Chapter 303. The Prodigal Son (3)
The room went silent in an instant.
A sudden silence could mean many things depending on the situation. There might have been a slip of the tongue, or people might have been struck speechless by something startling.
This situation fell in the latter category. Everyone was looking at Aphriso’s Sedge with looks of disbelief.
The only reason they believed it was solely because the evidence was right in front of them. Their eyes were staring right at it.
After a long silence, Gabriel barely managed to open her mouth.
“Really… I’m just as surprised as when I heard Undying Diligence perished…”
“What a mysterious human.”
Yuirel also chimed in.
“It was the same with the First Army Commander, but he really has a way of solving problems that the Federation cannot do anything about.”
She even sounded a little dejected.
The Sky Fairy cried. She got up from the floor and looked back and forth between the seed of the World Tree and the tuberous roots as tears streamed down her face.
Seol Jihu was taken aback by the inaudibly crying Sky Fairy, but it helped him realize how desperate the Federation really was.
“I understand how you feel…”
Gabriel glanced at the sobbing Sky Fairy with a disapproving look.
“But don’t you think it’s too early to be shedding tears of joy?”
“…I’m not crying tears of joy.”
The Sky Fairy stopped crying and replied in a quiet voice.
“I’m crying tears of regret. It’s just like the Fairy General said.”
Her response wasn’t all that enthusiastic for someone who was greatly rejoicing.
Seol Jihu knew why. Gabriel had mentioned three problems obstructing the revival of the World Tree. The items Seol Jihu had taken out only solved two of them.
Of course, solving two problems was an undeniably great achievement, but that didn’t mean the current situation changed. It was only that they now had a method to change the situation.
“It really is regrettable.”
Gabriel heaved a heavy sigh.
“Things would have been much better if you brought those items to us just a little earlier. If we had those items when the connection to the Spirit Realm was unstable, we would have been able to provide a solution.”
They now had the seed that would become the foundation of a new World Tree and the nutrients that would help the seed grow. The only thing that was left now was…
“It is truly, truly regrettable, but the World Tree cannot grow in the Middle World.”
Fertile land and environment for the World Tree to grow.
“The World Tree is born in the Spirit Realm. The World Tree that exists in Tigol Fortress is only an avatar of that tree.”
“You mean we can’t plant the seed in this land?”
“Unfortunately, no. Our picky World Tree can only grow in a special area of the Spirit Realm. Planting the seed in the Middle World is no different than waiting for a flower to bloom inside a trash can.”
“We need to send the seed and the nutrients to the Spirit Realm somehow…”
The seed of the World Tree and Aphriso’s Sedge were no different than trash in the Middle World. For these two items to show their true worth, they had to rebuild the connection to the Spirit Realm and send the items over. But because the World Tree withered away, that was now impossible to do.
This difficult dilemma made Seol Jihu speechless. He was inwardly thinking to just hand over the items for free, but they were saying it was too late.
Gabriel wrapped her hand around her face.
“I shouldn’t have asked. It’s just that I was not expecting anything anyway.”
She grumbled, saying that she was made to get her hopes up for nothing, then sent a signal with a glance. Yuirel got up from her seat and handed over neatly folded clothes to Seol Jihu. At a glance, it looked like a black uniform of some sort.
“It’s a present.”
“It’s woven with the feathers of Fallen Angels, the hair of Cave Fairies, and the wings of Sky Fairies. It should be comfortable. You’re the Federation’s great benefactor. We figured we should do at least this much.”
Seol Jihu responded with difficulty. He should be happy since he finally got his hands on good armor, but his face was only dark. He had a lot on his mind.
“Then we’ll take our leave.”
“We’ve stayed here for too long. Since we’ve done what we came here to do, it’s time we go back.”
Gabriel placed both her hands on the table. But before she fully pushed herself up, she subtly murmured.
“Anyway, since we can’t rely on the Spirit Realm anymore, we’ll need to make do with ourselves…”
Judging by how her words trailed off, it didn’t look like she was expecting much. She must know how humanity worked.
“I won’t make it long. But this needs to be said. Thanks to you, the Parasites have been keeping a low profile. But it’s going to be soon.”
Hearing the word ‘soon’, Seol Jihu raised his eyes and looked up at Gabriel.
“I think the withering of the World Tree is only the start, kind of like a prelude.”
“The Parasites have been quiet for too long.”
Gabriel continued calmly.
“Of course, Undying Diligence perished and Unsightly Humility had to leave the battlefield after manifesting his divinity. Even so, they’ve taken too long to regroup. And now they’re finally making their move.”
“This must mean one thing.”
Seol Jihu’s complexion waned. He had an ominous feeling about what was to come next.
“The Parasites have found a way to deal with the adversary that’s given them a catastrophic defeat in the valley war. The Parasite Queen will not make the same mistake twice. Probably.”
Seol Jihu quietly clenched his teeth.
“I just wanted you to know.”
Gabriel slicked back her long hair.
“Then we’ll take our leave. It was fun seeing you.”
With those words, Gabriel got up and walked away.
Just as she was about to open the door and leave…
“If we can cross over to the Spirit Realm…”
Seol Jihu turned his body and spoke in his seat.
“If we can make a new World Tree grow…”
“If we can do that…”
“…Well—” Gabriel turned halfway and spoke, “The Sky Fairies and the Federation’s upper echelon have concluded that there is nothing we can do. I want to ask what mere humans can do… It’s not sensible to make meaningless theories.”
Gabriel smiled blandly.
“But given that you’ve achieved what no one else has managed to achieve, perhaps it wouldn’t be too out of place to expect a rosy future. Here’s the answer. If you can do that, then the future of humanity and the Federation will not disappear any time soon.”
“The Federation would be grateful as well. It might even make the Beastman Alliance, which detests humanity as much as the Parasites, change their mind.”
Gabriel shrugged, finishing, “Then, the Federation and humanity can aim for a closer relationship than what they currently have.”
Once the meeting ended, the delegation left Eva immediately. If the Parasites were really preparing for war, then they obviously had no time to waste.
Seol Jihu did not return home and headed to Luxuria’s temple instead. The Sky Fairy had left a piece of advice before she left, which was to help the Arcus Spirit grow.
Once born, the Arcus Spirit would start from infancy and go through three phases: youth, adolescence, and adulthood.
According to the Sky Fairy, the Arcus Spirit would be able to hold its ground against the Parasites if it could just enter its adolescence. But since it wasn’t showing any signs of evolving with food, Seol Jihu had visited the temple to feed it divine power.
[I was wondering why you weren’t coming. Okay, how much divine power should I put in?]
Seol Jihu hesitated for a moment before replying, ‘Full.’
[Will you feed it before leaving?]
[Okay. Then point your thumb toward the Arcus Spirit.]
When Seol Jihu did as he was told, a white thread of light came out of his thumb. His leaking contribution points were a little regrettable, but he had no other choice since the Arcus Spirit would help in future battles.
Little Chick opened its beak like a baby bird being fed worms by its mother. Seol Jihu fell into thought as he watched Little Chick eat while flapping its wings happily.
Looking back, they had been in a perilous situation when the Parasites conquered Tigol Fortress. If the Parasite Queen didn’t go out of her way to send troops to Arden Valley, that would have been the end of the Federation and humanity.
And now, danger surpassing the one from back then had arrived. The Parasite Queen was making a move with a new card in hand.
Gabriel had said that the death of the World Tree did not mean an immediate end of the Spirit Realm. Only the pathway connecting it to the Middle World was cut off. But without the World Tree’s protection, it was only a matter of time until the Spirit Realm would fall.
If possible, they had to revive the Spirit Realm’s World Tree. Only then would Tigol Fortress’ past splendor be restored.
The problem was how to cross over to the Spirit Realm. It wasn’t as if they didn’t have a method. No, it was more correct to say that they weren’t clueless.
[That’s not all. It’s been ages since the World Tree withered away. What difference does it make in saving the Spirit Realm now? Rather, do you even have a way to cross over to the Spirit Realm in the first place?]
[You should know that there is another way to get to the Spirit Realm apart from going through the World Tree.]
[Are you mad? If you’re talking about the spring, don’t even mention it. Are you running your mouth off because you don’t know the military strength needed to ward off a single Commander?]
[I know that the method of using the spring is limited. But if we unite with the remaining forces of the Spirit Realm, we might just be able to…]
His future self had said it in that vision he saw from Eun Yuri. Although he reacted badly to what Eun Yuri said, he didn’t deny the method.
In that case…
Seol Jihu suddenly heard a burp. Before he noticed, the white thread of light coming out of his thumb was gone.
Glancing down, he saw Little Chick lying belly-up on the floor, stroking its plump stomach with a satisfied look. Nothing seemed to have changed.
Seol Jihu burst out in laughter but soon reined it in and shook his head.
‘Now’s not the time for this.’
Even now, the Parasite Queen should be busy planning an invasion. Once he thought so, Seol Jihu couldn’t stay still. He had to prepare for the upcoming war internally and search for a way to get to the Spirit Realm externally.
Seol Jihu placed the satisfied Little Chick back into his pocket and left.
He headed to the library. Even if he had to read through every book, he had to find it. This so-called ‘spring’.
On the other hand.
The Parasite Queen was receiving an audience in the Empire’s grand hall.
[How does it feel to be reborn?]
She asked the man kneeling in front of the throne.
“Yes, I am regretting very much. Why didn’t I choose to receive something this good earlier?”
The Parasite Queen smiled lightly.
[I was surprised too. I admit I had high expectations, but I didn’t really think you would fully absorb that divinity.]
“I underestimated it. I thought it would be a piece of cake. Who knew it would take me this long?”
[Funny you say that. Even the highest-ranked beings of various races failed to absorb it in full. Among the Army Commanders, you are now only the second one to fully absorb divinity.]
“Ah, Twisted Kindness, you mean? I don’t know, I’m not that happy being compared with that birdbrain.”
If any of the other Army Commanders were present, they would be enraged at the man’s impudent tone and manner. However, the Parasite Queen did not fault him. In fact, she gave a pleased smile, satisfied with the man’s confidence.
“Anyway, thank you, O Magnanimous Queen. This power you’ve bestowed, I shall use to fulfill my desires and self-interests.”
[Keuk. Desires and self-interests, is it? I’ve thought this from time to time while we were enemies, but you truly are an interesting human.]
“Honesty is one of my good points.”
[Fufu. It is fine to be greedy, but now is the time for discipline. The difference between absorbing divinity and utilizing it is like the difference between the earth and the universe. You must be even more careful since you fully absorbed the divinity.]
“I’m moved to tears by your generous concern.”
[Ah yes, to celebrate your new birth, I was thinking about giving you a new name… What would be good….]
The Parasite Queen tapped on the throne’s armrest and fell into thought.
However, the newly birthed man refused her flatly.
“I am grateful for the offer, but I’d like you to put the thought away.”
“My apologies. I have many unpleasant memories when it comes to class names.”
[Hmm… Indeed. Even I think Pinnacle-rank Mana Swordsman was harsh.]
A snicker rang out.
As the man slowly raised his head, his handsome facial features were exposed in full. Finally revealing his face, the young man’s eyes lit up as he looked up at the queen.
He said with a proud voice.
“This name is enough.”
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