Actions

Work Header

Another Reader ■■

Chapter Text

 

In a hospital room that seemed to be too extravagant and big for its patient, a tiny little boy, who was in the state of neither dead nor alive, was peacefully sleeping as nothing in this world could wake him up. His companions had already left after spending tons of time trying to talk to him, an unconscious being. The room remained silent as the dark night crept in. The rare ‘beeps’ from the machine that continuously monitored and injected [Fable] in his vein were the only sound that could be heard.

 

‘Crack’, unfamiliar noise disrupted the calm and routined atmosphere. Then, the door opened and a tall man in a black trenchcoat quietly entered. 

 

As he sat down on the chair next to the little boy, his figure blocked the dim light from the machine, forming a shadow falling on the boy’s face. If the little boy could open his eyes right now, he would be extremely shocked to see the man’s appearance.

 

He looked messy, very unlike-him according to the boy’s if-still-have-any memory.

 

The black Infinite Dimension Space Coat that he always wears looked dirty. His body was covered with white bandages that somewhat soaked with red blood in some areas where the wounds had not stopped bleeding. His unkempt and stiff hair as if it was soaked in sweat and unwashed for a while. The wide black eyes which were used to have some faint lights that now unseen stuck its gaze on the little boy’s face. His face showed a deep and sorrow frown while his cracked, dry lips mumbled.

 

“Kim Dokja-yah…” Slight desperation could be heard from his husky voice.

 

He absently thought. When will you wake up?

 

Yes, there was no doubt that this man was no one else than the famous former regressor, Yoo Jonghuyk.

 

As his slender finger ghostly touched Kim Dokja’s fragile wrist that looked like it could be broken if he applied too much force, Yoo Jonghyuk slowly came to realize that nothing had changed in the past two years. After they finally rescued Kim Dokja from the [Last Wall] in his 1865th regression turn, no matter how hard they tried but Kim Dokja’s soul was still not healed, his breathing was still vague as if it would stop.

 

A few weeks ago, Yoo Jonghyuk left home without saying anything to his sister, Yoo Miah, who he cared so much for. He vanished into thin air, left behind everyone, his pro gamer job that he barely got back and nowhere to be found. 

 

He didn’t clearly understand how he did it. Maybe a hidden part of him could not accept the fact that he would never be able to see Kim Dokja again. He really meant by Kim Dokja - the one he had spent his entire third regression with -  the stupid ‘ Demon King of Salvation’ who always dragged himself into the verge of death with a smile on his face.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk used to hate that man, who lied to him about being a prophet and maybe was the one directly causing his endlessly miserable fate. But Kim Dokja was also the one who sacrificed himself for a happy ending for some mere characters from a novel. He was the one who stopped him from regressing whenever he met any difficulties that he couldn’t deal with.

 

“Do not think that things will turn out better than this turn just because you went back in time.”

 

Yoo Jonghyuk still couldn’t forget the memories that he was given a chance to glance through while being stuck in the [Fourth Wall] by Yoo Sangah. The miserable kid who was constantly bullied because he was ‘a son of a murderer’. The 15-year-old boy who jumped from the classroom window in desperation to find a solution for his tragic life question. The boy who survived for ten years by eating his hardship.

 

If Kim Dokja’s life story was a rain,  Yoo Jonghyuk would be an umbrella who protected him from the rain.

 

Then shouldn’t he continue to be his umbrella?

 

If Kim Dokja was able to survive this long due to the presence of Yoo Jonghyuk, then why not in the near future Kim Dokja wouldn’t need him?

 

Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t really hold any grudge toward Kim Dokja when he indirectly changed his life into a real hell on Earth. But without it, Yoo Jonghyuk wouldn’t be able to stand here as a real person, rather than a character from a book. And without it, their fates would never be entangled. 

 

From that point onward, Yoo Jonghyuk was lost in his own emotional maze that he only could escape when they met each other again. He felt like his heart was pierced through a thousand of times every moment in the last two years he saw Kim Dokja helplessly lying on the bed as if he wasn’t alive anymore. Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t quite get it in his head, the reason why he felt the pain. Nevertheless, there was no smoke without a fire and there was no pain without feelings toward the other one.

 

They would need a serious conversation.

 

After making up his mind, Yoo Jonghyuk had a weird inspiration and decided to attack the Scenario Museum today for the [Final Ark], the ark that could travel through worldlines.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk remembered how he angrily shouted at Han Sooyoung when she was still scared of the [Fourth Wall]’s last words and charged onto her like a storm in order to win over the replica of the [Final Ark]. 

 

They could not forget that voice. The voice that filled them with resentment.

 

‘Did you forget what the [Fourth Wall] said?’

 

⸢You shouldn’t have been greedy. No, y o u sh oul d’ve be en con te nt wi th 49% Kim Dok Ja.⸥

 

‘Spoken like a true loser. You just simply gave up.’

 

Yoo Jonghuyk remembered how their [Great Fable] once again shine brightly and clashed into each other.

 

[Great Fable, ‘Torch that Swallowed the Myth’ has started telling its stories.]

 

[Great Fable, ‘Liberator of the Forgotten Ones’ is waking up from its slumber.]

 

Yoo Jonghuyk also remembered how Han Sooyoung came up with the crazy plan of writing a novel and let other reincarnated Kim Dokjas from other worldlines read it and use their power of the ‘Most Ancient Dream’ to change their endings. Even Yoo Jonghuyk had to admit that the plan sounded promising and ridiculous at the same time. 

 

Since the day when the stigma ‘Regressor’ disappeared, he felt despair rather than happy. Because he no longer could travel to other worldlines to rescue Kim Dokja. This plan somehow gave him a hint of light in that dark tunnel of infinitive misery. Hence he pretended to not see the ominous feeling slowly clawing into his head as if the original thought was not Han Sooyoung’s herself but someone else injected in, someone who was watching them from above.

 

-----------------------------

 

From the outer barrier of the dimension where all the worldlines with the <Star Stream> system existed, two unknown beings in different coloured cloaks could be seen observing the worldlines while talking with each other. The one in white seemed to have a higher position as the one in black lowered his head and said.

 

⸢Master, this human is quite sharp. He spotted us sooner than I thought.⸥

 

The white one chuckled as she caressed her youngest disciple’s head, turning her gaze back off the hospital room where Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghuyk were. 

 

⸢He isn’t strong enough to be able to see us from there, you dummy.⸥ She said as if she could read Yoo Jonghyuk’s thought. ⸢It is just a regressor’s intuition that barely caught a glimpse of the power that I put into Han Sooyoung’s head.⸥

 

The disciple lifted his head to look directly into his master’s eyes. He couldn’t understand why his master had to butt into this tiny little dimension, wasting her time watching their stories and even using her power to intervene in their situations. But maybe, he could understand it a little bit. Maybe because she was in a similar situation.

 

⸢But Master, even if we help them like that, can they do it though? I don’t want you to use any more power.⸥

 

Because they did not have any registration in this dimension, they were considered as having no probability. Hence for every action she made inside the dimension which required probability, she had to suffer through an enormous probability storm that can sweep away many worldlines within seconds. She should have died millions of times by now if not due to her personal status.

 

⸢I’m fine. Those probability storms are not a big deal for me, you know that don’t you.⸥

 

The white one gently smiled as she looked at Kim Dokja’s sleeping face through the crack on the dimension barrier. Her cold gaze that could easily kill off the enemies, now was full of warmth and hint of flickering sadness.

 

Translucently sparkling particles could not be seen with human eyes surrounding Kim Dokja’s body became denser while a finger of the white one crumbled away to compensate the coming vicious probability storm for protecting his last soul fragment from also being reincarnated.

 

This was the best thing I could do at the moment. I will have to depend on them to write up and transmit the stories for you, Dokja-yah. She thought while secretly sacrificing another finger to open up the crack on the dimension barrier and sneaked in.

 

Even though the system could not sense her presence, the [Last Wall] which separated this dimension from the rest could and vaguely guessed her identity based on the little record it had collected.

 

[The [Last Wall] is warning the unregistered being ‘The Seventh Origin’ not to intervene with its master, ‘Most Ancient Dream’.]

 

However, the warning was too late. ‘The Seventh Origin’, as named by the [Last Wall], and her disciple had disappeared before it could sense any trace of their presence within the dimension.

Chapter Text

Today was the day that the [Final Ark] would take off and travel to the other worldlines. It would be the most convenient and easiest if Han Sooyoung, the author, went there and processed the plan. But Han Sooyoung possessing the Bureau's Fable could not go directly in case something would happen causing the only part of Kim Dokja to disintegrate. Consequently, the selection turned into pure chaos as every single member of the disbanded <Kim Dokja’s Company> fought each other to be chosen.

 

‘The Seventh Origin’ couldn’t help giggling at the scene. Surely, Kim Dokja was very well-loved. She was right when she placed her faith in them.

 

However, the fight was meaningless as the only person whose mental health was capable of crossing through different worldlines over and over while keeping his sanity intact was no other than Yoo Jonghyuk.

 

This journey was especially dangerous because the destined worldline where they aimed to land was the outermost worldline of the dimension that has not been prohibited by the <Star Stream> system. The flight would be long and enduring the probability storm in the Dark Stratum would be challenging. One mistake and they would end up as an ‘Outer God’.

 

After unwillingly accepting Han Sooyoung as his constellation sponsor and receiving [Stigma, ‘Cloud System’], Yoo Jonghyuk farewelled his sister and headed to board on the [Last Ark] without looking back once.

 

The vessel’s ignition was turned on as Anna Crop gave out her signal. The ark slowly rose up to the sky. As its flame in the engine lit up, the ark constantly accelerated and eventually got further away to a place where their stories had never reached. In that place and many more, they hoped the stories written through their lives and carrying their wishes could reach its only reader, Kim Dokja.

 

Every single one of them clearly knew that the odds of success were extremely low. But they still carried on that hope. It was the same for Yoo Jonghyuk. He left for his own sake and maybe, other people’s yearning.

 

As soon as the ark shot up to the sky, ‘The Seventh Origin’ quickly vanished and later on appeared and reappeared on millions of worldlines where Kim Dokja’s souls reincarnated to collect their coordinations. She tried to do it as quickly as possible to come back and look after Yoo Jonghyuk because the Dark Stratum disaster was a real deal, even if the passenger on the ark was Yoo Jonghyuk. The Dark Stratum had the tendencies to go wild with probability and trigger one’s dark emotions leading to maladaptive thought processes and behaviors which didn’t sound very ‘fitted’ for Yoo Jonghyuk. 

 

Speaking of the devil, right after Yoo Jonghyuk left Earth and approached the ‘doorway’ that allowed him to go through the barrier between worldlines, the ugly eyes of the Vice-king of Outer God could be seen from afar. He urgently released every [Fable] that he had and increased the speed of the ark to its maximum. Yoo Jonghyuk successfully got through the ‘doorway’. 

 

However, the hard part always came later.

 

A brutal probability storm came trying to tear down the stories and the body of the one who violated the system law bit by bit. Yoo Jonghyuk harshly bit down his lips to endure the pain of his body breaking apart. As his consciousness slowly drifted away in the continuous explosion inside the ark, Yoo Jonghyuk couldn’t see how a ray of light emitted from nowhere transformed into the invisible translucent sparkling particles sinking into his soul to protect the most important parts, his soul and [Fable].

 

At the same time, on the 10478th worldline, ‘The Seventh Origin’ clicked her tongue, ⸢Shit.⸥  and moved forward with the speed of light as her just-healed finger turned into ash. 

 

When Yoo Jonghyuk regained his unconsciousness, he was already lost in space for a few days at least, according to the clock that managed to not be damaged by the explosions. His body was not severely hurt anywhere except the debris stroked into his abdomen. However, luckily, all of his [Fable] was still intact. Thus, the only problem at the moment was the damaged [Final Ark].

 

As days passed by, the wound noticeably healed quicker and Yuu Jonghyuk somehow managed to fix some parts of the ark except the self-navigation and pilot functions. In a normal scenario, Yuu Jonghyuk might be able to use his [Fable] to fill the empty fuel tank, but not in the place where his [Fable] started to crumble away despite the protection of the spacesuit and ‘The Seventh Origin’ blessing.

 

The translucent sparkling clouds of dust remaining that Yoo Jonghyuk couldn’t see was able to slow down the scattering process. But as the number of days became larger, the blessing also became weaker, Yoo Jonghyuk also experienced more brief but sudden losses of consciousness as the [Fable] leaked out.

 

During the long time drifting in unknown space, Yoo Jonghyuk had more time to question himself. This was when the mental effect of the Dark Stratum started to kick in without his awareness.

 

He was the man who regressed countless times trying to save the world from the scenario. 

But there was no more scenario for him to clear.

 

He was also no longer a regressor.

 

So what should he do to live on?

 

What was his ■■?

 

Yoo Jonghyuk wanted to see Kim Dokja and ask those questions. Because he strongly believed that Kim Dokja was the one who could understand Yoo Jonghyuk better than Yoo Jonghyuk himself. He even started reading Han Sooyoung’s novel under Kim Dokja’s viewpoint and hoped to find the answer there.

 

But instead of finding an answer, he had even more questions.

 

He questioned what was happiness?

 

He wondered how someone’s life story can continue the other one’s life.

 

A year passed. Yoo Jonghyuk couldn’t count how many times he read the novel to not lose his sanity. 

 

He finally could understand a little bit of the unknown side of Kim Dokja.

 

On the 366th day of drifting, as Yoo Jonghyuk was looking at the chaos outside the ark caused by the ‘Hounds Chasing After the Abyss’ hunting down the ‘Outer Gods’ who were flooding in his direction, out of the blue, Yoo Jonghyuk realized his ■■. Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t notice that he was not in his right mind as he continued to convince himself. 

 

He had to compensate for the worldlines that he couldn’t save.

 

His ■■ is right here. In this unknown place. Become the eternal hope of other people. Protecting the ones who he unintended and indirectly turned into ‘Nameless One’.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk got out of the ark, unleashed his [Dark Heavenly Demon Sword] and cut off the head of the nearest hounds. He could feel the fangs of other hounds sharply pierced through his spacesuit and ripped it off causing his [Fable] to leak out even more. But Yoo Jonghyuk did not stop swinging his sword to strike down any hounds in his sight. Yoo Jonghyuk was a scary warrior, even without the help of the system.

 

The ‘Outer Gods’ who could smell the familiar scent from his leaking [Fable] started to surround and protect him from the vicious claws of the hounds despite knowing that they would definitely die. The battle was coming to an end as his vision became blurry.

 

From a distance, he could see something was killing off the hounds as if it was stomped on some mere ants. 

 

One black cloak dancing in the bloodshed.

 

And one black coat was walking toward him and looked down on his wretched body.

 

[[You pitiful third turn.]]

 

Just before Yoo Jonghyuk could say anything and passed out, he found himself wrapped inside something warm and soft, maybe a hug of a mother

 

‘The Seventh Origin’ after finishing collecting all the coordinations, quickly rushed over, and now holding the bleeding Yoo Jonghyuk in her hands. Her translucent sparkling particles forming a dusty cloud around Yoo Jonghyuk were trying to pull him over the very close margin of life and death. However, she could not focus on him now due to an unwelcome presence.

 

The system finally reached its hand into this place, thanks to the [Fable] that were crumbling away from Yoo Jonghyuk, happily looked at the ‘Puppet of the Most Ancient Dream’ who was hardly breathing and said. 

 

[The ‘Puppet of the Most Ancient Dream’ ■■ is..]

 

The announcement was disrupted in the middle because ‘The Seventh Origin’ cut off her whole hand with a missing finger to pay for the probability that was used to kick the system out of this unknown space again. 

 

⸢This psychotic system. His ending is not here.⸥ She squealed, her body was slightly trembling with anger.

 

After getting rid of the <Star Stream> system, she quickly took some medicine pills from her dimensional bag and put them into Yoo Jonghyuk’s mouth. The effect took place after a minute when his breathing rate was normalized, the bleeding stopped and the wound closed off. A pinkish color came back on the pale face. It was also able to restore the crumbled [Fable] to an almost perfect state after a while.

 

The man in the black coat couldn’t hide his surprised face. 

 

[[Your medicine is really amazing. Why don’t you use it directly on Kim Dokja?]] He questioned.

 

If medicine can restore someone’s [Fable] that easily, and [Fable] is equivalent to someone’s soul, shouldn’t it also work on Kim Dokja? Why did she need to come up with a plan that sounded so impossible?

 

‘The Seventh Origin’ didn’t answer him. The man also chose to remain silent as he watched her caress Yoo Jonghyuk’s head who seemed to be relaxed as if he was dreaming something pleasant. He had a weird sensation seeing someone with exactly the same face as him being caressed.

 

She turned her remaining hands into translucent sparkling dusts and stored them as a blessing in his soul. This would work as an emergency blessing in case something like this happened again. She did not expect the time flow in this bent space to be so much faster.

 

Then, the black-cloaked one after putting an end to all the hounds approached from behind and hit on the man’s back making him turn his gaze from ‘The Seventh Origin’.

 

⸢I warn you not to ask her those kinds of questions.⸥ The disciple had a harmless smile on his face but his eyes didn’t say so. As if he was saying ⸢Stop poking into her wounds.⸥ 

 

His voice was so low, like a butterfly’s wings fluttering in the winds. But no matter how low it was, his master had already heard it. And he received a heavy knock on the forehead making him nearly swore out loud. 

 

⸢I’m sorry for his rudeness, dear ‘Secretive Plotter’.⸥ She lowered her head to apologize and also explained his previous question after she had already finished her blessing onto Yoo Jonghyuk.

 

⸢Kim Dokja’s state is not the same as this child,⸥ She mentioned Yoo Jonghyuk as a child although knowing that this Yoo Jonghyuk technically had regressed 1865 times if his lost memories were also counted. This made ‘Secretive Plotter’ wonder about her age despite the young appearance she had.

 

Pretending like she didn’t see the question mark on his face, she continued.

 

⸢The so-called [Fable] of this child can be recovered by my medicine because his soul is not damaged,⸥ till this point, ‘Secretive Plotter’ could understand it without hearing the rest, ⸢But Kim Dokja’s soul was shattered into too many small fragments, his body in this child’s worldline right now is nothing more than 0.0000001% of him. So even if my medicine is powerful, it cannot replace someone's soul.⸥

 

A group of people who seemed to know ‘Secretive Plotter’ was approaching and waved at her. ‘The Seventh Origin’ lightly greeted when other King of Outer Gods showed up with a girl that resembled Kim Dokja and carried on the conversation.

 

⸢I managed to record all the worldlines that exist ‘Kim Dokja’s soul fragment’.⸥ She gave out a stack of paper filled with numbers to the Kim-Dokja-ing girl.

 

Everyone frowned after seeing the thickness of the paper stack. The girl worriedly embraced her small-framed body that was one-head shorter than ‘Secretive Plotter’.

 

[Master, how many worldlines did you cross this time? Are you feeling alright?]

 

‘The Seventh Origin’ had contacted ‘Secretive Plotter’ and stayed with them for a while before heading to find the worldlines. The other members did not show any hostility toward her but also were not close to her either as she hadn’t revealed her personal information yet while asking them to cooperate. However, this little girl was different, she for unknown reasons felt very drawn toward ‘The Seventh Origin’ and started calling her ‘Master’ as the girl didn’t know her true name.

 

⸢Don’t worry Biyu, I’m still fine.⸥ ‘The Seventh Origin’ put on an involuntary smile and gently patted Biyu’s head with her newly regenerated hands. This time, she really did have to push herself more than usual to collect the last one million or so worldlines to finish the list in time. But no pain no gain. 

 

She passed the sleeping Yoo Jonghyuk to other members and her disciple before warning him to be respectful toward them. She started her preparation with Biyu, another blessing, and discussed some settings that might be useful by taking advantage of the system.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ was able to observe her abilities a few times now and he was amazed every single time. A being with an unknown name, age, or original dimension. The modifier ‘The Seventh Origin’ that the [Last Wall] gave her was also very suspicious. Moreover, her power was beyond his imagination.

 

Even though she had to sacrifice her body part for probability to do anything in this foreign dimension, ‘Secretive Plotter’ had never seen her lose anything more than her hands. Their recovery rate was extremely fast compared to him which could take up to a few days or weeks. She didn’t care and continuously used an enormous amount of probability to cross worldlines as if she had an unlimited power tank stored out this dimension that supplied power to her.

 

That might be the reason why ‘Secretive Plotter’s gut feelings decided to cooperate with her. As he looked over to his new companions who were playing with the sleeping Yoo Jonghyuk and the image of the former owner of ‘Most Ancient Dream’ in his head, he thought ‘The Seventh Origin’ could be the key to transform them into humans again. This was the chance for them to break free from the unfair ‘Outer God’ fate.

 

When Yoo Jonghyuk slowly opened his eyes, ‘The Seventh Origin’ and her disciple covered their presence with their cloaks and turned invisible.

 

The conversation between Yoo Jonghyuk and the other King of ‘Outer Gods’ was not too bad. ‘Secretive Plotter’ even managed to say something that made ‘The Seventh Origin’ look at him with admired sparkling eyes but quickly turned into discomfort after hearing the second line.

 

[[Did you really think the end of a regressor will be that easy?]]

 

[[Do not forget. We aren’t even permitted the luxury of death.]]

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t quite get that. But then Biyu made her appearance and broke the awkward atmosphere between them and Yoo Jonghyuk. She looked quite disappointed when she had to turn into a Dokkaebi for him to recognize who she was. Thus, she started bashing every little thing that Yoo Jonghyuk said.

 

However, she got herself together and started the plan accordingly. She asked for Yoo Sangah’s coordination list while using the one that ‘The Seventh Origin’ gave her beforehand. Biyu was slightly shocked as some, although very little of their coordination was the same, it proved that her father’s friends were not half-bad. Yoo Jonghyuk somehow had the scent of her father that allowed him to store and use a humongous amount of Fables of the ‘Nameless One’ as fuel for the ark. 

 

But Biyu also ‘worked her ass off’ in the Dark Stratum with the ‘Secretive Plotter’ and ‘The Seventh Origin’, so she now officially inherited the ‘Dokkaebi King’ title. She even had the Wenny King’s dimensional doorway to go to the nearer worldlines. Hence everything would be doable if the ark was fixed.

Chapter Text

 

It had been a few days since Biyuu left with Yoo Jonghyuk to their first destined worldline on the repaired and upsized ark. They had successfully captured a web novel author to sync his brain into ‘Cloud System’ as ‘Inspiration Sharing’ that allowed the stories Han Sooyoung written in the future to be automatically uploaded into their subconscious minds.

 

People in the 1864th world line were also doing well. At first, they were worried because Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t access the ‘Cloud System’ although three months had passed since he left. That was the time he stuck in the Dark Stratum alone and had the stupid idea of sacrificing himself.

 

They have become really similar. These two idiots. ‘The Seventh Origin’ shook her head as she remembered that scene again.

 

1 year and 2 months had passed since the first manuscript was downloaded according to Earth’s time. The manuscript seemed to slow down a bit since it was approaching the end of the third part. Yoo Jonghyuk and Biyu also had crossed over a hundred worldlines with different time density, so it was hard to say how many years he had been wandering. But subtle premature grey hair could be spotted on his used-to-be-pitch-black hair.

 

This was a complication for travelling to too many worldlines that have different time density. His body clock became disoriented leading to pre-mature aging process. The more he travelled the more severe the complication. However, an expert of travelling through dimensions like ‘The Seventh Origin’ couldn’t have missed this critical point. Thanks to his transcendent body and her blessing that only a part of his hair was affected. 

 

Another 8 months went by in a blink. Han Sooyoung finished the fourth, fifth part and was currently working on the epilogue. However, an unexpected event happened that turned her whole plan upside down.

 

As if she couldn’t believe in what she saw. Han Sooyoung tried to activate her stigma, ‘Cloud System’ multiple times, but the results were the same.

 

[Your file cannot be uploaded on ‘Cloud System’]

 

[Stigma, ‘Cloud System’ has ceased to function.]

 

As the system shut down, the [Fable] also lost its function. However, fortunately, Kim Dokja was not affected due to the same translucent sparkling particles that continuously layered onto him. 

 

On a different worldline, Biyu also realised the problems as ‘The Seventh Origin’ contacted her through their private line.

 

__Master is it true that the system on Earth finally stopped working.

 

__It is, but the epilogue has not been finished and uploaded yet. Can you guy continue the work?⸥

 

__We can do it. Please believe in us, Master.

 

__Please, take care of yourself. I believe in you and Yoo Jonghyuk, Biyu. Trust your intuition. If you make a mistake, I will definitely cover from behind.

 

As the conversation ended, Biyu intensely stared at the only one who could modify the manuscript making up his mind. Han Sooyoung and the others on Earth were afraid that if no epilogue was written, different Kim Dokja would imagine the end differently. Consequently, their happy ending would not be granted by the power of the ‘Most Ancient Dream’. However, ‘The Seventh Origin’ told them to do what they could, and she would support from behind the scenes as always.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk looked down to his hands that were full of scars and slowly clenched his fist while closing his eyes. Biyu also didn’t want to say anything as if she was also thinking about what epilogue would be the best. 

 

When Yoo Jonghyuk opened his eyes, Biyu could see a clear determination shining in the dark brown iris. 

 

Yoo Jonghyuk kept writing the later part of their stories but not the epilogue. He was pretty sure that Han Sooyoung would have gone crazy and swore at him for not writing their desired ending . But did Yoo Jonghyuk look like someone who would care? He was a selfish sunfish bastard as always. 

 

Yoo Jonghyuk had got this thought in his head for a while now.

 

No matter how perfect the stories were written, they still could not reflect exactly the lives they had lived.

 

The story was different.

 

Even though, if Kim Dokja really came back to life through that method, wouldn’t there be a missing piece of him that the story didn’t talk about. Then would that Kim Dokja is the same as the ‘ Kim Dokja ’ that they knew.

 

And they didn’t even know how the ‘Most Ancient Dream’ worked. Would the soul fragments come together to form their Kim Dokja ? Or would they remain in their worldlines while trying to create a Kim Dokja that represented the one in the novel they read?

 

If ‘Most Ancient Dream’ was that powerful, why didn’t Kim Dokja dream of his own happiness when he was still the powered ‘Most Ancient Dream’?

 

Wasn’t it because dreams were created subconsciously and his subconsciousness thought that was the right ending?

 

If it was, then no matter how hard they tried to inject their desired happy ending into the reincarnated Kim Dokja’s heads, it would never be granted. 

 

As Kim Dokja was the living being that never wished for his own happiness.

 

If it was Kim Dokja ’s life, why didn’t they let him decide his own ending? 

 

Dreams revealed the innermost unfulfilled wishes of a person.

 

Maybe, just maybe because these reincarnated Kim Dokjas were not aware of themselves as ‘ Kim Dokja ’, they might subconsciously wish for Kim Dokja ’s happy ending.

 

As Yoo Jonghyuk silently stared at the dark night from the ark that was moving outside the current worldline, he absently hoped that his decision was correct. Or at least the soul fragments containing ‘Most Ancient Dream’ were triggered as Biyu said.

 

Not long after the final chapter of the novel was updated, something magnificent happened. Because Biyuu and Yoo Jonghyuk were floating in space outside the worldline, they couldn’t visibly see what was happening down there. But ‘The Seventh Origin’ alongside her disciple and ‘Secretive Plotter’ could.

 

As she could feel the resonating soul fragments calling out its dream, ‘The Seventh Origin’ laughed out loud with the tone that probably made her seniors scolded at her badly if they heard it. She hadn’t felt this happy in a while. 

 

⸢Hahaha… It worked. It actually worked.⸥

 

The [Last Wall] rapidly sent warnings and probability to suppress the awakening of Kim Dokja’s soul fragments as if it realized what would happen if he woke up from his slumber.

 

The other two didn’t say anything, totally ignoring the warning of the [Last Wall] while they watched her move her hands to control the soul fragments as she was conducting an orchestra within the Dark Stratum.

 

A joyful melody that could no longer be heard.

 

‘The Seventh Origin’ released all of her stored probability from sacrificing her hands constantly for almost 2 years Earth time. She slightly flicked her finger, the shell body of Kim Dokja who was still sleeping in the hospital room seconds ago now appeared in front of her. His body was also emitting dazzling light as a response to soul resonance. She gently laid him down on the prepared soft bed and sat next to him to see the amazing scene was drawn.

 

⸢Youngest, can you go and fetch Biyu and Yoo Jonghyuk back here.⸥ She wanted them to see the result from their hard-working effort as well.

 

The disciple said, ⸢Yes, Master.⸥, and quickly disappeared.

 

As her probability was released into the coordinated worldlines, the soul fragments vibrated even stronger and shot up to the sky. The probability helped them cut off the connection with the owner soul without leaving any after-effects. The probability also amplified their resonance into other worldlines that they might not reach that contain a fragment of Kim Dokja’s souls. Like a domino effect, each soul fragment from each worldline followed each other dashing into the dark space while emitting bright shines. They were all flying aimed at the same place, Kim Dokja’s true body.

 

But this scene would not happen in the first place if the story didn’t exist in their worldline. So we could all say that everyone who helped write the story and crossing worldlines was the biggest contributor for this magic to happen.

 


 

From the [Last Ark], Yoo Jonghyuk could see the spectacular meteor shower on the grand scale of multi-worldline while Biyu speechlessly realized what these meteorites were. Biyu happily jumped on the head of a black-cloaked man while she was screaming with tearful eyes.

 

[We did it, Captain. We finally fucking did it.]

 

Was her speaking manner like this before? Yoo Jonghyuk thought. 

 

But for this occasion, he would let it pass because he was warier about the man in a black cloak.

 

The one who suddenly appeared a few minutes ago saying that he would take the ark to his master’s place. Yoo Jonghyuk nearly attacked him if Biyuu didn’t jump in between them in time. More than that, Biyuu seemed to be close with the stranger.

 

[Will father and master be proud of me?] Biyu said with excitement.

 

⸢They will. You did a good job as always.⸥ The black one nodded his head while piloted the ark to the Dark Stratum with the prodigious speed in the same direction of the meteor shower. 

 

[Of course, who do you think I am?] Yoo Jonghyuk could see her beaming with pride as he inspected the moving radiant dots outside the window.  

 

Since when could the ark go this fast? They now were moving faster than the speed of the meteorites. Just before, they were way far behind those meteorites, but now they became the locomotive leading those soul fragments to where they belonged to.  

 

Not too long after, they finally arrived.

 

As the ark door slowly opened, radiant light which was rarely seen inside the Dark Stratum swiftly peaked through the gap and filled the space inside. Yoo Jonghyuk narrowed his eyes against the glare of light while he followed Biyu and the stranger coming closer to the light source.

 

When his eyes had gotten used to the gleaming light, Yoo Jonghyuk noticed something didn’t seem so right. In the middle of the Dark Stratum, there was Kim Dokja’s little body lying on a bed while radiating light into a sphere-shaped and next to him was an unknown woman wearing a white cloak.

 

As they came closer, Yoo Jonghyuk spotted similar patterns on both the white and black cloak, so she was probably the one who Biyu and the black cloak called ‘Master’. He held tight on the grip of the [Dark Heavenly Demon Sword] on his back but hesitant to unleash the sword.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk tried to explain himself.

 

Maybe because she was too close with Kim Dokja, if he rushed in and attacked now, Kim Dokja could be in danger. And she didn’t look so strong to begin with.

 

However, his regressor intuition told him differently from his poorly made-up logic. Yoo Jonghyuk could feel a familiar aura from her although he swore to himself that this was their first-ever encounter. As he went through his memory, Yoo Jonghyuk slightly frowned when he recognized how nostalgic it was.

 

It was the same feeling he felt when he was around the sleeping Kim Dokja, when he fought with Han Sooyoung in the Scenario Museum, when he woke up after being unconscious after fighting with the hounds and feeling better than ever, or even when he was travelling on the ark to other worldlines and other moments that he somehow could not remember. But surely it was really similar to those feelings.

 

Who is this woman and what is her relationship with them? His unsettling feeling continued welling inside Yoo Jonghyuk when spotted ‘Secretive Plotter’ standing nearby. But if she was with ‘Secretive Plotter’, then she shouldn’t be good.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk kept a fixed gaze on the two and waited for his moment. As soon as ‘The Seventh Origin’ stood up, away from Kim Dokja and walked over to greet them, he instantly released his status. A dull golden light spread out as he used his skill [Red Phoenix Shunpo] to dash forward while swung the [Dark Heavenly Demon Sword] that became fiercer and fiercer with [Breaking the Sky Swordsmanship].

 

Right after Yoo Jonghyuk released his status, Biyu’s mouth fell open for a moment when she immediately understood what he intended to do. She clenched her fists that were sweating while looking at his back from behind.

 

[Stop it, you idiot captain. She is here to help.] Biyu shouted out in frustration but didn’t run up to help as if she knew that no way Yoo Jonghyuk can hurt ‘The Seventh Origin’. Neither the youngest disciple gritting his teeth or the smirking ‘Secretive Plotter’ showed any intention to interfere.

 

Biyu’s word reached Yoo Jonghyuk but he didn’t plan to stop as the women standing in front of him didn’t plan to run either. As he put more strength into the blade cutting the light into halves, ‘The Seventh Origin’ also confidently raised her small hand up to block the upcoming slash. The [Dark Heavenly Demon Sword] cried in pain as if it collided with something terrified when her bare hand grabbed the blade and stopped it mid-swing. 

 

Yoo Jonghyuk tried to get his blade off her hand and was stiff at the remark. He couldn’t budge her even an inch. The attack managed to cut into her flesh as bright red blood slowly leaked out and ran down her arm. But the wound also instantly closed up and healed itself, so she literally received no damage.

 

What an overwhelming strength! Yoo Jonghyuk warily tightened his grip and stared at her while waiting for her counterattack.

 

As if she could read his thoughts, ‘The Seventh Origin’ released his blade and softly said.

 

⸢Don’t worry. I will not harm Kim Dokja.⸥

 

Yoo Jonghyuk quickly fell back and put himself into a fighting stance.

 

The women slightly chuckled at his stubbornness. Her deep eyes formed a semi-circle that made her look even more holy . Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t know why he used that word, maybe he couldn’t find a better word at the time.

 

Biyu, who just caught up to them, flared her nose while standing in front of ‘The Seventh Origin’, spread her arms wide forming a protective stand.

 

[Captain, you should at least hear me out once, shouldn’t you?] Biyu pouted.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk glared back and forth between ‘The Seventh Origin’ who gave off the familiar aura and Biyu who tried to say something. Then he decided to pull back his blade. 

 

This time, Yoo Jonghyuk actually shut up and listened to Biyuu’s explanation while cautiously watched ‘The Seventh Origin’ caring for Kim Dokja as his body shuddered and emitted stronger light each time a soul fragment merged in. Even the ‘Secretive Plotter’ spoke up for her and confirmed the information.

 

[[It's true. I have monitored her for the last few years.]]

 

After that, no one said anything as the light became brighter and more soul fragments flooded inside Kim Dokja’s body. Small sweat started forming on her forehead as she used more probability to stabilize Kim Dokja’s soul. The translucent sparkling particles that normally couldn’t see with eyes became so dense forming a visible dust cloud surrounding him.

 

The process that only lasted for a few minutes felt like it had been years. Yoo Jonghyuk clenched his jaw at the sight, his body froze with tension while Biyuu covered her mouth with her palm, tears welling up in her eyes. As the last soul fragment went in, his shoulders dropped as if all the energy was all consumed by anxiety when their [Fable] got aroused one by one.

 

[Fable, ‘King of the Kingless World’, is telling its story to the comeback King.]

 

[Great Fable, ‘Demon World’s Spring’, is waking up from a long winter.]

 

[Great Fable, ‘Torch That Swallow the Myth’, is screaming in excitement.]

 

[Great Fable, ‘Season of Light and Darkness’, shares its will to fight.]

 

….

 

And [Fable, ‘Life and Death Comrades’, is greeting its most precious comrade.]

 

Chapter Text

 

Kim Dokja had a very long dream after he turned himself into millions of soul fragments spread out to different worldlines.

 

That’s right. He scattered his [Fable] and soul so that they would become ‘gaze’ supporting the universe. Without a reader, this universe would stop. That meant all of his companions would die and their efforts also became worthless.

 

Kim Dokja didn’t want that. He wanted them to reach their happy ending while knowing that his decision would hurt them.

 

But I guess that is my only option. Kim Dokja laughed at himself before falling into unconsciousness. He was the most omniscient but also the most powerless god.

 

When Kim Dokja closed his eyes, he could see everything that his soul fragments managed to capture from their sights. Hence, Kim Dokja could see what his companions were doing while floating in the last cabin. His heart squeezed and cried in agony, he hardly gasping for air from the want-to-collapse lungs just from seeing. 

 

He wanted to shout out ‘Stupid bastards.’ but he just didn’t have the strength to do it anymore. Pain from the crumbling stories paralyzed his body.

 

He saw his companions and constellations regressed together and prepare for the start of the apocalypse.

 

He saw them come back to the hellish scenarios that they should never have set their feet in again. 

 

He saw them destroy the throne, kill the 73rd Demon King, fight the constellations and the Great Dokkaebi and also the other things that they used to do before he became the ‘Most Ancient Dream’.

 

Kim Dokja often blacked out while reading their journey but tried not to miss anything.

 

Time flew passed like a wind.

 

When Kim Dokja slowly raised his head, he realized they had already reached the [Last Wall], killed the Dokkaebi King and headed toward the cabin where he was.

 

[The Fourth Wall] became the door preventing the entry of his companions.

 

They surely fought hard to get through. He could hear them calling out for his name from the other side of the wall. There was Han Sooyoung, Yoo Sangah, Lee Hyunsung, Jung Heewon, Shin Yoosung, Lee Gilyoung. Even Lee Seolhwa, Jang Hayoung and Gong Pildu were also here.

 

But that selfish sunfish was late again. He absently thought. He felt like something was missing in his heart.

 

Kim Dokja tried to move his body, desperately responding to their calls. But he was only able to weakly knock a few times on the wall, hoping that they would hear it. 

 

And they did.

 

As his companions and Persephone, his second mother who lost her husband for his sake released all of their [Fable] and tried over and over again. 

 

They successfully broke through the wall and entered the cabin.

 

Even when Kim Dokja only could communicate with them through a discrete, incomplete sentence, they could understand it all.

 

Kim Dokja also wanted to be with them.

 

However, something called ‘Fate’ would not allow that thing to happen. As Kim Dokja’s avatar and real body scrambled faster, the [Fable] that he shared with his companion eagerly told their stories. 

 

He could hear Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung’s cries. He could hear Han Sooyoung swearing and telling him that he didn’t keep his promise. He was bad at keeping his promise as always but he admitted that it was even worse this time around because this could be his last moment. He could see the figure of Yoo Jonghyuk coming to grasp him by his collar but unable to do anything as the world got blurrier as the few last pieces of Fable burst out from his body.

 

I’m sorry.

 

Kim Dokja thought his body would disappear as the last fragment came out. But it didn’t as he felt something warm surround this body and forced it back. He could hear someone’s voice telling him that everything would be fine and he should sleep.

 

He did. Kim Dokja slept the longest sleep in his life.

 

Once he was able to regain his consciousness, through his only awakened soul fragment all he saw was a sky vast of soft light that gave off the exact same feeling he felt when he fell into a deep slumber. And among those lights, there was a woman wearing a white cloak whose lips and eyes were slightly curved into a semi-circular shape showing him a tender smile.

 

As his soul had not stabilized yet, he lost his consciousness several times. Kim Dokja didn’t know how long it was but every time he woke up, he would see her with her fluttering silvery hair hidden inside the white cloak.

 

Kim Dokja didn't know who she was or ask for her name. He just simply felt safe being with her.

 

The white-cloaked woman then every time would hug him tightly, tell him about how his companions were going up to. At first, Kim Dokja couldn’t remember anything, but by staying in her light, Kim Dokja could feel his soul become more awake, more memories also vaguely came back. But he still couldn’t do anything with just his heavily injured soul.

 

When Kim Dokja could wake up more frequently, on some occasions he wouldn’t find her anywhere or she would look so pale as if she would collapse anytime soon. When he asked what she did. She just simply explained that as she came from a different dimension, so she got to use quite a lot of power to pay for the probability. She had no problems with her power tank, it just the time taking to change her power into probability was far too slow for her actions, hence she looked terrible each time she crossed through the who-know-number of worldlines.

 

She used to ask him about his connection with the soul fragments. Kim Dokja said that he totally lost control over them, so he didn’t know what happened to them. But he could be sure that these soul fragments had incarnated into Kim Dokjas in other worldlines. Although she didn’t say anything in regard to it, Kim Dokja could vaguely assume that his soul fragments must be one of the reasons she had to go to that many worldlines.

 

Then one day, Kim Dokja noticed something different about her. She talked less than usual, often chewed on her lips and fidgeted with her finger like a kid who did something wrong and was scared to admit her wrongdoing. His intuition immediately told him that this was the day for him to know the truth about the woman who he treated as both a friend and an older sister.

 

Kim Dokja gently held her hands while moving his body to sit in front of her. As he looked at her face which was expressing the same look as him when he confronted his companions about the ‘Three Ways of Survival’. Maybe it was the same for her because his life could be just a novel that was written by someone and was read by her.

 

“Do you have something to say to me, noona?”

 

The woman twitched at his word but quickly made her mind and spoke up. 

 

⸢I think I should introduce myself first.⸥, she raised her head to look at his eyes, ⸢My name is Celeana, and as you know I come from a different dimension.⸥

 

Kim Dokja nodded several times as Celeana continued her explanation. So basically, Celeana was like an immortal of a different dimension who accidentally came to know and follow his life stories from outside the [Last Wall]. She didn’t plan to stay out for that long but couldn’t interfere earlier due to a condition of her power that forced her to thoroughly understand the truth of the dimension first.

 

⸢Dokja, I’m sorry that you have to suffer like that. If I found out about your dimension earlier, I might be able to stop the tragedy of you and Yoo Jonghyuk.⸥ Celeana lowered her head with tears welling up her eyes like a crybaby.

 

Kim Dokja had never seen her being this emotional before. Maybe he just wasn’t close to her well enough to know that she was always the type who cried easily. He lightly padded her head as their roles were switched for the first time. 

 

“That’s alright. Don’t feel bad, Celeana-ah.” Kim Dokja titled his head as if something still bothered him, “But why do you want to help us? You just can sit outside and enjoy the show like other constellations, can’t you?”

 

Her real intentions were things that waried him.

 

⸢I can’t just sit outside because we all suffered from the same thing.⸥ Celeana honestly said, ⸢You also possess a power that you never wanted and are forced to go through a pre-determined path for the sake of the dimension.⸥

 

Kim Dokja chose to remain silent as he heard her stories. He highlighted ‘ the same thing’ from her previous sentence.

 

⸢As you noticed, I don’t have a full name...⸥ Celeana raised her head up to look at somewhere far away that they might not be able to reach with a distant look in her eyes, ⸢Actually, we don’t have a surname.⸥

 

⸢I had an older brother and a younger brother as well. We were all orphans. We didn’t know who were our parents and were later adopted by a sect.⸥

 

“Where are they now?” Kim Dokja asked. He noticed the word ‘ had’ she used.

 

Celeana remained in dead silence as she was shivering and squeezing her hands so hard that they turned pale. The aura was also shaking and leaking out uncontrollably from her body. For some reasons, maybe because Kim Dokja was so used to bathing in this aura, he somehow absorbed a part of it. As the warmth entered his soul fragment, he could see some vague images fading in and out.

 

⸢My older brother died from an unknown disease.⸥

 

Kim Dokja saw a little girl who wore a dirty rag digging a big hole on the ground with her hands. Standing next to her was a baby boy who seemed to be her younger brother. The little brother was still snivelling after a big cry while hugging a clean piece of clothes that seemed to contain some sort of black ash. Then they buried that bag of ash in the hole and the girl swore to the grave that she would protect the little boy.

 

⸢My younger brother passed away because he disobeyed our foster mother and loved someone he wasn’t allowed to.⸥

 

Kim Dokja saw the other girl again but she had grown up into an adult. This time, the girl chased after a man’s figure falling down off a sky column whose base couldn’t be seen. As she extended her hand, desperately trying to catch him, the figure she was looking for turned into thin air and his souls scattered like how Kim Dokja’s soul was. She was hovering like a lone wolf with piercing eyes glaring at a woman who had an emotionless face standing nearby. As she lifted her face up, Kim Dokja also saw her black hair turned to an ashy grey and silvery colour, and she looked exactly like Celeana.

 

He didn’t know what those images were at first but as Celeana started telling her stories, he slowly realised they were her [Fable]. However, Celeana didn’t realise that he was able to see them without her authority, hence she was trying to speak in a monotone that would conceal her emotions. But Kim Dokja noted that her hands failed to do so and slightly trembled as she told the unbearable past that she always tried so hard to hide from herself and others.

 

⸢We were told to be born and raised just for a predetermined ending. We were told that we were nothing rather than a tool holding the power to work and sacrifice for the dimension.⸥

 

“What’s up with that bullshit?” Kim Dokja pulled his brows together in a frown.

 

⸢I know right, such bullshit like that can exist.⸥ Celeana quickly collected her composure and smirked, ⸢And your dimension is also a bullshit story like that.⸥

 

⸢After my younger brother’s death, I rebelled the sect, being punished for a while and now, as you see,⸥, Celeana raised her shoulder and proudly smiled, ⸢I live for myself. I do what I want and I am wandering and help other smaller dimensions to escape from their predetermined ending.⸥

 

Although Celeana kept it short and looked like she was telling someone else’s life story, not her own, Kim Dokja felt like it lasted for millions of years. He shook his head while rubbing his chin as if he heard something unbelievable and shouldn’t be heard in the first place. 

 

“So what actually is the sect that you are talking about? And who is your foster mother?” Kim Dokja was pretty sure that the icy woman in the [Fable] he just saw was the foster mother, “What do you do in the sect? Even if you are a constellation, how can you help us then. You know...” he gulped.

 

⸢You read a lot of web novels, right?⸥ Celeana asked back after hearing too many questions from him. Maybe it was hard for her to explain it clearly too. The world was complex after all.

 

“Yes, I do.” Kim Dokja nodded. Reading web novels was his teenage life after all. 

 

⸢So the sect is similar to things that you find in transcendent or xianxia novels that accept disciples and train them. And my foster mother is the founder of the sect. She calls herself ‘Mother of the Universe’ and I was raised to be her ‘Seventh Child’.⸥

 

Kim Dokja constantly blinked with his eyes widely opened. He could faintly guess that she came from a transcendent-based dimension but never thought it would be such a big and superior one. Plus, the modifier of ‘Mother of the Universe’ was really arrogant. 

 

⸢It’s bizarre, right?⸥ Celeana pouted in disbelief as if she didn’t like it either ⸢That’s why the freaking [Last Wall] gave me the title of [The Seventh Origin] after all.⸥

 

She hated that modifier.

 

⸢It might take a bit of time obviously, but I will take care of the problems here.⸥ Celeana pounded her chest and said like she was used to doing these kinds of things.

 

It took a while for Kim Dokja to digest all of the information. He was speechless as he wasn’t sure to believe her or not. First of all, the dimension where she came from was a mystery although he kinda understood the basics of it. Secondly, he didn’t know how she actually would take care of the problems . Thirdly, he was technically a stranger to her. However, something inside him was telling him to lay back and trust her as if she was someone who would never betray or abandon him.

 

Why not? Kim Dokja loosened up his mind.

 

When he got out of his thoughts, he was already lying down on her laps and Celeana was caressing his hair like a habit.

 

“Celeana,” Kim Dokja said with a complicated look on his face, “I don’t know how to pay off for your kindness.”

 

Even though Celeana hadn’t told him about everything yet, he chose to believe her words.

 

⸢Do you really want to pay off my kindness?⸥ Celeana slightly curled up the corner of her lips ⸢Then built a happy future with Yoo Jonghyuk and your family.⸥

 

“Why Yoo Jonghyuk out of so many people???” Kim Dokja flustered trying to hide his embarrassed face with his hands. Maybe he couldn’t clearly remember all of the other members of the <Kim Dokja’s Company> yet, but he could remember exactly who Yoo Jonghyuk was. 

 

⸢Don’t you dare lie to me Dokja-yah. You know yourself the best, don’t you. You guys really need a proper conversation, no sword or fighting till one’s death like in the ‘Great War of Saints and Demons’.⸥ Celeana stopped for a bit while trying to find a suitable word, ⸢I haven’t talked with him directly but I followed him for quite a while. I can see that Yoo Jonghyuk cares about you a lot, you know. He is travelling to endless worldlines now just to find a way to save you.⸥

 

Kim Dokja felt like he could cry right now. Celeana’s words liked a hammer breaking down the illusional wall within his heart. A big tree was hidden behind, a tree that used his emotions toward Yoo Jonghyuk as its nutrients. It had grown this much, from a seed into as marvellous as an oak tree. 

 

“How is he right now?” Kim Dokja said so lightly that Celeana would miss it if she didn’t have superior hearing skill.

 

The translucent sparkling dust appeared from thin air wrapping around his body like a heating blanket making Kim Dokja sleepy. As he was drifting off, he could hear Celeana padding his head, saying ⸢Rest assured, Yoo Jonghyuk is safe. You can see him after you wake up’.⸥

 

Kim Dokja didn’t quite understand what Celeana said but if Yoo Jonghyuk was safe then it’s alright. Thus, he fell asleep with a smile on his face.

 

This time, Kim Dokja had a very peculiar dream. In the dream, he could see many other Kim Dokja’s kkoma. By many, he meant, a lot, at least thousands to millions. And every time, a Kim Dokja’s kkoma appeared and diffused inside him, Kim Dokja would feel like his soul was screaming in pain due to the instability of the fusion and trying to break apart again. But every single time like that, Kim Dokja could feel Celeana’s familiar aura comfort the strain, become the solvent that allowed the soul fragments to form bonds with each other.

 

As Kim Dokja’s soul healing process headed toward completion, his connection with the physical body also became more vivid. Kim Dokja could feel his body growing from a kid-size into a full adult body, appropriate for his age. Till the last Kim Dokja’s kkoma disappeared, he finally had full control over his body. Then, he heard a familiar voice whispering by his ear.

 

⸢It’s time to wake up, Dokja-yah.⸥

 

Chapter Text

Kim Dokja slowly opened his eyes and blinked. The aggressive light made his vision dizzy but he could clearly see a woman's face who was happily smiling.

 

“Celeana.” Kim Dokja called her name with a croaky voice as his throat hurt badly after not being used for a long time.

 

⸢Yes, Dokja-yah, it’s me. Welcome back!!!⸥ Celeane replied as she took something out of her spatial pocket. Then something cool and soothing softened his cracked lips, ran down his sore throat and healed it.

 

“Thanks a lot, noona.” Kim Dokja could speak properly now.

 

But when he tried to wipe the sleepiness and hair from his eyes, he realized that he couldn’t move his arm. Or accurately say, he couldn’t move his body at all. He looked at Celeana with concerning eyes.

 

⸢Your soul needs more time to get used to your body. Even with the help of my power, it will need time.⸥ Celeana explained the weakness he was feeling as she gently moved his head up and supported it with a soft pillow so that he could see other things rather than her face clearer, ⸢I will explain other things later. Now it’s family time, Dokja-yah.⸥

 

As his vision was reoriented, he could see some familiar faces. Biyu in her Dokkaebi form, joyfully flew toward him but didn’t dare to jump on him as Celeana glared at her. ‘Secretive Plotter’ stood on one side with no emotion on his face. A man in black cloak, who seemed to be Celeana’s disciple, walked toward and congratulated. And lastly, Yoo Jonghyuk who was still frozen from surprise and maybe excessive emotions that he couldn’t name.

 

[Father.], Biyu cried out loud, [You finally wake up. It was so hard for me, you know.]

 

“I’m sorry for troubling you, Biyu.” Kim Dokja wanted to pad her head but his body didn’t allow that although it felt much lighter compared to before. It probably needed more time as Celeana said.

 

[That’s alright, Father.] Biyu sniffed, tried to move Kim Dokja’s bangs out of the way to see his sparkling eyes, [You look better than I expected although you are still a weakling.]

 

[I am the Dokkaebi King now.] Biyu bragged to her Father who she hadn’t seen for years about her journeys in the Dark Stratum.

 

⸢Don’t you want to come up as well, Yoo Jonghyuk.⸥ Celeana called out for Yoo Jonghyuk while she stepped back from the bed and spared the closest lot for him, ⸢You have many things to tell him, don’t you.⸥

 

As Yoo Jonghyuk took over her spot, Celeana leaned over her disciple to take a short break and recover her power, connecting someone’s soul was not an easy task even if it was her as the mediator.

 

⸢You did well, Master.⸥ The black-cloaked man encouraged. 

 

⸢There’s still a long way to go, Youngest. No, Nora.⸥ Celeana called his real name for the first time in a while, ⸢Will you continue to stay here?⸥ This was just the start of everything.

 

With no hesitation, Nora replied with a sly smile. ⸢Of course, Master. I don’t want to go home yet.⸥

 

⸢You’re having too much fun here, huh?⸥ As Celeana felt reassured by her disciple’s response, she shifted her gaze to the main scene where the two protagonists met each other again after so many challenges.

 

While Yoo Jonghyuk was approaching, Biyu also knew that her scene time temporarily ended here as she sat down on the bedhead. Yoo Jonghyuk awkwardly positioned his seat on the bed next to Kim Dokja. His eyes locked like a magnet on the face that was triggering so many unknown emotions within his heart. Yoo Jonghyuk somehow felt anxious as his heart was singing to him that this was the time for him to understand what those unknown emotions were.

 

“Kim Dokja.” Yoo Jonghyuk spoke up to break the silence. 

 

Even though Yoo Jonghyuk hadn’t said any else besides his name. Kim Dokja’s heart was throbbing faster than ever. He could see an enormous wave of emotions violently arise and engulfed the calmness from the bottom of Yoo Jonghyuk’s tired eyes. The eyes that had watched too much tragedy and became emotionless. The eyes always remained cool and calm in front of every situation. The eyes of the man who Kim Dokja always looked after, at the moment, were radiating with emotions.

 

“Yoo Jonghyuk…” Kim Dokja’s voice was quivering, his eyes were gleaming and wetted by tears of happiness. He tried his best to hold the hands that were filled with scars and harden due to training and fighting endlessly. “I’m back.”

 

Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t say anything as his body was stiffened. He thought the ‘Kim Dokja’ that he was seeing was nothing else but an illusion created by the white-cloaked woman. But the warmth that was so vivid from his hand telling him that Kim Dokja really came back alive and making his built-up tension released all at once.

 

“Welcome back, you idiot.” Yoo Jonghyuk’s lips curved up without him noticing. This selfish sunfish knew how to smile after all.

 

After the very emotional greeting, Kim Dokja listened to Yoo Jonghyuk and Biyu explained their plan of writing up a story about Kim Dokja’s life, going to other worldlines to spread it out, and hopefully, it would reach the reincarnated Kim Dokja and use the power of ‘Most Ancient Dream’ to revive him.

 

Kim Dokja lightly nodded along with their stories while imagining it in his head through their words. He could feel their pains, their tiresome and their hopes.

 

Then, it was his turn to tell them his side of stories. He told about his journey on the train, how he read their 1865th turn, how he met Celeana till now when he fully woke up from a coma with a complete soul. Details about Celeana’s identity that was unknown to Yoo Jonghyuk, Biyuu and ‘Secretive Plotter’ was revealed while the main character of that story remained poker-faced. But if someone was willing to look closely at her eyes, they would see flickers of emotion appear here and there.

 

Biyu cried again while storming to Celeana to tell how grateful she was and worried about Celeana's condition. While Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk remained in awkward silence. There was something they wanted to say but not with this many people who could see and hear it. As if Celeana understood their feeling, her aura was released and a doom-like wall appeared to separate them from the surrounding area. As they were disappearing from her sight, Celeana could see Kim Dokja silently mouthed the words ‘Thank you’.

 

Celeana mischievously smiled while explaining to Biyu who was asking in confusion.

 

[Master Celeana, what are you doing?] Biyu added her name after the ‘Master’ word like a habit, [Why do they need private space?]

 

⸢Silly Biyu, it’s adult time.⸥ Celeana winked. 

 

[Ahhh…] Biyu said like she realized what would happen in there, [Then, Captain will also become my father.]

 

⸢You’re smart.⸥ Celeana couldn’t help to laugh by Biyu’s expression while ‘Secretive Plotter’ stared at her. 

 

Celeana didn’t ignore his stare this time and looked back at ‘Secretive Plotter’.

 

⸢Are you also curious about them?⸥ She asked.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ shook his head. [[No, I am more curious about you. Celeana isn’t your real name, isn’t it.]]

 

⸢You are shaped as always, ‘Secretive Plotter’.⸥ Celeana’s smile froze only for a slash of a second and brightened up again, ⸢It’s not like I want to hide it. As Dokja said, we didn’t have a surname and our names were basically the number of the position we had. Hence, my name was ‘The Seventh’.⸥

 

⸢Master, you have your own name now.⸥ Nora worriedly spoke up. He didn’t want her past to be stirred up again. They had heard what they should know from Kim Dokja already. No more information was needed to be revealed.

 

As if ‘Secretive Plotter’ could understand Nora’s intention, he changed the topic.

 

[[Sorry, I didn’t mean too.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ also changed a lot after living with the other ‘King of Outer Gods’ from the 999th regression and little ‘Kim Dokja’. He became more sensitive to other people's emotions and more humane.

 

They then talked about other things to pass time, such as how little ‘Kim Dokja’ was doing at school, how Biyu was doing with the mission, and Nora also shared a bit of his family story with them. Nora’s parents had him at a late age as they came from a family that had large authority, so they wanted to keep the family stable and safe before giving birth to him. More than that, Nora’s father’s Master was also Celeana. This was explainable if Nora’s family had a normal-human lifespan but they later found out that Nora was around 60,000 years old and his father was at least six or seven times older than him. 

 

Then how old is Celeana? Biyu and ‘Secretive Plotter’ shared the same thought but didn’t dare to ask. Because asking a woman's age was discourteous and sinful. More than that, the doom-like barrier also was disintegrating as Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk finished solving their difficult problems.

 


 

Came back inside the barrier several minutes ago. Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk looked at each other with dumb-founded faces and hesitant to talk as if their hearts had come up to their throat and didn’t let any word pass by. Kim Dokja could clearly hear his heart running wild. Yoo Jonghyuk could feel his head gone crazy from the waves of emotions sweeping through. 

 

“Yoo Jonghyuk.”

 

“Kim Dokja.”

 

They spoke at the same time.

 

“You speak first.” Yoo Jonghyuk said as he didn’t know or prepared what to say yet.

 

“Okay.” Kim Dokja slightly nodded, putting more pressure on Yoo Jonghyuk’s hands as he was holding, “I’m sorry.”

 

“Sorry for what?” Yoo Jonghyuk asked back as if he tried to mock the man but that was obviously not his intention whatsoever.

 

“Sorry for lying about the ‘Three ways of survival’ and tried to be the ‘Most Ancient Dream.” Kim Dokja mumbled, “I knew you were very angry in the ‘Great War of Saints and Demons’.”

 

Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t reply as he was trying to organize his thoughts. Maybe he was pissed off back then because he worried that Kim Dokja didn’t see him as a ‘person’ but a ‘character’. Maybe the reason he tried to break the [Fourth Wall] was that it was the barrier preventing Kim Dokja to feel the same feeling as he did and acknowledging that Kim Dokja was ‘living’ with them in their worlds, not just ‘reading’ a novel.

 

“But we officially introduced each other, didn’t we?” Kim Dokja remembered his memories about their fight during the ‘Great War of Saints and Demons’, “I am Kim Dokja, a mere twenty-eight-year-old employee of a game company and you are Yoo Jonghyuk, a former regressor. Do you remember?”

 

This time, Yoo Jonghyuk replied to his question as he finally spoke out his emotions.

 

“Kim Dokja, I hated you because you lied and betrayed us when you were telling other people to live and you sacrificed yourself time after time. 

 

I hated you because you didn’t acknowledge that you are ‘living’ with us instead of ‘reading’ a novel behind that damn wall.

 

I hate you when you decided to stay and see the end of the 1863rd regression when your place is here, in the third regression.”

 

Yoo Jonghyuk’s voice was low and slightly trembling. Even though he said he hated Kim Dokja, no hatress could be found in his gaze stucking at Kim Dokja’s face. Yoo Jonghyuk saw the man was flustered by his words and tears were rolling down his face. Yoo Jonghyuk asked his final question as he wiped away the tears.

 

“So what is your answer now, Kim Dokja? What am I to you?”

 

A question that he desperately wanted an answer. 

 

Kim Dokja closed his eyes as he felt Yoo Jonghyuk was intensely staring at him. This was also the first time Yoo Jonghyuk took time to study every detail on Kim Dokja’s face. People called him ‘The Ugly King’, but Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t think so. He never meant that Kim Dokja was exceptionally beautiful that could slap him twice on the cheek, that would never happen, but Kim Dokja was pretty in his own way.

 

The jet black and shiny hair lightly covered the smooth forehead. Underneath the thin and straight eyebrows were his eyelashes that were slightly shaking like a leaf dancing in the autumn wind. Even though his eyes were closed, Yoo Jonghyuk could vividly see the large and bright eyes that were always scheming or hiding something. A slender face with slightly high cheekbones, pointed nose and a thin but defined cupid's bow lip. 

 

After a few seconds that felt like hours. Kim Dokja used all of his accumulated courage, took a deep breath and opened his trembling mouth. He was scared. He was actually scared. And so was Yoo Jonghyuk. He breathlessly listened to the words coming out of Kim Dokja’s mouth.

 

How could Kim Dokja not have any feelings toward the man who was basically the reason for him to keep living when he was young?

 

How could Kim Dokja not feel sinful after giving him hope and destroying it at the same time?

 

How could Kim Dokja’s heart not be broken when the man who hates regressing decided to travel across thousands, if not millions of worldlines, risking his life to bring him back?

 

“You are a living person, not a character in a book. You are important and special to me, Jonghyuk-ah.”

 

The two words ‘important’ and ‘special’ stormed into Yoo Jonghyuk’s head and he blanked out. They caused a rage that no longer could be hidden. At this very moment, Yoo Jonghyuk could clearly understand his unknown wavering emotions and the answers to all of his questions.

 

He used to ask, what ‘happiness’ was. The feeling he was having right now when he held tightly Kim Dokja’s hands, was ‘happiness’.

 

He used to ask, what he should do after the scenario was done. His answer was to continue to be Kim Dokja’s umbrella for the rest of his life.

 

He used to ask, what his  ■■ was. For some reason, he could hear the system announcing <Yoo Jonghyuk’s  ■■ is ‘Kim Dokja’>

 

Yoo Jonghyuk could feel his heart was racing fast. He was troubled to catch his breath and feeling hot under his collar, this time not because of anger. As his muscle was stiffening, Yoo Jonghyuk released his hands from the others to do something that he could never imagine he was doing. He was longing for Kim Dokja’s warmth. 

 

Yoo Jonghyuk gently hugged Kim Dokja, placing the other’s head against his wide chest, wrapping his muscular arms around Kim Dokja’s tensed body with one hand padding his head as if Yoo Jonghyuk was trying to comfort him. As Kim Dokja’s face was buried in Yoo Jonghyuk’s chest, he could hear how loudly the other one’s heart was beating. Kim Dokja held onto Yoo Jonghyuk’s waist and he could feel how thin Yoo Jonghyuk became. He lost quite a bit of weight due to excessive working and travelling, all for Kim Dokja’s sake. 

 

“I love you, Yoo Jonghyuk.” Kim Dokja confessed. He wanted to say some more but his words were abruptly stopped by Yoo Jonghyuk’s rough lips.

 

They kissed. As Yoo Jonghyuk’s lips went against his, Kim Dokja could feel his mind become lightheaded and clung on Yoo Jonghyuk as if he was the only solid thing in this dizzy swaying world. They started out with a soft and gentle kiss but quickly transformed into a wild yet sophisticated. They couldn’t hear anything else except each other’s gasping for air. They couldn’t feel anything except the wild tremors running along their nerves, evoking the sensations that they had never known they were able to feel. And before Kim Dokja’s head exploded in pure happiness, he knew he was kissing him back. His arms moved away from Yoo Jonghyuk’s waist and hung on his neck instead. They were expressing all of their accumulated emotions for their journey into the kiss.

 

As their lips finally parted each other, Kim Dokja leaned on Yoo Jonghyuk’s arm while heavily breathed in and looked at the handsome face dying in red in front of him. Yoo Jonghyuk’s eyes were filled with contentment and satisfaction when he saw Kim Dokja’s slightly reddened and swollen lips. He gave a soft kiss on Kim Dokja’s forehead.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk was a fool who couldn’t say ‘I love you’, so instead of that, he said, “I will never let you go again.” He just couldn’t afford to lose him again.

 

There was stubbornness in Yoo Jonghyuk’s eyes, and Kim Dokja knew that he meant every word he said. He gently touched his lover's face that also became more ragged with painful eyes. Then, they tightly hugged and buried in each other bodies until finally parted as both of them knew that they couldn’t rest yet, there was something else to do.

 

Chapter Text

Kim Dokja gently caressed the spots of grey on his lover's hair as if it was the most obvious evidence for how long they had been together and his determination for their love. But this was only the start of a new journey. When Kim Dokja saw Yoo Jonghyuk slightly nodded his head in agreement, he called out for Celeana.

 

“Celeana, we are done.”

 

Immediately, he could hear her reply and the barrier became blurrier. 

 

⸢Got it.⸥

 

Celeana was the first one to come. 

 

⸢I am happy that you guys admit your true feeling, now.⸥ She brightly grinned like a mother who was proud of her children’s achievement, ⸢Congratulation!!!⸥

 

“Thank you, Celeana.” Kim Dokja replied with a red face.

 

Surprisingly, Yoo Jonghyuk also said, “Thank you.”

 

Celeana didn’t know what that was for. Maybe for letting no one see their kiss scene or for everything she did. But that could let for later because her plan didn’t stop here. 

 

As everyone gathered, Celeana cleared her throat and explained the next step of the plan that they didn’t know.

 

⸢Once again, thank you for your effort so far, everyone.⸥ Her gaze quickly shifted among the people to capture their expression, she could feel the tension as she continued, ⸢Now, you guys can rest. Hooray!!! I will do the next part.⸥ She tried to be buoyant to distract them from the last sentence but failed.

 

All of them looked dumb-founded by Celeana’s announcement. This somehow sounded very similar to someone that they knew, especially, that person was also here.

 

“What do you mean?” Kim Dokja, the one who had done this countless times to his companions, confusedly asked.

 

[What are you trying to do, Master Celeana? You shouldn’t do it all by yourself.] Biyu was startled as she frightenedly jumped around Celeana and looked back and forth between Celeana and Nora as if she wanted to catch a hint of what actually was going on, [You mustn’t die.]

 

Yoo Jonghyuk stunned after hearing Biyu nonsense talking and decided to express his opinion.

 

“You don’t need to go that far.”

 

Only Nora and ‘Secretive Plotter’ were able to keep their composure. Maybe long-living beings knew how to remain calm better.

 

Celeana giggled at their expression although she greatly appreciated their worries.

 

⸢I guarantee that I will not sacrifice myself, so Dokja-yah,⸥ she held Kim Dokja’s hands as she raised her status to its maximum within the dimension capacity, ⸢Transfer your title ‘Most Ancient Dream’ to me.⸥

 

She originally had enough status and [Fable] to reach the [Last Wall]. Now if Kim Dokja was willing to transfer the power of ‘Most Ancient Dream’, the ownership of the dimension and system would belong to her.

 

Kim Dokja was hesitant at first but quickly started the transfer process after looking at her confident eyes. Once he released the power, he could feel it was absorbed to the other side at a tremendous rate. Shortly after, they all could see the system’s announcements popped up continuously like buttered popcorn.

 

[You have inherited ‘Most Ancient Dream’.]

 

[You have gained authority over <Star Stream> and [Last Wall].]

 

[Your modifier is updated to ‘Mother of All Dream’.]

 

[Your power is updated according to your new modifier.]

 

[You now have the authority to change all worldlines in the dimension.]

 

[‘Mother of All Dream’ ■■ is ‘revival’]

 

The biggest advantage of being updated into ‘Mother of All Dream’ was there was no restriction area for her. This restriction area was the train station or the train correspondingly to ‘Oldest Dream’ and Kim Dokja. Hence, Celeana could go to or live whatever worldlines she wished without worrying that the world would stop because the restriction area fused with her spiritual sea which worked similarly to human subconsciousness. As long as her spiritual sea was still intact, Earth would still spin along its orbit. 

 

As the announcements kept going, Celeana’s body glowed up as more power was flowing in. When the power reached the point that it could harm others, Nora quickly set up a barrier to protect them. When the announcement stopped, Celeana also came back to her normal state, the barrier also disappeared afterward.

 

Celeana stretched her body while making a pleasant facial expression.

 

⸢Oh my, finally my true body can get in here.⸥ Every time she twisted her body, an immense amount of power vaguely leaked but instantly sealed off as she got used to her original body.

 

They all understood the term ‘true body’ as they also had seen it on numerous occasions with the constellations during the time of the scenario. Simply said, as Celeana was from a different dimension, she couldn’t let her true body in as it might alert the [Last Wall] at a too early stage in the plan. Therefore, she was using an incarnation body. But when she became the full owner of the dimension, it wouldn’t be a big problem anymore, hence she was now using her real body.

 

The later part of the plan also proceeded here after she had permission to the system and [Last Wall]. Celeana’s plan was as simple as it sounded. She would use the power of ‘Mother of All Dreams’ to erase the existence of the <Star Stream> system out of every worldline, even the failed one. Then, she would allow the ‘Outer Gods’ to record their stories onto the [Last Wall] so that they would become humans again and were able to come back to their worldlines and rebuild the world. At the end of the stories, people in every worldline would not have to experience the apocalypse that <Star Stream> brought along, and people who experienced it could forget and go forward to a brighter future. The character would also become a real person, as the two worlds fused. 

 

⸢Doesn’t it sound perfect?⸥ Celeana was energetic because this was the moment she had been waiting for.

 

Maybe, only Celeana could see her plan in that way.

 

“But even when I’m possessing the power of ‘Most Ancient Dream’, the [Fourth Wall] said that I couldn’t change the system itself.” Kim Dokja showed his concern, “Wouldn’t you be the same?”

 

“Yes, you will have to pay an enormous amount of probability too, Master Celeana.” Biyu added on. She knew some stuff about the system as well because she was the Dokkaebi King.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’, the one who had the most knowledge about it, also opposed her idea.

 

[[When you are using its power, not only your probability, your stories will also be eaten and crumbled away like what Kim Dokja experienced.]] That was the reason why Kim Dokja turned into Oldest Dream with little to no memory about the true face of the dimension.

 

“Do you fully understand the risk?” Yoo Jonghyuk squinted his eyes as if he wanted to see her true intentions.

 

However, Nora remained in dead silence because he knew his Master the best among these people. Once Celeana decided to do something, she would definitely do it, similar to the time she rebelled against the sect.

 

Not being shaken by any of these words, Celeana kept the smile on her face as she put up a screen showing people who were suffering from the scenario. It was not a pleasant show as it reminded them of their difficult times.

 

⸢This is the 13765th worldline.⸥ As she said, her body glowed up all again, probability like a tsunami endlessly poured into the screen in front of them.

 

They could clearly see what was happening in the other worldline. The scenario disappeared as the flood of probabilities swept through, the Bureau and Constellation also couldn’t do anything against that enormous wave and helplessly looking at their power crumbled away as the system also lost its power. After a few hours, the system in the 13756th worldline completely vanished, leaving the incarnations laughing with tears on their eyes.

 

<The system in the applicable worldline no.13765 is forcefully entering its extinction phase.>

 

The system announcement's sudden appearance woke everyone up from their thoughts. Although they didn’t say anything to each other, they knew that it was a success. However, they also saw how her whole body crumbled away till the size of a kkoma when the bright light turned off. The Celeana kkoma comfortably sat on Nora’s shoulder while drinking some kind of medicine.

 

⸢How was it, amazing right?⸥ She wiggled her short legs, ⸢I just need time to repeat it.⸥

 

Kim Dokja signed as he walked up and knocked her head.

 

“Celeana-noona, I don’t know how you did it. But it was dangerous.” He pointed at her kkoma form with displeasure, “Look at your small body at the moment.”

 

[I agreed with Father this time, Master.] Biyu nodded her head while pouting.

 

⸢It won’t be long until I recover, trust me.⸥ Celeana put both of her hands in the air to calm them down.

 

But it didn’t work well, so she took more elixirs out of her spatial bag and drank them down. As she gulped down all the medicine, of course, within the safety range, the effect took place immediately as her probability rose up and her body returned to its normal size.

 

⸢See, I told you, I would be fine.⸥ Celeana glared at the people who didn’t want to wait for the effect of the medicine.

 

“How about your [Fable]?” Now it was Yoo Jonghyuk’s turn to be skeptical. He thought to himself that she was partially their savior and an important friend of Kim Dokja, so if anything happened to her, Kim Dokja would be sad.

 

⸢I don’t use my current life [Fable] for them.⸥ Celeana replied.

 

“What do you mean?” Yoo Jonghyuk asked back.

 

⸢I used the stories that I obtained during my punishment for rebelling.⸥ Celeana aroused her [Fable], ⸢This way might be easier to understand.⸥

 

From her [Fable], they could see that she was a former reincarnator during the punishment era. Her [Fable] from different incarnations silently told its story.

 

[Fable, ‘The One Who Killed The Mammut’, her incarnation when she incarnated into a saber-toothed tiger in the Earth during its early age and killed the first Mammut.]

 

[Great Fable, ‘Savior of the Wolf Clan’, her incarnation in a fantasy-like world when she luckily created a cure that saved a Wolf clan from extinction.]

 

There were great stories but also normal stories as no one's life is only filled with glories and glamorous.

 

[Fable, ‘Unreachable Happiness’, her incarnation when she thought she finally had a child but then she became miscarried by the hand of her partner.]

 

[Fable, ‘The One That Can’t Move’, her incarnation as a rock.]

 

And her latest [Fable], [Fable, ‘Imagine’, her last incarnation of a normal university student who couldn’t fit in with society and decided to live within her imaginary world till the day she decided to end her life.]

 

Countless and countless [Fable] wanted to tell its stories but was cut off by Celeana. It would be already enough for them not to worry about her soul or stories being crumbled away as she got plenty of them. And if they went in any further, they would see unpleasant things which were not good for their mental health because her reincarnations were called ‘punishment’ at its very root.

 

Even when Celeana had stopped her [Fable] from telling their stories, the silence continued to lengthen until Nora, the one who was observing Seoul, where the <Kim Dokja’s Company> main building was placed, warned them.

 

⸢I don’t think it is the right time to doze off like this.⸥ Nora massaged his forehead as he heard more crying emitting from the 3rd world line, ⸢His companions are crying non stop because Kim Dokja’s body disappear.⸥

 

⸢Oups, my fault, I didn’t notice the time.⸥ Celeane stuck out her tongue with a playful smile, ⸢It’s time for you to go back home.⸥

 

The word ‘home’ hit Kim Dokja hard as he missed his companions a lot. He finally could have his happy ending, but Celeana still worried him. As if she could read his mind, Celeana gave him an assuring hug and said.

 

⸢I will visit you often. You can tell your companions about me but within the limit, understand?⸥ Celeana showed her obvious bias toward them, she showed the past she didn’t want others to know to them.

 

Kim Dokja confidently nodded and received a few types of pills that helped stabilize and strengthen his soul from Celeana before heading to the ark. After Biyu received some [Fable] to use as fuel for their return trip, a special gift for Uriel that she was told not to peek or given to anyone else, and a good-bye kiss, she also silently followed Kim Dokja. Yoo Jonghyuk was the last one to come in as Celeana secretly telepathized inside his head.

 

___ Yoo Jonghyuk, I have something to say.

 

___ What is it?

 

___ My plan actually cannot erase the existence of ‘Most Ancient Dream’. So I need your help, I would like to make a contrac t. 

 

Right, her plan only said that she would destroy the <Star Stream> and revive the ‘Outer God’, not about ‘Most Ancient Dream’. Yoo Jonghyuk remembered the plan.

 

___ What do you want?

 

___ I need you ath#^$&4t98#^#^389#&*%%@#%@

 

<Error! Censor is applied.> 

 

___ Now?

 

Yoo Jonghyuk worriedly looked at Kim Dokja who was wondering what made him so long to board. 

 

___ Of course, not you idiot. You two have not even married yet, how can I?

 

___ Youuuu…

 

As Yoo Jonghyuk was too embarrassed to answer, he turned his back and walked inside the ark without waiting for the answer. He gritted his teeth when he heard Celeana’s laugh even from the inside of the ark.

 

How loud could this woman be? He frowned and heard her last response before the laugh stopped.

 

___ Don’t be angry. I will tell you when it is time. I still have plenty of things to do anyway.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t answer when Kim Dokja approached him and lightly pressed on the wrinkles on his forehead.

 

“What’s going on? Why are you angry?” Kim Dokja asked.

 

“Celeana, she..” Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t know to put it in the right word. It wasn’t like he wouldn’t marry Kim Dokja anyway,

 

“Did she tease you?” Kim Dokja laughed out loud, “She always does that to me, too.”

 

Biyu also joined the conversation as she was loading the ark’s fuel.

 

[Me too. Master loves fooling around. I was teased a lot when I was training with her in the Dark Stratum.]

 

Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t explain the misunderstanding. Maybe let them be like this was the best. As the ark rose up in the air, Kim Dokja leaned on Yoo Jonghyuk’s chest and fell asleep due to exhaustion.

 

After the ark had disappeared out of their sight, Celeana stretched her arms and looked back at the two men who were very quiet today.

 

⸢Let’s go home. I’m tired today already.⸥

 

⸢If that's what you want, then I’m going along.⸥ Nora scratched his messy hair.

 

⸢Won’t you go home as well? Kim Dokja must be missing you.⸥ Celeana asked ‘Secretive Plotter’ who was standing still and didn’t say anything, ⸢Or you want to teleport?⸥.

 

[[No.]] He floated up right next to her and said with an emotionless face, [[I want to hear the truth.]]

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ had lived long enough to see through what she was hiding. 

 

⸢What do you think I am hiding.⸥ Celeane flew in the middle leading the group.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ shook his head as if he didn’t have a clue. [[You have too many things to hide.]]

 

⸢You don’t need to know.⸥ Nora glared at ‘Secretive Plotter’. If a stare could kill a person, then he should die by now.

 

Celeana only laughed at his reaction. Nora was still young. After she rolled her eyes to think of something, she asked.

 

⸢How old actually are you, ‘Secretive Plotter’?⸥

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ seemed to calculate something and gave his answer.

 

[[I don’t know well but around 80,000.]] That was only his assumption.

 

For some reason, he could see her face stiffening and she chewed on her lips at his answer. Celeana rapidly speeded up so no one could hear her mumble.

 

⸢Hey, [Last Wall], how old is ‘Secretive Plotter’?⸥

 

[According to the record and Earth’s time, ‘Secretive Plotter’ is approximately 96,300 years old.]

 

As if its answer was not correct either, Celeana sighed.

 

⸢Oh, still too young. Or am I too old to start with?⸥

 

When Nora and ‘Secretive Plotter’ caught up to her speed. They blasted at her with complaints.

 

⸢What’s up with you, Master.⸥ Nora became very talkative when strangers were not around.

 

[[Does my age matter?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ also unpredictably became very stubborn.

 

⸢No, nothing happens.⸥ Celeana didn’t even understand why her head was steaming with this mixed feeling either, so there was no way she could explain it to them.

 

To shut them up till they got home, she decided to tell a bit more about her background story. Something that Nora might know or he might not even know because he was the youngest disciple. However, on the way, Celeana had transformed into her kkoma form again as the temporary effect of the medicine that used to deceive Kim Dokja’s party was running out. Natural recovery was still the best for Celeana, who exhausted herself for the moment.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Back on Earth, two months after the breakdown of the <Star Stream> system.

 

Han Sooyoung sat down in front of the TV airing its daily morning news program with a cup of hot steaming coffee on her hands. Even though the screen kept playing, her mind couldn’t afford to pay attention to the news as she started to look around the empty hospital room.

 

The past two months were difficult.

 

Everyone was worried because they couldn’t contact Yoo Jonghyuk and ask him about the progress of the novel. But Han Sooyoung knew that bastard would do it well if it was something related to Kim Dokja. However, the most critical thing was … Han Sooyoung blankly stared at the empty bed that used to have someone lying on it as she recalled her memory.

 

Yesterday, exactly in the evening when the sun just went down and prepared to sleep. As usual, the member of the <Kim Dokja’s Company> would take turns to visit him and would come home after Lee Seolhwa finished her daily check-up. Yesterday was Han Sooyoung, Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosoung day. Regardless of how hard they tried to find, they couldn’t see Kim Dokja anywhere when they came back after bringing Lee Seolhwa along.

 

How could an unconscious person disappear without a trace? Hence, they checked the recording of the camera inside his room. No one came inside to bring him out nor Kim Dokja woke up and walked out. Kim Dokja literally just glowed up, then vanished into thin air. As they looked closely, it didn’t look like he crumbled away either. His [Fable] score still remained the same.

 

Han Sooyoung grumbly massaged her tensed forehead. She couldn’t sleep last night and maybe it was the same for some people. Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung passed out due to exhaustion last night and hadn’t woken up, they cried a lot.

 

Kim Dokja’s disappearance was like magic. They couldn’t find any clue. They even asked the constellation but they didn’t see anything special either.

 

Honestly said, they had become insane and obsessive over watching the little Kim Dokja sleeping as if it was the only sole evidence proving that Kim Dokja could be saved and he was still alive somewhere. Visiting him once in every few days was their anti-anxiety medication dose and prolonged their hopes for their crazy plans.

 

But when the little Kim Dokja disappeared, the last thing that they were desperately trying to protect, the illusions of hope and happy life after that was their foundation to live on shattered into small pieces making them fall into the abyss of madness and hopelessness.

 

When they were still in the scenario, no matter how hard they pushed themselves to be stronger, more reliables so that they wouldn’t have to rely on the stupid plan of Kim Dokja that was guaranted to include Kim Dokja’s suicide. But they had to kill him to survive time after time. 

 

Till this point, when the system had disappeared, they still couldn’t protect him. They even couldn’t keep his last soul fragment safe. What a bunch of pathetic losers.

 

Han Sooyoung sipped her coffee as she looked at the news reporting situations in the East Sea, the contiguous zone with Japan. The report immediately captured her attention.

 

“Newest news in the East Sea. An unidentified flying object is broken through the atmosphere and expected to land in 5 minutes.” 

 

The screen was live streaming capsuled-shaped ark entering the horizon and hit the ocean with a massive explosion. Although the ark was slightly bigger than she remembered, her intuition said that this was the very same ark that Yoo Jonghyuk departed on. Her eyes opened wide to see through the bright light and the pulsating grey foam. Han Sooyoung saw two very familiar figures standing within it. Her head also exploded at the same time. The coffee fell on the floor and wetted one of her socks but she didn’t care.

 

“Unknown people come from the unidentified object. Are they aliens? Please don’t worry as the Donghae marine force is coming.”

 

“GILYOUNG, YOOSUNG!!! WAKE UP QUICKLY!!!” Han Sooyoung loudly shouted to wake the kids who were sleeping soundly on the sofa nearby as she quickly entered the Donghae marine force hotline number to inform them about the people they were going to capture. She asked for the fastest rescue and also a room for them to rest while waiting for her to come over. Luckily, some members of <Kim Dokja’s Company> worked for the government, hence she also had a good relationship with the marine force and her offer got accepted.

 

“Quickly, kids.” She rushed outside as the kids followed in a state of half-asleep.

 

“Where are we going Sooyoung-ssi?” Lee Gilyoung yawned while looking at the sky dyed in the pink and rosy dawn, “It’s still early in the morning.”

 

“You’re loud, Gilyoung.” Shin Yoosung rubbed her sleepy eyes, “It must be something important.”

 

“Yes, it is. We are going to Donghae right away.” They headed down to the car park while Lee Seolhwa also joined them.

 

Han Sooyoung contacted all other members and told them about the news she saw this morning. They headed to the same location. After that, they flew over to Donghae with her private aircraft as soon as possible. As expected, Han Sooyoung's group was the first one to arrive. She quickly dashed toward the room where the rescued people were in. She could hear her heart beating loudly inside her chest. The others were no different. Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung who always fought each other were holding hands tightly. Lee Seolhwa also couldn’t hide her anxiety. They were excited to see the people.

 

However, when they arrived at their designated location. They couldn’t help themselves to open the door. Just one more step. If they opened the door, they could confirm their suspicion. But they were scared that they could see it wrong and mistaken for strangers. Especially Han Sooyoung, the one who came up with the plan in the first place was extremely nervous. It was not like she never expected it to be successful. It just…

 

The room also was sound-proved so they couldn’t hear anything from inside. 

 

5 minutes passed, and the door was still closed.

 

Lee Seolhwa was the first one to calm down. She slapped her cheeks a few times and twisted the knob on the door. As the door opened, they could hear a burst of familiar laughter and then a familiar figure sitting comfortably on the couch while talking with another man and a teenage girl.

 

Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung unhesitantly rushed into the room with tears rolling down on their cheeks unstoppably.

 

“Hyungggg.”

 

“Ahjussiiiii.”

 

Without a doubt, the man sitting in front of them was Kim Dokja, who they were relentlessly waiting for. Seeing the kids who had become taller clung on his sides, a sweet feeling also raised inside Kim Dokja making tears also started welling up in his eyes. He gently padded the kid's head.

 

“Yoosung, Gilyoung, I’m back.”

 

“Dokja, you idiot bastard.” A not very friendly welcome was from Han Sooyoung while she swept her dampened eyes.

 

Kim Dokja waved, “Hi Sooyoung.”

 

“Hi, you fucking damn head. Where have you been?” Han Sooyoung unpleasantly gritted her teeth as if she wanted to chop his head off.

 

Kim Dokja smiled innocently while turning around to greet Lee Seolhwa. “Long time no see Seolhwa-ssi. Thank you for taking care of me.”

 

Lee Seolhwa politely nodded, “Do you mind if I check your condition?”, she asked. Even if Kim Dokja woke up, they were not sure about his health.

 

Kim Dokja agreed and a full health examination was done. Lee Seolhwa couldn’t believe the result in the paper. Perfect health both physical body and soul. His mental health also seemed better than usual. No residue or after-effects whatsoever. Biyu proudly wiggled her head. How could Kim Dokja not be well after consuming so much medicine that Celeane had prepared.

 

After they had ensured Kim Dokja’s health, Han Sooyoung shifted her gaze back and forth between Yoo Jonghyuk and the giggling girl who had a similar look to Kim Dokja. 

