Choi Han was confused at the unexpected response, but Cale did not respond. He just walked forward and cut through Hoik Village.
Other than the gravestones all around Hoik Village, there was not much of anything else. It was a very quiet village.
“Young master-nim, your umbrella.”
Hoik Village, the village that was next to Oorim, the forest where it rained more often than not, also rained quite frequently. Cale used the umbrella given to him by Hans and headed toward the end of the village.
Hans and a couple others followed behind him.
The Path of No Return. The only entrance into the path appeared in front of Cale’s eyes. Maybe it was because of the sprinkling and the cloudy sky, but the path into the forest looked dark and creepy.
‘The Path of No Return.’
There was a large slab with those words on it at the entrance.
Choi Han let out a moan.
Cale was observing the scenery in front of the slab.
Even on this rainy day, there were people waiting at the entrance of the Path of No Return while wearing raincoats or just letting the rain hit their skin. These were the people who still had hope for the return of their loved ones.
Cale made eye contact with one of the old men standing there. The old man’s eyes suddenly opened wide.
“…Do not go.”
The old man said that to Cale before stopping to lean on the slab and looking toward the forest. Cale just quietly watched the old man.
“Young master Cale.”
Rosalyn approached and called his name. She looked at the old man, as well as the rest of the people who were waiting at the entrance, with a sad gaze. At that moment, Cale started to move.
“Old man, it is raining. Don’t catch a cold.”
Cale put his umbrella next to the old man who was just standing in the rain and motioned to Hans.
“What about me?”
“Share with Beacrox.”
Beacrox and Hans made eye contact and Beacrox started to frown. Hans kept his mouth shut and handed his umbrella over to Cale. However, Cale did not have a reason to take that umbrella from him.
“We can share mine.”
Rosalyn’s umbrella started to cover Cale as well.
“Thank you very much. Let’s go.”
Cale just briefly thanked Rosalyn before turning away from the entrance to the Path of No Return. The rest of Cale’s group followed him while the villagers at the entrance observed Cale’s group for a bit before looking back toward the forest.
“Yes, young master-nim.”
“Go find an inn. Although there are a lot of inns, I’m sure there aren’t any really good ones, so just find a decent one.”
Hoik Village had a lot of inns compared to its size. However, all of these inns were very shabby since the people coming here to look for their loved ones didn’t have much money.
“Just why is it that everybody enters that Oorim?”
Cale sat down in the first floor restaurant of the inn they picked before he answered Choi Han’s question.
“There is a legend about the Path of No Return.”
Even though it was infamous for no one ever coming back, people still went into it every so often. It didn’t matter if the old man tried to stop them like he did with Cale’s group earlier.
“Supposedly, a dragon lives in the Path of No Return.”
– What the hell are you talking about, human? There are no dragons here. The only dragon around you is me!
Raon, who had been quiet, suddenly shouted into Cale’s mind.
Cale knew that there were no dragons here. He was someone who had read the novel.
“That Dragon will grant the wish of the human who find his lair. Whether that wish is to become rich, cure an incurable illness, or even make someone have a happy life. It will grant any wish.”
– A Dragon cannot do that. Dragons are great and mighty, but we are not gods! What nonsense!
Raon’s complaints were the truth. However, such legends had a tendency to shake the minds of the desperate.
“That legend is what draws people in.”
Cale could see a rare frown on Choi Han’s face. Choi Han probably did not like it. With his personality, seeing the atmosphere of this village, as well as people like the old man from earlier, it probably made him sad.
“Then wouldn’t it be fine if we just destroyed this forest?”
That was why Choi Han had no issues saying such a vicious thing without giving it any thought. Cale just pretended to not hear him.
Of course, a fire will start in this forest. That was why, by the end of volume 4, the 5 Forbidden Regions of the Western Continent ended up becoming the 4 Forbidden Regions.
“Wouldn’t it be fine to just light it on fire and burn it down?”
As Choi Han’s suggestions became even more dangerous, he could hear Cale’s voice.
“We just need to show that the legend is a lie. Then there will be no reason for them to go into the forest.”
At that moment, Beacrox let out a sigh as he entered the inn.
