The shadow was Seol Jihu.
One could tell at a glance that he was in a bad shape, and that was putting it nicely.
Already exhausted from the earlier brawl, he looked even more grotesque now because of his body’s rejection of divinity. Cracks that looked like spiderwebs covered the surface of his skin.
But what mattered to Seol Jihu was that his body was still moving. He jumped out of the hole and shot forward toward the Parasite Queen like a bullet.
The Parasite Queen stopped her hand and began to rouse her energy.
She guessed that by now, the enemy would have figured out what their ultimate goal was. As if to prove her theory right, Seol Jihu’s face was full of rage as he rushed toward her.
Of course, he was bitter. He had planned to fight to the death and aimed to resurrect afterward, but the said method had just been rendered unusable.
Now there was only one thing left on the Parasites’ agenda: watch Seol Jihu struggle one last time before he met his end from which he would never recover.
But this didn’t mean they could let their guard down. Ironically, the enemy was more dangerous now than ever.
[Stand back! Get as far away as possible!]
The Parasite Queen alerted the Army Commanders who were about to jump into the scene.
[I will deal with him myself.]
As the queen stretched out her arm in front of her, Seol Jihu thrust his spear.
Seol Jihu’s body jerked to a halt. He saw that his spear had stopped in the air without even reaching the target.
[I have no obligation to fight you.]
A leisurely voice rang out.
[You’re still keeping at it even in that condition…. You really are a mad dog.]
[I presume you’d like to take as many as you can before you return to nothing.]
The Parasite Queen spread her fingers open.
[Taking one or two Army Commanders with you may not be entirely impossible since you have accepted my energy, albeit forcefully.]
[But did you really think I would let you have your way?]
She had already played all the cards in her hand. Now his death was only a matter of time. She had no reason to fight him at the risk of further depleting her precious resources.
[I told you when you turned down my offer, that you’d fight like a dog and die like a dog.]
The Parasite Queen continued, enjoying the defiant look in Seol Jihu’s eyes.
[Fine, do squirm like a bug until you die. I cannot wait to see the look on your face when you fall without achieving a single thing.]
A sneer bloomed at the corner of her mouth.
Seol Jihu scowled defiantly. His left hand, wrapped tightly around his spear, trembled in anger.
[That funny technique that distorts the law of causality… why don’t you try that on me? Though I can’t say for sure, it will work.]
With a snort, the Parasite Queen was about to lift her chin, when suddenly….
…A beam of golden light shot out of the Spear of Purity.
The energy released from the spear was not just a regular sword qi. It was much bigger and much denser, like tens of thousands of sword qi condensed into one.
Even as she mocked, the Parasite Queen never really let her guard down. Nevertheless, the sudden burst of energy took her by surprise.
Level 8 Spear Demon, Secret Art — Reinforced Sword Qi.
The golden reinforced qi tore through the invisible barrier like a scissor cutting paper.
The Parasite Queen immediately turned around and released every bit of energy she had gathered.
The released energy crashed into the reinforced qi, bending its course. At the same time, the Parasite Queen quickly folded her left wing across her body. As a result, the spear shattered, not the queen’s heart but only her left wing bone.
It was then that a heavy sense of foreboding took hold of the Parasite Queen. She could feel the scar on her face throb. Strangely enough, she had experienced the same feeling back when she was defeated at Tigol Fortress.
Feeling humiliated all over again, the Parasite Queen’s right hand smacked Seol Jihu with great force.
Blood scattering everywhere, Seol Jihu was once again thrown into the air by the power of the blow. He rolled on the ground a dozen times before finally coming to a halt.
For a second, Seol Jihu lay utterly still like a corpse but soon raised his head and pulled himself up, pushing his left arm against the ground. The Parasite Queen was awestruck as she watched all this from afar.
‘He used my divinity without even fully absorbing it….’
She wasn’t wrong. Seol Jihu’s mana was depleted, but the divinity she had inserted into him remained, and this was what he used to formulate the earlier attack. No wonder she felt threatened. It was her own energy.
