Seol Jihu got busy again as soon as the Neutral Zone concluded.
‘I need to find the spring.’
He didn’t exactly know what the spring was. He didn’t even know where to look for it.
He only knew something similar had happened in the alternate future, and Eun Yuri, who was then called the hope of mankind, mentioned that they could go to the Spirit Realm through a spring.
The future Seol Jihu treated her as if she was a crazy bitch, calling her idea absurd, but the present Seol Jihu didn’t think so.
The fact that even the Federation had given up meant that there really was no other solution, so the only thing they could rely on was the spring.
So for an entire month, Seol Jihu poured his time into searching for it, but there were no clear results.
Despite flipping the library upside down and reading all kinds of books, not a single clue could be found, almost as if it never existed in the first place.
Whether he asked Roselle, urged Seo Yuhui, or tried bothering the blameless Flone, everyone shook their heads. They all replied that they’ve never heard of such a spring before.
“Miss Eun Yuri, tell me what you know about how to cross over to the Spirit Realm or anything about a spring.”
He grew so frustrated that he even asked Eun Yuri. However, there was simply no way the current her would know, so she only blankly stared back at him in return.
In any case, he was beginning to doubt whether the spring really existed at this point, and he felt more exasperated day by day.
While Seol Jihu’s worries kept growing, a small wind of change blew across Valhalla.
For one, Park Woori, Yoo Yeolmu, and Eun Yuri left to follow Jang Maldong to Haramark. It was to uncover their dormant potentials and raise their physical levels to the highest possible amount while they were still low leveled.
Additionally, three High Ranker candidates were added to Valhalla’s ranks.
After the Eva’s Night incident, Richard Hugo, Marcel Ghionea, and Maria Yeriel, who all had been standing on the edge of Level 4, finally fulfilled their advancement requirements. Thanks to their efforts in the Neutral Zone, they were successful in earning the contribution points that they had been lacking.
Of course, it was still too early to be happy.
They were only candidates, in the end, meaning they had to pass the examination given by the royal family to move up in ranks and become a High Ranker.
Besides them, the Yi siblings both became Level 3, and there was a slight change in Little Chick as well.
First, its size changed. It had only been the size of a cotton ball when it hatched, but it was now the size of a fist. Its coat became fluffier, and above all, the trademark feather that grew on its forehead increased from one to three.
If it only had a single stiff green feather sticking out before, it now had a yellow and blue feather sprouting from the sides drawing a V-shape.
It almost looked like a peacock.
However, despite the numerous good news pouring in, Seol Jihu’s heart wasn’t happy in the slightest. He had made zero progress in important matters that he had to urgently solve.
Seol Jihu holed himself up in his office again and repeatedly sighed. He had returned late at night without seeing any results today as well.
‘What should I do?’
He looked through the records he brought just in case, but he couldn’t find anything about a spring.
‘Do I give up?’
He was tired.
Seol Jihu added another cigarette butt to the massive pile on his ashtray before staring at his desk. His eyes happened to wander on the sweetly sleeping Little Chick.
He understood that it had to sleep a lot since it was still a baby, but he suddenly found it an eyesore.
“How can you even sleep, huh?”
When he grumpily spoke while prodding its body, Little Chick shot open its eyes and swung its head around.
“Your homeland is on the verge of destruction. Yet you can still sleep so soundly.”
Little Chick glared back at Seol Jihu without blinking before it suddenly sighed and opened its beak.
“I understand how you’re feeling, but don’t say things like that. I’m worried too.”
“Of course. It’s where I was born and raised. Why wouldn’t I be worried?”
“Then tell me what we should do if you’re that worried. We have to be able to cross over to the Spirit Realm to even do anything, you know.”
“It’s not that I don’t want to but… I really don’t know. Not only has it been ages since I left the place, but I’ve also never been interested in anything besides my mission. I would have told you if I knew anything.”
Little Chick chirped in a depressed voice.
It was right. It didn’t have any reason to hide anything and would have told him if it knew.
Seol Jihu complained in a quiet voice.
“Damn it. Did the Spirit Realm not fight back? Doesn’t it have a king? Then why did it fall to such straits…”
“Don’t be like that. Do you really think they did nothing when invaders trespassed into their own territory?”
“There is a ‘Spirit King’, but it’s ultimately a mortal being born of the power of a god.”
Little Chick explained.
“In the eyes of a god, humanity and Spirits are the same. It’s hard for mortal beings to contest when an immortal being goes all out against them. You should know how difficult it is from just looking at your situation.”
“Well, don’t cling onto things that aren’t working out and try to look for another solution. The Sky Fairies are a race that has accompanied the Spirits since they were born. There should be a good reason why that race has given up.”
