Felix examined his surroundings seriously with the eyes of an observant scholar. I followed him intently and tried to search the area as well.
Surrounded by white stone pillars and marble, rather than a ‘castle’ that Anthony spoke of, this place looked more like a temple.
Moreover, the architecture was quite outstanding.
Although I didn’t know enough about the architecture of this world, judging from what I’ve seen so far, it exuded the scent of a foreign country.
If the buildings of the Roxitant Empire were Baroque or Rococo style, this was ancient Greek architecture.
Of course, it didn’t exactly match, but I meant it roughly felt that way.
“This is the building we saw from the outside a while ago.”
“It appears so.”
We saw this building from afar on the ship. So we really entered Camoli Island, thousands of years ago, before it was polluted by mana?
Until earlier, I felt like I would suffocate from the scorching heat, but now a cool breeze lightly brushed between the two of us.
Judging by the blooming flowers, spring seemed to have arrived.
‘The season is different.’
No wonder my body was shivering.
I asked as I tugged at the damp clothes that were clinging to my body, “You said that this space on the island is twisted. Is the sea the passage through the twisted space?”
Felix turned his head casually towards me and then inadvertently fixed his gaze in the opposite direction before answering.
“The boy named Anthony said he escaped from the island through the sea, so that’s probably right.”
It became even harder to grasp what the spirit was doing. Turning back time on the island, twisting the space, creating passages in the sea…….
“I can hear the wind.”
“And the sound of the waves.”
We looked through the window together. Children dressed in unfamiliar styles of clothing were running around laughing.
Good heavens, there were children here?
The time on the island had gone back. If you looked at nature, it was a large living organism.
So then, did the humans that live on the island also go back in time?
Indeed, it was the most incomprehensible of all the extraordinary phenomena I had ever seen.
Felix, who was observing the children silently, said, “That’s the style of clothing that people in this region wore four thousand years ago.”
“How do you know that?”
“The fragment of Leraze’s soul informed me.”
“You’re able to communicate with it?”
I asked the question out of curiosity.
Felix bitterly replied, “I can communicate with it very well.”
Well, if the devil had to tempt and incite him, I guess it couldn’t help but communicate.
From the looks of it, Felix seemed to want the devil to keep its mouth shut.
For the time being, I had two important questions.
Why did it create such a space?
Why did it attract people here?
It was just the two of us here, so everyone was probably scattered around. First of all, I was most worried about Claudia right now. Where the hell was she?
The last time I saw her, she was dangling from the railing, about to fall. Even as I was searching around, I couldn’t even see a strand of her hair, so I started to get crazy with worry.
Felix and I decided to approach the children directly and talk to them.
But as soon as they saw us from a distance, the children sprinted to us first. They frantically huddled around us and hummed.
Huh, they knew we were outsiders.
I didn’t have time to speak. The children brought over a basket filled with dry clothes, freshly baked bread, and fragrant wine. It was like they were merely performing their duties.
I gazed uneasily at the bread and wine. It reminded me of the words that if I ate food here, I would go crazy.
I inquired as I concealed my hesitation and suspicion, “Why are you giving me this?”
No, I was aware of that as soon as I saw it.
The children stuck close to us and stared up at us. They seemed intent on watching until we ate.
I rolled my eyes and said, “I’ll change my clothes first, so could you move away?”
“Eat first. We have to make sure you eat.”
Oh, these crafty, scary babies…….
At that moment, Felix knelt on one knee to match their eye level. And he treated the child in front of him with incredible politeness.
“Thanks to you, I was able to escape the cold and hunger. That’s kind of you.”
As he smiled, light pink petals filled with spring energy fluttered like rain behind his back.
“Uh-huh. It’s what we do.”
“Have you eaten yet?”
The child was clearly perplexed as no one had ever returned such a greeting before.
After all, if anyone’s gaze became intertwined with those deep blue eyes, that person would have no choice but sway around like a balloon dangling in front of an event hall.
Just like I did.
It was easy to coax a child, I guess.
“No, we don’t need to eat. We’re not hungry.”
“You can’t do that. You have to eat to grow as big as me.”
“Older brother has to eat it.”
“I’ve grown big enough, so I’m fine.”
Then he returned the bread he was holding to the child. When the child refused, he ripped the bread into small pieces with his fingers and then placed it next to their mouth.
There was no coercion or threat. The child hesitated before opening their mouth. Their eyes as clear as a lake folded finely.
No, how could the boy refuse the food given to him so naturally and tenderly?