‘I was right.’
It had been a wise decision on her part to instruct the Army Commanders to stay put. At least four out of five of them would not have been able to avoid that attack, which could have led to their demise.
The Parasite Queen decided to confront Seol Jihu head-on. The possibility of her defeat was almost nonexistent as long as she stayed inside the realm of her own building.
But of course, her opponent had a plan of his own.
Seol Jihu quickly glanced around in search of a new target. But already, the Army Commanders were moving as far away from him as possible as the queen had commanded.
It was then.
Suddenly, Twisted Kindness grabbed Sung Shihyun in her arms, turned around, and quickly flew past Seol Jihu.
Seol Jihu did not miss this opportunity. He immediately began to pursue them. The three soon became nothing more than distant dots.
Twisted Kindness’ flying speed, boosted by wind magic, was indeed very swift. But backed by divinity, Seol Jihu was even faster.
Twisted Kindness ignored Sung Shihyun’s protest and glanced behind her shoulder. Seol Jihu had almost caught up with them and was holding his spear above his head.
When she saw that, she immediately recited the spell she had been preparing all along. The pair of Army Commanders disappeared before the Spear of Purity could reach them.
Seol Jihu stopped and quickly looked around.
Twisted Kindness was floating next to the Parasite Queen with Sung Shihyun in her arms.
She seemed to have used the teleportation spell seconds before the spear reached her.
Realizing that all his efforts were in vain, Seol Jihu trembled in anger.
“Fuck you…. How dare you use me as bait…?”
Panting and gasping for breath, Sung Shihyun muttered in disdain.
“Forgive me. I don’t know why, but he looked like he was after you.”
Twisted Kindness gave a bleak smile.
“And it seems I was right. Do you see that confused look on his face?”
Suddenly, Seol Jihu’s roar of rage echoed throughout the surrounding field.
Instead of complaining, a silly laugh escaped Sung Shihyun’s mouth. He did feel pleased. This almost felt like retaliation for Seol Jihu beating him earlier during their fight.
And no wonder Seol Jihu was angry. His enemy played him, forcing him to waste his time when he never had much to begin with.
[What are you doing over there?]
The Parasite Queen responded to the roar.
[Why don’t you come at me so that I can punish you again? Or do you prefer to play tag with my children?]
Her voice was full of ridicule. The Parasite Queen began to gather her energy again while waiting for the enemy to move.
She thought Seol Jihu would come at her immediately as before, but to her surprise, he remained completely still.
He only stared at the Parasite Queen and the five Army Commanders, his eyes blazing with rage, but his feet firmly planted on the ground.
A brief silence passed.
All of a sudden, Seol Jihu did something totally unexpected.
He turned and began to run in the opposite direction.
The Parasite Queen let out an exclamation of surprise.
[You’re running away?]
She asked in a provocative tone, but Seol Jihu did not stop. He concentrated his inner fury on running away. It didn’t take long for him to disappear completely beyond the horizon.
[So he doesn't want to be played by us. What a pathetic pride he has!]
The Parasite Queen snorted.
Sung Shihyun shouted in a hurry.
“You’re letting him get away?”
The Parasite Queen lifted her head to the sky. Whatever she saw must have been good news, for an ecstatic smile lit up her face.
[Running across the wilderness until he falls and dies a miserable death alone…. Sounds like a death befitting a mad dog, don’t you agree?]
“No, I don’t.”
Sung Shihyun shook his head.
“We have to capture him and kill him.”
[No, I won’t allow that.]
[Our plan succeeded.]
The Parasite Queen answered simply. She was indirectly emphasizing that Sung Shihyun no longer had the same authority as she did because their mission had been completed.
[I understand why you want to make sure he’s dead, but… you saw.]
The queen continued.
[You saw how I didn’t let my guard down when he jumped out of that hole and tried to pierce my heart.]
Yet the concentrated energy easily penetrated her barrier.
[His power then was stronger than yours and that of the Seventh Army Commander. It even took me by surprise.]
[I already gave up the stele and spent extra energy for the sake of this mission. If I have to face him again, of course, I won’t lose, but my divinity will suffer more damage.]
[And if by any chance I’m forced to spend the energy I’m using to suppress the Oath…. That will put a considerable restraint on what I can do in the future.]
[There’s more. As you know, he’s deceitful. Perhaps he wants you to follow him, just so that he can capture you.]
Sung Shihyun closed his mouth.
The Parasite Queen was right. He felt the wound on his chest throbbing. If the rampaging divinity were to be added to that technique…. The mere thought of it caused a chill to run up his spine.
The Parasite Queen lowered her gaze. When she saw Sung Shihyun biting his lip nervously, she put a hand on the top of his head, then pulled it back.
Now looking up at the sky, Sung Shihyun widened his eyes. The view changed and he saw the universe. And then….
A light flickered in Sung Shihyun’s eyes when he saw the star at the center of the celestial sphere.
[Did you see it?]
The Parasite Queen asked, and Sung Shihyun nodded. Now he looked much more at ease.
“…That won’t change all of a sudden, right?”
[The supernova is the brightest of all stars, but in reality, its brightness is caused by an explosion that the star produces at the end of its life.]
The Parasite Queen removed her hand from Sung Shihyun’s head.
[The exploded star can then become a nebula, a neutron star, or a black hole…. And the star has made its choice. It’s a fate chosen by none other than the supernova itself. Therefore, it will not change.]
She said in a voice full of confidence.
‘The supernova itself….’
Sung Shihyun’s face fell. Somehow that phrase bothered him, but he quickly shook his head. The person he saw and experienced couldn’t have been anyone other than Seol Jihu.
Seeing that Sung Shihyun was convinced, the Parasite Queen turned around.
[As much as I’d like to praise you for the mission’s success, your work is not yet done.]
Her next goal was to exterminate the insects invading her territory.
Black Seol Jihu ran.
Ever since he turned around, he had been running as fast as he could. He even blocked off his senses to the point that his legs began to shake. He had to get as far away from the enemy as possible, all to prepare for the future.
Before jumping out of the hole, Black Seol Jihu assessed the situation calmly. No matter what decision he made, the fact that he had to risk his life remained unchanged. But even if he chose to confront the Parasite Queen, could he have achieved results corresponding to his efforts?
‘No,’ thought Black Seol Jihu. The enemy wasn’t stupid. The Parasite Queen he knew, tended to make the most rational decisions under the given circumstances. Sometimes she could be surprisingly bold, but she played safe most of the time and made only logical choices.
This time too, the Parasite Queen ordered the Army Commanders to step down. And then she raised her guard because she knew if she could just run out the clock, Seol Jihu would die without her having to exhaust her resources further.
If he had chosen to fight her? Then he could have injured her to some extent, but in no way was that a reward enough for him to give up his right to resurrect. So Black Seol Jihu chose the latter — to flee.
He used the reinforced sword qi as a kind of provocation. Everything that the Parasite Queen did was within his expectations. And Black Seol Jihu ran away only after pretending to fight to ensure that the enemy wouldn’t suspect escape had been his goal from the start.
‘I don’t think they’re chasing me….’
Black Seol Jihu organized his thoughts as he ran.
What had already happened could not be undone. The past could not be changed, but the future could. It all depended on what he would do from now on.
Seol Jihu was going to die soon. To return to Paradise, he needed one wish. The problem was that the Parasite Queen had completely damaged Seol Jihu’s body. He had to fix this problem first to make his resurrection worthwhile.
It should be noted here that the Parasite Queen’s level of existence was higher than that of the Seven Gods. And this gap between them had widened even further after she devoured the Chief Deity.
It was simple, really. The resurrection setting as created by the Seven Sins, restored the Earthlings to the state they were in just before their death.
If the Parasite Queen’s divinity had been the cause of his death, he wouldn’t have worried at all. He could just die and then resurrect.
But the Parasite Queen was extremely meticulous. She made sure that the Army Commanders’ attack, and not her divinity, became the primary cause of Seol Jihu’s death.
She also used the loophole in the resurrection setting to inject him with just the right amount of divinity, just enough not to kill him directly.
This meant that even if he were resurrected, the queen’s divinity would still remain inside Seol Jihu’s body. Therefore, he would need to rely on wishes to bring his body back to normal.
But Black Seol Jihu couldn’t tell exactly how many he would need. In the worst-case scenario, even two wouldn’t be enough. Resurrecting according to the rules set by the law of causality, and erasing the Parasite Queen’s divinity with the power of the Seven Sins were, after all, completely different matters.
‘He could probably manage to get one. But if he needed more than that….’
It was unrealistic to assume that Seol Jihu could secure more than one wish. He wasn’t even sure if he could get one.
The more Black Seol Jihu thought, the clearer it became that he had to somehow extinguish the foreign energy dwelling inside him before he died. Even if he couldn’t remove it altogether, he had to reduce it as much as possible before time ran out.
Black Seol Jihu’s train of thought continued endlessly until he suddenly fell and rolled over the rough surface of the ground beneath him.
With his face buried in the ground, Black Seol Jihu cursed softly.
‘I feel like I’ve come pretty far….’
He managed to raise his upper body and look behind his shoulder.
After a brief moment of thought….
‘I should probably get started now. I can feel my strength draining….’
Black Seol Jihu slowly extended his arm into the air. He took a transparent box out of his Dimensional Pocket.
[Harmonia Magic Square]
…Because the formula was made with the reversal of energies in mind, it cannot be said to be perfect. But despite being an imperfect formula, if the user accepts the risk and attempts to control it, they will be able to ‘temporarily’ control conflicting energies.
The energy of ‘Absolute Evil’ is currently rampaging inside the crystal.
Black Seol Jihu read the explanation carefully. This crystal was the reason he chose the latter.
On the Path of the Soul, he had repeatedly told Seol Jihu never to use it, but….
‘Who knew I’d end up here?’
Black Seol Jihu gave a bitter smile. He would have liked to think a little more, but there was no time.
‘Funny how my entire life is a gamble.’
Black Seol Jihu briefly complained to himself before slumping down into a sitting position. He took a deep breath, then injected his mana into the box.
Flash! The magic square drawn on the crystal began to emit a bright light.
Black Seol Jihu closed his eyes and focused on the flow of energy. Soon he felt the energy from the Harmonia Magic Square — Absolute Evil, the mixture of all the essence of the Seven Sins — slowly flow into him.
He focused all his attention on the process at hand. From here on out, even the smallest mistake could become the point of no return.
With the use of the Harmonia Magic Square, there were now a total of three energies inside Seol Jihu.
The essence of lightning, the Parasite Queen’s divinity, and Absolute Evil.
Black Seol Jihu plunged into contemplation.
There was no doubt in his mind that if he left the divinity and Absolute Evil alone, they would unite as one and become an entirely new force.
But this fragile body would never be able to contain such enormous power. Even now, it was on the verge of collapse, so it wasn’t at all difficult to imagine what would happen if the divinity became stronger than it was now.
‘I shouldn’t let the two forces coexist.’
After all, this act itself was enough of a gamble. Black Seol Jihu decided to proceed as originally planned. He chose neutralization over coexistence.
When Black Seol Jihu made up his mind, he immediately activated his Mana Cultivation Method.
Level 8 Spear Demon, Class Ability — Reverse-Flow Mana Technique.
Harmonia Magic Square forced two conflicting energies to coexist, and through the repulsion forces generated by such an act, it allowed its user to use reverse-flow mana.
Black Seol Jihu planned to use his technique on the two energies other than the divinity.
In other words, he was reversing what had already been reversed. Turn 180 degrees twice in a row, and you end up right where you started.
