[Tower of Wish 26F, True Demon Realm]
Team ‘Aileen and the Kids’ was currently lost in the [Forest of Bewitchment], one of the regions in the Demon Realm.
A week had passed since they first set out on their journey, but they were still miles away from the [Demon King’s Tower] which stood tall in the distance.
“…I’ll admit. I’m exhausted.”
Even Aileen finally admitted that she was exhausted. Every demon they ran into was equally as powerful as a boss monster, and when a whole pack of demons appeared like they did just now, the team had to fight for an entire day just to survive.
“It certainly is difficult that only light-attribute attacks work.“
Jin Seyeon also wiped sweat off her forehead. With much difficulty, they came out victorious in their battle against 13 demons, but the aftereffects were serious.
Shin Jonghak and Yi Yeonghan realized that, no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t possibly overcome the limits of their attributes and went back to [21F - Card Kingdom], to purchase a light or at least a shine-attribute weapon and enchant cards.
“You aren’t too bad, huh?”
And so, there were only four remaining members now. Aileen looked at Kim Suho and remarked. During the last battle, Aileen’s contribution rate was 50% while 30% belonged to Kim Suho.
“It’s just that my attribute is suitable for fighting against demons.”
“It’s not just the matter of suitability. With your abilities, you’ll be promoted to high-rank in no time. No, you’re already on that level. Don’t you think you could probably win against that self-proclaimed Master-rank archer over there?”
Kim Suho gave a small smile.
“No, you’re too kind.”
“…Kuhum. Anyways, Lady Aileen, where do you think Black Lotus is?”
Jin Seyeon finally decided to ask the question that she had been wanting to ask for a while now. Cheok Jungyeong said that Black Lotus was watching them. However, so far, he had neither helped nor attacked them.
“I don’t know. He’s probably watching us from somewhere.”
Aileen looked up at the sky without thinking. Suddenly, she spotted an eagle flying across the grey sky of the Demon Realm.
‘Wow, an eagle. So eagles live in a place like this?’
Aileen continued to watch in amazement, when a sudden realization struck her.
At her interesting reaction, the other members too looked up at the sky.
“What’s the matter?”
“Guys, isn’t he kinda weird?”
“Look, over there.”
Jin Seyeon and Kim Suho turned their piercing gazes on the eagle.
It didn’t take them long to realize what Aileen meant.
The eagle was wearing a strange looking cloak. It was man-made, without doubt.
Kim Suho was the first to speak.
“A pet bird? …Doesn’t it look like he wants us to follow him?”
“You think so, too?”
The eagle let out a loud cry as if agreeing with them.
“But look at that cloak he’s wearing. It looks better than mine… Hm? Wait a minute.”
Suddenly, a thought crossed Aileen’s mind. Frozen, she whispered in a daze.
“…Does Black Lotus own a pet bird?”
“I haven’t heard any rumors like that… but he sure does look like he belongs to someone. And I think he’s wearing armor beneath the cloak. A well-made black armor.”Jin Seyeon answered.
Aileen solemnly looked up at the eagle above as she chewed on her nails.
“Black… So that means….”
“Yes, I think you’re correct, Lady Aileen.”
Jin Seyeon continued with a stern face.
“Black Lotus is calling us.”
Everyone fell silent after that.
They looked at each other blankly, nodded their heads, and began chasing after the eagle.
“…Am I dreaming?”
That was Rachel’s first remark. From the English that came out of nowhere, I could tell just how surprised she was. From her vacant look, I could also deduce one more thing: Rachel, too, hadn’t forgotten about Evandel.
This wasn’t Rachel and Evandel’s first encounter.
Their first encounter happened a long time ago— during the final week of our freshman year at Cube.
Evandel, who was an almond at that time, suddenly hatched during the exam. Right after she hatched, she clung to Rachel, not me. The first thing Evandel said to Rachel back then was… ‘Mommy’.
“You’re not dreaming.”
I said and signaled Evandel.
This was the encounter that she’d been waiting forever for; Evandel stepped forward in all seriousness. She probably summoned the most courage in her entire 4~5 years of life.
Evandel placed her hands on top of her stomach and bowed. Rachel looked at Evandel and blinked a few times before turning her gaze on me.
I tried to stay calm.
But at the same time, regret flooded in.
What could Rachel be possibly thinking of, faced with a child who looked so much like herself as a child? Under the pretext of caring for Evandel, did I act too selfishly, without any consideration for Rachel’s feelings?
But what Rachel said next was so shocking that I forgot about all these concerns.
“Did you come back from the future?”
Future. I was at a loss for words but also felt slightly guilty. I did know the future, but that was all in the past now. From here on out, the future that I was not aware of would unfold….
“Am I wrong? T-Then where did this child come from?”
All flushed, Rachel pointed at Evandel.
Evandel was still introducing herself to Rachel as all of this went on.
“My name… is… Evandel….”
She recited the lines she had practiced dozens of times.
I had Evandel promise one thing before we came here: to approach Rachel slowly so that she wouldn’t feel pressured.
“Huh? Oh, um… H-Hello.”
Rachel also bent and bowed to Evandel. Her eyes were still shaking in astonishment, as though there was an earthquake.
“My name is, is, Evandel.”
“Ah, um, yeah….”
“Evandel… I’m Evandel… My friend is Yun Haeyeon. My kitty is Hayang….”
Evandel was repeating the same lines over and over again in panic. Rachel took turns looking at Evandel and me, clearly unsure of what to do.
“I’m Evandel, I’m….”
I was definitely responsible for tidying things up.
“Uh, the thing is—”
Suddenly, Rachel’s bodyguard appeared. The tall Caucasian man bent forward and whispered in Rachel’s ears.
He muttered in English. Thanks to the bodyguard, the two seemed to have calmed down a bit; but now, Evandel began to glare angrily at the bodyguard next to Rachel.
It was a cute show of jealousy.
20 minutes later.
I was inside the Buckingham Palace, the residence of the Royal Family. The palace was just as beautiful and elegant as all the pictures and films I had seen of it.
Rachel led us to the reception room. There was no one else inside.
Before we began to speak, Rachel glanced at Evandel next to me. Sparkle sparkle— Evandel was looking at Rachel with overly sparkling eyes.
Rachel seemed to have thought it was adorable, as the corner of her mouth trembled slightly.
It was a good sign.
“Hu, huhum. Then, the pet seed that you had back when you were in Cube is….”
“Yeah. That seed is all grown up.”
I introduced Evandel, not as a witch, but as a ‘fairy’. A witch was called a witch when she was raised to be one, but who could possibly call the current Evandel a witch?
“She’s absolutely not from the future.”
For a moment, Rachel was silent. Her face was as red as a tomato. Who knew what she was thinking right now? Because of her fair complexion, the redness of her face, which even covered her ears, stood out even more.
Kuhum. Rachel out a dry cough and continued.
“Right, but honestly speaking… I find it hard to believe. How can a fairy hatch from a seed?”
I scratched the back of my neck at Rachel’s remark. It’s not that I didn’t understand her, but just as Sherlock Holmes once said: ‘When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’
“There’s no other explanation.”
“No, rather than the explanation that a fairy was born from a seed, it’s more probable that you, from the future… the future….”
It seemed Rachel was totally hooked on the future theory. Though, it seemed she couldn’t finish her sentence because the idea seemed so absurd.
I tried to direct her away from the sci-fi.
“Come on, what you’re saying makes even less sense. If Evandel is from the future, then there’s no doubt you’re her mother, but what about the father? Who’s the father?”
“Ah, Hajin, can I call you Daddy now?”
We both froze at Evandel’s innocent remark.
Suddenly, Rachel narrowed her eyes and sent me a doubtful gaze. I shook my head in denial but her cheeks were already flushed.
“No, this is… Anyways, I’m telling you the truth.”
That was all I had to say.
Still Rachel stared at me for a long time before letting out a dry cough and turning her gaze to Evandel.
“You said your name was Evandel?”
This was the one question that Evandel had been waiting for.
Rachel gave Evandel a gentle smile.
“Nice to meet you.”
“…Nice to meet you too. I wanted to meet you for a long time.”
She was certainly keeping the promise she made to me, the one about keeping her distance and approaching Rachel slowly.
She was all grown up. I was suddenly filled with emotion.
“Umm…. I see. Hold on a minute.”
Rachel turned her smartwatch on all of sudden. She started typing on the hologram keyboard, and soon my watch vibrated.
[I have a lot of questions, but I’ll let it slide for now.]
The text was from Rachel. My guess was that she wanted to communicate through the messenger just in case she hurt Evandel’s feelings accidentally.
[Is it true you brought her here because she wanted to see me?]
I replied calmly.
[Yes, but that’s not everything. Evandel was born with talent that could save not only England but the entire continent of Europe in the future.]
Rachel’s eyebrows twitched slightly.
[My child is?]
[Sorry, mistake. Evandel is?]
“Hajin, what’re you doing?”
“Oh, sorry. Something just came up.”
I patted Evandel on the head and typed the reply.
[Yes. Even Magician Ah Hae-In admitted that Evandel would surpass her in 2 or 3 years. She’s a summoner fairy with a never-before-seen talent.]
Evandel’s creations would play a large part in the third phase of the story which was just around the corner. They would save hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, or maybe even hundreds of thousands of lives.
“Oh, by the way, things are better for your guild now, right?”
I initiated a conversation so that Evandel wouldn’t get suspicious.
“Yes, everything is going well.”
The English Royal Court guild was definitely on the rise these days.
It was all thanks to the Tower of Wish. The Royal Court guild sold ‘TP’, the currency used in the Tower, for ‘won’, the key currency used on Earth.
Of course, half of the guild’s profit went straight into the state coffers of England which currently faced an economic crisis. But the other half she invested back into the Tower of Wish. She would purchase entrance tickets and increase the number of guild members.
“We were short on won and in debt just three years ago, but now things have settled down a bit.”
I felt sort of weird.
Originally, it should have been dollars and not wons that caused a problem.
It seemed something suddenly crossed Rachel’s mind and she texted me again.
[The Djinn massacre last night. Was that you, Hajin-ssi?]
I nodded and texted back.
[Yes. From now on, I plan to mop up Djinns instead of monsters.]
[But isn’t that too dangerous? Especially Slaughtering Annihilation. They are basically a beehive, and that’s why we couldn’t do anything….]
“I can deal with whatever comes my way. I’m not too worried… except for this girl.”
I said so as I put my hand on top of Evandel’s head. Rachel looked at Evandel. Evandel also looked at Rachel. When their gazes met, both smiled at each other.
“So I wanted to ask if you could allow her to stay here for two to three months.”
I asked as I patted Evandel’s head.
As I said before, the Royal Palace was basically an impenetrable fortress to the Djinns. Not only was it filled with a myriad of magic, but it also possessed something called an ‘Authority’.
“It’s fine with me. But I’m not sure how this child, Evandel, feels….”
“I’m okay with it!”
Evandel gave an energetic answer. But upon realizing something, her expression turned into a troubled frown.
“Oh, but then I won’t get to see Haeyeon….”
“You said Haeyeon was your friend?”
Rachel asked Evandel kindly. Evandel gave an energetic nod.
“Yes… but… I don’t have to see her!”
So she chose Rachel over her friend. Poor Haeyeon.
“Don’t worry. We can invite your friend here.”
I watched the mother and daughter(?) chat happily and turned my smartwatch on.
I skimmed over a few articles on Fenrir, and by the time I accessed [Violet Banquet], Rachel and Evandel had already left the reception room.
“Did they go out for a walk…?”
I sat alone on a chair in the reception room and looked at the [Truth Agency].
Of the numerous requests, the one that stood out the most was, of course, from ‘Chae Joochul’.
[●NOTIFICATION● Daehyun Chae Joochul is awaiting your reply.]
Chae Joochul had left me with a mission: to deliver any information regarding the existence and the location of the ‘humanoid monster’ to him. His plan was to probably capture the monster, dissect it, and use it for his research.
But right now, my intention was to offer him a different kind of information. The coordinates for the devil ‘Plucas’ that Kim Hakpyo mentioned last time.
[●Reply from the Truth Agency●]
[There is a lack of information about the ‘humanoid monster’. However, from the conversation between two Djinns, I was able to confirm the existence of an ‘unidentified being’. I am not certain that it has any connection to the humanoid monster, but the Djinns described it as ‘a being neither a monster nor a human’. The location of this being is as follows….]
I attached the location of ‘Plucas’ that Kim Hakpyo and other Djinns shared through their messages, along with a sentence to provoke Chae Joochul.
[P.S. The Djinns referred to the being as a ‘devil’. The devil is currently locked up inside his temple and unable to escape from it.]
A free-spirited yet antique hanok halfway up the Kumgang Mountain. This picturesque house was in perfect harmony with nature, which was also the origin of the title ‘Immortal’. An Immortal referred to someone who had reached an otherworldly state of harmony with nature, like a sage, saint, or a hermit. Chae Joochul, the only Immortal in East Asia, and the house that Chae Joochul loved. Even now he was completely engrossed in the scenery and the elegance of Kumgang Mountain.
[Rampaging Fenrir: The Massacre of ‘Slaughtering Annihilation’….]
Chae Joochul breezed through the Violet Times with an indifferent gaze. The Tower of Wish, humanoid monster, and Fenrir. All these sensational news appeared nothing but ashgray to him.
