Shin Jonghak looked at Shin Myungchul who had been regenerated in his consciousness. He felt the time around him slow down. And because Shin Jonghak was the owner of this space, time had actually slowed in reality.
Shin Myungchul slowly got up. Shin Jonghak’s neck stiffened.
His grandfather who he had missed so much. The man who was the guidepost of his life….
His hero was right in front of him.
But Shin Jonghak couldn’t bring himself to move. He couldn’t speak either. He only watched Shin Myungchul as if he were just a mirage that could disappear at any minute….
—It’s been a while.
Shin Myungchul spoke in the same old voice that he had missed so much. Dazed, Shin Jonghak stood as still as a statue. Shin Myungchul patted his grandson on the shoulder and went on.
—Jonghak, I have a lot to say to you…. But first, let me start by apologizing. I’m sorry for being a horrible grandfather.
Shin Jonghak looked Shin Myungchul in the eye. In the past, he used to only look up at his grandfather. But now, they were equally tall.
Shin Myungchul seemed old, but he was still graceful and strong at heart. He continued with a kind smile.
—And… ah, I’m afraid I’m not good with words. What I meant to say was that… Jonghak, I’ve lived inside you for a long time. I’ve felt and experienced the same things you did….
His voice was soft like that of a grandfather reading bedtime stories to his grandson. Listening to his grandfather, Shin Jonghak felt a torrent of emotions form in his heart.
—…When I was alive, and even now, I am distressed by your love. Because it’s too good for a coward like me.
He dared not tell his grandson of his fault. The pain of betrayal his grandson would feel once he learned the truth worried Shin Myungchul more than his own suffering.
—I’m sure you know the truth now and don’t need my explanation. Jonghak, I’m not a hero. Millions have died because of me. I’ve brought many disasters to the world, and most of them are still ongoing….
Shin Myungchul confessed calmly, and Shin Jonghak nodded.
‘I know now.’ Shin Jonghak thought to himself. Shin Myungchul could hear his grandson’s thoughts.
—But even now I still harbor a sense of relief deep in my selfish heart. After all, if I hadn’t gone back in time, I wouldn't have been able to see you.
A bitter smile spread across Shin Myungchul’s face.
—That’s why I can’t truly regret my decision. It would mean denying my love for you.
Shin Jonghak felt tears streaming down his face. Shin Myungchul wiped away his grandson’s tears with his big and rough hands.
Shin Jonghak nodded in silence, and Shin Myungchul went on.
—Are you happy with who you are?
The two men fell silent. Shin Myungchul smiled kindly. After a moment’s thought, Shin Jonghak nodded. But that was not the correct answer. It took Shin Jonghak a while to finally find the courage to shake his head.
—…It’s good that you admitted it. Always be true to yourself and live without leaving behind any regrets. It’s nothing big, but I’ve left something to help you out. But before that, I have a favor to ask of you.
Shin Myungchul put his hand on Shin Jonghak’s shoulder. The weight of the hand seemed to weigh down on Shin Jonghak’s whole body. Feeling overwhelmed, Shin Jonghak turned his gaze to Shin Myungchul. He was determined to grant his grandfather’s wish no matter what.
But what Shin Myungchul said next was completely unexpected.
—Please be the one to correct me. When everything is over, tell the world about my misdeed. Tell them that it was my selfish greed that almost destroyed the world. You should be the one to do so.
Shin Jonghak began to tremble. He looked at his grandfather with widened eyes. He couldn’t believe his ears.
To Shin Jonghak, Shin Myungchul was an eternal hero. His grandfather’s past didn’t matter to him. He wanted to continue to admire Shin Myungchul based on his accomplishments and the memories of the days they spent together. Naturally, Shin Jonghak couldn’t imagine the future where Shin Myungchul’s name was tainted….
Shin Myungchul gave a bitter smile and put his hand on Shin Jonghak’s head. He then moved his hand slowly and began stroking his grandson as he had done many times in the past.
—Please, Jonghak. This is my last wish for you. You're free to refuse, of course, and you’ll still get the legacy I promised you, but… I’d really like you to do it.
Those soft words broke Shin Jonghak down. All of a sudden, tears welled up in his eyes.
Shin Jonghak clenched his teeth. But tears were already running down his face. His legs trembled, and he soon began to sob loudly.
Shin Jonghak lowered his head in both embarrassment and sorrow. Like a child, he wailed miserably, as in those days of the past.
Shin Myungchul stared at his grandson for a long time.
…Finally, the boy’s sobbing stopped, and a nod echoed in the hollow silence.
Baal was thinking of the time when he was still young. It must have been 10,000 or 100,000 years ago. Back then, he was still ‘nothing’.
In those days he was surrounded by a thin film. The beating of his existence began inside that film, and only then could he see and feel the world around him. At that time, he was neither a devil nor Baal. He was ‘nothing’.
However, as time passed, he had naturally become a devil. Whether he wanted to be good or evil, he couldn’t recall. It just came to him one day that he was inherently a being parallel to good. He was designed to be evil.
Believing so, he ripped through the film surrounding him. Immediately his eyes reflected the view of the Transcendent Realm. It was a world full of stars.
There, he earned the name Baal and learned to think by observing humans living in other worlds….
…Baal awoke from his recollection and sighed.
