really the emperor.
The emperor of the Saharan Empire, the ruler of the West Continent, was bowing to the king of a small country? It wasn’t only Chensler. Even the dukes who had maximum affinity with Grid were astonished. Of course, Grid was also surprised.
The emperor’s gaze was directed at Piaro, who was right behind Grid. “Overgeared King, you wouldn’t know it, but I have been thankful to you for a long time. I felt guilty every day for not stopping the war against the Overgeared Kingdom.”
Being in harmony with the empire wasn’t a vain wish. Grid’s heart became comfortable once he learned this.
Grenhal shouted, “We don’t know how long Edan will run wild! If he wakes up, then the first thing he will do is aim at Your Majesty. Your Majesty should leave!”
It was a great opportunity to do so while Edan was tying up the grandmaster’s feet. Grenhal insisted on it, but the emperor was hesitant.
“Throwing away my throne and running away... The entire world will laugh at me.”
There was no point in dying, but even now, he cared about his image. While Grid burned with frustration, Chensler persuaded the emperor, “Edan won’t be able to handle that power forever, and he will soon collapse. Before that, we need to suppress the grandmaster as much as possible. If our eyes are scattered, we won’t be able to save up our physical strength.”
“Your Majesty, please don’t miss this chance to wipe out the traitors.”
In the end, the emperor’s stubbornness was defeated. The emperor, the two dukes, Bain, Chensler, and finally Grid and Piaro began their journey in a secret passage that had only been passed down through generations of emperors.