A long silence filled the tense atmosphere. Their current situation was incomprehensible to both Aileen and Kim Hajin.
Suddenly, Aileen let out a dumbfounded voice. This time, her words were not using Spirit Speech.
Kim Hajin only stared at Aileen.
Her Spirit Speech didn’t work on him. He wasn’t sure why at first, but then he came up with a plausible explanation.
The influence of Spirit Speech was limited only to the those who exist in this world. But he did not belong in this world, which the Stigma on his arm served as evidence. Therefore, Aileen’s Spirit Speech couldn’t affect Kim Hajin, as he didn’t exist in this world originally.
Oblivious to this fact, Aileen suddenly became irritated. Kim Hajin let out a silent sigh. He now had no doubt that she didn’t see the scroll.
The currents of magic power that Aileen released rose up in the air. Along with it, Aileen’s hair also stood on end. She looked just like a Super Saiyan from a certain manga, ready to fire a blast of Spirit Speech any moment now.
“Take your hood off!”
The huge yell resounded throughout the arena. From Aileen’s small mouth came out an unbelievable amount of magic power, which then turned into massive sound waves that engulfed Kim Hajin’s body.
However… the result was the same.
Though the tip of his robe swayed slightly, Black Lotus didn’t even flinch. In reality, the spectators watching them, and not Black Lotus, were the ones who fell victim to her Spirit Speech, as those who were wearing hoods took them off.
With that, Aileen’s expression became as ferocious as ever. She was always somewhat playful, but this time she was completely serious. Aileen realized that she could never get him to take his hood off with Spirit Speech.
“I have no idea what the heck is going on.”
She concentrated her magic power below to boost herself into the air.
“…But it doesn’t matter.”
Because she used words as her weapon, it was inevitable that she developed a habit of talking to herself.
“The winds all around will force your hood off.”
Suddenly, huge wind funnels appeared in the arena which was completely serene just a moment ago. WHOOSH—! The whirlwind blew like saw blades towards Black Lotus.
But Black Lotus put up a special barrier. The circular barrier enveloped his entire body, sucking the wind in.
“What the hell is that?”
Again, an incomprehensible phenomenon.
‘He has way too many strange techniques.’
—Did you not see the bamboo scroll?
Suddenly, a clear Mental Transmission resounded in Aileen’s mind, interrupting her train of thought. It was obvious who the voice belonged to. Aileen frowned and asked back.
“Bamboo scroll? What are you talking about?”
At the same time, another voice, full of noises, crept in.
—It’s me…. Aileen…. Jin Se… yeon….
A familiar voice and a familiar magic power. Aileen widened her eyes. This message was from Jin Seyeon.
“W-What? Are you Jin Seyeon?”
Aileen’s face lit up with joy.
‘I knew she was alive. The guard told me she was dead, but I didn’t believe him. Though she’s overrated, she’s not a Master-rank for nothing!’
“Where are you right now?!”
—Black Lotus… taught me… Mental… Transmission….
The talent of a Master-rank Hero was indeed spectacular as it only took Jin Seyeon two days to be able to use Mental Transmission, though imperfectly. Of course, it was only possible with the help from Black Lotus.
“No, I said, where are you?”
Jin Seyeon chose to ignore Aileen’s question and instead told her what she needed to know.
—Accept… Black Lotus’s… arrow….
Aileen looked at Black Lotus in confusion. The moment their eyes met, Black Lotus’ voice again flowed into her ears.
—I saved Jin Seyeon.
“…What the heck are these two saying all of sudden?”
Kim Hajin sent yet another message to Aileen, who was tilting her head questiongly.
—And at Jin Seyeon’s request, I hope to save you as well.
…I repeated the same procedure for the next 3 weeks and successfully rescued every member of Aileen’s team from the Colosseum.
“The saying, ‘the beacon does not shine on its own base’, is apparently true.”
Team ‘Aileen and the Kids’ was gathered in the hideout that I had prepared beneath the morgue.
“This hideout is very comfy.”
Yi Yongha said in awe while observing the well-decorated hideout.
I sat on a stone chair and looked at Kim Suho, who was my last opponent. When our eyes met, Kim Suho nodded lightly. He had already thanked me a while ago, but I couldn’t say anything to him in return.
And it wasn’t only me. Kim Suho was also scratching his cheek awkwardly, probably because of Kaita. He had killed Kaita, a member of the Chameleon Troupe, three times already.
Suddenly, I heard a voice in my ear.
It was, of course, from Jin Seyeon.
I glanced at her. I wondered why she was trying so hard to use Mental Transmission when she could just speak to me in person. We were sitting right next to each other, after all.
—We… killed you once… before….
For the record, I taught her how to use Mental Transmission. Stigma could really be used in a lot of ways. I infused Jin Seyeon with Stigma filled with the ‘Mental Transmission Technique’ and she naturally learned to master it.
—However… I have something… I want to… ask you…..
Jin Seyeon continued even as she was panting.
—You’re a member of the Chameleon Troupe… This happened long time ago, but… about the Kwang-Oh Incident….
Startled, I directed my gaze to Jin Seyeon in surprise.
I hadn’t expected to hear those words from Jin Seyeon.
—Do you know about….
Suddenly Aileen intervened. She approached me in short and quick steps, with her arms crossed.
‘What’s she gonna say this time?’ I thought and looked down at the short figure.
But what Aileen said was totally unexpected.
“You guys are on the Association’s Blacklist, but if I happen to run into you on Earth… I’ll let you go once.”
She muttered shyly and quickly turned her head away in embarrassment.
I got up from my seat without answering.
“…It’s time to escape.”
Everybody shifted their attention to me.
—Escape, you say….
“You don’t have to talk through Mental Transmission.”
I tried to stop Jin Seyeon from using Mental Transmission at every chance she got. Jin Seyeon nodded and sent me another Mental Transmission.
“But you don’t have to, right? You’ll have 10 victories soon.”
I shook my head at Aileen’s remark.
“Death awaits me after the 10th victory. Demons are not as generous as you think.”
Then, I dug a hole in the ground. Stigma’s magic power easily penetrated the soil, and the four followed me from behind.
I continued down the hole until it was 5 meters deep, then made a left turn. 30km straight from here, and we should be able to escape the Colosseum.
“Hey, move over. It’s my turn now.”
Because 30km was a quite long distance, we took turns digging the tunnel. I was first, Aileen second, Yi Yongha third, and Jin Seyeon and Kim Suho were last.
After 30 minutes, we arrived at the right spot.
“This is enough.”
I grabbed Kim Suho, who was digging, and pulled him by the shoulder.
I took over and began to dig diagonally. I released Stigma and a stiff slope formed in front of us. At its end, we could see a ray of light.
“Ah, there it is!”
We were out through the tunnel.
[28F - Demon Metropolis]
We arrived at the city of demons after escaping from the Colosseum. It was kind of strange that the 28th floor was just outside the 27th floor, but that’s just how I wrote the setting. There was only one floor left in the Tower anyways, so only the pickiest readers pointed it out.
“What the heck….”
The party stared at the view of the city in a daze. The demons’ city was completely different from that of humans’. There were eyes on their buildings, and they were breathing as though they were alive.
“It’s very grotesque.”
If Hell existed, this would be a good representation of it. Everyone froze momentarily in the face of the fiendish scenery.
I took advantage of their distraction and whispered quietly.
“Spartan, take me to Earth.”
Spartan responded quickly to my request.
The demon city before my eyes suddenly disappeared, and I was transferred to the Chameleon Troupe’s hideout in Pandemonium.
My sudden disappearance would surprise them for sure, but we would meet again soon enough.
There would only be one difference. I would be Kim Hajin and not Black Lotus.
[The Himalayan Mountains]
‘The oxygen concentration is low, and the magic power density is high. Therefore, climbers must breathe carefully on the Himalayan Mountains, which are full of stronger-than-average monsters. But even under these harsh conditions that make human habitation impossible, a mysterious inn exists somewhere in these mountains….’
Such was the urban legend circulating on the Internet. Though Chae Nayun didn’t exactly plan to uncover the truth about the legend even as she climbed the Himalayas, by chance, she came across an inn while wandering through a blizzard.
This was the name of the mysterious inn nestled on the cliff halfway up the mountain. She now confirmed that the legend was, in fact, real.
“…Then, the guests here are all skilled Heroes?”
Chae Nayun chose to enter the inn without a moment of hesitation, and now she was sitting at the counter talking to the inn’s owner.
“I wouldn’t know. I never asked.”
The owner answered briefly. He was a old man with long white hair and a beard. The magic power embedded in his blue eyes clearly indicated what his former occupation was.
“Hm, then how many people are staying here currently?”
It was surprising that the inn was located in the middle of the rugged mountains, but what was even more surprising was that the inn had seven guests.
Chae Nayun took a sip of beer.
“Kyah, how much did you say a glass of beer was?”
Though the drink was expensive, it was well worth the cost. A Himalayan beer would surely be full of magic power.
“It tastes fresh. Is it because it’s from the Himalayas?”
“No, it’s imported. Scaa. From Korea.”
“You know what they say, anything from Korea is good. Though, I never would have imagined such a saying when I was in my twenties.”
Chae Nayun looked inside the glass of beer.
It was indeed way too murky to be harboring magic power. But considering where she was, the price wasn’t too bad.
“By the way, why did you build an inn in a place like this?”
The owner did not answer. Suddenly she noticed the three streaks of scars on his cheek. She stared at the scars in silence, and the owner chuckled and said, “If you have something you want to ask, just ask.”
Chae Nayun let out a dry cough. She asked straightforward.
“Have you seen a man? Um, he looks like this.”
Chae Nayun took out multiple photos of Kim Joongho. The first photo showed his usual appearance, and the rest had disheveled hair, beard, and other possible changes photoshopped to his face.
The owner carefully studied the photos.
“I don’t know. I might have seen him somewhere.”
He answered ambiguously and glanced at the sword on Chae Nayun’s back.
“Anyway, are you a swordswoman?”
“…Pardon? Oh, yes.”
The owner smiled silently. His smile was powerful and stirring. He held a photo up in his hand.
“I think I’ve seen this man. He introduced himself as a forensic pathologist, I believe.”
Kim Joongho, a forensic pathologist.
Chae Nayun’s eyes widened at his remark.
“Then, where did he go? Did he stay here?!”
Chae Nayun jumped to her feet and looked at the owner straight in the eyes. However, when she stood up, she realized how big he was. His shoulders were as wide as a mountain, and his height and physique appeared unmatched even by the strongest of men.
“…Do you want to know?”
“Yes. I have to know.”
Even so, Chae Nayun continued without getting intimidated.
“It’s good that you’re here. I was getting bored.”
The owner suddenly gave her a benign smile.
“I’ll tell you if you win against me.”
“You said you were a swordswoman.”
His words were all too sudden, but Chae Nayun soon gave a small smile. The smile was actually a sneer, a mixture of ridicule and astonishment.
“Well, I’m actually a fairly strong Hero.”
“Every guest here is.”
“…Don’t blame me even if you get hurt.”
Chae Nayun nodded. He did look pretty strong, but he was an old man well-over 70. Not to mention, she’d learned a lot while climbing the Himalayas.
“Well then, why don’t we introduce ourselves first? I’m Chae Nayun. I’m a Hero working for Essence of the Strait. That’s the current rank 1 guild in the world.”
A strange glimmer appeared in the owner’s eyes. He seemed more interested in her name than anything else.
“Are you… Chae Joochul’s granddaughter?”
“Huh? How did you know? Do you know my grandfather?”
Chae Nayun tilted her head sideways. The owner chuckled contently. “I never imagined I would run into Chae Joochul’s granddaughter in a place like this…” He muttered, reminiscing.
“In any case, it’s nice to meet you. My name is….”
‘If he’s acquainted with Grandfather, he could just say so,’ Chae Nayun silently grumbled, and the owner continued.
When he revealed his name, Chae Nayun was dazed.
She had heard of that name.
In fact, it was a name any Hero would know.
The name was even in textbooks.
His achievements were recorded in detail in numerous biographies, as ‘Heynckes’ left an everlasting footprint on the history of Heroes.
“You mean you’re… ‘Steel Spirit’ Heynckes?”
The Lord of Steel, Kryne Heynckes.
A member of the brilliant and magnificent Nine Stars.
“So that name’s still around.”
Heynckes chuckled and shook his head.
“Don’t call me that. Now that I lost my Gift, I’m nothing more than an old man.”
…The devil Plucas captured the human who had been watching his temple from outside. The devil’s sight reached far and he extended his arm from where he was sitting to drag the human by his hair towards him.
The captured human jumped backwards like a frog the moment he laid his eyes on the devil. The devil tore the human’s head off, removed his guts, and drew the Star of David with them.
From the human blood and the feast of torment, Plucas could feel his powers returning to him.
—Plucas-nim, I spotted an intruder.
A voice resounded in Plucas’ ears. It belonged to a Djinn whom Plucas had appointed as his butler. He listened to his servant as he sat on his throne.
—I’ll have to call reinforcements….
But the butler’s words stopped abruptly. Even then, Plucas was sitting on his throne. He looked afar in his seat. He caught a glimpse of an old man who disappeared shortly after.
As time passed, the temple became more and more silent. Soon, a faint sound of footsteps began to approach him from a distance. The footsteps were regular and in order.
“Is it… another… human….”
Plucas said to the figure in the distance. Another voice echoed off the walls of the cave, answering him.
“Truly a filthy place.”
The voice was clear on the outside but dry on the inside. Plucas felt the presence of the human approaching him.
“Did you… find me….”
Plucas muttered. Instead of answering, the human showed himself. His footsteps were relaxed and his attire was neat. The pure white suit and the fedora suited the human quite well.
“I came because you called me.”
The human said as he looked straight at the devil. His appearance was now reflected in the devil’s crimson eyes. The human was an old man, whose soul’s state of existence was immeasurable.
The devil’s heart pounded violently for a moment.
“Who… are you….”
The devil asked and looked at the old man. The old man’s eyes gave off an azure glow. He answered dryly.
“I am the owner of Daehyun and the head of the Chae Family.”
He tapped the ground with the cane that he’d been holding in his hands all this time.
Waves of magic power stretched in all directions.
“And also the employer of the humans you murdered.”
The man called the Immortal was fearless even in the presence of a true devil.
“My family name is Changdo, and my name is Joochul.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Chae Joochul says his family name is Changdo, which is potentially the family name he had before he established the Chae family.