After coming out of the prison, Cale put the dragon down in front of the two kittens.
“That looks like it hurts.”
On and Hong circled around the still silent dragon. The dragon started to show its teeth and growl at them. This was probably the first time in its life it ever saw anything other than humans.
Cale verified the time on his watch. It looked like they had just enough time to escape.
“It looks like it hurts.”
On approached Cale and tapped his leg. She seemed to be thinking about the potion Cale brought in his magic box. She couldn’t ask him for it, so she could only act this way.
Cale had brought that potion to use it. However, he needed to wait until the mana restriction chains were off. The potion would only work properly if the mana, which was practically as important as a dragon’s heart, was no longer restricted.
Cale started to head toward the opposite side of the prison, the location the torturer seemed to be guarding. It wasn’t very loud, but he could hear Choi Han fighting in the distance. Cale presumed that Choi Han’s battle would end soon as well.
Cale started to pat the cave wall with his hands. He kicked the torturer with his foot to get him out of the way, and continued to pat every aspect of the wall. The dragon growled after seeing the torturer, but stayed still and continued to focus on Cale.
‘Venion’s last line of defense should be around here somewhere.’
Like all of the members of Marquis Stan’s family, Venion was extremely worried about someone intruding while he was inside. He had created a secret tunnel to use as an escape route if something like that ever happened. If the torturer knew about it, he probably would have used it to escape earlier, but, sadly, even the torturer did not know about this escape route.
‘The novel said there was a flat area on this bumpy wall-, ah here it is.’
There was a flat area about the size of a person’s hand on this bumpy cave wall. Although Venion looked like he had OCD and would never do anything like training, everyone in the Marquis’s family had learned martial arts.
‘If you use a strong enough force on that location, the wall will open.’
It was not a magic device. Instead, the force of the impact made the device move. Cale turned his head to look toward the person who entered and asked.
Choi Han lightly swung his sword in the air to get rid of the blood on it and then approached Cale. His gaze soon turned toward the dragon, and started to frown. It was a natural reaction to seeing such a small creature being covered in blood. The glare in Choi Han’s eyes as he stared at the torturer was vicious.
That was why Cale had called out to Choi Han. Choi Han was still glaring at the torturer as he reported.
“As you ordered, I left the escaping workers alone. I also made sure that all of the strong individuals would not be able to fight.”
Cale praised Choi Han before pointing to the flat area on the wall.
“Punch this spot.”
“As strong as I can?”
‘Are you planning on destroying the cave?’
“No. Control your strength. Just pretend you are creating a 10cm dent in this wall.”
“Mm. So, very lightly.”
Very lightly? Cale quickly stepped away from Choi Han after hearing Choi Han call something that was impossible for Cale to do as only using a tiny bit of his strength.
Choi Han understood that to be Cale telling him to hurry, and immediately punched the wall with his fist.
Cale picked the dragon back up while the kitten siblings were admiring what happened.
A chilling screeching noise came out of the wall, and an area the size of an adult male appeared to one side of the cave wall. Choi Han quickly picked up the torch.
At Cale’s command, the kittens got on Choi Han’s back, as Choi Han stepped into the tunnel first. Cale followed behind him. The dragon remained quiet in Cale’s arms, with only the sound of its breathing coming out of it. However, the eyes that were staring at Cale were still extremely vicious.
Rather than any gratitude for saving him, it seemed to be filled with thoughts of terror about being tortured by someone else, as well as anger and resentment toward humans.
“Stop staring at me like that.”
Cale casually talked to the dragon in his arms.
‘Ah, I’m a bit out of breath.’
Cale was out of breath as he tried to keep up with Choi Han, who seemed to have no issues running.
‘Should I have made Choi Han carry the dragon?’
The 1 meter long dragon was pretty heavy. It would not be this hard if he was able to get his hands on the ancient power called the ‘Vitality of the Heart.’
Cale held the dragon tightly in his arms, so that he would not throw it away in anger. There was no way he could leave it here after spending all that effort to rescue it.
The dragon just continued to watch him. Cale’s black clothes started to become covered in the dragon’s blood.
After running through that dark and narrow tunnel for a few minutes, Choi Han suddenly called out to Cale.
“There is a wall in front of us.”
“Hit the center of the wall with your fist with the same strength as before. Then we will continue to run as discussed.”
The kittens jumped off of Choi Han’s shoulder and started to run. Choi Han put some strength into his fist and hit the center of the wall with the same strength as earlier.
The wall almost instantly collapsed, and they could see the night sky. They were outside the cave. This time, Cale took the lead as he looked around.
This was the reason they needed the Mana Disturbance Tool to work on the entire mountain. Venion had put a magic recording device on this secret tunnel entrance as well. He was a very thorough person.
Cale didn’t know exactly where this entrance was located, necessitating the Mana Disturbance Tool to work on the entire mountain.
They did not have much time left. They needed to get out of the range of the magic recording device in the next one or two minutes. But it should not be a problem.