“Young master, I am back.”
Many people were behind Beacrox.
“Young master-nim! I, Hilsman, am back!”
“Young master-nim, we’re here!”
The Wolf children and Hilsman all looked shabby as they entered the inn. Beacrox took out a pair of white gloves after looking at this dirty group.
Lock was the last to enter the inn. He approached Cale and handed him a magic bag. However, Cale blocked Lock from giving it to him, before turning to speak to all of them.
“You all worked hard. Go get some rest.”
The group all started to smile. After saying that, Cale reached his hand out to Lock. Lock cautiously handed the magic bag to Cale once again and Cale started to speak.
“As part of our deal, the item inside is mine.”
There was not an ounce of hesitation in Lock’s voice. Even though Lock probably knew that it was an ancient power, he did not show any greed for it.
Cale opened the magic bag to look at the contents before speaking to the group.
“I will be entering that forest.”
“…What is it?”
Cale looked around after getting such an unexpectedly strong response from everyone. Choi Han was frowning even deeper as he let out his disbelief.
“Cale-nim, you really.”
Rosalyn’s eyes were extremely wide as she stared at him, and the kittens started to bang the table. Furthermore, Raon was going crazy.
– I will be going as well. Weak human, you listen to me. Do not go without me. This is a warning. If I get angry, it will take less than five minutes for me to destroy this forest. ( (PR: Raon is a yandere…) )
Listening to Raon’s vicious warning, the last person Cale saw was Hilsman, whose eyes were shaking.
“Umm, young master-nim, are you talking about the ‘Path of No Return?’ I heard that nobody comes out of-.”
“Who said that?”
Cale continued in a very quiet voice so that the innkeeper at the counter could not hear.
“That is not the case for me.”
His hand reached to the side where On and Hong were oddly sitting apart from each other. Cale reached his hand between the two of them and touched the curled up and invisible Raon.
Cale petted Raon and On before continuing to speak.
“I’ll be fine as long as I have them.”
On’s eyes turned wide as she looked at him. Cale made eye contact with On before he started to whisper.
“On, do you know why the Path of No Return is so dangerous?”
On’s pupils started to become cloudy.
Cale was actually somewhat surprised after he first met On and Hong.
Purebred Cats all had their own specialties. Of them, poison was very rare. However, fog was even rarer.
If Cale was asked to pick the rarest existence in his group, he would pick On over Raon. Cale shared the secrets of Oorim with the little girl who could control the fog.
“The inside of the Oorim is filled with fog.”
He then started to speak to Raon.
“There is something in the fog that makes both people and mana chaotic. That is why it is difficult to use magic in there. It is a power that is much stronger than Mana Disturbance Tools.”
This forest was completely covered in this fog.
“That is why a ground path is difficult.”
However, Cale would be fine as long as he had On and Raon. These extremely rare existences by his side allowed him to plan to make a deal with the Queen of the Jungle.
“I can do anything I want in there as long as I have the two of you.”
On’s tail was wagging and Raon’s wings seemed to be fluttering, as there was a small gust of wind across the table.
Early the next morning, Cale was standing outside of Oorim. Naturally, the kitten On was in his arms. Following his order, nobody else was there to watch him enter.
“You will die if you go in … you cannot come back.”
The old man from last night seemed to have spent the night there, as he weakly warned Cale from next to the slab. Someone important to this old man had probably went into the forest, desperate to find the dragon of the legend as well.
“Old man, I will break the legend and come back, so you can wait for me if you want.”
Cale smiled at the old man’s shaking eyes before he entered Oorim without any hesitation. He walked quickly and soon found that he could not see very far.
It was the fog. The fog had surrounded him.
“Mm, it does look like I will need to use about my front paw’s worth of strength in order to use magic. Human, you need to be at least at my level to use magic in this fog.”
“Raon, you really are amazing.”
“Yes, I am great and mighty. But what is the Queen’s wish?”
Raon, who had heard a brief explanation last night, asked for more details from Cale, who responded without any delay.
“Putting out the fire in the jungle.”
Litana, the Queen of the Jungle.
She was the ruler of this wide southern territory that was larger than even the empire.
‘She’s someone who is pretty similar to Toonka.’
She never showed any weakness to the strong while she was very weak to the weak.
The reason such a person was secretly in this forest was because she was desperate to find a solution.
Instead of explaining to Raon and On, who were tilting their heads in confusion, he started to say something else. His expression was serious.
“Starting from today, I am a good person.”
“Why are you suddenly introducing yourself?”
Raon looked toward Cale with confusion. On also looked at him with a gaze that seemed to be asking why Cale was stating something so obvious. This made Cale at a loss of words for a moment, but soon Cale finally started to speak to On.
“On, the path.”
On’s eyes sparkled before her front paw started to move. The fog moved away following the movement of her paw.
“The fog in here is interesting. It doesn’t seem like regular fog. It is similar to a poisonous fog.”
Listening to the curious On’s words, Cale walked deeper into the fog, even though he could not see anything in front of him. The fog did not disperse, even when it rained. Cale brushed some rain water off of his raincoat.
“Can you see the path through the fog?”
“I can see it!”
Cale followed On’s directions into the forest. He seemed very much at peace, as if he had come for a stroll.
“It would be great if we could meet her today.”
Cale was hoping to meet Litana, the Queen of the Jungle, today. It soon became night time.
Litana, the woman who had earned the title of the Queen of the Jungle, was looking out the cave.
It was dark. She could only hear the sound of the rain.
“Your highness, there is no need for you to apologize!”
“Leader, no need!”
Her five subordinates all urged her, saying that she didn’t need to apologize, but Litana could not help but have a bitter smile after looking at their condition.
They had already been stuck in this ‘Path of No Return’ for two weeks. Although there were no monsters or enemies, they could not see anything in this foggy forest and their supply of food was going down.
They didn’t dare to eat any of the unknown plants of the forest, so they had been surviving off of one meal a day for the last week.
Litana knew what was scaring her subordinates.
‘We might die here like this.’
For warriors like them, there was nothing worse than dying without doing anything like this.
‘Why did I.’
Litana was angry with herself for the first time.
That damn fire. She had to come here because a portion of the Jungle was burning from a fire that did not spread but instead just continued to burn in that specific section of the Jungle.
She touched the glass bottle in her chest pocket. A portion of that fire was inside the bottle.
‘If nothing else works, I will just have to burn my way out of here.’
Although she shouldn’t damage the forest, that was not as precious as the lives of her subordinates and those waiting for her back home. She looked around the cave that they happened to find. They would need to spend the night in this cave tonight.
LItana, calmed herself down as she decided that she would need to make her decision soon.
It was at that moment.
Litana grabbed her spear.
She sensed someone outside the cave.
She could hear the sound of the rain and some footsteps.
Someone was headed their way.
The gazes on the faces of Litana’s subordinates who were around the fire started to change.
The sound was getting closer.
Soon, a shadow appeared by the fire.
“Who are you?”
One of her subordinates spears pointed toward the person’s throat.
“Well, you see.”
They could hear the common language of the continent. The fire slowly started to light up the man’s face.
“I saw some light and headed over with joy.”
A red haired man was looking at the speartip and putting on an awkward smile.
The fancy yet gentle looking man gulped while looking at the speartip and cautiously asked.
“If it is okay, may I sit by your fire tonight?”
There was a wet kitten in his arms and both of them were shaking.
“My raincoat ripped and we are so cold after getting hit by the rain.”
The shabby looking man and kitten with a ripped up raincoat.
Litana was cautious, but soon she started to speak.
“Get him a blanket.”
She couldn’t help her mentality of a Queen, who was taught that she needed to protect the weak.
The red haired man, Cale, was shaking as he approached Litana’s group.
– Weak human, beware of catching a cold. But why is your expression different than usual? Are you very sick?
Raon’s voice, which required him to use a paw’s worth of strength, reached Cale’s mind. However, Cale was hiding his plot from Raon, as he simply received the blanket and responded with a gentle smile and a respectful attitude.
“Thank you very much.”
He didn’t look like his trash self, but an upright noble.
The kitten On looked toward Cale with disbelief.
Cale was slowly setting the bait.