The World after the Fall - Chapter 24[Updated at: 2021-01-11 07:15:42]
Chapter 24: World of 1% (4)
A day passed after coming to <Twilight’s Fall>. The promised time for the Vice-Chief position had passed but the artisans didn’t seem to mind. Maybe it was because it was a rare opportunity to work on the horn of a Garnak. Even just having a glimpse of the horn getting worked on was a thing of legend.
Mino quietly left <Twilight’s Fall>.
Middle-aged men were heard talking loudly from within the saloon. At the center was an old hologram machine that was showing a broadcast. The person on the broadcast was a pink-haired [Nightmare] with a small horn.
<The top ten videos, together with Siroen! It’s about time to end. The last video is one you all might know! There isn’t anything more famous than this video in <Little Brother> recently! It is the [Solo-clearing of the 99th floor] video!>
The video then showed a man solo fighting a giant Frost Dragon. The man kept stabbing it over and over, endlessly. His face was censored so that the Product information would not be leaked. The men at the bar rumbled while watching.
“I wonder what happened to him. The Lords want him badly.”
“Huh? You didn’t know? That tower is on hold for Cultivation.”
“On hold? Why?”
“I don’t know. Maybe some dumb Demon tried to cheat in it. There’s a rumor that he ran during the Cultivation because of it.”
“So that’s a fake?”
“Of course. Do you think it’s possible to beat a 1st gen tower alone?”
The men discussed it for a while but soon changed the subject. Besides, the subject of the matter was irrelevant to them now. This was <Chaos>, the world of the dead.
“I hope I get a [Fruit] someday. I want to be revived.”
“Haha, you won’t even get a seed with that kind of thought.”
“Hey! Give me a unihorn beer!”
At that moment, the door to the saloon slammed open and a woman walked in. It was Mino. She walked briskly to the bar and sat down. Her thin waistline and fair-skinned face immediately attracted all the attention of the men in the saloon.
“Hey, lady. Are you here alone?”
The men were shocked and scared by the vicious energy pressure that Mino was releasing and ran out. Mino laughed bitterly.
‘I’m strong compared to those buffoons.’
She thought about Jaehwan and felt bitter. Then, the owner of the saloon appeared.
“You, girl, are bad for my sales.”
“So… Auntie… listen…”
Mino was too drunk to talk straight, but she kept on mumbling.
“I’ve heard enough, girl.”
Claire, the middle-aged woman, frowned. She was a survivor from the world ‘Arkal’ where Mino had come from. She was the only one left alive from Arkal in <Chaos>.
“So, what you’re saying is this.”
“You tried to cheat on a man and almost got killed, but he saved you.”
“Then, you tried to prank him again and got what you deserved.”
“And yet you still tag along with the man like a fool?”
Claire narrowed her eyes; she knew Mino well. Mino was like this since they met at the Tower of Nightmares. She was weak, but she had a temper. In addition, she also liked to prank people and cause trouble. She wasn’t bad but she always got the people around her into trouble.
“You even got me killed once, remember?”
Mino drank her beer.
“…Am I that much of a nuisance?”
“I think the man is dangerous. Let him go. You can get any man you want.”
“Why are you still on his tail?”
Mino’s eyes shook. She thought for a while and then spoke.
“It’s just… when I look at him…”
Claire had heard many stories that followed starting with those words. She braced herself for a long love story or something similar. However…
“He makes me so mad.”
It was unexpected.
“He’s so arrogant, he’s ill-mannered, and talks crap… but no one can stop him. He does whatever he wants but no one can stop him. Red Fox Clan. The Stubborn. Twilight’s Fall. None of them. …Claire, do you know what that makes me think of?”
Mino glanced around the saloon and continued,
“It feels like my entire life is a joke.”
“I didn’t die because I didn’t want to. Me and you. We did the best we could.”
Mino smiled bitterly.
“And him… he just comes out of nowhere as if he wants to prove that all we did and all we fought for is wrong. He just destroys, kills, and break things apart…”
Her mug was emptied and then she refilled it again.
“Maybe I just want to see… someone stop him. I can’t do it. But someone… might come along and put an end to him. So…”
Claire then understood what she meant. She also felt something similar, a long time ago in the past. She ignored it and ran, and got old. She knew what Mino was going through.
“Mino, let me give you advice.”
“Don’t talk to him or even go near him anymore.”
“If you stay with him, you will ‘really’ die.”
Mino flinched. She had never seen Claire’s face this solemn since she got Claire involved in an incident where it killed the both of them. Before Mino could reply, a message energy made from spiritual power shot through the window of the saloon and reached Mino. She checked the sender.
