Episode 11: The Grand Scheme / Chapter 176: Lee Jinhee’s Vow (1)
TL: emptycube / ED: Obelisk
“How far are you going to go?”
“Including Flame-Rain unni, everyone besides earthlings?”
As he said this, Choi Hyuk gestured to his head.
Then, after thinking for a little, he said,
Unable to speak anymore, as though hesitating, he slowly shook his head.
While he hadn’t spoken in detail, Lee Jinhee could figure it out with that.
Gesturing to his head meant his target was limited to the Exalted Wings, and him shaking his head meant that he didn’t want to kill Flame-Rain. She could also immediately tell that he was being cautious with his words in case someone was eavesdropping.
Lee Jinhee made no response as she turned her gaze towards the window.
The hospital room and the scene outside its window were reminiscent of a comfy family home in the Swiss Alps. This was done under the healer’s recommendation, indicating that she needed complete rest.
Following her gaze and watching the herd of sheep grazing on the grass outside, Choi Hyuk took out a glass bottle from his inner pocket. The glass bottle sloshed with a night sky as though it had been filled with the universe.
“It’s the dark ocean. Other rare resources are mixed in as well. You only have one chance. 20% chance of success. If you can’t restore your sword, then apparently, it’ll take an exorbitant period of time to recover your retribution, which has fallen to the level of a low-ranked warrior.”
Chio Hyuk’s gaze fell onto the fragments of ‘Lee Jinhee’s Dream’, which were placed next to Lee Jinhee’s bed.
Even as he placed the glass bottle next the fragments, Lee Jinhee remained silent.
“I hope you can repair it. Also, if you can repair it… Don’t return to the Berserkers.”
At his words, Lee Jinhee shot her gaze towards Choi Hyuk. Her eyes widened and started to tremble. However, Choi Hyuk didn’t meet her gaze this time. His gaze turned towards the door he had entered through as he slowly turned his back.
He raised and waved his hand.
“Be happy, nuna.”
The punitive force Choi Hyuk returned with flipped the alliance on its head.
People went wild at the ‘Wolf’s Head Nebula’ that remained after the annihilation of the Blue Manes.
The alliance members, who grew up hearing about stories of the ‘mutts of the universe’ since they were young, couldn’t believe that those Blue Manes were now extinct, yet the ‘Wolf’s Head Nebula’, as evidence, swathed them with a thrilling sensation of realization.
The species they had only heard of in stories became extinct and had turned into a nebula… At this news, which was like a legend or a myth, the alliance warriors felt an indescribable emotion.
And eventually, the topic would turn to Choi Hyuk.
“The mood of the alliance wasn’t good since the monsters launched a massive invasion… But isn’t it amazing? Because of Leader Choi Hyuk, a worry of ours has completely disappeared!”
“Leader Choi Hyuk is creating a completely new legend in the alliance! I heard he became a transcendent warrior this time? I also want to fight under his command!”
Riding on this mood, Flame-Hell’s support base expanded.
“If he was powerful from the beginning, then he wouldn’t have fought a direct battle against the Blue Manes. A warrior whose strength goes beyond his low rank. Exalted Wing Flame-Hell’s insight in sending Choi Hyuk is surprising.”
“Is that how it is?”
“Yeah. To be honest, it’s amazing. While everyone knows Choi Hyuk’s amazing, who would have thought that he could take down the head wolf?”
“Wow! Exalted Wing Flame-Hell is really amazing! Ah, did you know? It wasn’t just Choi Hyuk, everyone in the punitive force grew immensely stronger! There were only eight highest-ranked warriors besides Choi Hyuk when they left, but there were 17 of them when they returned!”
Those who were prompted by Flame-Hell beforehand moved all topics towards Flame-Hell.
“That’s also amazing. I heard that the top four tribes’ rookies only went to safe battlefields until now, yet Exalted Wing Flame-Hell sent them to a ferocious battlefield. Apparently, the opposition was intense in the beginning. But the result? As you can see, there was a huge improvement. Normally, you gain more Retribution if you win against opponents stronger than yourself.”
Even the fact that Flame-Hell selected members of the expedition around members of his own tribe because he wanted to increase his tribe’s influence was glamorized as ‘him having no choice but to push his own tribe members into a corner because the opposition of other tribes was too fierce’.
Flame-Hell’s popularity surged, and on the other hand, the approval ratings for other Exalted Wings in opposition to Flame-Hell dropped.
“I heard Exalted Wing Armor-Desert severely criticized Exalted Wing Flame-Hell this time. How can he show his face now after that embarrassment? In the end, Exalted Wing Flame-Hell was right, and Exalted Wing Armor-Desert was wrong, right?”
“And what about Exalted Wing Light-Step?”
“Hey! Is that their fault? Who could have known that Leader Choi Hyuk would be so great? Only Choi Hyuk and Exalted Wing Flame-Hell could have known. Those two are amazing.”
From the highest-ranked warrior to the lowest-ranked warrior, they all seemed to be uniting under Choi Hyuk and Flame-Hell.
Even the timing was perfect. The warriors, who needed a mental anchor when facing against the monsters’ largest attack yet, consciously and unconsciously supported Choi Hyuk and Flame-Hell even more.
Because of this mood, Ryu Hyunsung’s funeral, which the Berserkers wanted to handle quietly, became a great event.
Flame-Hell personally declared,
“It’s the death of a great warrior. It is only right to send him off with the honor he deserves.”
Then it was exposed that he would personally attend the funeral.
Choi Hyuk’s position on this was ‘I feel like vomiting’.
It meant that his enemy, Flame-Hell, would use Ryu Hyunsung’s death as propaganda… There was no way his stomach wouldn’t be upset.
However, Choi Hyuk endured it.
Since it wasn’t time yet.
Yet this wasn’t the only thing that irritated him.
After returning from his expedition, Armor-Phantom came every day to negotiate sending Naro to the Armored Soul Tribe.
As if he didn’t remember how he left in anger last time, he approached Choi Hyuk deceitfully and tried to persuade him, saying things like how Naro could become an outstanding warrior once he possessed a proper body rather than playing a supporting role in battle as a spaceship, how they would install a top-of-the-line A.I. in Naro’s spaceship and even upgrade it, provide comforts to the Berserkers in various missions, give them Mission Points, or how there was nothing good about becoming enemies with the Armored Soul Tribe.
Since Armor-Phantom came across so polite, at first, Choi Hyuk asked Naro for his opinion again. However, Naro’s position was always the same. He didn’t want to leave the narolings’ spaceship and the Berserkers.
So Choi Hyuk rejected Armor-Phantom’s proposal as politely as possible.
However, today, he was surging with irritation.
It was the day of Ryu Hyunsung’s funeral so he couldn’t help but become irritated when Armor-Phantom brought up sending Naro to the Armored Soul Tribe again.
Choi Hyuk glared at Armor-Phantom.
But Armor-Phantom’s mood was also different from usual.
Unlike how he had suddenly started acting politely and friendlily during the past few days, today, Armor-Phantom was cold and high-handed like when their relationship twisted in the past. On top of that, it seemed he was angry for some reason as well.
Armor-Phantom flapped his large wings that were made up of metal and light as he stared at Choi Hyuk, fully releasing the vigor of a transcendent warrior.
Not long ago, Choi Hyuk had felt strained under his vigor, but Choi Hyuk no longer showed a trace of shyness.
Whether Armor-Phantom flapped his wings or emitted his vigor, Choi Hyuk didn’t care in the slightest. Instead, he growled while taking a step towards Armor-Phantom.
“Armor-Phantom. I’ve told you multiple times. I respect Naro’s decision. As his kin, you should also respect Naro’s decision. I’m telling you once more, but what he learns while completing missions with me doesn’t lose out to what he would learn from the Armored Soul Tribe. So, whether it’s concern for him or meddling, stop it. Finally… If you don’t have any intentions of cherishing Ryu Hyunsung, then leave.”
