Everyone, without exception, said the same thing.
To run. That it was impossible to win. That the valley fortress would get swept away, with not even a single tuft of grass remaining.
The war, in which these things were recognized as undeniable facts, finally concluded. After the bloody battle that disregarded life and death, the valley fortress relayed a simple four phrase report.
Parasites defeated, the Seven Armies’ retreat confirmed, Undying Diligence perished.
Requesting aid for escorting the injured.
Haramark erupted in cheers, and these roars of victory spread to Scheherazade, Nur, Eva, and other cities of Paradise.
At this moment, everyone, regardless of whether they were a Paradisian or an Earthling, rejoiced.
It was the first proper victory they had tasted since the fall of the Empire. Furthermore, Undying Diligence, the infamous First Army Commander, had perished in this great war, making this victory ever so sweeter.
Of course, it was hard to say that this single victory would change the Parasites’ fate or shake their sturdy foundation.
But these were the people who lived their lives trembling in fear of impending doom. Many of them had developed severe anxiety disorders as well.
So no one could blame them for rejoicing at the news that humanity had finally given the Parasite Queen a taste of their power.
This was especially the case in Haramark, which served as the main stage of the battle.
The people strolling around the streets looked noticeably more cheerful.
Talks of the war didn’t stop no matter where one went, and people stormed out to the streets in a festive mood.
Yi Seol-Ah was one of such people.
Given how worried she was, the news of their victory made her happier than anyone else. She ran around the city excitedly and felt pride whenever it was mentioned that Seol Jihu was the hero of the war.
Jang Maldong being so silent was a bit strange, and she tilted her head when Yi Sungjin voiced his doubts to her, ‘Noona, don’t you think Master Jang is in a sour mood?’ But she didn’t mind it too much.
She simply went outside, enjoyed the festival, and waited patiently for Seol Jihu to return.
She daydreamed about pestering Seol Jihu to tell her about the war as soon as he came back.
But that was only until a carriage entered the city.
A carriage pulled by eight Horuses raced through the streets with an earth-splitting force.
Yi Seol-Ah frowned as she saw the soldiers out in the streets. They said they were blocking off the streets to clear the way to the Temple of Luxuria, but such a thing had never been done before.
By now, Yi Seol-Ah noticed something wasn’t quite right.
There were more than a few suspicious points. The soldiers blocking off the streets was one thing, but even King Prihi came to visit the office.
She couldn’t hear the details because Jang Maldong asked her to leave, but she could see how serious the atmosphere was from the single glance she stole.
After their conversation ended, Jang Maldong left in a hurry, saying that he might not be back for a few days.
Yi Seol-Ah murmured inwardly and stared at the carriage that had already become a dot in the distance.
Then, as soon as the soldiers opened the streets back up, Yi Seol-Ah raced forward. As expected, the carriage had stopped in front of the Temple of Luxuria.
She could also see several people hastening inside and disappearing. Although they were gone by the time she entered the temple, it was easy to track them down.
Even a Level 2 Archer was still an Archer.
Since she knew that they were inside the temple, tracking a minute old trail barely counted as work.
It was just that two soldiers were blocking the way where the trail led.
“You cannot go beyond this point.”
It was just as she expected. When she tried to sneak in, the soldiers immediately crossed their spears and blocked her path.
“Beyond this point is the intensive care unit. A royal decree has been issued prohibiting all visitations for a while. Only those related to the injured can enter.”
Hearing the soldiers mention a royal decree in a threatening manner, Yi Seol-Ah quickly lied.
“I’m a member of Carpe Diem. My name is Yi Seol-Ah. Master Jang said he’d go on ahead and told me to come….”
Yi Seol-Ah seemed to have a knack for this as she easily spewed out a convenient excuse.
The two soldiers looked at each other before saying, “…Excuse us, but may we see your Status Window, please?”
Once they confirmed Yi Seol-Ah’s Status, they tilted their heads and opened the way. Since they saw that she was a member of Carpe Diem, they had no reason to keep her from entering.
And just as Yi Seol-Ah successfully stepped past the soldiers…
A bone-chilling scream of despair resounded in the hallway.
The howling wail sounded like the scream of a deceased burning inside the sulfuric fires of Hell. Hearing this, Yi Seol-Ah paused her steps subconsciously.
Her hesitant eyes headed to the left door at the far end of the hallway, which was the only place where light was leaking out.
The scream rang out once again. She could also hear people screaming, ‘Hold him down! Grab him!’
