“Wait, there is something I wish to know first,” Eugene said.
Aldrit tensed up as she spoke, trying to figure out their reactions.
“Please, ask me anything.”
“Does every wanderer know about these things, or is it only for the few chosen, such as yourself?”
“Once a wanderer turns eighteen, this particular knowledge is passed onto them. While these stories and circumstances are shared freely among the people, they are divided into levels. When one reaches a certain age, they learn more about our history.”
“Then, may I ask how old you are?”
“I am nineteen.”
Eugene blinked, taken aback. She had assumed that Aldrit would be about fourteen or fifteen years old based on his appearance. She initially thought it was cruel of his people to let a child wander all by himself, even if that was their custom.
‘He must have relied on scraps of food to get by.’
Eugene felt a pang of pity, as his small figure made him look way too young. However, unbeknownst to Eugene, compared to the commoners in the slum, Adrit would not even be considered petite.
After coming into the world, Eugene was only able to observe strong people, with big builds. The people in court only were small compared to the warriors. In Eugene’s eyes, the people on court were the ones who were of average build. In reality, she was unaware of the absolute difference between the stature of the rich and the poor.
So, when Eugene uttered that Aldrit “needs protection as he is still young”, she accidentally created a misunderstanding, leading Kasser to ponder what Eugene deemed as young or old.
“Does this mean this information is not important to your people?
Softly, Adrit answered. “While it is the most common knowledge, it is the most important one — the reason for the fall of one of the most powerful tribes in the world.”
“If that is the case,” Kasser spoke, making Aldrit flinch as he did not expect the royal to speak. “Why do your people choose death? Why remain silent over some common knowledge, something not even considered as a secret?”
“We pass this knowledge on to remember the sins of our ancestors, not to spread them. Those who have tried to make us speak only desired the spell that could avoid the lark,” Adrit looked on, solemn. “If I were to die anyway, whether I speak or not, then I too will choose silence until death.”
With his unwavering answer, Eugene wondered how closed off the wanderers must be from the world.
‘But can we actually blame them for that?’ She thought. They’re treated with disdain, as outcasts. The only way to protect themselves must have been to build walls in their hearts against the world.
“If Aldrit were any older, he wouldn’t have opened up at all.”
Aldrit was able to have a change of heart as he was young.
While Kasser did not sympathize with the wanderers as much as Eugene, his feelings of hostility slightly faded as he began to understand their behavior. As he looked at Aldrit, his gaze softened.
“Go on and finish what you were saying.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Aldrit internally let out a sigh of relief, thankful for their calm responses. However, a part of him was perplexed. He had been told by his elders that even if one were to share their secrets, they would only be labeled as mad.
If only Aldrit knew how unique the two royals were: an Anika who did not believe in divinity and a king without faith. The two might’ve been the only skeptics in Mahar.
“As time went by, their magic evolved — to the point where they could control the weather.”
Adrit continued to share the story.
Once the sorcerers succeeded in widening the scope of their magic, the sorcerers became intoxicated with power. As their powers got stronger, what was once an endeavor to improve people’s lives became a selfish pursuit for absolute power. They wanted to go beyond the reach of man, to gain the powers of a god.
The sorcerers were divided into three groups of like-minded individuals, each focused on different areas of study. Those three areas were: ways to revive the dead, ways to create new life, and lastly, ways to see into the future.
All were very confident that they would get their hands on the absolute power of a god, but none made substantial progress in their studies. As time passed, the three groups became concerned about keeping one another in check, leaving behind their studies.
Hostility grew to the point where marriage only happened within their own groups. Each group became more sinister, ready to tear the other groups apart. Eventually, the three groups completely divided — three independent groups, with three different ideas and three different bloodlines.
To thrive over the other groups, each of them realized they had to go back to their original goal, of pursuing the magic the group was founded for. They started to devote themselves once again to the ideas of their ancestors.
That was when those who focused on the creation of new life came up with a new approach in their studies.
“They stressed that making something out of nothing was an impossible task to begin with. And so, they thought that bringing in creatures from another world could be considered as the creation of new life. And so, they…”
Aldrit took a deep breath, throat parching up as he spoke. Every time he recalled the wretchedness of his ancestors, a bottomless pit greeted him as if he were falling.
“The spell worked. A gate opened, connecting our world to different worlds beyond — and what came through were monsters that now plague the land.”
Kasser and Eugene’s eyes widened.
“These monsters were named as “Larks” — meaning sin and vice in the ancient language.”
