『Hyung, what…?』 As he fell from the sky into his brother’s arms, Jeong-woo couldn’t keep his wits together. He had no idea what was going on. How could the dog-tired guy in a desperate condition pierce through the illusory world with his strength?
Why was he calling out Faust, the legendary great mage who had stood against Allforone a long time ago? Why had the body of the Summer Queen, who had died so miserably, appeared? The sky that he’d just departed was now filled by a dragon who was dozens of meters in size.
Although it was a Bone Dragon stained with demonic energy, it emanated Dragon Fear like a living dragon, as though it were the only thing that could exist in the world. The dragon roared, flapping its skeletal wings and making the atmosphere shake.
Jeong-woo had observed Yeon-woo’s subspace multiple times, so he’d seen the Bone Dragon before. However, the dragon in the sky was vastly different. It was stronger and fiercer, and the energy of its Dragon Fear was strangely familiar.
‘No way…’ Jeong-woo’s eyes widened. “Ismenios?”
Just then, the Bone Dragon’s thoughts were delivered to Yeon-woo and Jeong-woo. 「This is the only time I will help you, since that guy is someone I want to get rid of.」 The sunken eye sockets of the Bone Dragon simmered with purple light, displaying her deep rage towards Allforone.
It was a fury that was directed towards a being that had hunted down her species and stood unsurpassed through the thousands of years of her existence. With her power, she absorbed the stage as her domain, and the laws floated around as different magic attacks poured down on Allforone.
Each magic attack had outstanding force, exploding with intense heat and firepower. It was a strength that matched the one she’d demonstrated at her peak when she was still alive. The purple light near her uvula appeared to have the Soulstone’s energy, and it glowed instead of her Dragon Heart.
‘It really is her.’ Jeong-woo stared at the Bone Dragon in disbelief. He never imagined that the arrogant being who ruled at the top of the Tower her entire life would appear in that state.
The Bone Dragon had been created out of her own corpse, and yet not only had she descended, she’d even responded to the call of her killer. From what Jeong-woo knew of her, she would rather have a glorious death over such dishonor. Also, she had particularly detested him when he was still alive even though they had once been close, and he tried to untie the knot in her heart. Despite that, he still couldn’t understand why she was helping him.
The Bone Dragon turned to Jeong-woo. Had she felt Jeong-woo’s curious gaze? 「Back then, why did you…」 Her thoughts faded away, and the Bone Dragon stared at Jeong-woo for a while. All kinds of emotions flashed on her face, but she didn’t say anything. Then, she turned her large head to Allforone and flew up in the sky.
The Bone Dragon immediately arrived before Allforone in an instant. Thick magic power gathered in her mouth, and Breath gushed out. Boom! Rumble! Countless explosions blasted within Allforone’s fog, and Faust’s Inferno Sights pushed the darkness as they began to creep up on Allforone.
Tap! Jeong-woo looked blankly at the scene, only regaining his senses as he landed on the ground. He looked at the entity who looked like Yeon-woo. In Jeong-woo’s eyes, he was still his brother. Jeong-woo knew Yeon-woo had merged with something powerful, but his brother still felt the same about him.
Jeong-woo only felt…terribly sorry. His brother had been so desperate to find him, but even after his long search, he’d only found a copy. Jeong-woo was about to say something when Yeon-woo suddenly struck the back of his head. Smack!
Jeong-woo’s voice rose despite himself. 『The hell! What are you doing?!』
“If you do something useless like this one more time I’m really going to beat you up.”
『But I’m not…!』
『Dammit! That hurts!』
“I’m hitting you, that’s why it hurts.”
『Stop!』 Jeong-woo wrapped his hands around his head at the pain. He didn’t know what Yeon-woo had eaten to become this strong, but his head felt like it was about to fall off. Yeon-woo’s eyes looked impassive. “Does it hurt?”
“Why are you saying you’re not real?”
Yeon-woo’s words were so completely unexpected that Jeong-woo’s eyes widened. Yeon-woo said in a low voice, “You speak the same way, think the same way, and hurt the same way. You share memories with me and regret the past, too. So let me ask this.”
Jeong-woo thought Yeon-woo’s glowing purple eyes looked sadder than usual.
“Are you real?”
『What, you wanna discuss all that philosophy we learned in high school again? Existentialism, that stuff?』
“Call it whatever you want. But keep this in mind.” Yeon-woo stretched his hand out towards Jeong-woo’s head. Jeong-woo instinctively flinched, but…his brother only patted his head gently. “You’re my brother, no matter what anyone says. You’re my nice but stupid brother who worked harder than anyone else to save our mother, looked for me desperately, and waited for me.”
Jeong-woo couldn’t speak.
“So don’t think of going anywhere.” Yeon-woo walked past Jeong-woo. He was going to join the battle with the Summer Queen and Boo/Faust.
