Chapter 162 - Delicacy from the East (3)
The system responded to his permission.
[After confirming the user's intention, object name 'Abe no Seimei' will be called. Checking the communication connection... Success, object name 'Abe no Seimei' has approved the two-way communication.]
[He will temporarily be synchronized with the user's consciousness.]
Simultaneously, the voice disappeared, and darkness covered Theodore's eyes. It was a darkness which didn't tolerate the presence of life.
Theodore looked around the darkness with a feeling of déjà vu, and he soon figured out the cause of the darkness. It was the same as when he heard the 'quests' in the Pirate Archipelago. Maybe this was the only space where he could converse with the authors.
As before, light particles gathered in front of him. Abe no Seimei... This was the appearance of an existence who couldn't be handled even with Gluttony's 4th seal released.
'Based on only the physique... It is hard to know.'
Theodore looked nervously at the shape which was gradually forming from the light.
He estimated that the figure's height was 170cm, but the gender couldn't be discerned. It was difficult to judge because the eyes were male while the jaw was feminine. Shortly after that, Abe no Seimei's form was completed.
The hem of his sleeves went down to his thighs, while his long hair, which flowed from underneath the strange hat he wore, had a black shine like ebony. He was wearing white clothing similar to a robe, with red cloth woven in. It was clothing that Theodore had never seen in any literature.
However, Theodore could only calmly observe Seimei up to there.
The moment that he saw the last part of Seimei's form, the nose, an unfamiliar dizziness filled Theodore's mind. Seimei had pale white skin and bright golden eyes. Apart from the cultural difference, it was a beauty which anyone would admire. However, Theodore felt an inexplicable sense of hostility.
"Urgh." Theodore gritted his teeth as he was filled with the desire to attack.
Meanwhile, Seimei's eyes widened with surprise. "Ho, an interesting power is protecting you."
Of course, it was obvious that something was causing this hostility. As Theodore stared at Seimei, he tried to suppress his boiling magic power. "You are Abe no Seimei?"
"That's right," the onmyōji, Abe no Seimei, said with a nod as he opened the fan in his hand. "This body is a 2nd generation onmyōji leader, originally Tsuchimikado Abe. I am Onmyōji Seimei."
Theodore replied with a bleak expression, "I don't understand what you are saying."
"Hrmm, you are someone who can't read the atmosphere. In this situation, it is reasonable to agree enthusiastically."
"I don't know who you are, but I don't like feeling like this. Can you explain?" Theodore couldn't think about the atmosphere due to the hostility he felt.
However, Seimei countered Theodore's doubts calmly. "I was just playing a small trick. The hostility isn't coming from me but from yourself."
"To be exact, it is coming from your neck."
'My neck?' Theodore touched his neck and was surprised to feel a cool chill pouring out. It was at the place where Aquilo had injected her blood. The mark which remained there was shining blue. This was a phenomenon Theodore had never experienced before.
However, unlike him, Seimei seemed to already know the situation and wasn't confused.
Seimei said, "Dragon of the west, a strong proprietary feeling. A female?"
Dragon's blood itself created a powerful magic resistance. Theodore's own magic power wasn't affected, but it was conscious of any magic from the outside. However, Aquila's blood mark was reacting more than that. It was showing an extreme hostility toward Seimei.
Theodore concentrated on the mark on his neck.
'I know you are helping me, but just relax,' he consciously suppressed the blood mark.
Theodore managed to calm his head and looked at Seimei again.
Seimei was a man with the beauty of a woman. It was different from Ellenoa's neutral charm. Seimei transmitted the beauty of both sexes. Perhaps due to the mood, the silhouette of Seimei's face looked like a fox.
Theodore opened his mouth with a wary expression, "Was that why you called me?"
"No, it was just a prank," Seimei spoke with his fan covering his mouth. "The real test will begin now. This is why I called you. If you fail to live up to my expectations, I won't be able to give you 'Art of Onmyōdō.'"
"What is the reason for the test?"
"I've already experienced that there is nothing as dangerous as giving strength to an unqualified person." The playful atmosphere was gone in an instant, with Seimei's voice showing his seriousness.
As Gluttony had said, Seimei had almost reached the end of a mortal existence, so his pressure pushed heavily on Theodore's shoulder. The pressure was high even in comparison to back when he faced one of the Seven Swords of the empire.
The great onmyōji declared in a majestic voice, "If you really want my 'Art of Onmyōdō,' you must first get the recognition of this Seimei."
