Once he imbued mana into it, the crystal spat out a clear light. It repeatedly alternated between bright and dark.
Ten minutes passed by in a blink. The call didn’t go through no matter how long he waited.
‘Why isn’t she picking up now…’
It wasn’t uncommon for someone to not pick up immediately.
One might chalk up the first couple of times to coincidence, but it would be hard to do the same starting from the third.
He knew Kim Hannah wasn’t the type of person to be taken out lightly, but still…
Seol Jihu closed his eyes. Kim Hannah had told him to keep away as much as possible until he grew his strength.
In the past, his clueless self feared Sinyoung, but things were different now.
Seol Jihu had gotten incomparably stronger than before, and he had several powerful comrades as well. Unless Sinyoung had gone completely crazy, it was hard to believe they would openly scheme against him.
After a long period of deliberation, Seol Jihu decided to head to Scheherazade after his business in Haramark finished.
He was prepared to visit Sinyoung’s headquarters if need be.
There had to be a reason.
A reason that he couldn’t get in touch with Kim Hannah.
Jang Maldong returned four days later. He brought along two beggars with him, who turned out to be the Yi siblings upon closer inspection.
Just what awful experience did they go through?
Seol Jihu swallowed hard as he saw Yi Seol-Ah and Yi Sungjin collapse as soon as they stepped into the office.
Jang Maldong personally carried the siblings to their room before sitting down on the couch. Then, he spoke with a brusque voice.
“Show me the spear and the books.”
He went straight to talking about the fruits of the expedition.
Seol Jihu took out the Spear of Purity and the two technique books. Jang Maldong opened the books, put on a magnifying glass, and narrowed his eyes.
He studied the faded books for tens of minutes. After entirely skimming through both the books, Jang Maldong looked up at Seol Jihu with a renewed look.
“You must have been born under a lucky star.”
Seol Jihu’s complexion brightened. It sounded like the two books were rather extraordinary.
“It’s too early to be happy.”
Jang Maldong replied curtly.
“Is there a problem?”
“A problem? It’s a problem, alright. The mana cultivation method is one thing, but this Crescent Blade Spear Technique is just too much… Have you taken a look?”
Seol Jihu nodded.
“I skimmed through it. But I didn’t really understand anything because it was full of complicated passages.”
Jang Maldong took off his glasses and nodded.
“This Crescent Blade Spear Technique is a supreme spear technique that consists of seven ultimate arts. But my god, even the first art uses One With the Spear as the basis… This spear technique might be more exquisite than the Sacred Empress’ Jade Spear Technique.”
Jang Maldong sighed while shaking his head.
Seol Jihu was taken aback as well. He was happy about finding a good spear technique, but it turned out to be barely useable. For a good reason, of course.
If there was one thing he got out of this exchange, it was that he could not underestimate this Crescent Blade Spear Technique.
Jang Maldong picked up the other book.
“Let’s start with this Righteous Heart. This is a mana cultivation method, just like you said. It translates to having a virtuous mind, but considering its use, it’s probably correct to interpret it as refining your internal energy.”
“Yes, it seemed like a cultivation method that focuses on purifying your mana.”
“Exactly. That’s why it’s perfect for you.”
Seol Jihu tilted his head.
“But I drank Psyche’s Tears in the Neutral Zone.”
“Psyche’s Tears should have removed the waste stuck in your mana circuit and body, but the mana circuit, where your energy flows, is different than your mana.”
Jang Maldong spoke firmly, but Seol Jihu still looked confused.
“To put it simply… you gained one wing by consuming Psyche’s Tears. The reason I say one is that the speed at which your mana flows and the efficiency of your mana application increased, but the power of the mana itself did not increase.”
Jang Maldong rubbed his temple as if he was still a bit tired.
“The Righteous Heart Cultivation Method will purify the mana you have. In other words, it will increase its purity.”
“Come to think of it, you liked martial arts novels, right? Then you should know that having purer qi makes you stronger. It’s the same with mana. The purity of your mana is directly proportional to the strength you can display.”
Excluding the times when two completely conflicting energies were clashing, when Magicians of equal mana level were fighting, one side would often lose in an overwhelming fashion. Jang Maldong said this was because of the difference in the purities of their mana.
“You have anti-evil power as well. It’s a perfect match.”
Seol Jihu finally understood.
The purity of mana and the cleanliness of the mana circuit. These two elements would surely have synergistic effects and match well with the evil-annihilating power of Soma.
In other words, learning the Righteous Heart Cultivation Method would complete his pair of wings, on top of giving him a jetpack booster.
Jang Maldong held up the Crescent Blade Spear Technique next, but Seol Jihu could tell how troubled he was by his expression.
Jang Maldong knew how to help with the cultivation method, but the spear technique was on a different dimension of difficulty.
Seol Jihu and Jang Maldong could put their heads together and try to figure something out if it was only mildly difficult, but not even Jang Maldong had any idea where to begin with this spear technique book.
Even a master of the spear would need several months of nonstop study to attempt to decipher it.
Baek Haeju, for example.
In any case, Jang Maldong had to at least attempt to explain it, so he started speaking reluctantly.
“So about the Crescent Blade Spear Technique… you’ve read Romance of the Three Kingdoms, right?”
“Of course. I’ve read it several times when I was little.”
Seol Jihu nodded his head at the sudden mention.
“Then you should know about Lü Bu.”
“Of course, he’s the strongest general of the story.”
“Well, there’s some controversy about whether he is a real historical figure…”
Jang Maldong crossed his arms.
“The story really describes Lü Bu like a monster in terms of individual strength, though he is a little lacking as a military commander.”
Jang Maldong nodded his head before asking again.
“Just listen for fun. What do you think is the reason Lü Bu was so strong?”
When Seol Jihu stared blankly, Jang Maldong chuckled flatly.
“It’s because of the crescent blade.”
“The crescent blade?”
Jang Maldong tapped the Spear of Purity, or rather, its twin crescent-shaped blades.
“Lü Bu’s spearmanship is already notorious, but what he’s really known for is his demonic skill with the crescent blade halberd. There’s a reason why the twin crescent blade halberd is his symbolic weapon.”
“Is that true?”
“I told you to listen for fun.”
When Seol Jihu asked in awe, Jang Maldong reiterated that these were just his thoughts.
“You see, scholars have differing opinions on Lü Bu’s weapon. The twin crescent blade halberd appeared during the time of Song, and Lü Bu, to put it generously, is… no, this isn’t all that important.”
Jang Maldong shook his head before continuing.
“Going back to the topic, the crescent blade halberd has a more developed edge and pole. The crescent blade is especially good for slicing, but it also helps the weapon not impale too deeply when stabbing.”
Seol Jihu’s eyes twinkled. This all seemed to mean that he could be more flexible in performing the Thrust, Strike, and Cut.
There was no need to even mention its destructive power.
Of course, that was all under the assumption he could wield this spear.
“Looks like I have a lot of work to do.”
“I don’t know. The spear itself is one thing, but this Crescent Blade Spear Technique…”
Seol Jihu smiled bitterly as this was the first time he was seeing Jang Maldong so unconfident. Then again, he hadn’t been acknowledged by the Spear of Purity yet, so using the Crescent Blade Spear Technique seemed like a faraway tale.
“I got it. You must be tired. Rest up.”
“But I haven’t heard about the expedition yet. I’ll rest better once I know about it.”
At Jang Maldong’s request, Seol Jihu began with their meeting with the Foxman children.
Jang Maldong’s expression changed colorfully during the story.
He smiled when he heard that the Foxman children were safely delivered to the Federation and that the team formed a close relationship with the Cave Fairies, his face stiffened when he heard about the curse, and he let out an exclamation when he heard about their close escape thanks to Flone and their meeting with Roselle.
And when he heard about the colossal inheritance that was evenly distributed with Flone included, he couldn’t hide his awe.
“Well done! Really well done!”
Jang Maldong wholeheartedly praised Seol Jihu, which he only did once in a blue moon.
“You definitely could have taken a bigger cut of the loot, but standing by the rules you set beforehand is an excellent quality as a leader.”
Seol Jihu scratched his cheek bashfully.
“It wasn’t that big of a decision…”
“Fufu, do you know why revolts happen?”
Seol Jihu tilted his head at the sudden question.
Jang Maldong grinned.
There was a simple, very clear reason why a retainer who swore his loyalty revolted.
It was because they were dissatisfied with their king.
Because their king could not fulfill their ambitions.
For example, the nobles of the Medieval Era conferred knighthood and wage to their knights, and in turn, these knights would risk their lives to fight for these nobles in wars.
In other words, honor and money linked the nobles and knights together.
Camaraderie and principles were important, but what was more important was their personal values.
As long as a king could satisfy the desires of his subordinates, they would not betray their king.
From this point of view, Seol Jihu’s decision was right for the long-term prospect.
At least, that was what Jang Maldong thought.
In truth, Seol Jihu was thinking more along the lines of, ‘well, there is another inheritance site where wealth is stored,’ but the result was the same.
“Anyway, now that we have the funding, it’s about time we get ready.”
“Yes, we should.”
“We’ll need to let the other brats know too. Well, some of the more sharper ones seem to know already…”
Jang Maldong must be planning on sleeping in his room as he got up from the couch. Then, he asked suddenly.
“Oh yes, when do you plan to introduce that child to us?”
“The ghost lady, of course.”
Seol Jihu became dazed.
“I’ve been suspecting as much since you started whispering to yourself in the carriage.”
Jang Maldong chuckled, then continued with a serious face.
“Judging from what you’ve told me so far, this ghost lady has helped you in all sorts of ways, including this expedition. It looks like she’ll continue working with us, so isn’t it about time she reveals herself to us?”
“Who cares if she’s a ghost? Since she’s been through life and death with us, she’s our comrade.”
Seol Jihu was touched. Flone being appreciated made him feel appreciated as well.
“You hear that, Flone?”
Seol Jihu looked down at his pendant and asked. However, Flone didn’t react.
She wasn’t sleeping.
Seol Jihu already knew Flone was very shy in situations like this.
“Flone? Flone! It’s okay. Come out!”
Seol Jihu grabbed the pendant and rattled it.
Flone was still reluctant.
She must be embarrassed because Jang Maldong referred to her as a lady.
Seol Jihu spoke after cackling.
“I wanted to introduce her before, but she vehemently refused every time I mentioned it. She’s too shy.”
“Are you sure you didn’t treat her rudely? She’s a lady of a noble house. How can you shake it around like that?”
“No, it’s fine. Lady Roselle said Flone was well-known in the past for being a tom— uup!”
The pendant suddenly shot up and struck Seol Jihu’s blabbering mouth.
Seol Jihu covered his mouth in pain.
As Flone got mad.
[I’m not a tomboy! I’m full of elegance, and I was the representative of noble grace among social circles!]
Jang Maldong burst into laughter, seeing the aggrieved Seol Jihu.
The next morning, Seol Jihu left the office early.
His destination was Luxuria’s temple.
He planned to go see her anyway, but a Priest from the temple had actually come to visit him. The Priest let him know that Goddess Luxuria personally summoned him to the temple.
The ritual ceremony must have ended as the temple was comparatively empty.
As this was the first time Seol Jihu was talking to a god other than Gula in their own temple, he was slightly nervous.
Seol Jihu grasped the red egg he was keeping in his pocket and walked in.
Then, as soon as he saw the statue…
[Oh my, you’re here, baby?]
A silvery voice rang out in his ears.
Seol Jihu flinched subconsciously because of how natural she made it sound.
[Welcome. I’ve been waiting for you.]
Seol Jihu paused his steps and closed his eyes.
He took in a deep breath.
He had to.
Her voice was so sensual that his heart began to pound just by hearing it.
He finally understood why she was the most popular god among male Earthlings.
[Come closer. Gula shields you so much that I had to be careful to summon you. I want to get a better look at your face. It’s been a while.]
Hearing her quiet voice, Seol Jihu walked forward as if he was entranced.
[Closer, closer… there. Good boy~]
Seol Jihu came to a stop right in front of the statue of Luxuria.
Feeling a warm embrace on his back and a hand stroking his head, Seol Jihu moaned.
He was familiar with what he felt just now.
She wasn’t authoritative like another god he knew, but was friendly like an older sister who lived next door. But… for some reason, he didn’t just feel familiarity, but he also felt a bit of yearning.
[So, you’re here about hatching the Arcus Spirit, yes?]
[Because the Authority of the Spear of Purity is too strong, we needed some time amongst ourselves to discuss. Please try to understand.]
He felt like he would be sinning if he said ‘No, I can’t understand’. Seol Jihu obviously said, “Yes.”
‘Gula-nim said you’d give me an explanation about the spear.’
[Right. Castitas and I are twin sisters, so I obviously know about the spear. We used to share a lot of things with each other.]
We used to. That meant they didn’t anymore.
