What is evolution? It is the gradual change of form over a long period of time. It was possible for a caterpillar to change into a butterfly but that was still not evolution. There was another word for that: Metamorphosis(變態), which meant to literally change shape.
But a common gnoll had become a gnoll warrior. It smashed through its limitations on its own and was reborn as a ‘higher species’. Such a phenomenon could only be witnessed by a Spirit Caller. Formless spirits could be evolved into higher-grade spirits with the investment of time, Magic power, and such, however, spirits were not living creatures. Their origins were still yet unclear but they couldn’t be counted among regular living creatures. On the other hand, what about gnolls?
‘How is this possible?’
I, at the very least, had never seen it happen before. And since it was my first time seeing such a thing, it meant that there were none among humanity who could give a definite answer regarding this phenomenon. Even a Beast Master wasn’t capable of evolving their beasts into a higher species; the most they could do was to enhance the power of their beasts using skills, equipment and the like.
I had credited their fast growth to the Dominator skill. But ‘domination’ and ‘evolution’ clearly belonged to different areas. There had to be something else.
And then I ended up exclaiming inside,
It was a small realization: Universal. Jörmungandr had called it a power of origin. An Authority that opened up a new world, exclusive to me. If this Authority influenced all skills then I could accept this phenomenon, to a certain extent, which occurred from the gnolls I made mine using the skill Dominator.
‘So it was like this.’
It was only now that my understanding of Universal increased a little. An overpowered ability indeed, which removed limits and evolved all things to a higher realm. And it was this overpowered ability which met the ‘Dominator’ skill resulting in a powerful synergy.
The gnoll warrior approached me.
It had become a gnoll warrior from a gnoll, so this meant that it was most certainly possible that it could evolve to a higher form of its species; gnoll chief, and even a gnoll lord. No, perhaps there was something even further above that. I shouldn’t assume a limit on this Authority.
This new discovery was causing me to tremble. When I held out my hand toward the gnoll warrior, it rubbed its face against my hand.
“Just what is happening here?”
Syria. She had also witnessed the gnoll’s evolution, but it hadn’t been long since here awakening so she only thought of it as strange. If this had happened during the time when she was a Saintess, then her worldview would have overturned upon itself.
“Are you disappointed now that it’s not cute all of a sudden?”
‘Th-, that’s not it. The gnoll just up and…you still haven’t gained any class, isn’t that so?”
“I can still use skills even without a class.”
“You, were you not someone who he awakened?”
Syria sent a suspicious gaze toward me.
Her suspicion stemmed from the fact that my performance during the past two days definitely didn’t resemble that of a ‘novice’. In fact, the way I explored this side of the Gate was much more masterful than their group of four.
I figured that it was about time now. I met her gaze with a serious look of my own and spoke.
“Just like how you can hear someone’s voice, I can hear a voice too. That voice tells me the right answers.”
Syria froze on the spot, staring at me with wide eyes as if in disbelief.
From childhood, she had said that she could hear someone’s voice; this was due to her natural ‘talent’. She was called a Saintess and yet, ironically, she was a master at handling ‘Spirits’, especially spirits of light. She possessed an affinity with a spirit considered special even among spirits, which was why she could hear their voice. The chances of this happening to anyone was 1/100,000,000, the equivalent of being born with 470 potential. She wasn’t called a Saintess for nothing.
And of course, the voice that I could hear was the information that my ‘future self’ remembered.
“You can also…hear the voices?”
“It would be nice if you called me Hansung instead of ‘you’.”
“Hansung. Can you hear their voices?”
Syria was dead serious, and I couldn’t blame her for that. She had gone through all kinds of rough experiences because of these ‘voices’. In the end she had to protect herself by pretending she couldn’t hear them anymore.
She must feel as if she’d just met a comrade. I was different from those fake exorcists; I had known even though no one requested me of anything. At the same time she must feel threatened at having her secret found out. Aware of her worries, I nodded and said,
“I’ll keep your secret, if you’ll keep mine.”
“I will. So…tell me. Just who are they?”
“They don’t mean harm. You also know this don’t you?”
Syria took a bold step closer to stand right before me, staring me face to face.
“At first I thought they were ghosts. And then thought them guardian spirits. But now I don’t know. They always talk to me. They talked about you as well…told me to be careful of you, to not go near you. They said you…were a very scary and dangerous being.”
I couldn’t suppress a laugh. That’s what the spirits of light said about me? Perhaps, just like how Jörmungandr saw through me, the spirits of light may have seen through the darkness, the Demon Lord, inside of me. Maybe the reason why she had been quietly following me up until now was due to the warnings of those spirits.
However, unfortunately, I had nil affinity with spirits. The Spirit Caller class was impossible to obtain without being born with the talent in the first place. Although I had obtained the Universal Authority, as usual, I still couldn’t hear the voices of spirits. But I still knew the method to help her.
‘Syria can be trusted.’
She was one of the most trustworthy people when it came to promises and the like. It wasn’t merely because of our former lover relation, but because she was just that kind of person.
Her expression was serious, full of desperate hope that I would tell her the answer. And it was that desperation that showed me something different; scenes flitted through my mind like a reel of film being projected.
‘The Keeper’s power.’
Indeed. The power which could show another’s past had once again manifested in my body and activated.
ㅡThe family’s disgrace. I cannot send a possessed child out into the world. Lock her away in the basement for the rest of her life!
ㅡAhhk! You horrible man! Even so she’s your daughter!
ㅡI had believed her to be of superior quality! You are also at fault for giving birth to a possessed brat! Outrageous, simply outrageous!
ㅡSyria…my daughter. Mother lovers you more than anyone. May you be able to live happily in that place. Forget about something like family…and butler Royce will accompany you.
ㅡMiss. Someone who possesses the same power as miss has sent a letter. Someone called Minshik Kim. Will you send a reply?
What I saw was much more appalling than what I’d heard. I staggered for a moment, holding onto my head.
‘What’s so great about family.’
She desired to become stronger, and by doing so becoming free of ‘disgrace’. She struggled all for the sake of saving her mother.
I knew, however, that her family will meet downfall in the end. After the emergence of monsters and the casualties sustained by the new family, Syria’s family would fail to endure in the midst of the chaos to come.
Was it alright for me to change her future?
‘She has the right to happiness.’
I didn’t want to be a mere bystander when her suffering was plain to see. She would be called Saintess and revered as such in the future, but all her life she had carried a burden in her heart. At the very least…when considering the devotion she showed toward humanity and myself, she deserved the right to live happily.
“Do you resent them?”
“In the beginning…I did. But not anymore…not ever since I came to know they meant me no harm.”
“Do you wish to converse with them?”
Syria fervently nodded her head.
It was always one-sided up until now; she could only listen to them. They were the cause of all her suffering. It may have been difficult if she was still in a state of resentment, but if she had let go of it now, then conversing should be possible.
I took out the lowest-grade ruby from a pocket, drew a magic circle on the sandy ground and placed it there. After that I wrote characters related to a ‘Spirit Contract’ in rune language.
“Drip a drop of your blood on this ruby.”
Syria drew out a hidden dagger from her thigh. She had taken out her last weapon of defense without reservation, which signified that she had let down her guard against me somewhat. Following that she lightly cut her finger and let the blood drip onto the ruby.
At the same time, the magic circle shined with light which meant that there was a spirit reacting to it. There wouldn’t have been any reaction if it was my blood; I couldn’t hear the voice of spirits after all.
She let out a joyous shout not long after, looking about herself excitedly. Aside from the surroundings only appearing a little brighter to me, I saw nothing. But she must be seeing the spirits of light right now, and it looked like there were a considerable number of them. I was also surprised though. I would never have expected there to be so many to the point of even having an effect on the nearby environment! Was it because she was still pure at this point?
“Were you all calling for me all this time?”
Syria began talking to them, tears glimmering in her eyes. I quietly looked away, and she finally began crying. And then after a while she was kicking up a laugh, having a good time.
‘It’s good to see.’
I smiled. How long had it been since I’d seen her smiling so brightly? Even when we were lovers I hardly ever saw her looking happy. A lowest-grade ruby was cheap compared to that smile.
The light dimmed after an hour or so passed. She looked regretful as she turned her gaze to me.
“They su-, suddenly disappeared.”
“That’s because your Magic Power ran out.”
“Can I call them again?”
“If you wish to in the future. Did you hear their names?”
“Yes. Arisa, Maram, Gus…”
“Stop. Only you must know the names of contracted spirits. Remember that.”
I let out a small sigh. Spirits didn’t exist physically, but they gained power upon sharing their ‘name’, however, they weren’t capable of attacking those who knew their name. Which meant that even if I held bad intentions, her spirits couldn’t be able to attack me in any way.
“As long as you know.”
“When it comes to saying some words of thanks, even I could do it a hundred times.”
Syria looked troubled at my words. Then as if having resolved on something, she approached and pushed her face close to mine. Was she going to kiss me or something?
Grabbing both my hands she then said,
“Benefactor. May I call you benefactor?”
Ah, that’s right. She was completely ignorant when it came to love. She had no interest in romance between men and women after all.
“I would appreciate it if you just called me by name.”
“I’ll do as benefactor, I mean, Hansung-nim wishes. Tell me if you have anything you want. I’ll do anything.”
She appeared unburdened now that the secret, which she had agonized over all her life, was now solved. She must have never imagined that I could solve that problem in an instant, however, such a thing was as easy as breathing to me. If she had spoken those words to any other man then it was obvious what would be requested of her. But I knew that she didn’t mean her words in that way.
[‘Dominator(Lv9) has been activated.]
[Her status has changed from ‘distrust, wary’ to ‘trust, gratitude’. If it is now, it is possible to Dominate her at 50% value: ‘15,000pt’.]
[It is even possible to Dominate a target without using points according to their status. Dominator’s Authority will automatically activate when a target completely trusts and unconditionally follows the user.]
There was such a feature?
I was lacking points, of course, but to think there was another method.
Although Laila Diablo was assessed with a value, there was no particular need to use Dominate on her, because she unconditionally trusted and followed Uriel Diablo, and so she automatically entered the state of being ‘Dominated’. This feature meant that the same could happen to Syria, and perhaps to any other existence apart from her!