Cale was looking at Adin's face as they fell toward the flat ground.
It was a groaning face full of pain.
Cale started to laugh and shout toward Adin once he saw Adin start to smile.
“You goddamn bastard, I knew it wouldn’t be this easy!”
Black smoke started to shoot out from Adin like a bomb.
It was as if a large black snake was shooting out of Adin and was trying to rise up to the sky.
This was a mixture of aura smoke and black magic.
That power rushed toward Cale.
Adin could see two people running toward him as the silver shield and the black smoke crashed against each other.
Tasha and Choi Han.
Tasha shot up into the air as if they had planned it in advance.
Tasha looked like a small tornado as she started to fly up while being surrounded by dead mana and wind.
She could see the silver shield that was enveloped by the black smoke.
“Eat it up.”
Her friend, the wind Elemental, started to move in accordance with her will.
Bang, bang! Baaaaaang!
The black tornado ate up the black smoke. However, Tasha's eyes were not watching that happen. Her eyes were focused on the terrace that Adin fell from.
There were bastards from the Alchemists’ Bell Tower looking down from there with all sorts of different expressions on their faces.
She could easily tell which of them were black mages.
‘According to the information we gathered during the past few days, not all of the members of the Alchemists’ Bell Tower are black mages. The ratio is about 50:50.’
Tasha recalled what Cale said to her.
‘We also found some people who were brought in as slaves. They seem to be being held captive in a storage room inside the Bell Tower, probably because it is a time of war and there's a lot of noise out there about black magic right now.’
She lowered her head.
The black tornado completely gobbled up the snake.
She could see Cale leisurely land on the ground.
‘Tasha, capture all of the black mages. You can ignore the rest.’
Tasha had determined that Cale was quite trustworthy and okay to follow.
‘Just keep them alive. Other than that, you guys can do whatever you want. It's fine as long as they have a single breath left in them.’
It was because Cale didn’t play nice.
‘Their lives are not for us to take. We need to pass them on to Rex and the people of the slums.’
But he was stupidly affectionate as well.
She raised her head. She could see the black mages who were stiff as they looked at her.
Tasha started to smile.
Why had she come here?
The room door opened.
She could see the black mages and the Empire's knights heading into the room.
Tasha landed on the terrace and opened up her arms as she addressed the people in the room with a bright smile on her face.
“Hello, the Dark Elves who will send you to hell are here.”
Dark Elves shot up from behind her. All of the Dark Elves who were covered in dead mana were smiling.
There was one more person who was smiling.
Adin had returned to his usual relaxed expression.
“You did something entertaining.”
The falling Adin twisted his body. His face was now the part facing down.
But it did not matter.
“I guess I looked down on you too much.”
Adin looked down at his leg that Choi Han had cut off.
A black aura then shot out from Adin's hand.
One of the Dark Elves flinched.
A portion of the dead mana liquid that he was trying to absorb started to move.
It filled the spot of Adin's missing leg.
Adin then lightly landed on the ground.
He was standing on his own leg and a leg made from dead mana using black magic.
This leg that looked as disgusting as a monster's leg was taking the spot of Adin's right leg.
“It’s temporary, but not too bad.”
Adin was smiling.
Who cares if other people and the Empire’s citizens would think that he was a monster?
He needed to kill all of them anyway.
Adin looked toward the man who was descending at a distance. Cale Henituse seemed to be fine. However, the attack toward Adin came from a different direction.
"Where are you looking?”
It was a familiar voice.
Adin smiled as he waved his hand. A sword made of dead mana quickly appeared within his grasp.
Adin turned around to see Choi Han’s emotionless face. Adin greeted the bastard who injured his heart and right leg.
“Do you know how much I suffered because of you?”
Adin’s smile became even thicker after seeing his opponent not respond back.
“Your highness, we are here!”
The four secret passages had been barricaded by the Dark Elves, however, there was still the path down from the Alchemists’ Bell Tower.
Half of the Dark Elves and Tasha had used the terrace to climb up into the Alchemists’ Bell Tower.
That door opened again and a group of people entered.
“Your highness! We have contacted the Royal Court!”
“The mages in the Royal Court and the nobles with their knights will soon come to save you!”
It was the Empire's knights and mages. There were some black mages with them as well.
However, they had to stop before they could approach the Imperial Prince.
“Y, you damn Dark Elves!”
The remaining half of the Dark Elves.
They got in the knights’ way.
“Hehe, I wonder how much stronger I got.”
The Dark Elves were all laughing. They had absorbed quite a bit of dead mana for the first time in a long time and had dead mana surrounding them as they greeted the Empire’s people.
“Guess we just need to find out.”
They would be able to tell how much stronger they got by fighting.
“Y, you crazy bastards!”
“You dare to fight against us in the Empire’s own yard?!”
The Empire's knights took out their swords while mana was fluttering by the mages’ sleeves.
The volatile situation looked ready to explode at any moment.
It was at that moment.
A breeze blew by them.
It was a gentle breeze.
The Empire's people were shocked, but the Dark Elves started to smile even more.
“Now we can fight in peace.”
The Dark Elves were relieved.
The breeze that was as gentle as a mother’s touch gathered toward one spot.
It was neither by the Empire’s side nor by where Choi Han and Adin were standing.
It was farther back. The breeze was slowly pulling something to a spot that one could not stand properly.
It was pulling the skeletons.
The skeletons that were scattered throughout the underground hall were all gathered together to the pile of skeletons. Someone appeared in front of the pile once it grew tall enough to reach the terrace.
The Empire’s side pointed at him in anger.
“I knew it was a lie that you were dead!”
However, they could not help but be afraid.
It made them think about the fire that had destroyed the golems.
Cale would be able to turn the underground hall and the entire Alchemists’ Bell Tower into a pit of hell if he used that power here.
They were nervous.
However, it happened once the warm breeze stopped after gathering every single piece of bone in the hall.
Cale reached out with both hands.
“Activate the magic shields!”
The Empire's side quickly started to move. They had returned to their senses at Cale’s movements. However, the people who were trying to get past the Dark Elves in order to reach the Imperial Prince soon stopped walking.
It was not because of the Dark Elves who were laughing like lunatics.
“What is that?”
A silver light flashed in front of the Empire’s knight who had a blank expression on his face.
A large shield with wings appeared in the hall.
The bright winged shield covered the pile of skeletons.
The silver light slowly started to get thicker.
Cale could hear Raon's excited voice. Cale continued to cast the shield with one hand while moving his other hand to pull a bread roll out of his pocket.
“I can’t do anything these days because I'm so hungry.”
He became hungry whenever he used an ancient power.
Cale started to munch on the bread roll as he needed to keep the shield activated for a long time.
The Empire’s side could not help but be confused at this peaceful sight.
‘What could it be?’
‘Is he not attacking?
Why did he surround the pile of skeletons instead of surrounding Choi Han or the Dark Elves?
Why over there?’
They started to hear loud laughter at that moment.
“Hahaha! Our young master Shield-nim truly is the best!”
“He knows everything! Pwahahaha.”
The Empire's side could not help but scream in shock. The black beings were charging toward them.
“Y, you damn Elves! Attack!”
“Get in defensive formation!”
The Dark Elves started their attack on the Empire's people. The mages and black mages stepped in as the knights were afraid of the dead mana surrounding them.
“There is nothing we need to worry about now! Just make sure they don't die!”
“It is the commander-nim and Tasha's order! Sweep them all away!”
The Dark Elves had only attacked the containers with dead mana since coming into this underground hall. They had no choice.
It was because of the skeletons.
The Dark Elves could deeply feel what those skeletons left behind here had felt.
They were a race that had the darkness attribute since birth and always lived with both nature and death by their side. They couldn't mess around with things left by the dead.
The skeletons that the dead left behind had to return to their remaining families in this world.
That was a law of nature.
They needed to return to the people of the slums who were probably evacuating the Empire’s citizens right now, as well as to the people around the continent who were waiting for their family members who had suddenly disappeared.
That was the only way for death to not end just in death but instead to continue to tomorrow.
The pile of skeletons was the only thing in the Alchemists’ Bell Tower that the Dark Elves saw as something to protect.
There was someone from the Empire who figured that out.
It was Adin.
He was laughing so hard that he moved back from fighting against Choi Han and almost bent forward from laughter.
Cale Henituse was stiffly standing there while eating a bread roll. However, Cale's eyes were serious unlike when he was trying to slam Adin to the ground. It was a gaze that seemed to be saying that he knew what was most precious in this hall.
Adin raised his head and looked toward Cale.
He started to speak with the smile now gone from his face.
“You're different than me.”
He heard someone other than Cale, who was picking his ear, respond to his statement.
It was Choi Han. He pointed his sword at Adin with a stiff expression on his face.
Cale and Adin.
How could someone who always chose the difficult path be the same as someone who only chose to take the easy path?
Adin straightened back up and looked around.
He looked around the wide underground hall.
The Empire's side and the Dark Elves were fighting in the southern side. The Dark Elves seemed to be getting pushed back because of the number difference at first glance, however, the Dark Elves who were running wild as if they were in a berserk state seemed to be getting stronger and stronger for some reason.
Cale was to the North protecting the pile of skeletons.
And finally, the center.
It was pretty empty there.
Only Choi Han and himself were standing there.
Adin started to smile.
It was as if this empty area was made just for the two of them.
Adin smiled as he shook his head.
“Choi Han, you may be a sword master, but…”
Adin was a beginner black mage and a highest-grade expert swordsman.
Choi Han was a sword master who was said to have transcended human limits.
However, this fight was different than normal.
Adin calmly explained that fact.
“You cannot defeat someone like me, who has achieved perfect despair.”
Adin was different than regular beginner black mages who only had dead mana.
The black despair.
In Adin's perspective and based on what he could see, he was a different class than regular black mages after having absorbed the black despair.
This was the same when it came to the sword as well.
Adin seemed to be looking down on Choi Han as he continued to speak.
‘Your attribute is lower than me.”
Choi Han’s aura was useless to Adin now.
“Your aura will be eaten up by me. I'm sure you can tell by our clash just now. A highest-grade expert like me was able to block a sword master's attack. It was quite easy too. Isn’t that enough for you? Do you think you can beat me if I fight seriously?”
Adin asked Choi Han with a shocked expression on his face.
“But your owner still gave you permission? He is letting you fight me?”
Choi Han thought about a few days ago as he looked at the relaxed Adin.
The conversation he had with Cale was going through his mind.
‘Choi Han, you're going to do it?’
‘Raon said that your attribute will be eaten up.’
Choi Han recalled his answer to Cale once more.
Rosalyn, Lock, Mary.
All of them were getting stronger.
He had thought about Harris Village after seeing Rex break down in tears.
He had a feeling at that moment.
‘I want to fight in this battle.’
He honestly explained to Cale.
‘I am someone who survived by killing the things that wanted to eat me.’
The Forest of Darkness.
Monsters that were stronger than him.
Monsters that were faster than him.
Monsters that were superior to him in every way.
All of the monsters were stronger than Choi Han and had aimed for his life.
‘I am someone who defeated them all in order to get here.’
‘Cale-nim, survival is not determined only through strength or weakness.’
This was the first time something Choi Han said put a bitter expression on Cale's face.
‘You're right. That is what it means to live.’
Cale had then returned to his normal expression before giving him the order.
‘Then you take on the Imperial Prince.’
Choi Han had lowered his head with a stiff expression on his face.
Imperial Prince Adin.
He was an enemy they definitely had to take care of, not just for this operation but for the future.
That was why Choi Han could only lower his head at the fact that Cale was giving someone like him with a significant weakness the task of defeating such an enemy.
Cale had continued to speak at that point.
‘It’s too easy to just kill him right away.’
‘Beat him up a bit.’
Choi Han had raised his head.
‘And retreat if you think you can’t do it. Someone else can beat him up too.’
Choi Han had chuckled as he responded back.
‘Yes Cale-nim, I will do that.’
Choi Han thought about that conversation as he looked toward Adin.
‘He asked if I got permission?’
“That’s right, I got permission.”
Adin could not hide his disbelief. However, his expression soon stiffened up.
A violent darkness was rising up from Choi Han’s sword.
It was filled with imperfect darkness and the similarly imperfect despair within it.
It then started to rise up, not just from his sword, but from all over Choi Han’s body.
He made a proclamation with a calm expression.
“I will grow today.”
His new life that had started from the Forest of Darkness.
He had always had to fight against strong enemies.
“And I will survive.”
Choi Han pointed the tip of his sword at Adin.
Cale started to smile.
He had felt this quite often these days.
‘The Birth of a Hero,’ the story in the novel, was something that did not exist anymore.
All that existed was the reality in front of him.