– What’s wrong?
The World Tree nonchalantly asked again.
– What seems to be the problem? Well, I do understand the fear of stabbing your heart.
As the World Tree said that…
– Did this old hag go crazy?
– She’s definitely lost it.
The Fire of Destruction and the Sound of the Wind raised their voices in anger. The Fire of Destruction was extremely angry.
– It’s not like it’s for giving me all of the money in the entire world! Why the hell would you stab our kid in the heart to kill a trashy son of a bitch like the White Star?! Is this stupid tree looking down at the human heart because it has no heart as a tree? Huh?! I should just light it on fire and burn it down!
One of the World Tree’s branches suddenly shivered.
– That’s odd. I suddenly got the chills. It was just like when I saw that crazy bastard… ahem.
The World Tree was recalling a memory from the past before focusing again and continuing to speak in a serious tone.
– I gave you the best possible solution I have after hearing what you said. That is why I will ask this question. Which part of this solution do you see as a problem?
Cale immediately had a thought.
‘It wants to know what the problem is?’
The World Tree was saying that, although it would hurt, Cale would not die and that it would actually be beneficial to Cale’s body.
The World Tree would not lie about something like that. It must be true.
Furthermore, a root dagger that was a part of the World Tree’s foundation would be of great assistance in defeating the White Star.
‘The World Tree… has also made a sacrifice in its own way.’
This root was different from the branches or parts of the trunk that would fall off each time it chatted with Cale.
The World Tree had said that this was a portion of its foundation. Letting him have this was probably quite burdensome on the World Tree as well.
The sounds of the leaves rustling from the trees around them, as if they were protesting the World Tree’s decision, made it very clear.
‘…Stab a sword into my heart?’
If he won’t die…
If this was the final button required to take care of everything…
‘It’s worth trying once.’
His ‘instant’ ability gave him injuries all over his body that spurted blood.
Why would he be scared of anything when he managed to overcome that terrible pain?
In that case, what was Cale worried about right now?
– Yes, tell me. Tell me your concern.
“My friends will see me stab my heart, right?”
The World Tree was silent for a moment.
It then gasped.
– Those friends around you…
The World Tree thought about Eruhaben, the black Dragon, and everybody else, including Choi Han who had once viciously stared at it.
When it had told Cale about the God of Death last time… The World Tree had just told Cale to be wary of the God of Death and not to trust him, but, as an existence that could see almost everything, it had been able to read the vicious intent rising from the black Dragon and the black-haired human. Cale did not know about that because he had had his eyes shut.
– …Good luck.
That was the only thing the World Tree could say to him.
Cale let out a short sigh and nodded his head.
I will accept your dagger for now, World Tree-nim.”
The ancient powers all sighed or groaned, but they could not oppose Cale’s decision.
The World Tree had given Cale its greatest power, and Cale had no choice but to accept it.
– Okay. I know you are busy so go on.
“Yes, ma’am, I will see you nex, ah-.”
Cale was saying goodbye when he realized something and asked.
“There is something I am curious about.”
– What is it?
Cale had asked a question he had had once he learned about the single-lifers and the other concepts.
“Was the God of Death a tribulator as well?”
It was at that moment.
The ground underneath Cale and the entire Elf Village surrounding the World Tree shook as if they had received a great shock.
He soon heard the World Tree’s voice.
– …That… is not something I can answer.
Cale felt iffy after hearing its oddly hesitant response.
“I guess your answer is something that won’t do me any good, even if I knew.”
– Who knows?
Cale felt even iffier after hearing the World Tree’s next response. That was why he made up his mind.
‘It’s probably better for me not to know.’
It was none of his business whether the God of Death was a tribulator or not. Cale firmly made up his mind.
“Then I will be on my way now.”
– Okay. Take the dagger with you.
Cale heard something that sounded like glass breaking as he opened his eyes. The tip of the black and white root started to separate and turn into the shape of a dagger’s blade.
Cale reached his hands out toward the tip of the root that was falling off.
The root dagger fell into his hands. Cale pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and wrapped the dagger before putting it away.
He then thought about the order of things he needed to do now.
“I guess I can go back after chatting with Count Hubesha.”
* * *
“…That was fast.”
Count Hubesha had a bitter smile on her face as she looked toward Cale, who was walking in between the whirlwind on top of the lake at a distance.
“Was your name Ron Molan?”
She addressed the man who had been quietly observing her since earlier.
“There’s no need for you to know.”
Count Hubesha chuckled after hearing Ron’s extremely cold response.
“I don’t need to know even though you are looking at me extremely viciously, as if you would kill me at any moment?”
His gaze was saying that he would kill Hubesha if she made any odd moves. Ron had been glaring at her with the uniquely cold gaze of an assassin.
Hubesha chuckled before flinching after hearing the benign voice respond.
“Yes. I do want to kill you. I am that kind of person.”
She looked at Ron for the first time. Over half of the man’s hair was white with age, and his eyes were as cold as snow. However, there was a smooth smile on his face and his voice sounded gentle.
“That is why I hope that you make a wise choice.”
Ron then headed toward his young master, who was headed over.
“Young master-nim, did everything go well?”
“Well, sort of, I guess.”
Ron noticed Cale flinch ever so slightly before he responded.
‘He’s hiding something.’
He had no idea what Cale discussed with the World Tree. However, Ron had a bad feeling after seeing Cale’s somewhat awkward demeanor.
‘I need to pay close attention to him.’
He had no way of finding out about Cale’s discussion with the World Tree. That was why he needed to remain closely by Cale’s side to prevent him from sacrificing himself.
Ron’s gaze sunk lower as he observed Cale’s every movement.
‘…What is up with this old man?’
Cale flinched after seeing Ron, who was suddenly looking at him with a vicious gaze.
It reminded him of how scary Ron had been as he pretended to be a benign old man and handed over a cup of lemonade when Cale first arrived in this world. He had not thought about that for a while.
‘Just ignore it.’
Cale’s experiences until now told him to just ignore Ron.
He looked toward Count Hubesha instead.
Count Hubesha flinched once more.
Cale’s expression was stiffer than before, and his gaze was extremely serious. Count Hubesha felt an unexplainable pressure as Cale stared at her with a gaze that seemed to pierce right through her.
Of course, Cale was only stiff because of Ron’s vicious expression and remembering the past. He was only looking at Count Hubesha to avoid looking at Ron.
‘I guess I have to make a choice.’
Count Hubesha, who had no idea about this, felt that she did not have much time left.
‘Okay. I’ve made up my mind.’
Her mouth slowly opened.
“The White Star managed to get his hands on an earth-attribute ancient power.”
“…I guess you heard some things from Duke Fredo.”
Cale did indeed hear from Duke Fredo, who had shown up at the Henituse territory in a terrible state, that the White Star might have gone to get an earth-attribute ancient power.
‘The White Star does not have an Earth-attribute ancient power. His plate is currently unbalanced. No matter how sturdy the White Star’s plate is, his body being unbalanced will restrict him from using his full powers.’
‘He probably left to fix his issue before the summoning.’
‘Yes. He seemed to be on his way to look for an Earth-attribute ancient power or something that could make up for it. Well, that is just my guess. The White Star could have left for something else as well.’
Duke Fredo said it was a guess, but he had been pretty confident.
It was the same for Cale as well. That was why he had always considered the fact that the White Star might now have an earth-attribute ancient power.
However, between the Super Rock and the ancient White Star… They only knew about two earth-attribute ancient powers.
‘An earth-attribute ancient power I don’t know about probably exists somewhere, similar to how nobody knew about Drew Thames’s ancient power.’
It was almost to be expected.
He heard Hubesha’s voice again.
“Cale Henituse, as you know, the White Star’s plate has achieved balance after earning the earth-attribute ancient power. He is finally able to use his full strength.”
“I’ve already considered that fact.”
“Yes, I’m sure you have.”
Her eyes clouded over for a moment.
“But what if that bastard is in your front yard?”
‘Hmm? The White Star is in my front yard?’
Cale wondered if he had heard correctly.
“…What do you mean by that?”
Count Hubesha’s mouth dried up after seeing Cale’s gaze.
His gaze had so much cold anger inside them that Ron’s ‘vicious’ gaze looked like child’s play. However, she looked back at those eyes as if she was not affected.
She asked another question instead of answering Cale’s question.
“The earth attribute ancient power the White Star had been aiming for until now was the ancient White Star’s ancient power. But now that he was unable to gain that strong and destructive power… What kind of earth-attribute ancient power do you think the White Star would desire?”
The corners of Cale’s lips curled up after hearing her question. His mouth slowly opened.
“I don’t have time.”
Cale continued in a low voice.
“I don’t have time to stand here and listen to you.”
Hubesha gulped because although Cale’s voice sounded calm, she could feel the threat hidden underneath it. She then continued to speak.
“If he can’t have the strongest… He would find the stealthiest power.”
Cale and Hubesha made eye contact.
“The White Star chose to gain a power that would allow him to kill his enemies without anybody knowing, now that he couldn’t get the strongest power to completely massacre his enemies.”
Cale let out a sigh-like gasp.
He scratched his cheek as he calmly asked.
“So you are saying that the earth-attribute ancient power the White Star gained is related to ‘assassination’ or ‘stealth’?”
Hubesha sternly shook her head.
“It is not something like assassination or stealth. It is probably better described as ‘disguise.’”
“This is what the White Star said.”
Hubesha recalled what the White Star told her after getting the earth attribute ancient power.
“This earth attribute ancient power was extremely difficult to get. It was very well hidden. It would have been quite troublesome if I didn’t have the clue.”
Cale was curious as to how the White Star got a clue. However, he pushed his curiosity aside and paid attention to Hubesha’s voice.
“The ground we stand on could have been a boulder, sand, or dirt in the past. Its appearance always changes to match its surroundings through the flow of time. I really liked that aspect.”
“…That’s what the White Star said?”
“Yes. He then said that it was such a stealthy power that even Dragons would not notice.”
“I guess you never saw him use that power?”
“That is right. I have not.”
Count Hubesha admitted that she had never seen it, but immediately continued speaking.
“But I do know where he is.”
She had said that The White Star had entered Cale’s front yard.
He was using his newly gained earth attribute ancient power for a disguise.
Hubesha gave a short answer to Cale’s question.
“Duke Deruth Henituse.”
Duke Deruth’s name suddenly popped up.
A bitter smile appeared on Count Hubesha’s face.
“Your father supposedly hired the strongest individuals around the Western continent at a high price?”
That was right.
Duke Deruth had hired these strong individuals for the Roan Kingdom, no, to be more specific, for Cale and the Henituse household.
That was what allowed Cale to meet the pink Dragon Dodori.
“The White Star is currently under your father, Cale Henituse.”
‘The White Star is among those strong individuals?’
Cale knew that Duke Deruth had a clueless side at times, but he was not someone who would do a shabby job for something like this.
‘No. He didn’t know Dodori’s true identity either; it is possible to trick him if the White Star tried.’
The White Star trying his best to trick Deruth could definitely have snuck in without getting caught.
But he still did have a few questions.
“My father started recruiting strong individuals a long time ago.”
It was highly likely to have happened prior to the White Star gaining the earth attribute ancient power. It was because Cale had met Vampire Duke Fredo at the Henituse territory after meeting with Duke Deruth.
Hubesha resolved this issue on Cale’s mind.
“The person was originally recruited by Deruth. The White Star just killed the person later and snuck in.”
Hubesha shrugged her shoulders, as if to say that something like that was easy for the White Star.
‘That bastard camouflaged the black mages in the Mogoru Empire as alchemists, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to disguise himself as a person.’
The corners of Cale’s lips oddly curled up.
“So what you are saying is…”
Based on everything he had just heard…
“The White Star is currently in Puzzle City and is among the group working for my father?”
Cale had an odd feeling the more he thought about it.
He and his friends had disguised themselves as the fake ‘Arm’ many times. However, this seemed to be the first time it happened in reverse.
‘It looks like the White Star used his brains this time.’
Maybe that was the reason, but…
Hubesha subconsciously commented after seeing Cale looking so calm.
“Can you really say that? Your father might be in danger.”
She looked into Cale’s eyes at that moment and had no choice but to shut up.
His gaze made her unable to say anything.
As the others who were watching Cale and Hubesha also stood there as if they were frozen… Cale quietly said something to break the silence.
“Time to go find the damn rat.”
* * *
Inside the Puzzle City City Hall building… Within an office that was still quite clean…
Someone important was using this office as his own right now.
“…How could such rumors……!”
Duke Deruth Henituse’s hands were shaking while holding up a document. His face was full of both anger and sorrow.
The document in his hand described the different rumors being spread throughout the Western continent.
“Why do they all want my child to sacrifice himself?! Why?!”
‘Who gave them the permission to make such decisions and spread such rumors?! I’m already concerned enough that he keeps working so hard with his weak body!’
The document in Duke Deruth’s hand ended up into a crumpled ball.
He did not care and threw the crumpled ball to the ground as he jumped up from his seat.
“I can’t sit here and do not-”
It was at that moment.
– Our human’s daddy.
Deruth heard a young child’s happy voice in his ear, no, his mind.
– It is me. The great and mighty Dragon, Raon Miru. Hehe!
As Deruth’s pupils were shaking…
The door opened and there was a person sighing.
“Duke. I need to tell you something. Can we chat for a bit?”
Alberu Crossman, the Roan Kingdom’s rising sun, had suddenly come to Duke Deruth Henituse’s temporary office without any advanced notice.
“What kind of conversation-”
A person covered from head to toe in a robe appeared behind Alberu at that moment.
That person was his son who had used invisibility magic to come see him before going to his mother’s grave; the person who said it was not yet time for him to reveal himself for strategic reasons. It was Cale.
Speaking of finding rats, if any of you find a missing Super Rock, do let me know. Busy Super Rock is MIA.
What will happen next?
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