Chapter 252 - Baekun Mountains (1)
Morning appeared quickly on the spacious plains to the east, north, and west of the Baekun Mountains. Even though it was a mountain range, the cries of roosters during the early dawn didn't allow them to oversleep. In terms of time, an early morning person started the day at 5 or 6 a.m.
However, it was precisely 4 in the morning. This was a time when even the people who woke up the earliest hadn't escaped from sleep yet. At this time, a small farewell ceremony was taking place near the main gate of the Fairy Dance Lee Family's home. However, those who sneered at the size of the ceremony would be shocked when they saw who was present.
These six people were the current powers of the Fairy Dance Lee Family.
Among them was the main leader, Lee Joonyoung.
"Really..." Theodore looked at them and laughed. "Why did you come out here? I thought the five of you didn't feel good toward me."
It was as he said. No matter how resourceful Lee Joonyoung was, it was impossible for there to be no friction during the integration of the family. Among them, the heads of the five factions had been uncooperative, so Theodore had stepped forward to take down their haughty pride.
The law of the jungle came into play. They hadn't been able to withstand Theodore's strength and suffered from shame, but they conceded to the result.
"I am really sorry about that, Temporary Head," one of the faction leaders said. "To be honest, we thought you wanted to devour this family through the young lady. Even if you studied the Fairy Dance, we thought that the lineage of a Westerner could never mix with us. We were really stupid."
"Hmm, such misunderstandings are expected. Why did you change your mind?"
"You have eyes like us."
Three months wasn't a long time. It was a quarter of the year, where one season had just passed. It was too short a period of time to see through the essence of a person. Only crude results could be seen during such a short period of time, especially under the gazes of five pairs of eyes which had been hardened by prejudice over several generations.
Nonetheless, three months had been plenty of time for Theodore. From early morning, he had sat on a desk and done the work of the family head. After finishing the work, he had practiced his martial arts. All those who had passed by and seen him were amazed. It was a fresh dance, a feast of movements which had been lost for several generations.
He had taught others without asking for anything in return, making the five faction leaders feel ashamed.
'Can we truly say that we are better than him?'
'As a martial artist and family man, we can't beat him.'
Theodore was faithful to his own desires, but he had still done exemplary work as the family head. As such, the five leaders truly admitted their defeat.
They abandoned their grudges and actively assisted in the unification of the family along with Lee Joonyoung, who acted as Theodore's agent. Now, the vassals of the Fairy Dance Lee Family were reliable.
"Please come back anytime, Temporary Head!"
"Next time, I wish to learn things from you!"
"Temporary Head, don't worry! We will do well."
Lee Joonyoung smiled at the five leaders. "Well, I guess it is like this. This is because of your virtue."
"...Hah, I didn't know this would happen."
"Here are the things I've prepared."
Theodore took the bundle from Lee Joonyoung and confirmed the contents. It was a badge to prove Theodore's identity, as well as gold that could be used anywhere in the East Continent. There was also a map which contained detailed directions.
It was a luxurious bundle of items.
"Thank you. Now, I can go back with ease."
It would take a considerable amount of time to exchange goods and money to that of the East Continent, so there would be unavoidable delays. Fortunately, Theodore was able to cut down on this thanks to Lee Joonyoung. From a hidden angle, Theodore put the bundle into his inventory and realized that someone wasn't present. "Seol?"
"She will come soon... Hah, speaking of which."
As Lee Joonyoung spoke, Lee Seol ran out the door in blue clothing. She proved that it wasn't just Lee Joonyoung who had made further progress in the past three months, as her movements had doubled compared to her previous self. aLee Seol arrived in front of Theodore and cried out, "Theo! I'm sorry for the delay!"
"No, you aren't too late. Anyway, didn't you decide to fulfill your request today?"
Lee Seol's request was that she wanted Theodore to go see the spirits of the Baekun Mountains with her. It was why she had prepared for this journey from early dawn. She couldn't leave her position for a few days, but it was possible to accompany him for a day or so as the mountain's keeper.
"So, then please take care of the Fairy Dance Lee Family."
Theodore stood next to the happily smiling Seol and spoke formally to the people who had come out to bid him goodbye. Theodore's request was for them to be the pillars of the Fairy Dance Lee Family as well as to respect Lee Seol. They understood the meaning of his words and nodded.
It was the moment when Theodore's short-lived life as the head of a family was over.
* * *
"Wah! It has been so long since I've come back!" Lee Soel laughed as she walked around a familiar cabin.