Gulp. A lump went down her throat.
Next, when she sneaked towards the door and glanced inside—
“Hold down his arms and legs! Don’t let him move!”
A piercing scream struck her ears.
Yi Seol-Ah flinched before quickly falling into a daze.
This was because she saw the physical state of the youth flopping around like a fish, making curdling sounds while panting.
When the smell of blood pierced her nose, Yi Seol-Ah’s eyes widened.
She leaned back reflexively, then fell on her butt. Blocking her mouth in a hurry, she dropped her head unwittingly.
Her brain couldn’t process the horrific scene she had just witnessed and forced her to have dry heaves. Tears formed around her eyes rather quickly.
[If you see Paradise as a game to enjoy in your spare time, I don’t want us to be together.]
She finally realized the meaning of those words and, at the same time, how complacent she’d been.
She had rejoiced at the news of their victory without thinking about the steps taken to reach that victory.
“Oh, are you alright?”
A Priest arrived at the room late and asked Yi Seol-Ah who was sitting in shock in the hallway.
With one hand covering her mouth, Yi Seol-Ah shook her other hand and nodded crazily.
“What are you doing!? Get in here!”
Suddenly, a sharp scream rang out from the room. The Priest was at a loss for what to do before quickly disappearing into the room.
Barely managing to collect her composure, Yi Seol-Ah forcefully swallowed the sour water climbing up her throat and turned to the door.
“You all must have seen his condition by now.”
Inside, Teresa was glaring at a crowd of Priests.
“Listen carefully. Come up with a way to treat him no matter what it takes. Don’t worry about the resources. The Haramark Royal Family will take care of anything you might need.”
Once Teresa regained her consciousness, she had immediately realized what situation Seol Jihu was in and instantly joined in on the efforts of saving him. It was she who contacted the royal family and prepared the fastest carriage in Haramark, and all of the Priests gathered here had done so under her orders.
“Come up with a way no matter what. That is your job and the reason I’ve gathered you here.”
The way she was growling, it was as if she was threatening them. However, the Priests only looked at each other silently.
They were the cream of the crop Priests from Scheherazade and other cities near Haramark. But that was why they couldn’t say a word.
With how skilled they were, they knew just what condition the youth was in. Looking at him, they had no choice but to be quiet.
Who could blame them? Even Seo Yuhui had only performed an emergency treatment. She had not found a way to restore him, so how could they do anything about it?
But given how much they were being paid, they felt they had to do something. All sorts of ideas came out, but they were all useless or unrealistic.
While Teresa was repeatedly tapping her foot with a look of nervousness and fear….
“Where is the Daughter of Luxuria?”
Jang Maldong threw the door open.
Teresa quickly opened her mouth.
“She should have entered the intensive care unit.”
“When can she return?”
“We’re not sure. She held a Ceremony when she was already in a poor condition….”
Teresa blurred the end of her sentence.
“Is… is there any other way?”
Then, she asked with a restless voice.
The Priests she gathered just in case had turned out to be useless. Now, Jang Maldong was the only one she could trust.
Jang Maldong let out a deep groan. He had heard a rough summary of the situation.
Through the Ceremony, Seo Yuhui had cast an ancient spell called Extrema. It was a type of self-sacrifice spell, transferring half of the user’s lifeforce to the target while taking half of the target’s pain.
This ancient holy spell was said to be capable of forcefully delaying one’s death… but that was it.
To be in this state after such a powerful holy spell had been used… Jang Maldong could not even imagine what he would have looked like before.
Another scream broke out. Seol Jihu howled as his eyes rolled back completely. Seeing this, Jang Maldong frowned.
Teresa urged him with a teary voice.
There was no time to hesitate.
Although Seo Yuhui imbued a huge amount of lifeforce into him, Seol Jihu’s raging mana should be eating away at his life in at this very moment.
Jang Maldong clenched his teeth.
“There are two methods.”
Hearing that there were two methods, Teresa’s eyes sparkled.
“What are they?”
“The problem isn’t with his injuries. His body has reached a state of being completely unusable. So we need a way to deal with that.”
“And what’s that?”
“We need the body of another race, a powerful body that can parasitize, is quick to recover, and has good durability.”
Teresa’s jaw dropped.
“But… he won’t be a human anymore!”
What Jang Maldong was suggesting was no different than turning Seol Jihu into a Parasite.
“That’s the only method I can think of now. The other method is killing him and reviving him.”