Seol Jihu hung his head at Little Chick’s logical explanation.
He had been having similar thoughts in the first place. His heart urged him to not give up while his brain yelled at him that it couldn’t be helped.
“And don’t wake me up when I’m sleeping. Do you think I’m sleeping because I’m bored? I have my reasons for sleeping. I’m trying my hardest to digest the divine power as it is…”
“Oh really? I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine if you know. Anyways, I’m sleeping.”
“Alright. Then I should…?”
Seol Jihu froze as he was raising his head. He finally felt that something was out of place.
Who had he been talking to?
Seol Jihu murmured to himself and looked down. He saw Little Chick stretch its tiny beak wide open to yawn.
Seol Jihu’s eyes widened.
Little Chick let out a shriek when Seol Jihu’s hands suddenly clasped around it.
“You talked, right? You talked! It was you that talked just now, right?”
“Right. Now that I think about it, you talked before when you were an egg too! Right? Right?”
“Damn it! What are you doing!? Don’t shake me! I’m getting dizzy!”
“I knew it!”
Seol Jihu shouted while shaking his hands. Little Chick angrily cried out, trying to twist away from his grasp.
That night, strange chirping noises sounded out from Seol Jihu’s office.
The next morning.
Seol Jihu climbed up the stairs with Little Chick resting on top of his head. He planned to eat while thinking about whether to continue the meaningless search for the spring or to focus on raising their military force in preparations for the upcoming war.
“Oh, you came?”
But someone was already there before him although it was quite early in the morning.
Phi Sora was sitting at a table eating breakfast. She smacked her lips after sucking her chopsticks clean.
“It’s hard to see your face nowadays. Why are you so busy?”
“I wish I knew.”
“Is it because of the Federation?”
“I guess so. I need to find a solution but…”
Seol Jihu replied with a sigh and walked towards the kitchen after placing down Little Chick on the table across Phi Sora.
“Well… Good luck.”
Shrugging her shoulders, Phi Sora stuffed the rest of the contents of her bowl into her mouth, causing her cheeks to bulge.
At that moment.
“Oh right, you eating?”
Phi Sora stopped her motions when she heard his voice from the kitchen. For the record, there was nobody in the cafeteria besides the two of them. Consequently, it really was no wonder that Phi Sora thought he was talking to her.
As Phi Sora stopped chewing and indifferently glanced sideways at the kitchen after hearing the sudden informal speech…
“That’s right, Partner.”
…She suddenly heard a new voice out of nowhere. It was a very adorable and lovely voice that sounded like the chirp of a lark.
“Hmm. A large meal if you will.”
Little Chick spoke in a serious, almost cocky tone.
Phi Sora stopped paying attention to the food in her mouth. Her widened eyes and frowning face made it obvious that she was doubting her eyes and ears. She was so surprised that words failed her, causing her to only stare at Little Chick in disbelief.
Feeling her gaze, Little Chick stared back. Then, it spoke.
“What are you looking at?”
“What are you looking at, huh?”
“What, did you help me talk or something?”
Phi Sora choked and started to pound her chest while coughing.
“It’s because it evolved. I fed it some divine power at the temple not too long ago, so now it can talk.”
Seol Jihu’s voice came from the kitchen. After Phi Sora barely managed to swallow, she rapidly blinked her narrowed eyes before speaking.
“Ah. You mentioned it was a Spirit… You’re right. I thought something changed about it. There are three feathers on its head—”
“Well, aren’t you a loud one.”
Little Chick cut off her words.
“Why do you talk so much? So noisy.”
“‘Oh my’, yourself. Did you help me grow more feathers or something?”
“Oh my, my, my, my? Look at this thing talk. You. Why are you so cocky?”
“What did you say?”
Phi Sora’s eyes instantly blazed with fire. There was no way that she, who was very proud of her beauty, would ignore what it just said.
But Little Chick didn’t back down. It spread its wings intimidatingly.
“Just you wait! The day I regain my strength, you’re second on the list for purging. The first is that primitive blackie.”
Little Chick spat out those words while grinding its teeth.
“Damn it. Do these little hotshots think they can mess with me? Screw this! I need to hurry up and regain my powers. I’ll first grind down that ignorant, brown sugar-lump of a bastard and swallow him whole…”
Phi Sora couldn’t believe what she was hearing as Little Chick ranted on.
“You teeny weeny little thing. What, huh? What are you going to do?”
“Oh? You wanna go? You wanna go right now?”
It bounced on its tiptoes while throwing jabs in the air. The ends of its wings clenched and unclenched.
Phi Sora blankly stared at it for a while before letting out an empty laugh.