 

“Who is that girl?” She asked.

 

“Don’t tell me that you have a daughter in secret, ahjussi.” Shin Yoosung sniffed her red nose.

 

Kim Dokja awkwardly smiles while scratching his head, “Well, technically, she is my daughter.”

 

“Hyung, that’s unbelievable. Don’t lie.” Lee Gilyoung dropped his jaw. 

 

[Seriously, you too…???] Biyu grantly sighed out and muttered as she transformed into a Dokkaebi again for people to recognise her. Biyu was feeling offended and didn’t bother to transform into human form in case people who come after would have the exact same answer. More than that, in this form, she could freely fly and jump around the room to join their happiness.

 

During the next few hours, the rest of the members of <Kim Dokja’s Company> one after another came. 

 

Jung Heewon came in, acted tough and rolled up her sleeves as if she was ready to hang him up this time, “Dokja-ssi. You’re alive.”, but she couldn’t hide the tremble in her voice. 

 

Accompanied Jung Heewon was Lee Hyunsung who broke down in emotions immediately. The bear-like man couldn’t help but hug Kim Dokja tightly.

 

“Kim Dokja-ssi. Please don’t go next time.”

 

Then, it was Yoo Sangah in her suit. “Dokja-ssi.” Yoo Sangah ran over immediately from her agency after hearing the news from Han Sooyoung. 

 

Ten minutes passed, Lee Jihye stormed inside the room with sweat dripping down her forehead. “Squid ahjussi, you are not a kid anymore.” Lee Jihye showed a bit of disappointment in her voice as if she preferred the kid-ified version of Kim Dokja more. 

 

Except for Jang Hayoung whose location was unknown, Han Myungoh and Gong Pildu were not contacted. Every member of the <Kim Dokja’s Company> was present in this room sitting in a circle with the special trio in the middle.

 

Han Sooyoung was curious about how her plan went after the stigma ‘Cloud System’ was dysfunctional.

 

“How was the last part that I didn’t send you? You read the whole thing as well, so you should know how the end unfolds, right?”

 

Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t answer, quietly shifted his gaze to Kim Dokja, who started to notice their conversation while playing with the kids.

 

“Don’t you dare say that you didn’t write it?” Han Sooyoung burst out in anger.

 

“Why do you believe I should have written it?” Yoo Jonghyuk expected her anger from the time he decided not to write it.

 

“What bullshit do you say?” Han Sooyoung annoyedly stood up and walked over to Yoo Jonghyuk.

 

“I know it more clearly than I am.” Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t bother to look at her.

 

Of course, Han Sooyoung knew it. She could understand why he did what he did. But it was dangerous. What if it didn’t succeed? Han Sooyoung wouldn’t dare to take a risk like that.

 

As Kim Dokja felt the tension going up between the two, he stood between them holding his hands up by his chest level, palm out. 

 

“Calm down Sooyoung.” Kim Dokja softly said, “The most important is the plan was successful and I am alive, isn’t it?”.

 

“Fine.” Han Sooyoung wrinkled her nose and sat back down but didn’t seem to stop asking questions, “But you have to tell me why you disappeared last night, then reappeared with this bastard?”

 

“I will explain this later when everyone is gathered.” Kim Dokja didn’t want to explain the things all over again and he didn’t want everyone to know about Celeana as she wished.

 

However, Jung Heewon saw this as an excuse for his hidden scheme. She narrowed her eyes and suspiciously stared at Kim Dokja.

 

“What are you planning to do this time Dokja-ssi?”

 

The question quickly caught the attention of the other members and caused a chaos.

 

“Dokja-ssi, don’t even think of it.”

 

“Hyung, you will not go anywhere right?”

 

“Ahjussi…”

 

“I will have to imprison you if you did stupid thing again, Dokja-ssi.”

 

“What are you going to do, ahjussi.”

 

They pushed him on the sofa and didn’t allow him to have a chance to escape.

 

This time, if Kim Dokja dared to do anything that could be classified as stupid, insane or sacrificing again, they wouldn’t know what they would do to him.

 

Kim Dokja reluctantly looked at Biyu and Yoo Jonghyuk to ask for assistance.

 

“I don’t plan to do anything else except sleep, eat and play.”

 

“I don’t believe you Dokja-ssi.”

 

“You guys…”

 

Yoo Jonghyuk only smirked at him and looked entertained while Biyu continued to play around.

 

“I promised that I will treasure my life.” Kim Dokja sighed. He wouldn’t want to waste his last chance, the chance that was given by the efforts and sacrifice of his companions and family in so many years.

 

Biyu stood up when the companions seemed to be agitated by his words.

 

[It’s alright everyone. I’m sure that he will not do anything. Especially when skills and stories are not in effect.] ‘Dokkaebi King’ Biyu jumped onto his stomach a few times making Kim Dokja slightly frown from discomfort to strengthen the evidence, [You see. Kim Dokja is a weakling.]


It looked and sounded quite reasonable , a bit fishy but they decided to believe in Biyu who witnessed the whole revival process . Hence they would not tie him up nor knock him out this time. After that, they came back to Seoul together and prepared a grand welcome party for Kim Dokja while he was forced to have a good rest for a couple of days, you know, just in case he somehow deceived the health check, before officially meeting their companions or <Kim Dokja’s Company>’s close affiliations.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

On the party day, Kim Dokja awkwardly stood in the middle of the crowd with presents filled up his arm. Behind him was a big red banner with a line of ‘Welcome Back, Kim Dokja’ in golden colour. The kids also made him wear a party hat that looked ridiculous almost. Even Yoo Jonghyuk, the one who barely smiled, at least before the relationship was established, also smirked at it. Kim Dokja was tempted to take it off many times but Shin Yoosung and Lee Gilyoung always kept an eye on him, so it was impossible.

 

Lee Sookyung, his biological mother, who was supposed to be on her business trip also omitted it to attend. The atmosphere was weird when none of them said anything but Kim Dokja decided to step up first.

 

“Mother. I’m back.” He slowly raised his head to look into her eyes.

 

“Yes. I’m glad that you look well now.” Lee Sookyung sighed. She was still bad at expressing her emotions.

 

“I’m sorry for worrying you, Mother.” Kim Dokja gave her an assuring smile and a hug, he promised, “I will not do the same thing in the future. I love you, Mother.”

 

Lee Sookyung hugged him back, held him tight for a moment to affirm herself that he was actually breathing and alive. Then she let him go to see other people. Han Sooyoung only invited close companions of Kim Dokja to the party in order to prevent any rumours or unnecessary information to be disclosed as Kim Dokja suggested. On Kim Dokja’s very left side was Uriel or ‘Demon-like Judge of Fire’, who immediately jumped into him and burst out in tears when she entered the building.

 

[Dokja-yah, I missed you so much.] She shrugged her face onto his coat while clung on Kim Dokja’s left arm.

 

“Uriel, I’m happy to see you again.” Kim Dokja padded her head to calm her down.

 

Standing right after was Gabriel, ‘Lily Blooming In Aquarius’ and Uriel’s best sister. Gabriel said she was just here to monitor Uriel, as who knew what Uriel would do when she was too excited. But everyone knew that she was here because she was the manager of the recently-become-very-famous idol group that includes Uriel, Great Sage and the chuunibyou ‘Abyssal Black Flame Dragon’.

 

[Maknae-ah, welcome back.] Sun Wukong excitedly waved his hand, [Hyung was worried heaps about ya.]

 

“Thank you for coming, Great Sage.” Kim Dokja shook the Great Sage’s hand with laughter, “I heard that you joined an idol group.”

 

Kim Dokja was shocked to hear about the idol group. He was like, mouth on the floor, wide-eyed and froze for a solid 5 minutes.

 

Great Sage seemed excited talking about his idol group with Uriel and Black Flame Dragon. 

 

[Yes, we are having fun.] He swung his hips dancing along with the background song that was coincidentally to be their newest released song, [You should watch our performance.]

 

Uriel enthusiastically added on and promoted their group.

 

[We are very famous nowadays. Dokja, you know they even call us ‘the rising star’.] Uriel proudly said with sparkling eyes, [Why don’t you come to our concert?]

 

[Good idea Uriel!], The Great Sage nodded his head. They would hold another concert in the next week or so in an outdoor arena within Seoul.

 

“Wait, can I ask a question first?” Kim Dokja raised his free right hand up to the sky.

 

[Of course, any questions Dokja-yah.] Uriel brightly smiled.

 

Kim Dokja hesitated for a second because he was embarrassed to ask this but it was really annoying and kept ringing in his head.

 

“Uhm, how do people react to Black Flame Dragon on stage?” Kim Dokja scratched his head trying to clarify his question, “I mean, he is a dragon right? Do people really enjoy seeing a big and scary dragon dancing on the stage?”

 

The crowd nearby who heard his question burst out with laughter. The Great Sage pulled his hair out as usual. Uriel also couldn’t help but curled up her stomach as she laughed too hard while Gabriel stared at him with narrow eyes and lifted one of her eyebrows.

 

“Hahaha. Did you hear that Black Flame Dragon?” Han Sooyoung was shaking in laughter and slapped the back of a small black dragon beside her who was troubling swallowing the piece of cake after hearing Kim Dokja’s question.

 

[You..] The Black Flame Dragon muttered and made his way toward Kim Dokja, [Do you need this great one to open your eyes?]

 

He sounded savage but he wouldn’t do any harm to Kim Dokja with that many eyes on him, so Kim Dokja nodded his head with certainty. 

 

The dragon body disappeared and a fifteen-year-old boy with bandages covered his two arms from the smoke that Black Flame Dragon created for dramatic effect. He lifted his head up high and gave off a confident grin. [Do you forget that the great one can also take on human form?]

 

Kim Dokja awkwardly smiled while realizing his mistake. Maybe he had been sleeping too much and his head hadn’t functioned properly yet.

 

“Sorry, Black Flame Dragon, I totally forgot about that.”

 

“Don't be sorry about that Dokja-ssi.” Jung Heewon waved her hands saying it was ok, “That’s actually a good idea. I want to see a dancing dragon as well.”

 

“Yes, I want to see it too, ahjussi.”

 

“Me too hyung.”

 

[Father, I want to see it as well.]

 

Shin Yoosung, Lee Gilyoung and Biyu seemed to be excited with the dancing dragon and made other people even laugh harder.

 

[Huh, I know that everyone loves this great one in whichever form.] The Black Flame Dragon arrogantly said, [I will give you guys the best spot in our concert.]

 

“Yay!!!” The kids joyfully hugged the dragon. They were getting along well with each other which was a good thing. Kim Dokja was happy about that.

 

[Ayayaya, what a delightful atmosphere.]

 

A voice of a constellation caught Kim Dokja’s attention at the entrance of the hall where they were in. Some more familiar faces showed up to the party.

 

“Persephone.” Kim Dokja emotionally greeted Persephone, ‘Queen of Darkest Spring’.

 

[My dear son. I’m happy to see you again.] Persephone embraced him tightly to express her contentment, [Your father would be happy as well.]

 

Speaking of Persephone’s husband, Hades, ‘Father of the Rich Night’, Kim Dokja felt his guilt rising up in his heart. Hades passed away during the Last War.

 

“I’m very sorry, Mother. Hades Father should have not died.” Kim Dokja mumbled in trembling. His hands felt cold.

 

Persephone gently patted him on the head. [That is our will. You are not the one at fault.] She held his cold hands and warmed it up, [Father wants you a happy life.]

 

[Cheer up, Kim Dokja.] The ‘God of Wine and Ecstasy’, Dionysus followed behind Persephone.

 

“Dionysus, you also came.” Kim Dokja was surprised by his presence, “Will <Olympus>...?” He wouldn’t want the relationship between Dionysus and <Olympus> became more heated because of him.

 

[I come with my own will, forget about <Olympus>.] Dionysus handed over a present to Kim Dokja. It was a bottle of wine, a limited edition one made by Dionysus himself.

 

“Thanks a lot for coming, Dionysus.” Kim Dokja gave the bottle of wine to Yoo Sangah who glared at him as if she would chop his head off if he dared to drink alcohol in that state because they thought he had not fully recovered yet.

 

After that, the former Constellation of <Vedas>, Surya - the ‘Almighty Sun’, Kyrgios Rodgraim - the strongest returnees of Peace Land, Namgung Minyoung - The Breaking the Sky Sword Saint and Jang Hayoung also arrived.

 

[Kim Dokja, I know you will not die that easy.]

 

“Kim Dokja, you’re back.”

 

“My silly disciple, you dared to let your Master wait for you that long. You need to work on your discipline.”

 

“It’s good that you are safe.”

 

Every single person in this room was Kim Dokja’s most reliable companion. That also meant everyone who Kim Dokja wished to tell his stories was gathered here.

 

“Shouldn’t we get into the main story?” Han Sooyoung rushed and people in the room looked at Kim Dokja, Yoo Jonghyuk and Biyu, the trio who knew the truth hidden from them. They were all curious about what had happened behind the scene.

 

Kim Dokja started off first from the moment he stayed on the train and left his Avatar went in his stead to how he experienced over 20,000 years on the train with loneliness but also with happiness when he saw his companions enjoyed their lives to their fullest after the scenario and encountered Yoo Jonghyuk on his 0th turn to instruct him and somehow became his sponsor constellation. Uriel slightly screamed at these details due to their companionship but started sobbing as if she could feel his loneliness on the train. Kim Dokja could say, if the [Fourth Wall] was not there, he might have gone insane from a long time ago.

 

Kim Dokja continued his story with the moment they decided to use ‘group regression’ and started the scenario again in the 1865th turn. He was mad but also grateful as their companions didn’t forget him. He also felt proud at how rapidly they grew and able to get as much help as they could to reach the train. Kim Dokja also told them about how he decided to scatter his soul around the dimension to keep it moving on. Kim Dokja didn’t dare to say whether he regretted that decision or not, as whatever he gave he would hurt his companions even more. So he decided to swiftly pass it and went to the critical moment after they came into the last cabin and his soul fragment viciously crumbled away.

 

“And then when my last soul fragment wanted to flow with the soul stream, someone interfered and locked it in my kid body…” Kim Dokja could hear their sniff, whine and the tense atmosphere growing along with his words. He slowly described his encounter with Celeana and how he got to know her. As expected, they became wary of this odd woman who claimed her name to be Celeana.

 

“Did she do any harm to you during your sleep, Dokja-ssi?” Lee Hyunsung asked. Who knew what she did while Kim Dokja was unconscious.

 

Kim Dokja shook his head. “I don’t think so, she was busy. Sometimes when I woke up, I didn’t see her.”

 

“Where was she then?” Han Sooyoung filled in the gap.

 

Now, Biyu took over the conversation and jumped in.

 

[She was with me and ‘Secretive Plotter’ in the Dark Stratum.] She pounded her chest, [She is my master.]

 

Biyu told them about her training in the Dark Stratum and her journey with Yoo Jonghyuk across the worldlines. Yoo Jonghyuk would sometimes add more information that Biyu missed or stopped her from exaggerating things. Yoo Jonghyuk also briefly talked about his wandering time in the Dark Stratum and how he met ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Biyu. Then, about the event that took place last night when Kim Dokja’s soul became one again and Celeana beard the power and responsibility of ‘Most Ancient Dream’ for Kim Dokja.

 

The crowd quietened down and held a baffling expression on their face. Kim Dokja knew that the stories were hard to believe in as well. It seemed like Han Sooyoung, the author of many web novels, was the one to adapt the quickest to the situation. The motif obviously seemed cliche to her. 

 

“So has anyone heard of her before? The..” Han Sooyoung turned around to ask Biyu, “What was her modifier again? The previous one.”

 

[Ah, [Last Wall] called her ‘The Seventh Origin’.] Biyu replied.

 

As if she received the correct answer, Han Sooyoung turned back and asked the other constellations.

 

“Yes, that one. ‘The Seventh Origin’. Anyone has any information about her.”

 

The constellations gathered here were at least Narrative-grade to Myth-grade, so they at least should know something. But not as Han Sooyoung expected, they knew nothing. Only the ‘Abyssal Black Flame Dragon’ said that he had a friend who was a dimensional traveller that had heard about someone also called ‘The Seventh’ but never had enough qualifications to meet her. 

 

“Do you know where that friend of yours is, chunni?” Han Sooyoung asked her sponsor constellation.

 

[This great one hasn’t met him in a long time.] The Black Flame Dragon shrugged his shoulders.

 

Han Sooyoung clicked her tongue. The only person who could give them a better description of the mysterious woman couldn’t be contacted. Such as pity.

 

“What do you think? Can she be trusted?” Han Sooyoung asked the people for their opinions.

 

“I don’t know, Sooyoung-ssi.” Yoo Sangah shook her head.

 

“If she saved ahjussi, then we should trust him, right?” Lee Jihye asked and the kids agreed with her opinion.

 

[She is strong, so we can trust her.] Black Flame Dragon’s thought was simple like that. 

 

But the Great Sage didn’t really trust someone’s strength through Biyu storytelling because she would definitely be biased about her master. Sun Wukong shifted his gaze to Yoo Jonghyuk whose judgement would be valid and reliable.

 

[What do you think about her, Jonghyuk?]

 

Yoo Jonghyuk crossed his arms, stayed silent for a moment to think carefully before he gave his opinion.

 

“She is strong. I couldn’t even make a scratch on her.”

 

The crowd frowned. That was unimaginable for someone who could even defeat Myth-grade constellations, couldn’t do anything under that being’s presence.

 

“I also saw her obliterate the system of a different worldline with my own eyes.” Yoo Jonghyuk confirmed. He didn’t want to admit it, but she was someone they could rely on. From now on, they would need her help a lot.

 

[That would be a lot of probability to use.] Persephone had goosebump just with her imagination of the scene.

 

“Okay, let’s say she helps us. And she is reliable.” Han Sooyoung declared her final concern, “But no one will work for free, right?”

 

“You are correct. What is her condition, Dokja-yah?” Lee Sookyung asked her son who was supposed to know that woman the best among them.

 

Kim Dokja was hesitant to answer as her reason for helping them was very closely related to her past that he didn’t want to reveal for more people because it was her most vulnerable spot. But the looks in his companions' eyes were telling him to spill out everything he knew. Additionally, he was tired of lying to them over and over again. Biyu also nervously looked at Kim Dokja to remind him about their promise with Celeana. Yoo Jonghyuk collectedly shifted his gaze between the two and the rest of his companions. He saw Kim Dokja’s uncertainty and decided to speak up in his stead.

 

“She has no condition.” Yoo Jonghyuk firmly said, “She just wants to share the hardship of people who suffered from the same fate.”

 

[Yes, Master is a good person who hates the system.] Biyu supported Yoo Jonghyuk’s statement, [She promised to visit us when she has time.]

 

His answer was vague but if Yoo Jonghyuk, the last one who would ever tell them to believe anyone was supporting Celeana. Then that means they should trust her for now, shouldn’t they? Additionally, Biyu also told them that she would visit, so they would have a chance to meet her face-to-face. At that time, they could judge her directly. People looked around and agreed on the matter.

 

Kyrgios Rodgraim flew up to Kim Dokja and stood on his shoulder.

 

“Shouldn’t we start the celebration?” He raised his eyebrows. Kyrgios was sick of this atmosphere, “Remember your purpose of coming here today was to celebrate for my disciple.”

 

[Hahaha. You are right.] Dionysus laughed, took a glass of wine from somewhere and started drinking, [We come here to party. Relax, everyone.]

 

“Yes, we should relax.” Kim Dokja nodded and took a sip of soft drink from his plastic cups.

 

If Kim Dokja had personally said that, there was no other reason for them not to follow. That night, they kinda went crazy almost. Eating delicious food that Yoo Jonghyuk prepared, singing and dancing all night. Kim Dokja even sneakily asked for permission and was allowed to drink a bit of alcohol, just enough to make his face blush red. The kids were forced to go to bed when the time was going toward midnight and the pale crescent moon shone like a silvery claw on the night sky. Persephone and Lee Sookyung also went to rest to let the younger one enjoy their night. 

 

Kim Dokja also started to feel heavy-headed and leaned his head on Yoo Jonghyuk’s shoulder. Usually, Yoo Jonghyuk would slap him right off the batch but tonight he just silently looked at the flushing Kim Dokja. Kim Dokja was not drunk, he was just sleepy. As he watched others having fun, Kim Dokja fell into a peaceful sleep.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk gently tapped on his cheek to wake him up to tell him to sleep in his bed but Kim Dokja didn’t want to wake up as he let out a small whine. Kim Dokja subconsciously huddled closer to Yoo Jonghyuk to seek some warmth from his body as the night was getting cold.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk froze and bowed his head so no one could see his expression. Then, he stood up and carried Kim Dokja to his room. He slided off the hall easily as people were too drunk to care about them anyway.

 

But that was only Yoo Jonghyuk’s assumption. Plenty of people saw them but they didn’t say anything.

 

Since the day they came back, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk hadn’t officially announced their relationship. However, their feelings toward each other from the start of the scenario were so obvious to other people that sometimes they just wanted to lock them up and let them face off with their emotions. Exactly the same thing that Celeana did, she totally understood their frustration.

 

If Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk hadn’t said anything which meant they were not prepared to come out yet. If Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk needed time, their companions were willing to give them and would not dwell deeply in the subject that they hadn’t comfortably talked about yet. So they would pretend to not know anything, for now, hence Uriel’s intention to scream from excitement was stopped by Gabriel before Yoo Jonghyuk noticed.

 

As Yoo Jonghyuk put Kim Dokja on his bed, he carefully tucked the blanket in so that Kim Dokja wouldn’t kick it off while sleeping and got ill from it. Yoo Jonghyuk hadn’t left yet, he didn’t want to yet. He quietly sat on the side of the bed, just watched Kim Dokja sleeping and caressed his face.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk's eyes were filled with deep affection and delighted. Finally, the person he loved was right here, within his reach and would never go anywhere else. Yoo Jonghyuk knew that they were still quite shy and reserved, but he strongly believed that one day it would disappear. His large, textured hand went through Kim Dokja’s soft hair shining underneath the moonlight and lifted his bang exposing the smooth forehead. He gave Kim Dokja a soft kiss on the forehead before going back to his room next door to rest.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Kim Dokja had had a good night's sleep straight to the next day when he wobbled around in the blanket and woke up, it was still early in the morning. The sun just started to come up, but from his room’s window which was opposite to their training ground, Kim Dokja could see someone’s figure swinging a sword. No need to get a close-up inspection, Kim Dokja could confidently tell that it was Yoo Jonghyuk.

 

Kim Dokja got out of his bed and walked to the training ground. He chose a spot that Yoo Jonghyuk wouldn’t see him sit down and watch. Just watching him from afar like this somehow made Kim Dokja happy. As Kim Dokja was too focused on Yoo Jonghyuk, he didn’t notice the presence of a kkoma form object approaching him from behind. The kkoma flew up and blocked Kim Dokja’s vision.

 

“Cele..…” Kim Dokja was shocked by her sudden appearance and nearly shouted out, but kkoma-formed Celeana covered his mouth in time so that Yoo Jonghyuk wouldn’t discover them.

 

⸢Silly Dokja, are you trying to get caught?⸥ Celeana whispered just loud enough that only Kim Dokja could hear her. 

 

“Hehe, sorry Celeana-noona. I forgot about that.” Kim Dokja stuck his tongue out like a kid.

 

Celeana observed Kim Dokja from head to toe and satisfyingly nodded.

 

⸢You looked well. They must take care of you properly.⸥

 

“I’m lucky to have them as my companions.” Kim Dokja gratefully said, “But how are you recently?”

 

⸢I’m doing well. The plan is progressing fast.⸥ Celeana patted his head telling him not to worry and directed her power inside his head.

 

“What are you doing, noona?” Kim Dokja confusedly asked but didn’t back off as he knew she would never hurt him.

 

Exactly as he thought, Celeana just wanted to form a private line with him so that Kim Dokja could contact her anytime.

 

⸢Just in case you missed me too much or in a fight with your lover.⸥ Celeana didn’t forget to tease Kim Dokja.

 

“Celeana, stop teasing me.” Kim Dokja turned away as if he was mad.

 

Celeana stopped talking out loud and tested her new private line with Kim Dokja.

 

__ Can you hear me, Dokja-yah?

 

__ Yes noona.

 

Kim Dokja nodded.

 

__ Alright, then I have to go now. ‘Secretive Plotter’ is waiting for me.

 

Celeana waved her tiny hands.

 

__ That’s quick. When will you come to visit us?

 

Kim Dokja was once again surprised as she just appeared a few minutes ago and had to go already.

 

_ _ I don’t know yet. It will take time, but if you need me, remember to call for me through this line. Okay, Dokja-yah?

 

Before completely disappearing, Celeana reminded Kim Dokja to stay well and contact her when he wanted to. Kim Dokja raised his hand up and tried to catch her but Celeana kkoma figure vanished before he could even touch her cloak and left his hand holding on emptiness in the air. He couldn’t tell why but his instinct told him that it would be a long time before he could see her again.

 

With that thought going around in his head, Kim Dokja blankly stared into the spot that Celeana just disappeared. He didn’t know how long he had been like that but when Kim Dokja got out of this thought, Yoo Jonghyuk was standing before him with concerning eyes.

 

“What are you doing out here?” Yoo Jonghyuk looked down at Kim Dokja who sat on the ground with his sleeping pyjamas.

 

“Ah, Jonghyuk, you finished your training.” Kim Dokja raised his head looking at the man who was covered with sweat. The smell stung into his nose but Kim Dokja didn’t hate it. Kim Dokja pressed his hand on the ground and tried to stand up but ended up swaying on his numb legs due to a long period of sitting in the same position.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk quickly caught the wobbling Kim Dokja and offered him a hand. Kim Dokja held the man’s calloused palm to stand up.

 

“Thank you.” Kim Dokja softly smiled hoping that it would cool off the man who furrowed his brows forming a deep line at the middle of his forehead.

 

“Answer me. What are you doing?” Yoo Jonghyuk took a clean towel and covered it over Kim Dokja’s head that was dampened by the morning dew.

 

Kim Dokja was about to come up with a lie but he knew it wouldn’t do the job, so he just truthfully told Yoo Jonghyuk what happened. This way, it helped Kim Dokja relieved his worry as well. At least, there was someone else rather than him knowing what was going on. As he finished the story, Kim Dokja could hear Yoo Jonghyuk mumbled something sounded to be ‘You weirdo bastard.’ As he opened his mouth to ask Yoo Jonghyuk to fix his rude speaking manner, Yoo Jonghyuk ruffled his hair with the towel to dry the hair.

 

“You can contact her, can’t you? And she also promised to visit us as well.” Yoo Jonghyuk spoke in the most tender voice as he could to comfort Kim Dokja, something the previous Yoo Jonghyuk would never do, “Don’t worry, believe her, she is the one who keeps her promise.”

 

Even though Yoo Jonghyuk’s words were still clumsy, Kim Dokja knew he tried his best. Kim Dokja didn’t say anything, he only lightly nodded his head and squeezed his lover’s hand a bit tighter for his answer.

 

As they walked closer to the main building, Kim Dokja saw the kids who already woke up and ran toward him. Lee Gilyoung who had noticeably grown taller during Kim Dokja’s long sleep was trying to push Yoo Jonghyuk away and clinged on his arm. If Lee Gilyoung stood straight up, he would already surpass him in height. While Shin Yoosung who was still one-head shorter than him, wrapped her arms around his other arms and Biyu in her usual fluffy ball form stood on top of the towel on his head. She agitated around to find a comfortable spot.

 

[Father, why are your hair wet like this? Did you train?] Biyu didn’t think her father would be so hard-working that he would train even after the scenario.

 

“No, I didn’t. Just the morning dew.” Kim Dokja said while looking at the two oversized kids stuck on his two sides like a hamburger, “Aren’t you two a little too big for this?”

 

“No, I am not. But it will be fun if hyung stays in that kid form.” Lee Gilyoung wanted to play with the little Kim Dokja and maybe tried to play the role of ‘hyung’ this time in their relationship.

 

Shin Yoosung shot back, disagreed with Lee Gilyoung’s opinion, “Why would ahjussi want to look like a fifteen-year-old kid?”

 

Lee Gilyoung didn’t back off, he threw a glare over Shin Yoosung, “Why not? It doesn’t matter how he looks.”

 

“You are so..”

 

None of them wanted to stop the petty squabbling but they were getting on Yoo Jonghyuk’s nerve. The conversation was immediately cut off as they were lifted into the air by the collar of their sleeping gown. They gulped down and frightenedly turned their heads over almost at the same time to face the irritated Yoo Jonghyuk. As soon as Yoo Jonghyuk caught their collars, Kim Dokja held onto his arms in order to lower it.

 

“Yoo Jonghyuk, put the kids down.” Kim Dokja demanded.

 

At the same time, the adults who were waiting for them at the entrance at the back of the main building also came forward to stop Yoo Jonghyuk.

 

“Jonghyuk-ssi, please come down.” Yoo Sangah said as she ran up to their place.

 

Not long after, Yoo Jonghyuk dropped the kids to the ground and walked inside first to take a shower. Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung quickly hid behind Kim Dokja before getting caught by him again.

 

“Jonghyuk-ssi is always scary.” Lee Gilyoung mumbled.

 

[It’s your fault first to make Father angry.] Biyu suddenly spoke up after observing the whole scenario and how Yoo Jonghyuk’s expression was darkened when the kids disrupted his sweet moment with Kim Dokja.

 

The other people didn’t clearly hear how Biyu called Yoo Jonghyuk as ‘father’ instead of ‘captain’, but Kim Dokja did because she sat right on top of his head. Kim Dokja tightened his lips and looked over Yoo Jonghyuk’s figure disappearing after the door as he came closer to his companions.

 

“What is the jerk trying to do in the morning?” Han Sooyoung yawned and rubbed her eyes.

 

Yoo Sangah quickly explained the situation, “It’s not his fault, the kids made him angry first.”

 

Han Sooyoung glanced over Kim Dokja and smirked as if she knew something, “Okay. I’m going in now. You also should take a shower.”

 

As Kim Dokja walked inside, Jung Heewon who stood nearby approached him. 

 

“Dokja-ssi, can I ask something regarding to Celeana-ssi.” Jung Heewon asked.

 

“Sure.” Kim Dokja nodded.

 

“I don’t know why but last night after Uriel came back to her room to sleep, I heard she said something like ‘Celeana, I will be your best friend forever’.” Jung Heewon confused described the situation, “When I rushed in, Uriel was having a heavy nose-bleed. Do you know what happened?”

 

Kim Dokja sighed, slightly shook his head. “Sorry, Heewon-ssi. I’m also not sure about that.” This time, Kim Dokja also didn’t know what Celeana did, but he was sure that it was something related to him. Kim Dokja reminded himself to ask Celeana about this subject later. Even Biyu, the culprit who gave Uriel her master’s present also didn’t know what was inside.

 

“That’s fine Dokja-ssi. Luckily, Uriel didn’t do anything weird after that.” Jung Heewon smiled in relief as normally, the consequence of Uriel gone mad due to whatever reason like that was gigantic. One time, Uriel accidentally destroyed the wall of her room while she indulged in her secret Kim Dokja collection. But this time, Uriel just had a nose-bleed then slept peacefully which was amazing. 

 

The constellations who slept over also woke up shortly after to have breakfast and cleaned up the mess that they made last night. After that, people left to go back to work, only Uriel stubbornly asked to stay one more night. And of course, your guess was as good as mine, Gabriel refused but still allowed her to stay until afternoon. 

 

Uriel literally acted as Kim Dokja’s shadow for the day and Yoo Jonghyuk also went somewhere without saying. Consequently, Kim Dokja didn’t see him for the whole day until the night came when he came back into his room after dinner and saw the man sitting on his bed.

 

“Where did you go?” Kim Dokja asked as he sat next to Yoo Jonghyuk.

 

“I went home today.” Yoo Jonghyuk answered, “To see Miah.”

 

“Then, why did you come here?” Kim Dokja’s mouth unconsciously opened before he even realized the stupid thing he just said.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk’s face stiffened. He pushed Kim Dokja down the bed, staring into his eyes as if he was looking for something inside it.

 

“Don’t you dare to ask Kim Dokja?” Yoo Jonghyuk was pissed.

 

Kim Dokja smirked. “Just kidding.”

 

“It’s not funny.” Yoo Jonghyuk’s face became closer. Kim Dokja could feel his hot breath wavering over his skin making the hair in his back all standing up.

 

“I’m sorry.” Kim Dokja turned his head around to avoid the heated up eye contact, “I just miss you. You didn’t show up for the whole day.”

 

Yoo Jonghyuk held Kim Dokja’s head and moved it so it faced him directly. He gently pressed his lips onto Kim Dokja’s pouty lips for a quick and delicate kiss like a flower petal softly dropped and touched the lake surface in the breezy spring wind. Then Kim Dokja could hear Yoo Jonghyuk said.

 

“Why don’t you move in with us?”

 

“Can I?” Kim Dokja faltered, “How about Miah?”

 

“She will like you. Don’t worry.” Yoo Jonghyuk kissed Kim Dokja on the check one more time to reassure him.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t come back to his room and insisted on sleeping with Kim Dokja. He turned off the light and climbed up the bed that might be a bit small for two. As Kim Dokja snuggled into Yoo Jonghyuk’s wide chest and greedily inhaled his manly smell, Yoo Jonghyuk tenderly kissed him all over his face before Kim Dokja fell asleep with a glimmer of satisfaction still visible on the corner of his curved lips.

 

Tonight, Kim Dokja learned some new things. Firstly, he would move in with Yoo Jonghyuk, Secondly, Yoo Jonghyuk was a kiss-addict.

 

Chapter Text

 

In another worldline,

 

When Celeana opened her eyes, she was in her normal size and in their house, actually his house, ‘Secretive Plotter’, which he bought not long ago to be able to fit in more people. She utilized her recovery time to shortly visit Kim Dokja.

 

It had been two weeks since she first exterminated the system from the 13765th worldline and till now, she had successfully revived another 500 worldlines. It sounded to be a lot but it was literally just a drop in an ocean. Celeana felt like she would need to speed up if she wanted to have time to spend with other people.

 

⸢Let’s get us going. The quicker that better.⸥ Celeana fluently activated her power as if she was used to it. The probability tore the space apart and flooded into the chosen worldline. At the same time, her [Fable] also started playing again for the last time and scattered away, her body also became the size of the kkoma again.

 

As she watched the system shut up its naughty mouth in that worldline, Celeana took in a pill. This pill was the reason that her progress in the previous two weeks was quite slow. She spent a decent amount of time formulating a new medication that boosted her recovery rate to be faster than before. Then the cycle repeated itself.

 

People might wonder, if she was so overpowered like that, why would she need Nora or even ‘Secretive Plotter’ to support her? Of course, they couldn’t help her with erasing the system with their probability because it wouldn’t be enough, but they could help her with different things.

 

Always remember that the world worked on the basis of equivalent exchange, if you wanted something, you had to pay with things of the same price. In order to make his companion’s happy ending come true, Kim Dokja willingly became the ‘Most Ancient Dream’. In order to find the truth behind his sponsor constellation, ‘Secretive Plotter’ chose to be an ‘Outer God’ and wandered in space for thousands of years. And so does the creature named Celeana. Maybe they didn’t know a lot about her past but there was one thing they were certain about. In order to get as strong as she was now, Celeana had to both unwillingly and willingly sacrifice her precious things over and over again.

 

Right after repeating the cycle about a few dozen times, Celeana was seen screaming in pain while holding her head. Bloody tears uncontrollably bursted out from her tear ducts. The unwanted and suppressed past violently emerged from the abandoned memory room to the surface of consciousness one after one as her [Fable] started telling their stories again after a very very long sleep in their slumber. Every time a story was told, Celeana had to experience it all over again as if she lived the forsaken life one more time. The probability storm enhanced the power of the [Fable] to their maximum so that it would be used efficiently made them even worse for Celeana as the side effect she had to suffer mentally also exponentially increased.

 

As Celeana shrank down from pain, Nora hurriedly held her from the side and eased her mind with his words. ‘Secretive Plotter’ also came over to assist. Her warm and mellow aura gradually became more vicious as the wall protecting her from the past rebuilt and crumbled down over and over.

 

⸢Master, do you hear me?⸥ Nora nervously transferred his power into her hoping that the familiar sense of aura could calm her down, ⸢You must endure it. It was no one else but your past. Only you can get over it.⸥

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ stood in front of her and looked straight into her clouded eyes.

 

[[You must get over it, Celeana.]] He reminded her about her sole and only purpose after coming into this dimension, [[For Kim Dokja and your promise with me.]]

 

As if their words were having an effect, Celeana became responsive. Her eyes gained its light again. She nodded very lightly to let them know that she got control over the situation. Then, Celeana did something that was very like her, she pushed herself further and didn’t care about the aftermath. The cycle resumed as she took in more pills at once before Nora snatched away her spatial bag from her hands.

 

However, it was late, she had consumed enough medication to recover for the lengthy process. Her probability swiftly went away with the [Fable] faster than the recovery rate itself, hence Celeana maintained her kkoma form while bracing the pain corrupting her head and watched each worldline regain its freedom from the system.

 

When Celeana estimated the remaining probability wouldn’t be enough to restore another worldline, she looked at Nora whose laps she was half-lying on.

 

⸢Nora, give me one more pill.⸥ She moaned in pain and begged as she prepared to open the door to another worldline, ⸢I promise, it would be the last one for today.⸥

 

Nora was hesitant because she had done more than enough already. In half a day, his Master eliminated the system from one fifth the amount she had done in the last two weeks. Her physical body would be able to withstand the side-effect but he was worried about her mental status. Celeana was known for being mentally weakened if her past was aroused within her close group which was exactly the state she was in now. Nora bit his lips. He couldn’t fulfill her request after seeing how ragged she became from mental strain. But before he did anything, Celeana had already collapsed from a mental breakdown and ‘Secretive Plotter’ quickly knocked her down before she lost control.

 

[[Sometimes, you need to be stern.]] He picked her up from Nora’s laps by her cloak, [[Don’t be lenient toward someone like her.]]

 

As soon as ‘Secretive Plotter’ placed Celeana on her bed, a small figure stormed inside the room after he came back from school and heard a scream. It was ‘Oldest Dream’ who ‘Secretive Plotter’ and other ‘Kings of Outer Gods’ picked up from the train station. After he gave up on the power of ‘Most Ancient Dream’, he became a normal child living with them in a different worldline. This worldline was also the second worldline that Celeana performed her duty on.

 

“Plotter-ahjussi, what’s happening? I heard noona was screaming.” Kim Dokja who was visibly more lively and gained a lot more weight around his malnourished body flusteredly caressed her. The noona he mentioned was no other than Celeana who was sleeping.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ pointed to the sleeping kkoma on the bed and irritatedly said.

 

[[Today, Celeana misbehaved.]]

 

“Misbehaved???” Kim Dokja bent his head in confusion, “But noona is a good person.”

 

⸢She collapsed from overworking.⸥ Nora explained as he helped Kim Dokja get down from the bed, ⸢She need to rest for now.⸥

 

“That’s no good.” Kim Dokja was upset. Recently, Celeana was always tired and couldn’t play with him. He missed her doting face whenever she looked at him. For Kim Dokja , if ‘Secretive Plotter’ acted as a father, a brother, or even a friend figure, then Celeana would be no more no less than his mother figure.

 

Kim Dokja used to hate his biological mother for killing his biological father and forced him to bear the title of ‘Son of the Murderer’. But he would have never known of the ugly truth buried deep down his mother stories if Celeana didn’t tell him. Celeana was reluctant at first to tell him his mother's stories because she didn’t want Kim Dokja to repent himself any further of all the hatred he gave to his mother.

 

And indeed, Kim Dokja felt horrible for his sins and he had no chance to ask her for forgiveness. For a whole week, Kim Dokja wouldn’t want to leave his room nor go to school. He just wanted to curl up on the bed and starve himself to death to pay for his wrongdoing. But this time, Kim Dokja was not alone anymore. He got his new family who always stayed by his side to support him and Celeana was also the one who reminded him about this fact.

 

Even with his eyes close, Kim Dokja could imagine her face filled with anger, and Celeana who had never raised her voice toward him was now raging.

 

⸢Kim Dokja. You have to always remember that dying is never a solution for any problems or hardships that you may encounter when you grow up. Think clearly about why Lee Sookyung lied to you because she wanted to protect you, even though it was not a perfect way, it was her way to pray for your happy life. If you died now, wouldn’t her effort become nothing?⸥ Celeana lowered her voice as if she had calmed down, she bent down and carefully swept away the tear marks on his cheeks, ⸢Look at me, Kim Dokja.⸥

 

Kim Dokja slowly opened his eyes and looked at her face through a blurry lens.

 

⸢You cannot repeat the same mistake twice, Dokja-yah. Treasure it.⸥

 

As Kim Dokja watched her going out of the room and disappeared into the sunlight, he turned around to have a clearer look at what was surrounding him. And at this moment, Kim Dokja finally understood her advice. He had a family and he couldn’t afford to lose it once more. 

 

Beside his bed, there was Lee Jihye-noona who had a pale face and swollen eyes, and Kim Namwoon who seemed to haven't slept for days. Even Lee Hyunsung looked worn out. From afar, Uriel dashed into the room with a bowl of warm rice porridge after seeing Celeana leave the room. ‘Secretive Plotter’ followed her inside.

 

All of them looked happy when they saw him decide to get out of bed. Each spoon of warm rice porridge filled up his empty stomach and Kim Dokja could barely hide his delight. Tears once again rolled down his pale cheeks but this time, it was tears of happiness.

 

“I’m very sorry, everyone. I love you.”

 

[[When she wakes up, you should scold her.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ suggested that because Celeana seemed to only listen to Kim Dokja ’s words, he meant any Kim Dokja would work.

 

As Kim Dokja remembered about the day he walked out of the room to let him spend time with his family, he felt she looked a bit lonely . Kim Dokja nodded his little head with a serious expression. He promised to himself to tell Celeana that she was also a part of his family. This made Nora couldn’t help but laugh while pinching his cheeks and the emotionless ‘Secretive Plotter’ curved his lips up a bit.

 

An hour later.

 

Celeana woke up after her mental damage was restored. She pinched the bridge of her nose trying to remember what happened while she slept but it seemed like she couldn’t recall anything. 

 

Anyway, it doesn’t matter, she thought.

 

Celeana stretched her full-size arm while looking out of the window. The scenery nearly snatched her soul away. It reminded her of the sunset she used to see in her hometown with her two brothers. Her eyes were steady to the horizon that were dyed with rich hues red blended with orange, purple and crimson.

 

Whenever they saw the sky turned into the canvas of glorious sunset, her brothers and Celeana would go home, a little worn out shack that could barely protect them from the downpour or the freezing wind in the winter. But at the time, she was with them, so no matter what, it was her home. As she blankly dived in the golden rays of sunlight and remembered the old good day, a man with a white coat silently stared at her from the doorstep.

 

[[You woke up.]] The man spoke up breaking her train of thought.

 

Celeana turned around after hearing his voice, ⸢Plotty.⸥, she called him by his nickname.

 

[[Don’t call me like that.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ threw her a glare, [[It’s gross.]]

 

Celeana chuckled at his comment. He always said that whenever she called him with that nickname.

 

[[What is in your head?]] He curiously asked. This curiosity was the thing that kept his head stopped going blunt from living for too long.

 

Celeana was silent for a moment before she sighed and admitted. ⸢I missed my family. I wonder if I wasn’t alive at that time, would they be chosen to live instead of me.⸥

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t fully understand what she meant by that, but it sounded depressive and pissed him out. He couldn’t get a hang of her thought. He saw her as a hypocrite who always lectured people on how to value their lives, live to their best contents while she took on unnecessary responsibilities, secretly buried herself in the grief of the past and one day would die under these weights.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ thought he knew why Celeana was so dotting toward Kim Dokja . It was simply because they held too many similarities. They were the ones who would give away everything until they have nothing left. As if Celeana recognized what the future was waiting for her and didn’t want either of Kim Dokja to take the same path, she tried her best to avoid it and walked into the doom alone.

 

He wanted to help her like how he helped Kim Dokja but it would be hard to change her thought pattern if she had lived with it for her entire life. ‘Secretive Plotter’ looked at her with a complicated gaze.

 

⸢Don’t look at me like that. You are the one who needs to get rid of your stupid thought first.⸥ Celeana pouted her naturally pinkish lips.

 

Here we go again, Celeana’s lecture about life. He rolled his eyes as if he had enough of it.

 

⸢Hey, listen. I’m serious.⸥ Celeana shot up right after seeing his do-not-want-to-care reaction.

 

However, Celeana had her point right. ‘Secretive Plotter’ thought of living forever to repay for his sins and he didn’t deserve the luxury of death and was also not any healthier. This was the reason why Celeana even tried to recover the failed worldline in order to lessen his remorse because it wasn’t entirely his fault to do that. He just had no second option as the only one could go through the [Last Wall] to reach the ‘Most Ancient Dream’ was Kim Dokja. No matter how hard he tried, he wouldn't be able to reach that point.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ clearly understood her intention and explanation but he tried to play dumb as he didn’t know how to react to her actions nor his new ways of thought.

 

[[Let’s go.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ turned away and walked out, [[Dokja is waiting for you.]]

 

⸢Hey, wait.⸥ Celeana annoyingly got out of her bed and caught up to him, ⸢What’s up with you?⸥. She just couldn’t get how Kim Dokja was so in love with Yoo Jonghyuk and her little Kim Dokja saw ‘Secretive Plotter’ as his father because he was a jerk .

 

As they walked into the dining room, Kim Dokja immediately jumped from his chair and clung onto her neck like a koala. Luckily, she was quite tall, or else it would look so weird as Kim Dokja was nearly seventh years old this year. His birthday was just around the corner. He was a big boy now even though he was still a bit tiny in comparison to kids of the same age. 

 

“Noona, you are up.” He brightly smiled making her heart instantly melt at the remark.

 

OMG, how could she ever stop loving Kim Dokja if he always acted like this? Celeana could only scream internally. 

 

But her outward action and internal thought didn’t match, Celeana raised her eyebrows to show her discouragement of the action.

 

⸢Dokja, that is dangerous. Don’t jump off your chair like that.⸥ 

 

Uriel, who was finishing off the food with some condiments, also agreed with her.

 

“Celeana-ssi is right. Jumping around is not safe.”

 

“Okay, Uriel-noona.” Kim Dokja pouted but didn’t want to let go of Celeana’s neck yet. ‘Secretive Plotter’ seemed not to want to help her out and took himself a glass of water.

 

Celeana glanced over Uriel struggling in the kitchen and asked.

 

⸢Do you need help, Uriel-ssi?⸥

 

“No, I am fine. I am already having two helping hands.”

 

As Celeana looked over the space that Kim Dokja blocked her eyes from, she saw Lee Jihye plating out the food and Kim Namwoon putting the bow and cutlery out on the table.

 

“Celeana-unni. How are you feeling?” Lee Jihye put the sweet and sour pork out on the plate while she looked up at Celeana and asked.

 

Lee Jihye was friendly but it wasn’t the same with Kim Namwoon. He was still chuunibyou, liked to tease and have a rude speaking manner like someone.

 

“Hey ajumma, did you play the sleeping princess today again?” Kim Namwoon gave a sarcastic comment right away when he saw her.

 

“Don’t be rude, Namwoon.” Lee Jihye struck a heavy blow on his head.

 

“I hate you, Namwoon-hyung.” Kim Dokja added on and didn’t show any worry about the big bump on Kim Namwoon’s head.

 

“Dokja-yah. Why do you side with that ajumma?” Kim Namwoon wide-eyed glared at Celeana with Kim Dokja on her side, “You said that you like me the most, remember?”. It was true but it was the story of the past.

 

“I don’t remember saying anything like that.” Kim Dokja turned away from Kim Namwoon and sat down on his chair at the dinner table with Celeana and Uriel. While Lee Jihye scolded him for his wrong use of honorifics.

 

“Namwoon, you shouldn’t call Celeana-unni ‘ajumma’. She probably hasn’t married yet.”

 

“But she was old.” Kim Namwoon insisted on his way of calling Celeana.

 

Nora and Lee Hyunsung who just came home after going to the supermarket went in and joined the conversation. Lee Hyunsung put his grocery bags down and put the stuff he just bought in the fridge while supporting Lee Jihye's argument. Nora was helping him on the side.

 

“Listen to Jihye if you don’t want her to hate you. Plus, I also don’t think Celeana-ssi is married.”

 

Celeana turned a blind eye to them as she didn’t want to say anything regarding the matter of marriage. But she also couldn’t control her disciple’s mouth who knew her personal life quite well.

 

⸢Master was married.⸥ Nora was not hesitant to drop a bomb in the middle of the conversation.

 

Chapter Text

 

Everyone was startled.

 

This stupid bastard, Celeana infuriated thought. 

 

Kim Dokja immediately held her hands resting on the table. ‘Secretive Plotter’ who was sitting opposite her also stared at her. Uriel stiffened her face and froze. Lee Jihye and Kim Namwoon couldn’t help but drop their mouths on the floor while Lee Hyunsung clumsily hit his head on the fridge’s door.

 

⸢Why are you acting like that?⸥ Nora innocently blinked as if he did nothing wrong until he saw the deadly gaze from his beloved master. Nora split out some inappropriate information without even thinking. He thought he was a bit too comfortable in this family atmosphere. But words couldn’t be taken back.

 

“Noona, is that true? You.. you.. are married?” Kim Dokja asked, stammering on his own tongue.

 

⸢Yes, I was married. But it was a politically arranged marriage.⸥ Celeana corrected the information as if it wasn't her intention for the marriage either. 

 

Other people who had recovered from the shock excitedly sat down at the table and asked about her married life. Today's dinner unintentionally became a Q & A section about her personal life. Celeana got no choice but truthfully answered each question because she could feel the heat coming from those curious eyes, especially from the one opposite her and the little Kim Dokja.

 

First off with Lee Jihye, who was still in the age of her bubbling imagination about love.

 

“Who is he? Is he handsome?”

 

⸢He was a Demon King.⸥ Celeane bit her chopstick while trying to remember his face but she couldn’t. Her ex-husband’s face just wasn’t registered in her memory, ⸢I don’t remember his face but I will say, he was handsome.⸥ She was pretty sure about this based on her experience of fighting against Demon Kings and they were all handsome.

 

“Do you love him? Is he more handsome than Captain or Kim Dokja ? Who do you prefer?” Kim Namwoon added insult to injury as he could feel the tense atmosphere between the three. 

 

It was obvious that she didn’t love him much because who on Earth wouldn’t be able to remember their lover’s face, so she didn’t even care to answer the first question, but the last two questions were different. She didn’t want to start another war. 

 

⸢I can't remember to compare and of course, I will choose Dokja .⸥ Celeana flinched and quickly gave him a general answer. However, if they thoroughly analyze, they could vaguely guess how her ex-husband had to look to be qualified by her strict foster mother. 

 

Celeana was in no way ugly or they could say she was beautiful. Thick silvery hair which is a bit on the greyer tone wrapped around her slender face. Thin and even eyebrow, slightly pointy nose, rosy cheeks, and plumping lips. Underneath the long eyelashes were a pair of deep green eyes glimmering like a forest under a starry night sky whenever she smiled.

 

“But why do you marry a Demon King?” Uriel stopped chewing the piece of pork in her mouth to ask, “Aren’t you on the so-called good side?”

 

Celeana shrugged, ⸢For peace treaty between mother’s side and the Demon World.⸥ Their current situation was quite tense and required collaborations between all sides. However, a normal peace treaty would be broken easily, hence marriage was the optimal choice because as soon as they became partners, they could easily hold each other hostage if the other side displayed any ill intention.

 

Uriel sympathetically looked at Celeana who poke her bowl of rice and didn’t have the appetite to eat. The so-called good side was always the same everywhere. They forced people to do the stuff they thought was justice and shamelessly justified every wrongdoing. They also mercilessly sacrifice innocent people for their bullshit ‘greater good’.

 

“You must not be happy then, living with someone like that.” Lee Hyunsung sighed, “I wouldn’t want a marriage like that either.”

 

“Yes, you are correct hyung.” Kim Dokja put a piece of green vegetable into Celeana’s bowl to encourage her to eat a bit more, “It must be hard for you, noona.”

 

Celeana patted his head and chuckled, ⸢Not at all. We didn’t even see each other once after the wedding.⸥ The Demon King also didn’t completely hate her but because she was the one who killed his subordinates many times in previous wars, he had to keep a distance from her. Hence they put on an agreement to not involve in each other's business. 

 

⸢That sounds very like you, Master.⸥ Nora rubbed his nose. Nora wasn’t born yet when the wedding was held but he suspected that the wedding she mentioned was very likely to be just a meeting to sign a contract. His Master wouldn’t care enough to attend a wedding of her own with some random strangers, but of course, the strongest Demon King shouldn’t be a stranger as they had fought each other many times in several battles. 

 

⸢Of course, do you all think that I will just endure that.⸥ Celeana lightly pouted in unbelief and pounded her chest, ⸢I even ran away from the sect, don’t you think I ran away from the marriage as well.⸥

 

Lee Jihye’s expression lightened up after hearing her statement. She also giggled along with Uriel. Kim Namwoon didn’t say anything and looked at her with a surprised Pikachu face.

 

“Yes, that’s why you didn’t even remember his face.”

 

Even though Celeana successfully overcame the marriage problems, their interrogation didn’t stop there as she thought. Because Kim Dokja was a good kid who kept his promise as Celeana taught him. What went around came around. 

 

Right after dinner, as soon as Celeana stood up to help clean the dishes, Kim Dokja pulled her down again.

 

⸢What’s wrong Dokja-yah?⸥ Celeana anxiously leaned forward to check on the serious-looking kid.

 

“You don’t need to do the dishes today, unnie.” Lee Jihye also pushed her down her chair while sitting down next to Celeana as if she tried to block her from getting away as usual, “It’s Hyunsung-ssi and Namwoon’s turn today.”

 

Uriel, Nora and ‘Secretive Plotter’ also didn’t leave to rest. Suddenly, Celeana sensed an ominous aura emanating from the people surrounding her.

 

⸢What’s going on guys?⸥ Celeana agitatedly looked around to find any hint to this continuing interrogation.

 

“Don’t act like you know nothing, noona.” Kim Dokja sternly hit on her hand, “You got up to no good today.”

 

⸢Huh, what?⸥ She startled, furrowing her brows, and threw a muddled look at ‘Secretive Plotter’. She knew for sure this man was the culprit behind this.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ averted his eyes and avoided her eye contact.

 

“Noona, what did you do today?” Kim Dokja asked.

 

⸢I just did what I normally do.⸥ Celeana explained, ⸢You know, eliminating the system from other worldlines.⸥

 

“Did you miss anything else, unnie?” Lee Jihye already heard about today’s commotion from Nora and ‘Secretive Plotter’.

 

⸢I don’t think I did, do I?⸥ Celeana turned over to Nora and hoped he would help her to understand what the commotion was.

 

Indeed Nora was her disciple, he quickly pointed out the critical point.

 

⸢You nearly became insane today if Plotter-ssi didn’t black you out in time.⸥

 

That was the missing point she was looking for. During the process, her mind went blurry and she ended up didn’t remember everything well.

 

⸢Oh, did I. I went a bit overboard today then.⸥

 

It was good that she admitted her fault. But her unintentionally resting bitch face and her reaction showing no regret in her action nor concern for herself truly pissed these people off. ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t even want to argue with her sometimes-amazedly-thick head. Nora heaved a heavy sigh as if he was used to it while other people went on a rage and got fed up.

 

“Not only a little Celeana-ssi.”

 

“You must take care of yourself.” 

 

Even the two who were washing the dishes also spoke up.

 

“Celeana-ssi shouldn’t push yourself.”

 

“Listen to Jihye, ajumma.”

 

Only Kim Dokja couldn’t calm himself down and started crying like he was hurt badly by her words making Celeana flustered. 

 

“Noona is such a liar.”

 

Celeana panicky embraced the little Kim Dokja and caressed his head so that he would feel better. He didn’t refuse her hands but didn’t look at her either, he hid his face on her shoulder. This was the sign of Kim Dokja being very mad or depressive. 

 

“You always tell us to do this, to do that.” He kept making a fuss and Celeana could feel the clothes on her shoulder was dampened, “But you never do it yourself.”

 

“I hate seeing you being drained out.” Whenever he was home from school, he would see her being unconscious on her bed or she would go missing for a few days before returning home looked like a zombie.

 

“I also felt the pain when I heard you scream.” One time, when he sneakily watched her doing her work and suffering the pain for the whole process. Her doing was beautiful but also heartbreaking to watch. How much sympathy did she have to do such a thing for a different dimension? Without the need to remember his past, Kim Dokja could tell how hurt it must be to have her [Fable] scattered.

 

“Even if you don’t want to tell me about your past, I don’t care because we’re family.” He knew she was excluding herself from the others and him due to some unknown tragic stories in the past that Nora didn’t even dare to talk about. But Kim Dokja wanted her to acknowledge him as a family member.

 

“I want to play with you more like we used to.” This was his selfish desire as a kid. He missed the time they spent together. 

 

As he screamed his lungs out, Kim Dokja felt her arms wrapping him become tighter and Celeana also started sobbing and muttered repeatedly two words, ⸢I’m sorry.⸥. The two held on to each other like that while she tried to sort out the chaotic rambling of thoughts in her head. 

 

After hearing Kim Dokja’s confide, she slowly realized that she was in denial the whole time. She always treated her disciples as if they were her real children but never admitted them to be family because she was afraid to lose her ‘family’ again. She was used to being too weak to protect them. But now maybe, just maybe, she had gained enough strength to protect it.

 

Uriel, Lee Jihye, Nora, Lee Hyunsung, and Kim Namwoon all came over to do a family hug as a means to welcome her and also repay their debt to this woman who allowed them to become human once again. 

 

About a week ago, after they had gathered as much ‘Outer Gods’ as possible to the Dark Stratum, Celeana decided to forcefully open the [Last Wall] and let them and the ‘Outer Gods’ record their stories or so-called [Fable] on the [Last Wall] so they would be able to transform into humans.

 

After that, she prioritized the worldlines they all came from and tried her best to revive them. As her probability flowed through the dead worldline, time started to move, the land started to nourish, plants started to grow and people were sent back to their original place to rebuild their worlds.

 

Celeana asked them if they wanted to go back but they refused because they had grown attached to Kim Dokja and didn’t want to leave him. They willingly stayed and lived with him for the rest of their lifespan. More than that, Celeana would need them to contact more wandering ‘Outer Gods’ whose stories were not recorded yet. And also, they wanted to see her reach her end goal after spending so much blood, sweat and tears. For some reason, that day, ‘Secretive Plotter’ declined her offer to record his stories and stayed as an ‘Outer Gods’.

 

After their intimate time, Celeana promised to take more breaks during her work to lift off her mental strain and would end her work before Kim Dokja came home from school to spend more time with him. Especially, she couldn’t disappear for too many days without prior notice and had to come home with her soul and body perfectly attached and healthy.

 

Then, she watched a TV show with them for a while, escorted Kim Dokja to his room to help him with his homework, and only left until he peacefully slept. As Celeana walked to her room, she noticed a familiar man stood in front of her room waiting after he had given Kim Dokja a goodnight kiss. She opened the door and told him to come in. She assumed that he still had something to say as he didn’t even open his damn mouth for the whole night.

 

⸢What’s else do you want, Plotty.⸥ Celeana tiredly sat down on her bed and crankily talked to the man who was coming closer. If she extended her hand out, she probably could touch his shirt.

 

[[You are a sly woman.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ nonchalantly said.

 

⸢What the fuck ...⸥ Her words were cut short as he bent down and glared at her. 

 

[[Cut your crap. I know why you were so hurried to transform the others into humans again.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t seem to let her explain, he could deduce it himself from the trashy promises she made with the kids back in the dining room. [[You planned to do your work in the Dark Stratum, so you turned them into humans so that they wouldn't be able to find out.]]

 

Without the need for him to say anymore, Celeana knew that her true intention was seen through. Every day was not Sunday and the truth would come out no matter what. She wanted to utilise the high time density in the Dark Stratum to process her plan faster because new worldlines were created every day, she could only slow down the generating process but couldn’t stop it completely. Hence she just got no spare time.

 

⸢You caught me.⸥ Celeana raised her head and smiled at the frowning man, ⸢What are you going to do with me? Expose me in front of the kids?⸥

 

[[No, I won’t do that.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ shook his head, [[But you have to take me with you.]]

 

Suddenly, before Celeana answered him, the door in her room opened and Nora peaked his head in as if he was eavesdropping for the whole time.

 

⸢Master, I am going to. Don’t you dare leave me behind.⸥

 

⸢Of course not, if I wanted to leave you out, I have already sent you back home.⸥ Celeana picked on Nora and chuckled.

 

[[Celeana. I want to go.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ blocked Nora from her sight, furrowed his brows harder, and repeated his word.

 

⸢I heard you.⸥ Celeana bravely flicked his forehead to extend the distance between the two as if she was uncomfortable with his face being too close for her standards, ⸢I will need you to knock me out in time, too.⸥

 

⸢We are going right away and come back before morning.⸥ Without any further notice, Celeana snapped her fingers to transport them to the Dark Stratum. It was convenient to have ownership of the dimension because now, she could teleport anywhere with minimal probability use. The Dark Stratum’s time density was estimated to be 4 times higher than the third regression worldline and approximately 20 times higher than their current worldline which was very advantageous for Celeana. 

 

The cycle resumed and repeated itself after every time she couldn’t maintain her rationality and got to take a break. This instantly incorporated into her daily routines later on under strict surveillance of ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Nora. Before they came back home, Celeana would make sure to have at least a one-hour break in order to hide any overwork signs. Since then, the family became happier due to her frequent healthy appearance, Celeana also grew closer to her family as she got to spend more time with them. Only ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Nora, the only two who knew the truth, rolled their fucking eyes out every time she innocently smiled as if nothing fishy happened. 

 

 

Chapter Text

Back to Earth, third regression line.

 

It had been three months since Kim Dokja last saw Celeana face-to-face. Within these three months, lots of things happened. He really meant by a lot. After spending a few more days in the common dorm, Kim Dokja notified his companions that he would move out and live with Yoo Jonghyuk and his little sister.

 

The only two who opposed the idea were Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung as they didn’t want Yoo Jonghyuk to monopolize Kim Dokja. But Kim Dokja instantly found a quick fix that he allowed him to get their approval. He promised to hang out with them often, at least 3 times a week and would attend their next parent meetings.

 

Moving out was not so frustrating as Yoo Jonghyuk’s house already had everything he needed. And would Kim Dokja have anything called personal property or items after being unconscious for so long?

 

Of course not, so he didn’t complain about anything Yoo Jonghyuk bought for him or things that were already available in their house because they are kinda couple-stuffs. As they were not officially announced and his little sister, Yoo Miah also lived with them since she was still young, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk stayed in different rooms.

 

His new life was comfortable. They would just spend their days peacefully like other couples, maybe not too sweet that made his teeth eroded because Yoo Jonghyuk was a tsundere who couldn’t clearly say his emotions out loud. But his tsundere tendency had become much better compared to the first time they met, so Kim Dokja wasn't really upset about that. 

 

Actually, Kim Dokja found it quite cute.

 

After a few weeks for them to settle down and get used to the pattern of the new Korea, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk decided to find a job because they couldn’t always depend on their companions even though the others were filthy rich in some ways. 

 

As Yoo Jonghyuk once omitted his job as a ‘pro-gamer’ to travel through worldlines, his contract was canceled. But Yoo Sangah and Han Sooyoung suggested him to become a game livestreamer, because ‘you will get goddamn popular with your hot-ass face’ quoted Han Sooyoung if Kim Dokja recalled her words correctly. 

 

She was right.

 

Kim Dokja couldn’t tell if they were involved in promoting Yoo Jonghyuk’s channel, but he broke the record, apparently Kim Dokja’s record, and gained nearly one million subscribers on his channel in three days. 

 

Yes, just in three days. 

 

Before that event, Kim Dokja had never thought that Yoo Jonghyuk’s face could sell so well, maybe his aura of the main protagonist was still there. After his explosive debut on the livestream site, Yoo Jonghyuk caught attention from other game companies and some asked to sign a contract with him. And then, money kept flowing in Yoo Jonghyuk’s bank account and Kim Dokja wouldn’t dare to guess the actual amount.

 

In comparison to Yoo Jonghyuk’s splendid career, Kim Dokja decided not to work for a company anymore because he wasn’t suitable for the office environment, hence he applied for the librarian position of the university where Han Sooyoung worked at. He got accepted quite easily as the library recently expanded its collection and was short on staff. Everyday, Kim Dokja would go to the library, sort out the new books based on their genre and era, record borrowed and returned books from students, basically just did what a librarian supposed to do.

 

Kim Dokja would also have to have lunch with Han Sooyoung to prove that he was still alive and thriving. But that caused another problem and students started to spread rumors around that he was Han Sooyoung’s boyfriend and Han Sooyoung just simply laughed at it without doing anything. And somehow the rumors reached Yoo Jonghyuk’s ears and god blessed Kim Dokja’s ass after that. 

 

But that wasn’t the matter that Kim Dokja was concerned about. He actually was bothered by his future little sister in law. Yoo Miah didn’t seem to like him at all.

 

In front of Yoo Jonghyuk, she was a sweet little angel toward Yoo Jonghyuk and didn’t say anything bad to Kim Dokja. But when Yoo Jonghyuk wasn’t around, she would change her attitudes toward Kim Dokja and often picked a fight with him.

 

At first, Kim Dokja thought that she was like that because she was still a kid and in her puberty, and every kid her age would be quite rebellious like that. Hence, he didn’t mind her bad and disrespectful words and was a good ‘ahjussi’. However, things got worse lately when not only her words but her behaviors also became too much.

 

As Kim Dokja thought about Yoo Miah while walking home, he greatly sighed. Kim Dokja didn’t want to be harsh with her, because she was Yoo Jonghyuk’s precious little sister and his only relatives. After a hundred more steps, Kim Dokja finally could see a small but warm house that they were living in at the corner of the street. He took in a few deep breaths before inserting the key into the door lock.

 

‘Crack’, the door opened and Kim Dokja quickly came inside to escape the chilling early Winter’s winds. He took his shoes off and placed them next to a girl's black uniform shoes which belonged to Yoo Miah.

 

So she was home and Yoo Jonghyuk probably was on the way as well. But wasn’t the house a bit quiet? He wondered what kind of tantrum Yoo Miah would throw at him today.

 

As Kim Dokja stepped in the living room, he called out to the girl who was still in her high school uniform and half-lied on the sofa watching the TV without turning on the sound.

 

“Miah?” He worriedly asked due to her puffy red eyes and the tear marks that she forgot to hide were still visible on her cheek, “Did something happen at school?”

 

However, as expected, Yoo Miah didn’t want to talk to him. She quickly threw a cushion on her hands at Kim Dokja and angrily stood up to go to her room. She didn’t know Kim Dokja was home early today, normally, Yoo Jonghyuk was the one who came home first. Yoo Miah was waiting in the living room for her brother, not this person.

 

“Shut up, you parasite.” Yoo Miah left Kim Dokja behind with a puzzling expression.

 

As she closed the door of her room, Yoo Miah could hear Kim Dokja said.

 

“If you didn’t want to talk to me, Yoo Jonghyuk would be home soon. You can talk with him about your problem.”

 

“Of course, I know that.” She furiously mumbled, “Oppa will always listen to me.”

 

Kim Dokja slightly shook his head as he watched Yoo Miah disappear behind the door. After putting the cushion back on the sofa, Kim Dokja turned off the TV and decided to take a long bath. He was drained out from all the work today, so this was a good way to reward himself. 

 

The steaming hot water from the bath tube and the tingly sensation on his skin made Kim Dokja want to go to a real hot spring. Soaking in a hot spring in wintertime would be the best. Maybe they should take one week off and go to Japan for an onsen holiday. As Kim Dokja was immersed in his thoughts about his perfect hot spring holiday, he could see Yoo Jonghyuk’s shadow reflecting on the bathroom’s door.

 

“Dokja, is that you?” Yoo Jonghyuk asked and peaked his head in. He had to attend a meeting at the company today, so Yoo Jonghyuk wore the navy suit that Kim Dokja bought for him by his first month's salary. Kim Dokja had fairly good eyes for fashion as the suit fitted Yoo Jonghyuk well or Yoo Jonghyuk was naturally born to look handsome in every single piece of clothing. 

 

“Yes, it’s me.” Kim Dokja lifted his head out of the water to reply while attempting to stand up and get out of the bath tube, “Do you need help?”. 

 

But Kim Dokja lied back down after Yoo Jonghyuk told him to take his time and he would go and prepare dinner. 

 

“No need.” Yoo Jonghyuk quickly turned away after seeing the tempting Kim Dokja with his skin flushing pink and heat erratically emitting after bathing in hot water for a long time. 

 

Before Yoo Jonghyuk got out, Kim Dokja mentioned Yoo Miah’s odd behaviour with an uptight voice as she looked more depressed than usual.

 

“I think you should talk to Miah sometime today as she looked very sad.”

 

“Okay. I will check up on her after dinner.” Yoo Jonghyuk nodded his head as he could also feel that his little sister was a bit different although outwardly she acted happily and lively. 

 

After taking a bath, Kim Dokja felt like he was alive again. While drying his hair with the towel, Kim Dokja found himself in the kitchen watching Yoo Jonghyuk in the pink apron that was gifted by Yoo Miah from many years ago, skillfully cook the food that he would never be able to replicate. He leaned over the stove and a rich, savoury, and comforting scent filled his lungs. The water droplets formed from the end of his still damped hair dripped on the stove and quickly sizzled off as they touched the hot surface.

 

“Jonghyuk-ah, it smells really nice.” Kim Dokja sniffed and swallowed his excessively produced saliva while trying to convince Yoo Jonghyuk to let him a taste before dinner, “Can I have one?”

 

“No. Dinner's nearly ready. You wait.” However, Yoo Jonghyuk ruthlessly pushed Kim Dokja’s head away from the frying pan and asked him to set up the dinnerware. Kim Dokja leisurely took the bowls and cutlery out while waiting for him to finish cooking.

 

Not long after, everything was ready. Yoo Jonghyuk called out for Yoo Miah who was still hiding in her room.

 

“Miah, dinner.”

 

Immediately after Yoo Jonghyuk opened his mouth, Yoo Miah, who had changed her clothes into a pink pajama with white rabbit patterns and concealed her slightly swollen eyes, ran down the stairs into the kitchen. Her double pigtail bunches fluttered in the air as she moved. 

 

“Oppa. I miss you.” Yoo Miah tightly snuggled into Yoo Jonghyuk’s chest and gave him a tight hug while looking at Kim Dokja with an ominous gaze in her eyes.

 

“Sit down Miah.” Yoo Jonghyuk freed himself from her hug and pushed her down onto a chair.

 

“Here, have this. Your favorite soup.” Yoo Jonghyuk placed a bowl of hot vegetable soup in front of Yoo Miah before sitting down.

 

“Thank you oppa. I love your soup the most.” Yoo Miah brightly smiled and carefully blew and cooled down the hot soup before putting it in her mouth.  

 

However, dinner couldn’t start right away as the phone started ringing in his pocket.

 

“These annoying bastards…” Yoo Jonghyuk pulled out his phone and attempted to press down on the red button.

 

Kim Dokja glanced over the screen where it showed the incoming call phone number. Yoo Jonghyuk wouldn’t bother to remember or save their phone numbers but Kim Dokja was different. He instantly realized that the phone number belonged to the CEO of the company that Yoo Jonghyuk currently signed the contract with.

 

Kim Dokja held Yoo Jonghyuk’s hand and was able to stop him in time, “You should pick up the call Jonghyuk-ah.” and tried to convince him to answer the call. The CEO wouldn’t make a call at this hour for useless conversation.

 

“If you said so.” Yoo Jonghyuk unwillingly stood up from his chair and went outside to answer the call after gently stroking Kim Dokja’s hair, “Eat first, don’t wait.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

As soon as Yoo Jonghyuk went out to pick up the phone, Yoo Miah vigorously slammed her spoon down the table while hostilely glared at Kim Dokja and expressed the grudge she bore against him as if she wanted to bite his head off. She surely hid her emotions well in front of Yoo Jonghyuk. 

 

“Kim Dokja, what do you want from oppa?” She asked while gritting her teeth so hard that it emitted some uncomfortable ‘Grrr’ sound.

 

Kim Dokja frowned and formed a blanked expression at her question.

 

“What do you mean?” He asked back for an explanation or at least a clarification.

 

Maybe his question was not the thing Yoo Miah was looking for, she instantly shot up from the chair, pointed her finger at Kim Dokja’s face, and shouted. Supposedly, she was afraid that he couldn’t hear clearly what she said.

 

“Don’t act in front of me, you bastard.” Yoo Miah hated this man, who always acted innocently and smiled at her as nothing happened no matter how harshly she talked to him. Sometimes, she wondered if he had a heart or not because he didn’t seem to be hurt by her words at all.

 

“I know exactly that you are the one who caused oppa’s suffering.” Yoo Miah knew for a long time that her brother, Yoo Jonghyuk was a regressor and had to live through countless misery. Every regression round, Yoo Jonghyuk would have to see his companions lose their lives from time to time without being able to do anything. Their deaths haunted Yoo Jonghyuk and turned him from a virtuous person to a half-mad man who could never have a sound sleep at night. She also knew that Kim Dokja was the one who was responsible for it because he was the one who created this god damn world as well as the one who gave her brother the stigma [Regressor]. 

 

Kim Dokja stunted and opened his mouth but couldn’t say anything because it wasn’t all lies. Yoo Miah saw this as admission for his guilt and continued to say.

 

“After oppa was free from his hardship, you once again caused him to bury himself into it.” After the scenario had ended, Yoo Miah dreamed about her happy life with her brother. Yoo Jonghyuk was still very caring and gentle toward her but sometimes he would blankly look at the sky as if he lost something important.

 

Yoo Miah didn’t understand that, she thought he said that she was the most precious thing to him, so what or who he was looking for. Since then, Yoo Miah started living with the fear of him leaving her one day.

 

And that day really did come.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk disappeared without saying anything. Yoo Miah didn’t remember how much she cried that day but she could clearly remember how angry she was when Yoo Jonghyuk decided to travel through millions of worldlines trying to save Kim Dokja without even looking back once.

 

“But then, after all of that, you seem not to be satisfied with that and keep sticking to oppa. What do you think you are to oppa that gives you the qualification to interfere with his life? What else do you want from oppa now? Can you just spare him?” Yoo Miah screamed her lungs out as her voice cords collided harshly into each other.

 

When Yoo Jonghyuk finally came back, Yoo Miah hoped that he had finally resolved his problem and they could live happily now. But Kim Dokja butted in her desired life again. He not only dared to live in the same house with them, but also dared to steal the attention from Yoo Jonghyuk, her dear brother. Yoo Jonghyuk’s home-cooked meal, Yoo Jonghyuk’s head patting, Yoo Jonghyuk’s rare smile, and many more were no longer her anymore and Yoo Miah despited that.

 

“Please don’t steal him from me.” Yoo Miah was desperate. She slightly crouched down looking at the bowl of steaming soup that was given to her by her dear brother a while ago.

 

At first, Yoo Miah also didn’t know why she felt like that, but from the moment she accidentally saw them kissing each other passionately, she finally understood those complex emotions.

 

Being born as an orphan, she only had Yoo Jonghyuk as a family member. She would have no one else to care for and that would care for her if he disappeared. From the moment she was able to recognize the surrounding world, Yoo Jonghyuk was there and he was always there.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk was everything she had.

 

But what if Kim Dokja came and took him away, didn’t it mean that she would lose everything. Yoo Miah wouldn’t let herself lose everything. Yoo Miah wouldn’t let herself be abandoned.

 

“Tell me, Kim Dokja. If the reason for you to go after him was his contracts, then how much money do you want to get out of his life?” Yoo Miah furiously said while hyperventilated after talking too fast and being too emotional. She couldn’t interpret what she was saying anymore. It might just be some nonsense, unrelated words uttered out her mouth without being checked by her brain. 

 

Kim Dokja rapidly blinked, opened and closed his mouth multiple times before letting out a heavy sigh. After hearing all of that, Kim Dokja finally got his head around Yoo Miah’s attitude toward him. He suddenly wanted to laugh out loud but it would be inappropriate at the moment. 

 

She was just a kid who was frightened to be alone. Kim Dokja felt sympathy for her because he used to be the same, he didn’t want to be left behind. He literally stole , Kim Dokja tried to use her word, her most important person from her, so he didn’t expect her to be kind to him either.

 

However, Kim Dokja couldn’t handle the fact that Yoo Miah saw her dear brother as an object that she had the ownership over and wanted him to give a price upon Yoo Jonghyuk’s existence. If she wanted to know how much Yoo Jonghyuk was worth, his answer was priceless.

 

“Listen Miah.” Kim Dokja nonchalantly smiled while pointing his finger to himself and then Yoo Miah, “Yoo Jonghyuk doesn’t belong to anyone, not me nor you. Yoo Jonghyuk belongs to himself.”

 

Without letting her have the chance to talk back, Kim Dokja continued.

 

“However, if you want to keep talking about money.” He slowly raised his voice and curved his lips a bit, like a passive-aggressive person, “Then give me a price, no matter how much it is, I willingly use my whole life to pay for it.”

 

“You..you.” Yoo Miah stammered.

 

“Come on Miah, you are the one who came up with this idea first, didn’t you?” Kim Dokja smirked, squinting his eyes at her.

 

Yoo Miah was also not the type of person who would wait for other people to step upon herself. She unhesitantly grabbed a bowl of hot soup nearby and threw at him just to scare him away and defended herself.

 

Kim Dokja was tempted to duck but the anger with stubbornness exargatting in his chest prevented him from doing so, and Kim Dokja decided to close his eyes and let it hit him this time. He didn’t want to back off either. 

 

Then he heard a ‘Thud’ followed by a ‘Crack’ of something dropped on the floor and shattered.

 

Kim Dokja was waiting for pain or at least something hot splashed at him but nothing happened.

 

As he curiously opened his eyes, he saw a big hand with many scars protecting him, hot soups spilt out on the table and pieces of the broken bowl on the floor. He also saw the frown Yoo Jonghyuk standing in between him and Yoo Miah. If Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t notice the weird noise inside the kitchen and rushed in in time, Kim Dokja was probably burnt by the soup.

 

“What are you doing? Why don’t you dodge?” His voice was shaking. Yoo Jonghyuk wasn’t sure if it was anger or worry.

 

“I..”

 

“Didn’t you see that big bowl?” It sounded like Yoo Jonghyuk was yelling, not talking anymore.

 

Kim Dokja lowered his head and didn’t say anything.

 

“Oppa.” Yoo Miah terrified reached out to Yoo Jonghyuk. She didn’t expect things would turn this way.

 

“Kim Dokja. Explain...” As Yoo Jonghyuk tried to get the hang of what happened between his lover and his little sister, Kim Dokja calmly walked out of the kitchen and headed toward the front door.

 

“Kim Dokja.” Yoo Jonghyuk loudly yelled.

 

Kim Dokja could hear it very well but he unwaveringly opened the front door and started running. Yoo Jonghyuk tried to get out of the house but was unable to because Yoo Miah was pulling him back while bursting into tears. He was tormented by the conflict of chasing after Kim Dokja or staying with Yoo Miah as he painfully screamed out Kim Dokja’s name again.

 

Kim Dokja ran, ran as fast as he could to cool his head down in the shivering night. Adrenaline coursed through his vein forcing his throbbing heart to pump faster, forcing his lungs to breathe more rapidly and forcing his muscles to use up all of its stored energy.

 

After running for a while, Kim Dokja reached the bottom of his stamina and decided to make a stop for the run. He was sweating like crazy, sweat covered his face, rolling down his neck and wetted his newly worn shirt. 

 

Kim Dokja was also a fool.

 

Kim Dokja was mad because Yoo Jonghyuk only shouted at him asking why didn’t he dodge the soup instead of asking why Yoo Miah threw it in the first place.

 

Kim Dokja ran away because he didn’t know how to explain the situation.

 

Kim Dokja was sad because he could fracture the relationship between Yoo Jonghyuk and Yoo Miah. 

 

Lastly, Kim Dokja was crying because Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t choose to go after him and decided to stay even after telling him that he would never let Kim Dokja go again.

 

His eyes stung, the exact sensation he felt when he chopped the onion trying to cook up a decent lunch for Yoo Jonghyuk before Kim Dokja himself headed out for work. The meal wasn’t good as Kim Dokja thought it was going to be, or honestly said, horrible. But that evening when Kim Dokja came back home from work, Yoo Jonghyuk padded his head and said it wasn’t half-bad and still edible. That small compliment meant the world to Kim Dokja.

 

Then, Kim Dokja couldn’t distinguish which one was sweat and which one was tear on his face anymore. The more Kim Dokja thought about that, the harder he cried. It had been a while since he last cried like a baby like that.

 

As Kim Dokja looked around, he recognized the street he was at. If he went straight and took the second turn on the right, he could go to the main road and catch a taxi to go somewhere. But Kim Dokja wanted to have some time alone, so he didn’t want to go to the common dorm and he had no money on hand to stay at a hotel.

 

Then where could he stay? Kim Dokja looked up at the flickering stars in the dark night sky. Those stars probably were just burning planets with nuclear fusion reactions taking place in their cores as he learned at school rather than the constellations who lost nearly all of their power. 

 

Right away, Kim Dokja founded someone who would offer him both comfort and free accommodation. Kim Dokja activated the private line that Celeana once gave him.

 

Chapter Text

 

About three weeks had passed since Celeana started secretly working in the Dark Stratum with her supervisors, ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Nora who would often knock her out during the process if she was trying too hard again. In Kim Dokja’s worldlines, the time was heading toward February, the last winter month, and to be exact it would be Kim Dokja ’s birthday in a few days. Hence Celeane decided to increase her intensity just a little bit and compensate before the time for the day so that she could spend her whole day with Kim Dokja .

 

As Celeana excitedly prepared for another round of kick-ass the system, a message popped up in her head notifying an incoming call from Kim Dokja. She wasn’t too surprised about the notification because she was the one who set up the private line and they also had called each other sometimes.

 

Celeana refrained from unfolding her [Fable] and picked up the call.

 

___ Celeana-noona. How are you?

 

She could hear Kim Dokja’s voice from the other end. His voice sounded low and husky as if he had screamed too much not long ago.  

 

___ Dokja-yah? What’s wrong?

 

Her instinct immediately told her that it wouldn’t be just a normal chatty call.

 

_ __ Celeana, can I come over to your place? I..

 

As expected, something wrong happened. Celeana interrupted Kim Dokja’s pellicular talk and told him to wait for a moment. She should be fast if Kim Dokja was in some sort of danger.

 

___ Dokja. Stay right where you are, I will be there in a sec. You can tell me things in detail later.

 

Celeana gave a quick explanation to Nora and ‘Secretive Plotter’ who were concerned because they could see a worried expression that clearly displayed on her face.

 

⸢Kim Dokja just called me. Please wait for me at home.⸥

 

Right after she had confirmed Kim Dokja’s coordination, Celeana disappeared. And in the blink of an eye, she was transported to his location. From above the air, Celeana could see the shivering Kim Dokja who was soaked in the smell of dried sweat, had nothing on his body except for the white t-shirt, black sweat pants, and a pair of slippers, and seemed to have cried.

 

⸢What are you doing outside at this hour?⸥ Celeana hastily approached Kim Dokja and casted a temperature control spell on him after holding his hands, ⸢Your hands are frozen.⸥

 

“Celeana. Thank you.” Kim Dokja weakly smiled to express his gratitude for instantly showing up when he needed help. His eyes were shaking with complex emotions.

 

⸢It’s nothing.⸥ Celeana gave Kim Dokja a hug that would comfort his lonely figure under the flickering road light, ⸢Let’s go. You will get sick if you stay outside any longer.⸥

 

Kim Dokja was holding onto Celeana’s hand for the whole way until they reached her room as if he was afraid to be left behind. Like a kid who was triggered by new things, Kim Dokja started looking around her moderately tidy room with a double-size bed and a big table with stacks of paper and books layering upon each other. She mainly used this room for paperwork and sleeping.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ and Nora who had come home a while ago were waiting for Celeana. Nora comfortably sat on the bed and ‘Secretive Plotter’ leaning on the wall with crossed arms immediately questioned after seeing Celeana come back with Kim Dokja of the third regression line.

 

[[What’s he doing here?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t even try to hide his deadly warning gaze shooting toward both of them.

 

“I’m very sorry for disturbing you again.” Kim Dokja politely bowed to ‘Secretive Plotter’ while avoiding his glare, “I have a bit of an issue recently and would like to ask for a favor to stay over for a few days.”

 

[[So you want to stay here?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ raised his brow and looked at Kim Dokja who was clearly avoiding to look at him.

 

“Yes, please. I would appreciate your help.” Kim Dokja bowed again.

 

[[ I don’t...]] As ‘Secretive Plotter’ hadn’t finished his sentence yet, Celeana butted in.

 

⸢If you don’t want Kim Dokja to stay here, I will go somewhere else with him.⸥ Celeana stood in front of Kim Dokja to block him from ‘Secretive Plotter’. She also had some money with her, so a hotel room for two wouldn’t be a big deal.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ had met her long enough to know she would actually do what she said. But Kim Dokja would become furious and highly likely to go over and stay with her. And if Kim Dokja went there, the others would as well and this house would become empty. So what would be the point of having a house when its owners stayed in a hotel and left it alone crying in a corner of the city.

 

[[I will allow it this time.]] He coldly said and shifted his sight away from them.

 

⸢See, it’s all good.⸥ Celeana turned around and satisfied smiled at Kim Dokja.

 

“Thank you very much, ‘Secretive Plotter’.” Kim Dokja looked genuinely relieved as ‘Secretive Plotter’ was still such a scary person to him.

 

⸢Nora, can you take him to the bathroom and lend him one of your pajama?⸥ Celeana actively assigned Nora and Kim Dokja to the bathroom after giving a heavy pat on their backs, ⸢And Dokja, you should take a hot bath for now, okay, remember the water must be hot.⸥

 

Celeana opened the door and pushed both Nora and Kim Dokja out.

 

⸢I will see you later Dokja-yah.⸥ Celeana waved.

 

As they were gone, Celeana changed her dirty clothes into a pajama, so she could pretend to be at home all night when she had to go and explain what happened to the family members in the morning.

 

⸢You could go and rest now. We will finish early today.⸥ Celeana walked up to ‘Secretive Plotter’ who was just staring at the pit dark night ready to swallow everything on its way and tried to push him out as well.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ reacted to the faint heat emanating off her hands that vaguely touched his bare skin and stood straight up from the wall to walk to the door.

 

[[What if I didn’t allow Kim Dokja to stay?]] He asked. For some reason, ‘Secretive Plotter’ wanted to know if his previous guess was correct. He turned his head to inquisitively look at the woman standing behind and easily pushed him up with her small hands completely to the corridor as if he was confident and could read her mind.

 

But maybe, even ‘Secretive Plotter’ sometimes would make a mistake.

 

⸢Even if you don’t, I will let him stay anyway.⸥ Mischief tugged the corner of her lips up and formed a playful grin. Celeana’s deep green eyes were also sparkling with teasing intentions. There was no way Celeana would give ‘Secretive Plotter’ the answer he wanted or that was he thought. Or at least, their relationship wasn’t that good to tell him what she actually thought. This man, she was certain that he was trying to dig something out of her mouth.

 

[[You.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ exhaled loudly in stupefaction and unleashed his cross arms trying to grab her.

 

Even so, before he could scold her or break her head off for teasing him or at least do something in return, Celeana had slammed the door close in front of his nose and said in a very joyful tone.

 

⸢Good night!⸥

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ took in a few deep breaths to calm himself down and control the urge to crash the door. He intended to knock on the door to call her out. Still, he wasn't sure exactly how to respond to her tease. He didn’t know what to say back. He wouldn’t be able to win against her when she was fully conscious. And he shouldn’t hit her either if he wanted Kim Dokja and the others scold him about that later on. As ‘Secretive Plotter’ was stuck between a rock and a hard place, he reluctantly came back to his room and took a rest to forget that imbecile face of her. 

 

After taking his second bath of the day, Kim Dokja went back to the room he first came to. Kim Dokja tried to walk as quietly as possible on the corridor as it was already past midnight and he wouldn’t want to wake anyone up for his intrusion. As he turned the golden doorknob clockwise to get inside the room, soft light hit his face and covered his sensation receptors with a nostalgic feeling like when he was still dreaming endlessly somewhere far away.

 

⸢Dokja, come here.⸥ Celeana patted the free spot on the bed beside her and as soon as Kim Dokja sat down, she gave him a mug of steaming hot liquid.

 

His hand faintly trembled as he received the hot-to-the-touch ceramic mug filled with dark indulgent chocolate mixing with the creamy white milk and mini marshmallow on the top. Kim Dokja took a sip of the thick and glossy brownish liquid. He froze for a moment due to an explosion of flavors coated on his tongue. It was warm, rich, velvety, and comforting. It tasted like home. The hot chocolate quickly diminished and left Kim Dokja a bit of regret for drinking it too fast. Sometimes, things were too good to just have one.

 

Celeana smiled as she was pleased, curving her eyes into a semilunar shape and chin resting on her hand. ⸢Isn’t it nice? Do you like it?⸥ This was her special recipe that she always made for her disciples when they were still young and cute on a cold winter day or just simply a treat to brighten up the day.

 

“I like it a lot, Celeana.” Kim Dokja satisfied felt the warmth and sweet aftertaste from his stomach spreading to every single cell in his body.

 

⸢I’m happy that you like it. If you stay here, you can have it with little Dokja-yah before going to bed.⸥ Celeana cheekily winked while taking the empty mug from his hand and put it on the bedside table.

 

“Little Dokja?” Kim Dokja unknowingly spoke out his thoughts while looking for the answer in his memory, “Ah, ‘Oldest Dream’.” He was positive with his guess. That sounded about right because this place was owned by ‘Secretive Plotter’. But that also meant that Celeana was living with ‘Oldest Dream’, ‘Secretive Plotter’ and the ‘Kings of Outer Gods’ for the whole time. Kim Dokja widened his eyes at her.

 

⸢You are spot on.⸥ Celeana nodded to confirm his suspicion.

 

“But I thought that it was only temporary.” Kim Dokja looked sulky, “That’s why you have never visited us.”

 

⸢Not that, Dokja-yah. I’m actually, really busy.⸥ Celeana startled and began to stumble over the word.

 

“You liar.” Kim Dokja crossed his arms, turned away, and lowered his head to avoid eye contact with her. This Kim Dokja and little Kim Dokja shared the same habits when they were upset about something despite their big gap of age.

 

Celeana flustered and felt like she was in hot water. She didn’t want this misunderstanding at all. She chose to stay here not only because of Kim Dokja and convenience but she also didn’t like to disrupt Kim Dokja’s love life in the 1864th worldline if nothing major happened.

 

⸢Dokja-yah. Don’t be mad.⸥ Celeana begged and jumped up from her laid-back sitting position, ⸢I swear I’m telling the truth. You can ask Nora or Plotty. I did really work hard recently, not because I don’t want to see you.⸥ Her hands were flapping and stimming in the air like a little bird trying to fly for the first time.

 

Kim Dokja couldn’t help but cover his mouth to stop the laughter bursting out. His heavy mood was unwaveringly lifted.

 

⸢I promise I will stay over when we come back.⸥ Celeana clasped both hands together and looked at him with enlarged, pitiful eyes, ⸢Please believe in me this time.⸥

 

“Alright.” Kim Dokja accepted her pledge and slowly pictured a schedule to keep her visit as long as possible to compensate for the time she only spent with ‘Oldest Dream’. Additionally, he wanted his companions to officially meet Celeana at least once, or else they would keep being suspicious about his story as well as the identity of the person named Celeana as well.

 

Celeana bent her head down to the same level as his eye level and attempted to inspect what he was truly feeling. The clouded black iris was gradually gaining back some of its original vitality. But it wasn’t the end of the night here.

 

⸢Dokja-yah.⸥ Celeana slowly called his name and raised the question. She wouldn’t force Kim Dokja to tell her if he didn’t want to, ⸢What’s happened tonight?⸥

 

The faint light deep down his eyes vanished as soon as Celeana opened her mouth. Celeana could see that Kim Dokja wasn’t ready. She kneeled up to embrace him, letting his head rest on her shoulder while carefully patting his back.

 

⸢Everything will be alright, Dokja-yah.⸥ Her voice was soft and murmurous as angel's feathers fluttered in the morning breeze. Kim Dokja closed his eyes and enjoyed the peaceful moment. The gentle strokes of her slender fingers in his hair, the melodious and loving whispering in his ears, the secure arms holding him tight always made him feel safe.

 

They all reminded him of the one he loved dearly. Sentimentality hit Kim Dokja hard and his face became tearful. Once the first tear broke through the gate, the rest just followed in an endless stream, creating a huge pool on her shoulder. 

 

In a quavering and broken voice that sounded like a stormy rain, Kim Dokja took his time to tell her what had happened in the past 3 months, how the fight broke out between him and Yoo Miah and how he ended up calling her for help. The memory flooded inside his head making him gagging for oxygen as his lungs were depleted. Celeana gave her small feedback along the way while stroking his hair from time to time, in an attempt to calm the raging war within his mind.

 

Celeana knew that Kim Dokja had a very weak mental state due to his heartbroken past. Meanwhile, in the scenario, Kim Dokja was only able to overcome the emotional stress because [Fourth Wall] had always been there to protect his mind and not allow it to collapse. However, now, [Fourth Wall] was no longer there to suppress his overflowing feelings, Kim Dokja broke down under the pressure of them, similar to how her mind wanting to go crazy as she unfolded her hidden [Fable]. Kim Dokja hadn’t known how to cope with them yet. It was hard for him to stay back and explain as well because no matter who Yoo Jonghyuk chose to support, it would be awkward and even stretched out the already existing distance between their relationships and Yoo Miah.

 

But Celeana couldn’t blame Yoo Jonghyuk either. She probably could blame him for not chasing after Kim Dokja after making such a romantic vow in the Dark Stratum. But he also couldn’t leave his sister as she was the only biological family member of him. Yoo Miah was the only one that helped him grasp on the hope of him being an offspring formed by two actual human beings and not a product of some witchcraft. It was the same with Yoo Miah, Yoo Jonghyuk was also a special person to her, probably someone that was similar to a God.

 

Even so, this wouldn’t happen in the first place if Yoo Jonghyuk and Kim Dokja publicly announced their relationship. It would be a great shock for Yoo Miah but letting her see them confronting themselves like that while slowly explaining things to her would help a lot. Celeana guessed Yoo Miah might feel less betrayed if they told her first instead of finding out the secret herself. If they tried to work hard to share their feelings, maybe Kim Dokja wouldn’t have to run away from home, Yoo Jonghyuk wouldn’t have to feel like he had to choose between the two, and Yoo Miah wouldn’t have to live with regret for the rest of her life.

 

Thoughts rushed through her mind like an express train hastily passing the station without stopping as she felt Kim Dokja’s breathing become normal and his body ceased from shaking. She moved her legs a bit into a more comfortable position making his body leaned forward.

 

⸢Do you regret Dokja-yah?⸥ Without beating around the bush, Celeana straightforwardly said her thought out loud.

 

Kim Dokja frowned. Celeana could feel his face paused snuggling into her silvery-white hair. Then, she could hear a small but determinant answer from him.

 

“No. I would never regret it.” Kim Dokja refrained from her embrace and sat up. He looked straight into her eyes while biting his pale lips.

 

Kim Dokja would never regret it. Even if it was all because of his selfishness that led to the sorrow they suffered now. But whenever Kim Dokja looked back at the time he spent both in and after the scenario with his companions, ally constellations, and Yoo Jonghyuk, every moment was an ounce of happiness that he had never tasted before and very likely wouldn’t be able to experience if these agonizing scenarios didn’t exist. The weakness that Kim Dokja always wanted to get rid of had become the power, the last chain, and the reason to not give up on Yoo Jonghyuk and bound their souls together. 

 

“I will not stop loving him even if someone ripped my heart off.” Assertion built up from the hole within his heart. 

 

“But if I was reborn again, I wish we could meet in a gentler world.” Resolute words slowly became a spirited desire for a better-unseen afterlife. 

 

⸢I’m glad that you made up your mind.⸥ Celeana grinned brighter than ever and grabbed his hands firmly, ⸢I believe your choice was correct.⸥

 

Kim Dokja chose to continue fighting against the harsh reality. Celeana also chose to fight against fate.

 

No matter how hurt she felt, no matter how many times she failed, Celeana got no choice but to stand up again. Because there was something she needed to protect, there was a truth that she wanted to discover, and there was someone who she believed to be waiting for her to bring them back to life.

 

And so was Kim Dokja. He had a family that he treasured, a person that he loved deeply, and a home waiting for its co-owner to go back.

 

Celeana caressed his swollen eyes and cleaned his smeared face. Kim Dokja felt his eyelids getting heavier and heavier wanting to close down as if crying drained out all of his energy. She laid him down on the bed and tucked the blanket before she turned off the light.

 

Kim Dokja finally soundly slept after a long day although he had thought that tonight might be a sleepless night for him.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

After making sure Kim Dokja had gone to deep sleep, Celeana silently left her bedroom and went to the living room where no one should be in at the moment. As she shifted her gaze to the clock pointing at 3.30 a.m, her translucent sparkling dust appeared in the air and opened a screen observing the abnormal third regression worldline. 

 

On Earth, 1864th worldline, right after Kim Dokja ran out of the house and Yoo Jonghyuk tried his best to settle down his crying little sister, he immediately rushed outside with hope that Kim Dokja was still in the neighborhood and hadn’t gone somewhere else. Because Yoo Jonghyuk knew for sure that with Kim Dokja’s stamina, he wouldn’t be able to go far.

 

However, it was too bad for Yoo Jonghyuk that his prediction was completely wrong this time. He ran and ran over the neighborhood many times, he even headed to the main road trying to look for Kim Dokja. With the thought that Kim Dokja might have gone somewhere else to stay over the night, Yoo Jonghyuk decided to ask others for help.

 

But he quickly realized that he didn’t have their phone numbers. He pushed his way home as quickly as possible without looking around for cars or other pedestrians as if he wanted to punish himself for being ignorant and didn’t save or remember any phone numbers.

 

He didn’t know if he could describe it as lucky or not but Kim Dokja left his phone at home. Yoo Jonghyuk accessed his contacts and tried to call all of their companions whether they were still up or already asleep. Some picked it up because it was very rare that Kim Dokja would actively call them, especially at night time when he should be at home and cuddling up with his lover.

 

Within the span of minutes, some became all as the news of Kim Dokja’s runaway was shocking, awful and infuriated.

 

Members of <Kim Dokja’s Company> divided into groups and searched for Kim Dokja high and low. They even abused the government status to request all the accommodation where Kim Dokja could possibly stay to let them see the incoming guest's name and also camera footage of the night. Constellations also spread the information around, so that if anyone spotted Kim Dokja, they would be contacted right away.

 

However, when the night had passed and the morning was coming, no trace of Kim Dokja was found.

 

“Shit, did Kim Dokja-ssi just vanish into thin air???” Jung Heewon angrily gripped her head, shoved her tangled and undone hair into the bun again. 

 

Han Sooyoung who stood next to her mumbled ‘vanish again’ a few times and then immediately snapped her finger as if Jung Heewon just gave out some useful hints while she merged herself in frustration.

 

“You are a genius Heewon-ssi. I totally forgot about her.” Han Sooyoung quickly pressed a name on the phone and made a call.

 

“Who are you talking about?” Jung Heewon froze in confusion.

 

“Celeana-nim that Kim Dokja used to talk about.” Han Sooyoung quickly filled in the gap of Jung Heewon’s memory gap.

 

Han Sooyoung could see a light bulb lighten up on top of Jung Heewon’s head as he screamed, “You are right. Celeana-nim should know something. But how can we contact her.” Jung Heewon once again fell down the rabbit hole. She hadn’t slept for the whole night, so didn’t judge her if her mind wasn’t too bright.

 

Han Sooyoung didn’t answer her as the other side picked up the phone.

 

[Did you find anything Sooyoung-ssi?] A tight voice emitted from the phone.

 

“Biyu. Can you contact Celeana-nim?” Han Sooyoung went straight to the problem.

 

[I did a while ago. But she didn’t pick up. I can try again.] Biyu felt like she would cry at any moment.

 

“Alright. Contact me as soon as possible if she picks up.”

 

Han Sooyoung ended the call while looking at the sun like a fireball burning off darkness went up the horizon. Then, she ended up swearing loudly as if she wanted Kim Dokja to hear it wherever he was.

 

Celeana didn’t pick up the previous calls from Biyu because she was comforting Kim Dokja at the time. And she partly just wanted to prank Yoo Jonghyuk who was having two big panda eyes, so that he wouldn’t dare to let his eyes off Kim Dokja later in the future.

 

A notification popped up in her head and she fluently connected the private line. From the other side of the line, Biyu was sniffing her nose constantly as if she was crying.

 

__ Masterrrr. Help meee. 

 

Her voice dragged out long and lengthy. 

 

__ What’s happened Biyu?

 

She twitched her voice a bit, so that it would sound concerned.

 

__ Long story short, father ran away and we couldn’t find him anywhere. Do you see him?

 

__ Dokja??? He ran away. What’s happened?

 

She kept acting like she had no idea of the situation. Yet the frustration and anger in her voice were real.

 

__ You didn’t know it either. We screwed.

 

Biyu was literally crying on the other side of the phone. Celeana also could see how pale Yoo Jonghyuk, the one who was close to Biyu, turned around and a hole stunningly appeared on the brick wall beside him.

 

__ But I didn’t say I don’t know where he is.

 

Biyu’s face slowly cheered up.

 

__ Dokja is sleeping at my place. 

 

__ Master, you scared the heck out of me.

 

After hearing that, the heavy stone weighed on her chest was finally lifted up.

 

Biyu then excitedly told other people not to worry and Kim Dokja’s safety and where about was guaranteed. But of course, they doubted the trustworthiness of Celeana who they had never met before.

 

Celeana assumed she might need evidence to confront herself from their suspicion. Sparkles vigorously vibrated in the air and in a split second, members of <Kim Dokja’s Company> from all over the city mysteriously gathered in one place, their common dorm.

 

“What the fuck?” Han Sooyoung bluntly cursed the goddamn thing that just happened while she looked at the familiar room. 

 

Lee Hyunsung and Jung Heewoon also seemed dumb-founded.

 

As they looked around at each other with widened eyes as if they wanted to ask if anyone knew how they got home. The only thing they remember was having someone say ‘Please stay calm during teleportation’ in their heads.

 

“What’s happened?” Lee Jihye startled, pointed at other people in different groups that she hadn’t seen since last night till a second ago. 

 

However, in contrast to the nervous Lee Jihye, Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung excitedly looked at Biyu who unintentionally to be next to them was confidently explaining the spell.

 

“Woa. So this is teleportation like in the movie.” Lee Gilyoung thrillingly clapped his hands while smiling brightly. 

 

Shin Yoosung pouted at him and criticized his childishness , “You are such a kid, Gilyoung.” However, Shin Yoosung herself also couldn’t hide her sparkling eyes of anticipation.

 

“Look at who is talking.” Lee Gilyoung raised his head and smirked as if he could embarrass her this round, “You are also having fun.”

 

Shin Yoosung didn’t want to lose Lee Gilyoung in an argument either, hence in the early morning, another civil war began.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk who might have experienced transportation before silently looked at the space of the room where he vaguely felt Celeana’s distinguished aura. She wasn’t even trying to hide her presence as she leisurely stood next to him and chuckled at the kids making a fuse. People in the room hadn’t noticed her yet because they were busy frowning at each other.

 

As Yoo Jonghyuk turned around to greet her, people started moving their gaze to the unfamiliar person that they hadn’t ever seen before. A woman in a white cloak with white silvery hair and dark green eyes that looked rather natural indicating that she at least wasn’t from Korea.

 

“Who is she?” Everyone tried to match her appearance up to all the people in their memory. But they only heard about one woman in a white cloak, so it should be her.

 

“Long time no see, Celeana-ssi.” Yoo Jonghyuk calmly nodded at her.

 

But he wasn’t the only one who had met her before. Biyu could proudly say that she was closer to Celeana than Yoo Jonghyuk. Biyu quickly made her way from the other side of the room to where the two were standing. Without any hesitation, Biyu jumped up as if she was still young to cling to Celeana's neck and kissed her on the cheek.

 

[Master. I miss you so much.]

 

Celeana gladly gave Biyu a hug before putting her down on the ground. By force of habit that carved into her bone, Celeana courteously bowed with one leg behind slightly bent down and both of her hands clenching on the left hip as if there was a sword there. Even though she rarely used swords anymore, old habits die hard.

 

⸢I’m Celeana. Kim Dokja’s acquaintance.⸥ She gently introduced herself with a delicate voice like silver bells and a heart warming smile, ⸢Nice to meet you all.⸥

 

They astonishedly looked at the supposedly saintly but very friendly Celeana who beamed with delighted. They had never thought that Kim Dokja or Biyu’s description of her would be so accurate because why would a powerful being act admirably to normal people like them.

 

Gil Leeyoung and Shin Yoosung were the first ones to approach her. They both mannerly bowed while secretly looking at her face up close from underneath their lashes.

 

“Nice to see you, Celeana-nim. I’m Lee Gilyoung.”

 

“My name is Shin Yoosung. I’m Kim Dokja-ahjusii’s comrade.”

 

Celeana shook the kids’ hands because they were old enough to be treated as actual adults and they seemed pleased with this greeting gesture.

 

⸢Kim Dokja mentioned you two a lot.⸥ Celeana gave a small comment, ⸢He like you two a lot.⸥

 

“Did he say which one of us he likes more?” Lee Gilyoung asked with fires burning in his eyes.

 

Celeana curved her lips up into a playful smile. ⸢Do you want to have a guess?⸥

 

Shin Yoosung immediately tossed her hair back, “Of course, I am.” She said in a way of an absolute winner.

 

“In your dream.” Lee Gilyoung intended to shoot back and claimed his victory but had to stop in the middle as he received a firm hit on the head by none other than Han Sooyoung.

 

“Stop bickering.” Han Sooyoung was telling-off their constant argument as they were not here to know which one of them would win the contest.

 

Then she turned over to Celeana and also gave her a handshake.

 

“I’m Han Sooyoung. Thank you for taking care of the Dokja bastard.”

 

⸢I read the novel that you uploaded to ‘Cloud System’. It was really good, even without an end.⸥ Celeana nonchalantly complimented the work that Han Sooyoung wasn’t able to upload the final chapters.

 

“Thank you.” She slightly nodded and moved away for the rest of the people to come over.

 

Next was Lee Jihye who had regained her composure.

 

“Hi, I’m Lee Jihye.” 

 

⸢Happy to see you Jihye.⸥

 

Then, only Jung Heewon and Lee Hyunsung were left. They stepped up at the same time as sword and shield would always go together.

 

“Thank you for helping Dokja-ssi. I’m Jung Heewon.”

 

“My name is Lee Hyunsung.”

 

⸢I’m glad to see you both, Heewon-ssi, Hyunsung-ssi.⸥

 

After the introduction, Celeana went straight to the main purpose of the sudden encounter. Her eyes glanced around the room and quickly picked up on their strained face. They probably were still worried about Kim Dokja unless they could see him with their own eyes. But Kim Dokja refused to meet anyone here at the moment, so there was only one option for her. Translucent sparkling dust emitted from her fingertips turned into a screen streaming the room where Kim Dokja was staying.

 

They came closer to have a better look at the big screen. They could see Kim Dokja peacefully sleeping face reflecting under the faint moonlight. They could also hear his little snore and mumble while asleep making their hearts stuck at the throat come back to their places in the chest. Some of them extended their hands with the hope that they could reach him this way but the only thing they could grab was some mellow sensation.

 

⸢As you all see, Kim Dokja is safe and sound. But he doesn’t want to see anyone at the moment.⸥ Celeana tried to look as reliable as possible so that they would rest assuredly while Kim Dokja also had his mini-vacation, ⸢However, I promised in the presence of all people here, will bring him back without a scratch when he recovered.⸥

 

Celeana patted on Biyu’s shoulder to shift people’s attention on her, ⸢I couldn’t live stream him without his permission, so if anyone still worried, you can check up with me through Biyu.⸥ 

 

Biyu stood tall and jokingly performed a salute gesture trying to break up the pressure that persisted in the atmosphere.

 

[I understand Master.]

 

Kim Dokja’s companions peaked their gaze and communicated around by eyes. Then, they all agreed to choose to put their faith in her because she was the only one who knew the exact location of Kim Dokja and probably also the only one in this room who could go there. After a few more discussions, people left with easy and relaxed faces, in complete contrast to how they looked like after staying up and running around all last night.

 

However, Yoo Jonghyuk couldn’t leave yet. Celeana requested a private conversation with him, not even Biyu was allowed to eavesdrop. As Celeana casted a barrier around the room to create a confidential space, Yoo Jonghyuk’s eyes twitched continuously. There were only the two of them who stayed in the room but why Yoo Jonghyuk felt an immensely dominant presence slowly crept in that made even him shuddered.

 

This disgustingly formidable aura could only possibly come from one person.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk quickly ran his eyes over Celeana who still remained a kind smile on her face but slowly released her status, pressuring him to say something.

 

⸢Don’t you have something to explain to me, Yoo Jonghyuk.⸥ Her gaze was telling a different story to her smile. It’s freezingly cold. If a gaze could kill a person, he must have been dead a few times by now.

 

With an itchy feeling spiking down his skin, Yoo Jonghyuk knew what she wanted from him. So this was an interrogation.

 

“What do you want to know, Celeana-sii?” He suddenly called her with honorifics.

 

Celeana withdrew the breathless weight from him and permit him to sit down on the couch, ⸢Everything please.⸥

 

This would be a long story from Yoo Jonghyuk’s point of view. Celeana wanted to know if he totally understood and in control of his relationship with Kim Dokja. She didn’t want to step this far in their love story but Kim Dokja’s tears and dedication from last night eager her to put her hand in the pond and stirred it.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk honestly told her everything since the day they came back from the Dark Stratum. The details and flow of events were similar to Kim Dokja’s storytelling. Their perspective would be different because they were two different individuals. However, Celeana could easily spot on their common ground, they all felt happy and desired this relationship like how living organisms need oxygen to survive.

 

⸢Why didn’t you chase after him right away?⸥ Celeana wasn’t hesitant to expose his most complex obstacle. 

 

“I..” Yoo Jonghyuk gagged his own voice, “Miah was there.”

 

Celeana flinched at the stupidity of his response even though she really had expected this. Their reasoning was exactly the same. Kim Dokja also had predicted that Yoo Jonghyuk wouldn’t go after him right away.

 

Celeana was a greedy woman, she wanted everything to be in her hand.

 

Celeana was a manipulative woman, she wanted to involve everyone in her stories.

 

Hence, she hated this way of thinking. 

 

⸢Why didn’t you bring Miah along while chasing after him.⸥ Celeana approached Yoo Jonghyuk who was resting his chin on the clenched fist to slap his muscular arms, ⸢With these arms of your, Miah shouldn’t be heavy.⸥ 

 

Yoo Jonghyuk didn't know whether it was intentional or unintentional but the slap was very hurt. 

 

His fist squeezed more tightly. Celeana’s idea sounded ridiculous but she absolutely had her point there. If he had done it that way, maybe he could have kept Kim Dokja back and also not leave his little sister alone feeling like she was abandoned.

 

As if Celeana knew what he was thinking, she smirked.

 

⸢But do you know where was the main problem?⸥

 

Yoo Jonghyuk remained dead silent for a few minutes before giving out his answer. He thought hard about it.

 

“Wasn’t it because I didn’t let Miah know about our relationship?”

 

Celeana loudly clapped her hands together, ⸢Bingo!!!⸥, while kept staring at him as if she still wasn't satisfied with the answer.

 

⸢What are you going to do next?⸥

 

He knew that he needed to let everyone know about their relationship. It wouldn’t be difficult to tell their companions, but his little sister wouldn’t be that easy. And he wanted to surprise Kim Dokja with something when he came back but Yoo Jonghyuk hadn’t figured it out yet.

 

“Give me some time, I will give you a proper answer.” Yoo Jonghyuk clenched his fists while directly stared back at her.

 

Even though Celeana was used to seeing many handsome men, the sparkles emitting from the main character still managed to hurt her eyes. As she avoided damage from the sparkles, Celeana went away from Yoo Jonghyuk and withdrew the barrier.

 

⸢Alright. I will wait for your call through Biyu.⸥ Celeana took up his promise and prepared to leave. 

 

Yoo Jonghyuk also stood up to go home as he saw her figure started to disappear. He somehow felt slightly relieved as she had gone. Although she didn’t act like his Master - The Breaking the Sky Sword Saint and hit his butt every time they met which was the reason why he felt pressured to his own Master, but with Celeana, he didn’t what was the cause of the pressure.

 

“I will see you later, Celeana-ssi.”

 

Chapter Text

 

As Celeana returned to the living room, she uninspired laid down on the sofa. She tried to close her eyes and get some rest but she just couldn’t fall asleep. She was worried about how Kim Dokja would perceive Kim Dokja, the one who tried to kill him years ago. 

 

Consequently, when the clock slowly moved its hands to six o’clock, Celeana decided to go to the kitchen and cook up some breakfast for the family when she couldn’t force her eyelids to drop down. Her cooking skills were not top-notch as Yoo Jonghyuk or ‘Secretive Plotter’ but it was built over a long time and she also used ingredients that didn’t look like they came from this worldline.

 

After she chopped up some weird looking vegetables and herbs that can scream, some grains and a chicken-like bird but much more bigger and have six legs, she put them all in a big clay pot and shimmer it with fire emitted from her hand. Celeana looked like she was decocting a herbal potion rather than actual food but that was technically what she wanted to make, a rice porridge-like dish with plenty of nutrients and would break the ‘fast’ easily.

 

Lee Jihye was the first one to hurry into the kitchen because it was her turn to cook breakfast and she woke up late. However, as she saw Celeana’s pot of porridge on her in-air stove, she sat down on the nearby chair.

 

“Good morning Celeana-unnie.” Lee Jihye yawned while wiping her watery eyes in relief, “You save me this time.”

 

⸢Morning, Jihye.⸥ Celeana turned down the fire, just enough to keep the porridge warm, ⸢I’m just happened to wake up early today, so I made it. Do you want to have some first?⸥ She walked over to the cupboard and took some bowls out because other people should also come in a bit later. It had become a habit that they would have breakfast together in the morning.

 

“Yes, please.” Lee Jihye nodded her head while fetching herself some warm water to clear her soaring throat.

 

Right after that, Nora who followed the familiar smell came inside the kitchen.

 

⸢Woa, you cooked breakfast today, Master.⸥ His eyes emitted sparkles as he looked at the steaming bowl on Lee Jihye’s hands, ⸢I really missed the taste of it.⸥

 

Like a habit, Lee Jihye put her bowl out of his sight as a protective mechanism.

 

“Go and take your own. This is mine.” She warned.

 

However, Nora didn’t have time to reply to Lee Jihye as he was busy receiving the deadly glare from his beloved master.

 

⸢What do you mean, Nora?⸥ Celeana gently smiled and spooned a bowlful of porridge for him as if she said she would kill him if he didn’t eat it, ⸢Are you not having it?⸥.

 

But this was completely a misunderstanding because his reaction was a bit too much. Nora never meant to say her cooking was bad, he just simply missed the old days when she would also cook breakfast for her disciples including him.

 

⸢No Master, I will definitely eat it.⸥ Nora received his bowl and was going to sit on the nearest seat to her. He tried to look at her with his puppy eyes and explained hoping to clear her irritation, ⸢But you seemed to misunderstand, it wasn’t sarcasm.⸥

 

⸢Whatever, just sit down.⸥ Celeana pretended not to understand his explanation and turn over to Lee Jihye who was blowing her hot spoon of porridge, ⸢Jihye-ah, how does it taste?⸥

 

“It’s good.” She swallowed the porridge down after chewing the tender meat and vegetables in it while putting her thumb up, “It tastes differently from Master’s cooking but still very nice.”

 

Of course, the taste would be different because Celeana didn’t even use Earthy ingredients. But she was happy with the compliment.

 

As Nora tried to get her attention again but he was interrupted, it was time for the rest of the family to come in and have breakfast as usual. Maybe, the Goddess of Fortune was not on his side today.

 

Lee Hyunsung had an early shift today so he just said “Hi” before quickly finished off his bowl and went straight to work.

 

Kim Namwoon waved his hand to send Lee Hyunsung off for work. “See you later, Hyunsung-hyung.” He was constantly yawning as he stayed up to play games last night and went to bed really late.

 

“Namwoon, cover your mouth when yawning please.” Uriel nagged him for the first thing in the morning as she rubbed her wet hair with a towel. Every morning, she always took a shower after going for a run.

 

Kim Namwoon pouted his lips at her complaint and sat down with a hot bowl of porridge. While Uriel, who had become jaded to his rebellious personality, rolled her eyes and started eating.

 

As she sniffed the mild herbal aroma “It smells nice. What did you put in it, Jihye-yah?”

 

Kim Namwoon also nodded his head to agree with Uriel as he already devoured half of his portion.

 

“True, Jihye is such a talented chef.”

 

However, Lee Jihye denied to take on the praise for herself and corrected their statement.

 

“I overslept today so Celeana-unnie cooked it.”

 

“Ahjumma cooked it???” Kim Namwoon raised his voice in shock although he had eaten her cooking once already a few years back when they first met.

 

Celeana put a finger on her lips and made some ‘shhh’ noise.

 

⸢Don’t be loud Namwoon. The guest is sleeping.⸥

 

What guest??? They all have the same question in their head excluding Nora and the person who said it herself.

 

Kim Dokja , who just woke up, walked inside the kitchen and asked, “Who are you talking about noona?”. Following him was ‘Secretive Plotter’ who knew who it was but didn’t bother to answer and push the responsibility to her.

 

You reap what you sow. Celeana could clearly see the mockery behind his nonchalant face as he went past her to make a cup of black coffee.

 

As she faced the curious eyes of the family members, Celeana slowly explained last night's situation in the most simple way, so that Kim Dokja would be happily welcomed here. However, she was concerned about Kim Dokja or Oldest Dream, his old name, because he didn’t have a very pleasant first impression with Kim Dokja, who wanted to kill him. Even though it was an event occurred a couple of years ago, Kim Dokja was still a sensitive kid.

 

⸢Are you comfortable about that, Dokja-yah? ⸥ Celeana looked at Kim Dokja who was slowly munched on his second bowl with his head down, ⸢You don’t have to push yourself.⸥

 

Kim Dokja himself was debating. He partly wanted to let Kim Dokja stay because of Celeana. But he also partly didn’t want to see Kim Dokja again because of their horrible first encounter.

 

Oldest Dream was fearfully shaking in his dark shell.

 

Kim Dokja, who was choked on the unimaginable truth, tried to erase his existence.

 

However, running away was never an absolute solution. Oldest Dream could not do that forever if he wanted to live up to his name, Kim Dokja , not some modifier that he was given by the system. 

 

Kim Dokja raised his head and grinned.

 

“Of course, I have always wanted to talk with him for a long time.”

 

Celeana padded his head in satisfaction. Surely, time could cure all pain and even build braveness. Kim Dokja was growing out of his shell into a beaming sunflower.

 

If Kim Dokja, who held the greatest influence in this household didn’t oppose the sudden visit, then everyone else would certainly go along.

 

As everyone finished off their breakfast and went out for the day, Kim Dokja was still soundly sleeping in Celeana’s room, but she didn’t want to wake him up just to say hello to others as he must be exhausted from all the running and crying last night. Hence the only time they would officially meet each other was dinner time when everyone had gone home from work or school. That also would give her the time to prepare if anything bad happened as well. 

 

Finger cross, nothing will go wrong. Celeana swore to herself before she disappeared into the Dark Stratum to do whatever she usually did. She needed to speed up things a bit if she wanted to enjoy a leisure trip with Kim Dokja for his birthday which was perfectly on the weekend without secretly doing any work in between. Celeana also set an alarm that would notify her if Kim Dokja woke up and went out of the room.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ and Nora were already there and sat on their perspective positions that allowed them to easily monitor her situation while doing their work. If someone didn’t work, they shouldn’t eat because nothing in this world was free. Even the powerful [King of Outer God], ‘Secretive Plotter’ had to work if he wanted to make money that would support the household. But he didn’t let anyone know what kinds of tasks he did on his laptop. Nora also had his own homework given by Celeana to make sure that he didn’t slack off or else he would be sent home. 

 

As she settled down in a lotus position in front of a big screen unveiling all the existing and failed worldlines, her body started to glow and probability liked an unlimited stream steadily entered the scene and swept away the scenarios.

 

The [Fable] scattered into the obscure horizon like fireflies danced restlessly to show off their sad and tiny dim light hoping it would light up someone’s dreams and memories before being engulfed by the ominous darkness. Whilst, the announcement from the system continuously turned up to verify that her effort was worthwhile.

 

<The system in the applicable worldline no.165 is forcefully entering its extinction phase.>

 

No.38378, no.2792, no.489724, no.915, no.1274842, etc. The list usually kept going on till Celeana drained out her mental strength. After an unknown period of time, Celeana suddenly suppressed the probability and withdrew her eyes from the screen. 

 

[[Is he up already?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ was talking about their esteemed guest. If it wasn’t Kim Dokja, she wouldn’t even care enough to stop.

 

He was curious why Celeana dotted both Kim Dokja and Oldest Dream so much and why they were so close to her as well. ‘Secretive Plotter’ told himself that it wasn’t because he felt envious of her, but the sounds of his heartbeats told a different story.

 

A tale with no name about a man who tried to find his name.

 

A tale with no ending about a man who also looked for the last chapter of his long-going story.

 

A tale with its only reader was taken away from it by another version of itself. 

 

The man loved both the original and the twisted version of his stories and couldn’t choose between them.

 

Celeana stood up and adjusted her white cloak, ⸢Yeh, correct. Wanna go as well?⸥, she looked over ‘Secretive Plotter’ who was still typing something on his laptop.

 

[[No, I am good.]] He refused the offer.

 

⸢Nora, how about you?⸥

 

⸢You think I can go with this...⸥ Nora grumbled. On his desk was a thick stack of paper filled with words from an unknown language. He nearly kicked the bucket when he saw his homework for today. Her intention of not letting him go out and play was very obvious.

 

⸢Do your best, Nora!!! Fighting!!!⸥

 

Celeana encouraged him with a wicked curve of the lips before coming back to their house. Kim Dokja was sitting on the bed, absently looked outside the window. Celeana made some small noise while slowly approaching him to give him some cues that she was there.

 

⸢How are you feeling, Dokja?⸥

 

“Celeana-noona.” Kim Dokja’s spirit was lifted up a considerable amount after a good sleep.

 

Celeana was reassured by his pronounced dimples on one cheek. 

 

⸢You should be hungry. I made some porridge for you.⸥ Celeana led Kim Dokja to the kitchen and heated up the remaining porridge in the pot.

 

This was the first time Kim Dokja had something she cooked herself, so he was very excited. He eagerly looked at the red flame lit up from her hand and the pot rotated in the middle of the air. In every transcendent or cultivation novel that Kim Dokja had read, there would be at least one scene of someone making stuff with the same method.

 

“Do you also make elixirs and medicine with this fire?”

 

⸢Not really. You never can make any good medicine using this poor quality flame and pot.⸥ Celeana poured out the porridge while proudly explaining the job that she had been doing from the start of her cultivation. Kim Dokja carefully listened to her words as he leisurely digested the light meal. 

 

Celeana seemed wholeheartedly dedicated to making elixirs and medicine. She showed him her collection of alchemy furnaces and how different types of fire could affect the process and quality of the products. She portrayed a glamorous picture of medicinal alchemy in such a descriptive and refreshing way that Kim Dokja had never read in any novel before. 

 

“It sounds so amazing.” Kim Dokja washed his dirty bowl in the sink after he had filled up his empty stomach.

 

As he had already finished eating and didn’t have anything to do till evening, Celeana thought it would be good she should show him the procedure in real life. New things could take his mind away from thinking about his relationship with Yoo Jonghyuk for a while.

 

⸢Actually, I gonna make some recovery pills today.⸥ Celeana received the clean bowl from Kim Dokja’s hands and put it in the cupboard where it belonged, ⸢You can watch if you want.⸥

 

Exceeding her expectation, Kim Dokja was so excited to the point of jumping up like he was still a kid while clapping his hands.

 

“Really, can I, noona???”

 

Moments like this make him look like the older version of Oldest Dream. But that was certain because at the beginning, Kim Dokja and Oldest Dream were two different individuals but also the same existence. 

 

⸢Of course, you can.⸥

 

Then in the blink of an eye, Celeana and Kim Dokja appeared at their secret base in the Dark Stratum, a big flat with a very high, translucent ceiling and walls that allowed them to see everything from the inside. 

 

Chapter Text

 

⸢Welcome back, Master.⸥ Nora raised his head from the desk with a drained out face. He had only demolished the top of the iceberg.

 

Kim Dokja concernedly looked around the base as he spotted not only Nora but ‘Secretive Plotter’ was also there. Nora friendly greeted him but ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t look pleased with his presence. He seemed like an outsider who dared to enter their domains. 

 

⸢He always like that.⸥ She tried to put Kim Dokja at ease as if she knew the frown on ‘Secretive Plotter’’s face was not from hatred but rather from discomfiture because if he hated Kim Dokja, he wouldn’t help him that much during the scenarios.

 

“Alright.” Kim Dokja slightly nodded and sat down on the chair near a wide area with a large screen that looked like the monitor screen from the security room that he usually saw. He knew they didn’t show some mere sights but it was not as interesting as the magic circles where Celeana was sitting inside.

 

He let out a small grasp while widened his eyes to see the patterns of the magic circles a bit more clearly.

 

“So magic circles also can be used to enhance the process of making elixir.”

 

Kim Dokja only whispered to himself as a way to express his interpretation of the magic circle. Yet unexpectedly, he received a clarification.

 

As he turned around, he saw Nora who was slacking off standing near him and ‘Secretive Plotter’ also put his laptop away to come closer to see.

 

⸢Depending on the purpose of the magic circles, it can help Alchemists in different ways.⸥ Nora pointed to the core of the magic circle that had the largest symbol in some unknown language and continued, ⸢That word means ‘conceal’, hence it has the role of concealing her presence from them.⸥

 

“From who?” Kim Dokja asked and then realized the answer himself. It was probably the sect.

 

The mysterious symbols on the magic circle slightly glowed up and cast a barrier over the flat. Kim Dokja and Nora chatted about the magic circles a bit before the conversation eventually ceased as Celeana lit up the area with blue fire. The ingredients from her spatial pocket constantly flew inside the fires that resembled a shape of a lotus. Each petal of a lotus held and melted down a different ingredient. As Kim Dokja counted, he estimated there were around a hundred blue lotus fires floating around Celeana who looked very placid with her eyes closed.

 

The atmosphere was quiet. Nothing except the solid sparkles of the blaze dominating over the faint breathing sounds of the people could be detected. They worried that noise could interrupt her owing to the fact that they totally forgot that she wouldn’t be budged by anything despite her own will. 

 

Everytime a petal closed as the ingredient was perfectly purified, the lotus would change its colors and become more subtle. The whole scene seemed like winter was coming as the flowers closed up and prepared for a deep sleep through the snowy sky made up of impurities extracting from the ingredients. When every petal had closeup, white flames illuminated from the base and embedded the buds making them look like torches burning up the extracts and incorporating them into one orb.

 

As the temperature rose higher, the orbs also proceeded toward the end of their lifespan and started to compress and solidify. When Celeana opened her gleaming eyes and confidently grabbed her open palms into a fist, the hundred torches sparkled up vigorously before the flames disappeared and left behind streams of faint blue with white patterned pills flowing back into the spatial pocket. 

 

Kim Dokja was stunned and couldn’t say anything as Celeana approached him because this was the first time he had ever seen alchemy make medicinal pills. Celeana put some of the blue pills into three bottles and gave them one each.

 

⸢Here you go.⸥ She threw the bottles labeled ‘Recovery’ at Nora and ‘Secretive Plotter’ while putting Kim Dokja’s one neatly in his hands. 

 

Nora quickly caught his bottle and put it in his spatial ring, ⸢Is that ‘Censute Manla’?⸥

 

Celeana nodded satisfyingly at Nora as he named the technique that she used correctly. ‘Censute Manla’ could be roughly translated as ‘Hundred Lotus’ and was an intermediate technique that focused on producing a large number of pills rather than quality. However, if the skills of the alchemist was high enough, they would be able to produce both high quantities and quality of pills. The higher the quality, the clearer the patterns on the pills.

 

⸢Look like you still remembered it. Wanna try it?⸥ Celeana suggested as she pulled out the blue flame that she previously used, ⸢I will let you borrow my fire.⸥

 

Of course, Nora had to reject it immediately because he didn’t want to do it over and over again until he succeeded at least once. And with his current skills, Nora wouldn’t be confident to work it out in one go. Celeana was a scary teacher if talking about making elixir. That was one of the reasons why all of his seniors were all highly skilled alchemists.

 

Celeana slightly raised her brows and put back the flame into her body. ‘Secretive Plotter’ smirked at her kinda defeated looking face while walking back to his desk with a clear mocking intention. Their relationship was seriously not the best, and Celeana also often teased him so she let him slide off this time as compensation.

 

“Thank you noona.” Kim Dokja had finally come back to his senses as Nora was also forced to do the rest of his homework.

 

⸢Don’t worry. It will be useful in an emergency situation.⸥ Celeana gently patted his back and took out some books that she thought he might like, ⸢I gotta do something as well, so if you feel bored, feel free to read these books.⸥

 

She didn’t want to just leave him there and do her own work but she hadn’t reached her benchmark for the day. And if she didn’t continue doing it, the formation of new worldlines that helped refill the power of the system might catch with the speed of her destruction. Her original plan of rushing was two days including today and tomorrow. But she hoped that she could try to make up for tomorrow's work today as well, which yes, even squeezed her progress tighter. However, that also meant she wouldn’t have to let Kim Dokja play by himself tomorrow. 

 

As Kim Dokja also somewhat vaguely guessed it out that he put whatever plan she had upside down, so he gladly picked up a book to read. Sometimes, he would move away from the book in his hands and observe how Celeana brushed off the system from the worldlines. Everytime an announcement appeared in the middle of the air, Kim Dokja tasted a bittersweet in his mouth.

 

When he still had the power of ‘Most Ancient Dream’, he wanted to both save the world and live with his friends. But his way of doing it wasn’t true happiness. And in the middle of hopelessness, Celeana appeared and took on the responsibility for him. Despite that he was happy that he could finally reach his end, he also felt guilty for passing the responsibility on to someone else. Nevertheless, she revealed at the right moment with the right power. Everything was perfect, as if it was fate or fate was broken at the very moment to change things in a new and unexpected direction.

 

When Kim Dokja closed the last book in the series, he let out a big sigh. The stories were very fascinating and he submerged in it more than he thought so without being aware, he already finished the whole long series. He reckoned it had been more than six hours or so for him to read through five volumes altogether. With that thought in mind, he moved his gaze to find other people and apologised as he didn’t notice the time and made them wait. Immediately he found the one he was looking for, Celeana was sleeping next to him while sitting with her body leaning on the edge of the sofa.

 

As he intended to wake her up to tell her to change her position, a man’s hand covered his mouth to stop any sound from coming out. He could hear ‘Secretive Plotter’ said under his breath very lightly beside Kim Dokja’s ears making all his hair stand up.

 

[[Don’t wake her up. Let her sleep a little bit more.]]

 

Luckily Kim Dokja was too focused in the stories, so he didn’t notice how shagged out she looked when she fell unconscious. But ‘Secretive Plotter’ hypothesized that she had planned it out when she gave Kim Dokja those books and was sure that he would be too sucked into it to be wary about the surroundings. 

 

Kim Dokja slightly nodded to signal ‘Secretive Plotter’ to remove his hand which was somewhat similar to his lover’s hand. The texture, the warmth, the size, and the aroma was the same but the feelings triggering his nerves were unusually different even if they were technically the same person.

 

When he had taken his hand out, Kim Dokja whispered to ‘Secretive Plotter’ and cleaned up the sofa where he was sitting.

 

“Let's put her on the sofa, it would be more comfortable that way.”

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ clumsily looked at Celeana on the ground as if he wasn’t sure how to move her up the sofa without touching her. He surely wasn’t used to holding someone else rather than Oldest Dream. As he was hesitant to pick her up, Nora annoyedly pushed him aside and gently positioned her on the sofa. 

 

Back in the old days, Celeana would wake up right away if anyone came near her. However, now, she didn’t react at all and slept in peace when Nora held her in his arms. She wasn’t scared of being surrounded and betrayed by the people with fake masks that belonged to her foster mother’s fraction anymore.

 

⸢Hope things will stay this way.⸥ Nora murmured as he pushed the other two people to the other side of the room where their desks were to not disrupt her sleep.

 

As they walked away, Celeana turned around and uttered something out in her sleep. 

 

⸢Susuz.⸥

 

Although it was quite a faint call, they all heard it because the atmosphere was silent. It sounded like the name of someone but none of them, even Nora, knew who the name belonged to.

 

As they came over to the other side of the room, they sat down in silence while looking at each other.

It was awkward at first as they didn’t know how to start the conversation as usually, Celeana would be the mediator between them. However, Nora and Kim Dokja managed to pull it off and chatted about their own worlds. They somehow also involved ‘Secretive Plotter’ in the conversation as he also wanted to know more about the dimension where the highest rank of transcendent would go to become an immortal.

 

After half an hour, Celeana slowly sat up while holding her head. Even though her probability was already replenished to its fullest capacity, her head was still hurt as if someone was using a hammer to wildly hit it. Even so, it was bearable, so she walked over the crowd and joined the conversation.

 

From afar, Celeana vaguely heard over their conversation. According to what she heard, she guessed they were talking about her.

 

⸢What are you discussing?⸥ She suddenly slapped their backs from behind making the one who was secretly talking about something went off their ass.

 

Kim Dokja who nearly jumped off from his seat was blushing and ‘Secretive Plotter’ was frowning at her.

 

What the heck did they talk about?

 

Celeana had no idea of what they were talking about for them to have that kind of reaction, so she tried to grill Nora, who she would definitely find out something. 

 

⸢May I join?⸥ She put up an innocent act and stared at her youngest disciple.

 

Nora instantly flinched at her gaze while constantly moving his eyes around. He was trying to find an escape route so that he would not be killed by his master if she found out what he told them.

 

⸢Master, it’s nothing.⸥ Nora could feel his mouth dry out, ⸢Should we go home now, Dokja would be home early today.⸥

 

Fortunately for Nora, even without sending out any cues or planning beforehand, ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Kim Dokja simultaneously defended Nora.

 

[[Yes, Dokja told me that he doesn’t have club activities this afternoon.]]

 

“Noona, let’s go home. I finished all the books already.” Kim Dokja pointed his finger at the stack of books lying next to Nora’s mountain of homework that was perfectly done.

 

Something definitely smelled fishy here, but Celeana couldn’t do interrogation, especially in front of Kim Dokja. She quietly stood with arm akimbo, shifting her gaze around the three suspicious people. Celeana couldn’t figure out which stories of her life would make Kim Dokja blush. Maybe it was one of the suppressed one that she didn’t want to remember. If it really was one of them, it would be troublesome if the memories came back to the surface. Therefore, to ensure a safe and sound future, Celeana simply overlooked the problem and agreed to go home.

 

Celeana saw herself as a coward who didn’t want to face the harsh reality. Maybe not at the moment.

⸢Alright. Let’s go home.⸥ She effortlessly cast a transportation spell onto them and returned to the worldline. She chose to land at an empty land near their house so that it would look like they were outside for the whole day.

 

Exactly like what was told by ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Nora, when they opened the door, Celeana could see Kim Dokja ’s uniform shoes tidily placed on the shoe rack. He was already home.

 

Dokja-yah, I’m home.⸥ Celeana called out for Oldest Dream because she wanted him and Kim Dokja to resolve any issues before other people came home, so they wouldn’t have an awkward dinner and probably a birthday holiday. 

 

When they got into the living room, they could see a teenage boy who was still in his highschool uniform instantly clung to Celeana’s arm as soon as she entered the room.

 

“Noona, you are late.” Kim Dokja blew up his cheeks.

 

Celeana used her other hand to dotingly flick on his cheek deflating it, ⸢I’m not late. It’s you who go home early. What happened at school?⸥

 

“Nothing in particular. The student council’s president decided to cancel our weekly meeting that is supposed to be today, so I fled home right after class.”

 

Kim Dokja wasn’t very fond of this student’s council’s president because she was very lukewarm and didn’t do anything properly. Hence he also wouldn’t care much if she got disapproved by the school president for next year.

 

⸢But it’s good that you are home early today.⸥ Celeana caressed his hair as she introduced him to Kim Dokja who stood next to her, ⸢This is Kim Dokja of another worldline who will stay over for a few days.⸥

 

Kim Dokja unleashed her arm and stepped back a bit to see the other person more clearly.

 

“Hello. I’m Kim Dokja.”

 

Kim Dokja friendly smiled at Oldest Dream and introduced himself.

 

“Thanks for your hospitality. My name is also Kim Dokja. Nice to meet you again.”

 

Oldest Dream nodded as he responded.

 

“It’s a pleasure to see you too.”

 

It was a good start when both of them were very welcoming, but everything just stopped there. A heavy silence grew between them, thickened the uneasy tension in the atmosphere. Celeana unconsciously twitched the corner of her eyes as words seemed to be stuck in their throat and couldn’t emerge to the surface despite the direct stare into each other's eyes. 

 

Are they hesitant? She unsettlingly glanced at her beloved kids and immediately picked up the cues when they unceremoniously avoided making any eye contact with ‘Secretive Plotter’, Nora and even her.

 

Celeana took a deep breath before breaking the silence. She knew that she was a bit too old to do this but for the sake of what lay ahead, she would try it.

 

⸢Ah. I forgot.⸥ Celeana switched her voice to a higher-pitched tone while she winked one eye and knocked on her head trying to act cute like what she saw the current idols always do.

 

But the reaction was not as she expected. People seemed to become even more frozen and muddle-minded rather than bursted out laughing like what she wanted them to in order to lift up the tension. As she desperately looked for even just a small snicker, she couldn’t capture anything except awkwardness. 

 

Okay, Celeana admitted that she failed miserably.

 

With a pinkish color gradually spreading from the tip of the nose to the cheek, Celeana tried to keep her composure while pushing the two men who were bigger than her out of the living room. Before she completely withdrew herself from the living room, she looked over her shoulders at Kim Dokja and Oldest Dream who looked like two peas in a pod from appearance to expression.

 

 ⸢I got something to do with them, so take time.⸥ Celeaned sounded like she was urging them, ⸢And please forgot what I did before.⸥

 

As soon as she went away, Kim Dokja and Oldest looked at each other tensed up faces and couldn’t seal their lips off any longer. Small giggler eventually became laughter that didn’t bother to hide themselves from being heard. Celeana’s face in the corner of the corridor which had become a bright red color contrasting her usually pale face was glowing in the sunlight.

 

Celeana used her hands to cover the steaming face resulting from her disgrace act when she heard loud chuckles emitting from the room she just left. It was good that they eased up but it was still very embarrassing.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ still held up an unknown expression that made people wonder what he was actually feeling. His Bell’s palsy disorder still hadn’t improved much despite how he was able to recognize and feel more emotions since he met Kim Dokja . So reading him was a hard pass for Celeana, but she was pretty sure that he would tease her about this afterward. This was such a resource

 

⸢You are actually cute, Master.⸥ Nora was sweeping the tears in his eyes formed during his silent chortles.

 

Celeana slightly quivered as she squealed through the grit of her teeth. ⸢Shut up Nora!⸥ She continued to glare at them and said as if she was commanding. ⸢Just forgot everything today, or else I will definitely not forgive you.⸥

 

Right after that, she quickly disappeared to god-know where leaving a blushing afterimage. Despite her warning, Nora convinced himself that he would regret his whole life if he tried to forget what happened today. Not many people he knew had ever seen that kind of expression on her face, especially after the day her hair turned grey.

 

As Nora turned his head in the other person’s direction, he noticed an uneasy feeling manifest in his abdominal area when he heard the small mumble coming from the bigger man’s mouth. Something didn’t feel right about ‘Secretive Plotter’ but Nora couldn’t freely interfere in others’ business like Celeana could, so he patted his back as encouragement before leaving.

 

It had been ten minutes after they left, but ‘Secretive Plotter’ yet to come back to his mind as he continuously whispered someone’s name.

 

------------------

Back into the living room where Kim Dokja and Oldest Dream settled themselves down after a necessary tee-hee section. 

 

Dokja .” Kim Dokja quickly kicked off the conversation because if they didn’t start it now, there would never be a second chance, “I’m very sorry for scaring you that time at the train station.”

 

Kim Dokja was talking about the time when he tried to kill Oldest Dream in shock of realization at the train station after the [Last Wall].

 

“It’s alright. I probably will do the same thing if I was in your stead.” Oldest Dream was no longer a kid who tried to hide from reality. As he blew out a heavy sigh, he said. “It was also my fault for letting you have to take over the stupid power.”

 

Oldest Dream also found himself guilty for running away with ‘Secretive Plotter’ that time and didn’t bother to think about the consequences of the other worldlines as he finally got to meet his Yoo Jonghyuk. However, they are the same existence in different bodies, nevertheless which bodies possess the power, the dimension should be fine if one of them was accepted to inherit. The cycle would repeat itself in order to maintain the dimension but that also meant it was an ever-lasting curse to an existence named Kim Dokja.

 

“Do you know the origin of it?” Kim Dokja asked because he couldn’t remember his childhood very well whereas Oldest Dream could because that was the only memory he had left when he was turned into a child. Kim Dokja was hoping to find just a small clue of how the power got into his possession in the first place.

 

But Kim Dokja was left with disappointment because Oldest Dream also had no idea, he couldn’t find a trace of memory related to the event even he had asked for help from both ‘Secretive Plotter’ and the newest member of their family, Celeana.

 

Oldest Dream shaked his head in contempt toward himself, “Regardless of who gave us that, we shouldn’t create such a cruel world like this.”, he slightly shivered as he remembered how happy he was when he imagined Yoo Jonghyuk tried to regress over and over again without realizing that he was forcing someone to go through hell for his survival. Similar to how his father abused him and his mother to get over his day. Such a disgusting act.

 

Kim Dokja tightly embraced the shaking figure of the younger version of himself. He also felt the same way but if they kept looking back at the past and regretted not doing it better, they would never be able to move one. Additionally, the family they had now was very special, without going through those trials, they might probably never be able to find them.

 

“Do you hate this life?” Kim Dokja rested his chin on Oldest Dream’s head as he confronted themselves.

 

“I don’t.” Oldest Dream started to sniff his nose as if he was overwhelmed by emotions bursting out from the deep chamber of his heart when he started thinking about the things he treasured so much at the presence.

 

Kim Dokja also could hardly mutter his response “Me neither.” while trying to hold back the heat accumulating beneath his eyes. 

 

They don’t hate the things that they had at the moment, they were grateful for that. In order to do it, Kim Dokja and Oldest Dream had to let go of the past that they held onto. Whatever they tried to do, they couldn’t change the past as this world worked as a cycle, not a linear line where they could make a turn into a new branch. The best revenge they could have on whichever existence that created the power of ‘Most Ancient Dream’ was to always move on and show that they were brave enough to enjoy their lives, to find positives in negatives.

 

Because if they buried themselves in the resentment of the past, they would be the one who suffered the most. Everything happened for a reason, nothing was coincidental.  And it was their choice to see whether everything was a miracle or not. Without saying any further, their souls resonated and exchanged their deepest sentiments that couldn’t be explained by any word. Their choice was miracles.

 

As if fatigue built up during the whole day all released at the same time, they became drowsy and rested on the sofa while still holding onto each other’s arms.

 

When they had completely fallen asleep, Celeana popped up in the middle of the air and covered them in a fluffy blanket. She didn’t keep her promise and eavesdropped the whole talk but because of that, she realized how different their thoughts changed over the course of time. It was a good change, definitely a good one.

 

⸢They are leaving us behind, aren't they?⸥ Celeana raised her head asking the ‘King of Outer God’ hiding in the void of space. As if she knew that the man wouldn’t reply, she continued, ⸢If you don't let it go, you can’t walk on the same path with him. You also know that, right?⸥

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ needed to move before the distance between them had become so great that he couldn’t reach out anymore. He should have recognized that already which was the reason why he became so quiet. 

 

After another period of complete silence, Celeana saw the figure of the man slowly reveal besides the sleeping Kim Dokja . His eyes were filled with uncertainty and reluctance. It would be hard for him to make the decision as he had always carried the guilt over thousands of years.

 

[[I will cook the dinner tonight.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ left the room to enter his ultimate zone . This was a new way for him to calm down and sort out his thoughts. 

 

Chapter Text

 

When all the busy working people came home, an exquisite feast was waiting for them and they wouldn’t be stupid enough to miss out on this precious chance. ‘Not many times Master will cook’ , quoted by Lee Jihye as her excuse for overeating till the point she couldn’t stand up.

 

Dinner was amazingly relaxing, they all joked around and laughed as if nothing had happened between them in the past.

 

The next day also had a very similar mood putting the anxious Celeana at ease to prepare for the big Saturday because Saturday was technically both Kim Dokja’s birthdays.

 

They all decided on an around the world trip but didn’t get to know the full schedule because Celeana wanted it to be surprising. And probably the most over the top birthday trip she had prepared for ages that made Nora bit his lips in bitterness because she stopped bothering to celebrate his birthday since he reached his 5,000 years which was still be considered as kiddo in their immortal perspective.

 

As time slowly passed and Saturday finally came along. Celeana hummed with a bouncy step along the corridor as soon as she woke up. It wasn’t soon anymore, so she hurriedly knocked on every bedroom’s door in her sight.

 

⸢Wake up guys, the sun is calling out your name.⸥

 

Her voice wasn’t small due to excitement, so it did a good job of pulling people’s heads out of their dreams. Then the doors opened one by one.

 

“Got it unnie.”

 

“Good morning Celeana-ssi.”

 

“You are too loud, ajumma.”

 

⸢Morning, Master.⸥

 

As the last two doors opened, she gave a kiss on the cheeks of each person who just stepped out.

 

⸢Happy birthday, little Dokja-yah and big Dokja-yah.⸥

 

Oldest Dream was used to her behaviour, so he quickly kissed back on her cheek.

 

“Thank you, noona.”

 

While Kim Dokja was dazed a bit both because of the sudden tickle on the cheek and emotions. Since the day he became isolated with society, Kim Dokja hadn’t got a proper happy birthday from anyone, partly because he didn’t tell anyone when it was his birthday and also he felt like he was too old to have a birthday party. As he felt the tingling from his tear ducts, he could also feel the warmth from her hands caressed his head.

 

⸢Ahh, don’t cry.⸥ Celeana spoke in a teaseful tone, ⸢I forgot that only Yoo Jonghyuk can kiss you.⸥

 

A chain reaction exploded right after when the former ‘Kings of Outer God’ and even Oldest Dream started giggling or whistling. 

 

“You are so conservative.” Kim Namwoon smirked while stretching out his chest muscle.

 

Uriel also started to understand the fangirl feelings of the version of herself in the 1864th worldline, “I see, this is another form of comradeship.”

 

“Ohhh.” Lee Jihye seemed surprised while Lee Hyunsung was very old-man-like and didn’t know what to say except nodding as if he understood the joke.

 

Celeana didn’t stop there but turned her gun on Oldest Dream who was grinning.

 

⸢Do you want your Yoo Jonghyuk to kiss you as well?⸥

 

She accurately shot his Achilles heel, which might not be the best idea to start the day but the cat in gloves caught no mice. Nevertheless, it was the most important that he recognized it himself, not because she said so, so she didn’t want to push him further.

 

⸢Just kidding!!!⸥ Celeana wiggled her head and gave him an assuring pad on the back before she dispersed the crowd. ⸢Everyone go and prepare. We gonna go out for breakfast today.⸥

 

After that, she went to the living room where she would wait for them to get prepared. Celeana had already got ready since last night because she was really looking forward to today. Additionally, she got a call from Biyu yesterday that boosted her mood up even higher.

 

While humming an unknown melody, she flopped down on her favorite black soft couch and reexamined the checklist. She was not alone in the living room as the two other people who practically didn’t need sleep to sustain life had already been here and didn’t need her loud voice to wake them up.

 

As a habit, ‘Secretive Plotter’ snipped on his usual cup of hot black coffee while staring at the news on the television. No one knew if he actually listened to what was said or just did to pass time. About Nora, he was a koala as usual when he came to Celeana as soon as she came in.

 

⸢Can you stop being too clingy?⸥ Celeana tried to shake her youngest disciple’s head off her shoulder.

 

Nora who sat on the arm padding crunching down to lean his head on her shoulder complained in exhaustion, ⸢Isn’t it your fault for making me laboured all yesterday.⸥

 

Well, she did ask him to go for inspection on the places that they intended to visit for the next two days. But it shouldn’t take him that much power to be worn out this much and it was also not appropriate to be this close to his master according to his household rule.

 

⸢Do what you want.⸥ Celeana gave him her permission to do whatever he intended to do, ⸢But got off me first.⸥ She pushed him off and let him lean on the couch instead. 

 

As expected, it was an act all along. Nora in his tired aura pretended to half-sleep while quickly gave her a detailed report whereas Celeana kept up with a happy face and silently crossed out the places that she heard some not-so-good thing about out of her checklists. Luckily that no one knew where they would go, so it was easy for her to change their schedule.

 

When everyone had gathered in the living room and ready to go, Celeana raised a question toward the two main protagonists of the day.

 

⸢Neh, Dokja-yah, do you want to teleport or fly?⸥ She remembered all kids liked to fly including her when she was young.

 

And the answer was pretty obvious. Both votes were for flying. Because they had many people here, she needed to use a bigger medium. As she summoned a big and fluffy white cloud in their backyard, Oldest Dream quickly approached the cloud to touch it. As soon as a fuzzy and slightly chilly sensation of water vapor that didn’t feel like water vapor prickled his fingertips, Oldest Dream was exhilarated by just doing that.

 

“Noona, is this the same thing that Sun Wukong uses?”

 

Celeana was glowing with probability as she was injecting it into the cloud for materialization so that they could sit and play on it without falling out even if they were only normal humans now.

 

⸢Yes, same method but not the same cloud. I can’t steal his cloud.⸥

 

Oldest Dream satisfyingly nodded. It didn’t need to be the same Somersault cloud that Sun Wukong used.

 

The rest of them were quite impressed with the cloud but not to the extent of Oldest Dream because they used to be able to fly while possessing the power of the system or Outer Gods. The probability infusion process happened quickly so that they can go to whatever coordination was put in for breakfast. They were quite hungry already.

 

They hopped onto the cloud one by one. The cloud texture was very soft and silky despite being materialized, so it wouldn’t cause any discomfort during the journey. As they had all settled down, Celeana gave her command and the cloud flew up into the bright sky.

 

⸢Let’s we go.⸥

 

Kim Dokja chilled out and enjoyed the breeze passing through his skin. There was not much air resistance even though they were travelling at the speed of a shooting star.

 

“Celeana-ssi, did you put up some barrier?” Lee Hyunsung who currently worked in the air force was the first one to spot it because other people were too busy to play around like Oldest Dream and Lee Jihye’s team or didn’t even care about the surrounding like ‘Secretive Plotter’.

 

Celeana looked at the calm turquoise ocean with a bit of small gust which was perfect for a cruise, ⸢I do, I don’t want to turn into potatoes.⸥ However, because they were going very fast, these small gusts could be pretty brutal, and random particles in the atmosphere would not hesitate to slam into them to cause some holes in their bodies if they collided. Plus, the oxygen and the air at high altitudes were quite diffused and cold. 

 

While she was trying to put her long hair into a ponytail so that it wouldn’t get into her eyes when winds fluttered through, Uriel suddenly caught her hands in the middle of their motions.

 

“Your hair is really beautiful.” Uriel brushed her hands through Celeana’s hair that felt like a stream made of many silver silk threads.

 

⸢Really?⸥ Celeana replied in a monotone voice because she didn’t really like this hair color because it reminded her of her failures in the past.

 

Lee Jihye and Oldest Dream who were nearby also added on.

 

“I like your hair noona.” Oldest Dream rolled over to her like a log of wood.

 

Lee Jihye held the silver hair on her hand and suggested. Even flying on a cloud was fun but they didn’t have anything to do up here, so she was kinda bored. “Why don’t we braid her hair, it will be fun and pretty.” She looked over Uriel who seemed to like the idea as well. This was what sisters would do together, wasn’t it.

 

Before Celeana could decide for herself, she was pressed down on the cloud to let Uriel and Lee Jihye transform her hair. As they had done this million of times before, they fluently jacked her up with a simple half-up double french braid. Oldest Dream moved nearer to sit in between Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’.

 

“What do you think she will look like?” Oldest Dream didn’t direct his question at anyone.

 

[[Normal.]]

 

Oldest Dream felt like he shouldn’t expect much from the always-look-cool man who he saw as a father figure for the longest time. 

 

But Kim Dokja’s response was more humane, he meant normal.

 

“She will be amazing.” His eyes carefully followed every movement of the two sisters styling her hair.

 

Oldest Dream agreed but there was something he wanted her to change as well.

 

“Why doesn’t she wear something different?” He pointed out the white cloak that Celeana currently had on her. She always wore it whenever she went outside.

 

“True, I had never seen her in some other clothes.” Since when Lee Hyunsung had left Kim Namwoon who stuck to Lee Jihye and also came over and joined the crowd.

 

Oldest Dream bent his head over his father, ‘Secretive Plotter’ direction, and threw over a suspicious look.

 

“You give her a monthly allowance, don’t you?” Because Oldest Dream was a very caring kid, so he didn’t want Celeana to go to work when she already had tons of things to worry about in order to polish the dimension.

 

Additionally, he thought, even Celeana was some prestigious character in her own dimension, but when she ran away, she might not bring any money with her or the money wasn’t exchangeable to Earth’s currency.  Because ‘Secretive Plotter’ was the one who in charge of the household finance, Oldest Dream asked him to give Celeana allowance to spend on what she want. Technically saying, they all owed her something that money couldn’t pay off.

 

As a straightforward man ‘Secretive Plotter’ was, he didn’t show a glimpse of intention to hide the fact.

 

[[I don’t because she doesn’t ask for it.]]

 

“Did you tell her that she has an allowance?”

 

[[I didn’t.]]

 

Oldest Dream slapped his forehead as if he was so over it. He wondered how long it would take to get back this man’s common sense. It might be long but he didn’t want to give up on him yet. 

 

“If you don’t tell her that she has one, she will not ask for it. It will be the same for other things as well. If you don’t tell people what you want them to do, then they won’t know. Humans don’t know how to read mind. So you need to tell her later, alright?” Oldest Dream took his time to explain to ‘Secretive Plotter’. At last, he was the one who made him suffer so much that he turned into this.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ nodded to show that he understood what the younger boy said. But he wondered if Celeana would want to wear something else because Nora over there, who controlled the cloud’s direction, also always wore his black cloak outside. These cloaks didn’t seem to be ordinary either, they should have some special effects embedded on them.

 

“Look over there Dokja.” Kim Dokja broke in their conversation to shift his attention elsewhere, “They finished her hair.”

 

Oldest Dream quickly turned his head to see the final product of his two older sisters.

 

Celeana looked different in her new hairstyle. The braid made her face brighter and a lot younger than her actual age although she already didn’t look old at all despite her age. Celeana seemed genuinely happy as her fingertips gently touched the braid so that she wouldn’t mess it up.

 

The smile on her lips was also somehow different. A sentimental attachment to the feeling of being braided crept over her. She remembered the ancient time when she was still a kid, her junior sister and she would often braid each other's hair before training.

 

⸢Thank you very much.⸥ It was hard for her to say those words but she missed that feeling a little bit, ⸢Can I braid your hair as well?⸥

 

“You know how to???” Lee Jihye seemed surprised.

 

⸢My skill is not the best, but I will try my best.⸥

 

Lee Jihye excitedly released her ponytail right after seeing confirmation from Celeana. Following that was Uriel. As the boy group enviously looked over the warming atmosphere over here, they couldn’t join because they didn’t have long enough hair to braid, Celeana had finished two different hairstyles on Lee Jihye and Uriel. Both are complementary with each other with a loose bun and some braid that were highlighted with a final touch of a jade hairpin. A red one for the former swordmaster, and a yellow one for the former archangel.

 

Kim Namwoon gasped at Lee Jihye’s appearance. “You are so beautiful, Jihye.”

 

She slightly blushed at his compliment. Kim Namwoon always praised her but not always this sincere.

 

“You should go out together already.” Uriel teased the younger sister because Lee Jihye actually liked Kim Namwoon and he had grown into a more mature man, unlike his childish self a few years back.

 

“Uriel-ssi.” Now not only Lee Jihye but Kim Namwoon also felt the heat on his face.

 

Aigo, it was a bit suffocating due to the loving couple over here so Celeana headed toward Nora to check on the distance. They should be near the first location which would be very fitted to the current touchy atmosphere.

 

Nora greeted her with a kudos on her hair. ⸢Your hair was nice. It has been a while since the last time I saw your hair braided.⸥

 

⸢Yeh, since I left, I haven’t been braided by her.⸥

 

Nora knew who she was talking about. It should be one of the Elders of the sect with the name ‘Ninth’. They were close sisters but ‘Ninth’ couldn’t afford to run away with her and chose to stay and supported her from behind instead. Many of his master’s seniors, juniors, or comrades made the same choice. They didn’t have the guts to turn their backs on their foster mother.

 

⸢Anyway, are we getting closer yet?⸥ Celeana changed the topic. It had been about 15 minutes since they left their house.

 

⸢We are.⸥ Nora accidentally drove the cloud through another cloud cutting it in half.

 

Celeana slightly frowned at the sudden blurry sight, ⸢Careful please, Nora.⸥

 

However, the sight quickly turned into a night sky with stars glimmering on top of their heads.

 

“Woa, so pretty.”

 

Celeana could hear their cheerful voice from her back.

 

“Oh my god, is it Paris.”

 

It looked like someone found out the illuminating Eiffel Tower. They came just in time when the lights on Eiffel Tower were turned on for about five minutes every hour. Luckily, she had casted a temperature control over the cloud barrier because night time in Paris in February was cold and she wouldn’t want the passengers to be sick even before they could have any fun.

 

After instructing Nora to land on a quiet street so that people wouldn’t notice and scream at the top of their lungs because someone just dropped down from the sky, she came back to where the group gathered. 

 

⸢How is it?⸥ Celeana stood shoulder to shoulder in between Kim Dokja and Oldest Dream and asked. Their opinions would matter the most because today was their day.

 

“It’s amazing. This is my first time going abroad.” Kim Dokja was having a good time looking at the famous city of Paris at night from above the ground. Seeing how his cheeks lift up recalled Celeana about the around the world trip that Yoo Jonghyuk told her the previous night.

 

Too bad for you Jonghyuk. I accidentally took his first time already. Celeana showed a triumphant smile as she received a hug from Oldest Dream.

 

“I love it noona. Should we go shopping later?” He intended to at least buy her a new piece of clothes that would complement the hair braided by Lee Jihye and Uriel.

 

⸢Sure.⸥ Celeana would agree to everything this boy wanted.

 

As soon as they safely landed on a quiet street, the sun bloomed on the horizon. Golden petals igniting the most perfect flame on the pastel blue sky due to the thin layer of fog. Early morning in Paris was perfect for sightseeing because not many people yet woke up and went around like them. It was a delightful experience to be the first customers entering a bakery filled with freshly baked pastries and took a sip of hot coffee to warm themselves up before going somewhere else to explore the city. 

 

They sneaked into The Louvre before its opening hours to see the mysterious smile of the famous lady Mona Lisa. Looking at the Notre Dame Cathedral currently in reconstruction after being burnt down from afar. Admiring the glamorous stained glass windows in the Sainte Chapelle located at the heart of the royal palace. They went along the calm Seine River and crossed the Pont Alexander III bridge to head to the Palais Garnier not only to see the auditorium but also to check out ‘Phantom of the Opera’. 

 

After all of that, they stopped by a restaurant to have brunch and recharge energy. Then it was shopping time. They thought it would take them most of the time in the shopping center because they had three women in their groups and women tended to take a long time to go shopping. However, the shopping was fast when they literally bought every piece of clothes that looked good on Oldest Dream. 

 

Oldest Dream wouldn’t just stand there and saw they splurged all the money on him alone, the other members of the group also got some, but of course, not as much as the main stars of the show. He also chose a pastel periwinkle blue dress that would look stunning on her for a change of clothes. Even though she put it on as Lee Jihye and Uriel also wore their new dresses, Celeana still insisted on wearing the white cloak over but made it more transparent to let the dress underneath show through.

 

⸢Is this alright, Dokja-yah?⸥ Celeana spun around in a circle once as instructed by the unhappy little boy standing in front of her with his arms crossed.

 

“But she still looks pretty with the cloak on, doesn’t she?” Kim Dokja tried to ease up the little boy by changing his view on the problem, “And she also could protect herself as well. You probably don’t want to put her at risk.”

 

As the see-through cloak not only didn’t hide the dress he picked too much but also added on some interesting patterns, Oldest Dream reluctantly nodded his head as if it was just a half-pass.

 

Thank god it was a pass and they could end the soap opera right away because someone already was uncomfortable with the mood. Celeana was literally pierced too dead by ‘Secretive Plotter’. He didn’t enjoy shopping at all.

 

⸢Alright, should we go to the next place?⸥ She clapped her hands together to catch the group’s attention.

 

Chapter Text

 

She intended to let them visit a few more places in this worldline before heading to the interesting one. However, Kim Namwoon opposed that idea and asked for thrill right away as it would be plenty of chance for them to go and visit those but not many for the later one. Celeana was cool with that opinion and the group vote also showed the same thought. 

 

Hence in order to get to the next destination, they had to say goodbye to the cloud and chose their last option, teleportation. Celeana looked awfully happy when she saw those clouds disappear although she must have flown on them for life. Turned out, Nora was the one who spilled the tea, Celeana was afraid of height. They all reacted like ‘ohhhh’ and burst out laughing when they realised the true purpose behind choosing a big cloud and setting up a thick layer of barrier. This time, Celeana didn’t go crazy and embarrassed like a kid, she had learnt hard on how to keep up her calmness after the incident in the living room the other day.

 

Celeana let them laugh to their heart's content while she prepared the teleportation circle that directly connected to a safe place at their next destination. As soon as the bright light from the magic circle disappeared, they found themselves standing underneath a big sakura tree, the most popular flower in Japan. This was indeed Japan but not in the modern age due to the old architectural houses surrounding and also the variety of kimono worn by the crossing passengers.

 

“So this is old Japan.” Uriel only had heard about Japan through social media but never saw it in real life, so it was very exciting for her.

 

Lee Jihye walked around the enormous sakura tree that hid them from the sight of others. “It is so pretty.” This sakura was different from the one that she saw on Jeju island where she got a chance to visit with her new work colleagues.

 

Different from Kim Dokja and Oldest Dream who were carefully inspecting the costumes that divided people into different classes and tried to match them with their memories. Kim Namwoon started his ramping on wanting to go to the department store to buy his otaku merch and figures. 

 

“Can we visit Akihabara and Shinjuku, Celeana-nim?” Kim Namwoon knew how to change his attitude when he wanted to gain favors from someone. However, it was quite impossible, because this was not modern Japan. And wasn’t he the one who said modern cities were boring.

 

“I’m afraid that they haven’t got anything of the things that you want, Namwoon.” Lee Hyunsun also shared his opinions. 

 

“You can get those later back home Namwoon-hyung. Let’s go outside.” Oldest Dream excitedly pulled Kim Dokja and Celeana’s hand.

 

“Yes, I want to see how they live as well.” Kim Dokja humed as his heart gradually beated faster. 

 

As soon as they intended to come out and joined the lively atmosphere on the streets, ‘Secretive Plotter’ held them back, caught the arms of Oldest Dream and Celeana who were leading the line.

 

He wasn’t sure which period of Japan this was yet. But since previously he caught a glimpse of samurais walking on this street along with their swords, katana, those samurais might cause a rampage if they collided with them, suspicious people in weird clothes and talked in a foreign language. 

 

[[Are you just going like that?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ clenched his jaw and tightened his fist, [[Samurais are going everywhere.]]

 

“Calm down ‘Secretive Plotter’.” Kim Dokja jumped in between them to prevent anything from worsening, “She surely did something.”

 

“True, Captain.”

 

“Master, please. Today is not the day to fight.”

 

“Secretive Plotter-ssi.”

 

“Captain, Jihye is right. You shouldn’t fight here. It will attract more attention.”

 

Celeana wasn’t sure if it was just her or ‘Secretive Plotter’ was being a jerk. How could he think that she wouldn’t have any interventions prior to leading Oldest Dream and Kim Dokja here? She loved them as much as he did and wouldn’t want them to be in danger even more than him.

 

Plus, the grip on her hand was starting to hurt a bit.

 

As she turned over to see whether Oldest Dream was bruised by the jerk’s grip or not, she immediately realised that this jerk only directed his anger at her.

 

At least he knew who to wound, huh. Celeana rolled her eyes.

 

⸢Let go off your hand.⸥ Celeana shook her hand out of his stone-hard hold and also didn’t forget to pull Oldest Dream’s hand out as well. Honestly said, she was a bit humiliated when ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t believe that she would prepare everything perfectly to protect his kids, although he had been observing for more than a few years. 

 

Didn’t even bother to explain, Celeana dragged the group to the main road where they were heading leaving ‘Secretive Plotter’ behind her back. Before he did something else that would trigger her and his anger, Nora quickly stood in front of ‘Secretive Plotter’ and did the explanation in her stead while they slowly followed the group.

 

So basically, they were in the early Edo period under the governance of Tokugawa Ieyasu which is a very peaceful period that would not accidentally involve them into any bloodlusted event or war. Celeana also casted some spells on them that would create an illusion on other people to see them as normal citizens or even just some mere rocks if they entered a difficult situation. Translation and interpretation spells were also a big necessity which were casted beforehand when they were still on the cloud or else it wouldn’t have been so easy travelling in Paris. 

 

It was true that no one looked at them with peculiar eyes. The citizens were very welcoming, they promoted and offered their products to their group in the same manner to the other folks. As if they hadn’t had enough food to eat in Paris, they started jumping from stall to stall and bought every dish that looked appetizing. This was a food tour in the Edo period rather than a sight-seeing tour.

 

As they wandered on the street, Kim Dokja noticed some samurais in kimono with pointy shoulder pads coming out from somewhere that seemed to be a public bathhouse.

 

“Hey, is that a public bathhouse?” Kim Dokja pointed to the building with steam evaporating out where the samurais just left.

 

The group all turned their heads to the bathhouse and opened their eyes wide with curiosity except for the trio.

 

Lee Hyunsung scratched his chin and said, “I want to try it once.”. He kinda wanted to take a bath already.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ put on his guard and slowly increased his adrenaline level to be ready for a quick fight-or-flight response as soon as he saw the sword hanging on their hips. However, it was totally unnecessary as they just walked past them because they were too busy complaining about something like the shogun kept their family members hostage in Edo.

 

It did sound serious but that wasn’t something they should care about as they would only be here for a bit more. However, as they looked at the topic more closely, they could see something suspicious from the bathhouse. Those people shouldn’t be so open and talk ill about their shogun in public places like a bathhouse unless someone made sure that nothing would be leaked from there.

 

⸢Master, this is...⸥

 

When Nora also realised that it didn’t look right and turned around for his master opinion, Celeana quickly put a finger on his lips to signal silence as she spotted a line of monks approaching them. These monks who wore a straw bascinet and played some meditative pieces with their bamboo flute were a bit special. During the previous rebellious era, no one was allowed to go freely around Japan, however, these monks were made as an exception by the previous shoguns. Some of them worked as spies for the previous government or former samurais as their masters were defeated by the new shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Especially, their number had become greater than before that was considered as a potential threat. And therefore, they came under official criticism for the first time during the Edo period.

 

Celeana didn’t expect that they would meet them here. If they were lucky, these monks shouldn’t connect with the rebellious fraction which also shouldn’t be active at the moment. 

 

As they pushed the kids back to the rear of the sidewalk forming a space for the monks to go through, the last monk who looked a bit younger than the other stopped in front of Celeana.

 

“Thank you, donor, for making away.” The young monk placed his palms together with fingertips upward at the level of his heart while slightly bowed.

 

Celeana also did the same gesture that expressed greeting among the monks toward him, ⸢It’s nothing, dear Bhante. You don’t have to say thank you for that.⸥

 

The monk curved his lips up to the degree of a standard smile while looking over her shoulders at the signboard of the bathhouse behind her.

 

“It looks like the donors intend to go in there.”

 

⸢As what Bhante said, we actually plan to go there.⸥ Celeana still kept her palms together.

 

“I suggest donors should not.” He slightly moved his eyes in the direction of the samurais who they observed earlier. That was the same direction where these monks came from. 

 

⸢Thank you for your advice, dar Bhante.⸥ Celeana bowed down and took a gold coin from her pocket and put in the bow hanging on his chest as alms for gratitude, ⸢Please accept it, dear Bhante. Sorry because I currently do not have any rice with me at the moment.⸥

 

“That will do, dear donor.” The monk also bowed down as Celeana put the gold coin in the bow. While she was doing that, he lowered his voice and whispered as if he only wanted Celeana to hear it. “Dear donor, please be careful and don’t be blinded by the demons hidden behind the angels.”

 

Celeana kept her expression calm as she listened to his so-called warning. Then she bowed her head again toward him before he left.

 

⸢Thank you for your advice, dear Bhante.⸥

 

[[What did he tell you?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ frowned as he saw her hand was slightly shivering although she looked very calm.

 

⸢He just told us shouldn’t go into the bathhouse because they did something bad in there.⸥ Celeana shook her head to deny it was something important while she found her youngest disciple’s hand and held it tight to find some sense of security.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ displeasedly stared at their clasped hands but didn’t question any further and accepted that answer for now. He didn’t want to make a fuss with her twice in a row and ruin the atmosphere because the kids were still very actively discussing whether they should come in or not and didn’t even recognise that one of the monks just approached them.

 

“That looks cool. But I wonder if they allow women in.” Uriel asked when she saw only men coming in and out of the bathhouse.

 

“But Uriel-unni, I heard some not so good things about these.” Lee Jihye was talking about the sexual service there.

 

Oldest Dream pulled the cloak on Celeana who was looking somewhere else and asked, “Noona, should we go in?” He would do what his noona wanted.

 

Celeana turned around and padded his head with her other hand, ⸢I think we shouldn’t. What Jihye said maybe true.⸥

 

“See. I know it. That’s dirty.” Lee Jihye bared her teeth out while raising her shoulder in disgust. 

 

They then passed the idea of the public bathhouse and went to see the maiko and geisha who performed in the teahouse nearby. It was hard to find a slot there because they had to pre-book and also have some middlemen who introduced them to the geisha.

 

However, it was their lucky day today when a guest couldn’t come due to emergency business and they immediately booked in the slot after paying quite a sum of money. But it was worthwhile. The geisha dance was very unique and the food was good. They even let the rule slide for a day and drank some regional specialty sake although Oldest Dream was still a bit too young for alcohol, who cared now.

 

After that, as the sky had gotten darker and the kids also had become too full and tired to go anywhere else, Celeana decided that they should stay over at a well-known inn to rest. The inn had an outdoor hot spring so the bathing experience was even better than what they would have if they came into the public bathhouse. A good bath made a good sleep when the group slowly closed their eyes and some even started snoring.

 

Yet, someone couldn’t sleep that night or accurately said they didn’t need sleep, to begin with.

 

As Celeana sat down on the corridor facing the Zen garden of the inn, her face hidden behind the silver hair showed an indecipherable expression because she also didn’t understand her feelings at the moment. Her logic said that she should be worried about what the young monk said in the afternoon but when she closed her eyes, she would hear a voice emitting from her spiritual sea saying that it would be okay. Despite that voice, whose owner she couldn’t recall, she felt oddly reassured and maybe a bit longing.

 

Another shadow stretched out on the patterned sand under the bright moonlight beside her own shadow. Celeana thought it was Nora as no one else would come and find her in the middle of the night like this except him, so she just moved her body over a little bit to the side to create space for the coming person to sit down. However, a minute had passed and her ‘Nora’ hadn’t come to sit next to her yet. That was quite unusual because Nora was the typical clingy kid.

 

As Celeana leaned her head on the corridor column while playing with her hair, she talked to the person standing behind her, ⸢Nora, come here. What’s gotten into your head that make you so slow?⸥ She released the hair on her fingers and tapped her hand onto the spare space right next to her.

 

[[I’m not Nora.]] The man finally responded to confirm that he wasn’t Nora.

 

As soon as he opened his mouth, Celeana also realised that she made a fool of herself just because she let her guard down and mistaken ‘Secretive Plotter’ as her disciple. Celeana turned back, looked at the man in wide eyes.

 

⸢What are you doing here? And where is Nora?⸥ She questioned. Shouldn’t he be with Kim Dokja and Oldest Dream right now to ensure their safety? Plus, she didn’t need him, she needed Nora who would understand what she was concerned about. Nora was my only listener in this dimension, you know?

 

[[I thought you would recognise it was me, not Nora.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ instantly picked on her mistake while answering her answer, [[Nora is sleeping.]]

 

The disciple was actually worn out for the last few days, so it was good that he had some rest. But didn’t this bastard need to be that skeptical? She wasn’t an omniscient god who would always be perfect.

 

⸢I blacked out for a moment.⸥ Celeana gave out her excuse then turned her back on him. She didn’t want to argue at all with her mind like a mess at this moment. 

 

[[Does something bother you?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ asked. He noticed that her mood was a bit different during dinner and it would be more visible to Oldest Dream if she didn’t feel better. He just didn’t want him to worry about another woman, especially Celeana, who had literally taken over too much scene time.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ continued as Celeana didn’t answer, [[Did the monk say something not very nice?]]. Her spirit seemed down the most right after meeting that suspicious monk.

 

Celeana didn’t expect him to ask that many questions. Was she very obvious?

 

⸢Was my expression really bad and revealing tonight?⸥

 

[[It was. You need to watch your face more.]] He sternly confirmed her doubt.

 

As Celeana was facing her back toward him, ‘Secretive Plotter’ couldn’t see clearly what she did but she seemed to hit her cheeks a few times and said, ⸢Alright, sorry about that. I will watch out tomorrow.⸥ before she stood up and left, ⸢I promised I wouldn’t worry them.⸥

 

Seeing her shadow parting from his, ‘Secretive Plotter’ wondered if he treated her right because her response didn’t sound right as well. However, it was too late because Celeana had completely disappeared from his sight. 

 

Chapter Text

 

The morning arrived quickly and Celeana came back to wake the kids up with a bright smile on her face as if nothing had happened. After they had eaten a grand breakfast and collected all of their belongings, she turned on the teleportation spell, and in a blink of an eye, they reached their third destination, a riverbank and a dessert.

 

Wait a minute, this doesn’t look fun? The confused group looked at Celeana before they noticed a small village behind their backs. 

 

⸢Anyone want to guess where we are?⸥ Celeana asked while she led the group to the nearby village. 

 

Oldest Dream who hadn’t released her hand from the start squinted his eyes together while looking around in hope that he would see something else except the endless sandland that extended to the horizon. Indeed he saw something but it was too far away for him to identify it. However, as most of the desserts in the world are located in Africa, so Africa would be a safe guess.

 

“Are we in Africa?” Oldest Dream spoke out his guess.

 

And it was correct as Celeana put her thumb up.

 

⸢Good one, Dokja. Anymore specific?⸥ She winked in the direction where Oldest Dream found the unidentified object. 

 

However, they didn’t think they needed to guess anymore. They could tell this was Egypt, the flourishing land of Pharaoh. When they came closer to the village that was supposed to be the home of the slave, without saying a word to each other their feet automatically followed those slaves who were going to their working area.

 

A magnificent scene slowly became visible despite the layer of dust sent up into the air due to the dragging motion of the wooden sledges. The enormous size of the construction made their hearts instinctively race up its game.

 

Everything that was happening in front of their eyes was so real.

 

Hundreds of men flexed their muscles to pull the thick ropes attached to the wooden sledges that were used to move a heavy boulder of limestone that was as big as any room in their house. The women would run around to provide water to people who in need or poured the water on the path of the sledges that helped dampened the sand and reduce friction between them. They could feel the dust stung their eyes and the heat of the desert burnt their skin.

 

“Amazing.” Kim Dokja couldn’t help but gasp at the spectacle of ancient Egyptian because it was way cooler than what he read in history books.

 

Oldest Dream slightly headed toward to see everything clearer, “I wonder which dynasty this was?” If possible, he would like to see the current pharaoh as well.

 

“I don’t know Dokja-yah, but they worked so hard.” Lee Jihye could feel the blood rushing through her vessels just from seeing the sweat pouring out from their every pore.

 

Uriel didn’t know a lot about the history of the Earth, so she just said what she understood from her point of view, “The pharaoh must be a good person because his people worked hard for him.” She assumed these massive blocks of rock must be for the tomb that they called pyramids.

 

“Are these for building the pyramid?” She asked Lee Hyunsung, the person who was standing the closest to her.

 

But Uriel chose the wrong person to question because Lee Hyunsung could only shake his head to tell that he wasn’t sure. Surprisingly, a person who they didn’t expect to even open his mouth if not necessary, let alone answered their random questions.

 

[[These are not for building pyramids. They should be for sculpture.]]

 

“Jonghyuk-ahjussi, how can you know?” Oldest Dream immediately turned over to ‘Secretive Plotter’ with sparkling eyes.

 

[[The blocks are too big and different in shape compared to the one on the pyramid which is smaller and square.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ explained.

 

“Which pyramids are you talking about captain?” Kim Namwoon scratched his head while looking for a nearby pyramid which they could see the blocks that it was built of.

 

Without a second thought, ‘Secretive Plotter’ pointed his finger to the pyramids that they could only see the shape, not to say actually seeing the blocks of limestone on it and compared to the one that was dragged by the slaves. The normal human beings in the group dumbfoundedly stared at ‘Secretive Plotter’ who thought that was the norm. They thought that he probably forgot that he was the only one in all of them whose power of ‘Outer God’ still remained because he hadn’t wanted to record his [Fable] on the [Last Wall] yet.

 

“Secretive Plotter-ssi, we can’t see that far.” Kim Dokja was undoubtedly the person who wasn’t scared of the stern man when he immediately pinpointed the obvious fact.

 

[[Oh really.]] He sounded disappointed and with his monotone, it sounded a bit like mockery, however, as he continued to say and directed his gaze onto the former ‘Kings of Outer Gods’, now it really became a mockery, [[You need to train your eyes more.]]

 

They wondered what had got into his head today that made him even more irritated than usual but just couldn’t figure it out. 

 

Apparently Celeana couldn’t stand his stupid head any longer and gently told Kim Dokja to come toward and accompany ‘Secretive Plotter’ for the time being. The reason for his abnormal action was simply because Oldest Dream had been sticking to her and not him, but if he kept being a tsundere and not approached Oldest Dream first, then he wouldn’t actively come along either. 

 

Even if Celeana didn’t tell him, he was also about to do it as Kim Dokja stepped forward and grumbled as if he was not pleased with how ‘Secretive Plotter’ talked to their family members. “Ahjussi, you shouldn’t say something like that. It will hurt them. Do you understand?”

 

As the elders said, love was blind. If it was Kim Dokja , then nothing couldn’t be changed. ‘Secretive Plotter’ astonishingly apologised for his previous behaviours before being pulled to the Giza pyramid complex by Kim Dokja , hand in hand. His mood was completely different when he was with his important person, ‘Secretive Plotter’ talked more actively and his choice of words was also improved.

 

But the most important thing was Kim Dokja ’s impression of him was inflated to another level as he found out that his ahjussi knew a lot of interesting things besides the scenario that he had never heard of. The others also covered their mouths with hands or freeze and stared at Professor ‘Secretive Plotter’ who was lecturing about Ancient Egypt history.

 

After they had seen the pyramids and the sphinx more than enough, they went into the city with the hope of seeing the pharaoh who might accidentally be on his troll. As they joined the crowd in the big market where most of the trading with the neighborhood countries happened, they noticed the atmosphere was unusually crabby as the Egyptians started to engage the foreign countries in their gossip as if they weren't afraid of being offensive toward the foreign merchants.

 

“I heard that the Daughter of the Nile was kidnapped!!!”

 

“Really?”

 

“I guess the culprits are the Sirian.”

 

“No way. It is the Libyan.”

 

“You are all wrong. The pirates did that.”

 

“For sure, the Hittites kidnapped her.”

 

“Huh, they didn’t even let us in their eyes.”

 

“So vulgar.”

 

⸢Who are they talking about?⸥ Nora asked Celeana as she was the one who found this dimension. This wasn’t Earth in their normal worldline. Based on what was praised by the citizens, the Daughter of the Nile was a very beautiful girl with snow-white skin and blue lake eyes, such typical characteristics of a Western girl.

 

However, Celeana also only found this dimension by chance and thought it would be interesting if they went here just to change up the experience in the alternative dimension of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. The sole fact Celeana knew about this dimension was that the Daughter of the Nile was cursed because she disturbed the rest of a Pharaoh and had to come back to Ancient Egypt to astonish for her sin. Her fated ending was to prolong the ruling period of King Tut, the beloved son of Amun, and the person she would love the most.

 

⸢The girl who is loved by the current pharaoh.⸥ Celeana answered in the simplest way possible although Nora was not the type who would put his nose in other people’s business like her. 

 

“What did you say, noona?” Kim Dokja interrupted as he couldn’t hear clearly what she just said due to the noise emitted from the merchants and also the craft houses surrounding them.

 

Celeana repeated but with a louder voice so that they could all hear it clearly, ⸢I said she was the lover of the pharaoh.⸥

 

“So the lover of the pharaoh is kidnapped.” Oldest Dream slightly frowned, such a rare expression on him.

 

“Isn’t it romantic, the pharaoh will go and rescue her.” Lee Jihye was back with her romantic and cliche love story. 

 

“Your prince is right here. Do you want me to kidnap you?” Uriel teased the dreaming Lee Jihye while not forgetting to sail her ship.

 

And with that as a trigger, their conversation shifted dramatically from Ancient Egypt into how the kidnap scene was so overused in drama and how they couldn’t understand Stockhome syndrome. Although Celeana thought the relationship between ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Oldest Dream was somewhat similar to the Stockholm syndrome, she didn’t say it out loud to not break the looking-good atmosphere between the two. They looked cute together.

 

She turned her gaze to Oldest Dream who pleasantly dragged ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Kim Dokja over a stall that sold wrist cuffs with Ancient Egyptian language on it to buy some as souvenirs. He handpicked a couple wrist cuffs for Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk while also choosing one for everyone.

 

“Ahjussi, lend me your hand. This will look good on you.” Oldest Dream held a golden cuff with a black falcon crest and ankh that fitted perfectly on the older man’s wrist and clicked his tongue to praise himself for having such good eyes, “This is perfect.”

 

Then he called out each person over to try on the wrist cuffs while wearing one with uraeus and djed symbols himself. They all have different symbols on their wrist cuffs which they hardly understand their meanings because the sellers themself also didn’t know, they simply copied them from the temple and put them on those cuffs for sale.

 

Celeana was given a cuff with Wadjet symbolised the eye of the sky god Horus while Nora also received an Ouroboros engraved cuff. Lee Hyunsung was an Ajet as two lions sitting on both sides of the sun. The Feather of Maat represented judgment for Uriel. Lee Jihye’s cuff was carved in as a water lily whereas it was a Leb symbolised ‘heart’ for Kim Namwoon.

 

“Do you like it?” Oldest Dream leaned toward her after he had given out all of the cuffs. His head slightly tilted on the side due to the weight of his smile.

 

Celeana raised her arm up and kissed the cuff. ⸢Of course. I love it. Thank you Dokja-yah.⸥

 

“Hehe.” Celeana could see his nose lengthened and merriment filled up his eyes.

 

⸢Shall we go to the next destination?⸥ She suggested due to the chilling stare from the guardian god of the dimension directed to her since as soon as they entered the gate at the Nile’s riverbank. They should leave soon or else it would be quite troublesome.

 

Their next destination was a few millions years back in history when dinosaurs were still alive and running wild as the lord of Earth. The highlighted event was when they thought they were chased after by a T-rex but luckily, they just happened to be on the same route with its prey.

 

After that, they arrived at a modern city, the civilization of aliens. Species with typical monster heads who wore clothes that looked like space suits could be seen everywhere in the city. Their transports were mainly flying cars and flying disks which were the things they called ‘UFO’ back on Earth. The city infrastructure was bizarre and more innovative with highways going between the buildings to maximize the use of space in the air. Nuclear power plants were like mushrooms after rain in both metropolitan and residential areas. 

 

In order to rest a bit because they had walked quite a lot today, Celeana took them to their last destination, a dimension with a fantasy-like setting that had many similar species that could be found in fantasy novels such as demihuman, demons and of course, elves and dragon.

 

Originally, they would go to Roan Kingdom which also had a fantasy theme to participate in their annual festival. However, at the last minute, Celeana chose to go here, where she had been a few times, hence she knew exactly where they should go to fill up their stomach. Celeana guided the group to a beach shore that she considered being most beautiful so that they could have a beach BBQ there.

 

Seemed like Nora also recognised which place this was, he excused and left the group to go on somewhere alone.

 

“Is it alright for him to go like that?” Uriel who was helping to set up the outdoor gazebo so that they could go in to avoid sunburn at any moment asked Celeana.

 

As Celeana took out the necessary equipment for a BBQ from her spatial bag, she told Uriel not to worry because they knew some people who lived here and Nora was going to give them a greeting instead of her. 

 

“Why don’t you go as well, noona?” Kim Dokja asked. It would be nice for her to see her friend again.

 

⸢I got something to do here as well.⸥ Celeana raised one side of her lips while throwing a bag filled up with cooking ingredients over to ‘Secretive Plotter’, who would be the main chef today, ⸢Don’t waste them.⸥ she shouted.

 

Look who's talking! ‘Secretive Plotter’ glared back at her, the one whose cooking skills were way below him.

 

[[I’m better than you.]] He reminded her about their differences in chef level.

 

Kim Dokja snickered at their interaction a bit and headed to the BBQ grill to lend a hand at preparing the food. However, it wasn’t long before he joined the fun over here and abandoned ‘Secretive Plotter’ at his grill.

 

Lee Jihye suggested playing a game similar to ‘pinata’, a traditional Mexican game where they would use a stick to smash a pinata to get their prize. The one Lee Jihye wanted to play was ‘suikawari’ that she saw so many times in mangas that she found in Kim Namwoon’s room. In ‘suikawari’, they used watermelons instead of pinata but the players would be blindfolded and would listen for instruction or pranks from their friends who could see. However, as they didn’t have any watermelon in hand, they decided on using vegetables in the ingredient bag instead, but of course not the ones that could cry or scream. Because it was smaller, it would also increase the difficulties of the game.

 

After they had successfully passed their round, Celeana and Kim Dokja sat under the gazebo facing their back to where the game was played to have a kinda secret conversation. Celeana asked him about the relationship between Yoo Jonghyuk and him and something like how he would like it to progress. Kim Dokja was genuinely pleased about the current situation, maybe not too much with Yoo Miah, but how could he ask for more when he had everything he wanted in life. He had a life and death partner , a lovely family, and also a long future with them waiting ahead of him. Kim Dokja couldn’t ask for better.

 

Then, she asked him some random questions about his favourite flowers, colors, suits, foods, hangout place, and all kinds of stuff. It might be simply that Celeana wanted to know more about him as a person but Kim Dokja felt something was off.

 

Right at the moment, he caught on a sound from their back as if something was tearing apart the air, then he was pushed back by no one else than Celeana. As he turned back to see what was happening, Kim Dokja felt heavy on his stomach. He was not worried about her, instead, he was worrying for Kim Namwoon who put up the prank. Oldest Dream was swinging his stick toward Celeana without even recognising it because he was blindfolded. As the stick was going down, Oldest Dream disappeared at the spot and they heard a thud as Kim Namwoon was hit. Celeana had teleported Oldest Dream back to the starting spot and returned the prank to Kim Namwoon.

 

“Ahjumma!!!” Kim Namwoon grunted while he covered the bump on his head. He turned over to Lee Jihye who burst out laughing although he was hit in a sulky face. “It isn’t funny, Jihye-ah.”

 

Lee Jihye laughed even harder while saying “You deserve it.” 

 

Shouldn’t have he learnt his lesson? Lee Hyunsung was speechless.

 

As Kim Dokja heard the scream and took his blindfold off, Celeana sent over a wink to them signaling them to play along. That was their only choice anyway. Kim Dokja wouldn’t be happy if he knew Celeana was nearly hit by his own hand. 

 

As soon as Kim Dokja could see what was happening, he was both dumbfounded and panicked. He didn’t understand how he hit Kim Namwoon when he was the one who instructed Kim Dokja to the target. 

 

“How?” He stared without blinking at the moaning older brother who was sitting on the sand.

 

Uriel stepped forward to the same level as Kim Dokja and padded his back. “Don’t worry about that dummy. He just wants to try how strong you are.”

 

That was an obvious lie but what if everyone supported it to create an illusory truth effect. 

 

“Kim Namwoon told me about it.” Lee Jihye who had recovered from her laughter nodded her head.

 

Celeana and Kim Dokja also came over to join the fuze. As she walked up to Kim Namwoon, the boy immediately flinched but the stubbornness was still there, he hadn’t given up on it yet. She wasn’t quite sure why he was so fixated on being opposed to her, but it wouldn’t hurt anyway. 

 

Celeana handed over to Lee Jihye a bag of ice to put over his bump while squatting down to his level.

 

⸢Try harder next time.⸥ If Nora was here, he would say this was so like her, instead of playing for a draw, she would trigger the opponent instead.

 

When Kim Namwoon just opened his mouth to fire back, ‘Secretive Plotter’ shouted out for them, disrupting the on-going battle and reserved it for the next time. They were gluttons who was craving his cooking. 

 

Quickly after, the grand banquet was devoured as if a storm just swept over.

 

“Give me that. I’m the injured one.” Kim Namwoon hit on Kim Dokja’s hand who was tempting to take the last skew of grilled meat left.

 

⸢Have mine instead.⸥ Celeana gave Kim Dokja her untouched meat skew while shooting at the cocky boy through her glare ⸢Behave, Namwoon.⸥

 

With a strange-looking mushroom on her chopstick, Lee Jihye put it on Uriel’s plate to encourage the older sister to have a taste. “Hey, unnie, try this.” She was scared that it would be gross but it was actually quite nice.

 

“Don’t fight over food guys.” Lee Hyunsung stayed in between the devastating crowd in order to maintain peace but that ain’t gonna happen because Lee Hyunsung himself was also hungry, so would he do something different. 

 

“Then you... stop eating... hyung.” It was hard for Oldest Dream to talk probably because his mouth was full of food.

 

As the oil sparkled into fire on the grill, Uriel yelled loudly to back down the people “Watch out, it is coming.” 

 

Thick smoke cracked out from the fire blocking their vision.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ could feel his nerves jumping out from his head as it kept twitching. [[Who put it on fire?]] A shape gaze scanned through all the suspects.

 

⸢Good grief.⸥ Celeana slapped her forehead. Once she prepared to shut down the fire show on the grill, someone already did that in her stead.

 

⸢My my my, I’m a bid sad when Master didn’t invited me to the party.⸥ A voice that wasn’t registered in their memory suddenly filtered in their ears.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

As soon as she heard the voice, Celeana turned around to greet the person who just revealed herself. It was a girl standing straight in a military uniform that enhanced the curves of her slightly chubby body. Her red flaming hair was neatly put up in a bun so that it would not get stuck to tons of badges lining on her chest. Walking behind her was Nora, the one who left earlier. 

 

⸢Long time no see, Ryuyang.⸥ A content smile slowly bloomed on Celeana’s lips as she went up to the woman named Ryuyang and hugged her. ⸢How are you?⸥

 

⸢Senior sister.⸥ Nora called Ryuyang who seemed to be in shock with her wide-opened golden eyes when her Master casted off the official greeting that they had to do every single time and just simply went straight to hugging.

 

Ryuyang gently wrapped her hand around Celeana and tightly embraced her. ⸢I’m good, Master. I missed you.⸥

 

Celeana dottedly caressed her disciple head because she also missed her. They hadn’t seen each other since that event. However, the later part of the family show could be postponed later because the curious stare from the other was killing her and Nora was no help because he was busily sneaking off to binge on the remaining food. Did she starve him or was the man’s food addictive?

 

⸢Nora.⸥ She called out for her youngest disciple who was sneaking around like a cat making him had no choice but instantly wiped his mouth and walked over.

 

Celeana stepped aside to disclose another one of her disciples beside Nora to the group, ⸢This is Ryuyang, my second-youngest disciple.⸥

 

Ryuyang bowed down and greeted them with the same posture that Celeana did at the first time they officially met each other. However, because Ryuyang had a sword on her hip, it made the posture look less awkward. 

 

“Nice to meet you. I’m Kim Dokja who is under your Master’s care.” Oldest Dream introduced himself, then Kim Dokja also told her his name, which was exactly the same.

 

However, Ryuyang was much more professional than Nora due to both her expertise and her position, hence she didn’t show any confusion on her face at all while humbly shook their hands.

 

Then Uriel, Lee Hyunsung and Lee Jihye also took their turn, even Kim Namwoon was reluctant at first but also gave her a proper sentence. All of them, no, most of them were at least friendly toward Ryuyang, only ‘Secretive Plotter’, who was having his eyes on them since Ryuyang’s appearance, tangentially nodded before turning his handsome face elsewhere.

 

⸢Uhm, since when do our Master change her taste?⸥ Ryuyang peeked over from the unchanging man to her Master and then very faintly whispered in Nora’s ear.

 

Instantly after Nora heard the question from his senior sister, he was completely flabbergasted. He wondered why she could have that kind of thoughts when she might even know their Master better than him. That cold-faced jerk was a no go. Only people like Oldest Dream or Kim Dokja could handle him.

 

⸢Are you joking, senior sister?⸥ Nora talked under his breath so that Celeana wouldn’t notice their, maybe-not-so-secret-anymore conversation as he saw Ryuyang shudder her shoulders. They were busted.

 

Although Celeana acted as if everything was normal, they could feel the chill go along their spine as she put her arm over their shoulders.

 

⸢I’m going for a moment. Play to your heart’s content because we will go home after this. Everyone got it?⸥

 

It would be such a waste if they let this opportunity slip out of their hands. They had had a great beginning, middle, and now they needed to create a great ending as well. As soon as they all said yes and prepared their swimsuits, Celeana also told ‘Secretive Plotter’ to look after all of them, not only the specific one. And still, no reply. But Celeana didn’t care either because she was having a more urgent matter and actions spoke louder than words, he wouldn’t let them encounter any dangers.

 

Leaving the others playing behind, Celeana teleported them back into their secret base under Ryuyang’s castle. As the room was heavily restricted, only a few people knew about its existence, and censor was also strictly applied to prevent any leaking of information.

 

⸢Report please, Ryuyang.⸥ Celeana sat down on a chair at the center of the long table consisting of about ten chairs while releasing her status to activate the censor system.

 

Ryuyang instantly opened a scene showing a map of an unknown scene with red dots all over and quickly explained the situation, ⸢Currently, ^@W@@%@$#&$$%&^%*%Ffw….⸥

 

<Permission is denied. Information was censored.>

 

Celeana stayed silent the whole time Ryuyang presented the information. She rested her chin on her hand while focusedly stared at the map multiple times. Whereas, Nora wasn’t so calm.

 

⸢Why are T#$^@ moving now?⸥ He slammed the table forming a hole in it, ⸢Isn’t it still too early for ‘it’?⸥

 

Celeana and Ryuyang understood exactly what he meant by ‘it’. Because of ‘it’, Celeana wasn’t completely free from the sect and always in danger of being captured and forced to go back to her original position. Hence she was always on the run and she was tired of it.

 

Ryuyang wrinkled her nose while crossing her arms above her chest as a means to express her hatred toward ‘it’. ⸢What are you going to do, Master?⸥ She raised her head looking at the Master that she had so much respect for.

 

Her response wasn’t out of their expectation either. A leopard couldn’t change its spot after all. 

 

⸢Let’s them be.⸥ Celaena confidently stood up from the chair with a beaming grin on her face ⸢We wouldn’t back down either.⸥

 

Both Nora and Ryuyang bent down and unanimously answered. ⸢Yes, Master.⸥

 

That one sentence concluded their secret meeting. Even Celeana at the moment wouldn’t know that it would trigger a new undercurrent among the dimensions and she might regret it later if she knew what was gonna happen. But that would be the stories of the future.

 

After that, Celeana followed Ryayang to go around and visit some of her old acquaintances before heading back to the beachside where their groups were enjoying the calm and clear ocean and gentle winds. It had been a long day, but they were still so energetic. As soon as Celeana and Nora showed up with a creature that seemed to be a dragon, the atmosphere was absurdly hyped up.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t fail to do his job properly as he stood in front of the flocking crowd trying to touch the red dragon.

 

[[Why do you always bring these things over?]] The vein on his neck throbbed constantly as if it wanted to burst. It wasn’t because he thought he would be weaker than the dragon, but why she always introduced them to a dangerous creature like a dragon when they were only as weak as a normal human being now. [[What was that?]]

 

“It obviously is a dragon.” Oldest Dream who didn’t recognise the sarcasm hidden in the older man's sentence uttered the answer while he was shaking as the aura of the dragon swept through his body.

 

[[Careful, Dokja.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ pulled ‘Oldest Dream’ behind his back. Their bodies quickly touched each other then parted again but the faint breath of ‘Oldest Dream’ gliding over his back and the heat emerging from their hands held together still managed to trigger some tingling sensation. Oldest Dream quickly withdrew his hand and turned over to Kim Dokja and Uriel while ‘Secretive Plotter’ also collected his composure and continued glaring at Celeana who seemed to enjoy the growth of their relationship.

 

 ⸢Take it easy, Plotter.⸥ Celeana remained sitting on the vermillion dragon while patting its head, ⸢This is Ryuyang’s real form.⸥

 

Because they hadn’t got a chance to clearly look at Ryuyang, they hadn’t noticed her abnormal iris. Her iris didn’t pose a round shape like others, but rather than a distinctive vertical slit shape of the dragon species. The white part of her eyes wasn’t white either but turned into black contrasting with the golden eyes.

 

The dragon herself also spoke up to clarify her identity.

 

⸢It’s me, Ryuyang here.⸥

 

As if Nora could see the sparkling eyes of Oldest Dream similar to him when he saw a dragon for the first time in his life thousands of years ago, he jumped down the dragon’s head and gently landed on the sand.

 

⸢Anyone want to get on the Dragon’s back?⸥ He offered his hand to the boy.

 

Oldest Dream hesitantly bit his lips at ‘Secretive Plotter’ as if he was asking for his permission. He rubbed his hand together while looking up with puppy eyes.

 

“Please, ahjussi?” He appreciated his attention to keeping him safe but it wouldn’t be a problem because he would be there with him, wouldn’t he?

 

How ‘Secretive Plotter’ could refuse after Oldest Dream had begged for it. But he wouldn’t allow his kid to accept someone else’s hand rather than his. As ‘Secretive Plotter’ reluctantly let out a sigh, he picked the little boy up and jumped onto the dragon’s back where Celeana just moved her seat to.

 

⸢Coming guys.⸥ Nora’s hand was left alone in the middle of the air as he coughed while also casted a spell to make the rest of the group float in the air to drive them up the dragon.

 

As soon as they had settled down and secured themselves by holding onto Ryuyang’s scales, Celeana lightly tapped on the dragon’s back and Ryuyang slowly pushed her wings harder to accelerate forward. The scenery behind them also gradually changed from the immense ocean to lively cities, vast forests, and gigantic mountain ranges. The blasting sound of the wind hurling over their ears also couldn’t cover the noisy chattering every time they saw something new.

 

Uriel couldn’t help herself but expressed her admiration for the land where human and demi-human lived in a peaceful and symbiotic relationship, “This is such a beautiful country.”

 

⸢Thank you for your praise. That is the reason why I truly love this place.⸥ Ryuyang said followed by some muddy sounds which seemed to be laughter coming from her throat.

 

“Ah, I just want to stay like this.” Lee Jihye rambled about how she didn’t want to go to work the next day after they came home later this evening. And many people shared the same thoughts.

 

Lee Hyunsung slightly nodded his head. He wasn’t very comfortable with his job at the air traffic control center yet. Uriel and Oldest Dream weren’t so positive either. They still wanted to rest. The holiday was just too short.

 

While the others were so noisy, Kim Dokja silently thought about tomorrow. Maybe it was time for him to go home.

 

I miss you, Jonghyuk-ah. Kim Dokja absently thought about his lover as he caught a glimpse of ‘Secretive Plotter’ who was spending his time looking at Oldest Dream with the very same eyes that filled with compassion and warmth.

 

Because every party must come to an end, their journey for the past two days also came to its last moment when they said goodbye to Ryuyang and promised her that they would come back to visit and bring her many good Korean foods as compensation for not inviting her to the BBQ at noon. As her dragon’s body became more blurry, they quickly found themselves standing inside their house. The hot and humid weather in the other dimension was quickly replaced with the chilly temperature of the last part of winter.

 

“I miss our house.” Kim Namwoon dropped himself down on the cold floor feeling like his brain cell was calling for a day off as well. 

 

Not only Kim Namwoon but other people also felt the same thing when their muscles instantly loosen and out of energy. It was weird that exhaustion only hit them after they came home. Celeana had presumed they would be like this due to the strain of traveling through worldlines. However, they would be able to recover easily after a good rest. She also had done her part in preventing any other adverse effects such as aging or the worst-case scenario, exploding. Hence, this tiny tiny little side effect wasn’t so concerning.

 

⸢I think we should go to bed early today.⸥ Celeana assumed that they wouldn’t have any energy left in their bodies to even walk back to their room, some already half-asleep and constantly yawning. So probability flickering from her hands wrapped around each person’s body like a blanket putting them to sleep while lifting them up the ground. With her instruction, each cloud of probability carried its owner to their room and gently landed them on their beds. The probability would help replenished energy as well as clean away any dirt from their bodies, so they wouldn’t have to wake up later with an odd smell. 

 

After that, as Celeana prepared to go somewhere else, she turned around to ask the two men standing still at the same place, ⸢Why are you still here? Go and rest.⸥

 

[[Not your business but I will later.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ rigidly answered.

 

Celeana rolled her eyes as if she was used to his response while looking over at Nora and threatened him. ⸢I will make you do lots of labour in the future, so rest well, dear my lovely disciple.⸥

 

Her warning surely worked as Nora instantly felt like he had never wanted to go to bed as much as at the moment. Right after Celeana disappeared and ‘Secretive Plotter’ went somewhere else, probably to Oldest Dream’s room to guard him during his sleep as now and then, Nora also withdrew to his room while going on about something like he should have stayed with Ryuyang instead.

 

A few seconds later, Celeana revealed herself in the 1864th worldline to meet up with Yoo Jonghyuk and Biyu as she promised. It had only been about four days in the other worldline, but that was the same with nearly three weeks here. Yoo Jonghyuk had a lot of time to do what he needed to do and today was the day that he would finalise everything with Biyu and Celeana.

 

Biyu had to lean forward to hear what Yoo Jonghyuk was muttering in his throat, [Captain, you need to speak louder.]

 

Pressing hard down the line between his eyebrows, Celeana sighed, ⸢Jonghyuk, what your face expression please.⸥

 

⸢Change the flower, didn’t I tell you he doesn’t like this.⸥ Celeana shocked her head at the bundle of red roses.

 

Celeana reminded Biyu not to act too revealing in front of others to reduce the surprise effect, ⸢Keep it a secret alright, Biyu.⸥

 

[My my my, captain, put your shit together, this is not even real.] Biyu was fluttering because Yoo Jonghyuk kept stammering, such a rare reaction, but now they needed his courage and boldness rather than this.

 

After two hours or so, when everything, at last, looked good and well-prepared, they could kinda put their mind at ease for the moment.

 

Celeana fanned herself and Biyu who was sitting on her shoulder in her Dokkaebi form with a stack of paper that was frayed as if someone had been reading it over and over again, ⸢This should be okay for now.⸥

 

[You did a good job, captain.] Biyu was satisfied with his performance during the rehearsal and hoped that he would excel in real life.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk swept the sweat forming into droplets running down his forehead while drinking through a whole bottle of water. Rehearsal with these two people was even more tiring than his sword training every morning. However, Yoo Jonghyuk wasn’t gonna mess with Celeana because she hadn’t brought Kim Dokja back yet.

 

“Celeana-ssi, when will Dokja come back?” He asked. He was simply worried.

 

Celeana blinked a few times to take account of the time density differences between the two worldlines before she answered his question, ⸢Probably in three or four days. I will try to make it on Christmas night.⸥

 

As everything was set up, their only mission was to be prepared mentally and waited three days later, on Christmas night when Kim Dokja would come back.

Chapter Text

 

During the time they were apart, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk hadn't contacted each other once.

 

Wasn’t it because their feelings faded? Of course, that wasn’t the case.

 

That day, when Kim Dokja told the woman who he treated as an older sister, Celeana, that he would not let go of his hand wasn’t just a mere arbitrarily saying. But in order to maintain a relationship, both an emotional heart and a logical mind were needed. Especially during this time when Yoo Jonghyuk’s younger sister, Yoo Miah hadn’t been able to get her head through their relationship, if a step back from them could buy time for her to resolve her problems, then the parting time was worthwhile.

 

But the most important reason that Kim Dokja didn’t want to contact him was that he knew that for sure, if he heard Yoo Jonghyuk’s voice, he wouldn’t be able to hold himself back and went back immediately. Yoo Jonghyuk thought the same thing when he could imagine Kim Dokja’s image in his head a thousand times but would not willingly contact him.

 

Today was the day he finally came back to his original worldline where he could see his Yoo Jonghyuk again.

 

As Kim Dokja and Celeana waved goodbye to Oldest Dream and the others, they were teleported to their main dorm building in the 1864th worldline. Kim Dokja slightly gasped at the sight of the dorm.

 

It wasn’t just a plain and boring building like before but was decorated with colorful lights, ornaments, and baubles for Christmas. He knew that the differences in time density between worldlines but never expected it to be Christmas already here. Time just flew by like an arrow without any holdback. 

 

Snows started to fall down again for the no-one-counted times of the day. It felt like crisp shaved ice but the flakes were thinner and prettier when it reflected the colors emitted from the neon lights hanging all over the place like spider webs. Snowflakes fell down and layered upon each other forming a white layer over the big Christmas tree standing in the middle of the front yard. Scattering around the yard was his companions and some constellation that was close to them.

 

Kim Dokja and Celeana slowly flew down from the sky and swiftly landed on the frosted ground. He was looking forward to a shock wave reaction from the people gathering here but there wasn’t any. They seemed to know about his arrival prior to Kim Dokja made his appearance but they were still emotional and ran over to greet him.

 

Lee Gilyoung who almost slipped and faced down to kiss Mother Earth was the fastest to come.

 

“Hyung, I missed you so much.” Lee Gilyoung jumped onto Kim Dokja but carefully not using too much force so that he wouldn’t fall over from his jumping hug.

 

Shin Yoosung was the second one to give him another hug because how could she lose to Lee Gilyoung. “Ahjussi, Merry Christmas.”

 

“Welcome back, Dokja-ssi. And you two, back down right away.”

 

After the kids were forcefully climbed down from his body by Yoo Sangah because they should be aware that they were not small as before anymore, Han Sooyoung greeted him with a slap on the back while chatting with Celeana.

 

“Thank you for taking care of this idiot, Celeana-ssi.” Han Sooyoung wasn’t carried away by only Kim Dokja’s appearance like the kids and noticed Celeana, the woman who showed up a few weeks ago, also came.

 

⸢Not a biggy at all. I’m also very enjoyed his accompany.⸥ Celeana politely smiled back.

 

Then, people who were there came to say hello to Kim Dokja and Celeana one by one. It was like a relaxing and warming family movie that we watched on Christmas night until Uriel broke the line and charged upon Celeana.

 

“Hold on Uriel. What are you doing?” Gabriel, another archangel, tried to hold Uriel back but Uriel’s hand just slipped out of her grasp.

 

Despite the abrupt movement, Uriel didn't look like she was angry, but rather she was very thrilled by the thought of meeting Celeana for the first time. She couldn’t miss this opportunity again like the last time. 

 

As soon as Uriel came in front of Celeana, she held her hands and shook it like a fan seeing their idols at a fan meeting while cheered at full blast.

 

“Aaaaahhhh. Celeana-ssi. Pleased to meet you. I’m Uriel.” Her pitch became higher and higher as the sentence was lengthened, “Thank you so much for your present.”

 

Celeana tensed up the muscles in her arms so that it wouldn’t fly off due to the vigorous arm shake from Uriel while readily showing her white teeth as she grinned, ⸢Hahaha. It’s good that you like it that much.⸥

 

“What present is it?” Kim Dokja was distracted from his conversation with Lee Hyunsung and Jung Heewon.

 

But it seemed like he wouldn’t get to know about anything related to the present that Celeana gave to Uriel. Because the two women didn’t say anything except shadily exchange looks and laughed. How could they say that it was a recorder containing the rarest kiss scene in the whole universe?

 

Anyway, that wasn’t something he should care about because he felt like someone was missing.

 

That right, Yoo Jonghyuk wasn’t in the crowd surrounding him.

 

Then, Kim Dokja strolled his eyes around as if he was looking for something, he saw Yoo Jonghyuk in his black coat leaning on the trunk of the pine tree.

 

This bastard didn’t even want to come up but wait for him to come to him. Kim Dokja slightly bitted his lower lips as he pushed his way to the crowd and walked toward Yoo Jonghyuk. However, the steady walk quickly became a hasty run when Kim Dokja saw his lover release the crossed arms and open his arms widely. 

 

Like a moth into a flame, Kim Dokja ran into his embrace. And in front of so many eyes, Yoo Jonghyuk suddenly kissed him. Kim Dokja wanted to push him out but Yoo Jonghyuk’s grasp was simply just too tight and he even used kissing as a means of communication.

 

His tongue hastily opened Kim Dokja’s teeth, vigorously swept over the interior once before turning it into graceful and relentless making Kim Dokja’s brain and legs turned into water.

 

Such an appealing and staggering scene wouldn’t be bypassed undoubtedly by the crowd as all attention was shifted to them. When the kiss finally stopped, Kim Dokja’s had turned into a bright red ripe tomato. He could literally hear the nose bleeding sound from Uriel but he was too embarrassed to even try to look at anyone instead of Yoo Jonghyuk. 

 

“What are you doing Yoo Jonghyuk? Everyone is looking.” He slightly hit Yoo Jonghyuk’s shoulder as he released him from his embrace.

 

However, the man, who seemed to know that his not-long-ago behaviour was inappropriate and didn’t follow their agreement of only curdling at home, pretended like he didn’t do anything wrong. “That’s great.”

 

“You..” When Kim Dokja was about to scold Yoo Jonghyuk, Biyu appeared in the air and gave Yoo Jonghyuk the bundle of flowers with pink camellia graced with little tiny white asters that they had prepared earlier on. The flowers were then passed onto him as Yoo Jonghyuk kissed his hair and whispered, “This one for you.”

 

Kim Dokja lightly touched the soft white petals of the asters that he liked a lot while shifting his sight over Celeana who was helping Uriel to stop her nosebleed. Because he had never told anyone except Celeana about his attachment to white asters, he instantly realised what her random questions on the beach were for.

 

They were for this.

 

But things didn’t end here as Yoo Jonghyuk slowly kneeled one knee down. All members of <Kim Dokja’s Company> and constellations who attended the Christmas party were speechless and stared at them with goggle eyes. If they had antennae on their heads like insects, they should have been shaking vigorously now.

 

Even though Kim Dokja didn’t see how this came about, he had a feeling of something big gonna happen. However, he didn’t want to believe that Yoo Jonghyuk was going to the thing that he thought.

 

When Yoo Jonghyuk was already on his knee, he took a small velvety box out from his pocket and opened it.

 

Two silver rings with the same style were indeed in there. These rings were even more special because they were relics that Celeana created herself for her child’s wedding and his or her partner in the future. But because she still hadn’t had any at this age and also already gave up that hope, she decided to give it to them as a gift.

 

“Will you marry me, Kim Dokja?” The sudden proposal like thunder slammed down onto the ground causing the one in question to stumble on his feet.

 

Kim Dokja stared into Yoo Jonghyuk’s brown iris so intensely as if he wanted to see throughout him from the superficial layer to the deepest part of the soul. And he couldn’t see anything except for truthfulness.

 

But can’t this man be a bit slower, this is just too rushed? He didn’t hear any of the intimating lines that were always put in all the K-drama. However, Kim Dokja liked it, very straightforward, very Yoo-Jonghyuk-like.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t know because he was too nervous or it was just too different from the rehearsal because Kim Dokja was actually standing in front of him, but he took out the rings too early and even hadn’t told Kim Dokja any romantic lines that he prepared yet.

 

Hoping that it wasn’t too late to add things on because Kim Dokja was still in silence, Yoo Jonghyuk awkwardly cleared his throat and brought forward his feelings, “Dokja-yah, my love toward you was genuine and after everything we had gone through together. I was sure that you were my perfect soul-mate.”

 

“Will you…” The question wasn’t needed to be repeated the second time and was cut in the middle as Kim Dokja finally said “I will.” with tears strolling down his cheeks after somehow managed to calm down the chaotic waves of emotions within his mind. 

 

Yoo Jonghyuk with his heart beating at full speed shakily wore the relic ring onto the left hand’s ring finger of his lover. As he looked at the shiny ring newly worn on his hand, Kim Dokja felt like his hyperventilation went a step further causing his chest to go up and down with rapid speed.

 

Although Kim Dokja said yes, there was another person that Yoo Jonghyuk needed to seek permission.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk gently dragged his hand to Lee Sookyung who remained silent the whole time. This was even more stressful than proposing to Kim Dokja because Yoo Jonghyuk thought that she didn’t have a good impression of him when she told him that she hated him during the fight with the returnees led by Heavenly Demon and Blood Demon.

 

He bowed down with utmost respect and begged. Kim Dokja also did the same thing.

 

“Please let me marry your son. I promise to take care of him all my life.”

 

The atmosphere was complete silence as no one dared to interrupt the most important moment.

 

Lee Sookyung was both amused and annoyed at the same time as she reluctantly smiled while massaging her forehead. Was there a choice for her to decline when she was the one who had observed their journey together from the very start till now?

 

As a mother, she wanted the best for her son and would give him everything that he wanted. And if being with Yoo Jonghyuk was what Kim Dokja wanted, then she should grant his wish.

 

“Alright, you may.” Lee Sookyung came forward and lifted them up, “It looked like that I always lose to you.”

 

“Mother. It’s not like that. I also always love you.” Kim Dokja embraced her tightly. He still owned her a lot.

 

Lee Sookyung padded Kim Dokja’s head to ease him down while looking at Yoo Jonghyuk who inhaled in a deep breath of cold and brittle air to clear his mind. It was true that he succeeded. The freezing atmosphere was very vivid and the cheering was also very lively.

 

Yoo Miah was the first one to congratulate. She had a change of heart after weeks of looking back and evaluating how much Yoo Jonghyuk had changed since he met Kim Dokja. She had never seen him smile that contentedly during the course of her life. She also had never seen him being so certain about something. Especially, she felt being cared for as they decided to part each other for the time being when she wasn’t in her right mind.

 

“I am very sorry for my ignorance. I hope we can be a happy family this time.” Yoo Miah was crying as she tried to hug both of them with her small arms. She was thankful for the given time.

 

Feeling like their effort was paying off, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk unhesitantly held her tight and exchanged their delights.  

 

Biyu was dancing on Celeana’s shoulder, [Captain, you did it. A bit off the script, but still perfect.]

 

“Bastard, couldn’t you tell us prior to this?” Han Sooyoung was irritated because Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t say anything in advance so that they could prepare something as well or at least decorated this place with more dazzling decoration. 

 

“Congratulation, Jonghyuk-ssi, Dokja-ssi.”

 

“OMG, my dream is coming true.”

 

Congratulations and blessings flood over them so much that if these words could be condensed into physical shape, it would reach over the moon.

 

After the successful proposal, the Christmas party was officially started as people started dancing and singing to the old but good Christmas song.

 

However, the fun soon ceased to exist when Celeana suddenly released her status and flew up. 

 

Chapter Text

 

⸢Everyone, be careful.⸥ Celeana yelled to the crowd to prepare themselves as she completed the message to Nora, who was at their base in the Dark Stratum in a fraction of a second.

 

__ Nora, emergency. Tell Plotter to guard our worldline. And you go to check if there was any other hole on the Last Wall. If no, come over to me as soon as possible.

 

Without a delay, Nora picked up the command and did as she said.

 

__ Got it, Master.

 

At the same time, probabilities emitted from her body vigorously fluttered through the air and formed into a barrier over their head. The barrier extended from their location as the locus to ten kilometres radius.

 

“What’s happening, noona?” Kim Dokja worriedly shouted. He hadn’t seen her looked so serious ever before. The squint on her forehead could easily crush a rock into powder. 

 

⸢Jonghyuk, protect Dokja without all cost.⸥ She threw a sword from her spatial pocket to Yoo Jonghyuk as he didn’t bring his sword with him today. It might be not necessary but just in case. She continued, ⸢Everyone else, brace yourself. Someone is trying to break into the dimension.⸥

 

Following her warning, they also started to get into a defensive state and warily looked at the sky over the barrier. But because the system had disappeared from the worldline, even the constellations didn’t have any actual power, let alone the incarnations.

 

Celeana could choose to go to the Dark Stratum and stop them there but she wasn’t sure if it would be a diversionary plan or not. If it was a diversion and she was in the Dark Stratum, she might not come back on time. Additionally, her power of ‘Mother of All Dreams’ still posed some limitations and might not work properly on a larger scale, hence she chose this place to be the battlefield.

 

Not long after, when the sky over them started breaking apart and in the dim light of sunset, two shadows entered the worldline.

 

<Warning, [Last Wall] has been damaged.>

 

The two intruders looked very familiar as they wore the exact same white cloak as Celeana. However, they were slightly different from Celeana because they also wore a white mask over their eyes. On each mask were a different colored gemstone and number symbol in an unknown language that seemed to distinguish their position.

 

They were indeed from the same sect or knew each other as the glare in Celeana’s eyes fixed on the intruders became even more deadly. Although the fire was screaming in her eyes, the probability was still calmly going into and enhancing the barrier.

 

As if the intruders knew that Celeana would never start a conversation with them first, one of them voluntarily stepped up while the other stood still as if he wasn’t giving a damn thing about Celeana. He was looking down on her from above.

 

The one who went forward didn’t have a very good attitude either as he sneered, ⸢Seventh, quit running around like a rat and surrender.⸥ If he successfully triggered Celeana to attack first, then even if he beat her to near death here, he could justify it as self-defense.

 

However, he wasn’t even able to make her pay attention to him, much less cause her to make a move toward him first. The man with the yellow ornament on the mask was furious. Their Mother told the sect that Celeana went into hiding because she was heavily injured and lost a substantial amount of power which made it even possible for him to conquer her, hence he was appointed to this mission. Yet, this woman dared to act so cockily.

 

He released his status, golden aura slowly condensed on his palm into lightning as he tried to taunt her, ⸢Don’t ignore me or you will regret, Seventh.⸥ He despised Celeana, the one who prevented him from step further on his road to the top.

 

Having said that, Celeana still ignored him and focusedly observed the other one with an orange-germ-decorated mask as she knew he was more dangerous than the yellow guy.

 

As though her continuous indifferent face got onto his nerve, the light bolt rapidly expanded in size, the electric current was so hot that it twisted the area surrounding it. And the lightning forthwith struck into Celeana’s direction forming a white zig-zag ripe the air.

 

Although the first strike appeared to be a result of accumulated anger, to the people inside the barrier, everything was just so sudden. They only saw that one of the intruders just said something and immediately pulled out a bolt of lightning from his hand because Celeana didn’t look at him. They couldn’t do anything but felt hard to breathe as the light bolt came closer and closer. It was too fast to dodge.

 

When it seemed like she got nowhere to hide and it would hit her a billion percent, a white orb unexpectedly appeared out of the blue and engulfed the golden lightning. Two opposite energies aggressively clashed emitting bright light causing them to close their eyes for a moment. As the energies destroyed each other, they slowly dissipated.

 

Right after that, Kim Dokja saw Nora standing next to Celeana while bringing up a fierce-looking face to the two intruders. As Nora opened his mouth, Kim Dokja was certain that they would be fine due to the confidence in his voice.

 

⸢Who do you think you are aiming at?⸥ Nora was both furious because the other one dared to hit his Master and because his Master didn’t even bother to avoid it.

 

No one saw this coming but as soon as Nora revealed himself, both of the intruders slightly bowed at him, even the orange one who seemed not to care about anything and stayed silent from the start. 

 

⸢Long time no see, Crown Prince.⸥ The yellow one reluctantly smiled, he once competed with Celeana to receive him as a disciple but failed because Nora insisted on becoming her disciple even when she had already borne the name as a rebeller at the time.

 

Kim Dokja, Yoo Jonghyuk, and Biyu, the only three who had seen Nora before, were petrified by the appellation that Nora was given. Who would know that an over-protective young disciple would have such huge support behind his back that even the intruders who were rude toward Celeana had to pay some respect toward him, although it was just a slight bow, it was still countable.

 

Nora smirked at their totally different attitude, ⸢Cut your crap and go back.⸥ No matter how strong they had become, some wouldn't be able to stop kissing ass. Old habits die hard.

 

The yellow one shook his head while pretending to be helpless in making that kind of decision, ⸢Sorry, Crown Prince, we are under command from ‘Mother’.⸥ His gaze emitted dangerous rays toward Nora like a predator ready to hunt its prey, ⸢If you interfere, I would have to kill you here.⸥

 

Till this very moment, Celeana finally shifted her attention to the yellow guys. Her threatened aura along with her grim expression making his hair stand up on the back of his neck. ⸢Eleventh. Know your place. That is the reason why you could never climb to my brother's empty place.⸥ Her reminder of the harsh reality immediately crushed his self-possession.

 

Her younger brother used to be ‘The Tenth’ when he was still alive. Normally, when a higher position was empty, the one directly below it would ascend to that higher position. However, the rule didn’t work with the ten highest positions because the gap between each number was tremendous from here onward. 

 

Then she turned over the orange one again as if she was irritated with his silence, ⸢And you, Eighth, did the cat get your tongue? Spill out your tea.⸥.

 

As expected, they were also called by their order number, similar to Celeana, ‘The Seventh’. Because ‘The Eleventh’ was astounded and unable to get words out of his mouth, ‘The Eighth’ couldn’t manipulate him anymore and had to use his own mouth now to deliver his objection.

 

⸢’Mother’ commanded you to go back.⸥ He nonchalantly said as if it wasn’t her choice to go back or stay here.

 

Celeana slightly furrowed her brows, ⸢What if I say no?⸥

 

⸢Then we have to force you.⸥ An amber color started emitted from his body, ⸢Don’t hide, we knew that you are not in your prime anymore, so it would be hard for you to fight us and protect them at the same time.⸥ ‘The Eighth’ cast a sidelong glance over the people looking up from under the barrier.

 

As soon as his line finished, ‘The Eleventh’ also took back his rationality and stood next to him with a rain of lightning tumbling down the barrier from behind his back.

 

However, their side wasn’t slow either.

 

Without saying anything, Nora took over the barrier that protected Kim Dokja and others from Celeana so that she could concentrate on the intruders. The translucent barrier quickly turned into frosty blue that represented his attribute, ice, and canceled the lightning downpour creating tingling golden sparkles at the place they hit.

 

While Nora’s role was defending the barrier from stray attacks or residual shockwave, Celeana bluntly charged toward ‘The Eleventh’ who started the assault and gave him a searing kick in the abdomen causing him to fly back.

 

Because he was able to condense his aura in time, he wasn’t injured badly but the aura in the area that received the direct impact shattered into pieces from one center point. ‘The Eleventh’ felt his scalpel prickled as he saw an ice spike come out from the sole of the foot she used to kick him with. A chilling gleam emanated from the sharp ice blade that could literally strike through his abdomen if he didn’t react faster.

 

‘The Eighth’ also didn’t just watch but also straight off summoned his most powerful flame that resembled a long Chinese dragon with dancing fires as spikes along its spine to wrap around a relic spear that could enlarge itself. He struck the amber spear from behind her, who hadn’t kept up her defensive position yet as she just was kicking off the aggressive thunder shower from ‘The Eleventh’.

 

As Celeana sensed an outburst ray of energy along with a swoosh sound, a deep baltic blue flame quickly ignited and formed a protective layer surrounding her. Numerous golden thrash and an enormous blazing spear hit the blue flame creating a sizzling smoke as similar elements clashed with each other. 

 

Celeana used the blue flame that she used to show Kim Dokja because she hadn’t completely recovered from the last battle with ‘Mother’, this was the highest grade fire that she could use at the moment. But it was inadequate for combat as she originally obtained it to create elixirs. As the flames and thunders ate up each other, her blue flame seemed in a disadvantageous position when it couldn’t destroy all of the amber flames after shattering the thunders and she had to transmit another round of mana in the form of probability into the flame. 

 

⸢Hahaha, you think your ‘Blue Lotus Transoceanic Flame’ can beat my ‘Citrine Dragon Flame’.  ⸥ ‘The Eighth’ burst out laughing when he saw Celeana was struggling to cancel their attacks. At this moment, he felt like they could win the battle easily.

 

Celeana clicked her tongue at his laughter because her blue flame was indeed weaker than his orange flame in terms of outburst energy but the strength of a flame wasn’t only determined by the flame itself but also the technique of the owners. And if Celeana said that she was the second-best person in controlling fire, no one would dare to say they were the best. As the injuries on her body heal themselves, Celeana continued to counteract the next collaborative attacks from her junior brothers. 

 

Because the barrier wasn’t translucent anymore and they also collided into each other at the speed that normal human eyes weren't able to catch up with, Kim Dokja had to rely on Biyu and Yoo Jonghyuk as well as some other constellations who could vaguely see their movements to narrate the battle. Similar to Kim Dokja, to most of the former incarnations, they looked like flying blurry shade in the air. 

 

[Shit, I want to help.] Biyu was fuming with heat as Celeana seemed to be fighting her ways out of the flashy magic attacks from ‘The Eleventh’ which were always too fast to dodge, hence she could only receive or deflect it head-on. However, even if Biyu begged, there was no way that Kim Dokja or Yoo Jonghyuk would let her go out of the barrier because this battle wasn’t in their league anymore when they were no longer supported by the system. 

 

In a blink of an eye and they had clashed into each other no less than a hundred times. Colorful streaks and sparkling explosions crossed all over the sky, ripen the cloud into nothing. It might look beautiful from inside but they knew that it was wretchedly boiling in the battle area due to visible heat waves like fumes rippled the air. 

 

⸢Will she be able to win against both of them?⸥ Uriel felt worried for her new best friend as she saw Celeana’s always-clean white cloak was soaked with blood and became tatty as the battle went on.

 

Kim Dokja clasped his hand together into a prayer gesture in front of his mouth. He hardly inhaled any air as something heavy kept weighed down on his chest. Yoo Jonghyuk gave him an assuring back hug as they continued to observe the development.

 

As if Nora from outside the barrier could also feel the intense pressure, he transmitted his message inside to calm them down. He had no doubt that his Master would win the fight.

 

⸢Please don’t worry. Everything is in control.⸥

 

His word was able to ease them down a bit but wouldn’t stop them from looking up at the sky. Yoo Jonghyuk couldn’t see all of their movement but he could see that the movement of ‘The Eleventh’ had become slower and blunter compared to the first attack while Celeana still retained her speed and strength.

 

⸢Isn’t one of them getting slower?⸥ Yoo Jonghyuk asked for confirmation from the other constellations.

 

Great Sage squinted his eyes as he nodded in agreement, ⸢Yes, he probably is running out of stamina and probability.⸥

 

Uriel, Gabriel, and Black Flame Dragon also gave the same response. And their observation was totally accurate.

 

‘The Eleventh’ had slowed down dramatically while ‘The Eighth’ only diminished a bit in power, hence they couldn’t distinguish the differences. Whereas, although she was consistently receiving damages from them, Celeana was unharmed and still able to maintain her performance.

 

Chapter Text

 

Did they think they could win a healer type warrior who had high physical and mana regenerating ability in a prolonged battle? If her stamina ran on empty, Celeana could brush it aside by munching on stamina elixir and pills. Extending the battle was her strategy to deal with many people who were weaker than her that used her advantage to its fullest strength. 

 

⸢I’m not done yet. ‘Destructive Thunder Palm⸥ ‘The Eleventh’ roared like a storm emerging from the horizon as he compressed every last bit of his probability-form mana into a full blast whack to her blind spot. Although thunder or in other words, electrical element was stronger in speed and explosive power which make it perfect for one-hit-one-kill or short type of combat, it also consumed a lot of probability which would make him become more disadvantaged the longer the fight.

 

Because of that, Celeana effortlessly parried the blow by turning around and swinging her ice blade at the golden thunder palm. He quickly backed off as soon as she raised her blade and even before the palm shattered. However, in a fraction of a second, Celeana suddenly appeared in front of ‘The Eleventh’. He blankly stared at her and took a step back while slowly looking down.

 

He didn’t know since when the ice blade had pierced his chest and he felt cold from inside out as if he was buried under snow for hours. She even used teleportation to make sure that this strike would hit him. ⸢You...⸥ The curse couldn’t completely come out of his mouth as ‘The Eleventh’ was frozen into a solid figure without a single heartbeat or breath.

 

⸢This is why I said you are not ready to be ‘The Tenth’ yet, kiddo.⸥ She said in a hushed tone as Celeana took out her blade from the frozen body and lifted it up high like she was going to break ‘The Eleventh’ into small pieces, ‘The Eighth’ who was rushing over instantly captured him into his spatial bag.

 

Even if the body was ruined, if the soul wasn’t damaged, they would be able to bring him back to life. But that would be a complex process and ‘The Eleventh’ might have to cultivate for a long time before reaching his current stage.

 

Without ‘The Eleventh’ the fight had become one on one which was even more favourable toward Celeana because she didn’t need to split half of her attention onto him anymore and could wholeheartedly take care of ‘The Eighth’. 

 

⸢Be prepared.⸥ She warned as her face was alighted with mischief and boldness. She wasn’t able to fight all out in a while, hence this was a good opportunity to sharpen her combat skills.

 

Her aura materialised into an arch where the ice blade became the arrow that was wrapped around by ‘Blue Lotus Transoceanic Flame’. If the target was hit by this combined arrow, it would feel frozen and melted at the same time. Without a second thought, the arrow flew straight at the person who was closing off his spatial bag. The wounded air emitted some soundless shriek as the arrow penetrated it.

 

‘The Eighth’ immediately struck his relic spear in the opposite way with the arrow in the hope that it would stop it. The sound of two weapons clanged into each other resembled the ancestral cry to warriors who shared the same root but had to fight each other in a death and life battle. The spear was able to stop the arrow but he was also pushed back.

 

Celeana’s counteract attacks didn’t end here. Different elemental magics were endlessly carried out, ‘Open Mountain Seal’, ‘Submerging Sky Slash’, ‘Red Angelic Flame Orb’, ‘Fence of Mother Nature’ and even ‘Destructive Thunder Palm’. These were their signature skills that were passed on for disciples in their sect depending on their elemental affinity while Celeana could skillfully perform all of them. That's how a monster Celeana was. 

 

Due to his terminated stamina and probability that even the use of elixirs couldn’t replenish the empty tank as the probability net was still negative, ‘The Eighth’ soon found him kneeled on both of his knees while throwing up a mouthful of black blood. The mask on his face also ripened into half exposing his shaking pupils.

 

⸢How come.⸥ He mumbled. He thought that today he would be able to prove to Mother that he was as strong as ‘The Seventh’ and she wouldn’t need to worry that they got no one to replace her. But he, no, it should be them, all of the people who she called ‘her children’ and named after their position didn’t know her actual intention under the mask of a loving mother.

 

As ‘The Eighth’ looked at Celeana who was looking at him from above, he asked. ⸢Will you now kill me?⸥ He wasn’t scared of death anyway because the only one who should kill was those who were ready to be killed, ⸢I’m ready.⸥

 

When he prepared to close his eyes and awaited the arrival of death, he heard Celeana chuckled and said something unexpected.

 

⸢This is the reason why I couldn’t hate you all the way.⸥ Celeana chuckled followed by a heavy sigh as if she was disappointed to not be able to kill him, ⸢Shut up and didn’t say anything. I know you didn’t use your trump card either.⸥ She knew that he wouldn’t do it out of his own will because ten of them were the closest of all people. And if he really wanted to fight her, the battle wouldn’t end this easily.

 

Because of this reaction of her, ‘The Eighth’ was touched as he slowly recalled of their past together since they were still a bunch of little kids sneaking around at night time for snacks till the point they reached the highest stage of cultivation and awaited for ‘it’ to come and let them accomplished their life-long mission. ⸢Se...senior sister...⸥ He stammered in the same way he used to when he was still young.

 

Pretending like she didn’t hear that, Celeana changed her cloak into a new one as she couldn’t even stand the filthiness of the old one after the extravagant fight. ‘The Eighth’ slightly flinched as her hand was magnified in his vision and the aura that was excruciating to the touch was so peaceful as his mask mending into its original state covering his two black eyes. This was the same aura that healed their injuries in every single operation back in the day. 

 

⸢This should be good.⸥ Celeana prioritised his mask because according to their rules, revealing their identity to others was a grave sin. Even if he successfully captured her today, Mother still would punish him for letting his mask ripen off.

 

Because the battle had ended, Nora also left his designated position and came over to Celeana with the wounded ‘The Eight’ on the ground. Although he was born late, Nora also knew the good relationship between the first ten people from his parent’s talk, so he wasn’t wary about ‘The Eighth’ as much as ‘The Eleventh’, who probably had monitored ‘The Eighth’ under the Mother ’s command. That was also the reason why Celeana decided to defeat ‘The Eleventh’ first. 

 

Nora gave him an appropriate bow as he approached them, ⸢Junior Uncle Eighth, long time no see.⸥ Nora used to come over to his residence a few times with his parents or his Master, so they knew each other quite a bit.

 

‘The Eighth’ debilitatingly put on a smile while he received some basic treatments from Celeana so that he would look beaten, but not actually seriously injured, ⸢Your parents told me to tell you that you should come home sometimes.⸥ He partly agreed with Nora’s parents because who wouldn’t miss their only child, especially, ‘The Eighth’ stressed his words, ⸢You are a crown prince after all.⸥

 

⸢See. I am not the only one wanting you to go back.⸥ Celeana raised her eyebrows like she was the winner in the argument that lasted between them from time to time.

 

Nora flared his nose as he declared that he wouldn’t budge an inch on his opinion. It wasn’t because he hated going home or scared of their foster mother, he just wanted to be with his Master, the second mother, who had looked after him since he was still in his mother’s womb. But he was the type to speak one way and think another. ⸢I need to supervise her so that she will not something stupid.⸥

 

Celeana surely in ‘The Eighth’ memory was a risk-taker so he gladly accepted that reason and planned to report his exact same word as Nora’s parents had asked. Nora’s father was one of Celeana’s disciples at her golden era, he would definitely understand how Nora felt at the moment because when she was still young, Celeana was used to being much bolder than this. She could be considered a trouble maker within the ten of them. 

 

After Celeana had healed a bit of his wound to the degree she thought would be able to deceive Mother , without beating around the bush, she asked. ⸢So what did she say exactly?⸥

 

‘The Eighth’ instantly understood she was talking about Mother because she always asked to hand down her message to whatever person whom the mission was subjected to.

 

As the message was slowly unwrapped. His body shivered and released an unmeasurable aura as it started floating in the air again. A female voice that was not his own emitted from his throat. 

 

As soon as Celeana heard the first word come out, she recognised that was indeed Mother .

 

⸢Seventh, my lovely child.⸥ His hands involuntarily put over his heart, the curve of his lips was also ridiculously tender, ⸢Come back to my side if you wanted to know who you are.⸥ 

 

Her voice echoed throughout the atmosphere reaching the ears of the people who were running to the site right after the barrier disappeared. They were curious about what was going on between Celeana and the intruders.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk carried Kim Dokja on his back because Kim Dokja was slow but he wanted to come there as quickly as possible. Biyu was also flying right after their backs. The rest of the crowd had divided each other to examine the surrounding area for any damage.

 

As a female voice rang inside their ears, Yoo Jonghyuk and Biyu hastily accelerated, and soon after, they saw Celeana and Nora standing next to one of the intruders. However, they looked as small as an ant due to the long distance resulting in that they couldn’t eavesdrop on their conversation at all.

 

⸢That’s everything.⸥ ‘The Eighth’ who had come back to his senses calmly replied to Celeana’s question.

 

She was disconcerted because the message was very vague and her mind was also hazy at the moment from trying to figure out what Mother meant by that. 

 

Who am I? Celeana also wondered to herself. It could be a bluff Mother created to intrigue her, but if it really was her missing memories, then it would be another story. 

 

Celeana had always been putting up an act of a person who would repress her memory to forget about the past as a cover for the fact that she had missing holes in her memory that no one seemed to know anything about or they knew but didn’t tell her.

 

She wanted to come back just for those memories but her instinct, the voice in her spiritual sea told her to keep her mind straight and not fall for her honey trap. Hence Celeana decided to react as if she didn’t understand her message.

 

⸢Hahaha, does she think that will work on me?⸥ Celeana laughed so hard that even tears were forcefully left in their home in the tear duct to come out. ⸢Tell her to send over some stronger one next time.⸥ Celeana winked at ‘The Eighth’ who half-stepped over a portal. 

 

‘The Eighth’ slightly nodded to convey his comprehension toward her words before he completely vanished.

 

Right after the uninvited guests disappeared, the other people also finally came along.

 

[Master.] Biyu delightedly screamed as Celeana seemed as good as ever. Although Nora was literally standing next to her, Biyu just passed him because to her, he barely contributed anything to the battle.

 

“What are you laughing about?” Kim Dokja, the inquisitive cat, who just arrived immediately jumped off his fiance’s back and ran over to Celeana. He had the eagerness to know about it before anyone else because he wasn’t able to see the whole fight.

 

Celeana waved her hand at them as she wiped the tears out of their place and light-heartedly explained what happened. It was simply nothing but a scam for Mother. And their largest concern at the moment was the broken [Last Wall]. Kim Dokja had never tried to fix [Last Wall] and Biyu as a Dokkaebi King also had never heard about it. However, because [Last Wall] was made up of [Fable], she tried to input her [Fable] in to seal the broken place. It was a half-success according to the system’s announcements. The shattered sky on top of their head started to recover into its normal shape.

 

<[Fables] are written on [Last Wall].>

 

<The inserted [Fable] are not applicable to [Last Wall]>

 

<[Last Wall] is temporarily repaired. Countdown to disintegration day, starting in XXX days.>

 

“So [Last Wall] didn’t accept the [Fable] of the owner?” Kim Dokja speculated about his interpretation of the announcement. 

 

Biyu flapped her two short arms as she sat on Celeana’s shoulder, [It looks that way, Father.]

 

Yoo Jonghyuk frowned forming a deep line between his brows because if [Last Wall] didn’t use Celeana’s stories, they would have to use the stories from the incarnation who would be able to reach the [Last Wall] at the end of the scenario. Although they had ‘Outer Gods’ who could also record their [Fable] on [Last Wall], it would also only be a temporary solution because the hole caused by the intruders was enormous and required a substantial amount of [Fable] to continue healing. Especially, if they would have future attacks.

 

At this moment, Celeana was sitting on the fence. She got two options, one was to let the system continue to collect [Fable] that fixed [Last Wall] or destroy the system and waited for the intrusion of other dimensions when the protective barrier disintegrated. But as none of these options fitted her ideal goal, Celeana bitterly gritted her teeth.

 

“What are you going to do now?” Yoo Jonghyuk asked in hope that Celeana would surprise them again with her power. But this time he had to be disappointed because the power of ‘Mother of All Dream’ wasn’t omniscient either. It couldn’t change the nature of [Last Wall] unless it was updated in some ways.

 

Celeana bit her lower lip as she said, ⸢I will try to find another way. We still have some time left.⸥ She still had a few years' worths of time from her [Fable] and the ‘Outer Gods’ [Fable], so they could set the matter aside for a moment at this stage.

 

“We will think of a solution as well.” Kim Dokja gently padded her back to ease the tension between her muscles down, “I have talented and reliable companions.” Kim Dokja had a firm belief in his companions who always were a good help in those kinds of situations.

 

[Me too, Master. I will help you beat the shit out of the bad guys next time.] Biyu puffed her chest out as a way to show her power.

 

Nora was the quickest to respond as he pouted, ⸢You gonna need more practice, Biyu.⸥

 

And of course, Biyu would be angry with his comment. The furry ball became even more furry and fuzzy as the hair stood straight up while hissing, [I will beat you one day, hyung.]

 

⸢Try your best.⸥ Nora pursed his mouth in a provoking smirk.

 

Celeana immediately stamped out the smell of gunpowder leaking out from their conversation. This fight was totally meaningless because neither of them would be able to fight against any of the next intruders, who would be at least ten folds stronger than ‘The Eighth’ that made Celeana wasn’t confident in herself either.

 

⸢Stop it here, Nora, Biyu.⸥ Celeana sternly called out for their name as she continued, ⸢We have to go now. I am a bit worried about other parts of the wall as well.⸥ Although Nora had checked around the Dark Stratum before going to the 1864th worldlines, he didn’t check all around the dimension when it was simply too big to do a quick check. Now, they had to go back and do a thorough investigation.

 

As Kim Dokja saw Celeana and Nora preparing to leave, he gave her a quick hug instead of a thank you for looking after him in the past few days as well as helping Yoo Jonghyuk set up the proposal. Whereas Yoo Jonghyuk only calmly said goodbye.

 

After the intruder incident was hard work in both worldlines. Right after leaving the 1864th worldline, Celeana and Nora met up with ‘Secretive Plotter’ in the Dark Stratum for a quick meeting before heading to do their assigned task. Celeana and Nora were responsible for examining every inch on the [Last Wall] to find any crack or hole while ‘Secretive Plotter’ would contact the wandering ‘Outer Gods’ who hadn’t recorded their [Fable] onto the [Last Wall] yet. Then, they would use these [Fable] to mend the smaller cracks or holes that they found earlier on after Celeana had revived these ‘Outer God’s ruined worldlines, so that they could finally come home ending their drifting years.

 

Although they already had their hands full, Celeana and ‘Secretive Plotter’ tried their best to spend some time at home with Kim Dokja who was also burnt off with revisions for final exams at the end of the school year. He only got two weeks to revise everything for every subject he took and Kim Dokja wasn’t really in the mood to study, especially when it was subsequent to his birthday holiday. This was his first high school final exam, so Kim Dokja was very stressed out. He didn’t want to let them down, especially Uriel and ‘Secretive Plotter’ who helped him with his revisions the most.

 

However, not only this Kim Dokja had his plate full, the other Kim Dokja also didn’t escape the fate of roleplaying a bee. Because Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t let them know about the proposal, all members of <Kim Dokja’s Company> agreed that they would take care of everything in the preparation of the wedding which could happen in one or two months. When they meant everything, it literally was everything from choosing a revenue that fits Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk’s taste and theme of the wedding, to arranging the wedding planners team and booking personally designed wedding costumes.

 

Celeana was tempted to contact her junior sister, ‘The Ninth’ and asked for a special request on designing wedding suits because she was the one who made the prettiest wedding gown that she had ever seen for their senior sister’s wedding, ‘The Fifth’. Still, luckily, they stopped her on time, or else their effort of fighting the intruders some weeks ago would be gone because Celeana would put her head into the trap by herself again.

 

But because Celeana would like to take part in the preparation as well, Yoo Jonghyuk asked her to find his parents. He didn’t know who they were but if they were fortunate enough to survive the scenario, Yoo Jonghyuk, and Yoo Miah would be thrilled to see them for the first time. And of course, Celeana gladly accepted the request.

 

Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk’s wedding stirred up some spectacles within their groups at the time it was announced because it was the first official homosexual wedding. And the main point was that it was KIM DOKJA AND YOO JONGHYUK, KIM DOKJA AND YOO JONGHYUK, KIM DOKJA AND YOO JONGHYUK’S WEDDING. The important thing had to be repeated three times. No former incarnation or constellation within their group was not hyped for the wedding of the decade between the undefeatable couple. Hence Han Sooyoung had to find a bigger avenue that could fit in all the guests.

 

As a way to both appreciate the past and look forward to the future, Kim Dokja wanted the theme of the ceremony to be ‘Starry Night’ that partly reminded him about <Star Stream>’s system and the constellation. Hence the decoration would be mainly along with the color scheme of blue, purple, black, and white. Everything that was chosen was the best quality that they could find at the moment because the budget wasn’t a problem if we were talking about the wealth of <Kim Dokja’s Company> as well as ‘Empyreal Realm Idol Group’ aka M.A.D that stood for Monkey, Archangel and Dragon.

 

And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a fight over the position of groomsmen or groomswomen and Man of Honor. In the end, Han Sooyoung and Yoo Miah won the competition for the positions of Man of Honors, followed by Lee Gilyoung, Shin Yoosung, Jung Heewon, and Lee Jihye as groomsmen and groomswomen.

 

Despite the wedding day approaching, both of the main characters were so chill and relaxed, a complete 180 degrees from the people running around preparing for the wedding as if it was their own. Yoo Jonghyuk continued his job as a streamer while spending his peaceful days with his fiance, Kim Dokja. Kim Dokja was also thankful for Han Sooyoung for asking the university human resource’s department not to fire him due to his sudden and long vacation, or else he would be jobless for now. He wasn’t worried about finance, but he would be bored from staying home all day.

 

Then, in a blink of an eye, it was the wedding day. And for Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk, at last, the pressure hit them late but hard as Kim Dokja was on the verge of breaking down from anxiety while Yoo Jonghyuk stayed up all night the night before the wedding.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

“Noooo, I don’t think I can make it today.” Kim Dokja grumbled while wrapping himself tightly in the fluffy blanket to fight off the chilliness of winter. It was so cold that he wouldn’t even want to step out of bed, let alone getting married.

 

Han Sooyoung, the Man of Honor on Kim Dokja’s side, tried her best to pull Kim Dokja out of bed while not tempting to hit him because it wouldn’t be nice for the groom to have a bump on his head on his wedding day.

 

“Wake up, you stupid Dokja.” She knew only too well his excuse. Kim Dokja wasn’t sleepy, he was just anxious from the experience. “It will be fine.” She encouraged him.

 

“It’s not.” Kim Dokja cuddled his head deeper inside the blanket as if it was someone’s warm yet firm chest. Yoo Jonghyuk and he didn’t sleep together last night as Uriel said that it would be unlucky if the partners saw each other on the wedding day before the wedding ceremony, so Kim Dokja decided to sleep over in the dorm while Yoo Jonghyuk would stay at home.

 

That was probably the reason why Yoo Jonghyuk couldn’t sleep last night. He missed his human formed pillow. But it was better on Yoo Jonghyuk said as Yoo Miah was there to direct her blank-headed brother to get on with the preparation. She was determined to make her brother the most handsome groom in the universe.

 

Back to Kim Dokja who was laying on his bed, although Han Sooyoung saw through his worries, she still had to pull him out for a bunch of treatment that was waiting in line to boost his beauty for the important day. 

 

“Come on, you lazy ass. Isn’t today the day you are looking forward to the most?” Han Sooyoung sighed in such a gentle manner to make sure Kim Dokja wouldn’t hear it. She never quite got this man at all. He was still joking around so energetically yesterday.

 

Hiding in his blanket, Kim Dokja was completely alert of what was happening around him. He heard Han Sooyoung’s rare inspiring words and her secret sighs. But he also could hear his heart beating loudly in the chest and his alertness somehow evolved into anxiety. Kim Dokja could feel an ominous feeling crawling around his stomach making him want to vomit but he knew that even if he would, there would be nothing but gastric acid would come out as Kim Dokja barely ate anything the night before.

 

Kim Dokja squeezed his face hard against the blanket while mumbling his fiance’s name, “Jonghyuk-yah.” For some reason, he was not ready for this moment, the moment where they would officially be together without holding back.

 

When Kim Dokja was about to close his eyes and ignored everything else, one sentence said by Han Sooyoung caught his ears.

 

“Don’t forget why you started?”

 

Of course, how could he forget the reason why they are going to go through the ceremony today. 

 

It was because they wanted to be together without separation ever again.

 

It was because they finally understood each other’s hearts.

 

He had always liked Yoo Jonghyuk and tried his best to support him. He wanted to become a part of his life.

 

That was his original desire.

 

If the other person was Yoo Jonghyuk, no matter how many times it was, he willingly took the initiative. 

 

And now when his desire was finally fulfilled.

 

Why shouldn’t he be hesitant?

 

Even though his adrenaline was still high rushing through the blood vessel waking up all the cells inside his body, his mind was clearer than at any other time. Kim Dokja slowly unwrapped himself from the blanket and sat up.

 

“You took so long this time.” A smirk was caught on Han Sooyoung’s lips.

 

The ceremony took place in the evening, hence it wasn’t so rushed for the groomsmen, groomswomen and Men of Honors to get ready with the grooms. They took their time and didn’t miss any step. Yoo Jonghyuk and Kim Dokja were literally transformed into a different person, especially from the bath bombs that didn’t have a really pleasant scent given by Celeana in hurry from the day before. Their skin and hair were so shiny and plumbing looked like they had received extremely careful skincare for the last month rather than just over a morning. 

 

It was busy at the dorm and Yoo Jonghyuk’s house, but the avenue where the ceremony would be taken was the real deal. The background, decoration, and infrastructure were done in advance but they also needed to set up the flowers that were freshly picked this early morning, a gigantic wedding cake that was carefully decorated with star and moon as well as the chef team who would be responsible for the feast after the ceremony.

 

According to Lee Sookyung’s wish, the wedding would include both a Western wedding ceremony and a Korean traditional ceremony before the actual banquet in the evening. Despite the fact that the ceremony would be in the evening, as soon as the avenue was ready to function, guests also started to arrive. This wasn’t a grand wedding compared to other famous people due to the small and limited number of guests, but none of the guests were just some normies during the scenario.

 

Family members, members from <Kim Dokja’s Company> and the ‘Empyreal Realm Idol Group’ as well as Kyrgios Rodgraim and Breaking the Sky Sword Saint were undoubtedly invited. Former constellations from the <Hongik> nebula and Surya who helped them a lot in the scenario were no exception. From <Underworld>, not only Persephone but the three judges of the dead also came. As for the <Olympus>, except for Zeus, Poseidon, and Hera, the other gods of the twelve gods of Olympus also participated. Other archangels who survived the ‘Last War’ such as Jophiel, Gabriel or Raphael were also invited. Even the former constellation and incarnations from <Asgard>, <Vedas>, <Emperor>, <Papyrus> and Japan, U.S.A, and other countries who had joined Yoo Jonghyuk for his 1865th regression were also there.

 

The haul where the ceremony would begin in 5 minutes was packed full of guests. Up the ceiling were lanterns and led lights representing gleaming stars on the dark sky. On the wall where self-designed frames of twisted and wavy lines decorated with more flowers and sparkling lights. In the middle of the haul was the flower aisle that was embedded with special magic circles. And on the guest tables, there was an illusion of an oak tree whose leaves were little flickering glitters.

 

As the clock slowly turned its arms toward 6.00 p.m, Yoo Jonghyuk and Yoo Miah stepped into the haul and stood on the altar placed at the end of the aisle. The moment he made his appearance, the noise ceased to exist as it was also the moment for the other groom, Kim Dokja to show up.

 

As the large door leading to the wedding hall opened up, Jung Heewon and Lee Jihye were the first ones to step in, followed by Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung on their left. They were all wearing grey long chiffon a-line dresses and suits. Right after them was Han Sooyoung with the same chiffon dress with a lighter grey as a transitional shade. As if they all knew what was coming after the Man of Honor, people stopped all the things they were doing and all eyes were on the hazy space at the entrance. The pressure was building up in the atmosphere as the waiting time lengthened. 

 

About a minute later, Kim Dokja in his specially designed white tuxedo finally appeared for the first time in the ceremony. Usually, this would be the role of the father but Lee Sookyung took over it and walked her son down the aisle on his right. The pressure also broke out hitting Kim Dokja on all sides as gaze glanced from his head to toes. 

 

With each step forward, Kim Dokja felt like he could faint as his ears started buzzing and his leg muscles became stiffened to prevent him from walking any further. Kim Dokja was looking forward to this moment, but when he caught the glimpse of the figure of the man who he would give his vow to standing at the altar, his heart suddenly beating so fast that it could come out of his chest. However, as the grasp of his mother’s hand became tighter to calm him down, the uncertainty within his eyes gradually vanished. Kim Dokja held his chest high and walked while ice magic would be formed into frosty glass patterns shooting in the sky and burst into a rain of sparkles with his every step.

  

‘In the middle of the long road full of detours, I became aware of the thing I mustn't lose.’

 

The aisle wasn’t that long but Kim Dokja felt like he had walked for a thousand autumns. Applause spread across the hall, there was the scraping of the chairs as their family and friends stood all up for ovation and awaiting for Kim Dokja to make his final move to the altar. Yoo Jonghyuk with a black tuxedo and neatly brushed up hair gently received Kim Dokja’s hand from his mother and escorted him up the altar facing Celeana, who was honored to be the official for today’s special event. Before Lee Sookyung came to her position, she hugged both of them, saying “I’m proud of you two.”

 

‘After overcoming the suffering, our eyes call out to each other.’

 

When Kim Dokja could see the man’s large and textured hand offered out, he immediately accepted it while raising his head up to look closely at Yoo Jonghyuk’s handsome face. They didn’t say anything except exchange their emotions through the looks in their eyes as they listened to the official’s opening lines. Being with him in this large hall was overwhelming. The soft classical music playing in the background was dominated by Celeana’s clear yet gentle voice. 

 

‘This is a bond that was found by fate itself.’

 

Celeana let the guests sit down, then continued with her speech about them, the most important people of the wedding, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk. Thank you to the guest for attending and becoming the witnesses for the acknowledgment of their relationship which would become even stronger, deeper and better. The relationship that started with some words on the paper, nourished through pains, sweat, and tears but would not end here without each other. A love story that surpassed the principles of time and space. A love story that would be written over and over again without losing its truest meaning.

 

‘In a world that was filled with things that were breaking apart, our encounter was the only event that will last forever.’

 

Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk had never thought they would be able to come this far and attended their own wedding ceremony. Till this point, marriage wasn’t so important to them as they had been together for so long, longer than anyone could count but it was still definitely a significant moment. Wedding or marriage was not merely a ring worn or a paper signed but the mark of time when two souls officially merged into one, two hearts beat the same beat and each would sacrifice for the other’s happiness and wellbeing. Marriage was a blessing given to the other one as a significant soul-mate.

 

‘Flickering tears and twinkling stars are nothing but the light from the past.’

 

It was their turn to speak their vows to each other. The vows that they had hidden from each other for the past month were read out loud. Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk blamed their shaking voices for the immense waves of emotions constantly hitting on their vocal cords. The vows weren’t long but filled with meaningful memories and words. Their loves and hates. Their rough journey to finally realise their feelings. Their struggles to let go of the past and welcome the future. Their pledge to honor and respect in front of the witnesses of their families and friends. And always be together as ‘partners in life and death’.

 

‘Nothing in this world happened by chance. And this moment too is an inevitable miracle.’

 

Then at the end of the vow, they exchanged their rings, the symbol of their eternal love and commitment. Thank you for the scenario that they could meet the person they loved the most. And if going through that living hell again was the only way for them to be able to meet each other, Kim Dokja would selfishly take back his power of ‘Most Ancient Dream’ and Yoo Jonghyuk would willingly make the same choice as in his 0th regression worldline. Their stories together, no matter whatever harsh fate or tragic irony they had to overcome, they would definitely write till the end.

 

‘The love between our connected fingertips is something that even sorcery can’t break.’

 

As soon as Celeana pronounced them as partners, tears welling up in Kim Dokja’s eyes abruptly came out at once. One drop gradually became one endless stream of tears of pleasure. Yoo Jonghyuk gently wrapped his arms around the slender partner and used his lips to find the other’s lips for a kiss that he had longed. The kiss mixed with tears deeply touched their hearts and surprisingly didn’t taste like salt or bitter-sweet but pure contentment and cherish.

 

‘After passing through the scattered worldline, we will reach the door to our paradise.’

 

“I love you, Dokja.” Yoo Jonghyuk at last could be brave enough to say the three words wholeheartedly.

 

‘If love is a prayer, then offer it without restraint for the sake of protecting the broken smile of yours.’

 

“Me too.” Kim Dokja mumbled as emotions flooded over him when he tried to comprehend what he just heard. 

 

Greater than looking or hugging each other one hundred times was one kiss.

 

Greater than hearing, ‘You’re important’ one hundred times was hearing ‘I love you’ once.

 

Greater than millions of people over there was the only one special partner who would always be by his side even if the world turned its back on him.

 

In the photo that was taken during the vows, the taller man who looked very composed, but his eyes were occupied by kindness, held the smaller man in his embrace with dedication and carefulness. 

 

After the wedding was a small Korean traditional wedding ceremony called Gyebaek which was exclusive for family members. While they set up the stage, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk went back to the costume room to change into special wedding hanboks. As traditions, they would bow to their parents who were seated behind a low table stocked with traditional and symbolic food such as chestnuts, jujubes, and dried persimmons. They then would offer them wine from a gourd grown. If the parents accepted the partner of their kids, they would drink it and bless them with good wishes.

 

On Kim Dokja’s side was Lee Sookyung and Persephone while on Yoo Jonghyuk’s side was Celeana and ‘Secretive Plotter’. Because they couldn’t find out who were Yoo Jonghyuk’s parents whereas the wedding was coming up. They didn’t want to give up yet and said that they didn’t exist in the first place or had already died. So Kim Dokja suggested that Celeana should be in the position of parents for Yoo Jonghyuk because Yoo Jonghyuk himself didn’t oppose that idea either, maybe due to his respect for Celeana. However, it was unexpected that ‘Secretive Plotter’ not only decided to attend their weddings but also sat at the parent positions.

 

Finishing the Gyebaek, they changed their attire again into a less formal suit, so that they could move around easier during the banquet to greet the guest at their tables as well as danced when Uriel, Great Sage, and Black Flame Dragon presented a grand performance for their wedding. Upbeat music and great food was the perfect ending for the night.

 

However, the special event of the night only began when the shoe game started and Celeana continued to be the host.

 

⸢Okay, are you ready now?⸥ Celeana asked with excitement clearly shown in her voice as she looked at Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk sitting back to back and holding on their hands one black shoe and one white shoe each.

 

The game was simple. Celeana, the host will ask a series of questions and they could raise either the white shoe representing Kim Dokja or the black shoe representing Yoo Jonghyuk to answer the questions.

 

As they looked a bit tense, Celeana gestured her hands signaling that it would be fun while saying, ⸢It’s just gonna be some simple questions. What can go wrong?⸥

 

As soon as she said so, inside the crowd, someone said out loud “Everything.” causing everyone to break out laughing while Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk also couldn’t help themselves but snickered and stared at Han Sooyoung, the one who just made the joke.

 

⸢Okay. I will start now.⸥ Celeana coughed as she read out the first question, ⸢First question, so who is the one in charge...⸥

 

“Hhahah…”

 

Kim Dokja confusedly looked at the crowd that burst out laughing again before he turned to Celeana who was also tearing up due to laughter.

 

⸢No, not yet, Jonghyuk.⸥ Celeana shook her head looking at Yoo Jonghyuk’s serious face. 

 

Because Kim Dokja was facing Yoo Jonghyuk back to back, hence he couldn’t see what just happened.

 

As Celeana allowed him to turn back to have a glimpse while she said to the crowd, ⸢Lady and gentleman, we could end it here, couldn’t we?⸥

 

Kim Dokja also giggled as he saw Yoo Jonghyuk had already raised the white shoe in the sky despite knowing what the question was about. He gently jabbed his elbow into his partner’s back without saying anything because he didn’t know if he should praise Yoo Jonghyuk for that bold answer or not.

 

Meanwhile, the crowd was still excited because the once fierce ‘Supreme King’ - Yoo Jonghyuk, who did whatever he liked without being afraid of anything, would have the day when he stepped down and let other people be ‘in charge’, especially when the other person was Kim Dokja, the person who was his best companion but also his worst enemies.

 

⸢Shall we do it again guys?⸥ Celeana tried to calm down the crowd as she read the question again, ⸢So who was the one in charge of the name <Kim Dokja’s Company>?⸥

 

Not everyone who took part in the wedding was popular enough to be invited to the ‘Constellation Banquet’ and got the chance to see the birth of <Kim Dokja’s Company>, hence they were looking forward to the answer. However, from the name, the throbbing vein on Yoo Jonghyuk’s head, and the shrugged shoulders of Kim Dokja when they mentioned the time when they named their nebula, people could easily guess who was in charge.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk maintained the white shoe in the sky while Kim Dokja was reluctant to. He still remembered the angry face of Yoo Jonghyuk wanting to change the name of their nebula, but till the end, it still remained the same.

 

⸢Don’t be scared Dokja-yah.⸥ Celeana encouraged him to give out his answer because it wasn’t a big deal anymore when the name <Kim Dokja’s Company> was only a name of the nebula of a past.

 

As Kim Dokja swallowed his dry saliva, he slowly raised his white shoe in the screams of the crowd.

 

Then, Celeana continued with the next question, ⸢Who was the one that made the first move?⸥

 

As soon as the question ended, both of them raised their answer.

 

⸢Ahh, so you both take the credit for yourself huh.⸥ Celeana snickered as they secretly turned back and pouted at each other.

 

Because their relationship was a bit complex, so it was difficult to determine who made the first move as well, hence the crowd temporarily accepted their answer as they moved onto the next question.

 

⸢Who was the one that apologizes first?⸥

 

And the answer was unexpected because both of them raised the black shoe which meant Yoo Jonghyuk would actively go and say sorry. Such a rare and insane scene to see.

 

Celeana didn’t know who said it but among the crowd, suddenly a strange person sighed as that person uttered the secret desire, “I wish that I could see that scene with my own eyes.”

 

Some people who used to be fed up with Yoo Jonghyuk’s nonchalant expression also took a liking to that weirdly popular opinion when the crowds started chatting about how much they wanted to see the apologetic and pity face that Yoo Jonghyuk would make when he said sorry to Kim Dokja. As they were quite drunk and didn’t bother to control the volume of the voice, Yoo Jonghyuk for sure was able to hear it and consequently throwing a deadly glare into the direction of those people.

 

Taking full advantage of the burning atmosphere, Celeana chose out the hot question of the day making the crowd put on a mischievous smile and raised their curiosity to the maximum level. ⸢Who was the better kisser?⸥

 

While the crowd was bidding to each other who was the one with higher kissing skills, Yoo Jonghyuk confidently raised his shoe while Kim Dokja also raised his.

 

As he heard the crowd went ‘Woooh’, Kim Dokja sneakily took a glance at Yoo Jonghyuk’s answer before he put down the white shoe and also raised the black one up.

 

⸢Hahaha.⸥ Celeana along with everyone had a good laugh at the grooms’ reaction.

 

The next two questions were quite standard as Yoo Jonghyuk was voted for having a shorter attention span and Kim Dokja was chosen to be the one who listened to other people more often. They couldn’t not accept these answers because they were undeniable and everyone in this avenue could prove the answers to be totally correct.

 

But the last question was the most important thing because it was specially written by Lee Sookyung for this section.

 

⸢Who is the one who deserved to be love?⸥ Celeana read the question slowly to increase the tension in the atmosphere.

 

The crowd looked at each other as the question was easy to answer because they only needed to choose the other one, didn’t they? However that wasn’t the answer Lee Sookyung was looking for when she wrote down the question and she was certain that, if they actually loved each other, they would know how to answer it perfectly.

 

As expected by Lee Sookyung, without any hesitation or looking at each other’s answer, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk both stood up and raised both shoes in their hands up to the air.

 

By now, when the crowd also understood that was the perfect answer, they clapped simultaneously cheering for the newlywed couple.

 

Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk also put their shoes down as they looked at each other with determination on their faces.

 

Both of them deserved to be loved. Hence they would love each other till death came and separated them.

 

After that, the dancing floor opened and the crowd flooded onto it. The live concert of the M.A.D idol group was also resumed. Another hour passed till the crowd dissipated and the clock pointed toward midnight.

 

But the two groom’s night didn’t end here.

 

A night when Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk showed off the most primitive passions of humans.

 

A night when two hands clasped and didn’t want to part.

 

A night when two naked bodies wrapped each other up so tightly as if they wanted to devour their perfect half.

 

A night when nothing was seen except for the partner's red face.

 

A night when nothing was heard except for whispering, moaning, and crying.

 

A night when the three words ‘I love you’ was repeated so many times that both of them lost count of it.

 

When all the passionate and lustful scenes had ended, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk embraced each other’s bodies as they wrapped themselves around with the blanket that covered what needed to hide underneath.

 

“I have never felt this happy in my entire life.” Kim Dokja leaned his head on his partner’s shoulder as he caressed his face.

 

Then, he heard Yoo Jonghyuk whisper something sounded like, “Me too.”

 

“What Jonghyuk?! Can you say it again.” He asked Yoo Jonghyuk to repeat it because he didn’t hear it clearly the first time.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk released his arms around Kim Dokja’s tender waist and turned his body around as he grumbled, “Shut up Dokja.”

 

However, Kim Dokja didn’t want to give up as he sat up and bent over to give a kiss on Yoo Jonghyuk’s cheek as a bribe, “Come on, I want to hear it.”

 

“Huhhh.” As his ear slowly turned red, Yoo Jonghyuk uttered, “This is also my happiest day.”

 

Chapter Text

 

After a two-week honeymoon of the newlywed couples, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk finally came back to Korea. As Yoo Jonghyuk used to hear that Kim Dokja would like to travel around the world, hence he had booked a European tour in order to impress his life partner. He had expected the shock impact to be greater when he showed Kim Dokja the flight ticket. Kim Dokja still appeared to be very excited, but there was some tiny tiny thing missing in his voice. Turned out, Kim Dokja just had an around the world trip with Celeana and Oldest Dream’s family.

 

When Yoo Jonghyuk just heard about that, he immediately broke the glass of wine in his hand into white powder as if Celeana just took one of Kim Dokja’s first time that he was supposed to take. But luckily, because on that trip, Kim Dokja only visited France, the only duplicated country on their honeymoon trip, everything else was new to Kim Dokja. Or else, he could imagine the picture of Yoo Jonghyuk trying to meet Celeana just to strangle her to death which would probably not even be possible regarding they didn’t possess any power to come to the Dark Stratum where he would be able to meet her.

 

As Kim Dokja remembered the blackened face of Yoo Jonghyuk when he knew that he had been to Paris before, he couldn’t help but snicker. Kim Dokja covered his mouth with his hand so that it would not affect Yoo Jonghyuk, who was playing the game while live streaming. 

 

However, Yoo Jonghyuk’s sharp ears were still able to catch that small giggle as he asked the person lying on the bed behind him. “Dokja, what’s funny?”

 

“No, nothing, focus on the match.” Kim Dokja replied as he continued to play with his smartphone.

 

But that probably wasn’t the right answer as the snicker didn’t stop. 

 

Tac tac tac… The keyboard cried out in pain as Yoo Jonghyuk’s fingers like a machine slammed on the keyboard to increase the speed of the fight. Another marvelous pk was ended with the loser was the one who was brave enough to ask for a duel with him. As soon as the tapping motion stopped, Yoo Jonghyuk also finished the live stream. It was enough for today.

 

“We will stop here today.” Another abrupt outro as usual but the fanbase kept growing due to his skills and probably his handsome face as well. Kim Dokja was a bit uncomfortable with that but they could only see it while he could touch, kiss, and do whatever he wanted with that handsome face of him, hence he still had the upper hands.

 

After he had turned off the computer, Yoo Jonghyuk quickly climbed up the bed and hugged Kim Dokja with his muscular arms from the back. As if Kim Dokja had gotten used to it, he didn’t push Yoo Jonghyuk out and let him do what he wanted while keeping his eyes on the screen.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk felt a bit jealous of the phone, as Kim Dokja didn’t even look at him. Suddenly, Kim Dokja felt a darting pain on his neck and he immediately knew that the culprit was Yoo Jonghyuk. Kim Dokja couldn’t find out who's bad habits Yoo Jonghyuk had adopted from but he would bite on his neck whenever Yoo Jonghyuk felt envious. 

 

“That’s hurt, Jonghyuk.” Kim Dokja dropped his phone down on the bed to cover the bite mark on his neck while turning around to Yoo Jonghyuk. This bastard, he had to go to work tomorrow and how can he hide this bite mark now.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk gave Kim Dokja a placid face as if he didn’t do anything wrong. “It’s your fault.” He even blamed Kim Dokja back for ignoring him although they had officially become partners.

 

Kim Dokja slightly frowned at the brazen answer as he tried to get out of the other’s embrace. But Yoo Jonghyuk would never allow that to happen as he pulled Kim Dokja’s head closer and gently kissed on the bite mark. Because Yoo Jonghyuk was a kiss-addict, Kim Dokja had become very sensitive to them that even the slight tingling sensation on the neck also could melt his mind into a sluggish mess.

 

“Jonghyuk..stop…” Kim Dokja’s soft moan filtered in his ears making the kiss become even more aggressive as it slowly came down to the clavicle. “That’s enough, Jonghyuk. I’m angry.”  He tried again to stop the craving man who seemed to not going to stop any soon.

 

When Kim Dokja had finally given up and left himself to whatever might happen, the kiss also came to an end as they felt the bed was somehow vibrating. From the other side of the floor, they heard Yoo Miah’s complaint echoed unpleasantly over their room as the table was ruffled making her cup of milk spill all over the place. And their room was just over the kitchen. 

 

“Can you do it a little bit more privately? The kitchen is shaking.”

 

“What???” Kim Dokja raised his voice while patting on his partner’s arm signaling to release him, “Jonghyuk, let’s go down and check on Miah.”

 

As Yoo Jonghyuk also sensed something didn’t look right as well, he quickly freed Kim Dokja and hurried down the kitchen with him.

 

“What are you doing here?” Yoo Miah was cleaning her cup when she turned around and raised her brow toward the two big brothers who just rushed into the kitchen. She continued to complain to the newlywed couples that always do too much and get hungry easily these days, “Are you hungry already? Don’t use...” 

 

However, her sentence never got the chance to complete as the ground all of a sudden started to shake. Yoo Miah was startled as her brain wasn’t able to process the input from her eyes and feet yet. But Yoo Jonghyuk had pulled both her and Kim Dokja down the kitchen table in time right before the house also started to move up and down in such force that caused them to sprawl on the floor.

 

“What’s happening? Earthquake??” Yoo Miah screamed in terror. This was the first time Yoo Miah had ever experienced an earthquake in Korea. Earthquakes were not too rare in Korea, but also not too frequently nor at this high magnitude. The noise like thunder extended and got worse due to the vibrations coming from under the ground.

 

“I will protect you too.” Yoo Jonghyuk tried to ease them down with his calm voice while he put them under his body so that he could protect them better from the pictures falling down the wall, glasses shattering on the floor under the releasing tension of eons. The light began to flicker and went out together at the same time.

 

The ground shocked harder as if it wanted to split in half and swallow everything on the ground into its tummy filled up with concentrated lava. After a period that no one knew how long, the earthquake came to a standstill as they could still feel very little vibrations emitting from under the ground as if there was something preventing them from emerging to the surface and causing a ruckus again.

 

As they looked around, there was wreckage, clouds of dust, and chaos, yet the house still stood still and they were still in one piece. Kim Dokja stood up from under the table and suggested, “Let’s go and check the outside.”

 

Yoo Jonghyuk and Yoo Miah followed him to go outside and it was the same for their neighborhood. They also came out to see if anything else was damaged. Luckily, no death was found within their neighborhood because their houses were very stable. The situation seemed brighter than they all expected, but that was only before they looked up to the sky. The sky had turned pitch black way sooner than usual and looked like it was crumbling away forming into black ash dispersed in the atmosphere through the pathway of wind. Although the disintegration process seemed slow, if they couldn’t figure out what it was, it would be a pain in the neck.

 

As Kim Dokja rubbed the black ash in his hand, he quickly called Han Sooyoung and the others to confirm their information while asking Yoo Jonghyuk to contact Biyu as soon as possible. Kim Dokja was more rushed than ever as he could faintly see some blurry images emitting from the black ash as if it was deteriorating [Fable] which was never a good sign. According to his companions, the phenomena of earthquakes followed by black ash presented not only in every corner of Korea but also in other countries. In another word, it was a global issue.

 

Kim Dokja was unable to sit still when he waited for Biyu’s response because he couldn’t contact Celeana through his private line with her. He remembered that she asked him to report any abnormalities to the worldline to her immediately and he did the exact same when he was still hiding under the table in the kitchen during the earthquakes. But regardless of how many times he tried, the calls were never picked up. So his only hope to contact her was Biyu.

 

Currently, Biyu was not on Earth but in the space near the door leading to the Dark Stratum. At the same time, earthquakes occurred on a global scale, space also became twisted and compressed itself, especially further toward the door that can instantly kill any constellation or Dokkaebi that dared to approach it during the havoc. Because Biyu was not a normal Dokkaebi, but the ‘Dokkaebi King’, she survived without any damage while coming back to Earth. When Biyu picked up the signal from Yoo Jonghyuk, she instantly tried to connect her telepathic line with Celeana.

 

[Father!!!] Biyu glided down the air to the place where Kim Dokja was standing.

 

Kim Dokja who was tapping his foot non-stop jumped ahead as soon as he saw Biyu.

 

“Biyu. Are you ok?” He asked because he knew that Biyu wasn’t on Earth at the time everything happened. Things might be more dangerous in outer space.

 

[I’m alright. But can you contact the Master?] Without beating around the bush, Biyu went directly to their most concerning matter. If she guessed it right, this phenomenon must relate to Celeana somehow as she was the one in charge of the dimension at the moment. She might be wrong though.

 

Kim Dokja also had the same ominous feeling, maybe because they both had a private line that connected to her mind, hence they could vaguely feel the something that she may experience. He put his hands over his forehead as he felt dizzy and had to sit down. Yoo Jonghyuk lent Kim Dokja a hand and helped him sit down on a comfortable ground while he replied in his stead.

 

“No, Dokja wasn’t able to connect to Celeana-ssi either.” 

 

Biyu was flabbergasted for a quick moment before she gulped down her collywobbles and said. [I will go to the Dark Stratum and meet her directly. Father, I will get in touch with you later.]

 

“Okay, I will meet up with the group and try to figure out what we can do for now.” Kim Dokja bit his lower lip and let out a big sigh as he made a mess of his hair, “Be careful. I will wait for you, Biyu.” 

 

Kim Dokja waved goodbye to Biyu as she shot up the sky in her Dokkaebi form and quickly disappeared from his sight. He hoped things would be alright, particularly in this period of time when they had not found a solution to permanently fix the [Last Wall] yet.

 

Biyu struggled to get through the ‘doorway’ as the repealing force was stronger than ever before to prevent anyone without consideration to enter the Dark Stratum in its crisis. As Biyu tried to push her body through the gate which was getting smaller as time passed, she got caught in a probability storm. The storm appeared just at the right time to help her enter the Dark Stratum but couldn’t protect her from the other strange phenomena acting out.

 

Inside the Dark Stratum was truly a horrific scene. It wasn’t something that a human being can create. The ‘doorway’ was trying its best not to let these effects get through into the worldlines, or else everyone would die on the remark.

 

The heavy and thick atmosphere could easily squash her brain out of her eyehole with its tremendous pressure if Biyu didn’t have [Fable] that were burning up to protect her. Probability storms were out of control and ragging after every existence they could detect. The small wandering planets also didn’t escape from the fate of exploding into meteor rain. These meteors then hit into other planets forming big holes on the surface after having transmitted the shockwave to their cores causing the red hot lava to break the thick layers of crust to erupt on the surface that not even volcanos to begin with.

 

Then all of these black smoke, magma and shattered meteors became a nice meal for black holes that appeared and disappeared randomly in the endless space of the Dark Stratum. Even the ‘Hounds Chasing After The Abyss’ couldn’t survive and howled in anguish for help. But Biyu was in the state barely able to help herself, hence she pretended as if she didn’t see any bloodshed while accelerating to the place she needed to go, the center of the calamity.

 

The closer Biyu got to their secret base in the Dark Stratum, the rougher the constraints on her body indicating that she was in the right direction. Not long after, as Biyu entered a barrier surrounding a clear cube floating in the middle of the space that completely left off the force weighing her down, she immediately saw two familiar faces, Nora and ‘Secretive Plotter’.

 

[Nora-hyung.] Biyu swept away the bloodstain from the corner of her mouth as she called out for Nora, Celeana’s youngest disciple.

 

Nora had already known about Biyu’s presence as soon as she came near the barrier, but he still worried if Biyu would get through the devastating environment out there to come here safely. So when Nora saw her was still intact, he was genuinely relieved because he didn’t think he was in the state to worry about anything else even if it was his half-junior sister. ⸢Biyu, you are safe.⸥

 

[Did something bad happen to Master?] Biyu fidgetted while trying to prevent her from hyperventilating as Nora’s expression was awful. This was the first time she saw him put on such a dreadful face, which meant her hypothesis was correct, Celeana wasn’t in a good condition either.

 

As Biyu looked over Nora’s shoulder at the bright light where ‘Secretive Plotter’ was standing, she immediately noticed that it wasn't a normal light orb but rather than her Master, Celeana was in there. Biyu dropped her mouth, pointed to the gleaming globe, and asked Nora for confirmation. [Is Master Celeana in there?]

 

Nora slightly nodded as his complexion got worse when Biyu mentioned Celeana's name. He felt like it was his fault for not able to do anything although he was technically her disciple. ⸢She is. Let’s come over.⸥

 

Nora led Biyu to the center of the light source. As they came closer to the orb, space gradually became distorted despite the effect of the barrier that was used to prevent any influence of the disaster to apply to this certain area.

 

Standing as a guard right next to the orb was ‘Secretive Plotter’ with a heavy frown between his brows making the big scar on his cheek look even more wicked than usual. He slightly bowed his head down for a greet and stepped aside for Biyu to have a clearer look at her Master’s situation. 

 

Inside the orb was Celeana with her white cloak. However, as she curled up her body into a ball, Celeana seemed to be swallowed inside her big cloak and the outsiders like Biyu and Nora also couldn’t see her face properly. Surrounding Celeana was her own sparkling and transparent probability that had become as dense as a thick, musky fog quavering their bodies while emitting the gleaming light that they saw.

 

[Master…] Biyu hardly uttered out a word and was going to put her hand on the orb.

 

Yet, Nora quickly snatched her hand away before she regretted doing it. ⸢You shouldn’t touch it, Biyu.⸥

 

[Why?]

 

As Biyu hadn’t known the consequence followed touching that innocent like thin orb wall, Nora took a random beast core from his spatial ring out and threw it toward the orb. Biyu stepped back when the beast core instantly turned into black ash, similar to the thing she saw on Earth, as soon as it came into contact with the beautiful yet vicious light.  

 

[[Once it turned into that black dust, you cannot recover it.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ calmly added on. He still remembered the scene when it all first happened, a wave of ‘Hounds Chasing After The Abyss’ appeared in the blue and attacked the orb which was slowly forming around Celeana. He was ready to fight off these crazy dogs but it all went to waste because in a blink of an eye, they all became black ash and vanished. 

 

‘Hounds Chasing After The Abyss’ was a special creature in the Dark Stratum that would never actually die, when they killed them, it was just a waiting period before they stood up again with full blood, similar to monsters in a game. However, this time, they didn’t revive. That was also the reason why on the way here, Biyu didn’t see any other ‘Hounds Chasing After The Abyss’ except for those ones that were devoured by black holes at the start.

 

[My god.] Biyu could feel the sweat accumulate in her hands because she nearly lost them if Nora didn’t prevent it in time. She clenched her sweaty hands into fists while gulping down hardly any saliva in her mouth to clear the throat before she asked. [So what actually had happened?]

 

What on Earth had happened for everything to become so shit? Biyu thought as the other two slowly explained the circumstance they were involved in.

 

Chapter Text

 

Turned the clock backward half an hour ago.

 

As Celeana stretched out her arms and back after finishing one round of her daily routines, a weird announcement popped up and got mixed in with the others.

 

<The system in the applicable worldline no.152825 is forcefully entering its extinction phase.>

 

<The system in the applicable worldline no.2798105 is forcefully entering its extinction phase.>

 

<You have unlocked a new achievement, reward [Fragment of Hidden Memory] is obtained.>

 

⸢What is this?⸥ Celeana turned around to ‘Secretive Plotter’ and asked him about the weird notification she just got.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ shift his attention from the laptop scenes filled with number and graphs to Celeana, [[Huh???]]

 

The announcement continued as another one came up.

 

<You have received [Fragment of Hidden Memory] no. 001/?????>

 

As soon as that line of word appeared in the air and before ‘Secretive Plotter’ could react to the abnormal announcement that he had never approached during his life, Celeana flopped down on the ground due to the torment inside her brain as if someone was drilling through her skull to get to the part where her memories were stored.

 

⸢Grr...Ahhhhh.⸥ Celeana gritted her teeth tightly but it couldn’t stop the screaming uttered from her vocal cord.

 

Her spiritual sea was shaking. The placid waters started forming waves and the sky above was on the verge of collapse. 

 

Celeana desperately looked for the voice that would always be there for a little comfort but it was nowhere to be seen. 

 

[[Hold yourself.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ was uncomfortable seeing Celeana lost herself and yelling in pain like a kid. It must be way worse than the mental strain from unwrapping her [Fable] during the system extermination.

 

He immediately signaled Nora, in hope that Nora would know what to do. But Nora didn’t either.

 

He seemed to be flabbergasted as he held Celeana curling up in his arms. The look in his eyes was distorted and his icy aura uncontrollably leaked out counteracted with the flaming heat that came from Celeana’s ragging probability.

 

⸢Master, are you.. feeling a..ny better?⸥ Nora was stuttering in fright and nearly bit his own tongue as he gave Celeana some elixirs that would help to stabilize her probability.

 

They were effective at first when Celeana could finally slowly open her mouth. Nora and ‘Secretive Plotter’ breathlessly awaited for her words because it might give them some hints of what was going on. 

 

⸢Who... is him?⸥ Celeana trembled under her breath, tears smeared all over her pale skin. 

 

⸢Who are you talking about, Master?⸥ Nora felt like fire was burning down his pants as he couldn’t comprehend her question.

 

As Celeana weakly half-opened her eyes to look at the two men standing around her, she used up every last bit of her energy to raising her hands up and touched their foreheads before they flopped down again and she went into a deep slumber. Right after she lost her consciousness, the probability like a pet standing its fur up to protect its owner formed into an orb wrapping around her body.

 

As soon as Nora and ‘Secretive Plotter’ could sense the intense heat releasing from her fingertips, an image popped up into their head. It was ‘him’ from her question. A total stranger. They couldn’t think of anyone with the same appearance as the man on the top of their head, but it wasn’t the time to figure who he was because the dimension was being affected by Celeana’s spiritual sea trying to cope with the new memory. From the big screen in the middle of the base, they could see catastrophes were showing off in every single worldline. At the same moment, the 1864th worldline also was struck by earthquakes.

 

Nora quickly copied down the man’s appearance on a piece of indestructible paper and put it in his inner sleeves before setting up a barrier that would prevent any further influence from the quaking power. It would not completely eliminate everything because the power of ‘Mother of All Dream’ was absolute to all wordlines, however, this specially designed barrier by Celeana could slow down the process and minimise the damage.

 

As ‘Secretive Plotter’ got ready to come back to their worldline where Kim Dokja was living, from afar, the ‘Hounds Chasing After The Abyss’ appeared in a mass approaching the orb where Celeana was staying in with the intention to kill her, the owner but also the enemy who would take responsibility of complete elimination of <Star Stream> system. They tried to take advantage of her weakened state but still vanished in misery as they turned into black ash one by one as soon as they touched the orb wall.

 

Because Celeana at least would not die while she still stayed inside the orb, ‘Secretive Plotter’ felt reassured and instantly came back to check on Kim Dokja . The on-hold period during the completion of the barrier was when the impact onto the worldlines reached its greatest, hence Nora unleashed his probability to its maximum capacity to speed up the process.

 

After ‘Secretive Plotter’ had ensured that everything was alright in their worldline and Kim Dokja was undoubtedly safe and sound, he came back to the Dark Stratum to monitor the situation from a closer scope, so that he would be able to react on time.

 

Soon after, Biyu also made her appearance and remained in dead silence as she listened to the story.

 

[So basically, Master received a fragment of her memory which is this image,] Biyu pointed her finger to the picture on the table as she continued, [and as a consequence, the dimension becomes like this.]

 

⸢Correct.⸥ Nora nodded leaning on the wall with his hands crossed.

 

As Biyu caught a glimpse of the screen showing billions of worldlines that were impacted by the ruckus of memory, she asked. [Can we do anything at the moment?]

 

Biyu knew for sure that they couldn’t help Celeana with anything relating to coping with her memory. Although the catastrophes were put to an end due to the barrier, the black ash still existed as the worldlines disintegrated, hence the longer the fight between Celeana and herself, the worse the consequence would be.

 

But the answer from both Nora and ‘Secretive Plotter’ was nothing else rather than a ‘no’. They couldn’t do anything regardless of Celeana's self-fight. But they could still do something about the man in the picture.

 

Secretive Plotter had asked all of the former ‘King of Outer Gods’ before heading back to the Dark Stratum but none of them had ever seen the man.

 

[[Any of you know who is this person?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ seemed like he was asking both of them but his eyes were staring at Nora because the man in the picture wore a similar outfit to them in ancient transcendent styles.

 

Contrary to his expectation, Nora didn’t know this man. However, if the huge age gap between Celeana and Nora was taken into account, it would be quite reasonable for Nora not to know this man because he was only able to observe a very small part of her life. 

 

Nevertheless, they couldn’t assume that the man came from the same dimension as Celeana because it was a reward from this dimension, hence it was very likely that he related to both this dimension and her dimension. As they had come to the same conclusion, they decided to let one person stay and observe Celeana in the Dark Stratum, the place with the highest time density in the dimension, so that Celeana would have more time to overcome the challenge while contributing to the least amount of damage to the other worldlines which time flowed much more slower.

 

Because currently, they were the only three people who could come and go to the Dark Stratum on their own, they would take turns to be the monitor, whereas the other two would use the best out of their time to collect more information about the mysterious man. ‘Secretive Plotter’ volunteered himself to be the first monitor as he knew that it would be much more efficient for Nora and Biyu to go and collect information. Additionally, being at their base would give him better access to Kim Dokja ’s worldline. 

 

Right after they had been allocated to their task, Nora immediately raised his status again and teleported to somewhere else outside the dimension. ‘Secretive Plotter’ guessed it would be the dimension where Ryuyang, his senior sister ruled or some other dimension where he could meet up with Celeana’s allies. Whereas, Biyu flew back to the 1864th worldline to report the situation with <Kim Dokja’s Company> and their affiliations. Nora also gave Biyu a copy of the picture, so that she could ask around for any possible information, especially the former Myth-grade constellations who also had lived for a long time and might have encountered him somewhere along their journeys. 

 

As ‘Secretive Plotter’ saw them off, he shifted his gaze over to Celeana who had just mumbled something out of her dream. He slightly frowned although he wasn’t angry as he heard the word come out of her mouth. ⸢Susuz.⸥ It was the same word again. 

 

 [[Stop saying nonsense things, and focus on what you need to do.]] He admonished.

 

As if Celeana could hear his nag and wanted to defend herself that she was trying her best, she gave off a low moan along with a cough out of black muddy liquid dripping down the corner of her mouth. Her eyes constantly twitched as the battle inside her mind reached its climax.

 


 

Inside the dream, Celeana saw herself standing inside her spiritual sea, and in front of her was the man whose image appeared in her head a while ago, before she completely blacked out. 

 

⸢Hey, who are you?⸥ She tried to ask the man who seemed to come from her dimension according to his clothes and hairstyle. Looking at him made her headache go away as she sensed a very nostalgic feeling just from a glimpse of his appearance.

 

Celeana gasped as she scanned him from head to toes.

 

That long black hair held together in a bun fluttering as the wind passed through.

 

She covered her opened mouth with her trembling hands.

 

Those deep purple eyes looked like two large beads of the highest quality amethyst. He looked at her with such complex eyes.

 

Her eyes stared back at him as if she wanted to see through everything.

 

That half-smirk on the corner of his thin lips. Old habits died hard. He slightly curved his lips upward a bit as if he was happy because he finally saw her after a very very long time. 

 

She leaned her body forward so that she could take a clearer look at him.

 

And that leisurely posture of his. He was at ease at how much greater she had become without him holding her back.

 

Everything was so familiar, but she couldn’t remember who he was.

 

She just stood there and stared at him with a bitter-sweet taste in her mouth. She couldn’t remember who he was but right at the moment she saw his face, her heart throbbed and her spiritual sea became a bit calmer before it transformed into a stormy night filled with emotions.

 

Celeana knew exactly what she felt toward the man. They were pleasure, bitterness, agony as well as longing. But what was her relationship with him? Why did it make her have those feelings toward an unknown man?

 

Tears welling up her eyes and flowed down the cheeks like an endless waterfall. Yet, until the vision in front of her eyes became blurry, Celeana now released that she was crying the whole time.

 

⸢Who are you?⸥ Celeana asked the man again in hope that he would answer. Her voice was cracking, caught in her throat.

 

But the man didn’t answer.

 

⸢Can you speak?⸥ Her emerald eyes were soft, almost became as fragile as thin glass just from seeing him. And as she extended her arm to touch him, she couldn't feel anything apart from cold air. Her gaze turned dreadful as she realised it was just nothing more than an image when her hand went straight through his body leaving a disintegrating image behind. The distorted part came back to normal as soon as she withdrew her hand.

 

⸢Will I be able to know more about you if I kept clearing the system?⸥ Perhaps her heart was in fact broken when she hardly uttered out her desire. 

 

Celeana didn’t know whether it was an illusion she cast on herself or not, but she could see the man nodded his head before he faded away and the headache came back to her again.

 

As she looked at the storm raging within her spiritual sea, she was determined to get out of this state as quickly as possible, because this shouldn’t be good for the dimension as her spiritual sea is directly connected with the power ‘Mother of All Dream’. And also because she wanted to find out more about that man. He had shown her the way to do it, so she would definitely do it. 

 

Celeana closed her eyes and blocked all the noise coming in her ears as she concentrated to control the overflowing power rushing through her energy vessel. She was getting stronger from receiving back her memory, hence it must be something else underneath the superficial layer of some mere lost memories. As Celeana slowly and slowly merged into the state of absolute trance, the tornadoes thrashing inside the sea disappeared one by one.

 


 

It had been three days in the Dark Stratum but Celeana didn’t seem to wake up any soon as the cloud of probability surrounding her only got thicker and thicker. Today was Biyu’s turn to become the observer.

 

[Everyone was safe. Thanks to that barrier, or else, it would be a disaster.] Biyu heavily sighed because Celeana had prepared too well as if she had expected her power would one day get out of control and harm the worldlines.

 

As she blankly looked at Celeana who hadn’t moved once since the start of her shift, she mumbled something about how Kim Dokja and his groups were actively repairing the damage or how Nora did a good job and set up the barrier in time before the earthquake could significantly increase the mortality rate or how she had asked the constellation about the man but she still couldn’t collect any useful information.

 

[I wish we knew his name.] Biyu sighed again. It would be much easier because not many people would have the chance to meet the man. Maybe there would be someone who had heard of him through rumor. Word of mouth was always easier to spread.

 

Then a week passed, Nora also came back from his journey to the outer dimension. He seemed absolutely fagged out evidenced by his two dark circles under his eyes as if he was overworking for the past week. Indeed he did, but it was not only him but also Ryuyang along with close buddies of Celeana. They worked their ass out to collect any information about the man, yet the current result was still a round number zero.

 

[[You haven’t found anything about him either.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ was shocked. Even the intelligence network of someone at Celeana’s level couldn’t find out who the mysterious man was. 

 

Biyu dispiritedly tapped her forehead as she talked with a hint of a whine in her voice. [I’m sick of this. Master hasn’t woken up yet and we are stuck. There must be some ways that we can find information about him. Maybe it relates to the system. ] 

 

Then, a voice that they had become too accustomed to unexpectedly vocalised to confirm Biyu’s statement.

 

⸢Very clever Biyu. There was actually one way.⸥

 

How could they not recognise whose voice it belongs to?

 

[Celeana Master.]

 

⸢Master.⸥

 

[[You trouble maker.]]

 

As they turned around, the orb had vanished into thin air and Celeana had finally opened up her eyes which were gleaming despite her pale looking face. She ruffled her silver hair and said as an apologetic smile caught on her lips. ⸢Sorry for making you worry.⸥

 

Biyu instantly jumped onto her tummy and rubbed her head against it as Celeana was sitting on the floor. [Don’t care about it, Master. I’m happy that you are all good.]

 

Celeana caressed Biyu’s head, the fluffy fur tickling her hands making her smile even brighter when she turned her head over to Nora and ‘Secretive Plotter’. ‘Secretive Plotter’ seemed to not show any other emotions on his face except for annoyance as she woke up too late but the scary scar on his cheek didn’t twitch indicating that he was actually mad at her.

 

He is just a shy little boy. Celeana thought as she said, ⸢Plotter, thank you for taking care of everything when I was asleep.⸥

 

On the other hand, Nora was also shy but showing a completely different state of emotions as he seemed like he was going to murder Celeana for real if she did the same thing again. He was half relieved because Celeana woke up without losing an inch of hair, yet also half angry because she made him worried till dead one more time. And it had never been a pleasant experience each time. 

 

⸢Don't get angry, Little Nora. I’m sorry.⸥ She called Nora with his nickname when he was still very young to ease his anger down. 

 

⸢No.⸥ Nora didn’t accept her apology and resisted himself from doing the same thing as Biyu.

 

However, as soon as Celeana raised her other arm toward him with an open palm, and said with a very gentle tone. ⸢Come here, Little Nora.⸥ Nora immediately gave up on denying and came over to her spot. The nickname triggered his childhood spending most of his time with a rebeller who just came back from her punishment. Being with Celeana made him understand why his parents, the Emperor and Empress of the Celestial Realm, admired and respected her so much, more than anyone within their dimension.

 

Celeana padded on her thigh signaling Nora to lie down and he did the exact same thing. His head was on her lap, right next to Biyu. 

 

⸢You guys worked hard. Now, rest.⸥ She continued while slowly releasing her aura.

 

Her voice was so soft and tender that if it was materialised, Nora and Biyu could imagine it to feel and taste like cotton candy. As the air surrounding them warmed up, their heavy eyelids steadily closed down and they fell asleep. 

 

While the other two had slept, ‘Secretive Plotter’ still maintained in the same spot as he got something to say to Celeana regarding the way to the destruction of the system. 

 

[[Did you say that there is a way to know who is that man?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ started the conversation first which was quite rare for a person who treasured his words as his life.

 

⸢Yes.⸥ Celeana nodded to reconfirm his suspicion.

 

[[So you are determined with that?]] Without explaining, he knew that the only way was to continue what she had done for the past months, prevent the system from baring its teeth to the worldlines they came along. But that was also their current problem due to the breakage of the [Last Wall] that would eventually require the [Fable] from the incarnations who currently work through the scenarios.

 

If they chose to speed up the process for the sake of unlocking a new achievement, the [Last Wall] would remain broken because of insufficient [Fable]. However, if they slowed down the process and let more people reach the [Last Wall] and recorded their [Fable] on it for the sake of repairing the [Last Wall]. They would become the same existence as the system, using people's lives for their goals. No matter which one they chose, they would reach a dead end. A peaceful but short-lived dimension or a long-lived but awful dimension. 

 

Having said that, with her personality, without any doubt, Celeana would choose the first option and found a way to turn the word ‘short-lived’ into ‘long-lived’ as it would help her reach her ■■ in the most perfect way as well as know who was the other man, even if it would cost her life.

 

⸢Yes, I am doing it.⸥ There was unshakable determination in her eyes.

 

[[I know you will say that.]]‘Secretive Plotter’ guessed it right, there was no way this woman would back off. And her reply was the perfect answer that he was looking for before representing the solution to all the problems. [[Actually, Dokja had told me…]]

Chapter Text

 

Today was two days after the day Celeana came back to consciousness and also was the day they would have an important appointment between two worldlines in the main building of <Kim Dokja’s Company> at the 1864th worldline. In the biggest room which was supposed to be the meeting room, the long table was filled with people. On the left-hand side was Celeana, Nora, Kim Dokja or Oldest Dream, Kim Namwoon, and ‘Secretive Plotter’. Whereas, on the right-hand side were Kim Dokja, Yoo Jonghyuk, Biyu, Han Sooyoung as well as Yoo Sangah who coincidentally had a day off today.

 

“Okay, should we start now?” Han Sooyoung as the author of ‘Three Ways to Survive in a Ruined World’ took the chair and started the meeting. As everyone had settled down on their chairs, she briefly explained their pain in the neck, the repair of the [Last Wall], the elimination of <Star Stream> System as well as the most recent incident, the [Fragment of Hidden Memory] event that was the primary cause of the sudden earthquake. 

 

“So if we cannot find a suitable method, we might have to choose between two outcomes. One is to continue the system for the sake of [Last Wall] or completely eliminate the system but ruin the dimension.” Han Sooyoung cleanly concluded.

 

The core members of <Kim Dokja’s Company> exchanged their complex gaze. They were literally sitting on the fence. It doesn’t matter which outcome they would choose, people would continue to die. The only difference between the two endings is how people would die, through suffering the scenarios and becoming the laughing stocks for the constellations or being destroyed as a whole with the dimension if invaders came along. 

 

“Do we have any other option?” Yoo Sangah could feel her throat becoming burning dry. This wasn’t her first meeting in her life, but it was the first time she was involved in a dimensional scale issue like this. And the results of either way were nowhere near positive.

 

“Only if we could think of a way to fulfill all the conditions.” Han Sooyoung replied. She was having constant headaches just thinking about this. Why does shit appear one after another so frequently?

 

Contrasting to Kim Dokja who was squeezing Yoo Jonghyuk’s hand tightly to calm himself down, Celeana sitting on the opposite side was less tense. All she did was whispering something into Kim Dokja ’s ear. According to her lip movement, it was some encouraging words befitting with the current situation.

 

But shouldn’t she be the one who must worry the most because she bore the heaviest responsibility regarding the death and life of this dimension? Yoo Jonghyuk silently thought as he shifted his gaze to ‘Secretive Plotter’, who had the exact same face as him, looking at Celeana and Kim Dokja .

 

The silence continued floating around the air for a little while before Kim Dokja took his courage and raised his hand.

 

“Yes, Kim Dokja -ssi? Do you have an opinion?” Han Sooyoung immediately asked him if he had anything to say to them.

 

⸢You can do it.⸥

 

Kim Dokja stood straight up after receiving a back hit from Celeana. He turned his eyes around to look at all the familiar as well as strange faces. Everyone was paying their attention to him. As he inhaled and exhaled a deep breath, he slowly explained his plan. In this meeting, Kim Dokja would represent his resolution to their headaches about considering the weight of which was heavier between the [Last Wall] and the <Star Stream> system.

 

“This is what I had come up with…”

 

Basically, Kim Dokja would like to create a place where people could act as incarnations who would go through scenarios as a means of entertainment. No real damage or consequences would conflict on the physical bodies of the incarnations even if they died or failed the scenario because they would revive and have the chance to redo the scenarios. Their journey would be recorded as [Fable], hence [Fable] would be continuously obtained without waiting for them to clear all the scenarios and reached the [Last Wall].

 

If it is a few years back, this idea will sound like a joke as it is completely impossible to do, however… They all shared the same thought as they simultaneously shifted their gaze toward the woman in white cloak sitting next to Kim Dokja who continued to explain his idea. We now have our ace who can make it happen.

 

“In short, it will be a massively multiplayer online role-playing-game or MMORPG that is incorporated with the power of ‘Mother of All Dream’.” Kim Namwoon further supported. He was very excited when talking about this idea. The system would become even better if they could develop a virtual reality MMORPG where people would be incarnations in their sleep which would increase the playing time as well as quality of [Fable] when emotions were also recorded that made it more real life like. Nevertheless, his biggest motivation was to materialise the system that he was always dreaming of while reading light novels. 

 

Han Sooyoung loudly clapped her hands together, “That was a good idea.” How could she haven't thought about this although she was an author? But another problem arises from this.

 

Han Sooyoung pinched the bridge of her nose as she thought about the doability of the idea. “I don’t know if we can find a game company that is willing to cooperate with us?” She couldn’t think of any that would risk their lives and took part in such a wild project, similar to when she tried to write the novel, hoping it would bring Kim Dokja back to life.

 

“Couldn’t we just create our own company?” Yoo Sangah suggested. They used to establish their own Nebula, they could just use the same method and created their own game company. But Yoo Sangah forgot the most critical point, a nebula wasn’t the same as a game company. To form a nebula, they only need power, money, and [Fable]. But for a game company, they also needed specialists to develop and test a game, especially when virtual reality MMORPG might not even be a thing in the game world yet and they didn’t have any skill related to programming or computer science. 

 

Celeana shook her head and let down Yoo Sangah’s suggestion. ⸢I’m afraid it would not be that easy.⸥ They couldn’t just simply kidnap people and forced them to work for their company. A contract must be established based on a mutual relationship.

 

As things seemed to go into the deadlock again, Yoo Jonghyuk opened his mouth for the first in the meeting.

 

“I will take care of it.”

 

“Uh?” Han Sooyoung raised her brows. Did this sunfish bastard just say that he will find one? Although she thought that, Yoo Jonghyuk was certainly the person who most likely found a game development company that was interested in virtual reality MMORPG.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk took out a folder from his newly bought briefcase that Kim Dokja had prepared for him because his career was no longer just a mere game live streamer anymore, and put it on the table. As the folder was passed around the table, the mood was instantly lifted up.

 

The folder contained information about a newbie MMORPG game company that just established a year ago. Their popularity wasn’t as impressive as other senior game companies, however, they were the ones they needed. Because the most important part of the folder was a report about virtual reality MMORPG research that was secretly going on for ten years before the whole scenario happened. Then after the scenario, the surviving members of the research team gathered to retest as well as establish the mentioned game company. They were reaching out for Yoo Jonghyuk to be a representative of their virtual reality MMORPG launch in the next six months.

 

As things were in stone. ⸢Good job!!!⸥ Celeana high five with Oldest Dream sitting next to her and Kim Dokja on the other side of the table followed by the other people. She seemed a bit too excited to them, but was perfect to Kim Namwoon who was nearly going to dance around and spill all of his chuunibyou out if ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t warn him that he wouldn't be allowed to have dinner as a consequence before that.

 

Oldest Dream slightly pushed his chest forward while blushing looking down his shoes as he heard ‘Secretive Plotter’s compliment.

 

[[You did great, Dokja-yah.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ caressed Oldest Dream’s hair. 

 

“How do you manage to pull it out at such a right time, Jonghyuk?” Kim Dokja put the folder backed in before they lost it while asking his partner.

 

“Just luck.” He put on a half-smile. Maybe although the scenarios had ended, Yoo Jonghyuk was still the protagonist of the story written by the dimension.

 

As if Kim Dokja had read through his thoughts, he pouted and ignored him. Kim Dokja turned around to Yoo Sangah and Han Sooyoung and asked them about arranging the meeting with the presidents of the chosen game company.

 

“Will both of you accompany us?” 

 

Yoo Sangah nodded her head without any hesitation. Despite the innocent smile on her face, Yoo Sangah was thinking about using her power as a Korean government representative. She could easily persuade them to provide both government funds and licenses for their project, which might increase the likelihood of the company to alter their contract according to their wills. 

 

Whereas, Han Sooyoung clicked her tongue as she put a lemon-flavored lollipop in her mouth, a habit that she couldn’t force herself to give up. “I will try to organise my schedule.”

 

Even though Han Sooyoung said that she was there on the day for their meeting with the president and researchers associated with the game company that had invited Yoo Jonghyuk for a negotiation. Celeana was also in the team because she was the connecting point between everything that they would represent to the other team.

 

After half a day of negotiation, they successfully persuade Lee Sanghoon, the president of ‘Modusec Company’ to change their new game set up into something similar to the scenarios as well as incorporate the game with the [Last Wall] through Celeana. Lee Sanghoon and his research team were very drawn with the thought of working with Celeana because this was their first time ever getting to know about the secret behind the scenario that had tortured them through years.

 

However, the only thing that hindered them to give out the final conclusion as well as extended the meeting over six hours was their not-so-good memory of the scenarios because they were survivors of the scenarios themselves. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, a different contract that was not only becoming the representatives but also co-developers was signed between ‘Modusec Company’ and <Kim Dokja’s Company>, mostly thanks to the effort of President Lee in persuading the research team to agree to the collaboration. 

 

In the span of a year, they had finished writing up and altering the program. They were currently in the beta testing period and the responses were mixed, but positive was mainly voted because the quests didn’t all base on the actual scenario, but also slightly modified to be less traumatising to the former incarnations. More than that, the world in the game was a free map, depending on the players, different routes and scenarios would be opened. The players also could modify the appearance of their characters to their liking within the wide selection of races, classes, attributes that were set up. Hence, overall, it still looked like a normal virtual reality game without any significant similarity to the <Start Stream> system and scenarios.

 

Kim Dokja, Yoo Jonghyuk, and the others were also a part of the testing team as they would like to try it to ensure the enjoyment level as well as the reality aspect of it.

 

As they put on a device in the shape of a helmet over their head before lying down on the bed, they slowly fall asleep. These helmet-like devices were the bridge that connected their consciousness to the virtual multidimensional space where the actual game would occur. But before they could go into that dimension, they had to create and register their identity.

 

After they were sleep induced by the special wavelength emitted from the headset, they found themselves standing in a white room along with a Dokkaebi NPC.

 

[Welcome to ‘Save the World’], the Dokkaebi NPC introduced the name of the game and his name, [My name is Bihyung and I will instruct you through the basics of this game.]

 

The Dokkaebi NPC was no stranger to the members of <Kim Dokja’s Company>. Bihyung was the Dokkaebi who was responsible for hosting the show in Korea as well as the one who chose his ■■ as ‘Sacrifice’ to help them despite knowing that he would vanish from the dimension and no longer be able to be the storyteller of his favorite story, the [Fable] of Kim Dokja and his companions.

 

Kim Dokja could feel his eyes dampened although Bihyung didn’t say anything affectionate and only informed him about how the world, level, and skill system works, things that were usually dry and nothing to cry for. They were all similar to other MMORPG games where you started at level 0 and worked your way up by gaining experience from either completing the scenario or killing living things. However, if you killed another incarnation, you would be marked as a ‘red player’ and put into jail if your ‘sin point’ exceeded a certain amount. The incarnations then would be able to choose their class and buy more skills by ‘learning from the Master’ when they reached the baseline level of 10. As Kim Dokja had known beforehand about these things, he seemed to slack off while staring at Bihyung.

 

[Hey, newbie!!! Listen or else you will die in the first round.] Bihyung furrowed his hair as Kim Dokja seemed not to listen carefully at all.

 

Kim Dokja silently snickered as this Bihyung NPC really did reflect his personality, especially when they first met on the train. “Let’s move on Bihyung-ssi.” Kim Dokja didn’t want to but rushed through the introduction section as the other people must be waiting for him at the entry.

 

[Alright.] Bihyung pouted while opening up a screen that showed a 3-D model of Kim Dokja, [Now, choose your race.]

 

As Kim Dokja pushed the next button below his human model, he saw himself turned into different races, from common human, demi-human to non-human and undead race which were quite rare to see as they were considered as evil . More than that, there was also a special race that caught Kim Dokja’s eyes which was called ‘Ctahi’, a mixed-race between human and dark-magic-user race that he could choose to evolve into. Hence, Kim Dokja kept his race ‘human’ for now.

 

After he chose his race, Kim Dokja wanted to name his character after something cool. But due to a technical error , his name came up as ‘Squid Master Kim’.

 

“Bihyung-ssi. Can I please change my name?” Kim Dokja was half-annoyed and half-amused pointing at the name on his character information screen. He was certain that it was Bihyung who made it that way.

 

[No, sorry newbie. You can only name your character once.] Bihyung shook his head while secretly hiding the smirk on the corner of his lips.

 

“Oh god!!!” Kim Dokja sighed. Luckily, this was only a tester account but Kim Dokja forgot that they would only reset the level and other things that weren’t the name.

 

[Okay, time to go. Nice to meet you newbie.] Bihyung waved goodbye as Kim Dokja was transferred through a dark tunnel.

 

When Kim Dokja finally got out of the tunnel, he heard the system announced.

 

[You have arrived at ‘Centre Train Station’]

 

The train station was just a typical train station that he could find anywhere in the world, but the special thing about this train station was it was floating in the middle of the air and was the main station to connect to different parts of the maps. Although the game was still in its tester phase, the train station was already crowded. Kim Dokja thought that they would have to expand the size of the train station before putting it out on the market, or else they would have to suffer meat jam every time new players registered. 

 

As he shifted his eyes around, Kim Dokja quickly found his companions waiting at a quiet corner. Kim Dokja slowly pushed his way through the crowd to their location.

 

It seemed like his companions didn’t only stick with safe choices but went bold with a variety of races and names. From afar, he could see Yoo Jonghyuk with an ear on his head and a bushy tail sticking out from his pants.

 

“Sorry, I’m late.” He waved his hand while approaching them. In contrast to Kim Dokja who was excited to observe their new appearances, loud waves of laughter greeted him when he came close enough for them to click on his profile and see his name.

 

“What a good name!!!” Han Sooyoung grinned revealing the sharp signature fangs of the ‘Vampire’ race, “Hahaha, my poor stomach.” She curled up like a prawn as her stomach was twisting because she was laughing too hard.

 

Yoo Sangah with new pointy ears and blond hair also couldn’t help herself and laughed, “I don’t know that you like that name.”

 

“Don’t worry hyung. I like it.” Lee Gilyoung who was even taller and muscular than before due to his race, ‘Tigerman’, was patting Kim Dokja’s back to show his support.

 

Shin Yoosung slightly pushed Lee Gilyoung to the side because he was blocking her way to Kim Dokja with his big figure.

 

“Hey Gilyoung, move. Your beast body is too big.” She grumbled.

 

Lee Gilyoung immediately snapped back as if he was used to it, “Look who's talking!”.

 

Lee Gilyoung wasn’t the only one who chose a beast race. And no one other than Shin Yoosung, the former ‘Beast King’ and also his biggest contender, who accidentally also was a beastman with scales on her body.

 

“But I’m a Dragon, not a Tiger like you.” Shin Yoosung bared her sharp teeth that could bite through even a giant arm.

 

As Lee Gilyoung opened her profile, he curved up his lips while precisely fixing her words, “It’s ‘Half-Dragon’.”

 

His sneer at her half-blood successfully set off her anger. Before Shin Yoosung was going to kick Lee Gilyoung’s ass although they were at the lowest level, ‘Giant’ Lee Hyunsung and ‘Fairy’ Jung Heewoon pulled ‘Human’ Kim Dokja out and stood in between them in his stead. Their appearance was complete upside down as the ‘Giant’ race was at least 3 meters tall whereas the ‘Fairy’ race was only a bit taller than Kim Dokja’s hand.

 

“Gilyoung and Yoosung. You both. Calm down.” He tried to reconcile the two while Jung Heewoon with her arm akimbo standing on his shoulder gave them an earful.

 

“Stop if you want me to kick you out. We are here to help, not fighting. Seriously, when can you both grow up.” Normally, Jung Heewon wouldn’t be this harsh. But recently, the kids were fighting and arguing even more frequently for some reasons, maybe puberty hit them again which fed her up leading to this consequence.

 

Now, another person had to stop Jung Heewon’s lecturing or else they would stand here till they woke up without actually trying anything. And ‘Halfling’ Lee Jihye with her also half-height was the pioneer.

 

“Heewon-unnie, I wanna go, don’t just stay here.” She dragged the ‘Giant’ along with the ‘Fairy’ on his shoulder as she secretly winked at her two little brother and sister to signal that they should behave to be safe for now.

 

“I promised I will not fight him/her.” They unanimously nodded their head like crazy when they received a suspicious stare from her.

 

Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk who were standing and cuddling each other from the side also joined the conversation in hope that they would speed up.

 

“Let’s go, Heewon-ssi. We will miss the train.” Kim Dokja excitedly said as the trains were leaving the station one by one while holding Yoo Jonghyuk’s arm so that they would not lose each other when they rushed to the train, which should be where the first scenario started.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk also thought that they must get on the train on time, hence he reassured Jung Heewon by putting up a promise that he would probably regret later, “I will take care of these two.”

 

“Tutu ...Tutu...Tutu.” Loud noises were emitted from the train as it was pulling off the station. And there was only one train left that hadn’t gone. But it would leave soon as the door was closing off in a second.

 

“Go, go, go.” Kim Dokja hurriedly pushed the kids forward in the direction of the last train while the others followed behind him.

 

Chapter Text

“Thud.” The door simultaneously closed behind Lee Jihye’s back as she was the last one to enter, thanks to her short legs and the fact that she had no one that willingly to carry her around, unlike the husband and wife, Lee Hyunsung and Jung Heewon. 

 

“My god, that’s scared me.” Lee Jihye caressed the end of her pony tail that nearly became the food for the door.

 

“Are you alright?” Han Sooyoung asked her as she ran hiding behind Lee Hyunsung to avoid direct sunlight. 

 

Kim Dokja peeked over to look at her, who was putting on a special coat that would cancel damage from normal direct sunlight from her storage room, “Shouldn’t I be the one who asked you that?”, he pointed out the black spots on her arms that were hit by the sun earlier, “You don’t look that well.”

 

Kim Dokja didn’t understand the appeal of being a vampire when he had to hide from sunlight all day. What a hassle!!!

 

“You should be the one who should be worried about your name, dear SQUID MASTER KIM!” Han Sooyoung was gritting her teeth highlighting his embarrassing name which made the lollipop in her mouth crash into small pieces.

 

“Jonghyuk, my name is fine, right!” Kim Dokja blew up his cheeks turning around the ‘Werewolf’ Yoo Jonghyuk, his partner and sought his consolation.

 

His name was completely fine . Kim Dokja tried to justify his name.

 

People needed humor in naming their character. Plus, no one would notice it if they didn’t click on his profile because the game didn’t show the character’s name on their heads and he could control who was allowed to open his profile as well.

 

Without a doubt, Yoo Jonghyuk nodded and gently kissed on Kim Dokja’s forehead. 

 

“Everything about you is perfect.” As Yoo Jonghyuk was used to this kind of skinship, he wasn’t that cold-appearance anymore but actively did it even if they were outside.

 

Kim Dokja slightly pushed him away while snickering as Yoo Jonghyuk’s fur was tickling his nose. And most importantly, if a glare could kill a person, they must die already by laser eyes shooting from the loners in their group, even the kids were a bit overwhelmed.

 

“Ehem.” Kim Dokja put his hand over his mouth and cleared his throat to change the topic into the correct track, not his blushing ears, “Anyone know where this train is heading to?” He didn’t check the destination of the train because they were rushed inside the last minutes. 

 

Thanks to his enhanced eyesight, Lee Gilyoung was able to see the name of the designated station. If his memory was correct, it should be, “I think it was Beast Alliance.”

 

“Hum, that sounds about right.” Kim Dokja rubbed his chin as he complimented Lee Gilyoung for the piece of very useful information, “Good job, Gilyoung.”

 

“Hehe.” The boy grinned, slightly satisfied with the praise. 

 

As they also took part in developing the world inside the game, they had heard about ‘Beast Alliance’. It was technically the same as its name, the homeland of many beastman clans that worked together in an alliance to fend off the intruder from other races. The older name of ‘Beast Alliance’ was ‘Beast Kingdom’ which was ruled by the Lion clan. But because they were beast, their ego was high and didn’t accept anyone to rule them from above, hence the monarchy government system quickly came to ruin and formed the ‘Beast Alliance’ of nowadays where every beast clan had the same authority in the parliament. Yet, this might only be the superficial layer to show off to other races.

 

“I don’t know what to expect there.” Lee Hyunsung expressed his concern. He didn’t know whether the beastman would welcome a giant like him into their homeland because discrimination was still a thing here.

 

Despite also being a different race, Jung Heewon wasn’t as scared as her husband, “But that will make things interesting, won’t it?” She raised one arm up as she encouraged him, “I will protect you.”

 

“Will you protect us as well?” Lee Jihye dropped in between their conversation with puppy eyes.

 

Without any hesitation, the fairy flew up dancing around them while saying, “Of course, I will.”

 

“Heewon-unnie is the best!!!” The kids excitedly responded.

 

Their joking around was gradually put to an end as the train’s floor started to shake and a screen popped up in front of their eyes.

 

[Main Quest #1

 

Difficulty: F

 

Clear Condition: Kill a living thing

 

Time limit: 30 minutes

 

Compensation: Experience + 5 and 100 coins

 

Failure: Death.]

 

“Shit, it was really the same.” Kim Dokja swore. The reward was different, but everything else was kinda the same.

 

Luckily, they had bought some insect eggs beforehand when they suspected that this would be the first scenario. And turn out, it was. As the insect eggs were smashed inside their palm, the window in front of their eyes changed its content.

 

[Congratulations. You have completed Main Quest #1]

 

[Experience: + 5]

 

[Coin: +100]

 

Because the scenario only asked for killing one living thing, they only get the compensation for killing one egg, and for the other one, as insect eggs were too vulnerable, it was only able to boost their experience by a little margin. 10 eggs gave them 1 experience which was just enough for them to level up.

 

[Experience: + 5.]

 

[Congratulations. You have level up to level 2. Please check your profile to distribute your stats.]

 

Different from the scenario where stats could be bought by coins, in this game, stats only could be raised when you earned stats points through level up, effect of class, skills, equipment or rewards from events. Hence, they must have some strategies to distribute their stats, especially if they would like to evolve in a specific race that was associated with their current race or class in the future which would have some stats requirement. For each level up, they would receive 10 stats points to add on top of their existing stats until they reached level 100, which currently was the highest level in the game. Once assigned, stats points could not be reattributed unless they changed class or used a single-use item ‘Rebirth’ from the system’s shop.

 

As Kim Dokja opened up his personal statistics page, he could see his original stats were a bit lower than others because his race was ‘Human’, but instead of that, he was more evenly distributed.

 

[Personal Statistics]

Strength: 5                              Fire: 0

Intelligence: 5                         Water: 0

Defense: 5                              Earth: 0

Vitality: 6                                Wood: 0

Dexterity: 4                            Wind: 0

Speed: 4                                 Light: 1

Luck: 4                                   Dark: 0

Charisma: 5                           Chaos: locked

 

The stats were divided into two columns. The first one on the left was the physical (strength, defense, vitality, dexterity, speed) and mental (intelligence, luck, charisma) stats whereas the second one the right was the elemental (fire, water, earth, wood, wind) and racial (light, dark, chaos) attribute stats.

 

His chaos value was locked because it required both of his light and dark stats to be equal to be unlocked. As unlocked chaos attribute was a requirement for evolving to ‘Ctahi’, he quickly distributed one stat point to dark, eight stat points to physical and mental stats and one point for later.

 

On the train, as some of the players were not newbies and had gone through this scenario, they also prepared and didn’t have any problem. Whereas the newbies were rambling around and started killing people and being marked as ‘red players’.

 

Out of their expectations that the only way to get out of the train was to wait until it arrived at the next station in ‘Beast Alliance’, some players broke off the door and jumped down either the forest or the sea depending on which part of the map they jumped down to. According to their map, the forest belonged to the ‘Forest Elf’, sub-race of Yoo Sangah’s ‘High Elf’ race and the ocean was the territory of the ‘Whale’ clan and ‘Mermaid’ race.

 

“Are they crazy?” Yoo Sangah wanted to poke her eyes out because some of the players who just jumped down the forest belonged to races with dark attributes that were badly hated by the ‘Forest Elf’ race.

 

Shin Yoosung clicked her tongue as more people jumped down, “They probably are, unnie.”

 

Not everyone who jumped down survived and not everyone who was lucky enough to not lose all of their HP would successfully complete their [Main Scenario #2] before getting killed by either Elves, Whales, or Mermaids. Hence they would also need a precise plan of where to drop to ensure the highest survival rate and not found out by the owner of the area before healing themselves with potions or healing spells. 

 

As the train shook violently again when a flock of Wyvern flew past and attacked the train coming into the ‘Beast Alliance’ area, it opened up another path. Another option for the players was persuaded to side with the ‘Wyvern’ clan who were the largest rival of the ‘Beast Alliance’ due to their greedy nature.

 

The players who joined the Wyvern not only would also become rivals of the ‘Beast Alliance’, but the Wyverns also were no reliable companions. Therefore, the players who chose to do so should be prepared to be stabbed from both the front and the back. Yet, some still chose to do so, maybe because of their risk-taking personality or they wanted to develop their character into a wicked one which was very popular recently. 

 

When the train landed down from the sky and stopped in the ‘Beast Alliance’ train station, the number of passengers had cut down to half both from being killed, banned and entered different routes to their likings. The movement of the players would greatly affect the flow of the world, but at this tester point, they hadn’t had to think about it yet due to the small number of players.

 

As the door slowly opened up, a system emitted its clear voice announcing.

 

[Welcome to ‘Beast Alliance’.]

 


 

While Kim Dokja’s party was going to ‘Beast Alliance’ by train, Celeana’s party was left behind because they missed all the trains for the time being. 

 

“It’s your fault that we had to wait for 2 hours.” Lee Jihye in a totally different appearance, with dark skin, pointy long ears, and also a dark leather jacket, scolded someone with red scales on his arms and eyes that were similar to reptiles, who was supposed to be Kim Namwoon in his humanoid form of ‘Abyssal Drake’ race.

 

“I’m sorry, Jihye. It’s just very cool that I had to buy it.” The red drake used his scaled arms to cover his head as the dark elf was going to pull out the gun on the side of her hip and prepared to shoot him.

 

If it wasn’t for him to suddenly disappear on the way here just for a pair of cool-looking gloves that were made of demon troll’s skin that could only buff his vitality by 2 while they had the best healer, Celeana, the priest of their party. It was not only a waste of money but also made them miss the train and possibly being late for the important meeting with Marquis Orlok in ‘Demon Realm’.

 

“I can’t believe you bought this crap, hyung.” Even Kim Dokja with black strokes lines all over his greyish face and body had to pout when he saw the very cool-looking gloves that Kim Namwoon just bought.

 

It was just full of scales that Kim Namwoon himself had plenty of. Additionally, these new gloves were even weaker than his mithril gloves embedded with the magic core to increase strength by 5 and fire attribute by 3 that were much more beneficial for his ‘Dragon Slayer’ class. 

 

Uriel, the angel with black wings on her back also nodded in agreement, “Yeh, you have such bad taste, Namwoon.” Originally, Uriel was just a normal angel, but she didn’t expect all of her companions to choose dark and chaos attribute races when she was the only light attribute. Hence, as soon as Uriel reached level 20 and could evolve her race, she increased her dark attribute point to 20 and changed her race into ‘Fallen Angel’, similar to Micheal. 

 

A person that looked like a normal human but a little bit more hairy and muscular, Lee Hyunsung lightly padded Kim Namwoon’s back to comfort him as Lee Jihye just turned away and ignored him, “It’s alright. We shouldn’t be late.” Lee Hyunsung had the biggest figure among them due to his ‘Ancient Human’ race that gave him higher baseline stats compared to normal ‘Human’ and ‘Muscle Development’, a passive skill that contributed to his physique.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ clicked his tongue as he was annoyed because the meeting was an important event to complete their 10th scenario. This ‘Marquis Orlok’ character was one of the most influential people within the ‘Demon Realm’ and was competing for the next Demon’s King selection. However, their quest wasn’t to support him to become the next Demon’s King but to turn him, ‘Secretive Plotter’, a demon himself into the Demon’s King.

 

As he touched his black horns that emerged from his skull, ‘Secretive Plotter’ was regretting to choose ‘Demon’ as his race from two weeks ago, when they started the game. Their group went in first, before Kim Dokja’s group because Kim Dokja and the others were busy with Jung Heewon and Lee Hyunsung’s wedding. 

 

⸢Alright. What’s done is done.⸥ A silvery head fluttered passing by Kim Dokja’s sight, revealing the black skin underneath. Celeana with her ‘Ctahi’ race took the demon troll’s skin gloves from Kim Dokja ’s hand and returned it to Kim Namwoon, ⸢Do you guys wanna have a troll around while waiting for the next one?⸥

 

“Yes, noona.”

 

“I’m okay with that.”

 

“Whatever.”

 

They all agreed with her suggestion and spontaneously left the station that was placed in the middle of the city. This city, Schiele, was the biggest city in ‘Mortal Realm’ as well as the connecting point to mostly all the major areas where players who just started their journeys could explore more routes depending on which area they chose to come along.

 

For example, if the players chose to come to ‘Beast Alliance’, currently there had been four main routes including ‘Beast Alliance - The Helper’, ‘Elf Forest - Tree of Origin’, ‘Whale and Mermaid - The Benefactor’ and ‘Wyvern - The Twoface’ being explored. ‘Beast Alliance - The helper’ was also the main route that Kim Dokja’s party chose. The main goal of the route was to help to stabilize the beast society and develop a new government system to effectively control them as well as fend off the attack from the Wyverns and other rival races.

 

Celeana’s party didn’t explore any of these main routes, not only because they didn’t get on the train that went to ‘Beast Alliance’ but also because they completely missed all the train, exactly the same as today. The only thing different was it wasn’t Kim Namwoon playing around but all of them were playing around.

 

Two weeks ago, when they missed the train, they also decided to leave the train station and explore the city instead. The first main scenario was similar for everyone as its purpose was only to introduce them on how to get experience points, hence their first destination was the rear forest in the north of the city. This game didn’t force the players to go along a fixed route, hence many players here opened their own shops after learning some life-style skills such as blacksmith, cooking or gardening and still could gain experiences and stats points. 

 

Celeana didn’t know whether they were leveling up quickly or not as at the end of the second night, they all reached level 10. Once they reached level 10, they had to start thinking about which class they would become later because they were now able to learn skills, which some classes required the players to learn some specific skills before being able to specialise in the classes. Then, they would need to find a master, and learn the skill from them. In order to make it more real-life like, practices were necessary to increase the fluency that allows the players to perform the skills easier and faster. 

 

More annoyingly, in order to learn a higher-level skills, they would have to reach determined stats attributes. Additionally, certain baseline stats were also required to change into a specific class. As it took a lot of effort, even more effort to choose which race to evolve into, they were very pleased when they finally reached level 25 which permitted them to get into their desired class. 

 

After going around and couldn’t find anything useful, Celeana pushed to open the door of a family pub with the name ‘McRon Kitchen’ and walked in, the guests inside waved their hands and said ‘Hello’ to her and the others following behind. They had become frequent customers here and was quite famous among the NPC citizens as well as tester players due to their unique party including of ‘Undead’ Necromancer, ‘Demon’ Magic Swordsman, ‘Red Drake’ Dragon Slayer, ‘Dark Elf’ Gunmaster, ‘Fallen Angel’ Reaper, ‘Ancient Human’ Guardian Druid and ‘Ctahi’ damage-dealer-typed Healer.

 

“Necromancer-ssi, the same burger for you.” The owner, Ron, put on a pleasant smile as he saw the necromancer with a skull stick on his hand walking in because he really liked this undead kid.

 

“Yes, please.” Kim Dokja nodded his head as he casually sat down on their table at the left side of the pub, “The same for everyone as well, except for Nora-hyung.”, he reminded Ron so that he would not make a spare dish for Nora, who wasn’t here at the moment. He had to go and see Ryuyang today.

 

“Oh, really, so the assassin is busy today as well.” Ron regretfully made a small noise with his tongue. If he had to say, the most mysterious member of this party had to be the Shadow Assassin who was rarely seen in public. And the only one who knew his whereabouts seemed to be the Ctahi priest.

 

“Are you looking for the old geezer, captain?” Kim Namwoon asked when ‘Secretive Plotter’  rolled his eyes around to find the figure of an old man. As the one he looked for in the pub was unfound, ‘Secretive Plotter’ seemed relieved because he hated that man’s mouth, he talked too much, even more than when Celeana and Kim Namwoon combined.

 

During the long journey of the last two weeks, they had registered as ‘Adventurers’ to clear sub-quests while killing wild monsters and sell their corpses to traders in the city for money. One night, as they just entered ‘McRon Kitchen’ to have some food, they encountered an old man, the one who ‘Secretive Plotter’ watched out for.

 

That night, he asked for a separate quest outside the ‘Adventurer's Guide’ because ‘their party was mostly dark attributed race which was perfect for the job’, quoted the old man. Right after they had accepted the quest from him, the system announced.

 

[Main Quest #9

 

Difficulty: C

 

Clear condition: Arrive in ‘Demon Realm’ and expose Count Estavo’s corruption behaviors.

 

Time limit: 5 days

 

Compensation: Experience + 200, Coin + 500, ???

 

Failure: Become rival to Count Estavo and could never come back to Demon Realm.]

 

Because it was the main scenario and the compensation was quite handsomely paid. They did it as perfectly as possible. Everything that Count Estavo had done was cleanly put on the judgement scale of the ‘Demon Realm’ residents. However, the unexpected thing was, the ??? reward in the compensation was actually another main scenario because the old man that they met at the pub was actually a trusted subordinate of Marquis Orlok and Count Estavo was one of his opponents. 

 

As Kim Dokja sliced the steak into small pieces, he said while greatly sighing, “I can’t believe that it was all fake if not thanks to Nora-hyung.” He was referring to the fact that the evidence that they exposed turned out to be fake which was prepared by Marquis Orlok. 

 

“I will let him up the scale today.” Gloomy light emitted from Uriel’s body as she was half-activating the [Judgement of Chaos] skill that allowed her status to be buffed if the person in judgment went against her ideology.

 

Celeana pushed her empty plate on the side as she suppressed down Uriel’s skill that seemed to scare off the other customers, ⸢We will but not here, Uriel-ssi.⸥ Today was the day for them to confirm whether that rumor was true or not and also to determine if they should ruin his life after ‘Secretive Plotter’ became the next Demon’s King for deceiving them.

 

After they had finished their meals, Lee Hyunsung put a silver coin worth 100 copper coins to pay for the food on the table without asking for the change as usual.

 

“I will see you later, Ron-ssi. Please keep the change.” The Ancient Human slightly bowed to the owner before he followed his companions and headed back to the train station to catch the train going to the ‘Demon Realm’.

 

Ron put down the wok pan to wave at them, the party who always gave him a silver coin no matter how much they ate that time. As soon as they left, the stealthy gossiping became louder and more visible. 

 

“OMG, just sitting with them in the same pub makes me sweat like crazy.”

 

“Hahaha, I came here just to see them with my own eyes.”

 

“Same here buddy. I’m a big fan of the Fallen Angel.”

 

“No, the Gunmaster is way cuter.”

 

“Shut up, the Magic Swordsman with scars on his face was the coolest. That’s why he was the captain.”

 

They all thought that ‘Secretive Plotter’ was the captain of the party because all of the former ‘Kings of Outer Gods’ called him ‘captain’ causing this misunderstanding. The real leader of the party was Kim Dokja , the innocent-looking necromancer that they thought was the weakest of all.

 

“I bet that they would become the best party if they continued to play after the testing phase.”

 

“Yeh, reset means nothing to a pro.”

 

The gossipers were referring to the ‘Reset’ event when all the data including levels, stats, skills and equipment obtained within the tester period would be deleted to ensure fairness between the tester players and new players who entered the game when it was going to be launched in the near future.

 

Yet, the [Fable] would not be deleted, hence Kim Dokja and the others were determined to finish the tenth main scenario before the ‘Reset’ and obtained the [Fable] in regard to ‘Demon Realm’.

 

Chapter Text

Inside the ‘Demon Realm’, a secret cave located at Marqui Orlok’s territory.

 

After Kim Dokja and the others had met up with Marquis Orlok, they were able to confirm that he was the director behind the corruption of Count Estavo by using a mind manipulation skill on him and letting him spill out the tea by himself. In disappointment, they left the mansion while declining the stay over offered by the Marquis. However, consequently, they got caught in the heavy rain and had to temporarily stay in this cave waiting for the thunderstorm to stop.

 

“Achooo.” A heavy sneezing emitted from inside the cave. 

 

In the middle of the cave was a campfire and on one side of the fire, the youngest boy rubbed his nose that was reddened a bit while receiving a towel from a tall and muscular man with black horns on his head.

 

[[Come closer to the fire. You don’t want to be sick, do you?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ gently ruffled Kim Dokja ’s drenched hair while pushing him a bit nearer to the fire.

 

Celeana cast the same spell, [Dark Spirited Fire] to make the fire grow bigger that would distribute its effect on all of the members of the party. ⸢You guys come closer as well. Get rid of that debuff quickly.⸥ She told the people who had changed into dry clothes and were hanging their soaked wet clothes above the fire to dry and purify them.

 

As expected of the harsh environment within the ‘Demon Realm’, a storm could get even an undead, who should be immune to sickened conditions like Kim Dokja got sick. However, this storm was not a normal storm either. It was formed by the ‘Eden Garden’, the headquarter of Archangels, and scattered throughout the world to inflict buffs on light attributed races and debuff on races or classes with non-light attribution in order to ‘baptise these people and lead them onto the truthful road’. And because their party only had dark or chaos attribute races, they were also affected by the [Baptised Downpour].

 

“I can’t believe that I look like this just because of a mere rain.” Dark elf Lee Jihye furrowed her brows when she saw the stream of water dripping out as she squeezed her ponytail. Her slowly reduced health points started to climb up again as she dried herself with the purple fire.

 

Uriel wasn’t bothered by being wet, but she hated being debuffed every time they caught the [Baptised Downpour] which was especially common in ‘Demon Realm’ because the relationship between Demon and Archangel had never been good. “Can I learn a skill that will counteract this annoying effect?” She wanted to learn a supporting skill herself, so that she wouldn’t have to depend on Celeana to cancel the debuff effect of the rain.

 

“I think it is a good idea.” Lee Hyunsung as the person at the utmost front who usually received the most of the damage also worried about the gradual decrease of health points caused by the debuff. Although Celeana would be near him to heal him and the party as well as attack the opponents, he thought it would be more effective for Celeana to use her mana for attack spell instead of buff spell because her attacks and healing spells were excellent while not so much with buff.

 

Celeana played with her wet hair as she listened to the suggestion. It would be alright for her just to focus on healing and attacks instead of buffing. She wasn’t worried about the effect of the rain on classes with lots of HP such as guardian druid, dragon slayers and magic swordsman but to other classes with low HP, they must all learn the buff skill if they wanted to change their party’s operation that way.

 

⸢Do you still have a spare skill slot?⸥ Celeana asked because they also had a limited number of skills that they could learn within their levels. However, if the character’s level surpasses 50, they could learn as many skills as they like if they qualify for the skills. 

 

As Uriel, Lee Jihye and Kim Dokja opened their skill management screen up to have a check. Luckily, they still had one spare skill slot left each. After they had decided their next move was to learn a buff skill, the party chatted about the Demon King Selection and what they should do after clearing the tenth scenario.

 

The ultimate goal of the Demon King Selection was also for choosing the new leader of the Demon army for the next ‘Great Battle of Demons and Angel’, another important scenario in the future to create a [Great Fable]. If ‘Secretive Plotter’ could become the next Demon King, they would be on the advantageous side and might be able to manipulate the battle for their benefits. However, as the beta tester phase would end soon, there was no need to worry about that faraway battle.

 

Coming back to the topic of Marquis Orlok again, Kim Dokja pointed out the reason why they were so disappointed when they knew that Marquis Orlok was not as good and reliable as they thought. “I think we have to find another one if ahjussi doesn’t want to be the Demon King.” He slightly raised his head in order to seek attention from the man whose laps he was sitting on.

 

It was true that their original intention was to leave the throne right away as soon as ‘Secretive Plotter’ ascended it and passed it on to a Demon that they could entrust and pass on the responsibility. Their first contender was Marquis Orlok due to his overall good reputation and their personal impression of him wanting to reconstruct the Demon society through exposing the corruption of Count Estavo. 

 

The scar on the man's face wrinkled down as he thought about the punchable sly face of Marquis Orklok. [[I will just find a random person.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ leaned his chin on the boy’s head while his arms wrapped around his waist. Their relationship had improved a big step since Kim Dokja ’s 17th birthday and the others were so happy about that when they had opened their hearts more to each other.

 

“How about Count Estavo?” Kim Namwoon mentioned the Demon who was frauded in the plan being pulled out by Marquis Orlok. 

 

Lee Jihye raised one of her brows and turned around to the Red Drake as she was doubting what she just heard, “What??? Count Estavo???”

 

[[Why him?]] ‘Secretive Plotter asked while shifting his gaze over to Kim Namwoon.

 

Uriel, Celeana, Kim Dokja and Lee Hyunsung also directed their attention to him.

 

However, as if Kim Namwoon was not afraid but instead enjoyed the pressure of attention, he explained while he unconsciously lifted his chest up a bit, “He seemed to be a very nice person when I talked to him.” He added, “We are penpals.”

 

“So you are penpal with the person who you just ruined his life?” Kim Dokja was concerned about how Kim Namwoon could do something that brazenly.

 

However, as Kim Namwoon didn’t understand the sarcasm of Kim Dokja ’s word as he had always been, he confirmed, “Why not? He contacted me first. Plus he knew that we were also scammed by that guy anyway.”

 

So he meant that, Count Estavo had known everything about Marquis Orlok’s plan but still acted along so that he could lower down the Marquis’s guard on him while using that time wisely to counteract the move with an even more cunning plan, such as asking for help from the party who helped Marquis Orlok to harm him. This attack from both sides would surely damage Marquis Orlok heavily at the end of the Demon King Selection.

 

Kim Namwoon felt his hair standing up behind his neck as ominous light was gleaming from his companions’ eyes. He even received a rare compliment from Lee Jihye making him flustered.

 

Like there was no going back after the rain had stopped they paid a secret visit to Count Estavo’s current residence. As the game proceeded to the Demon King Selection event, they struck Marquis Orlok once in the back to let ‘Secretive Plotter’ become the Demon King and passed on the title to Count Estavo as they planned, completing the tenth scenario as well as granting the achievement of the Demon King that had the shortest reign.

 

[Congratulations. You have completed Main Quest #10.]

 

[Fable, ‘The Return of The True King’ is obtained.]

 

As soon as the special notification that only characters with administration authority could see popped up, the game began its ‘Reset’ because the next day was the day when the game was launched.

 

Followed up the beta testing was the official launch of the game named ‘Save the World’.

It was a huge success not only because it was the first-ever virtual reality MMORPG but also had a very interesting and extensive plot, thanks to Han Sooyoung, the undefeatable author. Within the first day, 100,000 copies had been sold and the heat didn’t stop there causing both companies to work days and nights to both manufactures the headset and manage the world inside the game. 

 

A few months flew by in a blink of an eye and finally, they were able to take a few day-break for the most special occasion of the year, Lunar New Year holiday. It was the first day of the new lunar calendar and was also their first gathering at the dorm. The dorm was filled with a bright red color hoping for a new year with good fortune.

 

“Happy new year!!!” Kim Dokja pushed the door to get inside the main hall where everyone was gathered, followed him was Yoo Jonghuyk in a simple pastel pink shirt and black pants, and Yoo Miah, who they just picked up on the way going here. 

 

Han Sooyoung in her red dress that the other companions had to force her to wear greeted Kim Dokja and his immediate family while snacking on her third lollipop of the morning. “Happy new year, Dokja! You are early this time.”

 

“Ahjussi!!! Happy new year.”

 

“Happy new year, Dokja-hyung!”

 

As the kids didn’t have any class during the Lunar New Year holiday which was a very rare break for them who were in their last year of high school, they were exceptionally excited for the day.

 

Kim Dokja gave an envelope of ‘Lucky Money’ to them after receiving a deep bow each from Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung, while answering Han Sooyoung. “I can’t always be late.”

 

Yoo Miah, who was a year older than both Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung, squinted her eyes looking at the ‘Lucky Money’ envelope. “Oppa, where is mine?” She opened her hands in front of Yoo Jonghyuk.

 

“You are too old for this.” Yoo Jonghyuk simply shook his head as he put the basket of fruit on the table.

 

Yoo Miah pouted her lips as she felt defeated. “Stingy oppa.”

 

Kim Dokja slightly hit Yoo Jonghyuk on his shoulder before he approached Yoo Miah and gave her one. “Here you go. Happy new year, Miah-yah.”

 

“I love you the most, Dokja-oppa.” Yoo Miah bowed to Kim Dokja before jumping up and gave him a light kiss on his cheek and looked over to Yoo Jonghyuk with a smirk hanging on her face.

 

She just kissed his partner but Yoo Jonghyuk couldn’t do anything because she was his little sister. Yoo Miah smiled even harder as she saw the corner of his eyes twitching.

 

The kids didn’t help but even side up with Yoo Miah. Each of them held onto one side of Kim Dokja as they were claiming him as their people, not Yoo Jonghyuk’s.

 

“Miah…” His voice was deep in contrast to his burning eyes.

 

Yet, when Yoo Jonghyuk hadn’t got time to do anything else, his sentence was cut off due to the arrival of other people.

 

“What is going on here?” 

 

Coming in were husband and wife, Lee Hyunsung and Jung Heewon in their red clothes. They brought along a big bouquet of various flowers and their newly adopted puppy named ‘Lady’.

 

The kids quickly got off Kim Dokja and ran toward Lady, the chihuahua. As if the dog was used to their presence and smells, it didn’t bark but wiggled its short tail instead.

 

“Lady!!!”

 

The dog jumped into Shin Yoosung’s embrace as it heard she calling its name.

 

“Such a good girl.” Yoo Miah ruffled its head as she sat down to the same level as Shin Yoosung and Lee Gilyoung which was literally on the ground.

 

While they were busily playing with Lady, the adults were greeting more people coming in.

 

“Happy new year, Jihye.” Jung Heewon hugged Lee Jihye who had just come down from her room. Lee Jihye woke up late this morning because she stayed up late to see the fireworks with her university friend group.

 

Lee Sookyung also showed up along with Jang Hayoung, Kyrgios Rodgraim and Namgung Minyoung - The Breaking the Sky Sword Saint.

 

“Mother. Happy new year.”

 

“Mother in law. Hope you had a good year.”

 

Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk bowed toward Lee Sookyung as soon as she entered the hall. Lee Sookyung gently smiled while lifting them up.

 

“Thank you, Dokja, Jonghyuk. I hope you had another happy year.”

 

“Thank you, mother.” They simultaneously said as they turned over to their master to bow and wished them a good year as well.

 

“Huh, my disciple finally remembers this master of yours.” Kyrgios Rodgraim flew up to Kim Dokja’ shoulder while emitting a light blue light from his body. He hadn’t changed even a bit since the last time they saw each other, but Kim Dokja felt like his manner of speaking had become pretty similar to ‘The Breaking the Sky Sword Saint’.

 

“Long time no see, Hayoung. How are you recently?” Kim Dokja said to the person who had the beauty value that would slap his partner, Yoo Jonghyuk twice in the face.

 

Jang Hayoung politely lowered her head. “I’m well. How about you, Dokja-ssi?” She had traveled together with Kyrgios Rodgraim and Namgung Minyoung to teach people who were passionate about learning martial arts to reach the transcendence level.

 

“I’m good as well.” Kim Dokja replied to Jang Hayoung. As he heard a heavy thud on the other side, he quickly turned his head and saw ‘The Breaking the Sky Sword Saint’ holding a tobacco pipe. It seemed like Namgung Minyoung just hitted Yoo Jonghyuk’s butt again. This was also the reason why Yoo Jonghyuk hated to meet her although he respected her a lot.

 

“Master.” Yoo Jonghyuk stared at the tobacco pipe. 

 

Namgung Minyoung burst out laughing as she saw his darkened face that was as black as soot at the bottom of a pot, “Hahaha. I’m sorry. Your butt is just very bouncy.” She slowly put her smoking pipe back inside her wide sleeve.

 

Laughed along with her was everyone. Han Sooyoung was the loudest of all.

 

“Do you hear that? Bouncy. Is that true Dokja?” Han Sooyoung shifted her eyes toward Kim Dokja who probably knew how bouncy Yoo Jonghyuk’s butt really was. But he was too shy to answer her question. 

 

The hall began to get crowded, noisy chatting could be heard from every corner of the room as more people came in.

 

“Say hello to your most powerful dragon!!!” Black Flame Dragon immediately made a show as soon as he came in with Uriel, Great Sage, and their manager, Gabriel.

 

Gabriel knocked him on his head to shut up his mouth, “We are not in a show, so quiet.”

 

“Good year, maknae-yah.” Great Sage gave the kids and Kim Dokja their ‘Lucky Money’. He had known about this tradition once he went across China on their journey to the West. 

 

Kim Dokja happily received his ‘Lucky Money’. It was a different sensation when he still could receive ‘Lucky Money’ although he was an adult already.

 

Uriel also gave Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk her new year gift. “This one is for you.” It wasn’t money but a pair of dolls that she made by herself during her little free time as an idol.

 

Kim Dokja held the pair of dolls in his hands with tenderness. The dolls were the splitting images of them during the scenario, Kim Dokja in a white coat with a sly smile on his face and Yoo Jonghyuk frowning in his black ‘Infinite Dimension Space Coat’.

 

“Thank you so much, Uriel. I will treasure it.” Kim Dokja handed the doll over to Yoo Jonghyuk as he hugged Uriel, the former archangel who was on the verge of crying because Kim Dokja loved her handmade dolls. 

 

Not long after, the other former constellations and incarnations also came in.

 

“You look happy my dear son.” Persephone appeared with Dionysus, whose face had already reddened although it was still early in the morning.

 

“Hi everyone!!!” Dionysus stumbled around while holding a glass of red wine in his hand.

 

This was the reason why Persephone had to escort Dionysus, or else later on in Olympus, they would have to apply for missing person form to the police.

 

“Be careful!” Kim Dokja yelled out to the person who just opened the door and about to crash into Dionysus who was drunk and also headed toward the main door.

 

However, it was too late and Dionysus slammed into the other person.

 

“Hi Surya.” Dionysus waved his hand toward ‘Almighty Sun’, the wandering former constellation who worked as a train driver as a hobby recently before dropping out of consciousness.

 

“Oh my.” Surya raised his eyebrows looking at the sleeping young man in his arms, “Did I come too late? The party already started.”

 

Persephone shook her head as she explained to the former constellation of <Vedas>, “No, you are on time, Surya. Dionysus just had too much fun by himself.”

 

“Hahaha.” Surya snickered as he carried and laid Dionysus on the sofa nearby. He said, “Youngsters surely have so much energy. I will wake him up later.”

 

As they just shifted their attention to the drunk Dionysus, the door opened once again to welcome a group of old people walking in. It was Anna Crop whose hair had turned white a long time ago, Han Myungoh and Gong Pildu who had their own grandchildren already.

 

“Congratulations. I heard your project was a big success.” Anna Crop referred to ‘Save the World’, the game they released about a year ago.

 

“My grandkids love that game of yours. Good job!” Gong Pildu also gave them a compliment. He was playing the game with his grandkids as well which further made them become closer together.

 

Han Myungoh slightly nodded his head as he said, “I’m waiting for the restock.” The ‘Save the World’ game had become so popular that it sold out at a similar rate as concert tickets of the M.A.D idol group. Han Myungoh had been tempted to buy a few times but he wasn’t as fast as other younger people.

 

“I will send you some of our newest models once we make them.” Kim Dokja offered his old senior some free headsets that he could use to play with his grandchildren as Gong Pildu because, with their current finance and market, it wasn’t a big loss to give away some headset. 

 

As they started chatting about the game, it was nearly lunchtime, hence some people started standing up and got prepared for a grand feast for the Lunar New Year. However, as soon as Jung Heewon stood up along with Lee Hyunsung, Lee Jihye pushed her back down to her chair while accidentally saying.

“Unnie, you don’t need to do anything when you are having a baby.”

Chapter Text

Everyone was shocked by the news. 

 

‘Plop’, the half-eaten lollipop in Han Sooyoung’s mouth dropped down on the floor. The sound was crisp and clear telling the startled people in the room that their ears weren’t wrong.

 

“Why didn’t you tell us, unnie?” Yoo Miah ran over Jung Heewon with sparkling eyes. She had always wanted to have a baby to play with, it was also the main reason why she chose to study ‘Early childhood education’ in university.

 

“Yeh, even you didn’t say anything.” Kim Dokja glanced over Lee Hyunsung who was sweating under everyone’s attention.

 

Lee Hyunsung ruffled his hair, tried to find a way to explain, “Actually, we planned to announce it later today. But you know…”

 

“Jihye just said it out already.” Jung Heewon continued her husband’s sentence as he stuck.

 

Lee Jihye, the culprit, stuck her tongue out of the gap between her teeth while raising her shoulders up, “I’m sorry.”

 

“No, you did a good job.” Han Sooyoung patted Lee Jihye’s shoulder as she said, “We shouldn’t let the going-to-be mother does any hard work today.”

 

Shin Yoosung, who just ran up to her room to take something, came back and gave something to Jung Heewon. 

 

“This is for the baby.” Her face was a bit flustered as she was running around. On her hands was a small red envelope with little scribes of ‘Hope you are growing fast. I couldn’t wait to meet you, dear little baby’ that she wrote in a hurry. She swore to herself that it would be readable, or else she would be a clown in front of Lee Gilyoung who looked at her with amazed eyes. Maybe he hadn’t seen this soft side of her personality yet.

 

“Thank you, Yoosung. The baby will love it.” Jung Heewon grinned as she put the envelope in her phone case as a lucky amulet.

 

Uriel, who had never seen a pregnant woman before because archangels weren’t allowed to fall in love, let alone marry or get pregnant, slowly approached Jung Heewon, “Can I touch it?” she asked as she held her little hand out.

 

Although the baby might not be able to kick now, Jung Heewon nodded her head and gave Uriel permission to do so. Uriel gently touched the belly of Jung Heewon. And as if she could feel the emerging life force of a new existence being nurtured, a content smile appeared on her face.

 

“It’s amazing, Heewon-ssi.” Excitement could be heard in her voice.

 

Black Flame Dragon pushed the crowd to get to Uriel’s location, “I wanna try too.” Uriel’s expression made him curious about how it felt to be.

 

“Congratulations on the baby.” Sun Wukong was able to hold his curiosity down because it wouldn’t be appropriate to touch a woman’s belly in front of everyone.

 

Everyone started coming up to congratulate or make a wish for the baby. However, as Persephone came back out from the crowd, she heard a voice whisper next to her ear.

 

“Are you ok with that?” It was Lee Sookyung, the biological mother of Kim Dokja, her adopted son.

 

They were quite close not only because they were both Kim Dokja’s mother but because they were also both widows. Especially Persephone, a woman who could never be fertilized and experience the feelings of being a true mother.

 

Persephone gently sighed while forcing herself to cheer up because she still got Kim Dokja, “I’m alright. I still have Dokja.”

 

“Yes, Dokja will always be our son.” Lee Sookyung looked at Persephone with sympathy as she squeezed the other woman’s hand hard to stop it from trembling. 

 

Persephone wasn’t the only one with mixed feelings about the pregnancy announcement. Yoo Jonghyuk also saw something different about his partner. He didn’t ask why at that moment because it might ruin the happy atmosphere of the Lunar New Year gathering.

 

But now when they were finally home, in their own private place that no one could interrupt, Yoo Jonghyuk wanted to know why Kim Dokja showed such a complicated face when he heard Jung Heewon finally had a baby after being married for over a year although it was only visible for a fraction of a second.

 

As soon as they took off their winter coats and dusted off the snowflakes which stubbornly stayed, Yoo Jonghyuk hugged Kim Dokja from behind, gently kissed Kim Dokja’s frozen neck.

 

“Dokja.” Yoo Jonghyuk whispered, “Are you not happy?”

 

Pretending like he didn’t understand what Yoo Jonghyuk was talking about, Kim Dokja pushed his head far away from his own neck and wiggle his way out of Yoo Jonghyuk’s arms, “Your lips are cold. Don’t do it.”

 

Yet, because Kim Dokja was way weaker than Yoo Jonghyuk no matter how many years had passed, he ignored him and tried to make his way forward despite having a koala sticking on his body. And Yoo Jonghyuk also had trained his shamelessness to another different level.

 

“Shouldn’t you be responsible for warming up my lips if it is cold?”

 

Kim Dokja slightly frowned his brows at the unreasonable claim, “What the fuck?”

 

The grip of Yoo Jonghyuk’s arm became stiffer and Kim Dokja couldn’t move at all. Kim Dokja felt his head being turned over, a warm but yet rough heat source caressed his delicate cheek and Yoo Jonghyuk’s handsome face was magnified and came closer and closer.

 

“Tell me or you will regret it later.” Yoo Jonghyuk’s deep voice threatened Kim Dokja, making the hair behind his back stand up altogether.

 

As their lips almost touched each other, Kim Dokja couldn’t help himself and confess.  

 

“I want to have our own kids as well, like Heewon-ssi and Hyunsung-ssi.” Kim Dokja thought Yoo Jonghyuk might feel the same as him or at least used to think about that because no partner wouldn’t want a kid as the fruition of their love, “We had been married for nearly 2 years, we should have one.”

 

Yet, Yoo Jonghyuk had never thought so, “No, I don’t want kids.”

 

“Why?” Kim Dokja’s voice trembled. He turned his face over the other side, not wanting to see Yoo Jonghuyk. How can he say something like that?

 

Yoo Jonghyuk gently kissed on the ear helix of who was showing a sulky face as he explained, “They will snatch you away from me. I don’t want that yet.” He would like to spend his life with Kim Dokja, not someone else, even if it was their children.

 

“But what if I insisted on one.” As if Yoo Jonghyuk’s answer had cooled down his anger, Kim Dokja held his hands on the man’s hands which were placed on top of his lower stomach. He slightly lowered his head while he asked. He really wanted to have his own small family.

 

As Yoo Jonghyuk could feel the determination in his voice, he snuggled his face into his partner’s neck. “Sure, if that's what you wished for. I will give you as many as you want.”

 

Mellowness filled the two hearts on a frozen evening.

 

After dinner, they went on and researched for how to have kids as a homosexual couple. And everything they found was to adopt orphans, co-parental contract with another lesbian couple or surrogacy. The last two options were impossible for them because neither Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk wanted to involve other people inside their own family, especially someone they didn’t have a mutual love with. They knew that it was a weird obsession but it was what it was. Hence the only option left was adoption. 

 

“How about adopting?” Kim Dokja showed his phone’s screen over and asked the man who was lying next to him on their bed. This might not be too bad of an idea, Yoo Jonghyuk and Lee Seolhwa in his 0th regression turns also did the same thing. “There are many kids who lost their parents due to the scenario.”

 

Honestly said, if Yoo Jonghyuk wanted a child, he would want the baby to be their actual child, with both of his and Kim Dokja’s genes. However, the current medical technology was not advanced enough to be able to develop a proper zygote from two sperms because two sperms’ DNA were not compatible enough to fully develop into a child. There was a big jump within the DNA technology field when they were trying to change male cells into female egg cells by altering the genes making it act femininely, yet there was a long way to go due to the significant ratio between failure and success. It might happen in the next one or two decades or so, but Yoo Jonghyuk felt like they couldn’t afford to have such a long wait as they were approaching their 40s soon, so adoption might be their best choice for now.

 

“Good idea.” Yoo Jonghyuk moved his arm to wrap it around Kim Dokja’s waist, “When do you want to go?” He asked.

 

Kim Dokja slightly sighed as he mentioned their working schedule. They were still hella busy at the moment, so it might not happen in the near future. “Probably when things settle down.” 

 

“Alright.” Yoo Jonghyuk hooked his pinky finger to Kim Dokja’s one and made a pinky swear, “We will go whenever it’s possible.” As the head of the train, they couldn’t just take a break and go on while leaving their employee working their ass off. It wasn’t the way Kim Dokja wanted to treat his people and Yoo Jonghyuk totally respected his working moral.

 

Despite saying that, later on, that night, after they had entered ‘Saving the World’ in their sleep to play the game and Kim Dokja sometimes performed his duty as an admin when he had to, Yoo Jonghyuk secretly met up with Biyu, who also had the administration authority shared by Celeana to have a conversation with her.

 

Because Celeana had actively involved herself during the development and testing phase of the game, she was slacking off her obligation on clearing the worldlines and the system seemed to be catching up. Hence since everything in the game itself was manageable and stable that it didn’t need her frequent intervention anymore, she shared her authority of ‘Mother of All Dream’ in the game with Kim Dokja, Oldest Dream and Biyu. This shared authority enabled them to change everything in the game that supposed to be her dream using her [Fable] to an extent.

 

With this, Celeana could focus on her tasks while being able to control the state of the game so that it would not be spoiled by some not-so-good-people who came just to satisfy their too-wrecked desire. Yet, Celeana couldn’t totally abandon her roles inside the game and left everything to them, she would at least enter the game once every week for a short time to do a quick check-up based on 1864th worldline’s time density. And today was the day.

 

As Yoo Jonghyuk saw a Ctahi character in a familiar white robe approaching him from afar, he knew it was Celeana, because no one other than her played healer but only used equipment from other classes that increased attack stats.

 

“Celeana-ssi.” Yoo Jonghyuk slightly nodded his head with two wolf ears to greet her.

 

Celeana also appropriately waved at him, ⸢Hi Jonghyuk, where is Dokja?⸥ She glanced around the forest where Yoo Jonghyuk wanted to meet her looking for Kim Dokja, who she thought would also be here.

 

“He is in another area.” Yoo Jonghyuk answered while trying to send his message that this was a secret meeting through his eyes.

 

As if Celeana had caught that message, she said, ⸢Alright, then do it quick.⸥

 

Immediately, Yoo Jonghyuk told her about Jung Heewon’s pregnancy and how they wanted to have a child together but only had adoption as an available choice.

 

Celeana stayed silent the whole time Yoo Jonghyuk was talking and nodded her head here and there to show her anticipation in the story. As soon as Yoo Jonghyuk, she said, ⸢So you want me to find a way for you two to have your own child.⸥ She pointed out the critical topic that Yoo Jonghyuk hadn’t got to yet. 

 

“Yes, if you can.” Yoo Jonghyuk had high hopes in Celeana who seemed to be able to do everything they expected. More than that, because her specialty was related to medicine, he thought that she might have a way to tweak with it.

 

Without failing his expectation, Celeana bitted her lower lips while saying, ⸢I can try.⸥ She wasn’t too confident in herself that she could do this because homosexual relationship was heavily restricted and was a taboo within her dimension, hence she had never do something like this before, but it worthed a try.

 

⸢There are two options.⸥ Celeana shared the idea that she just had in her head a second ago, ⸢One is to implant the womb inside Kim Dokja, so you can have natural fertilization. The other one is vitro fertilization. I prefer the second method because it will not left any side-effect on Kim Dokja.⸥

 

Then, she explained the possible risk of both methods. The first method sounded cool on the surface but because this was her first time, Celeana wasn’t sure if it would lead to any bad consequence. However, by being pregnant, Kim Dokja could build a better maternal love with the child. Plus, Yoo Jonghyuk would be actively involved in getting Kim Dokja pregnant as well which will increase their time in bed.

 

The second method wouldn’t involve them in any stage of the development of the baby except for donating their sperms. But this was the best way for Celeana to keep a keen eye on the baby in case something went wrong while not harming Kim Dokja in any case. The downside of this method probably would be a weaker connection between Kim Dokja and the baby.

 

Without any hesitation, Yoo Jonghyuk chose vitro fertilization because he believed that even without the pregnancy period, Kim Dokja would still love the child as much as if he bore it himself.

 

After they had decided on the method, the only thing left was to collect sperms from both Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk which only Yoo Jonghyuk could do. Celeana also asked for an additional sample of skin cells because it might be useful in adding genes that were missing in the sperms according to the experiments with the same attempts that Yoo Jonghyuk told her earlier. 

 

“I will give you what you need as soon as possible.” Yoo Jonghyuk said as he left the forest heading to the nearby town where Kim Dokja and his party was doing their quest. Although Celeana might come over to say hi later on, it was still best that they were not seen meeting each other. 

 

After Yoo Jonghyuk was gone, Celeana also made her way back to the administration office hidden within the game. As she entered the office, she immediately saw a girl wearing a military uniform, the girl also left her chair in front of the wall with multiple scenes showing different areas of the game and bounced toward her.

 

[Master, welcome back.] The voice was definitely Biyu but she seemed a bit different. Her face, or more accurately her body was changing shape constantly.

 

Celeana also spotted that out, hence she reminded Biyu, ⸢Calm down, Biyu. Your face is changing again.⸥

 

[Really?] Biyu hastily touched her face and as if she could feel the muscles on her face were running around, she frowned and sighed at the same time making her face looked even more twisted, [I shouldn’t choose this class at first.]

 

⸢It’s always hard at first.⸥ A gentle smile bloomed on the corner of Celeana’s lips, she padded Biyu head while encouraging the low-spirited girl, ⸢You improved a lot, remember.⸥

 

As Celeana reminded Biyu about her first few days after choosing her race as ‘Doppelganger’, Biyu instantly felt her face at the moment wasn’t half bad in comparison to the one she had on her first day. The original appearance of ‘Doppelganger’ wasn’t pretty in any aspect, greyish hairless skin, bulbous head with formless face and bulging eyes that didn’t have pupils.

 

However, its innate ability to duplicate its victims from physical appearance, abilities, clothing and equipment would be very useful if she needed to act as someone to dig more information or even destroyed trust among the actual players. Therefore, Biyu chose to be ‘Doppelganger’ as soon as she saw it. Yet, they didn’t know that in order to replicate perfectly, they needed to level up not only one specific skill but a range of them that worked together, hence Biyu had a hard time at first when she was only able to learn a few of those required skills. 

 

[I only have [Maintain] left to raise. After that, I can infiltrate inside those big guilds.] Biyu said while looking at her skill [Maintain Lv.15] which was still 25 levels lower than her character level. This [Maintain] skill will help Biyu to uphold her appearance although she did not focus or being emotionally triggered similar to the situation that just happened when Celeana entered the office.

 

⸢Don’t push yourself too much. You are not alone.⸥ Celeana reminded Biyu that she was not the only admin in the whole game while transferring some materials that would help to raise Biyu’s level to her.

 

Then not long after, when Celeana just finished scanning every single area to find any bugs or abnormalities, the office door once again opened and a muscular figure popped in.

 

“Celeana-nim.” The raspy voice was emitted from a man in a silver knight uniform that represented the ‘Paladin Troop’ of the largest church of ‘Sun God’ in ‘Mortal Realm’.

 

As Celeana heard a familiar voice, she raised her head up from the screen on the table and looked up at the man, ⸢Ah, Lee Sanghoon.⸥ This man is the head president of the ‘Modusec Company’ that they were collaborating with and also the one who benefited the most financially from ‘Save the World’.

 

“It’s such a coincidence that we meet like this.” Lee Sanghoon tossed his long bang backward to show off his beautiful face thanks to the ‘High Elf’ race that boosts his beauty value even further. However, it still wasn’t enough to slap Yoo Jonghyuk in his face once. That’s what we called the power of the protagonist or plot armor.

 

“Do you have any free time? The healer of my party cannot be online today but no one is willing to help.” Lee Sanghoon proposed his intention as his eyes stuck on Celeana.

 

Even someone who had sight deficiency could clearly see the beads of sweat rolling down continuously on his forehead.

 

Coincident my ass!!! Biyu swore inside her head. She knew for sure that he had rushed to the office as soon as he found out that Celeana was online.

 

Biyu didn’t like Lee Sanghoon from the first time she saw him, not only his attitude changed 180 degrees from denying their project to the biggest supporters when he got to know about Celeana. Then, throughout those two years, Lee Sanghoon would maximize his chance of being with Celeana.

 

[No, she is not. You can ask someone else, Sanghoon-ssi.] Biyu glared at Lee Sanghoon as she was disgusted by his brazen lie. How could someone decline the offer from one of the ten strongest parties ranked by the most reliable system in ‘Save the World’, that he said that no one accepted to join. People would kill each other just to be even a substitute for one day because they could raise their fame points that created [Fable] and if they were lucky, they might get the share of some rare materials.

 

Despite Biyu was there, right in front of his eyes, Lee Sanghoon chose to ignore her presence as he continued to ask Celeana. He even offered his hand out like a gentleman asking a lady for a dance at a social gathering. “You can, right, Celeana-nim?”

 

The very little hint of the menacing manner in his voice made Celeana want to rip off the head of this man right away but she couldn’t at the moment because they were not in the phase where Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk could easily take over the ‘Modusec Company’. Although he put up an act of a simp, she was certain that he was not interested in her but in her power which could eliminate the system that he despised the most instead, which caused him to tick every box in her dislike list.

 

⸢Sorry, Sanghoon-sii, I actually have to go now.⸥ Celeana quickly stood up, acted like she was in a hurry and needed to leave but Lee Sanghoon didn’t give up that easily. He stood in front of her, tightly grasped her wrist. Because his character had a larger figure, Celeana seemed to be blocked between him and the table behind her.

 

Biyu, who wasn’t able to hold herself back anymore, yelled out loud his name without any honorifics. [Let her go, Sanghoon.] She was tempted to attack him with a dark magic spell that worked extremely effectively toward ‘Paladin’ but Celeana stopped her from doing so through telepathy because her level was lower than him. Lee Sanghoon was level 60 while she only reached level 40. A difference of 20 levels would definitely put her on the disadvantage side. More than that, Biyu shouldn’t be on his bad side because she would have to infiltrate his guild and party later.

 

⸢Sanghoon-ssi, can you please let go?⸥ Celeana managed to keep on her gentle yet also a silently vicious smile that caused his mind to drop down from the moon to remember that her level was not much lower than him and she wasn’t only a mere healer. If he did anything too much, Celeana wouldn’t hesitate to kill him on the spot.

 

As if her warning had reached his blunt head, Lee Sanghoon released her hand but still didn’t budge even an inch. “I really need you today. You are not busy at the moment, aren’t you?” He was confident about that because she would at least be active for two hours, but only half an hour just passed.

 

⸢Sorry I am actually busy today.⸥ The curve of the lips hardened as Celeana was telling the truth. She didn’t have free time today. Did he think that she would really stand here and argue with him if she had the time? For god sake, she would rather come over to play with either Kim Dokja or Kim Dokja than talking with this stubborn head man.

 

But that didn’t work either. Celeana sighed as she looked over the clock that was pointing toward midnight. She was late.

 

⸢Sanghoon-ssi, sorry but I got to go now.⸥ She clicked her tongue as she drew the sword on the side of her hip out. This was her favorite weapon, so she didn’t want to spoil it with his blood but whatever. ⸢If you don’t move out...⸥ Celeana wasn’t talking anymore but gritting through her teeth.

 

However, as soon as Celeana just finished her sentence and the sword hadn’t even got a chance to slice through Lee Sanghoon’s neck to teach him a lesson yet, the door was slammed opened and a shadow gushed into the room.

 

[Nora-hyung.] Biyu jumped up clapping her hands together as if she saw a saviour coming in to help her and Celeana from this awkward situation.

 

Without saying anything much besides complaining, ⸢You are late already, Master.⸥ Nora, the shadow wrapped around Celeana’s body and quickly moved with her to the area that permitted log out leaving Lee Sanghoon blankly looking at the empty space in front of him with opened mouth while still holding a hand out to hold onto Celeana. But of course, he couldn’t be as fast as the assassin, the class that held the highest speed stats.

 

[Too bad, Sanghoon-ssi. Master is busy today.] Biyu smirked as she suggested, [I can transform into her if you desperately want a healer.]

 

“Thanks for your offer. But we might not need a healer today.” Lee Sanghoon mercurially declined her suggestion.

 

Biyu snorted her nose and rolled her eyes in revulsion as Lee Sanghoon withdrew himself from the admin office with a bitter face.

 

Whereas Celeana had to listen to Nora’s scolding because she was nearly late for an important meeting with her other disciples from other dimensions. If someone looked outside the Dark Stratum, near the barrier of [Last Wall], they would see a white shadow going along with a black shadow. And if they came closer, they would hear Celeana’s voice constantly apologize.

 

⸢I’m sorry, Nora. At least we will make it in time.⸥

 

⸢It’s not completely my fault, you know that.⸥

Chapter Text

As usual, whenever Kim Dokja went to sleep, he would log in to ‘Save the World’, and today was no exception. As soon as his character appeared in the same spot that he logged out in the morning, he checked his friend list to see if anyone in his party was online. Unfortunately for Kim Dokja , no one except Biyu’s icon who spent most of her time here was lighting up.

 

“Huh, I miss out.” Kim Dokja pouted as he saw Celeana’s status appear as online 5 minutes ago. They hadn’t met each other for almost three days and the only day she logged in, she had to leave early for a meeting.

 

As Kim Dokja kicked the random pebble on the road while walking to the admin office, where he might find Biyu to chat with, a pebble accidentally flew into a player who seemed to belong to the ‘Giant’ race walking in a group in the opposite direction to him.

 

“Sorry.” Kim Dokja held up his hand to apologize and continued his way as that was the norm here and a pebble could never do any damage anyway.

 

However, that norm only would be applicable to normal players, not this group of gangsters as they slowly approached Kim Dokja and surrounded him all the way around forming a circle wall of players.

 

“Hey, where do you think you are going?”

 

Kim Dokja looked up at the ‘Giant’ while putting on a friendly smile, he apologized again in hope that it would ease those guys down, “I’m sorry, that was just a small accident.”

 

In contrast to his expectation, the ‘Giant’ didn’t just go away after hearing the second apology, he sneered at Kim Dokja to intimidate him, “A sorry doesn’t resolve everything.”

 

“There are two.” Arguing intent unconsciously slipped out of Kim Dokja’s mouth as a habit because he was so used to arguing not only with ‘Secretive Plotter’ but also Kim Namwoon. 

 

And this habit was killing him at the moment because the ‘Giant’ immediately stepped forward, pushing him standing against the body of another player that felt cold as ice behind his back.

 

“You have such a devious mouth, huh.” The ‘Giant’ raised his hand up and rubbed it against his face, tracing from the ear, then to his chin as he lifted it up, “I wanna fill it up with my yogurt.”

 

The other players in the group also laughed along to agree with his idea. Lust and sexual desire emerged from the atmosphere surrounding them made Kim Dokja want to vomit. He was startled because he didn’t understand why these people would want to have sex with an undead. However, his eyes soon wanted to shoot out of the eye socket when he realized that he was in his main account, an undead necromancer, but in his side account, a dryad which he created by mistake.

 

Shit! Kim Dokja thought to himself that if he didn’t get out of here as soon as possible, he would regret his entire life.

 

Kim Dokja pushed the ‘Giant’ with all his strength but this dryad was too weak in comparison to the group, he couldn’t do anything. As the circle got smaller, he could feel their hands were stroking on every corner of his body, Kim Dokja resisted even harder. 

Without any thought inside his head, he fired up all the spells in his possession and successfully broke off the meat jail. He ran off as far as he could while they were still frozen and hazy. However, the effect of those spells didn’t last long because it was at the lowest level, the ‘Giant’ and his companions quickly got up and chased him down.

 

“You bitch. You should be grateful for being chosen by us.” The ‘Giant’ roared in anger as he caught up to Kim Dokja and was holding him by his neck. The ‘Giant’ was trying to choke him to death and it would be very easy to do so because his side account was shit.

 

They chose this method because every time you died in the game, you wouldn’t die in real life but drop one level instead, and for a low-level account like the one, he was using, dropping by one level would be a big loss.

 

As Kim Dokja was waiting for his health point to drop down to 0, he caught a glimpse of something that seemed to be a burnt mark in a shape of an eye with a strange symbol inside on the side of the neck of the ‘Giant’ as he tilted his head while breaking off Kim Dokja’s neck. 

 

Yet, before he could confirm its existence, he died.

 

The reviving point was Schiele, the city where most players would start their journey. Luckily, it was also the place Kim Dokja was walking toward because the admin office also was hidden underneath the platform of the ‘Central Train Station’.

 

As Kim Dokja waited for his reassurance countdown from 10 minutes, he opened up his friend list again to check. His eyes sparkled with glimmer as he saw the avatar of ‘Secretive Plotter’ had finally lighted up. He immediately pressed on the avatar to start the chat function and told him to meet up at the admin office.

 

Then, when the countdown had cooled down, Kim Dokja changed his account into his main one and headed off to the base underground of the ‘Central Train Station’. As Kim Dokja entered a corridor with a dead end, he walked straight through the wall without any hesitation as if there was nothing there. And turn out, there wasn’t any wall, it was just an illusion casted on to blind other players who got to find out the existence of this mysterious corridor by any chance.

 

Behind the illusional wall was another corridor that led to an actual door at the end. In order to get access through this door, Kim Dokja needed to enter the correct password and got through the retinal scan. After he was approved by the security system that was installed by Lee Sanghoon, the door quickly opened revealing the familiar room that Celeana just entered not long ago. Inside the room was Biyu and ‘Secretive Plotter’.

 

“Biyu, ahjussi.” Kim Dokja gladly smiled, waved his small greyish hand while coming closer to the big screen where they were standing at.

 

As Biyu heard the door opened, she turned her head around to greet the incoming undead, [ Dokja , you should come a bit sooner. Master just left.] She mentioned Celeana's short visit which also brought up the annoying face of Lee Sanghoon in her memory as she grumbled, [And that Sanghoon bastard also came here.]

 

“Really? For what?” Kim Dokja was quite surprised because he wasn’t on his friendlist as well as Lee Sanghoon rarely visited this base when he was around.

 

[Of course, to hit on our Master. What else can that sly do.] Her nose blew up and reddened as if she would kill Lee Sanghoon if he appeared in front of her eyes right now. She would never think that someone had the guts to approach Celeana in such a manner.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ hummed with his brows raised up. That sounded interesting, so it was also a pity that he couldn’t see it with his eyes.

 

Whereas, Kim Dokja felt speechless and could only spit out one word after dumbfounded for a solid five seconds, “Insane.” He shook his head as he sat down on the chair that ‘Secretive Plotter’ had pushed out for him.

 

[[What’s happened to your side account?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ asked Kim Dokja about his dryad account that he accidentally logged in. Although he had switched to his main account and didn’t say anything about the uncomfortable occurrence, ‘Secretive Plotter’ knew something was wrong when he spotted out that his side account just dropped one level and in this game, you only dropped your level when you died.

 

Right at the moment ‘Secretive Plotter’ reminded him about the ‘Giant’ and his groups which was the reason why he died, Kim Dokja lowered his head. His tear ducts suddenly became so sensitive and Kim Dokja was afraid that he would cry if he looked up. Kim Dokja didn’t want to cry at all but his stupid physiological response didn’t match up with what he wanted to show. Kim Dokja had suffered heaps but sexual harassment was unfamiliar to him, hence he could not help himself but respond in such a frail way.

 

His response made ‘Secretive Plotter’ even more convinced by his own hypothesis. He stood up from his chair to get down on his knee looking at Kim Dokja ’s face from downward. His big and calloused hands wrapped around Kim Dokja’s hands covering the black spider net.

 

[[Tell me.]] His voice was deep and soft like the silent rich night.

 

Biyu also stood beside him with her hand on his shoulder to reassure him.

 

Then as if all the frustration, shame, anger and shock that he couldn’t feel before when he was facing their humiliation all came at the same time, Kim Dokja broke down crying. Followed each drop of tear and a sentence coming out from Kim Dokja’s mouth was a cracking sound emitted from ‘Secretive Plotter’ as his nerve was cut off one by one.

 

[Those jerks!!!] Biyu slammed her other hand on the table to express her anger. Today is such a shitty day.

 

While ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t say anything and abruptly stood up heading out of the office.

 

“What’s are you doing Jonghyuk ?” In confusion, Kim Dokja unconsciously called ‘Secretive Plotter’ with the name that he had abandoned for a long time. If anyone else other than Kim Dokja called him with that name, their heads were reserved for a quick tour on the floor right away.

 

[[I will kill them.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ shifted his gaze to Kim Dokja’s puffy eyes as he gently took the hands clung on his cuff off.

 

“Don’t do it. It was just a side account.” Kim Dokja begged ‘Secretive Plotter’ not to do anything unnecessary that would attract more nuisance later in the future.

 

Despite that, ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t back off. He lowered his head to the same level as Kim Dokja . Kim Dokja could feel his warm breath stealthily glide through his skin and his voice filled up his ears with honey and lemon before ‘Secretive Plotter’ disappeared.

 

[[Even if it was a side account, it was you. I will not let anyone touch you.]]

 

[They deserve death. Don’t be too lenient toward those bastards.] Biyu padded his head as it was lowered down again while scanning over the screen and radars to find those bastards that fitted Kim Dokja ’s description. She thought that he was feeling pity for the gangster group but he was just embarrassed by the other man’s words.

 

As soon as Biyu found out their location, she sent it to ‘Secretive Plotter’. And in a blink of an eye, on the screen that livestream the area, Kim Dokja saw a Demon with black wings landed on the hunting ground where the ‘Giant’ and his group were wandering through. Because ‘Secretive Plotter’ wasn’t a no-name within the game, he quickly got recognised by other people as the players started calling his modifier out.

 

“Oh my god! Is that the ‘Sword of Disaster’?”

 

“Am I dreaming? Or I see him in person.”

 

“What is he doing here?”

 

People were confused because this hunting ground was only for players under level 30 whereas ‘Secretive Plotter’ had already surpassed level 50. 

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ ignored the other players and focused his gaze on the group of demi-human race players that was centered by an enormous ‘Giant’ as he slowly approached them. Without saying anything, he activated [Despair Aura], a skill to create a dark mist that made every player that it encountered fall to their knees in hopelessness and discouragement. And no one on the hunting ground could escape from the mist, especially when they were nearly 20 levels apart.

 

“What the fuck? What did we do?” The ‘Giant’ screamed his lungs out as he recognised the target of ‘Secretive Plotter’ was no one else but them.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ glared at the ‘Giant’ who was crouching down on the ground like a loser as he pulled his black blade out. [[This is for Dokja .]] He squealed as the blade drew a perfect half circle on the air and red blood shot out from his neck without a head like a fountain. The rest of the groups also died all at once as he used [Incarnation of Calamity] that turned their bodies into ash as they were stuck into a black thunder tornado.

 

However, it wasn’t the end of the extermination. As the gangster group walked out from the revival zone, they saw their God of Death, ‘Secretive Plotter’ standing at the entrance waiting for their appearance.

 

“I’m sorry, dear ‘Sword of Disaster’.” One player bowed down, slammed his head on the ground while apologizing for something that they didn’t know that they did.

 

“We swear that we didn’t do anything to the ‘Black Young Master’.” They knew that the person named ‘ Dokja ’ that he mentioned earlier was the undead necromancer as well as the leader of his party. But they didn’t remember to meet him in person at all, let alone did something bad to him that led to this rage.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ completely ignored the noise they were making and calmly sent them off to death. As the cycle repeated itself, the rumor started to spread even further and eventually it reached the ears of his companions who just logged in. At first, they didn’t understand why ‘Secretive Plotter’ could become that angry but right after they heard the story from Biyu, no one said anything and joined the execution of those bastards.

 

Shortly after, their names had become the hottest topic of the day and could be heard everywhere. Not only ‘Sword of Disaster’, but even ‘Hell Flame’, ‘Dragon Blood’, ‘Undefeatable Shield’ and ‘One Hit One Kill’, the five core members of the best party in the game went crazy on the same day. But the interesting thing was they only attacked a group of people, hence everyone hypothesized that this group of people might have done something very bad to be killed to the lowest level possible, level 1. The top sin points rank of today were also them as they quickly were sent to jail after their mascaras. However, they were only in jail for a few minutes before Kim Dokja and Biyu used their authority as an admin to release them.

 

When people thought that this might be the end of the story, yet, they found out that the ‘Priest of Madness’ had revealed herself after a long time of living in seclusion. And the ‘Priest of Madness’ for sure didn’t detain her name. The gangster group which just raised up to level 2 were killed once again. Their death this time was not as harmonious and good as those previous one but a very slow and painful death as Celeana maximised their sensitivity and sliced off their meat one by one. Then she would heal them to repeat the same thing till she was bored. 

 

From this crazy incident, all of the players within ‘Save the World’ learnt their lessons that they should never trigger or test their calmness. 

 

While Celeana was relieving her stress on the ‘Giant’ group who had the big enough courage to assault Kim Dokja , Biyu was sitting inside the admin office and chatted with Kim Dokja to distract him from the bloody scene at Celeana’s butcher location.

 

[I wondered where did Master just go.] Biyu sighed as she rarely saw Celeana these days, especially when she voluntarily took the role of admin with the largest responsibility in the game.

 

“Noona was in another dimension. Both of her and Nora went there today.” Kim Dokja referred to the dimension where they met Ryuyang, another disciple of Celeana and also Nora’s senior sister.

 

Because Biyu didn’t go with them on his 17th birthday’s trip, she didn’t get to know the exact location of the dimension but she had met Ryuyang a few times already. Biyu expected Kim Dokja to at least know who Ryuyang was but never expected him to even know about Celeana’s schedule which even she didn’t know.

 

[Did Master tell you?] Biyu asked. Her voice was higher than normal.

 

Kim Dokja nodded as he heard Biyu questioned about whether he knew what the meeting was about. About this Kim Dokja himself wasn’t sure either, but at the very minimum, he was certain that it was related to the fifth hidden memory fragment that Celeana just received three days ago, the last time they talked to each other.

 

His guess was half-correct as it was actually related to the fifth hidden memory fragment that Celeana managed to obtain throughout the course of two years according to the 1864th worldline time density. According to all five hidden memory fragments, Celeana was able to remember the face of the mysterious man, the location where they first met, the time they first met, the house which seemed to belong to him and this time, his voice.

 

Although the voice was a bit husky and hard to hear, somehow, Celeana immediately related his voice with the voice that would always help her with its prophet inside her spiritual sea. However, Celeana didn’t have any evidence to prove that they belonged to the same person because it was just her feeling, their pitches, their accents and everything else were different. But if he had some skills, he could easily change his voice, which was what she thought up to support herself.

 

The other factor that Kim Dokja didn’t know leading to the meeting was also the mysterious voice staying inside her spiritual sea. It often told her where to go next, and this dimension was a prime example. Without its help, Celeana would never be able to get to know about them. Hence, she put an immense amount of trust upon its word.

 

This time, the voice told that she needed to travel to other dimensions to unlock more [Hidden Memory Fragment] or else she would never be able to get out of the dark tunnel which she was going through. However, she didn’t want to leave this dimension yet, not only because she hadn’t finished her duty but also she was somehow very attached to this place. When she opposed the idea of leaving, the voice laughed and said that she was always the same. This one sentence made her become even more curious about the true identity of not only the man in her hidden memory but also this voice. It sounded like it had got to know her for a very long time whereas she only was able to hear it since the end of her punishment as well as the start of her wanderings.

 

At last, the voice said that Celeana could not entirely leave this dimension, but she needed to finish her mission at other dimensions to claim the reward as well. Because this quest and claim reward system was similar to the game, ‘Save the World’ that she was a part of, Celeana wanted to try to connect parts of those dimensions that related to the quest inside the game. And to do it, Celeana needed help from lots of her trusted disciples and companions from her original dimension as well as her family in this dimension.

 

The connection to different dimensions was completely hidden from Lee Sanghoon and his teams. They fabricated it as a normal update for the game that expanded the map even more which required the server to shut down for one night.

 

On the night when the server was shut down for maintenance and update for the first time. Celeana was standing in the middle of a bunch of sparkling orbs that were responsible for communication across dimensions.

 

⸢Are you all ready?⸥ Celeana raised her status as she asked all the people at the other end of the orb while preparing to open up space where the game was stored in.

 

Responses quickly emitted from the orbs.

 

⸢Ready, Master.⸥

 

⸢All prepared.⸥

 

⸢Yes, Master.⸥

 

As soon as she had received an answer from every orb, Celeana signaled Nora and Ryuyang who were in the Dark Stratum where the space containing the game was stored to prevent any abnormal force or object from entering without any permission. Because this moment when space was opened was the best time to plant something inside and ruin her game. As both Nora and Ryuyang understood the consequence of it, they pushed their power and their sense to the maximum.

 

Then, Celeana moved her hand to draw a big magic circle in the air while mumbling in an unknown language. As soon as she finished the final stroke, the magic circle lighted on and probability like an ocean vigorously poured into the magic circle making it glow even brighter that Biyu, Kim Dokja, Yoo Jonghyuk, Oldest Dream and ‘Secretive Plotter’ who were sitting in the admin office to observe the scene had to remove their eyes from the screen because the light was burning their eyes. They couldn’t see anything but they could still hear with their ears.

 

There was Celeana’s roar as her body also reached its maximum capacity to heal and reproduce probability. The amount of probability that she had to spend was probably equal to all of the other people because she played the central role and the connecting point. They felt the grounds were shaking as it was connected to parts of another continent. They also could hear the screeching noise from the atmosphere as it was stretched out further to all sides.

 

The gleams extended for a few minutes before lowering down to the level that their eyes could adapt to. As they opened their eyes, the numbers of screens in front of their eyes had increased exponentially as evidence of how much the world in the game had expanded.

 

These new dimensions were not too much different from their original game. Hence the only barrier would be languages and culture which would be another interesting aspect of the game to let the players eager to learn communication or interpretation skills or at least create a new market for life-style players who majored in interpretation because there were also many different regional languages within ‘Save the World’ old version that was roughly translated by the system into a common language. However, as the system might not work as effectively in these newer dimensions due to lower synchronisation rate, the translated common language might still be very difficult to understand if the players wanted to explore, open quests, and claim rewards here. 

 

After the night, ‘Save the World’ came to its new era.

Chapter Text

 

The update of the game received many positive feedbacks from the players even if only one day had passed. Celeana didn’t know if this was something to cheer for because although it did a good job in increasing the quality and quantity of [Fable] that they would be able to obtain. Consequently, she had to stay in the admin office for a week straight, just to try to stabilize the space because of the sudden expansion. And Celeana wasn’t the only one that got stuck here.

 

⸢I want to go somewhere else.⸥ Nora, who was resting after just coming back from a patrol around the new areas to collect more information about them as well as find out about the quest that they needed to complete, whined. Boredom and laziness showed in his voice.

 

Kim Dokja who was busy looking through the stack of images scanning the energy level from the expanded areas also threw a comment at the complaining assassins lying on the sofa. 

 

“You are so lazy Nora - hyung.” 

 

⸢Hey, you said that because you don’t have to stay here all day.⸥ Nora defended himself from the younger one’s criticizing voice. He would rather go here and there than sitting in the same room similar to what the others were doing at the moment. That was also the main reason why he chose to take on the patrol because at least, he would be able to walk around.

 

[Don’t quibble around, hyung. I’m here even longer than you.] Biyu tiredly raised her head up from her computer. She looked like she hadn’t slept for days. [If you want to quit, ask your Master first.] She pointed her chin to Celeana who had shrunk down into the kkoma form for the whole time since the connection with other dimensions was formed.

 

Even from afar, they could feel the heat and the fizzing sound emitted from her body because all of her cells were working at their maximum capacity to replenish the probability that was drawn out without a stop. Seeing her like this totally destroyed his intention of logging out of the game.

 

⸢Did she take the pill yet?⸥ Nora asked, not specifically to anyone. Celeana had to take medication that boost her regeneration ability once every hour or else even if she had the best regenerating ability, her cells would eventually die from overworking.

 

As Kim Dokja rustled through the papers, he shook his head. “Not yet, she wasn’t even conscious this hour.”

 

[[Yes, that’s why Dokja could feed her.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ joined in the conversation as soon as he had finished banning accounts that had violated the policies.

 

Nora glared at the man with the big scar on his cheek and said with a mocking manner, ⸢Uh, but Plotter, you could just shut it into her mouth, couldn’t you?⸥ He had done even more things to Celeana without her permission whatsoever, and now he acted like he couldn’t do a simple thing like open her mouth up and put a pill in.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t answer. He just turned his head around to ignore the heavy smirk hanging on Nora’s lips as if he told him to do it himself, he wouldn’t touch that woman.

 

The line between his temple became even deeper as Nora saw his ill-temper toward Celeana. He thought that their relationship wasn’t this bad.

 

As he shifted his gaze to Kim Dokja and Biyu to ask whether they knew anything happened between them that made ‘Secretive Plotter’ behave this way to Celeana or not, the answer he received was a round zero. No one understood why.

 

Nora heavily sighed, yet put the matter on the side because it wasn’t the priority at the moment. And if ‘Secretive Plotter’ dared to do anything, he could simply kill him on the spot. In a fraction of a second, his gaze turned deadly frozen, then came back normal as he walked up to Celeana floating in the middle of the room and tried to feed her the pills.

 

⸢Why you have to clench your teeth this hard?⸥ Nora was having a hard time loosening up her closed-in teeth forming into a barrier preventing anything to come inside her mouth. 

 

Later, when Celeana had agreed to unlock the entry to her gastrointestinal tract, they could hear Nora grumbled again as he put the pills in.

 

⸢Stop saying nonsense!⸥ Maybe Celeana unconsciously said something ain’t right.

 

Despite it, the pills successfully entered the body of their creator and brought their power into the game.

 

Another hour passed as Kim Dokja’s party in the 1864th worldline also logged in. Their main role was to investigate and get rid of small bugs that were created due to a clash of dimensions. The numbers were horrendous at first as a result of the instability of the bridge connecting the dimension. However, thanks to a week of hard work, this number had decreased significantly and they might be able to finish all of them at the end of tonight.

 

At the same time, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk entered the admin office alone because other members of their party had logged out to prepare for work or school, Celeana also opened her eyes for the first time of the day.

 

“Such coincidence noona.” Kim Dokja waved his hand as he saw Celeana start to move her tiny body around.

 

After Celeana had stretched her kkoma body to loosen up the stiff muscles that resulted from overworking, she slightly bowed her head toward everyone inside the room who she knew to also have their plate full throughout the time being to express her gratitude, ⸢You have worked hard. Thank you everyone.⸥

 

“We are happy that we can at least do this to help you.” Kim Dokja talked as he was leisurely drinking a cup of hot chocolate made by ‘Secretive Plotter’. He also finished his work a while ago.

 

[Yes, Master. This is nothing.] Biyu added on. Although it was tiring for the last week, it would be less work for them afterward because Celeana had stabilized the connection.

 

As the door closed behind their backs, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk also sat down to report what they did to the other people. Celeana in her kkoma form sitting on Nora’s shoulder focusedly listened to his every word.

 

After his report, Celeana immediately realized the most concerning problem, ⸢I think I should increase the numbers of admin.⸥ Three might not be sufficient numbers for the updated version of ‘Save the World’.

 

[[Now you know.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ raised his brows and spitted out words of sarcasm.

 

“Ahjussiii.” Kim Dokja quickly put his cup down on the table and covered his mouth so that ‘Secretive Plotter’ wouldn’t say other impulsive words while nervously looking at Celeana because he was afraid that ‘Secretive Plotter’ had upset her. 

 

Celeana noticed that ‘Secretive Plotter’ had been showing a disagreeable attitude toward her since Kim Dokja ’s birthday for some reasons, but she didn’t want to fight him here because it would cause lots of trouble to Kim Dokja , the one who stayed in the middle of their relationship. 

 

As Kim Dokja wasn’t looking at ‘Secretive Plotter’, he couldn’t see the threatened gaze from ‘Secretive Plotter’ toward Celeana. He was warning her not to make Kim Dokja fall into an awkward position. Love is discrimination. Once you loved someone, you would prioritise them over everything. It was the nature of love and she sympathised with it. Hence, she prevented like she didn’t understand his sarcasm nor his glare and passed it on as she continued.

 

⸢Because I cannot share the authority to people that I cannot completely trust, so Jonghyuk, little Nora and ‘Secretive Plotter’ will also join the admin team.⸥ She called out the names of the new admins.

 

⸢Anyone oppose with that?⸥ She asked for their confirmation because an admin team that didn’t want to work together would never accomplish anything. Her gaze directed toward ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Yoo Jonghyuk because their relationship must be the worst of all. Maybe not to the point of her and ‘Secretive Plotter’ but she wouldn’t see him that much later on, so that didn’t matter much. Yet ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Yoo Jonghyuk would have to see each other every day, and that was concerning.

 

However, as both of them nodded their head, Celeana felt relieved. The biggest hurdle had passed and the easy part was to share authority. Three silver threads emerged from her fingertips and pierced through their heads and immediately the system sent its notification to announce the successful distribution. 

 

<You have granted the authority of ‘Mother of All Dream’>

 

<Your modifier is updated into ‘Child of Dream’>

 

<Restriction is applied within ‘Save the World’>

 

As long as they still owned the modifier of ‘Child of Dream’, they would be almost undefeatable within this game because they were now able to alter the game as their wills without permission from her. This was also the reason why Celeana couldn’t just turn everyone into admins that represented her side, because she couldn’t trust that they would not betray her.

 

Because they also had the power now, they were also able to telephathise with her. And Yoo Jonghyuk was the first one to try it.

 

__ Celeana-ssi, don’t you forget your promise?

 

Celeana secretly winked at Yoo Jonghyuk to reassure him that she did some work on it.

 

__ No, I am not. I will contact you as soon as it's done.

 

__ Alright.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk slightly nodded as he stroked Kim Dokja’s hand which was inside his hands with pleasure.

 

They were talking about the vitro fertilisation that they had agreed on a week ago. Because Celeana stayed in the game for the whole week, she hadn’t got the chance to have a look at the process yet. But Celeana was positive with the experiment as she felt like her spiritual sea also had become a bit stronger lately that would increase the success rate of the process.

 

However, nothing was certain unless she saw it with her eyes.

 

⸢You guys should take a rest as well. I will be off now.⸥ Celeana reminded them to log out and have some rest before going out to the areas that permitted exit to log out herself.

 

And without a doubt, Nora followed right after her just in case because she had not fully recovered yet. ⸢I’m going to.⸥

 

As soon as Nora and the kkoma figure had vanished from their sight, Kim Dokja rubbed his temple looking exhausted.

 

[[Let’s go home. You look tired.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ felt his heart itching as he saw Kim Dokja show such a terrible complexion.

 

Biyu also agreed with ‘Secretive Plotter’, [You should rest. There is nothing else to do anyway.]

 

However, because Kim Dokja was also Oldest Dream, he felt like Oldest Dream was fed up with other matters, not the workload.

 

And as he expected, Kim Dokja shook his head while letting out a heavy sigh.

 

“I’m not tired. I am just worried.”

 

[[Of what?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ ruffled Kim Dokja ’s hair hoping that it would relieve some of his stress.

 

However, his hand stopped as Kim Dokja continued his words, “Why are you acting that way toward noona?” Kim Dokja wasn’t that blind not to notice his disharmony with Celeana.

 

[[She isn’t that simple like you guys thought.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ withdrew his hand from the younger one’s head. His explanation was as vague as his expression.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ wasn’t wrong at all. There were still many things that they didn’t know about Celeana and the puzzle of her identity was just built up the more they interacted and followed her story. They didn’t know who she was talking with during the last week's event of connecting the dimension or who gave her the instruction to come to which dimension because it wouldn’t be pure coincidence. Yet, they, maybe except ‘Secretive Plotter’ chose to overlook that fact, not only because Celeana wasn’t sure about her identity herself either, but also because she hadn’t done anything that would hurt them yet.

 

“Don’t you think you are a bit nosy?” Yoo Jonghyuk nonchalantly said. He had never liked this version of him at all from the start, let alone now when Celeana was someone he felt like he was in debt to.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ frowned, the black horns on his head sternly stood up, emitted black smoke. [[What did you say? You pitty third turn.]]

 

“You can never change that unlikable attitude of yours.” Yoo Jonghyuk raised his voice, eyes directly glared at the other man’s eyes. His body also slowly became bigger due to the effect of [Transformation], a special skill of Beastman races.

 

As ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Yoo Jonghyuk planned to operate the third World War inside the admin office which would destroy everything, Kim Dokja and Oldest Dream were forced to hold them back while Biyu stood in between them.

 

[Cut your crap you two.] Biyu didn’t bother to keep her manner in front of those two because if they only took account of the experience of being an admin, Biyu could confidently say that she was their senior. And while you were in the admin office, you were an admin, no more no less. [If you had any problem with Master, talk directly to her face. Don’t assume.]

 

[[As if she would say.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ wasn’t even bothered to hide his mockery intention.

 

“If you asked sincerely.” Kim Dokja talked back. Not everyone knew what was expected from them if other people didn’t say or ask for it and Celeana wasn’t an exception. She was not an omniscient god. 

 

“Dokja-ssi is right. She will tell us what she can.” Oldest Dream was struggling to cling on his muscular arm trying to stop him from touching his sword. His voice was cracking as if he would cry at any moment, “We will ask together if you want to.”

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ wasn’t a cold blood animal, hence he deplored the idea of Kim Dokja crying, especially when he cried over such a trivial matter that involved that wicked woman. He quickly canceled his skills and lowered his head down to caress Kim Dokja ’s head.

 

[[Alright. Don’t cry. I won’t do anything.]]

 

“Promise?” Kim Dokja looked up at him with watery eyes. His nose also turned slightly red.

 

[[Promised.]]

 

Yoo Jonghyuk grounded coldly as ‘Secretive Plotter’ made his promise, then he abruptly pulled Kim Dokja’s arm. “Let’s go.” He grumbled. The lovey dovey scene was such an eyesore. It became even worse when they shared the same appearance. It made Yoo Jonghyuk feel like he was watching his own romantic soap opera which was quite unbearable.

 

Kim Dokja awkwardly waved goodbye to them before he was dragged to somewhere by the Wolfman.

 

-----------------------------------//-----------------------------------

 

In the Dark Stratum, as Nora was flying toward their base, he asked Celeana, the kkoma sitting on his shoulder.

 

⸢Master, what’s happened between you and Plotter.⸥

 

⸢Huh, I don’t know either.⸥ Celeana shook her head in confusion. She wasn’t sure why but it became more and more obvious since the incident with the monk in Japan about half a year back. Maybe ‘Secretive Plotter’ noticed something that she even didn’t know about. That was the only explanation that she could give out at the moment.

 

As Nora entered the barrier and landed on the ground, he continued. ⸢Then, it’s weird. Should I observe him for a while?⸥ His teeth clenched in together. 

 

Celeana quickly jumped down from his shoulder and flew up to a table that was filled up with tons of flasks, test tubes with colorful liquids inside. As soon as she looked at the biggest test tube in the middle that was receiving all of the purified essences from other glasswares, she wagged her hand up and down, ⸢Forgot about it. Come here and see this.⸥

 

As Nora walked over to have a look at what she was so excited about, he saw a zygote forming from two gametes that he was sure were two sperms, not one sperm and one egg.

 

⸢You succeed Master.⸥ Nora padded his big hand on Celeana with the same force as usual as he forgot that she was in her kkoma form, not normal form. Hence his pad made her glide toward the test tube.

 

⸢Ahhh.⸥ Celeana screamed as she tried to stop herself from advancing any further toward her hard work by gripping her feet onto the table. And luckily she succeeded as her nose slightly touched the surface of the test tube. 

 

As Celeana sighed in relief that she didn’t ruin the whole thing, she told Nora off for his slipped hand, ⸢You will be dead by now if it actually fell over.⸥ She hit his hand, the one that pushed her as a punishment, but her kkoma form was too weak, hence it wasn’t hurt but tickled instead. Yet, Nora wasn’t daring to snicker as it would actually piss her off.

 

Nora had to swallow the laughter inside as he beat around the bush, ⸢Then, is this good now?⸥ He pointed to the zygote inside the test tube, hoping that it would be an early present to both Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk.

 

However, it wasn’t finished as Celeana pouted her lips, ⸢We have to wait and see if the zygote will survive.⸥ They also had to consider zygote viability as well as fertility, or else the child of Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk would not be able to have kids for themselves.

 

As things had settled down and Celeana also wanted to spend more time looking after the new life she was growing inside the test tube, the frequency of Celeana logging in the game lessened, and till a point, she had refrained herself from going there for two months straight. Instead, she sent Nora over to stand by and help 24/7 as an assignment.

 

Throughout the course of two months, she had failed three times and three zygotes had died during the development due to insufficient genes. Celeana had tried her best to find out the missing genes from the sperms and had made a list of more than 10,000 possible additional genes. But she didn’t want to stuff the next one up, hence she went out to ask for help from a specialist in genetic modification that was very popular with her precision. Before going on her trips that might take a few days, she contacted Nora through telepathy.

 

__ Nora, I’m going now.

 

__ Take care of yourself, Master. You will make it this time around.

 

Nora simply encouraged her as he already knew about this trip a while ago.

 

_ _ Thank you little Nora. Remember to contact me if anything happened. I will be back soon.

 

__ I will. See you Master.

 

Nora ended the line as soon as he didn’t hear any other response from the other end.

 

As Biyu saw Nora had opened his eyes, she asked.

 

[Did Master just call you?]

 

Nora had the habit of closing his eyes when he wanted to focus and perform telepathy.

 

⸢Yes, she will be away for a while, so we must be more alert.⸥ Nora slightly nodded his head to confirm as he prepared to go out for a patrol. The patrol usually took him quite a while, so he should finish it before other people logged in. Despite Celeana saying that it was unnecessary to do anything to ‘Secretive Plotter’, Nora still insisted on doing it, hence he must come back before ‘Secretive Plotter’ came in with Kim Dokja .

 

⸢I’m going. See you later, Biyu.⸥ He said goodbye as he turned into a shadow and swiftly disappeared.

 

[See ya.] Biyu said as she went back on the tasks she was working on.

 

However, Nora didn’t get back on time. Not long after he went on his duty, Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’ followed Lee Sanghoon going inside the admin office. As Biyu saw, they were in a good mood.

 

“So you are saying that our analysis is wrong.” Lee Sanghoon heavily stamped his feet on the ground as he yelled so loud that could make people go deaf, “I don’t care if you worked for Celeana-nim or not. That is unacceptable.”

 

Of course, Biyu couldn’t just stand there and allowed Lee Sanghoon to make a fuss inside their office.

 

[Sanghoon-ssi. I hope you watched out your manner a bit. Or else I have to report it to my Master.] She glared at the man whose face had turned red in anger.

 

As if he recognised that he was acting impudently, Lee Sanghoon coughed to hide his embarrassment while throwing the hot potato over Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’.

 

“Shouldn’t you explain to your colleagues?” He asked Kim Dokja who was also steaming with anger.


Ignored the brazen man, Kim Dokja slowly explained the situation.

 

Chapter Text

 

Similar to other days, Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’ were wandering around the area near the border between the ‘Beast Kingdom’ and ‘Land of Wyvern’ in their free time while waiting for the other members in their party to come. Because this wasn’t the best area to play around due to the constant warfare between the two territories, they walked as fast as possible to come to the train station in the ‘Beast Kingdom’ that would have the train to go to the ‘Central Train Station’.

 

As they were walking, a player wearing a hood ran in the opposite way with them and accidentally bumped into Kim Dokja . The clash was minor so no one was injured. However, the hood dropped off the player just for a blink of an eye as it was quickly put on again. The player then said sorry and continued his way. Although it was just a brief moment, they were able to identify that he was also an undead as Kim Dokja .

 

Jonghyuk , do you feel something weird about that man?” Kim Dokja asked ‘Secretive Plotter’ about the man who they just saw as he turned his head around looking at the man with wariness. 

 

[[No. I can’t.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ squinted his eyes followed the figure of the man who was getting further away while trying to find something wrong with him, [[But he surely is suspicious.]]

 

Without the need for ‘Secretive Plotter’ saying that Kim Dokja was also certain that he was suspicious. Why would an undead wander around the border between ‘Beast Kingdom’ and ‘Land of Wyvern’ when none of these territories welcomed undead? And he also ran as if someone was chasing him but when they looked around, they couldn’t see anyone else. 

 

Most important, because Kim Dokja was also an undead, he was more sensitive to undead than other races. And when the other man bumped into him, Kim Dokja was sure that his energy was different, it was similar to dark energy derived from Dark attributes but also different at the same time.

 

“Do you know any admin offices near here?” Kim Dokja asked ‘Secretive Plotter’ to search for another admin office that didn’t belong to them, which was too far and would be too late to search for something.

 

Not long after, they arrived at the main admin office led by Lee Sanghoon in an area nearby, and luckily it was in the same direction as the location where the other undead was heading. To take the full advantage of having him wandering around the area where they would receive the clearest result, Kim Dokja asked Lee Sanghoon’s team to scan the surrounding area, focused on the undead man for any weird waves of energy. However, the results were completely normal and it was the same for their whole three scans.

 

Despite that the results didn’t show anything, Kim Dokja believed in his instinct, not the instinct of a seventh years old boy, but of the hundreds of thousand years old ‘Oldest Dream’, that there was definitely a different type of energy emanating from that undead body. With determination in his eyes, Kim Dokja asked the admin from Lee Sanghoon’s team to continue observing the target whereas he would go back to their admin office underneath the ‘Central Train Station’ and did another scan with their own equipment.

 

Of course, Lee Sanghoon wasn’t happy to do so. He thought Kim Dokja was humiliating him by saying that his people were not reliable and they would rather do it by themselves. Hence, he denied helping Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’ to follow the target while insisting on coming along to their main office to have a look at what they said were abnormal.

 

This attitude of his quickly got rewarded with a hole inside his head from ‘Secretive Plotter’ causing him to die and dropped one level. This was also the reason why Lee Sanghoon was extremely mad, to the point that he forgot to put his act of a gentleman up and was reminded by Biyu, the head admin officer of Celeana’s side.

 

[So that is everything.] Biyu asked Kim Dokja , ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Lee Sanghoon who were sitting in front of her.

 

[[That’s all.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ spoke up to confirm that Kim Dokja told the truth.

 

As Biyu opened up the virtual keyboard, she asked about the location where they last saw the undead man, [Where did you last see him?].

 

Without a doubt, Kim Dokja answered, “It’s Maya City.”, the largest city lying in-between ‘Beast Alliance’ and ‘Land of Wyvern’ and also the location that both sides wanted to take for their own due to its size as well as its trading potential when it also connected with ‘Elf Forest’ and a bit further, one the other side of ‘Elf Forest’, the territories of ‘Whale’ and ‘Mermaid’ races.

 

Biyu quickly typed in ‘Maya City’ to the system and the screens immediately showed all the scenery of Maya City from above. Based on Kim Dokja ’s description of the suspect, after a short amount of time searching around, they found the one who seemed to fit the description the most. He was an undead race, level 42, and played class Sorcerer. He also belonged to a considerably big guild within the Dark Attribute Division. And he was secretly meeting someone inside a bar within the red district, the ideal place for a secret meeting.

 

[Anyone knows anything about this man?] Biyu pointed to the other person that their target was talking to. He seemed to be a Beastman who belonged to the ‘Bear’ clan.

 

They all shook their heads because the Bearman looked pretty harmless based on his outer appearance. He was probably the weakest Bearman they had ever seen, with short, flimsy muscles and dark circles underneath the eyes. More than that, he was a NPC, not a player, so it was acceptable for them not to know about him.

 

As they exchanged their eyes and wondered who the Bearman was, the door to the office opened as Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk stepped inside. Without the need to explain anything, Kim Dokja immediately felt an ominous feeling emerging from inside him. The sight on the screen, or more accurately, the people on the screen made his stomach churn although there was nothing but hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes in it.

 

Even forgot to say hello, Kim Dokja walked straight into the problem, “Who are they?” He asked. His finger pointing at the men was slightly trembling.

 

“Dokja-ssi. What do you think about them?” Kim Dokja asked the man who was the most similar to him to see if they had the same feeling.

 

And indeed, it was the same, as Kim Dokja slowly lowered down his arms and bitted his lower lips while hardly uttering a half-completed sentence, “Very very bad. Almost disgusting.”

 

Yoo Jonghyuk frowned as he saw the awful expression on his partner’s face and heard Oldest Dream say the same thing about the men on the screen. As he looked over Biyu and ‘Secretive Plotter’, they all shared the same thought. Maybe because Kim Dokja and Oldest Dream had attached to the power which was originally ‘Most Ancient Dream’, hence they were more sensitive than them. And if both of them sensed the same thing, there must be a problem. Although, there had only been small and minor bugs lying around and this might be another one of those, it was the best course of action to investigate this throughout before everything was too late.

 

As if things had been decided without a proper conversation, Biyu immediately contacted Nora, who was on the patrol to come to the site and follow them. As expected from the shadow assassin class, Nora quickly arrived at the pub where the undead and Bearman were talking.

 

[Can you hear what they are talking about?] Biyu asked through the microphone that was used to direct Nora earlier.

 

As Nora just prepared to pierce through their anti-eavesdropping barrier, both of the undead and Bearman stood up and left the bar.

 

⸢Change plan, the targets had moved.⸥ Nora whispered as he split himself into two shadows, one followed the undead walking out of the red district and the other followed the Bearman who still stayed there and was flirting with the prostitutes. However, as the skill would only work within a range, one of them would eventually disappear depending on which target Nora wanted to follow.

 

Because the undead player seemed to be the messenger, he might be more useful than the Bearman.

 

Nora gave out his order to the other end, ⸢I will follow the undead target. Kim Dokja, the human, Yoo Jonghyuk, and Biyu got ready to depart at any moment.⸥ Nora added on their race so that they would be able to distinguish which one he was talking about because we got two Kim Dokja here, ⸢Kim Dokja, the necromancer, and ‘Secretive Plotter’ gathered your team members and meet up at the red district.⸥

 

[Roger, hyung.] Biyu confirmed from the other end as she quickly allocated the tasks.

 

“What am I going to do?” Lee Sanghoon pointed into himself and asked. He was also an admin no more no less, he couldn’t just stand there and play after he had sensed the emergency of the situation.

 

As people started leaving the office, Biyu quickly assigned Lee Sanghoon a random task that she thought would be useful, [Sanghoon-ssi, please find information about all the people that these two had interacted with in the last one month or at least 2 weeks.]

 

It was a hard job but still wasn’t bad when Lee Sanghoon had a very large network of admin which would make it even easier for him. 

 

“Alright, I will not disappoint you.” Lee Sanghoon nodded as he left the office with confidence in his eyes.

 

After the hurdle Lee Sanghoon had gone, Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’ also left after they had contacted their party members and asked them to come over to an area near the Maya city. While Biyu, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk remained inside the office waiting for the next command from Nora.

 

During the waiting time, Biyu made a scan off over the Maya city and the result was completely different from the scans they received from Lee Sanghoon’s team. From their scans, they could identify the abnormal energy waves from other Light and Dark attribute energy, however, there wasn’t anything from Lee Sanghoon’s scan. Yet, the differences between Dark and this abnormal attribute energy waves were very subtle, hence they could say that because their system, thanks to the modifier ‘Child of Dream’ was more sensitive and able to detect these smallest differences. Or there was something fishy going on with Lee Sanghoon’s team. 

 

“Should we form another investigation team?” Yoo Jonghyuk squinted his eyes looking at the two scans while asking.

 

Kim Dokja and Biyu didn’t need much time to give out their answer.

 

[We should, just in case as it wouldn’t hurt.] Biyu snapped her fingers.

 

Kim Dokja immediately contacted their companions who would do a great job at collecting data and hoped that their speculation was just their own imagination.

 

On the other side, as soon as Kim Dokja and his team had arrived in the Maya City, they were in charge of following the Bearman. As Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’ put on disguise so that no one would recognize their true identity, and Lee Jihye blended into the shadow thanks to the special skill of the ‘Dark Elf’ race, they entered the red district in the most natural manner possible. Whereas, Kim Namwoon, Uriel and Lee Hyunsung would stay out of the red district and move to backup if necessary.

 

“I’m going.” Kim Dokja put on a mask that helped to alter his face and voice before he mixed into the crown near the red district.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ with the same mask followed right behind him to ensure his safety. Then, as they safely entered the pub where the Bearman was still drinking, they chose a spot that was close enough to eavesdrop but didn’t let the other notice.

 

“Dear customer, what would you like?” The owner put on a commercial smile as she pulled out some prostitute girls to introduce to them, “Would you like our special service?” The special service she mentioned would involve these prostitutes, which was the one the Bearman was using when he had two girls clung on him to feed him food and wine.

 

“No…” As ‘Secretive Plotter’ was intended to decline the offer because he wasn’t too uncomfortable with it, Kim Dokja cut it short and said in his stead.

 

“Sorry, madam. My friend was a bit shy.” Kim Dokja tried to grin as he felt the sharp gaze behind his back but it would be weird if they declined the service which was the main reason why people came here, “Special service for two. This should be enough, huh?” He threw some coins to the owner.

 

As she caught two silver coins from Kim Dokja ’s hand, her smile became even more blooming as she pushed one prostitute each to Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’. “This is plenty, dear generous customer.” The owner laughed as she quickly ran into the kitchen and came back with two bottles of the best red wine.

 

“Please enjoy dear customers.” She winked at them before leaving and greeted another one who was just coming in.

 

As soon as the owner left, while ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t know what to do with the prostitute girl, Kim Dokja had acted first to show him how to do it. He grasped the waist of the girl, who seemed to be a Beastman belonging to the ‘Rabbit’ clan causing her to fall and sit on his lap.

 

“You are such a beauty. May I know your name?” Kim Dokja said as his mouth was so near to her ears that it seemed like he was whispering honey into her ears.

 

The ‘Rabbit’ prostitute snickered as she said, “Oh my, you must say this to every girl you meet, Mr. Red Fox.”

 

Kim Dokja had disguised himself as a member of the ‘Fox’ clan so that it would be natural for him to enter this red district in which most of the prostitutes would be Beastman. Whereas, ‘Secretive Plotter’ was a ‘Grey Wolf’, a nearby relative of Yoo Jonghyuk ‘Black Wolf’.

 

“Mr. Grey Wolf, don’t you like me?” The ‘Cat’ prostitute pouted as she slightly leaned on ‘Secretive Plotter’ trying to catch his attention because she was envious of the Rabbit one. If she didn’t do a good job, madam might cut her portion, so she tried her best to give out the service.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ flinched as soon as the girl touched him but controlled himself not to push her out as Kim Dokja was continuously sending him messages through his sights.

 

[[Sorry, this is my first time.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ repeated what he read from Kim Dokja ’s mouth movement.

 

“Nothing to worry, Mr. Grey Fox.” She poured the red into a glass and gave it to him as she caressed his muscular chest, “I will make sure you have a good day today.”

 

The Rabbit prostitute also fed Kim Dokja a glass of red wine while they were chatting with each other.

 

As this side had got on track, Nora silently followed the movement of the undead man. As if he had finished delivering his message, the undead man quickly came back to somewhere they thought to be the place where he received the orders, a perfectly normal inn right inside the Schiele City. 

 

The undead man came inside and talked with the receptionist, an old and kind-looking lady. Nora, who was hiding in the shadows, carefully listened to their conversation to find some clues.

 

“Hi, is there any free room?” The undead man asked.

 

The old lady looked at her notebook that recorded all the incoming guests for a moment and shook her head, “No, sorry, we are full.”

 

Despite that, the undead man didn’t look like he was disappointed, “Okay, no worries. Thank you, madam.”, he just smiled and walked out of the inn.

 

As Nora had a glimpse at the notebook, he quickly noticed something. There was still free room but the lady said no, hence the conversation must be some sort of code. When he intended to move out of the inn to continue observing the undead man, he felt an uneasy atmosphere emitting from the old lady as someone else also emerged from a shadow and kneeling in front of her.

 

“Get rid of that maggot.”

 

The shadow slightly nodded its head as it instantly dived in the ground and swiftly moved toward the direction that the undead man was moving.

 

⸢Quickly come to coordination 2289:5290.⸥ Nora sent a short message to Biyu and the others containing the coordination of the location that he had estimated that the undead man and the shadow would meet each other at.

 

Biyu, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk immediately left the office and headed toward the location as soon as they received the message. As they arrived at the location, a dead-end in the slumber region of the city, they hid while waiting for the next command.

 

Not long after, they saw the undead man that they had been following ran inside the dead-end while being chased after by another shadow that wasn’t Nora.

 

“Why? I didn’t betray the organization.” The undead man yelled at the shadow who was trying to kill him.

 

However, as the shadow didn’t answer him and kept being his tail, a vicious aura emanated from him as a black glue-like liquid shot out from his heart and wrapped around his body. They didn’t know what it was but it increased his stats significantly as well as turned him into Berserker’s mood as the undead man roared out some meaningless words and didn’t seem to be conscious, the typical signs of players who were in Berserker's mood.

 

When the undead man turned into this anonymous form, the shadow also ticked its tongue as if he would be a hurdle to kill. As it prepared to release an assassin skill, it didn’t notice another shadow, Nora, was approaching it from behind and in a fraction of a second, the health point of the assassin dropped to zero. Nora quickly used his admin authority to terminate the revival period of the shadow, so it wouldn’t revive or drop its level yet which would notify the old lady immediately.

 

Meanwhile, Biyu, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk teamed up to fight against the undead man. Thank god that the undead man’s level was lower than them, or else if the fight continued for any longer, it would catch attention from the people living in the slumber. More than that, it would be a waste letting him die, hence they decided to put him into sleep instead. After a [Gravitation] and [Smash] from Yoo Jonghyuk to restrain his movement, Kim Dokja used his skill [Endless Sleep] that could make a player at level 50 fall into unconsciousness in 0.1 seconds. However, to this undead man, he had to repeat this skill twice in order to completely knock him out. 

 

“What is this?” Kim Dokja asked as he gently touched the black armor formed by the dried out black liquid that they saw earlier. As soon as he touched it, Kim Dokja immediately withdrew his hand due to the uncomfortable sensation it gave off. Although it was just a very little glimpse, it felt like his mind was penetrated with something very scary that would devour every bit of his conscience.

 

As if Nora also felt the same thing as he touched it, he warned, ⸢No one touched it.⸥ Then Nora quickly put the undead man inside a captive capsule that would prevent him from escaping while telling Biyu to devour the shadow, ⸢Biyu, can you turn into this shadow?⸥

 

Since the last time, Biyu had mastered her transformation skill and was able to replicate herself into every life form and this shadow race player was not an exception. After Biyu had swallowed the shadow in, her body simultaneously read the data from the player and turned herself into an exact duplication.

 

[How was it?] Her voice also changed in order to adapt to the new identity.

 

“Looking good.” Kim Dokja gave her a thump up as she looked exactly the same as the shadow who was lying inside another captive capsule after being discharged by Biyu.

 

Biyu came back to the inn, followed by Nora who would support her from behind while Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk came back to the office and tried to analyse the captured targets.

 

When she fused in the shadow of the old lady again, she could hear the lady ask, “Did you just die?”

 

Her level also dropped by one as she was killed by Nora earlier, yet Biyu somehow picked up her braveness and blatantly lied. [The bastard activated the power.]

 

The old lady seemed surprised, not because the undead used to the power, which she called ‘Nightmare’ but due to the fact that the shadow assassin could survive, “You are not too bad. Did you deal with him?”

 

[Yes.] Biyu answered.

 

“Good. He will die in real life as well, that was the price for using ‘Nightmare’.” The old lady laughed as if his life was nothing more than a mere ant that we stomped on every day on the street.

 

The waves of laughter filled in Biyu’s ears gave a chill running along her spine. Luckily that they decided not to kill the undead man, or else they had murdered a person in real life.

 

“Good reaction. You will go with me to see the boss tonight.” The old lady mistook her placid face of shock for emotionless as she patted her shoulder and told Biyu that she would be considered to be promoted as she promised to bring her to a meeting of the important leaders of the organization. 

 

[Thank you.] Biyu lowered her head down as she went inside the shadow pretending like she was waiting for her order while contacting Nora.

 

As Nora was hiding nearby, he also heard their conversation. As soon as Biyu dived down the shadow on the ground, Nora told her to act as naturally as possible tonight when she infiltrated the base while he would go around and collect more information. Then Nora left the inn to come back to the admin office.

 

When he arrived, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk were looking through the profiles of all the people that the undead man had contacted recently.

 

⸢Did you find anything?⸥ Nora asked as he looked over the undead man and the shadow were still unconscious within the capsule.

 

“Yes, please look at this.” Kim Dokja nodded while giving Nora a summary that they just made of all the connections.

 

On the paper was a list full of names from both players and NPCs. However, there wasn’t any common point between these people except for the fact that they had contacted this undead man. This was such a weird mix because there were even players and NPCs coming from completely different races and originally, these races were each other's rivals. This made Nora become more worried about the person who was behind this so-called organization, because this person’s influence must be so great causing these different individuals to compromise their hatreds and work together.

 

⸢Is there a way to recognise these people?⸥ Nora asked. Because there wasn’t a common point, it would be hard for them to distinguish them from other players, especially if they used the power of ‘Nightmare’, they must make sure not to kill them or else they would actually die. And if this information was leaked outside, it could cause the game to go into ruin.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk nodded as he put his hand through the captive capsule to open up the undead man’s collar. As the button was undone, a tattoo that seemed to be carved on them with hot ions revealed itself. It was also placed in the lower region of the neck, so it was hard for people to see if he didn’t take his shirt off.

 

“All of these people have this mark on them. Others had abducted them and proved this.” Yoo Jonghyuk explained that this was the most obvious sign as he showed Nora the pictures taken by Han Sooyoung’s side showing the same marks but at different locations of the body.

 

Nora rubbed his chin as he told Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk about what he heard in the inn and their future direction.

 

“Shit, that’s bad.” Without any explanation, Kim Dokja could tell the severity of the problems. If the game was terminated, they would come back to their starting point. 

 

Yoo Jonghyuk snapped his knuckles forming some crackling noises. The sharp fang revealed itself from the mouth. “Let’s get this done before she comes back.” Yoo Jonghyuk also knew the reason for Celeana’s trip this time, hence he was also very excited for the day and wouldn’t want this crappy thing to ruin the atmosphere.

 

After they had liften their moods up and gathered with Han Sooyoung and the others to dig further into the associated guild and smaller organizations that were acting as the disguise for the bigger organisation underneath, Nora also focus the surveillance camera to the red district where Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk had finished their acts as Beastmen who looked for pleasure from alcohol and women.

 

Chapter Text

“What do you say?” The Bearman shot up from the bench as soon as he heard the news from a person who seemed to be his lackey.

 

Sitting on another table, Kim Dokja secretly glanced over as the Bearman prepared to leave. He didn’t know what the lackey said, so following him around would work out. As ‘Secretive Plotter’ understood his thought, he slammed his hand on the table, pretending like he was a bit drunk, to signal Lee Jihye who was hiding somewhere in the pub to follow the Bearman.

 

“Oh, are you drunk, Mr. Grey Wolf?” The Cat prostitute leaned her hand to help him to sit up properly.

 

“Yeh, he is quite weak with alcohol.” Kim Dokja spitted out a random reason that would support the other man’s act.

 

Kim Dokja turned around to look at the Bearman who was laughing very loud, then turned back with a frown on his face pretending like he was annoyed by the Bearman’s laughters as he held a hand over his mouth, “Who is that bastard? Why does no one stop him?” Kim Dokja asked while feeling disgusted as the Bearman tried to squeeze the prostitute’s boobs a few times before he left despite the girls having declined.

 

Waiting for him to come out of the pub, the Rabbit girl whispered as she put a finger over her lips, “Shutt, don’t talk ill in front of him or else you will die, Mr. Red Fox.”

 

“Really? How strong is he?” Kim Dokja raised his brows and slightly puffed up his chest acting like he was confident in his strength.

 

The Rabbit girl continued while shaking her head, “Actually, he wasn’t very strong at all. He used to be called a wimp.”

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ also moved his head closer looking like he was also interested in the story. 

 

Seeing so, the Cat girl added on, “But just after one night, he immediately became the strongest Bearman.”

 

[[With that appearance?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ doubted the accuracy of the story because the Bearman looked exactly like a weakling.

 

“Many people also thought like you and they were all defeated by him.” The Rabbit girl said as she put a cherry in Kim Dokja ’s mouth.

 

Kim Dokja pleasantly ate the cherry as he asked, “Do you remember the day he instantly became stronger?”

 

Because the question was a bit specific, it took a while for her to remember as the Rabbit girl answered, “Probably around 4 months ago.”

 

As the event was a bit special, the Cat girl also remembered the day as she confirmed, “Correct, not long after the special day that the ground was shaking and splitting into parts.”

 

Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’ guessed the special day was the maintenance day because when the bridges connecting other dimensions were formed, it also caused earthquakes and all kinds of natural disasters as not only the earth but also the atmosphere were distorted.

 

The Cat girl snapped her finger as if she remembered a very important point and it was actually very important. “That guy wasn’t the only one. Many people after that also had the same phenomenon.”

 

“Right.” The Rabbit girl nodded her head as she clasped her hands together into a pray, “That’s why we had been winning recently.”

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ and Kim Dokja flinched as soon as they heard it. It was true that they weren’t very interested in the never-ending war between the ‘Beast Alliance’ and ‘Land of Wyvern’ as both sides were quite equal in strength. However, recently, Kim Dokja noticed that there had been a period of time that the ‘Beast Alliance’ exploded in power and won a few battles continuously. But then the scale came back to its balanced state as the ‘Land of Wyvern’ also obtained more power. They thought the source of power that they could obtain through a short period of time might be the key to the problem.

 

After Kim Dokja beat around the bush and talked about some other unrelated things, they decided to leave the bar as it had been long enough and if they left now, no one would suspect anything.

 

Then they met up with Nora and their party at a hidden area on the map that Kim Namwoon found out when he got lost a long time ago. Lee Jihye also had come back for a break after the Bearman came home while a shadow clone of Nora would do the spying job in her stead. Kim Namwoon, Uriel, and Lee Hyunsung also walked around to collect as much information as possible from word of mouth.

 

As they shared information around, they came up with the same conclusion. In the past few months, many Beastmen had become stronger very quickly, according to the rumors, always after a night. These beastmen were not necessarily to be weak at first and still able to obtain the power if they were craving for it. There was also speculation around how these Beastmen obtained the power but no one seemed to know anything as these Beastmen didn’t have any linking points in the eyes of the people living here. However, according to the data from Han Sooyoung’s intelligence team, they all connected with the undead man. Therefore, the power must be ‘Nightmare’ as the lady in the inn called it.

 

Because these Beastmen were still able to control themselves while using the power, Nora decided to ask the other team to have a check at the undead man’s power level as well. They were able to track down these data because the system always scanned and saved a copy of their data every time the player logged in, just in case something happened that caused the players to lose their accounts. Then, based on these data, the system could create the account again.

 

Shortly, they found out that the undead man also had a large increase in power after one log in time. From this information, they deduced that ‘Nightmare’ must have at least two phases. The first phase is when it merged to the host’s body and gave a boost in stats while allowing the host to control it. The second phase is when the ‘Nightmare’ took over the host’s consciousness and turned into the berserker’s mood. Yet, there was one point that they weren’t sure of that would the death penalty be the same for two phases. If yes, they would be in big trouble.

 

As Lee Jihye had followed the Bearman right after he left the bar, she eavesdropped that he would attend an auction and he seemed to be looking forward to it. Unfortunately that, the auction would also happen later tonight, hence Nora couldn’t accompany them. However, because ‘Secretive Plotter’ would be in charge of the auction operation, Nora didn't feel too worried about it.

 

Before separating again, Nora reminded them one last thing, ⸢Good luck everyone! Prioritise your life first.⸥ The last sentence was just in case because they didn’t actually know who was the one behind the scene nor the real power of ‘Nightmare’ when it was used by players who had the same level as them. It would be a tough night.

 

“Hope everything goes well over your side too!” Kim Dokja gently smiled. No fear or discouragement was shown on his face because things were going smoothly.

 

Lee Jihye waved her hands to say goodbye as she came back to where the shadow clone of Nora was going to leave. Kim Namwoon was tempted to follow her but was caught back by Lee Hyunsung before he did so.

 

“Stay in your position, Namwoon, or else I will send you home.” Uriel gave Kim Namwoon a heavy blow on his head as she gave him an earful.

 

As Kim Namwoon flinched not by Uriel’s knock but his captain’s glare, he swallowed his dry saliva while hearing ‘Secretive Plotter’ give out the first order for the auction operation.

 

[[Put your mask on and go.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ put on the mask again and shot through the dark night as everyone did the same thing. This was the time these masks prepared by Celeana would perform their real power.

 

-------------//---------------

 

Inside the inn, where Biyu was acting as the shadow assassin who they had captured a few hours ago. When the clock on the wall rang three times announcing midnight had approached, Biyu finally heard the old lady’s voice calling her up, apparently, the shadow assassin’s code name was Caecitas which means ‘blindness’ in Latin. 

 

“Keep your eyes on me, Caecitas.” The old lady said as she opened a secret door revealing a maze that seemed to spread across underneath the Schiele City. Because she was one of the few people who knew how to cross the maze, Biyu should follow her tight if she didn’t want to get lost and be eaten alive by the monsters guarding the maze against the unwelcome guests. 

 

[I understand.] Biyu answered as she replicated her every step while mumbling the weird code name in Latin with Nora who was running along to her. None of them understood why Latin, a dead language, was used for naming but it had to be there for a reason.

 

The maze was huge with walls that were at least 5 meters tall passing over their heads as they ran forward. Over their heads were extremely strong illusion spells that not only cover the whole maze from any inspection spell but also prevent the people inside from tree-passing the walls for short cuts. Because they were going in the direction that would guarantee their safety, they didn’t see any monsters. However, on some corners that they turned along the run, Biyu and Nora were able to catch a glimpse of some monsters that were heavily inspired by Earth’s mythologies.

 

Yet, there was one that captured their intention the most. The creature appeared and disappeared almost instantly despite its huge figure that seemed to be a mushy mesh of black liquid, similar to the one that covered the whole body of the undead man. But this time this black liquid was actually living as it breathed out black smoke with a very noxious fume that they could smell from a very distant.

 

As they went deeper inside the maze, they met the black-liquid monster again and also for the last time of the day. In this turn they recognised that the ground beneath it and everything that it passed through started to disintegrate forming a cloud of ash rising from its every movement. They felt like the monster had shown hostility toward them although it was just for a very brief moment, they could sense the musky, dense and dark energy following through its veins. Even though this was the first time Nora approached such a monster, he could tell there was something familiar with it, but he couldn’t remember it on top of his head.

 

Nora squinted his eyes thinking about how they could not know about such an enormous maze, especially when it was placed right under their nose, the Schiele City. While Biyu was surprised because in front of them was a big wall, they didn’t have any other way to go, the old lady calmly took a scroll from her storage out and opened it up. It was a long distance teleportation scroll that they could only find at stores that had connections with big guilds and organisations such as ‘Magic Tower’, the magic, sorcerer version of ‘Adventure Guild’.

 

It turned out the whole maze was created to lure stalkers, spies or even people that were trying to find out the secret behind them, and many people had either died there or been trapped in there forever.

 

“Here we are.” The old lady said as she walked outside of the teleportation circle placed at their final destination. They were already in some sort of building and the interior was very basic which gave them no clue of where the actual place was if they didn’t have the administrative authority that helped them to send and receive signals to the system at the admin office despite the strong spells that would prevent any normal kinds of information transmission.

 

As they left the initial room where they first arrived, Biyu followed the old lady into the second room which was bigger with a weirdly shaped table in the middle of the room. It seemed to originally be three different round tables with different sizes but were intersected with each other forming one common area of intersection. Under the faint light emitted from the flickering candles, Biyu saw there were four other people wearing the same black hood with the tattoo embroidered on the cap of the hood, and on the chest area, there were other symbols.

 

The one with the symbol that looked like the letter ‘U’ but with a line crossing over the head enclosing it, turned around and talked to the old lady who also just put on her hood a while ago. Her symbol was an eye.

 

“You finally arrive, Visus.”

 

The old lady who was called Visus smirked as she sat down on her chair in the biggest circular table of the three, similar to the other four. “I’m not late, am I, Gustatus?” She responded to the man with a tag question.

 

“Huh.” Gustatus groaned as he glared at her but he quickly shifted it to the shadow underneath her.

 

The others also recognised the present in Visus’s shadow. The one who seemed to be another woman in the black hood with a letter ‘c’ nested within another letter ‘C’ but in capital opened her mouth. “Who are you bringing with you today, Visus?”

 

The smile on the old lady’s lips intensified as they mentioned Biyu, who she still thought to be her original underling. “Don’t worry Auditus. He is my new Caesitas.”

 

“Oh, another one!” The woman named Auditus raised her voice as if she was surprised but her face didn’t say the same story. She was used to it and the undead man seemed to be the one who used to hold the position of Caesitas.

 

Another one in a black hood with a triangle symbol on the chest slightly nodded his head, “Good, is that another warrior?” He asked. ‘Caesitas’ was meant to be changed as frequently as possible to keep the name true to its meaning.

 

“He is. I don’t use normal prawns.” Visus raised her eyebrows as she continued in such a satisfied manner, “He also passed the test of ‘Judgement of Faith’ after just one time.”

 

After this sentence of the old lady, all of them immediately looked at Biyu, who had been kneeling on the ground since Caesitas was mentioned with a different attitude.

 

“Not bad, right, Odoratus?” Auditus asked the man with the triangle on his chest.

 

Odoratus hesitantly nodded his head as he smelt something different from the new Caesitas. He had never seen anyone who safely went through ‘Judgement of Faith’ without any scratches like Biyu. Because if anyone who entered didn’t have belief in the supreme being, they would be swallowed by the black and mushy monster inside the maze. However, it might be because of his identity. “As expected of the warrior selected by God.”

 

As soon as Nora and Biyu heard the word ‘God’, they felt like something just weighed down their hearts. A religious organisation was the hardest to deal with for all of the people. But the main problem was how large this religious organisation was and who was the so-called ‘God’ in their mouths.

 

“Then, should we start now?” Visus asked. Nora and Biyu were hoping for this meeting to start soon because they should be able to collect some more useful information while these suspicious people are talking.

 

Most of the people agreed. Yet, the only person who hadn’t said anything since the start, the one with the hand symbol on the chest raised his hand to oppose the decision.

 

“No one else is allowed. Even if he is the warrior chosen by God.” He glared at Biyu showing that he didn’t completely trust the Caesitas.

 

And of course, this didn’t make the old lady happy at all as Visus sneered at him, “How dare you suspect the warrior sent by God! TACTUS!!!” She screamed out his name.

 

Although Gustatus wasn’t on the good side with Visus at all, he raised up from his seat and spoke up to support her because he was also a noble follower of God, “An apostle must never question God's will.” They saw these warriors as the will of God to fix the world they were living in.

 

Auditus and Odoratus were not on anyone’s side but they didn’t choose to keep silent.

 

“Corpus shouldn’t fight with each other.” Auditus reminded them about the teaching of God.

 

Odoratus also said, “We shall remain one.” Without the five of them, Corpus would never be complete, and them as the Corpus could never fulfill the mission that God assigned to them.

 

As if God had lightened the path of argument, both Gustatus, Visus and Tactus stepped down and settled down on their seats.

 

“Caesitas.” Visus called out Biyu’s name as she pinched the bridge of her nose, “You might wait for me outside.” It was best not to have meaningless fights among them, especially when they were here tonight to hear the words of God.

 

[Yes.] Biyu nonchalantly said and withdrew out of the room because it didn’t affect their task a bit. She could hear through the barrier and Nora would remain inside the room, so that wasn’t even a loss. With this open opportunity, Biyu decided to have a go around the building to test her luck if she could find anything useful.

 

Meanwhile, Nora strained his ears out to hear and record every single word spoken. They prayed to God as they commenced the meeting. Their hands clasped together into a prayer holding against their foreheads where the marks of ‘Nightmare’ were placed.

 

“Oh, dear God.

 

Please guide us in your truth and teach us the path of justice and good.

 

Please shine our Spirit and give us the courage to stand against the Evil.

 

May our prayers reach you and our lives as offerings.

 

All glory for you.”

 

Nora was a bit confused as he wrinkled his nose. Because the contradiction between the ‘Nightmare’ power that they possessed and their prayers for the good and fighting the Evil. But wasn’t ‘Nightmare’ could be considered as ‘Evil’?

 

As Nora focused his attention on the group of Corpus again, he heard Gustatus asked. 

 

“What did the prophet say?”

 

This was the main reason for them to be here tonight. They were here to listen to the ‘will of God’ that only Spiritius, the prophet could hear and decipher.

 

Auditus, the ‘Ear’, repeated what she heard from the Animus, the one who was responsible for giving order to the Corpus and also the one who communicated with Spiritius, who they rarely saw the face of. If Animus and Spiritus also here, they would sit at the other two circular parts of the table.

 

“Time has come.”

 

Silence remained after that for a few seconds before laughters burst out loudly.

 

“Hahaha. I have been waiting for this day.” Gustatus’s claps filled the room.

 

Viciousness became visible between the furrowed brows of Odoratus, the one Nora had the impression of being the bluntest person although his voice seemed relieved, “Finally, the war could end now.”

 

“Yes, it will.” Tactus nodded his head to agree as if he was also tired of the constant warfare between the two.

 

“We shall create more ruckus.” Visus grinned.

 

Later on, Nora immediately understood what she meant by creating ruckuses of these people. The system screen was filled with warnings of bugs. Although they were all minor errors, they all took effort and time for Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk to clear them up.

 

The meeting ended after that as they were all thrilled with the news. Visus humbled along all the way back to the inn while Biyu reported to Nora what she found out inside the building when she was thrown out of the meeting.

 

A book with the title ‘True Edition’.

Chapter Text

 

As soon as Biyu left the room, she shifted her gaze around to check out if there was anyone observing her. When she was certain that she was safe, Biyu quickly moved around before someone noticed that the newly promoted Caesitas was missing.

 

The building was small, hence it didn’t take long for Biyu to troll around it. Unfortunately, there was nothing valuable that she could find except for an old book lying in the corner of a cupboard. It seemed like the person who read it really held high regard for it as the book worned out as if the owner had read it at least a thousand times and multiple pages of the book were folded to bookmark.

 

As Biyu opened the first page up, she read what was written inside.

 

“The ‘Sun God’, our utmost respectful god, was one of the beloved children of the ‘God of Creation’. He was sent to our universe to create something from nothing and give birth and life to every single organism. He was the sun, shining his wisdom through us and leading us on the path to eternal life ....”

 

It was exactly the same introduction written in the Bible of the Church of Sun God, the largest religion existing within the world. Nothing too interesting , she thought. But when Biyu flipped up one of the pages that were marked, her eyes opened up widely as if she couldn’t believe in what she saw. Sweat rapidly formed on her forehead and as one drop fell down onto the page due to the gravitational force, Biyu quickly closed the book and came back to the place she was supposed to be. From the glimpse as the page was disappearing, a sentence was clearly highlighted. 

 

“From a very long time ago, when nothing existed within the universe, a God appeared from nowhere to create the world through its dreams.”

 

--------------------------//------------------------------

 

The black market near the slumber of Maya city at night became even more crowded compared to its morning form, not only because this was the best time to trade prohibited goods, but also because today, the auction that only took place once a month finally happened. At this auction, confidentiality was put as the top priority, hence everyone that entered must wear a mask. And similar to other auctions, the entrance fees would be different for different seat regions and the prices shifted from 10 silver coins to 10 gold coins that were equivalent to 1000 silver coins.

 

The ticket man’s smile brightened as the Bearman threw a bag of coin to him and his lackey took out the referral letter showing that the Bearman was a VIP.

 

“Thank you for coming, dear esteemed customer.” He bowed his head down to the Bearman as he asked another employee to escort him to his room, “Please follow him.”

 

As the Bearman started to move away from Kim Dokja’s sights, it was his party turn. Kim Dokja put on a friendly smile as he gave the ticket man also a bag of gold coins and said, “Most expensive one.” Because the Bearman didn’t say which room he wanted, but according to the ticket man’s reaction, he must be one of the VIPs that were guaranteed to have the most luxurious room.

 

The same bright smile appeared on his face as the ticket man checked the bag. It was even more than 50 gold coins, a potential VIP just came out from the blue. The ticket man had never seen the people in front of him before. Despite that, money was money and who could refuse it.

 

“Please come in. This guy will escort you and your esteemed companions to your room.” He said while another employee with a white mask carved an emotionless face came up and bowed his head at them.

 

Then Kim Dokja , ‘Secretive Plotter’, Uriel, Kim Namwoon and Lee Hyunsung followed him to go inside. The auction house was enormous with a big stage in the middle. Right in front of the stages were endless lines of chairs. The closer the chairs to the stage, the more expensive it became. However, with the VIP’s seats that Kim Dokja bought earlier, they were put inside a private room on the balcony that were casted with illusional spells to further enhance the confidentiality of the auction. 

 

‘Crack’ the door opened up revealing the splendid interior inside. Spacious room with cream-colored walls, detailed sculpted ceiling and columns, sophisticatedly chosen and gold plated decorations. Even one picture hanging on the wall would be more expensive than the ticket fees that they just paid. Everything was so sparkling that looking at it for too long would hurt their eyes.

 

“There is a button inside. Please press it and I will come up right away.” The employee showed them the red button placed neatly on the table of the lounge set before he bowed again and withdrew himself from the room.

 

As soon as the employee disappeared, Kim Namwoon flopped down on the couch as he groaned in satisfaction, “Ah, so soft. This is the right way to treat the famous ‘Dragon Blood’.” Kim Namwoon laughed when he proudly mentioned the nickname that both the citizens NPC and players called him with.

 

“We are not here to play.” Uriel reminded him to stop laughing and talk more quietly if he didn’t want to get on the nerves of their captain.

 

Lee Hyunsung also silently looked around once as he came out of the balcony for a check. As he extended his hand out, he could feel his hand was bounced into something invisible. So it was true that there were spells covering the whole room and the balcony so that other people from other rooms wouldn’t see them if they all came out to the balcony to watch the auction.

 

Meanwhile, Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’ tried to connect with Lee Jihye who was still hiding and managed to get inside the room of the Bearman. Although she couldn’t talk because she wasn’t able to telephathise, she could turn on the mini microphone embedded on her mask which would allow Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’ to listen to what would happen on her side as well as record the conversation for later use. And according to her location, they also were able to figure out the room that the Bearman stayed inside which fortunately was not too far away from them. 

 

Not long after they went inside the room, the auction commenced. Despite the fact that they came here just to spy on the Bearman, they also wanted to have a crack at the auction because they might find things that were useful in the future. Therefore, Uriel and Lee Hyunsung participated in the auction while Kim Dokja and Kim Namwoon were paying their attention to the microphone.

 

Because the spells that were used to prevent normal eavesdropping also slightly affect the quality of the sounds, they had to be extremely careful. Even Kim Namwoon who was still very excited the minutes ago, calmly settled down next to Kim Dokja in a collected manner as if he could smell the seriousness of the problem with his dragon nose.

 

Whereas, ‘Secretive Plotter’ utilised his power of an ‘Outer God’ that allowed him to maximise the use of ‘Child of Dream’, he tried to conceal his presence as best as possible before heading to wandering around the auction place. The first place he went to was surely the room where the Bearman was staying in which were a few rooms away from theirs. Nothing was suspicious from the outside but he was worried about Lee Jihye inside.

 

As he forced the barriers to open up a hole for him to use [Inspection], he quickly saw the Bearman lying on the couch drinking wine while the lackey stood aside next to him so that he could react to his superior’s order at any moment. And now he was pouring the wine into the Bearman’s glass. He also spotted Lee Jihye hiding in the corner of the ceiling where darkness gathered the most while supplying herself with a mana potion that would allow her shadow state to be lengthened.

 

Because nothing seemed abnormal, ‘Secretive Plotter’ closed off the hole and left. If something happened in the room, Kim Dokja would notify him immediately through telepathy. Yet, as soon as ‘Secretive Plotter’ removed his eyes from the room, the lackey who seemed harmless swiftly put something in the wine of the Bearman without being noticed by either the Bearman or Lee Jihye who still stayed inside the room.

 

On his patrolling, ‘Secretive Plotter’ was able to confirm some of his suspicions. According to the report of the other Kim Dokja’s team, this auction house was not only involved in selling rare or even unprohibited items, but also slavery and human as well as demi-human trafficking.

 

The governments of the nearby countries had vaguely found something about this dirty business, yet they hadn’t done anything not only because they had some hands into this, but also it was rumored to have ‘Church of Sun God’ as its backer. However, they didn’t know what did they supply the church to gain their support because the church itself already had enough funds from millions of followers across the world of ‘Save the World’.

 

And it was exactly the same as rumors said.

 

Inside the deep basement, further than the place where all the auction goods were kept, ‘Secretive Plotter’ caught on an awful scene. The atmosphere over here was damp and musty, and the smell of rotten food could be found anywhere. The odours got stronger as he got closer to the big cages lining across the area. And inside those cages were people from a whole range of different races in such awful conditions. If said in a rude way, this place was like a badly operated zoo. He could find at least one race from one country here. However, the most popular must be elves, humans, and mermaids due to their beautiful appearances but due to malnutrition and frequent beating, they didn’t even look like one-tenth of their real forms.

 

At the end of the basement, where the only source of light faintly emitted the creak of a door, noise of people talking could be heard. He slowly approached it trying to see who was inside. Maybe because the people inside the room were confident that no one without permission would be able to go down here, they didn’t even bother to conceal their voices. As ‘Secretive Plotter’ peaked inside through the creak on the door, a figure of two men quickly came into vision. One seemed to belong to the auction house whereas the other one wore a black hood with a mark of ‘Nightmare’ on the cap and a symbol that looked like a ribbon with the vertical lines at two ends being extended downward forming a shape M like.

 

“This is the last batch already, your Grace.” The other man lowered his head down to the hooded man as he handed over a big spatial bag. As the hooded man opened the bag to check out the goods, ‘Secretive Plotter’ also was able to catch a glimpse of what was inside. It was a bag filled with mana stones, and they were all the highest quality that could be available in the market. As he estimated, the price of that bag alone could feed all of the citizen living in Schiele City in five years.

 

Why do they make such a big investment into mana stones? ‘Secretive Plotter’ thought as he continued to observe their actions.

 

The hooded man gave the auction man a paycheck for the mana stones before he turned around and started walking toward the door where ‘Secretive Plotter’ was peeping through. When ‘Secretive Plotter’ noticed a small rustle made by the other men’s shoes rubbing against the floor, he quickly hid himself behind the door as it opened itself.

 

“I will escort you up your Grace.” The auction man offered as they walked through the basement.

 

The hooded man squinted his eyes looking at the cages as if he was disgusted by the sight, he shook his head as he speeded up, “No need. You should stay where you should be.”

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t care whether the auction man could realise the mockery intention or not as he continued to follow the hooded man so as to collect more information about him. However, shortly after, he had to give up on the idea and went back to the room where the Bearman and Lee Jihye were staying because someone visited the room.

 

He ran as fast as he could to go back and as soon as he peeked through the hole again, he saw another man and a woman wearing black hoods with the ‘Nightmare’ symbol on their caps. ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t know if this organisation was too stupid that they dared to wear their signature cloaks while going on some secret missions nor they were too confident about their power that they could silent anyone that accidentally saw them in those cloaks. But whatever, now, they could say that all the connections were as clear as daylight. They were all involved with the power named ‘Nightmare’.

 

The Bearman who seemed to be very rude was amazedly subservient in front of those two people. He unconsciously scrunched down on the lounge as if he wanted to make himself as small as possible while moving his eyes left and right rapidly between the two trying to catch any hints.

 

“What good news has brought your Em...Graces here?” He asked nervously, swallowing his dry saliva as he quickly fixed the wrong word.

 

The man with the symbols of a smaller ‘<’ and greater ‘>’ sign intersected with each other on his chest formed a deep line on his forehead as he talked to the Bearman, “You should behave and act accordingly to Odoratus this time, or else”, the man stopped a bit to intensify the atmosphere before he continued his threatening, “you would be rejected.”

 

The Bearman’s face turned paler and paler as the man said. So the fact that he was just playing around and didn’t do any proper tasks had reached these top people. And when he heard the word ‘rejected’, he immediately shot up from the couch and kneeled down in front of the man.

 

“Please forgive me, dear Motus.” His voice was shaking vigorously showing how scared its owner was at the moment. He didn’t want to die or came back to the old days when living was the same as hell because no one gave him any damn respect. 

 

Motus clicked his tongue and carelessly looked at the Bearman’s face that almost touched the floor and sweats were forming and dampened his facial hair. A smirk was pulled upon his face as Motus said, “I will forgive you if you and your daredevil warriors survive in the final battle. Show off your strength and belief to the true God that you are worthy of life.”

 

Because the Bearman was facing down and couldn’t see Motus’s expression, his encouraging words made the Bearman's heart quiver. As the Bearman slammed his head hard on the floor cracking up the tiles lining the floor, he roared, “I shall show the true God my faith.”

 

“I pray for you all the best, Immolatio.” Motus said as his eyes formed into two semi-circles. He was sure that this thick head Bearman wouldn’t understand his sarcasm. This was also the reason why he chose him to be the first Beastman to experience the power of ‘Nightmare’ and from there recruiting both Odoratus and Tactus under his wings. And it was also the reason the Bearman was given the name of ‘Immolatio’ by God according to the word of Spiritius.

 

As Motus imagined about the future when the true God descended to this world and rewarded him for his doing, the smile on his face intensified and became even more holy which made the woman couldn’t help herself but squinting her eyes.

 

The woman also wore the same black hood but the only thing different was the symbol on their chest. On her chest, there was a symbol that looked like a square without the bottom line. As if it wasn’t her prime intention to come here, the woman coldly looked at Motus performing his fake play.

 

“Motus, we should leave now. Sui probably had finished his task.” She pressed her hands down on the handle of the couch where she was sitting for support as she stood up, “We don’t have time to play if you want to show your value to the true God.”

 

Motus pouted. Supposedly, he was disappointed that his play time had ended a bit too early for his liking. However, he also stood up and prepared to leave similar to the woman.

 

“We leave now. Odoratus would contact you later.” Motus waved his hand as he stepped out of the door and the woman followed him after she secretly glanced at the corner of the room where Lee Jihye as well as the lackey was standing causing the hair on the back of her neck all stood up from fright because Lee Jihye thought she was caught. Luckily, the woman seemed not to do anything, so that might be just pure coincidence.

 

“Please have a good day, dear Motus and Autem.” Immolatio still bowed down although they were leaving already and only dared to stand up as they had completely left.

 

Without a second thought, ‘Secretive Plotter’ followed behind them while maintaining a safe distance. After a few corners, he saw them meet up with the first man with the black hood that was in the underground basement not too long ago. So that man must be the one they called ‘Sui’. When Motus and Autem had confirmed the mana stones again with Sui, they took out a teleportation scroll and quickly disappeared.

 

Then, ‘Secretive Plotter’ also came back to their room. As soon as he opened the door, Kim Dokja hastily caught his hand.

 

Kim Dokja ’s hand was cold as if he was both stunned and scared of what he just heard through the microphone. The rest of his companions also didn’t say anything because they also couldn’t wrap their heads around the problems. However, ‘Secretive Plotter’ couldn’t do anything because he himself also didn’t quite understand what they were talking about, especially the part about the true God’ or the strange names that they called each other. Yet, there was one thing that they were all certain about which was they were planning to do something to lead to ‘the final battle’.

 

With that in mind, the first thing they needed to do was to send the record of the conversation as well as the pictures of the three black hoods people that ‘Secretive Plotter’ had sneakily taken as they left the protected area to come to a different area for teleportation. They didn’t know that was the grave mistake causing their identity to be revealed. 

 

As ‘Secretive Plotter’ checked the pictures of the three hooded people, other people could see it as well. And as soon as Kim Dokja saw the picture, his eyes widened as if they wanted to pop out and he dropped on the floor, hand pointing toward the picture.

 

“What’s happening, Dokja ?” Uriel leaned him a hand to help him stand up again.

 

Because Kim Dokja was still shaking and hyperventilating, Uriel gently patted his back to calm him down and showed him the right way to breathe, “Breath deep and slow. Repeat after me.”

 

As Kim Dokja repeated after Uriel, his breathing rate became normal again.

 

[[Are you feeling better now?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ helped Kim Dokja to sit down next to him. Then he showed the picture up again because Kim Dokja acted like he knew something, and he actually did.

 

As Kim Dokja pointed to the ‘Nightmare’ symbol on the hood, he disclosed the reason why he just screamed. “Do you all remember the Giant gang that you had beaten to level 1?” He asked. It seemed like Kim Dokja realized something while he saw the ‘Nightmare’ symbol that the other team had told him about for the first time.

 

Because it was quite a special event, they could remember it very clearly.

 

“Yes, I do.” Lee Hyunsung rubbed his chin that hadn’t been shaved for some days.

 

Kim Namwoon bent his head in confusion because those Giant gangs weren't even as strong as half of Immolatio if they fought in a fight, hence he asked back Kim Dokja . “What do they have to do with these ‘Nightmare’ people? They were weak ass.”

 

Kim Dokja nodded his head to agree that the Giant gangs were weak as he explained, “I saw the same tattoo on the Giant’s body when I encountered him.”

 

Right, they didn’t forget that Nora had said this symbol of ‘Nightmare’ was carved in the skin as tattoos on the followers’ bodies. At first they suspected that ‘Nightmare’ was introduced into the game through the event of joining the dimension, but if the Giant that time also had this tattoo, then it meant that ‘Nightmare’ had already existed before that event.

 

“So it wasn’t Celeana-ssi’s fault all along.” Uriel sighed in relief as this thought had tortured her mind since the time she knew about the name, ‘Nightmare’. They thought that because Celaean this time, was actually too greedy and wanted to do too many things at the same time. This was her consequence as everything they had worked hard for would be gone. 

 

However, what if the creator of ‘Nightmare’ really entered after the fusion and by chance, it saw the Giant gang’s tattoos and took a liking to it. Hence it decided to take that as its symbol. It wasn’t impossible, but if the creator of ‘Nightmare’ considered it as ‘the true God’, then no way in its mind would allow its symbol, the thing represented it be a duplicate of a tattoo of some mere weakling players.

 

Putting that aside and focusing on the matter of ‘Nightmare’ itself, the fact that they didn’t even notice about its existence till now was very bizarre and the possibility should be smaller than 0.0001%. Hence, another speculation was forming inside their head.

 

[[I think there is a betrayal inside the administration system.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ had said it out.


As they all thought the same thing, Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’ teleported back to the admin office under the ‘Central Train Station’ in Schiele City first, while the other remained in Maya City for further investigation and also to back up Lee Jihye if she encountered any danger.

Chapter Text

 

When Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’ arrived at their main admin office in Schiele City, it had been over midnight, but the office was still filled with light and noise. Only Kim Dokja, Yoo Jonghyuk and Han Sooyoung were left because when it was night time in ‘Save the World’, it would be daytime in their real time, hence not all of them were able to stay inside the game except for Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk who this game was their jobs and Han Sooyoung, who didn’t have any class to teach till the afternoon. She would leave as soon as it was time to go, she couldn’t just leave these two stupid bastards, Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk alone because who knew what would they do without monitoring. 

 

According to Nora’s report about half an hour ago, they just started to enter a maze right underneath the city and he asked the people in the office to check whether they could find it or not. And after that last report, they hadn’t heard from him since.

 

Kim Dokja’s team did exactly what Nora asked for. Normally, they would scan on a very large scale so that they could detect as many bugs as possible in the shortest amount of time. However, this time they focused only on Schiele City. When they focused the probability on the city, the result was disappointing.

 

“Probability efficiency 75%. Nothing is found.” Han Sooyoung sat in the exact same seat where Biyu always was. It was the nearest to the main radar screen that allowed her not only to check the technical data but also had the clearest observation of what was caught up through the radar.

 

Because they were looking for a big structure that would be easy to detect due to its size, they went for the lower end of probability usage. Consequently, they couldn’t find anything. However, they couldn’t just increase the probability efficiency as they like because although Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk could access to Celeana’s probability and [Fable], they only withdrew this power out of the tank within the limit of their character’s body. With that in mind, Han Sooyoung told Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk to slowly increase their probability to avoid excessive usage.

 

“Probability efficiency 80%. Nothing is found.”

 

“Probability efficiency 85%. Nothing is found.”

 

The number continued to rise in contrast with their hope that was getting smaller and when the number finally reached 98%.

 

“Damn it. When do we have to increase it to?” Han Sooyoung angrily slammed the table so hard that the vibration from the table caused the high stakes of analysis paper to fall over and scattered all over the ground but none of them had the spirit to put it up again.

 

Kim Dokja breathed through his mouth and told Han Sooyoung to start up the radar again despite his aching body, “One more time.”

 

Even Yoo Jonghyuk who had higher stats for durability than Kim Dokja also could feel like his energy vessel would explode if they tried to absorb more probability to reach anything higher than the number 98%. Hence he greatly opposed the idea of his partner.

 

“No, it should be enough already.” Apparently, Yoo Jonghyuk himself didn’t want to give up either, he added on, “We will try after a break.”

 

As Kim Dokja could see the underlying idea behind his words, he loosen his muscles and blankly looked at the screen showing the sparkling world at night while Yoo Jonghyuk lied down on the couch. Han Sooyoung also reorganised the papers that she just messed up in her anger. They were waiting for Nora to come back because with one more person's help, they could mobilise even more probability to increase the efficiency while significantly reducing the strain placed on each person.

 

Yet, as the arms of the clock ticked over and over again, they didn’t see Nora and instead, it was Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’.

 

“Why do you all look so happy?” Kim Dokja asked. He felt the weird atmosphere inside the office was immediately lifted off as soon as he and ‘Secretive Plotter’ walked in.

 

Han Sooyoung smashed her hands together to form a big clap as she extended her hands out and caught them. “Come in, we got something for you to do.”

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ quickly withdrew his hand off her grasp because he wasn’t very comfortable being touched by women, especially when he just suffered hell inside the bar. [[What is it?]] He stiffly asked.

 

As if Kim Dokja could sense something from the stern face of him, he quickly raised up from the chair and stood in between them.

 

“We just need you to put some probability inside the radar.” He explained while Han Sooyoung started up the radar again and got it ready to scan immediately.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk also sat up from the couch to join the ‘Child of Dream’ group. Then all together they released their probability and the radar quickly absorbed it in. Sparkling dust covered their bodies as the machine beeped continuously showing that it was reaching its maximum efficiency.

 

“Probability efficiency 99%. Nothing is found.”

 

At this point, the efficiency could only be raised up by one decimal place at a time. Han Sooyoung furrowed her brows looking at the number slowly increasing from 99.1% to 99.8% and when it reached 99.9%. The multiple short beeps of the radar simultaneously turned into a long echoing beep while one the main screen, a clear and crisp 3D image of an underground structure was shown.

 

“Success. Good job guys.” Han Sooyoung praised the four of them while she saved the image down to the system for further analysis. The four of them also terminated the probability. It was certain that with four people, things became much easier as Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk found themselves didn’t even suffer an inch of tiredness. 

 

[[I wonder who built it.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t know if he should praise the builder of the maze-like structure on the screen or not. Because the security level of it was extremely high which required the radar system that they always used to detect errors worked to its maximum capacity to detect this structure. The builder and the caster who casted the conceal spells upon it must be extremely skilled.

 

And most importantly, as Yoo Jonghyuk said, “Whoever is fine unless they side with ‘Nightmare’.” They didn’t know these people were completely on the ‘Nightmare’ side or they were just hired to do it. Hence, their situation at the moment which was hard became even harder.

 

Han Sooyoung rotated the 3D image around to examine the maze with other people. This maze was similar but also different to other mazes in dungeons that they used to enter at the same time. It surely had the basic structure of a maze with high walls, monsters and traps were placed at certain points, and a large building at the center of the maze. However, the first difference was there was no other exit inside the maze rather than the entrance, hence no matter which routes they took, they would end up in a dead-end, and the only way to escape probably was using teleportation scroll which was very expensive.

 

“Maybe the designer didn’t want anyone to escape.” Kim Dokja said as he felt a chill shivering down his spine. He was scared by his own thoughts.

 

Apparently, Han Sooyoung also thought of the same thing as she sighed, “Such a perfect place to kill people.” Their suspicion was correct because Visus later told Biyu, the Caesitus and Nora that it was built for disposing of useless prawns.

 

Then, the second difference and also probably the most abnormal thing was the dark life form smuggling around the maze. On the scanned image, they couldn’t see its appearance, but it wasn’t that important because the aura forming from the energy flow within it would certainly overshadow its appearance on the scan. All they saw about that dark entity that Nora and Biyu had caught a glimpse of inside the maze was a very big dot of black matter moving along the corridor of the maze. The energy waves it gave out were exactly the same as the one that ‘Nightmare’ emitted. No… they could even say it was much stronger and more vicious.

 

“What is that shit?” Han Sooyoung couldn’t help her mouth but swear. She didn’t remember to sign up for this. “Can I withdraw now?” Her face crumbled down like she was joking around as she asked.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk’s reaction toward her question wasn’t very positive as he frowned and clicked his tongue, “You are chicken out again, Sooyoung.”

 

As soon as he said that, he received a knock on his head from his partner. While rubbing the bump on his head because Kim Dokja didn’t even bother to control his force, he was certain that Yoo Jonghyuk wouldn’t die from that, Yoo Jonghyuk heard Kim Dokja expressed his sympathy toward their long-time companion.

 

“It’s alright if you want to leave now, Sooyoung. We understand it.” Kim Dokja lightly patted Han Sooyoung’s back as if he was truly concerned for her and took a break for a few seconds before he dropped the bomb, “We won’t die, we promised.”

 

Han Sooyoung was startled. And a second later, they found Kim Dokja was tightly clamped under Han Sooyoung’s arms while she threatened him, “Huh, you think I will let you do that.” One of her arms released from his neck and clenched its hand into a fist pressing down on his head hard, “In your wildest dream, you stupid bastard.”

 

Then, all of the sudden, Han Sooyoung pointed her fist toward the rest of the people and eloquently said, “And all of you as well. None will die.” She said that because except for her, in all the people here, they all had that shitty idealism of sacrificing themselves as they were all Kim Dokja and Yoo Jonghyuk no matter which worldlines they came from. A leopard couldn’t change its spot after all. 

 

“Thank you noona.” Although Kim Dokja hadn’t met Han Sooyoung for long and her speaking manner was quite rude according to his standard, he felt like she was also his older sister, similar to Uriel and Lee Jihye.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk acted coldly although he was happy with her response, “Do whatever you want.” He knew that she wouldn’t have a change in her heart that easily when she had put her feet this deep into the mud.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t say anything and decided to stay silent because he didn’t pay attention to their conversation and brushed aside their petty little joke to focus on finding the information about the three suspicious people he saw at the auction. Kim Dokja let him be because he knew that ‘Secretive Plotter’ had become quite irritable lately and he didn’t want unnecessary fights to come up between them when this was the time they must collaborate no matter what.

 

As they settled down, they got back to work in hope of digging out more information about the organisation as well as their plan which was their priority at the moment. As nothing was heard over Nora’s side yet and the system hadn’t finished analysing the three mysterious people, they could only investigate the connections and activities of the people that the supposedly dead undead man which still helps a lot.

 

The more information they found, the clearer the connection became. As they marked out before, the undead man was clearly related to the Bearman, Immolatio and other ‘Nightmare’ followers within the ‘Beast Alliance’ and this only started off after he met Visus, the old lady inside the church as they both attend the prayer section on the same day. Then, the undead man suddenly became stronger after that coincidence and started to work as an adventurer who usually did quests near the ‘Beast Alliance’ regions and a frequent visitor of the inn where Visus disguise as the owner.

 

The biography of the old lady, Visus, also only looked normal on the surface, but when they dug through it, they found some bizarre things there. Visus was originally an NPC that was created as the world was built. Because they didn’t want to be nor act similar to the second system that tossed people’s life around for entertainment, they called those NPCs 'citizens' and treated them the same way they would treat a normal person. More than that, before everything was kicked into play, this game dimension also went through the exact phase as a normal dimension would as everything was developed from scratch and everything that presented here was an accumulation of fall and rise over thousands of years nurturing within Celeana’s subconsciousness.

 

Visus was a dedicated follower of ‘Church of Sun God’ from a very young age which was quite typical for people here because it was the largest and most influential religion here. Her life was also another typical life when she married, opened up the inn and had kids. Unfortunately, both her husband and her only son lost their lives in a terrorist attack when they attended the daily praying section in the church. Since then, there was a period of time when she didn’t go to church anymore and came back like she used to. They would just see it as a normal psychological reaction that she had finished grieving the death of her family. 

 

However, since the time she came back to the church again, sometimes, some of the guests who stayed at her inn would either go missing, moved to live somewhere else very far away, or reported dead inside somewhere dangerous. It seemed to be not that unexpected because her inn was for adventurers who would have rivals that were ready to kill them any moment, unlucky they would die inside the quest they took or retired and decided to move. 

 

These unlucky people slowly changed from citizens to players who were called warriors who came from another world to help out by the church. If counted the undead man, he would be the latest on the list. And the list of those usual cases of players that stayed in her inn matched with the list of missing players in real life that they collected recently. Therefore, those missing players in real life might not actually go missing but were killed by someone that also hid their corpses. 

 

“Is ‘Church of Sun God’ involved in this?” Kim Dokja put forward the hypothesis. From all of this information, the church was very likely to have a hand in.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ inclined his head toward the other screen that still showed the word ‘Analysing’ while Yoo Jonghyuk impatiently knocked his fingers on the table because he was tired of waiting for both the system as well as Nora to come back.

 

Yet, there was a reason for them to take so long, especially the system because in less than a fraction of a second later, the system warned them about the newly found error, not only but many at the same time. As it was scanning for matching people to the three in the pictures, it came across another bunch of new bugs wiggling around after the dark life form in the maze just suddenly increased and then decreased its activity after a few seconds.

 

Han Sooyoung rolled her eyes at the noisy beeping sound that the system emitted as well as the newly found errors. After she had shut down the noise, Han Sooyoung turned around to the other four people, “Anyone wants to go?” She asked, not because they couldn't deal with it, but because there were many of them and it would be a hassle going after each one. 

 

Two hands raised up at the same time and as they saw who were the owners of these hands, Yoo Jonghyuk and ‘Secretive Plotter’ already glared at each other. This surely wasn’t a good team at all.

 

“I will do it alone.” Yoo Jonghyuk said without any hesitation. He didn’t want to tire out his partner nor work with ‘Secretive Plotter’, hence it would be a good compromise.

 

However, not everyone thought the same thing.

 

Kim Dokja was the first one to go against it, “It won’t be efficient that way.” They didn’t have the time to waste and they needed the system to be unloaded of these bugs so that they could abuse it a bit more.

 

But neither Yoo Jonghyuk and ‘Secretive Plotter’ would collaborate in peace. As a result, as Kim Dokja suggested, despite Yoo Jonghyuk and ‘Secretive Plotter’ were divided into two different teams, Kim Dokja and him would accompany them to increase efficiency as well as prevent any hidden wave that might abruptly emerge out the two while they were on the missions. And the outcome was impressive, it was the quickest speed they had ever achieved.

 

Thanks to their hard work, the system now could concentrate on finding the three black hooded people in the auction, and they didn’t have to wait long for the results to come out. As expected, the ‘Church of Sun God’ in fact played a crucial role with the power named ‘Nightmare’. 

 

[[So three cardinals…]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ rubbed his chin as he recalled the conversation between Immolatio and Motus. He thought that at some points, Immolatio intended to call them ‘Your Eminence’ similar to how he used to call them when he attended the church but quickly changed it into ‘Your Grace’ to conceal their real identity.

 

Kim Dokja sighed as he ruffled his hair. He didn’t expect them to be three of the twelve cardinals of the ‘Church of Sun God’. Because they were so little in number, the cardinals usually would be scattered around the world to perform their duties toward the ‘Sun God’ and manage the churches within their prospective areas for the Pope who stayed inside the largest church that resided inside this city, Schiele City, the center of ‘Save the World’. On a daily basis, it would be very rare for the citizens and players to get to see one Cardinal, let alone all three Cardinals at the same time and place.

 

“Will the Pope be involved in this matter as well?” Han Sooyoung referred to the newly elected Pope a few months ago who they had never seen the face of yet, but there should be information about him in the database, like these three cardinals.

 

Han Sooyoung had her point there when she was talking about the Pope because all of the activities taken place inside the churches had to go through him. Most importantly, the Pope was told to be given the ‘Eye of Sun God’ that allowed him to see through any evil act, and ‘Nightmare’ was indeed an evil one.

 

“We will be in big trouble if the Pope is in there as well.” Kim Dokja bitted his lower lips as he imagined the near future. They might be able to deal with the Cardinals because they were not that important and their powers were still limited, but with the Pope, the most highly respectable person, he could mobilise the followers as he likes. Additionally, if they got rid of the Pope, they might start another conclave that is equivalent to a grand political battle to vote for a new Pope that would prevent a similar situation like ‘Nightmare’ from occurring.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk extended his hand to the side to reach out to Kim Dokja and held his hand tightly. “We will find out.” Yoo Jonghyuk’s thought process was quite simple. If they could spy the Cardinals and the Pope, it would be all clear. “I will follow them to see what they are planning to do.” The final battle shouldn’t have started.

 

At that moment, a voice emitted from thin air delivered the bad news.

 

⸢Unfortunately, it is.⸥

 

“Nora!” Kim Dokja brightly smiled as he saw Nora revealed himself, but the smile quickly drifted off his face as he saw Nora’s expression.

 

It was extremely bad, similar to the time he witnessed his Master break into madness the first time she received a fragment of her lost memory.

 

“What’s happened, Nora-ssi?” Han Sooyoung goggled at Nora as she wrinkled her nose and asked. She was unfamiliar with this registration of emotion on his face.

 

As Nora and ‘Secretive Plotter’ slowly exchanged their information, a full picture was slowly painted in front of their eyes.

 

“So they are the one who created the bugs? That’s why you were so angry, Nora-ssi.” Kim Dokja said as he pointed his finger to the pictures of each member of the Corpus showing on the screen.

 

Nora slightly dipped his head down, didn’t even bother to look at the Corpus. Because the reason for his anger was not them although they were actually very annoying causing them to go all over the place to get rid of some parasites.⸢I actually hate the Cardinals more.⸥

 

After he had seen the three Cardinals, he was certain that they were the one that Auditus called the Animus. Because the ‘Church of Sun God’ actually participated in ‘Nightmare’, the book he kept in his pocket right now must be real. As he thought about what he read in the book, his complexion darkened, the fist he clenched also became so tight that it broke one of his own fingers. Since the atmosphere inside the office had become very silent due to the pressure of the matter ‘Nightmare’ weighing on their shoulders, the ‘crack’ noise could be heard very clearly.

 

“Why???” Kim Dokja kept fidgeting in his chair because he felt the temperature surrounding Nora gradually dropped lower and lower.

 

As if he understood that it would not be good if Nora stayed in this depressive state any longer, ‘Secretive Plotter’ smacked his back from the back while he sternly reminded him about his roles, [[Snap out of it. If you will only be a burden, then leave like that woman.]]

 

Although his word was trying to insult his Master, ‘Secretive Plotter’ had his credit there when it really helped Nora to come back to himself. As Nora took in a deep breath while closing his eyes, he criticized himself for losing a cool head in such a critical circumstance and repeated Celeana’s name inside his head till he was completely clear about his goal. He had to protect this place till she came back.

 

With that determination in his heart, Nora calmly opened his eyes.

 

⸢Thank you.⸥ Nora politely bowed his head to ‘Secretive Plotter’ to express his gratitude before he took out the book that Biyu gave him out of his pocket.

 

The old and worn-out book was neatly placed on the table as all attention was shifted to it. ‘True edition’ was fully revealed for the first time to the outsiders who weren’t a part of ‘Nightmare’.

 

⸢Please read it.⸥ Nora said while waiting for someone to pick it up.

 

As the rest of them looked around for a pioneer, Kim Dokja volunteered to be the one.

Chapter Text

 

It had passed midnight a long time ago, but inside the hall of a big building that was used as a basilica, there were still people, to be exact, lots of people. Just from a quick glance, long-time followers of the ‘Church of Sun God’ could tell that the two men and one woman standing on the altar were some of the most respected leaders of the churches, the Cardinals. Whereas the crowd standing underneath were them, the followers who came to pray. 

 

However, it was not time for the praying section and their Cardinals also didn’t wear their normal uniform but a black hood with a symbol of an eye lying inside a triangle on their caps instead. The crowd also wore the same thing but on their chest, there wasn’t anything else whereas there were different embedments representing their names on each of the Cardinal’s hoods.

 

From left to right on the altar were Autem, Sui, and Motus who hold a book with the title ‘True Edition’ on their hands. As they opened up the first page, the crowd also did the same thing and started to pray.

 

Under the muted light of the moon shone through the coloured glass windows, words of devotion were uttered out.

 

This was the story of the beginning.

 

“The ‘Sun God’, our utmost respectful god, was one of the beloved children of the ‘God of Creation’.

 

He was sent to our universe to create something from nothing and give birth and life to every single organism.

 

He was the sun, shining his wisdom through us and leading us on the path to eternal life.”

 

The crowd stopped right here as this was when the Cardinals would start.

 

Sui in the middle stepped up first as he opened his mouth and read those very familiar lines. He represented the mind of the ‘Sun God’ and carried out his perception, judgment, and memory. The first phase of the world.

 

“One day, our beloved ‘Sun God’ found out that he didn’t actually create this world in the first place, but rather another God did it.

 

From a very long time ago, when nothing existed within the universe, a Goddess appeared from within to create the world by her dreams.

 

Goddess was omnipotent and could create anything if she could dream it.

 

Within her dream,

 

She used her blood to form the burning planets that would be the sparkling stars, but there wasn’t anywhere to see it from, so she divided the area into two which became the sky and the ground.

 

There was finally something to see, but she was lonely, hence the Goddess cried and her tears accumulated into the ocean. To fulfill her wishes of having friends, life arose from the bottom of the ocean and after thousands of years, finally, the Goddess found someone to talk with, a single cell.

 

As her desire grew bigger and bigger, that single cell also evolved more and more. Different organisms started to appear and classified into plants, animals, bacteria, insects and many more, but the Goddess loved humans the most because they were weak but persistent.

 

She wished for them to have a better life. Then, humans started to reveal their talents and became one of the strongest races in their world. The Goddess was happy but sad at the same time because humans didn’t remember her.

 

Therefore, the world met its end and the Goddess also disappeared.”

 

As Sui finished his last sentence, he closed off his book and formed his hand into prayer upon his chest while lightly dripping his head down.

 

At the same time, Motus on the right side walked forward with his book closed as he started to repeat from his memory. He represented the emotions of the ‘Sun God’ and carried out his feelings, sentiments and response. The second phase of the world.

 

“When the cry for help of these miserable organisms reached the ear of the ‘God of Creation’ and the second God was created from nothingness beside the Goddess, the ‘God of Creation’ decided to send his beloved son down.

 

That son was our most virtuous and holy, the ‘Sun God’.

 

His light was able to heal everything, including space and time. Hence as soon as he shined his light to our world, things came back to their starting point, the original phase where the universe was empty.

 

The cycle of the universe repeated itself. The ‘Sun God’ recreated the exact same world as the Goddess used to without knowing about it.

 

However, this time, the world didn’t suffer. Peace, happiness and wisdom were shared all around every time he shined his light to reach out to his followers through their spirits.

 

As humans and other organisms reborn-instinct told them their lessons from the last time with the Goddess, they established the ‘Church of Sun God’ and worship him to express their gratitude.

 

However, as the Goddess didn’t completely die, she was just sleeping without dreaming - she had learned to hate dreaming.

 

When she got to know about the ‘Church of Sun God’, she resented humans for not being thankful to her in the way they worship the ‘Sun God’ at the time while she was the one who protected and gave them blessings.

 

Her hatred brought chaos to the world. Wars, famines, droughts, floods, diseases, deforestation, extreme weathers. She wished for the worst ending possible.

 

As her power influenced the world, the ‘Sun God’ also knew about her existence. He tried to talk her out of the second ‘End of the World’ but impossible, the Goddess was arrogant.

 

The ‘Sun God’ was angry. He was disappointed. And he was SADDDD.”

 

Motus dragged out the last syllable to intensify the word. This was his go-to style of ending his part. Despite how many times Autem and Sui glared at him for that, Motus couldn’t help himself to omit it because it was his way to truthfully express the emotions of the ‘Sun God’ at the time. If he could, he had already made a poem about it.

 

Then, it was Autem’s turn. She was the first-ever female Cardinal to be chosen in the world, hence she held a very special spot within the ‘Church of Sun God’. Autem represented the will of the ‘Sun God’ and carried out his desires, volitions and actions. The third phase of the world.

 

She lightly coughed as she began her teachings of the will of the ‘Sun God’.

 

“The ‘Sun God’ didn’t wish for the ‘End of The World’.

 

He wished for the growth of all races. He wished for a good harvest. He wished for wars no longer exist. He wished for many more blessings.

 

And he desired to protect this world.

 

He tried his best to fight back the Goddess but he couldn’t do anything because this place was originally created by her. Although the old world had disappeared and the fragments of it were recycled into his world, her dreams still could influence it.

 

He failed, failed miserably as the Goddess won and took over the world that he had been protected and nurtured.

 

But he didn’t want to give up because the people needed him. He could hear their genuine prayers every day crying for the worlds were getting worse day by day.

 

With that sound echoing in his mind, the ‘Sun God’ came to his esteemed Father, ‘God of Creation’ and asked him to share his wisdom. As the ‘Sun God’ was enlightened with his Father’s insight, his will was formed in the shape of a dark orb containing a black liquid called ‘Nightmare’.

 

‘Nightmare’ was considered to be the best weapon, the natural enemy of ‘Dream’, hence the ‘Sun God’ decided to grant this power to his dedicated followers. 

 

He hoped with this new power, his followers could defend themselves while waiting for the right time that they could baptise the Goddess and completely avoid the same mistake from happening in the future.”

 

Autem nonchalantly looked down at the crowd focusedly listening to her every word. Some of them had already started sobbing because their hearts were moved by the virtue of the ‘Sun God’ in doing every way to protect them, even if it meant that he would have to make another God vanish. That made him their ‘true God’.

 

All of the people here would be necessary for welcoming the ‘Sun God’, so it would be best if they kept that thought in their mind that they were willing to do everything for him.

 

As if they were waiting for her speech to end, they raised up their clasped hands that were held in front of their chest for the whole teaching till they reached their forehead as they sang up the prayer of devotion.

 

“Oh, dear God.

 

Please guide us in your truth and teach us the path of justice and good.

 

Please shine our Spirit and give us the courage to stand against the Evil.

 

May our prayers reach you and our lives as offerings.

 

All glory for you.”

 

At the same time the exact same prayers were also sung through the musky dark night, but it was in five different caves scattering around the continent where ‘Mortal Realm’ or the human country were placed instead of a basilica. Inside each cave at different locations in ‘Mortal Realm’ which formed into a star if they were connected was one member of the Corpus.

 

“The time had come, dear the most loyal followers of the ‘Sun God’.” Gustatus screamed his lungs out in excitement as he announced the news to his subordinates and underlings.

 

Auditus extended her arms out as she said, “Thank you for waiting as fate had finally answered us.” The black horns that she hid underneath the hood suddenly stood up piercing through the cap.

 

“I can see the future.” Visus’s usual smirk that wasn’t fit with her old face became even more vicious, “Goddess will fall and we will be the victors.”

 

Odoratus rubbed his nose as the corner of his lips lifted up forming a big curve, “Our lengthy war will soon come to an end.”

 

“Hold your weapons and fight as if it was your last.” Tactus roared. The skin on his back burst as a pair of wings reveal itself.

 

As their leaders finished their sentences to level up their spirit, the crowd started to go insane and yelled while raising their weapons into the air. 

 

“I will stop them at all cost.”

 

“Bring it on.”

 

“Save the World.”

 

“Kill the Goddess.”

 

Somewhere among the crazy crowds in these five caves, Biyu and Lee Jihye immediately contacted their companions at the main admin office to prepare for the incoming battle. While Immolatio mumbled to himself that he would be the brightest and strongest warrior in this ‘final battle’, he drank up the wine that his lackey just poured out for him.

 

“More.” He groaned to the lackey, “I need to get in the zone before the time.”

 

And the lackey did exactly what he was ordered, he gave Immolatio more wine. But not only him, but also his fellow warriors in the Beast clan.

 

“Don’t get drunk, alright.” Odoratus shouted at the bunch of Beastman warriors who were drinking and eating again to prepare themselves for the ‘Final Battle’ before he came inside his choir. 

 

----------------//------------

 

“What the fuck are they talking about?” Han Sooyoung ruffled her hair vigorously without worrying that she would make it into a mess after she finished reading what was written inside the book with the title ‘True Edition’.

 

Kim Dokja received the handkerchief from his partner to sweep the cold sweat on his forehead that he didn’t when it was formed as he asked for confirmation, “That doesn’t talk about Celeana-noona right?” Kim Dokja didn’t want to believe that the Goddess written in that book was Celeana, the person who he had lots of respect.

 

[[Who know.]] Although his words could be considered as quite a normal reaction in these kinds of situations, the half-smile on his face made people wonder whether ‘Secretive Plotter’ actually agreed with the story in the book or not.

 

As a result, Kim Dokja withdrew his gaze from ‘Secretive Plotter’ as he felt a flash of irritation rushed inside his head. He turned over to Nora, who he thought probably would know the answer to it. “Is that noona?”

 

Nora had no other answer than a nod because it was clearly referring to Celeana, his Master. 

 

However, the problem was not who was the Goddess but if Celeana actually did as what was written inside the book. And as the person who had followed her the longest among, Nora could confidently say, ⸢It implied her identity, but not her actions.⸥

 

Yoo Jonghyuk uncrossed his arms as he heard Nora’s answer. He himself also didn’t think that Celeana would actually destroy a universe just because no one worshipped her, she wasn’t the type that would like to be worshipped. And most importantly, it sounded completely faked, only very stupid people would be fooled by it.

 

However, apparently, there were a lot of stupid people living in this world.

 

As the people had not recovered from the so-called Bible, they were overloaded with other news from Lee Jihye and Biyu who were acting as spies within the Corpus.

 

Nora quickly closed his eyes to telepathize with Biyu who was trying to talk as fast as possible. She was gaping nonstop as if she was chased by someone after finding out their secrets. However, luckily, Biyu was still safe and not caught yet. 

 

“Jihye-noona also just sent a message.” Kim Dokja emitted a small squeal from his vocal cords as he hastily opened up the message with a red mark for an emergency that suddenly popped up in front of his eyes.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ who sat next to him leaned his big body over to have a look at what Jihye had to say. He read it out loud for other people to hear. [[Urgent news! The enemy is preparing for an attack. Estimated attack time is morning, exactly at sunrise.]

 

The text that was composed in Lee Jihye’s style of writing and read by ‘Secretive Plotter’ deep voice sounded ridiculous that could make everyone burst out laughing in a normal situation. But right now, inside the office, no one could lift the corner of their mouth up as the content was too shocking.

 

[[This is too quick.]] Even ‘Secretive Plotter’ also stiffened his face while staring at the message.

 

They were expecting the ‘Final Battle’ to come but not this early. Sui, the Cardinal just received his last batch of mana stone to prepare something which they hypothesized to be a magic circle and the preparation for the magic circle shouldn’t take this fast as well.

 

“What did Biyu say, Nora-ssi?” Han Sooyoung asked Nora, who opened his eyes as he finished the telepathy call with Biyu. If over Biyu’s side, nothing had happened, they might have more time than till the morning, as Lee Jihye wrote in her message, which was only nearly 3 hours away.

 

Unfortunately, the fact would always hurt as they seriously only had 3 hours to prepare for the ‘final battle’.

 

⸢Biyu also warned about the battle. They are getting ready to match and would arrive to this city⸥ Nora pointed his finger on an area of the map with the name ‘Schiele City’ ⸢ in less than three hours to start the attack.⸥ He raised his voice to emphasize the time they had as if the others hadn’t got their head around it yet.

 

Kim Dokja slowly raised his hand into the air because he had a question to ask. “Why do this city?”

 

Nora zoomed on the map of the city as he pinpointed two locations that they all knew, the ‘Central Train Station’ and the maze, more specifically, the building in the center of the maze.

 

“They want to cut off our retreat and reinforcement.” Kim Dokja unconsciously said his thoughts out loud.

 

Isolation was exactly what the ‘Nightmare’ would aim for.

 

Han Sooyoung also spoke her opinion about the place as she shifted her eyes around to capture other people’s reaction, “That building, it looks like a temple.”

 

Nora was the first one to react to her statement. ⸢Correct, it is indeed a temple.⸥ He said as he wagged his head.

 

After he left the place where the Corpus had their meeting, he visited the maze one more time trying to work out an escape route and on the way of his investigation, he also found the building which was served for the sole purpose of a temple. However, Nora didn’t get the chance to go inside and have a look because the dark entity was crawling around near that place and he didn’t want to wake the sleeping giant yet.

 

The room merged into deep silence because they were trying to digest all the information and think about what was lying ahead.

 

“What should we do now? We don’t have spare time to sit around like this?” Yoo Jonghyuk’s voice was rough as he was annoyed with the serious yet helpless atmosphere that was put over their heads.

 

Han Sooyoung sighed as she stood up from her seat and left the room, “I will go and ask for reinforcement.” That was the only thing they heard from her before Han Sooyoung logged out to call any companions that were free to log in. 

 

“We shall do the same thing.” Kim Dokja clenched his fist while asking Nora, “We don’t need them to stay at Maya City anymore, right?”

 

As soon as Nora said yes, Kim Dokja immediately teleported to Maya City to pick up his party’s member. This way, although it would waste probability it would be more efficient than waiting for them to catch a train and come here because trains were rare at 3 a.m in the morning.

 

When Kim Dokja left, Nora decided that he and Kim Dokja would go to Kim Sanghoon because once the battle started they wouldn’t be able to hide anything anyway, hence telling him the truth would be a better choice. They were certain that Kim Sanghoon would offer to help them because Kim Sanghoon himself was no more no less than the Captain of the ‘Paladin Squadron’ of Schiele City and also an admin.

 

Meanwhile ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Yoo Jonghyuk would be the representatives from the two of the ten strongest parties to wake the fucking Adventure’s Guild up and asked them to join the battle to protect the Schiele City. Because although they were strong, they couldn’t beat the ‘Nightmare’ which was way superior in number, and sometimes, numbers could overthrow quality.

 

Without surpassing their expectation, as they told Kim Sanghoon everything they had found out about ‘Nightmare’, he gladly offered them help with paladin and priest.

 

“Please believe in me. This is also a responsibility of an admin.” Kim Sanghoon pounded his chest although they could see his face was getting pale because of how dangerous the situation they were in.

 

Nora politely smiled as a way to say thank you while he heard Kim Sanghoon ask.

 

“Did you contact Celeana-ssi?”

 

“Right, did you?” Kim Dokja leaned his body forward with widened and anticipated eyes. If Celeana came back, it would be much easier.

 

As he shifted his eyes back and forth between Kim Sanghoon and Kim Dokja, he felt like a cat just took his tongue because he didn’t know how to explain. In normal circumstances, if things like this had happened, of course, he should have contacted his Master ages ago. However, this time, Celeana couldn’t just omit her appointment and come back because Celeana would never have the chance to meet the person who she booked the appointment with again in at least a thousand year, and she would feel very bad if she couldn’t fulfill Kim Dokja’s desire. Nora also had sent a delayed message that Celeana would receive right after she finished her appointment, hence he just hoped that she would come back in time.

 

Despite the guilt growing in his heart, Nora uttered out a lie without blinking or biting on his own tongue even once, “Yes, I had. She was coming.” This was to buff their spirit up. He didn't want to risk and tell them the truth as he also wasn’t sure how it would impact if they knew that the strongest person among them couldn’t come. At least, having even the smallest glimpse of hope was still better than having none.

Chapter Text

 

After Kim Dokja and Nora had successfully recruited Kim Sanghoon and his ‘Paladin Squadron’, they came down to the city which people were still soundly sleeping to wake them up for evacuating. The battle would be harsh and death would welcome anyone who stayed back that didn’t prepare themselves well enough.

 

“WAKE UP. WAKE UP.”

 

“EMERGENCY here. Wake up.”

 

The paladins and the priests slammed hard on the door of each and every house that was in the city. Some people heard their voices and opened their doors to ask the paladins.

 

“What’s up??? It’s not even morning yet.” A man was cranky because he just fell asleep not long ago.

 

Kim Sanghoon huffed as he said, “If you want to die, keep sleeping.”

 

“What the fuck are you talking about? Are you out of …” The man yelled at Kim Sanghoon as he rubbed his eyes so that he could see the crazy person in front of his eyes. However, his attitude quickly changed as he saw who he was talking to, “Paladin Quadrun’s Captain... what are you doing here?” he stammered on his words because he just spitted out swear words to the respectable Captain.

 

Kim Sanghoon rolled his eyes as he turned around and used skill [Awake] to amplify his voice and make his words more persuasive, “EVERYONE, ATTENTION! A BATTLE WILL OCCUR IN THE NEXT FEWS HOURS, SO WAKE UP AND LEAVE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO DIE.” It was such a waste to use this skill just for announcing but at this time, they would do anything to speed up the preparation process.

 

Kim Sanghoon’s voice echoed through the whole city causing people to get up from their dreams. One door, then another one quickly opened and as a domino effect, the whole city had woken up.

 

As Nora and Kim Dokja arrived at the Adventure Guild, they saw Yoo Jonghyuk and ‘Secretive Plotter’ were having a hard time recruiting more people because they were busy fighting each other.

 

“What are you two bastards doing?” Kim Dokja stood in between them as he pinched their ears so hard as if he wanted to rip them off.

 

Nora slightly bowed his head down to the stunted-faced Adventure Guild’s Master who was still in his pajamas. ⸢Sorry for the ruckus they caused but I’m sure they had told you about the upcoming battle.⸥

 

The Adventure Guild’s Master rubbed his chin as he stared at Nora. He was only half-believed in what Yoo Jonghyuk and ‘Secretive Plotter’ said earlier, however, when he saw Nora, the Shadow Assassin who was in the same party with ‘Secretive Plotter’, the Demon Magic Swordsman ‘Sword of Disaster’ and Kim Dokja, the ‘Child of Chaos’ as well as the captain of Yoo Jonghyuk’s party, his trust exponentially increased.

 

“Quickly wake up, citizens of Schiele City.” As kicking every door that was still closed had become his habit, Kim Sanghoon also kicked the main door of the Adventure Guild building revealing the people standing inside.

 

Kim Sanghoon froze for a second of embarrassment before apologetically looked at the Guild Master as he coughed and left, “Sorry.”

 

“What is he doing here?” The Guild Master pointed at Kim Sanghoon who just kicked the door as he turned around to Nora who was tempted to throw a stone at the door slayer.

 

Trying to keep the friendly smile on his face, Nora explained, “He is also helping out for the battle.”

 

Now, all suspicion that the Guild Master had disappeared without a single trace. How could he doubt about an event that the three strongest parties in this world had confirmed and tried their best to prepare for it.

 

“All right. I will put up an emergency meeting.” The Guild Master tightened his lips as he pressed down the crisis button that would immediately announce to every adventurer who currently stayed in Schiele city and other places within the radius of 50km with Schiele City as the center.

 

At the same time, Kim Dokja had come back by teleportation with his party that includes Uriel, the Fallen Angel Reaper ‘Hell Flame’, Lee Hyunsung, the Ancient Human Guardian Druid ‘Undefeatable Shield’ and Kim Namwoon, the Red Drake Dragon Slayer ‘Dragon Blood’.

 

Kim Namwoon kicked the poor door again as he yelled, “Anyone who opposes quickly come out here? I will pk you till death.”

 

[[Namwoon.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ looked at the destroyed door as he picked Kim Namwoon by his collar and brought him outside so that they wouldn’t destroy anything else within the Adventure Guild’s property. 

 

As his scream was so loud and the situation was very confusing and panic-revoking, it attracted even more attention from the crowd as they flooded outside their houses onto the street near the Adventure Guild to see what was happening.

 

Kim Dokja, Yoo Jonghyuk, Nora and the Guild Master also came out because the adventurers would also be in that crowd which was the perfect opportunity to recruit more members for the battle.

 

If saying in a modest way, because they were quite famous within the community, people quickly realised who they were looking at. They formed into a circle of people with the most important people standing in the middle.

 

A citizen rubbed his eyes continuously as if he was still sleepy and tried to wake up. “What!!! Am I still dreaming?” 

 

“The whole team is here.” As another citizen said out loud in excitement, he was hit in the head by a woman that seemed to be his girlfriend or partner.

 

“No, are you blind? ‘Priest of Madness’ isn’t here.” She glared at him although there was more disappointment than anger inside those gazes. 

 

Some of them screamed, “My idol!!!”

 

“The ‘Darkness Master’ actually revealed himself.” They referred to Nora who rarely appeared in public if he didn’t have to.

 

The crowd went crazy. Adrenaline rushed through their brains, activated all of their senses, and caused them to become hyperactive although it wasn’t even morning yet. 

However, there was still someone whose head was clear enough to question things.

 

“What are they doing here?”

 

“Wait, is this another massacre? Who is the one stupid enough to do this?”

 

Gossiping started to erupt as they recalled the event that also made the famous party reveal themselves altogether in front of the public. But they quickly noticed that there were some more people joining the center as they pushed their ways through the crowds.

 

“Hey don’t push me.” The man who previously accidentally swore in front of Kim Sanghoon frowned when his body was pushed on the side, leaving the space for someone else walking through.

 

Immediately, he was told off by other citizens who were inside the crowd and were actively opening up a way. “Shut up, let’s them go through.”

 

The first one to join in was the one who woke them up, Kim Sanghoon. Whispers emerged again as they also recognised who he was.

 

“I heard that his relationship with the Black Young Master’s party isn’t good.” A young man who seemed to be an adventurer said as Kim Sanghoon stood along with Kim Dokja ’s party members.

 

Other people, who had heard the rumors also questioned themselves, “Why are they together?”

 

“He will pay for waking me up if this is just a bluff.” Some who were still angry from being woken up at midnight grumbled because who the hell would dare to attack Schiele City, the center of the world. No one should have the braveness to become the enemy of the world. They weren’t convinced.

 

Then, the second mass came to join which caused the crowd to make even more noise when they came in. Somehow, this had turned into a ‘celebrity parade’ where famous people appeared one by one and the crowd aka fans would scream out their names, hence without seeing them directly, people who were further away from the inner circle also knew who just entered.

 

Leading the parade was Han Sooyoung with another lollipop in her mouth.

 

“OMG, it’s Han Sooyoung, the Vampire Mystic.”

 

“Hypnosis Lady is also here.” A citizen seemed shocked from her appearance.

 

Another citizen looked at him with wild eyes while asking, “Why not??? Yoo Jonghyuk, Werewolf Ki-master and ‘Squid Master’, Ctahi Warrior, 'Child of Chaos’ also here, so she should be here as well.”

 

“Really? ‘The Punisher’ is here.”

 

As if Yoo Jonghyuk heard someone shout out his modifier, ‘The Punisher’ from the crowd, he immediately squinted his eyes looking for the one who said it. It was a reaction to find a fan, Yoo Jonghyuk just wanted to kill everyone who said that embarrassing modifier.

 

“What’s the matter, sunfish?” Han Sooyoung asked when the first thing she saw when she came back was Yoo Jonghyuk with a face like he was ready to kill someone.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk shook his head, “No, nothing.” He simply gave up not only because it would be impossible to find the one in this crowd, but also he couldn’t ruin their reputation before they asked for help.

 

Following Han Sooyoung was the husband and wife, Lee Hyunsung and Jung Heewon, who also received the same treatment from the citizens.

 

“Aren’t they so cute?” The woman from before pointed at them as she clung to her boyfriend’s arm, “I will be Jung Heewon, the Fairy Elementalist. And you will be the Giant Monk.”

 

“General of Justice! General of Justice!”

 

“The Friendly Titan.”

 

Jung Heewon and Lee Hyunsung were well received because in their free time they would go around and help other people, especially the citizens of Schiele City.

 

“Heewon-ssi, you don’t need to be here.” Kim Dokja used his finger to caress her head as he looked down to her stomach area, “You are pregnant.”

 

Jung Heewon laughed as she jumped up and down on his hand, “No worries, I am as strong as a lion at the moment, right?” She shifted her gaze over the Giant, who was her life partner.

 

“Right.” Lee Hyunsung gently smiled, “She is bored at home, so this will be fun.”

 

“I don’t think you two know how to distinguish between fun and danger.” A girl that was half the size of Kim Dokja appeared as she nagged the couple.

 

Kim Dokja stood on the side looking at the Halfling who just came as he dropped his mouth. He knew that the other worldline also had another version of Lee Jihye like him and Kim Dokja. However, “Jihye-noona is so short.”  Kim Dokja spitted out his thoughts by mistake.

 

Instantly, Lee Jihye turned around to him and gave him a deadly stare, “This is not my real height, ok?”

 

Kim Dokja nodded his head continuously as if he had known his fault causing the crowd to burst out laughing due to their cute interaction.

 

“Hahaha, she is always like that, the Halfling Bard.”

 

“I love you, ‘Victorious Messenger’.”

 

Being confessed in public like this was very embarrassing to Lee Jihye, hence quickly hid behind the two kids that followed behind her.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk looked at Lee Gilyoung, the Tigerman Beast Lord and Shin Yoosung, the Half-dragon Valkyrie who also logged in and asked, “Have you finished your homework yet?” 

 

They were in their last year of high school, so the adults decided to make a rule that they only could play games after they had finished their homework, so that they wouldn’t be left behind by their peers at school.

 

“I have, but he hasn't.” Under his interrogation, Shin Yoosung quickly betrayed Lee Gilyoung and told Yoo Jonghyuk the truth.

 

A yeb dropped out of Lee Gilyoung’s mouth as he was tempted to run away because he didn’t want to be beaten and forced to go home to do his boring homework. However, luckily, this was an emergency situation and they needed people so Yoo Jonghyuk wouldn’t be stupid enough to chase away a free labor.

 

“Okay, remember to do it when you get back home.” Yoo Jonghyuk glanced at Lee Gilyoung whose mouth had dropped on the ground due to his unpredictable response.

 

Suddenly, someone in the crowd screamed out as if he just wanted to make people laugh, “Close your mouth ‘Thousand Miles Roar’, or else fly will go in your mouth.”

 

But apparently, other people knew who he was.

 

“Stop trying to impress ‘Leader of Immortal Souls. You are a no match to her.”

 

The guy who just mocked Lee Gilyoung was a hardcore fan of Shin Yoosung.

 

Yoo Sangah snickered at Shin Yoosung as she heard the guy was criticised, “You are so popular, Yoosung-ah.”

 

“Really, unnie?” Shin Yoosung raised her eyebrows at Yoo Sangah, the High Elf Druid, “I will pretend like I didn’t hear anything.” Then she put her hands up the big scales that seemed to be her ears on two sides of her head to cover it up from the yelling of the people who went mad because they met Yoo Sangah.

 

“Please look at me, ‘Goddess of Samsara’.”

 

“I’m willing to die for you.”

 

“I love you.”

 

Yoo Sangah drily coughed as she heard the cringy confession.

 

However, the heat didn’t stop there because they were not the only one that Han Sooyoung asked for help.

 

As the third group of people went in, the crowd felt like their poor hearts would have to rest because they would have a heart attack at any moment.

 

“Ahhhhh, it’s Empyreal Realm Idol Group.”

 

“My idols also play the same game as me. I can die peacefully without any regret now.”

 

“M.A.D!!! M.A.D!!! M.A.D!!!”

 

The crowd called out their names as if it was a religious pray.

 

“URIEL, URIEL, URIEL!”

 

“SUN WUKONG, SUN WUKONG, SUN WUKONG.”

 

“BLACK FLAME DRAGON, BLACK FLAME DRAGON, BLACK FLAME DRAGON.”

 

As Uriel ‘Demon-like Judge of Fire’, Great Sage ‘Most Ancient Liberator’ and Chuunibyou ‘Abyssal Black Flame Dragon’ was used to this kind of fan greeting, they professionally waved back at the crowd.

 

“Oh my god. I never knew that our fans also played this game.” Uriel talked to Gabriel, her fellow sister who was acting as her bodyguard from the fans that were acting as zombies from an apocalypse movie wanting to break the line but cannot due to the presence of other constellations and famous people surrounding them.

 

“This is the reason why I don’t want you to come here.” Gabriel complained as she remembered about her failure to stop them from logging in again because the fan also went out of their minds like this when they played the game at its first launch to support <Kim Dokja’s Company>. Yet, the disaster repeated itself.

 

Dionysus, ‘God of Wine and Ecstacy’ threw his glass of red wine at a crazy fan who just jumped over to stop him from going any further as he sighed at Uriel, “I told you this was not a good idea.”

 

“We are nearly there.” Persephone giggled as she emanated a black smoke causing the crowd to step back because they just had a goosebump from looking at the ‘Queen of Darkest Spring’.

 

Surya, the ‘Almighty Sun’ also joined the team as soon as he heard about it after going home from work, “Don’t be angry.” Surya padded Dionysus’s shoulder to calm him down as he stepped up to cover the younger god from the front.

 

“Hahaha, you look miserable.” A small man with the same size as Jung Heewon loudly laughed as he saw Dionysus was hiding behind Surya’s back, “This is how you do it.”

 

As Kyrgios Rodgraim released his blue electricity and tempted to shoot at the zombie-like fan to show Dionysus his way of stopping them, his tiny body was caught by a big hand of a Giant.

 

“Don’t hurt the citizens, or else I will kick your ass, Kyrgios.” Namgung Minyoung - The Breaking the Sky Sword Saint squeezed her fist wrapping around the strongest returnees of Peace Land.

 

However, as they were as strong as each other, it didn’t hurt Kyrgios Rodgraim at all, but it was uncomfortable. Hence as he promised that he wouldn’t do it, Namgung Minyoung quickly released him out. 

 

Jang Hayoung also came along as she rolled her eyes at the childish behaviors of her Masters. She realised that Kyrgious Rodgraim somehow had become more similar to Black Flame Dragon. Jang Hayoung wondered if it was a problem of old people when they tried to make them look young as she touched her face, her beautiful face that could slap Yoo Jonghyuk’s twice on the cheek.

 

Although they were a bit too old to play this, Gong Pildu and Han Myuyong also led their grandchildren, the reason for them to play this game at first to come and lend a hand despite the fact that they might not be able to do anything much.

 

Surprisingly, that was not the end of the parade. ‘Goryeo’s First Sword’ and ‘Maritime War God’, the first two constellations from the <Hangyu> Nebula who had woken up from their slumber also joined.

 

“Thank you so much for coming.” Kim Dokja bowed deep down to the companions and the constellations who had come to help them with their hearts although some might not have any power left and had to depend on the stats of their characters inside the game. 

 

When he raised his head up and looked at all the people in front of his eyes, a genuine smile bloomed on the corner of his lips. This had to be the strongest team that they had ever made, there was no way they would lose. That statement didn’t only speak for Kim Dokja but all of his people as well as the crowds surrounding them.

 

Kim Dokja stepped up at the front, looking at the crowd who were speculating about what was happening for them to gather like this. He coughed a few times to clear his throat and catch the attention of the citizens as well as other players while collecting all of his braveness to stand up and talk. Kim Dokja didn’t really like making a speech at all, but this was what they had assigned each other before.

 

“Thank you for gathering here everyone because I have an important matter to announce to you all.” Kim Dokja stopped for a bit, glancing his eyes around to see other people's reactions.

 

As none of the top players and former constellations were chilling out, the crowd also didn’t dare to play around and remained silent. They realised that this might not be a bluff.

 

Then, Kim Dokja continued and explained the situation as short as possible. “We are going to be attacked by an organisation named ‘Nightmare’ in less than 2 hours. We are not sure about the origin of ‘Nightmare’ yet, but according to my party, Kim Dokja ’s party and Kim Sanghoon’s party investigation, it is very likely that this was a group of traitors from ‘Church of Sun God’.”

 

He said ‘a group’ because he believed that other people inside the churches might not be aware of the things that were actually happening behind the scene, as well as, blaming the whole religion wouldn’t do them any favors. Because some of the people here were already being offended by his touch on ‘Church of Sun God’.

 

“What bullshit are you talking about? ‘Church of Sun God’ never had traitors.”

 

However, because there was a big difference between having traitors inside the churches and the whole churches themselves being a rotten place, the people who seemed to be in denial at first quickly took in the fact.

 

“Let’s kill those traitors.”

 

“Under the name of ‘Sun God’, we will exterminate those fallen ones.”

 

Kim Dokja couldn’t imagine they would react this way if the truth was the second scenario, they might get killed by these loyal followers before they died in the battle with ‘Nightmare’. Luckily, it turned out this way. Yet, not everyone would be welcomed on the battleground because they could die at any moment.

 

Therefore, they asked for the strong to protect the weak. For defense, they were divided into a total of seven teams that five teams would take care of each direction where the Corpus attack, one team would stay inside the city to protect the shelter and to prevent any infiltrators of ‘Nightmare’ tempted to cause ruckus and fear, the last one would come down to the maze and stop whatever they did under there. They would evacuate the children, elders and other vulnerable people in the prepared shelter that they just made from using the authority of ‘Child of Dream’.

 

⸢Everyone is clear of their roles?⸥ As the main commander, Nora asked again to confirm if they understood what they should do. Every team would have the responsibility to support each other and prevent the ‘Nightmare’ to go any further inside and cause fatality because that would be what they were aiming to.

 

“YES.” Everyone simultaneously shouted out as they quickly separated into their teams and started evacuating people.

 

Yet, when only half of the people had safely resided inside the shelter, they could see clouds of dust rose up into the air forming a visible white cast under the first ray of sunshine and blares of magic horns that could be heard from even 100km away pierced through the air. As people exchanged their eyes, despite if they were filled with anticipation or withdrawal, faith or disbelief, they all understood one thing.

 

The ‘Nightmare’ had come.

 

“Get into your position. The enemy had come.” The captains of each team shouted to their team members to warn them that their operation would start now.

 

People fluttered around, as busy as bees in the springs trying to do their jobs as the pollen collectors. All of the sounds mixed together to form the before-the-battle soundtrack. ‘Thud’ of stomping feet, ‘Clang’ of metal weapons collided into each other as the owners accidentally ran into each other on the street, ‘Rshhh’ the rustle of clothes rubbing, ‘Neigh’ of the horses coming out of its barn to get ready for the long run. And also the loud whispers of the people when they wanted to talk in silence but everything was so noisy causing them to increase their volume. 

 

As soon as everyone was there. They started leaving the city heading to the perspective areas.

 

“Careful, Dokja. I will see you then.” Uriel shouted to the man who was leading a group of a Giant, a Fairy, a High Elf and some other priests and warriors. 

 

Kim Dokja slightly nodded at Uriel, who was assigned to the city to continue to evacuate and protect the shelter before he headed to the north, where the jungles were located. Yoo Jonghyuk had left a bit earlier because his destination was a bit further away from South West.

 

As ‘Secretive Plotter’ padded the head of Kim Dokja , he said, [[I will come right to you when I finished on my side.]]

 

“Don’t rush and don’t be hurt either.” Kim Dokja reminded ‘Secretive Plotter’ to take care of himself and not do take too many risks just for the sake of him because Kim Dokja himself could do his jobs with the help of Uriel and Lee Hyunsung , the former ‘Kings of Outer Gods’ as well as their most reliable companions now.

 

Then they parted ways. Kim Dokja to the East, the vast area of steppe and ‘Secretive Plotter’ to the South East, where he killed the Giant group that harassed his little, precious child.

 

Nora also led his team with only Lee Jihye, the bald and some other players and priests to the West, where he was supposed to welcome the ‘Nightmare’ for their new days. If the enemy only had that much power, victory would be guaranteed in their hands. However, if someone else from the higher dimension, such as the so-called ‘Sun God’ was able to intervene, it would be another story. Hence, Nora would try his best to finish early to join Biyu’s group under the maze. As he departed, Nora prayed for Celeana to read his message and come along in time if the ‘Sun God’ in fact would reincarnate as written in the ‘True Edition

Chapter Text

 

As soon as when the sky changed its owner, when the queen of darkness refrained from her throne and gave it back to its true owner, the ‘Sun God’, the time had come. The leaders of five troops left the cave and stood at the front facing down the soldiers who were waiting for their commands. They were well prepared both physically and mentally that they felt like they could never fight better than at this moment. Adrenaline rushed through their throbbing veins on the side of their heads and their necks.

 

“All troops match!!!”

 

At five different places, after the commanders gave them the order, the Corpus army started to move.

 

The body of Odoratus, one of the leaders of the Corpus, suddenly expanded and enlarged as he activated [Transformation], a special skill of Beastman race. Right behind him was Immolatio, the Tigerman that Lee Jihye had under her surveillance for the last day. However, Lee Jihye currently wasn’t here. She was running toward the big and deep cliff at the end of the mountain range running along the West land of Schiele City where the ‘Beastman troop’ of Odoratus were up to as instructed by Nora. There was no need to monitor Immolatio anymore.

 

Immolatio didn’t look drunk at all after all of the alcohol that he drank earlier on. He followed Odoratus, his father, and transformed. Other beastman in the troop also did the same things as they tried to catch up to Immolation and Odoratus.

 

Before Lee Jihye got to meet up with Yoo Jonghyuk, Kim Namwoon and some other people who were supposed to be her teammates, she caught a sign of the ‘Wyvern troop’ of Tactus flying from afar. So they would have to deal with these ugly birds in the sky, Lee Jihye thought as she found a place to hide and wait for the team to come.

 

Whereas Odoratus and Tactus took care of the West side of the region, Auditus and Gustatus would have to deal with the East side which was a wide area that had a variety of geographical locations stretched out; from the steppes in the North East to smaller and bigger woods in the middle that extended further South, and linked to a bushy and dark swamp connected to a big river that ran across ‘Mortal Realm’. With these environments in hand that allows many different species ranging from Light to Dark attributes to live, this place had become the perfect hunting ground for many new players.

 

Auditus chose the SouthEast region that would be more advantageous for her ‘Demon troop’ which also included other Dark attribute races. While Gustatus went toward the steppes and woodlands in the middle that might be easier for his ‘Elf troop’ to pass through and take control over the ‘Central Train Station’ that was only a fews dozen miles away from the stepped.

 

On the North, the top of the city, Visus jumped on the horse fluently despite her old age as she wielded the flag with the symbol of ‘Nightmare’ and said, “Let’s go.”

 

Without any delay, the ‘Human troop’ got on their horses and drove them through the forest ahead of them. By going through the forest to go into the metropolitan part of Schiele city, they would cause less notice. It seemed to be a good plan, if they hadn’t met Kim Dokja and his team inside the forest.

 

“The enemy is not far away from us.” Jung Heewon reported back to Kim Dokja, the squadron leader, what the elementals told her though [Communication].

 

Kim Dokja slightly nodded while saying thank you to the elementals that he could only vaguely sense the existences of. As he looked around the great jungle where trees were so tall and big that even if they looked up, they couldn’t find the tops of those trees, Kim Dokja estimated that these trees could at least withstand the weight of a giant.

 

“Get on the tree guys, if they wanted to give us a present in surprise, we should pay back as well.” The corner of his lips slowly curved up into a half circle as he told his squadron.

 

In a blink of an eye, all of the members of the squadron had successfully climbed up a tree that fit their likings. The people who couldn’t climb up would be helped or simply they just stayed on the ground and hid inside some big tree hollows.

 

Not long after that, when they were hiding their presence among the bushy branches of the tree, they could hear the hoofbeats of Visus’s ‘Human Troop’ getting closer and closer. Till the troop was visible in their eyes and almost approaching their locations, Kim Dokja signalled Lee Hyunsung to jump down.

 

As soon as Lee Hyunsung leaped off the branch, [Gigantization] was turned on. A big ‘whoosh’ of something very heavy moving through the air followed by the sounds of the grounds breaking apart and the scream of the ‘Human Troop’ and the bewildered neigh of the horses being mad and jumping around because they were shocked by the enormous entity dropping down from the sky causing the people who rode on them to fall over.

 

“What’s happened?” Visus tightly gripped the bridle so that her horses wouldn’t join the domino effect as she yelled to the people at the front. 

 

“A giant.. There is a giant here.” A voice answered here but Visus couldn’t see the person clearly because of the thick layer of dust that rose up from the ground which got smashed into small pieces of rock when that thing dropped down.

 

“A giant???” Visus’s eyes became muddy as if she didn’t understand why her troop would be scared of a mere giant. However, when the dust had settled down a bit, she understood what they meant by ‘giant’.

 

It wasn’t a normal giant. From the big hole on the ground were two big unknown objects that they thought to be massive pillars, but as they looked up they quickly realized that they weren’t some stone columns but they were legs of a Giant that was way bigger than any other giant.

 

One person in the troop fell on his feets as he tried to find the head of the entity but he saw nothing but just the legs. “Atlas…” He uttered the first word that came to his mind when he looked at Lee Hyunsung who looked exactly the same as the Giants who supported the sky on his back so that it wouldn’t drop over their heads as his punishment from losing in the Gigantomachia.

 

However, Lee Hyunsung wasn’t Atlas and this wasn’t Gigantomachia either. It was just the effect of [Gigantization] that allowed him to take the appearance of a Giant at its final phase of evolution in a few minutes. Without letting the time go to waste, Lee Hyunsung raised one of his legs up and stomped down on the troop in front of him. Blood splattered out and the dead bodies were squeezed into nothing but a mushy mess.

 

“How dare you!!!” The person whose friends just got killed roared. His eyes were shooting red, blood splattered on his face. The smell of blood from the one who just died stung his nose and turned him crazy. He picked up his weapons and ran forward trying to pierce through the legs of the Giant. As if the other soldiers were influenced by that man’s action, they tried to advance forward but their hands and legs didn’t want to move. They were paralysed by fear as an additional effect of [Gigantization].

 

Visus clasped her hands in front of her chest in a prayer and light emitted as she activated [Lion’s Heart] skill to chase away the fear inside her troop.

 

Yet, Kim Dokja wouldn’t let this chance slip away and before the light reached the soldiers at the front, he and his companions also flew off the branches as a rain of colorful skills fell down on the enemies’ heads. They were trying to kill off as many people as possible before they turned into phase 2 of ‘Nightmare’ because at that point, when they died, they wouldn’t be able to revive them after.

 

A flow of nature mana swift through them to increase their speed stats by 5 thanks to [Mass Acceleration] of Yoo Sangah when they were told to jump off by their commander.

 

“Attack.” Kim Dokja screamed while he unleashed his swords containing the power of Chaos and swung it, [Thousand Slashes of Chaos]. As the skill was activated, a dull grey line was drawn by the leaking Chaos from the tip of each sword on to everywhere it went by. Till a thousand grey lines were formed, corpses of dead soldiers also had accumulated into a small mountain.

 

As Jung Heewon fluttered through the air, she whispered a spell, “Arise from the hottest pitch of space and burned everything on its way to ash. Please come here.” This spell was used to summon the [Primal Fire Elemental] which was one of five highest tier elementals that had been found in ‘Save the World’.

 

[Primal Fire Elemental] took the appearance of a baby fairy as they were from the same branch of evolution with fairies. However, fairies could become guardians of humans when the plants or animals they were responsible to protect passed away, which Jung Heewon chose to do. Like a habit, she took out a bag of black coal and gave it to the baby [Primal Fire Elemental] before it even asked for it. The fire spirit quickly devoured the coals and in a fraction of a second, it grew with an exponential rate and threw its burning fists toward the ‘Nightmare’ and burned them off to the ground.

 

Although the [Primal Fire Elemental] didn’t grow any further than a halfling size, its fire was as hot as a mini Sun making the enemies melted away.

 

Right at that moment, over the other side of the battle where Lee Hyunsung and Yoo Sangah were fighting, because [Gigantization] had lost its effect, Lee Hyunsung also had already turned back into his normal size as he used his hard as iron skin to fend off the attacks pointing at their priests. Whereas Yoo Sangah and the priests were trying to do a [Middle Cure Wound] and a [Divine Blessing] on the warriors over their side lying on the ground.

 

“What’s going on there?” Kim Dokja threw over a question as he created [Black Hole] on the sky and used its gravitational forces to suck up the attack from the ‘Nightmare’. 

 

Jung Heewon also helped to clean up the attacks as she used [Silk Road] which made the [Primal Fire Elemental] go after and ate up everything that contained even the tiniest bit of fire element while burning up everything on its way forming a road for them. “Don’t gather in one spot. It’s dangerous.” She screamed over Yoo Sangah and Lee Hyunsung who still startled and stood into a bunch.

 

“Dokja-ssi, these people were acting weird.” Yoo Sangah tried to call Kim Dokja over to check the warrior whose eyes were turning pitch black, growled and dripped saliva out of the mouth like a wild animal after they were infected by a black substance coming out from the ‘Nightmare’ followers.

 

As Kim Dokja heard out the warriness in her voice, he shouted to the priests to scatter around and started healing other people, and Lee Hyunsung to take over his position and support Jung Heewon because the enemies had also started to take things serious and nightmarised.

 

Visus stabbed her own heart and the other followed. Then, a black substance shooted up from their mouths and covered their entire bodies as it started to take control of their bodies and turned them into the completed form of ‘Nightmare’, phase 2.

 

“I would come back quickly. Careful, not to kill them.” Kim Dokja padded Lee Hyunsung’s shoulder as he hastily withdrew to Yoo Sangah’s position.

 

Lee Hyunsung and Jung Heewon charged forward to the completed ‘Nightmare’. Jung Heewon would deal damage with her [Primal Fire Elemental] and [Fire Tornado] until the ‘Nightmare’ reached red-blood while Lee Hyunsung would simply smash them down with his [Single Blow]. He also protected Jung Heewon with [Iron Skin] when she was going to be hitted by a red-blooded ‘Nightmare’ that they couldn’t take anymore blood from while waiting for people who had trap or immobilise skill to tie these ‘Nightmare’ down and put them in the capture capsule that Nora had gave them plenty of.

 

As soon as Kim Dokja saw these people’s signs, he knew that they had already been infected by ‘Nightmare’. However, he didn’t understand where it came from until his gaze passed through the mountain of corpses that he killed and saw the black substance like black parasites crawling around on the ground trying to find a new host.

 

“Everyone be careful, don’t stand near the corpse of the ‘Nightmare’.” Kim Dokja used [Amplification] to warn his squadron members. Luckily, yet also unluckily at the same time, some more of their warriors also got infected by the ‘Nightmare’ parasite-like entity.

 

Yoo Sangah quick-wittily immobilised those new infected people with her [Twine Plant] and [Earth Bind] at the same time, so that they wouldn’t bother Lee Hyunsung and Jung Heewon at the front. Kim Dokja once again opened [Black Hole] to gather all the corpses and parasites so that no more people would be infected. Despite his hope for the power of Chaos inside those black holes would destroy the parasites, those parasites didn’t die but instead fused into each other under high pressure to form a bigger one.

