Cale walked without any hesitation until he could see the Lake of Despair. The black knight who had guided him bowed before stepping back.
“It’s over here.”
There was a strong whirlwind swirling on top of the frozen lake.
Getting past this whirlwind and going underneath the frozen lake would lead them to the Elf Village with the World Tree.
– Human! There are Elf warriors inside that whirlwind!
Those warriors were stealthily hiding to fend off these enemies who had infiltrated the forest and may aim for the lake next.
‘Either that, or they are in a situation where they cannot easily leave the whirlwind area.’
A situation like that would be where a difficult to handle enemy would be right outside.
Cale looked toward the person the Elves would have determined to be a dangerous enemy.
She was standing on the dry land near the lake.
“Long time no see.”
It was Count Hubesha.
She did not look back at Cale. Instead, she just quietly observed the whirlwind on top of the lake.
She was wearing black armor as she stood there with her hands on the handle of her sword that she had stabbed into the ground.
But the way she was standing straight without moving at all showed that she was still extremely tense.
“Yes, it has been a while.”
Cale slowly started to walk.
She was one of the four nobles of the Endable Kingdom.
She was the leader of the knights on black horses and was someone who used ‘despair’ as an attribute, similar to Choi Han.
‘But Choi Han and her despair are different in their nature.’
Cale stood next to her as he started to speak.
“Did you betray the White Star?”
Count Hubesha quietly laughed.
“Getting right to business?”
“Are we friends or something where we should happily greet each other?”
“Hoo hoo. That is true.”
A small smile appeared on her face.
Neither of them was looking at each other. Hubesha stopped smiling.
“I haven’t betrayed him yet, but I plan on betraying him.”
“Your subordinates suppressed the forces of an allied kingdom. That is not considered betrayal?”
“That is too trivial to be considered a betrayal.”
Cale asked with a nonchalant expression on his face.
‘Why was she planning on betraying him?’
He was asking for a reason.
This enemy of his was saying that she would betray her boss. It was only normal to understand his enemy’s intentions, especially since he might be working together with her.
Count Hubesha took a few breaths before continuing to speak.
“A knight protects their liege and their kingdom.”
It seemed completely unrelated, but Cale quietly listened.
“I never agreed to it.”
Her voice was oddly shaking, unlike her firm posture.
“I never agreed to use the citizens of the Endable Kingdom as sacrifices.”
Cale’s eyes clouded over for a moment.
‘Now that I think about it, it was a bit weird.’
Cale recalled a memory from when he had pretended to be young master Naru.
‘The next motion is from Marquis Gersey regarding the festival.’
‘Marquis Gersey-nim’s motion is to request your permission to allow all priests in Section 2 to participate in a large-scale ritual on the last day of the festival.’
‘The content of the ritual is to give thanks for successfully completing the year and to pray for peace and happiness in the future for the Endable Kingdom.’
Marquis Gersey, the priest who served the Demonic race. He had plotted with the White Star to do something at the festival.
Both Cale and Duke Fredo had had questions about the festival, but it had been disregarded because Cale ended up in the sealed god’s test prior to the festival.
‘Now that I think about it, that large-scale ritual was probably the summoning ritual.’
It would have been related to either the sealed god or the unranked monsters.
Sacrifices were necessary for that ritual.
Originally, the Wolf children were going to be the sacrifices.
‘Then were the Vampires and Dark Elves.’
They were citizens of the Endable Kingdom.
‘There’s a reason that bastard priest Gersey and the White Star only kept it among themselves.’
Whether it be the Vampire Duke Fredo or the Dark Elf Count Mock, who was currently imprisoned in the black castle at the Forest of Darkness… Two of the four nobles would oppose the White Star’s choices for sacrifices without a doubt.
Cale’s gaze slowly turned toward Count Hubesha.
‘It looks like Count Hubesha was against those sacrifices as well.’
Had she noticed Cale’s gaze? Count Hubesha slowly turned her head and made eye contact with Cale.
“The king has betrayed the citizens of the kingdom and the kingdom itself.”
Her voice that had been shaking was now calm and even sounded cold. Her cold voice recited a law.
“You must get rid of a king like that.”
The White Star was the king of the Endable Kingdom. His decision to use his citizens as sacrifices was an act of betrayal, so she was saying that they needed to get rid of such a king.
“The only reason I accepted a noble title in the Endable Kingdom was for the will of the kingdom and its citizens.”
Cale’s expression turned odd after hearing Hubesha’s explanation.
“Then why didn’t you act earlier? A large number of Dark Elves already lost their lives as sacrifices at the Endable Kingdom. I think I remember seeing some knights there.”
The Dark Elves serving the Endable Kingdom’s Count Mock… A portion of them were killed by Bear King Sayeru as sacrifices for the summoning ritual.
Cale had only seen the bloodied carriages by the time he arrived.
“You should have known what the sacrifices were by then.”
“Some of my subordinates did not agree with me. They, and those who follow them, decided to go serve Bear King Sayeru instead.”
Not everybody could believe the same thing. The ones who agreed with the White Star had moved separately and stealthily so that the others would not notice.
“And… I… no, we……”
She hesitated for a moment before continuing to speak.
“We cannot attack the citizens of the Endable Kingdom.”
The White Star, the Bear King, the priests… They were all citizens of the Endable Kingdom.
“That is the restriction and contract condition placed on us.”
Cale asked something he had been wondering for a long time.
“Are you, no, are all of you human?”
Count Hubesha laughed.
“We were once human.”
Although she was laughing, her eyes were full of rage. Her rage seemed directed at someone or something.
“It would be better to call us weapons.”
Cale slowly recited those words in his mind.
‘Individuals who were once human but are now weapons.’
They just seemed like regular people to Cale. But it was also true that Count Hubesha and her subordinates gave off an odd sense of incompatibility with humans.
Count Hubesha’s eyes returned to normal after seeing Cale’s nonchalant gaze.
“There is no need for you to know about our past.”
For Count Hubesha, their past was something she would work her entire life to handle.
She changed topics as she did not want to talk about it anymore.
“Where is Duke Fredo?”
“Why do you care?”
Count Hubesha slowly grasped the hilt of her sword.
“Duke Fredo. Also, Count Mock who I believe you have imprisoned. I wish to meet with both of them. I don’t know how we come off to you, but we truly cared about the citizens of the Endable Kingdom despite our desire for power.”
She slowly avoided Cale’s gaze.
“I am weak. I said that I would not accept the citizens of the Endable Kingdom as sacrifices but I was okay with the Wolf children being used as sacrifices.”
She then looked back at Cale.
“However, the information I have should still be useful to you.”
“…So you want to make a deal?”
“Yes. I know where the White Star is right now. I will tell you his current location, as well as what he is currently plotting.”
“And what do you want from me in return?”
Count Hubesha shared what she wanted in return from Cale.
“Killing the White Star and preserving the Endable Kingdom. That should be beneficial for you as well. Don’t you agree?”
Cale Henituse was already working with Duke Fredo. There was a lot that Count Hubesha could analyze from knowing that fact alone.
‘The chances of the Endable Kingdom being preserved are high. There is no way that Duke Fredo would have taken Cale Henituse’s side without such a guarantee.’
But she couldn’t tell for sure, making Count Hubesha wait anxiously for Cale to respond.
Cale finally responded after a while.
“I’m not so sure.”
“Let me think about it.”
“Cale Henituse! You need to get rid of the White Star as quickly as possible-”
Cale nonchalantly asked. Count Hubesha was at a loss for words at his lack of emotion.
“Count Hubesha. There is something you need to get straight.”
On the other hand, Cale had a lot to say.
“I have nothing to lose here.”
The White Star’s current location?
It’d be great for Cale to know.
But based on the rumor that was spreading around the Western continent, the White Star would reveal himself at his desired time sooner or later.
The White Star would not attack Cale’s side without thinking hard about it, as he needed them to take care of the unranked monster, the Lion Dragon.
“Count. You and I are not at the same level to make a deal. You’re the only one who has something to lose.”
Of course, taking care of the White Star and preserving the Endable Kingdom were already things Cale needed to do.
But there was no need for Cale to tell that to Count Hubesha.
“Think about it for a bit.”
Count Hubesha’s pupils started shaking. Cale didn’t care and just continued in a calm demeanor as if he was chatting with a friend.
“Think hard about it. What can you give me as you ask for my help? And what can you give me to thank me should I successfully help you out?”
A deal and a request for help were completely different.
But Cale had no choice but to respond this way. Duke Fredo had hidden half of the Mercenaries Guild’s Ranger Brigade members and the Wolves that he was tasked to imprison. He had to sacrifice a lot to make that happen.
Deals could only be made in such situations.
“I’m going to go take care of something. It won’t take long. So think things over and quickly come to a conclusion. If you can’t make up your mind by the time I get back-”
Cale did not finish his sentence.
But Count Hubesha clearly understood what Cale was saying.
Her voice sounded a bit cracked as she laughed.
“Very well. I will think about it.”
She answered while looking at Cale’s back as he moved away.
Cale slightly nodded his head and continued walking.
“I came to meet the World Tree-nim.”
An Elf warrior who was hiding inside the whirlwind on top of the Lake of Despair bowed toward Cale and guided him in.
– Human, should I come with you?
“Just wait here.”
Cale left Ron and the others behind.
It could not be helped.
‘I can’t tell them yet.’
He had to tell the World Tree a lot of things today. He couldn’t take his allies with him as he shared those things.
Cale’s face slowly stiffened as he headed toward the World Tree.
Elf priestess Adite appeared as soon as he stepped foot into the Elf Village.
“Welcome, young master-nim. I will escort you to the World Tree-nim.”
She must have seen Cale’s frightening and sunken gaze as she put on a warm smile and quickly started walking.
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