(TL: My bad about the delayed release. Still having blackouts in my country, and it’s effing up my schedules atm.)
If that was indeed the grim reaper coming to visit him, then Rhee Jin-Cheol would’ve thought, what a flippant b*stard that was. That’s what he believed. After all, how could anyone say that in this sort of situation?
Boom!! Boom! Boom!! Booooom!!
Hearing the cacophony of explosion noises coming right after that, however, it couldn’t have been the grim reaper, after all. However, nothing changed regardless. Along with horrifying pain, he should now….
“….Ng?” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
There was no pain?
Rhee Jin-Cheol pondered if the lack of pain was due to his instant death, but then, he vomited out yet another mouthful of blood.
“Blerrrgh!!” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
It seemed that he wasn’t dead yet. What a wretchedly sad thing it was, to learn that he wasn’t dead via such a method.
The intense pain screaming from all corners of his body flipped Rhee Jin-Cheol’s eyelids wide open, a loud moan escaping from his lips.
“See, I told you. That ahjussi is one tough dude, alright.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Being tough and all that is good, but doesn’t he look like he might die at any second now?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“In that case, we should save his sorry hide, then.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk grinned and turned his head to the side. After scanning his surroundings for a bit, he then turned his attention back to Choi Jeong-Hoon and spoke in a somewhat sheepish voice.
“Uh, didn’t Affel come with us today?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“If you mean Lady Affeldrichae…. I haven’t seen her today.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Mm?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk scratched his cheek, before addressing Rhee Jin-Cheol in a genuinely rueful-sounding voice.
“Uhm, hey. I’m really sorry about this. I mean, we did come here to save you and all, but… Anyways, any last words?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I… can’t… die… yet…. Cough!” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
Rhee Jin-Cheol also wanted to add that he really might croak from seeing that b*stard’s hateful mug like this, but the blood continuously welling up in his throat prevented him from saying anything else.
“Aigooo! Look at the colour of his blood! It’s so dark. Dark, I tell you! I have never seen anyone make it through something like that in my whole life.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
What a dangerous man this guy was, capable of killing a completely healthy man with nothing but emotional distress.
“He might really die at this rate, so please stop.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Still, at least Choi Jeong-Hoon hadn’t lost his humanity completely yet, and couldn’t stomach Yi Ji-Hyuk making fun of the dying Rhee Jin-Cheol.
“Wowsers, will you look at this dude? Didn’t you say you really hate his guts?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Indeed, I do detest him, but regardless of how much you hate someone, isn’t making fun of a near-dead man a manifestation of a fundamental problem with your humanity?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“You saying I’m a human trash??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Well, that’s not exactly what I said, but…. If that’s what you heard, then nothing I can do about it. I mean, they say the thief knows his guilt better than anyone, don’t they?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Wowsers, will you listen to this dude now??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Rhee Jin-Cheol couldn’t endure watching these two horsing around any longer, and forced his lips to open despite all the blood still spilling out.
“Why…. why don’t you… just kill me, you, you b*stards….” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
“Ehheiii, and flush everything down the toilet just, like that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk lightly tapped on Rhee Jin-Cheol’s head a couple of times and grinned refreshingly.
“Well, we’ll fix you up pretty soon, so sit tight, alright? Although it’s a bit of a problem not being able to contact Affeldrichae, but…. Well, it’s not like she’s the only one who can use healing magic, anyway. Unless it’s magic, ahjussi, you’d die even with the best medical treatment out there, so don’t forget that I’m gonna call someone just to save your a*s, okay?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Should Rhee Jin-Cheol be grateful here, or start throwing around some choice words? He fell into a serious bout of dilemma, but Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t seem to care about the current state of his mental turmoil.
“Who the f*ck are you b*stards?”
The ones pursuing Rhee Jin-Cheol shouted out in fluster after spotting Yi Ji-Hyuk.
Now normally, they wouldn’t have stopped to ask or analyse the situation before ripping apart all the opponents appearing before their paths, but fortunately enough, they all had eyes. And those eyes had already witnessed how Yi Ji-Hyuk seemingly appeared out of nowhere and extinguished all of their Ether attacks with just a flick of his hand.
They were all ability users, and they were all smart enough to figure out what Yi Ji-Hyuk did was an incredible, near-miraculous feat.
“Ng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk stared at those staring back at him and tilted his head.
“You guys are still here?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Now this is strange. If you are smart enough, you should be high tailing it outta here by now, but since you’re still here, that means you aren’t all that smart….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tutted and asked Choi Jeong-Hoon.
