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    Chapter 139: The Holy Emperor’s Coffin (1)

    Seongjin couldn’t help but ask again.

    “…Did I really say that?”

    To believe me just because I’ve become stronger?

    When did I ever?

    Could it be, the old reckless Morres?

    His mind was baffled, but the Holy Emperor nodded.

    “Yes, you did. And you also mentioned there was something to be found there.”

    Something to be found.

    Seongjin had a guess about what that might be.

    But, that’s not what’s important right now.

    “When did I ever say such a thing? Are you referring to before I fell ill with the fever?”

    At that, the Holy Emperor closed his lips and cast his gaze down to the teacup before him.

    The faint smile that had been playing on his lips disappeared, and the somewhat buoyant air settled into calm.

    “…….”

    Seongjin was beginning to understand.

    When the Holy Emperor is sparing with his words, it involves the future. That means it’s something that hasn’t happened yet, but why does he seem to dwell on the past like this?

    Could it be that the occasional phrases from Sister Amelia are influenced by the Holy Emperor?

    “…So, did you find what you were looking for?”

    After a while, the Holy Emperor, breaking the silence, asked an unexpected question.

    Seongjin, giving up on getting any more answers, silently pulled out two small accessories from his pocket.

    The summoning amulet from Nebraska.

    And a small pendant with a broken jewel, found in the dungeon.

    * * *

    Right after obtaining the amulet in the labyrinth.

    A selection window popped up before Seongjin’s eyes.

    〚List of Souls Available for Summoning 2/4〛

    〚1. □□□□ (Inactive)〛

    〚2. □□□ □□ (Inactive)〛

    〚3. Hayes Martin (Active)〛

    〚4. Red (Active)〛

    〚Would you like to select a soul?〛

    〚Accept / Decline〛

    Faced with the unexpected text, Seongjin couldn’t even think about making a choice and just stared blankly at the words.

    ‘Summoning a soul?’

    If this was a game world, such an item wouldn’t be incomprehensible.

    But wait, it makes sense for the demon lord to be listed, but why is this one on the list too?

    Hayes Martin.

    A remnant of the dark cult that had wreaked havoc on the Heresy Tribunal before meeting his demise.

    [Why? What is it? What’s going on? Huh?]

    As Seongjin stared blankly into space, the demon lord grew curious and urged for an answer.

    ‘…Can’t this guy see it?’

    But then again, a Demon King as a summon?

    I understand the concept, but I can’t quite predict the outcome.

    ‘It feels a bit uneasy to test this out on the Demon King right away…’

    Maybe I should try summoning Hayes first? Just as he was considering this.

    “Ugh…….”

    A soft groan next to him snapped Seongjin back to reality.

    Ah, right, this isn’t the time for this.

    Seongjin hastily shoved the amulet back into his pocket and, with a slight limp, approached Orden.

    “Hey, are you alright?”

    Seongjin asked cautiously, looking at Orden who was embedded a good inch into the stone wall, bleeding profusely.

    Then, the man gave a visibly frustrated response.

    “Do I really look alright to you right now?”

    “No. Sorry.”

    Seongjin apologized sincerely.

    Indeed, the impact was so severe that it wouldn’t have been surprising if his spine had shattered on the spot.

    For an ordinary person, it would have been instant death. It was fortunate that he was an aura user close to an advanced knight, which probably saved his life.

    Careful not to twist his cervical spine, Seongjin slowly helped him up from the wall.

    “……!”

    Orden grimaced and held his breath as he was moved.

    His face rapidly paled as moving seemed to exacerbate the pain dramatically. It was commendable that he didn’t scream out in agony.

    After enduring the pain for a while, sweating profusely and groaning, Orden finally caught his breath and asked.

    “So… what do we do now, Your Highness?”

    “Well, I think if we go through there, we might be able to get back to where we came from.”

