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Chapter 259 – Receptacle of Solitude (4)

    Chapter 259 - Receptacle of Solitude (4)

    "...Kuheook!" Feeling drained, Theodore fell to his knees. In terms of time, it had only taken 10 seconds. However, 80% of his magic power had been consumed.

    He had expected the abrupt consumption of power, but he hadn't been expecting such a burden on his circles. Perhaps this incident would've been dangerous to his circles if Theodore hadn't already been conditioned once before.

    'Was it a blessing in disguise? This is the way it is.' As he thought this, Theodore looked at the center of the attack.

    It was scorched earth. There were no words more appropriate for the sight before him. The unique magic, Attract the Lightning God, left charred marks on the ground. The ground itself had split open like a tortoise shell, and more than one hundred meters of the soil had disappeared.

    Who would believe that this was the result of two fists? It would be unbelievable for those who hadn't seen the phenomenon themselves.

    "Hah, this is great. I can't see the bottom of it with my eyes?"

    "Tiger King."

    The Tiger King neared Theodore while watching the crater fill with dust. Eight-Tails had gathered all of its tails back to endure the lightning onslaught, so the clones that the two spirits had been fighting disappeared.

    The Tiger King returned to her humanoid form and asked, "That flashy guy just before, was it someone you called?"

    "Yes, it isn't a living thing."

    "Is that so? You are really amazing, human male!"

    Strangely, her shining eyes were like those of a beast in front of their prey. He recalled seeing eyes similar to these somewhere before. Yes, it was at the Pirate Archipelago. It was when he had been invited by the water elemental to meet Aquilo, who had been staying in the cave. Theodore felt a sense of crisis and was going to take a step back when...

    "Not yet," the White Bear opened his mouth from next to the Tiger King. "There is still life in the pit. It is weaker than before, but it has definitely survived this attack."

    "There is no need to be alert now," Theodore said.

    "...What does that mean?"

    The two spirits looked at him with confusion, causing Theodore to laugh and raise his body. If Seimei's words were true, the creature remaining in that pit wasn't evil right now. It was due to the power of the mantra, Breaking Evil and Manifesting Good.

    The great onmyōji master had performed an exorcism on Eight-Tails' body. If its soul had been tainted by evil, then its body would be destroyed. However, the fact that it was still breathing meant there was some good remaining.

    Theodore shrugged and headed into the pit. "Well, let's go down and see. I can't be certain yet."

    They couldn't walk down a hundred meter hole, so Theodore used magic on himself and the two spirits.

    At first, the White Bear and the Tiger King wriggled at the uncomfortable feeling, but they soon got used to it and descended to the bottom of the pit at a slow pace. Light was blocked off, so it became darker the further they descended.

    By the time their feet touched the ground completely, there was no light left.

    Pong. Theodore used Light to create a few spheres of light. Then the two spirits looked around with a strange expression.

    "Umm, this, won't it crumble?"

    "The ground is fairly solid, so it should be okay..."

    The beasts who lived above ground seemed quite uncomfortable with this pit.

    They could escape without any problems even if the earth poured down, so this sight of the bear and tiger acting like this was cute. Theodore watched the two spirits for a moment before recalling his purpose for coming down here.

    'Detect Life.'

    His magic power spread out in concentric circles. This was magic to detect life. If the opponent used some basic tricks, signs of life wouldn't be picked up. However, Theodore guessed that Eight-Tails had fainted or was in a weak state.

    Unsurprisingly, a reaction returned from the nearest point.

    "This way."

    "Ah, wait a minute!"

    "Don't move so suddenly!"

    Theodore arrived first, with the two spirits behind him. The three of them saw the same thing.

    "Hrmmm..."

    "It isn't evil?"

    "...There are three tails."

    There was a fox that was fast asleep. It had rich golden fur and three small tails. Perhaps it could be called a three-tailed fox? However, it was said to take 300 years to grow three tails, and the fox was only a little bigger than a puppy. It seemed to have been affected by the loss of the Receptacle of Solitude's influence.

    'Seimei.'

    [Huh?]

    Theodore made a stiff expression and asked Seimei, 'Didn't you say that this Receptacle of Solitude was made of humans? All the evil power scattered, but why is it a three-tailed fox instead of a human?'

    [It is because it was already too late.]

    'Too late?'

    Seimei cleared his throat and explained, [Well, it isn't your fault. Once a person has turned into an evil spirit, they can't return to being human again. Since it is caught up in the Receptacle of Solitude, it probably doesn't have any memories of its life left. The only thing that remains here is the set of genes of 'someone' who was born again as a fox.]

    'Then the survivors...'

    [There weren't any from the start. Unfortunately, their lives were over the moment they were trapped here.]

    The shaman declared calmly that this place had already been a field of the dead before Theodore even arrived. So, this wasn't a matter for Theodore to worry about. Theodore was still unable to feel a sense of crisis, while the two spirits looked over his shoulder at the fox.

    "This kid was that monster from before...? No matter how I look, it doesn't match."

    "It is the same for me. Looking at this, it is just an ordinary spirit," the White Bear said, carefully stroking the fox's golden fur. "All the evil energy is gone. So, we don't have to kill this fox cub."

    "I agree. There is no ominous feeling no matter how I look at it."

    "We must be unanimous about this matter."

    The two spirits looked at Theodore. Theodore had previously played the main role, so they couldn't ignore him if he wanted to eliminate this fox. At this moment, the sleeping three-tailed fox opened its eyes.

    Yiiip... Yiippp.... It let out small cries.

    The fox's golden body and its three tails shook. It was terrified at the sight of the two spirits. The fox couldn't escape and cried out sadly, but it soon discovered Theodore and its eyes widened. Then it rushed over to Theodore's feet and started rubbing its head against them.

    "U-Uh?"

    If Seimei's words were true, then this fox was just like a newly born wild animal. Then why was it acting so intimate with Theodore? No, it was more like a cub with its parents. The proof of this when it rubbed its most important tail fur against Theodore without hesitation.

    [Hoh, it seems that it has recognized you as a parent.]

    'Huh? Parent?'

    [It is because you are the one who expelled all the evil energy from this child's body. Somehow, during the process, it imprinted on you as its parent.]

    'Imprinting!' Theodore stiffened when he understood the situation. Just like how newborn birds perceived the first being they saw as their mother, the three-tailed fox felt Theodore's power inside that darkness and considered him as its parent.

    Moreover, it wasn't easy for a spirit to change its perception about magic power, which was more intense than visual information.

    "Hah, it can't be helped." Theodore was convinced and stretched out his hands to hug the fox.  The fox felt warmth for the first time and tried to express its delighted joy. It knew the human called Theodore, but it couldn't help sniffing nervously at the spirits.

    Then the exhausted three-tailed fox fell asleep again. It was still tired from the process of fighting with the three people and then being born again. Then at this moment...

    Jjejejeok.

    There was the sound of something splitting apart in the ceiling. The three people looked up in surprise and saw spider web-like cracks all over the ceiling. This space, the Receptacle of Solitude, was collapsing.

    Theodore grasped the situation faster than the two spirits and realized the reason, 'The Eight-Tails' power has been lost, so the axis of this space is gone!'

    Usually, the axis of a separate space was a natural object or artifact, not a creature. However, a powerful creature might be the right axis for the Receptacle of Solitude.

    In order to break this space, a person needed to destroy Eight-Tails. That was several times harder than breaking it from the outside. Even Theodore would've been at risk if it wasn't for the help of the two spirits. He was satisfied with this result, and they all exited the pit.

    Kaaang!

    Simultaneously, the darkened walls of this space shattered. Theodore suddenly looked at the two spirits with an urgent expression. They had destroyed quite a lot of creatures, but there were still a few offerings that hadn't been eaten by Eight-Tails. It would be bad if they escaped.

    "Wait a minute, there are still monsters inside...!"

    However, the two spirits smiled and reassured him.

    "Don't worry, we have our own thoughts."

    "Tiger King's words are right. You just need to rest."

    Had they talked when he hadn't been present? The Tiger King and the White Bear exchanged unknown glances before roaring as loudly as possible toward the hazy mountains.

    Kuheeeeeong!

    Kueeeeeong!

    It wasn't to intimidate but to invite their peers. Both of them were the leaders of two groups and had the ability to direct the spirits. There weren't just bears and tigers in the Baekun Mountains. There were also birds that nested in 1,000-year-old pines and moles that dug huge burrows under the ground.

    Normally, they didn't leave their habitats, but the two elder spirits could demand the help of all spirits if there was an emergency.

    ...Like right now.

    Kkieeeek!

    Kites flew out at a fearsome speed in response to the call. They were birds of prey which could fly hundreds of kilometers in an hour. Then what about the speed of a kite that had been reborn as a spirit? The speed of the kites broke through the wall of sound and was a weapon in itself. The kites made a creepy sound as they aimed at the heads and torsos of the monsters.

    Indeed, they were the majestic predators of the sky.

    Awoooooo!

    The kites were followed by wolves. The wolves were weak compared to Tiger King and White Bear, but their great number was their advantage. Following the wolves, there came the deer, gazelles, and leopards. Animals that would never cooperate in normal ecosystems emerged from the monsters to defeat the ugly monsters.

    "...Indeed, this is a splendid sight." Theodore looked down at the sight with admiration.  The monsters trapped in the Receptacle of Solitude would all be forced to fall if there were so many spirits as their opponents.

    Anyway, with the subordinates of the two elder spirits around, it was easy to finish the battle.

    'Now, this is settled. There is the recovery of the dragon vein, and I still don't know the purpose of that damn shaman... but I can't afford to stay longer on the East Continent. My time in this place is up to here.'

    Theodore stroked the three-tailed fox as he looked at the horizon with distant eyes. It had been over 100 days since he had arrived at the East Continent.

    His survival was known because of Aquilo, but it was unknown what would happen in the meantime. In the northern part of the West Continent, the 'armistice' was easy to tear apart. So, a war could break out at any time.

    "I have to hurry a bit more."

    After saying goodbye to the two spirits and leaving the Baekun Mountains, he would move to the area of Western Xia. From there, he would find a boat going to a harbor in the north. The problem of the sea currents was solved by Aquilo's blessing, so time was the key issue.

    "Let's go back."

    Theodore wished to go home as soon as possible. He wouldn't be one-sidedly pushed in a fight against Zest now. No, he would put an end to the nonsense this time.

    Theodore's eyes blue eyes looked purple as he gazed up at the twilight sky. His task in the Baekun Mountains was done.
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