Chapter 338. The Stories of Characters (4)
I walked to Baal’s barrier with Jain. The surrounding area could only be described as total chaos. The Transnational Peace Conference’s joyous atmosphere had been thoroughly destroyed, and key buildings like the residence of the Republic’s president had been swallowed up as well.
“It’s only been a day since this barrier formed. It swallowed almost half of the entire capital. Do you have any plans to deal with it?”
I shook my head at Jain’s question. I didn’t have a plan or even a bright idea. I knew nothing of its setting, so its weakness was anyone’s guess. I had not described Baal or his abilities anywhere in my novel.
“Then what are you going to do?”
“…I’m not sure.”
I checked the amount of SP and DP I had, which turned out to be 4030 SP and an overflowing amount of DP.
“Jain, do you know if this world has demon merchants?”
“Hm? Oh, yeah, I heard they’re living around the outskirts of the continent. But they might be on their way here considering what’s going on. Why? Do you have extra DP to spend?”
“I do, almost a million.”
With my sponsorship, Litrain was now a world-renowned knight known as the Knight of Brilliance. Thanks to her, I had close to a million DP.
Jain’s eyes widened.
“There’s something called a ‘luck bonus’. Every time I get 100 DP, I get another 20 DP… Anyways, that’s not what’s important right now.”
I looked up at the dome-shaped barrier piercing the sky and took out the [Mystic Key].
“First, let’s go inside.”
“Mm… Are you sure that key will work~? It’s Baal’s barrier, after all.”
Jain doubted the Mystic Key’s power. I couldn’t blame her considering how tiny and insignificant it looked.
“Once I strengthen its ability a few times, it should be able to break a part of the barrier.”
At that moment, several footsteps rang out from the right. Jain and I slowly turned our heads to that direction. To our surprise, Arunheim’s knights were rushing towards us.
“…Who are they?”
Jain shrugged. Hearing her, the leader of the knights stepped forward.
“Can you really break a part of the barrier?”
A woman’s voice rang out. The knight took off her helmet. I immediately recognized her face. She was Airun, the knight commander who gave me the order to escort Harin.
She looked like she was on the verge of crying. No, I could see traces of tears around her eyes. It must be because of the guilt of being unable to protect her lord as a knight.
“Yes, it should be possible.”
I took off my robe as I replied. When Airun saw my face, her eyebrows rose in shock.
“Let’s talk about that after we break open the barrier.”
I cut Airun off before she could finish her thought. I cloaked the Mystic Key with Aether. The key grew slightly bigger.
“…Can that really open the barrier?”
Airun’s voice trembled anxiously.
“…Then please hurry. I’m dying from being unable to do anything. Our Prince is waiting for us inside the barrier.”
Airun pleaded earnestly. I could feel how sincere she was in wanting to protect Arunheim’s prince.
Her trembling hands touched the surface of the barrier. However, the barrier instantly pushed her back.
I added [Random Consolidation System] and [Constraints and Amplifications] to the key. Then, I shoved the key inside the barrier.
Powerful sparks crackled when the two magic powers clashed. I infused Stigma’s magic power into the Mystic Key, and it seeped into the barrier through the key.
Both the barrier and the ground around us rumbled. Then, a crack appeared in the barrier around the key.
The knights swallowed their saliva, and I poured in half of my remaining Stigma.
In the next instant, a sharp sound rang out, and a side of the barrier began to crumble.
Airun shouted ecstatically. She burst into tears, as did the rest of the knights. They approached me and expressed their gratitude.
In all honesty, I was slightly taken aback by their overreaction.
[United States of America – Leraje’s Devil’s Castle]
On the other hand, Leraje was lounging around in her newfound home, waiting for her game to be completed. Thanks to her patience, the Americas were far more peaceful than Europe.
However, the employees of the gaming company Leol were feeling more pressured than ever. They frequently kept themselves going by taking drugs and potions, and seven of them even collapsed from stress. They worked without a single moment of rest.
It was all for the single customer awaiting their work.
“…Lord Leraje, the game is almost complete.”
In a dark room of the Devil’s Castle, Leol’s CEO, Varan, bowed in front of Leraje. Leraje looked down at him with bored eyes before skillfully typing on a keyboard.
—That’s good to hear. What type of game is it?
Varan glanced at the reply Leraje typed.
“It’s a combination of training, battling, strategy, adventure, and travel. This game will surely be the greatest game ever to be created….”
The countless hours his employees put in and the encouragement(?) from the demons finally allowed the game to enter its final stage of development.
Naturally, Varan had mixed feelings about it. He was worried that Leraje would not like it, yet he was excited about what he believed would be the greatest game of the century.
—I see. But would a human be able to defeat me in that game?
“How could a mere human accomplish such a thing.”
—I don’t like imbalanced games.
‘I don’t like.’
When these three words came out, the faces of the demons around the room turned sharp.
“I-It won’t be.”
Varan quickly slammed his head on the ground.
“The game will have a raid system.”
“No human is capable of defeating Lord Leraje in a one on one confrontation. I have personally seen Lord’s overwhelming control, which has surpassed human capabilities. In our game, a level 1 expert is capable of defeating a level 50 player depending on the level of control, so—”
—So humans will work together to defeat me. A true test of skill. That is something I like. I hate luck-dependent games.
“Y-Yes, of course.”
The demons’ expressions softened, and Varan heaved out a sigh of relief.
‘But’. Varan almost fainted when he heard that word.
—You are wrong.
Varan saw his life flash before his eyes. He became certain of his death.
‘Wrong’. Now that Leraje had muttered that word, Varan knew there was no way out…
“L-Lord, please spare my life—”
—There is one human who defeated me.
