Chapter 190 - Demons' Forest (5)

Incarnation was different from embodiment or alter ego. An alter ego would disappear one day, and an embodiment was something completely separate from a god because it had its own personality. That was why Apostles were sometimes called the embodiment of the god they served. Because they experienced the power of the god, their identity sometimes mixed with the god’s, but they never lost their sense of self.

On the other hand, incarnations occurred when gods imprisoned themselves in a physical body. The Three Norns on the sixteenth floor could only use their power within their holy territory, but an incarnation could freely come and go. However, their physical bodies placed constraints on their power, and there was a chance that their souls might be damaged, as well, and even experience true destruction.

This was why gods and demons preferred using Apostles. If something went wrong with their incarnation, they could die. Besides, none of them wanted to be in a position where they couldn’t use their full power.

However, the god Brahma hated the societies of the gods and demons on the ninety-eighth floor, and he decided to descend to the lower floors. He’d also left the Elohim because he thought they were too similar to the gods on the ninety-eighth floor. Since the Elohim couldn’t face off against an actual god, they could only watch him leave. 

Brahm continued to chase after legacies and myths, since the domain of the god Brahma was creation and knowledge. Learning new things through experiments with alchemy was enough for Brahm. Of course, he kept his identity as the incarnation of the god Brahma thoroughly under wraps. Nothing good would come from spreading it around. 

Brahm’s principles were very simple. He wouldn’t interfere with anything that had nothing to do with him. The Elohim tried to hide things about him so that no embarrassing information about them would come to light. The reason Jeong-woo had known Brahm’s identity was due to an incident he’d seen. He had promised not to tell anyone and only noted it down in the diary. Of course, Yeon-woo didn’t say anything about this either. 

Making the Philosopher’s Stone had nothing to do with the fact that Brahm was an incarnation. Like Brahm, he also didn’t feel the need to interfere with things that weren’t related to him. However, he was a bit annoyed that Brahm knew his hidden powers. 

***

For a moment, Yeon-woo didn’t say anything and looked at Brahm and the little girl. A lot of thoughts whirled inside of his head. How was he supposed to respond? At first, he thought of pretending that he didn’t know what Brahm was talking about, but then, seeing how sure Brahm was, he realized that it was pointless.

“Is it because of her Draconic Eyes?” Yeon-woo decided to come clean, at least partially. If he wanted Brahm to teach him his skills, they had to build some kind of trust.

Yeon-woo was even planning on telling him about the Philosopher’s Stone when they got started, not worried that Brahm would spread the information about it. ‘After all, he’s someone who sticks to his principles so closely that he didn’t even help Jeong-woo as he was dying.’

It would be a lie if Yeon-woo said that he didn’t despise Brahm. His brother had thought they were friends, but in the end, Brahm hadn’t even shown up. Although he hadn’t helped Jeong-woo’s enemies, he only remained as an observer the entire time. However, Yeon-woo knew he could trust him for a deal.

“Right. This child’s eyes and my skill worked together.” Brahm stroked the head of the little girl. The little girl gripped his clothes even tighter. 

Yeon-woo nodded. If the Summer Queen had used her Draconic Eyes to look at him and if her Dragon Heart hadn’t been damaged, he might’ve been caught out as well. But if the girl’s Draconic Eyes and Brahm’s power were combined, it would be extremely effective. Although it was likely that Brahm probably contributed ninety percent while the girl contributed only ten percent. 

Of course, Yeon-woo pretended not to know this. Instead, he looked over the little girl, who stepped back even more. He asked, “Is she Ananta’s child?”

Brahm’s eyes glittered. “Do you know her?”

“I’ve only heard of her. The Summer Queen hates her own species, so she refuses to have an offspring, and Heaven Wing, who was Kalatus’s successor, is dead. That means it can only be Ananta. That child must at least be a quarter dragon.”

Since Ananta was a Half-Dragon and there were no other Draconic species around, the child’s blood was probably diluted to this extent. Also, when Yeon-woo checked with his Extrasensory Perception, she seemed a lot weaker than Ananta. “Even though you’re on the run from the Elohim, you’re involving me because you want me to help you with the child.”

Brahm’s lips curved—his smile could be mistaken for one of joy but it also looked cynical. It was always a good thing to find someone who could read you well. “Why? Is that bad?”

“Of course not. Actually, it’s a relief, because I was wondering how I could make a deal with you.” Since Brahm was the one who’d proposed the deal, everything changed and they could negotiate now. It was likely that Brahm had a simple request. ‘He’s probably trying to help her learn the powers of a dragon.’

