Chapter 339. Misunderstandings and Prejudice (2)
After Seo Jun-Ho went back, the four Heroes and Cha Si-Eun remained in the strategy meeting tent, and a heavy air settled between them.
“Okay.” Skaya clapped her hands together, trying to forcefully uplift the mood. “Let’s begin our first ‘How do we fix that idiot?’ meeting.”
Rahmadat raised his hand first.
“You’re making me nervous, raising your hand and all. What is it?” Skaya asked.
“You know how Koreans have that saying about how pain is the best teacher?”
“So you’re suggesting that we beat Jun-Ho up?”
“Wouldn’t he wake up if we did that?”
Aside from Rahmadat, everyone shook their heads.
“Okay, no one agrees, right? Rejected! Does anyone have a better idea?” Skaya asked.
“...Coincidentally, I read a good book a while ago that should help in a situation like this,” Gilberto said confidently.
“What did it say?”
“It said that the best thing to do when someone is led astray is to list all their mistakes one by one and to make them realize their own mistakes. Moreover, it said that violence isn’t a very good method.”
“Were you reading parenting books again?”
“...Why does that matter?”
Aside from Gilberto, everyone shook their heads.
“Does no one have a better proposal?”
Everyone whipped their heads around when they heard a voice coming from the supposedly empty seat next to them. A little girl was sitting there, arms crossed with an unimpressed look.
Skaya stared blankly at her, and her eyes went wide. “Wait, are you... Frost? Are you Frost?”
“Indeed, it is I.” Frost had been cute and tiny, but now, she had grown up.
Rahmadat looked at her doubtfully. “Hey, kid. By chance, can you go back to the past with Jun-Ho?”
“I am not a ‘kid.’ But yes, that is correct.” She thought for a second before bowing her head deeply. “...Please fix my Contractor.”
“We want that, too. But it didn’t seem like Jun-Ho himself even knows there’s something off with him.”
“That’s the weirdest part.” Rahmadat frowned. “Doesn’t he have Hero’s Mind? I even heard that it became S-grade.”
“He’s in that state because he has the skill. Otherwise, he would have gone crazy long ago.”
Dying 105 times was much too high of a number for a human to endure without any consequences.
“Indeed. Each death has been eating away at Contractor’s emotions, little by little.”
“His emotions? This is serious,” Gilberto said.
Mio carefully opened her mouth after listening quietly the whole time. “...I propose that we use the Mania Snake Poison.”
Their faces paled.
Cha Si-Eun stared at them and asked cautiously, “Um, what is the Mania Snake Poison?”
“As the name suggests, it is poison.” Mio reached into her Inventory and pulled out a small medicine bottle made of wood. “It is typically used for torture. Ingestion causes the brain to amplify one’s senses and emotions beyond limits.”
“Yes. The human brain has safety measures in place.” So that a person wouldn’t go crazy if they experienced too many emotions or sensations at the same time.
And the Mania Snake Poison destroyed those safety measures.
“I once saw someone ingest the poison. Just like its namesake, they writhed like a snake,” Gilberto said.
All senses would be sharpened to their peak. The sensation of one’s clothes on one’s skin or even the breeze would cause pain.
“It doesn’t just amplify the senses; it amplifies emotions, too.”
Victims would feel ten times more depressed, ten times more pain, and ten times angrier.
“It’s a cold-hearted method, but it has the potential to revive Jun-Ho’s dulled emotions.”
“But it’s still too risky...” Skaya remarked. She fell into thought. They would certainly be able to temporarily revive Seo Jun-Ho’s dead emotions if they used the poison. But it would be accompanied by unimaginable pain. “If we used it incorrectly and Jun-Ho ends up being even more broken, it’ll be over.”
If he kept going back to the past with that pain, there would be nothing he could do.
“Then what do you suggest that we do?”
“We should make a new version of the poison.” Skaya stood from her seat. “I’ll analyze the components and reverse engineer it to make it less risky.”
“I don’t think we’ll have enough time for that, too.”
“Now, why’s that?” Skaya frowned. “I’m Skaya Killiland.”
She had invented the art of magic and was the first genius mage on Earth. She snatched the bottle up.
