“Another reason why it wasn’t so widely used was because it was so inefficient,” Alber continued. “The source of the magic is a person’s energy. It was hard to maintain a perfect human form if it meant risking your life.”
“Are you saying that Sang-je is using his life force to keep his form?”
He had originally planned to use Alber as a decoy. He would control her and make her do what he wished to do. But Alber considered how evil could spread with the monster controlling her ever move. So, she offered an alternative: That she would let him act human by using his magic to keep himself going.
She expected him to drain his life force eventually. But that wasn’t what happened.
“He was a much greater monster than I could have predicted,” she explained. “He must be one of the first larks to have been summoned because his life force seems to be endless. Aside from that, his true form is in deep sleep which means he uses less energy than he needs to. And…”
Eugene looked at her expectantly, waiting for her to finish what she was saying.
“I’m not sure,” Alber said tentatively. “But it would seem like his life force is recharging somewhere else. But if that’s the case, there’s no way for me to find out.”
The younger woman was silent for a moment, then she asked, “Where is his true form?”
“Have you met him?”
“Yes, in the Holy City’s castle.”
Alber nodded. “That whole castle serves as a plate where the magic is created to let the human form function.”
“The whole thing?” Eugene asked.
“Yes,” the older woman confirmed. “It allows him to keep his form. If he leaves that place, his form will become clear and ruined. The source of magic and that plate must also be close to one another in order to use less energy.”
“That means… his true form is—”
Eugene remembered how Abu had turned into a huge black panther. He was so big, but she felt like the size of the monster wasn’t even comparable to that. It was probably impossibly big. How do you face such a monster?
“What does the monster want?” Eugene asked. She still hadn’t figured that part out.
The monster had acted as God’s agent for a very long time. It used magic to tempt people and maintain its control over the Holy City.
She had learned the rise and fall of religion on Earth. She knew that religion failed when people started to grow greedy for power or wealth. But Sang-je hadn’t shown any signs of wanting anything at all. He had just been there, amassing just enough to maintain the palace and enough power to control the Anikas. He didn’t interfere with politics or meddle with the economy.
He didn’t stray from his assumed role as God’s agent. Even if that was all he wanted to be, then what was he meant to achieve?
“At first, he wanted to find his roots,” Alber said. “He wanted to know where he came from. He wanted to go back to where he belonged.”
The ancient magic to summon other beings from other realms was forbidden. No one could learn that kind of magic or even attempt it, but Alber did.
She had justified her actions back then. She believed that the monster wasn’t trying to hurt anyone, and she thought that this small sin was worth the future of her tribe.
“I broke the tribe’s rules and undid the seal of magic with my own hands.”
But when she did, she found that the magic wasn’t complete. She wondered if her ancestors had expected one of their foolish descendants to do something that terrible one day. They had broken the spell into three, and each of the three tribes took one piece. It was only complete when all three pieces came together.
No one knew about where the tribe that brought the larks had gone, and the part that had gone to the humans was nowhere to be found. So, Alber did what she could and took her tribe’s piece to figure out the spell.
Because she was a prodigy, she was able to make an almost perfect magic from what she had.
“I realized too late how great and dangerous the magic actually was,” she said. “It was almost impossible to open the doors to specific worlds. I couldn’t know where my magic would lead, so I was afraid. In the end, I chose not to activate it.
Another realm’s door, Eugene’s mind was fixed on that idea. She realized that everything she had been through had something to do with the magic Alber spoke of. Her heart raced. She hadn’t expected to learn about any of this.
“What did you do with the magic then?”
“I sealed it again.”
“How did the monster react?” Eugene pressed.
“It had taken me quite a while to get the magic together,” Alber explained. “In that time, the monster had changed its goals. It told me that, if I couldn’t activate the magic, it wanted something else. It said that if it couldn’t return to where it came from, it wanted to be a part of this world.”
She smiled bitterly. “It said it wanted to finish the last journey,” she said. “It used my own tribe’s words against me.”