Episode 3: Age of Ghosts / Chapter 33: Break Time (1)
“Did you hear? They say people came out from Kangdong District!”
“Really? Are they okay?”
“Search for their pictures. They are so savage.”
“Just what happened… Holy shit. They have swords and armor…”
“Whoa… They say that people came out from Seongbuk District and Mapo District too. Just what happened inside?”
“That we don’t know…”
“Then I wonder if the missing military will come back?”
“I don’t know… Fuck, I just wish all this ends quickly. No one is able to do anything and the world is becoming a mess.”
Choi Hyuk was completely exhausted but due to Baek Seoin’s Intuition, they were able to escape without difficulty.
As soon as they escaped from Kangdong District, a message appeared.[After a 3-day break, your mission will begin.]
To be happy about having a break or to despair at the fact that they had another mission…
“Ah, what. There’s more?”
Lee Jinhee, who was sort of hoping that everything would end after they escaped Kangdong District, kicked the ground in irritation.
“Of course. Do you think they gave us this power for nothing? They probably gave it to us because there’s some reason.”
Said Baek Seoin as if it was obvious, however, his voice couldn’t help but contain a bit of disappointment.
Chu Youngjin didn’t say a word.
The scene of the city in front of them… was unfamiliar.
“This place is fine.”
Stated Baek Seoin. Choi Hyuk nodded.
When Choi Hyuk scanned the city, he couldn’t help but think that perhaps his mother was okay after all.
“The King without Subjects.”
As Choi Hyuk’s group exited the transparent wall, the people nearby started to murmur. Choi Hyuk’s group had escaped a day later than the others. It was partly due to the fact that they started late and also because they had to take a longer path to avoid monsters.
“I don’t see any policemen or soldiers.”
Baek Seoin was right. They didn’t see any military power that could maintain order. At least, the fire department seemed to have taken that role. However, they weren’t able to properly control the situation. There was no way that civilians without any firearms could face warriors who had karma. Even if they tried to investigate what had actually happened, the survivors would get pissed off if they didn’t receive food, clothes, living quarters and other things.
The kings of each group had gone to a meeting with the president last night and hadn’t come out yet.
“Jung Minji’s words might actually be right.”
Choi Hyuk recalled Jung Minji’s speculation that the police and military might be on their own mission. Just where were they and what were they doing? It could even be that the mission they would receive after the break would have something to do with them.
Thinking about it, Choi Hyuk felt bad. It was expected. For Jung Minji to die and for her death to be so unpleasant.
When Chu Youngjin first told him that Jung Minji might have died, Choi Hyuk felt his mind go blank.
He was indifferent about the deaths of others until now. He didn’t really feel sad. Perhaps his indifference was because he didn’t think others as his equal which was why their deaths never heavily impacted him emotionally.
While the annihilation of the suicide squad did send ripples in his heart, he was more dispirited than sad. An ‘everyone is so weak…’ loneliness.
But, Jung Minji’s death was different. He couldn’t believe it and when he heard it, he was really shocked. It was because Choi Hyuk had accepted her as his equal. It wasn’t because she was good at fighting but because she was strong as a person.
She was able to see things that he couldn’t see and was able to move people in ways he couldn’t. When he cooperated with her, Choi Hyuk felt his back was covered. For her to have died in vain, Choi Hyuk felt sad. He had thought that he would be able to continue to cooperate with her in the future…
However, Choi Hyuk hurriedly forgot about his sadness. As there were much more pressing matters.
“What are you all going to do?”
Choi Hyuk asked them…
“I don’t have anywhere to go.”
Baek Seoin’s reply.
“I’m going to come back after seeing my mom.”
“… I have nowhere to go.”
Choi Hyuk nodded his head and said.
“I have to go somewhere so I’ll be back. Let’s meet back here tomorrow or the day after.”
“Where are you going?”
“To find my mom. At Seongbuk District.”
Baek Seoin wordless grabbed Choi Hyuk’s shoulder, hoping for the best.
The group went on the main road between the tents. It became noisier where they passed. People who were walking hurriedly made way. Public officials who watched this tilted their heads in curiosity.
Choi Hyuk occasionally felt fear and anxiety in the people’s gazes.
‘Yeah, you guys probably have a guilty conscience.’
However, he decided not to care about it now. His mother was first.
Choi Hyuk separated from his comrades and kicked the ground.
With a single leap, he was able to jump tens of meters.
“He got even stronger…”
Said someone with a terrified expression.
“Wha.. What the!”
The spectating public officials had lost sight of Choi Hyuk and were looking around frantically. In their eyes, it looked like Choi Hyuk had just vanished.
When he arrived at Hyehwa Station, he kicked the ground.
The ground exploded. The surrounding people freaked out as they moved back but Choi Hyuk didn’t have the time to care about them.
On his way to Hyehwa, he was quite happy. The city was quite unscathed and the hope that his mother was still alive inflated in his chest.
However, when he arrived at Seongbuk District, he felt suffocated. A transparent wall. It was the same as the one he saw in Kangdong District. It meant one thing – his mother had to participate in the game of death.
It felt like his stomach was being scraped with a blade. Would he even be able to find any news about her? Would she have died without leaving any traces?
His imagination went off and Choi Hyuk was about to go crazy.
He frantically looked for someone and asked.
“Have you seen someone called Choi Miyeon? She’s in her mid-forties.”
When he spoke her name, a bitter taste rose to his mouth. His mother who had cared for him as a single mother. This was why Choi Hyuk used his mother’s last name instead of his father’s without anyone’s knowledge.
The person who shared his last name. His only family. Even while he said her name, he was already partly in despair.
However, he received an unexpected reply.
“Choi Miyeon… Choi Miyeon? Huh? Where have I heard about her? Choi Miyeon… mid-forties… Ah! Are you talking about the saintess?”
This was the reply of the first person he asked.
If there was the Guardian Bae Jinman of Kangdong District, then there was the Saintess Choi Miyeon of Seongbuk District.
Choi Hyuk was able to find news about his mother without much difficulty.
A [Ring of Rebirth] had appeared in Choi Miyeon’s office.
“Assistant Manager Kang… please come up.”
Lee Kyungsoo, who was a new recruit, called out to Assistant Manager Kang. Though Assistant Manager Kang would beat and push Lee Kyungsoo around in and out of the company, physically, he was no match for the new recruit.
While Lee Kyungsoo was over 180cm tall and a martial artist who had practiced kickboxing since young, Assistant Manager Kang was a clumsy person who had just barely exceed 160cm and had no history of playing any sports.
“Uh… Uh, why are you like this? Kyungsoo! It’s me, your hyung! I’m Assistant Manager Kang.”
Thud, thud. As he approached the ring as if being pulled by something, Assistant Manager Kang pleaded for mercy.
“Shut up and just get up here…”
Lee Kyungsoo had no thoughts of letting him go.
However, a person pushed Assistant Manager Kang away and jumped up onto the ring.
A woman in her forties. It was Choi Miyeon.
“Ah… Chief Designer, why?”
Lee Kyungsoo who had no intentions of killing a woman fell into a dilemma. To this Lee Kyungsoo, Choi Miyeon sternly said.
“Don’t do this.”
“Even if you say that… there’s nothing I can do if I want to live. And Assistant Manager Kang has nothing to say even if I beat him to death. Please go down. Ah… you can’t go down? Ah fuck, why did you have to come up…!”
Lee Kyungsoo was suddenly irritated. He felt that he wouldn’t feel guilty if he killed Assistant Manager Kang but why did Chief Designer Choi Miyeon have to step in? She had even treated him nicely up until now.
“Let’s not fight.”
“Ah, then what do you want me to do?! Do you want all of us to just die?”
“Yeah. Let’s do that.”
Lee Kyungsoo looked at Choi Miyeon as if she was crazy.
However, Choi Miyeon tried to persuade him with a strong belief.
“I have to kill someone else to live? Then does that mean I should live following the rules like a chess piece? No. We are not puppets. Instead of being forced and living as a puppet… let’s just die as humans.”
Her voice was low and her eyes were like burning like embers.
Lee Kyungsoo was completely speechless. After being momentarily at loss for words, he opened his mouth full of sarcasm.
“You do that. I don’t want to die.”
And as if he was a bit uncomfortable, he added.
“It’s not my fault. One side has to die when they come up. I never called chief out.”
Lee Kyungsoo swung his fist. As he was trained, it was a blow that contained both karma and skill. However, Choi Miyeon’s reaction was quicker. She avoided his fist, grabbed and pulled his arm and put him down.
“Uk? Uk! Let go!”
“I’m not going to let anyone fight.”
Choi Miyeon’s technique was so exquisite that Lee Kyung couldn’t get out no matter how he tried. Every time he tried to escape, the pressure only became stronger. She was strong but her skill was overwhelming.
‘What kind of woman…’
Lee Kyungsoo, whose pride had taken a blow, tried even harder but it was to no use.
An hour had passed with them thrashing about.
A new word appeared above the ring.[Draw]
Choi Miyeon and Lee Kyungsoo were both pushed out of the ring at the same time. People looked at this scene with dumbfounded expressions… It was unreal.
That petite Chief Designer Choi Miyeon who never stopped smiling… suppressed a robust man to the point he couldn’t do anything?
However, even in this situation, there was someone who moved quicker than anyone else. It was Assistant Manager Kang. The Assistant Manager Kang who was about to die by Lee Kyungsoo’s hands and was saved by Choi Miyeon, precisely that Assistant Manager Kang.
“Min Sori! Get up!”
He shouted out like lightning as soon as he entered the ring.
She was the youngest and smallest cute female employee. Min Sori’s face paled.
But Choi Miyeon entered the ring again. Even while panting, she suppressed Assistant Manager Kang for another hour.
[Draw] [Draw] [Draw]
“Ah! Really! Chief, why are you doing this!”
As time passed, people started to get heated up. They were hungry. They wanted to go to the washroom. They wanted to sleep.
However, Choi Miyeon kept her mouth shut. Even when her internals were injured and blood seeped up to her mouth or when her hair was pulled out and the corner of her eye was ripped or when her ribs were broken, she stubbornly held on and dragged it out to a [draw].
‘I still have it.’
She faintly smiled. When she was young, her father would often beat her mother. Choi Miyeon put her life on the line as she tried to stop her father. This was the only time when she had ever faced another person.
‘Now that I think about it, Hyuk might have gotten it from me.’
When she thought about it now, it was possible. When she looked back at how she held her father back even as her body became bloody at such a young age, it was possible. It was the same now. Even Lee Kyungsoo who was known to be good at fighting couldn’t do anything to her.
And that was how 24 hours had passed.
[24 hours have passed since the first match. No more time remaining. A hidden rule has been applied. Choi Miyeon, 11 draws. 7 people attempted to fight, 23 spectators. Calculating karma… final victor Choi Miyeon. Granted a guardian trait.]
That moment, the 30 people who were left in the company turned into light. The shining lights flowed into Choi Miyeon.
Like the hospital, there was a hidden rule in the [Ring of Rebirth].
However, she was unable to accept this result. She wanted all of them to survive not just herself.
Choi Hyuk heard this story in front of his mother’s grave.
At Marronnier Park, there was a burial mound made after removing the paved road. In front of it was an enormous shield. ‘The Guardian Choi Miyeon sleeps here after saving Seongbuk District’ was engraved onto the shield.
“It seemed the fact that she lived through the deaths of others… always weighed on her mind.”
The one who told him the story was one of her admirers.
She who had a guilty conscience for surviving by sacrificing the life of others had used her life to save even more people on the final day. When the Wyvern of Destruction appeared in Kangdong District, a Flaming Devil appeared in Seongbuk District. Choi Miyeon had held the devil back by herself.
At first, her admirers didn’t know how she was going to face the devil by herself. Only when they saw the frozen devil and her body collapsed on the ground did they realize she had used her self-sacrifice skill.
The devil didn’t die but it was unable to move until everyone had successfully escaped.
To Choi Hyuk.
It was… very like his mother to die that way.
Choi Hyuk fell to his knees in front of his mother’s tombstone and howled in sorrow.
Embarrassment and guilt overcame him. However… a rage beyond that was devouring his heart.
Every time his heart beat, rage gushed out instead of blood.
Though her admirers were gathering near his crying figure… Choi Hyuk wanted to break each of their necks.
‘Why is it that my mother died and you lived?’
To Choi Hyuk, hundreds of millions of these bastards were nothing to his mother’s life. Nonetheless, he forcefully swallowed his rage. Weren’t they lives his mother had died to save?
However, the swallowed rage burned his throat and his chest. He felt like he would die. He wasn’t able to breathe unless he settled this rage.
…Now that he thought about it, there was a great target to take it out on.
‘Yeah… if the main army didn’t retreat then the suicide squad wouldn’t have been annihilated. And who retreated the army? Who left the suicide squad out to die? Someone has to pay for it… This is just an appropriate payback.’
It was a decent cause.
Choi Hyuk gritted his teeth as he stood up. The admirers who looked at Choi Hyuk with sad eyes all wanted to say something. However, Choi Hyuk left before they could open their mouths.
As he jumped up onto the roof of the Arko Arts Theater, Choi Hyuk inwardly repeated three words like a spell.
‘Get angry. Kill. Only then can you kill.’
‘Kill. Kill… Kill them.’
[Edit] Sorry guys. The ‘followers’ Choi Miyeon had have been changed to admirers.