Cale did not care that Witira and Paseton were looking at him with uncertainty. They would soon find out about On and Hong’s skills.
The Black Dragon started to fly up toward the top of the Stone Wall and Cale’s body started to float while following behind it. Naturally, On and Hong were in Cale’s arms as he headed up.
Paseton nodded his head at Witira’s after she called out his name, and the Whale siblings started to run up the Stone Wall at a quick pace. Water surrounded their feet and shot them up with every step.
Cale cut through the wind and reached the top of the wall.
Hong’s voice was full of admiration.
The Forest of Darkness and its vast natural setting appeared in front of the group.
This was the second largest of the five Forbidden Regions, starting from the tip of the northeast part of the Roan Kingdom and creating an oval shape until the eastern shoreline.
It was as large as two or three average sized territories. That was why the Roan Kingdom wanted to take control of this land, but nobody was able to do so until now.
‘The Black Dragon or Choi Han might be able to do it.’
Cale casually commented before verifying the Stone Mountain at the center of the forest.
Unlike its name, the Forest of Darkness was not actually dark at all times. In fact, the forest, that was starting to light up from the rising sun, was actually beautiful to look at.
The Black Dragon slowly lowered Cale and the kittens to the ground. The Whale siblings were already down there waiting for them.
Cale lightly landed on the ground and stepped on some leaves underneath his feet.
“You said that the Forest of Darkness is divided into regions?”
Cale nodded at Witira’s question and lowered On and Hong onto the ground. He then opened up his magic bag as he started to answer Witira’s question.
“It is divided into the outer and inner regions.”
This large forest was divided into two stages. The first stage was the outer region, which was not that dangerous. There were only a few mutant monsters, and the majority were small monsters. On the other hand, the second stage, the inner region with the Stone Mountain at its center, was extremely dangerous.
‘Even Choi Han needed tens of years to freely move around the second stage.’
Freely moving around meant that there was no danger. Choi Han became stronger than all of the monsters. Of course, such an issue was not a concern for Cale’s group.
“The swamp we are heading to is at the border of the inner and outer regions. It should not be too dangerous.”
The outer region was large, but that was based on its width. It would not be very far if they walked in a straight line. The inner region was much larger, as it was in the shape of an oval.
“I plan on avoiding as many monsters as possible, but I don’t see a reason to delay our travel by taking roundabout ways.”
The fact that Cale did not plan to go out of his way to avoid monsters made the Whale siblings start to smile. As long as they were not going up against a dragon, there was nothing that the Humpback Whale beast people, the rulers of the ocean, had to fear.
“I am removing my magic.”
Once the Black Dragon said that, the Whale siblings’ appearances returned to normal. Witira started to smile with a refreshed expression.
“Ah. So refreshing. It was a bit stuffy under that magic. Thank you very much, dragon-nim.”
“Thank you very much, Dragon-nim.”
The Black Dragon flapped its wings at Witira and Paseton’s thanks before approaching Cale. The Black Dragon had an odd expression on its face.
“The mana is dark here.”
The Black Dragon nodded at Cale’s question and looked around the forest.
“There is also a smell.”
“What kind of smell?”
“Something I am familiar with. But I cannot tell what it is.”
‘Familiar but can’t tell?’
Cale looked toward the Black Dragon with a confused expression, but the Black Dragon quickly looked away. He then continued to speak.
“It is not a dangerous smell. Just a very old one.”
‘Do dragons have a really good sense of smell?’
Cale was curious, but was not able to remain curious for a long period of time.
“What do we do from here? How do we get to the swamp?”
Witira could see Cale taking a piece of paper out of the magic bag. She then saw him open it up.
“... A map?”
It definitely was a map, but it was a pretty terrible one. However, it did have the Stone Mountain in the center with multiple other areas designated on it.
“Yes, it is a map.”
Cale had used the information he read in, ‘The Birth of a Hero,’ to create a map.
< Choi Han decided to expand outward, starting from the Stone Mountain. He was going to start with the north and eventually make his way through the entire Forest of Darkness. >
< ...Choi Han finally figured out the entire inner region and then started to explore the outer region. >
< ...Choi Han started to cry once he saw the large Stone Wall. The southern part of the outer region, the last section he had left to check, that was where he had found people. It had taken too long to get here. >
“But it is not very accurate. We need to experience it ourselves to explore and understand the Forest of Darkness.”
Cale then looked at Witira and Paseton, who were looking at him silently, and continued.
“So, take the lead.”
The Black Dragon was already flapping its wings and looking at the Whale siblings from behind Cale. Witira smiled and reached her hand out to Cale, who took a water bottle out of the magic bag and handed it to her.
Witira drank the water before reaching her hand back out.
A three meter long whip appeared in her hand. She flicked it once before wrapping it around her arm and then joked with the group.
“I will safely get you to your destination.”
Cale found her to be reliable. A Humpback Whale. The royal family of the ocean was said to be able to easily handle the Killer Whale beast people, the troublemakers of the sea.
However, he did not plan to do as she said. But there was no need to tell her that right now. He then pointed to the entrance of the Forest of Darkness.
Cale stepped into the Forest of Darkness.
The forest was not loud, but there were many different noises echoing inside. The sounds of insects, the roars of monsters in the distance, birds chirping, and even some other strange monster noises.
“Aren’t dangerous places usually quiet?”
Paseton cut through the bushes with his sword as he asked Cale.
“That is only when there is a single ruler in the area.”
The Forest of Darkness did not have a ruler. There was just a relationship of eat or get eaten.
“Be careful with your shoes. Make sure your skin does not get revealed.”
Paseton looked down at the extra cloth between his pants and shoes and then looked back up at Cale. Cale’s magic bag really was a magical bag. It had all sorts of items inside, and they were all necessary items for their travels.
‘You need to be careful of your ankles here. The insects are dangerous too. You can get poisoned if you are bitten.’
Paseton recalled what Cale had told them and wondered how Cale knew about all of this. However, he could not easily ask because Cale was still very busy.
“Ah, yes sir!”
Cale’s blunt voice made Paseton quickly turn back forward and follow behind his sister Witira to clear their path. They were currently passing through short bushes that reached their waists.
Cale was furiously recording new information onto his map.
‘It might be useless.’
Cale wondered if there really was a reason for him to make a map of the Forest of Darkness. It wasn’t like he was planning on conquering the Forest of Darkness. However, he had a gut feeling that there would be a way for him to sell this in the future.
Cale’s style was to do things right so that it could be used in the future to make money in the future if possible.
“We are almost through this bushy area.”
“Next is the small monsters area.”
Witira nodded at Cale’s statement and leisurely flicked her whip. Honestly speaking, this group was so strong Cale did not need to be nervous. Maybe that was why, but Witira was calm once they got past the bushy area and arrived at the small monsters area.
A branch broke under her foot. At that moment.
“Let’s proceed quietly.”
Cale commented while two sounds of something moving in the air suddenly appeared.
Witira lightly waved her hand and there were some poisonous darts between her fingers.
Cale could see Witira turning around and smiling at him.
“I will take care of them quietly.”
Some monsters started to reveal themselves from behind the trees. Witira looked toward them with a blank expression.
“Are they mutated goblins?”
They seemed to be larger than the average goblins and their faces looked a bit different as well. Furthermore, their skin was purple and red.
“No, they are not goblins.”
WItira turned toward the hand that was placed upon her shoulder. Cale stood next to Witira and looked out toward the monsters approaching them.
“Young master, it is dangerous in the front.”
“They are Honta, a type of monster from the Eastern continent.”
The Forest of Darkness had monsters from the Eastern Continent. Cale had encountered the first of the bunch.
“They are similar to goblins, but dumber and have a tendency to be more cruel and violent.”
“No wonder they seemed so foreign.”
Witira nodded her head and calmly answered.
“I will take care of them.”
“No, I will do it.”
Witira was blankly staring at Cale until she saw On and Hong jump over Cale and land on the ground. The two of them brushed their bodies off and prepared for battle.
“Even we can do this much.”
Witira could see that over 10 of these small monsters were heading toward them. She then looked back at Cale and saw that his body was becoming surrounded by fog. At the same time, On started to slowly disappear.
