“You can’t stop the demonic energy from invading one’s brain through regular means.” (Erukana)
Erukana continued on with her explanation.
“The reason why you can’t is pretty simple. Demonic energy invading one’s brain is the basis of dark magic itself. If you want to wield magic, then you don’t have a choice. The problem with this is that the dark magical powers contain negative energy.” (Erukana)
“Humans are creatures that maintain a certain equilibrium. Their whole existence would crumble away if the balance is tilted too far to one side.” (Erukana)
“Of course.” (Affeldrichae)
“So, the person accepting far too much dark magical powers will inevitably become a creature of darkness – simply put, an undead. Because, that person won’t be able to maintain ‘life’, as it were.” (Erukana)
Affeldrichae didn’t say anything and listened to the explanation. She already knew all of this. However, she believed that there was a reason why Erukana bothered to explain it regardless.
“As for why you can’t endure it? Your whole body being tainted by the dark Mana, that’s what. Although it’s funny to call it ‘taint’ since I’m a demon king, that’s how it is. In any case. The meaning behind dark Mana tainting you – you aren’t being ‘dyed’, but are being ‘transformed’. Which means….” (Erukana)
Erukana’s eyes shone brightly.
“Purification is impossible.” (Erukana)
Affeldrichae sighed under her breath.
“So, it’s an obvious ending.” (Affeldrichae)
“However, what if you are not trying to purify?” (Erukana)
“….Excuse me?” (Affeldrichae)
“With creation and regeneration, we might be able to revert his body back to how it was in the beginning.” (Erukana)
“But, that’s the domain of the gods.” (Affeldrichae)
“Of course it is. It’s a problem of the methods involved. I’m saying that there is a method. It’s almost impossible, but it’s not an impossibility, isn’t it?” (Erukana)
Affeldrichae’s thoughts became much more complicated. The power of creation was indeed the domain of the gods.
Could the Goddess of Light, Latrel, be able to regenerate Yi Ji-Hyuk’s body?
‘No, it’s still difficult.’ (Affeldrichae)
She was sceptical about it.
If the goddess possessed enough power to bring this scenario into reality, then rather than sending her believers to stop Yi Ji-Hyuk, she would’ve simply erased the dark Mana from his body in the first place.
Which meant that not even Latrel and her authority as a god could do anything to the creature from ‘another world’, Yi Ji-Hyuk. As for the gods of this world, only their traces remained.
Humans of this world were basically independent creatures that had escaped from the gods and their meddling.
“There’s no point, then.” (Affeldrichae)
Erukana formed a strange expression and stared at Affeldrichae before reaching out to pat the latter’s head.
“You really like my darling, don’t you? Worrying about such things and all?” (Erukana)
“…..You wouldn’t know.” (Affeldrichae)
“You won’t understand it. Because, you can’t fully understand him.” (Affeldrichae)
“Oh, so a lizard can? I’m sure you can’t understand him fully yourself?” (Erukana)
“That’s indeed the case. However….” (Affeldrichae)
A demon was a creature that tainted the others.
If they found someone to their liking, they would try to turn that person into a similar being as themselves. They would seduce, coerce, and ultimately, corrupt.
However, the creatures called dragons simply watched on.
Even if they found someone that defied analysis, they would simply observe from the distance. When such behaviour continued on and on….
“I’ve gone insane.” (Affeldrichae)
Erukana stared at Affeldrichae in obvious amusement.
Dragons were unchanging creatures.
Their changes of emotions were minute at best, and since they were so-called complete beings, they didn’t get affected by other creatures, either.
They were quite strict when it came to separating one’s sense of self from that of others, and didn’t get affected by their environments or foreign individuals. This nature probably had something to do with them being ‘born’ from eggs.
Recalcitrant, stubborn mules, that’s what they were.
You’d be correct in calling them completely unreasonable beings.
Both humans and demons didn’t care who they interacted with, but dragons didn’t even mingle all that much among their own kind. And that made them isolated creatures.
