Chapter 545: Epilogue 4 – The Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint (10)
Han Su-Yeong yelled out.
“You stupid bastard! Did you forget already?? This world-line’s ark has already-!”
Yu Jung-Hyeok’s sword thrust dug into her opening. The moment she gasped out, her dagger was already flying away. Blood spluttered from the cut wound.
His sword was now pointing straight her neck.
“Jung-Hyeok-ssi! Please stop!”
“H-hold on, master! Are you mad!! What’s gotten into you!?”
The companions arriving belatedly approached them to stop the fighting.
However, Yu Jung-Hyeok didn’t even look behind at them as he swung his sword. The gob-smacking level of magical energy wave shot out from the [Dark Heavenly Demon Sword] and drew a line of roiling flames one step in front of the companions.
“No one crosses that line. If you do, I will cut y....”
Han Su-Yeong’s left foot rising up in the blink of an eye accurately kicked his wrist. The [Dark Heavenly Demon Sword] gripped in his hand flung away, drew circles in the air, before stabbing into the ground.
Han Su-Yeong growled at him. “Yu Jung-Hyeok. I’m sure you already know this, but... I really, really hate to see a rotten apple spoiling the whole barrel.”
“You know, I was feeling pretty good up until a few minutes ago. Specifically, before you started doing this crap, that is... I guess the peace of the past two years have been too sweet for me, seeing how I’ve completely forgotten about what kind of a bastard you are.”
It was hard to tell just who her boiling rage was directed at.
Han Su-Yeong recalled the faces of her companions reading her novel. The faces that grew at ease as they read the story.
The companions, everyone else, even herself.... they were about to feel brave enough to finally take that one step forward, away from ‘that day’. Yet...
Han Su-Yeong stopped both Jeong Hui-Won and Yu Sang-Ah about to cross the burning line. “You two, stay back. Looks like today is finally the day I pound some sense into this guy.”
As soon as those words ended, both the figures of Han Su-Yeong and Yu Jung-Hyeok vanished. The place they met again was in the air dozens of metres off the ground. The thunderclap-like explosions rang out and their fists collided against one another.
The blade of Han Su-Yeong’s hand slammed hard into Yu Jung-Hyeok’s waist, while his right kick landed on her solar plexus. The exchange of attacks and defences that even Constellations’ eyesights found hard to keep up continued on. Blood trickled down her lips, while large, bloody bruises formed on his arms raised up to guard him.
Yi Ji-Hye watching the fight unfold couldn’t hold back and reached for her own sword. It was Yu Sang-Ah who stopped her.
“Eonni? But why?”
“Let them be for the time being.”
Perhaps she had predicted something, because while stopping the companions, she spread out her lotus pedestals, as well. She was planning to protect the civilians from the storm of aftermaths soon to visit them.
Right next second, the atmosphere up in the sky began to change.
[Great Fable, ‘Torch that Swallowed the Myth’, has started its stammered attempt at storytelling.]
[Great Fable, ‘Liberator of the Forgotten Ones’, is waking up from the darkness.]
The clash of these two managed to awaken the old Fables. Han Su-Yeong summoned all of her strength to broke through Yu Jung-Hyeok’s fist and shouted out.
“Speak up! Why today, of all days? Why have you been staying quiet for the last two years only to start this crap today?!”
“None of your business.”
“Aha, is that so.”
She didn’t plan on going this far. However, looking at the expressionless face of Yu Jung-Hyeok acting like a damn stubborn mule, she simply couldn’t rein in her boiling anger anymore.
“I always hated you. And regretted it, too. Why did I write the story of someone like you with my own hands?”
She’d never have said these words in any other times. Even then, she continued to spit out everything anyway.
“I cursed my other self. If this story didn’t exist, none of these things would’ve happened. No one would’ve died. And Kim Dok-Ja might have....!”
Yu Jung-Hyeok’s fist finding that brief window of opening cut her words short. He kept his mouth resolutely shut and continued to fight. Though she hadn’t heard a proper answer yet, Han Su-Yeong knew why he was trying to get a hold of the [Final Ark].
“We already failed. Since we came home with our tails between our legs, you should’ve quietly accepted it and moved on. Have you really forgotten everything [The 4th Wall] said to us?”
She knew the truth, and that was why she just couldn’t stand it anymore.
⸢You shouldn’t have been greedy. No, y o u sh oul d’ve be en con te nt wi th 49% Kim Dok Ja⸥
[The 4th Wall]’s voice from that day, the one she had never forgotten until now.
Yu Jung-Hyeok finally opened his mouth. “Spoken like a true loser. You simply gave up, that’s all.”
Every time their fists collided, the worn-out Fables scattered in the air. The fragments emitting faint rays of light settled down on his cheeks.
It was only then did she spot his messed-up appearance. The unkempt, stiffened hair, and his rather unsightly-looking unwashed face.
Han Su-Yeong sucked in her breath and took a step back in that instant. Some memories brushed past her head just then – Yu Mi-Ah, showing up one day while crying her eyes out and saying that her oppa had just disappeared, and Yu Jung-Hyeok, walking away from the pro gamer job he barely managed to earn back, and vanishing into thin air.
⸢Should I have started off with how he had been doing all this time?⸥
Golden aura was focusing on his right hand. That was the beginning of the [Breaking the Sky Force Punch]. He was being deadly serious here. Han Su-Yeong hurriedly unfurled her right hand.
[Stigma, ‘Character Summon’, is activating!]
At the bare minimum, if she used this skill to fling him far away, then...
[Applicable individual is no longer a ‘Character’.]
She belatedly realised it – the ‘Yu Jung-Hyeok’ standing before her eyes was not the character from the ‘Ways of Survival’ she had written.
After Kim Dok-Ja’s final act had arrived, and after the ‘Ways of Survival’s story came to an end, Yu Jung-Hyeok had completely broken free of the position of the ‘Character’.
A punch wrapped in pure golden light scythed the air and flew in. She activated every single evasion skill she could.
The attack brushed past her shoulder with the thinnest margin imaginable. The storm of aftermath from that improbably powerful punch pricked her painfully.
Yu Jung-Hyeok muttered out. “....Your skills have barely lost any of their original powers. Is this due to the system’s grace?”
The only reason why Han Su-Yeong’s skills could still exhibit such power was because she received the Bureau’s Fable from the 1865th turn’s Bihyung.
Yu Jung-Hyeok asked her with an emotionless voice. “This world no longer needs the system. Yet, why did you receive that Fable from him?”
“Obviously to maintain Kim Dok-Ja’s life.”
They went through with the [Group Regression] because Kim Dok-Ja’s Avatar was increasingly getting weaker. And she received the Bureau’s Fable just in case something similar happens to Kim Dok-Ja.
“Why did you do something like that? You should know this. That fool cannot wake up again,” said Yu Jung-Hyeok.
“Kim Dok-Ja isn’t dead y-!”
“If you really believe that, then why are you stopping me?”
For a moment there, she became speechless.
Yu Jung-Hyeok then flashed right behind her, and slammed down on her back. Han Su-Yeong crash-landed on the ground. She coughed out thick dust and stood back up, then shouted at him while tottering unsteadily.
“....Yu Jung-Hyeok, wake the hell up! You think this is what Kim Dok-Ja really wants? He told you, didn’t he? He told you not to abandon this world. And you also agreed!”
“That’s right. I agreed not to regress.”
“Don’t make me laugh! You can’t regress anymore, that’s what. If you still could do it, you’d probably have gone back!!”
“I may have.”
Yu Jung-Hyeok’s golden eye began to glow brightly within the thick dust cloud. And that eye was now questioning Han Su-Yeong.
“Are you any different?”
She couldn’t answer back. But in her stead, Kim Dok-Ja’s Fables still remaining within her grasp replied.
[Fable, ‘One Who Opposes Miracles’, is lamenting in sorrow.]
These were words that she just couldn’t let go. She wrote them down somewhere sometimes to endure her life. Telling herself not to regress, to live in the present. She continued to reflect on those obvious-sounding words of the past, and continued to endure moment by every moment. That was her past two years.
“It seems that you too couldn’t forget anything.”
Han Su-Yeong dashed forward in an instant and punched him squarely in the face. Every time their fists flew out, the Fables they shared and compiled together writhed violently.
[Fable, ‘King of Kaixenix’, is being agitated.]
She believed that she worked hard to endure. She believed that a lot of time had passed by now, as much as all the sentences she had written down. She breathed, she ate, and she slumbered – Han Su-Yeong survived in that manner.
⸢You are not a regressor because you regress.⸥
However, could she really say she had been living a life that way?
⸢Some people would live their entire lives inside the already-ended past.⸥
Every time bones in her fists were crushed, Fables scattered away little by little – Fables, the raw memories preserved as was without any revisions. Han Su-Yeong reflexively began retrieving these scattering Fables.
She didn’t want to let go of any one of them. She didn’t want to forget about a single thing.
