Chapter 24: Returning the Favor (4)
Editor: Borderline Masochist
Instead, the Black Dragon just slowly crawled back into the path. While Cale was watching the dragon in disbelief, he could hear a quiet voice piercing through the wind to reach his ear.
“...I was ... just passing by.”
The Black Dragon’s back flinched after hearing Cale click his tongue, but Cale did not have time to pay attention to the dragon. The cave’s wind had a cycle of 3 hours of strong wind and 3 hours of weak wind. This was the moment that the wind started to get weaker. Of course, it would still become stronger the closer he got to the center.
The wind was still pretty strong to be called the, ‘weak phase.’ The novel mentioned that the 150 year old man walked through this strong wind to get to the rock tower.
Cale turned his gaze back to the center of the cave. The large underground area. In the middle of the tornado was a half-stacked rock tower. It looked like there were no winds over there. Next to the half-stacked rock tower were numerous other rocks.
‘I need to stack all of those rocks up.’
The issue was getting to the tower. Stacking the rocks would not be a problem.
Cale looked over the shield and the wings surrounding him, before taking a step forward.
Tang. Tang. The rough wind clashed against the shield. Even though the silver shield was transparent, it sounded like the wind was hitting a real metal shield.
That noise made the Black Dragon that was looking away slowly turn around to look at Cale.
“...But you are weak...”
The Cale that the dragon could see was having a difficult time, even though the shield and wings were protecting him. The wind that could not be blocked by the shield and wings was making his clothes flutter. The wind that seeped through the bottom of the shield made him stop moving every so often as well.
However, Cale continued to step forward one step at a time. Then the dragon saw it.
Cale was smiling. This human, that was nothing compared to that strong tornado, the same human that was weaker than even the kittens he was traveling with, the human that was the weakest out of everybody he was traveling with, was smiling while pushing through this wind.
The dragon had never seen such a silver shield before. He had never seen such wings either. The dragon took a look at his own wings. It was very different from his wings. It was extremely beautiful. The dragon was curious as to what that power might be.
However, the dragon was focused not on the holy and magnificent shield nor wings. Its full attention was on the smiling Cale.
And the target of the gaze, Cale, was continuing to smile.
‘It’s doable. It’s comfortable.’
It was a bit difficult and slow because of the wind, but it was actually a breeze. Compared to how Beacrox was almost killed by Ron while being taught his sword art, this was child’s play.
This made Cale once again feel like it really was best to earn something without putting in much effort.
There were no physical or mental strain endured when using the Indestructible Shield. There would be a short strain if it was to break, but it was not in any danger of breaking right now.
‘It just gets pushed back.’
The shield just got pushed back if the wind was strong. Honestly speaking, Cale had expected to be pushed back multiple times. That was why he had originally lowered the strength of the shield and enlarged it as much as possible. He had been planning on slowly shrinking the size of the shield whenever he got pushed back.
However, this shield was working better than Cale had expected. That made Cale a bit smug, but when he had reached about the halfway mark to the center of the tornado, he had to get rid of all side thoughts.
The novel had said that you would hear a voice once you got close to the center. It was supposed to be the voice of an old man.
Cale was waiting for that voice. The tornado was supposed to get stronger once the voice started to appear.
- I regret it.
He could hear the voice. But it was a bit odd.
- Ahem, I regret it.
It was a sad old man.
Cale clicked his tongue. None of these ancient powers were normal. Why did Taylor think the old man’s voice was sincere? Cale could not understand Taylor’s train of thought.
However, Cale stopped clicking his tongue and stopped moving.
- The one that has a power that I am familiar with, I am hoping that you do not get this power.
‘The one with a power I am familiar with?’
That phrase had caught Cale’s attention. At the same time, the wind started to get stronger and swept through the area.
Tang. Tang. Tang. The wind clashed even stronger against the transparent wind and made loud noises. However, Cale’s concerned expression was not because of the wind. His hair continued to flutter in the wind.
‘Is he talking about the Indestructible Shield?’
The only thing that Cale could deduce about this, ‘familiar power,’ was the Indestructible Shield. It had not said anything like that to Taylor in the novel. Did the owner of this ancient power know the owner of the Indestructible Shield? Multiple thoughts flew across Cale’s mind at once.
However, Cale still chose to step forward for now. The wind would only get stronger if he delayed any longer.
