While Chae Nayun and Shin Jonghak left to get water and Kim Suho and Yi Yeonghan were busy cutting up the pig, Yoo Yeonha asked if I had a broom.
I gave her the one that came with my camping set, and she began to sweep the nearby floor.
Thanks to her, the shelter that was once full of spiderwebs, dirt, and rocks became a decent camping ground.
Yoo Yeonha looked around the place and made a satisfied smile.
Meanwhile, I took out a burner and grill, then sat down on a camping chair.
“Huaam~ oh right, um, there’s something I’ve been wanting to ask. Why can’t I use magic power? It took 30 minutes to clean this place when it should have only taken 3.”
Yoo Yeonha asked as she stretched.
“You can’t use magic power that you brought from the present. Usable magic power starts accumulating inside you after two days, but you’ll have to wait at least a week to get used to it.”
It was the same in the original story.
The post-Outcall mana of the past was vastly different from the more stable mana of the present. While the former was more rich and dense, it was more stubborn and difficult to wield.
Everyone would have to suffer for at least a week until they get used to it.
However, this would become a valuable experience for the future.
“Ah~ so that’s why.”
This voice wasn’t Yoo Yeonha’s, but Kim Suho’s.
Kim Suho and Yi Yeonghan came back and sat down next to me.
“Are you done?”
“Yep, we have it split into different parts.”
“Yo, we’re back.”
Chae Nayun and Shin Jonghak appeared at the entrance. They put the filled buckets down on the ground.
Yoo Yeonha glanced at the scene and let out a dry cough.
“Kuhum, then should we eat now~?”
Yoo Yeonha sounded happy thanks to being able to eat ramen.
Now it was my turn.
I lit the grill, poured water on the pot, then placed it on the burner.
Today’s menu was pork belly and ramen.
First, I put the pork belly on the heated grill.
The meat made a pleasant sizzling sound.
When the water began to boil, I put several bags of ramen inside.
Yoo Yeonha looked back and forth between the pork belly and ramen with the happiest face in the world.
Four minutes later, we sat around the food and shared a friendly talk.
Pork belly and ramen.
Although Kim Suho and Yi Yeonghan were used to eating them, this wasn’t the case for the other three who grew up in luxury.
Shin Jonghak and Chae Nayun only stared at the food even though they were hungry. Yoo Yeonha was clearly holding back because of them.
“Your mana will be replenished quicker if you eat. Animals around here have high mana content.”
When I said that, Shin Jonghak finally picked up his chopstick. Seeing Shin Jonghak begin to eat, Yoo Yeonha sighed and filled her bowl with ramen.
She carefully slurped up a few strands of noodles.
I also filled my bowl with ramen and ate it with the pork belly.
Yoo Yeonha, who was watching me, also picked up a pork belly and put it in her bowl. Then, she ate it with ramen like I did.
Her small mouth moved busily, and then her head drooped down. Her clenched fists trembled.
Was it that delicious? She sure made it seem so.
“Ah, I’m going to feel queasy if I eat this….”
With Shin Jonghak and Yoo Yeonha eating, Chae Nayun also slowly challenged a pork belly.
A greasy piece of meat entered her mouth.
“…Eh? Why is it so tasty?”
But after chewing on it a few times, she murmured with a surprised face.
I explained with a small smile.
“It’s a pig that grew up by eating mana.”
“This pig lived in an area where the concentration of mana is higher than Baekdu Mountain.”
Animals that grew up in high-mana-concentration area were much more delicious than ordinary livestock. But because such areas were mostly private properties, such animals were precious and expensive. In other words, this place’s pig was ‘high-class’, even for Chae Nayun’s taste.
“Wow, really? That’s amazing!”
Chae Nayun began to move her chopsticks energetically.
Feeling threatened by her speed, Yoo Yeonha also quickened her pace.
We ate for the next thirty minutes without talking.
Around the time the meal was over, Chae Nayun pointed at me with her chopsticks.
“By the way, that surprisingly looks good on you.”
“Hm? What does?”
“That hair and beard. You look like someone from a historical drama. You know, like one of those warriors who act cool.”
Kim Suho, who was listening in from next to me, also chimed in.
“She’s right. Hajin, your beard grows like a Westerner.”
“…Like a Western model?”
“No, not a model.”
A Western model…. I shrugged proudly without speaking. It may not look like it, but I actually spent some time styling my facial hair.
But at that moment, Yoo Yeonha muttered in a small voice.
“…Yeah, I guess you look better the more your face is covered.”
“What? Care to repeat that?”
“W-Where’s the water~?”
She seemed to have said it subconsciously as she averted my gaze.
“By the way, are you taking baths? You look really dirty.”
“I do. At least once every two days at a stream nearby.”
“What!? Hey, is the water we just drank….”
“It’s a different stream. Plus, we boiled it.”
Chae Nayun still sounded a bit displeased.
Meanwhile, Shin Jonghak was rubbing his chin next to Chae Nayun. After a week or so, I felt like I could see Shin Jonghak with a beard.
Anyways, this was enough playing around.
I clapped my hands.
“Gather up. I’ll explain the current situation.”
This time travel was caused by a ghost. But no matter how strong the soul of a ghost was, it would normally never be able to send humans back to the past. This was because time travel was a mystical phenomenon that had never been observed before. It was nothing short of a ‘miracle’.
However, this ghost was able to produce a part of this miracle.
“It used a Tower Remnant.”
I took out a purple crystal from my pocket.
Then, I asked Shin Jonghak.
“Tower of Time was inside Wind Mountain, right?”
“…Yeah. My grandfather conquered it more than 20 years ago.”
Miracle. Only a Tower’s reward could come close to performing such a feat.
When a Tower was conquered, it would condense into an unimaginably grand lump of magic power and be left behind in the world. These so-called ‘Tower Crystals’ had different functions depending on the Towers they came from. The buoyancy stone used to keep Clancy Islet afloat was also a Tower Crystal, as was the ocean stone and the information stone.
“When the Tower of Time condensed into a Tower Crystal, some of its magic power was left out. Over a long time, they came together and formed this remnant.”
I showed them a fingernail-sized purple crystal. This small thing was a Tower Remnant.
“So the ghost borrowed this crystal’s power and pulled us into a recorded world.”
A recorded world.
According to my settings, it was conceptually similar to a parallel world, but a little bit different.
Yoo Yeonha seemed to vaguely understand what I was saying, but Kim Suho seemed confused as he tilted his head and asked.
“A recorded world?”
“Yeah. It’s a form of magical space that reproduces the past. It's not that different from the real world since it operates with the same laws of physics. But, it can’t affect the real world in any way.”
I continued my explanation.
The next topic was on the enemy we had to defeat.
“And in this place, there is a Djinn who goes by the name Asura. Just like us, he was pulled into this world by the ghost. By the way, he’s not the real Asura, so don’t worry too much.”
I was flabbergasted when I first found out. I even gave him a pretty name like Cheonhwa I didn’t know why he changed it to Asura. What if the real Asura found out!?
“He’s using ‘mana crystals’ to grow stronger.”
Mana crystals were naturally created when mana condensed into a solid state.
“Um, I have a question.”
At that moment, Yoo Yeonha raised her hand.
“How can he grow stronger using mana crystals? It wasn’t until the 2000’s that scientists found out how to use them.”
“By eating them.”
Most people would instantly die upon consuming mana crystals. Even if they managed to survive, they would suffer huge internal injuries as the magic power in their bodies fought the crystal’s condensed mana.
However, this Djinn was different.
“It looks like he gained a special power by uniting with the ghost. He can swallow and digest mana crystals without any repercussions.”
The kids’ expressions turned serious.
Asura was a bit stronger than in the original story.
However, it wasn’t to a worrying degree.
I couldn’t say the same about other antagonists, but I was the perfect counter for this self-proclaimed Asura.
“So this Asura is our only enemy?”
Shin Jonghak asked, and I shook my head.
“No, there’s more. But before I talk about that, I need to explain how we can get back to the present.”
