“How long are you planning on staying here?”
Bud Illis plopped down on the deck and looked to the side.
He could see someone standing as still as a giant boulder.
‘…I didn’t expect something like this to happen.’
Bud’s expression turned odd.
Ron Molan was the person standing as still as a giant boulder.
There was also one other person next to Ron. The Mercenary King had received information about this person a few days ago.
Cale’s strongest knight.
Choi Han, the youngest sword master.
“Mr. Choi Han is here, so why don’t you go inside, patriarch-nim?”
Bud could see the old man with a cold expression that no longer had the benign smile on it start to speak.
“Shut up. You’re being too loud.”
The Mercenary King let out a sigh.
It was quiet on top of this ship.
No, it was absolutely silent.
Even still, Bud’s quiet voice was not enough to be considered loud.
However, Bud shut up as Ron ordered.
Glenn Poeff. His mage friend motioned to him with his eyes.
‘Are we going to leave them like this?’
Bud started to speak again after seeing the gaze.
The Three Restricted Areas.
The island itself was not visible because of the roaring winds.
It did not allow anyone to easily approach the island.
However, people still knew how living beings died by this island.
There was a simple reason for it.
“Anything that dies in Wind Island will have its corpse fly out along with the wind.”
Not even breathing could be heard on top of the ship.
Bud closed his eyes.
The sound of the wind could be heard.
Bud thought about the things that happened this past week.
The first three days were decently calm. Cale’s group started to get worried once it reached the fourth and fifth days.
‘Why, why is the human not coming out?’
‘Something’s very very weird! It is super weird!’
Bud recalled the endless concerns of the children.
And today was the seventh day.
Bud raised his head.
He could see the ocean that held both Wind Island and its twin island. It was a place that was covered in fog over 360 days a year.
Bud had not seen the night sky of his hometown in a long time. It was a night with a new moon, however, the stars were shining brightly.
‘…It looks like I made an amazing friend.’
Well, the friend himself was amazing, however, the friend’s group was even more amazing.
Back on the sixth day.
The people who had been sharing their concerns, walking around without knowing what to do, or slowly started to stop speaking all started to move.
Wind Island and the twin island next to it. The night sky around the two islands had been clearly visible.
It was because the fog surrounding the two islands and the ocean had disappeared.
The silver kitten had pushed away the fog around the island.
The black Dragon caused some wind to appear to help.
The black Dragon, silver kitten, and the red kitten were all observing Wind Island from the night sky.
They were looking at the island even though Wind Island was still covered in wind and nothing was visible.
‘It is fine because I am the great and mighty Raon Miru! You two don’t know about this, but this Dragon life of mine has been going on for six years! Over half of that was living in pain! This is not painful at all! Don’t stop me! I will destroy everything!’
‘I’ll still eat well, rest well, and just sleep a little less to wait! It is not hard at all compared to when my sister and I were alone!’
‘…Don’t stop us.’
The children were extremely stubborn.
Of course, even the three of them went to eat and sleep without any complaints when Ron or Beacrox told them to go.
“…It is so bright.”
Something was shining in Bud’s eyes.
Unlike the stars in the sky, the numerous white gold mana orbs surrounding the ocean and the island were extremely bright.
The Gold Dragon with a pale expression had his arms crossed and stood there while lighting up the area with his white gold mana orbs without saying anything nor even sleeping.
‘We might not be able to see anything because of the wind, but he might be able to see the light from the other side and make his way out.’
The stoic ancient Dragon clenched and unclenched his fists over and over and could not stand still.
Bud held back a sigh.
Night of the seventh day.
A corpse had not come out of Wind Island yet.
Bud would have smelled it faster than anybody else if a corpse had come out.
It had been one week.
However, Cale Henituse had still not come out of the island.
“He is still alive.”
Choi Han, Ron, and Beacrox all touched their weapons and observed the island as they heard Bud’s voice.
It had been one week.
Although he had not contacted the group outside, Cale Henituse was still alive.
He had not shot his signal flare either.
The signal flare was made so that it would go off with the slightest snap of the fingers or even if he just said the activation words. However, he had not sent this signal that he was in danger.
There was a reason that the group could not easily barge into the island.
“…The wind decreased again.”
The wind was still strong, but the amount of wind surrounding Wind Island was slowly decreasing.
Bud started to speak.
“I smell the scent of the wind attribute. An extremely strong scent at that.”
Bud looked down at his arms.
They were covered in goosebumps.
The scent that was coming out of the island along with the decreasing amount of wind.
It was similar to the scent of Bud’s wind attribute ancient power, but different at the same time.
