While I was sitting in my room, immersed in recording my experimentation results, I got a message from one of the bracelets I made. It wasn’t Iris, I color coded them so I’d know who was contacting me. It was a dark red. Cale Henituse acted first I see. Nice.
[I wouLd l1ke to chAt som3time. When Are you aVailable?]
“Pfft, so many typos, lemme text back quick.”
[Sorry. Can’t meet up, father has eyes everywhere. Let me know when the dragon can teleport. Was the bracelet effective? I’ll make a better one soon. Bring more magic bottles to the swamp, you’ll lose out on a profit otherwise. TTYL~]
“I hope he listens to me, he’ll reap such a profit from Alberu if he gets more dragon’s dead mana before destroying the rest. I didn’t spoil anything either, so the plot won’t be changed. You got this, Cale.”
Later on, Whale tribe forest expedition – Cale’s POV
The Black Dragon had an odd expression on its face.
“The mana is dark here.”
The Black Dragon nodded at Cale’s question and looked around the forest.
“There is also a smell.”
“What kind of smell?”
“Something I am familiar with. But I cannot tell what it is.”
‘Familiar but can’t tell?’
Cale looked toward the Black Dragon with a confused expression, but the Black Dragon quickly
looked away. He then continued to speak.
“It is not a dangerous smell. Just a very old one.”
‘Do dragons have a really good sense of smell?’
The Whale siblings slowly entered the swamp with chaotic expressions on their faces. Cale slowly led them closer to the swamp. Thankfully, the brown ground and black swamp were easy to differentiate from each other, so there was basically no danger of falling into the swamp lake.
That was why Cale was able to quickly inspect his surroundings.
Paseton was standing there with a stiff expression on his face, acting as if that blank expression from earlier had never existed. Cale pointed to a location nearby.
“Looks like someone was here recently, doesn’t it?”
There were some marks on the ground and lots of footprints. Since the monsters did not come to this area, there was only one explanation.
“I will investigate it.”
Paseton immediately went to investigate and Cale turned away from him.
The ingredient from the swamp that made the mermaids stronger. The evidence they left behind gave Cale a good idea of what it might be.
“…Looks like there is a good chance it was the swamp itself.”
There were many marks on the ground next to the swamp. They probably didn’t care about hiding their tracks, since they believed that nobody would come here.
Cale turned toward the Black Dragon and started to frown.
‘What’s wrong with him?’
The Black Dragon seemed to be acting odd, as he continuously tilted his head to the left and right.
At that moment, Paseton approached.
“There are no signs of digging up any of the nearby plants recently. However, there are many signs that they are doing something to the swamp itself. Based on the marks, I would say they were here between two weeks to a month ago.”
Cale looked toward the wide swamp and responded.
“It looks like they gathered up some of the swamp.”
“That does seem to be the case.”
Cale was about to speak after seeing Paseton and Witira looking serious. However, the Black Dragon approached at that time and Cale started to frown.
“Why did you take the mask off?”
“It was not a familiar scent, but a familiar scent of mana.”
Cale started to get the chills. The Black Dragon pointed to the swamp with his short front paw.
“There is a familiar scent of mana here.”
Cale started to frown even more. The Black Dragon confidently added on.
“There is the scent of dragon mana in the swamp.”
Cale urgently looked toward the black swamp. This extremely vast swamp was massive, but Cale was thinking about the size of an adult or ancient dragon.
“Of course, there is no sign of life in the mana. It is just a very weak trace.”
These words were the final blow. The unbelievable thought in Cale’s head quickly became the reality. He then also felt like he knew how the mermaids got stronger. He also felt like the message he received from Karin Orsena suddenly made sense. Cale touched his magic bag, he had put multiple magic bottles inside the bag just in case, but he wasn’t sure whether they were going to be necessary. However. things have changed now.
There was a dragon corpse inside the swamp. He was going to be rich.
Witira spoke up as well.
“I am not sure about what we should do.”
They were able to narrow down the cause of the mermaids’ source of strength, but they could not figure out a way to deal with it. It would be one thing if it was poison, but the other issue was too complicated to solve quickly.
“It’s not like we could prevent anyone from coming into the Forest of Darkness or stay here protecting this black swamp at all times.”
Witira looked out toward the swamp once more. A dragon’s corpse? That was an unexpected problem. The fact that this swamp was large enough to completely submerge an adult dragon made things even more difficult.
A normal dragon grows in size a total of three times. An adult dragon that completed all three stages of growth was humongous. They were at least 5 meters larger than a Humpback Whale like herself.
At that moment, he could hear Cale’s voice once again.
His voice was peaceful. Witira turned her head. Cale had walked up to the edge of the swamp while smiling.
“First, take as much of the swamp water as you need.”
Cale turned away from the swamp and looked toward Witira.
“And then we make another deal.”
Cale’s smile became bigger after watching the confusion spread on Witira’s face.
‘I didn’t plan on doing this, but…’
Originally, he was just going to figure out what caused the mermaids to get stronger before getting out of here. However, the situation was different now. He was going to take as much as he could get from this place.
“I will take care of it for you.”
Witira could see the excitement in Cale’s eyes. She had never seen such a look in Cale’s eyes before.
Cale pointed to the swamp and gave a short answer.
“I’ll just destroy it.”
Witira looked at the black swamp. The very large black swamp. What did he say he was going to do to this? She was staring blankly at the swamp when Cale started to speak again.
“No need to overthink it.”
She looked back at Cale. He still had a smile on his face and seemed to be very excited.
“I will get rid of it for you, so make a deal with me.”
Cale was thinking about what he was about to do.
This was the Forest of Darkness, somewhere where nothing would seem weird. It was a place where he could claim anything that happened to be an accident and feign ignorance.
“Young master Cale.”
It was a deal that Witira could not reject.
“Let’s make a deal.”
Cale and Witira decided to make a second deal.
“By the way, anything coming out of the swamp belongs to me.”
Witira was disappointed about the dragon’s bones, but decided not to be greedy. The Whale tribe was able to rule because they were strong on both land and sea.
Cale took a few empty bottles out of the magic bag and threw them toward Paseton.
“Put the swamp water into the bottles. They are magic bottles, so they won’t break.”
“…How did you even prepare for this?”
Paseton looked toward Cale with admiration, but Cale did not care. He wasn’t the only one who predicted this after all, and that wasn’t important. Instead, he continued to ruffle through the magic bag that looked small on the outside but was very spacious on the inside.
“Young master-nim, I filled the bottles.”
Cale told Paseton, who had filled the large bottles with mud and water from the swamp, and the rest of the group to move along. Witira hesitated for a moment, but moved back toward the forest at the kittens’ urgings.
The Black Dragon verified that everyone was safely far away before approaching Cale.
“What do you plan to -.”
The Black Dragon stopped talking after seeing what Cale took out of the magic bag. He then continued speaking after seeing Cale gently smiling at him.
“Human, you look a bit smart right now.”
There were two magic bombs in Cale’s hands.
Cale handed the two magic bombs to the Black Dragon.
“Can I really do that?”
Cale shortly answered the Black Dragon, who had caused a very visible fluctuation of mana to show how much he wanted to use his full strength.
“Don’t ask something so obvious. Naturally, make sure I don’t get hurt.”
Cale pointed toward the black swamp and spoke once the Black Dragon had cast shields around him and finished preparations for the bombs and looked toward him.
The swamp was now destroyed, and Cale was rich. He was sure the bottles of dragon mana would be useful somehow in the future. Karin Orsena really helped him out. Who was she, and how did she know him? His interest in Karin has been piqued yet again. He’ll contact her later.