 

Because they didn’t know how to cure people that were infected with ‘Nightmare’ yet, Kim Dokja decided to kill them instead when the effects of Yoo Sangah’s immobilisation skills still worked and they hadn’t turned into phase 2.

 

Kim Dokja bowed his head down to the warriors who got infected before he raised his hand in front of them and whispered [Curse of Death]. During the wait for activation time, Kim Dokja looked at the people lying on the ground trying to escape from the trap and yearning their eyes at him in desperation as if they tried to say to him that they were still able to control themselves, so please don’t kill them. And most of these people were the civilians who didn’t know that they could be revived. Kim Dokja knew it, but he didn’t know another way to extract ‘Nightmare’ from them besides kill them to force the parasite to come out. 

 

With that thought in his mind trying to persuade himself that it would be fine if he killed them now because they would be able to revive later, but when they were completed, there would be no other way to save them, similarly to those followers of ‘Sun God’ lying over there.

 

The waiting time got shorter and shorter.

 

3 seconds left, Kim Dokja tried to avoid their gaze because guilt was overflown in him. He understood that if he killed them now, the trust in them would be gone and after this incident, no matter what he did, that trust would never recover as new. But relationship means nothing compared to their lives right?

 

2 second left, Kim Dokja bit his lips so hard that it started to bleed red blood out as if he was determined. He had used to kill people in the scenario who had never seen the sunlight ever again, so this was only a drop in a bucket. It will not hurt that much right?  

 

Yet, when the last second passed, the infected people hadn’t died and Kim Dokja was clenching his first.

 

He couldn’t help himself but cancel the skill in the last second. Kim Dokja believed that there was another way. However, Kim Dokja shouldn’t regret his decision at the moment because his intuition was definitely correct. Right at that moment, he received a telepathic call from Nora, the one who was in charge of the North West battlefield.

 

--------------//----------------

 

After Nora left the city, he didn’t go straight to the mountain range where he would meet the ‘Nightmare’, but he took a detour that went through the maze to drop off his shadow clone that would notify him immediately if anything happened within the maze that Biyu, Han Sooyoung and Kim Sanghoon couldn’t handle. Although this made his journey a bit longer but because his squadron had the smallest number of all, it was easy for them to speed up and come to the battlefield in time.

 

As expected, when Nora squadron arrived at the location, Odoratus and his ‘Beast Troop’ still hadn’t come over to this side of the mountain range yet. Because he was suspicious that the role of the Corpus was to prevent them from intervening in something that the Animus and the Spiritus who they had never seen the face intended to do, not killing the people, or worse, they were aiming for both. Additionally, there was no way that they didn’t have any imposter within the city to report to them that they somehow was caught on and the local adventurers were trying to defend themselves. Hence, Nora decided that he would take the upper hand, strike first and take them by surprise.

 

“Crazy bastard.” Lee Jihye, the Bard stared at Nora, who was leading the troop heading up to the mountain range. She was furious because Nora chose to fight head on although their squadron didn’t have other higher level players beside her and Nora. However, she couldn’t speak on because she wasn’t the commander of the squadron and other commanders including Kim Dokja, Yoo Jonghyuk, the other Kim Dokja , ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Biyu also didn’t offense the way Nora assigned their positions as if they believed that Nora would be fine even without other people. Yet, Lee Jihye, someone who had never fought along Nora before wouldn’t think that was possible.

 

Shortly after, they quickly spotted Odoratus, Immolatio and the ‘Beastman troop’ skillfully jumped on top of the aiguilles that filled this craggy sharp mountain range as if it was nothing while they had to go in between them. Despite that, Lee Jihye still liked this way because it helped them to hide away from the enemies as they slowly approached them from the side.

 

Even so, Nora chose not to hide because it was slow to go through these aiguilles and they might miss the chance to attack Odoratus headed on. Hence, he signalled the troop to prepare themselves as he used [Fly] to turn up while they would remain behind to support with long-range attack and ambush the one who would be pushed down on top of the aiguilles.

 

As soon as Nora flew up to reveal himself, Odoratus burst out laughing and didn’t seem surprised at all.

 

“Hahaha. I know that there are some rats running around, so that is you.” Odoratus had detected some strange smells flowing in the air for a while already and he also sent some scouts to go up for an inspection but they didn’t find anything suspicious. This got on Odoratus’s nerve because he was extremely proud of his sense of smelling. This was also the reason the ‘Sun God’ gave him the name, Odoratus which meant for smell.

 

Nora looked at Odoratus, especially focused at his nose as he said, ⸢You have a really good nose.⸥ Nora himself wouldn’t be able to detect people only with their smell, so it was genuinely impressive, but he couldn’t give too much praise to someone who was his enemy.

 

“Why don’t you call your friends over as well?” Odoratus brought up Lee Jihye and the other members of the squadron hiding among the big and pointy rocks. He cracked his knuckles and his neck as he grinned at Nora, “Or do you think you can defeat us all alone?”

 

The Beastmen behind Odoratus also twisted their bodies around so that the muscles could comfortably work to their maximum capacity. Sharp fangs unveiled themselves from the corner of the mouth of Wolfmen. Bearmen also transformed to become bigger that they would be compatible with a normal Giant in height but much stronger in bruce force. Immolatio and his Tigermen fellows also prepared their sharpened claw for an overall attack upon Nora.

 

⸢I think so.⸥ Nora nonchalantly answered as he raised his two hands up in the sky.

 

With his movement, Immolatio also raised his eyes staring at the man standing in the middle of the air. According to the clothes worn on his body, Nora looked no more no less than an assassin but he didn’t understand why Nora would be so full of himself when he had nothing more than the ability to deal critical damage while having such low health points.

 

“Arrogant kid.” Odoratus wrinkled his nose and humphed when he told the Beastmen to strike him down from the sky. Let’s see who would fall first. 

 

Immolatio expected that Nora would die from the air bullets that their Beastmen just shooted.

 

Yet, Nora didn’t die that easily. He swiftly dodged it while still maintaining his hands in the sky. As if Odoratus smelled something weird emitting from the space in between his hands, he shouted, “All warriors ,attack. Do whatever you can to take him down.” Then Odoratus himself also asked someone to cast a [Fly] spell on him so that he could deal with Nora himself.

 

However, it was all too late as the waiting time had passed and the space in between Nora’s hand started twitching and opened up a dark hole. And something like a tree vein slowly crawled out from that pitch dark hole. As the hole expanded, the vein also became bigger and faster despite its size. The vein swung its body in the air and in a blink of an eye, the Beastmen who tried to fly became its first patients. As the vein wrapped around the bodies of those Beastmen, they felt their bodies suddenly weakened and died in an extremely short amount of time.

 

“Damn.” Lee Jihye couldn’t help herself but swore as she didn’t know that assassins had such a cool skill, if she knew this at first, she might also have chosen assassin class. She was impressed with it, mostly because it might be the most peaceful death she had ever seen. The Beastmen who died weren't even aware that ‘God of Death’ was coming to them instead of the ‘Sun God’ that they worshipped. 

 

But Lee Jihye had to be disappointed if she changed her class just for that one skill because it wasn’t a skill from the assassin at all because Nora from the start wasn’t an assassin, he just acted like one to blind others. Nora had developed his stats similarly to an all-rounder, so that he could easily learn the necessary skills from all the different classes to form his unique style of fighting.

 

The vein seemed to be not satisfied after its first meals, hence it started swinging around to catch the next prey. Because the Beastmen had seen its ability, they tried to run away or fend off the veins, but it didn’t work because the more the vein ate and grew, the faster it became. Some lucky individuals who were too far away or accidentally fell off the rocks when trying to avoid the vein got to survive through the second round.

 

Nora didn't attempt to make this as his solo fight and let them survive any longer that would increase the probability of using ‘Nightmare’ phase 2. He called out his team members to start their counterattack while he continued the third wave.

 

When the Beastmen who dropped down to the ground again hadn’t even felt thankful that they escaped the vein, they instantly died from all out damage from Nora’s hidden squadron which consisted of mostly thieves and assassins who had high speed and dexterity stats that was perfect for this kind of hidden attacks. Although the Beastmen had raised their awareness, they still couldn’t see where the strikes were coming from because their enemies kept hiding under the shadows of those tall rocks. The Beastmen, the king of the mountain, were having a hard time in their own territory. More than that, Lee Jihye also tackled their sensitive senses by playing [Song of the Wanderers] that buffed her teammate’s speed while slowing down the targets and causing their senses to go dull.

 

As Immolatio saw his fellow Beastmen were killed one after one in such a short time, maybe just some minutes, he felt an old and familiar sensation come back hitting hard on his brain. It was the fear of death that made his hands tremble. And because fear was something like an infectious disease, it quickly spreaded out to the other Beastmen who still survived till this point. The vine which was as small as an electric wire had grown into the size of the magical beans in the fairytale ‘’Jack and the Beanstalk’ was the sole evidence of how many people they had lost from their side.

 

Yet, what wasn’t the end of the vine because it started to transform again. From the shaking reflection in Immolatio, the vine branched out into smaller and smaller branches and on the tip of each branch, there was a leaf which turned into a hound when it fell down. The hound appeared one after one and kneeled down in front of Nora as they sneered their deadly sharp fangs at the Beastmen. There were three in total and also the true form of the skill [Descendent of Chaotic Abyss], an exclusive summon skill of Ctahi race.

 

⸢Only this many.⸥ Nora was disappointed by the little number of hounds that he was able to summon, with the quality of Beastman it just ate, he was expecting five instead of three. 

 

So the lives of all of his companions were used to nurture these disgusting dogs? Immolatio felt the veins on his forehead throbbing when he saw the awful expression on Nora’s face. Shouldn’t he, Immolatio be the one who wore that face, not him. The more he thought about it, the more he looked at the unlively corpses of more than half of the troop scattering on the ground, the angrier he was which might be the only down effect of this skill because it helped the Beastmen get out of the fear inside their heads and revenged for their companions.

 

“Advance.” Without waiting for Odoratus’s order, Immolatio charged towards as he prayed to ‘Sun God’ that he would be able to kill one of the hounds and changed the situation.

 

Maybe, the ‘Sun God’ actually could hear Immolatio’s prayer, Nora’s side started to lose control as they were infected by the ‘Nightmare’ parasites in the exact same way as it with Kim Dokja’s team. The support members had quickly casted immobilisation spells while waiting for Nora’s reaction.

 

As Nora squinted his eyes looking at the infected patients, with no mercy held in his eyes, Nora told the hounds,  ⸢Eat everything that had ‘Nightmare’ inside it.⸥ Because those hounds were nurtured by people who were infected with ‘Nightmare’, they immediately understood who to kill, they simply just needed to feed on those who they had been eating.

 

Nora controlled the hounds to eat the dead bodies of the Beastmen first in order to reduce the transmission while directing the unaffected members to keep fighting the Beastmen who started to pierce through their hearts. He had reminded them not to kill people in their completed form of ‘Nightmare’ because they would actually die and cannot be blessed by the ‘Sun God’.

 

But that reminder might be not very useful in this scenario because at that very moment, as Immolatio’s heart stopped beating and ‘Nightmare’, the black thick and muddy liquid shot up from his body but it didn’t eat up his body to control and complete the second phase. It wasn’t because the ‘Nightmare’ didn’t want to but it couldn’t when his body was no longer be able to use as it instantly exploded with the speed of light causing the ‘Nightmare’ to have no host stay turned into its original form of a parasite and started to swarm around.

 

Chapter Text

 

“MY SON…” Odoratus screamed out in desperation as Immolatio dropped dead in front of his eyes. Although Immolatio hadn’t done anything great or being a good son toward him, Odoratus couldn’t help himself to feel pain piercing through his heart when he saw his son die with his own eyes.

 

Nora didn’t know what happened but it might be a good thing but also might be not. Yet, not only Immolatio, but other Beastmen who tried to turn into the completed form also had the same issue, they immediately exploded without doing much leaving Odoratus to be only one who was still alive on the ‘Nightmare’ side.

 

As if Odoratus had never seen this situation before as well, he shot toward Nora without a second thought, anger and surprise had taken over his sense of control. His eyes with red bloodshot widely opened glaring directly at Nora’s face while his nose flared up and down continuously trying to catch a breath by his deflated lungs because of the weight of dead people pressing down on his chest. At this moment, fear was only a trivial thing, and the most important thing was he at least had to take the life of the man in front of his eyes.

 

“You bastard, is this your doing as well?” Odoratus roared loudly, sneering his sharp fangs while aiming his punch at Nora. He didn’t know what happened, hence he assumed that Nora was the one behind the death of the rest of his troop as well.

 

However, as Nora extended his hand out and stopped Odoratus’s fist in the middle of the strike so lightly that people might think it was just a weak punch if they didn’t hear the heavy thud as two hands slammed into each other, he denied, ⸢I didn’t do it.⸥

 

Odoratus tensed up all the muscles in his body and exerted a much greater force onto his first so that it would move forward somehow while trying to get Nora to admit to his doing, “Cut your bullshit. If it’s not you then who?” His teeth ground into each other so hard that the pressure could smash rocks into sand.

 

But things just went in vain because he couldn’t move his hand even an inch and Nora in fact wasn’t the culprit behind it.

 

⸢I don’t know. Maybe your enemy.⸥ Nora said, his eyes didn’t focus on Odoratus but shifted around to find any peculiar patterns from the ‘Nightmare’ troop. He didn’t find anything because there was no left beside Odoratus but there was something wrong with his squadron instead, or more specifically, the hounds.

 

The hounds from [Descendents of Chaotic Abyss] had already finished their meals and collected all the ‘Nightmare’ parasites inside their bodies. It was a good thing that no more people from Nora’s squadron would be infected by the ‘Nightmare’ parasites. Yet, the bad thing was the hounds got infected instead as their blood-red eyes turned into pitch-black holes, the saliva dripping from their mouths also turned into stinky muddy substances.

 

⸢Hounds. Come here.⸥ Nora called out for them to test whether they could still control their minds or not as he extended his hand to the hounds.

 

And the response was half. The hounds didn’t come to his side but it seemed like they were trying to fight back the ‘Nightmare’ parasite slowly invading their bodies. The hounds didn’t tremble, they shook in a seizure while whimpering some anguished sounds. So ‘Nightmare’ could infect anything that was a life form even if it was a temporary one like these hounds, that was what Nora concluded.

 

Nora exhaled as he threw Odoratus inside a capture capsule then went to the areas that the infected people had kept an eye on. Different from the hounds, these people were able to maintain their minds, which was the first phase of ‘Nightmare’. However, maybe because the number of ‘Nightmare’ parasites inside them was too many, hence the effect of ‘Nightmare’ on the hounds also was amplified, leading to automatic transformation to the second phase.

 

“What’s happened to the hounds?” Lee Jihye asked Nora, the person who was approaching her about the unusual behaviors of the hounds. 

 

⸢They are infected. Now they were a part of ‘Nightmare’.⸥ Nora answered Lee Jihye, the halfling holding a cittern which was a relic rank equipment.

 

It would be a bad thing if these hounds lost control of themselves and hurt other people, Nora ordered his squadrons, ⸢Get away from them.⸥ while telling the hounds to hold themselves because very quickly he would free them from the pain.

 

The squadron quickly moved away from the hounds, to the side where Lee Jihye was standing and Nora was getting down on his knees.

 

⸢How are you feeling?⸥ Nora asked as he put his finger up the forehead of an infected person to use [Inspection]. This skill not only allowed the users to inspect the surrounding environment but also the inner state of a specific object or even living things if they leveled it up high enough. 

 

The person who Nora was examined slowly couldn’t move his body due to [Paralyse] but at least he still could talk. “Commander, please kill me.”

 

His answer made Nora startled for a moment before he came back to his mind thanks to the sensation flooding inside his head from his fingertips. Everything else except the heart, where the ‘Nightmare’ parasite resided and found its way up to the brain was completely normal, hence Nora was certain those people were still only in the first phase and could be revived, whereas the hounds didn’t.

 

“Commander.” The person called Nora out again as if he thought Nora couldn’t hear what he said earlier, “Please kill me because I will revive again, right?” He repeated his will as a trusted smile was put on his face. He trusted that after he died, he would reappear at the train station, where the revival point was located while losing one level similar to other times he died inside the game.

 

It wasn’t a bad request at all but Nora stood up away from the person as he said, ⸢Not now.⸥ Nora declined the request because if these people died, the ‘Nightmare’ parasite would be released from their bodies causing more harm than good, so before Nora knew how to get rid of the ‘Nightmare’, he wouldn’t rush to kill them yet.

 

Additionally, as Nora turned his head around to the area where the hounds were howling non-stop, he walked up to them. He had to prioritise these hounds first.

 

Because these hounds were nearly there. They were trying to clamp themselves on the ground with their claws so that they wouldn’t run up to attack the group of people standing near there. The fight between the order of Nora, the one who summoned them, and the will of ‘Nightmare’, the parasite that was eating away their conscience was coming to an end with ‘Nightmare’ as the winner.

 

⸢Goodbye.⸥ Nora padded the head of one of the hounds which were the closest to him as he released his probability to release the hounds from the game. These hounds were normal hounds, hence it took a lot of time and effort if he used skills inside the game to kill them which would increase the chance for them to get into ‘Berserker state’ and get out of control. Quick and easy was his way to do things. 

 

However, something unexpected happened. As the first spark of probability was released, the ‘Nightmare’ resonated and reacted viciously to it. ‘Nightmare’, in the form of the thick black liquid, came out of the hound’s mouth and shot toward Nora, the only one who could use probability here.

 

Nora emitted even more probability, causing the ‘Nightmare’ from the other two hounds to also gave up its host to come after him. The hounds which ‘Nightmare’ left their bodies immediately loosen up as their eyes turned back to their original red color and they fell down on their knees in relief, leaving behind strikes of deep lines caused by their claws on the ground that looked like an abstract art from very high above.

 

So that was the way to get ‘Nightmare’ out, we should have tried it sooner. Nora smirked as he clenched his hand into a first to capture those ‘Nightmare’ in the middle of the air by his probability. He could clearly see how his probability was making sizzling sounds and disintegrating as it came into contact with ‘Nightmare’. They were eroding each other.

 

“Be careful.” Lee Jihye screamed out to warn Nora as the black thing kept crawling out from the infected people and heading toward Nora from behind. The capture capsule also broke apart as the ‘Nightmare’ made its way out, releasing Odoratus on the ground. Yet, Odoratus didn’t escape from his fate as he was restrained by the other healthy one.

 

Nora quickly moved his body in a 90-degree angle and extended his other hand toward the direction that was used to be his back and captured those ‘Nightmare’ that also already had left the bodies of the infected members of his squadron.

 

Despite Nora having released more probability, the ‘Nightmare’ wasn’t affected much as if it was created to deal with probability users such as Nora.

 

Lee Jihye who just ran up to check him out asked when she saw the ‘Nightmare’ floating in the air while emanating such a hostile aura toward him, “What are you going to do with this, Nora-ssi?” She pointed to the ‘Nightmare’ that was trying to fuse into one large orb and eating up the probability.

 

⸢I will try to eliminate them.⸥ Nora clenched his fist harder while probability aggressively left his body to trample on top of the ‘Nightmare’ in hope that it could repress and clear up the other existence. The freezing aura also followed the path of probability causing the atmospheric temperature to drop down instantly.

 

However, it still didn’t work as the ‘Nightmare’ was unharmed causing Nora to squint his eyes even harder.

 

He needed to find a way to completely destroy it.

 

Sometimes, two heads were better than one as Lee Jihye just gave him a torch lighting up the dark tunnel that they were going through.

 

“Why don’t you try to use the authority that Celeana-ssi gave you? It should be the most powerful within this dimension.” Lee Jihye suggested as she scratched her head. She wasn’t sure if it worked or not, but it was still worthed a try.

 

Her words recalled one line that Nora had read in the ‘True Edition’ as he mumbled it out. ⸢’Nightmare’ was the natural enemy of ‘Dream’.⸥

 

“What did you say?” Lee Jihye turned around to Nora who seemed to just say something to her that she couldn’t hear clearly. Then she suddenly received praise from Nora as the corner of his lips tucked into a confident smile.

 

⸢Thank you Jihye. You are a smart girl.⸥ Nora said.

 

Although Lee Jihye didn’t quite get what Nora was talking about, she was still flustered by his praise because Nora was goddamn handsome when he smiled. Most importantly, this was the first time she saw such a genuine smile on his face. Usually, he would be very calm or put a ‘social smile’ on to hide his feelings.

 

“It’s nothing.” Lee Jihye lowered her head so that Nora wouldn’t see the pinkish color spreading on her cheeks.

 

However, it was just unnecessary concern because Nora didn’t look at her instead he activated his status ‘Child of Dream’ and pushed it to the utmost limit as the system announced.

 

As the translucent yet sparkling probability of Celeana fluttered in the air, the ‘Nightmare’ reacted to it even more strongly as if it had to get rid of it. The black orb simultaneously formed a mouth in the middle as it roared toward Nora and slowly broke off the faint blue probability of Nora. Supposedly, its killing intended was amplified as soon as it detected the presence of Celeana’s probability.

 

Nora also realised this, hence he pushed the barrier even further. He was angry because ‘Nightmare’ was certain to be created to deal with his Master, Celeana. Yet, who was the one that would disappear hadn’t been decided, so let see whose side that fate decided to take on.

 

<You have reached the limit of your authority ‘Child of Dream’.>

  

Nora clasped his hand together while closing his eyes to concentrate. Lee Jihye and the squadron members also raised their awareness to be ready to react to any unexpected situation when Nora was around to warn them about.

 

Once Nora had opened his eyes, the system announced again.

 

<Your request had been approved.>

 

And in less than a second later, the ‘Nightmare’ that was still floating in the air vanished into thin air as if it didn’t exist in the first place.

 

Nora exhaled as he stepped back from dizziness. Using his Master’s probability made him didn’t feel so good. So this was the side effect they would feel after using the authority to eliminate the foreign presence that was as big as the globe of ‘Nightmare’. As he estimated, the amount of overall probability usage wasn’t so great that it would affect them any further which made him quite pleased because they would need to preserve his Master’s probability for other purposes.

 

As Nora was about to contact the other <Child of Dream> to tell them the method to exterminate ‘Nightmare’, he received a call from Yoo Jonghyuk, the one who was supposed to be still fighting now and the central administration center of Kim Sanghoon’s company.

 

Nora decided to pick up the call from Yoo Jonghyuk first.

 

__ I’m listening. Have you already finished?

 

Nora asked the other person from the other end.

 

__ Finish what, the enemy isn’t here.

 

The irritation could be heard from Yoo Jonghyuk’s voice. That was an unexpected answer because according to Biyu and Lee Jihye ’s report, one ‘Nightmare’ troop should be there already.

 

__ Not there???

 

Nora asked back for confirmation because he wasn’t sure what happened there either. Maybe there was a change in the plan. If that was the case, they got to find out about it.

 

__ Jihye said that they suddenly disappeared in the middle of the way coming here. I think they used [Mass teleportation] or some sort of scroll.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk told Nora what Lee Jihye , the dark Elf had observed and his opinion on what happened. But the point was they didn’t know where they had teleported to.

 

Nora clicked his tongue as troubles appeared one after another and the beeping sound from the line connected to Kim Sanghoon’s admin also made him even more annoyed.

 

__ Wait me for a sec.

 

Nora told Yoo Jonghyuk to wait while he picked up the call from the other line. Nora was glad that he picked up the other call because it was an emergency. A war between ‘Beast Alliance’ and ‘Land of Wyverns’ suddenly occurred and it was on the biggest scale they had ever seen. And ‘Nightmare’ wave was also detected on the battlefield. Most importantly, at the location where the maze was located, the ground was shaking as if it would crumble and fall down at any moment telling him Biyu’s squadron might also be stuck in some troubles.

 

Before he came back to Yoo Jonghyuk’s call, he asked Kim Sanghoon’s admin team to further observe the situation over the maze and reported to him immediately if the situation over there got worsen.

 

__ I know where the enemies are. Come to ‘Beast Alliance’.

 

Nora was certain that Tactus, the Wyvern King who should be at the cliff to fight with Yoo Jonghyuk had betrayed the organisation and came back to his land and took this opportunity when most of the strong Beastmen warriors were killed under their hand to take over the land that they had always tempted for.

 

__ Alright, I will go there immediately.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk on the other end hang up the call after he had known where Tactus was and how to deal with ‘Nightmare’ from Nora. He immediately took out a teleportation scroll and activated it to teleport them to the ‘Beast Alliance’, their true battlefield.

 

Meanwhile, Nora gathered his squadron in formation with Lee Jihye standing in the place of the leader, and the three hounds after they had recovered also joined the squadron. There was still about half an hour left till they disappeared, so Nora decided to make some use of them. Odoratus was also there because Nora thought that he needed to know what was happening to his country while he was away.

 

⸢Everyone is ready?⸥ He asked.

 

When the squadron all screamed out yes all together, Nora opened a [Gate] that would allow them to enter ‘Beast Alliance’.

 

⸢Follow commander Yoo Jonghyuk and survive.⸥ Nora gave out his last order as the squadron slowly went through the spatial opening. 

 

Lee Jihye stayed back as the last person. She hesitantly turned around as she asked, “Where are you going now?”

 

⸢To Biyu’s team. The situation doesn’t seem right over there.⸥ Nora answered as he smiled again, but this time it was another ‘social smile’.

 

Lee Jihye was a bit disappointed as she silently sighed. “Alright, be careful.” She headed back to her original direction and stepped over the gate.

 

As soon as the gate closed off, Nora immediately teleported himself to the maze because he just lost his connection with the shadow clone.

 

---------//----------- 

 

Over Yoo Jonghyuk side, after he had ended his call with Nora, Yoo Jonghyuk told his squadron to prepare for mass teleportation that might cause some to feel dizzy during the process while talking to Lee Jihye , the dark Elf and Kim Namwoon , the red Drake who were assigned as his teammates. 

 

“Nora said that the Wyvern King has sneaked back to ‘Beast Alliance’ to cause a war.”

 

Lee Jihye furrowed her brows in disbelief, “Isn’t he and Odoratus, the Beastmen’s leader, companions?” She asked because they were both inside ‘Nightmare’ and also seemed to be in harmony, especially when they all said they wanted to end the war between the two countries.

 

“Don’t believe those liars Wyverns, Jihye .” Kim Namwoon cracked his knuckles as if he was so ready to fight but there was no one to be his targets.

 

Lee Jihye , who was also influenced by the tense-up atmosphere, also loaded up her short guns with bullets as she looked over Kim Namwoon ’s shoulder to see if the people had got ready.

 

“We are all set.” Kim Namwoon told Yoo Jonghyuk to activate the mass teleportation scroll after they had gathered into one spot.

 

The air squealed a ‘whoosh’ as a massive magic circle enveloped upon them which was followed by a feeling of nausea as they quickly appeared in a distant region within the ‘Beast Alliance’.

 

Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t feel anything because he had developed resistance to it since he was teleported too many times, “Here we are.” He said to his squadron members who were still a bit wobbling on their feet.

 

Similar to Yoo Jonghyuk, Lee Jihye and Kim Namwoon weren’t affected by the side-effect. Because they were in a rush, Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t have time to properly set coordination of the place they knew, hence he let the system randomly choose anywhere within the ‘Beast Alliance’ and thanks to that, they got no idea where they should go. They could see where they were on the map but they didn’t know where the battlefield was taking place.

 

“Haizz, we should ask Nora where it is beforehand.” Lee Jihye sighed as her [Farsight] skill didn’t help much. With this skill, Lee Jihye hoped that she could find some clues within the 2km radius sight that the skill allowed her to see. But she didn’t see anything except innumerable and extensive grassland that was similar to their location.

 

“Can you call Nora, commander?” Lee Jihye asked Yoo Jonghyuk who was squinting his eyes that was buffed by [Sharp sense] and was considering her request as his wolf eyes stood straight up.

 

Without waiting for Yoo Jonghyuk’s response, from Kim Namwoon’s back, a pair of red dragon-like wings emerged as it spread out and flapped, lifting him up the sky.

 

“Hey, come down Namwoon . What are you doing?” Lee Jihye used [Sky Walk] to get to a similar height to the red Drake as she pulled his hand telling him to get down because she thought that he just wanted to play around.

 

However, it wasn’t the case this time as Kim Namwoon withdrew his hand from Lee Jihye ’s hand while telling her to come back down and wait with Yoo Jonghyuk, “I will go for an inspection, wait for me.” 

 

Lee Jihye was forced to come down because she couldn’t go up any higher. As Kim Namwoon had flown up too high, out of her reach, his black vertical iris turned golden as it scanned through the whole area from above. Kim Namwoon had obtained this [Abandoned Dragon Eyes] from a ruin that he accidentally found after he killed the dragon who guarded that place. These eyes allowed him to capture everything that the light could reach. And as the golden light swept through an area that they couldn’t see with Yoo Jonghyuk’s [Sharp sense] or Lee Jihye ’s [Farsight], a flash of image appeared inside his head. As he looked at the scene that seemed to be the remains of a village, Kim Namwoon was certain that it was the place they should come.

 

As Kim Namwoon came back down and told his companions what he found, their squadron hastily headed toward. Not long after that, they quickly found the village which Kim Namwoon had seen with his [Abandoned Dragon Eyes]. When they saw it with their own eyes, they became even more relieved because they were heading in the right direction.

 

The further they went forward, the more glorious in the sense of war, yet disastrous in the sense of peace the scenery became. None of them could be so calm looking at it. Remains of collapsed houses and barns covered the blood smears on the ground of the Beastmen who were peacefully living their day and suddenly, death devoured them. They tried to fight back but they were too weak compared to the enemies who were the users of the first phase of ‘Nightmare’.

 

In the corner over there, there was a corpse of a mother who died while trying to cover for her kid but unfortunately, both of her and her kid died by a strike of a spear through their hearts. And on the other side, there was another family being shot till dead while still sitting in their chair at the table having breakfast. It was war, so fatality was unavoidable. However, these dead people were warriors, they didn’t want to take part in it, they were normal people living their normal lives but death just came and knocked on their doors so suddenly and cruelly.

 

Smokes stung their eyes emitted from the burning crops and trees. The ‘Nightmare’ didn’t try to take away the land anymore but they just destroyed it to satisfy their evil desires of seeing the Beastmen suffer as what their ancestors had always done. The smell of blood was wandering in the air and got stronger with every step due to the mountains of corpses of Beastmen along the side also became bigger. It wasn’t just mountains of corpses but these corpses were skewed through their gastrointestinal tract with a sharp stick that was supposed to be their take-on-the-go weapon against the Wyverns.

 

Till one point, as they started to hear the sounds of weapons crashing into each other, they speeded up. In the middle of the harsh and sorrowful cry of the battlefield, a song fluttered through the wind dripping into their ears.

 

“Dear travelers, who seek freedom, have come here today.

Dear travelers, the messengers of the truth, please follow me.

Join us and you will be a part of the legend.

Dear the one who owes no debt and bows to no king, please come this way.

Another battle has occurred, another war is ahead.

Strike through the ashes of oblivion and raise your swords.

Save the pitiful souls out of their way to hell when they do no sins.

I now chant the legends and tales of the travelers,

To wake up the sleeping spirit through the whispers of the leaves,

To sharpen the rusted swords through the heat of stars,

And to rebirth you, the travelers as the heroes in my songs

And your names will be sung by children who lived in peace instead of war.”

 

As Yoo Jonghyuk caught on the lyric of the song, he immediately recognised that this was [Traveller’s Call] of Lee Jihye, the bard of his party which was used to spread the news of the battle and called for help from the people, especially adventurers passing by.

 

“Quickly, this way.” Yoo Jonghyuk waved his hand in the direction that he thought to be the center of the battlefield, where Lee Jihye was at.

 

Following the sounds of the song, they finally arrived at their destination. In front of them was Lee Jihye, playing her citterns to buff her companions which were Nora’s squadron while looking straight ahead at the biggest Wyvern flapping their wings in the middle of the sky.

 

“Jihye.” Yoo Jonghyuk called over for the halfling as he ordered the squadron to join the battle.

 

Kim Namwoon advanced forward as he took his daggers out from their covers and blended into a shadow in the same way that Lee Jihye did.

 

As Lee Jihye heard a familiar voice calling her name, she turned back and greeted the incoming person, “Master, you are finally here.” She grinned despite the blood smears on her face.

 

“What are you doing here? Where is Nora-ssi?” Yoo Jonghyuk asked as he shifted his eyes around to judge the state of the battle. They weren't too late because most of the Wyverns warriors hadn’t turned into the second phase. However, there was something else catching his attention, it was the three hounds trampling on the Wyvern's corpses and ate it up with the ‘Nightmare’ parasite.

 

“Nora-ssi sent me here to help while he went to Biyu’s place.” Lee Jihye answered as her fingers didn’t stop playing the cittern, now it was the [Song of Wanderers] again to buff agility and speed for the new people who just joined in. As she saw Yoo Jonghyuk’s gaze toward the three hounds, she added on, “They were summoned by Nora-ssi, they gather the ‘Nightmare’ and you can simply kill them later. It is more convenient that way.”

 

 Yoo Jonghyuk squinted his eyes looking at the hounds although he nodded his head at Lee Jihye. It wasn’t he didn’t believe Lee Jihye’s word or suspicious about the ability of those hounds. He was just a bit uncomfortable because of how similar those hounds looked like the [Hounds Chasing After The Abyss] that nearly killed him once inside the Dark Stratum. However, Yoo Jonghyuk quickly kicked that thought out of his head because it wasn’t the time for it.

 

As Yoo Jonghyuk felt his body become even lighter, thanks to the effect of the song, he padded Lee Jihye’s head as praise as he also joined the front battle. His muscles expanded and tensed up as Yoo Jonghyuk activated [Transformation] followed by [Intimidation] as he roared causing the enemies to back down and turned their attention at him. Yoo Jonghyuk didn’t use probability at the start because it would eat up lots of his stamina and while the enemies were still alive, it wouldn’t be a good thing to do.

 

“Another person who wants to die.” A wyvern smirked as it rushed toward Yoo Jonghyuk, the Werewolf.

 

Chapter Text

 

The head of the Wyvern was smashed into mush as soon as it was hit by Yoo Jonghyuk’s first that had enchanted [Ki Enhancement]. The wyvern had to feel sorry for itself when it mistook the fear it felt triggered by [Intimidation] for excitement leading to its miserable death. The fate of the other wyverns following the first one also didn’t change much as they lied down one by one after they landed down to fight Yoo Jonghyuk. Yoo Jonghyuk would become stronger as the number of his opponents increased due to the effect of [Lone Fighter], a passive skill that he acquired while joining the combat arena without telling anyone in his party. 

 

“Don’t steal all the prey like that.” Kim Namwoon revealed himself out of the corner as he grumbled to Yoo Jonghyuk for killing too many. However, he didn’t kill any less because he joined the battle even earlier than Yoo Jonghyuk, evidenced by the river of blood dripping from his clothes and the disturbing orb of blood floating on top of his head, [Blood Pool] making Kim Namwoon look like he was showered with blood.

 

As Yoo Jonghyuk was busy with his foes and striking out combat skills, he didn’t answer Kim Namwoon ’s critique getting him on Kim Namwoon ’s nerves. 

 

“Hey you…” Kim Namwoon who was in the middle of another round of grumbling abruptly stopped as he swung his [Carnwennan Dagger] to slice off the Wyvern that tried to attack him from behind into half.

 

At the same time, another corpse of Wyvern dropped from the sky and almost hit Kim Namwoon who stood in its way to come to ‘Mother Earth’ after it was shot with [Critical Hit], the skill that greatly contributed to Lee Jihye ’s nickname, ‘One Hit One Kill’.

 

“Sorry.” Lee Jihye quickly threw an apology to the Red Drake who hastily jumped to the side as she dived into the shadow to load her guns and prepared for another round of hunting.

 

Because not many of them had transformed into the second phase because Tactus, the Wyvern King who was busy on the other side of the battle looking for the ‘Treasure of Beastmen’ hadn’t allowed them to do so although their blood had been eating up from smaller attack from the member of Nora’s squadron, this was the perfect time to mass kill them.

 

As Yoo Jonghyuk used his two massive and hard iron hands to rip off the wings of a Wyvern causing it to fall down, he quickly rushed to another, and without waiting for it to react, he brutally gripped its neck and squeezed it like a toy making the head to drop off. Lee Jihye on the back also just stopped for a while to recover her mana before she sang another song named [Song of the Dead Ningyo] that would heal small wounds and recover the stamina of the people on her sides over time as they had also become a bit tired.

 

However, Kim Namwoon was an exception, the more he fought, the better he felt, especially when he was soaking in blood. Lee Jihye hated this effect of [Blood Euphoria] the most, however, she couldn’t say that it was completely useless because due to its effect, half of the corpse eaten by the hounds was killed by Kim Namwoon himself.

 

“HAHAHAH…” Kim Namwoon laughed in madness as he bit through the neck of a Wyvern with his sharp and jagged teeth and drank its blood. Because the Wyvern race was also a distant relative of Dragon, Kim Namwoon was also buffed by the effect of his class “Dragon Slayer”, hence there was no one more perfect than Kim Namwoon to be the MVP of this battle.

 

However, his bloody style of fighting wasn’t very fond of many people and one of them was Lee Jihye. As she approached Lee Jihye , another version of herself from the other worldlines, she asked as she worriedly looked at Kim Namwoon who just made some enemies explode into small pieces by [Implosion] and collected their blood into his [Blood Pool], “Will he turn crazy?”

 

Lee Jihye’s question was quite frequently asked because normally, a class that drank blood like Kim Namwoon would have [Blood Frenzy] which means they would lose control of themselves the more blood they drank. However, in Kim Namwoon ’s case, luckily, thanks to the [Golden Bracelet of Guanyin], a relic rank accessory helped in keeping his mind straight. As the effect of the bracelet, the skill [Blood Frenzy] also altered into [Blood Euphoria].

 

“No, he won’t.” Lee Jihye quickly answered as she stood up in front of the halfling and released the triggers. [Invisible Bullet] was fired from her guns hitting the Wyverns who tried to move randomly in the sky, so that it would disturb her sight causing her to miss the target. However, they didn’t know that Lee Jihye had trained her [Dynamic Visual Acuity] to the highest level, hence there was no way she would miss them with their pathetic speed when they were reaching the end of their stamina as well.

 

From somewhere, as they heard Yoo Jonghyuk’s voice yelled out, “They are transforming.” Kim Namwoon and Lee Jihye immediately stopped using the skills that would deal too much damage that could kill the enemies before Yoo Jonghyuk could take the ‘Nightmare’ parasite out of them.

 

Then, when before all of the Wyvern's hearts were struck through causing them to die in real life if ‘Nightmare’ was taken off their bodies, Yoo Jonghyuk violently released probability causing Lee Jihye to quiver for a bit. As Yoo Jonghyuk’s furry body was wrapped with probability, it reminded her of the time back in the scenario when all of them could still use probability. This scene was nostalgic in that sense when she was still a kid following him around with too much respect when she thought back about herself that day.

 

After the ‘Nightmare’ parasites had taken out of the Wyvern’s bodies, Kim Namwoon and Lee Jihye led the squadrons to clean off the rest. Because they weren’t influenced by the death penalty of ‘Nightmare’ anymore, they also didn’t have any mercy in killing them.

 

<Your request had been approved>

 

-------------//--------------

 

Came back about one hour ago, when ‘Secretive Plotter’ led his squadron consisting of Shin Yoosung and Lee Gilyoung coming down to the SouthEast region of Schiele City. As they just entered the hunting ground, they were attacked by a flood of low-level demons and monsters.

 

From a glance, ‘Secretive Plotter’ immediately recognised that these were low-rank demons that could be summoned by a ‘Demon’ with a reasonably high status mixed in the demon's wave. [[Strike through them and find the leader.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ gave out his order as he dashed forward while unleashing the sword on his hip.

 

As his right hand moved a bit, the sword emanating black aura swung in the air with the speed of light that normal human eyes couldn’t see while the demons in the radius of 3 meters were cut into small pieces by [Phantom Swords]. ‘Secretive Plotter’ had reached the level of a ‘Sword Saint’ as no one could see where his sword was slashing through, contributed by the skill [Phantom Swords]. Thanks to this, he formed an open path for the people behind him to drill through the sea of demons.

 

“Follow me.” Lee Gilyoung used [Transformation] to change his appearance into a massive Tigerman as he threw his fist forward in a curve to fend off the attack of the demons while wagging his other man to tell the others on the right-wing to come up.

 

Meanwhile, Shin Yoosung took charge of the left-wing. As Shin Yoosung hurled her lance that was enchanted with [Brilliant Radiance] that will increase 50% damage point to Dark Attribute race, her [Sigrun’s Juvalin] drew a straight gleaming line in the air while it pierced through approximately through about ten or so foes in one go. When she raised her hand, the spear automatically came back to her hand for another round of meat skewing.

 

“Gruhhh…” From aside, some beasts stood up their furs and sneered at them, the people who came and disrupted their days, in the same manner, they would treat the adventurers who came to hunt them. Because this was the hunting ground, hence a ruckus this big would definitely attract more beasts to come along and join or scare them away. However, if they could turn these beasts into their supporters, it would be a big advantage. And they had the perfect person for it.

 

“Gilyoung.” Shin Yoosung turned her head to the right in the direction of Lee Gilyoung to tell him this was a good chance as she avoided a Demon’s hand that was going to scratch her face.

 

Lee Gilyoung with sweat-soaked fur annoyedly answered while he broke the neck of another monster with a chop, “Don’t order me around, Yoosung.” He then quickly jumped up, breathed in a deep one, and roared. Shockwave emitted from his mouth causing the trees to shake vigorously as the birds flew away in mass. Most significantly, the monsters and demons to be paralysed for a bit while the beasts standing on the side got down to their knees bowing toward him, the ‘Beast Lord’.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’, who hadn’t stopped swinging his sword which was dripping blood from its tip, took the advantage of them being paralysed to its fullest extent as he whispered, [[Jupiter.]]

 

A black thunder tornado emerged from his black aura, penetrating in the formation of the enemies. Those black thunders were even more dangerous than normal thunders due to their immense speed and destructive power that could turn everything on its way into ash. And those paralysed monsters and demons were no special cases when they couldn’t do anything but widened their eyes looking at the death approaching them. This was one of the seventh skills in his [Incarnation of Calamity] combo.

 

After Lee Gilyoung used his skill [Commanders] in conjunction with the effect of his title ‘Beast Lord’ to drag the beasts inside their fight, their speed increased notably. Then when the demons and monsters' waves were nearly exterminated, an unfamiliar voice echoing in the air caught their attention.

 

“Your team is not too bad, ‘Sword of Disaster’.”

 

As they shifted their eyes around to find the owner of the voice, they quickly spotted out a Demon sitting on a branch of a tree on top of their heads. She didn’t even bother to hide. She seemed confident in herself and she got the right to do it because she was no stranger to ‘Secretive Plotter’ at all.

 

[[You never want to stay in silence, huh, Marchioness of the Dusk.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ lifted up his head looking at Auditus who put on a mischievous smile on her greyish face.

 

Auditus slightly dropped her lids down as she wrapped her hair around her index fingers and said, “I am just bored.”

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ exhaled. This was the reason why he couldn’t never like women, at least women that he couldn’t get his head around their thoughts such as this ‘Marchioness of the Dusk’ or Celeana. Thinking of Celeana made the line in between his eyebrows deepened. He wondered where she disappeared into when things were such a big mess in here. This was her responsibility, not his to clean up. Somehow, ‘Secretive Plotter’ felt like Celeana must be the one who plotted all of this thing up although she was not here at the moment.

 

[[Is it accurate?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ unpredictably threw a question at Auditus.

 

The smile intensified as she asked back, “What is accurate?”

 

[[The ‘True Edition’.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t hide the fact that they had read the book because he was certain that Auditus might also have had some ideas about why they fought against them, the ‘Nightmare’ because they had read it.

 

As expected, Auditus was agitated for a very short time before she came back to normal. Her interests about ‘Secretive Plotter’ remarkably escalated as she answered his question. “I don’t know. But that was what the prophet said.” She referred to the Spiritus, their main communicator with ‘Sun God’ and also the one who wrote down the ‘True Edition’.

 

 ‘Secretive Plotter’ squinted his eyes because it was a vague response. However, now they knew that they definitely had to pull the Spiritus out of his or her hideout.

 

[[Who is the prophet?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ asked because if they knew the identity of the prophet, they might be able to work out the traitors among them, who they had been speculating around but couldn’t withdraw a proper conclusion because of the lack of evidence.

 

However, Auditus had to say no because she didn’t know who the prophet was either because everything she heard from the prophet was handed down from the Cardinals, or the Animus.

 

Then the conversation between ‘Secretive Plotter’ and Auditus ended as no one else besides them understood what was talking about them. Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung only knew the part about ‘Nightmare’ and their organisation but had never been told about or read the ‘True Edition’ but from what they could see from the former fake constellation’s face, they were certain that it was something very important.

 

Yet, the silence didn’t stand long as ‘Secretive Plotter’ attacked Auditus first because she didn’t want to raise her white flag yet.

 

“It will be boring that way.” Auditus said as she flew up to avoid a strike from the black sword toward her.

 

Then from the forest behind her back, an army of demons appeared while screaming, “Protect the Marchioness!!!”

 

The wave of demons and monsters that they fought previously was only a warm-up round because the new demons rushing toward them now were all at least middle-rank demons.

 

Lee Gilyoung heavily stomped his foot down on the ground to signal his right-wing to get into the position while Shin Yoosung raised her spear ready to attack at any time.

 

When Auditus ordered her ‘Demon Troop’ to advance forward, they also started to fight. Lee Gilyoung started their attack with [Feral Roar] which worked more effectively on an army than in a PvP. The skill not only triggered fears and immobilised the opponents but also gave a temporary buff to his companions, raising up the fighting spirit as well as recovering stamina over a period of time.

 

Meanswhile, Shin Yoosung also summoned the souls of ancient warriors through [Einherjar] to balance out the numbers between the two sides. She also activated [Ragnarok], a skill that illustrated the battle between Gods and humans and temporarily increased all stats of the summoned warriors by half. 

 

As soon as, [Feral Roar] put the opponents into paralysed state for at least 10 seconds based on their rank, Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung led their wings and tried to kill as many demons as possible. 

 

“Crush them.” Lee Gilyoung commanded his beast army to tear apart the demon while he turned into [Berserker] state that increased his strength by double.

 

Shin Yoosung with her [Brilliant Radiance] emitted at its maximum level and the [Sigrun’s Javelin] pierced through the enemies that packed the hunting ground. The ancient warrior souls, who sided with humans during [Ragnarok] following her also didn’t just stand there for fun as they held their weapons and swept out the followers of ‘Sun God’ without any mercy under the lead of ‘Leader of Immortal Souls’.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ calmly let the kids deal with the paralysed foes while he took care of Auditus, the one who Lee Gilyoung’s [Feral Roar] didn’t have any debuff effect on due to her high rank. As ‘Secretive Plotter’ fended off her whip with his sword, Auditus clicked her tongue pretending like she was annoyed because she couldn’t hit him.

 

Then Auditus shot massive black fire from her hand to ‘Secretive Plotter’ at the angle which he had to avoid it to the left while she controlled her whips to wrap tightly around the sword at his blind spot. As ‘Secretive Plotter’ ducked the fire in the direction she had expected, Auditus tensed up her muscles and used all her strength to swing back the whip with the sword with it.

 

Auditus curved up her lips into a wicked smile as she caressed the sword which ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t grasp back in time. “You should be careful next time.” Her words were filled with tease because what could a magic swordsman do without his sword?

 

However, she wouldn’t have got the chance to take the sword if the sword was that important to him. ‘Secretive Plotter’ nonchalantly looked at Auditus as he calmly extended his hand into a fist and swung it as if he actually held a sword in his hand while he chanted, “Mercury.”

 

“Hahaha, are you wielding an invisible sword???” Auditus raised her eyebrows as she laughed. But the laughter didn’t last long because she was right, ‘Secretive Plotter’ actually had another sword that had the same name as his modifier [Sword of Disaster], the sword would be invisible to other people who represented mortals who denied for their sins causing the nature to be destroyed leading to those calamities. With this sword, ‘Secretive Plotter’ could show off the true power of [Incarnation of Calamity].

 

In a blink of an eye, with ‘Secretive Plotter’ as the center, a vast lake of lava emerged up from the ground. Some people who reacted in time quickly flew up into the sky so that they wouldn’t be burned by the heat emanating from the lava. This was an area of effect skill that damaged both the opponents and the companions if they didn’t jump up as the lava appeared. And because ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t tell his companions in advance, some of them were damaged by the lava as he heard Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung complained.

 

“Commander, can you please tell me whenever you use it?”

 

“Don’t kill your own squadron like this, ahjussi.”

 

However, ‘Secretive Plotter’ ignored them because the physical damage from the lava wasn’t the main effect of the skill.

 

[[Take down all the enemies.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ told the squadron to kick those who had escaped the lava back down to the lake before his actual intention kicked into effect.

 

The kids pouted as ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t explain anything at all but still did exactly the same as they were instructed because he wouldn’t do something meaningless. Meanwhile, ‘Secretive Plotter’ also used [Hermes Steps] to dash ahead with the speed of light and grasp the wrist of Auditus before she even recognised that she was caught and threw her down the lake of lava as he took back his sword from her other hand.

 

Not long after, when most of the demons flying in the air were forced to come down because their wings were ripped off their backs, a layer of red flame revealed itself on top of the lava, climbed up, and wrapped around the people who were in its territory. As the demons twisted their bodies and tried to take the flame off but they couldn’t because their hands started to burn as they touched the flame. This flame was a thousand times hotter and deadlier than the lava underneath them. Sizzling sound mixed in the screaming sound echoing in every meter square of the lake.

 

The flame fed on the demons as fuel and became stronger as it tightened its net wrapping around its prey more and more. The net pressed down harshly on the demons’ skin and tore them apart. And when the tightening process stopped and the flame net had gone deep down their flesh exposing the white bone, the flame pulled them down into the lake to finish up the rest, and gradually, the lake fainted and disappeared, leaving a mountain of white bone and black ash left on the ground.

 

“You bastard. You kill your own people.” Auditus, one of the few higher rank demons that survive the [Mercury] squealed out of her ripped open mouth as she glared at ‘Secretive Plotter’. This demon was fucking strong. Now she understood why the highest rank demons were so insistent in making him the ‘Demon King’.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ threw a frozen glimpse at Auditus as he didn’t care an inch about the Demon race, he didn’t take his role in the game that seriously. [[They are not my people.]]

 

As Auditus had expected this attitude of him, she just laughed it off while piercing through her own heart with other survived demons. “Let’s see who will be the winner.” ‘Nightmare’ covered her body and Auditus’s aura increased exponentially.

 

“All squadron back up.” Shin Yoosung yelled at the people who still stood at the front as she commanded her ancient warrior souls army to come up front to cover them from any damage.

 

Lee Gilyoung also did the same thing as his face turned more serious. He carefully observed the movement of the other high-rank demons to be prepared to react at any moment. As the demons turned into the completed form, something unexpected happened. A big gloop of black liquid that seemed to be ‘Nightmare’ crawled out from the mountain of white bones and black ash and entered the bodies of Auditus as well as those demons making them become even stronger.

 

[[I will take care of them. You two protect the other.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ squinted his eyes as he signaled Shin Yoosung and Lee Gilyoung to withdraw to the back with other people while he didn’t hesitate and wait for the demons to complete their transformation but attacked head-on.

 

With the black sword on his right hand and the [Sword of Disaster] on his left, as ‘Secretive Plotter’ joined them together, the black aura expanded forming in the shape of a large sword and when he swung it, [Incinerating Deadly Splash] cut through the sky and divided it into half while emitted shriek sound.

 

At the place where Auditus and other demons stood, as the black splash was about to hit them, they completed their transformation and opened their eyes, however it was too late to duck it as the [Incinerating Deadly Splash] had grimed into their bodies and exploded. 

 

Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung swallowed their dry saliva as they looked at the explosion pushing the second phase demons back a few dozen meters while the whole forest behind those demons became blank space as if nothing was there at first. How strong were those demons had become? If they were hit by this skill at the start, the kids guarantee that they would vanish right away, let alone still survive.

 

None of the demons had died yet, but none of them were not injured either, which might be the perfect situation because their ultimate goal was not to cause actual death in real life for anyone inside this battle.

 

Additionally, as the demons had absorbed all the ‘Nightmare’, might be because of their very Dark Attribute, they didn’t have to worry about collecting the ‘Nightmare’ again. This was the perfect opportunity to capture the whole. However, ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t have any imprisoning skill and the capture capsule wouldn’t be strong enough to hold them back, so he decided to activate his probability.

 

As soon as ‘Secretive Plotter’ released his Outer God’s probability, the Demons suddenly flinched as their ‘Nightmare’ cover broke off and the ‘Nightmare’ slowly detached from their bodies as a response to his probability. ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t fail to notice this detail as he switched to use Celeana’s probability to test out the ‘Nightmare’ reaction to see if it only behaved that way to his probability or probability in common.

 

When the translucent sparkles just covered his body, the ‘Nightmare’ wasn’t hesitant anymore as it completely ejected the Demons Yet, he didn’t expect the ‘Nightmare’ to react that strongly to Celeana’s probability which made him more certain that she was the one that whoever created the ‘Nightmare’ wanted to deal with. ‘Secretive Plotter’ increased the probability density to trap the ‘Nightmare’ inside an orb while Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung took care of the Demons who were unconsciously lying on the ground.

 

“What do we do with them, commander?” Shin Yoosung pointed her fingers at the Demons that were tied together.

 

[[Kill them. ‘Nightmare’ came out already.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ said without a second thought. That way they didn’t need to worry about these Demons going after them anymore.

 

Lee Gilyoung slightly stretched his arms out as he said, “Got it.” Then, those demons became the food waiting for being digested inside his beast army’s stomach as a reward for their hard work. “Good boy, is it good?” Lee Gilyoung happily smiled as he rubbed the head of one beast.

 

“Ew.” As Shin Yoosung canceled [Einherjar] to get her mana a chance to recover properly, she partly closed her eyes and her nose wrinkled while she looked at the scene. Her Chimera Dragon inside the scenario was way cuter than those beasts.

 

Although the noise she made wasn’t loud, Lee Gilyoung could hear it due to his sensitive Beastmen’s ears. The smile on his lips immediately dropped off as he cupped his fist in another hand and looked up at Shin Yoosung with not very friendly eyes. “You wanna fight.”

 

Despite the flame burning in her heart wanting to fight back, the tiredness she felt throughout the body saying that she shouldn’t provoke another fight because they might need the energy that they spent in those useless fights in other situations. Hence Shin Yoosung actively backed off for the first time and Lee Gilyoung also turned his attention back to the beast.

 

Meanwhile, those two were trying to keep peace, ‘Secretive Plotter’ was talking with Nora through telepathy.

 

__ You captured them? That’s quick.

 

Nora from the other side praised ‘Secretive Plotter’ for his efficiency as he continued to tell him about the way to destroy ‘Nightmare’.

 

__ Just use Master’s authority to wipe it out. It shouldn’t take too much.

 

__ Anything else important?

 

As he felt like Nora was going to babbling around again like he used to sometimes, ‘Secretive Plotter’ immediately cut in between and told him to talk faster.

 

__ Alright, one more thing, Tactus had come to ‘Beast Alliance’ and caused a war there but Yoo Jonghyuk was taking care of it.

 

And before ‘Secretive Plotter’ ended the call because Nora predicted he would do that when he just told him something that was unnecessary as someone had taken care of it and he wouldn’t need to go there, Nora hastily said.

 

__ I will let Oldest Dream for you.

 

That was the last thing ‘Secretive Plotter’ heard from Nora.

 

Then, according to Nora’s instruction, without worrying that he would waste Celeana’s probability because it wasn’t his anyway, ‘Secretive Plotter’ quickly destroyed the ‘Nightmare’.

 

<Your request had been accepted.>

 

At the same time, the beast army also finished their meals and came back to their home.

 

[[Let’s go.]]

 

After the short break, the squadron followed their commander, ‘Secretive Plotter’ to head toward the East battlefield where they would find ‘Oldest Dream’ aka Kim Dokja .

 

Chapter Text

 

It had been more than 10 minutes but Kim Dokja hadn’t made up his decision yet. As he shifted his eyes to Uriel , the Fallen Angel who was holding the scythe against the neck of a High Elf wearing a black cloak with ‘Nightmare’ symbol on the cap and ‘tongue’ symbol on his chest, and Lee Hyunsung , the Ancient Human guarding on his side.

 

“So, have you decided yet, Necromancer?” Gustatus, the High Elf and also one of the five leaders of the Corpus, raised his head up looking at Kim Dokja and asked. As he was tempted to say something else, the blade of the scythe pressed down on his throat and a threat of blood appeared on his pale neck.

 

Uriel , the owner of the scythe threatened Gustatus, “Don’t act like you are the Boss here, moron.” She despited his talking manner toward them, as if he was the upper person who gave out his offer as charity to them when they hadn’t known who would be the stronger if they actually got into a real battle. Uriel swore that if Kim Dokja hadn’t stopped her, she had already cut off his throat ages ago.

 

As expected, Kim Dokja also prevented her from doing so this time as he worriedly stepped up and pulled her wrist. “Please be patient noona, I don’t think he lied to us at all.”

 

Gustatus also spoke up for himself, “True, I, a High Elf, won't lie about the Lord's desire.” The High Elf race was a noble race that wouldn’t even lie about some trivial thing, let alone it was the word from the ‘Lord’, who seemed to be someone that they had the utmost respect for.

 

Uriel still squinted her eyes glaring at Gustatus although she had loosened the grip of the blade on his neck. Then she turned over to Kim Dokja who was having a deep line in between his eyebrows. He was surely uncertain about whether they should trust the word of Gustatus or not because it was still very suspicious. Who on Earth would forwardly raise the white flag immediately after seeing the opponents, especially with the prideful High Elf race who would never surrender if their race was not on the verge of extinction.

 

As Uriel kept her eyes on Gustatus, she recalled the scene when they just arrived at this very same spot.

 

----------//--------------

 

When Kim Dokja led the squadron to the small abandoned town, they had already seen Gustatus and his High Elf troop waiting for their arrival. Because they didn’t know what he was up to and also they had been in a heightened state of ready to fight, they immediately encircled them as Kim Dokja, Lee Hyunsung and her at the front confronting Gustatus, who seemed to be the leader at the time.

 

As soon as they had surrounded them, Lee Hyunsung immediately activated [Aegis] that helped increase his defense stat while covering for Kim Dokja who was with [Dominating Touch] rushing toward Gustatus. When Uriel was about to use her skill [Purifying Shockwave] to backup while allowing Kim Dokja to withdraw behind Lee Hyunsung because his strength wasn’t for combat battle. However, Uriel was forced to cancel the skill because Gustatus, the leader was kinda defeated, she guessed, because he didn’t defend himself and was easily pinned down on the ground by just [Dominating Touch].

 

“Heh.” Kim Dokja also seemed surprised as he yelped because he didn’t think his [Dominating Touch] would be this strong to win over a leader of Corpus.

 

However, Uriel sensed something weird, just from his pose lying on the ground. Normally, if someone didn’t react in time and was pushed to the ground, their faces would be on ground, rather than up toward the sky like Gustatus. As if he saw through Kim Dokja ’s attack and decided to turn his back at him, so that when he was pushed down, his face wouldn’t be dirty by the sand.

 

Lee Hyunsung also felt the same thing as he helped Kim Dokja stand up and pulled him behind his back. While Uriel didn’t hesitate and put her scythe over his neck.

 

“What are you planning to do, you Nightmare bastard.” Uriel bluntly asked, pointing her finger at his face.

 

As if Gustatus was offended by her rude word, he slightly furrowed his brows as he stood up, not afraid that the blade would cut through his neck.

 

This man got some gut . Uriel thought as Gustatus faced them directly.

 

“Don’t move recklessly, or I will actually cut off your head.” Uriel sneered at him just in case he did do something unexpected.

 

Despite the quite arrogant look on his face which was typical for any High Elf, Gustatus seemed completely normal, not a single ill will could be found from his appearance. As another High Elf angrily stepped up as she wanted to tell Uriel to take off the weapon from her leader’s neck, Gustatus slightly shook his head and told the High Elf warrior to come back to her place.

 

“Don’t bother me. I need to deliver the Lord’s message.”

 

Gustatus seemed to have a very high status as well as a strong influence on those High Elves, she immediately bowed her head toward him for an apology and came back to the line standing up straight.

 

Then, Gustatus turned over to them as a faint smile appeared on his face, “Should we have a talk?”

 

“Is that the message from your Lord?” Lee Hyunsung asked. He thought that the Lord must be one of the higher people in ‘Nightmare’, the Animus or if they were lucky enough, the Spiritus.

 

Gustatus nodded his head to confirm as he continued, “Yes, it is. But I won’t tell you anything unless you made a promise.”

 

“What promised?” Uriel jumped into the conversation.

 

“To support the Lord.” Gustatus firmed up his face as he looked over Kim Dokja who he guessed to be the commander of the squadron.

 

As expected, both Lee Hyunsung and Uriel fixed their gaze at Kim Dokja waiting for his decision. Because they hadn’t known who was the Lord yet, if they chose to support the so-called Lord, they might have to go against their own companions which none of them wanted.

 

---------//-----------

 

Kim Dokja had thought like them for the whole 10 minutes but as it didn’t work out at all, he decided to see it from a bit different viewpoint compared to his bigger brother and sister. He didn’t take the word ‘support’ that seriously. Depending on each person, it could stand for many different meanings and he could simply excuse as he would support them mentally or morally. Additionally, if the Lord was actually on their side, supporting he or she wouldn’t be a loss.

 

With the positive mind, Kim Dokja agreed to listen to the message first, whereas with the support part, they could deal with it later. “Sure, I promised,”

 

“Finally, you took a bit long, didn’t you, Necromancer.” Gustatus said as glimmer sparkles in his eyes and he pointed at the scythe on his neck, “Can you please take this one off?”

 

Because they had come to a conclusion and decided to treat Gustatus as a non-enemy, “Huh.” Uriel exhaled as she reluctantly removed the scythe.

 

Gustatus slightly lowered his head to show his gratitude before he stepped forward standing opposite to Kim Dokja as he extended his hand out. Lee Hyunsung frowned at his behaviour not because it was rude, but because it was rare for High Elves to lower themselves down and offer their hand first for a handshake with the Dark Attribute race, especially undead, the natural enemy of High Elves.

 

Kim Dokja accepted his handshake and introduced himself, “My name is Kim Dokja .”

 

Gustatus also did the same thing, yet he didn’t call himself with the name given by the ‘Sun God’ as if he wasn’t treasured it, “Please call me ‘Leader’.”

 

This small detail caused a wave of thought to emerge inside their heads as they started to believe more firmly that ‘True Edition’ was fake afterall.

 

Kim Dokja withdrew his hand while going right into the main problems, “So who is the Lord?”

 

Gustatus immediately answered as if he didn’t want to drag this matter any further as well, “The Lord is the current leader of the Dragon race who was borned with the responsibility to protect the ‘World Tree’. You might know her under the name ‘Autem’ as one of the Cardinals.”

 

Kim Dokja rested his hand on his fist while Lee Hyunsung kept his face straight and Uriel tried to remember the face of ‘Autem’.

 

“Doesn't she look more like a human?” Uriel asked as she recalled Autem’s face from her memory. She only saw it through images that ‘Secretive Plotter’ had given out during their brief explanation.

 

Gustatus immediately frowned at the word ‘human’ whereas noises abruptly emitted from the High Elves Troop. Uriel forgot that High Elves were the most loyal servant to any Dragon, let alone the Dragon Lord, the most powerful and honorable Dragon of all race.

 

She also realised that she just spitted out something not nice as Uriel instantly fixed her word, “Sorry I misspoke. I meant the Lord disguised so well that I cannot even recognize.” If those High Elves were still their enemies by now, Uriel wouldn’t even bother to do so.

 

This managed to calm them down a bit, as Gustatus regained his composure and replied, “Right, no one can see her true form if she doesn’t allow them to.”

 

“What does the Lord want us to know then?” Kim Dokja felt his eyes twitch non stop ignoring his command to stop doing it while he asked Gustatus. There must be something wrong with ‘Nightmare’ for the Dragon Lord to act as a spy herself.

 

When Kim Dokja mentioned the message, Gustatus’s face firmed up and his eyelids half-closed as he said, “The Lord believed that ‘Nightmare’ had fabricated the words of ‘Sun God’.”

 

“How does she know it is fake?” Lee Hyunsung asked because they weren’t able to confirm it either unless they personally could communicate with him.

 

And Gustatus told them that the Lord was one. “The Dragon Lord was the closest servant of God existing in this world, hence if he wanted to do anything, he would communicate to the Lord first.” Gustatus stopped a bit to create more pressure in between because the latter part was the most important as he also slightly raised his tone, “The God told the Lord that his word was misinterpreted and was taken advantage of by someone else.”

 

Their God was not wrong, the wrong one was the person who tried to exploit his saying and the only one in ‘Nightmare’ that could hear the words of the ‘Sun God’ was only the Spiritus, hence he or she must be the one who controlled everything from behind.

 

Kim Dokja, Uriel and Lee Hyunsung unconsciously blinked as they could clearly tell that the so-called ‘Dragon Lord’ was trying to justify their God even if the ‘True Edition’ was true or not, so that the High Elves wouldn’t lose faith in him making them easier to control. 

 

However, as there were many more questions that Kim Dokja had in his head, he continued to give them out, “What is ‘Nightmare’ anyway? Where does it come from?”

 

Gustatus thought for a bit as he said, “I am not really sure where it comes from, but the first time I saw it was when I knew it was called ‘Judgement of Faith’.” Gustatus slightly bitted his lower lips as he shifted his gaze through his High Elf Troop and exposed a fact that cause cold sweat to form on their foreheads, “‘Nightmare’ came from the black stuff, every single one who went through it and faced it would have that stuff inside their bodies.”

 

Uriel, Lee Hyunsung and Kim Dokja were certain the black stuff or ‘Judgement of Faith’ must be the disgusting entity living within the maze that Nora and Biyu once saw. As the chill ran along their spinal cord, they felt lucky that Nora and Biyu weren't caught by ‘Judgement of Faith’, or else they would have quite a headache. But why didn’t that black entity notice them like other people who went in there was another question that they had.

 

As Uriel secretly casted a [Mul Zibanu] spell which was an upgraded version of [Lie Detection]. If the target was confirmed to be lying, they would receive the punishment of Libra of the Zodiac. Since the start of their conversation, Uriel had waited for the great thunder to slam down on Gustatus, but nothing had happened since then which even further supported that he was telling the truth the whole time making her trust toward him increased by a bit.

 

About Kim Dokja, he was reluctant to ask another question because it might be triggering but at last, it split out, “So you and all the High Elves here had ‘Nightmare’ inside your body?”.

 

As expected, Gustatus flinched at the remark as a hint of disgust showed on his face. He didn’t want to receive that tainted power but they were forced to receive by the ‘Judgement of Faith’. No one could escape from it.

 

Without the need for Gustatus to say anything, they could already confirm it from his reaction.

 

As Uriel moved the scythe in her hand, tempting to kill them so that they could be free from ‘Nightmare’, however, she put it down because it didn’t sound right. And Kim Dokja and Lee Hyunsung , two people who were putting their hands on each of her shoulders, also felt the same thing. There must be another way around it, even if it was difficult, they had to try it.

 

Gustatus knew what they were thinking as he sighed while his lips curved up into a sad smile, “Please don’t worry about it, the Lord had tried but nothing worked.” That was also the reason why Autem decided to stay back because she wanted to find a way to get rid of ‘Nightmare’, the disgusting power that was justified and coated over with justice from bearing the name ‘Salvation of Sun God’.

 

Despite the fact that even the Dragon Lord couldn’t do something with it, Kim Dokja still believed that they could do it because they weren’t some normal people either.

 

As he was thinking so hard that his brain was about to explode, Kim Dokja instantly jumped up as he recognised that Nora was calling him. He picked up the telepathy line as soon as possible. The signal seemed not good as he constantly heard some weird noise.

 

__ Dokja

 

When Kim Dokja finally heard Nora’s voice from the other end, the call was forced to shut down.

 

“Weird.” Kim Dokja pouted his lips as he stared at his companions with widened eyes.

 

Uriel crouched down to look directly at his eyes as she gently tapped his two cheeks to calm the not-so-small-anymore boy down, she asked, “What’s happened?” Her eyes were filled with concern as outer corners of her eyes dripped down.

 

Lee Hyunsung also firmly supported his back as they heard Kim Dokja said, “Nora-hyung just called me, but the signal was stopped in the middle.”

 

This was the first time they knew that telepathic calls could be forcibly stopped, hence Nora must have gotten into some trouble already.

 

“Should I call him back?” Kim Dokja asked for the other two’s opinions.

 

Uriel and Lee Hyunsung didn’t hesitate to agree to his suggestion as if they could ignore Nora like they didn’t know him.

 

However, if Kim Dokja wanted to make a telepathic call himself, he had to activate probability and he only had Celeana’s probability in his possession. But at this point, he didn’t know anything about the reaction of ‘Nightmare’ toward her probability.

 

As soon as Kim Dokja released the probability, Gustatus and his High Elves troop instantly screamed out in pain as something black trying to come out from their throat.

 

“WATCH OUTT!?” Uriel reacted the fastest as she yelled out to alert their squadron while she picked up her scythe again before she looked over Kim Dokja and said, “that must be ‘Nightmare’. I will deal with them, try to call Nora.” Something in her head just clicked right in and told her that the black stuff was the disgusting ‘Nightmare’ that they wanted to eliminate. 

 

Then, she threw a deadly glare at Gustatus who she thought to not keep his promise of not attacking them, “You fucking bitch.”

 

However, Lee Hyunsung who had activated [Aegis] again, slightly padded her back and pointed his finger at Gustatus vigorously shook his head to signal that they couldn’t control this thing either, “Look, I don’t think they want to break their promise.”

 

“Tchah.” Uriel clicked her tongue as the black aura of [Judgement of Chaos], a buff skill to double the damage on opponents that share a different belief to her, covered her entire body and her scythe also emitted a sharp and cold gaze. 

 

Without the need to wait for long, the ‘Nightmare’ had completely come out of the High Elves’s bodies and fused together in a big sphere shape.

 

“Ready, it’s coming.” Uriel signaled the squadron to raise their alert and protect Kim Dokja by any means while he was communicating with Nora.

 

She was also the first one to rush forward. To her, fighting head-on would be more effective than waiting for the enemies to attack first because they would have a higher chance to manipulate the direction of the fight. Uriel wielded her scythe aggressively toward the ‘Nightmare’ as if she wanted to cut it in half.

 

However, as a loud ‘Clang’ emitted, the blade was stopped by its thick and hard diamond outer layer.

 

“How about this?” Because physical damage didn’t seem to work upon the sphere, Uriel changed to a magic spell combo that would inflict the most damage that she currently had in her skill set.

 

From her body, an illusion of a man carrying a big spear emerged. That was Lugh, the god of oaths, truth, and laws with his unstoppable fierce spear, [Spear of Lugh]. Then Uriel also added on another skill, [Gehenna Flame] as a black flame in the form of a big serpent slowly climbed and wrapped its body around the spear.

 

As soon as it completely merged into one with the spear, Uriel tensed up her muscles and acted as if she had a spear in her hand and threw it as hard as she could. The black flaming spear also shot up toward the ‘Nightmare’ and as it hit the sphere, the black flame quickly engulfed ‘Nightmare’ emitting some crackling noise as the outer shelf started to have some cracks on it.

 

However, the ‘Nightmare’ hadn’t stopped, it continued to make its way to Kim Dokja who had wetted his shirt with sweat because no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t connect to Nora which made his concern grow bigger and bigger after each failure. He felt like his lungs didn’t want to work anymore as Kim Dokja crouched down and hardly breathed while keeping releasing probability from his hands.

 

“Continue to attack it.” After Uriel managed to slow it down a bit, she commanded the squadron to keep shooting out spells that seemed to have the most damage on it.

 

While Lee Hyunsung put on [Keeper of the Great Cage] as he enclosed their area with a big cage with chaos power that temporarily prevented the ‘Nightmare’ from coming any closer.

 

“Take this chance.” Gustatus and some other High Elves warriors who had regained their consciousness and strength also lent a hand to help. Although their faces were still very pale, a glimpse of contentment could be seen from their eyes as they finally did not have to live with ‘Nightmare’ in the same body anymore.

 

Skills continuously flooded on top of ‘Nightmare’ and there had been more crack on its outer shell but the ‘Nightmare’ still didn’t stop and kept slamming to the barrier that Lee Hyunsung was trying his best to maintain. 

 

Suddenly, it stopped moving.

 

Following the unexpected stop was the image of Lee Hyunsung throwing up a gulf of blood as the barrier broke apart.

 

The ‘Nightmare’ had given up its outer shell and used all its strengths to break through the [Keeper of the Great Gate] to fly to the location where Kim Dokja was kneeling.

 

DOKJAAA !!!” Uriel instantly shot up and screamed in desperation hoping that she would make it in time.

 

But when they finally realised what happened, it was too late.

 

‘Nightmare’ was looking at Kim Dokja squealing out some disturbing noise. Shrkkkk...

 

Kim Dokja was startled at its sudden appearance hence he didn’t have enough time to react. The defensive skill [Bone Wall] growing on his hand still needed one more second to activate.

 

And that split of a second, everything seemed to be frozen. When they thought they had fallen into the hole of despair, nothing happened at all as the ‘Nightmare’ stood still in the air with something like probability trapping it inside.

 

Kim Dokja blankly looked at the probability in his hand and the probability surrounding the ‘Nightmare’, it was the same. But he didn’t do it, so who?

 

As he asked that question inside his head, he heard a familiar voice loudly slammed into his ears. He immediately turned his head to the direction of the voice.

 

[[What the hell are you doing?]]

 

From afar, they could see ‘Secretive Plotter’ rushed forward toward them. Just from the presence of one man, the hearts that stuck in their throat could rest assured and come back to their places in the chest.

 

---------------//---------------

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ who just teleported to the abandoned small town where Kim Dokja ’s location was shown on the map nearly had a heart attack. Because as soon as he arrived at the place, he immediately spotted Kim Dokja ’s frozen face looking at something black that seemed to be the ‘Nightmare’ whereas Uriel desperately ran over to the boy’s position. However, it would be too late when she could come there, hence it was a race against time for him. 

 

Without thinking, ‘Secretive Plotter’ acted along with his instinct as probability vigorously gleamed on his hand and wrapped around the ‘Nightmare’, stopping it in the middle of the air. This time, he had to be thankful because he could use Celeana’s probability because his wouldn't be as fast and as accurate which might increase the likelihood of Kim Dokja being injured.

 

As he hastily ran over Kim Dokja followed by Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung who were also scared to death because of the situation.

 

The first thing ‘Secretive Plotter’ did when they noticed him was to scold them as hard as he could.

 

[[What the hell are you doing?]]

 

Uriel and Lee Hyunsung, who hadn’t recovered from the shock yet, didn’t even feel sad because of his scolding. They just felt extreme happiness because he appeared on time as both of them screamed out.

 

“Captain!!!” Lee Hyunsung suddenly felt his legs weakened and crouched down on the ground.

 

While Uriel put both of her hands up to her chest, where the heart located, and said, “Thank god, you finally here.”

 

However, ‘Secretive Plotter’ didn’t look at them nor hear what they said. The only person that was visible in his sight was only Kim Dokja .

 

Why doesn’t he use the probability to trap it? ‘Secretive Plotter’ asked himself as he noticed the probability that was still fluttering on Kim Dokja ’s hands which hadn’t been turned off because the younger man was still startled.

 

Did that Nora bastard not tell him about it and let me do it? As ‘Secretive Plotter’ thought about the meaning of the sentence ‘I will let Oldest Dream for you’ that Nora had said to him before he ended the call, his fist clenched hard and he wrote down in his note that he would have to beat Nora till death after this incident.

 

When ‘Secretive Plotter’ had come up to him so close that he could hear his breathing, Kim Dokja finally regained the liveliness in his iris.

 

[[ Dokja -yah.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ gently caressed his pale face while he moved the ‘Nightmare’ away. That thing could wait because Kim Dokja was the one who matter the most here.

 

Kim Dokja slowly raised his head up looking at the older man’s face as he mumbled, “ Jonghyuk.

 

Then, when ‘Secretive Plotter’ hadn’t even had time to respond to his call, Kim Dokja out of the blue hugged the man, his two arms clung on the man’s neck as he snuggled into the man’s wide chest.

 

Yet, he didn’t cry.

 

It wasn’t because he didn’t want to, he just couldn’t. Despite his eyes had become red, not a single tear could come out. The pressure of the battle forced it to come back.

 

Kim Dokja hated war. He didn’t feel so good with it.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ widened his eyes because it was the first time in a while that Kim Dokja actively hugged him first while he gently wrapped his arms around the young man and lightly padded his back.

 

As if the other also could understand his feelings, they left him alone with ‘Secretive Plotter’ while they came around to heal anyone who was injured and organised back the troops.

 

After a bit, when ‘Secretive Plotter’ could feel the warmth came back on Kim Dokja ’s skin, he asked, [[Are you feeling better now?]]

 

Kim Dokja nodded, rubbed his head against the other one’s chest.

 

[[Then, could you tell me what happened?]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ continued as he glanced over Gustatus and his High Elf Troop, the weird strangers in his mind.

 

Following his request, Kim Dokja slowly told him everything from the start to the end, including the Dragon Lord, Autem and Nora’s weird call.

 

‘Secretive Plotter’ gave some small ‘Mm-hmm’ along the way to show that he was listening to his word. So Nora didn’t intentionally not tell Kim Dokja about how to kill ‘Nightmare’ but he couldn’t for some reasons.

 

[[Okay, you did a good job after all.]] ‘Secretive Plotter’ ruffled Kim Dokja ’s hair to encourage him while he lifted him up and both of them stood up from the ground. Kim Dokja had completely recovered and was ready to go again.

 

[[I will show you how to destroy ‘Nightmare’.]]

 

Probability sparkles in their hands.

 

As Kim Dokja followed his instruction, the cage enclosed the ‘Nightmare’ finally disappeared with the ‘Nightmare’ inside it without a trace.

 

“You are so good Dokja !” Uriel clapped her hands together in excitement because they didn’t need to worry about ‘Nightmare’ anymore when they already knew how to get rid of them forever. It might take some work, but they would rather have a solution than not.

 

Lee Hyunsung , Lee Gilyoung and Shin Yoosung also cheered and gave him some compliments.

 

However, it wasn't the time to relax yet because Gustatus, who had just bowed down in front of Kim Dokja and ‘Secretive Plotter’.

 

“Please come to the maze with me. The Lord is waiting.”

 

Kim Dokja nearly forgot about this as he reluctantly looked at ‘Secretive Plotter’ and asked for his opinions, “Can we???” Because he wanted to look for Nora, the one who he didn’t know about the situation more than meeting Autem.

 

The older man squinted his eyes for a moment before he took out a teleportation scroll as he said, [[Get ready, we will leave very soon.]]

 

Gustatus’s face immediately brightened because he had fulfilled his task that the Lord had given while he quickly organised his High Elf Troop to stand within the teleportation circle area.

 

“Why??? Shouldn’t we find Nora-hyung first?” ‘Secretive Plotter’ felt the grasp around his wrist tightened as Kim Dokja asked.

 

[[Nora said he would head there. So we should go there first.]] He reminded the boy of the thing that he forgot before he activated the teleportation scroll.

 

As a large magic circle fell upon them and disappeared after a few minutes, they found themselves standing near a collapsed building. However, as they were in the teleportation process, they missed out on a rare phenomenon that just occurred within that short span of time.

 

“What?” Uriel rubbed her eyes because the area above the maze was supposedly to be a field, not an old building with mountains of blasted remains in its surrounding.

 

However, Gustatus, who had come to the maze too many times, quickly confirmed that they had come to the right place, “This is the maze.” He pointed at the maze.

 

Despite the fact that they had come to the maze which was exactly Gustatus was hoping for, the smile on his face wasn’t visible anymore. It must be due to the reason why the maze had raised to the ground and it wasn’t looking its best as well.

 

“Hurry up, we need to get inside now.” Gustatus immediately ran toward the building right after throwing those words at them.

 

Yet, it was too late as a bright white light started emitting from the building. The light was so strong that some of them had to close their eyes, while the others who still could withstand dropped their mouth on the ground because the building collapsed and within that light, a figure of a man was flying out.

Chapter Text

After Biyu had received a call from Nora, she quickly made her way back to the Holy Square of Schiele City, where the maze was built underneath. Their meeting location was ‘Mr.Ron’s Kitchen’, a bar that was not too far away from the Square but still could hide their movements from the enemies due to its secluded location.

 

People would expect the bar to be empty by now because all the people had gone to the hideout. However, as Biyu peeked her head inside, she saw not only one but a few more people waiting for her.

 

“Come here.” Han Sooyoung waved her hand that was holding a lollipop at Biyu to signal that it was her while the other hand was putting on the side of her hip.

 

Biyu also recognised her and the other people as she slightly raised her brows when her eyes met Kim Sanghoon standing in his shiny Paladin armour next to the Vampire.

 

Isn’t the armour a bit too eye-catching when they want to go in secret? Biyu thought as she saw the man also noticed her presence.

 

“Hello, Biyu-ssi.” Kim Sanghoon slightly bowed his head, greeting Biyu.

 

As they were teammates now, Biyu also tried to respond to him although she didn’t like this man at all. [Hello.] Biyu said as quickly as she could, then she ignored him and turned around to Han Sooyoung to hear more about the plan that Nora didn’t get a chance to clearly explain to her. 

 

So basically, they would filtrate into the maze, find out what the Animus was going under there and stop it. Short and sharp but not simple as it sounded like because there would be a high chance of them being caught, hence they would try to do things as stealthily as possible. And the first thing was, as Biyu and Hasn Sooyoung looked at each other as if they knew what the other one thought.

 

“I think you and your paladins need to change into some less catchy, Sanghoon-ssi?” Han Sooyoung smiled although there wasn’t a single strand of laughter inside her eyes which meant she wasn’t joking around.

 

And Kim Sanghoon saw exactly the same thing as he looked over Biyu to catch a glimpse of her reaction. 

 

[We can change it later on if we need to fight, Sanghoon-ssi.] Biyu said.

 

If two of the most powerful people of the squadron had said so, Kim Sanghoon didn’t have any other choice than changing his and his other paladin armours into some lighter armour with dark color and didn’t make too much noise when they were moving as he sighed.

 

I should not have signed up for this squadron . Kim Sanghoon complained inside his head because the armours were shiny for the purpose of increasing damage on dark entities, not for glamorous and attention as the ladies thought. But at this moment, it was crucial that they were not caught, hence Kim Sanghoon and his paladin still had to comply with the request. 

 

They also put on [Invisible Cloak], [Noise Canceling], [Ghost Step], [Enhanced Senses] and other spells or equipment that would help them during the filtration.

 

Then, the door of ‘Mr.Ron’s kitchen’ slowly opened and emitted a small ‘crack’ when the wind passed by as if it was pushed open by the wind, not because someone opened from inside because there was no one being seen stepping outside. As they had moved out from the bar unnoticed, Biyu was at the front leading them to the entrance of the maze where Visus once showed her.

 

In front of them was a rock door with the Nightmare symbol, an eye inside a triangle, on it and Biyu in Visus’s appearance, because if the door was forced open, it would immediately signal the people inside, which was the dark entity that they tried to hide from. Hence Biyu decided to disguise as Visus using the skill [Shapeshifter] that was unique to the Doppelganger race allowing her to replicate all the characteristics of someone.

 

Biyu swallowed down her dry saliva as the eye in the triangle started moving around as if it was a real eye, evaluating the person standing in its sight and waiting for her to say the code.

 

[When the ‘Nightmare’ comes, all ‘Dreams’ have to disappear.] Biyu tried her best to make her voice and pitch to be exactly the same as Visus.

 

The eye rolled around a few times, scanning from her head to toes and stopped its gaze at her shadow a bit before the door slowly opened, revealing a long and dark tunnel which was the one she used to go through the previous time. Biyu as Visus slightly nodded her head at the eye as a ‘thank you’ as she refrained herself from going inside too rushly that might give some cues to the eye.

 

After Biyu had successfully got inside the tunnel and the door had closed, she felt her nerves just squeal a relief sound as they loosened up. Her palm also sweated a little when the eye started looking at her shadow, she was afraid that it had caught something from it, but luckily it didn’t.

 

Biyu pretended like nothing was wrong and started walking for a few minutes distancing herself from the gate before she said, [Come out guys.] 

 

Instantly, from her shadow, a person emerged. It was Han Sooyoung.

 

The eye decided to let her pass because it thought Han Sooyoung was another ‘Caesitas’ that Visus always brought with her. However, the main thing that caused Biyu to be that stressed out was the people who were slowly released out of Biyu’s slimy body. It was Kim Sanghoon and the other paladins. Because Biyu was certain that the eye would notice if there was more than one person hiding in the shadow, hence she took the risk putting Han Sooyoung in the shadow as bait to draw the attention of the eye to it while trying to swallow them and hide the other in her own body.

 

[Bleh.] Biyu, who now had turned back to her original form, stuck out her tongue as she recalled the taste of Kim Sanghoon and the others. She only wanted to taste good food, not badly smelled humans.

 

Kim Sanghoon, as a gentleman he was, worriedly asked, “Are you alright, Biyu-ssi? You tried hard.”

 

“Here.” Han Sooyoung gave her a bottle of water to swallow down the taste remaining in her mouth.

 

After Biyu received the drink from Han Sooyoung and took a gulp down, she raised her eyes and whispered at them with a hushed tone, [Alright, follow me closely.]

 

The others followed exactly what Biyu said because she was the only one here who knew what to expect in this enormous maze.

 

Because Biyu had followed Visus down this path once, she remembered where and when to avoid the traps laying out for intruders like them.

 

No one said anything during the whole walk, they just looked around, stared at each other and tried to replicate exactly what Biyu did, so that they wouldn’t accidentally fall into any traps that might alert the enemies.

 

About fifteen minutes in and they still couldn’t see anything else except for the very high wall surrounding and sometimes, some monsters wandering around the maze to eat up the intruders, hence some people started to feel uneasy as an ominous feeling kept rising inside their stomach. 

 

“Biyu-ssi, are we there yet?” Kim Sanghoon lowered his voice as low as possible so that only people surrounding them could hear it.

 

Han Sooyoung, the one who walked just before him, turned back and nagged at the man, “Can you stop asking?” She seemed to be annoyed.

 

Apparently, this wasn’t the fir