The draconic race often referred to as dragons were known as beings unrelated to the Calamities. This race beloved by the gods not only enjoyed an infinite lifespan as long as they were not killed by violence, but they were also granted overwhelming power.
Only the dragons themselves would know the absolute truth but according to one theory, if a Calamity was close at hand in this world, the dragons would enter a deep cave and slumber indefinitely until the end of the Calamity. There are also other theories that say the dragons go to a different world entirely only to return after a Calamity has ended, so it isn’t clear which is true.
One thing that is true is that there is always a surviving dragon regardless of how many of god’s Calamities there are. An Ancient Dragon of legends, or an even more rarely seen Elder Dragon, are the prime example of this. It was hard to believe, but stories of an Ancient Dragon who had witnessed over a dozen apocalypses existed as well. Kha’nes carried the blood of such dragons, and it appeared as though she had personally met with some that have lived long lives. She spoke further.
“Humans have tried to emulate the magic of Dragon Tongue for a long time, but this magic is the secret permitted only to dragons by the gods. It means there is no way to even get close to it regardless of how much they struggle.”
Sungchul, who had already lost his appetite, listened to her explanation with an expressionless face while Bertelgia played with fireflies by the stream. Kha’nes spoke on.
“But, there seemed to have been some human in a previous era that managed to mimic the Dragon Tongue quite closely. This human might have never realized what kind of news this was among the dragons. So, one of the dragons polymorphed into the form of a human to approach this person, and he discovered it: that person’s cheap trick.”
The trick that she was referring to was Sajators’ Multicasting. Kha’nes tinkered with the Soul Gem that hadn’t quite accepted Sungchul and held it out to him again.
“It was a cheap trick, but it was also quite ingenious. Unfortunately, its limits were also clear. Meerkat carbuncles are incredibly rare animals, and they also don’t like to follow humans. In other words, unlike the Magic of Dragon Tongue whose power was inherited, the human’s trick was exclusive to an individual.”
“And the answer was?”
It didn’t suit Sungchul to beat around the bush, so Sungchul threw out his question impatiently. When he did, Kha’nes’ eyes shined bright as she pulled out a single ring from her thick robe. It appeared to be an ordinary silver ring on the outside, but it was anything but. From his long experience, he could sense the strange aura that surrounded it.
Kha’nes made a triumphant expression at Sungchul’s question.
“Fog Guide. It is a magic ring with the ability to enter a target’s dream.”
Sungchul didn’t show any response to those words. It wasn’t good or bad, but rather just surprising.
‘What am I supposed to do with this?’
Sungchul fell silent as he contemplated on how to judge this information, but this appeared to be an incredibly surprising news to Bertelgia. Bertelgia, who had been playing with fireflies, hastily flapped her covers as she flew before Kha’nes.
“Wow! Is that really the legendary ring that I’ve heard about in stories? Can it really look into other people’s dreams? Is it true that it can go beyond just looking at their dreams, but actually interact with them?”
Kha’nes nodded at her rapid-fire questions and extended the ring over to Sungchul, but Sungchul’s response still wasn’t quite satisfying.
“I don’t really have a hobby of peeking into other people’s dreams though?”
Sungchul simply stared at the ring Kha’nes held, but didn’t accept it. She continued talking with the ring held out.
“Even if you have no interest in it, you’ll probably need it to get the disobedient Soul Gem to listen to you. You’ll be able to meet the carbuncle inside the Soul Gem in person with the ring.”
“What am I supposed to do after meeting a carbuncle that doesn’t like me?”
It wasn’t likely, but he briefly pictured the carbuncle punching his face with an adorable fist after meeting it in its dream. Sungchul would have done that exact thing had he been the carbuncle in question.
“… Well, what comes after depends on you. Whether you humor it or appease it, placating the sulking carbuncle is your business.”
Sungchul accepted the Fog Guide with pursed lips. He stared at the ring intently causing information regarding the ring to appear before him.
Effect: Dream Dive (Entry into target’s dream)
Note: Made for the sake of the pitiful warlord trapped within a maze of his nightmares. From the most ancient of dragons.