“For something like this, three hours will be more than enough.”
Seo Jun-Ho walked on his own around the city. Everyone had left. He rode a swing at a playground by himself, sat down at a convenience store, and ate ice cream.
The city was so quiet that the squeaking of a mouse couldn’t even be heard. Once again, he could feel that strange feeling of emptiness that occasionally came to him.
‘I have to get it together.’ If he failed, everything would truly be over. He still had more than 250 chances left, so he should take his time to figure things out.
“Contractor!” The Frost Queen waved from afar and came running. She held out a can of a sports drink. “Drink this. Right now.”
Good timing. His throat was feeling dry. The Frost Queen stared intently at him as he gulped the beverage down.
“How is it?” she asked.
“What do you think? It tastes the same as always.”
“...Really?” She looked at the empty Pocari Sweat can in her hand and looked glum.
“It has a Mania Snake Potion in it,” said a voice.
Seo Jun-Ho turned around without getting up from the bench.
His friends and Cha Si-Eun had somehow arrived behind him.
“What did you say?”
“We put a version of Mania Snake Potion in the drink you just drank.”
“What’s the meaning of this?” Seo Jun-Ho’s eyes narrowed. As far as he knew, Mania Snake Potion was used by the Tenmei clan for the purpose of torture.
And they fed him that?
Skaya stepped forward and diffused the situation. “We had no other choice but to do it to bring your emotions back.”
“Who says I don’t have emotions?”
“Except you, everyone.” Skaya looked at him with a tired smile.
Seo Jun-Ho looked around. Rahmadat, Gilberto, Mio, Cha Si-Eun, and even the Frost Queen were nodding.
“Contractor, you have lost your emotions throughout the cycle of death,” she said.
“Seriously, what’s wrong with you guys? I’m telling you, I’m fine.”
The Frost Queen shook her head. “The Contractor I know would not say that he is relieved to someone sad over losing an arm.”
“And he would not ponder about how to use a companion he used to respect.”
Seo Jun-Ho’s heart pounded. Somehow, he felt his chest twisting up.
‘...Ugh, it hurts.’
It hurt. He gripped his chest because his heart ached, but he didn’t feel any better.
At that, he finally realized.
- Still, I’m glad you’re still alive. Because of the Save Point, I can’t go back anymore, you see.
- It would be convenient to use Cha Si-Eun as a secretary this time.
He had said those words...
He had thought of those things...
Seo Jun-Ho started trembling.
‘...I shouldn’t have done any of that.’
His heart was as dry as a desert, but a small ripple went through it.
At that moment, Seo Jun-Ho genuinely realized.
‘...Something’s wrong with me.’
And he suddenly felt suspicious.
‘What about Hero’s Mind? What the hell was it doing that I became like this?’
“Event Log,” he hurriedly said while panicking. A long list of messages appeared before him. He skimmed through them, and his eyes darkened.
[Hero’s Mind (S) has sensed that the Player is experiencing extreme fear.]
[Hero’s Mind (S) has forcibly stabilized the Player’s mind.]
He had found it.
He finally knew why he hadn’t realized what was wrong with him until now.
‘This bastard was doing whatever it wanted. It forcefully stabilized me, so I wouldn’t break.’
But in this case, it ended up being a double-edged sword. If it weren’t for his friends’ interference, he would have never realized what he had done wrong. If he had gone on to the fourth and fifth Quest in such a terrible condition...
‘Even if I succeeded...’
He would have severed his relationships with everyone around him. Just thinking about it sent a shiver down his spine.
‘I owe them big time...’
Seo Jun-Ho closed his eyes. This hadn’t always been the case, actually. At the very least, he had been fine until the 60th—no, until about the 65th regression. Back then, he always talked with his friends and looked for better solutions with them.
‘But all of them failed...’
He failed to kill Erebo’s clone, and he had to carry the responsibility and knowledge all by himself. He grew more and more exhausted, but his friends would always say the same things, like robots.
At that point, he had thought to himself.
‘If it’s going to be like this, I’ll just do it by myself.’
But now, he finally realized it for the first time.
