Cale immediately asked the Black Dragon.
“How can you feel the scent of dead mana?”
Mana. That symbolized a power that existed in nature.
In some senses, it was similar to an ancient power that was created in a specific location. However, the two were very different.
The difference was between whether or not it could be left behind.
Mana disappeared as soon as the person who controlled that mana died, while ancient powers could be left behind.
The Black Dragon easily answered.
“I think it is because of the swamp. The swamp is dominating the mana and preventing it from dissipating.”
Cale’s expression turned odd but the Black Dragon kept silent. The Whale siblings, as well as On and Hong, approached Cale and the Black Dragon.
The Black Dragon started to speak into Cale’s mind.
– I am very perceptive.
Cale made eye contact with the Black Dragon.
– I feel a power similar to your shield and wind inside the swamp.
Cale inadvertently let out a gasp-like laughter. The mask-less Black Dragon started to smile. Cale also started to lightly smile as well.
There was an ancient power inside the swamp and it had a good chance of being related to the keyword, ‘dominate.’
‘This is a first.’
This was Cale’s first time finding an ancient power that was not discussed in the novel. Of course, he had no idea whether this was an ancient power left behind by someone or one that was naturally developed in this location.
“You are very smart.”
“Correct. I am smart.”
The rest of the group became even more curious after seeing the Black Dragon and Cale smirking mischievously.
“Young master Cale, can you tell me what is going on? What do you mean by the scent of a dragon’s mana?”
Cale turned around to look at Witira. She was asking Cale, but seemed to have at least a decent idea of what was going on.
“I’m sure you already have an idea, but there is a good chance that there is a dragon corpse inside the swamp.”
“Yes. But it is most likely very old and probably mummified.”
Cale only knew about the Forest of Darkness based on Choi Han’s experience as described in the novel. However, there was a number of very important information told by the novel.
< The lifeforms in the Forest of Darkness have had to always fight for survival because there has never been any single dominant ruler. >
It was probably correct to say that there were no dragons in the Forest of Darkness while Choi Han was there. Furthermore, people in the novel never mentioned a Dragon’s Lair or a dragon in the Forest of Darkness.
‘It must mean that it is a very old corpse.’
Cale lowered his head to see Hong point to the swamp with a bitter expression.
“I guess I can’t eat the swamp water?”
Hong seemed to have lost his appetite after hearing dragon corpse. Cale could see that Hong was heading over to the Black Dragon to apologize without waiting to hear his answer.
“Sorry. I thought it would be delicious.”
“I do not care.”
The Black Dragon responded back with a curious expression.
“The thing inside the swamp and I are different. We are not related.”
Dragons really didn’t seem to care about their, ‘tribe.’ They all just considered themselves to be individuals unique from anything and everything else in the world. Cale looked at the completely unperturbed Black Dragon before he started to speak.
“I thought that the mermaids would have gotten stronger from the poison in the swamp. Their specialties are poison after all.”
The Whale siblings Paseton and Witira looked toward him.
“However, now I am thinking that it is probably the dead mana in the swamp and not the poison increasing their power. Either that, or it is from both the poison and the dead mana.”
Cale looked at the siblings.
‘If it is poison, they would just need to take a sample to find an antidote. However, this is a whole different ball game if it is from the dragon’s dead mana.’
Cale could see Witira frowning while Paseton was looking at the black swamp and the nearby area. A depressed comment came out of his mouth.
“…It’s too wide.”
Witira spoke up as well.
“I am not sure about what we should do.”
They were able to narrow down the cause of the mermaids’ source of strength, but they could not figure out a way to deal with it. It would be one thing if it was poison, but the other issue was too complicated to solve quickly.
“It’s not like we could prevent anyone from coming into the Forest of Darkness or stay here protecting this black swamp at all times.”
Witira looked out toward the swamp once more. A dragon’s corpse? That was an unexpected problem. The fact that this swamp was large enough to completely submerge an adult dragon made things even more difficult.
A normal dragon grows in size a total of three times. An adult dragon that completed all three stages of growth was humongous. They were at least 5 meters larger than a Humpback Whale like herself.
At that moment, he could hear Cale’s voice once again.
His voice was peaceful. Witira turned her head. Cale had walked up to the edge of the swamp while smiling.
“First, take as much of the swamp water as you need.”
Cale turned away from the swamp and looked toward Witira.
“And then we make another deal.”
Cale’s smile became bigger after watching the confusion spread on Witira’s face.
‘I didn’t plan on doing this, but…’
Originally, he was just going to figure out what caused the mermaids to get stronger before getting out of here. However, the situation was different now.
‘A pool of dead mana is dangerous.’
The mermaids were probably able to absorb the dead mana because they were dark creatures. However, it was just a dangerous poison to natural creatures like the Whales or humans.
There was no reason to keep something around that was helpful to the enemy while dangerous to himself.
There was also a new benefit in front of his eyes.
Even if it was a mummified corpse, the dragon’s bones were still present. ( (PR: I just got Skyrim flashbacks. The horror.) )
Furthermore, there was also the ancient power.
“Yes. We will make another deal.”
“What does that have to do with dealing with this situation?”
Witira subconsciously caressed her whip again. An unexpected sense of anticipation filled her heart, and Cale fulfilled that anticipation completely.
“I will take care of it for you.”
Witira could see the excitement in Cale’s eyes. She had never seen such a look in Cale’s eyes before.
Cale pointed to the swamp and gave a short answer.
“I’ll just destroy it.”
Witira looked at the black swamp. The very large black swamp. What did he say he was going to do to this? She was staring blankly at the swamp when Cale started to speak again.
“No need to overthink it.”
She looked back at Cale. He still had a smile on his face and seemed to be very excited.
“I will get rid of it for you, so make a deal with me.”
Cale was thinking about what he was about to do.
This was the Forest of Darkness, somewhere where nothing would seem weird. It was a place where he could claim anything that happened to be an accident and feign ignorance.
“Young master Cale.”
It was a deal that Witira could not reject.
“Let’s make a deal.”
Cale and Witira decided to make a second deal.
“But there isn’t anything I need right now.”
“Please let me know whenever a condition you like shows up. I will accept it as long as it is something reasonable for both parties. This is a promise I, WItira, makes with my name on the line, so you do not need to worry.”
Cale casually nodded his head at her words. It was fine if she did not do anything for him. The Dragon’s bones and ancient powers were enough of a reason to give it a try.
“By the way, anything coming out of the swamp belongs to me.”
Witira was disappointed about the dragon’s bones, but decided not to be greedy. The Whale tribe was able to rule because they were strong on both land and sea.
However, water was also their weakness. Underwater, inside of the swamp. If the swamp water and mud was poisonous, it would be a difficult environment for the Whales to survive.
Cale decided to proceed right away after hearing Witira’s response. He stood at the border of the swamp and waved toward the rest of the group.
The rest of the group became confused. However, Cale just sternly said it once more for these chumps that won’t listen to him when he wanted to get to work right away.
“Go back into the forest and stay there. Don’t come out until I tell you to come out.”
Cale opened up the magic bag and continued to speak.
“You could get poisoned or hurt if you don’t listen.”
Paseton, who had been listening quietly, started to speak.
“Young master-nim, will you do it on your own?”
“He is not alone.”
The Black Dragon responded for Cale. Paseton turned toward the sound of the voice and then flinched. He could see the clear vibrations of mana around the Black Dragon. They were like waves floating around the Black Dragon, who had found the perfect opportunity to show off his strength.
“The two of us will take care of it, so go wait over there.”
“Young master Cale, I really can’t tell what your limits are.”
Cale just let Witira’s comment go in one ear and out the other ear, as he patted On and Hong on the head. Hong’s ears and tails were down.
“You two stay there as well. On, take good care of Hong. Hong, I’ll bring you some of the swamp poison, so just wait for me.”
Hong nodded his head at Cale before approaching the Black Dragon.
“Be careful. Don’t get hurt.”
The Black Dragon nodded his head at Hong and stood still while Hong patted him with his front paws. Cale thought that the kids were playing well with each other and took an empty bottle out of the magic bag and threw it toward Paseton.
“Put the swamp water into the bottle. It is a magic bottle, so it won’t break.”
“…How did you even prepare for this?”
Paseton looked toward Cale with admiration, but Cale did not care. Instead, he continued to ruffle through the magic bag that looked small on the outside but was very spacious on the inside.
“Young master-nim, I filled the bottle.”
“Then go wait over there.”
Cale told Paseton, who had filled the large bottle with mud and water from the swamp, and the rest of the group to move along. Witira hesitated for a moment, but moved back toward the forest at the kittens’ urgings.
The Black Dragon verified that everyone was safely far away before approaching Cale.
“What do you plan to -.”
The Black Dragon stopped talking after seeing what Cale took out of the magic bag. He then continued speaking after seeing Cale gently smiling at him.
“Human, you look a bit smart right now.”
There were two magic bombs in Cale’s hands.
These were different from the bombs with the multiple explosions he used in the Ubarr coast. These were the stronger and more destructive bombs used in the novel when the Ubarr mages launched their final attack.
Two of those bombs were in Cale’s hands right now.
“I was debating where to use these, but I guess an opportunity has shown up.”
Cale handed the two magic bombs to the Black Dragon.
“Can I really do that?”
Cale shortly answered the Black Dragon, who had caused a very visible fluctuation of mana to show how much he wanted to use his full strength.
“Don’t ask something so obvious. Naturally, make sure I don’t get hurt.”
The Black Dragon started to smile.
A gust of wind started to run amuk with the Black Dragon at the center. Natural power. The mana was triggering the air in the vicinity.
Cale quickly summoned the Indestructible Shield after feeling like he was going to be pushed back.
At the same time, he could see layers of shields being created around him.
One layer, two layers, three layers.
It was a total of three layers.
“I need at least this much to make sure you don’t get hurt.”
The confidently speaking Black Dragon’s eyes were sparkling. Dragons really had completely different personalities compared to Whales. Rather than loving peace, dragons prefered to rule with fear and destruction. They were selfish and violent beings.
Cale pointed toward the black swamp once the Black Dragon had finished preparations for the bombs and looked toward him.