Chapter 242 - Where is This (2)
"This is impossible."
No matter how many times he looked away, the scenery that appeared was the same. The mansion in the distance was no different from what he remembered. Baekun Mountains...
According to Lee Yoonsung's memories, this was the land which the Fairy Dance Lee family had defended for generations, a place where many types of spiritual things lived. Theodore had wanted to come here someday, but he couldn't help wondering about why he was here now.
So, he questioned the source of all this, "Gluttony!"
The grimoire had been the one who suggested using Death's Worship as a means of escape. The grimoire's ego which dwelled inside Theodore responded, -You called.
"Of course, I called! Why have I ended up all the way in the East Continent? Explain it so that I can understand!"
The virtue of a magician was to stay calm in any situation, but it was hard at this current moment. Even a space magician like Orta would be exhausted if he crossed a few borders. However, Theodore had transcended the gap between two continents. Additionally, this was the Sun Clouds Mountain Ranges which were located in the middle of the East Continent.
Gluttony's voice remained as composed as ever, -Relax, User. You can be excited once you find out the situation we are in.
"...Okay, let's work this out."
Theodore suppressed his emotions. He had learned from their past few years of knowing each other that it was useless to argue against beings who didn't have human emotions. After his head cooled, Theodore opened his mouth again, "Yes, so what happened to Death's Worship that was taken out of the inventory? Surely, you didn't miss it?"
Death's Worship was a grimoire that could turn the whole continent into a kingdom of death. Theodore wouldn't be qualified to be called a hero if he hadn't managed to keep the grimoire.
Theodore was tense, but Gluttony dispelled his concerns.
-I naturally got it. The struggle was a bit intense, but I got it right before the space transfer. However, the grimoire will be more cautious and quicker when using space distortion next time.
"The same trick won't be successful... Still, the biggest worry is gone. It is fortunate."
Zest might have died in the explosion which occurred afterward, but Theodore's logic denied that optimistic conjecture. Magnus' last blow was defeated by Zest, so Theodore couldn't be confident that a sword master or great magician would've died from the explosion. If it were so easy to kill Zest, Zest would've lost his head to Veronica or Blundell previously.
'Well, isn't this situation good?'
Theodore was on the East Continent, so Zest couldn't threaten him. He looked down at his left hand with cold eyes and returned to the story.
"Everything else is minor. I want a complete explanation about how we arrived here on the East Continent."
-Okay, Gluttony accepted Theodore's words and started explaining, -When we escaped using Death's Worship's space warp, I could see that it randomly moved without a destination. If it was left alone, you could've been destroyed somewhere on the ground or the sea.
-I intervened in his magic and placed other coordinates into the formula. I used the causal string attached to User.
It was a memory that Theodore had forgotten.
"Don't tell me the quest...?"
Lee Yoonsung had wanted to go home once, and Gluttony had used this covenant as a vehicle. Gluttony was a parasitic entity in Theodore's left hand and had no direct ability to do magic, so it could only interfere with the coordinates by using Theodore's relationships. In that case, Gluttony couldn't be blamed for this situation.
"...Dammit, I brought this on myself," Theodore grumbled reflexively.
However, Gluttony returned with an unexpected answer, -Hmm, I don't think the situation is that bad.
-There are no threats to User around here, so can't you rest until your circles' overload is gone? You can also complete the quest, so it is effective in many ways.
Gluttony's words weren't wrong. Theodore needed time to stabilize his circles, and it would be best if he could resolve the quest during that time as well. However, Gluttony's view of the situation was also different. It wasn't tied down by relationships with other beings and thus had come to an unemotional conclusion.
"Gluttony, you... Eh?"
Then Theodore was suddenly confused by something.
"Why are you going to sleep already?" He asked as he felt the surface consciousness of Gluttony start to sink downward.
Gluttony barely managed to answer in a sleepy voice, -In the process of interfering with Death's Praise... I used a lot of power. For the time being... waking up, it is hard... maybe.
"How long until you recover?"
-A week if it is short... a fortnight if it is longer.
Then Gluttony fell silent after that. Theodore was left with a blank face as his companion departed. No, it wasn't just Theodore's expression but his mind as well. Having suddenly appeared on the East Continent, Theodore couldn't think about what to do with this absurd situation.
Then he someone's voice say, "Ah, you're finally up!"
It was a bright and cheerful voice, and it sounded like it belonged to someone who still had yet to reach adulthood. Theodore turned his gaze and saw a young girl with braided hair. She looked like she was barely over 15, but he couldn't help feeling a sense of déjà vu.
'Who is she?' Theodore looked at her with a confused expression.
The girl smiled while scratching her head. "Heheh, can you speak Chinese?"
"Wow! Your pronunciation is very old-fashioned!"
It couldn't be helped. It had been over a hundred years ago when Lee Yoonsung had been alive, so the pronunciation of those times would feel old-fashioned now. The cheerful girl smiled brightly at Theodore and bowed. "My name is Lee Seol. You are in the cabin where I have been living for a while. I found you collapsed on the ground!"
