Chapter 104. Ghost (6)


I explained what would happen if Yoo Yeonha’s hair ended up in the curse magician’s hands. I didn’t exaggerate or downplay anything. A curse of weakening could only be canceled by killing the curse magician, and although the curse couldn’t directly kill, in an environment like this without any medical facilities, it could lead to the absolute worst situation.
When I finished explaining, the atmosphere of the group had turned grave.

“Oh right, you mentioned it before… I forgot about it… dammit.”

Chae Nayun blamed herself as she clenched her fists. However, I couldn’t blame her for not remembering. I had only briefly mentioned it a week ago, when she was sleepy from being on night watch.

Perhaps my fault was the biggest, since I didn’t tell them about all the dangers properly. If I did, they wouldn’t have forgotten to bring back Yoo Yeonha’s lost hair.

We fell silent for a moment.
This anxious yet calm silence was broken by the cheery voice of the person of concern.

“Why are your faces so serious?”

Yoo Yeonha continued with a bright expression.

“We’re not sure yet if it is a curse. Plus, I have some anti-magic power. I can beat something like a curse easily… ah.”

Shin Jonghak’s hand fell on her head. Looking at the startled Yoo Yeonha, he spoke.

“…Tell me if it hurts.”

Yoo Yeonha’s cheeks turned faintly red. Was this the bad boy’s charm? While I was having idle thoughts, Yoo Yeonha nodded energetically.

“Un, but I don’t think it’s going too hurt much.”

“…Don’t lie, tsk.”

Suddenly, Shin Jonghak got up with his spear, catching our attention. Seemingly enraged, Shin Jonghak blurted out with a heated voice.

“They should be busy organizing themselves after being ambushed. So let’s barge in and crush them before the sun comes up.”

Currently, it was 3 in the morning. There was still some time before sunrise.
If Yoo Yeonha really was cursed, there was no time to waste. We had to defeat them as soon as possible.
We got up following Shin Jonghak. With stiff expressions, everyone began to check their equipment.

“L-Let me go too. I’m still okay….”

“You stay put.”

Shin Jonghak stopped Yoo Yeonha who was trying to force herself up.
We left Yoo Yeonha behind and set out.

This time, the battle only took an hour.
The enraged Shin Jonghak swept through the north tower and retrieved the purple crystal.
Shin Jonghak’s Physique, ‘Intermittent Explosive Disorder’, had been triggered.

For the record… the Intermittent Explosive Disorder Physique was a strange Physique that amplified one’s physical stats by up to 130 percent depending on one’s anger.

**


Gwangmyeong City Hall.
Asura sat on a throne as he received his subordinate’s report that three crystals were stolen in one night.
Although he was enraged at first, he soon calmed down.
It was thanks to Yi Yohan, the curse magician he kept with him.
Yi Yohan was a quite a skilled curse magician, and he had received a lock of the attackers’ hair.

“M-My apologies, Boss!”

“It’s fine. Don’t overreact so much.”

Asura had already sent out monsters and confirmed the attackers’ numbers and base. They looked young and friendly. Such children wouldn’t just watch one of their friends die.
Asura pitied them. As far as he was concerned, they were weak because they cared for useless emotions like loyalty, love, and friendship.

“Bring all the crystals back here.”

“…Yes? Ah, understood!”

There were still three crystals left. Although bringing them back would weaken some of his men, he knew this was the best choice, as they would come to him, unable to watch their friend die.

“Kim Suho and Shin Jonghak….”

Furthermore, Asura knew who two of them were. Cube’s greatest rising stars. He had already warned his subordinates to be on guard against the two handsome kids.

“Looks like my future is bright.”

So long as he could obtain their heads, he had confidence that he would walk a royal road to becoming Destruction’s executive.

**


Day one. Yoo Yeonha became emaciated, and we were late to notice that Asura had retrieved all the crystals.
Day two. Yoo Yeonha’s pupils withered up.
Day three. Yoo Yeonha could barely stand up straight.

Frustrated, we went out and observed Gwangmyeong City Hall from a distance, but there was no movement. They didn’t come to us or even come out to patrol. They just stayed holed up in their base.

Time went by, and we fruitlessly watched over Gwangmyeong City Hall. Every day, Yoo Yeonha’s condition got worse until all she could do was lay in bed.
Suffering from a high temperature, chills, and nausea, she kept getting weaker and weaker.
Seeing her like this, everyone thought the same thing.
That she could die if things continued this way.

“Yeonha, can you eat this…?”

“….”

Yi Yeonghan and Chae Nayun made porridge with painstaking care, but Yoo Yeonha had trouble eating. She could only raise her head slightly before taking a spoonful and lying back down.
I gave it a try, but even Stigma’s magic power was unable to undo this curse. It was because curses weren’t spells, which were cast using magic power, but Gifts.

