Chapter 238. Third Phase (3)


[27F - Demon King’s Tower, 1F]

Space warped, and I was sent to a completely different world. The transfer was sudden and intense. My body shot up into the sky and fell straight to the ground. Nausea kicked in, but I didn’t feel much pain.
I regained my composure soon and opened my eyes.

“…I’m inside the Tower.”

I could tell from my clothes. The robe that I had worn last time I was in the Tower had replaced my pajamas that I was wearing on Earth.

Kuuuu….

Suddenly I heard a groan from behind. I glanced back to find Jin Sahyuk.
It wasn’t too difficult to grasp the situation. Jin Sahyuk probably got dragged into Spartan’s unstable summon and then served as a cushion to support me.

“…Kuhum.”

I let her be and got up.

It was dark. All I could tell was that I was in some sort of a dark cave.
‘Where am I?’ I thought when I suddenly heard Spartan’s cry.

Purururu—

Spartan flew over and landed on my shoulder.

“So what happened exactly for you to call me so urgently?”

—Purururu, Purururu.

Without answering my question, Spartan only rubbed his head against me. Seriously, what happened? He was usually so cold.

“What, what is it?”

—Purururu, Purururu.

“Okay, okay, explain. You have to explain first.”

Spartan rubbed me two more times before he finally decided to share his vision. What had happened to Aileen’s party unfolded before my eyes.
With furrowed brows, I watched everything from the beginning to the end, then asked.

“…They’re locked up in jail?”

—Pururu.

Spartan nodded.
This was what he thought.
Aileen’s party had lost to some demons and been imprisoned. It was all part of a grand plan devised by the ‘witch’, who served as one of the closest advisers to the Demon King. Spartan tried to contact me before they were completely locked away, but our connection was suddenly cut. Spartan could only think of one reason that this happened.

His owner had died.

As much as he wanted to deny it, there was no other explanation.
Spartan cried in sorrow until all of his tears dried up.
However, after crying his eyes out, Spartan realized that the connection had come back. He’d brought me here as soon as he realized that.

“…Were you really that sad?”

—Pururu….

After the whole story was revealed, our eyes met. I could feel what Spartan was feeling right now. His sparkling eyes seemed especially adorable today.
For the first time ever I gave Spartan a hug. He too hugged me back with his wings.

Our touching reunion would have lasted longer if it wasn’t for the interruption.

“…You.”

A woman with disheveled hair stood up staggeringly.
It was, of course, Jin Sahyuk.

“Ah, but why did you bring her here?”

—Pururu.

‘It was a mistake. I pulled her in by mistake and ended up using too much magic power because of it.’ Spartan answered.

“The royal family’s name… how do you know about it…”

Jin Sahyuk was still obsessing over Plerion.

“Aha, that bastard Kim Suho must have told you. That low life….”

I was watching Jin Sahyuk mutter to herself when suddenly, Wiing— my smartwatch vibrated. I glanced at the screen.

[Problem - Jin Sahyuk possesses both pride and dignity as a member of the royal family. However, her actions and mindset as described in the original story are too carefree and immature.]

[Setting change - As a defense mechanism, Jin Sahyuk chose to seal away her pride as a royalty. One might say that she has an ‘arbitrary split personality’.]

…Did I mention Plerion too hastily?
Anyways, what a trivial change he made.
I let out a small sigh and looked at Jin Sahyuk.

“I didn’t learn it from Kim Suho.”

“…What? Then how doth thee knoweth thy name?”

Now she was even beginning to speak like a royalty.
I shrugged and answered.

“I told you, I’ll fill you in with the details later.”

The tragedy of Plerion Royal Family that once ruled the continent.
The hardships that its nine-year-old Prince—I mean, Princess—had to face when her kingdom was invaded by the demons.
And the reason they were left with no choice but to seek refuge in a different world, on Earth.

The backstory of the ‘growing final boss’ wasn’t all that simple. I actually put more effort into making her than I did in making Kim Suho, though the end result didn’t live up to my efforts.

“So just wait. Don’t forget, I know what you don’t know.”

In any case, the reason I kept all of this a secret from her until now was because I thought the time might come when I would need to result to psychological attacks. After all, using words to weaken a villain unrivaled in physical strength was a famous cliche.

“You—”

‘Impudent—!’ was probably her next word.
I approached Jin Sahyuk abruptly. The distance between us shortened in an instant.
I stared into her eyes with our noses almost touching. Jin Sahyuk, who was shouting at the top of her lungs just a moment ago, suddenly fell quiet.

“….”