Sungchul’s expression changed from doubt to optimism due to the item’s grade. The grade alone attested this item’s value. It was widely accepted that there were no more than 100, no… 50 items that were of Legendary grade within the entirety of this continent.
“I’ll tell you this ahead of time. I’m lending this to you, not giving it to you.”
Kha’nes hurriedly added for Sungchul who was now staring intently at the ring.
He wasn’t convinced before he saw the grade, but a person’s mind was crafty. Sungchul had a change of heart once he had seen the oppressively powerful grade of Legendary.
‘Should I give this a try?’
Sungchul looked toward the seven Soul Gems that he had sloppily strung together with crude needlework as Sajators had done. The one on top was Carbung who he had acquired at the ruins, and it was the only one that was obedient toward Sungchul. The rest of the six Soul gems displayed extreme hostility toward him.
Sungchul held one of them in his hand. He could sense that its name was Carbungbung through the Meerkat carbuncle’s ability to share information through touch, and Sungchul could also sense that this carbuncle was sending him a warning mixed with hostility.
It was a small but fierce little guy. Sungchul made this assessment before turning to look at Kha’nes.
“How do I use this ring?”
Before anyone noticed, Kha’nes had already moved to the cauldron to gulp down the leftover soup. Bertelgia flew over toward her and called her over.
Kha’nes wiped her mouth with her sleeve carelessly before giving a short explanation in an insincere manner.
“Just grip the ring and place your hand on the Soul Gem. The soul within the Soul Gem is kept constantly in a dreaming state, so it shouldn’t be that hard to get into its dream.
“What should I do to leave the dream?”
“Simple. There will be a door from where you entered. You should be able to return to your original world once you pass through that door.
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
Sungchul nodded before flattening a grassy area with his feet near the campfire to sit. He reached out toward the disobedient Carbungbung’s Soul Gem with the Fog Guide gripped in his hand. Kha’nes who saw this abruptly added one more thing.
“Careful. Exploring another’s dream is an extremely dangerous task. Well, It shouldn’t be much different for a carbuncle’s dream, but in cases of a mentally twisted person or a sinful person, they often dream about very unpleasant and disturbing dreams. Though, there are perverts who enjoy looking into the dark abyss!”
“I’ll be right back.”
Sungchul’s hand touched the Soul Gem and words appeared before his eyes.
[Will you leave on a trip to your target’s dream?]
Sungchul didn’t answer. Instead, he held his eyes closed and let time pass by. Kha’nes was an acquaintance of sorts, but she couldn’t be called an ally. There was no guarantee that the ring was not a trap.
Thankfully, Kha’nes appeared to have no ill will. She told Bertelgia who was on lookout that she would return once she made a visit to the village and left before returning shortly with a piece of beef dripping with blood which she tossed into the boiling cauldron before eating it ravenously. It was an amazing appetite that couldn’t be understood without knowing her true form as a dragon.
Sungchul who saw this let down his guard and responded to the words that had appeared on one side of his periphery with a late reply.
‘I’ll be going.’
Once his intentions were relayed, thousands of flower petals flew before Sungchul’s eyes in a flurry as though in reply. Sungchul held out his hand raising it to inspect the petals atop the back of his hands. Once the red and blue petals landed onto the back of his hand, they melted away like snow. When the final petal disappeared, Sungchul realized that he was in a completely different world. It was a place Sungchul had once been to.
It was the flower garden near the hidden ruin in the middle of the Great Jungle that Carbung, who had been in a golem, had led him to. Beyond that picturesque garden, there was a single white carbuncle standing on both of his hind legs with his ears strained as he stared at Sungchul.
Sungchul knew with a single glance that the carbuncle was the owner of this dreamscape, but realizing that didn’t necessarily provide any answers. Sungchul was immediately met with this impasse.
‘What should I do now?’
There didn’t seem to be any method to become acquainted. If it had been reality, he would have drawn its attention with food, but this type of method didn’t work in the world of dreams. It was at this moment that something unexpected occurred.
A single ball suddenly appeared before Sungchul. The white carbuncle watched the ball and cocked its head. When Sungchul didn’t respond, the image of a young man appeared beside Sungchul. As it was created by something akin to magic, the dark figure was more similar to a shadow, but Sungchul realized that its image was similar to Sajators.
The dark illusion smiled brightly and threw the ball toward the carbuncle, and when he did, the carbuncle quickly flew over to its direction and used its thick tail to hit the ball back toward Sajators. The illusion of Sajators received the ball and quickly waved it here and there before throwing it back toward carbuncle allowing the carbuncle to return it. Regardless of how one interpreted it, it seemed like this was how the carbuncle and Sajators played when it was still alive.
Sungchul waited for the ball to return to Sajators before snatching it out of the air, and when he did, the illusion of Sajators vanished like a mirage.
The carbuncle stood on its hind legs again and let out a short and powerful cry that appeared to dare him to start a fight. In contrast to Sungchul’s normal temper, he threw the ball gently over to the carbuncle and it hit the ball back to Sungchul. This continued for several more rounds.
The white carbuncle wagged its tail excitedly in great anticipation and devoted itself to the play, but Sungchul’s eyes held deep doubt.
‘What am I doing?’
‘I can’t do this anymore.’
Unexpectedly, such thoughts passed through Sungchul’s mind. He stopped playing with the ball and looked behind him. An extravagant door with a shining golden handle stood there.
“I’ll return again.”
Sungchul said his goodbye to the white carbuncle and headed toward the door.
The carbuncle let out a disappointed cry, but Sungchul was unfazed. Once he went through the door, he was met with countless flower petals again before he was back in reality without realizing it.
Sungchul raised his head and gazed at his surroundings. Kha’nes had now lifted the entirety of the cauldron to drink the stock while Bertelgia was out by the stream to play with fireflies. Sungchul approached Kha’nes and waited for her to down the last drop of the liquid before speaking.
“This ring. Can it transport two people?”
She nodded affirmatively to Sungchul’s question.
“Yea, it’s possible, but the one traveling with you have to be connected by a hand or some tool.”
He displayed a gesture of gratitude before suddenly grabbing Bertelgia who had been playing by the stream.
“Hm? You’re already friendly with the carbuncle?”
“No, not yet.”
Sungchul brought Bertelgia beside the campfire.
“Where… are we going?”
Bertelgia, who was always quite quick-witted, had already caught on to Sungchul’s intentions and spoke with a shaky voice.
“Cute animals. Do you like them?”
“I don’t dislike them, but why? Is there any around here?”
“There is one very close by.”
Sungchul spoke as such before stuffing her into his pocket and activating the Fog Guide. The flower petals flurried around Sungchul once again. When the final petal died away, Sungchul had arrived to Carbuncle’s dreamscape again.
“Bertelgia, there is a job for you. You’ll like it.”
Sungchul left it at that before looking around his surroundings, but when he did, there was someone different standing beside him than who he expected. It was for a brief moment, but his heart grew cold. Platinum blonde hair with pale white skin and a facial structure that was almost picturesque, these distinct features that characterized Vestiare was standing right beside him. But Sungchul soon realized that this girl was different from Vestiare.
She was a much smaller and younger than Vestiare.
“Hm? Where is this?”
This girl who looked exactly like Vestiare spoke while looking around with an expression of surprise. Sungchul could discern her identity after hearing her voice.
‘So it was Bertelgia.’
She herself only realized her changed appearance a bit too late. Bertelgia looked at her own arms and legs with wide eyes and eventually touched her face and body with a bright smile.
“Wow! Look at this! I returned to my original look!”
No matter how generous you were, she was a small girl that didn’t appear a year older than 12.
‘Is this the true appearance of Eckheart’s daughter? She truly looks exactly like Vestiare.’
The only difference was in her eyes. Vestiare had a dreamy gaze like she was in a constant dream while Bertelgia had bright eyes like stars that shined even through the thick darkness.
“Just where is this?”
Bertelgia was pinching her own cheeks as she asked. Sungchul who noticed this spoke in a calm voice.
“A dream? Did you actually use the Fog Guide?”
At that moment, they heard a rustling noise from beyond a bush and a white carbuncle revealed its face.
“Hm? That is?”
The moment Bertelgia asked, a ball flew over in her direction. It wanted to play. Sungchul handed the ball over to Bertelgia and spoke in a calm voice.
“Bertelgia, it’s time to earn your keep.”