Episode 198. Destiny (3)

“You said you were taught that humans only act when paid the appropriate price, right?”

“What we offered might not have met your needs, but I’m still willing to pay the proper price if I can.”

Hearing Najima’s response, Seon-Hyeok continued on.

“In that case, let’s make a deal this time.”

Since he was not simply doing her a favor, this matter was better considered transactional. As Najima originally offered compensation for her request, she expressed no objections to his comment.

“I need the Mother Tree’s strength.”

Najima’s eyes grew wide. It was clear she never expected him to bring up the Mother Tree.

“The Mother is…”

She expressed her disapproval as she remained wary of the demonkin in the distance. She seemed unwilling to explain the Mother Tree’s current situation in front of these distasteful individuals reeking of demonic energy.

“Atiya.”

The wind spirit had rarely participated in his recent endeavors because of the ever-present ominous energy, but she happily appeared at his call.

“Make sure that nobody else can hear us.”

‘Please leave it to me.’

Seon-Hyeok thought he noticed strange energy extending out into the distance, and soon, there was a barrier of wind separating the space he and the Qeishas occupied from where the demonkin were.

“One of the dragon subspecies which was supposed to be mine has been corrupted with demonic energy. I need the Mother Tree’s help to restore it to normal.”

It was only recently that Seon-Hyeok learned of the Mother Tree’s ability to purify those contaminated with demonic energy. After seeing countless comrades being corrupted by the energy and becoming demonic beings, the demonkin decided to give up everything else in an attempt to save Sang-Jin. The method they had come up with was the Mother Tree.

And Seon-Hyeok also needed the power to purify existences contaminated with demonic energy.

Of the two dragon subspecies that brought him out west, one had become corrupted by this dark force.

[A creature that has submitted to demonic energy can no longer be called a dragon subspecies. And anyways, what’s the point of getting assistance in purifying it, considering it was unable to overcome the demonic energy’s temptation on its own?]

Despite previously making a huge fuss about locating these creatures, the fairy dragon reacted surprisingly coldly about the corrupted dragon.

[It’s different from Red Wyrm. Having been corrupted after a much longer period of exposure, it won’t become whole even if it is purified. If it’s lucky, maybe it’ll become a dark or mad dragon. It’s also possible it’ll lose all of its powers and become little more than a simple beast.]

Seeing her harsh response, it was clear the treacherous fairy dragon neglected to tell him that the Mother Tree was the key to saving the fallen dragon subspecies despite being fully aware of it.

Naturally, Seon-Hyeok ignored Geheimnis’ words. He cared nothing about the pride of these dragons. For him, they were powerful allies, not beings to be kept clean at all costs.

And so, he asked for the Qeishas’ cooperation with the goal of recovering the lost dragon subspecies, rather than to accept the demonkin’s request.

Having heard his entire story, Najima and the Qeishas remained quiet for a while before finally speaking.

“In that case, why did you bring them?”

Seon-Hyeok thought these fairies to be good and gentle, but their eyes currently shone with surprising ferocity. Their hostility towards the Dark Lord and his kind, threats to the safety of their Mother Tree and their tribe, was stronger than he anticipated.

“They also require the Mother Tree’s help.”

“Even if the Mother agrees to your request, she will not extend her favor to them as well. I am sure she will take their lives rather than purify them.”

Seon-Hyeok already knew that the Mother Tree was not just a large and mysterious tree.

“They are not the ones requiring purification from the Mother Tree.”

They were already too far gone, and would soon undergo complete demonification. They already accepted their own fates.

If they so wished, he could try to ask the master of the Holy Sword for assistance, but the demonkin chose to pursue saving Sang-Jin, the Dark Lord, over themselves until the very end.

Seon-Hyeok had neither the reason nor the authority to deny their choice.

“I would like to cleanse the demon king, the being responsible for this entire calamity.”

Najima’s eyes showed signs of incredulity.

“You weren’t listening to me. The Mother is merciful, but she will not be so towards the wicked who have accepted the demonic energy for themselves.”

Perhaps the enmity the Qeishas showed against the demonic energy stemmed from the propensities of the Mother Tree herself.

Najima explained that even if the Mother Tree agreed to this request, she would not be powerful enough to purify the Dark Lord at this time, as she was currently at her weakest.

In addition, she strongly doubted that the Dark Lord would choose to separate himself from the demonic energy, the foundation of his own power.

“Neither they nor I believe the Mother Tree can completely eliminate the demonic energy from the Dark Lord.”

All this demon king needed was a means of suppressing the Fragment of Chaos.

If he had truly resisted the malice overcoming his body and prevented the expansion of demonic energy from the west, that much would be sufficient.

“I don’t know. Only the Mother knows what decision she will make. However, we cannot involve her in that dangerous plan until her intentions are confirmed, no matter who you may be.”

Najima feared the potential situation in which the Mother Tree would be consumed herself while trying to purify the Dark Lord. She likewise was still wary of the demonkin.

“D, do you believe what they say?”

Seon-Hyeok responded without any hesitation.

“Of course not.”

These demonkins had become less than human by accepting demonic energy into their bodies. It was strange seeing them act so normal despite having this ominous force deep within them.

He did not rule out the possibility that they conjured this scheme to hide their hidden purpose of gaining access to the Mother Tree.

In this situation, it would be folly to act on the demonkin’s words.

“Then why…”

Nonetheless, he decided on this course of action based on these untrustworthy words because he was confident in his own ability to shut down their schemes.

“I promise you they will never have access to the Mother Tree.”

In any case, only he and the dragon subspecies would be traveling. He had no intention of moving encumbered by these inscrutable demonkins.

So long as they could not approach the home of the Qeisha tribe where the Mother Tree resided, his own plans would not change.

He would simply fulfill the Qeishas’ request and purify the fallen dragon subspecies.

There was no potential for unseen circumstances.

Najima and the Qeishas did not voice any other objections to Seon-Hyeok’s decision.

However, this only held true regarding his plan with the corrupted dragon, and they remained absolute in their opposition to the matter concerning the Dark Lord.

This was as expected.

“I have no intention of coming in contact with the Dark Lord at this point anyways.”

Seon-Hyeok lacked the preparation to meet the demon king, considering this opponent currently held the Fragment of Chaos. At the very least, he needed to build up strength to escape with his own life if the situation turned for the worse. 

In addition, his top priority, for now, was to find the fallen dragon and restore it to its original state.

It would be nice if he could also meet with the true dragon, but as she had been silent for a while now, he had no means of guessing when that time would come.

“I don’t know. If that’s all, what was your purpose in arranging for this awkward meeting?”

Najima’s question was sharp. Seon-Hyeok had set this up because he had something in mind.

“Najima. What will become of your tribe once the Mother Tree’s seedlings are transported to safety?”

They had only exchanged conversation on the Mother Tree’s safety, and never about the tribe’s future.

And once again, Najima did not respond. However, the look in her briefly shaking eyes was enough for Seon-Hyeok to guess the fate of those left behind.

It was likely that as soon as the current Mother Tree perished, the Qeishas would become contaminated by demonic energy and be wiped out as well. The other alternative was that they desperately escape the Dark Lord’s domain while risking their lives. In either case, the Qeishas’ fate was unenviable.

“Your deal with me has been agreed on. However, the deal between you and them has not even begun yet.”

Najima showed strong disapproval towards the idea of dealing with the demonkin.

“The demonkin have the ability to control the demonic beasts. It is possible that this ability can help your tribe escape the Dark Lord’s territory safely.”

The Qeishas had suffered considerable casualties in coming all this way. If they could secure the help of the demonkin, it would be much easier for the rest of their tribe to do the same.