“No movements today either. It looks like they’ll just stay cooped up in the city hall.”

Kim Suho came back from patrol and spoke with a frustrated face.
Asura made a different choice than in the original story.
Since he knew that one of us was dying, he retrieved all the crystals and was simply waiting.
Clearly, he knew we had to come to him.

“…We have no choice. We’ll have to do what those trash want.”

Growing impatient, Shin Jonghak shouted with a reddened face.
Yi Yeonghan retorted.

“Wait, wait, you want the four of us us to fight 5000 people?”

I replied instead.

“When the crystals are gathered in one place, the past becomes unstable. It’s the same for the people of the past, so only 100 to 200 people should be able to participate in battle. Among them, we only have to pay attention to ten, including Asura.”

People of the past were weakened if the power of the crystals weren’t distributed evenly.
Kim Suho and Chae Nayun. Shin Jonghak and Yi Yeonghan.
With me included, it should be enough to defeat them.

However, the problem was Yoo Yeonha. We couldn’t just leave her alone. Bringing her with us to the battlefield would be insane, so one of us had to stay behind with her before we killed the curse magician.
…Wait a minute.
I looked at the purple crystals inside my leather pocket.
There were three finger-sized crystals and one fingernail-sized crystal.
If I was alone with these, wouldn’t Asura come find me?

“Sounds good with me. 200 vs 5. I feel like I can kill them all.”

Chae Nayun asserted aggressively. Feeling the direction the conversation was going, Yi Yeonghan argued as he anxiously bit on his fingernails.

“W-What if he sends one of his lackeys to kidnap Yoo Yeonha?”

“I’ll protect her.”

I raised my hand.

“These purple crystals and Yoo Yeonha, I’ll protect them both. In the worst case scenario, I can just take her and escape on my bike.”

In a way, it was a trap.
If Asura came alone, I had the confidence to take him on by myself. If he brought others with him, I had the confidence to escape on my bike.

“…Okay.”

After ruminating over the matter with his eyes closed, Kim Suho also admitted that we had no other choice but to do as they wanted.

“It looks like this is the only thing we can do.”

“Damn it… fine, but don’t say I didn’t warn you if anything goes wrong.”

Yi Yeonghan stretched and loosened his body even as he grumbled. His thick muscles bulged up intimidatingly.
Shin Jonghak also roused his magic power fiercely.

“…Just you wait, Asura. I’ll tear you apart tonight.”

Just like the main character of a movie would say, Shin Jonghak prophesized Asura’s death.

**


A night of the full moon.
Kim Suho, Shin Jonghak, Chae Nayun, and Yi Yeonghan were walking along a path they planned out. With Asura having taken away the crystals, the surrounding scenery had turned rather bleak. Grass lacked color and trees were withered.
After silently walking along this bleakness for some time, they began to see Gwangmyeong City Hall.
The place was modified to look like a fortress… but no one was protecting the barricade surrounding it.
It was clearly a trap.
However, there wasn’t much they could do about it.
They clad themselves with qi reinforcement and walked toward Gwangmyeong City Hall amidst a deathly silence.

Then suddenly, a man appeared on the roof of a broken-down bus in the middle of the road. He had a well-built body and was carrying a long steel pipe on his shoulder.
From his tall height and bandit-like appearance, the party could guess that he was Yoo Dongsuk, one of Asura’s subordinates that Kim Hajin mentioned.

“Ahem, this place is off-limits to kids.”

At the same time, several men carrying weapons appeared. Shin Jonghak asked, perfectly calm.

“You’re Yoo Dongsuk?”

“Haha, a kid shouldn’t talk to adults like that.”

With a smirk, Shin Jonghak pointed his spear at Yoo Dongsuk.

“Lackeys can screw off. Where’s Asura?”

“Asura-nim isn’t here.”

“…I won’t ask a second time.”

Shin Jonghak’s magic power flowed into his spear, igniting it with black magic power. Yoo Dongsuk’s eyes widened.

“W-What? What’s up with the color of your magic power?”

“Bring Asura, bring Asura here…!”

Shin Jonghak spun his spear 180 degrees. It was the most basic spear technique – Crescent Moon Slash. Shin Jonghak’s black magic power shot out in an arc, exploding when it reached Yoo Dongsuk. Not only did it destroy the bus he was standing on, it also continued flying forward and cut one of the watchtowers in half.

“Wow~ scary.”

Yoo Dongsuk chuckled as he leaped down from the bus.

“But kids, I’m not lying. Asura-nim really isn’t here.”

“Then where is—”

At that moment, an ominous thought flashed in Shin Jonghak’s head. He gripped his spear tighter.

“Y-You bastards….”

“Haha, what were you thinking, leaving the crystals behind with your injured friend?”