[First, I’ll tell you about our decision. We unanimously decided to bestow divine power. The Spear of Purity is a divine weapon that has a dangerous amount of power, but we decided it was necessary to combat the Parasites.]
[But just because I bestow divine power, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to use the Spear of Purity completely.]
Luxuria wasn’t done yet.
[In this regard, we decided to leave the decision to the Arcus Spirit. Because that is the correct way of using the Spear of Purity and also how the spear was made to be.]
‘Decision? After hatching the egg, you mean?’
[Arcus Spirit is a Rainbow Spirit that was born from Castitas’s divine power.]
She then asked with a somewhat mischievous voice.
[Do you know why Castitas gave it the name Rainbow Spirit? And have you thought about how it could be related to the Spear of Purity?]
Seol Jihu fell into deep thought. He arrived at the answer soon.
He had remembered the seven holes he saw in the Spear of Purity’s spear shaft.
[You’re very observant.]
Luxuria spoke with a smile.
[You’re right. The Spear of Purity and the Arcus Spirit are one and the same. You could say they’re interlocked.]
[Once hatched, the Arcus Spirit will become a strong ally. At the same time, it will watch over you during your lifetime and evaluate you. Whether to allow all seven powers or just three… or even none, the choice is the spirit’s to make.]
Seol Jihu swallowed hard. It was just as he thought.
Flone had said that the Arcus Spirit would act as an overseer.
But based on what Luxuria said, it also seemed to be an examiner.
He had finally opened up his Nine Eyes fully, but now he had to open up the Spear of Purity.
‘Just what kind of tests will it give…?’
[The spear’s name is telling you about the test already.]
It meant being chaste and of virtuous character.
‘Chastity? Do I have to keep my chastity?’
In that case, Seol Jihu had already failed. He lacked the qualification by a mile.
[The purity that the spear refers to isn’t about your sexual chastity.]
[Beauty, good deeds, truth… it refers to the high-level emotions that occur when you perform sacred acts. It’s a concept that encompasses all sorts of virtues, including ethics, aesthetics, religion, and intelligence.]
Luxuria gave a lengthy explanation, but in the end, it meant he had to use the spear in a righteous way to bring out its true power.
‘Well, I guess it’s to prevent anyone from using the spear with malicious intent….’
He understood why the spear had such difficult restrictions, but he still smacked his lips in regret.
He suddenly missed his Ice Spear.
[Don’t be so distressed.]
Luxuria consoled the dumbfounded Seol Jihu with her gentle voice.
[If you think about it, it’s only obvious that Castitas put such a restriction on the spear.]
[Didn’t I tell you? That the Spear of Purity is dangerous enough to threaten the world.]
Luxuria cleared her throat.
[Unlocking just the first power of the spear will grant you strength far beyond what you’re currently capable of. If you unlock three, you will rank among the top ten in all of humanity.]
Seol Jihu’s eyes widened.
Just unlocking the Spear of Purity would grant him so much power?
He knew it was a god’s spear, but this was something that surpassed his wildest imaginations.
‘Then if I unlock five Authorities…’
[Mm… I’m not sure. You’ll have to try it to be sure, but you might be able to crush a Parasite Army Commander.]
Seol Jihu’s jaw slowly dropped open.
Then what if he could unlock all seven Authorities?
Having read Seol Jihu’s thoughts, Luxuria smiled quietly.
[The question you have now is the reason we discussed the matter for several days.]
This time, she didn’t give a detailed explanation. But Seol Jihu knew what her words implied.
That even the Seven Gods were wary of the power of the spear.
He didn’t know much about it, but it seemed he would gain the power to stand against a god.
Perhaps on the same level as that of the Parasite Queen, or even beyond.
It was only now that Seol Jihu realized what an incredible treasure he’d obtained.
He figured it would be a spear he could use until he was a Unique Ranker at best, but now he wasn’t sure if he could use it even after he became a Unique Ranker.
On the other hand, he understood why the majority of the past heads of the Rothschear House were not permitted a single Authority. He also understood why one head was known as the ‘greatest in history’ just for being granted three Authorities.
‘I shouldn’t have said only three Authorities…’
[Did you ask all the questions you wanted to?]
Seol Jihu nodded his head in a daze.
[I see. Good.]
Along with those words, Seol Jihu felt his pants ruffle. He sensed something thick coming out of his pocket automatically.
Seol Jihu snapped out of his daze, his eyes widening.
[I’ll bestow it divine power.]
The red egg he put in his pocket floated up.