“Can I kill them all?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….Why are you asking me that?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“You complain and nag every time I do something on my own without consulting you, but look at you now, trying to weasel out of a problem just because it looks a bit dicey! I better give that party leader-nim a call and tell him to put you through an education course designed for geniuses. Cuz you will become a wonderful politician at this rate.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Urgh….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon thought that this guy was a master at coming up with a truly varied and colourful array of insults.
‘What should we do?’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Honestly, though, he was in somewhat of a dilemma himself.
If this was any other times, he’d have thrown a hissy fit and ask why all these people had to be killed, but if they were let go like this, then Yi Ji-Hyuk…. no, more correctly, the South Korean government retrieving Rhee Jin-Cheol would become an indisputable fact.
Even if the North wasn’t ballsy enough to start a war, they still wouldn’t be able to prevent the North-South relationship deteriorating even further.
“Mm, in that case, these folks…. Is it possible to confine them in a suitable location?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“A suitable location, is it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’s fine for them to end up in a distant location. As long as they can’t communicate with anyone, I don’t mind wherever it is.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Aha. I know of a perfect location.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk waved his hand about just a little, causing two Gates to suddenly appear in mid-air.
“Why two Gates?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“One is for these folks to go inside, and….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“And the other one?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Well, if I try to personally shove them inside, the efficiency drops quite a bit, you see. Also, it’s not like I’m physically outstanding or anything…. If I use magic to catch and shove them in, that’s gonna waste a lot more magical energy than necessary, too. I mean, it’ll probably be simpler to kill them off here right now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Okay, so in that case?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Sooo, someone else who will do it for me is coming.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Who?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Asking something so obvious….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Along with that, a certain creature Choi Jeong-Hoon half-expected to see revealed itself from the Gate.
A pair of crimson eyes.
Lion-like manes whipping in the chilly winds.
Sharp claws gleaming under the light.
All the traits of a powerful wild beast in an outward packaging of a small puppy….
“….Oh, so it’s Oh-Sik.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Of course.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Oh-Sik came out from the Gate, spotted Yi Ji-Hyuk, quickly hopped and trotted over to his master and began rubbing his cheek on the trouser leg.
“Hey, it’s time to work.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk pointed towards the ability users in the vicinity.
“Catch all these guys and shove them inside over there. Don’t kill them, though.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Oh-Sik sat on his butt and didn’t budge as if he was waiting for something. Yi Ji-Hyuk lightly clicked his tongue once and stabbed his tentacle on the mini Ogre’s back.
“You could’ve done it in your current form, though.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Although, Oh-Sik needed to bite onto the arms or legs of his victims in order to throw them inside a Gate when he was supposed to not harm them, so maybe this was for the best for everyone involved. (TL note at the end)
Oh-Sik began ballooning up as magical energy filled him up, regaining his former splendour in an instant.
“W-what the hell?!”
“A monster has suddenly appeared!”
“Do not falter! It’s only one creature!”
Indeed, it was only one.
Choi Jeong-Hoon could only look on at the victims with pitying eyes.
For sure, there was only one. However, there was a reason why people didn’t say things like there was ‘only one’ dragon or ‘only one’ phoenix. That’s because dealing with a single individual from those species was already asking for the impossible, so there was no meaning in coming up with a plural.
Oh-Sik was kinda like that.
Oh-Sik pounced on the ranks of the ability users and while not minding which arms he used, he began snatching up and throwing his victims inside the Gate.
“Ohh!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk watched humans being ‘sucked’ inside his Gate and clapped his hands enthusiastically.
“Keuh. That’s so mystifying.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What is?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“I mean, my boy’s not even bothering to take aim and just throwing people around, so like, how can he be so accurate like that? Maybe I should’ve made him play basketball or something.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
If you let him play among regular humans, even Shaquille O’Neal will get a dislocated shoulder from a light bump and get airlifted outside the venue, man.
That’s like, completely against the rules, you know. (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
In the meantime, Oh-Sik chucked the last of his victims inside the Gate, shrugged his shoulders, and approached Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“Nice work.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Just as he was about to recover the Mana he inserted inside Oh-Sik, the Ogre suddenly grabbed and lifted up Rhee Jin-Cheol next to his master.
“Oh, not that one, Oh-Sik-ah.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That’s garbage, you know. Better put it down.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Oh-Sik quietly and cautiously put Rhee Jin-Cheol down in the original location.
Yi Ji-Hyuk planted his tentacle and recovered his Mana afterwards. Oh-Sik, having shrunk back down to his puppy form, yawned lazily and curled up on the ground to sleep. As if to say, wake him up after their work here was all nicely wrapped up.
‘Just how intelligent is he, I wonder?’ (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Maybe, he was smarter than some humans?