“I have something to test.”
Cale needed to know approximately how strong he was. This was the perfect time to test it out.
He had the Black Dragon to the right, Witira to the left, and Paseton behind him. Wasn’t this the perfect setting for him to run wild without worrying about being harmed?
“...Young master Cale.”
“Save me if it looks dangerous. How can I get hurt when I have all of you here?”
Witira took a step back after seeing the completely confident gaze in Cale’s eyes that seemed to show full trust in the three of them. She went and stood with Paseton in the rear, ready to step in at any moment.
At that moment, a shield was created around Witira and Paseton. The Black Dragon moved in front of the Whale siblings and started to speak.
“The poison is stronger than it looks.”
That made Paseton look at his sister with confusion. Witira didn’t have any idea as well, so she just shook her head and looked forward before letting out a gasp of admiration.
“... Not bad.”
On, Hong, and Cale were all surrounded by fog. Furthermore, the color of the fog was weird. It was closer to red than the usual white.
Poison. She seemed to understand the meaning of that word.
Cale created gusts of wind in one hand and both feet while being surrounded by the fog. Cale could feel the Vitality of the Heart starting to run wild in his chest and gave the order.
Cale’s body instantly shot forward, and, at the same time, a thick fog surrounded the area.
“Kirik? Kirik, kirik!”
The fog was so thick that you could not even see a few inches in front of your eyes.
Two strands of red fog started to move inside that thick fog.
A whirlwind shot up to the sky and cut off one of the monster’s arms in the process.
“Gek, kirik, kek!”
The red fog swallowed up that monster. Cale then shot up from right next to the spot and called forth his shield. The shield that was almost twice the size as Cale was roaming around the red fog.
Then suddenly, the shield dropped straight toward the ground.
The sound of something being squashed came along with the loud noise.
As soon as the shield landed, a whirlwind filled with red fog was created right next to it. Two monsters who were caught up in the whirlwind were vomiting blood as they got blasted into the air.
The monsters’ poisoned bodies started to bleed out of every orifice.
Paseton blankly watched that scene before blurting out.
“I thought you said he was weak?”
“He is weak.”
Paseton started to think after hearing the Black Dragon’s confident answer.
‘They may be small, but there are over ten of them. And they are monsters that are stronger than goblins.’
He looked toward his sister, who casually answered while smiling brightly.
“Looks like it will end soon.”
Another loud noise was heard as the fog slowly started to dissipate. It had finished like she had said.
Paseton could now see Cale.
“They must be weak because we are still only near the entrance.”
Cale was speaking confidently while standing on top of his symbol, the silver shield. Underneath the shield were two monsters that were no longer recognizable.
The fog disappeared and the silver kitten On reappeared.
“The poison seems to be weak.”
The red kitten Hong reappeared while shaking his tail. The ground where Hong had been was completely black. Hong used his back paws to cover up the black dirt with some other dirt.
It was a peaceful scene, but Paseton couldn’t help but ask after seeing the corpse of a monster that died from poison, a monster that was still dying from poison, and the monsters that died from being crushed by Cale’s shield or Cale’s whirlwinds.
“Young master-nim, you didn’t get hurt, right?”
Paseton urgently asked in shock.
Cale pointed to the back of his hand.
“I got scratched.”
Paseton immediately shut up. Witira patted her brother’s shoulder before approaching Cale. Cale lifted his shield up and put it away. Since it was an ancient power, he didn’t need to even wipe the blood off of it. It would be completely clean when he summoned it again.
“Young master Cale, will you continue to take on the small monsters?”
Cale washed the blood off of his hand after recalling his shield and whirlwinds.
“I can’t push myself too hard because I am still in recovery.”
WItira couldn’t help but laugh at the confident Cale, as well as On and Hong, who were getting feedback from the Black Dragon about their battle. Cale then urged her, as well as the rest of them, on.
They still had a lot of ground to cover.
Two days later, Cale lowered the map in his hand and looked out in front of him as he spoke to the rest of the group.
“We are close now.”
The boundary between the inner and outer regions. It would not be much longer until they reached that point.