Team: HH, thursdays, Yahiko (3/10)
“Anastasia isn’t a just and kind person, I mean, a fox. But the reason she took in the artifacts is because of something that occurred a long time ago. Back then, she was desperate and sorrowful.”
After being kicked out by Anastasia, Freesia stopped Yeon-woo and explained why Anastasia couldn’t let go of the Adamantine Nova. She said the artifacts storage room was everything to Anastasia.
“What happened back then…”
“Since it’s not a part of our deal, I cannot tell you. I only told you this much because I hope you’ll understand her.”
Yeon-woo nodded. All people had backstories. Naturally, a Gumiho who had lived a thousand years would also have one. It was probably hard for a normal person to understand.
“Of course, it’s not like she isn’t gaining anything from it. The artifacts themselves are high-level monsters, so they can be tools to extract monstrous energy from. But if you try to take the Adamantine Nova…”
“Things will become dangerous.”
Yeon-woo wiped his face with his hand. His thoughts were in a jumble. Even if he wanted to take the Adamantine Nova, with Anastasia revealing everything like that, there was no way to take it.
And it wasn’t like there was anyone else in the Tower who had it.
If there was, Freesia would’ve mentioned that person already.
‘I guess I have to make it myself.’
How much time and resources would it take? With Tartarus about to fall any second, time was of the essence. Even if the two Cyclopes helped, could he do it in a short amount of time?
‘I need to ask for help from Henova, Brahm, and the Head Elder…. and even Victoria.’
If they all worked together like when they made the Philosopher’s Stone, wouldn’t they be able to see results more quickly?
Yeon-woo began to brainstorm how to finish the process as soon as possible.
‘But why isn’t Victoria coming out?’
Victoria had said she would meet him outside, but she hadn’t shown up yet.
Just then, a portal opened in front of Yeon-woo. He turned, thinking it was Victoria, but Anastasia popped out with an enraged face.
Anastasia suddenly grabbed Yeon-woo’s neck and threw him to the ground. Yeon-woo didn’t have any time to react.
Behind Anastasia, all nine of her tails were lit up.
Monstrous energy simmered in the air. As the atmosphere crumpled, a powerful pressure pushed down on Yeon-woo’s chest.
“Where did you hide it?”
“Shut up, wolf. I’m talking to this bastard right now!”
Anastasia shouted at Freesia not to interfere and looked back at Yeon-woo.
“Tell me. Where did you hide it?
“Don’t pretend like you don’t know.”
Anastasia’s eyes flashed wickedly.
“I’m talking about Victoria. She disappeared with the Adamantine Nova. If not you, then who else could have done it?”
Yeon-woo felt blank, like he had been hit hard in the head with a hammer.
‘She disappeared? Victoria?’
Why? That thought occurred to him first. Just now, when he had seen her, she was glad to see him and acted like she wanted to tell him something.
However, his contemplation was quickly interrupted. The Gumiho overlapping with Anastasia was growling. It acted like it would swallow him up if he didn’t answer her.
Yeon-woo suddenly felt annoyed. He was frustrated that he couldn’t obtain the Adamantine Nova, but now, he was being suspected of stealing it. He was infuriatingly irritated.
With the feeling of something retching from his chest, something popped out. A part of the Demonism from his subconscious appeared.
It was the low warning voice of a beast. The air around Yeon-woo changed instantly.
Anastasia furrowed her eyebrows, realizing that something was strange.
“I said to let go.”
Yeon-woo grabbed Anastasia’s arm with glowing eyes and started to remove it from his neck. Then, the monstrous energy of the Gumiho and the magic power from the Demonism clashed, causing the atmosphere to shake up and down.
It was different from the fight in the entertainment district. If he was this powerful, why had he lost?
Anastasia’s eyes filled with murderous intent. A mere human dared to resist her. It was unpleasant.
Also, she didn’t like how the shadow behind Yeon-woo started to tremble like crazy from earlier. The Monster Portents, Death Lords, and even the Lich inside. They were all annoying.
Thinking it would be better to rip him to shreds, she raised her nails and attempted to rip apart Yeon-woo’s face.
Chills ran down Anastasia’s spine. Beyond the mask, there was something in Yeon-woo’s eyes.