Stealing from an empty house.
It wasn’t that they didn’t expect it at all.
They just didn’t expect that the boss would go.
Shin Jonghak, Chae Nayun, and Yi Yeonghan quickly turned back, but they were surrounded on all sides.
Immediately, their faces stiffened.

“…Pft.”

However, only one person remained calm.
Kim Suho.
In fact, he even burst into laughter.

“Hahaha.”

Chae Nayun and the others looked at him as though he was mad. Chae Nayun even felt fear, wondering if she was really looking at Kim Suho.

“…What are you laughing about, brat?”

Yoo Dongsuk felt anxious seeing Kim Suho’s laughter.

“No, it’s just… did your boss go there alone?”

“….”

Yoo Dongsuk didn’t answer Kim Suho’s question. However, his silence was more than enough of an answer.

“Then we have nothing to worry about.”

Kim Suho turned back to his comrades.
Then, he said with a smile.

“Hajin is stronger than me.”

**


Tak, tak.
Ominous footsteps rang out.
I slowly raised my head and turned to the direction of the sound.
A man appeared at the entrance of the abandoned building. His red eyes flickered under his black robe.
I closed my eyes and smiled.

As expected, he chose the easy route.
Leaving his subordinates to fight the four attackers and ambushing our base himself.
The ghost must have told him that all the crystals were here, along with the patient we had to protect.

“…Human, pitiful human. This is why I gave up being a human. Because I didn’t want to be tied down to useless emotions like you….”

“Shut it.”

I lightly ignored the crap he was spouting and studied his surroundings.

“You’re alone?”

“I’m not alone. I have my army with—”

“You’re alone.”

He amplified his magic power capacity by consuming mana crystals, but he didn’t know how to best utilize this new improvement. Furthermore, Asura was especially inept in using his magic power to attack directly.
In the first place, he was only a low rank Djinn.
There was only one thing he knew how to do.

—Ssss.

Breathing oddly, he unleashed his magic power, forming a giant pathway which began to spew out strange creatures.
These creatures came in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some resembled a wolf, some resembled an orc, some resembled a pig.
However, their numbers were overwhelming.
One, two, four, eight, sixteen… I stopped counting once I reached sixty four.
There were at least 2000, if not more.
I stood facing what seemed to be an overwhelming army.

This was Asura’s Gift – ‘Hail of Demonic Beasts’.

This ability used magic power to summon creatures from the Demon Realm.
They should be around the level of low-intermediate grade 1 to 7 monsters.
It was quite a cost-effective Gift.
Kim Suho might have had trouble dealing with them. After all, swinging a sword expended quite a bit of stamina. I couldn’t even imagine myself swinging a sword 2000 times.

However, I wasn’t Kim Suho.
And I was thankful that he came to me.
Of course, even if he didn’t come to me, I planned to find and go to him using the Thousand-Mile Eyes.

“Um….”

“Hm?”

When I tried to stand up, Yoo Yeonha grabbed my sleeve. She was breathing heavily as though she was about to die.

“Leave me… and run….”

I stared into Yoo Yeonha’s eyes as she spoke with a hoarse voice. Guilt, worry, and concern undulated in her eyes.
Seeing this side of her, I said with a cheerful smile.

“Don’t worry about it and sleep. It’ll be over by the time you wake up.”

Yoo Yeonha seemed to fall in a daze.
I closed her eyes and took out the Desert Eagle, which began to transform with the help of Aether.
This time, it was neither a shotgun nor a sniper rifle.
A standard weapon in the modern world that enables one person to fight against many – assault rifle.

Although it wasn’t used as much in this world because of the cost of bullets and comparatively low power, neither of those disadvantages applied to me.
Attack power enhanced by Aether.
Desert Eagle’s internal attack power amplification.
And one more.
I murmured silently.

‘Scan.’

44%, the best possible outcome.

“….”

A smile bloomed on my face.
As always, I operated under the principle of Strong Against Weak, Weak Against Strong. In other words, I countered his Gift perfectly. He could summon as many small fries as he wanted. In front of my assault rifle, they stood no chance.
Furthermore, I didn’t use up stamina or magic power.
All I needed were bullets and a finger to pull the trigger with.
My only worry… was the slightly disadvantageous terrain.

“I’ll have to use this a little.”

I took out a finger-sized crystal from my pocket. By pouring in some of Stigma’s magic power, I modified the terrain to what I desired.
Bzzzz—
The earth rumbled as it began to transform.
The circular arena Asura created was shaved in half, leaving behind a fan-shaped slice.
With this, it was impossible for me to get surrounded.
The army of summoned beasts could now only attack me from head on. I only need to kill two or three of them with each bullet.

“You know how to use the crystal of the past…? But what difference does it make?”

Asura chuckled.
I retorted with a calm, expressionless face.

“It changes a lot of things.”

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