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I stayed still for a long time. I wasn't sure how to react to Jin Seyeon's sudden confession. And while I was pondering, Jin Seyeon spoke first.
"It hasn't been that long since I found out about this. I pestered my friend over and over again… over again… Oregon…"
My eyebrows naturally furrowed at Jin Seyeon's strange joke. Jin Seyeon snickered and shook her head.
"I'm just kidding. Sorry."
"Erm… so you heard from your friend?"
I stared at her face. Jin Seyeon wasn't meant to be an important character in the original story. Despite having the status of a Master-rank Hero, she was given little screen time. Since I didn't write anything special about her background, the co-author would have had free rein to add whatever he wanted.
"Friend… Is it Yoo Jinhyuk?"
Yoo Jinhyuk was the only one who knew my past and would tell someone else about it. It seemed I guessed right as Jin Seyeon's flinched slightly.
"As I thought, you knew."
"He's a well-known person."
"Kuhum… Well, to be honest, he didn't tell me much. I've known Jinhyuk since we were young, so I could tell by his facial expressions. He can't hide things from me, hahaha."
Jin Seyeon laughed. But in the next moment, she put on a bitter expression and stared back at me.
"…I knew since a long time ago that there was a survivor of that incident. I investigated it myself. Two years ago, I found out that you, Kim Hajin, might be that survivor, and I've been wanting to meet you ever since. Of course, I had to confirm my suspicions first."
Jin Seyeon's serious voice flowed into my ears. I maintained my silence.
"So I went to see Jinhyuk. He didn't answer my questions, but his expressions did."
I didn't have Chundong's memories, so I didn't know what Chundong knew about the incident.
This unexplainable past only proved that I didn't belong in this place. That I had only replaced Chundong's place and that the past of the person known as Kim Hajin didn't exist in this world.
"My father died in the Kw.a.n.g-Oh Evacuation Shelter. Jin Younghwan, that was his name. He should have been the strongest and the bravest Hero. He met his death while protecting the civilians in the shelter."
Jin Younghwan. He also wasn't one of the characters I wrote, but I knew his name from the diary Yoo Yeonha showed me.
I spoke curtly.
"…And what are you getting at?"
Jin Seyeon smiled. It seemed she made thorough preparation for this conversation.
"No matter how fake this world is… we can't just abandon it and run away. Just like how my father didn't escape from Kw.a.n.g-Oh."
I looked at my hand. The lines of my palm were stretched out complicatedly like a spider web.
"There is this quote from a book I really like."
At that moment, Jin Seyeon brought up a quote from a book she once read.
"To confront what must be confronted."
My eyes widened. In this world, Korean history was one of the most important subjects taught in schools. The book, 'Namhansanseong Fortress', was naturally a best seller in this world.
"I think I've read that book before."
The only memory I shared with the people of this world, a part of the 'Earth' recorded in my setting.
I made a bitter smile.
"Let's fight, not run away."
Jin Seyeon spoke tenderly with a warm smile.
The next day, Aileen approached me while I was stretching.
"What beautiful weather."
Aileen looked up at the sky with somewhat drowsy eyes. She looked quite exhausted. It must be because she spent quite a bit of magic power while interrogating Raylen last night.
I grinned and spoke.
"It's the effect of the crystal shard Raylen brought. It improves the weather within a 6km radius around it."
The two crystals Raylen brought had different effects. The first one improved the weather within a 6km radius, and the second amplified the power of a weapon.
"…I see. I guess I'll do some stretching too."
One, two, one, two…
Aileen stretched for about 15 seconds before stopping. She then stole a glance at me before yelping.
"Aah… I'm suddenly dizzy…"
She stuttered like a falling leaf and fell down on the ground.
I stared at her blankly. She spoke with rough breathing sounds.
She wanted chocolate. I laughed and threw one over, and she shot up energetically.
"Anyways, are you confident?"
"Hm? What do you mean? Nom, nom."
Aileen asked while nibbling on the chocolate.
"I heard you decided to fight too."
"…Who do you think I am?"
Gulp. Aileen swallowed the chocolate and glared at me with a pout.
"Old Man Chae Joochul killed a devil by himself, so why can't I?"
"I guess you're right."
I laughed and nodded. Then suddenly, Aileen put on a strange face.
"So, what's your relations.h.i.+p with Jin Sahyuk? I heard you guys talking about the fake king, real king thing."
"Oh, that? It's a secret."
I threw Aileen another chocolate before she could get mad.
Nom, nom, nom— Aileen nibbled on the chocolate quietly.
"Alright, let's go train."
"…I'll let you go this time since this chocolate's so good."
Aileen and I then headed to the training hall.
When Misteltein destroyed the sh.e.l.l of the Tower of Wish, it absorbed a portion of the Tower's essence. Absorbing this divine power completed Misteltein's 'awakening'.
[Awakened - Wish Sword]
▷「Wish Sword」 [Pinnacle-grade] [Composite-attribute of Fighting, Light, and Holy]
*The ringing of the holy sword pierces the mind and shakes the heart.
*The height of all swords. Can form sword qi and sword reinforcement freely. Becomes one with the user. Stays by the user's side eternally.
—Divine Power Release
*Can gather divine power around your sword and shoot it out
Misteltein's final form, Wish Sword.
It could form sword qi and sword reinforcement without the use of magic power, and together with Kim Suho's Gift, Sword Saint, it could even cut s.p.a.ce and time.
However, Kim Suho didn't reveal this sword to the higher-ups of the Hero a.s.sociation. They questioned his gains from the Tower for a long time, and Kim Suho only replied that he received three pieces of paper and a single item.
The a.s.sociation heads didn't believe him for obvious reasons. They even invited an agent whose Gift could detect lies. However, Kim Suho cut the Gift of the investigating agent, turning his lie into truth.
"…Really? That's all you got from the Tower?"
Even Yun Seung-Ah was fl.u.s.tered by it. She was looking forward to hearing what Kim Suho gained from conquering the Tower of Wish. Since the Tower wasn't destroyed, she hoped the Tower would become Kim Suho's possession. At the very least, she hoped he would gain an infinite supply of entrance tickets…
"That's unexpectedly cheap. The journey must have been the reward."
This was Yoo Yeonha's a.s.sessment. Chae Nayun widened her eyes.
"d.a.m.n, can I quote you on that? 'The journey is the reward.'"
"…It's nothing special."
"So then what was the item you got?"
Yun Seung-Ah quickly asked.
"Ah, it's this."
Kim Suho proudly explained the rewards he received: [Lv.11 Flying Cape], [Supporter Summon Coupon], and two [Point Coupons]. The summon coupon was especially noteworthy since it meant he could summon the 'Witch'.
"Oh… I see."
Yun Seung-Ah nodded. The summon coupon sounded useful, though the word, 'witch', bothered her slightly.
"Suho, can you write down your bank account?"
Yoo Yeonha tapped on her smart.w.a.tch and asked.
Kim Suho tilted his head.
"Bank account? Why?"
"Our guild put a bounty on the Tower. We're supposed to reward whoever conquered it."
Yun Seung-Ah openly expressed her discontent.
"You put up a bounty? Wasn't that for your guild members only?"
"No, we decided to give it to whoever conquered the Tower. For the record, it's 10 billion won."
"It's fine, we don't need it. We're not that desp— wait, 10 what? 10 billion?"
Yun Seung-Ah's eyes widened. Yoo Yeonha smiled proudly and nodded.
"Yes, 10 billion won. Suho can also ask for items worth 10 billion won."
Yun Seung-Ah became speechless. Korean won was the most stable currency in the world. 10 billion won wasn't a small amount by any means.
"You guys are that rich?"
"Of course. Even the mansion I live in is worth tens of billions of won."
Seeing Yun Seung-Ah at a loss for words, Yoo Yeonha furrowed her brows.
"Aren't you underestimating us too much? Including our subsidiary businesses, we make more in a month than Creator's Sacred Grace does in a year."
Yun Seung-Ah had no choice but to keep her mouth shut. Essence Dynamics, Essential Pharmacy, Essence University, Essence Foundation, etc…. Essence of the Strait's subsidiaries were indeed famous and were only gaining more fame as time went on.
"Suho, give her your bank info. Let's take the 10 billion…."
Yun Seung-Ah spoke dejectedly.
Kim Suho wrote down his bank account. Then, he stared at Yoo Yeonha.
His expression turned serious. He had many questions he wanted to ask her.
"Tell me about Hajin. I heard Orden kidnapped him."
Kim Suho's voice was filled with uncharacteristic rage.
The preparation for the battle progressed smoothly. Plerion's soldiers and knights were trained day and night, and we planned a strategy.
Since Puharen was overcome with rage and fear, he should lack the ability to discern traps. We decided to use that to our advantage.
We spent the past two weeks digging a huge trap. Inside a hole big enough to fit Puharen's huge devilized body, we inscribed a magic power powerful enough to blow up any monster.
Meanwhile, Plerion's king, Prihi, personally oversaw the cultivation of crops and raising of livestock. Thanks to her effort and encouragement, everyone regained trust in their king, and Plerion now felt more like a 'country'.
However, there wasn't much time.
"…The devil is arriving."
On a night of the full moon, the footsteps of the devil who destroyed Schupert's territory rumbled.
"Yes, I can see him."
Civilians were evacuated to the farthest part of the city, while we came out to the outskirts along with Plerion's soldiers and knights. We stood on the castle walls and stared out into the darkness. A devil with a huge body and a bull-like head marched towards Plerion while emitting demonic energy.
"If we can get through this, we'll grow stronger by another realm. We can do it."
Jin Seyeon gave words of encouragement.
"We can return home once this is over, right…?"
"Of course, don't worry."
Seo Youngji and Yi Yongha consoled each other. Was there really nothing going on between them?
"Quiet, you two. Stopping crying all the time."
"He's coming. Get ready."
Along with Aileen's annoyed grumbling and s.h.i.+n Jonghak's tense murmuring, everyone prepared for battle.
I stared at the slowly sauntering giant. The devil seemed to get bigger the closer it got. My heart beat, and fear struck me. A part of me wanted to run away.
I took a deep breath and took a look around me.
Divine Archer Jin Seyeon, Spirit Speech Master Aileen, a.s.sa.s.sin Seo Youngji, h.e.l.lfire Yi Yongha, Final Boss Jin Sahyuk, and Vegeta/Black Flame Dragon - s.h.i.+n Jonghak.
Since I also had the Authority, [Devil Hunter], I believe we could win.
With a trembling heart, I took out my bullets.
I used [Lv.10 Synthesis] on the 300 sniper bullets I had. I fused a hundred bullets into one to increase its destructive power. Then, I added a [Continental Fragment Piece] to the bullet.
[Continental Fragment Piece]
—Crystal that maintains the Recorded Past.
—Amplifies the power of the weapon it is embedded in.
The preparation was finished.
"I'll make the first move."
I climbed up to the watchtower. At the same time, I activated my ultimate skill, [Complete Understanding of Spirit Power].
Crimson sparks crackled around my body. A sense of omnipotence surged up from my body along with a bottomless supply of energy.
I transformed the Desert Eagle into a sniper rifle. It was time to apply various strengthening effects to the gun.
I used Random Consolidation System on the bullet and gun, boosted my body's stats with every effect [Medicinal Memory Physique] had, utilized [Aether] and [Algorithm], used [Partial Devilization] on my right arm, poured 5 streaks of Stigma into the bullet, and even used [Overclocking] to boost Stigma.
Overclocking used my lifeforce to add additional streaks of Stigma. The process made me twist in pain, like someone was twisting a knife inside my body. Even so, I clenched my teeth and endured until the 6th and 7th streaks of Stigma went into the bullet.
Stigma surpa.s.sed its limits, and a clearly visible aura erupted from the Desert Eagle. Magic power and spirit power swirled together to form a huge whirlpool.
This was the strongest attack I could muster.
At that moment, the devil finally stepped on the trap. Tree roots and magma erupted, restraining the devil's movements. At the same time, Aileen activated Spirit Speech.
"A lightning bolt is going to strike down—!"
Lighting flashed, stopping the devil's movement for a moment.
I aimed my gun at the devil's vital point, its belly b.u.t.ton. Although it was protected by a barrier of demonic energy, the anti-magic property I imbued into my bullet would easily pierce through it.
As such, there was no need to hesitate.
I pulled the trigger.
In that instant, it felt like my soul was being shot out. A loud bang reverberated.
My body shot backwards from the recoil, and the Desert Eagle's chamber burst.
The bullet flew fiercely, spiraling forward with a huge torrent of energy. Even my eyes couldn't estimate its speed.
The bullet touched the devil's barrier. Stigma's magic power destroyed the barrier in an instant and dug into his skin. Soon, it pierced through the devil's body and destroyed his organs.
The devil screamed. He spat out a mouthful of blood before falling down on the… ground?
Why did he suddenly fall?
Aileen's voice rang out. She looked just as shocked as me.
The devil completely collapsed, and a huge earthquake rumbled.
The devil didn't move even an inch after falling. It seemed as though it was completely dead.
"…The heck? Did he die?"
Aileen murmured quietly.
She wasn't the only one who was surprised.
s.h.i.+n Jonghak, who jumped down from the castle wall, Jin Seyeon, who was ready to shoot her magic arrows, Yi Yongha, who had his h.e.l.lfire ready, and Jin Sahyuk, who was watching the whole thing… everyone looked up at me in a daze.
Then, Jin Sahyuk jumped up to the watchtower.
"Kim Hajin, you…."
Jin Sahyuk was about to say something when she suddenly put on a shocked face.
"Y-Your eyes are bleeding!"
I was about to ask what the h.e.l.l she was talking about when a cough came out of my mouth.
Blood splurted out. At the same time, my vision turned blurry. I staggered back and forth, feeling nauseous.
"Hey! Snap out of it!"
Jin Sahyuk held me up. I emptied my stomach as she supported me. Reddish-black blood and vomit came out of my mouth like a waterfall. My eyes closed. The last thing I saw was the deep red b.l.o.o.d.y vomit I spat out.
Jin Sahyuk's voice cut off.
Several alerts popped up in the darkness. [The devil…], [Devil Hunter…], etc.
But there was only one alert that caught my attention.
[You used three years of your lifespan through Overclocking.]