Which could only mean….
Black Seol Jihu’s upper body swung back and forth.
Blood spurted from his nose. At first, the two energies seemed to be in harmony, but the peace did not last long. One of the two energies began to shake violently against the other.
Even while barely holding out, Black Seol Jihu knew instinctively that his decision was right.
In terms of quantity, the queen’s divinity was the smallest. But it was the densest and most powerful of all the energies in his body. In spite of the fierce attack of Absolute Evil, which was the concentration of seven darknesses, it didn’t even budge. Rather, the divinity swallowed the evil each time it came near.
Black Seol Jihu’s face slowly warped into a frown.
‘Even though I’ve blocked my senses…!’
As his circuits and blood vessels ruptured, indescribable pain swirled through his body like a tsunami. His body began to swell, and blood gushed from the wounds that had yet to heal.
Suddenly, intense dizziness overtook him. His head hurt and he felt lightheaded. As drops of sweat began to fall down his face, he thought he might really die from excessive bleeding.
‘In my past life… this was nothing…!’
Black Seol Jihu clenched his teeth. He activated the Reverse-Flow Mana Technique to help boost Absolute Evil fighting relentlessly against the Parasite Queen’s divinity.
A moment later, two strands of energy, one black and one white, spewed out of Seol Jihu’s body like a hurricane. The strands intertwined in a spiral and began to surround the body from which they came.
A fierce tug-of-war ensued. Whenever the light and the darkness collided, they neutralized each other and disappeared. Most of the two energies were lost as this cycle continued, but a few remaining quantities were absorbed back into Seol Jihu’s body.
Kwang! Kwang! Kwang!
As time went by, the clashes intensified, and Black Seol Jihu’s face turned paler and paler.
And yet, he remained perfectly still. It was his request that put his only friend in this position. This was the least he could do for him.
He focused on continuing the Reverse-Flow Mana Technique for the longest time until the two energies finally subsided.
Black Seol Jihu slowly opened his eyes.
Not even an hour had passed, yet he looked at least ten years older.
He stared straight ahead with a dazed look before suddenly shivering.
He felt empty now that everything that had filled him had disappeared.
With a grunt, he wiped the blood dripping from his mouth with the back of his hand. He felt as if he had died a dozen times and returned to life each time, without exaggeration.
‘Did it work…?’
There was no way to know for sure. The only certain thing was that the Harmonia Magic Square had all his circuits distorted.
Still, that was a thousand times better than keeping the Parasite Queen’s divinity in him. All his insides had been brutally butchered, but his body was in tatters long before he used the magic square. He should be rejoicing that he managed to do something before it was too late.
‘I did everything I could.’
Now the rest was up to Seol Jihu and his comrades.
Black Seol Jihu dropped his head with a sigh. He felt light as if he had just been freed from a heavy burden.
‘…Should I lie down now?’
Suddenly, Black Seol Jihu broke into a chuckle. He noticed that, contrary to his wish, his body was squirming to get up.
‘Alright, alright, I get it.’
He staggered to his feet and suddenly blinked. Only now did he realize that a couple of messages were floating in the air.
‘Well… I guess this is nothing to be surprised about considering the number of times I got punched…. Wait a minute, what comes after EX again…?’
Black Seol Jihu gave a bitter smile. He leaned against his spear and let out a long breath.
‘I’m so tired….’
He wanted nothing more than just to lie down and close his eyes. But the owner of his body wanted him to get up and walk.
‘You’re really something.’
He seemed to want to go back alive no matter what.
‘Fine. Let’s go….’
Black Seol Jihu took a step forward, using his spear as a cane.
But before long, his consciousness began to fade and his sight blurred.
He looked down at his own body with half-closed eyes.
His lips curled into a weak smile.
Muttering to himself, he walked step by step toward the horizon.
“You did well….”
He walked across the field that no one knew the name of, his legs shaking under him.
Alone and desolate, he walked….
With one spear and two legs.Previous Chapter Next Chapter