However, that scent was slowly getting stronger.
“Cale is definitely doing something.”
The Three Restricted Areas.
The scent of wind coming off of Cale was slowly getting stronger as that area started to change.
That was why he was thinking that Cale was still fine and that they could not rashly make any moves.
He heard Ron’s voice at that moment.
“However, it will soon be two days since he ran out of food.”
His voice was dry.
His son Beacrox handed him a bottle of water. Ron wet his lips with the water.
Ron had put five days’ worth of food in Cale’s spatial pocket bag just in case. Cale would soon reach his limits no matter how much he rationed the food.
The old man looked toward the island and continued to speak.
“The young master-nim was always a troublemaker.”
His puppy young master-nim had always given him headaches.
Ron did not know what Cale was doing right now.
He also didn’t know the situation inside the island.
However, Cale was on an island covered in dead mana with no food.
“Tomorrow at noon…”
He could not let Cale stay there alone and just wait.
This was something the ancient Dragon Eruhaben emphasized the most.
Once it reaches noon tomorrow…
“At that moment-”
Someone else finished the sentence for Ron.
It was the person who had been the quietest this whole week.
Choi Han finished the sentence.
“We will destroy all of those winds.”
The Mercenary King could not help but ask.
“Is that possible?”
Bud made eye contact with Choi Han at that moment.
“It is possible. I will definitely make it possible.”
Choi Han touched his scabbard. Bud looked past Choi Han. He could see Eruhaben and the children. Those white gold orbs looked ready to destroy the wind at any moment.
Bud crossed his arms and leaned against the railing of the ship.
“We need to get past tonight first.”
Silence filled the area again.
Everybody seemed to be holding their breaths as they looked at Wind Island.
One week. Cale’s absence was creating this suffocating silence.
* * *
One week ago.
It was the moment when Cale entered Wind Island through that small gap.
Cale could see some rough terrain and a mountain that seemed to be shooting up to the sky through the whirlwinds.
That mountain was also filled with steep cliffs.
Everything here was dyed black.
Cale gathered some wind at the tip of his feet.
‘Friend, your bare hands and feet cannot touch the ground. You could get poisoned by the dead mana.’
‘And I don’t need to tell this next part, right? You can’t dig up the dirt nor rocks and eat them. You can get poisoned through your mouth as well.’
Cale had ignored the Mercenary King’s useless comments.
– Isn’t it so desolate?
He also ignored the Super Rock’s voice.
He just slowly used the Sound of the Wind as he moved forward.
‘Once you get on the island, take three steps toward the one o’clock direction.’
He thought about Bud’s explanation last night describing the path on the map as he started to walk.
‘You must not touch the wind.’
‘Friend, make sure you are looking at the map as you go. You don’t want to take the wrong step.’
Cale was slowly walking but without any hesitation, even without the map.
The wind was extremely rough. However, there was oddly a gap if he walked exactly as Bud told him to do.
It was a very small gap but enough for him to walk through.
It was as Cale subconsciously commented.
– Of course. My friend can easily find gaps like this.
Cale flinched after hearing the thief’s voice.
The thief continued in a laughing tone.
– The owner of the power belonging to the child that told you the way is my friend.
Cale thought about Mercenary King Bud Illis.
His family’s ancestor built a home next to Wind Island and left it in his will that their bloodline would work as gatekeepers of Wind Island for generations.
The wind ancient power that Bud Illis had belonged to that ancestor as well.
– He was a thief as well.
Cale was flabbergasted.
– Looks like our two powers ended up becoming friends again. How amazing.
Cale found it to be amazing as well and nodded his head before starting to walk a bit faster. He felt as if the obstacles were quickly disappearing.
‘Friend, there is a large boulder underneath the mountain at the center of the island. There should be a large slash mark on it.’
Cale let the Sound of the Wind protect his body from the wind covering the island as he quickly started to walk.
‘It should not take long to walk to the boulder underneath the mountain. You should be able to get there in about an hour with the power of the wind.’
Bud had then turned serious.
‘Once you get to the boulder, you will see a temple entrance welcoming you in. It will take about two days to go into the temple and come back out.’
Cale stopped walking after a while. He floated in the air while looking at a spot.
He could see a large boulder that was the only non-black thing on the island.
It was the boulder that Bud had talked about.
There was a deep and long slash mark on it.
Cale walked to the front of that boulder. He then put his palm on the boulder.
‘The boulder will respond to your calling once you put your palm on it as long as you have a wind attribute ancient power.’
