He was thinking of saying goodbye to Ludd once he came back, but since he didn't know when he would come back from his mission, it would be a waste of time to wait indefinitely in Behengerr.
Since there was no news of Ludd even after 3 days of waiting, Sungmin decided to leave Behengerr on the spot. It wasn't like he had any luggage. The house wasn't his, nor was any of the furniture inside it.
The only thing he prepared before leaving Behengerr was some food that would allow him to survive for several days in an emergency. He didn't take much either. Although he had a spatial pouch, he didn't want to increase his luggage any more than was necessary.
"You're packed light."
Scarlett didn't seem to like that very much though, as she who he had met up at the northern gate screamed 'traveller' no matter which angle one saw her from. She was wearing a large, hooded robe, with a bulky bag on her back.
Sungmin was flabbergasted looking at her.
"…Do you not have a spatial pouch?"
"This is my spatial pouch."
She said, pointing at the bag on her back. This was the first time Sungmin saw a spatial pouch of such size.
"…Do you have a lot of luggage?"
"I'm not simply traveling. I'm traveling in order to look for a place I could settle down and do my research. Of course I have a lot."
She said while tapping on her bag. Sungmin approached her and extended his hand towards her bag.
"I'll carry it for y…."
"Don't get cocky. I never told you to. I'll carry my own luggage."
Scarlett slapped on Sungmin's hand and snarled at him. Sungmin flinched and took a step back and looked at her face. Although he had met her a few times during the 3 months in Behengerr, Sungmin didn't at all know what kind of personality Scarlett Lecir had.
"Let's go, then. I've already rented a carriage."
"We're taking carriage?"
"Of course. No way, were you going to walk all the way to Brethun?"
When Scarlett asked back, Sungmin had nothing to say. In actuality, he had been thinking more of a horse than a carriage.
"I borrowed the carriage with my own money. I won't ask you to pay for it, so don't worry. Oh… I wasn't able to get a coachman though. Can you drive a carriage?"
"Ah, yes. I can."
When he was a low-rank mercenary in his previous life, he learned all sorts of skills related to menial labor to participate in as many missions as possible. He also learned to drive a carriage back then.
Scarlett was unexpectedly very strict in preparation. The horses on the carriage were very healthy, and the state of the carriage was very good as well. Although maintenance would be required since they were going on a long-distance journey, he thought that he would be able to drive the carriage without issue for a while.
"Then… which way are we going?"
Sungmin took out a map and a compass. Although Eria was enormous and the map wasn't that accurate, setting a general direction with it wouldn't pose a problem.
"Go wherever you want. I don't have a destination in mind."
Scarlett put her large bag inside the carriage. Then, she looked at Sungmin and took off her hood.
"Nothing, it was just getting stuffy inside my room. It doesn't matter where you go."
Sungmin glanced at her with a strange gaze at Scarlett's words. He may have been mistaken, but he felt a slight bitterness in her words.
"What are you doing? Go."
Scarlett sat next to Sungmin, who was the coachman. Sungmin coughed awkwardly for a moment and pulled the reins.
The carriage started moving slowly.
He barely survived.
Lloyd who attacked the dungeon, had become even more of a freak than he was 10 years ago. It wasn't that Prescan was playing around during the past decade, but the 10 years they each spent created only widened the gap between them.
'But I still lived.'
Damned freak. He wasn't even a lich. If something like a genius existed in the field of magic, then it must refer to Lloyd. Prescan was certain. Lloyd was more of a freak than any other mage he had seen.
However, he had survived. That was what mattered. This time… he was too unlucky. If Prescan was in his perfect state, he would have been able to kill Lloyd. Though, once that happened, the mage guild would be flipped over and would try to kill him at any costs.
'I wasn't at my peak state, so we were barely even… no, I was outmatched a little. That insane freak….'
If Prescan wasn't a lich and was an ordinary mage, he would have died in that dungeon. In the battle with Lloyd, Prescan was pushed to the brink of death. Once he died once, he would lose an enormous quantity of magic energy, so he chose to flee. Although it was a pity that he wasn't able to kill Lloyd, he would be chased by the mage guild regardless of whether he killed Lloyd or not.
Prescan felt more joy than pity. In front of him was a little girl with long black hair, looking at a mirror. Although the clothes on her suited her well, the girl didn't seem to like it so much.
Prescan carefully called out to the girl. He wanted to create the ultimate life. He researched for decades with that as the goal, and his research recently came to fruition in the form of that chimera girl. He named her Aine. Although she was the crystallization of Prescan's life-long goal, Aine was too unstable. Both her body and her heart. Although he was tuning her afterwards, it was impossible to tune Aine perfectly with his current capabilities.
Only after he called out to her once more did she look back to Prescan. Her body and soul were not in harmony with each other. But what was an even bigger problem, was that Aine didn't listen to Presan that well. Perhaps the seal of obedience wasn't engraved properly as he had to hurry with imbuing her soul into the heard and body. Although there were a lot of problems, he wasn't able to tune Aine right now.
