The Novel's Villain - Chapter 92
24. Villain (4)
Shortly after the high-ranking demon returned, rumors spread rapidly that a saint had appeared. It was rumored that they had defeated the evil high-ranking demon who had cursed the estate, a rumor which Alonso and many other priests testified to. At the same time, the adventurers checked the dungeon near the Guern village, and it was back to normal.
The curse had been lifted! Rumors spread that the high-ranking demon was merely a servant to the existence known as the Emperor, aiming for the continent. The Order dismissed it as an absurd rumor, afraid that the authority of the Goddess would decline.
High priest Alonso, who went to verify Selena, announced that she had nothing to do with the curse, and soon after, Selena was able to regain her original authority. Count Ehorce’s face was distorted by displeasure when he heard the news. It was his hobby to make fun of his opponents while pretending to be good-natured, using his good face as a mask. He thought that most of Altamia’s territory had been handed over, and Selena would become a witch through the Order’s verification.
And he planned to take care of everything after playing along with it. He intended to move the nobles by spreading rumors that it was a curse and mobilize the Order. He was manipulating everything from behind while pretending to be nice. The curse was only an exaggeration. After all, Ehorce manipulated a lot behind the scenes.
“A saint? Sacred ground?”
The bribe didn’t work well for Alonso, but his corrupted faction needed a lot of money. He offered huge bribes to the priests who followed Alonso and asked for their help, so he believed they would work according to his whims. Besides, he sent the nobles questioning Selena, so there must be no problem at all.
But suddenly the reservoir collapsed. The nobles had no intention of returning, and all the priests wiped their mouths and pretended not to know.
‘Selena…so she still had one hidden trick, huh?’
It must be Selena’s little game. He was engaged to her because of her estate, but it seemed that he was the one to be preyed on, so he decided to occupy her estate thoroughly. The curse was a very good excuse. The Count didn’t want to lose Altamia’s territory. If the territories were united, only a few nobles could deal with him in this kingdom.
“What do you think? Isn’t Alonso possessed by something evil?”
“Perhaps there is a great evil there. If the position of the high priest is vacant, the next high priest will you, Theronso.”
Theronso nodded. He understood what Count Ehorce wanted. Although Theronso lacked divine power, he had risen to the position of an intermediate priest with only his subterfuge and political skill.
The two looked at each other and smiled with assent.
But the Count shuddered for some reason. He never dreamed that there would be an existence beyond the great evil.
* * *
Jin-woo started to seriously think about it.
Guern Village became the Golden Sacred Ground. By becoming a sacred ground, ownership was passed to Jin-woo. Of course, under the laws of the Raskan Kingdom, it was still Selena’s estate, but Jin-woo had full authority. Selena recognized it too. The sacred ground was a territory beyond the laws of the kingdom.
‘A saint, huh…?’
The priests and villagers began to treat him as a saint, but it felt burdensome. After all, Jin-woo was far from anything holy. Jin-woo denied it, but every time he did, they looked at him with even more respect.
Selena began to master the Golden Dark Magic. As she learned it, she found a path other than the Goddess. She originally learned dark magic from a demon, which corrupted her through the contract. However, now, she continued it with Golden Dark Magic.
“I realized what I have to do.”
Selena has changed a lot since her awakening. It felt like a mask was peeled off. She had a smile that gave off a dark secret feeling, and her charisma was amazing.
Jin-woo went to the Demon Realm and gathered the high-ranking demons. He instructed them not to interfere in Middle-World needlessly. Then the Dark Wizards, who were actively causing a lot of trouble, returned to the shadows. Rumors spread that the saint had driven out the Dark Wizards since his appearance. It was half right and half wrong.
‘Why is this place so big?’
When he returned from the Demon Realm, Jin-woo had a place arranged for him to stay. He stayed where the high-ranking demon was summoned, and under Selena’s instructions, the villagers and priests worked together to build it larger than the manor’s house.
‘Still, it’s just a small town, so it shouldn’t be a problem.’
There were times when he thought so idly.
Alonso and the priests were sitting in front of Jin-woo.
“Aren’t you going back? You’re the high priest, though…”
“Hahahaha! Since the saint is here, this is where I will be.”
“I am not a saint.”
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“Hoo! How can you be so humble! Haha, even the saint says he’s not a saint. How come a high priest like me…hmmm…”
Alonso was suddenly lost in thought. The saint, who made even a high-ranking demon bow 90 degrees, denied it himself. He lowered himself infinitely. There was a rush of anguish. Alonso realized that he was still obsessed with the position of the high priest. His eyes gleamed.