I placed the purple crystal on my palm.
“Like I said before, this Tower Remnant is what’s holding this world of the past together. Asura has these crystals placed around this world. Without them, he can’t materialize the past.”
“So we have to steal them?”
I opened a map I made.
“There’s one in Gwangmyeong City Hall, one in a water tower to the northeast, one in an armory to the west, one in a steel tower to the south…”
There were six crystals we needed to steal.
Once we had them, we just had to gather them in the same place and crush them at the same time. The past would then crumble, and we would be able to return to the present.
Of course, Asura would use Gwangmyeong City Hall’s 5000 residents to try to stop us.
“Asura has five subordinates guarding each of the locations other than Gwangmyeong City Hall.”
Asura’s five subordinates.
To be completely honest, I wouldn’t be able to win against them no matter what trick I pulled.
It was a matter of suitability.
Interestingly, I could beat their leader, but I couldn’t beat his lackeys.
“So… it’s clear what we need to do.”
Those were Kim Suho’s words.
I nodded as I yawned.
Currently, it was 1 A.M. It was time to sleep.
“It’s late. We’re going to rest for five hours. It’ll help you replenish your mana. First… let’s start with choosing who’s going to be on night watch.”
Dawn. I opened my eyes, feeling the cold morning wind.
Staying here for 40 days, I developed a short sleep habit.
During the six weeks that I was here alone, I divided up my sleep into one hour time frames not knowing when enemies would arrive. There was even a time where I spent the entire day sitting on a tree because they were patrolling the area.
But perhaps because I was feeling well, the morning air felt refreshing.
I went out of the tent for a morning stretch.
When I went out to the entrance of the partially destroyed abandoned building, I saw Chae Nayun standing watch. The twilight’s blue hue shone down on her thinly.
She seemed to have felt my presence as she turned toward me slightly.
When she saw me, she smiled lightly.
“Yeah. I see that you’re on night watch.”
“It’s a piece of cake.”
Noticing that my shoulder-length hair was down, I tied it back up. Meanwhile, Chae Nayun was looking at me with eyes full of curiosity.
“Hey, isn’t it uncomfortable having long hair? Yours is almost as long as mine.”
“It is. But I can’t cut it because I might get cursed by a curse magician.”
“…They even have a curse magician?”
“Yeah. He’s walking around with a voodoo doll.”
I trudged up to Chae Nayun. Then, I shooed her away as she was sitting on my bike.
Chae Nayun clicked her tongue and moved over to the night watch chair.
Sitting down, she looked forward. I followed her line of sight.
A world of dawn was spread over the horizon. The sky was shining with stars and the earth was filled with lush vegetation.
I suddenly grew curious what Chae Nayun was thinking about looking at this scene of the past.
“What are you thinking about?”
“Huh? Mm… I was wondering why the ghost couldn’t have brought me to 2000 instead of 1972.”
I wasn’t so dense as to not know what she meant.
2000 was when Chae Nayun’s mother was at the prime of her life.
I silently looked out into the forest.
But suddenly, Chae Nayun said something I couldn’t understand.
“Well, I’m sure you thought about it too.”
I turned to Chae Nayun. She spoke quietly, still facing the forest.
“Sorry, I shouldn’t complain in front of you. Just ignore it.”
Hearing her, I suddenly remembered my parents. However, I didn’t continue thinking about it for long as it was too painful.
Chae Nayun, who was sneaking peeks at me, suddenly spoke in a cheerful voice.
“Oh, by the way, my mom was born in 1972.”
“So she had you when she was fairly old.”
“That’s just how it was back then. She was super busy. I’m sure she didn’t have the time and ease of mind to make a child when she was young.”
Chae Nayun muttered as she stared at my bike.
Then, she repeated what she said before.
“…My mom was born in 1972. In Sungmo Hospital.”
It was only thirty minutes away from here on a motorbike.
If this was the real world, that is.
“We can’t go into central Seoul. This world is restricted to this area only.”
“…Oh~ I see.”
Hiding her disappointment with a silent sigh, Chae Nayun smiled brightly.