San also laughed. His laughter was mixed with a scornful chuckle. The two leaned back against their seat’s backrest and looked up at the ceiling without saying another word.
The ceiling made of white ice was reflecting the flickering lights of the bonfire, making the interior seem soft and bright. It seemed like they had returned to the pit when they were first summoned into this world.
‘Ninth Stage… Seven skills…’
Biyeon closed her eyes. Another wall, another barrier. She had now become numb to the struggle. Her body was constantly begging her to give it some rest.
If they broke through a wall, they’d be confronted by another stronger and taller wall. It was a constant succession of walls. This world was like a giant onion. There were constant expectations for results…
“Have you heard of a person named Camus?” Biyeon asked. Her unfocused gaze was still directed towards the round, white ceiling.
“The novelist you talked about earlier?”
“In his novel ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’, he stated that there was only one question that mattered most in life.”
“What did he say?”
“He said suicide is the true moment when one determines if one’s life is worth living.”
“If it’s not worth watching Teletubbies, then one should just off oneself? So, did that crazy bastard commit suicide in the end?”
“Life is worth living then. Or his novel was an expose on how to get away with spewing horse shit. Come to think of it, didn’t you say he wrote a novel called ‘Etranger’?”
“He won a Nobel Prize for that novel.”
“Good for him.”
“He wasn’t that happy. He faced a lot of difficulties in his life. He died in a car accident.”
“Well, I guess it didn’t work out for him. But why are you telling me this? Are you feeling of the same opinion?”
“No. However, I feel that living in this world is like Sisyphus’ situation in the myth. Don’t you feel like we’re pushing a stone that will eventually fall back down again no matter what we do? His struggle was very painful… so painful.”
San turned his head and looked at Biyeon. The absurd graffiti he saw on the pit’s wall when he first came to this world overlaps with the even more absurd cell phone message he received later on. Perhaps he’d feel greater shock in the future. Perhaps he felt just as empty and tired inside as she did…
San took in a deep breath. Cold air rushed into his chest.
He then slowly exhaled. Did he feel any better?
“Well… is that a big deal?”
San scratched the bridge of his nose. It seemed like a somewhat exaggerated gesture.
“What isn’t a big deal?”
Biyeon turned her head toward San. Their eyes met.
“After a day, we always see each other with clean faces, after a month, we get our salary, and every year on our birthday, we have a party. Isn’t that what life is all about? It’s normal for everyday life to be repetitive and somewhat monotonous, isn’t life easier when we simply think of it in this way?”
“But shouldn’t there be a goal in one’s life?”
“It’s just a goal, not something that determines one’s life.”
“When you achieve a goal, one sets the next goal, and when one achieves it, another one is set. What would one do that for? Isn’t it pointless if there’s no end goal? But… there’s no such thing as an ultimate end goal, right?”
“I guess it’s all done for fun. Isn’t that reason enough? What more would be needed?”
Biyeon looked at San with a surprised expression. Fun? Was that the purpose of this desperate life? Wasn’t the amount of struggle too unreasonable? Suddenly, Biyeon felt that all the existential philosophers on Earth would scream at San’s assessment. Could they convince this guy? Suddenly, she felt San’s hand on her cheek. His thumb brushed past her eyes.
His fingertips were glistening with a little bit of water. Through her hazy vision, she saw him smiling. He was a dependable person.
“Are you crying again? I hate it when the bride cries too much.”
Biyeon shook her head. She had no intention of hurting this precious man with trivial philosophical arguments.
Was it worth it to win a verbal argument? Would it momentarily make her feel proud? San didn’t seem to care. His expression was calm yet incredibly serious.
The conversation between the two ended like that. In the end, he was her rock. Biyeon’s heavy heart seemed to lighten a little bit.
Isn’t this life, even if it felt insignificant and sometimes insufferable, worth living? Yes. Biyeon really hated tragedy. Maybe that’s why she avoided the genre.
Biyeon recalled what they saw in Section 27. They saw so many things. Earth in the 21st century. It was a lovely place.
Many scenes came and went. A few scenes caught both of their eyes. The appearance of a harmonious family.
“My family is fine.”
“Mine, too. Man, I didn’t think I’d look so full of life and naughty. My young ones have grown so much, too. The oldest already has acne. It must be a turbulent time for him in that world.”
“Also, your bedroom seemed beautiful. I guess you got married in the meantime?”
“It wouldn’t have hurt to show us your husband’s face.”
They stopped talking. Tears flowed down from their faces. It was brutal to see their previous lives. So much so that they couldn’t watch after a while. It hurt them more than any torture.
If it were scenes that someone intended for them to see, there couldn’t be a more harsh and joyful gift. Even if they tried to look at their previous lives objectively, their faces kept getting seriously distorted, so they couldn’t control their expressions.
They felt thankful yet angry, happy yet sad, and relieved yet disappointed.
A surplus life…
A duplicate life…
Who was playing this prank? What more did that being want from them? Did the being think that the two would be appreciative in seeing themselves, or copies of themselves, living their lives normally on Earth? Did the being want to rile them up?
Anyway, their verification period was over. They couldn’t go back to their previous life. They had been completely estranged from their previous life. One was a stranger to the other. All the pieces of the puzzle were put together. However, what they remembered of their previous lives fell apart like the pieces of a puzzle.
“What are those things?”
Gibin’s mouth dropped open. His surroundings became surprisingly quiet. The atmosphere of those gathered in Porato City’s fortress became tense.
White dust was rolling into the plain that made us the basin between the tall mountains on the left and right of the city. In the overcast sky, something darker than the clouds filled the sky.
The people who were encamped in the fortress swallowed their saliva. They were made up of high-ranking warriors, but a clear sense of fear was spreading on their faces. Everyone was silent about what was happening on the front line.
“It’s more appropriate to describe them as a huge army. They’re organized,” someone muttered.
In the sky, the Avian race beasts and their troops were flocking in, painting the entire sky black. They numbered in the thousands…
Above the flock were dozens of large flying monsters that spread their wings over a span of twenty meters. These large flying monsters seemed to be regurgitating and vomiting out something from their stomachs.
On the plains below, all kinds of monsters and crustacean-like armored monsters moved slowly towards the city. All their sizes varied.
From knee-high Alpins to Algons twice as tall as humans. The large Alchins were lined up in the front, followed by Archons ranging in height from ten to fifteen meters tall. A variety of other monsters also made their appearances: Gorgon, Sickle, Gargoyle, Nagan, and other beasts with thick crustacean-like shells enveloping their bodies.
They seemed to number in the thousands each.
And what everyone feared the most turned out to be true. Humanoid races armed with armor appeared. Behind them, there were also people in shabby clothing.
They were mutated intelligent species called Blood Demons. The number reached several thousand. Among them, there were also those who seemed to be of higher rank. They were riding mutated, carnivorous horses.
“Where did they all come from?”
The legendary Donghwi muttered to Kihoon with a tired face.
“Well, looking at the clothes they’re wearing, they look like people from the northern provinces…”
“Were they all infected by the Blood Demons?”
“It’s very likely. According to the information we received from the imperial courts, Magic Dragon Siluone’s nest is near this area as well.”
Kihoon bit his lip and looked straight ahead.
“Do you think the dragons are directing or controlling them?”
“If they fed them Nectar, it’s not an impossibility.”
“This’ll be a difficult battle. Beings that have been mutated by Nectar are a pain in the ass to deal with…”
“I’d say they’re two or three times stronger than before. Anyway, we’re not weak either. Aren’t the troops gathered here the cream of the crop amongst the clans?”
“I’m not sure if we’ll be able to handle this. Somehow, I think this is just the beginning. We don’t know anything about the Magic Dragons either. We also don’t know how many sages there are. We may have to risk our life this time around.”
“What about the imperial forces support?”
“They’re hoping we can buy them some time. If I had to guess, they’ve probably also come up with some sort of solution. They wouldn’t want Porato City to fall.”
“What’s their goal?”
The sound of thunder rumbled through the valley. The clouds grew thicker, and it soon started raining.
The horrible screams and shouts from the monsters vibrated in the damp and dark ground.
Two lightning bolts from the sky fell on a tree near the fortress’ wall. The tree split and caught fire.
A large rock flew from somewhere and smashed against the fortress’ wall with a boom. Part of the wall broke as dust rose.
In the sky, white lightning flashed continuously, terrifyingly dividing the whole heaven and earth.
The monsters moved. Those on the ground rushed in at an explosive speed, and those in the sky poured down from the sky.
It was a truly spectacular sight to see them swarm towards the fortress’ gates. A black hawk-like Avian being with loaded arrows and its kin descended from the sky all at once.
The first battle between humanity and the foreign monsters began, signifying the start of the larger war.
Confrontation – Chapter 7
“Humans are…” Siluone murmured with a frown on her face. She didn’t seem to be satisfied about something. She was watching the war going on in Porato City.
“That kind of organizational power… they were prepared…”
Siluone’s expression became increasingly serious.
“These humans know the weaknesses of the monsters. They’re also using new weapons and equipment that I’ve never seen before. What is that? What are they using to make the mutated just collapse?”
Siluone’s eyes were losing focus. She was transferring her consciousness to a body that took the form of a humanoid sage like Nakun.
She was leading the battle through her main body. Her cerebrum, which hadn’t been used in a while, was in full operation.
To command all the monsters effectively, she needed to properly multitask with her brain. However, since she had to lead the whole battlefield, she had to read the ongoing battles organically and appropriately react.
She had to monitor if the non-mutated sages would intervene in the battlefield and lead the Magic Dragons sages in battle. Thus, she had to constantly maintain communication with a variety of different groups, which took an exorbitant amount of energy on her part.
“Who was it? Who gave prior information to the human’s imperial family? Gods? Dragons? Or those two?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter