Episode 5: Citizenship / Chapter 85: Musical Chairs (8)
TL: emptycube / ED: Obelisk
Richard looked at the Berserkers and the allied forces standing in the storm. His handsome face was different from before. The left side of his face was disfigured due to horrifying burns. Wounds left behind by Choi Hyuk’s Flaming Wing Dance could not be healed, even with healers. Hopelessness, despair, peace, happiness, hatred, rage, and madness, Choi Hyuk’s flames, which seethed with these seven emotions, had invaded Richard’s soul and left a mark. Even if they dug his wounds out and regenerated his flesh, the burn engraved on his cheek would not disappear. A disfigured face.
However, Richard’s eyes were no different from before. He was confident and at ease. It was as if mere wounds were unable to shake his composure.
He recalled the conversation he had with Choi Hyuk.
“You want me to acknowledge Nasir as one of the seven overseers….”
Choi Hyuk raised the pitch-black Predator’s Blade and said,
“There is no need for further words.”
Choi Hyuk stood within the storm. The vigor Choi Hyuk emitted was indistinguishable from the sweeping storm. Richard felt a cold sweat run down his back.
Yet, he didn’t back down. Instead, he tossed away the easygoing attitude he had until now. He spread both his arms and said in a serious voice,
“Of course, I am in no mind of accepting him as one of the seven overseers wholeheartedly. He will be detained. He will be unable to decide anything by himself.”
Even as Richard was speaking, Choi Hyuk slowly raised his sword. However, if Choi Hyuk was determined, he would have already swung his sword down on Richard’s head. The fact that Choi Hyuk was taking his time was proof that he was listening to Richard’s words.
Inwardly relieved, Richard continued,
“He’ll be sort of like a puppet. I am not saying that we will let him enjoy his power as one of the seven overseers but more like make him serve humanity.”
The tip of the Predator’s Blade stopped after taking precise aim at Richard’s heart. ‘Clink.’ It felt like there was a metallic sound, and even the violent storm felt as though it was raising its blades.
Choi Hyuk coldly asked,
“Why do we need to do this?”
“Nasir is an opportunist. A human who can cleanly give up his pride and cause for his own safety. However, he himself is not especially evil or foolish. In fact, the majority of humans are like him. However, they, or their opportunistic traits to be exact, are also one of humanity’s strengths. To be able to survive in any situation. Not because they are strong, but strong because they survived. This is what it means to be a human. To preserve humanity’s strength, we need to be able to embrace them. Also, Nasir is a sovereign who can represent this majority.”
Richard provided a lengthy reply, but Choi Hyuk’s sword didn’t waver in the slightest. Choi Hyuk simply asked again,
“Why do we need to do this?”
Richard’s shoulders fell slightly.
“… Yeah. I know this won’t work. In fact, I predicted it would go this way. I felt that that was probably the reason why we needed to let Nasir live.”
There was a strangeness in Richard’s words. As if the decision to save Nasir wasn’t his own. When Choi Hyuk frowned, Richard elaborated,
“I’ll be honest. I have a special innate skill… If I were to compare, it is similar to Baek Seoin’s ‘Intuition’… But my hunch says it’s more similar to ‘your skill’.”
Richard said, ‘Your skill’. Although Choi Hyuk didn’t show any reaction, Richard, instead, felt more assured from his lack of reaction and asked,
“You… see something, right?”
Richard’s question was precisely directed at the ‘Eyes of Distinction’ Choi Hyuk possessed. A skill that even those closest to Choi Hyuk didn’t know about.
Although he didn’t show it, Choi Hyuk was inwardly shocked. Richard continued,
“I’m the same. I see things as well. I possess an innate skill known as the ‘Eyes of the Judge’. If I set a goal, I can distinguish who I need to kill and who to keep alive to reach my goal. But… I was truly surprised when I saw you for the first time. It kept changing for you. Sometimes as someone I needed to kill, others as someone I needed to keep alive. Even though it may change depending on the situation, it was the first time it kept changing back and forth like that. So, I thought that there was something special about you. Perhaps, you have a similar skill as me and that it may have been our skills conflicting with each other.”
Choi Hyuk motionlessly stared at Richard. He activated his ‘Eyes of Distinction’. At first glance, the light Richard emitted was white (goodwill)… but when he looked closer, all sorts of colors were added in like static. Colors he had never seen before like blue or green were like a rainbow in a mist as they incoherently distracted Choi Hyuk’s vision.
Richard seemed as though he saw something as he examined Choi Hyuk before shaking his head and saying,
“It’s a very difficult problem. Who to kill and who to keep alive. If you don’t have that standard, you won’t be able to accomplish anything no matter how strong you are. But, you sometimes acted like you would kill everyone while, at other times, would coolly gloss things over. This is proof that you are making judgments every moment unlike the image the world has made for you. And your judgment was incredibly quick. You especially filtered out those who would become your enemy with extreme precision.”
This was obvious as Choi Hyuk could grasp his opponent’s motives. Perhaps Richard had paid attention to Choi Hyuk when he easily figured out Lee Kijin’s betrayal and the sudden attack of Lao Ban’s remnants.
Richard said in a voice now filled with confidence,
“I have a similar skill as you. That skill tells me that we need to keep Nasir alive. So, I think that if we are going to keep him alive anyways, we should use him properly. So that we can use Nasir and unify humanity’s power.”
Choi Hyuk was momentarily at loss for words. He felt quite a bit of trust to the skill he possessed, the ‘Eyes of Distinction’. At least, he thought that it had never failed him until now. Then, did that mean he had to trust the ‘Eyes of the Judge’ that Richard claimed he possessed?
He shook his head. There was still a reply he had yet to hear to do that. A skill that could distinguish who to kill and who to keep alive once he set a goal. If he took that as a fact, then what goal did Richard strive for?
Choi Hyuk tightly clenched his sword handle. Then asked,
“… Why do we need to do this?”
Richard immediately replied,
“So that we can take revenge.”
Revenge. At that single word, the handle Choi Hyuk held creaked as though it would shatter.
“… Against who?”
“Those who started this game.”
Richard’s voice was serious and clear to no end. The Predator’s Blade, which had been tautly aimed at his heart, fell slightly.
Choi Hyuk felt Richard’s reply was quite unexpected. Richard, he was famous for being a sovereign who could see the big picture. That was why he was known as the Sovereign of Balance. However, Choi Hyuk had never imagined that the picture he was drawing was beyond the power struggle between sovereigns and that it even reached the Flame Wing Alliance.
‘Is he telling the truth?’
Still suspicious, Choi Hyuk slowly opened his mouth,
“Why are you trying to get revenge?”
Even Choi Hyuk felt this question was unreasonable. Why did he want to get revenge? If someone asked him this question, he would be at loss for words.
Yet, he still asked. When he did, Richard revealed a dumbfounded expression. It was an expression Choi Hyuk would have shown if he was in that situation.
Richard slowly answered,
“Why? Why…? Good, then first, let’s think about it in reverse? What reasons are there not to take revenge? They aren’t an opponent we can face with our strength. It is more important for humanity to survive this war against the monsters. You can’t change what happened even if you take revenge. Something like that? But…”
Richard paused for a moment. His spirit was completely different from before. He changed as if he had taken off his mask. His calm demeanor, which seemed to approach everything from a step back, disappeared, and in its place, was a growling face, which seemed ready to lunge forward at any moment. His karma moved by itself as they were influenced by his emotions, and his eyes shined with a piercing golden light.
“However, I only have two words for those reasons – Fuck. Off.”
Strictly speaking, Richard’s reply wasn’t an answer to Choi Hyuk’s question. As he didn’t give any reason for enacting revenge. However, precisely because it was like this, he was able to touch Choi Hyuk’s heart. ‘What do you mean ‘why do you want to take revenge?’’ If there were three to four reasons why they shouldn’t take revenge, there were countless reasons why they should. Earth was becoming extinct. Billions of people had already ceased to exist. The majority of the combatant colonizers had experienced murder. Also, the Flame Wing Alliance, didn’t they themselves say it? ‘Get angry.’ To ask why they needed to take revenge in a situation like this… Asking that question was more foolish.
Choi Hyuk nodded his head. He had somewhat decided. The Predator’s Blade that Choi Hyuk had held up slowly relaxed as it was lowered. Then, he flexibly and resiliently relaxed his karma which filled his whole body.
“You said you will end this fight within a month? How?”
Richard asked back,
“Before that, let me ask. When I first said to include Nasir as one of the seven overseers, what did you want to do? Your expression was crazy.”
“… Just thinking… about whether I should kill you on the spot and make all the other sovereigns submit.”
Richard asked, ‘What did you want to do?’ in past tense, yet Choi Hyuk answered in present tense. However, maybe he didn’t catch it, but Richard didn’t look surprised as he cleanly nodded his head. As if he was satisfied.
“Good. Then do just that. Then I will make it so that this fight will end within a month.”
Richard didn’t seem concerned with the fact that he said he was going to kill him and revealed an unfounded confidence. At this Richard, Choi Hyuk shot,
“Do you have the capability to?”
Richard didn’t provide a lengthy answer. Choi Hyuk didn’t hate his confidence. Nodding his head, Choi Hyuk raised the Predator’s Blade above his head. Richard had said to ‘do just that’ so there was no need for hesitation.
“Good. Then should we start right away?”
“Yeah. Uh… but, hey? Right now?”
Surprised at Choi Hyuk’s sudden change, Richard pulled his aide Leah into his arms.
Looking at this, Choi Hyuk coldly declared,
“If you survive this, that proposal, I’ll think about it.”
Blaze. Scarlet flames gathered on his sword.
“Flaming Wing Dance. Instant Void Annihilation.”
That time, Choi Hyuk had really planned on killing Richard. Although he agreed with many of his words, because of this, he felt that he was even more of a threat. He didn’t have enough evidence to trust Richard while his ‘Eyes of Distinction’ didn’t work properly. That was why he decided. ‘Let’s kill him first. But if he survives, if he has the skill to do that, then let’s trust him this time.’
That was why he used his strongest attacks one after the other. His Flaming Wing Dance, which burned everything, and his Instant Void Annihilation, which could even split air. He was certain that even Richard, who had reached 5-star stats, would have a hard time surviving this. Yet, he survived. He then fled and created a great army known as the allied forces.
Following Choi Hyuk’s words, now was the time to ‘think about it’. However, he had made no contact with Richard during this time.
‘Is the conversation back then still valid?’
Choi Hyuk thought. He was at least influenced by that conversation. Like Richard had said, ‘Good. Then do just that,’ Choi Hyuk ran amuck as he wished. Since there wasn’t really any other alternative, it was good for him. While he had been running amuck, Richard rallied many sovereigns and led the allied forces here.
There were around five days until his promised one month.
Was Richard’s proposal still valid? Well… either way.
‘It’ll end today.’
In the end, this would be the place where the seven overseers would be decided. Although it was yet to be seen whether it would be through elimination or if a stronger system would be born.