“Chairman, a reply came back from the Truth Agency.”
Interrupting his weariness was his secretary, who suddenly appeared.
Chae Joochul quietly put the newspaper down.
The Truth Agency.
Nobody knew who they were 5 years ago, but now their name was synonymous with truth. It was difficult to get a reply back from them, but when it came, it was always nothing short of the absolute truth.
It was only natural that the Truth Agency established authority over the heads of conglomerates at this point in time.
‘No courtesy, no reply.’
Most of them even complied with this rule, which could come off as arrogant to people like them. For example, the head of Youngsun, the rank 7 conglomerate in the world, wrote his letter of request personally, word after word with his poor typing skills and his hand full of wrinkles, in the hopes of receiving the reply quicker.
But what was interesting was that requests written in the said manner did actually get quicker replies back. When the news spread, many oldies went as far as to send handwritten letters. 80 years old, and they were personally grinding ink sticks and writing letters with brushes.
“And the information?”
“It’s very detailed, but slightly different from what we expected.”
At Chae Joochul’s question, the secretary summarized the Truth Agency’s answer.
“The Truth Agency did not find a humanoid monster… but an existence called a ‘devil’.”
The word slightly aroused Chae Joochul’s curiosity.
Was he simply curious, or was he under the influence of an instinctual desire for vengeance on those behind the death of his grandson? Chae Joochul couldn’t tell.
The emotionless man no longer remembered if he ever loved his family.
Although Chae Joochul did refer to his condition as the ‘dementia of the senses’ in a self-deprecating way, he was by no means regretful nor sad. This was hundreds of times more graceful than losing all power and falling so low as to become a legend of the past like all the other Nine Stars.
Chae Joochul muttered and looked at his secretary. The secretary knew exactly what he would ask for and handed him the printout copy of the Truth Agency’s reply which he had prepared beforehand.
Chae Joochul studied the coordinates written across the paper.
Suddenly an icy breeze came in through the open window. The breeze rumpled Chae Joochul’s hair and beard ever so slightly. Chae Joochul raised his head and looked at the scenery outside the window. His deep gaze embodied the vast view of the mountain.
At that moment, an unforseen passion emerged within him.
His appearance as he looked far ahead was absent of any signs of excitement, but the mountains seemed to be whispering to him…
That the ‘devil’ was calling for the Immortal….
For Chae Joochul, this was the first stimulation he felt in a long time.
A container berth near a port somewhere in England.
The containers exported from Korea gathered here, where the Djinns carried out illegal activities.
“We finished the clean up.”
The Djinn group, ‘Bandits of Despair’, murdered every single security guard in the dockside area to finish preparing for their plunder.
“Out of these, A-108, B-103, C-73, D-63.”
Team Leader Jeffrey pointed at four containers. They were all addressed to the Royal Family guild from ‘Essential Armory’.
“We’ll only take these four.”
At Jeffrey’s command, the Djinns began to move in perfect order. First they smashed open the firmly sealed door of the container boxes and checked the luxurious weapons inside.
“…I heard Fenrir was hunting Djinns recently but nothing’s happened so far. Well, we are different from those savages from the Slaughtering Annihilation.”
Next to Jeffrey, Vice Team Leader Autumn chattered. Jeffrey watched the scene without answering.
“Everyone’s talking about Fenrir even on the Djinn Community. It’s so stupid, Leader.”
“A-108 is finished.”
Fenrir’s indiscriminate attack on Djinns had been continuing for a week now.
The Djinn Community was full of curses and messages of hatred directed towards Fenrir. The phenomenon was the result of the combination of rage and fear.
“He probably can’t even last a punch from Leader. Nothing to be scared of.”
“B-103 is finished.”
Autumn, glued to Jeffrey, kept running his mouth as if to cast off his fear. In fact, if it wasn’t for Jeffrey he wouldn’t have participated in this mission in the first place. He also would have whined about being assigned this kind of mission at a time like this.
“Oh, by the way, Leader. Is it true that you beat the crap out of a high-intermediate rank Hero? You’re amazing.”
However, he believed Jeffrey was strong enough to overpower Fenrir. His strength was well proven that even the famous ‘Wicked’ tried to scout him.
“Humans are such weaklings….”
Autumn’s chatter continued, and the container doors kept exploding one by one.
“But it’s true that those Slaughtering Annihilation guys deserved a good beating. I’m ashamed to call myself a Djinn because of them. How can they fall so low as to even think of eating human… flesh…?”
Suddenly, a small change occurred at the dockside. Only darkness resided.Previous Chapter Next Chapter