Chapter 218: Chapter 218
* * *
A wide circular floor.
This hardened floor suddenly became pitch-black. Up until only a few moments ago, the floor had been acting as a ma.s.sive mirror that reflected someone’s figure.
“We lost them,” a gravelly and abrasive voice resounded.
“Find them again,” someone then replied.
“We need more time. Rather cleverly, he eliminated all the ‘eyes’ in one attack. We need time if we are to recover our sight.”
That question was met by an answer coming from another direction.
“It’s being prepared as we speak. Five minutes should suffice.”
“Still too long.”
Five minutes was more than enough to leave the location and escape from their pursuit. A normal human might not be able to go more than a handful of meters, but that man, he was no ordinary human at all.
On top of this, that man was even accompanied by a dragon.
Until the “eyes” were repaired, it was impossible to tell the distance that the man and child would manage to cover or the direction they might flee to.
“Do whatever it takes to find them.”
That ominous voice came from a huge Lich standing in the middle as it kept staring at the mirror on the floor.
“Even if we have to burn the whole continent down.”
* * *
Miru, flying above the clouds, rapidly traveled in one direction.
Su-hyeun was riding on the back of his red dragon while holding Roy’s waist tightly. Getting scared by this would not have been surprising, but the boy did not even utter a single complaint other than narrowing his eyes from the harsh buffeting of winds.
“Let’s go down.”
Miru heard Su-hyeun’s command and leaned its body to head toward the ground.
They emerged below the clouds to be greeted by a completely different scenery. The mountains they used to be in only a few minutes ago were already small dots in the distance.
Su-hyeun and Roy climbed off from Miru’s back. Then, as a sign of his appreciation, Su-hyeun patted Miru’s back and head before feeding the dragon some dried meat.
Roy staggered a little, perhaps feeling dizzy from the rapid flight, before recovering his bearings and asking a question. “Why did we come down? We were moving really fast, weren’t we?”
“It’s dangerous to be up in the sky.”
“It’s easier to get discovered up there. Even if it’s a bit slower, moving on the ground is better. Also, although Miru and I are confident enough about protecting ourselves if we get attacked in the air, we can’t guarantee your safety, you see.”
“Is that so?”
“If you get it, then let’s get going already. According to what you said, we need to walk the whole day to…”
“Why are you protecting me?”
Roy’s question stopped Su-hyeun’s feet from taking another step. The latter then lowered his gaze to look at the boy staring up at him.
“Uncle, you don’t really have a reason to protect me. You aren’t even a dead person, too…”
“You’re right. I’m a living person.”
“Yes. And you’re not a family member either.”
Roy’s words made some sense.
It was indeed rather suspicious. A man he had never seen before rescued him from the hands of the dastardly Lichs, provided him protection from the enemies, and even offered to escort him home.
It certainly would be difficult to believe, especially when one lived a life similar to Roy’s.
The thing was, though, Su-hyeun’s thought process was a lot simpler compared to Roy’s.
“Well, it’s not like I don’t have a reason, but…”
If it wasn’t for the trial, Su-hyeun would have never met Roy.
To begin with, he was not someone from this world, and without these trials, he would not have a reason to run into the Lichs either.
“It’s not like such a thing is a must, you know?”
Su-hyeun grabbed Roy by his waist and then placed the boy on Miru’s back.
“Not every adult in the world is bad, you see. An act of kindness without the promise of a reward does exist in this world.”
If this was not a trial, would he have taken the same actions?
He asked himself that brief question and arrived at the answer quite easily.
Indeed, he would have.
He didn’t have any other reasons. He didn’t even need a reason, anyway.
“If you really want a reason, well, you’re still a kid, that’s why.”
“Because I’m a kid?”
“That’s right. At least until you grow up, it’s the job of the adults to protect you so that you get the chance to become an excellent adult yourself and go on to create a better world than this one.”
“An excellent adult…”
“Right, an excellent adult. Like this big bro of yours.”
The earnest words that also contained a bit of humor caused Roy to form a rather serious expression. “I’ll… think about it.”
Just what would he be even thinking about? Su-hyeun thought but didn’t pry any further.
He knew that Roy was rather unique, but it seemed that there was something more to the child than that.
At Su-hyeun’s prompt, Miru began trudging forward. Thankfully, there were plenty of trees that could hide them, so moving around with the red dragon had not been a big problem.
Even if I eliminated all the eyes, it wouldn’t be possible to move around undetected forever.
Lichs were rather good at tracking someone down.
Their magic didn’t even miss the smallest hints of traces, and they had the necessary ability to scour every corner of the continent with nothing but a small trace.
Most likely, Su-hyeun wouldn’t be able to keep moving under the radar forever. Although it would get annoying, the confrontation with the Lichs was unavoidable.
Of course, that didn’t mean he felt scared by the prospect or anything like that.
If it’s not in the air but on the ground…
Su-hyeun glanced back at the mountain that served as the Lichs’ base as a smirk formed on his lips.
It doesn’t matter how many. Let them come.
A Death Knight’s body was shattered into pieces and fell to the ground.
Bleached bones littered the surroundings. Su-hyeun tossed aside a sword he took away from the Death Knight and spoke.
“You thought this would be enough?”
There were hundreds of skeletons—ten or so of Lichs and even dozens upon dozens of Death Knights.
They hid underground and suddenly sprung out to attack without warning. But even then, the size of the combat force was already inadequate against him.
Su-hyeun brought the Lich that he grabbed closer to his face. The body made of nothing but bones was currently limp, but its soul still remained within.
“I don’t know who you are, but you’re still watching, aren’t you?” Su-hyeun asked while looking straight into the hollow eye sockets of the Lich.
Su-hyeun never believed that these b.a.s.t.a.r.ds that showed up today were the real deal.
Most likely, the one who sent these Lichs, Death Knights, and skeletons was watching the proceedings from afar through yet another set of eyeb.a.l.l.s.
“If you want to take Roy away, you better come here personally. Stop believing that these small fries can do the job for you. If not…”
The strength of Su-hyeun’s grip on the Lich’s head gradually increased.
“Why don’t you pray to your G.o.d or something?”
The Lich’s head shattered into bits in his hand.
At the same time, a small lick of flame ignited and burned away the Life Vessel inside the skull to ashes.
After getting rid of the last remaining Lich, Su-hyeun s.h.i.+fted his gaze to the side over to Roy, who was currently accompanied by Miru, and asked, “You okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine. Thank you.”
Roy and Miru replied at the same time.
The boy didn’t display much emotion until then, but now he was looking around the place with a somewhat stunned expression.
“Big brother, you’re really strong.”
Roy didn’t have an opportunity to witness Su-hyeun fight properly until now.
Sure, there had been a couple of times when they ran into wild animals during the trip, but Su-hyeun easily beat them all back, so this would be the boy’s first time witnessing the battle against the real enemies.
“What’s the matter? Did I look weak to you?”
“Well, compared to the knights serving in our family, you don’t have a big physique, and…”
“You don’t fight with your physique, though.”
“And you don’t look that scary either, you know.”
“…You certainly don’t fight with your looks either.”
Su-hyeun deliberately gave a good-natured smile and ruffled Roy’s hair. Then, he turned around and scanned their surroundings with a cold expression.
[Remaining time: 186:37:34.]
Roughly a little over two days had pa.s.sed.
It had been a day since they crossed the border, and Su-hyeun and Roy were about to reach the capital city. As a matter of fact, they could see the tall outer walls surrounding the empire’s capital in the far-off distance.
The issues lied with the Lichs, however.
Are they testing me? Su-hyeun considered.
Lichs showed up as if they had been waiting for him. Their numbers felt off, though.
He would have found it more logical if a force with twice or thrice the current number had shown up. However, there were no more than 10 Lichs and around 20 Death Knights. A large number of skeletons showing up was also practically meaningless.
Of course, this force was more than enough to completely devastate a fiefdom. However, Lichs should have been able to more or less guess Su-hyeun’s overall capabilities by now.
Therefore, they shouldn’t be thinking that a combat force of only this scale could extract Roy from his protection.
Why are they sneak attacking only now?
So many points felt suspicious to him, leaving a sour taste in his mouth.
“Are we not going?”
Su-hyeun’s train of thought was interrupted when Roy and Miru urged him on. Agonizing over the matter was not the solution. Su-hyeun shook his head and turned around to leave.
“Yes, yes. Let’s go.”
* * *
Now that they had reached the capital, Miru couldn’t accompany them anymore.
Just like how it was with most other worlds, dragons were rare creatures even in this particular trial’s world. They were just mythical creatures that were mentioned a few times in legends.
Therefore, a dragon like Miru wandering around the streets openly would inevitably draw in unwanted attention.
No, wait—they would be lucky if the only thing that they would draw in would be people’s attention. They could alert the empire’s sorcerers, and they might come together to capture Miru for research and such.
“Well, it sure is big, alright.”
Upon arriving at the capital’s outer walls, he looked up at the structures that easily exceeded a hundred meters in height. He then reached out to touch a wall. He felt that he could almost sense its toughness and thickness.
Ordinary magic won’t even be able to scratch it. Not only that, but the whole thing also seemed to be made of some sort of an alloy that possessed resistance against magic.
As expected. Is this a sign that this is indeed the capital of the empire?
With this level of toughness, these walls should be able to withstand a barrage of all-out attacks from the Lichs for several days straight.
“Where are you from?”
Su-hyeun was about to enter the gates, but the two sentries stationed there crossed their spears, blocking off his path. Somewhat predictably, anyone who wanted to enter the capital must have something to confirm their ident.i.ty, and he had no such thing.
The only one he could rely on now was Roy, the son of a prominent n.o.ble household.
It was at this point that Roy stepped forward to say something. “I’m Roy, from the House of Rawlsman.”
He then pushed forward a small plaque.
“From the House of Rawlsman! Please wait for a moment.”
“Are you the scion of the house Rawlsman?”
One of the sentries that rushed inside the capital soon returned. He was accompanied by a woman in her early thirties, as well as two knights.
Roy’s eyes went a little wider. The woman saw the boy, and despite wearing a long skirt, she still managed to dash toward him.
A call to her son filled with intense emotions and then Roy’s calm and flat reply was heard. The boy’s mother rushed in and embraced him tightly.
She held him in her embrace for a long time before finally turning her head to find Su-hyeun standing there.
“Thank you so much. I feared that I wouldn’t get to see my son ever again this time.”
“I heard that this wasn’t the first time.”
“I am Roy’s mother and the daughter of the House of Rawlsman, Reina. Benefactor, how should I address you?”
“My name is Kim Su-hyeun.”
“Kim, Su… I beg your pardon. Your name is a little difficult to p.r.o.nounce.”
“No, it’s alright.”
Reina held Roy’s hand tightly and spoke, “Let us head inside for the time being. Sentries, I shall guarantee this gentleman’s ident.i.ty. I trust that will be sufficient, yes?”
“Of course, my lady.”
As the sentry replied, Reina began guiding Su-hyeun inside the gates.
“Please, do come in. Although it’s modest, I’d still like to welcome you as a guest.”
“Well then, I won’t refuse your invitation.”
He had already antic.i.p.ated this sort of request from her. Of course, even if she told him to go back, he wasn’t planning to separate from Roy anyway.
Even if this is the capital of the empire, it’s Lichs we’re talking about.
Every single Lich possessed powers that exceeded regular human sorcerers.
Sure, Su-hyeun didn’t know how high the sorcerers of this world could manage to reach. However, the experience from all the worlds he had gone to so far told him that Lichs were the existences that normal humans found difficult to contend with.
And so, just as Su-hyeun stepped into the empire’s capital under the guidance of Reina and her knight escorts…
“What’s the matter?”
Reina stopped walking and turned toward Su-hyeun to ask when he suddenly froze up on the spot.
Su-hyeun looked at her puzzled expression and shook his head. “No, it’s nothing to worry about, ma’am.”
“You must be quite exhausted from the journey. Our carriage is only a little farther away, so please bear the discomfort for a while.”
“I’ll be alright.”
Su-hyeun quickly waved his hand after seeing Reina’s worried expression, and while walking behind her, he stared long at her back.
We might have…
Then, his probing gaze began scanning the packed streets of the capital.
…Come to an even more dangerous location than before.