“You sure have collected quite a few, haven’t you?” (Argolas)
Argolas received the marbles from Alpha.
Seeing all those marbles shining in the hue so ominously black that it seemed to suck out the souls of all those looking at them, even the demon thought it’d lose itself if it was not careful.
These were basically artefacts containing purified essence of negative energy.
“So, what are you planning to use them for? Is it yet another Gate?” (Alpha)
“That’s right.” (Argolas)
“I thought that it’s now proven a demon king or whatever can’t properly deal with Yi Ji-Hyuk?” (Alpha)
“You’ve witnessed the event that had unfolded so far, yet you can still say something like that. The tendency of humans to rely on sarcasm to make themselves feel better, I’ll never understand it.” (Argolas)
Alpha began glaring at Argolas as if he didn’t like this idea.
“Have I not explained it multiple times that not all demon kings are the same?” (Argolas)
“That you did.” (Alpha)
Alpha nodded his head.
Sure, he had heard that story multiple times. And he also heard that the lizard who showed up here just so happened to be a low-ranked one among all the demon kings.
Such a ‘low-ranked’ demon king proceeded to annihilate a part of the USA and drove Yi Ji-Hyuk to the brink of death.
In the end, Yi Ji-Hyuk and his gang managed to eke out a victory, but without the interference of a certain someone, it would have been Yi Ji-Hyuk dying that day, instead.
“Okay, so. You’re saying that a higher-ranking demon king will show up this time?” (Alpha)
“That’s correct.” (Argolas)
Alpha tilted his head, unconvinced.
“It seems that there are quite a few interested in Earth living in the demon world you mentioned. But then, didn’t you say that these demon kings are lazy as*es and they don’t like making waves? So, why does it sound like every Tom, Dick, and Harry wants to show up here?” (Alpha)
“I don’t understand what you’re trying to achieve by making me angry with your crappy attitude. Besides, your childish prattling does not work on me, so why don’t you give it a rest?” (Argolas)
“Aren’t you a boring one.” (Alpha)
Alpha quietly studied Argolas.
The so-called demons.
Alpha thought that he’d get what he wanted by cooperating with these demons, but lately, that line of thinking had been going through some changes. After all, he had not gotten his hands on any of the promised compensation until now, had he?
“So, when can I reasonably expect to receive this reward you’ve been talking about?” (Alpha)
“Very soon.” (Argolas)
“You know, I can’t recall just how many times you’ve given me that answer. According to you, demons would never lie about the contracts they sign. But then again, creatures like demons would never speak the truth from the get-go, so am I being stupid by trusting you?” (Alpha)
“….You b*stard.” (Argolas)
Argolas’s expression crumpled rather unsightly.
Contract signing to demons was sacred.
Contracts were the very essence of all demons.
It was one of the greatest insults to a demon to suspect the legitimacy of a contract.
“It’s not difficult to give you what I promised right now. With what you have managed to gather, it’d be perfectly doable. However, if I use these to open up a Gate instead, then you will receive far more than what you ever wanted.” (Argolas)
“I don’t know that for sure.” (Alpha)
“It’s up to you to decide. I shall simply comply with what you want.” (Argolas)
Alpha formed an expression of a man in a slight dilemma, before opening his mouth.
“Oh, well. Fine. Open this Gate of yours.” (Alpha)
“Do you trust me, then?” (Argolas)
“What, you?” (Alpha)
Alpha began laughing out loudly as if he found the notion ridiculous.
“A human trusting a demon? What a funny concept that is. My bad. When I think about it, you being in this world is pretty much the same thing as me falling into the pits of hell, but….. I should be thinking that you’re a bit of an insane loon by now.” (Alpha)
“Sure, I did think that way before.” (Argolas)
“I wondered if all humans liked yapping on and on after seeing how Yi Ji-Hyuk’s mouth didn’t seem to know the meaning of taking a break. However, I thought I shouldn’t generalise since humans have this thing called individual personality quirks. Now that I’ve seen you speak, though, I can safely say that the humans of this world are, indeed, noisy chatterboxes.” (Argolas)
Alpha cackled out as if he was happy about something, before opening his mouth again.
