Chapter 24

Biyeon twisted her lips before speaking, “It must represent reproduction and evolution. Then, that vertical column would be an object related to reproduction, right? I’m almost certain.”

“Is it manmade?”

“It’s very likely, though I don’t understand the stylistic taste of the creator.”

“Anyway, that’s the last unexplored place. It looks really difficult to approach.”

There were sparse reef-like rocks rising above the surface of the lake, but it seems impossible to access for living beings unless a bridge was specifically built.

San looked up at the towering pillar. He estimated that it was at least 1,000 meters tall.

“The top is probably more dangerous, right? Do you think something is at the top?”

“I don’t know. Nill and Null might be there, or it could be that little shit called Master?”

“At least we know the problem. We can think of the solution from now on,” Biyeon replied.

San got up and brushed his clothes. Biyeon’s attitude in these situations… he really liked it.

“Do you think you can solve it?”

He laughed as he watched Biyeon.

“I don’t know. But I won’t give up,” she replied carefully.

“Just give up…” the Hawk said in earnest, with his hands behind his back.

The two held hands and turned around.

The Hawk, with a black eye, followed behind.

The sun was magnificently setting behind them.

***

Both chose what kind of life to live. Decisions were easily made but hard to keep.

In all ‘choices’ there are ‘alternatives’ and ‘challenges’ that follow. There had been countless temptations up to now. In particular, the nectar’s temptation was exceptionally hard to overcome.

Water of life. It was the most fantastic drink in the world. Moreover, they couldn’t avoid using it anymore. It shouldn’t not be overly indulged but must be used often. They had to find the right balance between using it effectively versus getting addicted.

The next temptation was about death and resurrection. The fact that even if one died, one can revive. This rule in itself dropped the value of one’s life to virtually nothing.

Moreover, the Hawk had mentioned that they could gain combat power after their resurrection, which made them think that their lives truly were ‘cheap’.

Lastly, the final challenge was the most severe. The fact that the two made up a ‘common destiny’. If only one of the two died, their firm determination and covenant toward a goal would instantly crumble.

It meant that they couldn’t only look out for themselves, as individuals. The summoned had two choices: Dominate the other or negotiate and come to an understanding. If not…

The two had overcome countless life-threatening situations, confirming each other’s capabilities and commitment to their joint aspirations. Fortunately, they had reached an agreement.

They decided to traverse the most difficult path together. This choice was clearly irrational and stupid. At least, it was in this weird world…

‘To survive somehow’

‘To choose how one survives or dies’

‘To trust each other.’

In short, the two chose lives as painful masters of their fate rather than as comfortable slaves.

San declared to himself,

‘Has anyone calculated each step of their life and continued only when they felt it was worth living? It’s funny to say that one has to live for some great value and higher purpose. Freedom, existence, self-respect, patriotism… Someone is going to teach me how important this is? Just spend three days in this fuckin world. I’ll bet 10 won that it’ll all sound like dribble in the end. The important thing is that I need to make a choice, and that choice needs to be made right now. After choosing once? Choose again. With my own free will, not from others’. That’s the most important part. Even if I make the stupidest choice...’

Biyeon also declared to herself,

‘Life in this world, whatever you call it, is a game. Or it can’t be distinguished from a game. Whether this journey of ‘life’ is a 100-year-old super-long adventure game or a battle fighting game that is thrilling and breaks down in 30 seconds, what’s the point of arguing in this situation? Of course, one may fail to complete a mission, or one may die early in this game. Why feel that it’s unfair? We chose. And I respect that choice. What more does one need?'

The one thing they decided to keep in this world was an ‘item’ called ‘life’, supposedly the cheapest thing around. What they wanted back was their ‘right’ as humans.

Their decision was unpretentious.

There may have been countless similar attempts in this old space. Their current actions and behavior may be within the range of variables and planning allowed by the experimenter.

Maybe they were playing around in the palm of a god’s hand…

However, they decided to never give up on freedom, liberation, and their painful progress towards an independent life.

So today and tomorrow, they would struggle. They coined their own saying for this seemingly never-ending process, ‘Operation’.

Unfortunately for the enemies, these two summoned were different. They were too stubborn to compromise, too cunning to condemn, too foolhardy in their aspirations to quit, to trusting and caring for each other.

And above all...

They were getting stronger. Their strong will and noble beliefs allowed them to reinterpret the world as something warm and worth living in.

There may come a time when all those who are wise and rule over the world will come to regret what was happening now.