Prescan was injured too heavily. Although liches weren't bound to their bodies, an attack from an archmage was able to mortally wound Prescan. He would only be able to recover from his wounds after a long period of recuperation. Although the seal of obedience was incomplete, it was still present, evidenced by the fact that Aine didn't kill Prescan.
"Off you go."
Aine nodded her head slightly. Although she didn't seem to like it so much, she didn't go against Prescan's words that badly.
Aine's body disappeared in front of Prescan's eyes. It wasn't magic. She only moved at an incredible speed. Prescan sighed and collapsed onto the ground.
The place Prescan fled to wasn't that far away from where the dungeon originally was. It wasn't that he was aiming for a place where it was 'darkest under the lamp', but that he just wasn't capable of running further as he was in an urgent situation.
'The heart should still be there….'
Saying that, Prescan prayed that he was right. As he had to flee urgently, he wasn't able to get the other heart. Since he didn't kill Lloyd, he thought that the heart would be gone as well… but he sent Aine over just in case to check.
Having left Prescan's hiding place, Aine immediately headed to the dungeon. Midway, however, she stopped. She felt a strange sense of unfamiliarity from her heart beating inside her chest. Aine frowned and pressed down on her chest. Amidst the discomfort akin to something crawling beneath her skin, Aine turned her head.
Not too far away, something was attracting Aine's senses. What should she do? Prescan – her father – asked her to check whether the other heart was still in the dungeon or not.
Aine delayed Prescan's request without a shred of hesitation.
Since the sun was about to set, he stopped the carriage. If he forced the horses and the carriage throughout the night, the horses would tire out faster and the carriage would wear out faster as well. Sungmin stopped the carriage at a decent place and tied up the horses .
"Let's stay here for the night."
On their way here, he didn't talk a lot with Scarlett. While Sungmin was riding the carriage. Scarlett read magic texts next to him. Even though the roads were rough and the ride wasn't easy, her reading continued. As expected of a future archmage. Her concentration was top-notch.
"…Are you familiar with camping?"
"That's a strange question. I've lived in Mount Msh for nearly 2 years. I couldn't wash, nor could I change clothes. Camping? Of course I'm familiar with it. I still feel like it's more comfortable sleeping on the floor than on the bed."
Tap. Scarlett closed the book she was reading and replied. The book she was reading on the way here was very thick and heavy, and was more of a blunt weapon than a book. She threw the book inside the carriage.
"Then, let's get ready for…."
"Ready? Ready for what?"
"Like gathering wood and…."
"What do you think mages exist for?"
At Sungmin's words, Scarlett asked back as though Sungmin was stupid. She looked around and extended her hand towards a nearby tree. Without even a chant, a magic was cast. A thick tree branch from the top snapped in half and flew towards Sungmin's feet. She then extended her hand again towards the branch on the ground with nonchalant face.
Poof! And the branch was lit on fire.
"Magic exists to replace menial labor. Not all magic is about killing people."
"Sheeh, every single one of you martial artists are like that. They're so ignorant and let their bodies do the work. You know some magic, don't you? Then think about how to use them more proactively and more efficiently."
Scarlett grumbled before sitting down. Sungmin wasn't able to retort and obediently sat down opposite her.
"Haste, Strength, Fatigue Recovery, Mind Cleaning. Although these are basic magic spells, the possibilities and might of magic differs drastically according to those who use it. Hey, did you even think about using magic properly?"
"N, no. I only thought about using them as support for my martial arts…."
"That's where you are stiff in your reasoning. Just because you like martial arts and learn martial arts doesn't mean you're talented. Who knows, perhaps you might be more talented in magic than you are in martial arts."
Scarlett folded her arms as she said that. Sungmin wasn't able to come up with a reply and stayed silent. It wasn't that wrong. Something 'you want to become good at' and something 'you are good at' were different things. When the two are the same, then that person was lucky, and perhaps called a genius.
In Sungmin's case, the two did not match, he wanted to do well in martial arts, but he wasn't able to. He had heard that he lacked talent too many times so he didn't even feel shameful about it.
"It will take months to reach Brethun anyway. I can teach you some useful magic on the way th…."
Scarlett's expression suddenly turned cold. Just a moment later, Sungmin had sensed it as well. His sixth sense warned him… no, it wasn't his sixth sense.
Inside his chest, his heart was in discomfort.
T/N: "Aine" is supposed to be pronounced like the German word "Eine" (Perhaps Japanese readers, if there are any, would be more familiar with "アイネ"?). But I don't want to have to write "Ainë" all the time…
Comments: Aine must be hitting puberty already… going against her father's orders…
Next chapter teaser: Her arm turns into… WHAT?
ED: "it's darkest under the lamp", for those unaware, appears to be a Japanese proverb, means something along the lines of "hiding in plain sight" or overlooking something right under one's nose. Just putting that there since I didn't understand it on my first readthrough.