Chapter 1. The Crisis of The Absolute
The great continent of Pangea was never peaceful due to Ragnarok, the war for supremacy over the continent. Ragnarok that started three years after the Great Summoning stretched to over seven years. Rather, it intensified as time pa.s.sed. It was the result of the similarities in strength between the Grand Sovereigns.
Ragnarok had resulted in the creation of three large powers.
Kang Chul-In, one of the Grand Sovereigns and two other Grand Sovereigns partic.i.p.ated in the creation of the Ishtar Coalition, which was centered around the use of armed forces.
The second was the Gullveig Union, which based its foundation in strong economic power and productivity.
The final was the Baldur Alliance, which was evaluated to be the weakest of the three alliances despite the presence of five Grand Sovereigns.
These three power groups, depending on the situation, aligned or were at feud with one another, competing and checking each other like the ancient China’s Three Kingdoms.
“Sigh, at this rate, we will not accomplish anything.”
Mumbled a man, sitting on a throne made of pure gold inside the skull of a golden dragon, as he looked down at the current state of Ragnarok and the chessboard with marked borderlines.
This man was Kang Chul-In, the strongest in force amongst the ten Grand Sovereigns, and the owner of the great and vast land of Valhalla.
“I want to crush them all at once… but we are disadvantaged in a war of attrition. How nice would it be if I can destroy them at their foundation?”
Kang Chul-In’s gaze lingered at the Gullveig Union that was marked with a white p.a.w.n on the chessboard.
Yes. In Kang Chul-In’s quest to take over the entire Pangea continent, the Gullveig union was the largest setback.
Gullveig compensated its weaker military force with great economic power and productivity, placing itself in a favorable place in Ragnarok. At this rate, there was a high probability that as Ragnarok progressed, the Gullveig Union would gain control of Pangea. To tip the balance on the power struggle among the three Powers, it was important to disrupt Gullveig’s economic power. In a war of attrition with the Gullveig Union, the one at loss would be only the Ishtar side.
“I would have set Gullveig to flames if not for these c.o.c.kroaches!” exclaimed Kang Chul-In, looking at the area marked to be the Baldur Alliance on the chessboard.
The Baldur Alliance was weak, able to be destroyed at any time if he set his heart to it.
Gullveig, also, could destroy the Baldur Alliance at any time. However, the Baldur Alliance survived by maintaining neutral diplomacy and collecting material benefits while the Ishtar Coaltion and Gullveig Union were at war. They were certainly detestable.
In the eyes of Kang Chul-In, Baldur, who meticulously bore between the two Great Powers and ate up the dropped pieces from the ground, without any contributions or losses, was the most indecent one of all. However, he couldn’t just push off the Baldur Alliance out of anger. If Kang Chul-In was to hit the Baldurs, these bats would just side with the Gullveigs and wage a war of two against one.
Of course, these progressions were not problematic to Kang Chul-In alone.
Both Gullveig and Baldur camps were not free of these sorts of problems. In these sorts of wars, the outcome would be the same, the only difference being which p.a.w.n, which power would make the first move. The roles would be different based on this move, but the outcome alike. Whatever choice and move was made, the one who made the first move would be at a disadvantage.
“Urg! If I had brought Lee Gong-Myung under me, no, even killed, things would not have been this twisted,” growled Kang Chul-In, sitting on his throne.
A Chinese emigrant from Busan, he was not a Sovereign nor a Grand Sovereign, but rather just an insignificant traveling worker ant. However, his significant role in the Ragnarok created the current three-cornered battle. Lee Gong-Myung was an excellent strategist who served faithfully under Alex Rothschild, leader of the Baldur Alliance. He was so intelligent that travelers of the Eastern part of Eurasia called him the rebirth of Zhuge Liang (Chinese strategist well known for his achievements and success in battle strategy) and praised him greatly.
“I should have killed him or had him serve under me then…”
Kang Chul-In, who regretted very little in his life, regretted losing Lee Gong-Myung.
If he could return in time, if he had been wiser then, he could have gained Lee Gong-Myung and unified Pangea, possibly becoming the Greatest of the Great Powers, Emperor of Pangea.
No, not possibly. More like very likely.
Kang Chul-In, who was skilled in martial arts and a great leader, would have been able to defeat the Gullveigs and the Baldurs easily right after with the help of Lee Gong- Myung’s strategies.
“If Kwak Jung at least had been working under me, the situation would have been a lot different… it’s a pity. You died because you served under such an incompetent leader.”
Kwak Jung served under a different Great Power leader, but died of lung cancer in the early years of the war in 2040. He had died early at 38 years of age. If Kwak Jung had been Kang Chul-In’s subordinate, he would have cured the lung cancer, no matter what stage, and worked Kwak Jung until he died from overwork… but there was nothing to do for one who had already pa.s.sed.