It was a deep, sticky abyss that made her feel like if her soul was caught, she would be trapped forever.
And the thing that was hunched over inside looking at her.
The moment she met its eyes, Anastasia felt fear for the first time in hundreds of years.
It was a great being that considered a thousand-year-old Gumiho like her as prey.
『Stop acting out. You’re only a pet of Rhea. That’s enough of your cute tricks. 』
Anastasia stiffened at the voice that pierced her head.
Just then, Yeon-woo moved her arm to the side and stood up.
“Don’t grasp at straws. Victoria’s disappearance has nothing to do with me.”
It was a completely different tone from the voice that had just rung out.
Anastasia looked at Yeon-woo with a blank expression. Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes, not knowing why.
She was the one who wanted to look at him with the look that he was giving her. He didn’t seem to know about the voice. How could he not know about it?
Anastasia shook her head. Whatever was in Yeon-woo’s eyes, it was dangerous. Also, “it” had said that she was Rhea’s pet.
That was a secret that she hadn’t told anyone, not even Freesia. It meant that “it” recognized her.
Anastasia decided to take a step back. She stood up and adjusted her clothes.
“Do you really not know anything?”
Victoria was a special disciple of hers, so she had to check one more time.
Yeon-woo shook his head. Anastasia frowned.
Where had her lousy disciple disappeared to? A shadow appeared on her annoyed face.
* * *
“Currently, the artifacts room is in that state.”
Yeon-woo followed Anastasia into her residence.
The garden was a lot different from before. A dark fog swallowed half of the yard and the building. Above it, black smoke wafted up.
The barrier around the garden was keeping the black smoke in, but no one knew when it would break.
And multiple monsters were already fighting inside of the black smoke.
The Spite that leaked from the artifact and Anastasia’s subordinates were clashing. This was all the result of the Adamantine Nova disappearing.
「A few of them seem pretty strong. They won’t fall short of me. There are even a few that are stronger.」
As Shanon said, he couldn’t look down on the Spite.
“It won’t be hard to tie them down. I can just keep them in the barrier. But then, I won’t be free to do anything. And one or two of them might leave secretly by mistake.”
Anastasia put her pipe in her mouth. She must have bitten down on it hard because her teeth marks were left on it.
“So if there’s something you remember, let me know. Victoria isn’t fine yet. If she has the Adamantine Nova in that state….. she’s in danger.”
Her voice was filled with concern for her disciple, unlike her normal self.
However, Yeon-woo didn’t have any clue about where Victoria went.
Just then, he suddenly remembered something Victoria had said.
-Let’s talk later. I have something to ask you.
Then, she added something.
-You received a letter, right?
He hadn’t been able to respond at the time, but what if there was a secret related to that?
“Did Victoria receive a letter?”
Anastasia looked at Yeon-woo like he had asked something ridiculous. Yeon-woo assumed that Victoria hadn’t received anything, but…..
“The Black Lion’s son sent a letter to Victoria.”
“Is he still alive?”
Anastasia knew about Victoria’s guilt for Kahn and frowned.
“Can I see that letter, too?”
Yeon-woo gave his letter to Anastasia.
Biting her pipe, she examined it.
“The contents are normal. There doesn’t seem to be any spells or charms on it.”
Freesia tossed a fine gold powder on the letter. It was a method she used to uncover any strange phenomena in the letter, but nothing happened. She shook her head.
“It’s just a normal letter.”
“So I guess she didn’t leave after seeing the letter? If she left to find the Black Lion’s son, there’s no reason for her to take the Adamantine Nova.”
She had left with the Adamantine Nova without telling her teacher because something urgent had come up.
He opened his Draconic Eyes when he got the letter back. There was no way he could find something that Anastasia and Freesia couldn’t.
‘Something’s up. Definitely.’
Yeon-woo thought that there was a secret to the letter. If there wasn’t, Victoria wouldn’t have disappeared like that.
Yeon-woo ignited Holy Fire and burned the letter.
“What are you doing!”
Anastasia shouted in surprise, but the ashes of the burnt letter shook and landed on the ground. Something was written in the air.
That was enough.
She waved the pipe in her hand. Smoke was sprayed out and landed on the black ashes.