There were no big changes, but it felt a bit gloomy, probably because no one was going to return. Dandelions bloomed instead of pumpkin vines in the front yard, while mushrooms grew in the rafters.
'I have to say goodbye to this place now.'
Theodore was already used to Lee Yoonsung's empty space within him, but he still couldn't help feeling bitter. He looked around the cabin for a moment, before following Lee Seol outside. It was a place he hadn't seen when he stayed here a while ago.
"Ahem!" At that moment, Lee Seol suddenly looked back. "From here on, you can't go into this area without the permission of the mountain's keeper."
"Are the spirits living inside here?"
"Yes, but I haven't been here in a while, hehe."
Theodore admired the place and infused magic power into his eyes, temporarily increasing his vision to the equivalent of a hawk's. He could see rice seeds from 30 meters above the ground. Thanks to Hawkeye, Theodore had the ability to look at the peak. Beyond the hundreds of trees, there was a place where animals and plants couldn't be seen. Then without any warning, his vision magic was turned off.
'...Indeed, this isn't an ordinary place.'
There might be something intervening, or perhaps it was the place itself. Either way, his curiosity as a magician boiled up. Theodore suddenly called out, "Seol, stop."
"Huh? What is it?"
"Your pace is too slow. Get on."
Lee Seol, who was about to climb the mountain, made a bewildered face that soon turned red. It was because Theodore was offering her his back.
So far, Lee Seol hadn't encountered men outside her family. Thus, it was no wonder that her heart started pounding. She thought of Theodore as an adult male of the family, but his exotic appearance was rather appealing.
'I-If I tell him that I want to refuse because I'm embarrassed...' Lee Seol finished rationalizing her thoughts and slowly wrapped her arms around Theodore's neck.
She had the normal heart of a girl, so she was worried about being heavy.
"Hold on tightly. I will be moving fast."
However, she only had a few moments to worry about her heaviness.
As Theodore took one step forward, her hair rushed behind her and the wind blew past. Was it a sudden gust of wind? No, it wasn't that.
The wind was blowing due to Theodore's ridiculous acceleration. 15 meters for the first step, 24 meters for the next step... By the time he took 24 steps, Theodore's body had reached maximum speed and was like a fired arrow.
"Kyaaaak!" Lee Seol couldn't help screaming and grabbed onto Theodore's neck tightly.
Speed was often compared to the wind, but Theodore was currently faster than a gale. Those who weren't accustomed to such high-speed movement would undoubtedly be intimidated.
So, Lee Seol didn't realize that although she had forgotten her role as mountain's keeper, Theodore was moving up the mountain peak naturally. He moved with no hesitation because he was moving off someone else's memory.
It was the memory of the one who had been abandoned by his family, Lee Yoonsung.
Despite not being the mountain's keeper, Lee Yoonsung had been left here. The mountain was filled with beasts; it was where wild wolves and snakes roamed around. Maybe his family expected him to disappear here.
The word for 'forbidden zone' wasn't in Lee Yoonsung's memories. He had never been warned not to go there, but he had known he would die if he entered.
'But Senior survived.'
Perhaps it had been due to coincidence or good luck that Lee Yoonsung had managed to repeatedly hunt and gather in the forbidden zone several times.
His stomach had hurt after eating poison, and he had fallen from a cliff while running away from a wild horse. In the process, the geography had gotten so deeply imprinted in his body and mind that it applied even 100 years later.
Theodore quickly climbed the mountain and stopped after arriving at the peak.
"Oh...!" Theodore briefly admired the view.
He was thousands of meters above sea level, so the view was truly spectacular. Of course, it was simple compared to what he had seen from the world tree, but was there any place higher than that in this age? It was enough to admire the scenery shining under the sunlight.
"This Baekun Mountains, two spirits rule over the forest."
"Yes." Lee Seol shortly regained her composure after being let down and pointed to the place beyond them. "There is the Tiger King in the canyon on the right and the White Bear in the forest on the left."
"Tiger King and White Bear?"
"Yes, I heard that they have lived for a few hundred years... They are the ones you should meet today."
It was interesting. Theodore nodded and alternated pointing between the two directions. "I see. So, who are we going to see first?"
"The Tiger King is the nearest."
"Okay, to the right then." Theodore set the path and stepped back.
The wind blew from below, causing the hairs of the two people to rise. However, this time Lee Seol didn't scream. The wind blew through the mountain peaks, and Seol clutched tightly onto the man she wouldn't be able to meet again for a long time in the future.