‘Young master. I heard about everything from deputy butler Hans. This Ron will do whatever I can with my lacking abilities to make sure you can shine at the capital.’
Cale’s shoulders were starting to shake as he walked out of the Count’s estate. He was thinking about the conversation he had with Ron as soon as he woke up this morning.
‘This is going to be your first time outside the Henituse territory, right? I am very good at hunting rabbits. I will hunt some rabbits for you when we are camping outside.’
Ron’s calm and benign voice echoed in Cale’s ears. He felt as if he could still hear Ron’s voice echoing like a hallucination throughout the fog outside.
Cale was scared of the fact that Ron was explaining to him about how to hunt a rabbit first thing in the morning.
‘You need to be careful when handling a small animal like a rabbit that gets scared easily. Since you don’t know when or how it will run, you need to pay attention to the surroundings and kill it in an instant. Ah, you also need to remove the innards after catching it. I am also very good at that.’
Cale had to turn away as Ron mimicked cutting open a rabbit with his hands. Ron was excited. However, the only thought Cale was having right now was that Ron was toying with him. Cale was just happy that Ron was heading to the capital with him.
‘I can tack on Beacrox as my personal chef.’
Ron. Beacrox. Cale had already told Hans this morning, so that he could bring the father and son duo with him. Of course, Ron was there as well.
‘Hans, I want to take Beacrox as my personal chef for this trip.’
‘May I ask, why Beacrox? He is extremely busy running Kitchen #2.’
‘I don’t know. But I can’t eat anything other than Beacrox’s cooking. I will be taking him, so you figure out the rest.’
Hans became anxious, but Ron seemed to be happy to be going with his son.
‘Young master, my son will be very happy. We had a need to go to the capital anyways. I will deliver your exact words to him.’
Cale relaxed after hearing Ron’s words. He was worried that they would say no, but Beacrox should enjoy leaving the Henituse territory and traveling to the capital as well.
Cale walked through the foggy Western City as he thought about the people he would take with him to the capital. The story was progressing a little differently than the novel, but it wasn’t like he could give up on gaining some benefits for himself.
“Young master, you are here early today.”
The baker seemed to be pretty relaxed around Cale after seeing him a couple of times. Cale just stoically asked the baker.
The baker smiled as he handed Cale a bag full of bread.
“Of course, I have it all ready. But is today really the last day?”
“Why? Greedy for more money?”
“Yes, I definitely am.”
Cale started to smile. He liked honest answers like this. Cale patted the shoulder of the baker, who seemed to be a bit more relaxed around him, and headed for the slums.
“I’ll come back when I want to eat it again.”
The baker longingly watched as Cale disappeared into the fog and then started to pray. He was praying for Cale to come back and spend a ton of money.
Cale naturally did not know about the baker’s prayer as he walked over to the slums. He then saw the siblings waiting for him.
‘Do these kids not have a home?’
Cale had come much earlier than usual. However, the siblings were curled up together and waiting for him, as if they had been waiting at the top of the hill all night. The younger brother seemed to be leaning into his older sister’s embrace.
The siblings were quietly looking up at Cale. Their hair and clothes seemed damp, probably because they stayed here through the foggy morning.
Of course, Cale pretended not to notice.
“Here, take it.”
The young boy took both of their shares from Cale. Cale waited until the boy picked it up before turning around and heading for the man-eating tree.
‘I’m glad it is foggy.’
The fog made it difficult to see. Since this hill was the highest point in Western City, other than the Count’s estate, the fog was even thicker up here. Nobody else would be able to see what Cale is doing, or more importantly, what Cale receives from the tree.
- More, give me more. Please.
Cale poured a bag of bread into the hole while listening to the eerie voice of the grudge-filled soul as usual. The darkness inside the hole was slowly turning from grey to white. Cale started to smile, thinking that all his efforts were not for naught. It was at that moment.
- More, more, more!
Cale flinched and stepped backwards at the voice that now turned into a shriek.
‘The novel didn’t mention something like this.’
- More, more! I will give you a present if you bring me more. A present.
Present. That word made Cale’s eyes start to sparkle. Although he didn’t expect the soul to go crazy like this, the end was near.
The black branch started to sway, as if nodding at him. It felt like a scene out of a horror movie. Cale shivered as he started to move back through the fog. It was the middle of the morning now, but the sun was not out, and the fog continued to get thicker.
It looked like it would start to rain soon.
The siblings must have gone somewhere, as he did not see them, but Cale just thought they went to dodge the rain and put the third bag of bread in front of the man-eating tree.
‘This should be the last bunch.’
The light inside the hole was now as white as the fog surrounding Cale.
‘It should become transparent after I put this last bag of bread in.’
Cale was full of anticipation as he poured the last bag into the tree.
A rumbling that was worlds different than the past rumblings poured out from the tree toward Cale. This rumbling, that was only aimed at Cale, did not catch his attention because of the hole that was starting to turn transparent. It should be dark inside the hole because of the shadow of the tree, but such a realistic situation did not occur.
That was the Ancient Power.
The moment Cale saw the Ancient Power, he could hear the voice that had been asking him for more food until now.
- It was so, so good!
That voice was … obnoxious.
- That soft texture of bread! I especially liked the third bag of bread you brought. I guess even food develops as time goes by. There was no such thing as bread back in my days! The wheat itself must grow on a really fertile land! Yes, not all wheat is the same –
…The voice was evaluating the taste of the bread.
A storm caused by the voice started to rush toward Cale.
‘This wasn’t in the novel!’
The spirit that was tied down to the earth because of its grudge was resolving that grudge by evaluating the taste of the bread. Cale started to frown further. He was only thinking about the Ancient Power in ‘The Birth of a Hero.’ This Indestructible Shield was the only Ancient Power that was written about in the novel but never claimed by anyone.
‘No wonder nobody ended up taking control of it. But then why would the author mention something that could be useful but was never actually taken by anybody?’
That was the thought in Cale’s head, however, the obnoxious voice continued to chatter away, making him unable to focus.
- … That’s why I am so full! It was delicious!
Chatter chatter. It felt like the grudge was from not being able to speak instead of not being able to eat.
After hearing the spirit chat on and on for a couple of minutes, evaluating all of the different types of breads that Cale had brought, Cale nodded his head and tried to cut the voice off.
- Things like this were not available in ancient times. The people of the Forest of Darkness claimed to be servants of a god yet only gave me tasteless things.
However, Cale decided to wait a little longer after hearing the spirit mention the ancient times.
- I was, naturally, banished from that place. They said I was a glutton. A glutton my ass. Of course, I left with my friends. We were planning on putting the world back on the right track.
For someone like him who needed Ancient Powers, it was important to listen to stories about the ancient times. However, the story soon ended, and the spirit went back to talking about food and other useless things. Cale quickly cut it off.
- I don’t think I could give up this taste even if I got fat. It’s so unfair that I had to eat dirt and ended up dying!
“Yes, it was an amazing and professional evaluation. You’re a bit lou-“
The spirit cut Cale off.
- You understand my evaluation. You are a really good guy! Thanks!
…Cale couldn’t tell whether he could really communicate with the spirit or not.
Cale really could not figure out the situation at hand. At least the voice stopped after telling him thanks. Called looked toward the tree in front of him.
The man-eating tree, the originally black man-eating tree, was starting to turn white. It then started to slowly grow some green leaves. The scene looked even more mystical because he was surrounded by fog right now.
The noise held some heaviness compared to before. Cale kneeled on one side and sat down underneath the trunk of the tree. A bright white light was pouring out from the hole.
Cale put his hand into the light. He then closed his eyes.
‘This must be it.’
A warm and strong power that wrapped around his hand. He started to smile before hearing the voice one more time. It was a pure and warm voice.
- It will protect you.
For a very short moment, a bright light wrapped around Cale. The light was silver in color, and the light started to become absorbed by his body. The absorbed light all gathered at Cale’s heart.
Cale let out a long sigh as he opened his eyes. It did not hurt. It was warm, and the pure power was making him feel happy.
Cale quickly lifted up the shirt that he was wearing.
‘I did it.’
There was a small silver shield inscribed over his heart. It was different from a tattoo. Such a beautiful and fancy shield left its mark over Cale’s heart.
The shield will prioritize its owner’s safety above anything else. The location of that promise was at the heart. This shield will be with Cale until his heart stops beating.
Cale could feel the strength wrapping around his heart. It was not causing any issues. In fact, it felt like the shield had surrounded his heart, and was doing its best to protect him.
Ancient Powers like this left their unique mark when they are activated.
Cale quickly used the method that was written in the novel to trigger the Ancient Power.
The ‘Indestructible Shield’ appeared in front of Cale’s eyes.
It was a silver shield that was just large enough to cover Cale’s upper body. There were two silver wings on both sides of the shield, which allowed the shield to move within a certain radius from Cale. The size of the shield was also controllable.
Cale started to control the size of this shield that already felt like it was a part of his body. This immediate familiarity was one of the special traits of Ancient Powers. That was why heroes used it, even if it was just as a support.
Cale started to smile.
‘A maximum of two times.’
Cale was thinking in terms of Choi Han, the strongest person around him right now. The shield should be able to block two of Choi Han’s attacks.
‘The strength of this shield is stronger than I expected. Why would the heroes not use it all the time?’
The Indestructible Shield, unlike its name, actually is capable of breaking. However, it does not disappear upon breaking. If the shield receives an attack stronger than its abilities, it will store as much of its strength as possible to protect the owner’s heart before it breaks. After a while, the shield will recover its strength and can be used again. The strength of the shield comes from the owner’s heart.
The beating heart. That heart becomes the strength of the shield. The heart strengthens the shield while the shield protects the heart. So, what would happen if the heart gets stronger?
‘It will get even stronger.’
There were many ways to strengthen Ancient Powers. Cale will be strengthening this shield on the way to the capital.
Once that happens, he should be able to make a shield that can last 10, no, at least 5 minutes when someone of Choi Han’s caliber tries to kill him with all of their strength.
Ancient Powers, as seen with this man-eating tree, are difficult to earn unless you, ‘coincidentally run into them.’ The person who knows the most about these ‘coincidences’ in the first five volumes is probably Cale Henituse, well, the current Cale Henituse.
Cale started to smile. He reached out and touched the shield. It felt nice. However, there was one thing he didn’t like about it.
“…It seems too divine.”
At full strength, it looked like a Holy Shield that the Knights of God carry with their swords in myths.
Of course, the former owner of this shield was a priestess who was tired of the term god, and the current owner, Cale, just didn’t like gods.
‘It’s not like there will be many reasons for me to use this.’
He was planning on leaving the fighting to everyone else. The terror attack at the capital. He may have to use it if something dangerous happens there. But he will make sure it is small and faint so that other people will not notice it.
Cale returned the shield to his heart and patted the now white tree as he started to walk away. The misty rain inside the fog started to wet Cale’s shoulders.
Cale liked the fog, but did not like rain. He started to walk faster toward home. He needed a carriage.
It was at that moment.
Cale suddenly felt a chill on the back of his neck. It was the alley right outside the Count’s Estate. He could see two pairs of round, golden eyes. Cale started to frown.
There were two kittens who looked extremely pitiful and drenched in the rain. They continued to meow as they approached Cale. They then started to rub their cheeks on Cale’s legs.
Cale let out a sigh and started to walk. The two little kittens followed behind them. The tiny things somehow managed to keep up with Cale, even with their short legs.
“Young master, what is going on?”
The person who greeted Cale at home was deputy butler Hans. Hans had a confused expression as his eyes opened wide. He seemed to be shocked. Cale clicked his tongue and handed Hans the things in his hands.
“Don’t ask stupid questions and just take them.”
Hans’s eyes started to shake.
“W, what cute and lovely kittens!”
This deputy butler really did seem to be butler material. Cale carefully put the two kittens in the hands of the extremely excited Hans.
The two kittens, that were dangling in Hans’s hands, continued to look at Cale, even when they were in Hans’s arms.
“Young master, may I take care of these two lovely kitten-nims?”
“Whatever you want.
Hans started to smile in joy. Cale started to walk past the excited Hans as he added on.
“Ah, for your information, they become quiet if you give them food. The two of them are also siblings.”
The two kittens flinched and started to shake. Their golden eyes opened widely as they looked toward Cale.
The moment Hans asked in confusion, Cale moved back toward Hans. He then lowered his head and caressed the two kittens.
He had wondered about it for the last few days, but how could he not know by now?
The silver kitten had a faint smell of the medicinal herbs he had given to the girl. When he picked the two kittens up earlier, he could also smell the beef steak and bacon cream pasta that he had given them this morning as well.
That made Cale certain. The events of the last few days were finally resolved in Cale’s head.
“Did you think I wouldn’t know?”
The two kitten’s golden eyes continued to shake. Cale looked at the siblings he had been feeding the last few days and started to smile.