“I’m the only one who knows that my mother possessed an ancient power.”
Kim Rok Soo chuckled.
“Maybe it was because I was young, but I really liked how my mother said that it was a secret just between the two of us.”
Cale opened his mouth to untangle the mess inside his head.
“Which ancient power did she have?”
Kim Rok Soo thought about it for a moment before standing up. He moved away from the bed Cale was leaning on and slowly walked around the bedroom.
“My mother possessed a wood attribute ancient power.”
Cale thought about the wood attribute ancient power in the Henituse territory.
‘The Indestructible Shield.’
It was the first ancient power Cale got that surrounds his heart now and was used quite frequently by him.
It was the power that was sleeping underneath the black tree that grew where the glutton priestess had died.
The black tree had turned white and transferred the power to Cale when he woke it up.
“Ah, it’s not the Indestructible Shield.”
Kim Rok Soo seemed to have noticed Cale’s thoughts as he instantly said it was not that power. He then smiled after noticing Cale’s gaze.
“I read The Birth of a Hero and it mentioned the Indestructible Shield. I knew you would have gotten that power for yourself. Am I right?”
“Yes, I took it.”
“Awesome. I had a feeling you would do that.”
Kim Rok Soo shrugged his shoulders.
He then stood in front of the window with the closed curtains. He was standing in front of a large window that usually allowed the sunlight to reach all the way to Cale’s bed.
“Cale, do you know about the annual rings of a tree?”
“The rings you see when you chop down a tree?”
Cale didn’t ask why Kim Rok Soo was suddenly asking about annual rings.
Kim Rok Soo touched the curtain as he continued to speak.
“Looking at the annual rings of a tree lets you know the approximate age of it. Each circle represents one year. Annual rings look different based on where the tree is growing, the nearby environment, and weather.”
A wood attribute ancient power.
“My mother said that she could see the annual rings of all living things.”
Cale said those words once out loud. His expression then turned odd. Kim Rok Soo then added on.
“She said that she could see the entire annual rings of a person from birth to death.”
Cale Henituse’s mother had a wood attribute ancient power.
That power allowed her to see a living being’s birth to its death.
“But you see…”
Kim Rok Soo turned to look at Cale.
“My mother sat me down and told me something at one point.”
He recalled a memory from when he was very young. It was a conversation that he somehow could not forget, despite how long it has been.
“My dear Cale. Sometimes, there are people whose annual rings are warped. In that case, it is highly likely that that person has a peculiar experience with time.”
Kim Rok Soo recalled how his mother had caressed his red hair and how his little fingers had played with her just-as-red hair as he said that out loud.
“Cale, you are a child who will have a peculiar experience with time.”
Cale brushed his face with both hands. Kim Rok Soo just continued to speak in a calm voice.
“My mother said that after looking at my entire annual rings. But I couldn’t understand what she meant at that time. I only understood it when I turned forty years old.”
He had received an offer from the God of Death as he was about to die at the age of forty.
“But you see, Cale Henituse…”
Kim Rok Soo’s voice sunk low.
“I’m sure you’ve seen this power before. Doesn’t it remind you of someone you know?”
Cale kept his mouth shut and closed his eyes.
Kim Rok Soo whispered while looking at him.
“You should have a record of experiencing a power similar to my mother’s.”
Cale had started to recall information in his mind related to wood attribute ancient powers since Kim Rok Soo first mentioned it.
He was recalling information from the book, < The Birth of a Hero >…
Then he recalled the records of the strong individuals with wood attribute ancient power in the Mercenaries Guild’s Directory…
Finally, he recalled memories of any person who used wood attribute ancient powers.
Cale slowly opened his mouth.
“I have indeed seen a similar power once, as you mentioned.”
Before Cale got the ancient White Star’s earth attribute ancient power…
He had led the White Star and Bear King Sayeru to one of the Forbidden Regions, the desert with the Dark Elves’ Underground City.
Cale had released fake information about how the ancient White Star’s earth attribute ancient power was in the other abandoned Underground City in the desert.
The White Star ran into Cale in that abandoned Underground City and took quite a lot of damage.
“The White Star-”
Cale recalled something the White Star did in that memory.
“The White Star touched a dead tree.”
