Brown hair fluttered in the wind. A country farmhouse on the outskirts of the Dubori territory. It was near the desert, but plants still grew decently here.
However, there were also barren areas that people didn’t touch.
A strand of wind was passing through one of those areas. The owner of the fluttering brown hair reached his hand to lower his ivory-colored hood. It covered his brown hair.
Cale bit down on his lips.
Choi Han who had light beige-colored hair was running with him.
“We are increasing our speed.”
The Sound of the Wind coming out of Cale's hand surrounded Cale and Choi Han whose hairs were dyed with magic, as well as the invisible Raon and increased their speed.
Cale looked toward the small city with the Lord’s castle. It was the location with the entrance to the Land of Death.
That meant that that was where the White Star or whatever the White Star did was located.
‘That’s also where that illusionist or whatever is as well.’
He was holding onto the golden top's whip, but had not heard anything yet. Cale was rational but slightly rushed as he headed down the mountain and toward the Dubori territory.
That sense of urgency raised the speed of the wind surrounding the two humans and one Dragon.
‘Now about 600 meters.’
They were about 600 meters away from the wall surrounding the small city. They would soon be able to jump over the wall.
"We will jump over the wall as effectively as possible.”
Cale gave the order to Raon and Choi Han before starting to observe the soldiers on top of the wall.
‘The citizens on our way here, as well as the soldiers over there, they all seem fine.’
They were too relaxed to be acting and the soldiers seemed to be their usual relaxed and lethargic selves who wanted to slack off if possible. There was no sense of urgency nor anxiety coming from them.
Cale's gaze headed far to the West.
‘We can't see the fire as soon as we entered the boundaries of the territory.’
The fire surrounding the Land of Death was not visible anymore.
‘Is all of this just an illusion?’
He didn't know who the Illusionist was, but if this was all the work of the Illusionist, then that person was extremely strong. Cale was getting a headache because of this new enemy but continued to press forward.
‘Now about 500 meters!’
They would soon arrive at the central location of this incident.
It was at that moment. Cale stopped moving.
He heard a child’s groan in the air. Cale's eyes urgently moved toward the empty air. He saw a spot that was warping.
A spot in the air was warping similar to the ripples created by a rock that had landed in a lake and Raon’s body appeared and disappeared back and forth.
Cale became anxious seeing Raon like this while Choi Han reached out and hugged Raon before they quickly moved to a blind spot where the soldiers on the walls would not be able to see them.
Cale was following behind Choi Han when Choi Han reached one hand toward him.
“Hey, why are your hands shaking?”
Choi Han’s hand in front of him was shaking.
“One moment please.”
Choi Han asked Cale for a moment before laying Raon down on a soft patch of grass.
Raon’s body was still glitching, making Choi Han gently speak to Raon.
“Remove your invisibility magic.”
“I, I don't want to! The great and mighty Raon Miru cannot lose!”
He was stuttering a bit, but Raon sounded better than Cale expected. Raon curled his body and channeled more black mana.
Someone placed their hand on Raon's back.
“Raon, cancel the spell.”
Cale’s hand and his stern voice made Raon grumble as he canceled the spell. The crackling noise disappeared and Raon appeared in front of them while pouting. Cale noticed that Raon’s front paws were still shaking.
“Is it because of the mana disturbance?”
Cale asked about Raon’s condition and Choi Han responded.
“Please look at my hand.”
Choi Han’s hand was still shaking.
“I mainly use aura, but I am able to feel a decent amount of mana after reaching this stage. Cale-nim, you and the civilians who don’t use mana or aura might not notice anything right now, but…”
Choi Han clenched and then unclenched his fists. The shaking instantly disappeared.
“The mana in the air is extremely chaotic right now. It is to the point that the shaking of the mana can be felt by a swordsman like me.”
His gaze headed toward Raon.
“I'm sure it is terrible for Raon and others who use magic.”
The soldiers on the walls, the residents of the territory, and Cale were fine because they could not feel mana. Cale looked toward Raon as well while Raon stretched his wings open and confidently shouted.
“N, no! The great and mighty Raon Miru’s front paws do not shake because of mana disturbance like this!”
It’d be one thing if he wasn't stuttering, but this young Dragon was not good at lying to Cale. He turned his gaze toward the city walls.
“It looks like that mana disturbance is getting especially bad starting from about 500 meters away from the city walls.”
“That is correct. I believe the mana would be even more chaotic once we enter past the city walls.”