That wasn’t a good option either. There was the problem of finding someone to make the wish, and even if they gathered enough contribution points, there was no way of knowing whether Seol Jihu could endure for so long on Earth.
Although he wasn’t a veteran with years of experience, Jang Maldong couldn’t be confident with how much Seol Jihu had experienced in a short period of time.
“So you mean….”
Teresa’s trembling voice eked out.
“There’s nothing we can do….”
Just as heavy despair began to descend on her complexion….
A voice as quiet as a mosquito rang out.
“If it’s hard to save him with a holy spell, can’t you use a really good medicine?”
Yi Seol-Ah was sitting on the ground in front of the door, looking into the room.
“A good medicine?”
Setting aside the fact that she was here, Teresa hurriedly asked, wanting to grasp at straws.
“Yes. I heard Paradise has a panacea that can cure any illness….”
“You mean the Elixeer?”
Jang Maldong quickly figured out what she was talking about.
Yi Seol-Ah nodded her head.
“Y-Yes, I think that’s what it was called.”
“…It’s worth trying. The Elixeer should be able to treat his wounds and restore his melted circuit. It’ll help him control that bull-like mana rampaging around in his body.”
“But that’s only if we have one.”
Jang Maldong acknowledged the Elixeer’s use immediately but added a sour note at the end.
“The Elixeer is the origin of power and the life-bearing essence left behind by the Lord serving Opinio Odor when they reach the end of their life and ascends to return to their god. It is a treasure under the utmost care of the Sky Fairies. How do you plan on getting it from them? Do you plan on stealing it?”
In other words, the idea was unrealistic.
Yi Seol-Ah dropped her head.
It was then. Teresa went ‘Ah!’ the moment she was reminded of the Federation.
Then, she ran out of the room in full force. At her sudden action, Jang Maldong and Yi Seol-Ah stared at the swinging door.
After a few hours, Teresa brought back incredible news. She had gotten a positive reply from the Federation.
They replied with just five sentences.
‘Successful recapture of Tigol Fortress. Returning home.’
‘Received Haramark Royal Family’s request. If he is indeed the same man behind the destruction of the laboratory and the subsequent escape, and if the perishing of the Parasites’ First Army Commander is true, the Federation shall spare no effort in saving ‘Seol’. Will change course and arrive at Haramark soon.’
It was truly unbelievable news.
On the other hand, the woman, who was looking down at Seol Jihu as he glowed gold, tightly shut her eyes at this news.
“…He’ll live, right?”
A short mutter escaped her mouth. Only then did Jang Maldong notice her presence. His eyes widened. Because things had been so hectic, he had not realized she was there.
Although they had never met before, he obviously knew who she was.
The first person to become Level 8 in Paradise and the recipient of the Divine Vestige.
Baek Haeju, the Sacred Empress.
He was curious why she was here, but that wasn’t the important thing right now.
“Will he live?”
When she asked again, Jang Maldong shook his head.
“I’m not sure. Miss Seo Yuhui forcefully brought him back, but he’s already had one foot in the grave. But what matters most is that we now have a method worth trying.”
Crack! Suddenly, the rough gritting of teeth flowed out. The Sacred Empress Baek Haeju’s eyebrows perked up.
“If he reaches the state of being neither dead nor alive….”
She glared at the intensive care unit door that Seo Yuhui entered. Then suddenly, she lifted Seol Jihu’s upper body with a resolute look and sat down crossed-legged behind his back.
“What are you—?”
“Please protect me.”
Next, she carefully placed her hand on the panting Seol Jihu’s back.
A conspicuous light flickered in Jang Maldong’s eyes. He had realized what Baek Haeju was trying to do.
There were stages to treating a heavily injured patient. Using a powerful medicine on someone in such a horrendous state could be the same as doing nothing.
The rampaging energy inside him had to be calmed down as much as possible, then they had to make his body ready for the Elixeer.
Furthermore, they had to ensure Seol Jihu would stay alive until the Federation’s arrival.
Here, Baek Haeju and Jang Maldong’s thoughts coincided.
Jang Maldong made everyone leave other than the bare minimum members needed to suppress Seol Jihu’s movements. Then, he put his hand into his pocket.
Although he swore to never use it again, this wasn’t the time to be so stubborn.
He had to use every tool in his arsenal.
‘I must save him!’
No matter what.
Flames burned from Jang Maldong’s eyes as he took out a long, cylindrical tube.