“So then. A new option called ‘death’ is now available, is that it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Darling, your body’s become far too weak right now.” (Erukana)
Erukana walked over to Yi Ji-Hyuk and gently stroked his cheek.
“I’m not referring to the sturdiness of your physical body. In that regard, you are far stronger than you’ve ever been. However, you already know that that’s not everything, don’t you?” (Erukana)
“Right.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Darling, the core of your body is disintegrating. The part connecting your mind and your body can’t hold on for much longer against the burden it’s under.” (Erukana)
“I’m sure that’s the case.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“If the erosion continues at this rate, you will become a demonic being. Both me and Affeldrichae are doing our best to prevent that, but it’s getting harder and harder.” (Erukana)
Erukana sighed softly.
“If your body can withstand the change, then you’ll become a demonic being. If not, you’ll die.” (Erukana)
“Which one has higher odds?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“The latter. Overwhelmingly so.” (Erukana)
“Well, that’s unfortunate.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Erukana shook her head.
“Ng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Doesn’t matter which side, the end result will be the same. You know what it means to become a demonic being. Even if you survive and become one, you’ll no longer be you. Your humanity will disappear. A new demonic being will be born. Because that’s how demonic beings are like.” (Erukana)
“Indeed.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Possessing far too much useless knowledge on demonic beings did prove to be harmful in times like this. Yi Ji-Hyuk tasted bitterness in his mouth.
“This is your limit. You can also sense it, can’t you?” (Erukana)
“Ng.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Erukana was trying to say something. The thing was, Yi Ji-Hyuk already knew what she wanted to say.
“Let’s stop here.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“If I go back there, I will never be able to set foot in this world ever again.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….But, it can’t be helped, right?” (Erukana)
“If I hop back to Berafe after tying my soul to this place, then sure, I should be able to live on forever. However, the flip side to that is I can never come back home. Because, the moment I do, the transformation would accelerate even faster than before.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You’re right.” (Erukana)
Just like how floodwater held back by embankments would overflow explosively the moment levees break, the demonic energy would completely take over his body the moment he returned to Earth if he chose to hop over to Berafe and stop the erosion in that manner.
He had already experienced this phenomenon before.
The very reason why Yi Ji-Hyuk’s transformation to a demonic being was progressing at an alarming rate was precisely that. Even the combined subduing efforts by the Dragon Lord and the Succubus Queen couldn’t stop this transformation.
“Listen well, Erukana.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Ng, darling.” (Erukana)
“There is a reason why a human is human.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“One of the things a human needs in order to exist as human is pretty obvious. It’s the finite lifespan.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“If I give up on my current life, head over to Berafe and get my hands on eternal life, then I will no longer be a human being. Don’t you think it’s ironic to give up on humanity in order to avoid becoming a demonic being?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But, you might die, you know? No, wait. You’ll definitely die. Becoming a demonic being is basically the same as dying for a human.” (Erukana)
“I’ve lived for a long time.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk smirked.
“For far too long. Undeservedly so, too.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But, you didn’t get to enjoy the life of a human for long, right? Aren’t you bitter about that?” (Erukana)
“Of course I am.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk replied honestly.
“If I had a way, I’d like to live for another hundred years or so. This world is just too enjoyable, you see. In only a few months of stay in this world, I got to feel that sense of joy I couldn’t feel during my several thousands of years in Berafe. So much so that I even thought that ‘this must be why people want to keep living on’.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Erukana wordlessly stared at him.
“And that’s when I had my epiphany – that it’s meaningless to live as a ‘not human’ for thousands of years. When I think about what all those years living in Berafe mean to me, then well…. The result is rather obvious.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“However, darling. You might be able to discover another method if you head over to Berafe.” (Erukana)
“Another method?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Darling, you’re the master of magic.” (Erukana)
“Although saying this hurts my pride, but well, neither the dragons nor the demonic beings can come anywhere remotely close to the heights of magic you have reached, darling. By stopping your body’s ageing and enjoying the luxury of infinite time again, who knows, you might be able to discover a new way to purify your body somehow.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….I haven’t thought about it that way.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It might take thousands of years, but when compared to the time flow of this world, it’d only be ten plus years or so. And if you use the demon world instead, then you’ll need even less amount of time, too.” (Erukana)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s expression grew a little bit sombre.
“That’s why you shouldn’t just give everything up without trying. It’s not like you, darling.” (Erukana)
He grinned after hearing her.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right, now that I hear you. I must be really tired.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It doesn’t suit you.” (Erukana)
“True. Come over here.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“W-wait a minute~! Getting into the mood out of the blue and all.” (Erukana)
Yi Ji-Hyuk chuckled while watching Erukana distancing herself, her tail swinging to and fro.
‘A meaningless suggestion.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Even if he left his soul attached to this world and crossed over to Berafe, it’d be destroyed if Earth was destroyed, too. And Earth would be destroyed in an instant if the existence called Yi Ji-Hyuk was no longer around to protect it.
Once the balance of life was shattered and death ruled over the planet, then his soul wouldn’t be able to exist, either.
Whatever he chose, there was no future for him.
Either he crossed over to Berafe and be extinguished as the annihilation of Earth crept closer, or fight one more day in this world before going out in a blaze of glory.
“There is no happy ending.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He knew this from the get-go.
He became sure of it after confirming the number of Gates and their strengths getting greater with every passing day.
There was no such ending where everyone was smiling away in a happily ever after. It was truly unfortunate, but only the sad ending awaited at this farce’s conclusion.
“You know this too, don’t you?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“So, stop acting all depressed and stuff, will ya?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I’m saying all this stuff because you’re depressed, darling.” (Erukana)
“Is that so?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk broke into a fit of cackles.
“I’m listening.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“The axis has been widened too much.” (Erukana)
“….I see.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“There aren’t much left in your lifespan, but this world’s end isn’t too far away, either. Not too long from now, the synchronisation with the demon world will occur. When that happens, this world will be finished.” (Erukana)
If the doorway between Earth and the demon world opened up after the dimensional axis widened too much, then well, the world of humans would instantly turn into a living hell. As the name implied, a hell gate that infinitely spewed out demonic monsters and beings was going to open up.
“So, like, shouldn’t you be thinking about going back home now?” (Erukana)
“What, me?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, not you. Her.” (Erukana)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shifted his head to discover Affeldrichae revealing herself from the darkness.
“I believe I’ve made my position clear from the beginning, that I have no thoughts of returning. I came here for the sole purpose of aiding you.” (Affeldrichae)
“Buuut, I’m pretty sure there isn’t much you can help me with now, though?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“If I can extend your life for even one minute and one second, then it’ll be fine.” (Affeldrichae)
“Is there any meaning in doing something like that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It might not with you, but it does with me.” (Affeldrichae)
“Is that so….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk raised himself up and sat on the edge of the bed.
“Right. You’re right. There is a meaning in extending the time even by one minute and one second. Well, even if the end result is the same, you can’t argue that it’s meaningless to try different routes to get there.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Although it wasn’t her intentions when saying those words, Affeldrichae thought it was fine nevertheless since some vitality had returned to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s expression.
“Let’s not do this. We are not folks suitable to play the protagonists in a tragedy.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Especially you, the Bringer of Apocalypse.” (Affeldrichae)
“Groan….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk groaned and stretched his limbs.
“Today, I somehow ended up realising that I am a human being. I did feel a bit down, sure, and wanted to taste the normal, regular life for once. I mean, I even began wondering what would it be like to live in this manner for the next few days or so.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But, won’t you get bored if you are granted those few days?” (Affeldrichae)
“And that’s the amusing thing about being human, you know. We always wish for something new all the time. If we’re messing around, we suddenly want to take a break, and if we’re taking a break, we’d want to mess around instead. That’s what human is.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk cackled on.
“In any case. This is fine. I don’t mind either way.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It now felt as if a long vacation was coming to an end.
“I don’t care whatever shows up. In the end, it’ll have to go through me first, anyway.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That is why….” (Affeldrichae)
Affeldrichae sat behind him, and slowly tugged at him, eventually succeeding in laying him down on his back.