⸢For the past two years, she hadn’t been able to take a single step forward.⸥
Han Su-Yeong panted breathlessly and spoke up. “What do you think will change if you do this now?”
“Even if you leave, you won’t find Kim Dok-Ja. And you can’t even go anywhere.”
“Besides, this world-line’s [Ark] is already destroyed. Did you forget what happened back during the final battle? That isn’t an ark. And we can’t leave this world-line even if we wanted to!”
The powers of the two people collided once more. Accompanied by the loud “Ku-dududu!!” noise, the storm was generated from their magical energy. Yu Jung-Hyeok standing in the centre of the storm then replied.
“I’ve compiled so many Fables up until now, but I still do not know what my ■■ is.”
The vigorous, ferocious Fable exploded within the air. He didn’t pay any heed to the precious Fables being damaged and simply swung his fists.
“You wrote my story. In that case, you should also know where my story is supposed to end.”
At that moment, sentences began streaming past Han Su-Yeong’s head.
⸢Did Yu Jung-Hyeok really come here to acquire the [Final Ark]?⸥
The belated realisation flooded in.
The regressor weary of the scenarios could only carry on because the scenarios existed.
Yu Jung-Hyeok then began gathering all of his remaining Fables. All these Fables belonging to a man who had finally escaped from the curse of regression bared their collective fangs at Han Su-Yeong.
“Hit me with everything you’ve got, Han Su-Yeong.”
⸢This was Yu Jung-Hyeok’s last stand.⸥
Every cell in her body was ringing alarm bells.
The regressor who had repeated lengthy lifetimes.
A certain emotion floated upon those eyes that had been described dozens, hundreds of times before. Han Su-Yeong knew very well what that emotion was.
Yu Jung-Hyeok wished to die in this place.
Not by the hands of anyone, but by the existence who had written his very first sentence.
“Screw you!! You’ve never, ever done what I wanted from you, so what the hell!!”
Yu Jung-Hyeok unleashing all of his might swung his fist again – one attack that focused all of his great Fables. The climax of the fight was about to be reached. Han Su-Yeong too unleashed all of her Fables. And then...
An explosion akin to a star blowing up rocked the world.
Everything hurt as if her entire body had been pounded on. Every bone in her right fist thrust forward was broken. Her companions cried out, while other spectators screamed. Han Su-Yeong endured the force of impact while stuck in this ringing pain harsh enough to tear out her eardrums. Her whole body was now left in tatters.
Yu Jung-Hyeok was collapsed on the ground, unmoving.
Her heart began pounding away.
The tips of his hand trembled ever so faintly. He slowly opened his eyes and looked up at her. She panted heavily and barely managed to force out some words.
“.....This is a little different from back then in the Dark Castle, right?”
The moment she finished saying that, both of her legs gave way. When did she get hit? All the bones in her knees had been completely crushed.
“Doesn’t look that way,” muttered Yu Jung-Hyeok.
“You son of a....”
Two of them collapsed face-first into the ground. Han Su-Yeong crawled towards Yu Jung-Hyeok. Her anger didn’t seem like it’d abate soon unless she smacked him just one more time, somehow.
Her hand shaking precariously was about to slap him in the back of his head, but unfortunately, his own right hand shaking pitifully grabbed onto her wrist first. And so, the arms of two people started a contest of what little strengths they had left in mid-air, only for them miss each other and sag down weakly. They truly had not one drop of energy left to continue.
The torn scars left behind in the skies by the collision of their Fables could be seen. And the view of the distant <Star Stream> could be spied within the horribly-torn sky. The few remaining stars of the night sky sparkled and sent their faint rays of light on the two people.
Yu Jung-Hyeok staring at that spectacle for a long while spoke in passing. “....Kim Dok-Ja is supposed to be scattered to the rest of the universe.”
Kim Dok-Ja’s soul, scattered away into fine little pieces. How much of him truly remained within those tiny fragments? Even Han Su-Yeong couldn’t be sure.
Except that, she was sure of the tiny ‘Kim Dok-Jas’ being born as some things in the mouths of the worlds she hadn’t even thought of. He might be reborn as a human. Maybe the place was similar to Earth. Maybe this time, he’d be born in another continent, not in the Korean Peninsula.
“Do you think that that fool has become happier now?”
The moment she heard him, Han Su-Yeong felt that something had finally come to an end.
The mouth of her heart ached really painfully. She could clearly hear the sounds of something breaking – the sounds of a story coming to an end. The sounds of their truly long mourning finally drawing to a close. That was the sound of someone only living in their past finally letting go of that very past. Right at that moment, Han Su-Yeong was overcome by the bizarre guilt of corruption, of betrayal.