A different vibration other than the sound of the wind suddenly appeared. Cale could see the boulder slowly getting pushed to the side.
He looked toward the black mountain.
Once the boulder moved away…
The entrance to an ancient temple with black marble pillars on both sides appeared in front of Cale.
He could not see the end because the path inside the entrance was dark.
However, it seemed to be a long pathway.
‘Friend, you don’t need to use your wind power after entering the temple. You don’t even need to worry about dead mana in there.’
Cale entered the temple entrance.
His body then twisted.
It had happened in an instant. Cale put his hand on the pillar to his side and barely managed to get his balance again.
He let out a deep breath.
Cale put his hand over his heart.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
His heart was beating wildly.
Cale looked at the marble pillar. It was black, but not because of dead mana.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
Cale could not settle his wildly beating heart. His frown started to get bigger.
It was at that moment. The thief started to speak as Cale glared at the corridor that seemed to go on forever.
– Oh, in addition…
Cale recalled Bud’s comment at the same time.
‘There should be an altar with an ancient artifact at the end of the corridor. You just need to use that.’
Cale started to speak.
“…There is an ancient artifact? Here? But why?”
Cale’s pupils started to shake. He was getting anxious.
It was the moment Cale let out a deep breath.
– This Wind Island was created because of me.
Wind Island was created because of this thief, because of the Sound of the Wind?’
Cale had expected some relationship between the thief and the island from the moment she mentioned the top’s whip.
The thief whispered quietly as Cale leaned onto the marble pillar.
– Inside there. Should I tell you the truth behind the ancient artifact located at the deepest part of this island? Should I tell you about the secret of this island as well?
The thief sounded as if she was laughing.
However, she was not laughing because she was happy. There was sorrow hidden within that laughter.
– That ancient artifact was created by sacrificing thousands of lives.
‘Sacrifice? They sacrificed people?’
This made Cale think about what the thief had said when he first met her.
– Why is it a sin to steal the thing they created by sacrificing people? I was going to give it back to the people! Trash bastards! Why did those bastards have to have power?!
The thief was known to have been captured and killed after stealing a divine item. However, what she had stolen was not a divine item, but just an item belonging to a temple.
Her calm voice continued in Cale’s mind.
– And I returned that ancient artifact to its proper spot.
Cale lifted his head up.
He could see the black ceiling.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
His heart was running wild.
The Fire of Destruction was running wild.
The proper spot for the ancient artifact.
– That spot was naturally the place that had traces of the people who were wrongfully killed.
Cale opened his mouth to speak.
However, nothing came out. The thief continued to speak as if she understood how Cale was feeling.
– You can probably tell this island’s secret, right? You can feel it, can’t you? This black mountain. This mountain that is hidden by the wind…
‘Even the Fire of Destruction is running wild…’
The thief continued on.
– You can feel the dead mana that is filling up this mountain, right?
The thief sounded full of sorrows.
– In the past, no, during ancient times, this place was a dead mana storage facility.
Cale closed his eyes.
It didn’t matter whether his eyes were open or closed as it was completely dark.
– I left my top’s whip here and asked my friends for a favor.
The thief sounded as if she was about to cry.
– I asked them to protect and defend this place that had traces of my family, my friends, and my neighbors.
The thief had asked this favor to her friends who had been her eyes and her feet.
Please protect this place.
In addition, please make it so nobody could approach this place.
Please make it so that they could not tell the true identity of this island.
The thief held herself back from sobbing as she continued to speak.
– I could help them run from the dead mana, but I could not destroy the dead mana.
Cale then heard the voice of the cheapskate of the Fire of Destruction.
– If I was alive at that time…
He sounded extremely frustrated.
The Fire of Destruction was capable of purifying dead mana.
Cale learned at this moment that the cheapskate had died earlier than the thief.
– I was caught after leaving the top’s whip here and running away. And then time flowed by and I met you.
Normally, the thief would not have been caught.
However, she had used over half of her strength to create this Wind Island, making it difficult for her to escape. She was then tied to a boulder and thrown deep into the ocean.
Cale opened his eyes.
He could see the black ceiling of the temple entrance.
– Isn’t it terrible? Isn’t the secret of this island just terrible?
Wind Island of the Three Restricted Areas.
Cale waited a long time as the thief laughed before finally managing to say something.
“Who the hell was it?”
He had been wondering about this for a long time.
Now that he had chosen to take the difficult path, now that he chose to keep the voices of the ancient powers with him, he needed to know their stories.
“Who was it that you all needed to fight and defeat?”
The voice of the only person alive on this black island was carried away with the wind.