Chapter 244 - Where is This (4)
Theodore was the one who had declared that he would subdue the fighting in the Fairy Dance Lee family. However, unlike his aspirations, Theodore couldn't move immediately.
There had been the incidents of unreasonable summoning magic and intercontinental space movement, so his circles had been overworked. If he confronted a proper master, he would be killed instantly.
In the meantime, he had to focus on restoring his body.
Theodore set his course of action and focused on sealing the cracks in his wounded body, breathing in the mana of the Baekun Mountains. He looked himself over calmly and saw his torn body.
'...It is literally a wreck,' Theodore sighed as he diagnosed his condition. 'I can use 5th Circle magic without difficulty, but there will be a burden on my body at the 6th Circle. It is also impossible to use 7th Circle magic. If I use it carelessly, my heart, as well as my circles, will be torn.'
As Gluttony said, it was fortunate that he had some time to rest. He now had enough time to care for his body and not use any magic.
The Baekun Mountains was a spiritual land filled with mana. Magicians were several times stronger than normal here, and the speed of recovery was incomparably faster. Now, Theodore didn't want to stay anywhere else.
He had first guessed that he would recover in two months, but if he stayed in this land, he would be able to recover in one month. In that case, Theodore wouldn't waste that time.
-As you know, the Moving Clouds and Flowing Water has its foundation in martial arts, but you shouldn't be caught up in this concept. Clouds can change color and scatter rain and lightning, while water can sometimes be rougher than a wildfire. The Fairy Dance combines both flow and softness.
If he couldn't use magic, then he would train in something else. For three hours a day, Theodore would work to restore his circles. Then he would train in the Fairy Dance with Lee Yoonsung.
He might not be able to use aura, but Lee Yoonsung was the remaining person who had the best understanding of the Fairy Dance in this age. An opportunity to learn directly from him was worth 1,000 gold.
-The Fairy Dance can be divided into four types of hidden techniques.
According to Lee Seol, only two of these hidden techniques were left in this age. It was because each faction had one hidden technique, only to let it die out. Lee Yoonsung learned of this reality and taught them to Theodore.
-1st hidden technique, Moon Breaking through the Clouds.
The moonlight leaked through cracks in the clouds and scattered them. A stealthy and sharp attack, made by stirring both arms in the air, shot out. What powered it if mana wasn't used? Theodore's eyes became foggy as he followed the theory.
-2nd hidden technique, Rain like an Axle.
The scattered clouds would suddenly pour rain. Just like heavy rain pouring from the sky, a quick hand gesture swept quickly in front of Theodore. It wasn't a flood but more like raindrops piercing through a rock.
The blow was stiff and heavy. By this time, it had already become a series of continuous attacks.
-3rd hidden technique, Fierce Wind and Rain.
The true value of the hidden techniques appeared from here. The origin of the Fairy Dance was that each move wasn't independent; they had to be connected together in order to exert their power. There would be a gale of wind swirling around the clouds to produce the heavy rain.
Hwiooo, wind really blew from between Lee Yoonsung's two palms. Despite not feeling any qi, there was no doubt about the wind. However, this was covered by feelings of wonder, as seeing it appear in front of him caused him to feel great pleasure.
Finally, there was the finishing move.
'Boundary of Heaven and Earth.'
Theodore and Lee Seol were looking forward to it, but Lee Yoonsung was uncertain. As he concentrated, the wind passing by stopped and the mountain birds stopped singing.
"...Hrmm, it is up to here." Lee Yoonsung released his posture.
"Esteemed elder? What is it?" Lee Seol called out to him in a confused manner. Then Lee Yoonsung smiled bitterly with Theodore's body. "You can just call me by name."
"That is a little bit wrong... The pronunciation is hard. Just call me Theo. I am unfamiliar with Eastern forms of respect."
Lee Seol's expression showed that she didn't understand, and she looked down like she was really sorry. She thought she had been rude to the elder who had come here. Lee Yoonsung treated it casually, but Theodore wasn't used to such formal behavior and his stomach hurt.
When Theodore soon got his body back, he sighed. "Let's go down. The sun will set soon."
"Yes, Elder Theo."
"You can remove the elder."
The two people chattered as they headed down the path. It was about what side dishes would be on the table this evening...