I kept staring at her without saying anything. I didn’t even need to intimidate her.
I simply stood still, and Jin Sahyuk got scared all on her own. Her eyes blinked, her lips moved without making any sound, and her gaze dropped down to my collarbone.

“A-Answer now. Right now….”

Even when she was scared to death, she managed to finish what she wanted to say.

“Spartan, can you send her back now?”

Ignoring her, I looked back at Spartan. Spartan nodded, flapping his wings.

—Pururu.

“No, no! Wait a second, Kim Hajin! Were you the advisor?! Or maybe the prophet…”

“See ya. Take your time to think, okay?”

In an instant, Jin Sahyuk’s body was sucked into something. Spartan had transported her back forcefully.
—Pururu….
I handed the Orb of Regeneration to Spartan, who was in pain from using his Authority excessively.

“…Should I not have told her that?”

However, immediately after sending Jin Sahyuk back, I began to have regrets.
I might have spoken out too rashly.

“Oh well….”

The story after the third phase.
I’d stopped writing during the fourth phase.
There wasn’t much time until the story would enter the unknown. The end was near. It was about time Jin Sahyuk’s past began to surface.

I suddenly became frustrated at the thought of the end.
What would happen to me once everything was over? Me, an existence called ‘Kim Hajin’, who was nothing but an intruder in this world….

I raised my wrist again and looked at the smartwatch.

▷???
—Unlocks after the main story ends.

One clause still remained unknown.
It was my last hope of going back to Earth.
But did I really consider it a hope now…?

—Purururu.

At that moment, Spartan clung to my shoulder, successfully cutting off my gloomy stray thoughts.

I came back to my senses and held a bow in my hand.

[Temujin’s Bow Blessed by Horus]

This was originally Earth’s artifact, but I had used [Card Conversion] to turn it into an effective good. This should be enough to prepare me for the Demon King’s Tower.

In addition, I took out the entire set of Black Lotus’ wardrobe: an assassin-like black robe, a mask, and red contact lenses.

“Mm, mm. Ah, ah.”

The mask’s voice alteration feature was flawless.
After that, I concentrated magic power around my eyes. My field of vision stretched far and I could see the entire 27th floor at a look.

—Damn it. This is so annoying.

The first person I discovered was Aileen. She was inside a room that looked half prison-ish and half not prison-ish. The room was surrounded by steel bars in all four directions, but it was filled with not only a bed and a sink but also a shower.

“Aha.”

So they were locked up in the Colosseum.
A society of demons existed within the Demon King’s Tower, and Colosseum was a sport that the Demon King invented to entertain the residents of the Tower.

—Dammit, I can’t even run away because of the others.

Aileen was wandering aimlessly in the ‘gladiator’s room’, muttering to herself.
I also took a peek at the others.

—I’ll be putting other members in danger if I escape…. First, I’ll have to figure out how to get in touch with them.

This was Jin Seyeon’s thought.

—I need a way, a way to escape together with everyone….

This was Kim Suho’s.

—Ah~ I miss my wife.

…This was Yi Yongha’s lament.

They were all thinking the same thing. Because they were worried about each other, they decided to delay their escape from the prison— although they were wrong in assuming that they could break out easily.

“Things could’ve been worse.”

Fortunately, I was pretty familiar with the Colosseum episode. I even knew how to clear it.

Suddenly, I remembered Boss.

She was probably worried sick because I disappeared…. But Spartan was too worn out to make a trip back to Earth. At least, he certainly wasn't in the condition to use Teleportation again. But if I used a ticket to leave, then I would have to find my way back to the Demon King’s Tower from scratch.

“Spartan?”

For Spartan, who was overcome with fatigue, I took out a slip of paper and wrote a short message on it.
[Boss, I’ll be at the Tower of Wish for a while. No worries.]

“Just send this note to where I came from. You can do it, right?”

—Pururu.

Spartan nodded energetically.

**


[Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam — Seoul, South Korea]

Yoo Yeonha built a mansion just for herself in the middle of Gangnam. The modern mansion was huge, 230 square meters and 4 stories high. This mansion was part of her independence plan. Yoo Yeonha was happy to finally have a place of her own.

“Excuse me, could you be careful with that furniture?”

“Yes~!”

Yoo Yeonha hired movers to transport her belongings.
Of course, it would have been faster if she just moved them using spells or skills, but she was scrupulous. She would rather spend the extra money than risk her valuables be discolored.

“Especially that bed over there. You have to be extra careful with that bed.”

“Haha, leave it to us.”

“Don’t laugh and be serious. Can’t you tell I’m being serious?”

“…Ah, yes, I understand.”

The tightly-wrapped bed was being transported up from the ladder truck below. Yoo Yeonha watched the scene nervously. She kept biting her lips out of anxiety that they might drop the bed.

“All finished—!”

“Phew….”

Fortunately, the bed arrived soundly, and Yoo Yeonha went downstairs to the second floor only after she confirmed that the bed had arrived safely in the bedroom.
The third floor was her living space, and the second floor was an office space designed just for Yoo Yeonha.

“…Huhnn~ Huhunhuhuhunn~”

Yoo Yeonha hummed to herself and sat at her desk. The chair that Kim Hajin gave her enveloped her body blissfully. She had been using this chair for over 3 years, yet it was getting better and better every day and was now her third most treasured possession.
As a side note, the second was the bed, and the first was her guild.

Tiriring—

She was wrapped in happiness when suddenly her phone rang.
It was from ‘♥Dad♥’.
Yoo Yeonha smiled and answered the call.

“Hello.”

—Hey, sweetie~

It seemed her father had drank a few shots with his friends as he sounded drunk. Yoo Yeonha usually hated her father drinking, but she decided to let that go just for today.

—You know that daddy’s promotion ceremony is in three days, right~?

Three days from today, her father, Yoo Jinwoong, would leave his mark in history as a Hero above Heroes—a ‘Master-rank Hero’.

“Of course I remember. You don’t even need to ask.”

—You have to come. If you don’t, I’m gonna run out in the middle of the ceremony.

“Of course I’ll go.”

—Okay. I trust you, Daughter. You do know that I’m super proud of you, right~? Ah, hey, hey. No, you don’t get to talk to my daughter. Go away!

Suddenly she heard voices other than her father’s from the other side of the phone. Friends of her father, she assumed.
Yoo Yeonha asked them to take care of her father for her and hung up.

“Huhuhum….”

Things were going very well recently.
Pleased, Yoo Yeonha looked around the now silent office. The room felt a little lonely right now but she knew it would feel just right with a couple of secretaries. Or maybe, she could get a pet.

Tzzzt—

She was torn between the two wonderful choices when, suddenly, a call came from one of her informants.

—Master, this is urgent. Just now, the humanoid monster from before was sighted in Pandemonium.

This was the information that Kim Hajin wanted.
Yoo Yeonha sat straight up and cleared her throat.

“Is this from a witness or do you have physical evidence?”

—I have physical evidence. We managed to record a short clip of the monster with our drones that were nearby.

“Mmm.”

Yoo Yeonha nodded in satisfaction.
Dispatching hundreds of stealth drones in Pandemonium was well worth the effort.

—The recording was damaged by the wave of magic powers midway, but the important part is intact. I’ll send it over now.

“…Okay.”

The call ended, and the video file was sent.
Yoo Yeonha took a can of Coke out from the refrigerator and played the video. Pssh— She opened the can and was about to take a sip of the drink.

“…?”

But then she noticed the video had already ended.

“That’s it?”

That was when she realized that the video was only 3 seconds long.
She took a sip of Coke and hit the play button again.

“Just what is….”

The drone sensed abnormal vibrations and zoomed in on the rooftop of a building. There, an event undetectable to the naked eye took place.

An unknown being shot up like a rocket through the building, destroying it completely along the way. The being then pierced the heart of a certain person on the roof. The video ended immediately after a blast of magic power hit the drone.

“Hmm….”

However, as expected of an elite informant, there was a second clip that was 1000 times slower than the first.
She played the second video and began her in-depth analysis.
Even then she could barely catch a glimpse of the being. ‘Just how fast is he?’

“Huh?”

Yoo Yeonha was initially focused on the humanoid monster but her gaze soon shifted elsewhere.
She was no longer looking at the humanoid monster that Kim Hajin was after but at the face of the person whose body was cut in half by the monster.

“Wait, wait a minute.”

She felt a sense of incongruity and rewound the clip in a hurry.
The nameless victim being attacked by the monster.
He was wearing a hood, but during the brief moment the monster approached him, his hood was blown off by the wind. And the face that was revealed was extremely familiar to Yoo Yeonha.

“This….”

But that was impossible.
Because she knew it was impossible, she rewound the clip once again. She stopped at the instance his face was revealed and zoomed in on the screen.

“…Ah.”

She couldn’t say anything. Her hand that was over the mouse was now shaking.

‘This… this can’t be true. Why is he in Pandemonium? Did he really think he could defeat the humanoid monster all by himself? Or was he chasing after the Chameleon Troupe and ended up in Pandemonium accidentally? Whatever the reason, this is….’

Yoo Yeonha wrapped her hands around her whirling head and played the clip again.
She concentrated at that exact moment.

“This… man….”

A feeble voice came out from Yoo Yeonha’s mouth as she watched the scene again in a daze.
No matter how many times she rewound the video and upgraded the video quality, the result was the same. Worse, it only became clearer. She never once forgot the face and the name of a person she chose to remember.

“…is Kim Hajin.”

At this point, she couldn’t do anything anymore. With her violently shaking hands, she picked up her smartwatch. She called Kim Hajin.

[The recipient cannot be reached at this moment….]

The cruel dial tone announced his absence.
Yoo Yeonha called again.

[The recipient cannot be reached at this moment….]

And again.

[The recipient cannot be reached at this moment….]

She continued.

[The recipient cannot be reached at this moment….]

The indifferent voice from the recording resounded throughout the empty office.
In it, Yoo Yeonha kept making the call over and over again.

**


[27F — Demon Colosseum, Gladiator’s Room]

“Ehew….”

It had already been 3 days since she was trapped in this cell-like room.
‘How did this happen?’
Jin Seyeon sat on the bed and quietly began to recount the details of the events that had taken place during the past few days.

It all started with Black Lotus’ pet bird. They were able to find the Demon King’s Tower with the eagle’s help. This was the good part. They even stopped Aileen from trying to enter the Tower right away and took a break for the next three days.

They rested well during those days.

They recharged on the 7th floor and packed potions, scrolls, and useful cards to prepare for the climb. They wanted Yi Yeonghan and Shin Jonghak to join them, but neither of the two were ready yet.

And so, Jin Seyeon, Aileen, Kim Suho, and Yi Yongha entered the Demon King’s Tower together.

At first, they thought everything would go smoothly.
However, they soon fell prey to a trap that forcefully disbanded the party. They were separated from each other without any means of contact. It was probably the work of magic.

Even as she was stranded in an unfamiliar place, Jin Seyeon believed in her comrades. She believed she would see them again if she continued to climb the Tower alone.
However, a ‘witch’ appeared all of sudden, accompanied by hundreds of demons, and showed her a crystal ball.

It reflected an image of Yi Yongha locked up in a cell.

Jin Seyeon was left with no choice but to comply. They were threatening to kill her comrade. Yi Yongha would always brag about his kids to them every chance he got. The kids certainly didn’t deserve to have their dad taken away from them.

“Haa…. I shouldn’t act rashly.”

Jin Seyeon took a deep breath to calm herself down. She already checked to make sure everyone was okay. As long as they were alive, they would surely meet again someday.

—Human Jin Seyeon, it’s time.

Suddenly, a heavy voice descended from the ceiling.
Jin Seyeon let out a sigh, and soon a demon guard appeared in front of her cell.

“Follow me.”

The one-eyed guard undressed Jin Seyeon with his eye. The way he touched her as he dragged her out from the cell was even more horrendous.

She barely managed to refrain herself from shooting a luminous-attribute arrow right then and there and followed behind him.

“You better not be lying about letting me go once I achieve 10 victories.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll certainly keep our word. That we would release you if you achieve 10 victories.”

“Once I get out of here, you’ll be the first one I kill.”

“Do as you wish, if you can.”

The one-eyed guard smirked.

“10 wins and I'll release you”— this promise was undoubtedly a lie. He likely planned to release her, but different people had different definitions of ‘release’.

In any case, Jin Seyeon walked behind the guard and arrived at the right entrance of the Colosseum.
Behind the door that led to the arena, the guard spoke.

“Your opponent today is a newcomer who just came in yesterday.”

“…Newcomer? You mean he’s a human?”

“You’ll see.”

“Hmm… I do have an idea of who he might be.”

Jin Seyeon remembered the huge hulk of a man—Cheok Jungyeong—and nodded.

—Your patience will be awarded! Now, let’s start the banquet of death!

At that moment, the door to the arena opened wide with a fiendish yell. A deafening roar flooded in from the other side of the door.

Jin Seyeon entered the arena with a frown. The handcuffs around her wrist came off, and the guard handed her a bow.

With the bow in her hand, she looked straight at her opponent on the other side.

“…?”

However, Jin Seyeon soon tilted her head questioningly. The silhouette approaching her from afar was completely different from what she had expected.

“That man….”

He was slender rather than big and light rather than heavy.
He wore a black robe, which covered him up entirely, and a black mask.
A golden lotus was embroidered on his robe, and he held a black bow in his hand.
His appearance clearly did not intend to conceal his identity.

“Don’t tell me….”

Jin Seyeon’s eyes widened.

She knew too well who that man was.
He was the strongest archer in the Tower of Wish and the Chameleon Troupe’s current Seat of Black, and perhaps the man she wanted to meet the most.
Black Lotus.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter