Chapter 251 - Ominous Identity (4)
'The imperial family of the central empire!'
Theodore had been living in the East Continent for the past few months, so he was able to know the weight of these words. The empire had reigned supreme in the East Continent for more than a thousand years. Its reign was so great that the empire could be called the center and source of the Eastern world.
So, it was natural that the founder of this empire and his descendants would be closer to gods than to humans.
'If the imperial family are the children of Lust―'
Then as Theodore recalled the founding myths of the center of the East Continent, he opened his mouth and said, "Gluttony, I have something I want to ask."
-What is it?
"Did you say that Lust's children are born with greater strength and aptitude than their parents? In order for this to be efficient, won't she need to commit incest?"
-Hoh, that is a decent point. Did you infer this from when Lust tried to seduce you?
"...Well, something like that." Theodore frowned when Gluttony once again reminded him of the incident. He had been drowned by Lust's sexuality. It was a shame that would be hard to face if anyone else had seen it.
However, Gluttony just wished to praise Theodore, so it waved its tongue in more active movements than usual. -User's statement isn't wrong. In fact, Lust has repeatedly committed incest over a hundred generations, creating monsters beyond the limits of that species.
-I talked about it once before. The peak of the Ulfheðnar and king of all beasts, Fenrir.
The words, 'beast king' and 'Fenrir'... These clues caused Theodore to remember something. He had heard about it in Elvenheim that Fenrir's death had caused the downfall of the Beast Clan.
Additionally, Pride had transformed into an Ulfheðnar when they fought at the Pirate Archipelago in the past. The durability and strength of the Ulfheðnar's body had allowed Pride to surpass the speed of a sword master's aura blade and avoid a falling lightning bolt.
It was a monster that gave Theodore the creeps when he thought about it a few times. As such, it wasn't an exaggeration to say that the head of the Ulfheðnar and the Beast King would be similar to a dragon.
Theodore thought this far and was amazed by Lust's power. Simultaneously, he came up with another question.
"Wait a minute. Didn't you say that the monster called 'Fenrir' was eventually killed?"
"But not all of the Beast Clan were wiped out. There were Ulfheðnar left, so couldn't Lust have given birth to a child that surpassed Fenrir? Why didn't Lust give birth to the next Fenrir?"
Theodore's point was extremely reasonable. Lust had created the species called Ulfheðnar for over a hundred generations, so it would be a terrible waste to let an entire species die with Fenrir. Even if a grimoire had no concept of time, this wasn't efficient.
Wouldn't the grimoire have prepared for the next generation and delighted in birthing a creature beyond Fenrir?
However, Gluttony laughed at him.
-Kuhuhuhu. User, it is the reverse order.
"What? The order is reversed?"
-That's right. Lust didn't give up on the species because Fenrir died. It is because Lust abandoned the Ulfheðnar that Fenrir died. While it isn't appropriate to give advice in this situation, the question that User just asked is the answer.
The question was the answer. The meaning was unknown, but Theodore felt like a lightning bolt had just struck him. It was the exact opposite of causation; the cause and result were reversed.
Fenrir's death wasn't the cause but the result. In that case, moving to what happened first...
Due to Fenrir, Lust had concluded that choosing the Ulfheðnar had been a failure.
"There was a problem with Fenrir?"
-Yes, Gluttony praised his user's brilliance and briefly explained, -Ancient civilizations that pass a certain level treat incest as taboo. Do you know why?
"I don't know the details. I just heard stories about babies coming out deformed."
-It is the same issue regarding eugenics. By limiting the gene's breadth, its disadvantages are maximized. Of course, Lust's performance isn't the problem. The problem was with her child, not her, Gluttony said and then summarized it briefly with a chuckle, -Fenrir had sexual dysfunction.
"Ah...!" Theodore exclaimed as he grasped an understanding of all the circumstances. Over the course of generations, the genes were improved and the incest continued. However, the Ulfheðnar pedigree had eventually reached its limit.
According to records, the Beast King had lost his ability to reproduce in exchange for his transcendent ability. No matter how good an incubator Lust was, it wouldn't be possible to extract the genetic elements from Fenrir if he hadn't been sexually active.
As such, she had been unable to reach the ultimate creature and failed. Therefore, Lust had left Fenrir and the Ulfheðnar in search of other possibilities.
The Ulfheðnar, who had been pureblood for generations, soon developed problems with Fenrir, and it didn't take long for the species to collapse. It was the death of a creature that could stand shoulder to shoulder with a dragon, as well as the decline of the Beast Clan.
"... Things are connected in the strangest places."
Theodore had unearthed another secret of the Age of Mythology, and he felt a strange sense of accomplishment. In this day and age, there were few ancient records remaining. Every time he dug up a hidden story, his magician's curiosity would soar.
So, he forgot about the main topic for a while.
'No, is this the time to be satisfied?'
Theodore should be paying attention to Lust in the present, not her tracks in the Age of Mythology. He hurriedly asked Gluttony his next question, "Unlike in the past, Lust is collecting genes from a large number of humans. So, is there no incest?"
-Perhaps. The system of the duel trial and her role of a notary is probably part of this. It is a fairly efficient way to collect the genes of the strong, as well as gain control of each force.