“I just came here to eat breakfast, but now. Now I’ve seen it all.”
“Wow. Cheeky, aren’t you? This thing is just like its master…”
Tak! Phi Sora slammed down her spoon and roughly pushed back her chair to stand up. She glared at Little Chick that was provokingly mouthing things with its beak before taking her plates and walking away with big strides.
Meanwhile, Seol Jihu was still cooking in the kitchen.
“Dear! Where did that thing come from? Was it not taught any manners?”
“I’m curious too. Did Miss Phi Sora do something to it?”
“Of course not! I’ve only played a few pranks while it was sleeping because it was too cute. I—”
“That’s probably it. It really doesn’t like anyone waking it up when it’s sleeping. Since you’ve even toyed with it… Just how many times did you do it to make it behave like that?”
Seol Jihu calmly asked while flipping the egg he was frying.
Phi Sora began to think while looking up. One, two, three, four… She stopped counting after ten. Feeling guilty, she cleared her throat and changed the subject.
“Oh right. Speaking of which, I heard you bought out the VIP store.”
“Do you have anything you can sell me? I’m not asking you to give anything for free. Well, I’d appreciate it if you gave me a member discount, though.”
“Anything I can sell…”
Seol Jihu tilted his head.
He had given the Miyal’s Branding Iron to Eun Yuri, passed on Moirai’s Souvenir to Seo Yuhui, and needed to hold onto the Seed of the World Tree and Aphriso’s Sedge.
‘The only thing I have left is the Pneuma’s Sky Boots and…?’
Seol Jihu’s thoughts froze at that moment. A sudden memory had flashed past his mind. To be more precise, it was an item description that he had skimmed through in the Neutral Zone.
Phi Sora looked at Seol Jihu, who had suddenly frozen with an odd gaze.
“…Miss Phi Sora.”
Seol Jihu thanked her all of a sudden before letting go of the frying pan he was holding. He then turned his body and dashed out of the kitchen.
“Uh uh, the egg is burning, you know!?”
“What about my food?”
Phi Sora’s yell was followed by Little Chick’s shout.
However, Seol Jihu didn’t stop. He flew down the flight of stairs before kicking open the door to his office and crazily searching through the bag he had carefully placed in the corner.
‘There definitely was…’
He took out a crescent-shaped rock. It was one of the items he had earned from the Neutral Zone.
He calmed his beating heart before activating his General Observation.
[Saintes Mesures of Sidus]
A piece of the divine sextant belonging to Sidus, the god of stars. Though only once, it can analyze the stars revolving in space and tell which path a constellation should take.
However, the user will not know which path to take, nor will he know whether the timing or the process is right or wrong.
Seol Jihu carefully read the description again and again.
The reason he hadn’t been immediately reminded of the Saintes Mesures of Sidus was because the description had been too difficult to understand.
In other words, he had been unsure. There was no guarantee that it would tell him how to get to the Spirit Realm. Even if for some remote chance that it did, he couldn’t be sure if the path was correct.
However, he had nothing else left.
Seol Jihu grasped the Saintes Mesures of Sidus in his hand with a desperate heart. He then carefully let his mana flow into it.
A loud noise rang out, followed by violent tremors in his hand.
However, the convulsions only lasted for a moment. The rock started to emit a bluish light and began pulling Seol Jihu in a certain direction. It felt as if a soft hand was pulling on his hand, urging him to hurry and follow it.
Seol Jihu was led by the Saintes Mesures of Sidus, down the stairs to the entrance, away from the building and towards the city, and finally past the city and onto the main road.
Unexpectedly, at the end of the road was the Eva Royal Palace.
Seol Jihu swallowed his surprise as the Saintes Mesures of Sidus began to lead him toward the royal grounds.
None of the soldiers barred his entry despite giving him a few glances. Instead, they courteously nodded at him. While Seol Jihu’s status played a part, it was more because Charlotte Aria had strictly commanded them to absolutely not hinder his visits.
Thanks to that, Seol Jihu was able to enter without any problems.
And a few moments later.
‘Where is it taking me?’
Seol Jihu felt the pulling sensation gradually weaken as he passed the barracks and walked on. At the same time as the sensation completely vanished, the Saintes Mesures of Sidus scattered away into a handful of ash.
He stopped his steps. After closing and opening his hand a few times, Seol Jihu slowly raised his head.
His eyes immediately widened when he saw the building in front of him. It was a place he had visited once before. It was a place that was far away from the palace.
In front of him stood a dreary, worn-down building that made anyone looking at it feel depressed.
It was the prison within the grounds of the Eva Royal Palace.Previous Chapter Next Chapter