Smoke had come out of the White Star’s hand as he caressed a dead tree in the Underground City.
“That bastard knew from a single touch when that tree had died.”
He knew that, although the tree looked very dry; it had only died in the past week. He had figured it out almost instantly.
“The White Star frequently said that Choi Han and my time is warped.”
The things the White Star had said to Cale in the past brushed through his mind.
‘Time is warped for that swordsman.’
‘Both Choi Han and you have your time warped, like I do.’
‘But even though I can tell that your time is warped, I couldn’t tell how it was warped.’
‘Possession? Who are you that is inside Cale Henituse’s body? From body to body… You moved around while preparing. You’ve been preparing for a very long time. You continued to live while jumping from body to body like that.’
Of course, the White Star incorrectly assumed that Cale was someone like him who possessed different bodies for a very long time. But at least the White Star seemed extremely certain that Choi Han, Cale, and his time were warped.
“I suspected that the White Star’s wood attribute ancient power might be related to time or that he had a different time attribute ancient power.”
He had brushed aside the fact that the White Star observed the tree with some kind of smoke.
“…I didn’t expect it to be annual rings.”
Cale stopped there and did not say anything else.
What he would have said next was…
‘Does that mean that the White Star has Cale Henituse’s mother’s power?’
‘Was the White Star responsible for the carriage accident and mother’s death?’
He could not say those things out loud.
Cale frowned and kept his mouth shut.
“Oh, don’t get the wrong idea.”
Cale looked toward Kim Rok Soo after hearing his voice. There was a faint smile on Kim Rok Soo’s face.
“The White Star was not responsible for mother’s death.”
Cale quietly gasped.
Hearing Cale’s sigh of relief helped Kim Rok Soo understand who taught those company employees who worked so hard to take care of him when he first arrived in Kim Rok Soo’s body and could not adjust properly.
‘It’s because he’s like this that I can tell him everything.’
Kim Rok Soo started to speak again.
He didn’t know when he would get a moment to talk with Cale like this ever again.
“Have you ever thought about what the future would have looked like in The Birth of a Hero?”
Cale could not answer that question so easily now.
Cale had experienced too many difficult things in the past 2+ years to just answer that Choi Han would have taken care of everything.
“When I was forty…”
Kim Rok Soo continued to speak.
“The Roan Kingdom was razed to the ground. The Henituse County was ruined as well. I was the only one left alive in our family.”
Cale gasped in shock.
Just hearing about it made it hard to breathe.
It made him recall the test he had to go through on Wind Island to get the golden top’s whip.
It was a future Cale never wanted to see. Kim Rok Soo was talking about that future.
“After taking over the Eastern continent, the White Star’s first target on the Western continent was the Roan Kingdom. More specifically, it was Puzzle City. He started from Puzzle City, then went to the northeast region, and then the southeast region. I don’t know why he started with Puzzle City as his first target.”
Kim Rok Soo didn’t know, but Cale knew.
‘It was probably so that he could do the summoning ritual for the sealed god in Puzzle City.’
He could predict what the White Star would have been thinking about.
“King Zed Crossman died in the battle against the White Star, while crown prince Alberu Crossman fought many battles against the White Star to recover the Roan Kingdom’s eastern areas. Choi Han, Rosalyn, and Lock helped Alberu with that.”
Cale started to speak.
“That war took close to twenty years?”
“Yes. It continued until I turned forty. The Roan Kingdom protected the palace and its western territories and continued to fight against the White Star while he invaded and conquered the Whipper Kingdom, Breck Kingdom, and other areas. We were extremely persistent. We truly looked like a kingdom that had survived through many things for a very long time.”
A war that would continue for about twenty years…
Cale clenched his fists thinking about how ruined both the Eastern and Western continents would have been.
The story that happened after volume 5 of The Birth of a Hero was one that Cale didn’t want to happen.
The smile was gone on Kim Rok Soo’s face and was replaced by fatigue from the long period of war.
“The Roan Kingdom continued to recruit people as we needed soldiers to fight against the White Star and his subordinates. I signed up for it.”
Kim Rok Soo looked down at his arm.
He had been happy to see all the scars on this body when he first woke up in it.
The owner of this body must have suffered a lot too. He has scars all over his body as I did.
Such thoughts helped him start to like this body.