And about the stars which were only visible from a certain peak on the mountains.
Theodore had always been at the center of a battlefield, so this laid-back conversation was pleasant. He wanted to meet a spiritual being, but it seemed like he had to go through some type of procedure or ceremony to meet them.
So, he would talk about it again when it came time to leave the Baekun Mountains. Just when Theodore was watching the cabin in the distance...
"Yes! Eld, no, Sir Theo!"
He ignored the way she called him and asked softly, "Do you have any idea what is in front of the cabin right now?"
"Huh? What is it... Ah!" Lee Seol belatedly looked at the cabin and shouted with surprise. It didn't seem to be a face she knew, but her expression wasn't good. There was another reason why Theodore was wary.
'An uncanny presence. It is like the intensity of a fire and river... I haven't felt something like this before.'
He didn't know who the two uninvited guests were, but it wouldn't be easy if there was a fight. His super sensitivity gave him an ambiguous warning. Soon afterward, Theodore and Lee Seol arrived at the cabin and met with the uninvited guests.
The first one to speak was not Theodore but Lee Seol.
"Why have you come here, Uncle?" She spoke firmly, but the tone of respect was just on the surface.
The man she called Uncle frowned at her greeting. "You are too rude! You are the keeper of this mountain, not a wild animal. Your uncle has come a long way, but you can even say 'Hello'?"
"Didn't you send someone else to greet me just a while ago? I don't know what type of greeting you want me to give now."
"That was my last consideration. I was doing you a favor, but you kicked it away. So, I have to come here personally."
Lee Seol replied in a cold manner, "Favor? The master of the honorable Fairy Dance Lee family is a deceiver. Leave if you just came here to speak meaningless lies."
"Y-You cheeky girl! Yes, then I'll do what you want!" Lee Seol's uncle, Lee Inyoung, stepped back.
Then he gestured to the person accompanying him, who looked quite unique. They wore old-fashioned clothing with the pattern of a snake embroidered in gold thread, and it moved over the clothes like it was a living thing.
The clothing was strange, but it was the person's face that looked more unusual. Black linen completely covered their face.
'I can't see through that cloth. There is a strange magic on it.' Theodore observed the person.
Then an unexpected voice spoke out from under the cloth with the gentle voice of a woman. "Hello everybody. I am a notary from the Imperial Family, who has been commissioned to observe the proceedings of the trial, Shim Samho."
Unlike the confused Theodore, Lee Seol immediately understood the implications of the words.
"A notary from the Imperial Family! Uncle, are you thinking about a duel trial?"
"Kuhaha, it is as you said!" Lee Inyoung gave a disgusting laugh. "Even though we aren't as prominent as we used to be, our family is one of the pillars of the empire. Therefore, His Majesty wants to clear up this internal conflict. You do know that no one can resist his decision, right?"
"...The preliminary discussion is over."
"That's right. If the notary here professes my victory, the Fairy Dance Lee family will be one like it was before! There is no need to be tied up by the archaic tradition of having a keeper for this mountain!"
Hearing this, Theodore stepped forward in order to protect Lee Seol. While Lee Inyoung was displeased with his action, Theodore emitted the presence which he had been suppressing.
The pressure of gravity multiplied. Lee Seol couldn't feel it from behind Theodore, but the two people facing Theodore could feel the pressure directly. Theodore was a 7th Circle magician. Moreover, his body contained a few divinities and dragon's blood, so this pressure was like a mental attack.
"H-Heoook!" Lee Inyoung turned pale despite being an excellent aura user, while the notary didn't move. No, nobody could see her reaction. Like Theodore, she stepped forward, smiling underneath the piece of cloth. She didn't look like she was affected by his pressure at all.
'She is the real danger, not Lee Seol's uncle.' Theodore raised his vigilance.
She casually opened her mouth, "Calm your anger, guest from a distant place."
"Before that, I want to hear something from you."
Indeed, Theodore's eyes shone as he nodded. "I want to know exactly what a duel trial is and how it relates to this child."
"Well, it isn't that hard," Shim Samho responded to the request before starting to explain.
A duel trial...
It was a law enacted after the emperor's ascension, and it referred to a duel presided over by a notary of the Imperial court. The Middle Kingdom was a place where all types of armed forces coexisted, so they weren't allowed to fight indiscriminately. The duel trial was the only opportunity to argue for specific results through force.