“Fine. Go ahead. Well, I haven’t done anything major for you until now anyway. I can certainly do something as minor as going around places with lots of people dying while carrying these marbles around. But I did have to go to quite a few places all thanks to this incident, though.” (Alpha)
“The difficulty of the matter at hand isn’t important. No, the only thing that counts is whether it has been done or not.” (Argolas)
“Sure. So, open the Gate up and we’ll leave it at that. I don’t mind not getting my reward right now, but in all honesty, I also wanna see what kind of a demon king would show up this time.” (Alpha)
“I’m not sure whether to say you won’t be disappointed or you’ll regret it.” (Argolas)
“That’s right, regret. The one scheduled to arrive this time isn’t someone as mild-mannered as the last demon king.” (Argolas)
That lizard-like monstrosity was mild mannered? Was the demon world only filled with batsh*t-crazy insane fools, then? How could the words ‘mild-mannered’ even be mentioned in the same breath as ‘demon king’?
“….Well, I’m certainly looking forward to this.” (Alpha)
Alpha cackled again, before turning around to leave this room. Argolas wordlessly watched him leave, before injecting its Mana into the marble-like artefacts on its palm.
“Enjoy your leisure, what little remains of it.” (Argolas)
Argolas didn’t know for what purpose Alpha was helping it out. The human probably didn’t trust the contract itself. Unfortunately, there was one little thing Alpha had overlooked.
Didn’t matter if everything he wanted came true, because the moment this world fell into the grips of the demon world, all those things would lose their meaning.
“Is that the limitation of a human?” (Argolas)
Argolas turned its attention away from Alpha and focused itself in opening the Gate.
Delkaran. The great one was coming.
Once the great one had arrived, this world would finally realise what a true demon king was and start worshipping their new rulers.
“This is really interesting.” (Alpha)
Alpha cracked his neck left to right while walking out from the gloomy room.
“How long are you planning to humour those strange creatures?” (?)
“But, don’t you find them entertaining?” (Alpha)
Alpha smiled brightly.
“It’s a sad thing to see humans in conflict with one another. So, would you believe me if I say that my earnest wish is to avoid creating situations of people fighting each other?” (Alpha)
“No, not really.” (?)
“That’s lamentable. Really.” (Alpha)
Even though he was supposed to be lamenting, his lips were busy forming a cheery smile.
“Is there a reason why you are helping those things out?” (?)
“Didn’t I already say that it’s entertaining?” (Alpha)
“I’m simply curious of the real reason.” (?)
Alpha stopped walking. Before him, a man qualified to be labelled as his right hand stood like a firm wall.
“Stop being serious, because you aren’t being fun anymore.” (Alpha)
“My apologies.” (Vito)
“M-mm. Doesn’t suit you.” (Alpha)
Alpha shook his head and continued on.
“We need lots more chaos.” (Alpha)
“Chaos, sir?” (Vito)
“That’s right. But, what we need is not the chaos created by humanity’s own hands, but by monsters.” (Alpha)
Vito formed a puzzled expression.
“It’s about time people wake up to the notion of ‘contradiction’.” (Alpha)
“Some people will begin to realise it as the number of sacrifices climb higher. And that would be – this world is being propped up by the support pillar of sacrifices. And when that happens, someone will step up. People with loud voices wishing to be heard and not wanting to put up with any more sacrifices will increase.” (Alpha)
“…Sounds difficult.” (Vito)
“But, it’s not that difficult at all.” (Alpha)
Alpha chuckled and began walking again.
“Let’s watch from the sidelines until then. Let’s spectate on the fight between these demons and the guardian of the humanity.” (Alpha)
“Are you talking about Yi Ji-Hyuk?” (Vito)
“Right, that guy.” (Alpha)
“Have you completely given up on winning him over?” (Vito)
“Yup, that I did.” (Alpha)
Alpha didn’t explain himself in detail. Words couldn’t adequately explain why that man couldn’t be won over, no matter what.
In the first place, there was no chance to win over someone who’d wilfully go the other way when you tried to coax him in another direction. Such a man would never do what you ask of him no matter how hard you wrecked your brain to think up of a method to control him.
In that case, it was better to just let him be. Which would result in others poking him and getting a bloody nose, instead. All Alpha had to do was to enjoy the spectacle.
“It’s still an unknown. Whether he’d become an enemy or a friend…. We should observe for a little while longer.” (Alpha)
Alpha lightly patted Vito’s shoulder and continued his walk towards the surface from this underground space.
He suddenly grew a bit irritated at the sliver of sunlight leaking in from the gap of the old steel gates. Such beams of light permeating into the darkened space like this one would only stimulate his deeply-repressed trauma, after all.
‘No need to be hasty.’ (Alpha)
Some time in the future, everything he wished for would come to fruition. Until then, he’d have to put up with this whole unlikely bedfellows thing with the demons.
“So, this is South Korea, is it?” (Stephen Bosch)
Stephen Bosch massaged his slightly aching shoulders as his way to express his dissatisfaction.
“Whatever. I don’t like it here already.” (Stephen Bosch)
First of all, he was p*ssed off about this cold weather. He was a California-native and as a result, didn’t enjoy cold places one bit. Perhaps even more egregious was the fact that he didn’t come here on his own volition, but was pretty much forced to come, instead. So, there was no way he’d find this place to his liking at all.
“That d*mn McLaren.” (Stephen Bosch)
Bosch simply couldn’t understand what that man wanted to achieve by sending them over to this tiny-a*s country.
In order to enhance their abilities?
If ability users could enhance their powers just because they wanted to, wouldn’t they have done so already?!
Bosch did strongly voice his objections, but when asked if he failed to see the ability users of the NDF, he realised that he had nothing more to say. Well, he had functioning eyes and all, so there.
Back when they were confronted by that f*cking demon or whatever, or even when zombies were running amok in the streets of America, it wasn’t the proud American ability users that solved both situations but those Korean b*stards, instead.
That fact alone was stomping on Stephen Bosch’s pride.
“God f*cking d*mn it.” (Stephen Bosch)
“Hey, man. Don’t get too worked up over it, okay?”
“How can I not get worked up?” (Stephen Bosch)
It was already a deeply dissatisfying matter to be pushed aside by some random b*stards from a tiny country out in East Asia, but now, he even had to grovel and ask them to impart their knowledge on some stuff, too.
This wasn’t some kind of transfer of technology, either. Just what on earth were they doing here? No, hang on a minute – transfer of tech would be so much more preferable than this crap. Because, you’d be exchanging stuff when doing that.
These people had always been under the protection of a powerful ally called the United States of America. So, just when would they have been on the receiving end of others grovelling and asking them for their help?
“Godd*mn monkeys.” (Stephen Bosch)
“Hey, Stephen! Watch your mouth.”
“….Sorry. I was out of line there.” (Stephen Bosch)
“One more racist bullsh*t out of your mouth, and I’ll personally yank your a*s out of here and send you back home, got it?”
Stephen Bosch turned his head away, his expression now filled up with disgruntlement.
The friend next to him was an African American and was quite sensitive towards racism in general. Now typically, black people would generally chuckle along at the mockery aimed at the Oriental folks. But not this guy. When it came to this kind of stuff, he was so hardcore that he even came across as a god d*mn freak sometimes.
‘I can’t even get angry properly here.’ (Stephen Bosch)
Stephen Bosch’s irritation was piling up sky-high now.
“Just when are they gonna show up?” (Stephen Bosch)
The first wave of those who were scheduled to receive this training that wasn’t really training, had all arrived in Korea by now. However, the ones supposed to greet them were nowhere to be seen.
Thanks to that, these Americans were left waiting on this military training field, the location designated as the meeting point of the two sides.
“I’m sure they are on their way.” (Woody)
Stephen Bosch’s friend, Woody plopped down on the ground.
“D*mn it.” (Stephen Bosch)
It was already d*mn annoying to come here, but now, he even had to wait for some tardy b*stards, too? Once his irritation level began rising up, everything he could see became a source of even more irritation.
This bitterly-cold weather, the stupid humidity he could feel despite the cold, and even this narrow-as-hell training ground – all of it.
“Hey, there they are.” (Woody)
Thankfully, the NDF folks finally showed up before Bosch’s irritation had a chance to balloon up to even greater heights.
His sharp glare landed on the incoming Koreans. There were three of them – two men and one woman.
‘That’s Seo Ah-Young.’
Everyone knew who that woman was. She was the South Korean ability user thought to be one of the world’s best. The Flame Witch, Seo Ah-Young.
As for the good-looking man next to her, he must’ve been her adjutant, Choi Jung-Hoon.
Of course, the Americans had pretty much memorised the information on all the important Koreans on their way over here. That was why they could recognise them immediately.
And the owner of the annoyance-ridden face walking in the middle of them was none other than Yi Ji-Hyuk.
His gaze and Stephen’s collided in mid-air.
< 202. What’s up with this chill -2 > Fin.
(TL: Some news – I’ll be temporarily slowing down the release rate of the Returner to three chaps a week for a little while so I can focus on my other two novels. One of which is quite close to its finishing line, so to speak. Well, closer than the Returner or the other one, at least. Once I manage to do that, I’ll pick the pace back up. Sorry about the bad news, folks.)