“What a living hell this is.” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren rubbed his eyes in fatigue while staring at the scenes coming from various locations through the large monitor on the wall.
The military dispatched to Arizona had been decimated, and as for Germany, they were somehow managing to cling on, but it was only a matter of time.
There was some attempt to cover up what happened in Sichuan where the flow of information had been cut off for some time now, indicating that the Chinese government had failed to stop the events taking place there, as well.
‘Was humanity this powerless…?’ (Christopher McLaren)
He already knew that there was a stark difference in the level of firepower. He even accepted the fact that, no matter how hard humanity tried, it’d still be impossible to stop the demon world’s invasion.
Only two options were available – one, fight until the bitter end and get vaporised, or rain down a whole bunch of nuclear weapons on the ‘spots’ and bet on the slim hope that the distorted spaces would be exterminated.
If the latter option was doable, then Christopher McLaren would’ve bravely tried it already.
Sure, a few countries would cease to exist, and several locations in the world would end up as lands of death, but the situation was too dire to worry about that.
However, the handful of ICBMs already fired at the target as a test of sorts were rendered useless quite easily.
“Those d*mn stinking demon kings.” (Christopher McLaren)
After witnessing how the nuclear warheads and the intercontinental ballistic missiles, arguably the pinnacle of humanity’s technological prowess, were rendered ineffective oh-so easily, Christopher McLaren’s emotions had fallen to the pits.
He didn’t believe the reason for humanity’s inability to fight against demon kings was because they were completely useless.
No, the fault lay with the direction humanity took.
The human race never tried to develop the weapons technology that specialised in combating a single powerful individual. The focus always had been on dealing with big armies and other nations.
Indeed, didn’t humans place more importance on developing weapons that could kill a bit more people than before, or destroy an even greater area?
‘Sons of b*tchs.’ (Christopher McLaren)
Many nations around the world had already begun researching and developing technology to bring down these unprecedented lifeforms called the demon kings. America was the same – the top scientists were sweating buckets while trying to come up with ways to fight back while an exorbitant amount of national budget was being poured into the projects.
However, Christopher McLaren was pessimistic about the efficacy of these projects. The biggest issue was with the lack of time. Some sort of a tangible result would only be reached after a half of America was destroyed by the demon king that popped out from Arizona’s spot. Since that would be the case, what was the point of it all?
Christopher McLaren groaned at length.
“I told them we need to spend even more of our budget, yet those idiots…” (Christopher McLaren)
He learned how terrifying the existence of a demon king could be back when the first one crossed over and Yi Ji-Hyuk went on to kill it. And when he heard from the Korean that more of these demon kings would cross over in the future, he began thinking that the human race needed to find a way to fight back no matter the costs involved.
Ever since then, he strongly recommended to anyone who’d listen that they needed to support the R&D departments researching ways to fight against demon kings with as much funds as possible. But the stinking politicians didn’t even pretend to send any sort of meaningful budget in that direction.
Those fools could clearly see that there was a fire burning above their heads, so why did they only start panicking after that very same fire landed on their feet?
Christopher McLaren spat out an even lengthier groan.
The only thing the scientists managed to develop with the limited budget was the Mana sensor.
Unlike the widely-used Ether sensor, this device couldn’t measure the exact amount of Mana and was only good for sensing the appearance of a large mass of Mana spreading around like a weather phenomenon while being attached to the spy satellites.
‘Well, at least we now know where the demon kings have made their entrances.’ (Christopher McLaren)
Even in that regard, the device proved to be essentially useless, since the demon kings had a tendency of letting the whole world know of their locations by absolutely destroying everything around them as soon as they crossed over.
A loud voice calling out to him prompted Christopher McLaren to turn his head.
“Sir, in Pyongyang! A high concentration of Mana has appeared in Pyongyang, sir!”
“A demon king is there, so that guy must’ve shown up again.” (Christopher McLaren)
“No, that’s not it! There are several of them!”
“Mm?!” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren’s head snapped back towards the monitor.
He could now see the scene of different sets of Mana colliding against each other and distort visibly.
“Mm, maybe they are interfering with one another…” (Christopher McLaren)
He was about to issue a fresh order, telling his subordinates to send the relevant information to South Korea, China and Russia, but then, his brows shot up high from shock next.
‘W-what the hell is that?’ (Christopher McLaren)
At first, the fluctuations were small.
But then, the fluctuations began sweeping up the surroundings like floodwater breaking out of the levees.
“What the hell?! What is that sh*t?! Get me the satellite images, now! Hurry the hell up!” (Christopher McLaren)
Christopher McLaren freaked out from the sight of the massive whirlpool of Mana threatening to fill up the monitor and jumped up from his chair. His agency had been tracking several of the demon kings already so he had a pretty good idea on how much Mana each of the demon kings emitted.
However, the Mana fluctuation shown on the monitor easily exceeded what he had become familiar with.
“Did a great demon king cross over or something?! Goddam*it, this isn’t even a d*mn cartoon, so what the hell…” (Christopher McLaren)
Actually, if this was a cartoon, they would’ve had a brave hero to call upon in this time of need. This was reality with no such heroes to be found anywhere.
“The satellite is in position, sir.”
“Get me the feed!” (Christopher McLaren)
The monitor flickered noisily for a second, and when it stabilised, the resulting scene made Christopher McLaren tilt his head with a puzzled expression.
“Y-Yi Ji-Hyuk?!” (Christopher McLaren)
Why was that dude even there?!
“Isn’t that?!” (Barasga)
Barasga’s small eyes shot open so wide that they almost popped out of their sockets.
The black doorway that opened below Yi Ji-Hyuk’s feet was, without a doubt, a Gate. And anyone could easily tell where that Gate was connected to.
“The, the, the demon world!!!” (Barasga)
Transferring between dimensions was a huge ask even for the demon kings.
The task wasn’t on the level of merely ‘difficult’. You needed a ton of Mana, as much as two, three demon kings exhausting every single drop of their reserves, just to open up a small Gate.
That was why they had sent Argolas and made sure that this side would be ready to respond when the Gate connecting to the demon world opened up.
They managed to exploit the rift in the dimensions to create semi-permanent doorways and assimilated the portions of the demon world and Earth. And through these assimilated spots, demon kings could now utilise Mana from the demon world as much as they pleased.
‘But, we should’ve also considered that this would also benefit the 99th demon king…’ (Barasga)
Cold sweat began gushing out of Barasga’s body.
Mana powerfully rose up from beneath Yi Ji-Hyuk’s feet and began licking his figure like tongues of evil spirits and got sucked inside.
He kept his eyes closed and quietly accepted them all.
“W-we need to stop that!” (Barasga)
Barasga urgently cried out.
At this rate, the 99th demon king would get to possess the infinite Mana again and experience a rebirth.
If the 99th demon king was to be revived, the one who had implanted a seal on the Core of the demon world to receive the infinite supply of the purest dark Mana imaginable…
From the perspective of the demon world, this would be no different to the advent of an unstoppable calamity.
‘Even if it’s now! Before he manages to absorb all these Mana strands, we need to stop him!’ (Barasga)
Unfortunately, Barasga couldn’t carelessly pounce forward. Because the existence of Erukana protecting Yi Ji-Hyuk’s front proved to be too much of a hurdle.
“The world’s greatest show is about to start, so why do you all have those panicking faces? Isn’t this entertaining to watch?” (Erukana)
Erukana loudly laughed out.
“Borencha, that guy at least had a brain. Too bad about you lot not having much in the brain department, though. I’m actually ashamed by the idea of me being in the same category of demon kings as you.” (Erukana)
Barasga gnashed its teeth, but was still unable to refute what she said. Even if it could do that, the current situation didn’t give the turtle-shaped demon king a lot of mental leeway to start arguing with her.
“Even if the 99th demon king regains his former strength, this is not the demon world nor is it Berafe! We are also not the same as before, either!” (Barasga)
“Is that what you all think?” (Erukana)
Barasga didn’t reply to Erukana’s sneering comment. She wasn’t the most important part in this event, after all.
Yi Ji-Hyuk was slowly opening his eyes.
His figure was gently floating up off the ground, too.
And while resonating powerfully, blackish Mana flared up like an inferno from within the Gate.
Barasga watched that spectacle and ended up recalling the memories it wanted so badly to forget. The sight that got branded deep into the demon king’s psyche.
Although the attire had changed from the past, the current Yi Ji-Hyuk’s figure was spookily similar to back when he used to be called the 99th demon king as well as the Bringer of Apocalypse. Not just that, but even the power he was exuding now, too.
“How dare a measly human…” (Barasga)
Yi J-Hyuk’s eyes were fully open now.
“How do you feel, darling?” (Erukana)
“How should I describe it…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk pondered his options after hearing her question and then made his considered reply.
“Should I say something is overflowing inside of me? It’s like, Mana might leak out from my eyeballs just from opening my eyes.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That’s a pretty interesting reply.” (Erukana)
“Yeah, I think so, too.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The corners of Yi Ji-Hyuk’s lips curled up.
‘Definitely so…’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
In the past, he almost never experienced the shortage of Mana. His Mana acquisition ability had always remained way more advanced than the levels he managed to reach.
When he was just a rookie dark magician, Erukana supplied him with what could be seen as an endless supply of Mana when judged from his lowly standards back then. But after reaching the stage where the amount he wished to spend exceeded what she could supply, he simply stuck a straw in the demon world’s Core and connected that to his body, which led to him receiving the true infinite supply of dark Mana.
But the supply got cut off after he arrived on Earth, making him realise how bad it felt to be a magician who couldn’t use Mana.
A magician without the supply of Mana was like a human who couldn’t breathe, or a firefighter without access to water or fire extinguishers.
He had finally realised what kind of roles the seemingly-endless supply of Mana did for him only after arriving back on Earth.
Yi Ji-Hyuk had been put under one restriction after another. And now that all the shackles were coming undone, how could he possibly describe this feeling in mere words?
“Hmm…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He sensed all the Mana filling up inside his body and took a deep breath.
“This isn’t so bad.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
This sense of fullness.
It had been far too long since the last time he felt this fullness.
In the past, he took it for granted. Not anymore.
Yi Ji-Hyuk slowly placed his hand on his chest. He could detect the Mana throbbing wildly within his body.
“Are you alright, darling?” (Erukana)
“Yeah. I’m controlling it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Erukana looked at him with somewhat worried eyes.
Yi Ji-Hyuk regaining all this Mana would prove to be a great help to the world, but on the other hand, it meant he now needed to take on an even bigger burden on his body.
The Bringer of Apocalypse, who was renowned for his infinite Mana as well as his immortal body. Among these two, he had recovered the first one, but the latter, the immortal body capable of subduing the adverse reaction from the former, had not been recovered.
‘Well, it doesn’t look like it’ll crumble in an instant, so…’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He managed to avoid the worst possible situation.
A regular person’s body would’ve shattered into tiny molecules long before this amount of dark Mana finished entering them. However, Yi Ji-Hyuk accepted it without too much issues. For now.
This was only possible due to his affinity that reached the absolute peak, his absurdly high level of control, as well as his body going through a reinforcement of sorts through Ether.
‘Well, d*mn. The burden on my body is nothing to scoff at, is it?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He sensed the Mana crazily spinning within his body and clenched his teeth.
He rather liked this heady, pleasurable sensation.
However, one careless mistake and he’d get swept up in this ecstasy, resulting in his body exploding to bits. This whole thing felt like he was walking on a knife’s edge.
The thing was, though…
Yi Ji-Hyuk began cackling ominously even before realising it.
He had walked on edges like this one numerous times before. The only difference would be that he no longer had spare lives to fall back on, that’s all.
For now, the ecstasy of knowing that he could rampage as much as he wanted was far greater than the worries of side effects and the potential dangers from accepting Mana.
“Okay, then. Now…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk smirked deeply and stared at the demon kings.
“Who wants to go first?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
< 397. See? I told you that the dude’s a turtle brain -2 > Fin.