Cale and Choi Han looked at each other before they both looked toward Raon at the same time. Raon urgently shouted as soon as he met their gazes.
“I'm going in with you! I am great and mighty! I’m going to do it too!”
He then shrugged his shoulders and timidly added on after seeing Choi Han and Cale’s gazes.
“…I understand. The not great and mighty Raon Miru will be waiting outside. I alone will be here unable to do anything. I am… not… great and mighty……”
Choi Han felt bad about this, but they could not enter into the city with Raon who could not maintain his invisibility and would continue to struggle because of the mana disturbance.
‘It probably feels like he's extremely carsick.’
Choi Han was able to estimate the pain Raon was feeling while using magic right now.
‘…Anyway, this is bad.’
The fact that they could not enter with Raon would make things quite difficult for Cale’s group. They would not be able to avoid the enemies’ gazes by being invisible nor would they be able to teleport away if they ended up in danger.
‘But it's not like we can just not go in there.’
Cale's voice reached the still mumbling Raon's ears as Choi Han’s mind started to get complicated.
“To lose to this stupid mana disturbance… I am not great and mighty… Even gramps or Rosalyn cannot overcome this level of mana disturbance… This is not possible… This is closer to mana chaos than mana disturbance… For I, the great and might Raon Miru to be unable to do anything… This is shocking.”
“What do you mean you can't do anything?”
Raon’s head quickly jerked toward Cale. Cale stood in front of the no longer invisible Raon and looked at his hair and Choi Han's hair. Raon’s magic was not completely undone. The dye magic was being maintained.
“The dye magic is still working?”
“Of course! I am great and mighty! I can maintain at least one type of magic!”
“Is that so?”
“…Human! Why are you laughing like that again?”
Cale did not answer Raon's question and nudged Choi Han’s shoulder.
“Let’s climb over the wall. We have a lot of things to do.”
The person with the lowered ivory hood looked around in a shaded part of the alley.
Cale shushed Choi Han before recording everything outside with a sharp gaze.
“The Lord’s Castle is over there.”
They had not noticed anything out of the ordinary during their trip to this alley from the city walls. Everything was the same as the Dubori territory he visited last time. However…
“Yes, that does seem to be the Lord’s Castle. But we did not see any knights or mages on our way here.”
They had seen some Dubori soldiers but had not seen any of the Dubori knights.
“What do you think?”
“I think the Lord’s Castle is the center of the mana disturbance.”
Choi Han and Cale were hiding in the shadows of the alley as they focused their gazes on the Dubori Lord’s Castle.
The greed of the Dubori Lord who was famous for being so cruel that the residents would rather escape to the desert was probably the reason the Lord’s Castle was quite large and decorated with luxurious sculptures for a territory this size.
“Cale nim, something is weird. We didn’t see anyone on the way here, but at the Lord’s Castle entrance and the desert entrance-”
Cale's gaze headed toward the west. There were more soldiers than usual at the desert entrance. It was the same for the Lord’s Castle entrance as well. They still did not see any knights, but they saw soldiers who seemed to be trained better than the Dubori territory's soldiers.
Who could these soldiers be? The answer was easy to guess.
“It looks like the White Star’s subordinates are disguised as soldiers.”
Cale agreed with Choi Han’s deduction and raised his head. The group of soldiers who were standing at the desert entrance started to head toward the street in front of where Cale and Choi Han were hiding.
Cale and Choi Han's location changed instantly. Cale, whose physical strength was significantly lacking compared to Choi Han and those soldiers, hid in the shadows as if he was crumpling his body since he had no stealth abilities.
He had to hide in such an embarrassing fashion every time the soldiers passed by since he didn’t have Raon to cast invisibility. Choi Han had his hand on his scabbard and lowered his breathing as he observed the soldiers.
Approximately ten soldiers were slowly getting closer.
Some of them stopped walking.
The soldiers all looked toward one spot. Their gazes moved toward an alley they were passing.
They saw something black. One of the soldiers tightened their grip around their spear.
“Where did these crows suddenly come from?”
“Ah, I was shocked because I saw something black.”
A few crows who suddenly appeared in the clear sky circled the soldiers’ heads. One or two landed on the stone wall at the edge of the alley while the other few started to fly in different directions.
A soldier who watched one of the crows on the wall clean itself snorted before releasing his grip on his spear.
“I guess there’s some rotten food in that alley.”