"If she has repeated this for a thousand years..." Theodore murmured with a horrified expression.
This meant Lust had been acting in secret for a long time. Otherwise, there would have been more rebellions or great power struggles in this vast land. It was clear that Lust had controlled those behind disputes and stopped unnecessary consumption.
This method of trial and error would've also made a mark in the Age of Mythology. Theodore couldn't imagine the result of Lust's experiment, which would've advanced one step further after the failure with Fenrir.
-Hrmm, I don't know about that. However, Gluttony's thoughts were a little different. -It is easy to be mistaken. But unless one is born with a great talent, they can't become transcendent. In Lust's case, a counterproductive effect is more likely to occur.
"Counterproductive? Fenrir is a horrific monster."
-Even Fenrir couldn't reach transcendence in the true sense. I think this is Lust's limit.
Despite being part of the Seven Sins, Gluttony's assessment was grim. In some ways, it might be natural. The Seven Sins pursued seven different paths to their destination. Affirming other methods was like denying their own.
-A transcendent is a perfect being who overcame their own destiny and transcended their natural limits. The more burdened someone is at birth, the harder it will be to go forward. Lust's method is nothing but setting a trap for herself.
"... Indeed, the more excellent the vessel, the greater the volume that needs to fill it. So, is Lust just repeating a meaningless act?"
-I believe so, but I don't know, Gluttony spoke in a tone like it wasn't expecting anything. -Someday, she may be able to give birth to a fetus with a transcendent value from birth. This is Lust's purpose.
"Indeed, well it doesn't mean anything to me. It sounds like she will either complete it or not."
Thousands of years had been wasted on one trail, but that was meaningless for a grimoire. Theodore was well aware of this, so he only sighed and didn't ask anymore. It didn't matter to him if Lust's experiment was successful or not. After all, it wasn't as though she was threatening the world directly like Pride. Therefore, it was best not to fight her if possible.
-That idea is right. She promised not to attack first, so there won't be an ambush. However, her children's genes have improved over the one thousand years, so they can still threaten User. You have completed your purpose, so you should return to the continent quickly.
"I was already planning on that. This is just one more reason to leave the Fairy Dance area," Theodore answered before looking around the room. After confirming that there weren't any drops of blood left behind from Lust, he moved. He was going to get some sleep before Lee Seol returned.
* * *
That evening, the two people who had gone to the outskirts of the Lee Fairy area returned after sunset.
After three months of effort, everything was almost organized. The talks themselves seemed to have ended successfully, and Lee Joonyoung's strength had advanced a step further with Theodore's teachings. He also had a unique position within the Fairy Dance Lee Family, so Lee Seol's position was quickly stabilized.
It was just a matter of being late. The integration of the Fairy Dance Lee family was a decision which had been made three months ago.
'It means the situation won't worsen if I leave.'
Theodore wasn't the type of person who would relax indefinitely. He was worried about what Meltor thought about his disappearance, and his body's condition had returned to normal. Then Theodore looked at Lee Seol sitting next to him. "So, the thing I have to say is..."
Lee Seol looked fairly bright, rather like a lark. She was also a determined child. Otherwise, could she have lived for more than 10 years in the remote mountains? Lee Seol might've learned the role of the mountain's keeper at a young age, but it was still hard for a 16-year-old girl.
Despite being burdened by the responsibilities of being the head of the family, the delighted expression she had made at being able to live in the village was still vivid in his mind.
Theodore thought it would be okay to leave now. "It is time for us to part."
Two pair of eyes widened at Theodore's words. Even though they had known it, Lee Seol still found it painful to face.
She shook her head a little bit and spoke with a tremble in her voice, "H-Hasn't it only been three months? There are still five months left until my coming of age ceremony...! I also haven't learned..."
"It is sufficient for the other family members to teach you martial arts."
"Temporary Head." At that time, Lee Joonyoung opened his mouth with a gentle expression. "You have made up your mind."
"You aren't the type of person who would joke about something like this. Do you mind staying for a few more days?"
"Yes... three days will be appropriate."
Once Theodore made up his mind, he needed to move before it was shaken. If he wasn't prepared to take this step, he wouldn't have said it out loud. Three days was the minimum period to complete all his preparations, as well as inform the whole family.
Then Theodore spoke to Lee Joonyoung, "I have finished writing the books I promised. There are 10 volumes of the Fairy Dance Skills Series. I have written starting from the basic training methods to the hidden techniques, so you should spread the books out rather than hiding them in a warehouse."
"Yes, I will follow your words."
"It is good that you are consistent. You will do very well in the future."
Theodore finished talking with Lee Joonyoung and looked back at Lee Seol. Her clear eyes were filled with tears, and she bit her lips when she met Theodore's gaze. It was a frank expression showing the emotions of a mountain girl.
Theodore smiled and patted her neat black hair. "I'm sorry."
"...I don't know. You are bad."
"Kukuk." Was she acting like a child on purpose, or was it her natural temperament? Theodore felt like she was his little sister as he kept patting her head. "The last three days will be all for you. Tell me if you want to do anything."
"..." Lee Seol lingered for some reason and then whispered in a voice that was difficult to hear, "Then I'll ask one thing of you."
It was a request she hoped Theodore would grant.