Chapter 189 - Demons' Forest (4)

Yeon-woo stopped after they were finally far away from De Roy Lake. Feeling how hot his Cores and body had become, he wondered if he’d gone overboard with the Magic Circuit. “They won’t be able to chase us if we’re here.”

“I suppose so.” Galliard landed on the ground lightly, looking at Yeon-woo strangely. When he’d seen the explosions and the sword technique, it had been difficult to believe that it was the same child who’d looked for him in the Tutorial. But as soon as Yeon-woo spoke, he recognized his voice instantly.

“It’s been a while, Galliard.”

“So, it’s you, Cain.”

“Yes.”

“I heard that you’ve done a lot of impressive things, but you’ve changed more than I expected. And you seem to be using Shunpo pretty well.” Galliard didn’t miss how skilled Yeon-woo’s steps were when he was using Blink. It was skilled. Using magic with it was working, and he was proud that Yeon-woo was doing justice to the skill. However, he also had a few questions. 

Galliard circulated his magic power so he could immediately use his Shunpo if necessary, and said, “Did you know I was here?”

“It’s a coincidence.”

“Coincidence.”

“Yes. I was looking for Brahm, and instead, I found you and the Elohim people fighting.”

Galliard nodded. He’d been fighting with the Elohim at the place where Brahm had been living for the past six months, although it had been blown away by the explosion by now. “I see. Is that why you helped me?”

“The story of Brahm being kicked out of Elohim is pretty well known, and since you’re Brahm’s friend, I thought something had happened.”

“That makes sense. But there’s still a lot that you haven’t said.” Galliard narrowed his eyes. “You don’t actually know Brahm, do you? You said you did in the Tutorial. How are you going to explain that?”

Yeon-woo closed his mouth. The question was completely unexpected. When he’d first met Galliard, the Dark Elf had asked how Yeon-woo had known about him, and Yeon-woo said that Brahm had told him. Of course, it was a lie. 

He had made it up because at that time, he didn’t have any plans to meet Brahm in the Tower. He also didn’t think he’d encounter Galliard again. Besides, since Brahm and Galliard hadn’t seen each other in a long time, it was likely they wouldn’t talk about him.

However, Galliard had climbed the Tower and had found Brahm. They seemed very sensitive to strangers, and if they thought Yeon-woo was suspicious, he wouldn’t be able to get close to Brahm. 

“I’m not trying to scold you, but there’s a bunch of important things going on.” Galliard put his hand on his dagger. Even though Yeon-woo had saved him, the gesture showed that he didn’t trust him completely, and he’d use the blade if necessary.

Yeon-woo tried to think of an excuse that was ninety percent true. “I lied because I needed Shunpo and Undine’s Goblet in the Tutorial. I heard that I wouldn’t be able to get those if I didn’t say that.”

“Where did you hear about Brahm?”

“I heard about him from a returner on my planet.”

“A returner?” Galliard frowned. Returners were people who had given up climbing the Tower and returned back to their homes. Those who lived in the Outer Districts still hoped to scale the Tower, but returners had given up their right to climb the Tower. It would be difficult for Galliard to investigate whether or not he was telling the truth.

“Who is the returner?”

“I can’t tell you. It’s someone who doesn’t want me to speak their name.”

Galliard quietly examined Yeon-woo for a moment. Doubt filled his eyes, then vanished as he used a skill of the Superior species, Fairy Eyes, which could differentiate between lies and the truth.

Elves and Dark Elves had split into different branches a long time ago, but the basic traits of their species remained. “I see, you’re not lying.” Galliard could tell, however, that there was something Yeon-woo wasn’t saying.

Yeon-woo wasn’t really lying since his brother was a returner, and obviously, he wouldn’t have wanted his name mentioned in the Tower. Galliard scrupulously asked Yeon-woo several more questions, and Yeon-woo replied with answers that wouldn’t cause the Fairy Eyes to feel any suspicion. 

“So long story short, you’re here because you need to borrow Brahm’s strength, and you ended up participating in the fight.”

“Yes. That’s correct.”

“Why would you do that? Your actions have made you an enemy of the Elohim.”

They had seen Yeon-woo during the fight and even if they’d never met him before, they would recognize him from his traits and outfit. His actions meant that he had turned his back on the Large Clans. However, Yeon-woo shook his head like it was nothing. “They won’t say anything.”

“Why do you think that?”

Yeon-woo didn’t reply. He couldn’t say that he knew Aether’s personality well, and really, there was no need to answer.

Aether is a very prideful guy. He always has to be the leader and in the center of attention. It was probably something he is used to because he’s lived as a noble in the Tower for a long time. 

He’s the type of person that tires out the people around him, but that also means that he holds himself to the same high standards that he holds others. He never talks about people behind their backs, and he keeps his feelings close.

Our friendship might have become twisted because of this.

