Cale and the group returned to the inn they had previously stayed at. He seemed to be out of it as soon as he sat down and leaned back on the chair.
– Human, that was very fun! I really am great and mighty!
On the other hand, the invisible Raon was extremely energetic. The Killer Whale Archie mumbled to himself in disbelief.
“…Those vicious bastards.”
The vicious bastards that he was talking about were the Elves of the End Village.
Cale looked up at the ceiling and recalled the sight of the Elves giving them a teary farewell.
‘You, you are leaving after staying such a short time? I am very sad.’
‘It was as if we had seen the beautiful sun underneath this frozen lake for the first time in a long time. I will never forget about our blessed time together for the rest of my life.’
The Elves were crying as they said things like that to Raon.
‘Do not worry! I will return again with Goldie gramps!’
The Elves had cheered after hearing Raon’s excited remark.
Cale was tired after having to wade through the Elves and the Elementals to get out of the Lake of Despair. Cale then remembered the middle-aged Elf Chief who had continued to caress his hand.
‘It isn’t like we are strangers.’
‘How did I end up becoming a collective, ‘we,’ with the Elves?’
Cale did not know how it had happened, but decided that it wasn’t a bad thing and pushed it aside in his mind.
A wine glass was placed in front of him.
“What is this for?”
This was the inn Cale had stayed in before they went into the Lake of Despair. Cale asked the meaning of this wine glass as he looked toward the owner of the inn.
The old woman looked over Cale’s group before mumbling to herself.
“…Looks like you returned alive.”
Cale had said the following to the old woman who had lost her daughter and son-in-law to the Lake of Despair.
‘I will return alive and drink all of your alcohol.’
The corners of the woman’s eyes were shaking. Cale jokingly asked.
“It’s free, right?”
“Bad boy! You look rich!”
The old woman smiled before peeking at the side of Cale’s head and casually adding on.
“…Well, it looks like you are warm and don’t need to drink in order to warm up. Just one glass should be enough.”
Both Cale and Raon flinched.
-Human! This human grandma is weird!
However, the old woman walked back to the chair by the fireplace before Cale could say anything. The old woman’s grandson, Sully, walked up as Cale continued to watch her.
“…Grandmother asked me to give you some snacks as well.”
He slowly moved the dishes onto the table. However, his expression seemed to be complicated.
He was very curious about the Lake of Despair and how they had managed to return alive as he had lost his parents to the lake.
He was also curious about who they were and was also happy that they had returned alive.
But, most importantly, there was something that kept catching his attention.
He could not help but ask.
Unlike Cale, whose hair was brown thanks to magic, this boy actually had brown hair and freckles, making him look innocent.
Sully, who had never left this small village by the Lake of Despair, rubbed his eyes as he started to speak.
“Excuse me, guest-nim.”
Cale started to feel iffy.
The boy was not looking at Cale, but slightly off to the side. If you looked closely, you could tell that he was looking at the empty spot next to Cale’s head.
It looked empty to Cale’s eyes at least.
Sully started to speak.
“I’m sorry, I’m not sure if there is something wrong with my eyes. Ah, this is really weird.”
He mumbled for a bit before pointing to the spot between Cale and Choi Han’s head.
“There seems to be a small and round red ball that looks like a ball of red fur? Am, am I hallucinating? Ah, what is wrong with me?”
Sully rubbed his eyes.
However, there seemed to be a red furball floating by Cale’s side no matter how many times he rubbed his eyes.
Cale started to think at that moment.
‘This is driving me nuts.’
‘He’s an Elementalist?’
Cale could not believe it.
Raon started to speak at that moment.
– Human, he seems to be able to see the Elemental!
Cale naturally could not see that red furball by the side of his head. Raon and the others could not see it either.
This was because the Elemental was currently saving its energy because of the cold air.
However, they had seen this red furball down underneath the Lake of Despair when the Elf priestess awkwardly smiled and showed it to them.
‘Excuse me, Cale-nim.’
The Elf priestess Adite had a worried look on her face as she fidgeted her fingers.
