Omniscient Reader's Viewpoint - Chapter 464 - Myth-grade Constellation (2)[Updated at: 2021-01-11 17:15:11]
Chapter 464: Episode 88 – Myth-grade Constellation (2)
Like a breaking glass, the sky above cracked apart with black lines running through it.
Yi Hyeon-Seong stared at the heavens filling up with rifts and asked me. “Sergeant Kim Dok-Ja-nim? Are we really going to be alright?”
I too had to look up after listening to him. The world seemed to be crumbling down.
The reason for that was clear – someone was attacking <Oz> from the outside. Not just anyone, but incredibly powerful beings, no less.
I turned back and discovered my companions looking at me; Yu Jung-Hyeok, Han Su-Yeong, Yu Sang-Ah, Jeong Hui-Won…..
I didn’t have to say it, but we already knew what our choice would be.
“It’ll be fine. Do you think I’m a sergeant just for a show? Don’t worry about a thing.”
The sky was breaking down. Yet, how could he say it was all fine?
Yi Hyeon-Seong couldn’t quite understand it. Was the military originally like this?
⸢Kim Dok-Ja simply smiled quietly.⸥
A calm, collected smile floated upon his face.
Sergeant Kim Dok-Ja would only say this. “Even the squad leader will tell you it’s fine.”
Indeed, the squad leader really did gather the soldiers in the training ground a short while later and began her speech.
She might be small-statured, but still, was overflowing with charisma. With an unreadable expression on her face, she scanned the rest of the troops and opened her mouth. “Your squad leader, me, is really disappointed in you.”
That unexpected opening caused the soldiers to tense up.
“You have not read ReadNovelFulls during your downtime.”
Yi Hyeon-Seong inwardly flinched. It was true. Even yesterday, he didn’t read ReadNovelFulls during his break but practised the military gymnastics routine with Yu Jung-Hyeok.
“And so, this squad leader is planning to leave this base.”
Yi Hyeon-Seong became stupefied by that unexpected declaration.
….She was leaving? Hushed murmurs could be heard coming from here and there.
“And Yi Hyeon-Seong.”
When he regained his wits, she was already beside him, her hand resting on his shoulder.
“Private second class Yi Hyeon-Seong, ma’am!”
This would be his first time seeing her up close. Her name and rank could be seen on top of her neatly arranged uniform.
Captain Han Su-Yeong – that was her rank, and her name.
⸢”How long are you planning to stay dazed? You better start moving! You wish to see Kim Dok-Ja kicking the bucket?”⸥
Why was this? For a moment there, a stinging pain accompanied a set of strange memories brushing past his mind.
What was that just now….?
“Look, you’re stupefied again.”
“P-Private second class Yi Hyeon-Seong!”
The squad leader stared at him with unreadable eyes before lightly patted him on his cheek. “You better read more books, okay? You’re slow, so you simply have to read lots more books. You’ll survive for longer that way.”
Squad leader Han Su-Yeong left behind indecipherable words and left the base.
Two days after Captain Han Su-Yeong left.
The cracks in the skies were growing larger. It was like seeing the first signs of a world coming to an end.
“Yi Hyeon-Seong, have you memorised the exercise routine yet?”
He looked behind to discover Private first-class Yu Jung-Hyeok.
“Private second class Yi Hyeon-Seong! I’ve memorised everything!”
“You’ve filled up the army-issue canteen, too?”
“I’ve filled it up with exactly two litres!”
Yi Hyeon-Seong felt a bit scared by that pair of sharp, angry eyes. He hadn’t made any mistakes, yet they remained critical.
“What about the barracks code of conduct?”
“P-Private second class Yi Hyeon-Seong!! T-that, I haven’t….!”
The moment he said that, he inwardly went, oops, I’ll get scolded again. He swallowed nervously and just as he tried to squeeze his eyes shut, heard Yu Jung-Hyeok’s voice.
“You should be able to memorise it soon. It’s not that long, anyway.”
“….Pardon? Ah, you must’ve heard me wrong. No, I have not…!”
What on earth was going on here? He made two consecutive mistakes just now, yet Yu Jung-Hyeok didn’t criticise him.
Not only that, those scary eyes were no longer angry when looking back at Yi Hyeon-Seong.
“I will be shipping out tomorrow.”
“….I don’t quite follow, senior?”
“Yi Hyeon-Seong, you can’t refer to the field manual on everything. You won’t find a senior willing to aid you every single time.”
Why was this?
Why did Private first-class Yu Jung-Hyeok’s back turning around to leave feel so familiar to him?