Aether had been excommunicated from his species because of something his family had done, but he was able to return thanks to a contribution—the betrayal of Arthia. Since he’d been an outcast once already, his pride would never let anything ruin his reputation and risk being thrown out again.

If rumors spread that he had lost to a lower floor player who wasn’t even a semi-ranker, Aether’s reputation would suffer the most. It was obvious he’d try to hide this as much as possible while plotting to get revenge on Yeon-woo. 

Galliard tsked and asked a final question. “Why do you need Brahm’s help?”

Of course, Yeon-woo couldn’t tell him about the Philosopher’s Stone. He was just about to use an excuse that he’d prepared when Galliard suddenly lifted his hand and bowed his head slightly. He looked like he was communicating with someone—perhaps Brahm was listening from far away. After he finished his conversation, he looked at Yeon-woo with a strange expression that had a good amount of disbelief. “The owner of the house is asking why you have the smell of a dragon.”

This time, it was Yeon-woo who was surprised. It was impossible to sense the Draconic Factors unless they were awakened. How had Brahm read something that even the Summer Queen couldn’t? Yeon-woo tried not to show his shock and shook his head, grateful that he was wearing a mask. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You can tell that to the house owner. He wants me to bring you to him. Follow me.” Galliard turned around. 

Watching Galliard walk away, Yeon-woo sighed as he followed. He didn’t want to blindly do what they wanted, but since he was here to ask for a favor, he had no control over the situation. A thought also occurred to him: how had Brahm seen the Draconic Factors?

***

Galliard headed to a hill in the north beyond the Demons’ Forest. From afar, it looked like part of the forest, with ghosts moving around it, but after a certain point, the environment changed. A clear blue sky replaced the creepy red sky, and a refreshing breeze appeared, along with a cheerful stream.

‘Illusion Barrier.’ Yeon-woo realized what he had just passed through and a strange look appeared in his eyes. Illusion Barrier was a type of barrier that created an imaginary world. It was a more comprehensive version of the Territory that Yeon-woo had control over. 

This was called a fortress, and it was purely Brahm’s. It required a lot of effort and time, which meant that Brahm had been living on the twenty-third floor for much longer than people had known.

‘Why would he stay here?’

Galliard said, “You can never speak about what you see here. Actually, you might even be forced to stay here because of what’s going on. So if you don’t want to risk it, you can leave now.”

Yeon-woo didn’t plan on leaving, and he asked, “He’s protecting something here, isn’t he? Does it have something to do with why the Elohim are chasing him?”

“Right.” Galliard nodded and shut his mouth. An expression of pity appeared on his face for a brief moment, but Yeon-woo didn’t miss it.  

Soon, they arrived at the center of the Illusion Barrier where a cottage that looked like the one that had been destroyed sat in the middle of a large field. In the front yard, a scholarly man wearing eyeglasses was playing hide and seek with a little girl. 

The girl had been running around, giggling. However, she suddenly stopped as she sensed the other presences. When she realized that there was someone else with Galliard, she quickly hid behind the man. 

‘Dragon Human? Yeon-woo’s eyes widened at the same time. The girl looked like him when he awakened his Dragon Body. She was humanoid, but her torso was covered with scales, and there was a long dragon tail poking from under her dress. She had fangs and even small wings growing on her back.

Dragon Humans only came into existence once after hundreds, or even thousands, of years. They were entities that overcame the limits of Superior species, and were also called Half-Dragons. ‘But besides Ananta, there shouldn’t be any other Dragon Humans.’

After the ancient dragon Kalatus died, there were only three entities who had something to do with dragons in the Tower. One was the last dragon, the Summer Queen. There was also the Half-Dragon, Ananta. And finally, there was the successor of the ancient dragon, Cha Jeong-woo. 

But since Jeong-woo was dead, that left only two. Obviously, the Summer Queen was the leader of Red Dragon, while Ananta had suddenly gone into hiding.  Yeon-woo knew the reason why Anata had disappeared because of the diary since the last person Ananta had spoken to was his brother.

But now there was a new Dragon Human. There were a few human descendants of the Dragon Humans in the Tower who might awaken their Draconic Factors, but not all of them had the ability to do so. Also, they didn’t have clear dragon traits like this.  

Yeon-woo couldn’t help staring at the little girl, finally understanding the Elohim’s interest. It was one of their traditions to capture the Draconic species. 

The girl was feeling uncomfortable at his gaze, and she hid herself behind the man even more. Her thin hands tightened their grasp on his clothes. The man stroked the girl’s head to reassure her, and he straightened his glasses to look at Yeon-woo. The affectionate look he’d given the girl turned cold.

It was Brahm, the one who was proud of being kicked out of the Elohim and who pursued only freedom. He was an incarnation of the high god Brahma, who had desired to descend from the ninety-eighth floor. “So you’re the guy with the Dragon's Power.”

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