The World after the Fall - Chapter 214 - Big Brother (8)[Updated at: 2021-01-11 07:16:52]
Chapter 214: Big Brother (8)
“Hey. Am I still alive?”
[Yeah. You’re fine.]
That was an inside joke they shared. It had already been 28765 years since they created this joke, but they couldn’t think of anything better.
[Am I still in good shape?]
“Yeah. You’re in good shape.”
Maybe it wasn’t a joke anymore. It was more like a ritual to ensure that they still existed.
[But I feel like I won’t be in good shape soon.]
“Yeah. I feel like I’m dying also.”
Jaehwan answered and crossed a line in the air. It was added to his unique world. But there wasn’t just one line — there were countless lines made within the space of his unique world. There was a total of 9,624 lines. It meant that they had repeated the conversation 9,624 times.
[How about we do the truth game again?]
“…You’ve talked for two hundred thousand years and you still got more to say?”
[Are you up for it or not?]
And Beastlain began to speak rapidly.
[Hey Jaehwan, let me tell you as a senior who’s lived 784 years more than you. You can’t do this to me. You see? You see, you son of a b*tch? Just kill me for god’s sake!]
This conversation… was it 654 times? Jaehwan answered as he striked through another line.
“What are you talking about? I was inside the tower for two thousand years in <Chaos>. I’m probably older than you now.”
[The tower? I was in there too, remember?]
[And you didn’t stay for two thousand years in there. It was probably like a few hundred years.]
Jaehwan’s hand stopped drawing the line; instead, he created a new colored line. It meant that they were talking about this for the first time.
“How do you know?”
[I am still a demon, remember? I have a way of keeping track of things. There’s a limit to how far you can speed up the time within the Tower of Nightmares. I’m sure it wasn’t two thousand years. I think you felt like you lived there for two thousand years only because your mind believed it to be so.]
Jaehwan realized his sense of time was off when he was in that tower. Two thousand years was only considering if the tower sped up time like it was supposed to.
“Then maybe this place too…”
[No. Two hundred thousand years have passed here.]
[Yeah. Look at your clock.]
Jaehwan turned to his ‘clock’ within his unique world.
200,001 years 113 days 11 hours 27 minutes 39 seconds… 40 seconds…
It was a [Part] that Jaehwan created after 150 years as he didn’t want to continue counting time. But that wasn’t the only [Part] he created. He also created a television-like [Part] and a bed-like [Part]. However, the place was outside the Little Brother network, so the only thing the television displayed was Jaehwan’s memory.
It currently showed Jaehwan fighting against the Frost Dragon King alone on the 99th floor.
[It was fun back then.]
[Would you return to that time if you could?]
The television was turned off and darkness fell again. Jaehwan laid down and mumbled, “I sometimes think that.”
“That maybe I’m still inside the tower.”
“So I used the stone along with my friends back on the 77th floor. And now I’m trapped in a dream world created by a Nightmare. <Chaos>, <Depth>, they’re all illusions that I created. And you are watching over me on the 100th floor, even now.”
Beastlain laughed hollowly.
[Yes. You used the stone, unfortunately. You are still in your dream world.]
“…Are you serious?”
[…Why do you ask when you know I’m not?]
Jaehwan did not answer but added another line again. This was their 42nd conversation. It was a lesser variant.
[But didn’t you hate that kind of thing?]
[Counting. I thought you hated numbers.]
Jaehwan’s hand stopped midair, not knowing where to go.
“Yeah. I used to.”
Yes. He used to hate it, and he still did in some sense. He hated levels and statuses. He hated numbers. Yet now he was counting numbers to live on.
Maybe the System had no sins. Maybe it was like money. It was humans that used it in the wrong way that created problems. But if so, why was he here? Jaehwan commented, “Time is too long.”
[Yes, it’s long.]
“Maybe that’s why I became what I am now.”
[…Do you want to give up?]
“No. Not yet.”
Jaehwan still did not give up. He recounted his determination every single day so that he would not give up during the entire two hundred thousand years.
What would have it been like if this was on Earth? Or <Chaos>? Or <Depth>? Would it have been that long?
There had been two chances to get out of this space. It happened once at 100 years, and once when it reached 10 thousand years. It seemed like the exit opened in exponential increments of 100. The only problem was that the exit was not a way to Big Brother but back to <Depth>.
At least the opening of the entrance allowed Jaehwan to determine the time flow in <Depth>.
Surprisingly, 200 thousand years in this place was less than a day in <Depth>. Jaehwan was even allowed to get a glimpse of his friends going back to where they were through the opening. There was the scene where they were going back after saying goodbye to Jaehwan. Additionally, there was a time when Jaehwan had even felt the urge to get out.
He always had the chance to return.
Jaehwan realized why Myad had failed and why he said to be wary of time. What did Myad think throughout the 127 times he challenged this?
“I should get some sleep,” Jaehwan said as he added another line. Beastlain answered.
[Yeah. But no longer than an hour.]
Jaehwan did not answer as he fell asleep right away.
A million years passed. The stabs continued, but the routine had already been broken. Beastlain spoke sometimes, but Jaehwan did not respond. And so there was a long silence.
A few days ago, the exit to <Depth> opened once more and they quarreled.
Jaehwan did not give up. And the exit closed. If their guess was right, the next exit would be after 99 million years.
[…Jaehwan. I’m at my limit.]
There was a limit to how long a being could withstand time. Nobody knew what that limit was because no being lived for that long. However, Beastlain knew. He was at the limit now.
[I am thinking of going into hibernation.]
Hibernation. Jaehwan knew this ability that demons had. The ones that had long lives always had ways of falling asleep to keep their consciousness intact, and hibernation was such an ability.
“…And what about me?”
[Heh. You’re on your own.]
[I’m a demon, remember?]
However, Beastlain wasn’t all that happy about his choice either.
[You can do it too though, can’t you? You can create a hibernation Setting to…]
“There’s no point if I fall asleep. Besides, you don’t know when you will wake up from hibernation.”
Jaehwan wasn’t here to fall asleep. He had to find a way to get to Big Brother.
[You really are amazing. I really hope you will be alive when I wake up again.]
[If you think you died 100 thousand times and you can hold on no more, you can wake me up then.]
Beastlain did not answer.
In the 1.3 millionth year, Jaehwan stopped stabbing. Instead, he began researching [Settings]. If the strongest stab wasn’t going to destroy this space, the answer had to lie in the [Settings]. He studied everything about [Settings] slowly and carefully.
1.5 million years. Jaehwan thought maybe he wasn’t smart after all. He created countless [Settings] and created astonishing [Parts]. He now had more knowledge of [Settings] than the Three Ancient Gods. 1.5 million years was enough time to achieve that. He was successful in repairing a good amount of Machina and he learned how to resist the time-concentration through the Eye of Geshtalt. He was also able to replicate ten Void Swords at once.
Even so, Jaehwan wasn’t sure what the space was.
He had his guesses. One guess was that he might be able to control this space when he achieved the last step of Awakening. Another guess was that from the concentration of time, the Tower of Nightmares was created with this space as its basic form.
But those were all just guesses.
1.7 million years. Jaehwan looked down at his hands. He couldn’t think and didn’t want to. He felt his cheeks wet from his tears.
Jaehwan realized he had become too tired.
1.8 million years. 1,802,532nd year, 167th day.
Jaehwan stopped doing anything.