Chapter 319: From despair to hope (2)

“...!” The people of the Esmeralda territory all shuddered at the booming voice. Kang Chul-In’s shout was the signal fire that woke up the Esmeralda people. 

“I, the Supreme King, Kang Chul-In, know how much you have all suffered over the last four years.” His speech began. “The endless war, exhaustion, and the change of authority… living in a war territory must’ve been like walking in a tunnel without any light. But!”

It was a promise.

“Not anymore!”

It was a promise to Skadi, one of his wives, and to the people of the Esmeralda territory.

“I know how you see me. I’m only a stranger that could leave at any moment. You probably think I’ll leave after giving this place over to the northern alliance, the Gullveig alliance. Am I wrong?” He asked the people of Esmeralda. 

“...”

A heavy silence. No one responded. Who would dare? The man in front of them was the evil conqueror of Pangaea. They might have lost all sense of hope, but they still valued their lives. 

“Anyone can answer!”

However, Kang Chul-In didn’t step back. 

“...”

Even so, they just looked at him with blank eyes. The faces of the generals turned as red as tomatoes. Kang Chul-In raised his hands to calm them down. He had already given his orders, but he knew that their excessive loyalty could cause them to make mistakes. 

They won’t answer… well, I expected that.

Also, Kang Chul-In knew how the people of Esmeralda would respond to his speech. 

“Is there really no one who would like to answer my question?”

“...”

The silence continued. 

“Alright.”

Kang Chul-In nodded. 

Then…

“I will give the brave person who answers my question 100 gold pieces and first-class citizenship to my kingdom.”

It was an incredible reward. A hundred gold pieces was about 40 million won in Korean currency. Not to mention, first-class citizenship? This was an honorable rank given to families who had soldiers in the army for over 2 years. First-class citizens had great benefits given to them. Moreover, for an ordinary person to become a government worker or support the kingdom internally, they had to be a first-class citizen. Because of this, the citizens of the Valhalla kingdom were all voluntarily joining the military to become first-class citizens. That was how valued being a first-class citizen was. 

“Also.” Kang Chul-In didn’t stop there. “I’ll reward a residence in the capital of Metalia that a family of four can live in, and I’ll give you any job you want. Of course, I guarantee retirement too.”

It was a reward that anyone would want. The price of land in Metalia was astronomical, and it was like saying that one would receive land smack dab in the middle of Gangnam in Seoul. 

The response was immediate. 

“R-Really?”

“No way… don’t believe him… it’s a scam…”

“He’s lying… lying…”

“You never know…”

The people of Esmeralda began to murmur at his delicious temptation, 

“Here!”

And a young man at the very front raised his hand. 

Fuck it…!

The young man clenched his teeth. 

He thought that the worst that could happen would be his death. 

“Your name?”

Kang Chul-In asked. 

“Mike Jackson.”

“What?”

“Mike Jackson…”

“Can you moonwalk?”

“Pardon?”

“N-Never mind.”

Kang Chul-In quickly turned his head around after seeing the young man named Mike Jackson’s face. 

Because…

Shit… why does he look so similar…

The young man was very similar to the great musician, the “King of Pop, Michael Jackson.”

“Anyway.”

Kang Chul-In spoke again, pulling himself together. 

“I’ll ask you questions.”

“Yes, your Majesty.”

“Do I seem like a stranger to you?”

“C-Can I be honest…”

“Of course.”

“T-Then…”

When Kang Chul-In nodded, Mike Jackson began to speak his mind. 

“You are correct.”

“Really?”

“Yes... those in authority in Esmeralda have always been evil bosses and strangers who would leave soon…”

“What do you think the reason for that is?”

“That’s…” Mike Jackson thought for a moment. “Because this place is a war territory.” 

This is how he answered Kang Chul-In’s question. 

“War territory?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Be specific.”

“It’s exactly as I said. This Esmeralda territory… is a cursed land where wars don’t ever end.”

Yes, a cursed land. The important strategic land for Lords was only a cause of suffering for the people. 

“I see.” Kang Chul-In nodded after hearing Mike Jackson’s response. “So?”

“Yes?”

“Have you… found a way to solve it?”

“...?”

“A way to escape from this suffering.”

“T-That’s…”

There was no way he had. The reasons were the following:

1. Rebelling?

Result:

A futile death. It was impossible to rise up against the Lord and his subordinates.

