Side Story 50. Heroes Gathering (3)

It wasn’t that Seol Jihu knew them well. But he had an idea.

Gula said not all gods were the same and they were divided in ranks. Shamans, Taoist fairies, Buddhist saints, and monks were counted as Heaven-rank 4.

One had to be an admiral-level god at the least to enter the league of a Heaven-rank 5 god, and one had to be a Dragon King that served as the protector of a country and ruled over a great sea to be considered a Heaven-rank 6 god.

Any god above Heaven-rank 6 was outside of human understanding. Not only did they not care about the lower realm, but they also had no problem thriving without the worship of mortals.

The god that Seol Jihu went to see stood at the pinnacle among such gods. Heaven-rank 7 gods were like insects before her, Heaven-rank 8 gods lowered their heads and did not dare to look up, and even Heaven-rank 9 gods could not estimate her strength.

A Heaven-rank 10 god!

Seol Jihu had high hopes knowing just what kind of existence she was, but…

“No.”

The reply she gave was just as short as always.

“Why should I help you?”

A red-haired girl in twin tails glanced at Seol Jihu.

“No, I already helped you by guaranteeing your safety. Unless that guy is completely out of his mind, no, even if he is out of his mind, he will not go anywhere near the place I declared my territory. He shouldn’t touch you at all.”

As if she wasn’t interested, she looked back at the fairytale book in her hand.

“Not to mention, you even used the energy I bestowed you to obtain profound secrets of the universe and go to the future.”

“That’s…”

“I overlooked it once. I did put a restriction afterward so you can only use it to achieve the oath you made. I didn’t punish you or take back the contribution points.”

Suna said with an apathetic face and flipped a page of the fairytale, Father and Daughter.

“That is more than enough of a reward for amusing me.”

Seol Jihu shut his mouth. He couldn’t refute or disagree with anything she said. To be frank, he was asking her for a favor one-sidedly.

‘I know that, but….’

Seeing Seol Jihu standing still, Suna let out a small sigh.

“...Or what?”

Her cute voice turned sharp.

“Do you think I am a secret friend of yours who will step up whenever you’re in a difficult spot and solve your problems for you?”

Deus Ex Machina, a supernatural being or event that appeared out of nowhere to save seemingly hopeless situations. Suna was asking whether that was what he thought she was.

“It’s not as if things are so hopeless and out of hand that you’re on the verge of collapse. You can still take care of the matter as it stands.”

Suna spoke nonchalantly, but Seol Jihu’s eyes lit up.

“I heard you out and gave you my thoughts on the matter. I believe I returned the respect you showed me.”

Suna snorted.

“That’s it. Now go back. Don’t dawdle here.”

She was chasing him out. Judging that it couldn’t be helped, Seol Jihu bowed politely and turned around.

“...Don’t die, by the way.”

Though he heard something on his way out, Seol Jihu did not hear it clearly as the door closed behind him.

Seol Jihu smacked his lips as soon as he went outside. It would be a lie if he said he didn’t think Suna was being cold-hearted. But as Gula advised, Seol Jihu did not resent her for it.

In the first place, gods were different from humans. Their perspective on things and the emotions they felt were all in higher dimensions.

For example, if a speck of dust came to him, asking for help because outside dust attacked its comrades, Seol Jihu would not feel much of anything. If anything, he would find it bothersome, even if the speck of dust was a little beneficial to him.

Seol Jihu was considering a lofty existence such as herself as a convenient helper. Suna was already showing him a favor by not giving him a hard time for this.

Plus, it wasn’t as if she did not give him any hints. Suna clearly said this was a problem he could take care of. Though he was unsure before, he became certain after he heard her telling him not to dawdle.

‘She said still.’

Seol Jihu’s eyes flashed. Should he act boldly or take more time to investigate things? Though he was hesitating between the two options, he knew what to do now.

‘Quickly and swiftly.’

Determined, Seol Jihu took out a small piece of paper from his pocket and ripped it in half.


*


After returning to Paradise, Seol Jihu went into action right away. Choosing a plan that came out of the meeting, he decided to set out as a small group of elites.

That didn’t mean he stopped preparing for war. After all, he had to account for all possible scenarios.

With the vast amount of contribution points he had, he could instantly finish most preparations. After using Divine Wishes to transmit the World Tree and purchase a large number of Elixeers, Seol Jihu headed to the temple.

If there was one thing he didn’t like, it was that Seo Yuhui was participating in the expedition.

But whether in a war or an expedition, a skilled Priest was necessary, so Seol Jihu couldn’t force her to not participate despite opposing the idea vehemently. It wouldn’t be right to leave one person out when everyone else was putting their lives on the line along with Seol Jihu. The only solace was that the pregnant Phi Sora was excluded from the expedition team.