However, Affeldrichae was different.
She had lived for a long time. She was even occupying the supreme position of the Lord, yet she was still being influenced by a mere human being. Although, one couldn’t really label Yi Ji-Hyuk as a ‘mere human being’ anymore.
“Will you be fine?” (Erukana)
“Excuse me?” (Affeldrichae)
“You came here after throwing away the position of the Lord.” (Erukana)
“Yes, I did.” (Affeldrichae)
“I’m sure you are fine living like this. For now. However, a human’s lifespan isn’t infinite. Even if you manage to stop the erosion, my darling will eventually die. In that case, how are you planning to endure the remaining near-infinite amount of time left?” (Erukana)
“A dragon’s memories last forever. You’ll be caught by the reminiscence of my darling’s ghost and live in constant hell. You know this, don’t you?” (Erukana)
“Yet, was it worth forsaking everything?” (Erukana)
Affeldrichae smiled brightly. So much so that even Erukana momentarily thought she was beautiful.
“That’s not something you should be saying, oh the thirteenth demon king.” (Affeldrichae)
Erukana broke into a fit of giggles. She then reached out to pinch Yi Ji-Hyuk’s cheek.
“He’s such a bad man.” (Erukana)
“He sure is.” (Affeldrichae)
“He should be grateful that beautiful females are being affectionate to him. His head is too big for his own good.” (Erukana)
Affeldrichae also broke into a gentle chuckle.
She and Erukana were two beings on the opposing sides. Without the buffer called Yi Ji-Hyuk here, they would’ve started fighting tooth and nail to kill one another the moment they met.
However, he didn’t discriminate whether you were a dragon or a demon.
‘And that’s why he must’ve been so lonely.’ (Affeldrichae)
He was all alone, unable to feel a sense of belonging to any one species.
“How long do you think he has?” (Affeldrichae)
“Who knows.” (Erukana)
Erukana scratched her cheek.
“For me, the concept of time can be really lengthy. It should be the same story for you, too.” (Erukana)
“Of course.” (Affeldrichae)
“So, it’s not easy for me to divide the time according to the human lifespan, something that’s about as long as a blink of an eye. It can be tomorrow, or nothing might happen until he dies of old age.” (Erukana)
Affeldrichae quietly studied Erukana before opening her mouth.
“Isn’t this what you want?” (Affeldrichae)
“Want what?” (Erukana)
“If Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk becomes a demonic being, wouldn’t you be able to spend a really long time with him? Isn’t that scenario preferable from your perspective?” (Affeldrichae)
“Have you forgotten?” (Erukana)
“What do you mean?” (Affeldrichae)
“Him becoming a demon does not mean that a new demon named Yi Ji-Hyuk will be born. No, the existence called Yi Ji-Hyuk will disappear, and another demon will simply replace him. The memories might be the same, but everything else will be different. When that happens, my darling will no longer be my darling.” (Erukana)
“I have no need for an empty shell. I don’t care what my darling is as long as it’s him. That’s enough for me. However, if the innards change while the exterior remains the same, then I’ll have no choice but to hate the existence wearing that exterior. That’s just what I am.” (Erukana)
Affeldrichae thought that she could sympathise with that sentiment. Because she too felt the same.
“Except that….” (Erukana)
“I too have a sense of aesthetics, so I get this compulsion to fix my darling’s facial features every now and then.” (Erukana)
Affeldrichae nodded her head even unbeknownst to herself.
There was no issue, since they were different species? Even humans knew how to differentiate attractive dogs from ugly ones.
“Accepting him as he is won’t be an easy task.” (Erukana)
“I guess so.” (Affeldrichae)
Yi Ji-Hyuk remained blissfully oblivious to what others were talking about him and continued to snore away.
He stopped smelling that disgusting stench a long time ago.
But, how long had it been?
‘Why couldn’t you at least allow me to go insane??’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk listened to the falling water drops and closed his eyes.
The divide between day and night disappeared, and his sense of time was slowly fading away, too. He could only sense that he was simply alive in this place.