“There will come a time when you must make a choice not found within the manual.”
Those were the last words left behind by the Private first-class Yu Jung-Hyeok.
Members of the squad began disappearing one by one. First, it was Captain Han Su-Yeong, Private first class Yu Jung-Hyeok, followed by Lieutenant Yu Sang-Ah. When he regained his wits, the non-commissioned officer, Sergeant first class Jeong Hui-Won had become the squad’s top presiding commander. (Even though the situation made no sense, Yi Hyeon-Seong told himself it couldn’t be helped because it was emergency.)
Yi Hyeon-Seong’s daily tasks after performing the morning and evening roll call were to check the base’s infrastructure or accompany Sergeant Kim Dok-Ja to the barracks’ library.
“The military nowadays even stock wuxia novels? Wow, this is a really old book, too.”
Kim Dok-Ja loved books. Actually, it went beyond a simple love affair – he was the kind of a man who spent the whole day reading books.
Yi Hyeon-Seong would sit next to him and quietly observe him excitedly flip the pages.
“Don’t you want to read, too?”
“Uh, no, I, I’m….”
Before Yi Hyeon-Seong could reply, yet another boom spread out from the sky.
Kim Dok-Ja’s expression faintly hardened.
When the boom was heard for the first time four days ago, Captain Han Su-Yeong went away, and after the second boom two days ago, Private first class Yu Jung-Hyeok disappeared next.
Yi Hyeon-Seong grew restless.
“Kim Dok-Ja Sergeant-nim.”
“By any chance, are you also leaving, sir?”
People were leaving him behind. He was continuously losing something.
Kim Dok-Ja smirked softly. “Probably. I’m a sergeant already. I gotta get discharged soon. I’m definitely not planning to make a career out of this place.”
“You also want to get out of here as soon as possible, right?”
Yi Hyeon-Seong was about to reply with, “Yes, I do”, but then, his eyes suddenly caught the sight of barbed-wire fences outside the windows. They looked so sturdy and intimidating.
Why did he feel this, though? He felt fearful of going outside those fences.
If he carelessly went beyond the fences, he’d definitely get hurt. However, they would become barriers protecting him as long as he stayed inside.
When he thought like that, he felt his heart calm down.
The skies were falling. There was an unknown world outside where code of conduct for living in barracks or the military gymnastics exercise held no meaning.
He shifted his gaze back to discover Kim Dok-Ja staring at him. The sergeant’s lips bobbed up and down as if he wanted to say something, but then, a sly grin suddenly formed on his lips. “Hey, if you wish to leave, you better read more books, man.”
“….Will reading lots of books reduce the period of active service?”
Kim Dok-Ja’s lips twitched after hearing that question. “Reading a book and writing a report on it might be enough to get you a vacation.”
A book report?
“See, there will be a book report contest being held within our division. Read that and apply for it. If yours get picked, you’ll get time-off as a prize.”
The noticeboard Kim Dok-Ja pointed at had a poster advertising the army’s book report contest. Yi Hyeon-Seong learned for the first time that such a thing existed.
Ah, so it was true, this book report thing. If he wrote that, he’d be able to earn some time off the base.
“When you’re finished, you gotta let me read it, okay?”
It was after the following morning’s roll call that sergeant Kim Dok-Ja had vanished.
“It’s only us two remaining, so who cares about daily tasks?”
Sergeant first class Jeong Hui-Won grumbled loudly.
Yi Hyeon-Seong smiled sheepishly and pulled out weeds growing near the base. “Well, we don’t know what might happen, ma’am. The squad leader might suddenly return, and….”
Jeong Hui-Won sat on a bench and while resting her chins on her hands, watched Yi Hyeon-Seong as if he was a mysterious new lifeform.
“Do you like this place?”
The usual Sergeant first class wouldn’t have used such a tone of voice. However, her voice still managed to elicit this inexplicable sense of longing in him.
Maybe it was that longing allowing him to reply honestly right away.
“It’s neither like or dislike, ma’am.”
A place that he neither liked or disliked. That was exactly what Yi Hyeon-Seong’s impression on the ‘military’ was.
“Except that, I don’t have to think about anything while I’m here.”
That’s right – that was the reason why he chose the army.
While he was here, he could forget about the outside world. Employment, enrolment, gazes of others, issues of the outside world, family affairs, dilemmas he could never solve no matter what he did.
“….But then, I’ve been thinking lately that I kind of like it here.”
What did he exactly like about this place, anyway? He couldn’t describe it properly.
⸢”I like you.”⸥
And why did his heart ache so much?