“Kim Dok-Ja, he....”
⸢Was it possible that he didn’t want us to give up?⸥
Could it be that even if everyone else let go of their long, agonising sorrow, he wished for just one person to continue on with the acts of sheer stupidity at the cost of ruining their life?
She heard Yu Jung-Hyeok coughing away painfully and muttered out what she needed to say. “I’m sure he’s doing well. He’s a tough guy, after all.”
“He’s probably living a life of his own out there, and living it happily, too. Who knows, he might be reading some other weird book in the meantime, too.”
“Even if we find him, the fool probably won’t remember anything.”
This was the end of their mourning.
There was no meaning in crossing the world-line anymore. Even if they did find that ‘Kim Dok-Ja’, what could they possibly do? They couldn’t certainly impose the past on someone who didn’t remember. The reincarnated Kim Dok-Ja wasn’t the ‘Kim Dok-Ja’. The one they knew no longer existed in this universe, no matter where they looked.
Even then, Han Su-Yeong still blurted out something strange.
“We don’t know that. If the ‘Ways of Survival’ also exists in the place where he’s reincarnated into, then...”
Right away, she felt puzzled by why she said something like that.
“As I said, the Ways of Survival....”
Her mouth continued to mutter out, perhaps to reject her own will.
⸢Kim Dok-Ja, the ‘Most Ancient Dream’, has been scattered throughout the universe.⸥
Her mind began spitting out disorienting sentences one after the other.
⸢This universe is maintained by the imagination of the ‘Most Ancient Dream’.⸥
⸢In that case, what is the ‘Most Ancient Dream’ dreaming about right now?⸥
Creeping goosebumps crawled up her arms. She didn’t even want to think about it, yet...
⸢”Ahjussi from another world-line probably likes books, too. Right?”⸥
This was truly a nonsensical delusion.
Even then, despite knowing that, Han Su-Yeong couldn’t stop her thought process.
Kim Dok-Ja, reading someone’s novel while carrying an expression she couldn’t imagine on the other side of the distant universe.
“That guy, he... Is he still curious about the conclusion to this story, I wonder?” Han Su-Yeong asked.
“....What are you talking about?”
“What if... What if the countless ‘Kim Dok-Jas’ scattered to the rest of universe read a certain story all at the same time.....”
⸢Why did Constellations try to spread their own fables as far and as wide as possible?⸥
⸢How come the foundation of this world was ‘stories’?⸥
“What if all those Kim Dok-Jas who had forgotten that he is the ‘Most Ancient Dream’, dreams of the same story?”
The way to rediscover Kim Dok-Ja, without ruining the lives of the reincarnated Kim Dok-Jas living in other world-lines.
Han Su-Yeong’s hazy, indistinct sounding voice continued on.
“What if the story he’s dreaming of... is the same as the story we all wish for....?”
Her chain of thought was broken only after a pitch-black shadow was cast over her head.
“This area was earmarked to be renovated as a public park, but thanks to you two, it’s complete chaos here.”
Since when was it? Anna Croft was standing there.
“Are you planning to cross the world-line again?”
Han Su-Yeong belatedly regained her wits after seeing that woman’s face. She then remembered the delusion she’d been cooking up just now and felt ashamed by it.
From the get-go, that idea was nonsense. To make Kim Dok-Jas of other world-lines dream of the novel she had written. What a crazy and empty talk that was.
More importantly, there was no way to cross to other world-lines in this world, anyway.
But then, Anna Croft’s expression was somewhat strange. “I thought that a day like this might come sooner or later.”
Her eye was emitting the crimson glow. Her gaze was now directed at the steeple of the museum.
At the replica of the [Final Ark].
Han Su-Yeong’s heart began beating faster and faster. Such a thing was not possible. It shouldn’t be possible, but... How?
Slowly, so very slowly, the so-called replica began floating up from the top of the museum.
Yu Jung-Hyeok and his brows shot up high was already sitting up as he stared at the airborne object.
The ark – its size might have been very small, but without a doubt, it was still an ark.
“I collected some parts and had it fixed for the past 20 years, just in case. If none of you had returned, then I was planning to go and visit you. Although not many parts could be salvaged and the vessel has not been repaired completely....”
The ark slowly floating up opened like a capsule and revealed its interior. This was a very small [Final Ark] where only one person could barely fit inside.
“It can be used. Except, only one person can ride it.”
<Epilogue 4. The Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint (10)> Fin.
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