SoJ Episode 5 Chapter 77

Episode 5: Citizenship / Chapter 77: Advancement Evaluation (11)

TL: emptycube

ED: Obelisk


 

During the 2 weeks without an advancement evaluation, Choi Hyuk spent his time thinking about fire.

 

What was fire?

Fire symbolized wisdom, it symbolized virtue that could not be hidden when one attempted to. It also symbolized enlightenment, but at certain times, it also stood for humanity itself. At the same time, it meant destruction and annihilation as well.

What was fire?

The four states of matter are known as solid, liquid, gas and plasma. Some say fire is plasma while others say that it isn’t.

Fire was something so close that it defined humanity, but was difficult to comprehend. If it was instead light rays or a lightning strike, he felt he would be able to describe it somewhat, but when asked what fire was, his mind would become complicated. Just what was fire? Was it matter? Or was it simply only a heap of heat and light? If fire was matter, where would it fall between solid, liquid, gas and plasma? If fire was simply a heap of heat and light, would they have to call a hot incandescent light fire as well?

 

Choi Hyuk was continuously consumed by this question.

The skill Choi Hyuk was training, Flaming Wing Dance, was something he couldn’t control by himself and was a high-level skill that he couldn’t comprehend. At first, he started to train in hopes of controlling it more efficiently. To reduce the consumption of Stamina. However, his training was met with a completely different development.

It was because of his meeting with Flame-Rain and the flames she showed. Her flames were purer and clearer, and above all, tenacious. Choi Hyuk was captivated by this new revelation.

‘Why are her flames and mine different?’

What made the difference in flames? Just what were flames?

Choi Hyuk had no choice but to first start with the ‘fire’ he saw in nature before expanding beyond. The fire Flame-Rain and Choi Hyuk used wasn’t something that existed by burning matter but rather by burning karma, the retribution of living beings. Then, it became more complicated.

‘What is fire anyways? Then just what is karma-burning fire?’

 

It was a completely different kind of training. The training Choi Hyuk had done until now was that of ‘looking’, ‘sensing’, and ‘trying’. If he saw it, he could get a sense of what was going on, and depending on the sensation, he could try it out. His entire training regime was centered around constantly practicing until he became used to the skill and improving on it. It was training comprised of his instincts and physical body.

However, the training this time demanded contemplation and enlightenment.

‘What is fire? What is karma-burning fire?’

To find the answer, he had asked Naro, Baek Seoin, and Lee Jinhee. It had been his first time asking someone else about his training.

Naro restrained from explaining karma.

“I’m not sure. Karma isn’t something that falls within the logic of science. It is hard for an artificial intelligence like me to explain. Since it is subjectively similar to a ‘feeling’… Instead, try asking humans, who can generate and control karma, what they think fire is. Only, the entire population will probably describe the natural phenomenon they call ‘fire’. What is fire? The reason why the true nature of fire is so confusing is… the phenomenon known as ‘fire’ is actually an accumulation of various different essences rather than of a single one.”

“An accumulation?”

“Yes, it’s like a guitar performance. Guitars are made up of their body and strings, correct? If either one of those is missing, then it will be impossible to play.”

“Yeah.”

“You also need a guitarist. As well as a song to play. The gathering of all these is a ‘guitar performance’. If you ask, ‘What is a guitar performance?’ Asking, ‘Is it the guitar strings? Its body? The performance? The song?’ doesn’t have any meaning. From the beginning, a guitar performance is not of one essence but the continuous reaction of various essences. It’s the same with fire. It is a phenomenon which occurs when fuel is heated. If we use a candle as an example, when the wick, which is solid, is lit on fire, it will burn and turn to ash. The wax will melt into a liquid, and a portion of that will evaporate into a gas, and a portion of that gas will be ionized, temporarily turning into plasma. The plasma is unstable and will be unable to maintain its state for a long time before returning to a gaseous state, emitting a light which creates the fire’s light. So fire is the accumulation of all these essences. Fuel, the heat applied to the fuel, the gas produced by the fuel, the temporary plasma generated from the gas, and the light due to this. So, fire, in the context of light, is similar to neon signs and auroras. Since they are phenomena created through plasma. However, when humans talk about ‘fire’, they aren’t only talking about the light, but its fuel, the ashes which remain afterwards, the evaporated smoke, the light and the heat. This is the reason why the name of this combined chain of phenomena feels different from everything else.”

Surprisingly, Choi Hyuk was able to understand this right away without much scientific knowledge. This was the not often revealed effect of his Retribution stat. Retribution improved the caliber of the living being itself. A Retribution of 421 (4★), which Choi Hyuk possessed, allowed him to gain a deeper understanding of the origin of the world. His senses and cognition, which had reached a superhuman level of sensitivity, allowed him to process information humans normally wouldn’t be able to sense and allowed him to more easily comprehend these phenomena. On top of that, since Naro used its telepathic abilities to light a candle in Choi Hyuk’s mind and allowed him to closely examine it, it would have been weird if he didn’t understand it.

 

“Aha. Thanks.”

“No, it was fun for me as well. Since fire is wonderful. Like the guitar.”

The simple appearance of Naro’s hologram imitated playing a guitar. Then it stared at Choi Hyuk. Even when he was leaving, it followed behind him. In the end, Choi Hyuk reluctantly asked,

“… You like the guitar?”

Naro leaped up and down as it replied,

“Yes! The thing known as music is so surprising. Narolings didn’t have anything like it. Since they didn’t communicate through sound… Perhaps they may not have felt anything even if they heard music. But, for some reason, I, the artificial intelligence which they created, can appreciate it. So I know that music is a marvelous culture of the earthlings. I like all instruments! However, at this moment, I like the guitar the most.”

Then, it stared at Choi Hyuk again. Feeling a strange pressure, Choi Hyuk asked,

“Don’t tell me… you want one?”

Naro leaped up and down. As expected, it wanted one. Choi Hyuk was taken aback.

“You can just make one instead.”

Naro’s spaceship was the last heritage of a highly advanced civilization. Of course, it had the ability to create any object which existed on Earth. However, as if it found Choi Hyuk’s words absurd, it exaggeratedly shook its head and arms before saying,

“Haa… How can it compare to a handcrafted instrument made with the heart and soul of a master craftsman?”

This was the reply of a certain artificial intelligence that loved analog items.

 

Choi Hyuk, who had promised to buy Naro a guitar, went to find Baek Seoin and Lee Jinhee this time. What they thought about fire was a level simpler.

“Are you talking about fire? Isn’t it something that spreads as it burns?”

“Fire? It’s incredible. It’s bright, and when you approach it, it’s hot. When you touch it, it hurts like stinging needles and gives off a scent. But leader, the advancement evaluation is really taking a long time to start… Don’t tell me no one participated again? Haa… I really don’t like it.”

These replies didn’t directly help Choi Hyuk. But, it became a chance for Choi Hyuk to look back on it himself.

‘What do I think fire is?’

To him, fire was destruction. Something that burned everything. Killed everything. Brought pain. Perhaps it was because of this, but the flames he burned felt somewhat heavy. Instead of burning, it felt like he was smashing things with fire. On the other hand, the fire Flame-Rain showed him was light, yet strong. It possessed the power to penetrate through any strong material and lightly burn it.

After long contemplation, Choi Hyuk was finally able to realize what fire was.

Choi Hyuk had thought that fire was simply heat until now. So he could melt his opponents with this heat. Because of this, his fire didn’t comply with his will. This was because the true essence of fire wasn’t heat. Naro’s words were right. Fire was a series of processes. It was a continuous reaction which changed the state of materials. This meant that fire didn’t stop and was continuously changing. Light and heat as well as their by-products, the result of which was fire.

Its essence was the simultaneous coexistences and changes of states itself. The more states it included and the more dramatic its change was, the more destructive the result would be.

 

‘If I want to manipulate fire, I need to focus on the effects and changes of these essences instead of its destructive power.’

 

Like how he needed to grab his collar instead of his shirt to take it off, and how he needed to grab the handle of a fan and shake it open rather than opening each and every fold.

When he realized this, Choi Hyuk’s flames evolved.

These flames first made their appearance during the ‘3rd Stage – Wasps’ Nest Inner Region’ of the fourth advancement evaluation.

 

The fourth advancement evaluation.

When they were about to start the 3rd stage, the atmosphere felt hopeless. There were simply too few experienced colonizers remaining. During the 3rd stage, the beginner warriors played a supportive role. No matter how many there were, it was useless with only them. Many sovereigns felt that it was better to retreat rather than causing needless sacrifices.

‘Will a billion people die again?’

‘Are humans consumables as expected?’

Although they hated it, their strength was insufficient. They despaired.

The speeches began within this heavy silence. Choi Hyuk was the first to start speaking. Like always, he didn’t have retreating on his mind this time as well. He simply issued the order in which they would infiltrate.

“The first to infiltrate will be me. Next will be the Berserkers. After that… do what you want.”

Then he really jumped down towards the dimensional wasps’ nest by himself. As if he didn’t care whether they followed behind him or not.

Everyone thought he was crazy.

Pssssh!

Vooom!

The dimensional wasps densely gathered towards the falling Choi Hyuk. Each one was a monster at the level of a veteran colonizer. Choi Hyuk looked incredibly small in the middle of them. They couldn’t watch with open eyes.

 

On top of that, at first, Choi Hyuk absentmindedly stood there. People were suspicious whether he was stricken with fear or not.

However, soon, there was a reversal.

Choi Hyuk wasn’t standing there absentmindedly, but he was preparing to burn his flames. He linked his thumping Karma Heart to his mind.

At first, his Karma Heart was filled with emptiness and despair.

When he closed his eyes, his Karma Heart, which had been hollow with emptiness, achieved a calm peace.

As the tips of his lips curved upwards, he started to become excited.

When he opened his eyes and looked straight at his enemies, his eyes were dyed with hostility.

The hostility turned into rage.

The rage then turned into madness, and the madness left behind ashes, returning back into emptiness and despair.

It was a sequential change, but at the same time, it was a simultaneous change. His Karma Heart simultaneously went through emptiness, despair, peace, joy, hatred, hostility, rage, and madness as it changed into each one in succession. Karma boiled. No, it burned.

“Flaming Wing Dance – Choi Hyuk Style.”

His flames, which started in one corner of the dimensional wasps’ nest, spread endlessly. It was different from Flame-Rain’s clear flames. His distinctive scarlet flames, which looked like gushing blood, burned the wasps’ nest as well as the dimensional wasps. The dimensional walls, which divided the dimensional wasps’ rooms, melted down. They shriveled up. The nest itself let out a scream. This wasn’t the ‘Flaming Wing Dance’ which had been deteriorated to the 4-star level. It was a true Flaming Wing Dance which Choi Hyuk, who had become enlightened in what fire was, created. The purification of the essence of karma flames.

 

{You have attained a deep understanding of karma on your own. Retribution increased by 30, free karma points increased by 40.}

 

<<Kiyeeehh>>

 

The wasps let out a scream the onlookers had never heard before as they died.

Victory was decided that moment.

 

**

“As expected, the Berserk Sovereign did one for us.”

When Richard, who had been inwardly anxious, heard that they won the fourth advancement evaluation, he clenched his fists. It was the moment where, if they weren’t careful, all his preparations would have been for naught.

“Now, if it’s a best three out of five… It will start soon?”

Richard thought.

If it was a best three out of five, then there was one more evaluation left. If they were in the middle of testing humanity, then when would humans reveal their weakest point? In Richard’s mind, that was…

“Now.”

The moment they were drunk with victory. It hadn’t even been 2 hours since the fourth advancement evaluation ended when the always insincere announcement woke those who were asleep up and awakened those who were drunk with alcohol.

 

{Advancement Evaluation. Same as before. Participate? Or not?}

Richard smiled.

“I knew it.”

It had already been a long while since he had finished his preparations. The moment he had a hunch they would lose the second and third advancement evaluation, Richard put everything on the final evaluation.

He used both carrot and stick methods. He gathered experienced colonizers and promised them benefits within his colonized land. He persuaded the sovereigns who had yet to participate and rallied the non-awakenees within their groups before promising them suitable benefits if they cooperated. On the other hand, he quietly purged those who did nothing but speak negatively and had a lukewarm response to participating. Also, he requested to all the cooperators, excluding the sovereigns,

“You will not participate in any of the evaluations. We will risk it all on the final evaluation. You will keep choosing not to participate and will choose to participate in the final evaluation. Also, pray. That during this time, someone, no matter which sovereign it is, will win once.”

Then he issued ‘tickets’. He printed off multiple tickets and gave them to the colonizers and non-awakenees who promised to cooperate.

“You will always keep these tickets with you. You will carry them with you even during the advancement evaluation, and when you meet members of predesignated clans, you will give them this ticket. Later, we will collect them all and check whether you participated or not.”

The reason why this system worked was because of the trust Richard had accumulated until now. ‘Trust’ was the driving force which allowed him to mediate the countless conflicts between different forces, giving him the name ‘Sovereign of Balance’. Colonizers trusted in the fairness of his methods as well as the advantages and disadvantages he promised. They also trusted the collectors of these ‘tickets’, whom he chose.

Although it was completely different from Choi Hyuk’s method, the method Richard used to gather strength may perhaps have been the most ideal and natural method for humans.

 

The result of this was victory.

 

Choi Hyuk, who had returned from the fourth advancement evaluation, heard the news of the fifth advancement evaluation victory after he woke up.

“Already? Who?”

Baek Seoin replied,

“The Sovereign of Balance.”

“Huh…”

It had been a long time since Choi Hyuk admired someone else besides himself.

 

**

The place where enormous stone slabs gathered, the ‘Brain’ of the Flame Wing Alliance.

The Exalted Wings were discussing new information.

“The humans have passed the advancement evaluation. We have to grant them citizenship.”

“However, if you look at the process, it is hard to say they were united. In reality, wasn’t it a success created by the strength, coercion, or conciliation of individual sovereigns?”

“That is correct. The result was a victory, but there is a problem with the process. Although there were individuals who showed power beyond our expectations, we cannot grant them citizenship because of this. Amongst 5-star experts, so many species are still consumables.”

“… You say strange things. If we decided to go with the advancement evaluation from the start, then it is only right we accept the result of the advancement evaluation. I worry that the standard for granting citizenship is getting more difficult as days go on. If we don’t respect other species as karmalings like us and use them as tools, how are we different from monsters?”

“I am not saying we shouldn’t grant them citizenship. I am only suggesting to limit their rights. Earthlings are a species that will not be able to function properly without an outstanding sovereign. Also, we observed that they cannot unite if there are too many sovereigns. Following this, I request we limit the number of sovereigns who can represent the earthlings. We need to only acknowledge three sovereigns to have the political rights and right of passage as members of the alliance. Sovereigns besides them… Even if, in reality, they possess an occupation as a sovereign, we cannot acknowledge them as representatives of Earth as per the alliance’s principle.”

“… Three is too few. It’s not like the number of earthlings is small, we cannot reflect their will with only three people. It makes no sense to restrict a species’ potential for our own convenience.”

“Then let’s go with seven people.”

“…”

The decision of the Exalted Wings was normally very quick. Even if they didn’t speak, they knew each other’s circumstances, and thus, the conversation and compromise ended in an instant. Seven people. Even the objectors felt this was the best they could do.

Silence. This meant agreement.

“Then, we will leave the method of selecting the seven up to the earthlings. As they are now a species that possesses the right of autonomy and is affiliated with the alliance.”

That was how the fate of Earth was decided once again.

 

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Comments 20

  1. This guys of the Alliance should be honest and say that they want earthlings to be consumibles and stop all those pretense.

  2. The plan the sovereign of balance thought of was insane. Leave everything to the last evaluation ? lol. How did he know that choi hyuk could participate to the fourth evaluation however ?

    “It had been a long time since Choi Hyuk admired someone else besides himself…” Wait what ? He is becoming too arrogant, lol. He has a big head.

    1. There are different degrees of admiration, but what Choi Hyuk had for Richard was true admiration most likely.

      I’m somewhat curious as to how they’ll decide the sovereigns, but Richard is guaranteed, and if they don’t choose Choi Hyuk… well, then he’ll make his own influence without giving a damn about what they do, and they’ll regret it in the end.

      The method might be something like an actual ‘election’ with candidates, people going to a certain area if they support one, maybe a fighting tournament and so on, but it’ll be interesting to see.

      1. Considering what had happen if you leave the decision to “the people”, chances that the sovereign and awakenees will agree to that is slim.

    2. Naw, Choi Hyuk is the best warrior out of every Earthling. Dude annihilated a dimensional wasp nest single handedly. Why wouldn’t he get some confidence in himself?

      Besides that the things he respects are those who utilize their minds to achieve what he does with strength.

      Also, Richard’s plan wasn’t that bad. Better to have one of the evaluations an 80% chance of success than for two of them being 40%. And he didn’t know Choi Hyuk would participate, or at least, he knew he would if he could without a doubt. That’s sorta Choi Hyuk’s style.

  3. Lol, don’t troll me with
    .
    “the stupid hoomans gonna exclude the berserk sovereign”
    .
    That would be a hell of a plot twist. 😂

  4. MOOOOOAARRRRRRR DAMMITTTTTTTTTT I WANT MOARRRRRRRRRRRR. Seriously, fuck the author of this novel for writing such an engaging, fun, and exciting work and especially, fuck these fucking translators who work tirelessly to give us what we desire, dangling little bits of wonderfully-translated chapters in front us, slowly making us dependent on their ability to inject our eyes with more beautiful, more engaging work. Fuck them, and fuck meeeeeeeee for wanting more chapters so badly, fuck shit I love this site. Thanks for more visual-drugs you fucking beautiful translators, I’ll be back in the future since you prey upon my addiction to your fucking quality-ass translations.

  5. .
    ▀█▀─█▄█─█▀█─█▄─█─█▄▀──█▄█─█▀█─█─█
    ─█──█▀█─█▀█─█─▀█─█▀▄───█──█▄█─█▄█
    ───── Foя тнє cнαpтєя
    ────────── from Jack

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