Choi Han followed behind Cale and made new traces of their presence, or erased some traces as they passed. After surviving in the Forest of Darkness on his own for so long, he was an expert at creating and following tracks. After running away from the secret tunnel entrance for about two minutes, Cale looked at his watch.
The alarms that were going off in the area suddenly stopped blarring. The Mana Disturbance Tool had stopped working.
Cale took a deep breath, calming his rapidly beating heart. The Indestructible Shield around his heart was gathering strength every time his heart beat like that, just in case an emergency situation happened.
‘I have no plans to use it right now.’
However, Cale was not planning on using this shield just yet. After freeing this dragon and saying goodbye to Choi Han in the next city, he was planning on gaining the ancient power, ‘Vitality of the Heart,’ To strengthen this shield. Only then would he use the shield.
Now that he had the time to look around, Cale looked down toward the dragon. He then started to smile.
The rebellious gaze was gone, and the dragon was looking up at the night sky in admiration. This was the first time the dragon saw anything other than the cave walls in its four years of life. Cale understood what the dragon was feeling, and wanted to give it some more time, but he could not do that.
He put the dragon down on the grass and continued to look at it. The dragon looked right back at him. Its eyes were once again filled with anger and resentment, as it curled its body up and looked ready to attack.
‘No wonder it continued to get tortured for four years. It won’t back down at all.’
That was why Cale personally liked this dragon. It was different from himself. Growing up being abused as an orphan, Cale, well, Kim Rok Soo, had given in. After that, he didn’t want to be the main character of a story, like Choi Han. After giving in at a place he called home, he didn’t think he had the strength to fight against the world.
Cale made sure the dragon was looking at him, then took out a pair of gloves and some scissors-shaped cutting tool. There were a lot of magic seals on both of the blades for cutting. He then put on the electricity-resistant gloves.
This cutter was one of the two items that had to be rented in Billos’s name. This was not something you could borrow with money.
‘I don’t know why you need this, but, young master, I hope to see you alive in the capital.’
‘You think I’m going to die?’
‘All I know is that you plan to cause a commotion.’
Cale was thinking about the conversation he had with Billos, before realizing that his surroundings suddenly became extremely quiet. Choi Han was looking at the cutter with chaotic eyes, while the kitten siblings had moved away from Cale and were hiding behind Choi Han.
The dragon was still just staring at him.
Cale clicked his tongue at their response and approached the dragon. The mana restriction chain was made with something similar to rubber. If it was made of metal, it would not have fit the growing dragon. That was why it was made of something with some elasticity.
He then grabbed the dragon’s neck.
The kittens took in a deep breath. However, Cale ignored them as he continued onward, since it was better to do this as fast as possible. The cutter headed for the dragon’s neck. The sharp blade shone under the moonlight, and the dragon just paid attention to Cale’s eyes. Cale’s eyes were emotionless and peaceful.
The dragon closed its eyes.
At that moment, they all heard the snapping noise of something getting cut.
The mana restriction chain was causing sparks in Cale’s hands.
“What are you looking at?”
Cale scoffed at the dragon that had opened its eyes back to look at him and took off one of the gloves and handed it to Choi Han. Choi Han put the glove on and Cale handed the chain to him before taking the potion out of his pocket.
It was a highest grade potion. Even this cost quite a bit to purchase. It made Cale feel bad for asking for an allowance the last few days before he left. Cale clicked his tongue and sharply stared at the dragon.
“Do you know how much money I spent on you?”
The dragon could hear the same words he heard quite often. He had heard it almost every day since he was born. Why do you not listen to me when I spent so much money on you? Guess you need to be beaten some more. Then he was beaten. They said that he needed to stop thinking for himself and listen to them as they continued to beat him.
“Since I spent so much money on you, you better heal properly, you stupid fool.”
The dragon did not feel any pain.
Cale poured about half of the potion onto the dragon’s back, and poured the rest into its mouth. Thankfully, the dragon did not resist, and swallowed it down.
After a few minutes, Cale could only think that it really was a dragon. The mana, which was the equivalent to the dragon’s heart and the source of all of its power, started to move in its body.
All of the injuries on the dragon’s body instantly disappeared, and something that resembles mana surrounded its body like the wind.
This change that occurred in an instant made Cale think about just how scary and powerful of an existence dragons really were in this world.
The dragon should have no reason to get injured anymore. The smart dragon seemed to understand what had happened to its body, as its eyes came completely back to life.
Cale took a step toward the dragon. The baby dragon curled up while continuing to observe Cale. Cale ignored the dragon and asked.
“What do you want to do now?”
Cale started to smile while looking at the dragon that remaining silent.
“I know you can speak the human language. You are a dragon. The smartest and strongest existence in the world.”
Cale asked once more.
“What did you want to do once you got free?”
The dragon started to speak. The dragon really did know how to speak the human language. It was much smarter than humans. There was no way it did not learn the human language in the last four years.
The dragon could feel it in his heart. With his current strength, he could easily kill the man in front of him. He was scared of the man in the back, but it would be possible for him to escape alive. He had gained the strength he had waited for so long to obtain.
That was why the dragon finally said the thing he had thought to himself over and over for the last four years. However, this was the first time he had ever said it out loud.
“I will live.”
He will live, no matter what it took.
“I will go away.”
He was going to go away from here.
He revealed his inner thoughts.
“I will not be tamed.”
“Yes. You are right.”
Cale was saying the dragon was right.
“You are a dragon. A DRAGON. You have the right to live freely.”
Even a four-year-old dragon was stronger than most of the animals in the world. It had enough strength to survive on its own, and, normally, dragons were extremely independent and prideful. They generally wanted to create their own lair once they turned about two years old. It was completely worlds apart than a human two-year-old.
Cale looked into the eyes of the dragon, that still did not trust humans, and sternly started to speak.
“I will not take care of you.”
Cale did not have a reason to look after something that was stronger than him. There were also too many potential headaches to keep him around to pay back for Cale’s help. It was different from the children from the Cat Tribe, On and Hong. A dragon was beyond Cale’s limits.
The dragon could not trust Cale.
“Liar. Humans are good at lying.”
There was now anger in the dragon’s eyes. That anger was not directed at Cale, however. Dragons were naturally born with a lot of pride. This anger came from the years that his pride was trampled upon by the humans.
“I guess that is true. I do lie quite a bit as well.”
Cale easily accepted the dragon’s words, and continued to speak.
“Live however you want to live. What is it you want to do?”
The baby dragon lifted its head to look at the night sky. It was different from the darkness inside the cave. It was dark, but there was still light.
“I hate humans. I want to be free.”
Cale got up from his seat. He then took out some mid-grade potions and a smaller pouch from his magic bag and put the potions in the bag before handing it to the dragon.
The dragon’s black pupils enlarged and started to shake. However, there was still doubt and resentment in its eyes. Naturally, Cale did not care.
‘This should be enough.’
He freed the dragon, screwed Venion over, saved the village, and helped Choi Han understand what freedom means thanks to the dragon.
Most importantly, he did not need to take responsibility for the dragon. He could see in its eyes that it did not want to follow him. It was a very good conclusion. Cale spoke to his party members in a satisfied tone.
He turned his back to the dragon with no regrets, and started to walk. Choi Han silently followed behind Cale and focused on altering their tracks. The kittens, who hesitated for a moment, saw the dragon turn its gaze away from Cale before following behind him.
Once even the Cat Tribe sibling turned away from it, the dragon lifted its head and watched them walk away.
“…I hate humans…they are evil…”
For some reason, the dragon was paying more attention to the back of the human, the race that he was annoyingly used to and hated, rather than the night sky that it was seeing for the first time.
Hong slowly approached his sister On as they followed behind Cale.
“Noona, I think he’s going to follow us.”
“Uh huh. I think so too.”
“Am I going to get a younger brother?”
“It looks like it.”
The kittens were conversing with themselves, but Cale scoffed at them and retorted back.
“No way. Dragons are extremely prideful and will never accept being under a human. Furthermore, this dragon hates humans.”
On’s expression seemed to disagree. If a cat had a mocking expression, it would probably be the one of On’s face right now. On shook her head and quietly mumbled.
“…I don’t think so.”
Hong looked behind him before agreeing with his sister. The Black Dragon was still looking in their direction. Hong was now sure. This dragon will enjoy its freedom for a bit, before sharing some beef with him in the future.
Cale ordered the two kittens who were whispering to each other.
“Go get the orb back.”
The two siblings went to get the orb so that they could eat some more beef. Cale did not even look at the siblings, as he patted Choi Han’s shoulder.
Today should have been the first time Choi Han ever saved anything. There was that battle with the bandits earlier, but that was more protecting than saving.
Of course, the actual events changed from saving the village people from the dragon in the novel to saving the dragon that he actually had killed in the novel, but the important thing here was that he, ‘saved,’ someone.
Choi Han was silent for a while after calling out to Cale’s name, before he finally started to speak once again.
“What if the dragon decided that living as it wants was to follow you, Cale-nim?”
“That will never happen.”
“What if. Just hypothetically speaking.”
Cale thought about it for a while, before lightly responding.
“I don’t think about what ifs or the past.”
But for some reason, Cale suddenly got the chills and looked behind himself for the first time since walking away from the dragon. Thankfully, the Black Dragon was not visible.
Cale sighed in relief, before returning to the inn and falling asleep. That was why he did not know that the dragon used magic for the first time to become invisible, and sat at his window for a long time before leaving. The dragon was tightly clutching the bag of potions that Cale had given him.
The next day, Cale had to deal with Choi Han’s questions from early in the morning.
“Cale-nim. There is a city coming up in a few days. Is that the middle point?”
It was almost time for Choi Han to finish making up his, ‘payment,’ that Cale had talked about.
It also meant that Cale was getting closer to receiving another ancient power for himself. Originally, in the novel, the eldest son of Marquis Stan’s family, the one who was pushed out by Venion, would find this ancient power in about a month. It was his last glimmer of hope, but, unfortunately, it ended up being a power that he could not use.