I Became a Ruined Character in a Dark Fantasy-Chapter 39

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Chapter 39

"Are you not worried?" Philip suddenly uttered as they walked.

Ian, who was reading the third volume of documents brought from the count's secret chamber, asked indifferently, "About what?"

"Orendel. From what I see, there are too many unstable elements. Not just from your conversation with the lord.”

"You've finally started to think for yourself. Congratulations,"

"Do you see it that way too?" Philip shrugged.

Indeed, there were still many unsettling factors in Orendel, including Declan himself. However, it didn't particularly bother him. In a world heading toward destruction, the changes one individual could make were inevitably limited. Since he had prevented Orendel from falling into the hands of the corrupted one, this outcome was satisfactory.

"Forget it. Is now really the time to worry about Orendel?" Philip's face snapped to attention at the added comment, "Right. You're correct. The issue with Agel Lan is the biggest and most urgent. In that sense......."

Philip gestured with his chin, "Have you found something?"

"Not yet. It's better to hope for something. If there's nothing... our return to Agel Lan might be delayed,” said Ian.

"...!" Philip's face tensed, but in truth, Ian wasn't overly concerned.

Corrupted beings, like mages, enjoyed documenting their deeds. Depending on whether it was evidence to guard against betrayal or mere boasting from a sense of superiority or overinflated ego, the content varied dramatically. The Marquess seemed to lean toward the former. Just as Ian was absorbing all sorts of unwanted trivia and information, he found something.

"There it is.”Philip, who had a wary face quickly turned his head, "What? What is it?"

Ian pushed the booklet he was reading toward Philip.

"I can't see anything." Philip blinked.

"Really?" Ian smiled slyly and infused magic into the emblem on the cover. Words suddenly appeared on the paper.

"What about now?" Ian asked.

"...It’sa magically sealed book?" said Philip.

"Yes. Perfect for recording content that shouldn't be seen by others,” said Ian.

It seemed they hadn't considered that a clean notebook among many documents might be more suspicious, thought Ian.

"So, what does it say?" Philip asked.

"It's a list. The marquess really didn't trust anyone. Not just a list of mentioned individuals but also their personal information that he investigated," said Ian.

This guy, he really wanted to be the king, a sneer spread across Ian's lips.

However, it appeared the Marquess hadn't fully grasped the true purpose of Regis Brant. There was nothing about transforming all of Agel Lan into a demonic realm in the summaries of their secret meetings or conversations.

There were only detailed plans to establish a coalition of corrupted states, create an immortal legion with forbidden knowledge from the abyss, and expand their power by swallowing up border countries, eventually threatening the empire itself. That was the grand ambition of the Marquess and the other corrupted.

In the end, they were all just puppets of Regis, Ian felt he understood Regis Brant's method. He must have incited the hidden ambitions and desires of power holders and intellectuals, eventually pushing them over the edge. Of course, he would have made countless promises that their desires would be fulfilled.

In Ian's view, once Agel Lan became a demonic realm, all those promises would be void. Then, even if the corrupted didn't want to, they would have to obey. Or perhaps, they would just be sacrifices.

With these madmen lurking all over the continent, it's a wonder the world hasn't collapsed sooner, thought Ian. Even in these times, humans were busy plotting wars against each other.

Philip, looking anxious, asked, "Which names are there? Do you recognize any?"

"Regis Brant is definitely there," said Ian.

Ian's hand stopped as he flipped the page, "Frederick Hansen...."

"...Who is that?" Philip asked.

"A priest from Valk City. He was close to the lord. Oh, Hanna Button. This name is familiar too," said Ian.

"Who's that?" Philip asked.

"A noblewoman from Valk City. Not officially a noble though," Ian replied.

"...So they were really hidden throughout the kingdom. I'll suggest dispatching a punitive force. If that fails, perhaps we should report to the empire—" Philip's words were cut off.

"No need. The ones I just mentioned, they're all dead."

"Excuse me...?" Philip tilted his head.

"Dead? Who....” At Ian's gaze, Philip's eyebrows shot up.

"Was it you, sir?" Philip asked.

"It wasn't intentional. They tried to cheat me out of my fee or stab me in the back, so it couldn't be helped. I only found out they were corrupted right before killing them.”

"...I suppose the governor of Valk Castle wouldn't have just sat by.”

"Actually, he was pleased.”

"What?" "He was a self-centered man. With those who were sharing power and giving unsolicited advice gone, it was all the better for him. Plus, the evidence that they were corrupted was clear. He even offered money to keep it a secret. He didn't want the matter to escalate. Though I was banished afterward, anyway. Half of the names here...”.

Ian added with a chuckle, "It seems I killed them."

Philip, who had been wearing a dumbfounded expression for the first time in a while, finally spoke, "Sir, you truly are... remarkable. At this rate, you could be called the guardian of Agel Lan without exaggeration."

"I've never done anything for Agel Lan. So don't start adding strange prefixes to my name."

Ignoring Ian's icy tone, Philip added. "Then perhaps you were born to fend off the corrupted."

That argument held some weight. After all, Ian Hope’s body, strictly speaking, was the protagonist of the game.

It was perhaps inevitable that wherever he went, he became entangled with the corrupted, demons, and monsters. Those quests related to them offered the best rewards, so to become stronger, he had no choice but to engage.

"Anyway, it turned out well in the end. By thoroughly eliminating the roots of corruption, the foundation for the remaining corrupted ones will almost disappear." A smile spread across Philip's lips.

Philip added, "Now we just have to go to Agel Lan. As soon as possible."

