“Uhm, I’m here to exercise, though?” (Kim Dah-Som)
“Nah, you don’t need to. You’re still so young, so why exercise?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But, I’ll gain weight if I don’t?” (Kim Dah-Som)
“It’s fine. It’s okay to put on a bit of weight.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“…You like curvier girls?” (Kim Dah-Som)
“Well, you could say that I do lean that way.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“In that case, I’m going home.” (Kim Dah-Som)
It was then, Yi Ji-Hyuk realised he just had a big slip of the tongue.
“W-wait, I like firm, not flabby!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Okay, got it.” (Kim Dah-Som)
He shuddered after seeing Kim Dah-Som looking determined about something. If she ended up, uh, flabby because of what he said, then Kim Dah-Hyun might pounce on him with real intentions to kill.
“N-no, hang on. I think you look the best way you are, right now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Really?” (Kim Dah-Som)
“Ng.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Okay. Then I’ll maintain my current look.” (Kim Dah-Som)
Yi Ji-Hyuk sighed in relief.
“Alright, so. You gonna stay and exercise?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Nope.” (Kim Dah-Som)
“…Isn’t that what you came here for?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You’re on your way home now, aren’t you? I’ll just go with you.” (Kim Dah-Som)
Seeing that innocent smile on her face, he started getting this weirdly uncomfortable yet calming feeling.
He escorted her back home, and slowly made his way back to his own house.
‘I do kinda feel a bit lighter than before.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He pushed open the front gate and stepped inside, and was greeted by Barasga and Oh-Sik.
The Ogre must’ve already tasted the bitterness of society, because it was standing stiffly at attention about one step behind the mini demon king to greet its master back home.
“Urgh.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk groaned and looked over at Barasga.
“Stop bullying him, will ya.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“That won’t happen anymore.” (Barasga)
You’re a mere turtle, so why are you making that haughty expression?! A mere turtle dares to…?! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
This sense of disharmony he got from watching these two was just too extreme.
“Barasga.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Speak, human.” (Barasga)
“Human?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“…Please speak, master.” (Barasga)
Would you look at the quick change in this little guy’s attitude?
“Did a lot of demon kings cross over?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, not really. The number of demon kings that has crossed over so far is quite small. Most likely, they are simply here to scope out the current situation first.” (Barasga)
“Isn’t it possible for this scoping-out thing to last about a thousand years, according to you demons’ perspective?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It is indeed possible, but that’s not going to happen.” (Barasga)
“Why not?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Whether they hold animosity towards you or not, no demon king would want to wait quietly until you die of old age.” (Barasga)
“…What the hell, I haven’t done anything too bad, so why?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Barasga chuckled softly.
“Not only that, when the rumour of you defeating me, and you regaining about half of your original strength back makes its rounds… The number of demon kings wanting to rush here should increase quite dramatically. That’s what we the demon kings are like, after all.” (Barasga)
In moments like this, Yi Ji-Hyuk wished that he didn’t know so much about the characteristics of the demon kings.
“Fine. I got it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“And also, master.” (Barasga)
“What now?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“…After my body has ended up in this state, I’m beginning to feel hungry. Give me something to eat.” (Barasga)
“…Go out and hunt for yourself, will ya.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Does that mean I can consume humans now?” (Barasga)
“Hey, man. Have you heard of a turtle stew before?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Barasga yelled out.
“It’s impossible to hunt anything with this small body! Going somewhere, anywhere, to find a prey would take at least one full day! Is that fine with you, then?! Are you really fine with that?!” (Barasga)
“I can’t tell who’s the master here…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head and headed to the storage to grab a bag of pet food, then tossed it over to Barasga.
“Eat this.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“And what is this?” (Barasga)
“…It’s food, dude. Food.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Barasga frowned deeply.
“Humans package their foods strangely, don’t they.” (Barasga)
“You demon kings don’t even eat in the first place, so why don’t you stop criticising other dimension’s eating habits and start shoving that food down your mouth already?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Barasga used its maw to rip the bag wide open, then took a large gulp of the pet food contained within.
“Hmm. It’s quite difficult to describe the taste, but it seems that the nutrients are sufficient enough, at least. This will have to do for now, but I wish to consume a higher quality meal than this in the future.” (Barasga)
“…Sure thing.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He just tossed it out there as a test, but to think that the demon king would actually eat it…
Hot on the hills of an Ogre eating dog food, a demon king eating dog food has finally appeared in the world.
“You’re home?” (mom)
“Ng.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He stepped inside the house to discover his mom busy preparing the family supper.
“You’re a little late than usual today. Did you stop by somewhere?” (mom)
“I was at the park for a little while.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I see. Do wash up and let’s enjoy supper.” (mom)
“Okay.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk threw off his clothes and dumped them inside the wash basket, took a quick shower, and stepped outside.
He saw the feast laid out on the dining table and had to say something.
“Wow. Now that’s a big feast, alright.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Well, it’s been a while since the whole family had supper together, so.” (mom)
The moment mom finished her reply, one of the doors flung open and Yi Ye-Won emerged from her room in hurried steps.
“Ng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“When you get mobilised next time, can’t you, like, blow up my school building by ‘mistake’ or something? My insane school doesn’t want to stop the classes even with all these crazy things happening everywhere!” (Ye-Won)
“…Don’t you want to contemplate for a minute or two on who’s the insane one in this case, my dear beloved sister?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Holy moly, do you have any other how shocked I was when they gave me homework?! Totally insane, you know?!” (Ye-Won)
Your oppa is currently feeling glad that someone has invented the term ‘totally insane’. If not for those two simple words, I wouldn’t have any ways to describe my impression when looking at you right now. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head out of resignation and sat down on his spot around the dining table.
“Ye-Won-ah? Would you be a dear and go fetch your dad for supper?” (mom)
Yi Ye-Won went upstairs, and in the meantime, Yi Ji-Hyuk asked his mother.
“Dad’s home, too?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes. I’ve asked him to come home early today. I wanted all of us to have supper together.” (mom)
“Hmm…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
For some reason, it felt like the atmosphere was gradually shifting towards the family meeting rather than a supper.
Once everyone found their seats, he took a look at his family sitting around the table.
The sun had set on this fine evening.
Warm food was before his eyes.
And a filled dining table, where his family was all present.
‘…This is everything that I’ve always wanted.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Back in Berafe when he had been wallowing in the endless abyss of loneliness, the one thing he longed for so long, that one little thing filling up his head constantly, was the sight of this dining table with his family around it.
That one thing he so desired and longed for seemingly forever, was right here, right in front of his eyes.
Yi Ji-Hyuk felt this indescribable feeling wash over him.
“Aren’t you hungry?” (mom)
“No, I am.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He confirmed his father had started eating first and only then did he pick up his own spoon, too.
The meal proceeded without any notable discussion taking place. It was literally a normal family supper that was neither too energetic and lovey-dovey, nor too stiff and hard to breathe.
After the meal, mom took away the empty plates, prepared some sliced fruits as desserts, and brought them out to the living room. The whole family sat around the living room’s couch.
Once everything was said and done, mom quietly called out to Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“Ng, mom?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What are you planning to do?” (mom)
She quietly stared at her son.
“You’re my child, and I’ve been watching you grow up for the past twenty-something years already. Your mom isn’t so dimwitted that she can’t see her son has made up his mind about something.” (mom)
Who was dimwitted here? As far as sharp wits were concerned, no one could rival Madam Park Seon-Deok in this world.
“Nah, it’s nothing serious.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk hurriedly waved his hands around, but mom kept glaring at him. That prompted dad, keeping his silence until then, to finally open his mouth.
“…Yes?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I see from the news that the current situation is not looking so good. Is it as bad as they say?” (dad)
Yi Ji-Hyuk slowly nodded his head at dad’s question.
“Yes, it’s pretty bad.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“However, something like what you’ve been fearing won’t happen right away. It’s just that something none of us can stop is slowly approaching us. If only things just happened quickly and suddenly, it’d been so much easier to deal with.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Fair, indiscriminate death.
The only way to deal with something like that was to pray. Although, the question remained on who would listen to your prayers when no gods existed on Earth.
“I see. Which means you’ll have to step up again.” (dad)
“Whenever the situation looked grim, you were always there, fighting. And every single time, you came back home injured.” (dad)
For some reason, dad came off as a reliable man today.
“Honestly speaking, I’m not happy seeing you like that. No father in this world would want to survive at the expense of his children getting hurt like that. Do you understand what I mean?” (dad)
“Yes.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Dad slowly, thoughtfully nodded his head.
“You pretend you’re not, but you’ve always tried to behave responsibly. Even now, you must be thinking of how to save this world. But before you do anything, I want you to remember what I’m about to say to you.” (dad)
“I definitely do not wish to live in a world saved by your sacrifice. If there’s a world like that, then I might as well destroy it with my own two hands.” (dad)
“You don’t even have any powers, so how?!” (mom)
Mom tackled him out of nowhere, and dad could only fake a cough.
“Keu-hmm. We all knew that a day like today would come sooner or later. So, you don’t have to be too burdened by us.” (dad)
Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t reply and simply sighed.
But, of course.
For him, the prospects of living in a world without his family was no different from an extended torture session. If that wasn’t the case, then he wouldn’t have gone to such lengths to fight against the gods in the first place so that he could come back to this planet.
‘Regardless of all that, though. Living on is better than the alternative.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He got to meet his family and enjoy this world once more because he held on and survived for the countless aeons of time.
“I understand what you’re saying, dad.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Good. Happy to hear that, son. It’s a little tough to convey it in words, but I believe that you now know how your father feels.” (dad)
“I do.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Mom gently patted Yi Ji-Hyuk’s back.
“You poor child. It’s not been that long since you made your way back home after going missing for so long, yet you can’t even take a rest and must fight again…” (mom)
“Euh…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s body shuddered when the mood threatened to take a detour into the territory of a soap opera, so he quickly waved his hands around.
“I, Imma go to my room and get some rest.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Oppa! Don’t forget about wrecking my school…!” (Ye-Won)
“You better stop before I wreck your jaw instead of your school.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He cleanly rejected Yi Ye-Won’s earnest request and stepped into his room, then closed the door behind him. He didn’t feel sleepy as it was too early in the evening, but he still laid down on the bed while keeping the lights off.
“…This is nuts.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Did he have something on his face?
Why was every single person he met today acting like this?
“It’s not like I’m planning to kill myself or anything, so why…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
If this whole thing could be resolved in that manner, then it’d actually be easier for everyone. Well, making up his mind would’ve been so much simpler, at least. However, the current problems couldn’t be solved that easily.
Yi Ji-Hyuk quietly closed his eyes.
Sacrificing oneself to protect the world simply was not his style. And he was definitely not planning to do that, either.
“…There are no sunsets in the demon world, you know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
And the sunsets back in Berafe were not as beautiful as the one in this world. That was why he simply couldn’t let this planet be destroyed.
He lightly chewed on his lips before spitting out a long groan.
Talking was easy, but he just couldn’t think of a way to fill the gap of the absolute, overwhelming combat force existing between the two sides.
He did have a plan a while ago, but even if that got underway, he’d still not have enough of an army to fight back.
The reason why he waltzed around the demon world without any fear back then was because not only could he subdue demon kings by himself, he was also not inferior to any of them in terms of the size of his personal army, as well.
“Looks like I’ll have to talk to Christopher McLaren…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He figured that now was a good time to hop over to the United States of America for a bit.
He got up, took the coat off the hanger and put it on. But, before he could open up a Gate…
A loud siren suddenly went off outside.
“Hul.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk jogged towards the windows and peeked his head outside.
Sirens had never gone off in this place before, at least not in his memories. Monster-spewing Gates weren’t opening these days, so what kind of an emergency situation necessitated the sirens to go off?
He quickly rushed into the living room and switched the TV on.
“What’s going on?” (mom)
“Just wait for a bit, please.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The screen flickered to life, and mom covered her mouth in disbelief at the images being transmitted.
“W-what’s going on over there?!” (mom)
“Hah…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
It was right then that Yi Ji-Hyuk’s smartphone began ringing off the hook. He took in the sights of the famous landmark of Gwanghwamun Gate in complete rubble and could only groan deeply.
“Can’t you like not make mess of things, you d*mn b*stards?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He didn’t even bother to check who was calling him and simply answered the phone.
“I’m on my way.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Then, he just hung up.
Well, it was pretty obvious. Who else could it have been but Choi Jeong-Hoon?
Since he was already wearing the coat anyway, he turned around and headed to the front entrance of the house.
He heard mom’s trembling voice, turned around to face her, then smiled brightly.
“I’ll be back soon.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
< 403. That’s why we’ve ended up in this state -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.