“Everything has already pa.s.sed and cannot be reversed… regret that bears no fruit.” Kang Chul-In shook his head, swallowing his regrets.
There was no point in wanting what he could not have.
Of the two strategists that he desired, one belonged to and served faithfully to his rival, Alex Rothschild, and the other had died before he could even attempt to recruit him. Regretting now would not change anything.
It was then.
As he was thinking and regretting alone, Alfred, the vampire butler created by the NPC unit under Kang Chul-In’s reign, burst into the room and bowed down before him.
“What is it, Alfred?” Kang Chul-In asked with a slight scowl.
Alfred, who had always maintained a gentle and calm characteristic of vampires, suddenly bursted in and stumbled before him with a fl.u.s.tered expression.
“Master… something big has happened!”
“It… it is… the scout who just returned to report…!”
“Speak calmly. I will not be surprised.”
Alfred, as if he was afraid of the words that were to be said, took a large breath in and took a hand to rest on his chest. As if that was not enough, he clenched two fists, closed his eyes softly, and opened his mouth.
‘What is wrong with him?’
Kang Chul-In, seeing Alfred in such a state, was puzzled; wondering what could fl.u.s.ter him so. Had the sky fallen? Or was there impending danger in the great land of Valhalla?
“Current…currently, 50km from the southwest, the Gullveigs’ and Baldurs’ alliance troops are approaching.”
He had said he would not be surprised, but the report that Alfred brought was surprising indeed. The Gullveigs and Baldurs have joined hands… it was really a matter of great account that he had not even dreamt of.
‘Is that… possible? Our Valhalla is in the innermost region of the Ishtar Coalition… betrayal…? Who?’
Kang Chul-In, instead of being surprised, remained level-headed and worked to find the solution to the situation. In the Ishtar Coalition, there were no outstanding strategists and He, Kang Chul-In was the smartest of them all.
With the problem already warning its impending doom, it was not very difficult to a.n.a.lyze where the leak had originated.
‘Southwest… If they are approaching from the Southwest… Aleister! It is that d.a.m.ned necromancer!’
The betrayer was undoubtedly the necromancer leader Aleister who was, like Kang Chul-In, part of the Ishtar Coalition. Aleister’s territory was located exactly southwest of Valhalla, and that abominable Aleister had probably opened the way for the alliance troops, or joined them altogether.
“Alfred.” Kang Chul-In, who had finished his thoughts called his butler.
“How large are the troops?”
“It’s that… an entire continent has come and the number of combined troops is huge.”
“Continent? It’s that despicable Rothschild’s Cyamodus, yes?”
“Yes, master… the mobile fortress is Cyamodus…!”
“We’ve been had.”
Cyamodus, the home of Alex Rothschild, was a mobile fortress built on the back of a giant monster that resembled a tortoise. This meant, his rival’s entire headquarters had come right to Valhalla.
‘Movable fortresses… it was always a sore spot. Ideal for running like a rat as well.’
Valhalla, the home of Kang Chul-In, was a little peculiar due to its location underground, but it was not as much as the mobile fortress of Alex Rothschild. It was a question of the ability to move headquarters or not. By nature, the mobile fortress would have varied and more numerous options in strategy compared to rooted ground.
“What about Hecate? Connect me to her.”
Hecate was a Great Power skilled in magic and part of the Ishtar Coalition. For Kang Chul-In, who had numerous enemies, she was one Great Power he could trust.
“Its… It’s that…”
“Yes, master. In my invaluable opinion, they might have been attacked first…”
“Stop. There is no need to hear this further.”
Kang Chul-In stopped Alfred mid-sentence.
And in his head, the scattered pieces fit together to explain this sudden catastrophe.
‘The Gullveig Union and Baldur Alliance. They joined hands first. They turned Aleister against us, and will fight half and half, after dividing me and Hecate amongst themselves… This would have been at a large disadvantage to the Baldurs… this strategy… had this too been created by Lee Gong-Myung?’
Lee Gong-Myung, in addition to strategy and tactics, had great gifts in looking through personal relations.h.i.+ps between the Great Powers. In this current event, Kang Chul-In was sure that Lee Gong-Myung was in the center of it.
‘The betrayal of friendly forces… and with no word from Hecate. The union of the enemy. I lost, it is a defeat.’
Kang Chul-In bit his lower lip, and plainly accepted this dark and hopeless situation. No, he was left with no other choice. Even with his strength, and even with the military capabilities of Valhalla, there was no way out of this current situation. He did not want to accept it… but the Great Power Kang Chul-In and the continent of Valhalla as of today looked as if it would need to leave Ragnarok.
However, Kang Chul-In did not despair.
In place of anger and fear, he took time to think about the causes of this crisis and the mistakes he had made. In the impending doom of his headquarters, he struggles to a.n.a.lyze the situation.
Because, he had a final card to play.
A secret card…
Chapter 1 completed.