"Hmm." After safely storing the book in the pocket dimension, Ian hummed instead of replying.

Philip looked up at him, furrowing his brows, "You're not thinking of making a detour, are you?"

"Shut up. I'm thinking.”

Ignoring Philip's gaze, Ian was lost in thought. Going to Agel Lan now seemed to outline what events would unfold. Once everything was over, he would probably have to leave Agel Lan.

For a while, he might not be able to set foot there again, as in the game. It also meant parting ways with any quests that might still be lurking somewhere. He had no regrets about leaving Agel Lan, but not about the other part.

I've passed through the major cities, but there must be a few more. Would Mev be able to hold out until then? Ian recalled her last appearance.

Her unnaturally calm demeanor was probably a brief moment of peace following the explosion of intense emotions. He couldn't guess if she would remain so now. As the inner scales tipped back and forth, suddenly, Philip stopped.

"What?" Ian looked down at him.

"It's a crossroads, sir. One way leads around to Valk City. The other... directly to Agel Lan." Philip gestured ahead.

Ian looked ahead. In the sunset, the road split long into the left and right was visible.

"As I am your servant now, whatever choice you make, I will follow," Philip added.

After scratching his chin for a moment, Ian finally turned the horse's head, "Let's go this way." Ian turned toward the path leading to Agel Lan.

Philip's expression dramatically brightened. "You've made a wise decision!"

"Making such a wise decision, I have a feeling that everything will now work out well. We'll be welcomed into the castle, and by eradicating the darkness that looms over the castle, we will gain honor."

"Listening to you makes me feel like I've made the wrong choice.”

"No way. I'll be quiet." Worried that Ian might change his mind, Philip quickly took the reins. Ian smirked and turned his gaze away, hoping at least the journey, if not the arrival, would be smooth.


"Finally...." As Philip descended the slope, he let out a sigh of emotion. Far away, the landscape of Agel Lan unfolded before them.

"For a backwater place, it's quite something," Ian remarked.

Centered around a gentle hill, Agel Lan was decades ahead of other cities in the kingdom. Although it wasn't a small city even in the game, being there in reality, made Ian realize how much had been omitted back then.

Atop the hill stood the inner castle, with buildings cascading down its sides, encircled by a mid-hill wall. Below the hill, more buildings spread out, surrounded by another layer of castle wall. Construction to add another wall around the edge was underway.

Beside it, a river of moderate width flowed, and the opposite plains were filled with fields. The strategic location of Agel Lan, also the name of the city, was surely part of the reason it became a kingdom. Perhaps the former Marquess of Orendel had wished to transform his domain similarly.

And the bloodbath hasn't hit yet, Ian nodded at the intact appearance of the city, signifying that Mev had kept her promise.

"Tonight, we will finally get to sleep in a warm room." Philip quickened his pace.

Even though Philip had been tidy when they left Orendel, he now looked no different from a vagrant. Moreover, the weather was gradually getting colder. Even in an area with little seasonal change, such minor shifts felt significant to those sleeping outdoors.

Soon, Ian entered the outskirts of Agel Lan. The streets were bustling, with most people paying them no mind—a sign of frequent outsiders and good public order.

Then, Philip stopped in front of the first city wall's gate.

"Seems like you're from out of town. State your identity and purpose," a guard said. Despite the repetitiveness of his job, he appeared disciplined.

"I am a squire of Mev Riurel, the Blade of Agel Lan. This gentleman here is Ian Hope, a guest of Sir Riruel," said Ian.

"A guest of the Riruel family...?" The soldier, skeptical at their appearance, signaled someone. "We'll send it for verification. Wait here."

"Understood,” Philip led the horse toward the wall.

Ian remained silent, inwardly surprised by the orderly and rational procedure.

"The city operates systematically," said Ian.

"Of course. This is the heart of the kingdom. From the law to housing, everything is systematic.”Ian thought it was probably modeled after the Empire but nodded approvingly nonetheless. By the standards of this world, it was a decent place to live. Scenes from the game flashed through his mind—the city engulfed in flames, a complete chaos, an unimaginable sight now.

One wrong move and it could all come to that again, thought Ian.

Then, someone rushed out from the gate. A sturdy man wearing a noble's servant robe and hood approached them, scanning the area before spotting Ian and Philip.

"You've finally arrived! I've been waiting so long I nearly turned to stone!" Removing his hood and smiling was a face familiar to them.

"Miguel! To think there'd come a day I'd be glad to see you!" Philip embraced him warmly.

Despite murmuring, “What is this?”, Miguel patted his back and then looked at Ian, who was dismounting his horse.

"Your face is dripping with grease. Seems you've been living well," said Ian.

Miguel burst into laughter, his well-groomed beard and scar shook.

"Looking at you two, I can't say otherwise. Let's go inside." Miguel turned and started walking, exchanging nods with the guards.

Philip chuckled, "You've become a local."

"As you know, I adapt well. Considering the time I've spent here, it's only natural. You, too, seem to have acquired the mercenary look," said Miguel.

"Unintentionally, yes," Philip replied.

"That's how it always starts," said Miguel.

Laughing heartily, Miguel continued, "We have to cross another wall. Philip knows, but the Riurel estate is in the innermost part."

"Why did you come out, though? I thought Sir Riruel herself would come, given the situation," said Philip.

"She would have preferred that, having awaited you more eagerly than I. But, she couldn't," said Miguel.

Rubbing the scar on his cheek, Miguel lowered his voice, glancing around, "Currently, Sir Riurel is confined to the house."

Both Philip and Ian's brows furrowed at this unexpected news.

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