A mystical land said to reside somewhere in the gap of the world. It was the last safe haven for Fairies who have disappeared from the world.
“Wow. This is the Fae World? I’ve always heard of it but… it’s amazing!”
Bertelgia was dumbfounded and captivated by the overwhelming beauty of the Fae World.
This place perfectly preserved the ideal beauty of nature. There was not one imperfection in any blade of grass or any individual stone. Each aspect boasted their utmost beauty while simultaneously having the flexibility to avoid clashing with other things.
Above the new green grassland filled with flowers were cyan colored trees making up the forest. And beyond them still were clouds flowing between steep mountains topped with snow.
But the fascinating thing about the Fae World wasn’t simply because of the beauty of its nature. In the fantastical sky of the Fae World was a sprawling floating city that defied the laws of physics.
Beyond the verdand grasslands and the forests and the mountains were giant arch shaped rivers flowing through the sky, with exotic tantalizing fish more vibrantly colored than fully blossomed flowers swimming and dazzling the eyes. And the unbelievably pure and bright sky immortalized the sight.
‘Has it been 8 years? No, it’s been nine.’
Sungchul stared at the indescribably colorful Fae World with indifferent eyes.
It was a beautiful place no matter when he came to visit.
But Sungchul does not forget.
The fact that this place was definitely a territory outside of human control and therefore was not a place to linger for long. Already the antagonistic fae of the Fae World detected Sungchul’s presence and began to gather and watch from afar.
Ifirt, Undine, Djinn and the like who were once worshiped by a portion of humans were now utterly forgotten and gone from people’s collective memory which led to most of them losing their powers and led to them having to spend their lonely retirement in the Fae World. There was no way these Fae had no animosity towards the human race.
“It is coming of this way, Mister Commander in Chief yeyo.”
“How is it, visiting the Fae World after so long, yeyo?”
If the two Fairies Kaff and Luro weren’t by Sungchul’s side, they might have already attacked by now. Sungchul gazed at the Fae who were hiding and watching him and thought to himself.
‘I had trouble at that time, but how would it be now? I don’t think they would be my match even if all of them were to combine their strength.’
But he knew better than anyone that there was nothing to be gained by fighting the completely immaterial Fae.
“Hurry and lead the way, Fairies.”
Sungchul hurriedly followed the Fairies. Sungchul’s group was walking between the snow capped mountains towards the even emerald colored stream.
The Fairies used the origin of the sky-spanning river as the starting point and headed towards the end of it.
And as they got closer and closer to the destination, adorable and tiny Fairy houses made out of mushroom began to appear one after another.
Bertelgia looked visibly exhilarated.
“Wow. You guys live inside of mushrooms?”
“The lazy of Fairies dig mushrooms to make a house. But diligent of Fairies build houses like human houses.”
And sure enough, after a few mushroom houses, decent looking wooden buildings began to come into view. Of course it was made to fit Fairies inside so Sungchul couldn’t go into them. Bertelgia who was smaller than the Fairies in surface area further shrunk her body to visit the Fairy’s house.
“Wha… what is of this! Kyaa! A weird book monster has of intruded!”
Strictly speaking it was trespassing..
Bertelgia, like a shameless child, committed a wrong doing yet managed to say something impolite.
“I guess the fairies are frugal. There’s nothing worth taking as a souvenir.”
Meanwhile, they were getting closer to the end of the river which flowed through the sky.
Bertelgia discovered the top of a giant tree past the horizon. Despite being beyond the horizon, the unreal size of the tree sufficiently conveyed its massive size. Bertelgia flapped her book pages vigorously.
“Wow. What is that? Is it.. That… the rumored World Tree of the legends?!”
She correctly guessed the name of the tree at a single glance, as the daughter of Eckheart should.
“That is correct. That is the world’s last World Tree, the Andelica.”
The World Tree once could be easily found throughout the continent, but they have all withered up and died and could no longer be found. The last World Tree remained in the world of fairies. The sap of the World Tree that Sungchul had once upon a time handed over to Altugius was obtained from here. The massive World Tree was made of a myriad of stems and had a reddish color. Here another grand spectacle took place.
Birds that resembled flamingos were flying over the top of the World Tree in the tens of thousands. Sungchul grabbed a feather out of the air out of reflex and stared at it.
“You’re very lucky, yeyo. Obtaining a feather of Thousand Year goose right after returning to the Fae World!”
“Thousand Year Goose feathers don’t easily shed and so they are very difficult to obtain, yeyo! It is a rare item that even us Fairies can barely manage to get one every hundreds of years or so, yeyo!”
The Fairies were making a fuss as they stared at the feather in Sungchul’s hands with sparkly eyes. But then Bertelgia who seemed uninterested made a response.
“Hmm, that feather. It looks like it would look quite fine decorating my book cover.”
It seemed as though Bertelgia opened her eyes to the feminine desire to dress up after obtaining gilded frames at the hands of the Fairies. But Sungchul had zero desire to hand over the feather so easily. It was because what was precious to the Fairies was also precious to him. He was thinking to himself of putting the feather on his chef’s hat that was sleeping deep within his Soul Storage.
“I am really liking it, that.”
But there was no end to Bertelgia’s avarice. She appeared from below like she was sticking her head up and blocked Sungchul’s view as she stared intensely at the Thousand Year Goose feather in Sungchul’s hand.
“What is the meaning of this, Bertelgia.”
“I really like it. That. I feel like attaching that to my leather would double my classiness.”
“Nothing would change even if you tried to decorate yourself, being needlessly large as you are. And the value of the book is decided not by the quality of the binding or its paper, but the written contents upon its pages.”
“I am the very best book so there’s nothing to say about the content. You already know that. So that’s why I’m saying let’s increase my authority.”
Bertelgia didn’t seem like she was willing to back down. Of course Sungchul had not one bit of desire to hand over the feather as well. But Sungchul felt that having a petty fight with a book over a single feather as the Fairies watched on was unbecoming of his name and so offered a compromise for now.
“I will keep this but we can later go search around the base of the World Tree for more. There seemed to be more than thirty thousand birds in that flock. If we search carefully we should be able to find one or two more.”
Bertelgia sounded like she found Sungchul’s suggestion very dissatisfactory. She climbed atop Sungchul’s shoulders and continued to make strange noises. Sungchul couldn’t stand it so he said one more thing.
“I swear upon my honor.”
It looked like she was still unsatisfied.
‘This book, really. It seems she’s too childish to understand what a big promise I just made.’
“Yeah, collateral. I need collateral.”
Sungchul felt that it was a dumb thing to say but he didn’t let it show on the outside. It was because the Fairies were watching. He was caught off guard when Bergelgia ambushed Sungchul and buried herself in between his coat.
“What, you little!”
Sungchul was terribly startled. It was because he noticed what she was trying to accomplish. Bertelgia was using the hidden book binding thread and her covers like a tongue to untie Sungchul’s most precious broach.
This has already been done to him before, he wasn’t about to let it happen again.
Sungchul hastily removed Bertelgia. The broach was safe. Bertelgia looked regretful as she used her book cover to imitate smacking her lips as she used her book binding thread to imitate a tongue.
Sound of fairies laughing could be heard from behind.
It seemed that Sungchul’s undignified response looked quite funny.
“The Destroyer is past his prime it seems. Last time he visited he had such a sharp presence it felt like you could cut yourself just touching him.”
“That’s the frailty of humans. They are born with the destiny of living a finite lifetime, so of course they are quick to wilt. Like the flowers that grow and wilt on this land.”
The sound of the Fae mocking Sungchul could be heard from behind. That was when Bertelgia finally realized that they had been following them from behind. But she didn’t see anything when she turned around. She only saw a peculiar shape shimmer among the thick turquoise forest.
Bertelgia asked with a voice full of curiosity.
“They are the Fae. A species in decline.”