"T-Thank you for your help." Theodore couldn't endure the gaze of her shining eyes and eventually stepped back. He had overcome sword masters and a dragon's threats, but this was the first time he was being pushed back by a person's atmosphere. Were these shining eyes the eyes of a child looking forward to a birthday party...? The girl said her name was Lee Seol.
Then the reason for her enthusiasm was soon revealed.
"This is the first time I have seen a foreigner since I was born. I read about it in books, but you are much more handsome than I imagined!"
"Miss Lee Seol, you are pretty enough."
"Kyah, your words are also great! Please keep calling me Miss Lee Seol. It is different from usual, so I feel good. It is an experience I can't get anywhere else. Now, let's go inside and talk some more!"
Theodore was able to read curiosity, longing, and anticipation in her clear eyes. However, despite her young age and bright outer facade, she had something deep and dark inside of her. Yet she was someone who had picked him up from the ground and moved him to a bed, as well as taken care of him.
Theodore thought up to there and immediately realized, ' ...Indeed, there was a reason for the déjà vu.'
The cabin where Theodore slept for days resembled the one in his memories exactly.
The cabin where Lee Yoonsung had lived for many years after being kicked out of his family overlapped with this one. It had aged and been repaired over the years, but the arrangement of the foundation stones and the pillars hadn't changed.
It was naturally a place which would cause him to feel déjà vu.
"Hey, aren't you coming in?"
"I'm coming now."
Theodore entered the cabin with a wry smile. This was where Lee Yoonsung had stayed a long time ago.
* * *
Later that night...
The wind became cooler when the sun rose. As Theodore enjoyed the wind on his skin, he recalled the face of the girl he met a while ago.
Lee Seol, the girl with the name which meant 'snow,' was brimming with curiosity and never seemed to get tired. Judging from Lee Seol's behavior, the saying that Eastern people were closed off to the West seemed to be false. If Baek Dongil were a little younger and a female, would he have grown up like Lee Seol?
"...I don't know," Theodore murmured as he looked up at the sky.
'I feel closer to the stars here compared to when I'm on a plain.'
Theodore's current location was only a few kilometers higher than the plains, but human senses were easily tricked. The stars studding the dark sky drove away the darkness. It was a view different from the Western landscape, but he couldn't help feeling like he was being welcomed home.
"Excuse me," Theodore couldn't help but say, "Do you have anything to say to me, Senior?"
From the moment that he met Lee Seol, Theodore had felt that Lee Yoonsung's consciousness had woken up inside him. Lee Yoonsung coughed a few times before speaking, -Cough, cough. Since when did you notice?
"Since the beginning."
-...You have grown a lot. I don't know where my obedient junior has gone.
"That is a useless story, Senior." Theodore changed the topic. "Did you think I wouldn't notice? Lee Seol is clearly your direct descendant."
-Sigh. It is impossible not to notice.
The two people sighed together.
"You're so immature."
-You're so immature.
Theodore didn't know what had happened over the years, so he couldn't harshly rebuke Lee Yoonsung. Lee Yoonsung might've been banished, but he was a direct descendant of the Lee family and its deceased patriarch. It didn't matter if he wasn't recognized by the Lee family. He was just sad because he didn't know the facts.
-I'm really sorry, Junior, Lee Yoonsung said bitterly. He thought it would be a great honor to leave for the sake of his descendants in the distant future, but he didn't know about human greed.
Why was the girl, Lee Seol, living in this cabin? Lee Yoonsung wondered what had happened to the Lee Family. He was so curious that he remained in this modern age. However, before Lee Yoonsung could speak, Theodore interrupted and said, "I understand."
"You don't have to say anymore. I understand. I will take care of that child and find out the answers to your questions. Until then, remain inside me and don't disappear."
He couldn't allow the incident with Satomer to happen again. Satomer had missed the moment when his dream became a reality. As a magician, how could Theodore not understand this lamentation? Theodore had seen the passion of Satomer, who had continued to study magic until the moment he died. So, there was still a burn mark left behind on Theodore's heart by Satomer.
He wouldn't allow the same bitter thing to happen again. Theodore had made a vow. Lee Yoonsung was speechless after hearing Theodore's determination. Theodore wanted him to stay until the completion of the quest, so Lee Yoonsung couldn't deny Theodore that. Lee Yoonsung would leave only when he had nothing left behind.
Indeed, Theodore chose the hard way. The great people who became Theodore's strength... He couldn't betray them.
-...Thank you, Theodore Miller. Lee Yoonsung resented that he couldn't bend his knees and bow to express his gratitude.
"You don't have to do that. I will just be embarrassed." Theodore received the appreciation and watched the sky above the mountains which he would never get tired of.
This area had good air and a good environment. Tomorrow, he would go down the mountain and buy some meat. His diet couldn't change while living in this cabin. Moreover, Theodore's dimensional pocket had enough money to buy this mountain village a hundred times over.
...And besides, what could happen at this mountain cabin?
* * *
The next morning, Theodore saw some uninvited people climbing toward the cabin, and he sighed.