Choi Jeong-Hoon thought about this matter quite often, but the longer he did, the harder to answer his question became. The way the Ogre acted definitely resembled a dog, but the creature just seemed too smart to be called a dog, either.
“By the way, where did you send them? Is it another world this time as well?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Eiii, it’ll be difficult even for me to send that many to another world, you know. If doing so was that easy, those in Berafe would’ve crossed over en masse by now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Mm, I guess you have a point. In that case, where did you send them, then?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“To the equator.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“The equator, is it? The equator….” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
What was in the equator, again?
Choi Jeong-Hoon began combing through his memories to find out what’s in the equator in relation to Yi Ji-Hyuk and eventually, a cramped grin floated up on his lips.
“….Wait, you didn’t send them there, did you?” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“That’s the only place I know, so what can I do?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Hahahaha.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
This insane b*stard!
I only asked you to isolate them for a bit, but you actually dropped them into the monster island, instead?
Isn’t that the most dangerous place on this planet?? (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)
Choi Jeong-Hoon recalled the sight of Yi Ji-Hyuk’s island monster pen teeming with all sorts of terrifying monstrosities, and shuddered uncontrollably.
It might have been better to die here rather than getting sent over there, actually.
Choi Jeong-Hoon didn’t intend for something like this to happen, and he was now beset with guilty conscience, knowing he had done something he shouldn’t have. Too bad, Yi Ji-Hyuk had not even one gram of anything remotely resembling guilty conscience; currently, he had already moved on and was lightly slapping Rhee Jin-Cheol’s cheeks.
“Well, now. It’s time to wake up. Don’t you agree?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“…….” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
“Are you dead?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I, I’m still alive! You crazy son of a b*tch!!” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
“Hul, would you listen to this guy now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk dropped his head with a wounded expression. Of course, anyone would be hurt listening to such harsh words coming from a person they just rescued, but wasn’t he a bit of special case to display such a reaction?
“I went out of my way to save your a*s, yet you dare to badmouth me?! This is why you shouldn’t be nice to a black-haired animal!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“…………” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“If you wanted to save someone, you should’ve been more considerate!!” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
“And what wasn’t I considerate about? Not like I blew away this entire landscape or anything, right?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Godd*mmit.” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
Rhee Jin-Cheol spat out a blob of bloody phlegm on the ground.
Sure, he was grateful for the fact that he got rescued like this, but he just couldn’t say anything nice when looking at Yi Ji-Hyuk’s mug.
Just how bad had his trials and tribulations been just because of this one man?
And for some reason, he got this strong instinctive feeling that he mustn’t lower his head to Yi Ji-Hyuk no matter what. He had a hunch that he wouldn’t be able to turn back the clock the moment he did.
“This is why I told you we shouldn’t rescue this guy.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“…..Rather than rescuing a fellow man, think of it as securing a vital piece of information, instead.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Hmm, well, I guess.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk lightly kicked Rhee Jin-Cheol and continued on.
“Now that things have come down to this, tell me something interesting before you kick the bucket, okay? Why were you running away?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You stinking b*stard…..” (Rhee Jin-Cheol)
Rhee Jin-Cheol didn’t have enough energy left to argue back now.
Since a while ago, the pain seemed to be getting more indistinct, and his vision was clouding over, too. And judging from all the chills creeping in, he realised that death was closing in ever so swiftly.
“He must be close to death.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Anyone can tell that by looking, you know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jeong-Hoon’s words only elicited a disinterested reply from Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“That means we need to save him.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Man proposes, and God disposes….. The matters of life and death depends on the heaven’s will.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That’s not how you use that phrase, actually.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon shook his head before continuing on.
“If this guy dies like this, then there’s no meaning in all the hard work you put in after coming all this way, right? For now, let’s quickly take him back to South Korea before more people show up.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Maybe he also didn’t wish for more annoying things to happen to him, because Yi Ji-Hyuk opened up a new Gate without arguing back.
“Let’s go.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Rhee Jin-Cheol seemed to show some kind of resistance, but as he probably didn’t have much energy left, his response came across as feeble and hardly noticeable.
Yi Ji-Hyuk kicked the downed North Korean Major’s leg once to utterly obliterate any hints of resistance, before chucking the poor man inside the Gate. And then, walked inside it himself with Choi Jeong-Hoon in tow.
The Gate slowly closed up after everyone was gone, leaving behind only the faltering noises of insects within this quiet, empty plot of land.
< 341. Time to wake up -1 > Fin.
(TL: That section was a bit all over the place, structure-wise, and I couldn’t fully figure out what the author was trying to say. I had to improvise a bit at the latter half of the paragraph. I hope it’s as close to the author’s original intentions.)
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.