Cale’s gaze that had been on the black book turned toward Mary and Obante.
Mary started to speak.
“…I am hungry, no, I wish to get stronger.”
There was only one response Cale could give to that.
It was time to go purify things.
However, there was a voice that stopped him at that moment.
– One day.
Cale turned around.
It was the video communication device in the ancient Dragon Eruhaben’s hand. The crown prince said one last thing before ending the call.
– Head to the Empire one day later.
Cale, who was planning to immediately head there after Mary was done, thought for a moment before nodding his head.
“I will do that.”
The call ended with his response.
Cale looked around him.
There were tree trunks woven together like black spiderwebs underneath the bright sun.
* * *
In front of Cale’s tent. Obante, the Dark Elf mayor, caressed a black tree trunk.
The black trunks seemed to be endless. He could feel the dead mana inside of them trying to escape.
There was so much that he could not tell how much dead mana was inside all of these black tree trunks.
‘Mary will become significantly stronger if she absorbs all of this.’
Of course, it was impossible for her to absorb all of it because of the sheer amount.
Obante was disappointed, but there was nothing he could do about it.
Strength was not something that you could gain as much as you wanted just because you wanted it.
It was similar to how there were tiers in sword art and magic.
A beginner swordsman would be useless even with aura.
Everything was only in balance when you had just enough strength to match where you were at.
You were bound to get sick if you ate too much at once.
That was why he was both satisfied and worried about the hesitating Mary.
Cale had told Mary to have all of this dead mana.
That was why Mary was hesitating.
‘She’s probably concerned about taking all of the dead mana by herself when the Dark Elves worked with her last night.’
Obante thought that it was very much like Mary as he approached her.
She looked toward him once he called her.
“We are fine, so take as much as you want, no, as much as you need to become full.”
Mary could see Tasha and the Dark Elves nodding their heads behind Obante. They had all gathered outside Cale’s tent at some point.
“Yes, we have Elementals too!”
“We already absorbed a large amount of dead mana while purifying the black despair last night.”
All of them nodded their heads as they chimed in.
“Mary, you can have it all! You’ve suffered quite a bit in all those battles up until now.”
“You are the most famous of the people from our city and the one who worked the hardest! You deserve something like this as a reward!”
The Dark Elves all played off of each other while urging Mary to quickly absorb all of the dead mana.
The Dark Elf warriors were all at least 100 years old. The struggling 27-year-old Mary was like their youngest sister or niece to them.
Mary’s gaze moved past the Dark Elves and toward Cale.
He just nodded his head for her to do whatever she wanted.
Mary slowly started to walk after seeing that stoic expression.
Tasha started to shout once Mary started to move.
“All warriors disperse!”
The Dark Elves quickly started to climb the black tree trunks. Tasha continued to give them orders.
“Go around Section 7 and tell people to move away from the vicinity of the black tree trunks!”
She then added on.
“Let them know that the purification is starting!”
The Dark Elves started to move, leaving behind the rustling of leaves in place of a response.
Their voices could be heard coming from all around them.
“The purification is about to start!”
“Please move away from the black trees!”
The voices became quieter as they moved away from the tent, however, that showed that they were reaching all parts of Section 7.
Mary took a deep breath while hearing their voices.
Cale pointed to a spot as she did that.
“Your mark is still visible over there.”
Her mark. Mary started to walk toward the mark that she had made.
It was the spot she had accidentally absorbed the dead mana from earlier. She raised her head once she got there.
Large tree trunks were covering the sky.
The spring sky was beautiful, however, she could not enjoy it because it was covered up by the woven tree trunks.
She was touching that tree trunk right now.
Mary put her hand back on the side of the tree that had been purified about the size of her palm.
She then closed her eyes.
She was hungry.
She wanted to get stronger.
Living with dead mana was painful and difficult.
That was why Mary had chosen that path.
However, a voice kept echoing in her mind.
‘Don’t hurt yourself to do that.’
She remembered the seriousness in Cale’s reddish-brown eyes and his weak hand that had grabbed onto her, as well as the silver shield of the small Dragon who was protecting her.
They were all things that she had faced after making up her mind to go see the outside world.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Mary could feel her heart beating wildly inside of her. She was shaking in joy and fear.
She was cheering toward the large amount of dead mana inside the tree trunks.
She was afraid of the necromancer’s life of pain that would probably still continue even after she absorbed all of this.
These emotions were mixed together inside her mind.
However, Mary knew that it was impossible for only good things to happen in the world.
Cale lifted his head up.
The black tree trunks started to shake, no, they started to cry.
He lowered his head back down.
Black smoke started to appear around Mary. The smoke surrounded Mary as if it was a shield.
That sight was shocking, however, the people around Cale could not focus on that.
The rumbling cries of the trees started to get louder.
The cries that started only around Mary were stretching throughout Section 7.
“…What is going on?”
The people around Section 7 all stopped what they were doing.
The Dark Elves who had been telling people to move away from the black trees stopped walking as well. They then looked underneath their feet.
A black tree trunk was shaking.
One of the Dark Elves asked in shock.
“…All the way here already?”
He looked around.
He was at the northern end of Section 7.
The large tree trunk he was stepping on, as well as the small branches around him, were all crying.
“…Just what is Mary trying to do?”
He turned his head.
He looked toward the area around the palace where Cale and Mary should be.
It was at that moment.
The trees suddenly stopped crying.
The leaves started to rustle from the spring wind.
Cale looked toward Mary through that silence.
To be specific, he was looking at the tree trunk that she was touching.
The black trunk was changing colors as she absorbed the dead mana from it.
It was turning white.
The small area the size of Mary’s palm had turned white.
The Indestructible Shield.
The black tree had changed when Cale had received the ancient power.
It had turned white.
It had turned green.
It had turned beautiful.
The appearance had changed.
Cale was waiting.
He was waiting for Mary to show him some changes.
At the end of that waiting…
It was the moment the spring breeze stopped and the leaves stopped rustling.
Cale felt chills throughout his body.
The black tree trunks were turning white, starting from where Mary’s hand was touching it.
Litana let out a gasp.
However, Cale was only looking at Mary.
Green leaves started to grow on the white tree trunks that she was touching.
They then started to spread.
One of the Jungle people dropped the shovel in his hand.
The black tree trunks that were the remains of the past battle were turning completely white and filling with green leaves.
It was beautiful.
The Jungle citizen and the warriors who were restoring things to normal raised their heads with blank expressions.
The black threads covering the sky had disappeared, changing them into white threads that were even brighter than the sky.
The changing speed continued to increase.
North, South, East, West.
The tree trunks were quickly turning white without caring for whether they were by the palace, the business district, or the residential district.
One of the people watching this started to speak.
“It’s too fast!”
The voice of concern was coming from the Dark Elf Tasha. Obante shouted after her.
“T, this large amount! It’s dangerous!”
Obante quickly looked around him.
Mary was absorbing dead mana too quickly.
Furthermore, she was absorbing too large of an amount.
This was dangerous for Mary.
There were bound to be levels in growth, so greed was not good.
Tasha could tell the current situation after seeing Obante’s serious expression. She looked toward Mary and walked a bit toward her.
She could then clearly see Mary who was surrounded in black fog.
Her hand that was on the tree trunk was shaking.
Her black veins that resembled spiderwebs looked ready to explode.
Her entire body was shaking.
Tasha could see that sweat was falling from Mary’s face that was covered by the hood. Mary was sweating a lot.
‘She’s overdoing it.’
Tasha quickly reached out toward Mary and started to speak.
She could not let Mary get hurt. Mary had gone in and out of death quite often ever since she was young. She did not want to see Mary get hurt anymore.
However, her hand stopped before it reached Mary’s shoulder.
Mary’s voice could be heard through the black robe.
“…I, I can do it.”
It was not her mechanical voice.
It was a voice that was extremely shaky, but full of will.
Tasha took her hand back.
She heard a different voice at that moment.
“You remember what I said, right?”
It was Cale’s voice.
Mary closed her eyes after hearing Cale’s voice.
‘Don’t hurt yourself to do that.’
She remembered what he had said.
Mary could feel the dead mana flowing toward her like water.
These things that were tied up inside the trees were full of despair and sorrows.
She could feel the souls of the people who had faced unjust deaths even though it was not the black despair.
‘…I’m at my limit.’
Mary felt her veins that were feeling as if they would burst from the dead mana flowing through.
Her entire body was shaking violently.
Mary could hear a voice once she closed her mind.
‘Mary, keep running! Keep running without looking back!’
It was her mother’s voice.
Her mother had told her to run as she was dying from being poisoned by dead mana.
Mary did not remember anything before she was ten years old.
The only memory she had was of her mother’s voice telling her to run and the soft sand being pushed by her feet.
She finally felt like she could understand the reason for that.
It was because it was in the darkness.
They were in the desert at night when the sand had turned black. She had also seen the black dead mana smoke.
Everything had been black.
That was why she could only remember her mother’s voice and the feeling of the sand even when she tried her best to remember her past. That was all there was to remember about that day.
Mary bit down on her lips.
There were times that she had thought that she could not enjoy the beautiful sky because of these black tree trunks.
However, it was different now.
‘Good little Mary! I will show you the night sky! The human will go with us too!’
‘Human, don’t sigh! Smile! Today is a good day!’
She was able to feel and learn so many things because of the decision she had made.
‘…These black tree trunks…
…The black spiderweb…
…These veins that cover my body…’
They could not hinder her from taking in the world.
Mary received all of the dead mana being pushed to her.
The sound of the wind around her ears.
The sunlight shining through the cracks in the trunks.
The scent of the forest by her nose…
She accepted them all.
Mary opened her eyes.
She could see the tree trunk.
The black tree trunk had turned white.
She took in the now white tree as well.
I am able to take everything in even though my veins have turned black.’
The black smoke around Mary started to rumble.
The others took a few steps back so that they didn’t get in her way.
It was at that moment.
The green leaves on the white tree trunks started to rustle.
There was no wind.
However, the leaves were rustling.
And once that rustling stopped…
All of the black smoke was absorbed inside Mary’s body.
They disappeared without a trace.
Silence filled the area.
Litana raised her head.
She could see the beautiful white trees through the silence.
They were shining in a pure white color, as if it was a beautiful scenery created for them by nature’s blessing.
Litana urgently turned her head at Cale’s shout.
Cale hugged the staggering Mary.
Her body was shaking inside the black robe. Cale could see Mary raising her head toward him.
He could see her eyes through the mask that she was wearing to cover her face.
The corners of her eyes curled up beautifully unlike the black veins around her eyes.
Her GPS-like voice could be heard.
Cale couldn’t help but laugh.
He could then hear voices coming from the distance.
“The purification is done!”
“Section 7 has been completely purified!”
The Dark Elves were shouting as they ran toward them.
The Jungle people that they passed by all started to cheer!
Cale heard Raon’s voice at that moment.
– Human! Mary is a good girl! She is great, mighty, and beautiful!
He ignored Raon who was saying something so obvious as he tried to support Mary up. However, Raon was not done just yet.
The Dragon let out a short gasp of admiration.
– Mary is really strong now.
Of course, she needs to get stronger after eating that much dead mana.’
– Choi Han will lose.
Cale suddenly flinched.
– Mary will probably beat Choi Han six out of ten times if they fought. Our Mary is amazing!
Cale gave a thumbs up to Mary who was looking at him.
* * *
The next day.
Cale’s face looked like a flat pancake as he finished preparing to head to the Empire the next day as crown prince Alberu had told him to do.
“What the fuck did this damn crown prince manage to do in a day?”
It was when Cale shouted in anger.
There were constant emergency calls inside the tent.
“Human! We have another call!”
Raon started to read the messages left on the video communication device.
“Cale! It’s Toonka! Are you really dead? No, right? Pick up the call!”
The black Dragon read the messages without stopping.
“Young master-nim, it’s Billos. I heard this weird rumor… You’re alive right? I’m worried because I can’t reach you.”
The Whipper Kingdom’s Commander Toonka and then the Flynn Merchant Guild’s Billos, who should be in the Empire.
“Young master-nim! My goodness! I threatened the God of Death and said nothing better have happened to you! You’re okay, right, young master Cale? Please give me a call if you are fine. It must be a lie that you are dead!”
And even the crazy priestess Cage.
He received a few more calls after that as well. The one that Cale couldn’t believe the most was the message from his father, Count Deruth Henituse.
“Pretending to be dead, huh. I will cheer you on. I will also help you.”
Cale brushed his face with both hands.
‘Why am I dead?!’
“Human! We keep getting calls!”
‘Driving me nuts.’
Cale could see Raon tilting his head in confusion.
“Our human is still alive! Why are people saying all these weird things?!”
Raon then chuckled as if it was funny. The ancient Dragon was chuckling next to him as well.
The frowning Cale finally managed to get something out.
“…The crown prince.”
‘What the fuck did he do in one day?’
The rumor about Cale being dead instead of being hurt was driving him nuts.