Chapter 5: They Met (2)

‘He gets chased away from the gate early in the morning.’

Choi Han headed in the direction he remembered hearing about from the villagers after he finished burying all of his beloved villagers. He was heading toward Western City.

Choi Han had been transported to this world when he was a freshman in high school, but he had lived here for tens of years already. Of course, the fact that most of that life was spent trying to survive in the Forest of Darkness made him mature in a slightly twisted way, and, as such, he was more rational than anybody would expect after such an incident.

‘I need to go report this to the lord at the castle.’

Harris Village may have been a remote village, but it was still under Count Henituse’s jurisdiction. That was why Choi Han headed to Western City, hoping to at least prepare a small funeral for the villagers.

He was also planning on looking for information regarding the assassins he had killed when he had lost his calm, as he was unable to ask them any questions. However, sending the dead off properly came before revenge.

‘If you think about it, he really is an affectionate person.’

But losing all of the first people who showed him love after tens of years in the Forest of Darkness at once made it impossible for Choi Han’s mind to not become twisted. In the novel, that was when Cale messes with Choi Han and touches a nerve. He remembered what the Cale in the novel said to Choi Han.

[“Why should my father care whether or not some useless villagers are dead? This cup of alcohol in my hand is worth more than all of your useless lives combined.”]

Choi Han starts to laugh at Cale’s words as he asks back.

[“What an interesting thought. I am very curious to know whether you will change your mind or not.”]

[‘Shall we test it out?’]

That test was beating Cale to a pulp so that he was almost dead. The amazing thing was that Cale never changed his mind even after he was beaten to a pulp.

“Ah, I’m getting the chills.”

Cale started to rub his arm after seeing the goosebumps that were developing. He quickly took a sip of the tea that Billos had brought for him. He then looked out the window once again, only to get the chills right back.

‘It’s that punk.’

The moment the gates opened for the morning, a young man wearing clothes with black marks everywhere, such that it made it seem like the clothes were burnt in multiple places, approached the gate. It was Choi Han.

Cale did not get up from his seat as he observed Choi Han.

His speed was admirable, as he ran like a lunatic through a distance that would normally take a carriage a week to travel, but, as a result, he looked like a mess. Of course, the events in the village were responsible for a bit of his messy look as well.

The guard blocked Choi Han’s path as he walked in with his head down, looking completely exhausted. Cale didn’t know what they were saying, but he could see Choi Han shake his head at the guard’s question.

‘I’m sure they’re asking if he has any identification.’

The guards of Western City were generally gentle, but they were strict when it came to the rules. They replicated their liege, Count Deruth’s personality.

“They kicked him out.”

As expected, Choi Han walked back out of the gate. He did not even throw a fit. After continuously running for a day, his slightly recovered conscience told him not to kill an innocent man.

‘Choi Han will now wait until night time before he stealthily jumps over the city wall to enter.’

He then runs into Cale who was busy drinking away.

Screech. Since Cale was alone, the sound of the chair being pushed as he stood up sounded pretty loud. He went downstairs and informed Billos who was at the counter.

“I’ll be back soon. Don’t clear my spot.”

“Yes, young master. I look forward to your return.”

Cale ignored the smile on Billos’s chubby face as he walked out of the tea shop.

“He didn’t break anything!”

Cale could hear someone’s voice coming from inside the shop, but he did not care. He needed to set the foundation to earn that Indestructible Shield today.

The Indestructible Shield.

It is not talking about a physical item. The best comparison might be a mage’s mana shield. Something that does not actually have a physical form. However, it was very different from a mana shield, as it was closer to superpower than magic.

The funny thing was that the human who created the power, but ended up dying, was someone who served a god but ended up being excommunicated.

‘All sorts of weird things are in this novel.’

As with the history of any fantasy world, this world also had its ancient history. During that ancient time, neither magic nor weaponry was developed.

Instead, it was a society where your own innate talent or talents gathered from supernatural occurrences played a pivotal role. The strongest powers in that society were superpowers, divine powers, and natural forces. It was a very primitive time.

Some of those powers have lasted all the way until now, staying hidden in certain locations or items. It was possible to take those powers for yourself if you meet the right conditions.

Ancient powers.

The heroes would find these powers, however, these powers were all supporting powers, not strong enough to be used as a hero’s mainstay.

These were the powers that Cale was looking to find.

‘Everything but the divine powers.’

Whether it be god or angels or devils, Cale did not want to get involved with any of them.

That was why Cale was looking for the powers that people naturally developed or came from nature.

‘That is the way to make sure I don’t need to put in any effort.’

Those were the types of powers he was looking for. Something like sword art or magic would require him to put in effort to practice. He didn’t want to do something like that.

Unlike other books, the ancient civilization in the novel, [The Birth of a Hero], was not that strong.

As civilization developed, the magic and summoning skills that were developed outshined the natural powers left behind by the ancient civilization. Superpowers were the same way. Most subtle superpowers would be blown away by a single hit from the, ‘Aura,’ that was used in present day.

It wasn’t like the heroes just used these powers sparingly for no reason.

‘And my goal is to collect these subtle superpowers to become decently strong.’

It was a satisfying goal. Especially because he also knew the ancient power that could strengthen these subtle super powers.

In order to take the first step in his plan, Cale started to look for the ancient power that was hidden in Western City. He knew the requirement to earn that power.

“Youn, young master. Welcome.”

Cale just nodded his head at the baker, who bowed so low that it looked like his head might touch the ground, to respond. Gasp. He could hear the baker gasping, but Cale pretended not to hear it. He felt bad about how his trash reputation was making this baker so fearful.

“Give me some bread.”

“Excuse me?”

Cale pointed at all of the bread in the bakery and sternly responded.

“Everything from here to there.”

Clang. The gold coin that Cale took out started to spin on the counter.

“Pack it all up.”

The baker seemed to be frozen in place as Cale continued to speak.

“Two or three more gold coins should be enough for a week’s worth of bread, right?”

The baker’s gaze, which had been on the gold coin, moved to Cale. It was too much money to pay for the bread. Cale just stoically responded to the baker’s shaking eyes.

“I can go somewhere else if you don’t want it.”

“No, it is nothing like that! Young master! I will pack it as fast as possible!”

The baker was extremely respectful for a different reason than before as he moved around quickly. After a few minutes, Cale left the bakery with a bag full of bread over his shoulder.

Even though it was just bread, it weighed quite a bit. The weight made Cale start to frown, and he ignored the baker who was watching him leave as he stepped into the street.

Cale leisurely walked down the street, noticing that anybody who made eye contact with him would quickly turn and walk away. The majority of the people even ran away to avoid eye contact with him.

‘It really is different than Korea. It is truly a fantasy world.’

Cale looked around as he wandered around this market that gave off the typical fantasy feel.

“Mm.”

“Mmph.”

Any time he made eye contact with a merchant, they became shocked and avoided his gaze. Tsk tsk. Cale really must have lived up to his title of trash in the past. Cale was talking shit about himself as he walked past the market and toward the western part of Western City.

The slum is located to the west. No matter how wealthy a territory may be, there are always going to be poor people. In a situation like this, most people would probably expect something along these lines to happen.

‘Ah, it is a fateful encounter that you can earn by sharing food with the poor.’

Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Cale could feel people peeking at him as soon as he entered the slums. This was the place where both the idlest and the most vicious people lived together.

Although the poor may not know the face of their liege, the count, they knew Cale’s face. These people who had nothing needed to pay even closer attention to the type of person that would cause a ruckus in the market, pub, plaza, well, you name it, and Cale has probably caused a ruckus there too.

“Tsk.”

Even though they knew all these stories about Cale, they couldn’t resist the sweet smell of the bread in Cale’s bag. Cale just ignored all these gazes as he continued to walk.

The tip of his expensive leather shoe started to become dirty from the dirty water. An unknown stench also filled Cale’s nose, making him naturally start to frown.

This made him start to walk even faster. The slums were on one side of a small hill and constituted of old houses. Cale was heading toward the top of that hill. As he got closer, the gazes and steps of the people following him started to lessen as well. Cale’s sharp glare probably played a role in this as well.

‘It’s better here.’

After being freed from the stench, Cale stood at the top of the hill and turned around to look down at Western City. Of course, this hill was not as high as the count’s estate. There was no way that they would allow the lord of the territory to live somewhere that was lower than that slums.

Cale came back to his senses as he headed toward a tree that was fenced off in all directions. The fence, that was made of planks the width of Cale’s body, had an entrance that had rotted. It was easily broken once Cale pushed at the fence.

This large tree seemed to have lasted for hundreds of years. Trees in the slums were usually chopped into firewood or had its layers peeled off to make it useless, but this tree was not like that.

The reason was simple. The reason could be heard in Cale’s ear. These two were the only two who had followed him until the end from the slums.

“You can’t approach that t-tree!”

Cale ignored that warning. He heard another worried voice as well.

“You can’t go there! It’s a man-eating tree!”

A man-eating tree. Anyone who hung themselves on this tree became mummies overnight. Furthermore, any blood that lands on this tree instantly disappeared.

Finally, there was only dirt around this tree. Grass, and even weeds, were nowhere to be found.

This was the tree that Cale was looking for.

A long time ago, during ancient times, there was a person who loved food so much that his gluttony in the place of worship got him kicked out. That person ended up starving to death.

This tree is said to have grown on top of his body, and that person’s grudge and strength were both in this tree. The Indestructible Shield that Cale was looking for was here.

How primitive, mysterious and strange was this! The majority of the ancient powers were mysterious like this.

Cale took a bread out of the bag and carefully observed a hole that was the size of an adult’s head. He needed to first send away the owner of that voice before starting his work. However, before Cale could even say anything, the voice was even louder this time as they could no longer see Cale from outside the fence because he crouched down. The voice was shaking quite a bit.

“You’re going to die! Don’t do it!”

Cale pressed his temples with his fingers.

“Sigh.”

The number of people following him decreased the closer he got to the man-eating tree at the top of the hill, however, the owner of that voice continued to follow him.

‘There are always nosy punks no matter where you go.’