It seemed like the child couldn’t use the power of the Draconic species even though she was a Dragon Human. Where had her mother gone? 

“Fine. First, I’ll have to check if you’re qualified. Who are you?” He wasn’t asking for a name but asking how Yeon-woo had become a dragon’s successor when the species had already gone extinct.  

“I don’t see a reason why I have to answer that. Instead, why don’t I just show you I’m qualified?” Yeon-woo awakened his Dragon Body. Navy-blue scales grew on his skin, and his Draconic Eyes opened with vertical pupils. 

“Ah!” The child’s mouth dropped open, and she made a sound for the first time. She hid behind Brahm again, her face red, but she peeked at Yeon-woo. She looked relieved to see someone that was the same species as she was. 

Yeon-woo looked at Brahm and asked. “Do you think I’m qualified?”

“Yes, more than qualified.”

“Then let’s talk about the details.”

***

Yeon-woo followed Brahm into the cottage. Inside, it was organized into areas with different potions and ingredients, and there were a lot of chests filled with rare materials. 

Galliard left, saying he would be back after checking to see whether Aether had followed them. Thanks to that, Yeon-woo and Brahm were able to discuss many things in private.

“Actually, if Galliard hadn’t spoken about you, I wouldn’t have felt the Dragon’s Energy from you. You’re the first person he’s ever talked about so much. Of course, it was a bit unpleasant to hear that you used my name like that.”

“I apologize for that.”

There was only one person to whom Brahm opened his mind: Galliard. The relationship that began when he was looking for Undine’s Goblet had turned into a close friendship. Yeon-woo thanked Galliard in his mind and asked, “I heard that you don’t interfere in others’ business. Why are you taking care of Ananta’s child?”

“You don’t need to tell me why you’re a Dragon Human, and I don’t need to tell you why I’m caring for her. However, I’ll tell you that I made a deal with Ananta.” Brahm narrowed his eyes. “Isn’t it more important to give each other what we need?” He got straight to the point. “I’m asking for only one thing: that you teach the child about dragons while you’re staying here.”

Yeon-woo turned to look at the little girl. She had been peeking from behind Brahm and quickly hid herself when her eyes met Yeon-woo’s eyes. “Is there anything I shouldn’t tell her?”

“No. Tell her everything. Powers, knowledge, family. Their locations. And even their history.”

Telling the history meant telling her about the extinction of the species, as well. Although Brahm seemed very fond of the girl, he still didn’t want to spare her from this.

“What is the child’s name?”

“Sesha.”

In the language of the Draconic species, it meant “remnant”. Although the name suited the little girl well, it was a bit sad.

“And at times, I hope you’ll act as her guardian. Even though we’ll take care of security as much as possible, you never know. Besides, you seem to be skilled enough to protect the child.”

“Understood. I will.”

Brahm’s eyes widened in surprise as Yeon-woo accepted his conditions easily. He was asking Yeon-woo to get involved in his predicament, and Yeon-woo’s unhesitating agreement seemed to indicate that he was going to ask Brahm for something really serious.

“If that’s all, then I’ll tell you my request.”

“Speak.”

“I want to study the Book of Mercury that you’ve written.”

Brahm’s eyes hardened. An intimidating energy began to swirl around Yeon-woo. The bright illusory world suddenly became dark and heavy. Yeon-woo had said something dangerous. 

The Book of Mercury was a book of magic that Brahm had made with all his memories and knowledge from when he was a god.  Yeon-woo was basically asking Brahm for everything he knew, and it was to be expected that Brahm would be offended.

This place was Brahm’s territory, and a single misstep might cost Yeon-woo his life. However, he stayed calm. “Sesha is scared. Is that all right with you?”

Brahm bit his lower lip and took back his energy. It was the first emotion that he’d shown, and Yeon-woo spotted it. He seemed to care about Sesha a lot more than it appeared, and maybe he even thought of her as his daughter. “How do you know about the Book of Mercury?”

“Didn’t you hear when I spoke with Galliard? I heard everything from a returner.”

“No one knows about the book.”

“It’s not a complete secret since some people have seen it for themselves.”

Brahm narrowed his eyes and glared at Yeon-woo. There was nothing ruder than being asked to give one’s secrets away, and Brahm was clearly considering whether or not he ought to continue with the deal. Yeon-woo knew that he needed to take a step back at this point. “I’m not saying that I want to learn all of it.”