Also, even in this space, possibly the greatest of all the universes, it may be too late to stop them now. It may have been too late from the beginning.

They were the ones who were able to become strong without revealing their strength. They were the ones who found joy in despair. Soon, they may become the true ‘natural enemy’ to all the noble beings in this world. One must wait and see…

Episode 1. Book 3: Escape – Chapter 6

It’s been 9 months. They were still alive.

***

Her black hair flowed through his fingers. The man’s somewhat soft, whitish hand swept her hair above her ears.

His touch was soft and delicate. She felt dizzy every time his touch passed her earlobe and lips. She felt a strange sense of excitement whenever his touch brushed her chest, though she feigned ignorance.

With her head on the man’s knees, she stared up at his face with her black eyes half open. Although she couldn’t quite place it, as if it was unfocused, she could feel another set of eyes observing her.

‘This is boring-’

Nil’s thought popped up in Null’s mind. He felt a cool yet sharp feeling, like eating peppermint candy for the first time.

‘I agree-’

Null nodded. It was really not fun. This pairing of San and Biyeon were truly boring to observe…

‘Will they survive the second act?’

‘Maybe- not-’

‘Probably not, right?’

‘Why did the Master choose them?’

‘I don’t know. Out of curiosity? Anyway, I’m sure they’re peculiar in their own way.’

‘Right? I really can’t understand. Something like this…

Nil, while lying on Null’s knees, spread her arms wide open to wrap her hands around his neck. He slowly curved his neck and back downwards to greet the woman who was gently pulling herself closer to him. Her soft breathes and panting noises were kept isolated within this shared workspace.

‘It’s this good… why aren’t they doing it?’

***

San was having a staring contest with the Hawk. Biyeon was leaning against the pit wall while writing something down. Suddenly, the Hawk tilted its head.

The inside of the dark pit was slowly getting brighter. The Hawk’s keen eyes saw a subtle light shining from the two bodies.

The Hawk felt a sense of dignity from the light emanating from their bodies. San suddenly raised his head.

“Uhm, because it’s my decision?” Biyeon shook her head and screamed quietly.

“Questioning us… have you guys done anything for us?”

Though he was looking at them, the Hawk couldn’t understand what was going on with these two humans. San smiled, rolled up his thumb and index finger, and sent Biyeon an okay sign. He then started making various movements. It was like the movement players made in baseball to secretly communicate their plays. San was the first to signal,

[Did you hear it?]

[It’s a success. I definitely heard it.]

[Now eavesdropping on them is successful. How much salt?]

[About one teaspoon.]

[What’s the estimated distance?]

[The estimated distance is about 3 km upwards.]

[Add this to the list of what we can now do.]

[Now we can properly conduct our Operation.]

[Do you think we can convey our intentions with our thoughts?]

Biyeon glanced at the Hawk.

[That Hawk has the ability to communicate without words. It seems like he can communicate with other animals through thought. If we can hear it, I’m fairly certain we can also use it to speak non-verbally. We’ll have to practice. First off, we’ll need to try and communicate non-verbally between ourselves.

The Hawk raised his head and turned side to side, watching what the two were doing. Then, looking at Biyeon, he brought his finger up to his head and started drawing circles next to his ear.

Biyeon smiled at the Hawk. The Hawk flinched. For some reason, goosebumps started popping up on its back.

San and Biyeon had bright expressions. They seemed more relaxed. Eventually, they found the path they wanted.

Of course, it was a result obtained by staking their lives as collateral, not to mention the long period of arduous battles and painful experiences they had to overcome to this point.

The two would never forget the feeling they felt at this moment. In the language of their captors, San and Biyeon had reached ‘Awakening’.

It was just before dawn. The bamboo trees were bumping into each other as the wind blew. The mysterious atmosphere of dawn brought them a renewed, fresh feeling.

Though they were trapped on all four sides, one place had slightly opened, so it wasn’t as stuffy and stifling a space as before. It was as if they could make out a sliver of light from the outside.

They were at the space that they designated as their secret training center. It was created inside the bamboo forest by making a pathway through the dense bamboo trees.

They used this space whenever they had to hide from beasts or secretly conduct an experiment.

The two sat cross-legged and looked at each other. They put their knees together, palms against each other, and smiled while staring into each other’s eyes.

The fresh morning breeze gently brushed Biyeon’s hair. As the bamboo leaves fell and swirled around the two, one could, when observing this scene, come to fully understand the relaxing and mysterious nature of the Asian Dao.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter