The meeting to discuss the next course of action ended without any meaningful resolution.
“Hmm.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk exited from the Blue House and opened a Gate to send everyone back home, then headed back to his house on foot.
When he said he needed some time to organise his thoughts, others didn’t argue and let him be by himself. They all understood that he must’ve been under tremendous pressure.
“Everything seems fine.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk studied the scenery around him and murmured his honest impression.
Even though the countdown towards the apocalypse had begun, the world didn’t seem changed all that much. Neon signs still filled the avenues, and cars jam-packed the roads. The passersby were hurrying with their steps as if the end of the world was not as important to them as their own job security.
Peaceful, normal daily lives.
And a peaceful, calm world.
A rift was forming to end such an ordinary life, though.
This world would gradually get destroyed, similar to a towel with its tip submerged in water. For now, only a single portion would be wet, but soon the entire towel would’ve sucked in all the water. Ever so gradually.
Yi Ji-Hyuk engraved the scenes of the world that could very well be in its final day on his mind.
‘Is it because of me?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He just couldn’t get rid of this thought bubbling in his mind that these events were happening because he decided to return to Earth.
If it wasn’t for him, would the demons even know about the existence of this world in the first place?
He was well aware of this problem having no solutions.
Even without his presence, the rift between dimensions would’ve continued to grow larger and eventually lead to the demon world ruling this place in the future. If he returned a bit later, he could’ve found himself in the situation of Earth being under the control of the demon world.
If that happened, he’d have to fight like crazy again the moment he returned.
On the other hand, if he chose not to return, this world might have been able to maintain its peace.
‘No one will know now.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Despite that, a corner of his heart remained heavy from the lingering thought that the dangers currently threatening Earth were related to him.
He did not have the confidence to solve everything by himself, like how it was in the past.
Back when he had everything, which was quite unlike his current situation, he still couldn’t fight against the entirety of the demon world. So, there was no reason even to think about doing that when he was so much weaker right now.
‘The apocalypse, is it…’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk raised his head and stared at the sky.
He used to mention that word pretty often, but after realising that that eventuality actually could happen for real, he found himself unable to do anything about his emotions getting heavier.
“Darling, you don’t look so happy.” (Erukana)
Yi Ji-Hyuk sensed someone touch his shoulder and groaned grandly.
“I told you not to climb up on people’s shoulders, didn’t I?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You did?” (Erukana)
“And stop climbing up on my head, too!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Tch, you’re no fun.” (Erukana)
Erukana grumbled before smiling brightly at Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“Why the long face, darling? That’s not like you.” (Erukana)
“Not like me, is it…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
That sentiment wasn’t too surprising, actually.
The old version of Yi Ji-Hyuk wasn’t interested in the shenanigans of the world, after all. From Erukana’s point of view, he would’ve come across as the ultimate self-centred man. The type that didn’t give a rat’s a*s on anything not related to his own business.
“We’re in a different world now, you know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Is that so? To me, this world doesn’t seem all that different from Berafe, though? Sure, things are a bit strange here, but I still get the same old ‘humans will always be humans’ vibe.” (Erukana)
“Not that surprising, considering.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Who knows, maybe it was not Berafe rejecting him, but Yi Ji-Hyuk himself who rejected that world, instead.
He was treated like a demonic creature just because of his different skin colour and was betrayed endlessly as a result. But he did learn magic so by changing his skin colour and faking his age, he could’ve blended in with the general populace and lived like a normal person.
However, he chose not to go down that route.
Yi Ji-Hyuk rejected that option with the singular ‘I’m not the denizen of this world’ mindset.
“It’s all useless at this point in time, though.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Nah, it’s nothing.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head dismissively.
“Demonic aura is overflowing. You can sense it too, can’t you?” (Erukana)
“Yeah.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk slowly nodded his head next.
The world was changing. Even though it was not visible to the naked eye. Soon enough, though, the naked eye should be able to confirm that change.
“When that b*stard starts making his move, this world will vanish in an instant, darling. You can’t delay it anymore.” (Erukana)
“Either escape, or stay and fight… You must choose between the two.” (Erukana)
Yi Ji-Hyuk quietly stared at Erukana.
“What will you do?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“This is different from you siding with me back in the demon world. That can be seen as an internal power struggle, sure, but this is a war against an outside world. If you decide to help me, they will not forgive you.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Erukana began laughing in dismay.
“What are you talking about after we’ve come this far? Darling, do you honestly believe that I’ve been helping you while caring about stuff like that? I’m a demon, darling. And the demon king of desire, too. I merely do whatever I want, that’s all.” (Erukana)
A certain heaviness clouded Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes.
“I get what you’re saying, but the only thing waiting for you at the end will be extermination.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Doesn’t matter.” (Erukana)
“…Now normally, people wouldn’t say that in a situation like this one.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Darling, you still have no idea.” (Erukana)
“About what?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Erukana smiled seductively and replied.
“I am the 13th demon king. The queen of lust, no less. However, I’m also surprisingly romantic at heart, you know. Without you, darling, there’s no meaning in living anymore. I don’t see any merit in continuing with a boring life that doesn’t feature you anywhere.” (Erukana)
“Wait a sec. Sounds like you’re declaring something pretty monumental, so I’m not sure whether or not you should be saying it in such a calm voice, you know?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Ng? Is something wrong?” (Erukana)
Yi Ji-Hyuk groaned again.
Demons sure had no clue about the proper atmosphere or setting up the right mood.
Although, he did like that part about them.
“So, you’ve decided to stay and fight? Have you seriously considered the option of escaping to Berafe? I get what you told me the last time, but surely, even you must know that you were simply making excuses.” (Erukana)
“Yeah, I know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“A few humans that you wish to save can easily be moved there.” (Erukana)
“Hmm…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk scratched his cheek.