“Oh?”

“Just the sections about alchemy.”

“Alchemy?”

“Yes.”

Brahm’s eyes calmed slightly. “What about the level?”

“Anything that’s possible.”

“I see. You’re hoping to use your Dragon’s Knowledge to fill in the rest.”

“I won’t deny that.”

Brahm was deep in thought for a moment, imagining different scenarios to see whether or not the deal with be disadvantageous to him. “What’s your knowledge of alchemy like?”

“I think I know the basics. I did learn some blacksmithing from Henova and rune magic from Victoria.”

Brahm looked surprised. He was one of the top five artisans as well, and if Yeon-woo had learned the basics from those two, that meant he was a lot further along the path compared to others. “That’s a relief. I don’t like teaching someone who doesn’t know anything. Besides, I have things I have to do, so I can’t teach you a lot.”

“That’s fine.”

“Good. That’s a deal, then.” They made the pledge of mana.

Geez, this guy is scary. Why is his voice so cold? I almost hit him.

I heard before that he was reasonable. Perhaps he’s changed because of the child.

Those were Shanon’s and Hanryeong’s assessments of Brahm. 

***

From that day onwards, Yeon-woo took lessons with Brahm two hours a day. The knowledge he’d already learned from Henova was a big help. Although Henova had modestly claimed that he didn’t know too many things, he’d been a blacksmith for a long time, and his understanding was profound.  

Sometimes, Brahm was the one doing the learning. And during the day, Yeon-woo had to look after Sesha since Brahn was preoccupied with other things.

You’re a babysitter now? I guess we’ll finally see you struggle for a bit, huh? Hehehe.

Shanon giggled, not sure that Yeon-woo could look after a child. If he didn’t make the kid cry, it would already be a miracle.

Sesha seemed interested in Yeon-woo because they were the same species, but she didn’t approach him first. She just peeked at him from far away and didn’t even say a word.

Look, she’s so wary of you! What are you going to do, Master? She looks like she’s going to cry if you even talk to her. Ahem, don’t worry, actually I…

‘Who said I don’t know how to deal with kids?’

Huh? You mean…

Shanon was startled by Yeon-woo’s unexpectedly confident answer. Yeon-woo ignored Shanon and headed towards the kitchen. Although only men lived there, the pantry was full of ingredients that he needed. He pulled out flour, eggs, white sugar, milk, oil, strawberries, bananas, and chocolate syrup. He spent a moment recalling the recipe and began to cook.

Hm? What’s this?

He’s cooking. He seems to know what he’s doing.

What? That wall…cooking?

Ignoring Shanon’s teasing, Yeon-woo mixed together the ingredients to make batter. Sesha grew curious and approached Yeon-woo to see what he was doing. 

Yeon-woo sensed Sesha’s presence but pretended not to notice. He knew that forcing her to come to him would only make her run away, and it was best for her to come out of her own volition. He poured the batter in the frying pan, and a delicious aroma floated in the air.

Sesha slowly approached him. It had been some time since their last meal, and she was feeling a bit hungry. “What’s that?” she asked Yeon-woo, pulling at his clothes.

“A snack.”

“A snack?” Sesha’s eyes sparkled. She looked so cute that Yeon-woo couldn’t help smiling. She reminded him of someone, and a memory that he’d repressed suddenly popped up. He put the pancake on a plate and placed the strawberries and sliced bananas on top, garnishing it with chocolate syrup.

“Eat.”

Sesha clambered onto a chair and devoured the pancake. Soon, her mouth was covered in chocolate syrup. Next to her, Yeon-woo quietly wiped the syrup with a handkerchief. He didn’t say much, but at that moment, he looked kind-hearted.

Goodness! The world is going to end! The Tower is going to collapse!

I see that he has that side to his character too.

Shanon began to jump around and Hanryeong began to reminisce about the child he’d raised. Rebecca appeared over Yeon-woo’s head and smiled as well. 

The smile didn’t leave Yeon-woo’s face as he watched Sesha finish her pancake. When he was in Africa, he had dated for a short time, and his girlfriend had a daughter the same age as Sesha. He’d often made pancakes for her. Even though they ended up separating, those were some of Yeon-woo’s treasured memories. “Is it good?”

“Yeah!” Sesha licked the chocolate syrup on the plate and held it out. “I want some more, please!”

Yeon-woo smiled as he looked at Sesha. 

Previous Chapter Next Chapter