“I needed to get revenge. I needed to get revenge on the White Star who destroyed our territory and my family. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to kill that bastard, but I thought I could only die in peace if I could even leave a damn scratch on him.”
Kim Rok Soo was looking up into the air.
“And I finally got the chance.”
The corners of his lips slightly went up.
“The strong individuals throughout the Eastern and Western continents gathered together with Choi Han at the center. Crown prince Alberu rallied together the survivors from the kingdoms that fell while opposing the White Star and the kingdoms that were still fighting against him as well.”
Kim Rok Soo’s heart still beat wildly when thinking about that time.
“We headed for Puzzle City after hearing that the White Star was preparing for something in Puzzle City.”
That was the start of the Great Battle.
“It was such an intense battle. So many people died. I was lucky to last quite a while in it, but it was only because I was trapped underneath ally corpses.”
Kim Rok Soo’s eyes were full of an odd fiery passion.
“It was then! That’s when I saw it.”
His gaze turned toward Cale.
“The White Star grabbed Choi Han’s arm with his hand that was releasing smoke. He then said the following.”
Kim Rok Soo’s heart was beating wildly.
He recalled the things he heard the White Star saying as he laid there being crushed underneath ally corpses.
“Time is warped oddly for you.”
He had realized it at that moment.
“That bastard has my mother’s power.”
Kim Rok Soo had then made eye contact with the White Star, who was wearing a mask that covered everything above his nose.
“The White Star found me and shot a fire toward me. That was how I ended up in danger of dying.”
“…Is that when you made the deal with the God of Death?”
Kim Rok Soo stopped there and took a breath. His hand that was holding the curtain was already full of sweat.
“I learned about how my mother died while making that deal with the God of Death.”
The conditions the God of Death offered the real Cale Henituse was that as soon as he returned to the moment he met Choi Han, the starting point that could change the fate of our world, he would go into the body of a person named Kim Rok Soo in a different world.
“It was because my condition was to learn the truth about my mother’s death as well as saving my territory and family.”
Kim Rok Soo recalled his conversation with the God of Death.
‘If you go into the body of the person you are about to possess, that will be enough to change the fate of this world. That is all I can tell you.’
He did not share this part with Cale Henituse.
Instead, he told him the truth about his mother’s death.
“My mother had gone to Harris Village to secretly hide a portion of her ancient power.”
Cale couldn’t help but ask.
“You can transfer an ancient power while you are alive?”
Ancient powers were supposed to remain in the place where the user died.
“Yeah. It’s possible.”
Kim Rok Soo had a sad smile on his face.
“As long as that person is willing to break their plate.”
Every person had a ‘plate.’
Ancient powers were stored in this plate as well. Cale’s plate was large, but quite weak.
Cale Henituse’s mother had broken her own plate to secretly bury a portion of her ancient power in Harris Village.
Cale barely managed to say something.
“…If a person’s plate breaks-”
Kim Rok Soo calmly answered, but Cale could see the understanding and sorrow in his eyes. But neither of those emotions could subdue the resentment clearly visible in Kim Rok Soo’s eyes.
These were probably the feelings Kim Rok Soo had for his mother.
He noticed Cale’s gaze and buried those emotions before starting to speak about something else.
“The first thing I did when I woke up in your room was reading The Birth of a Hero. This is a hypothesis I came up with while reading it.”
Kim Rok Soo was making it clear that it was his thoughts and may not be true.
“You know how everybody dies in Harris Village, which leads to Choi Han heading out? The White Star would have needed to go to Harris Village at least once to get my mother’s power.”
Cale had been thinking about that as well. Kim Rok Soo shared his suspicions.
“Isn’t it possible that the White Star got my mother’s power from Harris Village while Choi Han was out? Then he left his subordinates to take care of the rest.”
‘Arm’ delivers the dead mana from the black swamp inside the Forest of Darkness to the mermaids in The Birth of a Hero.
The mermaids use that dead mana in their war against the Whale tribe, leading Choi Han to help the Whales fight.
A lot of different pieces of information popped up and then sank back down in Cale’s mind. Kim Rok Soo noticed Cale’s face stiffening with thought and quickly added on.
“I might be wrong. My suspicions might be completely wrong.”
Cale nodded his head and quietly sighed.