Of course, the duel trial wasn't valid if there was no justification. However, once a conclusion was reached, it couldn't be challenged.
Shim Samho then spoke to Lee Seol, "In this case, Lee Inyoung suggested the 'unification of the Fairy Dance Lee family' and the emperor agreed. All other faction members except for Lee Seol have already joined Lee Inyoung's faction."
"...So, this child has to fight those forces alone?"
"Ah, that isn't it. The goal is to create as fair a trial as possible, so it will be a one-on-one duel."
'Fair? A child of 16 is facing a giant force alone, but this is fair?' Theodore scoffed and denied it.
However, he was an outsider in this country and couldn't overturn the laws set by the Imperial court. It was easy to escape with Lee Seol, but this would destroy her efforts of having protected the mountain for all this time.
In order to protect the Baekun Mountains, Lee Inyoung's ambitions had to be restrained.
'It is a situation where I have to achieve both of those things.'
There was only one option in which this would be possible.
"Notary, did you say you were Shim Samho?"
"I will participate in the duel on behalf of this child."
Shim Samho wasn't surprised.
However, Lee Inyoung immediately protested, "This is ridiculous! I don't know who you are, but this is a matter regarding our Fairy Dance Lee family! There is no room for a foreign to enter a duel trial notarized by the Imperial Court!"
"...Is that right?"
In response to Theodore's question, Shim Samho nodded. The intervention of uninvolved parties wasn't permitted in the duel trial.
It wasn't an area where a notary could interfere, since it was something only the emperor could do. Lee Seol's expression became grouchy, while Lee Inyoung looked elated, certain of his victory.
Maybe it was his own delusion.
"Then I will prove my qualifications."
Before anyone could respond, Theodore's left hand aimed toward Shim Samho.
Pang! There was the sound of wind bursting out. If it hit the human body, bones would break. However, Shim Samho didn't show any reaction. She just looked at the palm which stopped before her.
This lasted until she heard the words that Lee Inyoung spoke right afterward, "M-Moon Breaking through the Clouds...? H-How can a Westerner have the technique that our family lost...?"
It was over with that. Theodore laughed at Lee Inyong's reaction and lowered his left hand. If Lee Inyoung hadn't responded like this, things would've become much more troublesome. However, as a greedy person, Lee Inyoung had no choice but to respond to this.
After all, this was a missing hidden technique. Lee Inyoung just admitted it with his own mouth that Theodore wasn't an outsider in this duel trial.
"Hah, so it is like this." Shim Samho recognized Theodore's intentions and smiled. "You can't be an outsider if you can use this hidden technique. As the notary of this duel trial, I recognize your qualifications. What is your name?"
"Theodore Miller... Yes, I have recorded it. The trial date will be a fortnight from now. If you have a reason to postpone it, the duel trial can be postponed to a month later."
Lee Inyoung listened to the conversation of the two people and proceeded to interrupt belatedly. However, he was too shocked by the terrifying presence that Theodore gave off, so Lee Inyoung was too late.
He felt desperate at the thought of his goal being taken away.
"Notary! He is a shaman! How can a foreign shaman participate in the duel trial that will determine the fate of the Fairy Dance Lee family's unification?!"
"I have also thought about that."
Theodore inwardly laughed and rebutted the argument, "As Lee Inyoung said, I am a foreigner. I have no claims on this land. So, if I win, they will be given to Lee Seol. Oh, I also won't use any magic except for strengthening my body during the duel. If I break this condition, it will be my loss."
"Huhu, you are thorough. According to your words, there is no reason to refuse."
"E-Even so!" Lee Inyoung couldn't accept it.
So, Shim Samho glared at him with cold eyes. She was a person who had easily endured Theodore's pressure. The expression of her irritation shut the mouth of Lee Inyoung, who was 'only' an expert.
"Don't be mistaken. I'm not organizing this duel to your liking. I just came to notify you of the duel trial. You should stop thinking of your own convenience."
Shim Samho gracefully stopped Lee Inyoung's mouth and bowed politely to Theodore. Then she said goodbye with that thick voice, "I will contact you again later with the place and time. Then may the two of you be at peace until the reunion in a fortnight."