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    “You mean a spiritual medicine that contains the energy of fire?”

    “Yes.”

    Elayna pondered for a moment before answering.

    “It’s called a spiritual medicine because it’s rare. How would someone like me know the location of such a treasure?”

    At those words, Do-joon’s shoulders drooped slightly. A sense of disappointment began to rise. However.

    “…… I’d like to say that, but.”

    There was more to her words.

    Elayna shrugged and continued.

    “It’s not that I have no idea where to find fire energy.”

    “Where?”

    “The territory of the Flame Lord.”

    “Flame Lord?”

    “It’s the territory of the lord who governs all fire spirits. If it’s there, there might be a spiritual medicine containing fire energy.”

    The territory of the spirit lord.

    Do-joon didn’t know much about spirits, but he had heard about them and even fought them before.

    The power of the storm giant named Aquila that had appeared on Hwaseong, the wind spirit named Sylphae that Eldora had summoned.

    And even the shadow spirit of Elayna in front of him.

    Each of their abilities was not to be taken lightly. He had almost died against Sylphae, after all.

    If a mere spirit possessed such power, what about the lord at the top?

    If it was there, there was a sufficient possibility. No, it wasn’t just a possibility, but it seemed quite high.

    “But……”

    Do-joon’s eyes were shining. As if she felt bad about pouring cold water on him, Elayna quietly spoke.

    “I heard the Flame Lord is quite reclusive. Even if you go, I don’t know if he will let you in.”

    “Reclusive? Aren’t you all friendly with the spirits?”

    “Basically, yes, but fire spirits are a bit different.”

    Elves were a race that was familiar with spirits from birth. In fact, that was no different even for fire spirits.

    The problem was that they valued forests and trees greatly, and fire spirits were beings that could accidentally burn down the entire forest.

    Because of that, their relationship with fire spirits had been a bit strained since long ago.

    Then, at some point.

    “The white elves started to completely ignore the fire spirits. The Flame Lord, angered by that, holed up in his territory and doesn’t let anyone in.”

    “……”

    Do-joon was at a loss for words for a moment.

    Of course, anyone would get angry if they were blatantly ignored, but it was a bit different from the image of a solemn lord he had been thinking of.

    ‘Well, wars do break out for childish reasons too.’

    Come to think of it, it made sense. Since his subordinates or people were being ignored……

    Rather, the fact that he only holed himself up might mean he had a more gentle personality than expected. It was all speculation, though.

    “If the white elves did that, doesn’t it mean the dark elves are fine?”

    “That’s not the case either. Our ancestors weren’t particularly close to fire spirits either, although not as much as the white ones. In recent years, our king has tried to engage in dialogue with them several times, but it failed.”

    Recently, the dark elves had been trying to gain the power of fire spirits. There was one reason.

    To obtain the fire to burn the World Tree.

    Their weak flames alone couldn’t even peel off a single piece of bark from that huge tree, let alone burn it.

    “I see……”

    After hearing all this, Do-joon folded his arms.

    He understood the reason why the Flame Lord had become reclusive. And also the fact that the dark elves had tried to befriend him several times but failed.

    Whether he himself could enter the territory was still uncertain.

    But that was.

    ‘Something to think about after going there.’

    It wasn’t something to worry about now.

    The lord’s territory. There was a high possibility of a fire spiritual medicine being there.

    That alone was enough for Do-joon to take action.

    ‘Who knows? Even if not inside the territory, there might be spirit herbs growing around it, influenced by it.’

    Even that much would be a big harvest.

    Jae Cheon-seong was by So-eun’s side. A skilled person who could help her fully absorb the effects of even minor spiritual medicines.

    Do-joon spoke to her with sparkling eyes.

    “Elayna, let’s make a deal.”

    “A deal?”

    “If you guide me to that place, I will help you with what you are doing here.”

    “You mean removing the roots?”

    He nodded.

    “I know you’ve been hiding all this time. Wouldn’t it be much easier and faster to work with an assistant?”

    “……”

    Elayna closed her mouth.

    That was true. This world was strangely crowded and complicated. Moreover, all the roots were surrounded by wire fences and had personnel monitoring them.

    Although it was nothing in front of Laiars’ power, it was still uncomfortable.

    And……

    ‘The bed……’

    Her eyes turned to the bed.

    If she hadn’t been caught by Do-joon yesterday, she would have had to sleep on the cold ground for days or even months. Without ever feeling the softness of a fluffy blanket.

    Gulp.

    She swallowed slightly.

    “The Flame Lord doesn’t let guests in. It will just be a wasted effort.”

    “That’s something to think about when the time comes.”

    It was the first information he had received about the location of a spiritual medicine. He couldn’t let it go because it might be a wasted effort.

    “You won’t throw me out later if I fail to obtain the medicine, right?”

    “Don’t worry. I’m not that much of a thug.”

    “…… If that’s the case, fine.”

    If guiding the way once would make things easier, it would be a gain.

    Moreover, Do-joon was the one who had defeated Eldora. If someone like that cooperated, she could remove the roots much faster and safer than when she was alone.

    In many ways, there was no reason to refuse.

    “Alright. I’ll be in your care.”

    “Yeah, me too.”

    The two of them smiled and shook hands, satisfied with the deal.

    ***

    -Are you serious? You agreed to enter the stem together?

    “Yes. So about my promotion test……”

    -You mean you want to change it to entering the stem as originally proposed?

    “That’s right. Is that okay?”

    A phone call with Son Chang-il. Do-joon brought up the topic first.

