[This is the 36th floor, the gate of Blue Island.]
A number of people poured out of the big blue portal. Kahn and the other members of the party looked completely exhausted. From the battle in Tartarus to Allforone’s appearance, they had faced consecutive large-scale events that most players would probably see once or twice in their lifetimes. They felt dizzy.
But they didn’t have the time to be tired. As soon as they got through the portal, Yeon-woo lost his balance and fell over. Kahn dashed forward and picked Yeon-woo up. It was hard to believe that the limp person in his arms was the one who had just crazily fought Allforone.
Black haze leaked out of Yeon-woo like water. His temperature was so hot, it was as though he were on fire. It was divine fever. Kahn and Brahm tried to heal Yeon-woo with Bian and magic, but the fever only grew worse. It didn’t seem to want to cool down.
Divine fever was the aftereffect of the visitation of a deity. Since it overheated the soul, there were limits to what even Bian could do. Brahm was from the ninety-eighth floor, but that was also why he knew even less about how to treat it.
Just then, a sharp voice came from behind. 「Move, you thick-witted idiots.」
The party turned to the voice and stiffened. The Summer Queen was walking elegantly to them in her human form. Instead of the red hair that had personified her during her life, she now had long, black hair. The Summer Queen narrowed her eyes as she noticed everyone’s guarded expressions. 「I know what you’re thinking in those stupid heads of yours, but that won’t happen, so move. I don’t like it, but I have to help him right now.」
Yeon-woo’s power had summoned the Summer Queen. If something went wrong with him, her chances of resurrection would disappear. Yeon-woo’s companions seemed to think she had a point, so they stepped back, although they continued to be wary. They knew how sly the Summer Queen was.
Even if they were on the same side now, she had to have some resentment toward Yeon-woo, who had pretty much killed her. However, the Summer Queen snorted, unconcerned, and approached Yeon-woo. At that point, someone stopped her. It was Jeong-woo.
The Summer Queen paused. Her surrender as a Bone Dragon was humiliating, but she had accepted it was because she had a lingering attachment to Jeong-woo. 「What is it? Do you still have something to say, Heaven Wing?」
Technically, the Summer Queen was one of Jeong-woo’s greatest enemies. Just as he had taken her Dragon Heart, she had taken his life. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for them to antagonize each other, but Jeong-woo only shook his head and said with a faint smile, 『No. Please take good care of my brother.』
The Summer Queen didn’t speak.
「Hmph. Like I said, I’m one with him even if I don’t like him. So stop getting in the way and move.」 The Summer Queen’s eyes trembled for a moment when Jeong-woo said her name, but she gracefully walked past him. Jeong-woo just watched her. 「Fool. If you want to be someone who can resist me even for a little bit, you should be able to overcome this easily. You still have a long way to go.」 The Summer Queen spread open her hand as she looked at Yeon-woo. Whoosh. Blue light exploded from her palm.
* * *
『I thought the vessel was ready, but the contents are still too weak. There’s nothing to eat.』
Everything was spinning.
『Keekeekeek! You’ll have to work harder. You’re nearing the end of the time I’ve given you.]』
What was he talking about?
『You don’t think that you’re the only one being given this opportunity, right?』
Opportunity? Yeon-woo snapped to attention. He was barely awake after roaming deep in a dark sea. Fragments of memories floated up in his head of uniting with the Demonism, returning Boo/Faust’s memories, turning the Summer Queen into the Bone Dragon, and darkness whirling like fire with a wave of his hand. It felt as though some remained on the tips of his fingers.
It had been him, but also not him. It had been…something great. It was difficult to call it the Demonism anymore. ‘It was like returning to the origin…’
It was as though forgotten memories and egos buried inside an abyss had been pulled up. It was like…the tip of an iceberg. Yeon-woo was merely the part that could be seen on the surface, and the rest was deep in his consciousness. He had only expected the Demonism to pop out and wreak a little havoc, and this feeling was completely unexpected. However, as if it had no intention of satisfying Yeon-woo’s curiosity, the Demonism disappeared after teasing him.
Yeon-woo called it multiple times, but the Demonism didn’t even turn around and just hid itself in the Philosopher’s Stone to sleep. Still, it was a relief that he’d helped them deal with Allforone. Yeon-woo couldn’t imagine what would have happened without his help. Dis Pluto would have been destroyed, and the throne of the Underworld seized from him.
Of course, considering how perfect and omniscient as Allforone was, it was likely he would resume control. But Yeon-woo agreed with the Demonism’s assessment that Allforone would be busy for the time being. The pressure from the higher floors was probably quite intense right now.
With Mother Earth below, and the progenitor gods and creator gods above, Allforone’s hands were tied. And even if Allforone did somehow manage to get rid of them, he probably wouldn’t have a chance to go after Yeon-woo immediately after.
Now that he’d seen Yeon-woo awaken the power of the Black King, he would probably come up with a way to fight it first. In the end, Yeon-woo had to grow as powerful as possible before Allforone interfered again. ‘Aside from that…you definitely have a grudge against Allforone. How do you know each other?’
His eyes slowly opened after asking the Demonism that question. He saw a woman with long, black-red hair speaking to someone who looked like him. Although it was his first time to see that hair color, Yeon-woo recognized the familiar face right away, especially since she was connected to him spiritually. “Summer Queen.”
The entity in front of him was the Summer Queen but also not. The real Summer Queen had been erased and then became a supplement for Yeon-woo’s soul. The Summer Queen in front of him was only a husk of her old self. However, since her original self had been hostile to him, Yeon-woo felt like he was looking at a separate branch that had grown from the same root. As she talked, the Summer Queen turned her head to Yeon-woo. She confirmed he was up, her impassive eyes looking him up and down. She straightened with her usual elegant expression. 「It seems like you’re better, despite your pitiful appearance.」
『You’re leaving?』 Jeong-woo smiled crookedly at the Summer Queen.
She sniffed. 「I fell into nothingness and air a long time ago. The only reason I’m still here is lingering attachment. If the elders of my species could see me, they’d be extremely horrified.」 The Draconic species never went against the laws of nature. They moved according to it, and at times, they moved the laws to manifest their will, which was why they were blessed by mana.
It was unthinkable for the Summer Queen to have gone against the natural law of death and be reborn. However, as usual, the Summer Queen wasn’t one for regrets. 「I enjoyed my time, and I spoke with you. That’s enough.」
Her conversation with Jeong-woo had just been small talk about the past because Yeon-woo had woken up sooner than she expected. But she was satisfied. Jeong-woo had smiled at her, his enemy. Despite his resentment of her, and the fact they didn’t have anything else between them, he said it was fine because his brother would avenge him. In fact, he’d even said that since they were both dead, they should try to get along and forget the past.
She didn’t know whether he was innocent, naive, or just generous, but this helped her get rid of her lingering feelings. Swoosh. The Summer Queen vanished with the wind.
Yeon-woo turned to Jeong-woo. Jeong-woo’s spirit body was still faint, and letters flowed through it like blood. Still, he looked more stable than before, even though Yeon-woo knew it was just a temporary fix.
As soon as a vestige body realized what it was, it would start to scatter. The knowledge of its inauthencity made it difficult for it to maintain its form. Furthermore, he had used too much of his soul power, so he had even less time.
『Yeah. Thanks to you.』
“Then that’s a relief.” Yeon-woo nodded. He was so unemotional that it was hard to tell if he really meant it, but as his brother, Jeong-woo knew Yeon-woo was being sincere. Because of this, he could finally say what had been on his mind ever since the battle ended.
『Hyung, do you remember what I said that time?』
『That I want to live again.』
“I was a bad son, but I want to be a parent like Mom…I want to live again…And I want to hug Sesha just like Mom used to hug us. Do you…think that’s possible?” It was what Jeong-woo said when he’d first woken up and after they had a deep conversation. He wanted to hug Sesha with his own arms and apologize and express his gratitude to Ananta when he saw her again.
『Can you grant my wish?』 Jeong-woo looked at Yeon-woo desperately.
Yeon-woo nodded solemnly. “I’ll do whatever it takes.”
『You know resurrection is beyond the domain of most gods, right?』
『Then you have a lot to do.』 Jeong-woo grinned. There were cases of players handling corpses or using souls. However, returning a dead person to the same condition they were when they were alive had never occurred in the Tower before.
Resurrection was beyond the territory of normal skills and powers. They were miracles. Only a conceptual god or a progenitor god related to creation or life could make it possible. Also, since it was an unknown territory, it was only a guess that these gods would even be able to do it. After all, he had never heard of anyone succeeding.
That meant Yeon-woo wouldn’t be able to succeed even after gaining the throne of the Underworld and gaining divinity. Then there was only one way Yeon-woo could resurrect Jeong-woo. He’d have to reach the top of the Tower to become a true god in order for his wish to be granted. He had to reach the goal of every player.
『 Yeon-woo is going to be busy again.』 Reaching the 100th floor meant climbing to the fiftieth floor, the wall that players had difficulty getting over, passing Allforone on the seventy-seventh floor, and stepping onto the ninety-eighth floor, where gods and demons lived. Then, there was the land of mystery that neither player nor transcendent knew anything about: the ninety-ninth floor. On top of that, it would be next to impossible to find a soul that could be anywhere.
Yeon-woo’s determination might be seen as delusion, but Jeong-woo knew his brother would be able to do it. His brother had always been like that. With this, Jeong-woo could finally fall into a peaceful slumber. His spirit body began to fade, and letters leaked out as sentences. This time, they didn’t gush out uncontrollably, but slid out steadily and in order as they narrated the contents of the diary.
『Until then.』 He smiled, his body growing dim. 『I’ll be waiting here.』
Swoosh! With those words, Jeong-woo disappeared into light. The letters danced around Yeon-woo before they were sucked into the pocket watch.
Yeon-woo wordlessly rubbed the letters J. W. CAH engraved on the back of the pocket watch and silently let his head fall.
Drip. Drip. The ground grew wet with rain that came falling from somewhere.Previous Chapter Next Chapter