2. Running away?

Result:

Another futile death. The Gullveig Alliance had forced them to farm or work in the military, and even took women to satisfy the sexual desires of the soldiers. To them, the people of Esmeralda were just slaves or cattle that could be used when they needed them; animals that could be used if they were fed corn and water. No person in authority would ever let their slaves escape after they bought them. 

In fact, the Gullveig Alliance had created a team called SCS, the Slave Chaser Squadron, to hunt down runaways. 

“We have no way…” Mike Jackson replied in a weak voice. “How could normal people like us be able to escape from the hands of the Lords? We are slaves who can’t rebel or run away… Just because of the fact that we are born in this cursed land, we must suffer forever…”

“Hmmm…”

“And we can’t all toss ourselves into the Hartum River since there’s 100,000 of us… even though we live like pigs…”

They lived because they couldn’t die. That was what Mike Jackson was saying. 

“It’s simple.” Kang Chul-In spoke. 

“Pardon?”

“I can simply fix those lives of yours that are no better than pigs.”

“...!”

“It’s too easy for me.”

But Mike Jackson didn’t believe him, so he shouted, not able to control himself. 

“Liar!”

He had lost his sense of rationality. Kang Chul-In’s attitude of speaking of the pain of the people in Esmeralda like it was nothing infuriated him. 

“W-What did that human just say?”

“Easy? Haha… hahahahah…!”

“Bullshit… what would a gold spoon know? Does he think he’s all that just because he’s a Lord?”

“What would he know… what would he know…!?”

The people of Esmeralda began to bustle with anger. Meanwhile, Mike Jackson was showing his courage by shouting at Kang Chul-In again. 

“You hypocrite…!”

“Oho?”

Kang Chul-In wasn’t angered. Rather, he had a smile as he looked at Mike Jackson and the people of Esmeralda. 

“Do you think we’ll believe that bullshit?”

“Why is it bullshit?”

“You don’t know anything… anything…”

“Hm?”

“How can you speak about our pathetic lives so easily…? How? Look here, Supreme King of the West… Are you a god? To be able to change our pig-like lives?”

“Of course.”

“...!”

“Other people might not be able to do it, but I can.”

“How…!?”

“I’ll show you.”

At the same time, 

Kashing!

Kang Chul-In raised Kaiforce. 

“...!”

Mike Jackson shut his eyes thinking that the scary sword was raised against him. He could hear the sound of the sword moving through the air.

Fuck… so this is how I die…? That hypocrite…!

Mike Jackson cursed Kang Chul-In. He had said he would give money and a house but it was all a lie. 

Boom…!

The castle entrance of the territory came crumbling down. 

“...!”

“Why are you scared?”

Mike Jackson looked behind him at the entrance of Esmeralda. 

“Go!” Kang Chul-In’s shout rang in his ear. “You’re free!”

Free? What was he talking about?

***

At the same time, in some old ruins of the sewers under Esmeralda... 

“Hm… so disgusting… ugh…!”

It had been 6 days since Dorian had started searching for the Emperor of Blood and Iron’s grave. 

“Aigoo… your Highness… we’re going to die…! P-Please, just a bit slower…!”

About 100 dwarves were following him. Along with the ant-species, dwarves were best in tomb raiding, so it was obvious that he was bringing them along. 

“No!” Dorian didn’t have any mercy. “If we can’t find it soon Kang Chul-In will scold us!”

It was the truth. Kang Chul-In was obviously going to complain that they hadn’t been able to find it after six days. 

“...”

The dwarves all shut their mouths and began to move again. It was best to work hard during times like this. Another day passed. 

“Wow…!” Dorian Explorer luckily found an iron door that was about 20 meters tall. “How do I open this…?”

It was made of strong iron, so Dorian was left contemplating for a while. 

“W-We don’t really know either…”

“Other than breaking it…”

“Hm…”

He thought to himself for a moment. 

“Is that the only way? Hehe…”

Urrrrng!

The red gauntlet in his hand began to flare up. 

“Y-Your Highness!”

“No way…!”

“You can’t!”

It was too late. His Shotgun Fist burst forward at the door. 

Clang! Boom…!

The door crumbled down. 

“Cough! Cough cough!”

“Uk…!”

Dust covered them, but it was a relief. Only the door collapsed, and the sewers were still intact. 

“Ugh… look at the dust…”

After some time, they entered what they assumed was the grave of the Emperor of Blood and Iron. 

But…

“Huh?” Dorian was greeted by someone familiar… “W-What… why are you here?”

In the endless darkness…

“Kang Chul-In? You were here already?”

A man with Kang Chul-In’s appearance was looking at him. 

Heh.

With that shameless smile. 

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