Up until now, he had never wondered about the origin of his existence. But now he had a vague idea of where he came from.
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A few numbers and words were all that it took. As much as it was hard to believe, it was the truth. His years of solitude were derived from a crude novel written by a human.
He recalled the world he saw in Bell’s memory.
There were no devils in that world. Religions were only beliefs, and magic couldn’t affect the laws of physics. Humans dominated other species.
Humans did not possess the ability to interfere with abstract concepts, and concepts could not exert power beyond the laws of nature to humans. Humans could not stop time, and time worked fairly for everyone. It was a scientific world consisting of thorough calculations and logical rules, with no room for magical interventions.
Compared to his world, this world was quite plain. The world of ‘extras’, built on complex laws and principles—
Such was the creator’s world.
A loud shout brought Baal to his senses. He opened his eyes and looked at the countless humans rushing at him.
They all appeared resolute. Baal smiled coldly. All of them were nothing but characters in a novel, just like himself.
‘Our existences are all in vain.’
Baal looked up into the distant sky. A huge chunk of metal was floating over his head, and in it was Kim Hajin, the author who created this world.
Baal felt an impulse of anger. He glared at the author and boosted his demonic energy. To descend wholly, he vented his demonic energy like a volcano. The seething energy covered the whole world, encroaching on nature, and drawing all ‘characters’ into Baal’s barrier.
Baal roared in his barrier and vowed to himself once again.
‘I’ll destroy your precious little world. I will not remain a mere toy.’
Baal’s eyes turned crimson, and his darkness swallowed the world.
Exactly 30 seconds after the 9-star card disappeared, Shimurin appeared on the spot it vanished from. So, did that mean the 9-star card summoned Shimurin? But why? What kind of relationship did Shumurin have with the mural?
Feeling confused, I looked down at the ground below.
“What the…. They’re all people from the other world.”
Tomer muttered as she observed the soldiers of Leores and Arunheim. I shrugged and turned to her.
“Anyway, you should be getting ready to go down.”
“You want me to go too?”
Tomer raised her eyebrows. She seemed to doubt whether they really needed her help.
“Of course. We need all the help we can get.”
I nodded and took out the Misteltein Bullets that I’d been keeping in my Stigma. The four, long bullets were glowing faintly.
“…What are those?”
Tomer asked, glancing at the bullets. I rubbed the bullets lightly for a few seconds before activating [Synthesis].
[Fusing Misteltein Bullets….]
As soon as the system message appeared, the four bullets merged into one. In addition to Synthesis, I spent all my remaining SP to add the ‘Exorcism’ attribute to the final bullet.
“Woah. They became one.”
Just like that, the ultimate bullet was born. But this alone wasn’t enough to bring Baal down completely.
I showed the bullet to Tomer, who had been watching this entire process with fervent interest.
“This should be able to drive Baal into a corner at least once.”
The weapon was ready. Now the most important thing was timing.
When the strength of all Heroes unite when my luck guides the luck of the others and all the powers of the world come together….
That would be the right time for me to fire this bullet.
And that timing was probably….
Suddenly there was a huge explosion, and darkness swallowed everything.
Tomer quickly raised her head. But there wasn’t anything she could do. Immediately the floor of the ship sunk— no, the ship itself disappeared, and the two of us began to fall 4000 meters down to the ground.
“Uaaaaaah-” Tomer screamed.
I summoned Spartan in a hurry. Spartan, who burst onto the scene like a hero, spread his wings and caught Tomer and me on his back.
“Oh my god.”
Tomer clutched her chest and began breathing heavily. Her reaction was understandable; even a superhuman like her would not survive a 4000-meter fall.
I looked around nervously. Genkelope’s Vessel was gone, the sky was gone, the trees and grass were gone, and we were surrounded by endless darkness.
However, when I widened my eyes and looked further, I discovered a lot of familiar faces.
Kim Suho, Chae Nayun, Yun Seung-Ah, Shimurin, Aileen…. Surprised by the sudden change of scenery, they too were trying to comprehend the current situation.
“Hey. Where are we?” Tomer asked.
I obtained information about this place through Observation and Reading.
[Baal’s barrier — A space created by Baal for his descent on Earth. It resembles Baal’s Transcendent Realm.]
Well, it seemed that Baal had done something crazy.
I replied bitterly, “Inside Baal’s barrier.”
“It looks like Baal brought us here.”
I turned my gaze to Tomer. Tomer stared back at me and chuckled.
“So, that means that Baal is down there, right?”
“That would be correct.”
“Okay. Well then-”
Tomer rolled up her sleeves. With a playful smile, she increased her magic power.
“I’ll show you how I earned my nickname Ironblood Duchess.”
Her body began to burn blue. Her eyes and fingers, her heart and her hair— all of them were engulfed in azure flames. She was now the epitome of superhumans only seen in cartoons.
“Okay, then I’ll….”
I nodded and loaded the Mistelin Bullet into the Desert Eagle. The truth was that I was scared, but I pretended to be fine and put my hand on Tomer’s shoulder.
“…Cover you from behind.”
Tomer seemed dissatisfied for whatever reason.
“Yeah. I’m originally a sharpshooter, remember?”
She nodded discontentedly, then flounced off at a speed faster than my bullet.Previous Chapter Next Chapter