I watched in wonder as Felix continued to tear bread like a mother bird and at the child who was eating with relish as his cheeks puffed up.
Perhaps they were captivated by the strange madness that flowed through the island. Or maybe this was the Sunshine Policy1 that I had only heard of.
“How did you come up with the admirable idea of giving us something to eat?”
Felix patted the child’s head and praised him for eating well. The boy, who blushed from embarrassment, opened his mouth.
“The Lord has invited outsiders to the island. So everyone who lives here distributes food and clothes whenever they see outsiders.”
The Lord. That meant he dragged all the people heading to the island into this place. And he was also the one who provided food that drove people crazy.
This place needed a million danger signs.
I asked the children, “Why did he invite us here?”
“Because Ilypia likes it.”
“The Spirit of Life. Don’t you even know that?”
“He loves festivals. So every day is a festival.”
I opened my eyes wide in surprise and soon covered my pounding heart with my palm. If it was the Spirit of Life, it meant that it governed the realm of life, right?
Life. It had a nice ring to it2.
Perhaps the gamble between the crossroads of ‘shambles or jackpot’ might have leaned towards the jackpot side. Of course, it was under the assumption that Claudia was safe.
‘I hope we find Chloe soon.’
We might be able to lead the situation positively. Thinking so, I tapped Felix on the shoulder and glanced at him, signaling that we should leave.
At that time, a girl looked back at me, perhaps thinking that she should hold onto at least one person, and persistently said, “Older sister, you should eat it then.”
I replied with a smile, “I feel full just from watching you all eat.”
“How can you be full from just watching?”
“The hunger of the body can be satisfied with food, but the hunger of the mind cannot be satisfied with substances. When the mind is satisfied, you don’t have to worry about your body.”
Since the Sunshine Policy worked, I spoke in a friendly tone and uttered words that sounded complicated. But once I said it, I realized that there were actually words that didn’t suit me.
The children didn’t understand me at all and said I was a ‘strange person.’ The girl gave me a sullen look, and in the end, ate the bread and left.
Phew, I somehow got over it.
I breathed a sigh of relief and wiped the cold sweat from my forehead with the back of my hand.
Felix raised his body as he stared at the children’s retreating backs. When Felix matched the children’s eyes, he looked so small, but now that he stood straight up, he was huge.
I looked up at him with my head tilted back and asked, “Are those children alive or dead?”
Then he moved his lips slowly.
“Never eat or drink anything in the Underworld. Those who do will never leave the Underworld3.”
There was such a saying.
Felix continued to speak calmly.
“Those children died four thousand years ago. And no matter how much you turn back time, you cannot bring the dead back to life. Not even God.”
“But you said it isn’t a hallucination?”
“It’s not a hallucination but an ephemeral illusion4.”
I was confused, but I vaguely understood what he meant.
In other words, it seemed to exist but didn’t actually exist.
It meant that even though we could see, touch, and talk to them, they didn’t actually exist here and weren’t even living human beings.
It was a bit sad to call them the remnants of the dead, and it was creepy to call them ghosts.
With a bitter smile across his lips, Felix muttered, “It’s a soulless shell. It seems like someone is forcibly trying to hold onto the illusion.”
* * *
T/N: Hope you all enjoyed the chapters! We’re finally back on track since I’ve caught up to all the chapters that should’ve been tl-ed in June :> I’ll be going back to the normal 2 chapters per week starting from next week! I know I always say this, but thank you so much for your patience, everyone~💖
1. The Sunshine Policy is the current guiding philosophy of South Korea’s foreign policy towards North Korea. It emphasizes peaceful cooperation between the two states. The main aim of the policy is to soften North Korea’s attitudes towards the south by encouraging interaction and economic assistance. For more info: http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sunshine_policy and https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Sunshine_policy↩
2. To “have a ring to it” means it sounds appealing.↩
3. Two separate legends, the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone, and the European notion of the land of the Fae share this common notion of “Those who eat or drink anything in the Underworld/Faerie world, respectively may never return from it.”↩
4. In case anyone needed an explanation: a hallucination is a perception not based on sensory input, whereas an illusion is a misrepresentation of a “real” sensory stimulus. E.g. A hallucination can be classified as unformed/simple (e.g. dots, flashes) or formed/complex (actual objects or people). In contrast, examples of illusions are when a pencil in a glass of water seems to be bent, or if a driver sees their own headlights reflected in the window of a store they might think another vehicle is coming towards them even though they know there’s no road there. (Shout-out to Britannica for most of these examples). XD↩
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