‘The origin of larks.’
The royals remained still, shocked by what they just heard. Although it sounded absurd, it was too specific to be treated as Aldrit’s nonsense. There was also no reason for him to make up such a story.
“I am…” Aldrit, paused, lowering his face in shame. ”I am a descendant of the sorcerers who brought larks into the world.”
He sat still, remorseful for all the sins his ancestors committed.
‘A gate connecting to other worlds….?’ Eugene felt her heart race at his words. In truth, she was more interested in the spell of Aldrit’s ancestors, rather than the events after the gate opened.
‘That…That black hole…’
Eugene recalled the hole she saw right before she fell into this world, the same hole that she jumped into. Could this be the gate Aldrit mentioned? If so, who opened it?
‘Jin… Was Jin trying to open the gate with that spell?’
But why would Jin open the gate? And was it just a coincidence that the gate opened right in front of her? If not, then was she the one that Jin was trying to call?
Each question led to another — she felt stuck in an endless loop of riddles.
Kasser’s voice cut through the silence, making Eugene flinch away from drowning in her thoughts.
“Then, do you know what those larks really are?”
She clenched her fist and stared at Aldrit, her heart filled with hope that Aldrit had all the answers to her questions.
“We know that they were originally not from this world. They did not have any particular form, and so they imitated the living things in our world. And now they’ve become what we know of them.”
Aldrit then continued about the dark period that reigned after the larks were brought into the world.
Once the first lark realized that the world was ruled by humans, they decided to wipe out every human race to take control of the world. They started a massacre and the dead piled like a mountain.
In the face of this crisis, the three divided groups finally came together to undo their mistakes. Together, the sorcerers fought with everything they had to save the people from the larks.
Before then, the sorcerers were the ruling class, different from other people. The division only got worse when they selfishly kept their magic and focused on impossible studies for years and years. The others turned their back on them, just as the sorcerers turned their backs on the people.
But seeing the sacrifices of the sorcerers, the people change their minds. To save the world, everyone then joined forces and started to fight against the larks.
“…But no matter how hard humans tried, the larks were just too powerful. Even now, an average person struggles to kill a lark just half the size of his own.”
Kasser nodded his head, recognizing the truth in Aldrit’s words. Human strength was nothing compared to those of animals, let alone to the strength of larks. And larks were much more of a threat as they attack humans indiscriminately, unlike animals that only do so when provoked.
“But then a miracle happened. Humans who possessed the power to defeat the larks were starting to be born into the world,” Aldrit said, turning to face the king. “And among them, one man who possessed the greatest power of all, distinct from the others, was born.”
Kasser’s brows furrowed at Aldrit’s words.
Aldrit, reading the expression of the king, said, “This human with the greatest power could control a creature with no exact shape, a creature similar to a lark.”
He was referring to the king and his Praz.
Kasser felt a strange feeling within him. He had never heard or read of such knowledge before. And never in his wildest dreams had he imagined he would hear it from the mouth of a wanderer.
Growing up, he had questions about his existence in the world. What is the role of a king who possessed such great power, with such distinct features? No one ever answered him. Even the late king, who most likely had the same question, could not tell him anything.
But he appreciated what Aldrit just told him about his true identity. It meant that he was still rooted in humans.
Meanwhile, hearing such a thing, Eugene couldn’t help but compare it to something from the modern world, thinking of it as an antibody fighting off a virus.
‘To stand up to the threat, it also evolves and takes the form of its enemy,’ Eugene interpreted Praz’s similarity to larks from an evolutionary point of view.
Aldrit then continued, “The king’s appearance was a miracle to the people, but not very much to the sorcerers.”
Eugene slowly nodded her head, understanding what must’ve happened, and said, “The king was way more powerful than the sorcerers when it came to defeating the larks”
“Yes, and everyone eventually found out the truth, that the sorcerers brought the larks in the first place.”
Once this knowledge came to light, people were furious. They were divided. Some believed what the sorcerers had done was unforgivable, while others thought they should be given another chance to correct their mistakes, as the sorcerers stood up against the larks.
However, no one was truly on the side of the sorcerers. For a long time, they had been a very closed society, and so, they were unable to blend in with the people outside. With the people having their king for protection, they were not desperate for the power of sorcerers anymore.
“But the god gave the sorcerers another chance to start a new life. Sorcerers’ children, who possessed special powers, were born to the world. All born with their own distinct looks, different from the others, just like the king.”