‘Wait, am I even alive?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The meaning of staying alive seemed uncertain at this stage.
If breathing was the indication of one being alive, then he did qualify as a living creature. However, if the meaning of being alive was to move, to react and to change, then he was definitely dead.
….While he was still breathing.
This was the worst prison in the whole of the continent, the Belcatraz.
Trapped in the deepest part of a mine shaft where no light could reach – it had already been a full year since he got imprisoned here, half-submerged in icy water.
“Kekeke.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Hunger relentlessly hounded him.
Another being would have died in three days having failed to endure. But to Yi Ji-Hyuk, death was a luxury he couldn’t enjoy. His senses that should’ve become numb by now remained endlessly sharp, and his mental state that should’ve broken down woke up again and again.
Not even his hatred could carry on, his resentments seemingly turning into stones. Even if there was hell, he’d not suffer torment as bad as this.
“Hah-ah….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk sighed under his breath.
“This is tedious.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The only thing coming to visit him now was boredom. Also, the hatred that sometimes flared up every now and then before forcibly being suppressed.
He got imprisoned here only because his skin colour and his face was different from the others.
Such things didn’t exist.
To them, he was simply an alien. Not someone who lived in another place and then showing up here, but a completely alien being.
‘I’ll kill them all.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Fury ruled over his entire being.
“Uwaaaaaaaaah!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He screamed out endlessly towards the unseen depths of darkness. The ghostly wail reverberated throughout the deep mine shaft, and it turned the Belcatraz seemingly into the den of demons.
It had been over half a year since food stopped coming.
He might have tried to escape already were it not for the fact that the iron bars here couldn’t be broken; not only the insane prison guards decided to use forged steel as cell’s bars, but they were reinforced with magic, too.
He could’ve torn his own body and escaped if these were regular metal bars, but there wasn’t much he could do against magic.
No matter what he did, he’d get reflected back.
“Kekekeke.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk reached out towards the steel bars.
His hand began burning away.
‘So bright.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
As his hand burned, the surroundings got illuminated. It was one of a few hobbies he could enjoy in this place.
….Seeing the light burn.
….Confirming that the darkness wasn’t the only thing existing in this place.
“I guess it’s now time to make my decision.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He couldn’t stay here any longer.
The only reason why he remained in this place for such a long time was his fear of the mine collapsing on him by accident while he was digging his way out. If that happened, he’d have to spend an eternity trapped under the rubble.
The only free thing his body could do – moving around – being taken away was probably the worst punishment he could think of.
“Kekekekeke.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk cackled on.
And he was crying, too.
What sins did he commit to end up in such a wretched state?
“I’ll kill them all.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
No, those wearing a facade of humanity.
As soon as he gets out of here, he’ll make them all pay dearly.
For the crime of imprisoning him in this place.
Even though his hatred would get reset periodically, this thought didn’t change. Meaning, he wasn’t wrong. This thought didn’t come about from the feelings of a moment.
They might have been humans to him, but at the same time, not.
“Kekeke.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk cackled on before taking in deep breaths.
If gods really existed….
If gods really didn’t lift a finger while he suffered like this, then he swore to rip them apart, too. And he’d repay in kind to those that made him this way.
With this hatred.
With this terror….
“Euh, euh….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk gritted his teeth and threw himself forward.
His entire body now caught fire.
This sensation of his entire body going up in flames – the worst pain a human could ever experience, along with his consciousness that didn’t want to cut out, began taking over his body.
The scream exploding out from his throat soon got cut off.
His vocal chords were damaged too extensively to make a sound now.
Yi Ji-Hyuk replaced his screams with silence and continued to advance forward. All the while, unable to see anything as his eyes had already melted away.
‘I’ll kill them all.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
This was his attempt number one thousand, eight hundred, and ninety.
Yi Ji-Hyuk pressed forward before his brain could melt away.
The soundless scream filled up the mine shaft.
< 307. Ah, so this is what national disgrace is like -2 > Fin.