Chapter 254 - Baekun Mountains (3)
The previous battle atmosphere went away as the two spirits grasped Theodore's hands simultaneously. They each weighed was over 100 kilograms, so the strength of their grips wasn't to be trifled with. It wasn't at a level that could be endured.
Rather than flinching back, Theodore alternated looking back and forth between the two spirits. Then he demanded an explanation, "Explain what happened. I can't answer your request for help if I don't know what it is about."
Based on the way the mountain spirits were looking at Mitra, it seemed to be something related to an earth spirit, but it was too complicated to guess.
Why were the two boss spirits of the Baekun Mountains bowing their heads without hesitation? Maybe they were mistaken, or perhaps Mitra really did have a clue to resolve this incident.
The half human, half bear blinked and let go of Theodore's left hand. It seemed that White Bear acted rudely because he wasn't aware of the courtesies of the human world. "Hmm, sorry. My mind is rushing ahead because I am in a hurry. I haven't even introduced myself yet. Please be lenient with me. I am White Bear, the head of the white forest."
"I am Theodore Miller, who came at the request of Seol. If the pronunciation is difficult, you may call me Tae-oh."
As the two of them were exchanging greetings, the Tiger King kept holding onto Theodore's right hand and interrupted, "Tae-oh (Laziness)? It might mean something different, but that name isn't quite right for you. I like Tao-oh (Greatest Crow)." (TL: Same Korean spelling but different method of spelling with the Chinese characters)
"Well, I don't hate crows." Theodore nodded with a smile.
The inhabitants of the East often treated crows as a bad omen. However, in the West, especially for magicians, crows were the synonym of a wise bird. One ancient god was said to have two crows that sat on his shoulders and looked around at the world, while Theodore had also contracted with a crow called Hugin.
Four people-two people and two beasts, to be exact-started to move inside the canyon. It was to see one of the two sacred trees, the one that belonged to the Tiger King.
"Male-no, Tae-oh. You formed a contract with the mountain deity?"
"Earth deity, Tiger King."
"Shut up, Bear. Anyway, is that right?"
Theodore ignored the two fighting spirits and stroked Mitra who was on his shoulder. Then he asked both sprits, "Right, why do you think she is an earth deity and not a mountain deity?"
"I met one in the past. It is slightly different, but I will never forget that strange presence," the Tiger King answered casually and looked at him. She was taller than Theodore, so her eyes naturally looked down at him. Maybe she was looking at the top of Mitra's head?
However, she didn't dare stretch out her hand and spoke with a little bit of awe, "It has already been more than 500 years, but he was the one who brought the sacred trees to the Baekun Mountains. He was the one who made me a cunning spirit when I was just a beast."
"It is the same with this body," White Bear added.
Rare human feelings of nostalgia emerged in the expressions of the two spirits.
The Tiger King and the White Bear hadn't been spirits from the beginning. They were beasts who had been born as animals and had succeeded in becoming spirits after accumulating a lot of karma.
The odds of that happening was one in a thousand-no, maybe one in a million.
The Baekun Mountains was a special area, but this couldn't drastically affect the animals in the area. It was because that there was another reason besides the energy of the Baekun Mountains.
"There are two sacred trees left now, so they are indispensable to our lives," White Bear said in a quiet voice as he took one step forward. "The dragon vein is concentrated near the sacred trees, maximizing our vitality. Rare plants grow like weeds, and the children who consume it every day will become spirits within a decade. But now the sacred tree is worsening. The children who have yet to grow into spirits will return to being beasts."
"Isn't it enough with just one tree?"
"It isn't enough."
Indeed, Theodore was convinced by the explanation. Why had the Tiger King and White Bear confronted each other over a sacred tree? It was to do their best for the spirits they led. Despite the arguing, the relationship between them wasn't bad. The balance was maintained because the free-spirited Tiger King and mature White Bear were total opposites.
Shortly after that, they arrived in front of the sacred tree.
"Ohh..." Despite Lee Seol having seen it a few times in the past, she couldn't help letting out a sound of admiration along with Theodore. It was because the top couldn't be seen. The tree was approximately a little over 100 meters tall. It couldn't be compared to the world tree of Elvenheim, but this tree was grown just from a dragon vein. The sacred tree had a great size, and it was beautiful.
'But there is definitely something going on. The edges of the leaves are faded. Despite the dense mana... the movements are surprisingly inactive.' Theodore diagnosed the condition with one glance and was troubled. How could he improve this with Mitra's power?
It was something Theodore never attempted before. An animal could be healed. He could cut off the sick stem of a plant. However, it wasn't known if he could revitalize a tree like this. However, the gazes of the two spirits pierced Theodore's conscience.
"How is it? Can you do it?"
"Tell me to do anything. I will follow your words."
Theodore sighed and took a small step forward. "Is it okay if I touch the sacred tree for a moment? This is the first time I've encountered a situation like this."
The Tiger King and White Bear nodded easily. The sacred tree would die if they left it alone anyway. They could certainly tolerate someone touching it for a moment. There was a deep sense of confidence from the two spirits toward Mitra.
