Book 2: Chapter 208
(TL: Minor edit of the previous chapter. The middle speaker was telling the sorcerers to contain themselves, not Lukas. Also, their name has been changed to ‘East and West Priest’ to represent the difference between them and the other sorcerers.)
When the two heard the words of the man in the middle, they quickly restrained their auras and lowered their heads.
“Please forgive me.”
“The one you should be apologizing to isn’t me, it’s him.”
These two, who were called priests, mumbled softly at that, clearly not intending to comply. From their attitudes, Lukas could tell that they weren’t completely submissive to the person in the middle.
As they continued to hesitate and procrastinate, the man in the middle spoke coldly.
“Would you like me to tell the Goddess about this?”
“Of course not.”
Startled, the two old priests immediately turned and lowered their heads to Lukas. They even went as far as to take off their hoods, allowing him to see their old, wrinkled faces.
It was only then that Lukas realised they were a man and a woman. The one with the particularly heavy voice was the man, and the other was the old woman.
“Apologize for your rude behaviour.”
The old man shut his eyes tightly and said what was likely the best apology he could give.
Surprisingly, the old woman bowed her head calmly and spoke clearly.
“Please excuse my rudeness.”
Lukas nodded slightly.
Seeing this, they quickly regained their posture after completing what they were told to do.
“The priests have shown you something embarrassing. Please don’t take it to heart.”
“…then, first off.”
The man turned to the two at his sides.
“Priest of East and West, please excuse us for a moment.”
“That could be dangerous, Young Dragon.”
“This is an order.”
His firm tone showed that there was no room for discussion.
The two old priests looked uncomfortable, but they didn’t try to argue. Instead, they turned their eyes to Lukas.
Though they remained silent, their eyes told a thousand words.
If he was to do anything to this person, they would grind his bones to dust.
Lukas ignored them.
They grit their teeth for a moment before reluctantly standing bowing to the Young Dragon.
“Please be careful.”
“If he tries to do anything, give us a signal immediately.”
Lukas found this amusing since he’d heard something similar before entering the room.
While he was thinking this, the priests had left the room.
Now, Lukas and the Young Dragon were the only ones left in the room.
Nevertheless, the atmosphere wasn’t awkward or tense.
Lukas spoke in a calm voice.
“I almost didn’t recognise you.”
“…you know who I am?”
A soft smile appeared on Lukas’ lips.
The Young Dragon fell silent for a moment.
Then they burst into joyful laughter.
The sound of his laughter was pleasant and familiar.
The Young Dragon slowly lowered his hood, revealing features so beautiful it was easy to mistake him for a woman.
The Saint of Salvation.
Arid, who had been called by that title in the past, looked at Lukas with a teary gaze.
“Should I say it’s been a while?”
“Yeah… It has.”
Arid nodded, wiping the moisture that had settled in the corners of his eyes.
His tender and pure demeanor seemed the same, but he also appeared bolder and more mature than before.
Most importantly, the charisma that he’d displayed when dealing with the old priests not so long ago was nothing to scoff at.
“Finally, I finally managed to meet you…”
However, it seemed that charisma had disappeared now that he was alone in front of Lukas.
“Can I hug you?”
Unsurprisingly, when Lukas, who was not fond of direct contact, trailed off without finishing his sentence, Arid’s expression became one of disappointment.
It was an expression that would make anyone who saw it feel guilty, causing them to reluctantly go along with whatever request was made.
Although Lukas could resist this, in the end, he chose not to.
“…just a light hug.”
Arid ran to Lukas with quick steps and stuck to him like a cicada. Lukas patted him on the back a few times with an awkward expression.
“Ah, it’s been so long. Master’s voice…”
“Master’s body temperature, Master’s heartbeat…”
“…I think that’s enough.”
Lukas had a feeling that if he let this continue, Arid might say something stranger, so he gently but forcibly removed him.
“Arid, I think that’s enough for the reunion. There are many things I want to ask you.”
First off… How long have you been in this world?”
“It’s been about 10 years.”
In other words.
“You didn’t even clear the first stage of the tutorial.”
Arid nodded without any signs of embarrassment.
Instead, Lukas was the one who stared at him with a puzzled expression and asked.
“Did you know that your time of entry would be delayed for every tutorial stage you cleared?”
“Because I was able to figure out when the other participants would enter.”
Lukas narrowed his eyes slightly.
“That means your ‘Power of Communication’ can also be used in the Heavenly Realm.”
“Before meeting you, I’ve already met Min Ha-rin and Lee Jong-hak. It should have been quite a while since they entered the Heavenly Realm, but I haven’t been able to find the others yet. Since you can use your Power of Communication, we should be able to find where the others are.”
“That’s right. I know where they are.”
When he heard Arid’s confirmation, Lukas’ expression became quite bizarre.
“You know where they are but you didn’t search for them?”
Arid’s expression changed slightly when he heard that.
“It’s not something I could decide on my own.”
“What do you mean?”
