The purest light amplified by Stigma, an arrow that the Greek goddess of wisdom used. [Lv.11 Athena’s Moonlight Arrow] flew silently, devouring both the sky and earth.
As the arrow flew across the sky, the world turned white. All the nearby monsters were burnt alive by the overwhelming moonlight. Though it was still afternoon, the sky became dark, as moonlight only shone in the dark.
“…Come up here.”
I hastened Jin Sahyuk who was staring at me. She still looked confused, but I didn’t have a lot of time to spare.
“I’m going to leave you behind if you don’t.”
At that moment, the footsteps of yet another army of monsters rang out from beyond the horizon. Startled by the sound, Jin Sahyuk glanced at the horizon, then looked at me, then jumped high and landed on the cliff where I was standing.
“What’s with you? Why did you suddenly come here, and….”
I let Jin Sahyuk babble to herself and activated my spirit power.
I focused my spirit power on ‘movement’, set the coordinates in my head, and mimicked Khalifa’s Gift, ‘Portal’. Because I had used up almost all streaks of Stigma during the last attack, I no longer had any left to use for the portal.
My spirit power created a ‘portal’. I grabbed Jin Sahyuk and pushed her inside. Then I followed her.
We arrived at a dark cave on the coast of Africa.
“…You bastard, you were the one who kicked me out. So why did you come to me?”
All of a sudden, Jin Sahyuk grabbed me by the collar.
But I only looked at her in the eye.
“What, you’re just gonna ignore me? Huh? Is that it?”
Bell had told me a lot about Jin Sahyuk, about the life she had to live on Earth after her death in Akatrina, what path she took to get here, and about the agony and the pain she had to live through.
“Hey, Kim Hajin! Kim— Hajin! Kim— Ha— Jin—!”
When I heard Bell, I felt hopeful that maybe the ending of my novel could change.
In my novel, Jin Sahyuk was an unforgivable villain and a hopeless tyrant. But in this world, she changed because she met ‘Bell’, a character who didn’t exist in my original story.
“Are you deaf or something?”
I didn’t trust Bell completely, of course. I still had a lot of doubts about him, and he clearly had many secrets I needed to dig up.
But none of that mattered right now. I wasn’t worried at all.
After all, I had the ‘Book of Truth’ with me.
It was then that Jin Sahyuk started to shake me side to side. My body swayed like a doll made out of paper because of her enormous strength.
I answered nonchalantly, “It's only natural for a servant to be with his king, right?”
Jin Sahyuk froze.
Her hands were still around my neck when she coldly muttered, “…That’s bullshit.”
“What do you mean?” I shrugged my shoulders.
I could tell she was extremely suspicious of me.
‘Kindspring’ and ‘Kim Hajin’.
She was torn between the two existences.
“Anyways, I’ve decided to train you in place of Bell for the next six months, or shorter if possible.”
Jin Sahyuk’s grip tightened all of a sudden.
“Training? Cut the crap. You’ve met Bell? What did you two talk about?”
“Well…. Can you let go of me first?”
I looked down at my collar. Jin Sahyuk’s grip was so tight that, frankly, I couldn’t move at all. I felt as if my whole body had been bound, even though all she was doing was holding me by my collar. The difference in our base stats was too high.
“Why would I—”
I scowled. Jin Sahyuk, however, did not loosen her grip and only stared at me. There wasn’t a single trace of fear in her eyes.
‘…A while ago she couldn’t even speak properly in front of me.’
“…Do you think I’m a joke just because I’ve been going easy on you these past few months?”
Jin Sahyuk clenched her teeth and didn’t answer.
Well, now was the time to set the records straight.
I only had one streak of Stigma left, but I was still confident I would win. As long as I had [Fate], I would never lose to Jin Sahyuk.
“Let go of me before I count to three.”
I held three fingers up.
I folded two of them.
And there went the last.
But Jin Sahyuk’s hands were still around my collar. She smirked.
“Just come at me, you bastard. You think I’ll be scared of you forev-”
I activated [Fate] immediately.
All my stats were increased by 300% and the sensation of absolute power encompassed my entire body. This time [Fate] included [Pinnacle-rank Instant Acceleration] attached to the Black Lotus Uniform.
My blood began to rush, and my speed increased indefinitely as the world slowed down almost to a stop.
Meanwhile, Jin Sahyuk was….
“Y… o… u….”
I punched Jin Sahyuk in the stomach. Her eyes widened. She coughed blood at the exact moment of the impact.
Jin Sahyuk slowly began to pull back, clutching her stomach. She was probably in the process of being flung backward.
I grabbed Jin Sahyuk by the shoulder and kicked her in the pit of her stomach this time. Tears flowed from Jin Sahyuk’s eyes but she countered with Reality Manipulation.
A sharp blade of magic power left a scar on my cheek.
“Hm? Oh, wow.”
As expected of Jin Sahyuk, it seemed I couldn’t let my guard down even in my [Fate] state.
I acknowledged her strength and—
“Uk—! Uuek—! Kuek—!”
—proceeded to beat the crap out of Jin Sahyuk in all earnestness.
It only took Tigris three minutes to completely annihilate his guards.
The guards in the front row were killed before they could do anything; others who understood the situation tried to fight back but failed.
Tigris had murdered all of his subordinates in just three minutes.
—…Get started, Suho. We’ll cover you.
Tigris was finally alone and now was the best time to strike.
With Misteltein in his hand, Kim Suho dashed towards his target past the devastated field.
However, before Kim Suho could go anywhere near him, Tigris swung his fist. His punch flew towards Kim Suho who was still 500 meters away. This was the famous [Formless Tiger Punch], Tigris’s specialty.
Kim Suho swung Misteltein and stopped the attack.
Only then did Tigris take interest in Kim Suho.
Staring straight at his enemy, Kim Suho whispered into his radio.
“…I’ll prepare myself for a long battle..”
—Yes, do that. It’s better that way. Since we’ve got the Chameleon Troupe with us, you won’t have to worry about reinforcements coming to help him.
[Formless Tiger Punch] was almost invincible. It was a punch that could travel afar, and along the way, it attacked everything in Tigris’s 320-degree field of view.
Still, [Formless Tiger Punch] was controlled by magic power. Tigris, as the descendant of the Himalayan Mountain Tyrant, naturally had a small capacity for magic power.
Therefore, a chance would eventually come so long as one could endure Formless Tiger Punch until Tigris’s magic power ran out.
That was exactly what Kim Suho was waiting for. He was fast enough to evade Tigris’s attacks and his Gift could sever Formless Tiger Punch.
Kim Suho shouted. Tigris got up slowly and glared at Kim Suho. The anger in his eyes seemed to have subsided.
To Tigris, Kim Suho shouted yet again—
“I killed Horseless—!”
He decided that the fastest way to deplete Tigris’s magic power was to drive him mad again.
And his decision was wise.
Madness engulfed Tigris’s eyes once again. With an earth-crushing roar, countless [Formless Tiger Punch] rushed towards Kim Suho.
The punches came from every direction. From the sky, from the ground, and from the air to the side. There wasn’t any distinguishable pattern in the attacks, and each punch was just as lethal as the others.
Despite this, Kim Suho managed to block them all. The sword of the Sword Saint was poised and efficient. The sword traveled diagonally and severed the punches that poured in from all directions.
Amidst the endless succession of attacks, Kim Suho closed his eyes. His vision went dark but his other senses were heightened.
He now relied only on his senses and his intuition to deliver his attacks, reaching the epitome of perfect swordsmanship.
Tigris continued to swing his fists, using the ‘108-consecutive punches that he was so proud of. No one had survived this attack so far.
Kim Suho slid his sword back into its sheath, then drew his sword again and swung it forward.
His sword draw technique spread out like a wave and thwarted Tigris’s 108-consecutive punches.
“…Is this all you’ve got?”
Kim Suho’s swordsmanship indeed suited his title, Sword Saint.
Kim Suho was now fully revealing his state of existence.
[Africa, Undersea Cave]
Our first training, a mock grappling combat, ended in 3 minutes.
Jin Sahyuk was now lying sick in bed, while I was sitting on the chair next to her and looking down at her. To be fair, I wasn’t in such a great condition either due to the side effects of [Fate].
“Anyways, until then, let’s just not talk about ‘king’ and ‘servant’ and all that. Cut off the root of the problem. We’ll only get headaches if we keep bringing it up.”
Jin Sahyuk glared at me in silence. The look in her eyes was quite threatening.
“Wipe that scowl off of your face.”
Jin Sahyuk sighed and turned over on her side.
She then muttered, “What are we doing for half a year?”
“First of all, dungeons.”
Jin Sahyuk showed some interest.
“Yup. Africa is full of interesting dungeons. I heard there’s one called the ‘Quiz Dungeon’. Anyways, dungeons are dangerous, but they have amazing rewards.”
From now on, I needed to hunt for items. Clearing dungeons would not only help Jin Sahyuk grow but also allow me to secure the materials I would need in order to forge new pieces of equipment.
I planned to dismantle the existing artifacts with [Young Dwarf’s Dexterity] and recreate them as new artifacts of greater quality.
“…So, do you know where those dungeons are?” Jin Sahyuk asked flatly.
I opened the Book of Truth and turned over the pages, trying to remember the locations of the dungeons. Suddenly, I remembered the name of the man that Bell had mentioned.
Yi Yeonjun, the former boss of the Chameleon Troupe.
“…What are you looking at? Show me.”
It seemed Jin Sahyuk was intrigued by my serious expression. But I closed the Book of Truth and returned it into Stigma. Then I looked at Jin Sahyuk.
“What? What is it this time?”
Jin Sahyuk flinched, slightly intimidated by my gaze.
“….Hey. Do you know ‘Yi Yeonjun’?”
I thought Jin Sahyuk might know him.
“…I guess you wouldn’t remember other people’s names. You’re too busy being snotty.”
“There you go with your insults again, you bastard!”
“Stop calling me names.”
I put my hand over Jin Sahyuk’s head. Jin Sahyuk began to tremble in fear as a reaction to the earlier incident.
“For now, let’s just eat in peace.”
I went to the fridge in the corner of the cave and took out some ingredients. Beef, green onions, onions, garlic, chives, rice, cooking wine…. Then something crossed my mind and I turned my smartwatch on.
“Maybe I’ll ask Yoo Jinhyuk.”
He was still active, after all.
And while I was at it, I might as well send a text to Boss and let her know I was okay.
Bell told me that I would have no choice but to betray Boss, but my thoughts were different.
‘Yeah, let’s do that.’
First, I sent a text to Boss.
Having returned to his shelter, Bell let out a sigh.
He was shrouded in complete darkness without even a speck of light. Such living conditions were unsuitable for a human, but he had no choice but to comply as this place was a sanctuary located deep in the sea.
‘So the Chameleon Troupe arrived at the underground village. Rumi probably escaped. Did Kim Hajin meet Jin Sahyuk as I planned?’
Many thoughts were tangled up inside his head.
Bell drew up the blinds and sat on a chair by a small table. The light of the deep sea came through the window. It was still very close to darkness, but Bell felt a little comfort from the dim light.
A faint murmur.
Bell poured tea into the teacup as he turned his head towards the sound.
“Are you awake?”
There was no answer. But a disapproving sigh announced the existence of someone.
Bell smiled and took a sip of the tea.
“Why don’t you have some tea, too? I brought it from the Tower.”
Bell had spent an entire day talking to Kim Hajin, revealing his most secretive plans. But there was one thing he kept hidden.
That was the existence of a certain man.
The sigh became louder.
And Bell called his name.
He was loved and treasured by some and loathed by many others.
He was known to have died a long time ago, but he resurrected after a long sleep.
Yi Yeonjun answered reluctantly. He kept glancing at the window, visibly uncomfortable.
“Would you like some tea?”
Yi Yeonjun’s eyebrows wriggled into a frown. His brown eyes became sharp, making his overall expression appear more firm.
“Mm. How do you feel, then? It hasn’t been long since you woke up.”
“…Three months are long enough.”
Yi Yeonjun got up from his bed.
Creek, creek. He limped with one leg as he walked towards the chair facing Bell.
“Did you have some time to think about what I said?”
“Thinking is difficult now. I can’t keep my thoughts running for long.”
He sounded rigid and stern.
The way he spoke resembled Byul, as he was the originator of such tone.
“That’s why I said you shouldn’t stay in here for too long. 10 years was enough.”
Yi Yeonjun woke up from his long sleep just three months ago. But the actual time he spent sleeping was dozens of times longer than 3 months.
“There was nothing else I could do. My entire body was ruined and I didn’t want to wake up in that state.”
“…Sure. More importantly, aren’t you going to meet Byul?”
Byul was very attached to Yi Yeonjin the last time Bell checked. However, a lot of time had passed since they last saw each other, and Bell wasn’t sure if Byul still felt the same way about his friend.
“Pft. Why would I meet Byul?”
Yi Yeonjun gave a small smile and shook his head. Bell looked at his smile and the way his iconic dimples appeared in his cheeks.
Once, Bell had thought that Yi Yeonjun’s smile captured the purest form of evil, the same kind of mischievousness and innocence that belonged to a child.
“She’s doing fine without me.”
One could tell Yi Yeonjun was proud of Byul from the way he smiled.
But he wasn’t proud of her as a person; rather, his smile displayed the pride of a swordsman when he looked at his sword.
“So you’re not going to see her ever?”
“I’ll see her when the time is right. Don’t rush me.”
Byul still didn’t—and probably never will—know that the man who pushed her into the pit of despair was Yi Yeonjun.
‘…Byul, the salvation you received from Yeonjun was nothing but a deception.’
Bell sighed as he thought of her.
“So, what do you plan to do from now on, Yeonjun?”
“I’ll take some time to recover, then go after Chae Joochul.”
A long time ago, the man who destroyed Yi Yeonjun wasn’t Bell but Chae Joochul. It was just that the truth had been buried by Chae Joochul’s deceitful schemes.
“By the way, I’m surprised that Chae Jinyoon went amiss.”
And the man who planted the Devil’s Seed in Chae Jinyoon was Yi Yeonjun.
The man who incited the assassination of Chae Nayun’s mother was also probably Yi Yeonjun.
Bell knew that the man sitting in front of him was a ‘real monster’. But he had gotten too used to his friend to accept him for what he truly was. So, Bell smiled and put his hand on top of Yi Yeonjun’s head.
“First things first, you should really get your hair trimmed.”
Yi Yeonjin frowned.
“No need. I need to stay hidden for a while anyway and long hair will help with the disguise.”
“…Tsk. Then, I take that your next goal after killing Chae Joochul is still the same?”
“Yeah. It became even clearer the longer I slept. It was as if someone was breathing the answer into my head.”
“…Really? That sounds interesting.”
Bell also knew that for Kim Hajin to reach his own end, he would need to kill this man.
‘When that time comes, I might feel a little sad,’ Bell thought.
For that reason, Byul would have to betray Kim Hajin.
She would never be able to forgive Kim Hajin for killing Yi Yeonjun.