Countless stone statues packed the plaza, and at its centre was the statue of a dragon, half of which had sunken beneath the ground.
The elf silently watched Yoo-rah, gesturing to her to approach the dragon. Yoo-rah looked at each sculpture as she walked toward the dragon. The sculptures ranged from men with wings or lion’s faces to men who seemed to have fused with a tree, even depicting men with a third eye on their forehead. Though they bore a striking human resemblance, none of them were quite human.
‘What is this place?’ Yoo-rah wondered, when the elf who reached the dragon kneeled and lowered her head.
“I have brought her.”
At that moment, what Yoo-rah initially thought was just a sculpture moved—its left eye opened, revealing its golden iris.
Yoo-rah gulped at the frightening sight. A calm, hoary voice echoed into her mind.
“Where is this? And how do you know that language?”
Yoo-rah asked. The dragon blinked once before answering.
“It will be easier to show you than tell.”
Memories upon memories flooded into Yoo-rah’s mind at once. Of the elder races that defended against invasions from heaven and hell.
Of the humans who’d betrayed this world time after time, falling to the temptations of either side. The other races would rarely succumb to such a fate themselves but were not impervious to being tricked by devious schemes. And the elder races would always be the ones to pay the price.
So they wished to end this eternal war; but instead of putting a stop to the constant invasions, they simply looked to redirect it towards another world. It was then that they saw a world where only humans lived. The elder races were equally amazed and curious as to how this foolhardy, easily seduced race could develop so much.
This world, they believed, would be an enticing substitute for heaven and hell. So they sought for an object this world of humans wanted, and made a deal with the rulers of that world.
Yoo-rah cried as she charged at the dragon and started beating at it until her fingers went limp and her knuckles bore flesh. Her feeble hands couldn’t even scratch the stone.
She thought she’d go insane if she didn’t do this. The sudden invasion and incomprehensible declaration of surrender—all of this was according to plan. Their plan.
All the soldiers—from their first fight to their last breath—their efforts were pointless. Yoo-rah couldn’t accept that.
Yoo-rah cursed and cried at the dragon until she sank onto the ground, exhausted. It was then that the elf approached her to heal her hands.
Yoo-rah quietly watched the elf before asking the dragon.
“What do you want from me?”
“Nothing? Then why did you show me all of that?”
“Because it was our arrogance from which this tragedy was born. Even as we sought to repent, we did not abandon our arrogance. Your existence taught us that. For you are the one we should be repenting to.”
“Are you saying you brought me back from death because you needed to apologise to me?”
“… Your presence in this world was unexpected to us. Nobody knows why you emerged in this world. That is why we were troubled when we sensed your existence. And only then we realised that our arrogance still persists. You and your people were the true victims, yet our repent did not consider you at all. Our apology gives no consolation nor compensation, but we apologise.”
“I hear Mr. Orlando brought you some flowers?”
The High Elf Elisia, who was the representative of the dragon Old One, was now a good friend of Yoo-rah. Yoo-rah smiled gently at her question.
“Did the word spread already?”
“It’s not often you get to see the future chief of the werewolves wandering the field looking for flowers.”
Yoo-rah chuckled. After she heard of the truth from the Old One, Yoo-rah let go of her hatred and frustration for everything around her. Everything seemed despicable and hypocritical.
Yet they accepted all of Yoo-rah’s hatred and sadness without a complaint. It only drove Yoo-rah further into insanity. With no target to direct her anger at, it only ate away at her heart, and her body withered with it.
That is why she didn’t know of the chaos this world was in. How much the non-humans were sacrificing to protect and care for her.
Yoo-rah’s mind changed when a group of humans invaded the location of her residence. The non-humans sacrificed themselves solely to protect Yoo-rah.
Despite how she had lashed out and abused them, these non-humans gladly died in her place. Not even she could simply watch them apathetically; but it was here that she remembered Joon-young’s words.
-Either die now, or live on until the end. You must not regret. For the soldiers who died and will die out there believing in the false hope.
Though they repelled the human invasion, it came at a heavy cost. But nobody blamed Yoo-rah. Instead, they were almost ashamed to be in front of her in such a sorry state, and were more so relieved that she was unharmed. When she discovered that they were endangered races—whose extinction had been predetermined as the last descendants of the elder races—Yoo-rah made up her mind. Using her unusual position, she assembled many non-humans together.
She also brought together humans who were friendly with the non-humans. Yoo-rah took part in ending the clashes between political and cultural differences of the many races. The Empire was born as a result.
So the Age of Chaos had ended, and peace had come. Yoo-rah thought that living her life in this peace wasn’t so bad.
“You found a mysterious organisation in the Forbidden Lands?”
“That’s right. They are likely…”
Yoo-rah smiled bitterly, waiting for them to finish their sentence. It had been a lifetime ago, yet they still nervously danced around the topic in worry of Yoo-rah. Seriously, you couldn’t hate them even if you tried.
“So what have you decided on?”
“The Emperor has decided to send delegates.”
“Then I must join them.”
“Will that be okay?”
“Hmph. Don’t be so worried.”
“I, it’s been a while, Yoo-rah nim.”
“Yes it has, Mr. Orlando.”
Yoo-rah chuckled, watching Orlando receive her. His tail was wagging furiously like a puppy. . The other tribesmen around him looked at him with pity and disdain, yet Orlando circled around Yoo-rah, ready to fetch whatever she threw at him.
“… Your tribe has grown since then.”
“Yes. They are the future of our tribe.”
Yoo-rah smiled as she patted the children’s heads. They looked up to her curiously. During the Age of Chaos, many races were almost driven to extinction—the werewolves being one of them. But the werewolves had succeeded in increasing their numbers after accepting Yoo-rah’s advice.
Yoo-rah’s plan of joining the delegates had to be cancelled. A plague of unknown origin had swept across the northern provinces like wildfire—no race was safe from infection.
Yoo-rah had yet to teach about medicine or hygiene in this world, so their preparations for the plague were near non-existent. The plague only accelerated from there, and now it loomed over the werewolf reservation.
“Bring more wet towels! Wizards, use ice magic now! We have to keep their temperatures low!”
This group of refugees had abandoned their homes and begun migrating south, but the plague had already caught up to them. It started with children, and the healthy adults followed soon after. Yoo-rah did her best to quarantine the patients and keep their temperatures low, but as someone who hadn’t specialised in medicine, this was all her limited medical knowledge amounted to.
But even this was more than what other races had done, for they didn’t even know of the basics behind treating the sick. Yoo-rah wrote down everything she could recall on how to deal with diseases and disseminated her knowledge across the northern provinces.
“Yoo-rah nim, the messenger has returned.”
The Empire and non-humans quickly deployed their own healers and warriors in fear that she too would succumb to the disease, but Yoo-rah told them it was already too late. She reassigned them to be messengers instead to spread her knowledge.
“How did it go?”
Yoo-rah spoke from within the tent, afraid to leave it in fear of spreading the plague. Outside the tent, the man hesitated before speaking.
“I am sorry. They rejected your orders, Yoo-rah nim.”
“Why? The entire continent might fall apart because of this!”
“The human lands are finished. It is difficult to find a healthy individual at this point. And the non-human reservations have rejected the orders outright, refusing to abandon their patients.”
“Fools! Do they all want to die together? Did you tell them we aren’t abandoning them but just quarantining them?”
Yoo-rah shouted in frustration, and only to be met with the messenger’s silence. Yoo-rah sighed quietly. Hammering down on the poor messenger wasn’t going to give her an answer.
“Tell the Empire and other races to cut off the northern provinces. Even if there will be massive casualties, the plague can’t be allowed to spread.”
“… Yes ma’am.”
The patients who were boiling in their fever shouted in a frenzy together. Even those who were caring for them gripped their own heads and joined the fray. Only Yoo-rah remained calm, trying her utmost to hold down the patients.
“Somebody help… what is going on!”
Yoo-rah screamed, but then realised the werewolves were staring at her. Their cold stare, marked with tears in their eyes, sent chills down Yoo-rah’s spine. The eyes were filled with hatred and anger, but knew what they were looking at isn’t the target to appease their anger. All they could do was look at her powerlessly. The same eyes Yoo-rah possessed during the early days she lived with them. The werewolves wept continuously.
“You are safe.”
“Ah! Mr. Orlando, you shouldn’t come…”
Yoo-rah was happy to see Orlando despite asking him to leave the tent, but she couldn’t finish her sentence as he seemed different.
“… We found the source of the plague.”
“Ah, then we must make a cure…”
“The humans of the other world infiltrated our world despite our warnings.”
“And it seems they have captured Orleana who we thought had escaped safely.”
Yoo-rah quickly realised the reason behind their actions. As Orleana died, she sent the memories of her death to her tribe for vengeance.
“I just wanted to see you again one last time. Farewell.”
Orlando bowed and was about to leave the tent. Yoo-rah quickly grabbed his clothes. Even if the werewolves possessed superior physique incomparable to that of humans, Yoo-rah couldn’t imagine they’d be fine in the face of bullets.
“Please don’t go…”
“… I’m sorry.”
Orlando shook away Yoo-rah’s hand, and she could only watch helplessly.