“Ah… that’s the Fae? There were no Fae even when I was alive.”
“The world’s life energy empties out when the Calamity approaches, so the places the Fae could live disappears.”
It was the story even Sungchul had heard from the Fae. Sungchul does not know the details of how the Fae live. Either way, the fight over the feather ended with Sungchul yielding. Sungchul had taken a step back because it wasn’t a mature thing to do.
Sungchul’s group reached the bottom of the World Tree while listening to Bertelgia’s happy humming. Looking up at the World Tree from the base looked like the tree extended into and touched the sky. It was truly tall and massive.
The river flowing through the sky deposited water and vibrantly colored fish at the foot of the World Tree. There was a large pond near the World Tree with an enormous capacity of water and filled with living things.
A Fairy emerged from below a moss covered fallen tree.
The immediate difference between this Fairy and others was that it was slightly bigger and wore a large white beard.
“Oh, it’s been a while, Destroyer.”
The old Fairy was the Elder in charge of all the Fairies in the Fae World. He did not have his own name. It was because he had lived through unimaginable eons in the Fae World and the name has been lost. Although it was also true that the Fairies did not typically become attached to their names. Either way, the Elder welcomed Sungchul who had been gone for a while.
“Has it been 9 years? Amazing. Have you come to see your daughter?”
Sungchul nodded at the Elder’s words.
“I was wondering if she was doing well.”
“If you mean the child, she’s fine. She’s absorbing the energy of the World Tree and roaming the eternal dream.”
“That is good to hear.”
Bertelgia also began to fill with expectation.
‘Ah, finally I get to see that cuckoo child! I wonder what she looks like?!’
The Elder led Sungchul and others slowly to the inner part of the World Tree.
Under and around Fal Garaz that was lying on the ground was an ancient magic formation no mage in the entire world could hope to replicate.
Witch of the Forest Adelwight.
She had the ability to see the personality, the past, as well as the future through the possession of an individual.
Fal Garaz was a Divine item Sungchul had always carried with him from the moment he had become the Enemy of the World. There was no tool better suited to look into the future of the man named Sungchul. But Adelwight saw through the mirror called Fal Garaz a mysterious scene she could not decipher.
Her future sight was based on witnessing a collection of short scenes and then using logic and reasoning to piece them together, but the scenes displayed before her were like water oil, impossible to link with one another no matter how hard she tried.
‘What’s this? This has never happened before.’
The decisive reason why she is able to look into the future was that she had absolutely no fear of the future. She lives an immortal life in a forest under the protection of God. No one was capable of harming her and her peace could not be broken.
That was why she was able to treat any future, no matter how terrifying, impartially. But the bone chilling images that appeared before her were terrible to behold even for an immortal one such as herself.
She saw the same scene as Amuge. The sight of a giant standing atop a field of white bleached skeletons. The sky was on fire and the earth crumbled away. And the giant walked towards the land that was still green. Followed closely by the seven weapons of Calamity which followed like servants.
‘This isn’t on the level of a mere periodic Calamity… this… this is beyond the level of calamity, a true Ill Fate (재액災厄Jae Ek: bad luck(fortune) that causes calamity). The curse which is the destiny of the land after the death of God…!’
Before Adelwight’s increasingly fearful eyes was another scene.
It was a single volume of a book.
With the name Bertelgia.
At the same time, Sungchul was standing before the precious person he had left in the Fae World who was the driving force behind his actions. Bertelgia doubted her eyes.
The girl Sungchul was trying to protect was sleeping next to the roots of the World Tree. Covered in dust and dirt as if she was a part of a fallen tree.
Sprouting here and there upon her body were strange white flowers that looked like silkworms.
Sungchul approached the child and kneeled down to stroke her hardened cheeks and offered a few soft words. But Bertelgia who was watching could tell without a doubt.
‘That child… is already dead.’
But she couldn’t bring herself to say it out loud.
Sungchul was making too tender and affectionate expressions to have him realize the truth.