Episode 108. Spirit Rush (1)

The light flashed red, then blue, then yellow, and finally white. Seon-Hyeok approached as if in a trance.

The fairy dragon egg visible in this light was smooth and transparent like a red jewel. Unlike a jewel, however, the egg’s surface was rather warm to the touch.

While he was at it, he removed the blanket from the egg.

Flop.

The tightly tied rope became undone, and the blanket slid away. With that, the fairy dragon egg was revealed in its full splendor. There was not a single flaw visible on the egg, as though a famous craftsman had painstakingly carved it. The smooth surface was beautiful, and it was almost as if it was imbued with a living flame.

However, he did not care about the egg’s aesthetics. He was interested in what lay within.

Beyond the red cross-section of the egg, Seon-Hyeok could see a small creature wrapped in butterfly-like wings several times larger than its body. He could not help but marvel at the sight.

“This is a fairy dragon?”

A message appeared in his head before he could even finish speaking.

-          Preparation is required to wake the fairy dragon, as it has fallen asleep without receiving a promise.

-          Would you like to have the fairy dragon imprint onto you?

Without a second thought, Seon-Hyeok nodded, and at that very moment, the curled-up fairy dragon spread its wings and poked its head out. Despite still being inside the egg, the fairy dragon unexpectedly opened its eyes.

Ah…

-          The imprinting process has finished.

The imprinting ended in an instant, and when he came back to his senses, the brilliant flash of light had disappeared. The fairy dragon closed its eyes and fell asleep once again.

-          Some time is required for the fairy dragon to awaken.

It had been a brief encounter, but the clear and beautiful eyes of the fairy dragon lingered in his head. He cried out in admiration and remained in a daze.

“My lord?”

One by one, those distracted by the flash of light regained their senses and called out to him. Hearing their voices, Seon-Hyeok likewise regained his composure and shouted out.

“We’re heading back!”

“How did you find this?”

Once they returned to Rheinperle, Seon-Hyeok quietly called for Tristan. His eyes were fixated on the fairy dragon egg placed carefully on one side of the room. Though the egg no longer shone brilliantly, it still emanated a unique, incomparable elegance.

Tristan likewise stared at the egg before cautiously speaking.

“First and foremost, I’d like to thank you once again for allowing me to avenge my colleagues with my own hands.”

He bowed, then flipped over his still-wet hair.

“To be honest, I was extremely lucky to find the fairy dragon egg.”

“Luck is a skill as well. If everyone was lucky, other hunters would have recovered the egg first.”

“Thank you for your consideration, but it really was sheer luck. I did some investigation, but all I heard were stories from fairy tales and had half given up myself. I chose to concentrate on hunting down the wyvern instead.”

Tristan did not bother saying how much effort he had put into capturing the wyvern. It was not necessary. One look at the new scars on his face and body was all it took to know of the pain he had suffered.

“After months of searching, I finally managed to find the cliff where the wyvern resided. I sent some of my faster colleagues to check on the nest and confirmed the wyvern’s existence. However…”

After a short pause, Tristan looked at the fairy dragon egg and spoke in a voice full of disbelief.

“The fairy dragon egg was there as well.”

It was an unbelievable story, but this was a world in which the impossible happened on a regular basis. Depending on the nature of the incident, these impossible situations could be written off as either miracles or terrible misfortunes.

For Seon-Hyeok, this was indubitably the former. Whatever the process had been, it was a tremendous stroke of luck for him to find something he had practically given up on.

“There was no way to immediately retrieve the egg, so my colleagues came down from the cliff, and we spent a while observing the nest after that. What we noticed was that the wyvern was protecting the egg like it was its own.”

After much thought, Tristan’s party had decided to use the fairy dragon egg to capture the wyvern, and this plan was a resounding success.

“But Redvern doesn’t seem to care about the egg at all.”

Tristan responded without missing a beat.

“The wyvern probably forgot about it. We didn’t realize this until we observed the monster, but the rumors suggesting that wyverns are clever hunters are completely groundless. It’s stupider than any monster I’ve come across in my life.”

Seon-Hyeok grew oddly offended at Tristan’s remarks, feeling like his own child was being insulted. However, he could not blame him – after all, the wyvern was dim-witted like few others.

In fact, the wyvern, after finishing a meal, would often forget and quickly cry for more food. If Seon-Hyeok did not check its state through his status window, he worried the wyvern might die from overeating.

“That’s pretty straightforward. I thought you’d have some extraordinary story to tell.”

He thought Tristan’s search for the wyvern would be like his own adventure to find Bluegon. However, Tristan claimed that success and failure of a monster hunt depended more on one’s patience. The wyvern hunt was no different.

“Compared to the difficulty of the journey and the trouble of climbing up to the nest, the wyvern’s capture itself wasn’t particularly difficult. The wyvern really was just that dumb.”

“Hm.”

Seon-Hyeok found his expression darkening at the repeated insults towards his new wyvern. Noticing this, Tristan realized his bluntness and lowered his head, asking for forgiveness.

“What do you mean, forgiveness? More importantly, isn’t there something left for us to settle first?”

“I’ve already decided to repay you with my life, but please pay my colleagues what they were promised. With your generosity, they’ll be able to live like normal human beings.”

Given their losses, Tristan’s party had no choice but to disband at this point. Naturally, their leader was concerned about his group’s future after retirement.

“Don’t worry. I’m planning to reward you more handsomely than originally promised. After all, you didn’t just bring me the wyvern.”

Seon-Hyeok had not just gained the wyvern, but also the fairy dragon egg. It would not have been unreasonable for him to object to a reward, considering that it was he who captured the beast and hunted down the runaway monster hunters, but he was more than willing to overlook this.

“Thank you, my lord.”

“Of course. Where will your party go once it disbands? If you don’t have any plans, why not consider starting a new life here?”

From the beginning, he had hoped to bring the skilled hunter under his wing.

“If you allow me to, I will.”

Tristan reaffirmed that he would stay at Rheinperle for the time being, hoping to repay his debts to the lord. He also agreed to extend the same offer to his colleagues. Within a day, they all agreed to remain at Rheinperle. In turn, Seon-Hyeok promised to compensate them generously and assigned them to the territory’s troops.

Just by looking at Tristan, Seon-Hyeok could tell that his subordinates would be on a different level compared to other monster hunters. In addition, their painstakingly honed tracking techniques and patience would be of great benefit to his existing soldiers.

“Can I try and teach Tristan?”

Unexpectedly, Asha Trail made a suggestion upon seeing the monster hunter. It seemed she had seen something in him.

Seon-Hyeok gave her his permission. He had not spent much time with the monster hunter, but he knew that Tristan was a thorough and loyal person. From that perspective, letting Asha Trail train Tristan would make the monster hunter even more indebted to him, making it difficult for him to leave Rheinperle in the future.

“Do your best. They’re a bit rough around the edges, but they’re still good people.”

With that, Seon-Hyeok became invested in his territory’s operation. Despite keeping himself busy, however, the wyvern remained unable to fly and the fairy dragon stayed in its slumber.

“It’s ready.”

He had forgotten all about it because of the onslaught of major incidents, but Aria Eisen came to tell him that the preparations for the spirit summoning ceremony had been completed.

“Oh!”

Beaming, he followed her.

“The spirits summoned through the ceremony can only be maintained for a short time. It’s also impossible to know what tier of spirits will be summoned.”

The summoning ceremony took place outside the Rheinperle territory. Aria Eisen crouched and drew a circle on the grassy plains.

“Please wait a moment.”

She broke out in a sweat in that brief moment since starting the ceremony. She continued on, engraving a smaller circle and bizarre shapes within the first circle before placing unidentifiable items and fluids within the area.

Whew.

After a while, Aria Eisen finally finished with her preparations, rose up, and wiped the sweat off of her forehead.

“Are you ready?”

“I’m ready anytime.”

Having confirmed that he was prepared, the mage once again crouched down at the center of the circle and touched the ground. She then began to constantly mutter in a language he could not understand. The scene felt bizarre to Seon-Hyeok, but the magical energy that endlessly fluctuated around her was neither small nor insignificant.

Crunch.

The grass and weeds that barely rose up to her knees began to grow at a rapid pace. In an instant, they reached her waist, only to dry up and crumble back onto the ground. New sprouts took their place, and this process repeated itself over and over again.

After a few cycles, the dark, reddish dirt underneath began to glow. It rose up, following the fluids the mage had scattered earlier.

“The ceremony has begun!”

Seon-Hyeok had been staring blankly at the scene unfolding in front of him. At Aria’s words, he tried to focus on what was happening.

“Hm?”

Aside from the bright flashes of light, nothing had changed. There were no signs of spirits anywhere.

Was it a failure?

Seon-Hyeok frowned, wondering if he had been scammed once again by the greedy mage. However, he was being too hasty. Little dwarves popped out of the previously barren ground.

They were as small as babies, but had unusually large heads. These dwarves were, without a doubt, earth spirits. Seon-Hyeok tried to get their attention using his attribute control.

Over here, kids.

Sensing his energy, the dwarves turned towards him. They were earthen dolls, lacking distinct facial features, and their appearance creeped him out. However, he tried to ignore his discomfort as he searched for spirits of interest among them.

But something was strange.

Pop. Pop.

The earth spirits kept appearing.

Low-tier. Mid-tier. High-tier.

Spirits of different sizes and strengths continued to rise from the ground.

“Sir Eisen?”

At first, there had been only a dozen or so spirits, but now, they completely crowded the large circle the mage had drawn. Seon-Hyeok grew nervous – now, it felt like it was not him who was picking between the spirits, but the spirits who were evaluating him.

However, she did not respond. She remained crouched on the floor, unmoving.

Even at that moment, the number of spirits continued to increase.

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