Chapter 181. Ending Just as It Started

They quietly stared at Seo Yuhui, who was completely frozen stiff, and Seol Jihu, who was unable to close his eyes.

“Where is he?”

Then suddenly, a cold voice broke the silence.

Having succeeded in destroying all of the Nests, the Star of Avarice had arrived using teleportation.

“There should be a valiant Warrior right around here.”

The people present merely looked back at him, not answering his question.

He wasn’t the type of person who couldn’t read the atmosphere. Noticing the heavy silence in the area, he quietly stepped forward.

To Seol Jihu.

But when he saw the state the youth was in, he furrowed his brows.

“It’s… far worse than I thought.”

Setting aside everything else, just looking at the cracks on his skin sent a shiver down his spine. It was like he was looking at a once rich farmland that had gone arid from a long drought.

‘Wait.’

After carefully examining Seol Jihu’s condition, his eyebrows wiggled.

‘Are these traces of Awakening Skills…?’

From the powerful energy he was sensing, he could tell that the youth had used a high-class technique. Kneeling next to Seol Jihu, the Executor of Avaritia grabbed the youth’s arm.

The moment he carefully poured in some mana…

“Uk!”

His eyes shot open.

“Uwaaaaah!”

He then screamed in terror, pulling his arms back, before losing balance and falling on his butt.

“Uuuk! Uweeeeek—”

He even vomited. Soon, he grabbed his trembling hand, then stared at Seol Jihu like he was looking at a monster.

The Executor of Avaritia was someone at the top of the path of Magicians. Naturally, he was very sensitive when it came to mana.

He had attempted to check the youth’s internal condition but ended up being shocked speechless by what he sensed.

Just by mixing a tiny bit of mana into the youth’s body, a terrifying energy raged, storming into his body and shaking his insides.

“H-He’s insane…!”

His face distorted as he panted hard.

“Just how many Awakening Skills did he superpose toge…!?”

He suddenly stopped in the middle of his sentence and stared at his trembling hand with a look of disbelief. He focused his attention on the energy that was swirling recklessly like an unbridled wild horse.

Then, he finally spat out a sigh.

“He even reversed the flow of his energy…!”

He knew that now wasn’t the time nor place to say this, but he really wanted to shout.

That this youth was either a genius or a complete fool.

It was like he borrowed money with no intention of ever paying back. He had borrowed money from all over the place, splurged it to his heart’s content, and died when the time came to pay it back.

And this analogy from the Executor of Avaritia was spot on.

First, when he used his Ability Points to raise his Mana stat, the mind, body, and technique balance he had worked so hard to stabilize became dislocated once again.

Furthermore, the imbalance was now several fold worse than it was in the past that it was hardly comparable.

After all, Intermediate (High) and High (High) couldn’t even be placed on the same scale.

In addition, he had forcefully raised the realm of his understanding through Future Vision and used the Unique Ranker’s Awakening Skill, Berserk.

Up until this point, however, there was still a ‘slight’ possibility of things not getting out of hand. He only had one foot past the line of no return.

The reason he ended up in his current state was that he reversed the flow of Festina Earring, Flash Thunder, and Flash Step.

Of course, he had succeeded in driving Undying Diligence to a groggy state, but the reverse flow technique put so much burden on one’s body that reversing just one technique was at an immense cost to his body.

Because Seol Jihu had reversed the flow of three energies simultaneously, there was no way his shaky body could endure this assault.

That wasn’t all. When he fought the Army Commander, he fully utilized the boundless energy stored within him from the precious food and medicine. And finally, he used a technique that forcefully raised his Level with his life as collateral.

All in all, he crossed the line of no return with the reverse flow technique, and after that, ran straight toward certain death.

The Star of Avarice just barely managed to calm the raging energy and repeatedly opened and closed his numb hand.

He had small doubts when he saw Seol Jihu pushing the two Army Commanders back, but he immediately ended up accepting the situation.

On the other hand, he understood why everyone was just watching and why Seo Yuhui stopped healing him.

Because Seol Jihu in his current state couldn’t be healed even if there were ten Seo Yuhuis. In fact, it was likely that whoever was treating him would be exposed to great risk.

‘Difficult.’

Healing the youth seemed impossible no matter how he looked at it, so his expression sunk low. He stared at Seol Jihu with a look of regret.

The fierce war had finally come to an end.

There were rumors of this war being the end of humanity, but the result couldn’t be more different from everyone’s expectations.

The Parasite army, including one Hydra and ten Medusas, had been annihilated, and ten Nests, including one upper-rank Nest and nine middle-rank Nests, were destroyed.

Although Vulgar Chastity left unscathed, she lost a vast majority of her army.

It was the same for Unsightly Humility. He had been forced to use Divinity Manifestation, and his army faced near annihilation.

All of the Nosferatus had been killed, and above all, Undying Diligence had perished.

The Parasites’ First Army Commander, whose name was synonymous with terror to Paradisians and Earthlings alike, was now gone. This was an unprecedented feat, an achievement that would impact not just humanity but even the Federation.

Although the blood of countless people pooled together to form a river of blood, although it was a scarring glory, the humans had triumphed.

This was truly an incredible achievement that was hard to describe with just words.

And that was what made it so regrettable.

The humans were on the brink of a one-sided massacre, but the tide of war turned due to a single man. As the Executor of Avaritia personally witnessed this man’s feats, he couldn’t help but have regrets.

If this youth didn’t ignite himself in this war, if he left even a little room for survival, if he somehow found a way to live… just how many contributions would he have made for Paradise?

“So regrettable….”

The Executor of Avaritia let out a deep sigh and tilted his head up melancholically.

“Just when I thought spring finally arrived in Paradise.”

Looking up at the sky, he murmured in a quiet voice.

One of his Servants, who knew that he enjoyed metaphors, understood him immediately and shrugged.

“It did.”

She murmured softly.

“It was just a short spring… ending just as it started.”

There couldn’t be a more appropriate expression.

It was then. Seo Yuhui, who was sitting like a stone statue, moved as though she was enchanted.

Reaching her hand into the air, she pulled out a large table and put it down. This white marble table engraved with showy patterns was an altar.

Seeing this, a look of surprise flashed on the face of the Sacred Empress, who was holding Seol Jihu in her embrace. She quickly got up and spoke.

“Don’t.”

Seo Yuhui didn’t answer. She continued with her work as if she hadn’t heard a thing.

“Miss Seo Yuhui, I think it’s better to—”

Just as the Sacred Empress was about to stop her, Seo Yuhui pushed her back forcefully.

Pushed backward, the Sacred Empress’ eyes widened. This normally would not have been possible, but she too was exhausted from the long, drawn-out fight.

“M-Miss Seo Yuhui?”

“Do not stop me.”

When Seo Yuhui told her flat out, the Sacred Empress made a dumbfounded face.

“W-What did you say?”

“He’s not your concern anymore.”

When Seo Yuhui muttered coldly, the Sacred Empress’ eyes narrowed glaringly.

But as if that was none of her concern, Seo Yuhui began to take items out from her extradimensional space and began to place them on the altar.

The Magician, who was silently watching this unfold, widened his eyes.

Each of the neatly-placed offering on the altar was an incredibly valuable, priceless item.

Only then was the Executor of Avaritia able to guess what Seo Yuhui’s intentions were.

“I understand what you’re trying to do, but I agree with the Sacred Empress.”

“….”

“Healing him will only lengthen the time he’s in pain. Put him to rest, or if you really want to revive him, kill him first and use your Divine Wish…”

He couldn’t bring himself to finish saying, ‘That is, if he has another chance to revive.’ This was because Seo Yuhui turned around and gave him a fiery glare.

“You still have a Divine Wish?”

“…Don’t jest. Even for an Executor, Divine Wishes are…. Anyways, don’t you have one as well?”

“I don’t.”

“You don’t?”

Seo Yuhui turned back as if she was too lazy to reply.

The Star of Avarice shut his mouth seeing how different Seo Yuhui was from her usual self.

Seo Yuhui stared pitifully at the youth who wasn’t moving an inch. The way he was leaned against the cliff reminded her of a scene from the past.

‘Again….’

Biting her lips hard enough to stain it with blood, she moved her hands even quicker.

The moment she took out the altar and offerings, it was clear what she was trying to do.

From Level 1 to Level 4, Luxuria took special care and granted a Priest who did not accept another god’s power and solely walked the path of healing, a special authority.

Although the effect would differ based on the value of the offerings, that special authority was the ability to use a holy spell a level higher than their current level.

Once she finished her preparations, Seo Yuhui kneeled in front of the altar. She then kowtowed, bending her upper body until it touched the ground.

And thus, the Star of Lust and the Level 8 Unique Ranker Priest, Atera’s Saintess…

“O Luxuria.”

…started a Ceremony.

**

Dongheung Apartment 22-dong.

In room 802, the cry of a baby endlessly rang out from afternoon to late night.

[Mommy! Moooommy!]

A six-year-old? A girl, whose throat was swollen up, was bawling her eyes out.

[Seunghae, take your medicine. You’re a good girl, right?]

And another girl wearing a school uniform consoled the girl crying incessantly. She looked a bit exhausted, and it was clear she was still a child herself.

[No! No! I wanna see Mommy! I wanna see Mommy! Uwaaaah!]

[Mommy will come see you when you get better. You’ll recover faster if you take this medicine.]

[Liar! You said that last time but she never came!]

[N-No, I’m not lying this time.]

[Liar! Unni is a liar!]

[Seunghae.]

The older girl reached out to console the little girl, but she screamed angrily and flailed her arms.

The older girl frowned and leaned back.

[Ow!]

Because the little girl was flailing around recklessly, her hand ended up hitting the older girl’s nose.

[Ah….]

When the older girl grabbed her nose and dropped her head, the little girl saw this as an opportunity and began to hit and pull on the older girl’s hair.

[Se-Seunghae!]

After finally pulling the little girl off of her, the older girl let out an exhausted sigh.

Just how long had they been wrestling for? The older girl blinked, thick shades adorning her lower eyes.

[Medicine, take your medicine… please… it’s hard for Unni too….]

Raising a spoon holding a syrup-like liquid, she repeated the same words she had been saying for ages.

But perhaps oblivious to her older sister’s feelings, the little girl flailed her arms again and hit her sister’s hand away.

The spoon flew in the air, dropping the syrup everywhere.

[…Yoo Seunghae.]

The older girl’s voice sharpened.

[Don’t you want the pain to go away?]

[Uwaaah! Uwaaaang!]

[Take your medicine. Now.]

[Mooommy, Mooooomy!]

The older girl shut her eyes. Taking deep breaths to calm herself down, she picked up the spoon, drew another spoonful of syrup, and pushed it into her sister’s mouth.

No match for her older sister’s strength, the little girl reluctantly kept the spoon in her mouth. But soon, she opened her tiny mouth and Ptui! spat out the content. The syrup splattered all over the older sister’s face.

[I hate you, Unni! Go awaaaaay!]

At that instant, the older girl’s patience ran out.

[Yoo Seunghae! Are you really doing this?]

When she raised her voice, the startled little girl hiccuped. Soon, she tilted her head back and cried even louder than before.

[Uwaaaaaaang!]

Tears pooled around the older girl’s eyes as she watched her younger sister cry.

[What do you want me to do!?]

In the end, she burst out, unable to hold back.

[You think I don’t want to see them? I want to see Mom and Dad too!]

She screamed in frustration, not caring to wipe off the syrup on her face.

Although she was the older sister, she had just recently entered middle school. At just 14 years of age, she was still too young to bear the weight of losing both of her parents.

How much time went by? Just as the younger girl cried herself to sleep and the older girl sat around in the living room in a daze…

Beeps rang out from the password lock and the front door carefully opened. A young boy walked in, wearing the same uniform as the girl. In his hand was a white plastic bag.

The boy glanced at the little girl who had fallen asleep with tears streaming down her face. He then turned to the girl staring at him fixedly and smiled brightly.

[Can I come in?]

He said so after already being inside. The girl would have smirked at any other time, but she was too depressed at the moment.

[Why are you here?]

She spoke with a sharp tongue unwittingly.

[Get out.]

What did she resent so much? Her voice was filled with spite, unbefitting of her age.

[Aigoo~ What’s wrong this time, Madam Yoo? Hm?]

No one would have blamed the boy for being offended, but knowing that the girl’s resentment wasn’t directed at him, he took off his shoes and replied jokingly.

He hopped inside, placed the plastic bag down on the kitchen table, then took out a bundle of bananas.

Light flickered on in the girl’s eyes. When she went to the supermarket yesterday, she had hesitated several times to buy it.

Her younger sister had trouble swallowing food because of her swollen throat, and bananas were easy to swallow and also her favorite fruit. But because the cost of bananas had skyrocketed due to a recent blight, the girl had to swallow her tears and give up.

[How’s Seunghae doing?]

The boy asked as he peeled a banana.

[She just fell asleep… after a lot of trouble trying to get her to take her medicine….]

The girl murmured softly, her voice a bit gentler than before.

She wanted to throw everything aside and be cooped up in the room alone, but she felt bad kicking the boy out when he brought bananas to give to her younger sister.

But if there was one thing the girl didn’t expect, it was that the boy brought the peeled banana to her, and not the little girl.

[Here.]

When the banana touched her lips, the girl complaining about her exhaustion widened her eyes.

[You eat it.]

[H-Huh? I thought it was for Seunghae….]

[Seunghae is asleep. She can eat the remaining bananas when she wakes up. You eat one for now.]

The girl blinked.

[Come on. I know you like bananas too.]

Then, just like the girl did to her younger sister, the boy carefully shoved the banana into her mouth.

When she bit down reflexively, the teeth sunk into the soft fruit, and the scent of acacia filled her mouth fully.

Now that I think about it, I haven’t had dinner yet.

The girl muttered to herself and chewed on the banana without stopping.

Next, when she swallowed the fruit and looked up, she saw the boy looking down at her with a beaming smile.

Their eyes met.

[It’s good, right?]

The girl nodded her head without realizing, and then her face suddenly waned. Her eyes turned watery in an instant and, in the end, burst out into tears.

[I… I’m… really… a horrible older sister….]

The boy jumped in a startle.

[Hah? What do you mean? It would be hard to find a girl as nice as you.]

[Seunghae was crying, saying she wanted to see Mom… but I couldn’t hold in my anger and screamed… hic… huaaang….]

She grabbed the boy’s shirt and cried quietly. The boy could only scratch his face, not knowing what to do.

Smacking his lips, he plopped down next to her and patted the back of the girl crying in sorrow.

[It’s fine. You’re human too. It’s okay to get a little mad when you’re tired. Plus, Seunghae is a kid. Everyone knows how hard it is to take care of kids.]

[But… my young sister’s sick… I can’t even understand that….]

[Hey, Yoo Seonhwa. You did nothing wrong. If anything, I’m the one who’s at fault.]

[…How is anything your fault?]

[Sorry. I’ve been too busy with the company lately. I’ll come home earlier from now and try to look after our kid more.]

[Whaaat?]

Hearing the boy talking like he was her husband, the girl broke out into laughter in the middle of her crying.

The boy grinned as well.

[Anyways, stop blaming yourself and finish this. Here.]

The boy gave her the half-eaten banana. The girl sniffled with a flushed face and carefully took another bite.

Although her throat felt a little dry, she felt a lot better once she put something in her stomach.

[It’s good….]

[Right? Do you want another one?]

[Uuun, no, we have to leave them for Seunghae….]

[Just forget about her.]

[Ah, hey, don’t be mean to Seunghae.]

[Seeing you cry because of her hurt me.]

Hearing this, the girl quickly wiped her tears and grinned.

[The banana… did your parents buy it for us?]

[No.]

The boy shook his head.

[I bought it with my own money.]

[What? How do you have money?]

When the girl asked in surprise…

[With my saved allowance, of course.]

The boy made a peace-sign with his fingers.

[I’ve been wanting to say this for a while now. Hey, this is all your fault.]

[M-Me?]

[Because you’re so uncomfortable with getting anything from my parents that they’re too careful with doing anything for you.]

[But… I feel bad always getting things from them.]

[You sure are sorry about a lot of things. It’s just a banana. Anyways, I bought this with my own money, so it’s fine, right?]

Hearing the smiling boy speaking so light-heartedly, the girl became speechless for a moment. After moving her mouth a couple times without a word, she murmured quietly.

[…Stupid…]

[What did you call me?]

[Idiot.]

The boy and girl stared at each other and giggled. Just in case the little girl woke up, the two of them joked around quietly, and the sharp, needle-like atmosphere subsided before they noticed.

Languidness then crept up, and the girl closed her eyes. Suddenly feeling relaxed, she leaned her head to the side and heaved out a sigh.

[I can finally rest….]

And not long afterwards, soft breathing flowed out.

The boy stared at the girl who had fallen asleep on his arm. Looking at her for a long time, a smile unwittingly bloomed on his face.

Although he was a bit uncomfortable, he carefully leaned against the wall so that the girl wouldn’t wake up.

Then, he murmured inwardly.

Right, there was a time like this….

And just when he thought so—

He opened his eyes.

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