Sergeant first class Jeong Hui-Won looking straight at him suddenly spoke up. “In that case, you stay here, Yi Hyeon-Seong. Wait for us until we come back.”
He couldn’t reply with “I didn’t quite catch you”.
Because he simply couldn’t mishear what she was saying.
“We’ll protect your world.”
The moment he wanted to say something, blinding rays of light poured down from the sky, and the Sergeant first class Jeong Hui-Won disappeared from his view.
Before anyone had noticed it, the cracks in the skies had already swallowed up half of the heavens.
And so, Yi Hyeon-Seong became alone.
Just what am I doing?
Is this place really an army base?
The army that I knew is…..
Yi Hyeon-Seong repeated his daily tasks and continued to protect the base with no one in it. He woke up at the fixed time, did his roll call, and did the military gymnastics routine. After that, he finished disciplining his mind and began his daily tasks.
However, he had no more things to do now. He even finished pulling out all the weeds found in the base yesterday.
“….The book report.”
He belatedly recalled Kim Dok-Ja’s words.
He was told to write a report. To read a book, and write his report on it.
Yi Hyeon-Seong went up to the barracks’ library. As if to let the world know that Kim Dok-Ja used to be here, there was a pile of books gathered up on that spot.
He reached out to the book on top of that pile, all the while sensing this strange feeling. The book itself was a familiar one.
⸢The Wizard of Oz, ver. 999⸥
Even he had heard of this book’s name from somewhere. However, he had never read it before. Yi Hyeon-Seong flipped the cover open and began reading the first sentence.
⸢The tin soldier was scared of having a heart.⸥
A tin soldier, was it? It must’ve been the Wizard of Oz’s protagonist. He continued to flip through the pages.
⸢The first comrade the tin soldier met was a really scary man. The tin soldier called him ‘Captain’.⸥
The moment he read that line, his head pulsed in pain. Captain?
⸢The tin soldier then became comrades with a beautiful angel. When that angel became angry, she’d often morph into a devil.⸥
For some reason, his heart ached when he read those lines.
⸢The tin soldier became comrades with a warrior wearing thick armour. The warrior used his own sword to test out the tin soldier’s strength now and then.⸥
Why, why did it feel like this description would come to life right before his eyes at any second?
⸢The tin soldier became comrades with a dragon spitting out fearsome flames. The dragon sometimes acted like a nuisance, too.⸥
But, I’ve never met an existence like that before?
⸢And then, a demon king coming from another world stole away what was most precious to them.⸥
Every time he read a sentence, all sorts of chaotic scenes and screams flitted in and out of his vision. He was unfamiliar with those spectacles. Even then, Yi Hyeon-Seong’s entire body shivered.
He couldn’t understand it. He didn’t get what this story was about.
He simply didn’t get what the author was trying to convey.
Worse still, he couldn’t understand why tears were welling up in his eyes.
⸢And at the end of this story, the tin soldier realised what the aching in his heart was.⸥
⸢That aching eventually became his heart.⸥
As soon as he read that line, Yi Hyeon-Seong recalled it.
I too once had comrades like them.
⸢”I’d love to hear your story, Hyeon-Seong-ssi, when all these tragedies come to an end and our stories are no longer treated as scenarios.”⸥
The first comrade was a polite and warm person. Everyone followed his lead.
⸢”Until then, everyone being safe is the utmost priority.”⸥
The second comrade was a kind person. Everyone believed her words to be correct.
⸢”No, hang on. It’s more important that everyone survives, even at the cost of one person. Of course, that ‘one person’ must be Kim Dok-Ja. That fool knows how to come back from being dead, anyway.”⸥
The third comrade was a wise person. Everyone thought that the strategies she cooked up will succeed.
⸢”No one will die. Leave this place to me and go.”⸥
The fourth comrade was a powerful person. Everyone could entrust their backs to him.
⸢”You know, Mister Hyeon-Seong. If I ever forget about you, then…”⸥
And, the fifth comrade was…
⸢”….Then, please kill me.”⸥
His memories were coming back to him. Slowly, so very slowly, his heart began beating. So slowly, yet with a distinctive feeling, each beat did its very best to emphasize that they were hurting this way, that this was where such ache existed.
How could he have ever forgotten about them?
Yi Hyeon-Seong clenched his fists, his body shivering away. He shouldn’t be in this place.
He looked up at the skies outside the windows. The cracks of the skies had covered the entirety of the heavens by now. It became rather clear where his companions had gone off to.
They went away to protect this world he was stuck in. All the while facing off against the calamities that measly North Korea couldn’t even compare to.
⸢Yi Hyeon-Seong thought to himself. ‘Do I possess such powers?’⸥
[Constellation, ‘Master of Steel’, is looking at you.]
His Sponsor was now looking at him.
However, something felt different from before. It must’ve been his Sponsor, yet there was a slight, vague difference in the gaze he sensed.
[Constellation, ‘Master of Steel’ asks if you’re hurting.]
Yi Hyeon-Seong nodded his head.
⸢This emotion, this heart, I wish to protect it.⸥
He was scared. Scared of forgetting this moment again, scared of his heart stop beating again. Scared of everything freezing up within the cold silvery light.
It was then, his Sponsor spoke to him. [[You can protect it.]]
His voice resembled forged steel, tempered for tens of thousands of years.
[[However, you may end up in agony for all eternity as the consequences of failing to protect it.]]
“Even then, it’s fine. It’s better than not even having a chance to protect them.”
He was only familiar with the things he had lost already. The important part was about not losing them again.
[[Your name is the Emperor of Steelsword.]]
He saw the barbed wire fences in the distance crumble away. The world of manuals he had been protecting was disappearing.
Yi Hyeon-Seong stepped forward, towards his own story.
We were currently protecting the crumbling <Oz>.
With the decline of the Fables of the Master of Steel, and the ⸢the Wizard of Oz⸥, <Oz>’s anti-air defence system was crumbling down.
I could see hundreds of battleships surrounding Oz. We shared our strength and protected the planet with a hole in it from that armada.
Even then, we were reaching our limit.
The other side relied mainly on the long-range attacks from their ships. The only methods we had of defending against that effectively were Yi Ji-Hye’s [Turtle Dragon], and Shin Yu-Seung’s [Chimera Dragon].
The problem here was that neither Yi Ji-Hye’s vessel and Shin Yu-Seung’s dragon had fully recovered from the damages incurred during the ‘Great War of Saints and Demons’.
We originally came here to address that issue, but this…
“The anti-air defence will be rendered powerless soon!”
We got ready for the final showdown.
Jeong Hui-Won asked. “Still can’t contact any other Constellations?”
“Something bad must’ve happened.”
It was likely that these guys attacking us were involved in that.
Han Su-Yeong grumbled loudly. “You really aren’t going to regret this? Should we really be doing this?”
I nodded my head. “Yi Hyeon-Seong always fought for us in the frontlines. It’s our turn to repay that debt.”
My companions agreed with me.
Yu Jung-Hyeok was currently on top of the tallest building on the planet, while Jeong Hui-Won was emitting powerful Status that didn’t lose out to anyone, her resolve firm, unwavering.
⸢We’ll believe in Yi Hyeon-Seong.⸥
I wasn’t sure exactly how much time we could buy here. Just that, I could only pray it was enough for Yi Hyeon-Seong.
Hundreds of battleships in the distance spat out flames simultaneously. Magical shells, their numbers more than enough to utterly decimate a planet in its entirety, rained down.
We unleashed all of our Statuses. We needed to withstand this wave of attack no matter what.
After gathering all of our magical…
Right next moment.
A vast silvery light suddenly enveloped the whole world.
The enormous protective barrier made out of Fable metal spread out among the heavens. Through the semi-transparent barrier, I saw the shells of the battleships powerlessly explode on the outside.
“Being left alone in a place like that was not a happy experience, you know.”
This was not the Fable of ⸢the Wizard of Oz⸥. No, it was a new type of Fable, with a somewhat different origin.
⸢In that world, he was referred to as the Emperor of Steelsword.⸥
Chills ran down my spine.
Steam covered the entire planet. Metals spreading out like a giant tree’s branches began blanketing the surface of the planet itself.
This was the hardest material found in <Star Stream>, the only Fable metal capable of dealing with the Myth-grade Constellation’s frightening weapons.
[A large number of Constellations are astonished by the scale of this Fable!]
And here it was, the Stigma powerful enough to completely envelop a planet with that metal. That was the anti-air defence system that the planet <Oz> proudly boasted, the [Last Steel].
“Captain Yi Hyeon-Seong from the Giant Monsters Special Command, reporting.”
The man I was familiar with, blessed a height taller than Yu Jung-Hyeok’s, and boasting the sturdiest body.
“I have been discharged from the active service today.”
Stars of the skies could be seen staggering back now.
[Constellations from Nebula <Papyrus> are astonished by the revival of the ‘Master of Steel’!]
And now, it was the time for the counterattack.
<Episode 88: Myth-grade Constellation (2)> Fin.