“…Master, I can’t leave Dragon God Island without permission from the Goddess.”
Once again, this name had appeared in front of him.
Lukas looked at Arid.
The envoys from Dragon God Island had mentioned his surname ‘Trowman’.
When he first heard that, his first thought was that it could be Leo, Arid, or Sedi. This was natural, because no one in the Heavenly Realm, apart from those who came from Earth, knew his full name.
And as he expected, the envoy from Dragon God Island turned out to be Arid. But now, the situation seemed to be more complicated than he’d originally thought.
“I came to Lirua today for many reasons, but the most important one was to convey the Goddess’ will.”
“The Goddess will?”
Arid cleared his throat for a moment, and when he opened his mouth again, his attitude was completely different from before.
* * *
“Come to Dragon God Island as soon as possible.”
Lukas waited for the rest of the message, but Arid just continued staring at him with a solemn gaze.
In the end, he couldn’t help but ask.
“…is that it?”
Seeing him nod innocently, Lukas couldn’t help but feel a bit strange.
What did she mean by ‘come to Dragon God Island’? Even if she hadn’t told him, that was his goal. Or… was there some kind of hidden meaning behind it?
With that thought in mind, Lukas turned to Arid.
“Arid, do you know what my current goal is?”
“Yes. I heard that you were looking for ‘special statues’.”
Lukas had this question in mind, but he refrained from asking it for now.
There were already quite a few things that he wanted to ask Arid, and they were likely to increase as their conversation progressed. If he were to cut the flow every time he wanted to sate his curiosity, their conversation would never progress.
“Right. There’s something I want to ask. Is the Dragon God Statue on Dragon God Island one of the ‘special statues’ I’m looking for?”
It was a straightforward question, but Arid’s reaction was unexpected.
His expression was strange, and it neither confirmed nor denied his question.
He licked his lips for a moment before looking Lukas in the eyes and taking a deep breath as if he’d come to a decision about something.
A white spark suddenly ran across Arid’s chest.
Immediately afterward, his face became pale and he stumbled backward.
Lukas quickly rushed forward and caught Arid, who was about to fall over.
Then he looked at his chest with a slightly strained expression.
There was a rune on his chest.
It seemed to have the function of preventing Arid from saying certain things.
It looked like sorcery… but there also seemed to be a different kind of power added to it. Something that Lukas hadn’t encountered before.
His face became cold.
“Did the Goddess do this to you?”
“Yes. Ah! B-, but!”
Seeing his expression, Arid hurriedly added.
“This isn’t because she doesn’t trust me, or she doesn’t like me, or she wants to abuse me!”
“Then what is it?”
Arid didn’t seem to hold any resentment towards the Goddess who had put this rune on him.
His reaction was something that Lukas couldn’t readily understand.
“…I’m sorry, Master. I don’t think I can tell you anything about Dragon God Island without permission.”
It was a pity that he wouldn’t be able to obtain the information he wanted right away, but that didn’t mean that it was a major obstacle.
Lukas had already made all of his preparations to enter Dragon God Island. Now, all he needed to do was compete in the Championship and win.
This meant that it was only a matter of time before he met the Goddess for himself.
“Rather than that, there is something else that I want to ask you. Are you sure the Goddess is not an enemy?”
“Yes. It’s impossible.”
Arid denied it in a firm voice.
Lukas looked at his expression for a while.
This was because it was also possible that he had been manipulated and brainwashed in order to make such a denial.
If he was being manipulated or forced to say those words then there would be a subtle sense of awkwardness when he said it. And at Lukas’ level, it wouldn’t be difficult to find that sense of awkwardness.
But he didn’t find any such signs.
It seemed that Arid hadn’t been brainwashed.
From his tone and expression, Arid’s remarks were his own thoughts and feelings. But when he saw this, Lukas realised this situation might be more complicated than he initially thought.
‘…she’s not an enemy, but she put restrictions on Arid’s actions?’
At first glance, this behaviour seemed contradictory, but… it wasn’t.
It wasn’t Arid that the Goddess didn’t trust, it was Lukas. She probably knew how Arid thought of Lukas. If it wasn’t for her rune, it was clear that Arid would have already told Lukas everything he’d seen and heard on Dragon God Island.
This was probably the situation that the Goddess wanted to avoid.
After thinking about this, two questions appeared in Lukas’ mind.
First, what exactly was the Goddess’ goal?
And second, was the Goddess an enemy, or an ally?
He looked at Arid.
Arid was currently looking at Lukas with a slightly anxious expression.
When he saw that, Lukas realised that there was something else that he should prioritize instead of urging him to answer his question.
“Before that, tell me about you.”
“You said you arrived in the Heavenly Realm 10 years ago, didn’t you? Many things must have happened in that time, and you must have experienced all kinds of hardships on your own. Tell me about them.”
“I’d like to hear everything that’s happened till now.”
When he heard those words, Arid began to tremble.
As he stared at Lukas, tears began forming in his eyes once again.
He sniffled and nodded.