‘Is there nothing I can do?’ Jeong-woo had asked himself over and over while he was still in the pocket watch. He felt guilty that he hadn’t been any help to his brother at all, from the uprising in Tartarus and Hades’ death to Mother Earth’s pursuit and the escape to the stage.
No matter how much he wanted to do something, he was just a soul without a physical body. Allforone’s appearance made him feel an even greater sense of powerlessness. It was the same emotion he’d felt when he closed his eyes a long time ago, the same emotion he’d felt over and over in the endless cycle of the special benefit, and the same emotion he never wanted to feel again. And yet here he was, overwhelmed by this wretched feeling once more.
Even at this point, couldn’t he help his brother? Just as Jeong-woo was berating himself, Allforone’s words echoed in his mind once more: 『Even with your misaligned luck and short fate, you roamed around and around in the skies. I see you’ve cobbled together a likeness in the end.』
At that moment, Jeong-woo’s eyes widened. Allforone had accurately described his situation. At first, he was shocked that his suspicions hadn’t been unfounded after all, but most of all, he was glad that he now had a solution. ‘Let’s do it.’
Jeong-woo quickly began to map out a plan in his head. Then, he asked his old friend for help. ‘Mirne.’
Fortunately, his friend nodded. 『Ex-Master, I’ll follow you anywhere you go.』
『You don’t need to say that.』 Nemesis said with a light chuckle. 『Friends aren’t supposed to thank each other.』
Jeong-woo grinned in gratitude. ‘You’re still as cringey and sentimental as ever, hm?’
As he watched Nemesis move, Jeong-woo managed to grasp his sword again.
* * *
“Cha Jeong-woo!!!” He heard his brother calling him from behind, but his voice soon faded away with the distance. Jeong-woo couldn’t help smiling. His brother was as much of a worrywart as ever. It wasn’t like he was going off to die. “I’m already dead, so how can I die again? Right, Mirne?”
Nemesis had transformed into a Mythical Dragon with golden scales instead of black by now. Since he was an entity who lived in dreams and nothingness, he could easily change his appearance. At the moment, he had resumed his appearance as Mirne as a kind of memorial. Both he and Jeong-woo felt as though they’d returned to the past.
Fifteen years ago, when they clashed against the mighty enemy of the Tower, they had only each other to rely on. They’d developed a special understanding that allowed them to read each other’s thoughts with just a glance, and even now, things hadn’t changed.
Jeong-woo was speechless.
Jeong-woo looked at Nemesis with a flabbergasted expression and shook his head. He could hear Nemesis laugh. “I’m sorry for involving you in this danger.” He felt sincerely apologetic that Nemesis might be walking a path to his death once more. And just as before, this was all because of Jeong-woo.
『Don’t be foolish. I’m doing it because I want to. Even though I call you brothers “Master”, I have free will, and this is my choice.』Nemesis brushed off Jeong-woo’s apology with a solemn face. 『I waited a long time for you. Now that I’ve met you again and have the chance to stand next to you once more, it’s the path that I wish to choose. Apologizing for that is just mocking me.』
Jeong-woo stared at Nemesis. “Mirne.”
『Hmph. You don’t have you be moved.』
“Can’t you do something about that sentimentality?”
Nemesis couldn’t reply.
『Can I bite off your head?』
“Request rejected. I kinda have a lot I haven’t done yet.” He turned around with a smirk. “OK, anyway…”
『Let’s begin.』 As he nodded, Nemesis steadily melted into nothingness. Space opened and a Void began to descend, spilling out like black ink.
The world around Jeong-woo slowly changed as the dreaming world and the real world began to overlap with each other. This was an ability derived from Brahm’s research on illusory worlds, making it possible to affect reality to a certain degree.
The slowed world returned to normal, and Jeong-woo felt the pressure of a gigantic hand on him. It was Allforone’s move to crush Yeon-woo and steal the throne of the Underworld.
Jeong-woo blocked him and swung Dragon Slayer in a large circle. The white blade exploded with a blinding light that split through space and cut Allforone’s hand.
〈Wave of Light〉
Heaven Wing’s signature skill spread across the sky, dispelling the auroras Allforone was radiating. The lightning didn't stop there and continued to expand like a net, causing the fog that made up Allforone’s body to shake.
Boom. Rumble. The aftershocks were so strong that it seemed the world itself would collapse. No one had ever managed to successfully challenge Allforone before, and it was a stunning attack, the first one to ever block Allforone and even retaliate. The sixth-place high ranker Heaven Wing had returned to his former glory.
Creak. Was this from his incomplete recovery? Jeong-woo tilted his head to the side and rotated his arm as he heard the sounds coming from inside his body. The soul power his body was composed of flickered for a brief moment before returning to normal. “I wanted to use my sword again after such a long time. Why can’t I control my power?”
『Aren’t you being too hard on yourself?』
“It’s fine, it’s fine. I’ve been sleeping and resting for so long. I do have a conscience, and I have to earn my meals. I can’t always live off of my brother like the neighborhood bum, right?” Even though Jeong-woo spoke jokingly and smiled, his eyes were trained on Allforone.
Rumble. The Wave of Light continued to push away the auroras around Allforone. Ashy fog returned to fill up the area that had been thrust back, but Jeong-woo had already managed to quickly glimpse a faint object beyond it: the core. It was the location of Allforone’s body.
