Episode 202. The Legacy of the Spirit Kings (1)

Normally, the spirits would have begged him to summon them more often whenever he called on them, but for some reason, they remained silent.

“You guys…”

Confused, Seon-Hyeok asked what was going on. Only Atiya provided an answer.

‘Master, please wait a moment.’

Somehow, he got the feeling that she seemed more sorrowful and desperate than ever, and he was unable to refuse her request.

“Okay, but you have to explain later.”

‘Thank you, master.’

Atiya gave an awkward smile and turned once again towards the Mother Tree.

Seon-Hyeok’s emotions grew complicated as he looked at the backs of his spirits. It was somehow disappointing to see these spirits turning their backs on him after only looking up at him all this time.

However, the spirits’ attitudes now were too serious for him to whine about such feelings.

“Hm…”

He decided to hold his tongue and watch the situation unfold for now.

***

[You poor children of wind and water. You have not been abandoned.]

‘You complete beings could never know of our desperation to preserve our very existence. In that terrible pain of experiencing our fading lives, we decided to live on, even if it meant entering contracts with humans.’

The wind spirit that always smiled and fluttered like a spring breeze while dealing with her master was nowhere to be found. Atiya coldly responded to the Mother Tree, her attitude like the biting wind in the middle of winter.

[How could I possibly guess the sorrow and pain you have felt for so long? Those were probably horrible and frightening days beyond my imagination.]

The Mother Tree did not grow angry at the spirits’ cold response. Rather, she tried to comfort them in an even more tender voice.

[But despite this, I insist that they did not abandon you.]

‘Then how come they never revealed themselves when we struggled and aimlessly wandered in our suffering?’

This time, the water spirits, Ikram and Izdihar, responded. Their transparent, water-like bodies fluctuated wildly, mirroring their inner turmoil.

[No, no. It is not that they did not show themselves.]

A chilly breeze blew in. The lively midsummer forest suddenly cried out in sorrow as though the seasons instantly changed to autumn.

[They could not reveal themselves.]

The voice of the Mother Tree contained a deep-seated grief as heavy as the suddenly-changed atmosphere in the forest.

‘How come…’

The Mother Tree responded.

[Because they have already been extinguished.]

***

Seon-Hyeok could not understand what the Mother Tree and the spirits were talking about.

If he had known this would happen, he would have brought his fairy dragon. He regretted leaving behind the chatty dragon in Astoria because she was a nuisance.

What the hell is going on?

He did not know who the “they” the Mother Tree referred to was, nor what the spirits meant by being abandoned.

If there was one thing for certain, it was that the “they” she mentioned were very important to Atiya and the other spirits.

If that were not the case, the spirits would not have been up in arms upon being told of their disappearance.

‘That’s not possible! If that were true, how could we have not known of it!’

Atiya lashed out in all directions like a fierce gale, and the water spirits rose up like angry waves, almost as if they would shoot themselves at the giant tree.

[You couldn’t have known.]

Atiya’s wind, fiercer than Seon-Hyeok’s Wind Bite, and the rage of the water spirits, more powerful than any tidal wave, were nothing in front of the Mother Tree.

The chaos caused by the spirits died down like it never existed, without so much as a scratch inflicted on the forest.

[They may be gone, but their roots still exist in this world.]

Having quelled the spirits’ rage, the Mother Tree continued to speak as though nothing had happened.

[And that source is the inheritance that you must receive here today.]

As soon as she finished speaking, a brilliant light erupted from between the roots at the lowest point of the massive tree.

[Children. This is your Mothers’,]

When Atiya and the other spirits were completely engulfed in the light, the Mother Tree could be heard once again.

[Your Kings’ legacy.]

Seon-Hyeok was shocked.

He finally understood the “they” the Mother Tree had referred to.

[The King of Water Spirits and the King of Wind Spirits, after being gone a thousand years, shall once again be reborn in this world.]

To his surprise, the disappeared entities were the Spirit Kings.

“What the hell is going on…”

He uttered an incredulous sound as he looked back and forth between the spirits surrounded in light and the Mother Tree.

When the light disappeared and the forest regained its original appearance, the spirits were no longer visible.

[Do not worry. They just returned to the spirit world for a while.]

Seon-Hyeok still looked dazed as he heard the Mother Tree’s soft voice.

“What will happen to them now?”

He did not know the full extent of the situation, but he could tell that the water and wind spirits recovered something they had lost.

“Will they become Spirit Kings now?”

[It is impossible to know right now. If they are worthy of becoming king, one of them may be reborn, and if not, another will take that role.]

Though his expectations were not fully met, Seon-Hyeok was not disappointed.

[But even if they lack the vessels worthy of a king, they will change in one way or another. After all, they are the first spirits to come across the source of their power in 1000 years.]

From what he could tell, contact with the source of the spirits’ power would most likely be beneficial in some way.

As such, Seon-Hyeok already began to look forward to how Atiya and the water spirits would look when they returned.

“Huh?”

As he clenched his fists with overwhelming anticipation, Seon-Hyeok suddenly noticed that there was one spirit that had not disappeared with the others. His eyes grew wide.

“Nudar?”

Nudar. The disobedient, highest-tier earth spirit had not moved since appearing.

But somehow, the spirit looked extremely polite and respectful in contrast to her usual arrogant appearance.

“Ah…”

Seon-Hyeok let out an exclamation at the sudden thought that crossed his mind.

The other spirits returned to the spirit world upon receiving the inheritance of their respective kings. Only the earth spirit remained and showed great respect towards the Mother Tree.

“Are you…”

He would not have thought of this in any other context. However, given that there were already mentions of two separate Spirit Kings, he was almost certain.

[Your guess is not wrong.]

And he was correct.

[I am the Mother of the West, and the King of all things of the earth.]

The Mother Tree of the west served by the Qeishas was...

[I am the ruler of the earth.]

She was the Earth Spirit King.

[I was finally able to keep my promise to them, and even this is thanks to you.]

The Mother Tree’s voice was full of relief, as though she was now free from a heavy burden.

“What happened?”

However, in contrast to the Mother Tree’s relief, Seon-Hyeok was even more confused.

He could not imagine what had happened that not one, but two of the powerful Spirit Kings had disappeared at once.

[This is not my memory, but my Mother’s.]

The weight of his question was far greater than he imagined. It was to the point that the Mother Tree’s voice once again grew heavy.

[It’s a story about despair and darkness that not even the strongest and most powerful of monarchs could handle.]

Seon-Hyeok gained great strength upon becoming a dragon knight, but his power was far lacking compared to the Mother Tree.

She was an entity powerful enough to completely protect her forest, which was in the middle of the Dark Lord’s domain, even after the Dark Lord gained the Fragment of Chaos. Despite this, even she seemed afraid of recalling this past.

[It was a terrible time. Many species became extinct or fell into ruin as a result of those long wars, and even more lives were lost.]

Perhaps this was why the Mother Tree did not elaborate on the details of the war. She vaguely described the extensive deaths and suffering of that time.

[Countless Mothers perished, and the Mother of the Earth was among them. Unlike my Mother, who was able to hand down the foundation of our kind, even if it was to a young and humble seedling like myself, the Mothers of Wind and Water were unable to pass down their inheritances.]

Surprisingly, it was not just the Wind and Water Spirit Kings that disappeared at the time. Even the Earth Spirit King of that time became swept up in the war and was extinguished.

Seon-Hyeok subconsciously groaned at the thought of a war so terrible that even the almighty Spirit Kings would die en masse.

[But they were the lucky ones. That was a true dark age in which many fell without being able to leave anything behind. At least the Mothers of Wind and Water were able to entrust the future in another.]

The Mother Tree said that many species and monarchs suffered more than the spirits.

[Unfortunately, most of those who disappeared at that time were the bravest and best of entities.]

She was genuinely overcome with sorrow as she recalled the good and righteous beings forced to suffer the most as they fought against the darkness on the front lines.

[But there were some among them that not even the mighty darkness and despair could fully extinguish. They lost most of their kind and were not spared of suffering, but they remain hiding in this world, waiting for the day they can reappear.]

The Mother Tree’s voice penetrated Seon-Hyeok’s ears more clearly than ever.

[Beings like the dragon.]

Seon-Hyeok remained confused after leaving the Mother Tree.

‘The story of the Mothers does not concern humans, but I am telling you this much because you signed a contract with those children and because you are not completely separated from that war of the past.’

The Mother Tree did not fully explain anything about what happened.

‘It would be best if you heard about the dragons from your companion. I think she would truly be angry if I told you everything.’

After only vaguely mentioning the situation with the spirits, she remained tight-lipped about the dragon as well, saying he should learn more from the dragon herself.

‘From what I can tell, that time is not far away. You’ll soon be able to meet your companion and learn the whole story.’

She comforted him when he expressed his frustration, saying that the dragon would soon come to him.

When their conversation of this past concluded, Seon-Hyeok immediately brought up the matters at hand.

‘If things are left as-is, the people outside of the forest will soon starve to death.’

First, he asked her to grant the abundance of the forest to the numerous refugees starving outside of the forest, and the Mother Tree quickly agreed.

‘Let’s say that this is repayment for the sacrifice and dedication shown by the dragons of the past, and for their righteousness.’

The Mother Tree seemed like she would accept any and all of his requests, and Seon-Hyeok decided to continue asking for favors while he could.

‘Your wishes will all come true.’

Among the requests accepted by the Mother Tree was a clue to breaking the curse laid on the members of House Adenstein.

The Mother Tree’s goodwill did not end there.

The following day, when Seon-Hyeok visited the Mother Tree to express his thanks for granting the refugees entry to the forest, she gave him a new gift.

[I have paid off my past debts, but I have not yet provided compensation for what you will do in the future. I would like to personally give you a gift.]

Seon-Hyeok thought that lifting the curse on House Adenstein would be more than enough, and this was an unexpected reward.

Thud.

However, the reward given by the Mother Tree seemed so insignificant. It looked like the Mother Tree’s leaves were shaking, and a branch suddenly fell in front of him.

This was her present.

“Hm…”

When Seon-Hyeok showed signs of disappointment, the Mother Tree softly smiled and explained.

[This is the youngest of my branches, the living wood containing the essence of the earth.]

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