Chapter 217: Chapter 217
Su-hyeun walked slowly and lightly rubbed the magic circle drawn on the ground with his toes.
He pushed open the lid of a coffin on the edge first.
A coffin was meant to house the dead, but the dead person inside this particular one still had intact skin that hadn’t rotted away completely.
More importantly, though, was the person’s expression.
Such a distorted expression could only belong to a person who had died slowly while being subjected to intense pain inside the coffin.
Su-hyeun closed the coffin’s lid.
While walking slowly toward the center, he checked out the other coffins one by one. The story remained the same—dead humans inside all of them.
He finally stopped in front of the coffin in the center.
The Lichs had set this whole place up just for this particular coffin. Not only that, they even made sure not to carelessly fling their magic around while attacking Su-hyeun in fear of damaging it, too.
Rather than use their usual wide-area attack magic, the Lichs resorted to attacks that focused magical powers in one spot like a bullet, or on spells meant to restrict him.
Su-hyeun reached down and grasped the lid of the coffin.
The heavy coffin lid fell to the ground.
For sure, this coffin was different from the others in that it was crafted rather st.u.r.dily. And, when Su-hyeun confirmed what was inside, his eyes nearly popped out of their sockets, too. He was simply dumbfounded.
There was a young sleeping boy inside, drooling and licking his lips and tossing around a little after being disturbed by all the commotion.
Su-hyeun thought he’d be treated to the sight of an incredibly powerful Lich or something, so he ended up standing there in a pure daze.
It was right then.
[Remaining time: 240:00:00.]
A new trial began.
The system message was telling him to protect someone without any explanation whatsoever. It certainly was a simple, clear command that didn’t beat around the bush.
There was no need to search for this Roy, either. The fact that the system message popped up now could only mean that this child was none other than the mysterious ‘Roy’.
“…What is up with this kid?”
Su-hyeun’s head, clear and focused when fighting against the Lichs, was now being overtaken by a migraine.
He spat out a groan and gently picked Roy up from the coffin.
The boy was still quietly slumbering away.
After exiting the Lichs’ base, Su-hyeun found a spot by the road, gathered some dead branches and got a fire going. Sleep didn’t want to come, so he simply started practicing swing his sword, instead.
Just like before, he slowly, carefully, practiced the Wrath’s swordsmans.h.i.+p techniques and waited for Roy to wake up. Miru was asleep next to the campfire with a content expression on his face.
And so, about four or so hours later…
Roy, curled up on the ground, began to toss around again.
Su-hyeun finished the last practice swing and exhaled deeply before putting Balmung back in its scabbard.
Roy was looking around at his new surroundings with drowsy, half-open eyes.
Su-hyeun called out to the boy, “You up?”
“…Who are you, uncle?”
He had expected that sort of a question.
A complete stranger was busy swinging a sword next to him, so it would’ve been even weirder if the boy didn’t find this scene rather strange.
Su-hyeun replied as Roy slowly got up, “Well, I wonder. I can only give you my name and not much else besides.”
“Your name, then. May I know what it is?”
“It’s Su-hyeun. Kim Su-hyeun.”
“Kim, Su… It’s an odd name.”
Roy mouthed Su-hyeun’s name a couple of times, before tilting his head a little.
Naming conventions were different in every country. Not to forget, their worlds weren’t even the same, to begin with, so it was unsurprising that the boy found Su-hyeun’s name somewhat odd.
Su-hyeun quietly observed Roy still muttering his name.
He thought that the boy would start panicking right away yet, unexpectedly, Roy seemed rather well-composed. As if he had not a lick of fear in that little frame of his.
“Hey, kid. What’s your name?”
“It’s Roy. Roy Rawlsman.”
Su-hyeun had been wondering what he would do if this kid wasn’t the ‘correct’ Roy, but, much to his relief, he was.
He asked, “How did you get captured by those guys, anyway?”
Su-hyeun wasn’t sure how he should go about explaining the stuff about the Lichs and hesitated. He could kind of tell that Roy had no recollection of what had happened.
“Was I being held captive by someone else again?”
“Can’t you remember?”
“No, I can’t. But, I thought that might be the case.”
“Might be the case? What do you mean?”
“This wasn’t my first time, you see. Kidnapped by someone, get rescued, then kidnapped again…”
Not his first time?
The way he said these things, it didn’t even feel like this was second or third time, never mind his first. So much so that Su-hyeun had to wonder just how many times you needed to get kidnapped in order to become this numb to it.
“How many times has it happened to you?”
“I’m not certain. But I… am familiar with it.”
“You are familiar with it?”
“It was my very first memory, you see. The day I was kidnapped, and how my family came to rescue me.”
That was the boy’s first memory.
A kid who looked barely ten years old was saying these things.
Roy had a noticeably different air about him compared to other kids around his age. He spoke, and that expression of resignation he kept making made it look, as if he had already lived his life in full.
Su-hyeun asked again, “Aren’t you scared?”
“No, I’m fine.”
“Yes,” said Roy with a nod, then he carried on in that calm voice from earlier. “Even if you die, you don’t really die, anyway.”
You don’t really die after dying? What kind of reply was this?
Su-hyeun took a closer look at Roy’s eyes—and only then did he realize it.
The boy’s eyes slowly s.h.i.+fting around weren’t actually looking at him before now. This kid was looking at something else that Su-hyeun couldn’t perceive.
“Those guys who kidnapped me this time, they were also undead, yes? Or Lichs, I presume?”
Hearing those words confirmed Su-hyeun’s suspicions…
“They’re really persistent, you know. I wonder what their business with me can possibly be. Five times out of ten, it’s always been the Lichs.”
…that this boy was one heck of a strange little kid.
Su-hyeun cut a stone to create a pot, threw in some ingredients and boiled them into a stew, then fas.h.i.+oned cups out of smaller stones and poured water in one.
He dumped this unnamed mishmash of things on a stone plate and pa.s.sed it on to Roy along with the cup of water.
The boy had been staring at the empty s.p.a.ces for a while, his eyes constantly s.h.i.+fting.
“Thank you for the food.”
He might not fear death, but he certainly seemed rather scared of starvation. Roy took the plate and used a wooden spoon to dig into the food.
He must’ve enjoyed the taste, because he didn’t complain once while wolfing the food down.
[Remaining time: 235:37:34.]
Time continued to tick by.
It had already been four and a half hours.
Nothing much had happened so far. Su-hyeun didn’t know what might happen once this time elapsed, but, regardless of that, he knew he was supposed to do this one thing.
Feed him, let him sleep, and protect him on the side?
If it weren’t for the Lichs aiming for Roy, this whole thing would basically be Su-hyeun acting as the boy’s parent. A job so easy and boring that he might end up yawning, actually.
Su-hyeun also shoveled the food in his mouth like Roy next to him. He couldn’t afford to skip out on his meals if he was to exert some strength later on.
Su-hyeun, silently eating his share for a while, noticed that Roy’s plate was empty and asked, “You want seconds?”
The boy had emptied his plate a while ago but, for some reason, didn’t want to put it down and still firmly held onto it.
Su-hyeun’s question prompted Roy to nod his head as if he’d been waiting for it. So, Su-hyeun scooped up some more food and placed it on the boy’s plate.
Five helpings later.
Even though Su-hyeun had prepared a lot, Roy still managed to eat until he was sc.r.a.ping the bottom of the pot. Sometime in the middle of the meal, Su-hyeun stopped eating his share so that the boy might have more to eat later.
He still had more than enough simple foods, like dried meat and bread, left inside his subs.p.a.ce pouch.
Seeing how Roy was gulping down the food, it felt like Su-hyeun was somehow stealing the poor boy’s share despite him having made the dish in the first place.
That was how much Roy was enjoying the meal.
“Thank you for the meal.”
“Was it that tasty?” Su-hyeun asked while taking the plates away.
“Well, it’s just…” Roy replied with a lowered head. “I hadn’t eaten in a while, so…”
“I guess you were really hungry, then.”
Roy nodded a couple of times to signal his reply.
Su-hyeun pushed the plates to one side, then placed his hand on the boy’s head to pat the kid.
“Don’t worry, I’ll make some more later.”
Roy kept his reply brief as his eyes began wandering around in the empty s.p.a.ce again.
“You can see the souls, right?”
“Are there dead people around here? Or, could it be that they are constantly around you?”
“They’re… around me.”
“Sounds like they’re following you around.”
“Yes. They’re following me.”
Su-hyeun had his suspicions, and he was right on the money.
It certainly was a unique ability. But it also wasn’t a particularly outstanding or amazing ability, either.
Well, an ability to see ghosts wouldn’t really be considered all that advantageous, after all. But this revelation was no doubt a vital clue for Su-hyeun.
‘Ghosts’ usually meant the images of souls. They were also known to infrequently bring upon harm to living people, as well.
But, from what Su-hyeun knew, the ghosts that harmed people weren’t really ‘ghosts’.
They were actually the undead, a category of animated dead beings that could directly inflict physical and psychological harm on living humans.
Beings like Lichs and Death Knights were the most well-known examples of the undead.
Ghosts and undead were definitely not the same. But the difference wasn’t all that great, either. Because of ghosts, the undead could exist—the ghostly souls were like the roots for the trees called the undead.
Maybe, it was possible that this matter was related to Roy’s family.
He wasn’t planning to return to the village that he had stayed in until the evening. His position had already been exposed, so if he decided to stay in the same village, there was a good possibility of it turning into another target.
The villagers would be in danger, and it also wasn’t a wise choice to stay in the same, exposed location, as well.
Meaning, they must possess some ability to protect themselves. Also, Roy returning to the embrace of his family would be an ideal end, too.
Su-hyeun stood up and unsheathed his sword.
Roy saw that, but his expression showed his complete lack of fear. No, he actually opened his eyes wider to watch closely what Su-hyeun would do next.
Swish, pah-ahk, pah-pahk-
Su-hyeun’s blade reached out in every direction as if it was dancing and sliced the trees in the near vicinity. No, more correctly, the ‘things’ hidden behind the trees, instead.
Spheres resembling eyeb.a.l.l.s exploded softly and their debris scattered all over the ground. Not just one or two, but several dozens of them, no less.
Those things had been showing up one at a time for the last few hours but Su-hyeun simply let them be until now.
Now that he sliced apart all of the ‘eyes’ watching them, it’d definitely take some time for the next batch to show up and cling to him.
He didn’t know how many more Lichs were out there, but, no matter how many there were, the number of times the tracing magic could be used should be limited, after all.
A chase. The word certainly suited their current situation.
Well, no matter how fleet-footed Su-hyeun was, it’d still be impossible to not be discovered while continuously being on the move when he had to carry an extra burden called Roy.
“Let’s get going, Roy.” Su-hyeun stood up straight and offered his hand to Roy. “Time to go home.”