Now that he knew where it was, he couldn’t waste any more time. Jeong-woo’s Sky Wings unfurled more widely than ever, and he released the magic he’d memorized while still inside the pocket watch.
Countless magic squares spread out from him, filling up the sky until there were no gaps left between the squares. The magical attack on Allforone began.
Pew! Pew! Pew! The attack ripped through Allforone’s fog relentlessly. With each strike, the fog dissipated and then reappeared again, exploding into a lump of light. The laws of the stage moved along them as a new command was written in the in laws: “Eliminate Cha Jeong-woo.”
The command was a powerful restriction on Shanon, Kahn, and the others, who had no choice but to follow it. However, for Jeong-woo, who had been close to exuviation, it was only a small discomfort that wasn’t enough to restrict him completely.
Moreover, as Jeong-woo was a cherished successor to the ancient dragon Kalatus, he had some authority to interfere in the laws, as well. Even though it might not be enough to completely defeat Allforone, he could push away any attempts to harm him, at least.
Boom! And so, Jeong-woo managed to dart through the sky, and with every stroke of his sword, he split the fog and destroyed auroras. Tentacles reached out to him but were torn up by Random Shooting before fading away.
Jeong-woo felt an odd sense of deja vu. ‘This is just like…how it was back then.’ He remembered how desperately he’d fought to get through Red Dragon’s net to the seventy-seventh floor. ‘Now I feel disgusted thinking about it.’ His eyes sharp, Jeong-woo slashed with Dragon Slayer one more time.
Boom. The ashy fog split apart, and Jeong-woo soon reached its center.
『Not bad.』 However, the core where there should have been a person was empty. He could only see a round barrier around a vacant space. The twisted space refracted and it seemed to briefly reveal a humanoid shape, but Jeong-woo couldn’t catch anything with his Draconic Eyes.
He’d entered an illusory world that had been created with Allforone’s mind power from the seventy-seventh floor. Allforone could easily view any floor with his Thousand Li Eyes. Because he was so strong, he could not only make the stage shake with just a projection of his mind power, but also could create an illusory world where he could materialize physical laws.
It was an unbelievable ability, considering how much difficulty Brahm had experienced creating an illusory world using all kinds of magic circles and alchemy. The voice was coming from the empty core. 『So, you managed to reach this place. Well, you were like this in the past, too. Regardless of the trial or obstacle you faced, you were able to overcome it. I liked you because you’re so different from someone who is bound to destiny like me.』
Although Allforone spoke in a bright voice, Jeong-woo’s face was hard. He tilted his head to the left and grumbled., 『Sheesh, can you stop talking like a geezer?』
『A geezer. Makes sense. You’re not wrong.』 Allforone laughed cheerfully. The clear barrier shook, and he spoke again. 『I doubt that you came here to try to convince me. Do you have a plan to stop me?』
『I’m not sure, but I think I do.』 Jeong-woo felt like someone was looking him up and down.
『With your strength?』 The voice was curious but not condescending. Allforone had annihilated the Draconic species and was a wall that even the Martial King and the Summer Queen couldn’t breach. No matter how much Jeong-woo manifested his power as Heaven Wing, there was no way he could defeat Allforone.
『Your words gave me a clue.』
『Yes, you said that I’m a likeness.』
For a moment, Allforone was silent, then his voice seemed to be filled with ruefulness. 『Do you understand what that means?』
Flutter. The particles of Jeong-woo’s spiritual body began to scatter, each tiny piece turning into a letter. Then, the letters connected themselves into sentences that looked like strands of string. They were the words he’d written in the diary. The sentences turned into paragraphs and began to invade Allforone’s illusory world.
The diary contained countless layers of vestiges from the endless special benefits, which made it powerful enough to threaten Allforone’s illusory world. Also, its existence contained a strong will—Jeong-woo’s will. 『Of course, I know I’m made of vestiges.』
* * *
“Shit!” Yeon-woo cursed, clenching his teeth. Rumble. The sky trembled. The stage was still in tumult, which meant that after Jeong-woo had entered the fog, he must have continued battling Allforone. Thoughts crowded Yeon-woo’s mind.
How would Jeong-woo deal with Allforone with that body? Even if he had stockpiled a lot of soul power in the pocket watch, it would be used up quickly. Furthermore, Jeong-woo still needed to recuperate, and if he grew close to total depletion, Yeon-woo wouldn’t be able to hide the secret anymore.
What kind of expression would he make once he found out? Yeon-woo couldn’t imagine how shocked he’d be. He needed to stop him. However, the Channel was still blocked and didn’t budge no matter how much he struggled. His Regeneration skill was working with the power of the Philosopher’s Stone, but he still hadn’t recovered enough to move.
Was there any other way? He tried to think of who might be able to help and rescue Jeong-woo, but no one came to mind. Would he really be defeated by Allforone like this?
Yeon-woo’s mind was desperately searching for an answer when the Cast of the Black King trembled, as if laughing at Yeon-woo’s idiocy.
『Fool.』 A voice said in his mind. It was the Demonism. 『I thought you were finally growing a little more useful now, but is this all you amount to? You’re still lacking. You have the vessel; why is this all you can do?』 A mocking laugh floated out. 『Oh well. I’ll show you how to use strength.』
At that moment, with the feeling of a vast darkness rolled up to his neck, cutting Yeon-woo’s consciousness off. “Keekeekee.” There was a faint sound of laughter.Previous Chapter Next Chapter