The curse of Calamity became undone. But the child remained unconscious with only having uttered an unwelcome word.
Despite being faced with this unexpected development, Sungchul’s gaze looked steady and calm..
The elder continued to check Craiya Kreigfreid’s physical condition.
“The heart is definitely beating. The breathing is regular. There’s no damage to the soul either.”
While the elder was examining Craiya, Sungchul held his hands behind his back and tilted his head all the way back. Countless Fairies came and went to support the elder’s efforts. Even some water sprites that were on friendly terms with the Fairies came to help diagnose Craiya.
“The blood is uncontaminated. It’s a perfectly clean blood.”
After a considerable amount of time and a lengthy discussion, the elder was able to understand the situation well enough to call Sungchul. The elder diagnosed this unpredicted circumstance as such.
“When any life becomes reconnected to the mother of all life, the World Tree, then in some ways, it seems as though it is like a bird reverting back into the egg. Those who become one with the World Tree enter a shell in the form of a blissful but unending sleep. It’s one of the motherly blessings of the World Tree.”
Sungchul was told this in the past as well.
Sungchul nodded and gave a piercing stare at the elder. The elder continued to speak.
“This human child’s body was perfectly restored to full health, and the soul has returned to its proper place within the body, but the child’s consciousness is still trapped within the dream world of the World Tree’s blessings. That eternal sleep typically ends when the connection to the World Tree is severed, but there are cases where they are unable to wake up from the dream.”
The elder finished and cautiously watched Sungchul’s reaction.
“So there’s a lack of desire to wake up?”
Sungchul asked bluntly. The elder gulped as he stroked his beard. Sungchul felt a profound sense of fatigue from the situation.
He turned around and left. Bertelgia chased after him.
“Mmm? You’re just going to go like that? After everything you’ve done to revive her, you’re not even going to stick around for the moment when she finally opens her eyes?”
“I am a little tired. I want to sleep.”
Sungchul walked briskly out from under the root of the World Tree. Bertelgia was left behind and she watched Sungchul’s figure disappear in the distance in a daze.
‘Something’s wrong. Could it be because of the Weapons of Calamity?’
It was a different situation from La Grange. In that time, Sungchul was trapped within uncontrollable wrath and sadistic cruelty. Meanwhile, the state that was gripping Sungchul’s condition was overwhelming apathy.
‘Yeah. He’s just tired. He voluntarily became indebted. Dad said it too. There’s no life more difficult than living in debt.’
While Bertelgia was processing her thoughts alone, Marakia waddled up to her and tapped her with his black wings.
“Oy, Living Book.”
It was uncommon for Marakia to initiate conversations with Bertelgia. She felt a cold sense of dread wash over her.
Although Bertelgia was currently ranked 2nd in the hierarchy, in truth, she was a perfect example of what it meant to be being arrogant on borrowed authority. When she wasn’t next to Sungchul, let alone being 2nd in rank, she couldn’t even reach a level of a toy to Marakia.
“Who is that human woman?”
Luckily, Marakia seemed to be devoid of any malintent. Bertelgia felt a rush of relief and her sense of superiority and high-spiritedness return to her. With her usual sharp manner of speech, she explained about the relationship between Sungchul and Craiya.
Marakia listened as he walked forward. Bertelgia’s brief explanation was completed roughly by the time they reached the exit of the caves under the roots.
“Truely a foolish human.”
Marakia said with a condescending tone.
“Being the noblest of my kind precluded my familiarity with the utterances of the lowly peons, but despite this, I am aware of the worst most degrading insult available to our race of wings and beak.”
Bertelgia shook in surprise as she looked at Marakia. It was because his sudden explanation of insult was unexpected and she didn’t know the reason why he brought it up. Marakia who couldn’t care less about Bertelgia’s reaction continued to speak while gazing up at the floating river flowing through the sky above.
“The insult is ‘fool left with the child of a cuckoo’.”
“Fool left with the child of a cuckoo…?”
If Bertelgia had eyes, she would have blinked a few times.
“This is the worst insult that we Nahak can utter. And to me, Sungchul appears to be that fool who got left with a child after being cucked!”
Bertelgia was now aware of what Marakia was trying to say.
“So you’re saying that the cuckold is that woman named Ryze?”
“Yes. And the egg is that sleeping human girl.”
“Ah… that makes sense I guess.”
“I cannot stand by and watch this.”
Marakia’s eyes sparkled dangerously. Bertelgia trembled when she discovered the fierce flames of useless confidence raging in Marakia’s otherwise round and clear eyes.
“Wha… what are you trying to do?”
“I shall go awaken that girl.”
“Humans respond to pain.”
Marakia stroked his still-developing but sharp beak. In other words, he was going to peck her. Bertelgia immediately rushed to Sungchul to wake him and inform him of Marakia’s intentions. Luckily, Sungchul was able to arrive in the nick of time to prevent Marakia from pecking away at Craiya.
Bertelgia appeared in front of Sungchul after he restrained Marakia and spoke.
“How about waking up that girl yourself since you’re here anyway?”
“How would I do that?”
Sungchul, who was still tired, yawned and stretched. Bertelgia stared at Sungchul straight in the eye and said,
“There’s always Fog Guide.”
“Fog Guide you say…”
She was right. If it is Fog Guide which grants the user the ability to enter others’ dream, then it might be possible to wake up the girl who was refusing to wake up. But he felt a strange resistance to the idea.
Looking into the dreams of someone close was more consequential than coming across random information about a stranger. Fear of finding out something you didn’t or shouldn’t know, perhaps the impetus of curiosity itself, Sungchul was no fan of such things.
“I feel like this is probably better than sleeping mindlessly. You have a lot of things to do, remember? Starting with the thing with the Colossi… and you know, the Colossi…”
Although he had no desire to act, he felt the need to use Fog Guide, if nothing else, to get away from Bertelgia’s annoying nagging.
Sungchul and Bertelgia returned together to the underground chamber under the World Tree where Craiya was sleeping. Craiya was sleeping under the covers the Fairies had brought at some point, oblivious to the world. She looked so content and at peace that it felt wrong to wake her. Sungchul hesitated after seeing her face, but he took out the Fog Guide when he noticed Bertelgia’s gaze.
“I’ll come along too!”
He didn’t really want to go together, but he thought that there was no reason not to. Sungchul nodded and used one hand to bring Bertelgia into his embrace while he used his other hand which held the Fog Guide to cover both of Craiya’s small hands completely.
Journey to the Dreamland.
Unidentifiable things in all of creation passed by like meteors until an elegant garden under a bright sunlight came into view.
Bertelgia in human form made a wide smile.
“Where are we? It’s so pretty. Look at that flower. There’s even a maze made of hedges!”
Unlike Bertelgia who was overjoyed without a care in the world, Sungchul felt a strong headache coming when the beautiful garden came into view.
‘A place that I thought I would never have to see again because it burnt down to the ground is perfectly recreated in its full glory in here.’
This was Kreigfreid’s garden. Although he had never come here himself, Ryze Himerr who became the wife of a different man had sent him a number of magically produced photos until Sungchul was intimately familiar with this place.
Ryze Himerr was not a woman whose mind you could understand. Even if it appears as though you are in her heart, she’s looking elsewhere at a blink of an eye.
Once the rebellion forces defeated the Kingdom of Ruteginea, the issue of what to do with the royal family was an important issue at the negotiation table. The fate of Ryze who was an acquaintance of Sungchul was among them. Though they have been defeated, the still-powerful nobility of Ruteginea did not think highly of an idea of letting the adopted daughter of King Kromgard marry an obscure Summoned man even though Ryze had not a drop of royal blood.
The leaders of the rebellions had a different thought process in coming to the conclusion, but ultimately shared the same sentiment as the defeated nobles of the Ruteginea. They did not want the right hand of the Emperor who fought fiercely at the vanguard in offense and in rearguard in retreat to marry a baseless woman without a drop of royal blood.
In the midst of bad rumors circulating the streets of La Grange, the man who would become Emperor, William called Sungchul to speak one to one.
“If this is what you wish, I will officiate your marriage.”
Sungchul doesn’t remember the exact words he used at that time. It’s likely that he had said something to the effect of following Ryze’s decision. This was not a statement that reflected 100% of his desire. There was definitely an element of him being unsteady in his feelings and wanting to rely on someone else to make the decision for him.
The result of the wish-washy decision he made was this garden.
Ryze Himerr chose to marry the man Sungchul disliked the most. Sungchul’s naive hopes were dashed fantastically and he was forced to endure the ghastly bitterness of rejection.