‘The only reason I was able to go on until the 60th regression without any problems was all because of my friends.’
Humans were much weaker than most people thought. They didn’t have what it took to carry all the weight by themselves. They needed others to help them.
After realizing this, Seo Jun-Ho slowly opened his eyes, and they looked as clear as ever.
He looked at his friends with those bright eyes and spoke, “...Please help me.”
“Unfortunately, you won’t be able to do it on this regression.” Skaya carefully pointed out. “It’s too late to fight with the others after killing Erebo’s clone.”
“Skaya’s right. Even before you arrived, the Players’ morale was already too low.”
“The bigger issue is that the cockroaches started to become stronger a month ago.”
Seo Jun-Ho gnashed his teeth a little. “...I have no other choice because I can’t go back to the beginning anymore.”
“What would that mean?” Cha Si-Eun asked, eyes wide. Seo Jun-Ho explained his current situation.
“What? The Save Point was changed?”
“It happened after I killed Erebo’s clone.”
“Hm. Wait a moment. This is something I didn’t expect... Let me think of some solutions.”
While Skaya was deep in her thoughts, Gilberto asked, “Don’t most games have at least three save slots?”
“That’s right. So even if you make the wrong choice, you can just go back to the previous save file.”
“Does the diary have a feature like that?”
“It doesn’t,” Seo Jun-Ho said, pulling out the diary.
Actually, he had been wondering about the same thing.
‘But the diary doesn’t have anything written about choosing a Save Point.’
He had opened the book once as he was dying. However, he still went back to the same point.
Gilberto looked through the diary for a long time before he sighed. “So let’s assume that there’s only one save slot. Is it a system that wipes out the previous data no matter what? If that’s the case, then this is the worst-case scenario.”
“Wait.” Skaya finally emerged from her thoughts and inspected the diary all over before asking, “Can’t you just rip the diary?”
“What are you saying? Why would I do that?” Seo Jun-Ho retorted, shocked.
“Oh, let me rephrase that.” She tapped on the 105th page with a long finger. “If we assume that each page is a saved file, the most recent page would contain the latest data.”
“Yeah, but—Wait, are you saying...?” Seo Jun-Ho’s eyes went wide when he realized what Skaya was trying to say. “I see. Maybe that’s it.”
“The possibility’s pretty big...”
“I believe that would be a good method as well.”
Only Rahmadat looked confused, as he didn’t know much about games. “What the heck are you guys talking about? Explain it so I can understand.”
“It’s simple.” Seo Jun-Ho took the diary back and ripped out the 105th page without hesitation. “If she’s correct, when I die, I’ll go back to—”
“The beginning of the 104th regression, not after he killed Erebo,” Skaya concluded.
Because Seo Jun-Ho had just erased the Save Point.
“Oh, wow.” Rahmadat finally understood.
He was about to say something else when an intense aura bore down on them.
They looked out the window. At some point, night had fallen.
“Does the second city have a special entity this strong?” asked Seo Jun-Ho.
“N-no. There hasn’t been anything this strong...” Skaya muttered, dumbstruck. She quickly ran out of the apartment. She stared at the fortress wall from the hallway and gripped her forehead. “Oh... my god.”
They could see a giant insect, and the insect had an enormous tree on his back.
Seo Jun-Ho followed after her, and a message appeared before him.
[You have discovered the boss monster of Another World, Erebo.]
[Once defeated, safe zones will appear in the Another World area.]
“Erebo...” Seo Jun-Ho let out a small groan. Indeed, it was already too late. Erebo had finally consumed most of the World Tree, and with the power he gained, it was now about time that he attacked the city.
Keen Intuition spoke. He hadn’t said much lately.
-I never thought that I would say this to you...
“Why, do you have any good ideas?”
Keen Intuition sighed.
- Kill yourself right this instant. I have a very bad feeling.
No. No matter the situation, this was a precious opportunity to gather data about the real Erebo. Why would he immediately kill himself without even trying to fight Erebo?
However, when Keen Intuition spoke again, Seo Jun-Ho had no other choice but to take out a dagger.
- I have a strong feeling that you will not be able to regress again if you die at his hand.
He cursed under his breath.
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