    The proposal to enter the stem, which he had refused once before. He was saying he would accept it.

    It might seem shameless to bring up something he had already refused, but he had no time to worry about that now.

    -Of course it’s okay! I was going to ask you for a favor instead. To gather some information about the stem from the dark elf. But if you’re going to enter together, nothing could be better.

    Fortunately, Son Chang-il also readily agreed.

    He was just about to ask Do-joon for information about the stem. He had been contemplating what to offer this time to obtain that information.

    But now that the two of them were going to enter directly, there was nothing better.

    “For now, I will join the exploration team. It will be safer that way.”

    -That’s a good idea. Ah, right. Keep the matter about the dark elf a secret for now. Even within the exploration team, don’t tell anyone except the leader, Hunter Shin Yoo-sung.

    “I understand.”

    Do-joon didn’t particularly want this to spread either. He had no intention of going out of his way to spread it, although he wasn’t going to desperately hide it either. He didn’t know what kind of weirdos might get involved.

    -Wait…… Then you should be the leader of this team. That way, you can take the path you want.

    “I suppose so.”

    -It will be hard to find people…… Even with my guarantee, not many would jump into an unknown space with an E-rank Hunter as the leader.

    “About that……”

    Do-joon also had something to mention about the members. He brought up what he had been thinking.

    -You have someone you want to take along?

    “Yes.”

    -I see, let’s do that. Apart from that, I will also try to recruit volunteers on my end.

    “Please do.”

    The phone call with Son Chang-il ended like that.

    However, Do-joon hadn’t put away his cell phone yet. There was one more place to contact.

    The next person Do-joon called was.

    Hyung! What’s the matter?

    It was Hwang Hyun-woo.

    After a brief greeting, Do-joon got straight to the point.

    “Hyun-woo, can you make things even in dungeons or exploration sites? Even simple things.”

    -Huh? In a dungeon? I can make simple things. Do you remember the skill I used for combat back then?

    Do-joon recalled the memory of the lava cave he had entered with him.

    He definitely remembered Hwang Hyun-woo using a skill to make pillars, walls, or thorns rise from the ground.

    “Yeah.”

    -Actually, that’s not a combat skill, but a crafting skill called Workshop Crafting. I can make simple items with it. But……

    “But?”

    -The things made like that are only crude objects? The probability of failure and getting minus options is also higher……

    “…… Even better?”

    -What did you say?

    “No, it’s nothing. It’s fine.”

    Do-joon spoke, suppressing his laughter.

    Hwang Hyun-woo spoke gloomily, saying the probability of failure was higher, but Do-joon’s lips curled up at those words.

    “Listen carefully. You can refuse if you don’t want to.”

    Do-joon briefly explained the reason why he brought it up to him first.

    There was a long-term exploration coming up, and he needed a repairman and porter to maintain the weapons during that time. He didn’t know many combatants other than him, so he brought it up.

    Of course, he hid the real reason, which was to procure minus items on-site.

    Then, Hwang Hyun-woo shouted heartily.

    -I’ll go with you anywhere! Where is it this time? A B-rank dungeon? There’s nowhere I can’t go if I’m with you, hyung!

    “The stem.”

    -What?

    “We’re going to enter the stem on Hwaseong.”

    -……

    There was a brief silence over the phone. Then, Hwang Hyun-woo timidly said.

    -Well…… about that……

    Hearing his trembling voice, Do-joon chuckled.

    “I told you, you can refuse.”

    -Can, can I think about it before answering?

    “Sure.”

    Beep.

    Do-joon ended the call with Hwang Hyun-woo.

    Judging by his voice, the chances of him joining were about fifty-fifty.

    Still, he wasn’t particularly disappointed. After all, Hwang Hyun-woo’s participation had both advantages and disadvantages. Because he had to protect him.

    As such, he wasn’t fixated on Hwang Hyun-woo’s participation. In fact, the person he had mentioned to Son Chang-il that he wanted to take along was someone else.

    That evening.

    The second family meeting was held at Do-joon’s house.

    ***

    The agenda of the meeting was simple.

    Between Sivellin and Jae Cheon-seong, he wanted one of them to accompany him to the stem.

    The two of them looked at each other, and the first to speak was Jae Cheon-seong.

    “I can’t. I have to take care of So-eun. I’m in the middle of correcting her twisted meridians, so I can’t skip even a day.”

    He pointed to the next room as he spoke. In that dark room with the lights off, So-eun was sleeping soundly.

    “I see.”

    Do-joon nodded. If that was the reason, he couldn’t take him along.

    His gaze turned to Sivellin sitting next to him.

    She.

    「I’m fine!」

    She readily agreed and tapped her chest as if to show it. As if telling him to trust only her.

    「I’m sad to be apart from So-eun for a while, but Father can’t die.」

    Her appearance couldn’t be more reassuring.

    Wasn’t she the one who could possibly surpass S-rank Hunter Shin Yoo-sung in healing and support, or perhaps even be far superior to him?

    Considering the impact a single healer had on a team, her participation was as good as having an army.

    Then, Do-joon suddenly stared intently at Jae Cheon-seong.

    “What is it?”

    “Sivellin says she’s sad to be apart from So-eun, but you don’t feel anything about being apart from me?”

    “Nope. I don’t feel anything.”

    An answer that came out immediately without any sign of contemplation.

    Do-joon chuckled. Beside him, Sivellin also covered her mouth and giggled.

    Then, Do-joon expressed his gratitude to the two of them.

    Strangely, he wasn’t worried at all about the unknown world inside the stem or the outside world while he was gone.

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