"...Then I am starting." Theodore stretched out both hands without hesitation and touched the rough surface of the wood. This was reasonable behavior, but it had no meaning so far.
[Yes! I will do as you ask!]
Simultaneously, a green light emitted from Mitra's bud. After ingesting the seed of the world tree, she had manifested the ability to form a consensus with plants.
Theodore had been using it as a type of clairvoyance, but as Mitra grew, he realized that he had been mistaken. Clairvoyance only borrowed the vision of the distant vegetation. However, she could now exert her true power.
Shortly after that, Theodore's conscious was pulled somewhere else.
* * *
"Heok!" How much time had passed by? Theodore suddenly stepped back and opened his eyes.
This caused Lee Seol to call out with surprise, "Theo! What is going on?"
"...Seol." Theodore repeatedly took in deep breaths and recalled what he had seen.
Was it because the structures of humans and plants differed greatly?
It had only been a few seconds of contact, but Theodore hadn't been able to keep up with the enormous amount of information and his consciousness had cut off. His brain might've been fried if Mitra hadn't acted as the bridge between them. He reflected on it and neatly arranged the information he had received from the world tree.
'A huge whirlpool... and the branch that stretches from the center of probably the flow of the Baekun Mountain's dragon vein.'
The images, which were engraved in his mind, were vivid. It was as if the base power, the source of the mana here, was swirling all over the Baekun Mountains. Among them, the largest flow was divided into two stems.
One stem flowed to the west forest where White Bear stayed, while the other one flowed to this sacred tree. There were traces of other branches apart from these two, but it was so long ago that the power must've been exhausted or dried up.
However, that wasn't the only thing the sacred tree wanted to share. Theodore contemplated the cause of the problem that had flowed into him. If he didn't have good intelligence, Theodore's brain would be overheated. After all, the mentality of a plant was really different from a human's.
"I would like to say something first," Theodore barely calmed his confusion and spoke to the two spirits. Then he disclosed shocking news, "The sacred tree's life isn't over yet."
Tiger King's eyes widened, while White Bear cried out loudly. Oddly enough, these reactions were the opposite of their usual behavior. This showed he had attracted the attention of the two spirits.
Theodore looked at Mitra clinging to his neck like a cicada, then he took a deep breath and explained, "The sacred tree isn't a tree that could originally grow to this size. Like you said, it grew due to the strength of the dragon vein. Then what will happen if the supply of power from the dragon vein decreases?"
"...It will gradually weaken."
"That's right. That is the primary problem."
The flow from the dragon vein had decreased, weakening the sacred tree. If this were the end of it, Theodore wouldn't be so serious. As time went by, the dragon vein would lose some power, but it was still at a level which the Baekun Mountains could bear. The Baekun Mountains could still flourish for the next few centuries.
However, something was hindering that flow. The White Bear's branch of the flow wasn't affected, but the flow going toward Tiger King's sacred tree had been cut off somewhere. To summarize it briefly...
"If we can restore that broken area of the dragon vein, the sacred tree will revive soon?"
"Yes, that's correct."
It seemed like a simple solution, but they realized that wasn't the case when looking at Theodore.
A branch of the dragon vein wouldn't be cut off if it got struck by lightning, so this disruption couldn't be due to natural causes. At a minimum, a massive earthquake or volcano eruption was required for it to be disrupted by nature. If there had been such a natural phenomenon, both the Tiger King and the White Bear might've guessed the cause of the problem.
In other words, that wasn't the case.
"...It means that someone has broken this branch of the dragon vein," White Bear murmured.
Theodore nodded. "Just before, I approached the dragon vein through the connection with the sacred tree. I thought I could find out when the flow was broken."
"Did you see it?"
"Is it bad? Your consciousness was cut off like someone interrupted it. So, I'm surprised."
Sometimes, a mental impact could be greater than physical damage. Theodore had already trained his mind to the extreme, whereas most people would've fainted from this. He was lucky to be left with no physical after-effects.
A person who could interfere with a master... It meant the enemy must be at a master level. Theodore guessed the opponent's ability with that one contact and was immediately convinced.
'When converting to the ranking of magicians, the opponent is at least a 7th circle shaman.'
The magic he had learned from Seimei was definitely magic involving feng shui. This meant the opponent had to be a great shaman who could control the rise and fall of mana, and even affect the flow of the dragon vein. A shaman who could do such things certainly wouldn't be an easy opponent.
Aside from Seimei, whom Theodore had met with Gluttony's power, Theodore had never encountered a great shaman! Yet, he now had to be fully prepared to deal with a strong one.
"Ah, yes! Theo!"
Having a non-combatant with him was a fatal weakness. Lee Seol was outstanding, but she was still young and hadn't reached the level of a master. It would take decades for her to participate in a master level fight.
Therefore, Theodore calmly decided what to do with her.
"Go back now. It is likely that something will occur that you can't intervene in."
It came earlier than he had thought it would be, but it was now time to say goodbye to Lee Seol.