Of course, there would have to be some mutual exchange for this to become reality, but Seon-Hyeok felt the Qeishas were more than capable of paying a suitable price.

“We cannot betray our Mother.”

“I never asked you to.”

“Agreeing to what they want could put her in danger.”

Seon-Hyeok shook his head upon hearing Najima’s stern response.

“Maybe right now. But I’m sure there’ll be a way if we search for it.”

Naturally, it would be up to the Qeishas to come up with this compensation. Seon-Hyeok’s only objective was to give them a glimpse of this rope of life.

“It’s possible that’s not the only thing they want.”

Seon-Hyeok suddenly remembered the two knights, Lafayette and Roland. He did not see a huge difference between the Knights of the Azure Sky willing to abandon their kingdom to remain griffin riders, and the demonkin deciding to embrace demonic energy to avoid surrendering their power.

“Ugh. My head hurts doing something that doesn’t suit my personality.”

Seon-Hyeok had no idea what the Qeishas would decide, or what paths they would find.

“It’ll be better for them to come up with a solution together than for me to figure it out alone.”

If they were fortunate enough to reach an agreement, they may find a way to save the lives of countless Qeisha who would otherwise be abandoned along with the dying Mother Tree.

If they could safely escape the Dark Lord’s realm, there was a place for them to reside. Adenburg would be their new home, as the Mother Tree’s seedlings would be transported there.

It would be a great benefit to the Adenburg Kingdom to have an entire tribe of Qeishas, including their expert marksmen with power exceeding that of senior knights, settle in its borders. Of course, it would then be up to the wise King Theodore and Queen Regent Ophelia to come up with a suitable means of utilizing their strengths. 

“I guess I really am a person of Adenburg now…”

Seon-Hyeok smirked, proud of himself for coming up with a plan to benefit his kingdom while so far away.

“My lord!”

“Indomitable Duke!”

Having returned to camp alone after leaving the Qeishas and the demonkin behind, Seon-Hyeok tilted his head in confusion when he saw Julian and Baron Adolph Hochnech rush towards him.

Their expressions somehow seemed too elated.

“What’s going on…”

The young squire and the middle-aged knight responded in unison to his question.

“The foreigners you rescued have all decided to move to Adenburg!”

“The foreigners who returned with you have expressed willingness to overcome their addiction to demonic energy and then stay at Rheinperle!”

The answers were similar but subtly different. The older knight gave a fake cough as he corrected his statement.

“The many foreigners here have all stated they will entrust themselves to you.”

Before he could even finish, a mass of foreigners approached from further away and surrounded him.

“You once said that in both this world and in the other world, people are always on top of others, regardless of the rhetoric used to nicely package the arrangement, right?”

Seon-Hyeok had once said so to the many foreigners caught up in the merits of democracy. It was something he had said offhandedly, as they showed almost excessive antipathy towards the monarchies in this world.

In his eyes, Adenburg, with its wise monarch, was as fine of a country as his home of Korea. In other words, the identity and quality of rulers was more important than the system of society itself.

Of course, he knew of the downsides of monarchies. However, his experience in Adenburg up to this point suggested it was as good, if not better, a place to live than the other world. There was the premise that each person would have to prove his worth, but the foreigners, even the low-tier ones, had the latent potential to reach a level above an average knight.

In that sense, this world was not necessarily that bad.

“I was just saying you shouldn’t look at things through rose-colored glasses.”

The foreigners spoke in unison at his response.

“So we thought we’d see just how good this world is under the wing of someone of our choosing.”

“Is that me?”

One of the foreigners stepped up as their representative to speak.

“If the nobles are the bosses and the kings are the chairmen of this world,”

There was no shadow of their mistreated past anywhere on their grinning faces.

“You’d be like an executive of a major company.”

“What?”

When Seon-Hyeok stared back in bewilderment, the foreigner drove his point home.

“Please give us a job. We’ll do our best.”

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