It seemed he was displeased by Choi Hyuk’s sudden impolite and provocative tone as Armor-Phantom flapped his wings.
However, that was all he could do. This was because Choi Hyuk was no longer below him in terms of strength or position.
‘… He grew this much through one battle?’
While he knew that Choi Hyuk reached the transcendent level, he had only now entered it. Armor-Phantom believed that he would still be able to pressure him with his vigor. Unfortunately, he was wrong.
When he thought about this, he felt frustrated due to the blow to his pride, but there was nothing he could do right now. He became even more pissed as a result.
After throwing off his frustration by crashing the metallic fragments that made up his body together once, Armor-Phantom took a step back and said, as if spitting,
“Yeah, this was the last. I won’t come anymore.”
He turned his back without hesitation and left the Square of Warriors.
Choi Hyuk, who suspected it but didn’t think that he would really leave without looking at the funeral, clicked his tongue in astonishment.
Baek Seoin, who had been watching from the side, said,
“You did it in the end.”
Choi Hyuk shook his head as though thinking about how it would be a pain and asked,
“Will it be a problem?”
“While we can’t know for sure… It might be helpful in gaining more of Exalted Wing Flame-Hell’s trust.”
“Then it’s fine.”
If he obtained Flame-Hell’s trust, then it wasn’t a loss even if he was hated by the Armored Soul Tribe since his immediate goal was getting close to Flame-Hell.
Choi Hyuk brushed off these thoughts and looked up at the Tower of Warriors. A tower created by gathering the karma weapons of all the warriors who had passed. While looking at the karma weapons’ swaying silhouettes, he suddenly asked,
“Soon… Ryu hyung’s weapon will enter there.”
Then Baek Seoin, who was silent for a moment, cautiously asked,
“Anyways, how is… Jinhee?”
“I told her what I wanted to do. But it seems… She still needs to recuperate.”
Choi Hyuk and Baek Seoin thought about Lee Jinhee, who had yet to arrive at the Square of Warriors.
‘She might not come.’
As soon as he thought this, Choi Hyuk unconsciously mumbled,
“It’s probably better if she didn’t…”
Yeah, not coming would be better.
Flame-Hell would appear soon and the ceremony would begin. Then by mourning Ryu Hyunsung’s death extravagantly, it would be used to raise Flame-Hell’s popularity. Choi Hyuk thought that it was better to not come, using having to recuperate as an excuse rather than to see that.
Beside him, Baek Seoin subtly nodded his head.
“… That’s right. It’s not like we won’t see her ever again.”
‘The calculations of revenge.’
Lee Jinhee mumbled.
Revenge was revenge, nothing more.
It wasn’t wishing for the repentance of one’s enemies or searching for one’s happiness.
It wasn’t a trial nor was it a realization of justice.
It was simply inflicting someone else with the same or more pain that one had received. In order to show them the depth of their pain.
That was all. It wasn’t for anything.
Since it was ruined.
All those crazy for revenge had left was the world that made them go crazy in the first place, there wasn’t a reason.
“That’s why it’s fruitless.”
Lee Jinhee repeated,
Her gaze landed on the fragments of her shattered sword.
Her shattered dream.
Her dream, which was to fight so that they could live happily together, was currently in pieces.
Yet, she smiled. She brushed her fingertips against the shattered sword fragments.
Having fallen to the level of a low-ranked warrior after her karma sword, which was like a soul companion, shattered, her fingers couldn’t bear the energy of the fragments of the Sword of Sentiment and were soon soaked in blood.
She received the dripping blood with her other hand. It was warm.
“Still, since I’m still alive, I can get revenge.”
A single teardrop fell from her smiling face.
After lowering her head for a while, she stood up with a resolved face, and then took her shattered sword and the glass bottle Choi Hyuk left behind and left.