“….It’s time to rest now.” (Affeldrichae)
“….Did you cast magic on me? Why am I getting sleepy like this?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Slumber is similar to magic in some ways.” (Affeldrichae)
Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t retort back and closed his eyes. Affeldrichae gently stroked his forehead as he drifted off to sleep, her eyes one of pity and helplessness.
“Such a poor, poor soul.” (Affeldrichae)
Would there be any other human being who lived a life as wretched and sorrowful than this man’s? Even a supreme existence like a dragon wouldn’t be able to endure such an intense, fierce life as his.
“It’d been better if only he had a little more time.” (Affeldrichae)
“Why don’t you go and beg your Latrel for that, then?” (Erukana)
“….You already know that Lady Latrel’s influence doesn’t work on Mister Ji-Hyuk.” (Affeldrichae)
Erukana snorted derisively.
“You might be able to deceive my darling, but you can’t fool me, you overgrown gecko. Just what are you scheming?” (Erukana)
“A being that places much worth in seduction and bewilderment such as yourself, is interrogating me about lying?” (Affeldrichae)
“At a bare minimum, I never lie to my darling.” (Erukana)
“Succubus Queen, you know very well that Dragons cannot lie, do you not?” (Affeldrichae)
Affeldrichae and Erukana locked their gazes in mid-air. Their staring contest persisted for a long while, only to be broken up by Yi Ji-Hyuk turning his sleeping body to the side.
“I’ve no desire to carry on with this superficial alliance.” (Erukana)
“It’s the same for me.” (Affeldrichae)
“If you harm my darling in any shape or form, I swear to rip your head clean off your neck. Never forget.” (Erukana)
“….That won’t happen.” (Affeldrichae)
Affeldrichae whispered softly.
“Do not think that you’re the only one who cares about Mister Ji-Hyuk. From my perspective, you’re a demonic being so I can’t help but wonder if you really have his best interest in your heart.” (Affeldrichae)
“You’re saying some hot garbage through that open hole of yours. When you were busy tormenting my darling, it was I who lent him his powers and helped him return to this world.” (Erukana)
“And the end result is this.” (Affeldrichae)
“What you have done is basically delivering him to death’s doorstep. If he had stayed back there, then at least, he wouldn’t have to worry about such a death.” (Affeldrichae)
“If this world crumbles, then Mister Ji-Hyuk will die, too!” (Erukana)
“I wonder about that. Wouldn’t you say he’d have lived on for another several hundreds of years, at least?” (Affeldrichae)
Affeldrichae stroked Yi Ji-Hyuk’s hair as he quietly snored away.
“….Let’s not fight among ourselves. We are not the ones suffering here, after all.” (Affeldrichae)
Erukana’s worried eyes remained locked on Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“Such a poor soul.” (Affeldrichae)
“Stop pitying my darling, you rotten lizard.” (Erukana)
Erukana spoke with a voice filled with conviction.
“He is the man who stood at the apex of the demon world even though he’s just a human being. He’s the kind of man who would find a way no matter what, so stop looking at him with those eyes reserved for dying man, got it?” (Erukana)
“….It’d be nice if that’s the case. Truly.” (Affeldrichae)
These two females, having sensed the encroaching end of Yi Ji-Hyuk, began throwing sharp, venomous words in each other’s direction.
However, this tit-for-tat didn’t devolve into a serious emotional catfight, solely due to the fact that they recognised the implication behind their own venom-filled words.
“It’d be nice if he can rest like this for a few more days.” (Affeldrichae)
Watching Yi Ji-Hyuk’s figure precariously hanging on, not knowing when it’d all crumble down, was proving to be torturous to these two. A man who was so powerful once upon a time that he could’ve won against the entire world, was now trapped in the weak human’s body and rapidly withered away. Watching this process was cruel beyond means and left them utterly saddened.
“….Sleep well. At least, for tonight.” (Affeldrichae)
Erukana’s and Affeldrichae’s hands remained stroking Yi Ji-Hyuk’s cheeks.
He had no clue and continued to sink further and further into a deep slumber.
< 333. It’ll soon start -3 > Fin.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.