Cale frowned as he turned his head around. When he did, he noticed a girl who seemed to be around 10 years old, holding her younger brother’s hand while looking at him. Her eyes were full of concern.

Seeing that Cale was frowning and staring at her, the young girl stumbled on her words and started to mumble.

“It’s a man-eating tree. You’re going to d, die.”

“I won’t die.”

Cale took two breads out of the bag and threw it toward the little girl. It didn’t matter if it rolled on the ground because they were all individually wrapped.

“Take that and get lost.”

The young boy instantly grabbed the bread, but the young girl was still hesitating. In the end, Cale needed to use his identity. He stood up and pushed his head outside of the fence.

“You two don’t know about Cale the trash?”

The young girl’s face turned pale. Her younger brother just looked toward Cale before picking up the other bread for his sister and started to tug on her arm.

“Noona.”

“Uh huh.”

The young girl looked back and forth at the tree and Cale even as she was being pulled.

“You can’t die.”

Cale clicked his tongue at the young girl who continued to say that, before making sure nobody else was around as he sat down underneath the tree. Nobody would be able to see what he was doing unless they came right up to the fence.

“Let’s get started.”

He started by taking a loaf of bread out of the bag and putting it into that hole. His hand soon disappeared into the darkness underneath the tree, and Cale could feel a cold sensation as the bread in his hand disappeared.

He felt like his whole hand might be sucked in, and quickly took it out.

The darkness in the hole underneath the tree was still the same.

“If you die with a grudge, you have to resolve that grudge.”

This man-eating tree wasn’t actually a man-eating tree. It was a tree that would eat anything. It was the side effect of the power that was left behind by the person who starved to death. But for such a thing to be related to an ancient strength…it was comical, but made it seem more realistic.

‘I remember it said I need to feed it until the darkness disappears.’

The darkness in the hole underneath the tree was not the result of shade. It was darkness formed by the grudge.

This could not be done with other people. One person had to continue to provide a large amount of food until the darkness disappeared. Once the darkness finally disappears, the light that was hiding underneath would appear.

Once he eats that light, the, ‘Indestructible Shield,’ will become Cale’s.

“Eat all you want.”

Cale put the opening of the bag into the hole and emptied all of the bread into it. In a normal situation, that small hole should have become filled with bread, however, only the darkness continued to remain once Cale removed the bag.

“I guess I’ll need about ten more large bags.”

The darkness in the hole was slightly fainter than before.

Ten bags. Only someone like Cale, with 3 million gallons as allowance, could casually say such a thing.

Rumble-

An odd cry seemed to resonate from the tree. It seemed to be saying that it was hungry and asking for more food. Cale felt like the darkness might suddenly reach out and grab him.

“…It is a bit scary.”

Cale quickly got up. He felt like he should not be here for a long time.

“Just what can a stupid grudge do?”

Gluttony was a scary thing.

“I’ll come back tomorrow.”

Cale said goodbye to the rumbling tree as if it was a person and exited the fenced area. Cale noticed the siblings eating the bread as soon as he entered the slums.

For someone who was claiming that he should not go there because it was a man-eating tree, they seemed to be enjoying the breads. They must be liking the flavor, because both of them seemed very happy.

“My my.”

Cale snorted at the siblings before ignoring their gazes. However, their gazes were not on him, but on the bag that was filled with bread earlier but was now empty. They were probably curious.

But what could they do? They couldn’t do anything.

These children were probably too scared to even go near the man-eating tree. However, it is always good to be on the safe side. It would be bad if they went up to the tree and put their head into the hole and got eaten.

[The children of the slums have no fear. It was because they treasured a single grain of rice more than a blade coming their way. Death is always around them, so they do not fear death. They fear being hungry more than death.]

It was something that was written in [The Birth of a Hero].

That was why Cale decided to speak to the pair of siblings.

“If you want to eat bread again tomorrow, don’t say a thing.”

The two siblings did not say anything. They were immediately following Cale’s order. The young girl, who seemed hesitant earlier, put her hand on her brother’s mouth and pretended to not see Cale. Cale smiled and thought that she was pretty smart, as he quickly left the slums.

The people in the slums who knew Cale had gone to the top of the hill were looking at him wondering what crazy thing he was doing now, but Cale liked that kind of gaze.

The people outside the slums looked at Cale weirdly as well, but Cale didn’t care about these gazes.

“Ah, young master. You are back.”

Once Cale returned to the tea shop, Billos greeted him pretty happily.

“Yes. Bring me a new cup of tea. A refreshing one this time.”

Cale headed back to his seat on the third floor. It should have been pretty busy at this time, but there was nobody else on the third floor. They were all avoiding the trash of the Count’s family. That was why Cale could relax.

“Here is your tea, young master. I also brought up some desserts.”

“Ah, great. Thanks.”

Cale only continued to look toward the city gate as he took a sip of the tea. Billos observed Cale’s face with an odd expression before he quietly left the third floor. It was weird to hear Cale thanking someone.

Cale continued to order tea and desserts as he looked outside the window until the sky slowly turned orange and the sun set. He only got up when night arrived and it was dark outside.

It was now time to go interact with the dangerous dude who will come from outside the wall.

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