1

"Hm? What?" Unsettled by her sudden change in tone, Varian straightened his back and narrowed his eyes.

"The box you've stolen belongs to Princess Eshala Starlight. She can sense its location even from a galaxy away. You're painting a target on your back." She stretched out her hand and looked at him with a solemn expression.

"Err…"

Varian was expecting something dangerous from her but this was a known news. Rather, he didn't know how to respond.

"I'm not playing around. Even though I can protect you for now, I would have to eventually leave. There are a lot of suspicious movements at the satellite galaxy. Rank 9s can't infiltrate into Pala. But rank 8s very much can."

Miss Calamity's voice was earnest and her eyes showed sincerity. It was such a sharp contrast to 'Aurora' who wanted the world to burn during his stay at the academy.

"I used the box already." Varian said.

"Stop kidding. It won't be a problem if senior sister is here. But she's not. It's too dangerous to keep it with you."

Varian unlocked his storage ring and shrugged. "Search."

Miss Calamity paused for a moment, considering if it's okay to breach his privacy. But that thought didn't even last an instant and her sharp extended sense dived into the storage ring.

"Huh?"

She raised her head in confusion before scanning every inch of Varian's body.

"…Did you hide it?"

"I told you already. I used it. In the tower."

"Why?"

"…Don't ask me why." Varian was nervous when it finally reached this point.

Great Harvestor. Legacy of Ares. Sarah. Slivers.

None of these things could be revealed.

"Should I also not ask why your strength is this different from what I remember a few months ago?" Miss Calamity tilted her head.

Everything seemed to remain the same but the room was filled with an unbearable coldness.

Even with his physique, Varian's body instinctively shivered.

"Yes. Don't ask." He replied with a straight face.

But that's all he could do.

If Miss Calamity turned hostile, well, she better not. Because there wasn't much he could do then.

'She won't kill me because she needs answers. Then torture it will be. I'll seal my spirit though it'll still be hellish. But how long would it last? A few weeks? A few months? She'd go to that satellite galaxy and then, I can escape back to Hortus.'

In the brief moment when Miss Calamity narrowed her eyes, Varian's mind already went through a wild imagination spanning the next year.

"…It's not fair."

But instead of imprisoning him as he expected, Miss Calamity sighed and slumped back into the couch.

"Huh?"

"It's not fair! I told you so many things but you're still hiding secrets! It's not fair, not fair, not fair!" Like a child throwing a tantrum, she began to punch the poor couch.

"…"

Varian didn't know how to respond. 'What about my mental preparation for brutal torture?'

"Nevermind. Tell me what you want." She shook her head before giving him a resentful glance. "Will you at least tell why my clone died? It's Duke Kriad, isn't it?"

"No." Varian never felt so guilty for lying. But the contract wasn't destroyed yet. He couldn't help it.

"I was thrown into a prison which started moving out of the kingdom. I managed to break out and by then, it's already near the academy. That's when you and Duke Kriad sensed me.

But shortly after, a mysterious powerhouse sealed off the area and attacked. I couldn't witness the fight but your clone sacrificed herself for me."

"I see. If she died for that reason…I guess it's acceptable."

Hearing her relieved voice, Varian gazed down, frustrated at having to lie to someone like her.

Even though she really annoyed him in the academy, she wasn't a bad person. Heck, she was fine even though he stayed silent on many important things.

"Brother-in-law?"

"Yes?" Varian raised his head and met her gaze.

Miss Calamity broke into a playful smile. "Are you feeling bad that 'I' died? Did you cry for my sacrifice? Does your conscience hurt?"

Varian crossed his arms and threw away all that guilt. But it also made her closer, well, at least closer than Sonya.

And so she chattered like an unending, unstoppable record.

It was perplexing at first.

Why would a super genius of the Empire, a peak rank 9 at the door of divine ranks, be so free and casual and even a bit clingy with someone, even if that person was the brother-in-law of her senior sister?

But as she talked more and more, from important issues to trivial topics, Varian understood.

'…She has no friends.'

Precisely because she's a super genius, she must be ahead of even her peers. The people junior to her were too weak to stand with her. The ones older than her couldn't stand her as her very presence made them see themselves as failures.

When she put on a mask and went on to a mission, like she did in Centaurus, perhaps only then did she have normal relationships.

For someone like that, 'Constantine' was not only an object of interest but also someone who shared a special bond that no one else could.

She seemed to see it as a friendship built without any words. Other than his relationship with Isadora, perhaps this was an important factor in why she treated him the way she did.

"…And so, I spent another hundred years in closed door training. Can you believe that? It's sooo boring! I wanted to just vanish. Urghh."

Miss Calamity grumbled as she expanded on another training session. From what she said so far, she spent very little time outside of training. And the few times she did was mostly for missions and battles.

Varian could understand why she didn't behave like a typical 'old monster'. Her age was high but her mind was not.

"I don't know when I'll have to rush back to the border. So, let's go shopping."

She jumped onto her feet and ran to the door. Shaking his head with a small smile, Varian followed.

"Brother-in-law?"

"Hey, that's Brother-in-law!"

"Brother-in-law!"

It wasn't certain who did it first but in minutes, the news that Miss Calamity was hanging out with Varian spread across the capital. Also the fact that he was her 'Brother-in-law'.

Varian didn't like the title very much. But it got even more popular.

Isadora, as legendary as she was, was a figure absent for more than five centuries. Miss Calamity, while not from the kingdom, had far more activity during this period.

In that sense, his popularity grew even more.

It was what Varian intended, to show off his relationship with her to send a message.

'If you mess with me, it's not just Isadora but also Miss Calamity.'

He hoped that those hostile to him would rethink their sinister plans. And in the corner of his mind, he believed with the deterrence of a peak rank 9, they wouldn't be acting against him.

A big mistake.

"Yes. Varian Konstant."

In the prime world of 'Heaven', inside garden filled with golden clouds, Martial Saint Kong knelt with his head pressed against the floor.

The headstrong, prideful Martial Saint—the man who didn't even see the need to respect the King—knelt like an obedient dog.

But the one he knelt toward, a floating humanoid figure composed of pure white light, showed no expression, as if he didn't even consider this odd.

If one's soul power was strong enough, they would sense that this mysterious figure thought the Martial Saint was uncultured for not giving him enough respect.

Thankfully, the Martial Saint wasn't a soul awakener and didn't know that even his most humble gesture evoked only contempt.

"Varian Konstant. Enigma. Isadora." His voice contained no joy or sorrow, but what it did contain was an unexplainable power.

Just listening to that voice of the being, if it couldn't even qualify to be the 'clone' of the real body, the Martial Saint felt goosebumps.

"Kill the man and get me his corpse." The plain voice said. "And get the woman alive."

"Y-Your Excellency, I've pushed Robert to rank 8 to get the job done. I've gathered enough resources, bribed and threatened enough people to let him pass through, even though the ritual allows only rank 7s.

But Miss Calamity and Duke Micheal both support him. They'll recognize his rank right away and the plan would not proceed."

"Useless." The figure coldly spat out.

A mysterious force struck the Martial Saint Kong and a red line appeared on his shoulder. The next second, his right arm disappeared, as if it was never there.

Even the Martial Saint's extraordinary healing was useless in front of a divine ranker.

"Kong, you aren't doing it solely for me. Your own dream will be fulfilled. But it seems you don't care about the future of Palarians anymore."

"No!" Martial Saint raised his voice for the first time. "No, Your Excellency! My race! My people! Their glory is everything I want, everything I seek!"

"Then do what you must."

"I will have Duke Micheal taken care of. But Miss Calamity, I truly have no choice."

The mysterious figure exhaled in disappointment before nodding.

"Very well. She will not be present to see him off that day. Do not fail me, Kong. You cannot bear the consequences."