    Seongjin pointed towards the multicolored light pillar in the center of the dungeon, and surprisingly, Orden didn’t question further and simply followed his lead.

    Perhaps he thought since he was swept here by a whirlwind, there might be a chance to return through the light, albeit vaguely.

    ‘This guy, the more I see, the more he seems surprisingly simple.’

    As Seongjin carefully supported him towards the portal.

    Suddenly, something on the opposite side of the dungeon caught Seongjin’s eye. A figure was slumped against the wall, leaning slightly.

    Feeling Seongjin’s startle, Orden followed his gaze and upon spotting it, opened his mouth.

    “Your Highness. That’s what I mentioned earlier. The corpse of an imperial guard knight.”

    “…….”

    “Would you like to take a closer look?”

    Somehow, Seongjin felt compelled to do so.

    He set Orden down on the ground and approached the corpse.

    Was it an imperial palace knight? But the uniform on the body was slightly different from what Seongjin knew.

    While the overall color scheme was somewhat similar and the knightly emblem was clearly embossed.

    “Is this an imperial guard’s uniform? It looks different?”

    The current imperial guard uniform was a long coat with three splits. But this was a short, unsplit coat.

    Then, Orden nodded.

    “Yes. It’s probably a fashion from over 10 years ago. Due to complaints about it being uncomfortable while riding, it was changed to the current design.”

    So, this body must be at least over 10 years old.

    But for such an age, the decomposition doesn’t seem too advanced. Is it because the inside of the dungeon is cool and dry?

    ‘Or maybe it’s just because this place is closer to a game dimension.’

    Regardless, the body was that of a fairly robust man.

    Considering he was dead in what appeared to be a boss room, one might think he fell to that giant Lycanthrope, but his sword was still neatly sheathed.

    It likely means he didn’t die in combat.

    Overall, the body seemed quite intact.

    Wondering why he died, upon closer inspection, a small metal rod-like object was found piercing exactly through the center of the corpse’s Adam’s apple.

    ‘Wait, isn’t this… a letter opener?’

    An imperial palace knight killed by such a small, blunt knife?

    Seongjin was baffled, but no other significant marks were found on the body.

    The only peculiar thing was a piece of cloth tightly clenched in the corpse’s right hand.

    Curiosity piqued, Seongjin carefully pulled at it, revealing it to be a torn sleeve.

    Judging by its size, it seemed to belong to a child’s garment, finished with delicate embroidery at the hem and adorned with a rather luxurious button.

    And then, with a clatter, a necklace hidden within the sleeve rolled out. It was a necklace adorned with a small gem shaped like a clear droplet.

    It shone with a radiant crimson, quite beautiful to behold, but regrettably, the gem was completely split in half.

    ‘…Huh?’

    But this gem. It felt oddly familiar, was it just his imagination?

    [Seongjin!]

    Suddenly, the Demon King shouted sharply.

    [We need to hurry! Something’s off with the portal!]

    Seongjin quickly turned around, and sure enough, the multicolored light pillar was becoming blurry and flickering.

    [The gate is becoming unstable. It might close soon!]

    ‘What?!’

    Indeed, it might be too much to expect an interdimensional gate to remain stable for long.

    So, Seongjin impulsively grabbed the necklace and, supporting Orden, dashed towards the portal.

    * * *

    “This item was obtained after defeating a monster in the labyrinth.”

    Seongjin pushed the amulet from Nebraska towards the Holy Emperor while explaining.

    Initially, due to the confusion and the consecutive pop-up text windows upon touching it, he hadn’t had a proper look.

    Now, upon closer inspection, it was quite a finely crafted item. The flat metal plate was densely filled with intricately carved reliefs.

    There were also small empty notches here and there, presumably once adorned with gems.

    The Holy Emperor picked up the amulet and carefully examined it.

    ‘Hopefully, no text windows pop up suddenly here.’

    The initial test had already been conducted.

    Curiously, when Seongjin took it out again upon returning to Delcross, it had become an ordinary ornament, unlike in the labyrinth where text windows would appear.

    Perhaps because this place wasn’t the Rule World but the Main World. If he had known, he might have tried summoning Priest Haze just for the sake of it.

    However, the amulet seemed to appear somewhat different in the eyes of the Holy Emperor.

    “This item adheres to the rules of the Imaginary World. It seems to require some special conditions to operate.”

    Ah, so this gentleman knew about other dimensions after all.

    With that somewhat unsurprising realization, the Holy Emperor returned the amulet to Seongjin, continuing his thoughts.

    “It seems to be an item that fundamentally alters the soul. It’s undoubtedly valuable, but it would be wise to use it with caution.”

    That must mean he should keep it.

    It seemed like a simple soul-summoning item at first, but to think it could cause fundamental changes.

    It was indeed a great fortune that he hadn’t experimented with the Demon King.

    “And this is…….”

    Seongjin also pushed the broken necklace towards him, continuing.

    It was a completely ruined trifle, but since it belonged to a royal guard, it seemed right to report it.

    “It belonged to an imperial guard knight who died in the labyrinth. I ended up bringing it with me, somewhat inadvertently.”

    “…….”

    This time, the Holy Emperor didn’t pick up the necklace. He just stared silently at the split gem with an inscrutable gaze.

    Just as Seongjin was regretting showing it to him, the Holy Emperor uttered something unexpected.

    “This belonged to your grandmother.”

    …What?

    “Your grandmother gave it to me a long time ago. I always wondered where it had gone, it seems it ended up there.”

    Seongjin’s eyes widened.

    What did he say?

    Wait, hold on? Then, the child’s clothing that was with this pendant?

    “Father, then is it possible that back there……”

    Seongjin started to ask reflexively but had to trail off.

    Because, true to form, the Holy Emperor had turned his gaze away and clamped his mouth shut again!

    Father, are you really doing this?

    Feeling frustrated, Seongjin gulped down his tea, and the Holy Emperor, in a dry tone, offered some praise.

    “You said you had to find something important, and you indeed did. Well done.”

    But even as he said that, he made no move to touch the necklace himself.

    Even though it was a relic of his mother?

    “So what should I do with this now?”

    “Keep it safe yourself. This is no ordinary item. Your grandmother was a very special person, and there must be a reason it has come into your possession.”

    A special person.

    Suddenly, Riccardo’s, no, Sigurd Sigurdson’s words came to mind.

    —”The Oracle of the previous era met a very lonely and tragic end. And the Oracle of this era was destined to meet the same fate.” (Chapter 132)

    He had clearly referred to the Holy Emperor as the oracle of this generation.

    That means.

    “Grandmother… I mean, was my grandmother an oracle?”

    At Seongjin’s question, the Holy Emperor, who had been looking down and pondering for a moment, eventually nodded.

    “Yes, there’s no need to hesitate now. That was indeed the case.”

    The Holy Emperor’s mother, Empress Bessheva II, was a woman from the Cornsheim clan.

    Black hair and gray eyes. She passed on the characteristics of her clan to him in full.

    From a very young age, she was aware that she was an oracle. However, knowing the weight of her prophecies, she kept this a secret from her clan until her death.

    Therefore, the Cornsheim clan, oblivious to this fact, proceeded with her marriage to the Holy Emperor’s family.

    Had they known Empress Bessheva was an oracle, they would never have allowed the clan’s treasure to be exposed to the outside world in such a manner.

    But now, the clan has come to know.

    What she was, and who the current oracle is.

    “Then, is it no longer necessary to hide that fact?”

    When Seongjin asked, the corner of the Holy Emperor’s mouth twisted slightly.

    “What would they do even if they knew? Who would dare.”

    That somewhat chilly smile.

    Seongjin could easily guess the unsaid part of that statement.

    Who would dare to coerce the current Holy Emperor into making prophecies?

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