Episode 6: Mafia Game / Chapter 100: At the Ruins (6)
TL: emptycube / ED: Obelisk
The place Choi Hyuk arrived at was a completely unfamiliar darkness.
It was different from the dark matter of Dark City. Although Dark City was dark as well, it was still a place within the third dimension. It wasn’t very different from the familiar darkness of the night sky. However, this place was a darkness within the fourth dimension. It wasn’t a place a lifeform from the third dimension could perceive.
Shapes in the third dimension looked completely different in the fourth dimension. His arms and legs curved however they wished, and his back stretched and curled around. Like a surrealistic picture, Choi Hyuk’s body lost the original shape he was familiar with. Even the darkness was the same. When he thought there was light, it was dark, and what he thought to be dark seemed to shine as if there was a light. The darkness felt like a hard surface, then rolling waves, and then an endless fall.
However, Choi Hyuk didn’t fall into a state of confusion. Karma was a power of fate created by lifeforms. It didn’t adhere to the fourth dimension. That was why, even though his senses were chaotic, his mind was clear.
“Is it you?”
Choi Hyuk asked. The darkness all around him was leering at him. Perhaps Choi Hyuk was already within the monster’s maw.
Choi Hyuk unsheathed ‘Imprint’. Instead of a pleasant ringing sound, a flat ‘tik’ noise sounded out. Imprint had lost its shape in the darkness as well. It became wide, flabby, and mushy. It didn’t look like it could slice anything.
However, that was only for a moment. When Choi Hyuk raised ‘Imprint’ above his head in preparation for a slash, the blade of the mushy ‘Imprint’ formed a cold, sharp line. ‘Imprint’ surged with karma, stood rigidly and displayed its vigor. A Weapon of Vow could overcome matter and become a weapon of pure karma. This limit, however, depended on its owner.
Currently, at this moment, over 80% of ‘Choi Hyuk’s Imprint’ was composed of pure karma. The karma, which reflected his will of wanting to deliver a fatal blow with one strike, surged dangerously. Along with it, Choi Hyuk’s body, which had been scattered like a mist, had returned to its original form in the darkness.
In a darkness where everything was distorted, only Choi Hyuk was clear.
“Instant Void Annihilation.”
His sword, which could even rip apart space, swung down. The fourth-dimensional darkness was sliced and ripped apart. Like in the moment of creation, darkness retreated for light to fill the surroundings.
He could hear the monster of night’s scream from somewhere. It had been wounded. However, it wasn’t a fatal blow. Choi Hyuk’s strike missed its core.
Darkness, once again, clouded the momentarily bright surroundings.
Choi Hyuk could tell instinctively that if he didn’t slice its core, it wouldn’t die no matter how many times he sliced it. He wouldn’t be able to defeat it.
With his sword raised, Choi Hyuk closed his eyes.
Choi Hyuk’s karma heart began to pound furiously. Mind’s Eye, Identical Mind, and Explosive Blood mixed together and began to search through the darkness.
It felt as though the darkness became darker. At the same time, Choi Hyuk understood that the monster of night’s gaze was fixed on him. It withdrew its power that been outside to ‘blink’. Choi Hyuk searched for its core, and the monster searched for Choi Hyuk’s weakness.
Who would find it first?
An unpleasant laughter could be heard from somewhere. Then, immediately after, Choi Hyuk heard a voice he could never forget.
The one who walked out of the darkness was Choi Miyeon, Choi Hyuk’s mother.
“What are you doing here?”
She said in the same appearance and voice she had before she died.
It was her who embedded him with the order to ‘not fight’. Although he was bullied because of this, she was still the most important person in his life.
Karma was released from ‘Choi Hyuk’s Imprint’. The blade that had been sharp became blunt, mushy and distorted.
“The monster of night… Didn’t you say it was a particularly tricky monster to deal with even amongst the high ranked monsters? No matter how strong he is, Overseer Choi Hyuk is only a middle ranked warrior… Can he win?”
Leah, Richard’s aide, showed a worried look.
“There’s nothing we can do. He’s the only one who can find and approach the monster of night. Whether we like it or not, this is our only method.”
Richard had a relaxed expression. Although he said that there was ‘nothing they could do’, it seemed like he didn’t expect Choi Hyuk to lose.
“But what if he fails? Although the monster of night specializes in commanding and support rather than fighting… You said it is dangerous when it has so many monsters under its command like now. Especially if they are doppelgangers…”
“Ah, right. The doppelgangers and the monster of night are an especially good match. Since they say monsters of night are able to use the abilities of monsters it leads as its own… Choi Hyuk is probably facing an ordeal beyond our expectations. However, I still don’t think he’ll lose.”
