Chapter 351. Pieces (3)

[Paris, France]

Astaroth’s barrier around Madrid had been lifted. As many had feared, Astaroth, who came out of the barrier, brought with him a powerful army. The devil reached Paris in no time.

Ah Hae-In traveled to Paris to stop Astaroth. But by the time she arrived, Paris was already in ruins.

Astaroth and his army were trampling on the city and slaughtering humans. The screams of innocent victims rang out endlessly, and the Heroes were helpless against the devil’s attack.

Looking at the ruins of her old hometown, Ah Hae-In bit her lip. She felt something hot boiling up in her heart. The scene of the brutal killing filled her with anger. ‘I'm glad I didn't bring Evandel with me,’ she thought.
However.

Hiiing—!

Suddenly the unicorn cried out. The unicorn, who had brought Ah Hae-In here at Evandel’s command, shuddered at the horrendous state of Paris. Evandel had ignored her master’s warning and shared vision with the unicorn.

“Evandel!” Ah Hae-In shouted.

The unicorn, trembling, sank to the ground. Evandel had cut off her connection to the unicorn.

“….Damn it.”

Evandel’s spirit beasts, having noticed their master’s agitation, suddenly lost control of themselves. They threw themselves at the devil's army. Everyone turned their attention to Ah Hae-In, and she had no choice but to call upon her summoned beasts.

The Azure Dragon and the Black Turtle, two of Ah Hae-In’s most adored summoned beasts, responded to her call.

—I-it’s Duchess Ah Hae-In!
—The reinforcements are here-!

The Azure Dragon occupied the sky while the Black Turtle occupied the earth. Having noticed the arrival of the Cardinal Beasts, the Heroes of France cheered for Ah Hae-In.
This was the beginning of an all-out war between tamed beasts and the devil.

Kwang—!

The spirit beasts and demons clashed violently. There were explosions everywhere, and the cries of spirit beasts and the screams of demons mingled.
The situation wasn’t exactly in favor of humans as the spirit beasts lost their chain of command and went berserk.

“Evandel!”

Ah Hae-In sent Evandel a Mental Transmission. But there was no reply. The cruel war with endless deaths was still too early for the young girl.
Evandel’s spirit beasts also noticed their master’s agitation. Some of them thought she was in danger and left the battlefield altogether.

“Evandel! Hang in there, Evandel!” Ah Hae-In shouted.

It was then.

Suddenly the flow of air stretched and sound slowed down. Ah Hae-In was now able to feel the movement of the air and particles in the atmosphere.

It was a strange sensation.

Ah Hae-In stopped and looked around. The world had slowed down just as her senses did. The spirit beasts were frozen in place with their claws pointed forward and the rays of demonic energy remained frozen in the air without advancing further.

“It seems this has become quite a bit of trouble.”

And then, a small voice flowed into Ah Hae-In’s ears. Startled, she turned.

“…Ah?”

Ah Hae-In widened her eyes. An old man was there. His thick gray hair and deep eyes were memorable.

“You’re….”

Ah Hae-In knew who he was. Not only was she familiar with his appearance, but she had also felt his magic power before. There was no way she could ever forget such a pure and marvelous power.
This old man was Oh Jaejin, the world’s first and last 10-star grand magician, and a member of the Nine Stars.

“It’s been a while.”

Oh Jaejin gave a small smile. Ah Hae-In couldn’t say a thing. She first met him 20 years ago at a Magic Tower. At the time, Oh Jaejin was the head of Seoul Magic Power, and she was just a beginner who couldn’t control even the simplest of magic.

But one day Oh Jaejin left the tower. Even then the grand magician had been well-known for his peculiar character. Everyone thought he would return soon, but he never did. The first and last grand magician soon disappeared from the world of magic.

“…Grand Magician Oh Jaejin-nim?”

That’s why Ah Hae-In couldn’t believe her eyes. Despite the many shocking rumors—that he was suffering from dementia or that he had been castrated—Oh Jaejin had not appeared in public in years.
But now, here he was, in front of the devil’s army.

“Yes, it’s good to see you, Ah Hae-In.”

“Pardon? Ah, of course. But, um. H-how did you get here? N-no, more than that, what have you been d-doing u-u-until now…?”

Ah Hae-In couldn’t even speak properly.
Nevertheless, the grand magician replied with a smile.

“A few months ago, there was a young man who came to see me. He told me he needed my help.”

Though his dementia healed thanks to the medicine he received from Kim Hajin, it took him a long time to reclaim his sense of magic lost over the years. Also, he had a difficult time persuading his wife, who always worried too much.

“I was hiding because I needed a little time… but that’s all in the past now. Move over, I’ll deal with him.”

Oh Jaejin plodded past her. Ah Hae-In turned and looked at his back. It was just an old man’s back but it felt as big as a tower to her.

The old man held a long tree branch like a cane and shook it very lightly.

And the world stopped. This was not hyperbole. Everything except Ah Hae-In and Oh Jaejin ceased to move. This mesmerized Ah Hae-In.

She couldn’t help but admire such an astonishing skill. Oh Jaejin, the great 10-star grand magician, had defied the logic of man and nature and reached a miracle.

He could control exerted time— in other words, all the movements of the world.

**

[Essence of the Strait Underground Facility]

As soon as I activated [Dimensional Entropy], I also activated [Buster Call]. My Stigma hadn’t been restored completely yet, but I was able to summon Genkelope’s Vessel using Overclocking.

“Are you done~?” Jain asked. I nodded and turned my gaze to her.

Andromalius, the rank 72 devil. Though he was ranked last, he was still a devil. However, right now, he was….
Crunch—! Crunch—!
…Being eaten alive by Droon’s Mimyo.

“Don’t overdo it, Mimyo. You might get a stomachache later.”

Droon patted Mimyo, and Mimyo wiggled his ears.
That whole scene was pretty mind-boggling. I gave a bitter smile and began speaking to Horner.

“Horner, are you there?”

—Yes, sir. Everyone is on standby.

His voice never failed to ease my mind. Moreover, when I checked the vessel with the Thousand-Mile Eyes, I could see that the whole ship, not just Horner, had been upgraded greatly.

“How are things down there?”

—According to the supercomputer, not so good. We’ve detected two powerful devils.

It had only been about 10 seconds since I summoned the ship, but the supercomputer had already completed all the calculations.

Trying to conceal my surprise, I answered, “Got it. We’ll be there.”

—I’ll open the portal.

All of a sudden, a portal sprang up right in front of me. This technology had never failed to amaze me.

—Come in. Your guest is waiting for you.

“My guest? What guest… ah.”

I had a rough idea of who it was. I had just activated the [Dimensional Entropy], so the timing was right, too.

“Okay, I’ll head over right now. You guys, protect this place,” I told the members of the Chameleon Troupe, who were preparing to follow me.

At present, the [Dimensional Entropy] was more important than anything else in the world. So I needed to leave it in the hands of trustworthy people.

“Why should you have all the fun…. Ehew. Fine~”

Jain pouted at first but nodded when she felt Boss glare at her.

“I’ll leave it to you. Yoo Yeonha, follow me.”

“Pardon? Ah… okay.”

I entered the portal and Yoo Yeonha followed me while glancing at Boss.

[Genkelope’s Vessel]

As soon as I entered the portal, I saw the letters ‘Genkelope’s Vessel’ engraved on the ceiling of the ship.

“Long time no see, sir.”

Horner greeted us with a welcoming smile.

“Long time no see. Ah, this is Yoo Yeonha.”

I introduced Yoo Yeonha to Horner. She shook hands with Horner and looked around the ship.

“Let’s get moving now. We don’t have much time.”

“Yes. Please follow me, Ship Commander.”

I followed Horner to the control room. From there we could freely observe the battlefield below.

“Many Heroes are fighting there right now.”

Horner pointed to where Baal and Morax had been summoned. The situation didn’t look good even at a glance. It was more of a one-sided slaughter than a war. The number of monsters and demons hadn’t changed at all, while the number of Heroes was decreasing at a rapid pace.

“They don’t really care about us, do they? Even though this ship is huge.” I asked curiously.

Horner answered. “We’re currently in Stealth Mode, so the enemy can’t see us.”

“Really?”

“Yes. We’ve been waiting for your order. Should we proceed?”

Horner looked down at the demons, his expression sour. He was clearly burning with anger, perhaps because his hometown in the Tower of Wish had been captured by demons as well.

“…Yes, let’s go.”

“Thank you. Genkelope’s soldiers, get ready.”

As soon as I gave my permission, Horner solemnly ordered the soldiers to sortie. Immediately the ship lifted its Stealth Mode, revealed its steel body and opened its hangar.

Shooong… Kwaaaaaa-!

Hundreds of fighter jets were dispatched from the hangar.
It was then.

“So this is where you were, Kim Hajin.”

Someone called my name and stood beside me. I knew who it was without even looking.

“Yeah, it’s been a while.”

“You betcha. I mean— long time no see. My name is Tomer, from the Empire.”

It was Tomer. Much stronger than the last time we met, she was wearing a luxurious and powerful-looking armor and cape.

**

[Near the Korean border]

Shin Jonghak looked up in a daze. A pillar of light rose from the ground, and a huge warship appeared in the sky and began bombing the demons.
Not only Shin Jonghak but also many of the Heroes gathered failed to understand the current situation.

“Oi.”

A woman approached Shin Jonghak, who was still dazed by the scene. Shin Jonghak flinched and swung his spear towards the woman, but she easily blocked the Conqueror Spear.

Shin Jonghak glared at her and asked. “…Why?”

“Why, what?”

The woman, Jin Sahyuk, gave an inscrutable smile.
Shin Jonghak frowned.

“What I meant to say was, why are you here?”

“Hmm? Ah~ Well, it’s nothing serious.”

Jin Sahyuk scratched her cheek awkwardly.
The truth was that Jin Sahyuk wanted to run away. She wanted to escape from the nightmare that was Morax. Using the Dimensional Stone in her possession, she could easily return to Akatrina.

Unfortunately, that was never an option. Morax would never give up on her. She knew that if she didn’t take care of him here and now, he would follow her all the way to Akatrina.

And so, Jin Sahyuk went to Shin Jonghak.

“Well. Do you remember Bell saying that Shin Myungchul left you something very important?”

Shin Myungchul was the first clue to breaking Baal and Morax.
Shin Jonghak showed interest in the name.

“Yeah, he did say that. What about it?”

“Ah~ Nothing, just that I remembered something important.”

“…”

Shin Jonghak grabbed the Conqueror Spear. Jin Sahyuk hadn’t said a word yet, but he knew she was going to insult Shin Myungchul. ‘I’ll kill her before she does,’ he decided.

Jin Sahyuk, however, put her hand on his shoulder without saying a word. Shin Jonghak looked down at her hand with a frown, then turned the scowl on her.

Catching his eye, Jin Sahyuk announced, “I think I figured out what Shin Myungchul left you.”

“…What?”

Jin Sahyuk had a dream today about Eren and Prihi. Memories of those days in Akatrina remained in her heart as regret, and Morax was the physical manifestation of the said regret.
It was most certainly a tormenting trauma.
But thanks to that excruciating experience, Jin Sahyuk realized just what ‘Shin Myungchul’s legacy’ that Bell mentioned was and where it was hidden.

“Are you serious?” Shin Jonghak asked, suspicious.

“I don’t tell lies. So just shut up and follow me, loser,” Jin Sahyuk muttered and grabbed Shin Jonghak’s shoulder. And then, she activated her Authority without waiting for his answer.

At that moment, Shin Jonghak felt as if he was being sucked into something.
He opened his mouth, but no sound came out. He felt nauseous, but no vomit would come out.

About 30 seconds passed in that uncomfortable state.

“…!”

Shin Jonghak opened his eyes.

“…What, haa, haa. What the hell?”

He looked around, panting. He was surrounded in black. Nothing was here but Jin Sahyuk.

“Dammit. Oi! Where the hell am I?!”

“…Where do you think? We’re inside your mind.”

“What? What does that even… what the hell are you talking about?”

It seemed that in place of confusion, anger was about to take control of Shin Jonghak.
Leaving him to vent alone, Jin Sahyuk looked around the dark.

“If my guess is right, then you’ll meet that Shin Myungchul guy who you seem to love so much.”

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