Alpha was stuck in the border that separated ‘human’ from ‘lump of meat’.
His body’s regenerative powers exceeded a regular human being’s by a huge margin. Not only that, he even overwhelmingly outpaced other ability users, as well.
Yet his body had not reverted back to how it was, not even by a little. Because, Yi Ji-Hyuk was still shoving more Mana inside Alpha even now.
“I mean, people like them are giving it their all, so you might as well do even more, right? It’s what you wanted, anyway. Isn’t it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
As soon as Yi Ji-Hyuk’s words came to an end, the magic circle inscribed below Alpha’s figure suddenly began emitting bright light. And this light dug deep into the latter’s flesh.
This lump of meat that could have been labelled as a corpse without any issues began trembling visibly next.
Not being able to scream would be a good thing for him. If his teeth remained, they would’ve been shattered by now, and he might even have bitten his tongue off, too.
“You see, this thing called Mana is…” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk began whispering into the part he thought was Alpha’s ear.
“…Not something we humans were supposed to use.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He continued to speak in a snarky tone.
“We’re lifeforms of Ether, you see? Simply put, us trying to use Mana is like… It’s kinda like a tree that lives off carbon dioxide now must walk around using its roots and breathe oxygen in order to survive.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He then lightly kicked Alpha’s body a couple of times.
“You get what I’m saying? Hang on, maybe you can’t even hear me? I guess I should’ve left your mouth intact, at least. My bad. This thing isn’t entirely controllable, you see.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He began cackling hoarsely next.
“When you came to see me, asking me to teach you magic, you probably were prepared to go through this much, am I wrong? We don’t have much time left and we don’t know when the demon kings would destroy the world, so I hope you weren’t thinking of getting a nice little private lesson in the comfort of your own home or something.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jeong-Hoon next to them stared at Yi Ji-Hyuk with trembling eyes.
How should he go about describing the current Yi Ji-Hyuk…?
Although this might sound a little strange, it was like looking at a fish that found water. He was unleashing his villainous side so much that one had to wonder just how he managed to keep that all bottled up until now.
“Cure.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Mana gathered in Yi Ji-Hyuk’s hand and glowed in pure white light. Alpha’s body flinched this way and that.
Despite not having any eyeballs, he was reacting to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s hand gestures.
“Hoh-oh?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Would you look at this guy?
Yi Ji-Hyuk and his amused face stared at Alpha on the ground. He figured at least a minimum of two days would be necessary, yet this fool was getting used to this treatment already.
‘As far as talent is concerned, I can’t even compare to him.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
If it was Alpha ending up in Berafe instead of Yi Ji-Hyuk, then he wouldn’t even need a hundred years before coming back home.
In all honesty, Yi Ji-Hyuk wouldn’t dare to compare himself to Alpha as far as their innate talents were concerned. Actually, he wasn’t even as good as the other ability users present here, either.
‘Right. None of them are average, aren’t they.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Every single person rolling around on the floor in pain belonged to the group of strongest people on Earth. If Yi Ji-Hyuk didn’t travel to Berafe and remained here, would he have been as strong as these people?
“Wow, what am I even thinking about here?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He must really be losing his mind, since he began thinking that the time spent on the other side wasn’t all in vain.
Indeed, the one benefiting from all those trials and tribulations Yi Ji-Hyuk had to go through in Berafe was not him but Earth. If he hadn’t returned at the right time, this world would’ve been destroyed by now.
“Man, I’m still working my a*s off even now, too. Cure.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The light shooting out from Yi Ji-Hyuk’s hand permeated into Alpha. At the same time, the latter’s body rapidly healed. No, rather than calling this process ‘healing’, it was more like restoration.
Alpha’s previously-crushed face was restored eventually, and with bloodshot eyes, he began looking around urgently.
“Hey, I’m right over here. Why, you want to hit me or something?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Uhm, uh… Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, I don’t think the healing thing worked properly? I still can’t see anything.” (Alpha)
“Is that so?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk fired another round of ‘cure’ in Alpha’s eyes. The latter blinked several times, before grinning widely.
“Aha, now I can see you.” (Alpha)
“Hey, dude. Stop smiling. You don’t have any lips right now, so you look like a dang zombie.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Oh, really?” (Alpha)
Alpha felt around his mouth before frowning a bit.
“I’m reverting back to how I was before I got messed up, so why haven’t my teeth grown back already? I was really chuffed thinking that I wouldn’t need to spend money on implants anymore, you know.” (Alpha)
“…Crazy son of a gun.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head helplessly.
Without a doubt, the little world existing in Alpha’s head could not be an ordinary one.
Yi Ji-Hyuk glanced to the side and confirmed that the European ability users were crawling on the ground, still unable to regain their wits after getting hit by his Mana cloud. Not even a single person was an exception.
‘And I made sure to shove inside his body about thirty times more than them, too.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Pain wasn’t directly proportional to Mana injected so it wouldn’t have been thirty times worse than what the rest felt, but still, it should’ve been incomparably worse.
Now imagine how a person would react after experiencing pain severe enough for their soul to flee.
They would normally emit animosity strong enough to chew your guts out until no flesh remained, or feel so much fear that they would start convulsing the moment they lay their eyes on you.
However, Alpha was neither of those.
He had experienced the level of pain that even Yi Ji-Hyuk thought would be tough to endure, yet he didn’t lose one ounce of his sense of self at all.
‘Well, he sure is a big fish, alright.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Even Yi Ji-Hyuk would’ve tried to murder the fool responsible for making him experience that much pain the moment he regained his consciousness. However, other than panting laboriously, Alpha didn’t emit a single trace of animosity in Yi Ji-Hyuk’s direction.
Rationally ‘knowing’ it didn’t mean anyone could do it. A person that could act perfectly rational at all times didn’t exist, after all.
“Should I praise you a little bit, then?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Hul? My master?” (Alpha)
“Shut up.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tutted and began stomping on Alpha’s face as soon as the latter began panting like a dog. This fool seriously made it hard for anyone to like him.
“Hmm.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk looked at his watch, then opened his mouth.
“Let’s eat first before carrying on.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Wow, our sole leisure time is about to begin.” (Alpha)
Alpha had finished restoring most of his limbs by then, so he pushed himself off the ground. But he noticed other ability users still crawling around and furrowed his brows.
“They are exaggerating a little too much, aren’t they? I mean, I can sort of see that their bodies are still in one piece and all.” (Alpha)
“You’re right about that.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
If the European ability users heard that, they would’ve vomited blood right there and then. Fortunately enough, none of them had any mental leeway to comprehend what Alpha and Yi Ji-Hyuk were yapping on about.
“What’s on today’s menu, I wonder?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I guess it’ll be burgers?” (Alpha)
“…Do Americans only eat burgers and nothing else?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You shouldn’t underestimate us Americans. We also eat steaks.” (Alpha)
“Wooow, so amazing.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The two of them walked off while cackling away, and Choi Jeong-Hoon watching their distancing backs could only sigh softly under his breath.
“Is their relationship good or bad? I can’t tell…” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
And why am I even minding that in our current situation?
“Uh-whew.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Michael stared at the food placed on the dining table and chuckled hollowly.
Right now, it’d be hard for him to take a sip of watery soup with a spoon yet they wanted him to eat a burger, of all things…?
He just couldn’t tell what was in the minds of these crazy sons of b*tches.
Even if he was the proud son of German people capable of munching through sausages as hard as steel, he had no confidence of chewing and swallowing this combination of meat and bread right now.
Seriously, he was in such a bad shape that he’d even refuse a pint of lager so how was he supposed to eat this sh*t?
And it seemed that everyone else shared his sentiment.
They were all simply staring but not bothering to touch the food. Some among them probably couldn’t even lift their hands and that’s why they were not touching it in the first place.
‘If this keeps up, we’ll all die.’ (Michael)
Michael’s body involuntarily shuddered.
Of course, it wasn’t as if him and his fellow ability users were being tortured by Yi Ji-Hyuk the whole day long. The American group, the Europeans and Alpha’s gang took turns to ‘train’ under his watch. While they were not being tortured, they were told to either meditate or do whatever it takes to sense this thing called Mana. That was pretty much the extent of their training so far.
Meaning, with the exception of sleeping hours, they were training with Yi Ji-Hyuk for only one-third of a day, but even then…
‘It’s impossible to endure even that.’ (Michael)
Michael tightly clenched his fists. Even as he sat here, Germany was getting destroyed. He was prepared to eat even human flesh if that could potentially reverse the situation, but this… Forget about eating human flesh, wasn’t this almost the same as him becoming that human flesh, instead?
‘Can I really become stronger through this type of method?’ (Michael)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s view on this matter was pretty straightforward.
If you couldn’t sense Mana, you couldn’t learn magic. So, he reasoned, you should forget about all else and prioritise sensing Mana first. And the best way to sense Mana was apparently to get hit by magic repeatedly.
Well, the best time to sense Mana’s presence was indeed when concentrated Mana entered one’s body, that much was certain.
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s theory was only about half right, however.
The moment that cloud-like Mana created by him entered his victims, they all could vividly feel what Mana was and how it circulated throughout their bodies.
But what about the other half, the wrong part?
They could sense Mana only during those moments. Once Mana seeped out from their flesh, all of the sensations they felt vanished like a fleeting nightmare.
Michael knew it’d not be easy.
But he had no idea that ‘not easy’ would mean this.
He was sure of being able to endure his body breaking down or being crushed under pressure. He would gladly continue with the training even if his bones shattered in the process.
But what they were doing right now was far closer to ‘research’ rather than actual training. Not only that, a research with no clear guidelines that no one quite knew what they were supposed to do by themselves.
Michael dragged his fork on the table’s surface.
It was then, a white bowl was suddenly presented before Michael’s face.
The bowl in front of him contained warm soup with steam still rising up. He turned his head to see a cool-looking Asian man smiling away.
“This should be easier to eat than a burger.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
“Christopher McLaren can be rather thoughtless at times, you see. I noticed that the menu wasn’t sensible at all.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
The Asian man nodded slightly, then while pushing forward a cart, continued to distribute the soup to the rest of the ability users.
When Michael thought about putting the fork down, his hand just let go without any energy. He couldn’t even bring himself to tidy up the discarded fork on the table and barely managed to grasp the spoon with his shaking hand.
‘I need to eat.’ (Michael)
Indeed, he had to eat this.
If he didn’t, then he’d not be able to endure. His stamina would continuously shave away until he’d have no choice left but to give up.
“Wow, you guys even had soup? Wait, why aren’t I getting it, too?” (Alpha)
Michael watched Alpha saying something nonchalantly before getting struck by a fork thrown by Yi Ji-Hyuk, and found all his worries quite laughable.
“…If I give up now, there’s no one left.” (Michael)
Humanity’s final bastions were all gathered in this place. If they gave up then quite literally, that would be it. Michael felt that heavy burden on his heart and began mechanically shoving the soup down his mouth.
‘I need to get through this.’ (Michael)
Michael clenched his fist tighter.
Sure, he didn’t have any strength to do that, but he feared that he’d not be able to wake up tomorrow morning if he didn’t steel himself in this manner.
Maybe because he kept shoving the soup in his mouth, his throat itched and he kept wheezing away. And maybe because of all that wheezing, his vision was getting tearier as well.
He couldn’t see the bowl of soup properly and that made it harder to use his spoon. So, he just picked up the bowl itself and drank the contents in one go.
“I’ll definitely succeed tomorrow!” (Michael)
Michael put the bowl down as if he wanted to throw it away, then shot up from his chair to head straight back to the sleeping quarters.
“Hng.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk sneered softly while witnessing that spectacle.
“Well, at least his mouth is still functioning.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
But for some reason, his sneer threatened to morph into a genuine grin.
“Are you actually smiling?” (Alpha)
“Eat your d*mn food.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
And so, yet another day came to a close.
< 447. Is their relationship good or bad -2 > 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.