Chapter 357. Final Name (5)
[Yi Yeonjun’s barrier]
Inside the barrier, Yi Yeonjun told me everything. His cold voice seeped into my conscience.
He knew everything. He knew that this world was a novel and that I was its author.
“…Do you really believe all that?”
I tried to feign innocence, but it was no use. Yi Yeonjun stared at me coldly with vacant eyes. I could feel his murderous glare poke against my flesh.
Yi Yeonjun explained, “Baal is transcendent. He can easily distinguish truth from falsehood. Still, he failed to deny your existence, because he found out the truth about himself. The origin of his existence, which he had been studying all his life, was nothing but a character in a novel.”
I couldn’t feel any emotion in Yi Yeonjun’s voice. I chose to remain silent.
“…I want to ask you.” Yi Yeonjun declared, his eyes darkened with rage.
In the stifling silence, I waited for his words to continue.
“Are you the god of this world? Are you playing with us for amusement?”
What a futile question it was. Yi Yeonjun seemed to have already lost his desire for life. He seemed to have given up everything.
I understood him. Just like Yi Yeonjun, I once considered this world was nothing more than a novel.
But now I had a different idea.
This world was not a novel. It might have started out as one, but just the fact that I was living in it proved that this world, through an inexplicable and unimaginable method, had become something more than just words on paper.
“I’m not a god, and this world isn’t a novel.”
Yi Yeonjun raised one eyebrow. He stared at me with narrowed eyes. His gaze felt hostile and invasive, as if he was trying to tear me to pieces with his eyes.
“You are… deceiving me to the end.”
Yi Yeonjun’s dry voice filled with anger. With a motion of his hand, the barrier surrounding us began to change its form. The space contorted and pounced at me.
Aether reacted faster than me. It encircled me and resisted Yi Yeonjun’s barrier.
Under Aether’s protection, I took out the Desert Eagle. But I couldn’t fire the gun. Yi Yeonjun choked me with some sort of psychokinesis from a distance, and the Desert Eagle stopped working because of his ability. The trigger got stuck and no matter how much I pulled it, the gun did not fire.
“I already know your toy’s weakness.”
And he certainly did. The weakness of a gun was quite simple when you thought about it. A gun was nothing but a piece of metal unless you could pull its trigger.
—Kim Suho. Can you hear me?
I had no choice but to send a Mental Transmission to Kim Suho. In the meantime, my fight with Yi Yeonjun continued. Yi Yeonjun’s powerful psychokinesis aimed at my neck and waist and all I could do was run away from it.
—Hey, come save me.
I sent a second Mental Transmission. At the same time, I gave orders to Spartan, who traveled through time and space to pick up Kim Suho.
Yi Yeonjun caught my finger. He crushed my index finger, but fortunately, the bodyguard I asked for arrived in time.
Yi Yeonjun paused to look up at the ceiling of the barrier and saw a huge swath of sword qi pour down at him. He widened his eyes.
A plume of smoke rose from where the sword strike exploded.
“Phew. I almost died back there.”
I let out a sigh of relief and turned my gaze to the side. There, I saw Kim Suho, whom Spartan had brought…?
I frowned. The silhouette behind the smokescreen was not Kim Suho’s.
It was definitely too small to be Kim Suho. The hairstyle and the size of the sword also seemed different.
Though not Kim Suho’s, a familiar voice rang through the white smoke. My eyes widened immediately and my heart began to race.
The violent tremors spread to the rest of my body.
“Long time no see.”
The smoke soon dissipated, revealing a clear view of the scene.
And the person standing before my eyes was….
It was Chae Nayun.
Meanwhile, Kim Suho, who was the direct receiver of Kim Hajin’s SOS signal, was running towards Baal.
“…Oi. You sure about Chae Nayun?” Jin Sahyuk asked. Mistrust was writ large on her face. But Kim Suho nodded without hesitation.
When Kim Suho told everyone about Kim Hajin’s Mental Transmission, Chae Nayun insisted that she should be the one to go. Kim Suho complied because he trusted her.
“They’ll be fine, so long as they don’t fight with each other.”
Saying so, Kim Suho thought of Chae Nayun and Kim Hajin. By now Chae Nayun would have arrived where Kim Hajin was and was helping him. ‘What will they argue about? What kind of conversation will they have?’ It was awkward just to imagine their reunion, but Kim Suho sincerely hoped they would reconcile.
“Idiot. …Hmm? Oi, stop.”
Jin Sahyuk muttered brusquely, before urging the group to pause.
Kim Suho also noticed that something was off.
The problem was the perspective, and Baal was the evidence. They weren’t getting any closer to the devil. In fact, as they ran, Baal seemed to be moving away from them.
“Something’s not right.”
“What?” Shin Jonghak hissed. He was pretty pissed at Kim Suho for sending Chae Nayun to Kim Hajin— but he knew this wasn’t the right time for quarrels.
Ignoring Shin Jonghak, Kim Suho began analyzing the components of the barrier in earnest.
It was then that they ran into a herd of people.
This particular group of people consisted of about 100 individuals. They came out of nowhere, and Kim Suho and Rachel flinched in surprise.
“What the… who are you?”
Kim Suho straightened his shoulders. Suddenly Harin, the devil hunter, popped out of the crowd. She stood before Kim Suho with a bright smile.
It was then that Kim Suho realized that he recognized these people. They were from either the Republic of Leores or the Kingdom of Arunheim. Kim Suho greeted them one by one, happy to see them again.
“Kim Suho? Are you Kim Suho?”
All of a sudden, a magician with long ginger hair called Kim Suho’s name. He turned his gaze to her and nodded.
“Yes, that’s me.”
“Hmm. I see. I’ve heard a lot about you from Kim Hajin. My name is Shimurin, the grand magician in charge of dimensions.”
“Ah, is that so?”
When he heard the unfamiliar guest speak of a familiar name, Kim Suho widened his eyes. He knew he could trust Kim Hajin’s friend— that was a firm belief of his.
Again, he chose to ignore Shin Jonghak’s grumble. (“Why is everyone so head over heels for Kim Hajin? What’s so great about him?”)
“Well then, we should hurry. We don’t have much time,” said Kim Suho, pointing at Baal in the distance.
“We don’t have time?” Shimurin frowned and tilted her head questioningly.
“That’s right, we’re in a rush.”
“…What are you talking about?”
With a smirk, Shimurin pointed at Baal. Baal in his transcendent form, who looked just like a dragon, still seemed as hazy as a silhouette. But he was slowly becoming clearer.
“He descended too hastily. He has yet to regain consciousness and does not know how to maintain his form. That’s the reason he created ‘the barrier of labyrinth’.”
Kim Suho blinked in confusion, and Shimurin raised her eyebrows.
“It means we have enough time to strategize. I see you’re as dense as Kim Hajin.”
“Um… no. Hajin is way smarter than me.”
While Kim Suho and Shimurin were talking, Jin Sahyuk was approaching a man surrounded by knights.
The sound of footsteps rang out. Jin Sahyuk stood before the man.
Assuming there was nothing wrong with her eyes, it was really a familiar face. It was the face of the man who spent the last 20 years with her.
The knights who were escorting the man blocked her. She glanced at them and turned her gaze to the man again.
The man gave a small smile.
Jin Sahyuk hated it.
“Enough with that ugly smirk, Bell.”
Enraged by Jin Sahyuk’s comment, Knight Commander Airun stepped forward. She even grabbed her sword, but Bell stopped her.
“It’s okay, Airun. We have a lot to talk about. You may leave.”
“I can’t, Your Highness. This woman has disrespected you-”
Bell spoke softly, but also firmly. Airun glared at Jin Sahyuk with eyes full of hostility and left the scene without withdrawing the gaze.
Jin Sahyuk pressed Bell, not paying any attention to Airun.
“You’d better explain what the hell is going on.”
Jin Sahyuk couldn’t decide whether to be angry or confounded. What was certain was the fact that Bell being alive came as a shock to her.
She put her hand on Bell’s shoulder.
“If you don’t, I won’t hesitate to kill you again.”
Airun could hear Jin Sahyuk’s dreadfully low voice speaking words of threat.
“You ruffian, how dare you—?”
Airun hurriedly raised her sword, and the other knights did the same. Clang— They unsheathed their swords, and a sharp metallic sound echoed through the barrier.
The atmosphere suddenly became serious.
Tension filled the air.
Kim Suho and Shimurin turned to them with surprised looks.
Still, Bell looked as composed as ever. He smiled at Jin Sahyuk.
“I do want you to know about how I was able to survive.”
It was a smile of pure joy. Bell was truly rejoicing the fact that he had escaped from eternity, that he could carry on with his life and see it to the end.
“I believe we can reach a happy ending.”
Bell declared, and Jin Sahyuk looked at Bell with distrustful eyes.
[Baal’s barrier — The Chameleon Troupe’s camp]
Around the same time….
Yoo Yeonha finally woke up. Even in a semiconscious state, her ears worked just fine. Koong, koong, koong. She heard thumping sounds.
Yoo Yeonha opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was the ceiling made of magic power. Azure magic power was swaying like the surface of the ocean before her eyes.
Yoo Yeonha lowered her gaze. There, Jain was watching her.
She flinched, and then rose from the bed with a round of fake coughs.
“Cough cough…. Where… am I?”
“You’re at our camp~”
“Yup. Arashi made it~”
Only then did Yoo Yeonha finally take the time to look around.
She was surrounded by magic power and could feel it in the atmosphere, too.
The structure of the magic resembled that of a magical fortress.
“…It’s a fortress.”
“It sure is~”
Indeed, this space was a fortress made by the Magic Artificer ‘Hirano Arashi’. When Boss revealed her wish to wait at the same place until Kim Hajin came back, Arashi built this fortress for her.
“What are you… doing here?” asked Yoo Yeonha, rubbing her temples to fend away her headache.
“We’re waiting for Hajin to return~” replied Jain.
“Hajin… Kim Hajin?”
“Yeah. Because I have to show him this~”
Jain pulled up a smartwatch with a playful smirk. Yoo Yeonha immediately recognized the watch. It was hers.
“But that’s mine.”
‘Why is she trying to show my smartwatch to Kim Hajin?’ Yoo Yeonha wondered with a brain still drenched in drowsiness.
Luckily for her, Jain was kind enough to explain why.
“Look, it’s the text you sent to Hajin~”
[Dear Kim Hajin. Hello, this is Yoo Yeonha….]
When she read that first sentence, Yoo Yeonha’s face turned bright red. It was almost as red as a tomato so ripe that it could burst at any moment.
“NO—!” Yoo Yeonha screamed as she jumped at Jain.