- I pretty much betrayed my comrades! I was a terrible person! Ahem, I stayed alive on my own and got old. How shameful am I?!
Cale could only hear the old man’s voice every so often as he was having difficulty stepping forward one step at a time.
- I was always hoping for everyone to come back to life. However, my wish was something that could not be achieved. I could only lament and cry! That was why I could not finish my rock tower.
Cale found the old man’s lamenting voice to be annoying. Screw sincere, it was like he wanted to die. It was the style that Cale hated. Epicureans were so much better.
Cale centered his body after being slightly pushed back, and put some strength into his legs. He could hear the voice once again after taking another step.
- This restoration strength is useless. It is only capable of protecting myself. It is not helpful in any other way. I am a trash!
Cale ignored the cries of the old man that rang through his mind. The power to protect himself was most important to Cale. Who cares if it made him trash. None of it mattered as long as he could live.
Just five more steps. The center of the tornado was right in front of him.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
The sound of the wind that was clashing became stronger. It was as if a human was punching the shield.
‘It might break.’
Cale thought that the wind might now be strong enough for the shield to break. It should be doing more damage than just pushing him back now. The moment Cale thought that the wind might cut him, he realized something else as well.
- I did not die even when the wind cut me like a sharp blade.
It was the fact that the owners of these ancient powers were all extremely chatty.
Cale immediately curled up and decreased the size of the shield. Boom Boom. The shield was now smaller, but in return, it was much stronger. It was able to push back an even stronger force of wind.
Cale reached out toward the transparent shield and clenched the transparent handle on the inside of the shield as he continued to move forward.
- Restoration is a cursed power.
- My heart was always beating. But I could not move on.
- It was because I was afraid of death.
- I was afraid of pain because I had always been injured, and I was even more afraid of death, the end of that pain.
Cale took the final fifth step.
The inside of the windless area sounded like it was raining all around Cale. The eye of the storm. The winds were swarming the area outside this calm center. He could hear the old man’s voice along with the sound of the wind.
- I chose to throw everything else away so that I could continue to live.
That was the last thing the old man said.
‘Who cares about anything else? Living comes first.’
This old man had a lot of useless things to say. Cale clicked his tongue and returned the shield back to his heart. The silver light surrounding him instantly disappeared.
He headed toward the half completed rock tower and crouched down in front of it.
It was a normal rock tower that you could find at the top of a mountain.
However, all of these rocks were black. Just like the man-eating tree, these rocks that have existed since ancient times were different from normal rocks. Just like the wind surrounding this area.
Cale, who had been thinking about making it aesthetically pleasing, changed his mind. That would be too annoying. He took out a pair of gloves from his pocket and put them on before picking the rocks up to stack the rest of the rock tower.
Clack. Clack. Clack. The rock tower was being built up, one rock at a time.
It did not take that long. Even Taylor had completed this part pretty easily. However, Cage, who had not come into the central area and had instead waited outside the eye of the storm, suffered quite a bit. This central area, like with all ancient powers, was somewhere that a person could only enter on their own.
Cale picked up the last black rock and gently put it on top of the rock tower. It was at that moment.
The black rocks slowly turned white. At the same time, Cale got up and looked around.
The wind was slowly dying down.
Cale ignored the confused voice of the dragon and waited until all of the wind died down. He then crossed his arms and listened to the old man’s voice. He had no choice.
- I tried to fight with them. However, I did not know that I was so weak against pain. They were not people who served the lord. I only realized that after we all went our separate ways and I ended up alone.
The words of the old man caught Cale’s attention. He then recalled the words of the owner of the Indestructible Shield.
‘The people in the Forest of Darkness who called themselves servants of the lord only gave me terrible food.’
He had a bad feeling that he had learned something he shouldn’t have learned about.
He had an odd feeling that the things he just heard were things that he should not tell anybody else about in his entire life.
Cale started to frown even more as the old man continued to speak. That voice was something only Cale could hear, thus making the dragon hesitate while looking at the silently standing Cale.
I piled the rocks. I piled them up hoping that I could turn back time, hoping that I could be happy. But then I destroyed it.
I hated my selfish self for thinking about my own happiness after betraying my comrades and running away.
Cale let out a long sigh. This old man really was frustrating. Cale started to speak in frustration.
“It is human nature to be selfish.”
The old man’s voice disappeared for a moment.
‘Is it over?’
Cale started to smile thinking that the old man was finally getting to the end. However, the sobbing voice continued once more.
- Ahem. My older sister said the same thing. She was a really wonderful older sister. She was more reliable than anybody else. Ah, my older sister. Sob!
...The old man was crying.
“I’m going to go crazy.”
Tap Tap. Tap. Cale was impatiently tapping the ground with his foot. Cale did not want to keep standing here like this. After crying for a while, the old man showed his thanks.
- You, the one with the familiar power. That rude personality of yours makes me think of my older brother. I am very envious of how rude you are.
And, finally, the old man said the final words that Cale had been waiting for. These were the same final words the old man had said to Taylor.
- Break it. Then you will, ‘overcome,’ your limits.
Cale started to smile and instantly kicked the rock tower without any hesitation.
Tang. Crumble. Boom!
The white rocks flew away to hit the ground and the wall. The dragon that had been watching Cale flinched and stared at Cale as if he was crazy. However, the following scene made the dragon gasp.
The broken rock tower.
A white light floated up from underneath the rock tower.
The gentle vibration that pulsated throughout the cave could be felt under Cale’s feet. At that moment, the light rushed toward Cale.
Cale reached his hand out to grab the light. The moment he grabbed it, the light shot toward Cale’s heart like an arrow. The light arrow pierced through Cale’s heart before flashing and disappearing.
Cale let out a deep breath. He then lowered his head to look under his shirt. The fancy shield tattoo that was over his heart had disappeared and had been replaced by a red heart.
Cale could immediately feel the new vigor inside of his body. This vigor from the, ‘Vitality of the Heart,’ would make the shield even stronger. He would also recover at a much faster speed than normal people, even when he got injured.
Unlike the shield, which was a superpower, this was more apart of the physical strengths of the human body. This regenerative strength was so strong that it managed to last since the ancient times to be passed down like this.
Cale brought forth the shield again.
“Just as I expected.”
Cale started to smile. The pattern on the shield had changed to a heart. The only difference from the tattoo on his chest was that it was silver and not red. He then returned the shield, before immediately starting to walk.
Cale had walked toward the dragon, that was pretending like nothing was going on and instead kept staring up at the sky. Cale just continued to stare at the dragon that was crouched down on the ground. He then stoically asked the dragon, as if he was throwing a rock into a lake.
“You want to come with me?”
“...You are so weak that you need protection. But I do not like humans.”
The dragon answered, that way before starting to turn invisible. It had used its invisibility magic again. Cale just snorted at the disappearing dragon.
“What a fickle punk.”
He was also fickle for asking the question after telling the others to ignore the dragon, but this dragon was just as bad. However, he could not just ignore the dragon after it had jumped out earlier to try to save him.
Cale looked around the cave, which no longer had any wind storms raging about, before turning around and heading out of the cave. Of course, he had to crawl back out as well. He returned the vines back to their original spots, and covered up the cave entrance properly.
He then turned around and started to speak while walking away. His gaze was directed toward a grassy area.
“I can see you standing on the grass.”
He could see four imprints on the grass, each one representing one of the dragon’s four paws. These paw imprints then quickly disappeared. The dragon had flown up into the sky. Cale shook his head.
‘I guess my family grew in the end.’
Cale could not help but let out a deep sigh. It was obvious that the dragon would continue to follow him in that invisible state. Just why was this dragon such a noob when it knows ancient magic like invisibility? Cale had thought that all dragons were intelligent, but that seemed like it might not be the case.
After walking back down the mountain, Cale could see Choi Han’s judging expression. Choi Han looked at Cale silently, before finally asking.
“Did you... roll around the mountain?”
The wind had made his hair a mess, and his clothes were dirty after crawling across the rocky and sandy cave entrance.
Cale sternly responded to Choi Han.
“Yes. I rolled around.”
Choi Han looked toward Cale with concern. Cale just avoided the gaze.
That night, Cale told the kittens to deliver a message. It was a letter that was created with magic, which made it impossible to determine the handwriting of the writer.
“Make sure they don’t see you.”
The letter was the new hope for the priestess Cage and the Marquis’s eldest son, Taylor.
1. Something similar to the English proverb of trying to break a boulder with an egg.