All kinds of information entered her head. Including where she was.
A Gumiho appeared where she had been. Her red Monster Eyes were flashing.
The Gumiho began to dash away, not even looking back at Yeon-woo or Freesia.
Freesia quickly summoned the White Wolf, and Yeon-woo spread his wings of fire apart.
* * *
The Gumiho was extremely fast despite its large size. It was like looking at Shukuchi, one of the three signature skills of Allforone.
Normal people wouldn’t have been able to follow it.
The White Wolf was right behind it. Yeon-woo was on its back with Freesia for some time.
“How did you figure it out?”
She was talking about the hidden information in the letter.
How had Yeon-woo been able to find something that neither she nor Anastasia had seen?
“It’s a Bian.”
“A Bian….. are you talking about the ancestors…..?”
Freesia seemed to want to know how Yeon-woo knew about it, but she didn’t ask.
On the other hand, Yeon-woo’s eyes darkened.
The contents of the letter were fake, so Kahn could send it without arousing any suspicions from those binding him.
Then what was he asking to be saved from?
‘The Devil Army?’
That was all he could think of.
‘Is it something related to Doyle…..?’
It could be related to Doyle, whom he hadn’t been able to find anything about.
He turned to Freesia.
“Freesia, where was the letter sent from?”
She shook her head.
“I cannot tell you.”
“Even if you want to pay, nothing can be done. Whatever you offer, you won’t be able to pay the price.”
Freesia was very firm. There was nothing she could say. It meant that unlike when she revealed Anastasia’s identity, the one behind it this time was greater.
However, Yeon-woo thought it was a message that Freesia was trying to deliver to him silently.
“Then I’ll change the deal. Yes or no. Please tell me which one.”
Freesia didn’t say anything.
“Is it the Devil Army?”
“I cannot tell you.”
“Is Kahn staying there?”
“I cannot tell you.”
“Is By the Table also making deals with the Devil Army?”
“I cannot tell you.”
Yeon-woo became certain.
‘It is the Devil Army.’
If not, she would’ve said that it wasn’t. She could easily say that within the conditions of the deal.
What he didn’t know was why the Devil Army was involved in this.
None of what they did was predictable, and there were no patterns to their actions.
He didn’t even see them trying to avenge themselves when they were humiliated.
But they had suddenly appeared somewhere unimaginable. He didn’t know what they were planning.
However, he was sure of one thing.
Kahn was Yeon-woo’s friend.
He couldn’t ignore the fact that he was in danger.
Even if the creation of Kynee was pushed back.
They ran for a while. A few barriers appeared to block them, but they were easily crushed by the charms of the Gumiho.
The Gumiho suddenly stopped running. It was looking at the center of a mountain.
Yeon-woo and Freesia turned to look in that direction, too.
There was a small shrine far away on the mountain. It wasn’t conspicuous, and there didn’t seem to be many visitors.
The Gumiho and the White Wolf took a few more steps to enter the shrine.
There were seven stone statues near the entrance.
They were all bigger than the Gumiho or the White Wolf. They didn’t match the theme of the small shrine.
Each statue of a dragon, roc, or lion, among others, was standing on its two legs, and two monkeys in various forms were looking in the direction of their party.
On the far left, the biggest stone statue faced them, and it became obvious who the shrine was for.
‘Could it be?’
Yeon-woo lifted his head opposite of the bull statue, feeling anxious.
There was a great monkey statue as well. It looked like a visitor of the temple, a friend of the other statues, or like it was challenging the king statue, the bull.
The appearance of the statue was familiar. It was like what he saw in the Monkey King’s palace. It was the Monkey King!
Yeon-woo realized what the other statues stood for.
The two monkeys were the Monkey Yun King and the Monkey King (only the yin is the same as Sun Wukong).
The statue at the very top was the oldest of the other statues, the Bull Demon King.
Also called the Seven Demon Kings, they were seven holy beings who had caused chaos alongside the Monkey King.
Yeon-woo was standing in the middle of the shrine, no, the temple, of the beings of the Jie sect and Chan sect that even gods were scared of.
The pieces of the Ruyi Bang in Yeon-woo’s breast began to tremble.
As if welcoming him.
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