Jeong-woo stood still for a while, not looking at Yeon-woo. 『Who’s he calling stupid?』 Tears dripped from his face as he grumbled. 『Why is he acting all high and mighty?』 His shoulders dropped as his head bowed. 『Fuck.』 He hugged his fading body, which continued leaking letters. Spark. His body was falling apart.
* * *
Plod. Plod. The thing that looked like Yeon-woo walked slowly. His eyes were fixed on Boo/Faust, the Summer Queen, and Allforone in the sky.
Rumble. Crash. Boom. The battle was so extreme that it seemed as though the stage would be crushed. The Bone Dragon’s scarlet Breath of the Bone Dragon turned the sky red, and heat waves shimmered in the air. The ground turned into a barren wasteland that couldn’t even support a single second of life.
Boo/Faust gathered fire in his right hand. The Hell Fire that he preferred to use when he was alive uncurled and columns of fire shot up from the ground, reaching dozens of meters in the air. Clumps of fire fell like rain due to Meteor Striker.
His left hand, which ruled death, pointed at the ground, releasing the thousands of souls in Yeon-woo’s Soul Collection. They began eating away at the fog. Those who gorged themselves too much either exploded or else merged with other souls to grow in size.
Flames danced on the ground, souls wandered, and darkness fell from the sky. It was a horrifying sight that seemed to be straight out of the hell in legends.
Allforone tried to stop them with the power that could force the laws of the stage to change, but their resistance only grew fiercer. The High Guardians looked on, far from the battlefield, and sighed. They had already suffered during the incidents of the twenty-third floor. This was like déjà vu for them.
Furthermore, many players had gotten caught up in the damage to the stage and were in danger. Their list of problems went on and on. But the source of the problems, the entity that looked like Yeon-woo, acted as though it weren’t a big deal at all.
Pieces of the Ruyi Bang slowly floated out and danced around him with every step he took. Flash! Sparks flew between the pieces and Yeon-woo. The sparks grew as more pieces appeared and the more violently they danced.
It was clear that the Ruyi Bang pieces were rejecting Yeon-woo. Something in Yeon-woo repelled the divine iron of the Ruyi Bang. However, the entity similar to Yeon-woo continued to pull the pieces into darkness, knowing full well that he risked being sealed in the Ruyi Bang.
His skin tingled in an annoying manner, but his eyes remained locked on Allforone. The residual ego’s nagging wish was to escape. Since it wasn’t something as difficult like resurrection or rescue, the entity didn’t mind granting it. He left the main ego the task of seeing it through against a single opponent: Allforone.
As he stayed inside Yeon-woo, he had loathed even just the sound of the name. He wanted to see if Allforone still lived up to his past abilities. “Although there are limits to this body,” the corner of Yeon-woo’s lips rose, “it’ll be fun since I have the throne. Keekeekee!”
With his strange laugh, the entity that looked like Yeon-woo extended his hand towards Allforone. Clink. The chains on Yeon-woo’s right arm, the Despair of the Black King, made a sound.
Clatter. The chains began to unwind like bandages. It was the first release of the divine iron, and the Ruyi Bang pieces harmonized with the chains. “Extend, Ruyi.”
At the command, the Ruyi Bang pieces glowed with light and began to connect to the long chains. Clank. Clank. The chains grew longer until one end was sucked into a different dimension.
Urng! Six points of nothingness burst open in the fog between the Bone Dragon and Boo/Faust, and the chains popped out of each one. Clatter. The chains moved quickly to dig into the fog.
The Illusory world was already damaged by Jeong-woo’s letters, and the attack of the Bone Dragon and Boo/Faust weakened it to the point of cracking. Since divine iron could invalidate all laws, the illusory world shattered. Crash! However, the chains only dug in deeper, reaching to the core and clattering as they wrapped around something in the empty space.
“Gotcha, you rat.” Yeon-woo smiled like a fisherman who had caught a big haul. He pulled the chains in his right hand. The chain suddenly tensed in mid-air, as though they would snap. Then, it was quickly sucked into the nothingness to force itself on Allforone’s mind power.
Allforone tried to resist, but accompanied by the sound of tearing space, his mind power was flicked out of the illusory world. The ashy fog and auroras cleaved across the sky without a core to stabilize them. As powerful shockwaves pulsed out, Allforone’s fallen mind power slowly took on a human form and landed on the ground.
Because of his long hair, which fell past the hips, it was hard to tell what Allforone’s appearance or gender was. However, his appearance befitted someone who wasn’t known to many. A heavy fog floated up from below to cover Allforone’s body.
The Bone Dragon spewed out a condensed Breath with incomparable power, planning to blow Allforone away. A fiery tornado crushed Allforone’s mind power.
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