Chapter 168 - Crockta (1)

Chapter 168 - Crockta (1)


He looked down at his hands, human hands. Crockta had returned to being Ian.

Ian raised his head. The space looked like it did before. The white ash which covered the world, the dark blue sky, and the white dwarfs floating in the sky...

And her.

“What is happening?” Ian asked. It was a weary voice. “Why have you appeared again?”

“That looks like a bad expression.”

“Would you prefer this?”

Ian looked at her. All of these things were due to her. She had created Elder Lord and caused the massacre of countless people without feeling guilty. Now, even his companions would die. The grey god’s power, which he had received, revealed such disturbing deaths that he couldn’t even open his eyes.

She grinned. “You are always eager, Crockta.”

“Hurry up and stop the war.”

“Why should I?”

“This is your world.”

“That’s right.”

She waved her hand. Then the dark night sky and dim stars disappeared, revealing the landscape of the continent. Katalu appeared. The citizens were ready to fight, and everyone was busy. Then the view moved. The imperial army had reached the plains. Troops had been recruited, and the emperor sent additional knights.

It was a huge army. Once they marched over, Katalu would disappear from this world...

Just like the deaths he saw.

“Do you like the Grey God's Eyes?”

“It is awful.”

“That’s right.”

The field of view moved to the sky. Once again, it was the sky over Katalu. The Grey God’s Eyes’ view overlapped over the scenery of Katalu, and Ian jumped. The mark of death appeared again on all life in Katalu. There was nothing left. The enemies would advance tomorrow, and they would all die. Without knowing their fate, the citizens were desperately preparing for battle.

“Awful.” She grabbed some ash from the ground and threw it into the air. “I hope that they all die in this war because it is so awful.”

Ian closed his eyes. In the end, she wished for Katalu’s destruction. She, the grey god, was still playing her game. What were her intentions, and what was her final goal? He couldn’t figure it out.

“I don't know what your intentions are, but I can’t tolerate the killing of those I can save.”

“Huhu, really?” She laughed.

The landscape of the continent was erased... And the black night and ashy world was brought back. There were dimly lit stars, and the wind scattered the white ash. The grey god’s appearance changed slowly.

The little girl transformed into an adult. After becoming an adult, her hair looked brilliant, like the sky at dawn. Then she opened her mouth.

‘Child.’ She spoke to Ian in the voice of a god. ‘A child who is afraid to see numerous deaths.’

The world changed. Everything was erased. There was no ash or the sky. It was just darkness. The two of them faced each other. She was the only thing which shone dimly in this pitch black darkness.

‘Look.’

In front of Ian, the appearance of Katalu rose up again. It was the landscape of Katalu which he’d seen while shaking hands with Guardi. Everyone’s deaths were reflected in his eyes. The whole city was covered in death. No one would survive. The countdown of their lives decreased and gradually rushed towards the tragedy.

At that moment, he could see their deaths with a greater force. When he looked at laughing children, he saw their dead bodies. A praying soldier would end up beheaded. Instead of the scent of flowers, the scent of rotten flesh and internal organs flowed through the city. He saw burning ruins instead of a beautiful temple, and a dead look overlay smiling expressions.

The lively city was ruined. He witnessed the end of everything in sight.

Nausea rose up inside him.

‘This is what I see.’

Ian wanted to close his eyes, but he couldn’t. Katalu’s tragedy poured onto him. It was an irreversible inevitability. They would die. Everyone would die. Inevitable death was surrounding them. He couldn't stop it with his strength.

‘I always see death. Life is a process of convergence towards death. So, I want to save everyone.’

Ian gritted his teeth. This sounded somewhat plausible. As nobody could be saved, it was better to attach a legitimate reason to their deaths.

‘Run away.’ Crockta looked at her. ‘I care about you. Your job is done. Hurry and escape. If you run away, you will be safe. Your death doesn’t belong to this place.’

It was a soft voice. She came up to Crockta and whispered in his ears. The sweet words teased at his mind.

‘There is no need to always take the hard path. I don’t blame you for sometimes being comfortable.’

Yes. Ian closed his eyes. He had always walked the hard path. For a long time, he had never been comfortable. So the hardships felt more comfortable for him.

‘It isn’t the time for you to die.’

Ian wanted to ask her more. He prepared to open his mouth. However, when he opened his eyes again... Crockta was alone in his room. She had returned him from her grey world.

“I wish it was just a dream.”

He moved his eyes. Crockta looked out the window. The bird’s death was still far away. The bird seemed free and easy. With their wings, a bird could go anywhere they wanted. There were no responsibilities; they just followed the wind.

He leaned against his greatsword. His face was vaguely reflected in it. He was Crockta, the orc warrior with green skin. There was no death above his head. He couldn’t see his own death. However, the grey god said that his death wasn’t in this place.

‘I don’t blame you for sometimes being comfortable.’

Thus far, he had been carrying the burden of others. Crockta didn’t need to suffer through all the deaths here. He had tried hard enough. Nobody would blame him for throwing in the towel in the face of such a hopeless fight.

‘Be comfortable.’

Like others, he could just think of Elder Lord as a game.

He could leave Katula and travel Elder Lord. He was a ranker, so he could live comfortably with his sister in real life. He would laugh with Han Yeori and Yoo Sooyeon while operating the cafe, attend Yiyu’s graduation, occasionally drink coffee with Ji Hayeon and exercise with Baek Hanho.

Then he might meet a lover who would be with him for the rest of his life. It was a life of old age that he had never imagined. He imagined scenes he had never allowed himself to before. He was an old man with his children and grandchildren around him.

Kuuong.

Crockta heard a sudden sound and looked at its source.

Degururu.

A black steel helmet was rolling. It had a rough appearance which cleared away all the sweet thoughts. Crockta grabbed it. There were cuts and scratches all over due to its long history. He swept a hand over the helmet’s rough surface. The battle scars remained. The memories of a warrior were present in every scar engraved on the helmet.

***

“Crockta, you didn’t come to eat dot!” After finishing his meal, Tiyo opened Crockta’s door and cried out. At that moment, the wind blew and messed up his hair.

“Eh?”

There was no one in the room. The window was open, and the wind was blowing. He didn’t see a big orc warrior sitting on the bed, wiping his greatsword.

“Hrmm?”

Tiyo stepped into the room and looked around. There was no sign of him. The backpack that Crockta normally carried was still leaning on the side of the bed.

“What dot?”

While eating the meal, he had wondered where the orc was. Surely Crockta wouldn’t skip a meal? It couldn’t be.

“This bastard, did he find a hidden restaurant dot?” He must’ve found an incredibly delicious restaurant and hidden it from them. It was obvious that Crockta had gone to eat alone. “I’ll have to question him dot.”

Tiyo sat down on the bed. It was fluffy. He bounced up and down before suddenly looking at the window. A crow was sitting on the windowsill and staring at him. Its eyes were irreverent. Tiyo stared at it. The gnome and bird started a staring contest.

Then the crow made a ridiculing sound and flew away from the window.

“What a bad guy dot.”

Tiyo rose from his spot. Anyway, there was no Crockta.

***

The screen opened and flashed. The screens which decorated the streets and buildings all suddenly changed channels. People on the streets were puzzled because they didn’t know what was going on.

The channel name appeared in the upper right corner of the screen. It was the Undergames channel. At that moment, the passersby had a hunch about the contents. The commentators’ and host’s faces soon appeared, and their expressions were stiff.

It looked like they were in a hurry as they looked at the camera and opened their mouths.

-Breaking news.

***

Crockta moved away from Katalu. The outline of Katalu was now far away. His chest tightened with every step he took towards the horizon.

His death didn’t belong to this place. The grey god’s words were correct. There was a path. Every step he took, the deaths he saw changed colour. One step, another step, the fate of the world and its people distorted.

He looked up at the sky. The crows couldn’t be seen.

‘This is your choice?’ Crockta looked in the direction of the voice. The grey god appeared as a translucent figure. He wasn’t surprised. Crockta smiled and continued moving.

‘Fool.’

Crockta placed the greatsword on his shoulder. One sword, that was enough. He started humming. His task was beyond this horizon. His mind felt clearer than ever before. Crockta was a warrior, the best technician in battle. It was better for a skilled worker to do the job. Skilled workers were never nervous. With a calm mind, they would deal with the most important moments like it was an everyday routine.

Crockta’s mind cleared, causing the landscape to become sharp and crisp. Once in awhile, the vivid view before him would blur. His body spontaneously entered the realm of the Pinnacle. He took one step to reach the Hero realm and then returned to the Pinnacle with the next step. He was in top shape.

The grey god spoke again, ‘Go back now.’

Crockta opened his mouth and asked, “Is today still the day I won’t die?”

She didn’t answer. Crockta walked towards his own death. If someone whose fate of not dying could die, it was possible for those fated to die to survive. The Grey God’s Eyes probably showed his scheduled death.

His steps caused a stir in the fate of the world.

‘You are stupid.’ The grey god said. Her expression was one of anger. ‘Yes. You were always like this.’

She waved her hand.

Adults appeared in Crockta’s field of view, a scene of the distant past. On a day when rain was pouring down, he had met a man and a woman. They looked down at Ian and grabbed his hand. He had been told to call them Mother and Father from then on.

‘You were always looking at other people’s feelings and sacrificing yourself for them.’

His adoptive parents seemed to be infertile, but they eventually conceived a child. Ian felt blessed about the attitude of his adoptive parents towards him. So, he gave all the joyful things to the baby and carried everything hard.

‘Always sacrificing yourself. For your little sister, for the parents who neglected you. For your little sister whose parents died when she was young, you plunged into the battlefield and shed blood.’

The endless sound of shelling, the voices of the murderers, the sad days when he had to kill or when he had to send away his companions...

‘You, despite fighting for your sister, went out to rescue your companions and sought the most dangerous missions. That is who you are, Jung Ian. Your conception was the cause of your mother’s despair. Your birth was unwanted, but you persistently survived the drugs that she took while pregnant. In the end, you were abandoned at birth, and now you keep struggling to keep others alive.’

The grey god blocked Crockta’s way.

‘Where do your instincts come from? They come from the selfish gene. In a world where you can’t die, aren’t you just a hypocrite who refuses to adapt to nature? How else do you explain your instincts to not stop in the face of death?’

Crockta went past her. His goal was under the hill.

She whispered from behind Crockta, ‘Run away now.’

Crockta shook his head. The grey god’s face distorted.

‘Okay. Look. You are just a hypocrite.’

At that moment, something flashed. Crockta’s eyes narrowed at the glare. The grey god became more blurred, and an unknown power flowed from her. Then the system messages popped up.

[Disabling the assimilation rate limiter.]

[Your assimilation rate has risen.]

[Your assimilation rate has risen.]

[Your assimilation rate has risen.]

[Your assimilation rate...]

Crockta dismissed the string of message windows. Beyond it, the grey god was staring at him.

[Your assimilation rate is 100%.]

[Full synchronization status.]

[Your safety cannot be guaranteed. Danger.]

[I am warning you.]

[Your assimilation rate is 100%.]

[Full synchronization status.]

[Danger.]


Glossary of Common Korean Terms.

Praise the Orc: Glossary Link. 

Current schedule: There will now be 14 chapters a week, meaning two chapters every day.

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