“In the case he does, what are you going to do then?”
Richard frowned at her words. He then carefully thought about it.
“Although I haven’t thought about it in detail…”
Richard shook his head and looked in front of him. A cold-hearted light shined in his eyes.
“Then I’ll have to kill them all.”
Leah knew exactly what he meant.
Richard possessed the innate skill ‘Eyes of the Judge’, which could distinguish between who he should kill and who he should keep alive. What he meant by ‘kill them all’ was that he would kill anyone who was identified as someone to kill. This would include doppelgangers, but it would also include countless others as well. Although they wouldn’t be able to avoid the loss of many lives, it would certainly get rid of the doppelgangers.
Leah gulped her saliva. She knew that Richard was someone who definitely possessed the ability to do so. No matter how great the losses or what methods he had to use, if it was for the best, then he would do it. Only, there was currently a better method, which was why he hadn’t yet done so.
There weren’t many who knew of Richard’s true nature. There were also almost no one who knew that he was stronger than Jessie, possessing a 5-star stat. This was reasonable since Richard had become known for his politics rather than his fighting abilities.
‘How was it that Richard, who fought less than Jessie, let alone Choi Hyuk, could have a 5-star stat?’
The reason was simple.
Richard had, in reality, killed more colonizers than anyone. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Richard was the greatest murderer of all-time. He had indirectly murdered people by making others act in the darkness (although the majority of them weren’t aware that they were following Richard’s will), and depending on the situation, he had personally assassinated others. His ‘Eyes of the Judge’ clearly distinguished between those he should kill and those he should keep alive. He made use of his outstanding insight by killing and saving people as nonchalantly as possible. Behind the ‘balance’ he created existed a countless number of murders.
His ‘Tuner’ fate, which gained karma every time he successfully killed or saved someone, was a big help to his growth. Because of this, Richard could consider himself as having progressed at a rate only second to Choi Hyuk on Earth without any eye-catching battles.
His karma had increased rapidly by killing countless people from behind the scenes.
To be able to maintain a clean, trustworthy image despite all this was evidence of how fearful Richard’s ability was.
Leah’s shoulders trembled when she saw Richard’s cold eyes.
“I guess… I need to hope for Overseer Choi Hyuk’s success.”
“Yeah. I hope so too.”
The two turned their gazes towards the hell, in which people were divided into 10-person groups and were interrogating each other.
Right after Choi Hyuk had disappeared off to some place, the ‘blinking’ had also disappeared without a trace. Although the fear and unease the people felt lessened a little… It was still difficult to identify the doppelgangers.
The fact that there were only tens of thousands of members in the observation teams compared to the tens of millions of people was a critical problem. On the other hand, the doppelgangers were shrewd.
In this short period of time, groundless rumors had spread and the truths were covered up.
“Why are you refusing questioning? What are you doing? Please stay in your assigned location!”
“Shut up. Bring our clan leader. There are rumors that this is all a political ruse. Where is our clan leader? Did you kill him? Bring our clan leader out here immediately. Or bring Richard. We need an explanation.”
There were cases like these throughout the crowds where men, who considered themselves as having thick arms, went against their orders and gathered in groups.
“You’re going to cut my head? Isn’t this all just a witch hunt? When you cut our heads open, if there’s a bug, good job, but if there isn’t, too bad. Either way, the examinee will die!”
“No. The medicine has been made with the power of the healers. The wound will immediately close.”
“How do you know that? Do you think that only one or two people have died up until now?”
“They died because they were doppelgangers.”
Although the majority of observation teams were composed of elites, their numbers were small. There were also an overwhelming number of elites who weren’t part of the observation teams. The control in various places began to fall through.
Also, when the doppelgangers had their heads cut, they acted out until the very end.
“Handel! Help me! I’m not one of them! I’m really not, Handel! Aack!”
When observation team members unsheathed their swords to conduct the examination, they would scream like this. The woman’s lover, Handel, couldn’t hold back any longer.
Handel threw a punch at the observation team member, who was about to cut her head.
“As I thought, I can’t. No matter what, I can’t. I can’t hand Rika over to you. Rika isn’t one of them!”
The affection humans possessed went beyond reason. No matter how much evidence they had, showing that they were doppelgangers, it was useless. They couldn’t help but go crazy when the person they loved cried and pleaded in front of them.
This was occurring everywhere. The commotion wasn’t easily calmed, especially when experts, who even the observation teams couldn’t restrain, joined the fray.
Then Chu Youngjin was dispatched to calm this commotion.
Once his characteristic thundering sound was heard-
Both arms of the one causing the commotion fell to the ground. Shock spread amongst the crowd.
“Berserker Chu Youngjin!”
Chu Youngjin’s eyes were dyed red. His heart was burning right now. When he saw those who blocked the observation teams to protect their lovers, Chu Youngjin would especially experience a deep pain. He recalled his lover, Lee Hyejin. Perhaps this was why Chu Youngjin was becoming crazier.
Chu Youngjin silently took care of those who were causing a commotion with a heart that felt as though someone had put salt on his wounds and then picked at the scabs. No one could take even a single sword strike from him.
His innate skill ‘Berserker’ was added to his karma trait ‘Explosive Blood’, while his Weapon of Calling ‘Chu Youngjin’s Protection’ added sharpness to his strikes. Due to his ‘Protection’, which rapidly increased his ‘Combat Endurance Ability +100 (Stamina, Endurance, and Recovery)’, he didn’t easily tire either. Chu Youngjin could feel at ease as he used his strength.
A crowd that had gathered together and pressured the observation teams, a clan-sized group that insisted they bring out their clan leader, and even warriors who stood in front of their lovers like vanguards… they all spurted blood under Chu Youngjin’s sword and collapsed.
Chu Youngjin was continuously controlling his mind.
‘If Hyejin was still alive… One of those fucking doppelgangers might have eaten her brain.’
When he thought this, rage rapidly surged from his heart. He projected his anger onto those creating a commotion.
“Wahh… Long Chen was defeated with one sword strike. Isn’t Long Chen a well-known expert from China? Even Overseer Jessie might not be able to do that.”
“Was Chu Youngjin this strong?”
Every time Chu Youngjin slashed out, a shock reverberated out. They knew that Choi Hyuk was a monster, but below him, Chu Youngjin was also an incredible monster as well.
This was how they were able to maintain some sense of order while Choi Hyuk was absent.
They were endlessly tangled in a fight about who was right, who was wrong, and what was real. Like always, the Berserkers would rather cut that tangled knot than untangle it. Chu Youngjin and even Ryu Hyunsung were the same. Everyone passed by others after cutting them down without asking any questions.
Choi Hyuk was the same.
“Weakness… Yeah. You kept exposing and stabbing at our weaknesses.”
Choi Hyuk said in a tone that seemed as though he was sick of this.
“That’s why I don’t look back.”
Choi Hyuk’s distorted body had, at some point, returned to its clear state. His sword was pierced through his mother, Choi Miyeon’s abdomen.
Choi Hyuk whispered in her ear,
“Did you think I’d give up if you hid inside my mother?”
Choi Hyuk twisted the sword embedded in his mother.
The darkness surrounding him shook violently. Its scream continued without end. Like a song on loop, it echoed and grew louder.
“We lost everything. Because we lost everything, we have no weaknesses. Because we know all too well that we lost everything, we won’t be fooled by your illusions. When we acted like we were fooled, you quickly showed your true colors. Thanks to that, we were able to end it quickly.”
Choi Hyuk injected more and more karma into his sword. At some point, his sword began to burn. The flames grew as if trying to swallow the darkness surrounding him.
The night was being burned.
“It’s the end.”
Choi Hyuk stared at the face that was identical to his mother’s. Even its expression, which was distorted due to pain, was the same as his mother’s. However, Choi Hyuk’s heart didn’t waver. Choi Hyuk had already accepted her death. If he hadn’t accepted it, then he wouldn’t have despaired and the fires of his thirst for revenge wouldn’t have raged. The fact that his rage had never blown out was proof that his mother was dead. Choi Hyuk wasn’t misled by this.
It seemed it knew this was the end. His mother’s pained, distorted expression slowly turned expressionless, and a strange laughter escaped her lips. Her bright eyes turned into a deathly black. When she opened her mouth, he could see a black abyss.
It said in a voice that seemed to be neither male or female,
“Hihi… I saw it. I saw it. I saaaw it.”
Its face had become so terrifying that it was difficult to call it human. Choi Hyuk stared directly at its face as he poured the last of his strength into his sword. Choi Hyuk raised his sword, still pierced into its body, and then swung down forcefully.
“But you’re going to die here.”
The monster of night, which had impersonated his mother’s figure, collapsed into two pieces. He had cut it cleanly. The night ripped and light beyond it began to permeate in.
The monster of night was dead.
At the same time, the doppelganger identification device Richard possessed surged with a red light. The power of the monster of night, which had been obstructing its function up until now, had disappeared.
The spreading light left a mark on specific warriors’ heads.
The ones who received a mark were taken aback as they looked above their heads.
There was no room for doubt. Richard’s orders sounded out like thunder.
“Kill all the ones with marks!”
The ones with marks were doppelgangers.
A bloody wind blew.