Many people were already gathered at the temple, including Executors and the various chiefs of the Federation’s foreign races.

After exchanging a look with everyone, Seol Jihu made a wish to Gula. Although he planned to teleport there, Gula surprisingly said they could not be teleported to the imperial palace in question, never mind anywhere near it.

“If even a Divine Wish isn’t enough to teleport us to a place that was perfectly fine before… it can only mean that the region has completely been taken over.”

Philip Muller murmured.

“It seems the reason our enemy has become so strong is because of the expedition team and the rescue team.”

Seol Jihu agreed.

“Since each member has quite a bit of energy inside their body… if it were me, I would use them as long-term nutriment rather than using them as a sacrifice, especially if I needed to recover my energy.”

“....”

“There’s a good chance most of them are still alive. I feel you can say that’s the silver lining in this situation.”

Philip Muller glanced at Seol Jihu and then let out a small sigh.

“Anyway, we should get there quickly before the enemy recovers more.”

Seol Jihu nodded. Even if his comrades were alive, that didn’t change the fact that the situation was worse than before.

Seol Jihu made another wish. This time, to teleport them as close to the imperial palace as the wish could. Thankfully, Gula said they could be teleported to Via Lactea. It seemed their enemy had yet to spread its influence that far.

[Your wish has been received.]

Gula’s voice echoed in the area.

“Hurry on back.”

Seol Jihu turned around at a curt voice. Phi Sora was looking at him worriedly with her hands on her stomach. It seemed she was telling him to come back safely for their child’s sake.

Seol Jihu smiled brightly before blinking when he looked at the woman standing behind Phi Sora. Kim Hannah was staring at him fixedly. Though she looked dazed, Seol Jihu could see complicated emotions swirling in her eyes.

Soon, a light descended on the bodies of the expedition team members.

“I’ll be back soon.”

Before the light enveloped him completely, Seol Jihu smiled at Kim Hannah as well.

Seeing this, Kim Hannah opened her mouth unknowingly. Just as her mouth moved as if to say something, she shut her eyes tight.

“...See you soon.”

Kim Hannah ended up laughing without a choice.

“I’ll be preparing for a celebratory party.”

She should really be preparing for war, but Seol Jihu wasn’t so dense that he didn’t understand what she meant.

Next, feeling the light completely dye his vision white, Seol Jihu resolved his heart.

‘Let’s win.’

He gripped the Spear of Purity tight.

‘I have to win.’

When he opened his eyes again, a familiar scenery was spread out in front of him.

“....”

Though, not in a good way.

The Empire, which regained its light after much turmoil, was once again blanketed by darkness, just like when it had been the Parasite Queen’s territory.

“This is… marvelous in a different way.”

Cinzia commented while looking up at the sky.

“The sun is in the sky, but no sunlight is shining down. Doesn’t it feel like we’re in an apocalyptic world?”

“There’s no sign of life anywhere. The ground is also like we’re walking on fragments of coal…”

Agnes looked around the area and said while rubbing her foot against the hard ground.

“The lifeforce of the earth has gotten weaker.”

Taihi also commented after taking a handful of dirt and rubbing it in her palm.

“I can’t believe it. The Empire’s land became fertile thanks to World Tree-nim purifying it. To taint such a powerful holy power so fast…”

Despite speaking with a calm expression, her voice was trembling.

“We can just purify it again.”

Wu Lei spoke after a brief moment of silence and looked back at Seol Jihu.

“Aren’t we right in front of enemy territory? Then shouldn’t we start right away here? Giving that thing more time isn’t going to help.”

Agreeing wholeheartedly, Seol Jihu took out a white divine tool in the shape of a tree branch. He planted it in the soil, which was still faintly pulsating with life, and then looked back.

Receiving his gaze, Yuirel and Taihi planted a seed near the divine tool and went on their knees to pray.

Soon… Hwaaaaaak! The divine tool let out a blinding light, and then… Boom! It suddenly spat out a massive pillar of light that pierced into the sky.

The divine tool multiplied in size and transformed into a giant ash tree.

The process of moving the World Tree began.

Meanwhile, Seol Jihu stared at the dark imperial palace in the distance.

It was the start of a war.


*


Same time.

Suna, who was reading a fairytale book at home, showed signs of discomfort. It was because of one woman who kept stealing glances at her, grinning.

Mercedes, the second commander of the Purgatory who served a king named Permasnow. Suna kept her by her side, unlike Gehenna and Hwajung, because of how courteously Mercedes treated her, but she was getting on her nerves today for some reason.

“What? What are you looking at?”

In the end, Suna asked angrily.

“Hmm? What’s wrong?”

Mercedes tilted her head innocently and smiled.

“I sent him back. Do you have a problem with that?”

“Of course not. I wouldn’t dare.”

“Hmph, it would be ridiculous of me stepping up anyways.”

“That’s true. Though you did give him a word of advice.”

When Suna glared at her, Mercedes quickly averted her gaze.

“Of course, it’s not too late, and he is acting very quickly… but how should I say this… he’s cutting it a little close? It was okay when the first team failed, but the second team’s failure was quite impactful.”

“What do you want me to do about it?”

Suna snorted.

“That’s something he needs to take care of himself. It’s none of my business.”

“If that’s what you think, I won’t say anything else.”

Mercedes, who was speaking with a broad grin, suddenly held up an index finger and rested her chin on it.

“It’s such a shame I won’t be able to eat his ramen anymore…”

Suna’s eyes narrowed.

“Ah~ It was so good~ It almost made me think I wasted the countless years I lived without tasting it~”

Suna frowned and then flipped over a page. She was saying she wouldn’t act no matter what Mercedes said.

“What should I do?”

However, Mercedes was tenacious.

“What if the Golden Constellation perishes here~?”

“....”

“Even if he doesn’t perish, what if he declares he won’t make ramen ever again from the shock~?”

“...Keuk!”

Suna gritted her teeth.

“It doesn’t matter. I have already tasted it once.”

“That’s true, but his ramen skills should only improve as time goes by~”

“Eeeek!”

In the end, a frustrated eek came out of Suna’s mouth.

“If you want to help him so much, why don’t you go do it yourself?”

“I’d love to, but…”

Mercedes turned her head toward a tightly shut door. It was Kim Soohyun’s room.

“He and I are currently in a deep relationship. I cannot go against his strict command to not interfere with other worlds.”

“Then ask him yourself!”

“Oh my, but you know his personality. I don’t want to fight my husband and have him hate me.”

Mercedes shrugged.

“But~ It just happens that this hard-headed man has a lovely daughter he absolutely adores~ What if she asks him instead?”

“W-What was that?”

Suna’s eyebrows went up.

“No, I’m just saying.”

Detecting danger, Mercedes quickly got up and scurried away, murmuring, Let’s get tastier~

It didn’t end with just Mercedes.

“Hmm. Today feels like a ramen day. Together with kimchi, blowing on it to cool it down….”

Gehenna, who appeared out of nowhere…

“Before you go, why not have a bowl of ramen?”

And Hwajung, who also appeared out of nowhere, walked around Suna and blabbered on.

“You three…!”

Gritting her teeth, Suna forced herself to focus on the fairytale.

“....”

Of course, she could not concentrate for long.

Because honestly speaking, Seol Jihu’s ramen was good.

It was a bit ridiculous to think that a lofty being such as herself would be shaken up by mere ramen, but now that she tasted it once, she had no choice but to acknowledge it.

‘D-Damn it! Those three put this thought in my head…!’

Mercedes’ talk about how Seol Jihu’s ramen would only get tastier in the future played the biggest role.

Suna had seen and experienced it herself. After failing once, the Golden Constellation did not give up until finally achieving success.

He managed to get everyone, including herself to acknowledge him. Suna could not allow herself to abandon his potential.

Not to mention, he even diminished the darkness inside the Chaos Constellation.

‘R-Right. This isn’t because I want to eat his ramen. It’s for Daddy…’

Justifying herself, Suna became absorbed in figuring out the solution to the problem.

As she said before, this matter was not something she should take care of directly. She wasn’t in any position to. Since she put on such heavy airs, she also had to think about saving face.

That meant she had to get her servants to take care of the matter. However, even that came with considerable concern.

Despite being a Heaven-rank 10 being, she did not want to go as far as breaking the principle upheld by her cherished person to do as she wished.

To put it bluntly, she didn’t feel comfortable with it.

Of course, it would be a different story if she asked and got his permission beforehand… but that wouldn’t be so easy.

Once the Martial God said no to something, he absolutely did not change his mind. Knowing this, Suna had to adopt a special measure.

“....”

In the end, there was only one thing she could do.

“Haaaa….”

Heaving out a rarely seen deep sigh, Suna closed the fairytale book and got up.

First, she used her power to chase out the pesky eyes watching her.

As she made her way over, she asked herself, Do I really have to do this? But before she could arrive at the answer, her body was standing in front of the door.

After hesitating for a long time, Suna raised her baby-like hand and knocked.

—Who is it?

A familiar voice rang out from inside.

Kuhum. Suna cleared her throat. After taking another deep breath, she pinched her cute, tiny nose. Then…

“Daddyyy~~”

She spoke with a nasal voice...

“It’s Suna~ I want to ask Daddy for something~ Can I come in~?”

...and an extremely shameful face.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter