Episode 109. Spirit Rush (2)

The spirit summoning ritual turned into an abject mess when the person overseeing it, Aria Eisen, lost consciousness. The number of spirits stopped increasing, but there were already too many present.

The spirits pushed and stepped on one another, desperately trying to remain inside the circle. Seon-Hyeok wondered whether there were separate worlds inside and outside of the circle as he watched the scene unfold.

Whoops.

A particularly small and insignificant-looking spirit was pushed out by its fellow spirits and lost its balance. Seon-Hyeok found himself reaching out, seeing the spirit pitifully trying to stay upright.

“Huh?”

However, as soon as the spirit was pushed out of the circle, it lost its shape and disintegrated into a pile of dirt.

It was only then that he realized why the spirits were so desperately struggling inside the summoning circle. Regardless of their tier, it seemed as though the spirits could only maintain their form inside the circle drawn by Aria Eisen.

Crumble. Crumble.

One after another, low-tier spirits were pushed aside and lost their shape.

As the spirits returned to dust, Aria Eisen’s status worsened as well. She grew paler as time passed, as though something could go terribly wrong at any moment, and Seon-Hyeok was determined to hurry up in an effort to preserve his mage’s well-being.

“Hm…”

However, there was not a single spirit that approached him first. It was completely different from his previous encounters with spirits. They did not share their names, nor did they even show him any interest.

Though it was different, Seon-Hyeok assumed all would be fine if he made the first move. He approached one of the larger spirits among them.

“What’s your name?”

Whoosh.

This time, he really was taken aback. The spirit he reached out to turned away and blatantly ignored him. Seon-Hyeok tried to regain his composure and offered to enter a contract with a different spirit.

“Will you form a contract…”

The results were the same. Before he could even make his offer, the spirit turned around and hid among the mass of spirits.

No matter how many times he tried after that, Seon-Hyeok failed to find success. Low-tier, mid-tier, and high-tier spirits all refused to even share their names.

What the hell is going on here…?

Seon-Hyeok was going crazy. The spirits he had so desperately sought were in front of him in huge numbers, but there was not a single spirit that approached him to form a contract.

And as this happened, time continued to pass.

He looked back and forth between the faces of the spirits that might disappear at any moment and Aria Eisen, pale from exertion. He bit his lip.

He wondered whether the spirits actually did not want to enter a contract with him, but that did not seem to be the case. The spirits did stare intently at him, but it was just that they refused to explicitly approach him. Nonetheless, when Seon-Hyeok did reach out, they proved unresponsive.

“Ugh. This is really driving me crazy.”

Time kept ticking, and Aria Eisen’s head drooped even further. Seon-Hyeok did not imagine she would die from losing consciousness, but he was sure nothing good would come from dragging this out any longer.

And so, he observed the spirits, trying to find a solution to the problem. It was then that he finally realized what was happening.

“Wait. Why are you all standing on eggshells?”

Even as they struggled desperately to remain inside the summoning circle, the spirits seemed like they were frequently looking back towards something. When he followed their gazes, he found a spirit crouched down alone in a particularly empty space at the center of the circle.

“Is it you? They’re all nervous because of you, right?”

Unlike the other spirits, who turned their heads and ignored him when spoken to, this particularly dark brown spirit did not avoid his gaze. Rather, the spirit looked at him, chin up high, as if to challenge him. The spirit was small and barely reached his waist, but the presence was overwhelming.

How did I miss a spirit like this for so long?

The others all seemed insignificant next to the one standing in front of him. It was as if this was the only spirit that existed in this world.

“You’re the highest-tier spirit here, aren’t you?”

Seon-Hyeok asked after a moment of thought. The spirit nodded condescendingly.

“Ugh.”

The other spirits had not dared step forward to offer a contract, as this higher-tier being had remained resolute and disinterested. It made more sense – after all, it was strange for him to not draw any interest from spirits.

“Let’s form a contract.”

Now that he knew why, it was time for him to resolve the situation. Seon-Hyeok offered a contract to this spirit, despite not knowing its rank.

The spirit put a hand on its chin, pretending to debate his offer. It was as though it was saying it was not a pushover like the rest of the spirits. Seon-Hyeok frowned at this childish and explicit display.

Even now, Aria Eisen’s complexion was growing worse, and the spirits could disappear at any moment. Seon-Hyeok was going crazy as the spirit took its time.

He almost wished that the spirit would refuse and go away. As he reached the end of his patience, the spirit finally spoke out to him.

Nudar.

-          You have entered a provisional contract with the highest-tier earth spirit, Nudar.

-          A provisional contract is a non-binding, temporary agreement. Nudar is not strongly affected by your commands.

Seon-Hyeok was momentarily taken aback by the ‘highest-tier’ designation, but his surprise did not last. He immediately frowned upon seeing the words, ‘provisional contract’.

‘You’re still unworthy.’

What kind of bullshit is this?

Nudar, the highest-tier earth spirit, truly did as it wished. It disappeared after its quick, arrogant comment.

Damned spirit.

He wanted to curse and insult the spirit, but Nudar was already gone. All that remained were the masses of lower-tier spirits, now looking at him because their superior had left its position.

All of you, enter a contract with me!

Seon-Hyeok figured that since it had come to this, he might as well enter a contract with all of the remaining spirits. However, Nudar had wasted too much of his time. The spirits that filled the summoning circle quickly began to disappear.

I’m Nasita!’

Namat…

Call me Nouf!

-          You have entered a contract with the mid-tier earth spirit, Nasita.

-          You have entered a contract with the low-tier earth spirit, Namat.

-          You have entered a contract with the low-tier earth spirit, Nouf.

Seon-Hyeok barely managed to remember three of the spirits from the torrent of names that flooded his mind. When he belatedly tried to call on the rest, they had already disappeared into the aether.

That damned Nudar…

He once again cursed the highest-tier spirit. But it was of no use. There was no way of bringing back the earth spirits, and he could not wallow in self-pity.

“Sir Eisen!”

What mattered now was to nurse Sir Eisen back to health. She had collapsed on the ground, much like a pile of ashes that remained after a raging fire.

Aria Eisen regained consciousness soon after arriving at the Rheinperle estate, but she did not appear to be back to normal. Her blue lips were lifeless, as though drawn by the grim reaper himself, and her pale complexion would make anyone wonder if she had taken a terrible poison.

“The laboratory desk… second drawer… blue bottle…”

Hearing her wavering voice, Seon-Hyeok quickly gave his young squire a look. Julian hurriedly rushed out of the room, only to return with a bottle filled with a blue liquid.

“Give me…”

Julian handed over the blue bottle without hesitation, and the mage emptied its contents in an instant.

“Do you feel better now?”

Hearing Seon-Hyeok’s worried voice, Aria Eisen retorted.

“Damn it... I had to use every last drop…”

With that short comment, she lost consciousness once again.

“Sir Eisen!”

Aria Eisen finally came to her senses after a full day of rest. When she did, however, her hair was completely white.

“Sir Eisen. Your hair…”

Her hair was thin and looked like straw. Any normal person would have panicked at the sight, but Aria Eisen was anything but normal. She immediately asked about the results of the spirit summoning ceremony, not caring at all about the change in her hair color.

“A highest-tier spirit? That’s crazy.”

She was taken aback, saying that not even the powerful summoners of the capital had successfully entered a contract with one.

“Can I see it?”

She immediately begged to see the spirit, showing the curiosity befitting a mage. Unlike with low-tier spirits, even a person like her, despite her lack of affinity for spirits, could see a highest-tier spirit if it materialized. The only problem was…

“It’s only a provisional contract, so I’m not sure if it’ll come…”

He wondered whether the snobbish spirit would appear at his call.

“Nudar.”

Seon-Hyeok called on his spirit, but as expected, Nudar refused to show itself.

“Ah…”

Aria Eisen had not been disappointed even when her hair became like that of an old woman, but she now looked like she had lost everything.

“But I did manage to enter a contract with a mid-tier spirit and two low-tier spirits.”

Aria Eisen’s expression brightened slightly after hearing this.

“As soon as I recover, I’ll have to test the new power sources for the arbeiters.”

The mage was only concerned about her experiments, no matter the situation. Seon-Hyeok was exasperated.

“But could you explain what happened?”

“It took more magic energy than I expected to maintain the ceremony, and I didn’t have that much power. As a result, I needed to use my life energy in place of my lacking magic energy. Mages call this phenomenon ‘energy drain’.”

“So you’re saying…”

“I’m not certain, but my life expectancy probably decreased considerably as a result of this ritual.”

Aria Eisen was calm even while saying that her life expectancy had been reduced. In fact, she suggested she was pleased in being able to bring forth a highest-tier spirit by maximizing the summoning ceremony with her own life energy.

“I’ll have to prepare even more thoroughly next time.”

Seon-Hyeok was at a loss for words. The mage, even after having her hair turn white and having her life cut short, only thought about her next experiment.

Aria Eisen wanted to start preparations right away, but the lasting effects of the energy drain could not be quickly overcome. Ultimately, she was forced to postpone the experiment indefinitely until she recovered.

Please wait a while.

Thanks to this, Seon-Hyeok was finally able to catch his breath and relax after being incredibly busy since the wyvern’s appearance. There was nothing for him to do until the fairy dragon awoke or the wyvern fully recovered.

Actually, there was one matter he needed to take care of. It was just that he wanted to push it off for as long as possible.

Who will it be this time?

He needed to summon the newly acquired spirits, but he hesitated, worried about who they might resemble this time.

However, he could not put this off forever. After some internal debate, he decided to summon them in his quarters, where nobody else was present.

Nasita, Namat, Nouf.

As soon as he spoke, three spirits appeared from the ceiling, wall, and floor of his room. His worries became reality. At this point, he had to wonder whether there was something wrong with him, and not the spirits themselves.

What the hell?

Seon-Hyeok’s face contorted when he saw the transformed spirits.

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