There was one person participating in the training with everything she had. Unexpectedly, it was none other than Doh Gah-Yun. Currently, she was facing off against the black jaguar created by Yi Ji-Hyuk.
There was not a whole lot of people in the world capable of training her, who just so happened to specialise in stealth and assassination. Even then, those folks wouldn’t have the first clue as to how to best train her.
That was why the stealthy movements of the jaguar, a creature born from the darkness, proved to be such a great boon for her.
Inside the dense forest located in the middle of the tropical island, she carefully and meticulously searched for the trace of the jaguar, hiding within the shadows. She too had blended into the darkness, as well.
Even though the sunlight penetrated halfway into the forest, once the jaguar had melted into the shadows, it became nigh-on impossible to locate the creature. She closed her eyes and tried her best to sense the presence of her target, only to pick up on a low-pitched growling.
It came from right behind her.
She hadn’t sensed its movements, yet the jaguar was already behind her.
Doh Gah-Yun gritted her teeth.
A powerful slam from the jaguar’s front paw landed on her back.
Her innards twisted and churned, and something rushed up through her throat – the bitter taste of blood trying to break out of her mouth.
However, the bitter, acrid scent of her blood got diluted by the rising curtain of dust as she fell down on the ground, hard.
It had been like this since the beginning of the training.
Even if she tried so hard to chase after her target, she couldn’t. No matter how hard she tried to find the jaguar, she continued to fail. Always, her back was exposed and she had to experience hellish pain.
Just as she was about to lose her mind over this repeating pattern, she heard a certain voice coming from the side.
“You’re wrong about something.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Doh Gah-Yun raised her head and looked at the owner of the voice.
With a cigarette stuck to his lips, Yi Ji-Hyuk was walking towards her direction in brisk steps.
“Wrong about?” (Gah-Yun)
Doh Gah-Yun tried to stand back up. However, she lost her balance and as a result, she had no choice but to support her weight by grabbing onto Yi Ji-Hyuk’s clothes.
Yi Ji-Hyuk helped her up and clicked his tongue.
“If you honestly think that hard work is the only way to being successful, then let me ask you this. Why isn’t everyone else in the world successful? Use your head, will you? Your head!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“My head?” (Gah-Yun)
Yi Ji-Hyuk let go of her hand and took a couple of steps back.
“Look.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Then, he extended his own hand out.
Doh Gah-Yun tilted her head sideways, not getting the reasoning for his actions.
‘What’s he doing?’ (Gah-Yun)
Yi Ji-Hyuk frowned slightly, withdrew his hand, then stabbed the empty air with it. No matter how odd he looked as he repeated this motion over and over again, Doh Gah-Yun poured all of her attention in order to find the meaning of his act.
She knew very well that, even though this guy was very peculiar, he’d never do something totally meaningless. That’s what her observation of the man taught her.
She required quite some time to study his actions before she let out a gasp of surprise.
That repeated action wasn’t for himself, but for her benefit.
She finally sensed the difference of ‘presence’ when Yi Ji-Hyuk extended his hand out and when he retracted it. No, to be more precise, it wasn’t that his ‘presence’ was changing, but instead, it was actually her perception of him shifting ever so slightly every time he moved.
“And this here is the boundary.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk drew a line on the ground with his foot. She lowered her gaze to stare at it.
She could clearly see that line was bisecting the space his hand was moving back and forth until now.
“You wanna follow with your eyes? Or, with your so-called sixth sense? You think you’ll find your target with those when it’s hiding from you? You are not supposed to follow, but to feel it. This here is the boundary of your area of cognisance. Find a way to extend it beyond this line.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….My area of cognisance.” (Gah-Yun)
“There’s no point in talking about it any further. I’ve given you what you need already.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk turned around to leave, and as his feet took him away, he threw out an unexpected remark.
“That Japanese healer can remove scars. That thing on your arm…. Ask him to take care of it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Naturally, her eyes lowered to look at her own arm, where the lengthy scar from the flying lizard incident still remained.
She raised her gaze up and fixed it on Yi Ji-Hyuk’s back as he made his way out of the jungle.
‘What an odd man.’
As soon as Yi Ji-Hyuk saw the state Jeong Hae-Min was in, he began clicking his tongue.
It was indeed a pathetic and sorry sight to see the so-called idol busy convulsing on the ground while her tongue was sticking out.
“Oi.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Oiii.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Suddenly, venomous light returned to her eyes as she began glaring at him. However, even though the will to pounce and beat him up good burned fiercely in her heart, her body could only remain shuddering and wiggling on the ground.
“You….” (Jeong Hae-Min)
She couldn’t really be counted on to provide direct combat support. And, even if he tried to raise her combat prowess, her limits were just too dang low for that, too. So, her training focused solely on increasing the number of people she could teleport at once, as well as the number of times she could perform it.
The methods of that were pretty simple, too. Just keep teleporting all over the place. That was all.
The only problem, though, was that seemingly simple ‘teleportation’ still exhausted a great deal of stamina and caused heavy mental strain.
“I told you, don’t just teleport to wherever! Use your brain first! Form a clear picture of where you want to go first, and set the proper coordinates for yourself!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Honorifics….” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“….She’s beyond help.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
She’s worried about honorifics at a time like this? She’s definitely nuts.
Well, I gotta hand it to that stubbornness of hers, though.
I mean, it’s really difficult to remain so stubbornly stupid for this long, no? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Yi Ji-Hyuk lightly picked her up and tossed her into the beach chair he’d been using until now.
“I’ll acknowledge all the effort you put in before you ended up looking like now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Seriously, even he couldn’t dismiss her hard work after seeing her face caked with sand and mud like that.
It was unknown whether this kind of training would result in her abilities becoming more powerful. But still, he felt rather pleased to see her doing her best to follow his guidance. Especially so, if he considered how hard it would be to earn her – and other ability user’s – trust.
It was then, Yi Ji-Hyuk felt a certain emotion that was pretty hard to describe with words. Now that he thought about it, being trusted by other humans was indeed a very rare thing for him.
After all, most humans he met until now treated him like a sworn enemy.
So, what could this emotion be?
Why did it feel so…. itch, all of a sudden?
Yi Ji-Hyuk chuckled to himself and shook his head in a wry manner.
A strange sense of appreciation was beginning to bloom in his mind. Just a tiny little bit.
Next up, Yi Ji-Hyuk checked on the situation with Oh-Sik and his enslaved monsters still engaging in a mock battle against the ability users.
He watched as Oh-Sik struck ‘Iron’ Park Sung-Chan and launched him into orbit. Yi Ji-Hyuk shrugged his shoulders, unsatisfied.
‘They are not really improving much, are they?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He made these users go through as many hellish battles as humanly possible in a short space of time, but he still couldn’t see any outright improvements just yet. However, that could be due to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s standard being just too high and thus making him unable to appreciate the improvements already made.
Also, it took him more than 1000 years to get to where he was. So, perhaps it was unreasonable to expect these users to improve to a level he could more or less accept in just two weeks.
‘Still, I can’t let them just be, right?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
If the Gates were targeting only him, maybe the story would’ve been quite different. However, they opened up all over the world. And once the delicate balance collapsed, then it was only a matter of time before everything else collapsed, too.
And when those monsters continue to pile up, and eventually cover up the entire world… Now, that would be the day of the Apocalypse, for sure.
Even if the monster hordes were beaten back, the only person remaining would most likely be Yi Ji-Hyuk and him alone. So, without a doubt, he needed pawns who could buy him time to freely enact his plans.
These users right here, they needed to become his pawns. They needed to take the experience gained here and utilise that to enhance the overall levels of other ability users, too.
*SFX for flames erupting*
As he stood there thinking, a ball of flames flew rapidly towards Yi Ji-Hyuk’s direction. It was hard to tell whether it was accidental or not.
“Ho-oh?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted slightly out of the way and avoided the flame ball.
And the person responsible for that, Seo Ah-Young, was busy licking her lips in regret, as if she had missed a terrific chance just now or something.
“….She’s taking it too easy, eh.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Jet-black magic circles suddenly rose up from Yi Ji-Hyuk’s hands. Soon afterwards, two more Mana-created monsters joined the fray.
“HEY!! You stinking son of a b*tch!!!!!!!!”
While listening to the unending stream of curse words and abuses, Yi Ji-Hyuk formed a content smile.
“You should’ve thought twice before flinging a flame ball around.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
How impudent these kids could be sometimes!
In any case, he was seeing the signs that the near-inexhaustible stamina and energy of the monsters were getting low as well, after going through constant battles.
It seemed that the time for Yi Ji-Hyuk to start doing his thing had arrived.
“Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
It was then, Choi Jung-Hoon ran up to him while shouting out in an urgent voice.
“Yes?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“We just received a request for reinforcement. A Gate is about to open up, apparently.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“And why is the request coming in so late?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“The Gate’s opening speed is apparently unstable. Its level is rated 5 as well.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Hearing this, light returned to the eyes of the trainees.
If the Gate was rated 5, then another massive monster would emerge from it. However, that was still 100 times more preferable than facing these many monsters similar in strength over here.
“Wow, you can still speak? That is quite amazing.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The mouths of the trainees snapped shut like bear traps right away.
“I alone will go.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“You alone?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“You think me alone won’t be enough?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Well, if you’re personally going, then….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
….That would certainly be far more reassuring than everyone else going there, instead.
As Choi Jung-Hoon nodded his head, Yi Ji-Hyuk turned his attention towards Seo Ah-Young and barked out his orders.
“Don’t even think of taking it easy. Train hard until it’s time to get off work. Got it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“We will!” (Seo Ah-Young)
“Huh. Still able to speak, eh?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out another long groan and added one more Mana monster to the mix before turning around to leave. From behind him, an orchestra of swearing and curse words exploded forth, but to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s ears, they sounded like the music from the heavens.
“Hey, get up!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk lightly slapped the back of Jeong Hae-Min still collapsed on the beach chair.
“M, mm?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Let’s go. It’s work.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“…I really can’t move. I’m just too tired.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“We go now, and I’ll let you off for today.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Okay, where to?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Seeing her eyes burning ablaze with renewed vigour, Yi Ji-Hyuk smirked deeply.
“Go and get the coordinates.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Jeong Hae-Min stood right back up and ran towards Choi Jung-Hoon. After she got the necessary info, Yi Ji-Hyuk grasped her hand, and they disappeared into the thin air.
And as soon as that happened, Oh-Sik roared out even louder than before.
*SFX for a massive roar*
The trainees couldn’t help but panic when witnessing this extreme change in Oh-Sik’s behaviour. It was as if the repressed violent nature of the creature due to Yi Ji-Hyuk’s presence had finally shook off its shackles as soon as he was gone.
“N, no way….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon began shuddering from this unexpected situation. If those monsters were no longer under the control of Yi Ji-Hyuk, then everyone here would be massacred in no time on this tiny little island with no avenues of escape.
Oh-Sik revealed his fangs and growled menacingly, before plopping down on his butt. Then, as if a weight was taken off his shoulders, the Ogre spat out a long sigh and lay down on the ground.
It wasn’t just Oh-Sik, either. Other monsters also lay down on the ground in unison.
The ability users looked around with dumbfounded expressions etched on their faces. The huge snake, Dae-Mang, even lazily slinked off to the nearby ocean and submerged itself in it.
“….Yeah, now that I think about it, even these guys must’ve had it hard, too.”
“But, do monsters even need to take a break?”
“I mean, they are living creatures, right?”
“Oh. Uh, so. We can also take a break, too?”
“….Mm?” (Seo Ah-Young)
Seo Ah-Young and Oh-Sik exchanged silent but poignant glances. The short and wordless exchange ended with them nodding their heads in understanding.
For the first time ever, humans and the monsters, who were both the victims of the category 5 tropical storm called Yi Ji-Hyuk, had formed an united front.
The horrible training regime of Yi Ji-Hyuk ended up bearing an unexpected fruit, in other words.
*SFX for fabrics rustling*
Colonel Jeong In-Soo’s heart nearly jumped out of his mouth when the silhouettes of two people suddenly materialised out of thin air right in front of his nose. He hurriedly pulled out his pistol and got ready.
“Hey! We were supposed to appear in the air!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….Argh, I don’t care. I told you, I’m tired.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Eii! Useless.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk pushed the slumped and struggling Jeong Hae-Min to the back and turned his attention towards Jeong In-Soo.
“What’s the situation like?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Are you here to support us? Where are the others?” (Jeong In-Soo)
“It’s me alone.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Alone….” (Jeong In-Soo)
Jeong In-Soo recalled Yi Ji-Hyuk displaying his god-like powers, and nodded his head in acceptance. If it was him, then it’d be better than the entirety of NDF’s forces showing up here.
“I’m sure you’ve reacted accordingly to the situation until now, but still, make sure to stay mindful of whatever happens. Jumping in willy-nilly will get people hurt.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Understood.” (Jeong In-Soo)
Yi Ji-Hyuk was thinking of ending this real quickly and return to the island. And just as he thought of this, the Gate began emitting bright light and began opening up.
“Oh, nice timing.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
So, time to quickly….
“Huh?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s expression froze up stiff as soon as he clapped his eyes on the lifeform walking out of the Gate.
That…. why the hell is that thing appearing here?!
Just what the f*ck is going on?! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
As if there was an earthquake happening right now, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes shook very, very hard.
< 78. Anyone unwilling to train? -3 > Fin.
(TL: I’ve made a bit of hash of myself – I used to place at the end of every chapter how much left until the sponsored chapter goal is met, but have been forgetting to do that ever since I started the Returner….)
(TL: Well, anyways, the remaining amount to the next sponsored chapter is $25.)