‘If it is okay with you, one of our, mm, this baby fire Elemental-nim that was born less than a year ago would like to escort you to the entrance of the village outside the lake. Would that be okay?’
The half-transparent red furball had floated over to Cale’s side at that moment. Cale looked toward Adite while wondering what kind of baggage was being placed on him as she quickly explained.
‘This Elemental-nim has not picked its shape just yet, but it will be warm if you have it by your side. Elementals change their shapes once they determine their own paths.’
This red furball that had not determined its path yet was a fire Elemental. Adite quickly added on after seeing Cale starting to frown.
‘The Elemental-nim said that it respects Cale-nim and really wants to escort you, to the point that it whin-, no, sincerely asked.’
‘…It respects me?’
Adite answered as if it was obvious.
‘Yes sir. It said that it had never seen such a destructive and crazy fire before! It wants to be like it!’
Cale responded immediately after hearing why this baby fire Elemental respected him.
‘We will go our separate ways once we get to the village. Got it?’
Adite responded energetically and the red furball had floated over to the side of Cale’s head before turning transparent. It had followed them to the inn while remaining in that transparent state.
‘But he can see this transparent Elemental?’
Cale looked past Sully, who was still rubbing his eyes as if he had seen a ghost, and toward the old woman.
He remembered what she had just said.
‘…Well, it looks like you are warm and don’t need to drink to warm up.’
Cale flinched while recalling that statement. The word, ‘Elementalist,’ was currently stuck in Cale’s mind. He turned his gaze back toward Sully.
Sully suddenly covered his face with his arms in shock.
The tray fell to the ground.
“The furball is suddenly floating toward me!”
Sully had a shocked expression on his face as he continued to look around as the red furball floated around him.
Cale immediately turned back toward the old woman. She was smiling brightly with her teeth showing.
“My husband told me when I said I could see them. He said that they were Elementals.”
The old woman looked toward Cale and continued to speak.
“I was relieved that my daughter could not see them. I worried that she would be like me and be able to see them.”
Them. She was definitely talking about the Elementals.
Cale could see the regret in her eyes.
“Because I was seduced by them. I settled down in this Land of Despair so that I could get glimpses of them when they appeared. But this damn lake seduced people even if they could not see the Elementals.”
The old woman turned her gaze toward her grandson.
She had been relieved that she had not seen them for decades.
It was painful to see glimpses of these beautiful Elementals that refused to approach her.
However, her grandson could see them.
“…I guess they do approach people first too.”
She had never seen one taking the initiative to approach a human.
The old woman looked back and forth between Sully, the Elemental, and Cale whom the Elemental originally came with as she started to smirk.
“You showed something useless to my grandson, so pay up for the alcohol.”
Cale shook his head.
“I will freeload since you said the drink was on you.”
Choi Han and Archie looked toward Cale after that comment. However, Cale did not care as he continued to speak to the old woman who was still smiling.
“However, I will pay you well for the snacks.”
“Hehe, what a funny kid. You clearly look like a noble.”
The group flinched at the old woman’s observation skills, but Cale did not care as he looked toward Sully.
‘I didn’t expect him to be an Elementalist.’
Cale had gotten involved with an unexpected existence. Raon’s voice could be heard in Cale’s mind.
-Human! Will he go with us too?
‘No. Why would he?’
Cale did not want to get involved with other people for no reason.
There was no reason for someone like him who had ancient powers of all elements to have an Elementalist by his side.
‘…Although I don’t really have all of the elements.’
Cale touched the necklace with the Dominating Water inside. He then recalled the conversation he had with priestess Adite.
‘Do you know who the judge is?’
‘Yes. Apparently, there is a judge who went to the Eastern continent.’
The judge that the World Tree told him to find. Cale debated asking Gashan and Ron who were originally from the Eastern continent, but had asked Adite just in case.
Adite brushed her hand through her hair before shaking her head.
‘No. I’ve never heard that name before.’
‘Is that so?’
Cale had not expected much.
‘Yes sir. I have heard about the Water of Judgment though.’
He ended up hearing something unexpected.
Adite looked worried as she continued to speak.
‘The Water of Judgment is an ancient power.’
Adite brought an old wooden plank from the village library instead of explaining it.
‘I remember it because the information on the plank was quite shocking.’
‘…Can I borrow it?’
Adite looked toward Cale as if asking if he was being serious before eventually nodding her head.
‘Yes sir. Please do as you wish.’
Cale understood why Adite would have been shocked to read it.
There were three lines of text on the plank. This was the first line.
< Letter of Resignation >
And then the second line.
< World Tree, you stupid idiot! I am now free! >
It sounded intense.
Cale had a feeling at that moment.
‘The Water of Judgment. This one seems like a lunatic as well.’
He became certain after reading the last line.
< The Water of Judgment? I am a free spirit now! >
‘I may end up having to pick up another odd thing.’
That was what went through Cale’s mind after reading the statements on the plank.
He took a big gulp of alcohol in order to ease his frustration. He then quietly observed the mess that Sully and the invisible fire Elemental were creating.
‘Will I meet with them again?’
There was this baby fire Elemental which had a good chance of growing in a slightly destructive way, the extremely innocent to the point that he looked slightly stupid Sully, and the sharp grandmother.
Cale predicted that he would not run into them again in the future.
However, he could not hear what the fire Elemental was saying on the shocked and confused Sully’s shoulder.
‘…Fiery thunderbolt. Respect. Sea of fire. Strong.’
The shape of the fire Elemental that was continuously mumbling these words slowly started to change. However, it was still just a bundle of fire, making everyone unable to anticipate its future shape.
However, the fire Elemental did not get away from Sully at all.
Cale had no way of knowing as he could not see or hear the Elemental.
* * *
“We’re finally here.”
Choi Han observed the city from inside the castle gates.
The pointy roofs were covered in white snow. The white roofs made it look like a kingdom of snow.
Choi Han, who was currently wearing a white priest robe, turned his head to the side.
A white-haired man.
Cale was fixing his priest robe and smiling gently.
“Our destination is not far. Let’s all go together.”
Cale had entered into the Paerun Kingdom’s capital of Bago.
He had no issues getting in with the identity card that crown prince Alberu had created for him as he walked in while wearing the priest robe.
Raon started to speak in his mind.
– Human, is there a festival here?
White roofs and white snow. The white castle in the distance. There were many decorations on the castle.
Rosalyn approached Cale and started to speak.
“Priest-nim, Bago City is so decorated. Is it a festival?”
She looked around as she asked the question. There seemed to be a lot of people going through the gates. The streets in the capital were packed, even though it was freezing.
Choi Han saw this as well and looked toward Cale for answers as well. The half-blooded Whale Paseton started to speak at that moment.
“…Did you all come here without knowing about it?”
Rosalyn had been a crown princess in the past, but she had no reason to memorize the festivals of the most northern kingdom.
Paseton looked toward Cale after hearing her question.
Cale started to speak with a calm expression.
“The Paerun Kingdom has a unique festival in January.”
The red kitten Hong patted Cale’s arm and urged him to tell them. Cale petted Hong’s fur as he continued to speak.
“They bring offerings to the lake that is supposed to have the god’s tears in order to pray for it to take away a year’s worth of sorrow in advance. There are celebrations throughout the city of Bago as well.”
Choi Han flinched.
It sounded like an important time.
But they were currently going to start a fire in the lake with the god’s tears.
He had a feeling that it would overlap with this festival.
Choi Han looked toward Cale. Cale whispered quietly in order to prevent others from hearing.
“We don’t want to hurt anybody, so we won’t do it on the day of the offering. Apparently, they all gather in the plaza to dance on the last night.”
The last night. People will gather in the plaza for the finale in order to dance and sing through the night.
Nobody would be at the lake except for the guards. It was easy to move without harming a few guards.
Cale smiled as he asked the group a question.
“Shouldn’t the festival end with fireworks?”