“What should I throw away?”
The priests sitting behind Alonso began to say strange things.
[Alonso has learned a new doctrine.]
*[E] The Order’s Future Direction
*[E+] What is God?
Something was continuing to develop. Jin-woo left them to their thoughts and looked at the information about the Golden Sacred Ground.
[A] Golden Sacred Ground
The place where the Emperor of Gold first came to rule was in the Middle World. Believers can receive a bounty imbued with golden power according to their loyalty and contribution. Loyalty will never fall for those who receive sacred bounties.
Those who belong to the Golden Territory are affected by this sacred ground. Tendencies may change slightly, but it isn’t something to be concerned about.
*[C] Emperor’s Bounty: Bounty is paid according to the level of contribution and loyalty. It can be retrieved at any time.
*[B] Growth: Those who belong to the sacred ground will gain experience points within the sacred ground.
*Population: 220 people
New personnel: [E] Swordsman Allen, [D] Wizard Tinya, [E] Archer Halo…
The bounties were things like groceries and camping gear that Jin-woo had brought for his trip to Middle-World. There were so many that he didn’t check each one, but the ranks weren’t that high.
‘The person with the highest contribution right now is….’
It was the Blessed Village Old Man. He was the old man who worked the hardest when making a place for Jin-woo to stay. He was given a bounty, which was the energy drink from the subspace.
[E+] Big Hearth D
The Emperor of Gold strengthened Earth’s goods using the pure mana of the Middle World. It has powerful fatigue-relieving effects and a permanent physical strength boost. It also unlocks one’s potential.
‘The residents have increased, huh?’
The number of village residents increased while Jin-woo was off in the Demon Realm. The newcomers were unusually adventurous. It was really strange for them to settle in a place like this. After all, this was a village with almost nothing.
Jin-woo walked from the village. Although the road was destroyed because of the reservoir, the number of visitors suddenly increased. Most of them were adventurers who were trying to challenge the dungeons near the sacred ground. They arrived after hearing rumors that the curse had been lifted.
It was unknown where it came from, but word of mouth spread that the dungeons near the Altamia estate, especially the Guern Village, were very good. Some also came to meet the saint. It became noisy as adventurers visited the quiet village. Some adventurers ignored the villagers by calling them countrymen or bragged about their power. It was a typical setup that often appeared in the original story.
Seeing the noise, it seemed like there was still such an adventurer around. A man who appeared to be an adventurer had broken into the village and made a fuss. He seemed like an adventurer beyond the beginner level, so he was very intimidating. Jin-woo thought he would take the initiative on his own, but the villagers gave off strange vibes, so he decided to watch for a while.
The villagers were all smiling grimly. Their eyes were curved thinly, and their lips split apart. Nothing like demon energy came out, but the atmosphere itself seemed menacing.
‘They look eviler than the demons.’
Jin-woo thought so.
“Chortle…so young. Being young is a good thing.”
“I know, right. Fufufu.”
“Oh, what a good ore.”
“Yes, I plucked it from the cave.”
As the old man said so, a middle-aged woman with a basket on her head answered. A large ore was placed on top of the basket. With her hands off it entirely, she was holding it up with only the strength of her neck. As the villagers smiled casually at him, the adventurer became even more upset.
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“H-heeck! You should have become gentle when you grow old. How come you keep chasing me?”
“Chortle. Young man, I was just giving you advice, so why are you so angry? Pay for the inn and go on your way. I’d like to ask for property damages as well.”
“I’ll pay you back when I get back from the dungeon. Don’t you know about credit payments? Are you deaf?”
As the villagers shook their heads and whispered, the adventurer frowned and pulled out the sword from his waist.
“T-these bastards…! Do you know who I am?”
As his sword was drawn, silence fell for a moment. Jin-woo tilted his head, finding the surrounding atmosphere too peaceful.
“You plucked it?”
“Yeah, I plucked it.”
“So you plucked it, huh?”
The villagers murmured like that again. The adventurer felt strange. Usually, people in these small villages would be terrified when he drew his sword. The adventurer, formally registered as an adventure guild’s member, was so powerful that ordinary people were terrified of him. There would be no nobles in this rural area, normally, but that wasn’t the case here.
“W-what! Do you want to die?”
As the adventurer shouted and swung his sword in the air wildly, the guards ran in as if they had been waiting.
“Now that you have drawn your sword, can it be said that you are asking for an official duel? In our estate, we are implementing the duel laws set by the Raskan Kingdom.”
“Duel? With that old man?”
The adventurer looked at the old man with puzzled eyes.
“Hah, are you not confident enough to handle this old man? Young people these days have no ambition.”
“Is this old man crazy?”
The guard handed over a contract. In case of defeat, it was written that he would be demoted and obligated to unpaid service for four years, but the adventurer signed it as if there was nothing to see. It was applied to both sides under the laws of the Raskan Kingdom.
‘I will torture him slowly over and over again.’
He couldn’t kill the old man, but he was going to beat him to his heart’s content. The adventurer raised his sword, thinking so. The old man stretched his back and held up his cane. It seemed that the old man had suddenly grown in height.
“Wait a minute.”
Then he approached the cart next to him. It was a cart full of stones, but the old man pushed the cart away lightly with one hand then grabbed a lump of iron.
When he put it on the cane and hit it with the back of his hand, it fitted perfectly with the sound of the air bursting. The adventurer was startled by sight. He sensed something was going wrong, but he couldn’t turn back. The old man turned his head to look at the adventurer. His eyes gleamed strangely.
“It’s great to be young.”
When he scraped the blunt blade with his fingernail, the blade stood out sharply. The adventurer had no choice but to swallow at that sight.
“There are so many days left to work.”
The old man properly gripped the cane that had been turned into an ax. His muscles swelled, and his clothes tightened. It was the moment when the adventurer, who felt the crisis appearing, raised his sword and tried to run.
The ax lightly broke the adventurer’s sword and grazed his nose. The skin of his nose was peeled off, and blood dripped down.
“Oh my, my hand slipped.”
The duel ended unexpectedly easily. The adventurer sank to the ground and surrendered. The old man skillfully removed the ax again and nailed it under the cart while the villagers all went to do their jobs now the show was over.
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The adventurer became very docile as the old man took an Order membership form out of a pocket. To be precise, it was the Saint Order centered around Alonso and his priests. It was a new type of order separated from the Goddess’s Order.
“If you join the Order of Guern Village, you can shorten your service period by a year.”
“Haha! Maybe because you’re still young, your head seems to be working well.”
The adventurer signed it with a blank expression, then looked up at the old man. The old man’s bald head reflected the sunlight and looked like a halo.
“H-how could you do that? That kind of power…”
The old man looked at him with a serious look.
“Do you know Big Hearth D?”
It sounded great. It was like the name of a great artifact from a legend.
“Hahah, I will tell you after I see how you do today! There’s a lot of work to do, so let’s get moving.”
The old man took the adventurer and headed straight to his workshop. When he saw Jin-woo, he politely greeted him.
[The novice adventurer, Adolun, has joined the Golden Saint Order.]
It was an indication of why the number of residents was increasing.
It was almost a kidnapping. Jin-woo, who had no intention of creating an order, was upset. The village was expanding, and the wooden houses were being replaced with brick. The ground, which had always been muddy, was paved before he knew it.
Jin-woo looked at the construction site.
“I-it’s hard. Ouch!”
“Hey, how can you be so weak when you made such a fuss?”
The tone was polite, but there was a scene like, ‘Work, slave!’
‘Let’s go to the dungeon first.’
Jin-woo went to the dungeon that appeared behind Guern Village. As he went, he noted children were running around in front of the dungeon.
Poison slime was rolled around the ground like a ball while women were mining ore in the dungeon.
“You know Jane? She’s marrying that nobleman. They live here.”
They were chatting and carrying ore like a normal day’s work. The experience buff was applied to them since it was within the sacred ground.
[Stinging! It’s stinging!]
The voice of the Maze was heard. It just sounded like a gloomy wind to the villagers as they broke the wall of the dungeon and carried it to the village. The Maze got what it deserved.
Jin-woo thought it would get weirder if he retrieved it now, so he decided to watch for a while.
‘This is somehow…’
Jin-woo suddenly looked down at the village from the dungeon. It was now much larger than when he first arrived, built with stones collected from the dungeon, so strange energy flowed out. He lifted his head and looked up. The sky was covered in dark clouds. And in the center of the village was the place where Jin-woo stayed. It was currently being expanded again.
‘It somehow looks like a Demon King’s Castle.’
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Jin-woo laughed bitterly. It couldn’t be. It just…
It was just a very slightly transformed rural village. At least it was peaceful outside the village.