A fragment of a soul in the original book was going to test Theodore...?
Theodore was dumbfounded, but Seimei's words did make sense. Gluttony's power, 'original books predation,' was a magic which defied comprehension and could reproduce the magic without any errors. As a person who had made a name for himself in his era, it was natural for Seimei to want to verify the person desiring that knowledge.
"Is it an art that you have to be careful about transferring?" Theodore asked with a cautious attitude after guessing the reason.
"Huh? It isn't a dangerous technique," Seimei answered. It was a surprising reply. Theodore was bothered by it, but Seimei fanned his face and continued. "Well, your words aren't entirely wrong. I don't know about anyone else, but it is extremely dangerous in your hands."
"...What do you mean?"
"According to its name, the Art of Onmyōdō is a method of harmony between yin and yang. Therefore, the interaction with harmony will be amplified in accordance with the power of the opposing forces." Then Seimei pointed his fan at Theodore and continued to say, "I don't know how you obtained them, but there are two enormous types of forces twisting in your body. One is the flame of extinction that burns the heavens and the earth, while the other is the blood of a sea dragon. If you can properly control them using the Art of Onmyōdō... your strength will be enough to destroy a country."
Indeed, Theodore couldn't deny the eerie words. The power of the two opposing forces joining together had been proven in his spar with Baek Jongmyung.
If Theodore could threaten a sword master with an incomplete version while still at the 6th Circle, what about after reaching the 7th Circle and completing it? It might evolve into a magic which could literally destroy a mountain.
However, what if the person who acquired such magic was evil? No, even if they weren't an evil person, it was still risky. This was a power huge enough to disrupt the balance.
Seimei urged him to answer with cold eyes. "Now, what will you do? Will you accept this test?"
Should Theodore accept it now or postpone it until later? There was a choice to not accept it. Theodore was troubled for a moment about the two roads ahead of him. He could wait until he released Gluttony's 5th seal, ignore Seimei's test, and force the synchro. Of course, there was also the quest, and his relationship with Seimei would become a mess.
'...Backing off isn't a good choice either.'
His intuition had evolved over time and through several crises.
The words he spoke to Baek Dongil had meant something. Theodore couldn't reach his goal if he stuck to a comfortable road or took a shortcut. This was also true if he backed away. The trial wouldn't wait for the challenger, and there was no law that the opportunity would always be there.
So, Theodore believed in himself and stepped forward. "The test, let's start it straight away."
"-Ohu." Seimei smiled, folded the fan, and touched his lips with it. "Young men are excellent at recognizing opportunities! I thought you would step back here."
"There is no need for flattery."
"Huh, is that so? Are you pouting?"
Theodore could easily tell that Seimei was guarded against him. Perhaps it was due to the two powers inside him, or for other reasons. Either way, the current Theodore could do only one thing.
Being straightforward was the best option. The right answer was to say that he would break Seimei's test. It was meaningless to step back against the already vigilant Seimei. Theodore's declaration was the right answer as the playfulness was erased from Seimei's face.
Then Seimei said, "Good. Then let the wind bring the trials!"
A wind started blowing over from somewhere. This was the spiritual world created by Gluttony where the laws of physics didn't exist, so the 'wind' was indeed an unnatural phenomenon.
The pitch black space filled with color, and the landscape turned into a ridge which Theodore had never seen before. Pink petals rubbed against his cheeks, and the sun appeared in the new sky. It was hard to imagine this was just an illusion.
'This... Is this a landscape Seimei created?'
Seimei's voice entered the nervous Theodore's ears, 「This Abe no Seimei is most interested in judging people according to the virtue of 'Heaven, Earth, and Human.'」
"Heaven, Earth and Human...?"
「The heavens, the earth, and people. You will know the meaning when you take my test.」 Seimei then started the test with a loud and dignified voice, 「Chapter 1, I will start with the 'Human' test.」
In response to that, a system message popped up.
[You have accepted the request of object name 'Abe no Seimei.' The difficulty of this stage is quite high. If you fail or give up along the way, you can't challenge it again.]
[Test of 'Heaven, Earth, and Human: Human chapter' will start in 30 seconds.]
[Success Reward: Skill 'Art of Onmyōdō', Seimei's recognition, and you can see some information related to ????.]
[Failure Fee: Failure to acquire the skill 'Art of Onmyōdō', Seimei's quest is not available.]
[Test of 'Heaven, Earth, and Human: Human chapter' is starting.]