Kim Rok Soo let go of the curtain and walked over to Cale.
“Anyway, what I will tell you now is the important part. What is the White Star doing right now?”
Cale answered without any hesitation.
“He’s aiming for Puzzle City.”
Kim Rok Soo’s face stiffened up as he commented.
“I guess there is a reason the God of Death let the two of us meet.”
Cale noticed the reason as well. He got up from the bed and stood in front of Kim Rok Soo. The two of them looked at each other and Cale asked a question.
“That wood attribute ancient power… Where is the rest of it?”
He said that Cale Henituse’s mother had buried a portion of the power in Harris Village.
That meant that the rest was still elsewhere.
Kim Rok Soo quietly whispered.
“It was weird that the White Star killed me. Do you know why?”
He recalled the moment he potentially died and realized something.
“That bastard knew that time was warped for Choi Han, but didn’t know that it was warped for me. What could that mean?”
Cale calmly answered.
“That means he can only see the past. Time wasn’t warped for you at that time.”
For the forty years old Cale Henituse…
His time had not been warped just yet. His time only became warped when he made a deal with the God of Death after that.
“That’s right. But my mother’s power even saw my ‘future’ where time would get warped for me.”
It was at that moment.
The curtains started to move on their own.
The curtains moved away from the large window and they could see outside.
Kim Rok Soo started speaking after looking outside the curtains.
“Hey. What the hell did you use my body to do?”
They could see the inside of the Puzzle City City Hall office through the window.
The whole room was full of beige mana. Cale’s body was full of cracks as he lay on the bed and Mila was about half-way done with putting him back together.
Kim Rok Soo stared at Cale in shock, and Cale just avoided his gaze.
Kim Rok Soo shook his head from side to side.
The window slowly started to open at that moment.
A gust of wind blew in from the outside toward Cale and Kim Rok Soo.
“I guess it is about time to say goodbye.”
“I guess so.”
Kim Rok Soo offered Cale his hand.
“Cale, go to mother’s grave.”
Cale shook his hand. They could both feel each other’s body heat that proved that they were both alive.
Kim Rok Soo continued to speak with a serious expression on his face.
“There should be an item with half of the power near the tomb.”
Just like the Sound of the Wind’s top…
Just like the pebble for the Scary Giant Cobblestone…
Some sort of item would be there waiting for someone to come find it.
The man who decided to live as Cale and not Kim Rok Soo from now on answered the man who would continue living as Kim Rok Soo from here on.
Kim Rok Soo smiled and responded.
“It looks like you will need to struggle a little longer, but anyway, live well. Please take care of my family.”
“Please take care of my team members.”
Both men let go of each other’s hand with a small amount of sorrow visible in their eyes.
Cale headed toward the window. Kim Rok Soo headed for the bedroom door.
“I guess I go out through the door and you go out through the window?”
“I guess so. It’d be nice to chat more, but I’m kind of busy.”
“Me too. Why the hell do I need to work the night shift so often? Haaaaa. I need to become the CEO of your company and get rid of the night shift.”
Kim Rok Soo turned the doorknob. Cale felt a bit nostalgic looking at his office through the door. But he turned away.
He pulled open the window.
A gentle breeze rushed past his face.
He stepped on the window ledge and said goodbye to the other him behind him.
“Stay safe, Kim Rok Soo.”
“You too. Stay safe.”
Cale jumped out the window while Kim Rok Soo opened the door all the way.
The two of them headed out into their respective worlds.
* * *
Cale subconsciously started to groan.
“Auntie! Our human seems to have woken up!”
“No! I’m not done putting him together yet! Raon, honey, knock him back out!”
“Hmm? Auntie, I don’t think that’s right!”
“Mm. I guess that’s a bit too much, huh?”
Mila, who had told Raon to knock Cale out, gently addressed Cale, whose eyelids were fluttering.
“Teacher, are you awake? You can open your eyes.”
This was the thought on Cale’s mind as soon as he came back to this world.
‘…These scary Dragons.’
He slowly opened his eyes.
And at that moment…
“Huff, huff. Young master-nim!”
Lock rushed into the office while holding the cintamani that was somewhat wrapped in cloth.
Daaaaaaaaaaaang. Author is throwing everything at us now!
What will happen next?
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