Synopsis: A fast-paced story about a youngster who loses everything and everyone he holds dear. Through the only family that still remains with him, his uncle, he gets to choose to dedicate his focus and attention to blacksmithing rather than to fall into depression and street life...
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It was as if the whole city was being bombarded in an air raid.
A city that had not been exposed to an external attack for over half a century was now revealing its wounded flesh from the chain of explosions going off everywhere.
Also, the deafening sirens wailing in every direction attested to the urgency of the unfolding situation.
Buildings collapsed and the paved streets were torn apart.
The citizens of Seoul were rendered powerless in front of an invasion that they never had considered before.
The pitch-black smoke and scorching flames were viciously swallowing up their city as if to prove that humanity’s civilisation had been built up on a fragile foundation.
“Brigadier General, sir! The emergency services can’t get here because all the roads have been blocked off!”
“Monsters are rushing in from sector B46!”
Jeong In-Su yelled out in anger.
“I know already, you idiots!” (Jeong In-Su)
Blood vessels were bulging visibly on his eyes.
‘Godd*mmit, how are we supposed to defend ourselves when they attack us in this manner?!’ (Jeong In-Su)
The common sense was this: if an enemy wanted to invade you, they had to approach from the outside. So, you simply had to come up with suitable defence tactics that guarded the borders.
However, this common sense didn’t apply to these creatures.
North Korea needed to get across the DMZ, while Japan or China would have to rely on their navy to perform a blitzkrieg. However, these d*mn monsters just suddenly appeared in the middle of the city. Without any warning whatsoever, too.
The government’s defence protocols based on the assumption of other nations invading its territory was simply too inadequate to deal with the current situation.
‘Is this the true strength of a demon king?’ (Jeong In-Su)
Jeong In-Su got to realise once more how dangerous these demon kings could be, the ones Yi Ji-Hyuk and the higher-ups frequently talked about.
His role was different from the NDF or Yi Ji-Hyuk, meaning he was tasked with minimising the civilian casualties and defending infrastructure at all cost, so to him, a demon king was a ‘different’ type of calamity altogether.
It was an existence that could appear anywhere at random and summon demonic creatures at will. An existence capable of destroying a world all by itself. That common sense-breaking mobility was basically an unstoppable calamity from the perspective of the defenders.
“What am I supposed to do here?! God d*mn it!!!” (Jeong In-Su)
The Gate opened by the demon king was on a completely different level compared to all the others the KSF had been dealing with until now. The demonic creatures flooding out from it couldn’t even be pushed back with firearms.
Several such Gates had opened up in the middle of the city, so the defence command couldn’t do much other than anxiously stomp the ground.
“Give me a f*cking break, d*mn it!!” (Jeong In-Su)
Jeong In-Su yelled out again.
“Why hasn’t the NDF arrived yet?!” (Jeong In-Su)
“They have been emergency-notified already, sir! I heard that they are on their way!”
“F*ck!” (Jeong In-Su)
Jeong In-Su knew that the NDF wasn’t at fault. They were people too, so they obviously couldn’t be on standby for 24 hours straight. Besides, the Gates opened up suddenly without any prior notice, anyway.
Normally, a Gate would be located, and after the time until its opening was calculated, a mobilisation schedule would be set. So, he couldn’t blame them for not mobilising right away in the current situation.
Explosions went off within the city again.
Jeong In-Su gritted his teeth as he took in the unfolding sights.
“You sons of b*tches!” (Jeong In-Su)
The demonic beasts were roaming around freely within Seoul as if it was their living room. And Jeong In-Su watching that spectacle was overcome by this indescribable sense of powerlessness.
‘There’s nothing we can do.’ (Jeong In-Su)
Regular firearms couldn’t kill these monsters. That didn’t mean the army could start raining bombs down in the middle of Seoul to kill them, either.
In that case, what was the defence command supposed to do here?
“What’s happening with the evacuation efforts?” (Jeong In-Su)
“Sir. The roads are still too clogged up, and…”
“Son of a b*tch! Tell them to stop riding in their bloody cars and walk on their feet just like the rest of the evacuees! The subways! They are not running anymore, right?” (Jeong In-Su)
“Sir, yes sir! They aren’t!”
“I told you to let them know there aren’t any subways running right now, and send in our boys to quickly evacuate everyone out of the city limits, didn’t I?! You fool, get a move on already! Don’t forget that ten plus people will die in the span of a single breath you take!” (Jeong In-Su)
“I’ll get on it right away, sir!”
Jeong In-Su watched his adjutant madly rush somewhere, and held his head in despair.
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The only person he could believe in this situation was Yi Ji-Hyuk.
He felt terrible for relying on that guy every single time, but now wasn’t the time to sweat over something like that. People were dying in their droves right now!
“The KSF has arrived, sir!”
“Don’t deploy them in the frontlines, but in the rear!” (Jeong In-Su)
“Just a few of them won’t make any difference in this situation, so rather have them at the rear and help out with the evacuation efforts, instead! It’s fine for the structures at the back to be destroyed, so tell them to secure the safest evacuation routes first!” (Jeong In-Su)
Jeong In-Su quietly gritted his teeth.
Regular ability users would only serve as nothing more than cannon fodder even if they stepped up. It was better to deploy the manpower where they would be most effective.
He bit down hard on his lip.
Screams and gunfire dug deep into his hearing.
This was not an easy decision to make.
With the KSF now working in the rear, the ones in the frontlines blocking the enemies were his subordinates. It was definitely not easy for him to make the decision to send out the ones he considered as his own children as sacrifices just for the sake of some effectiveness.
If only he could, he’d have taken up arms and rushed to the frontlines himself.
“Where is the NDF??” (Jeong In-Su)
“T-they say they are almost here, sir!”
“Those stinking b*stards! Just when will they get here! When?!” (Jeong In-Su)
“Argh, we’re already here!” (Seo Ah-Young)
Jeong In-Su’s head snapped up towards the heavens.
‘Path Drifter’ Kim Dah-Hyun was currently dashing forward in the sky while carrying Seo Ah-Young on his back.
“Hurry the hell up, will ya?! D*mn it!” (Jeong In-Su)
Jeong In-Su yelled out a scream that was a mixture of happiness and rage.
Seo Ah-Young didn’t bother to reply and simply whipped Kim Dah-Hyun even harder.
“Over there! People are being chased over there. There!” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Roger!” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Kim Dah-Hyun didn’t complain and ran in the direction she pointed at.
“So freaking many of them!” (Seo Ah-Young)
She roared out like a thug.
“What do you think this place is, you trashy mobs!” (Seo Ah-Young)
Even before they could land, she raised both of her arms.
A massive sun made out of roiling flames suddenly rose up in the skies of Seoul.
The citizens running away momentarily forgot about the danger to their lives and dazedly stared at that overwhelming spectacle.
“Die!” (Seo Ah-Young)
She flung her hands forward, and the ball of flames as big as a house descended to the ground.
The moment the flames touched the ground, it morphed into a massive vortex that swallowed up all the monsters chasing after the humans.
“I’ll roast you all!” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Argh, can’t you, like, wait for a second?! We’re almost there!” (Kim Dah-Hyun)
Kim Dah-Hyun freaked out from the terrifying heat right near the back of his neck, and quickly descended to the solid ground to hurriedly unload Seo Ah-Young from his back.
Her smartwatch buzzed as soon as her feet touched the ground. She felt annoyed by this interruption and was about to drop the call, but after realising that the caller was Jeong In-Su, she tapped the answer icon, instead.
“What is it now?” (Seo Ah-Young)
– “Why are only two of you here? Where are the others?! This situation isn’t something only two people can stop!” (Jeong In-Su)
“You think we’re morons and don’t know that?! Hold on, will you!” (Seo Ah-Young)
Seo Ah-Young ended the call, then pulled out her phone next to send a text message.
“Here they come.” (Seo Ah-Young)
It was then, a spot on Kim Dah-Hyun’s chest started glowing softly. Along with the rustling noise, several people holding onto Jeong Hae-Min’s hands appeared right before them.
“…Son of a b*tch.”
The new arrivals took a look around their vicinity and let out shocked gasps.
The collapsed buildings; massive, roaring flames that no one knew how to deal with; the place they called ‘home’ was crumbling all around them.
“I’m going to get more people.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Right, thanks! Unni, please!” (Seo Ah-Young)
Jeong Hae-Min teleported away to bring in the remaining NDF agents. Meanwhile, Seo Ah-Young raised her voice and loudly yelled out.
“Those f*cking b*stards, kill them all without mercy!” (Seo Ah-Young)
“…What kind of a rallying cry is that?”
“I like it, though?”
The NDF agents, rage burning brightly in their eyes, rushed towards the monsters ahead.
“All we have to do is stop them until Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk shows up!”
“Bullsh*t! I’ll kill them all before that happens!”
“Whew-woo…” (Jeong In-Su)
Jeong In-Su spat out a lengthy sigh.
The situation still didn’t look good, but with the NDF on site, he could afford to sigh in relief, at least.
‘Still, I can’t relax yet.’ (Jeong In-Su)
Stopping the monsters today didn’t mean humans had won. What truly tormented Jeong In-Su right now was the fact that stopping them right now wouldn’t be the end of their troubles.
As long as the demon kings existed, and as long as the connection to the demon world persisted, this kind of event would unfold again in the future. No place on this planet was safe.
However, humanity simply didn’t have the technology to deal with an event like this.
If they were to spread out the ability users and create a defensive line over a large area, then it’d end up more like the case of ‘divide and conquer’, but that also didn’t mean they could be on standby for 24 hours, either.
Well, they were humans, after all.
If the NDF couldn’t maintain their physical condition and fail to exert their full potential, then there would only be more sacrifices and casualties. If humanity’s combat potential got shaved away gradually in that manner over a time period, then sooner or later, a crisis that cannot be stopped would occur.
“We need to kill the demon king.” (Jeong In-Su)
Jeong In-Su, after contemplating the way to end his crisis, finally arrived at the conclusion.
Everything happening so far was the fault of these demon kings.
Because the creatures capable of rendering the defensive lines meaningless existed, all of humanity’s defence mechanisms had become useless.
If demon kings didn’t exist and this sort of Gates couldn’t be opened, then monsters would have only the land or sea to invade South Korea. And if the army could confirm the invasion ahead of time, they could blow the enemies away before they reached the borders by the bombardment of missiles and bombs.
“The demon king! If only we can kill the demon king…!” (Jeong In-Su)
A hushed grunt coming from his rear caused Jeong In-Su’s whole body to freeze up.
“As I thought, you humans are truly amusing creatures. An ant would never dare to even entertain the thoughts of hunting down a dragon, yet humans are capable of doing that. No, wait. Maybe ants can’t even recognise the existence of a dragon in the first place?” (?)
Jeong In-Su’s head slowly turned towards the rear.
He could sense this overwhelming presence somewhere behind him.
This wasn’t because of ‘power’.
What would a hamster locked in a cage feel when looking at a lion staring back at it from the outside? It’d probably remain utterly frozen even if the lion had no intentions to attack.
A being that emitted this absolute overwhelming presence simply by existing was now standing there.
“Why don’t you relax for a bit, human?” (?)
It was a demonic being.
The first thought popping up in Jeong In-Su’s mind was that this creature right before his eyes was the quintessential example of a ‘demonic creature’ the humans knew.
In that case, perhaps humanity had already come in contact with the demon world in the past.
The second thought entering his head next was the fact that he could hear and understand what the demon king was saying.
“You don’t have to worry too much. I merely wish to idly chat with you. If that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t even try to engage you in conversation using your customs and language, now would I?” (?)
Jeong In-Su stiffly nodded his head.
“It seems that you’re the top representative of this location. To me, you humans are quite amusing creatures. The demons below the demon kings are treated as equals. However, humans still try to come up with a system of roles even when in a similar situation. It’s the same story back in Berafe, too. I’ve always found such a thing quite interesting. For instance, you’re the commander here but someone else will try to seize control the moment you’ve been killed off. Shall I demonstrate that for you?” (?)
The demon king slowly extended its hand towards Jeong In-Su.
< 404. That’s why we’ve ended up in this state -4 > Fin.