A hero that ran away to another world along with all of his acquaintances, including his family, just as the threat of humanity’s extinction loomed…
“…I’ve never heard about such a thing before.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Stop talking to yourself and talk to me.” (Erukana)
He cackled and replied.
“Well, that certainly might be an option. But, I’m not sure whether that’s a good one or not. Let me tell you this from my personal experience, it’s nearly impossible for the folks of this world, who know about modern society, to adapt to the ways of the other side. It wouldn’t be that different from telling them to go live in the middle of the Amazon with nothing but some leather loincloths because a pandemic is sweeping across the world.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’ll be fine with you around, right? Darling? They’ll at least be safe from external threats, no?” (Erukana)
“Humans can’t live without civilisation.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
No matter how much magic was utilised for the sake of convenience, it’d not be enough to fulfil a human being’s heart.
“Especially with kids like Ye-Won. If you tell her to live in that world, she’ll go halfway crazy in no time at all.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But, staying alive is still better, isn’t it?” (Erukana)
Yi Ji-Hyuk chuckled aloud.
“Haven’t you seen enough examples of what happens to those humans who simply live on without getting their desires fulfilled?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Erukana had no choice but to accept it. If Yi Ji-Hyuk was not cursed by the immortality of body and mind, he’d have gone insane thousands of times over by now. She used to find his suffering quite difficult to understand, but now, it seemed that she had grasped some sort of clue recently.
‘Humans are inconvenient creatures.’ (Erukana)
While demons could easily live all by themselves, humans needed interaction with other humans. At the same time, humans as a species desired civilisation and culture, as well. Only after all these requirements had been satisfied could a human live like an actual human being.
“So, the final conclusion is… no other choice but to fight?” (Erukana)
Yi Ji-Hyuk slowly nodded his head.
“Well, yeah.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Do you feel confident?” (Erukana)
“Not really. I’m not confident at all, but…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
A vague, unreadable smile spread on Yi Ji-Hyuk’s lips.
“It ain’t really my style to run away with my tail between my legs just because the demon world has come knocking.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You’re right. My darling is the number one in the demon world for his simple-mindedness and reckless courage, after all.” (Erukana)
“Why does that sound like an insult, though?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Erukana grinned refreshingly.
“Besides, it’s not like the situation is all full of bad news, is it?” (Erukana)
“Indeed.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk replied with a smirk.
“Opportunities and misfortunes are supposed to show up together. If the situation demands us to do nothing but fight back, then it has gotten so much simpler for us, too.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You should worry about your own body’s condition, darling.” (Erukana)
“I thought you’d be happier if I become a demon like you?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I’m not interested in the demonic version of you, darling. I like you with your current humanity, not a demon who just so happens to wear the same face and name as my darling, you know.” (Erukana)
“Hmm.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk nodded his head, realising that she was right.
“By the way, demon kings nowadays seem pretty motivated for some reason?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Well, you’ve done a lot of things to them, after all. It’s not that surprising to learn that there are a whole group of demon kings with grudges against you, now is it?” (Erukana)
“Well, yeah. That’s kinda true.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk groaned again.
This was why a man should lead a kind, benevolent life.
He turned his head to the side and spoke up.
“Why don’t you come out already?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Suddenly, the space distorted and a huge demonic creature sporting a turtle-like appearance revealed itself there.
‘Oh, hey. This… feels really weird seeing a thing like this in the middle of a city, doesn’t it?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I found you, the 99th demon king!” (?)
“A talking turtle, is it… Stuffing you in a zoo should make a killing, then.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Surely, you won’t claim that you’ve forgotten about me?” (?)
“Of course not. How can I forget a distinct and unique appearance such as yours? Okay, so. Your name was… Uhm, it was…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s lips kept bobbing up and down while trying to say something, but in the end, they clamped shut.
“Argh, I can’t say it. I might end up getting DMCA’d.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I don’t get what rubbish you’re spewing now. I’m Barasga! The 71st demon king! You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for this moment, you b*stard!” (Barasga)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head.
“Did I do something to you?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“So, you did forget!” (Barasga)
Barasga opened its maw filled with sharp but irregularly-sprouting fangs and roared out.
“All the humiliation you inflicted upon me! All that dishonour! I have never forgotten about them. Kekeke, and now we finally meet again. After you’ve grown incomparably weaker than your past self.” (Barasga)
“Hmm…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk sheepishly scratched his cheek.
Almost half of all that abundant Mana he had stored up had dissipated after he got injured and had healing magic poured on him. Well, healing magic’s Mana and dark Mana were on the opposite ends of the spectrum, after all.
The current him wouldn’t even be able to deal with the demon kings that crossed over in the past. So there was no way he could deal with a demon king that crossed over with its powers fully intact.
“You seem to have forgotten about me, though?” (Erukana)
Barasga glared at Erukana and sneered dismissively.
“Surely, you’re not planning to stop me, dear 13th demon king?” (Barasga)
“I’m not supposed to?” (Erukana)
“If you do that, will that noble one ever forgive you? You must be thinking of getting your soul ripped to thousands of little pieces and suffer through all eternity, then.” (Barasga)
“Sounds like you don’t have a clue…” (Erukana)
Erukana bared her fangs.
“Without my darling around, my life won’t be much different from that treatment, to begin with.” (Erukana)
“…Stop it! It’s embarrassing!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk hurriedly dissuaded her and then opened a Gate.
“Okay, then. Oh~ dear great and mighty demon king.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
And, along with a mocking sneer…
“If you wish to resolve your grudge, please accompany us inside this Gate. I don’t want to see this place get destroyed, after all.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk held Erukana’s hand and strode inside the Gate.
< 395. Just What Is Going On? -5 > Fin.