My consciousness returned. I slowly opened my eyes. From the softness of the mattress under my back, I could tell I was lying in bed. Unread sentences blocked my view.
[New episode complete — You have succeeded in stopping the devil.]
[Because you inflicted fatal damage to the ‘Materialized Devil’, your Authority ‘Devil Hunter’ has been strengthened.]
[Acquired 485 SP]
[Your level of proficiency in the Gift ‘Master Sharpshooter’ has increased dramatically.]
[The maximum outputs of ‘Algorithm’ and ‘Aether’ have been enhanced.]
[Aether partially understands the existence of a ‘devil’.]
[Your physical lifespan has been reduced by three years.]
Out of the many messages, the one that stood out the most was, of course, the message about my lifespan.
With a sigh, I raised my upper body.
I expected [Overclocking] to have some side effects. I still decided to add two additional streaks of Stigma because I believed one wouldn’t be enough to inflict reasonable damage to the devil.
Of course, I probably should have realized that materialized devil would be weaker than an actual devil, but still….
[Damage inflicted on materialized devil, ‘Morax’ — 96%]
Either I underestimated myself, or I overestimated the devil. I had inflicted 96% of the damage by myself. My single attack probably left it on its last breath, and the others probably finished off the remaining 4%.
“…How do you feel?”
As I was checking my condition, I heard a voice. When I turned around, I saw Jin Sahyuk.
I answered briefly, “Fine.”
Though I had lost three years of lifespan, it was nothing to worry about.
*Major wound — loss of three years of life (In the process of recovering through Orb of Regeneration)
The Orb of Regeneration was already healing my body. The progress of recovery was characteristically being expressed as packets. It would take the orb three to four months to fully restore my lifespan.
Jin Sahyuk stared at me in silence. That strange gaze and silence were unfamiliar to me.
After a little while, Jin Sahyuk opened her mouth.
“I understand your intentions.”
“What? What intentions?”
How would she know my intentions when I didn’t even know them myself?
Still, Jin Sahyuk turned back without answering me. I took out the magnifying glass to examine Jin Sahyuk’s emotions.
[Remorse, Resolution, Resignation]
I couldn’t understand why she was feeling this way.
Amidst my confusion, the door shut close.
“…What was that?”
I had no idea what she was talking about, but whatever.
By defeating the devil, I was able to claim every reward from this small arc. This arc also allowed me to gauge my strength, and I found out that I was actually far stronger than I thought.
—List of rewards you’ll naturally claim as you proceed
1. Mysterious Magnifying Glass
2. Omnipotent Magic Pen
3. Purifying Crystal
I was naturally most curious about the fourth reward, ‘???’….
Suddenly, with the sound of a chime, a notification window popped up.
[Because you successfully completed this episode, you may ask me any one question.]
[The question may also be a favor. I will grant it if it is within reason.]
My eyes widened. I had never seen this type of message before.
These messages were clearly addressed to me from an unknown existence with intelligence.
“What the, who are you?”
[Is that your question?]
‘Calm down, me. You need to stay calm.’
“No, no. That’s not it.”
I stared at the window in a daze. Was this the fourth reward, a chance to interact with the co-author? If so, what should I ask?
I tried my best to come up with a question but in vain.
I came to my senses a moment later. This wasn’t something that I could decide right away.
I shook my head, trying not to rush myself.
Whether it be a favor or a question, I would have to wait until later, at a more decisive moment.
At that moment, the door burst open, and a number of people rushed into the room. Not only Aileen, Jin Seyeon, Yi Yongha, Seo Youngji, but also Prihi and the knights were here as well. All of them seemed surprised.
“What’s up with you? You said the devil was super strong! But you killed him by yourself!”
Aileen shouted in a cheeky tone.
“Ah, well, the devil was much weaker than I expected….”
Now I would have to spend hours explaining to others what happened. I put on a smile on the outside but sighed on the inside.
Meanwhile, on Earth, assassination plans were well underway. The Djinns divided themselves into teams and proceeded into the western territory; Heroes, including those who belonged to the Association, proceeded into the eastern territory. Behind this systematic collaboration was a ‘secret pact’ between the two parties.
“Damn, there’s a lot of monsters here.”
Cheok Jungyeong shook his hands, and koong—! dozens of monsters fell from the sky to the ground.
“That ‘Monster King’, he sure lives up to his name. He’s got tons of monster followers.”
They were inside the innermost underground tunnel, just outside Orden’s Kingdom.
For an individual team, the Chameleon Troupe was doing better than everyone else.
“…Droon, how far are we from Orden?”
Boss asked Droon as she tore apart monsters. Droon closed his eyes and measured.
“6km… I think.”
It was then.
“Woo! I see something interesting going on here!”
A loud voice rang out from behind them. Boss turned around. Wicked was there.
Wicked, who had lost all of her executives, came with only about four or five subordinates. They were more a clique than a gang.
Boss quickly understood why Wicked was here. She was probably too afraid to hang out with the other Djinns. It would be risky for her to be near big-time evils like ‘Terror’ and ‘Dread’ without her executives.
“Haha, it’s great to see you again. The reason I came here is-”
“Boss, someone’s coming this way.”
Droon interrupted Wicked.
Boss immediately activated Yasha Transformation. Her body quickly turned black. At the same time, a whirlwind of enormous speed rushed towards them from the other side of the darkness.
Boss knew who this wind storm belonged to.
The faint buzzing of an insect resounded throughout the tunnel.
Boss’ face distorted into a frown.
Orden was not her main target. The one she wanted to kill the most was— the damned insect who once took the life of her comrade.
And right now, that same insect was headed her way.
Boss proceeded to greet him as a true ‘Yasha’.
[Recorded past — Akatrina]
With all external threats removed, Plerion quickly prospered. People from all regions of the country rushed into the capital city, and the population of Plerion now exceeded 50,000. Food shortages were easily resolved with the help of Random Dice and the crystal shards. The job market and the economy stabilized, and the country was back on its feet.
“…Today is the last day.”
Currently, we were taking a walk around the central plaza, inspecting the city one last time. The plaza, once barren, was now lively. The surrounding landscape was filled with signs of life: ponds, trees, shrubs, and people.
“It’s regrettable that we have to leave.”
Jin Seyeon murmured in a rather bitter tone.
I answered and looked around.
Our trip to Akatrina had been an unexpected one, but we gained a lot from this experience. For example, Shin Jonghak’s growth, Jin Sahyuk’s change, information on Kim Chundong’s life, and a faint clue regarding my existence….
“But we can’t stay here forever. We have to hurry back. Who knows how many years have passed in the outside world?”
This was Aileen’s remark. She was not yet aware of the difference between the time here and the time outside.
"Well then, let's go."
We got up from the bench and headed to the royal palace. The civilians were too busy living their own lives to pay attention to us.
This was a good sign.
Together, we entered the royal palace. Prihi was in the royal garden, watching the flowers with Jin Sahyuk.
Prihi noticed that we returned, but she seemed reluctant to approach us. It was probably because she sensed that today was the day we would have to say goodbye.
I approached Prihi with a smile.
Prihi didn’t answer. She wouldn’t even look at me. I kneeled down on one knee in front of Prihi.
“Please, don’t be upset. We’ll meet again someday.”
When I was writing the original novel, what I regretted the most was that I released too many meaningless chapters. Chapters that were useless in every way except for the purpose of meeting the deadline.
The co-author must have seen through this. He probably rewrote this ‘changed past’ arc so that it would be useful later on.
“…Is that true? Will we really meet again?”
Prihi asked, her voice a mix of doubt and anticipation.
“Of course. I don’t lie.”
Prihi looked at me with teary eyes. She looked like she was about to cry, but she didn’t. She maintained her composure as a king.
Jin Seyeon, who was standing behind me, suddenly came forward.
“Those who meet must part, those who part must meet again.”
“…Right. That is the way of the world.”
Prihi nodded and wiped her eyes. And she took out the last piece of crystal that she’d been holding onto.
“Here… take it. It’s the last crystal shard.”
[Continental Fragment Piece]
—Crystal that maintains the Recorded Past
—Increases the bearer’s wisdom and intelligence
Finally, we had all six crystals. But it seemed Prihi had something else to give to me.
This time, it was a different crystal. The baseball-sized crystal shined white rather than blue.
“This is the crystal that came out of the devil you killed. Take it with you.”
This was, of course, the [Purifying Crystal].
I grabbed the crystal, but Prihi would need this crystal as well. So I infused Stigma’s magic power into it.
Stigma’s magic power caused the crystal to vibrate from the inside and split into two. The size of the two shards, in terms of ratio, would be 8:2. I returned the smaller shard to Prihi.
“This crystal will prove useful to Your Majesty as well. Please protect your world with it while you await our reunion.”
As I was explaining to Prihi, I suddenly felt a fierce gaze land on the back of my head. I turned around, afraid the gaze would drill a hole in my skull, only to discover Jin Sahyuk glaring at me. Her gaze was a combination of sadness, regret, anger, and jealousy.
“…Okay. Thank you. I’ll do as you say.”
At that moment, Prihi nodded with a bright smile. Jin Sahyuk glared down at the top of Prihi’s head. I grabbed Jin Sahyuk by her wrist and pulled her towards me.
“Yes. Well then, see you later.”
I said my goodbye as I brought the six shards together. At this time, Prihi and the knights were already surrounding us. The knights bid us farewell while keeping respectful manners.
—Thank you for everything! It has been an honor to work with you!
The lie that we were priests had long been revealed.
We answered them with big smiles.
“It’s been an honor for us as well.”
At that moment, Prihi whispered to Jin Sahyuk in a very small voice.
—I’m not going to become you.
She could just be trying to insult Jin Sahyuk, but Jin Sahyuk looked at Prihi in surprise. Prihi returned a mysterious smile.
“Now, go. Thank you for everything.”
Prihi said with a smile.
“Yeah, well, it’s been a pretty interesting experience for us, too~”
Aileen answered. In contrast to her calm tone, she looked as if she was about to cry, her nose as red as a tomato. I brought the crystals together before she could start to weep.
“We’ll be off.”
With a dazzling light, the six crystals converged into one, to which I infused my Stigma.
The light from the crystal obscured our vision.
When we opened our eyes, we were back in the real world, at the exact spot we first met. Jin Seyeon, Aileen, Yi Yongha, Seo Youngji, Shin Jonghak…. Everyone was here, except for Jin Sahyuk.
“Ah. So we’re back? I’m kinda sad.”
Aileen stretched her body. A teardrop flowed down her cheek.
“What the. I-I’m not crying. I yawned, is all. I said I’m not crying.”
I first checked my connection with Spartan.
Spartan, who stayed on Earth while I was in Akatrina, informed me of the current situation.
“…It looks like we won’t have time to rest.”
Aileen tilted her head questioningly.
“Because the Djinns’ Orden Assassination Mission is currently underway. The Hero Association joined them as well.”
With a bitter smile, I tapped the smartwatch with my finger.
“Yes. Please, follow…”
As I was about to set off, I discovered something on the ground. It was a gem sparkling with rainbow colors.
I bent over and picked it up.
—Seed containing the changed world of ‘Akatrina’
“…Ah~ So there was a trick in the narrative.”
I gave a small smile.
[???], the fourth reward of the chapter.
I thought that referred to the chance to ask a question to the co-author when in truth, this seed was the real fourth reward.
Tens of thousands of people would continue their lives in the fake world within this ‘Tower Seed’. If we plant this seed in the ground, the world of Akatrina as we know would rise like a tower.
“So what are we gonna do now? That kid, Jin Sahyuk, is already gone.”
Just as I was about to sentimentalize over Akatrina, Aileen hastened me.
“…Give me a minute. I have one more thing left to do.”
First, I tried to create a new Gift. According to Spartan— Kim Suho finally cleared the Tower, so the amount of SP needed to create this Gift should have decreased.
[Buster Call] [Intermediate-rank]
*Using Stigma’s magic power, summon from the Tower of Wish vassals who swore loyalty to Kim Hajin or his possessions.
[You need 8000 SP to create ‘Buster Call’.]
[Would you like to save?]
The price had gone down from 30,000 SP to 8,000 SP.
It was more than fair.
I clicked ‘Yes’ without a moment of hesitation.
[A huge ‘accumulation of luck’ erupts!]
[Maybe all of your misfortunes have been for this moment! Your Gift ‘Buster Call’ has been increased to ‘high-intermediate rank’!]
[Your luck doesn’t end here! Your Gift ‘Buster Call’ has been increased to ‘high-rank’!]
[In addition, you’ll receive a portion of the SP (2000 SP) you spent on Gift creation back!]
Golden fireworks exploded before my eyes.
[Orden’s Kingdom, Underground Prison.]
Kim Suho entered the underground prison with Yun Seung-Ah. Their mission was to rescue the hostages held captive here. Breaking in was easy since Yun Seung-Ah had memorized the inner structure of the Kingdom in advance.
“Suho, doesn’t this place feel kind of weird?”
When they reached the prison, Yun Seung-Ah noticed that something was off.
All of the jail cells were filled with Heroes who appeared too healthy to have been locked up for two months.
Of course, there was the possibility that Orden treated them humanely, but….
“Hmm? What’s weird?”
Kim Suho, who was frantically breaking open the cells, stopped to ask.
With big smiles across their faces, Heroes who had been locked up came out of the cells Kim Suho had just opened.
“It’s just that…. Ah?!”
At that moment, Yun Seung-Ah noticed someone. The moment she saw him, all her doubts melted away.
‘Park Hanho’, the chairman of the Temple of Justice.
Yun Seung-Ah rushed to meet Park Hanho, who was locked up in the innermost cell. Kim Suho also recognized him and quickly followed Yun Seung-Ah.
With one slash, Kim Suho broke open the prison cell, and Park Hanho was freed.
“Ah, thank goodness. How did you get stuck here? Hurry on out.”
Yun Seung-Ah brushed the dust off of Park Hanho’s body.
“Are you okay?”
Kim Suho asked worryingly, but Park Hanho didn’t answer. He only stared at Yun Seung-Ah and Kim Suho with an expressionless face.
“…Senior? I mean, Chairman? What’s wrong?”
Park Hanho was silent. A grim sense of foreboding enveloped them. Park Hanho was normally kind and gentle, but he seemed a bit different right now. There was something ominous about him.
Yun Seung-Ah slowly backed away.
But she ran into something. The Heroes that Kim Suho released were already surrounding the duo.
“…Chairman Park Hanho?”
Kim Suho muttered as he instinctively grabbed his sword. He was familiar with this kind of development.
"Oh, yes, hi. I guess you two are here to save me."
Park Hanho finally spoke.
There wasn’t a hint of emotion in his nonchalant answer.
A certain premonition crossed Yun Seung-Ah’s mind. She spoke, trying to suppress her doubts.
“Yes. We’re here to save you, Senior. You know, like how you saved me last time.”
“Hm. I see.”
Park Hanho nodded.
However, suddenly, metal-colored magic power blazed up around his body.
“But… you really didn’t need to.”
Park Hanho’s magic power was the sturdiest in the world. It had the very rare ‘unbreakable’-attribute.
Park Hanho, who always stood in the front lines to protect his allies, was a Hero whom others revered and depended on.
“…Suho, take out your sword.”
But currently, there was something different about Park Hanho.
Something about him had changed.
Yun Seung-Ah clenched her teeth and drew her sword.
“I’m happy here.”
Park Hanho whispered.
Suddenly, a huge rumbling descended from the ceiling of the underground prison.Previous Chapter Next Chapter