Varan’s jaw dropped. Leraje skillfully moved her fingers and opened her record in a game called [Gladiator of the Century]. To Varan’s surprise, Leraje had several consecutive losses.
—I assume you can see it.
Varan’s head turned blank. He couldn’t believe there was someone capable of defeating this devil. From what he could see, Leraje was even more of a devil inside virtual reality, because many renowned experts of Earth, like Heynckes and Chae Joochul, didn’t know how to even enter the virtual world.
—His ID is Extra7.
Leraje pulled up Extra7’s player info.
—Find him for me.
Varan and Leraje’s subordinates all had dazed looks on their faces. Even the demons seemed shocked that their lord had lost.
—I witnessed unimaginable movements and game sense. At the time, I was simply angry at my consecutive losses, but now that I think about it, I have much to learn from him.
As Leraje explained, the room was filled with silence. A devil admitting that she had much to learn from a human. Varan was shocked beyond belief.
—But now that I am more experienced, I would like to defeat him with my own hands.
Leraje smiled faintly as she typed her final sentence. In the Demon Realm, one would be lucky to see her smile once in a hundred years. Now that she had revealed her smile, the demons in the room all felt their heart shake.
[Baal’s Barrier – Destroyed Mansion]
Baal left Shin Jonghak and Jin Sahyuk behind. Jin Sahyuk said Baal was most likely constructing his Devil’s Castle and that now was the best chance to stop him, but Shin Jonghak sat in the corner of the destroyed mansion without moving an inch.
His heart didn’t pound, and his body was frozen. With the image of the grandfather he respected and admired shattered, he seemed to have lost himself in a sense of emptiness.
“…Yo, idiot, are you gonna just sit there?”
Jin Sahyuk called Shin Jonghak once again. However, Shin Jonghak didn’t react in the slightest.
“Tsk, pathetic. Really, I’ve never seen someone more pathetic.”
Jin Sahyuk sneered openly.
“We found Lady Seraine! She’s safe inside the underground bunker!”
At that moment, an urgent voice rang out outside the window. Shin Jonghak closed his eyes, wanting to ignore everything.
“Open your eyes, fool.”
But Jin Sahyuk stabbed Shin Jonghak’s eyes with her fingers. After wiggling in pain, Shin Jonghak shot his eyes open and glared at Jin Sahyuk.
“You piece of… Haa.”
The usual Shin Jonghak would have cursed and swung his spear. But the current Shin Jonghak only sighed and stumbled down helplessly.
“…You don’t understand.”
He muttered as he reminisced about his past.
The reason he wanted to become a Hero was solely because of his grandfather, Shin Myungchul. The reason he was proud of himself was because he was a descendant of the man lauded as the greatest Hero in history.
“You don’t understand what I lived for, what I wished for.”
But that legend was now gone. His faith had been shattered by the cold truth that Shin Myungchul was someone who invited Baal to his world.
Jin Sahyuk kicked Shin Jonghak’s shoulder. Shin Jonghak fell backward without uttering a cry. Then, Jin Sahyuk clicked her tongue and spoke in frustration.
“He was the most heroic person among the fools who called themselves a hero.”
“Your grandfather. I’ve seen him before while I was traveling with Bell.”
Shin Jonghak’s expression stiffened as if to ask why she had never mentioned it until now. Jin Sahyuk looked out the window and continued.
“Shin Myungchul risked his life to correct his mistake. That means he possesses the quality of a hero.”
Sssss— Then, a faint vibration shook the barrier. Jin Sahyuk’s eyebrows went up when she saw it. She continued as she observed the barrier.
“So get up and fight. Didn’t Bell tell you? That Shin Myungchul left something with you. Bell isn’t a liar.”
Ssssss. The vibration grew bigger, and a small crack appeared in Baal’s barrier. Someone was clearly trying to break in.
Jin Sahyuk quickly understood who was responsible.
“If you still want to just sit there….”
She smirked and looked down at Shin Jonghak.
“Then go ahead. Disgrace your grandfather’s name all you want. A man bigger than you has just arrived. Someone like you is unnecessary.”
Hearing this, Shin Jonghak’s face distorted. A smile emerged on Jin Sahyuk’s face as she stared out the window. Provoked, Shin Jonghak slowly got up. Then, he witnessed it himself.
The crack appearing on Baal’s barrier.
Shin Jonghak’s shoulders tensed up. Jin Sahyuk continued to observe the crack as she muttered.
“…Look. He survives like a cockroach and always comes crawling back.”
An earth-shattering boom rang out. A part of the barrier crumbled down, and a certain man emerged from the rubble.
“People like that are surprisingly cool.”
Next to him was an army of knights. Even Shin Jonghak had to admit that his entrance was cool.
Shin Jonghak snorted. He felt discomfort in his chest. He knew it was from his distaste of Kim Hajin, and it cleanly burned away his internal despair and helplessness.
“He doesn’t look good no matter what he does.”
Shin Jonghak laughed inwardly as he clearly recognized he was being jealous. Right, he was jealous. After all these years, he finally admitted this feeling. After all, didn’t Bell say Shin Myungchul was also a jealous character?
Now that he knew his grandfather was full of flaws, he felt like he could finally drop his high and mighty attitude.
Jin Sahyuk asked with a mischievous smile.
“…Can’t you tell by his average-looking face?”
Shin Jonghak sneered. The feelings he never admitted, the feelings that had driven him to his current level – envy and jealousy.
“He doesn’t look as good as me.”
After admitting them wholeheartedly, he picked up his Conqueror Spear.