“Must be. There’s probably a dead animal or something. Last time it was eagles, now it is crows.”
“But aren't crows better than eagles?”
“That is true.”
“Ahem, hem! Everybody, focus!”
The chatting soldiers shut up and stood up straight after hearing the veteran start to speak.
“There will be a luxurious feast today for the esteemed guests of the Lord-nim! It’ll be chaotic until night time, so everybody needs to focus!”
The ten soldiers quickly headed toward the Lord’s Castle.
The crow on the wall cawed as it watched them before one of the crows that flew away returned and descended into the alley.
In a shaded part of the alley… The crow landed on the crouching person's shoulder.
A familiar voice instead of a caw came out of the crow's mouth. Cale started to smile and his gaze headed toward the crow on his shoulder.
“I met with Raon-nim.”
“Gashan, it's been a while.”
The Tiger shaman Gashan's crows had flown into the territory and finally reached Cale.
“I heard about the Illusionist.”
A breeze brushed past Cale’s cheek as he was listening to the imposing old man's voice. Cale tightly grabbed the golden top's whip.
“Based on what I saw through the crows, it is indeed an illusion.”
“How do we break the illusion?”
Cale asked as he stood up. Cale and Choi Han made eye contact.
They had heard the soldiers’ discussion just now.
‘There will be a luxurious feast today for the esteemed guests of the Lord-nim!’
Choi Han started to speak.
“Those esteemed guests are probably the people we are looking for.”
They then heard Gashan’s voice. The method to break an illusion.
“First, you must find the Illusionist. Cale-nim, shamans and illusionists use similar methods. We do not use mana.”
The people called the mages of the Eastern continent were different than mages.
Cale could see crows slowly descending throughout the Dubori territory. The crow on his shoulder continued to speak.
“Unlike mages, shamans directly use the power of nature. We need a medium to do that.”
Shamans like Gashan used ingredients from nature as mediums to use the powers of nature.
“Usually, we use things like staffs or talismans. Mysterious items from nature are the best.”
"Are you saying that illusionists are the same?”
He could hear Gashan's laughter. Cale couldn't help but imagine the large white-haired old man laughing viciously.
“Cale-nim, please find the Illusionist and that bastard's medium.”
At that moment…
‘Cale, Cale! I saw something weird inside the Lord’s Castle!’
‘Request to check the Lord’s Castle's basement, numerous pits discovered.’
‘Oh, come on! I was about to tell him!’
He heard the Wind Elementals’ voices. Gashan also continued to speak.
“And destroy them once you find them. Both the Illusionist and the medium.”
The whispers of the Elementals continued as the crows cawed.
‘Anyway, there were a ton of rats inside the pits! They seemed to be creating paths under this territory.’
‘Those pits are connected to paths throughout this small city's underground!’
‘The White Star's forces suspected to be inside the Lord’s Castle. Must break in and destroy. Chaos, destruction, speed battle.’
Gashan resumed speaking again. Cale was recording both information at once.
“Ah, that Illusionist probably has an animal he controls like I do. So, please always be aware of your surroundings. You never know where the enemy's ears may be.”
Cale started to speak.
“Choi Han, underground.”
Choi Han’s sword quickly stabbed down.
The ground they were standing on was overturned.
Choi Han grabbed a rat from the overturned ground. The rat was not injured, but it fainted the moment it made eye contact with Choi Han.
One Wind Elemental continued to speak as that happened.
‘There was a person standing in one of the pits in the Lord’s Castle's basement! He was controlling the rats!’
That should be the Illusionist. Cale started to speak.
“They already found us.”
‘They know about Choi Han and me.’
Cale's stiff gaze headed toward the Lord’s Castle.
At that moment. The basement underneath the Dubori Lord’s Castle that had been used as a prison was a mess with pits all around.
A person at the center of one of the pits opened his eyes and started to speak.
“They found me.”
“Really? It doesn’t matter.”
The White Star touched his mask as he spoke to the Illusionist.
“Either way, only Choi Han and Cale Henituse came into the territory. They don’t even seem to have the young Dragon with them.”
“Yes, sir. It is as we expected. I confirmed Choi Han’s face as well, so it should be easy to cast an illusion on him.”
The White Star looked at the rat that was peeking out of the pit. He thought about Cale and Choi Han as he started to speak.
“They are rats in jars this time.”
The White Star had a satisfied smile on his face as things were going as he wished for the first time in a long while.
Cale was silently smiling at that same moment.