[Karlton – Northern Gate Captain]
‘…Huh? Why me?’
At that moment, Mino felt a terrifying pressure from all sides. It didn’t feel like it was there to fight her, but the energy was overwhelming. And there were a lot of them. There were many that Mino could not guarantee victory against in a one-on-one fight that were closing in. Then, the doors to the saloon opened and men walked in. Mino pulled out a dagger from her clothes despite her drunken stupor. One of the men walked up to her and asked, “Are you the Witch of Massacre?”
“…What if I am?”
The gate closed upon her answer as the man smiled ominously and said, “I need you to do something for us.”
The blacksmithing started by supplying spiritual power to the central furnace. With the horn of Garnak as the material, they needed more spiritual power than usual to create a more powerful fire from within. As the flame erupted, Jaehwan looked at the now-clean Garnak horn.
“Show me how you work on it first.”
The first thing <Twilight’s Fall> did when processing a horn was to create a basic ground. Meikal was actually designing how to work on the horn with a quill pen and white ink. The basic sketch needed to be detailed because once the horn was processed, it could not be undone.
The central furnace was now glowing with bright white flame and Meikal put the horn in a prepared setting and waited for the horn’s bonds to loosen. After some time, the surface of the horn started emitting some kind of vapor and Meikal took out the horn and began cutting.
The cutter moved through the white inked mark on the horn. Even after it was loosened, the horn’s durability was so tough that a total of 14 cutters were broken in the process. After it was done, Meikal said, “It’s now up to skill from here on.”
[Craft], the unique skill only given to creators at the [Apprentice] level.
The skill was at its max. The hammer shone with a white light that made it hard to believe that a mere blacksmith was wielding it. But Jaehwan’s expression did not change as he had seen a similar thing in the past.
-Jaehwan, what I’m doing is not blacksmithing. It’s just a game of chance.
Jay, the top blacksmith of Atopos, told him once.
-I’ve done what I can. I have mastered almost every skill related to blacksmithing and I can assure you that I can repair all the weapons from this Tower of Nightmares with a 99% success rate.
The weapons in the Tower of Nightmares were just common weapons in the <Great Lands>. All the items within the Tower of Nightmares were replicas from the <Great Lands>. However, a repair rate of 99% was one of a kind. The only one who had such a high success rate was Jay. In fact, Jaehwan had never seen Jay fail to repair something.
-But when I got to that percentage, I felt like I was missing something really important.”
Jaehwan didn’t get what he meant so he asked.
-I spent my time and effort to reach 99%. You know, sometimes I think I’m just trying hard to run away from that 1% instead of running toward the 99% chance.
It was not long after that discussion that Jaehwan acquired [Suspicion]. It was a power that was different from normal skills. It was imperfect but free.
“I got it. We’ll take a break here.”
Jaehwan stopped Meikal who was drenched in sweat. A long time had passed but there were no scratches on the horn. Only the chisel and hammer were broken.
“Crafting takes a long time. And if the material is the horn of Garnak, it might even take a month.”
“…You know? Haha,” Meikal laughed.
“Don’t tease an old man.”
“You know I’m lying, don’t you?”
Jaehwan did not answer. He just touched the surface of the horn. A material that no hammering could damage. Jaehwan could not use the <Interface System> anymore, but he knew what Meikal heard for an hour as he worked on crafting the horn.
[Skill has failed.]
“I’m too old to handle a Garnak horn. You should’ve visited me earlier.”
Meikal slumped down on the chair next to the furnace and lit up a cigarette.
“You want one?”
Meikal offered a cigarette and Jaehwan shook his head. The other artisans’ faces became heavy. Meikal wasn’t the type to do something else while working, but now he had stopped and was smoking a cigarette.
“There are some things that you just can’t do, even if you try thousands of times. Young ones like that Naven over there might not think of it, but I know.”
Naven blushed. It was the Apprentice that showed Jaehwan and Mino around the day before.
“Haha, have you forgotten that you talked back to me last time?”
Meikal then turned back to Jaehwan.
“He really tries hard. He was pushed out to the entrance because he talked back, but his future is bright. The future ‘Mastercraft of Twilight’ will be him. He might even get the [Apprentice] title if he’s lucky, but…”
Meikal put out the cigarette against the anvil.
“We can’t go beyond our birth. Not even him. Man cannot become the finest blacksmith. Just like I can’t handle this Garnak horn.”
Jaehwan knew this old man’s thoughts weren’t just because of the Garnak horn. It was something deep within him that crushed him. Jaehwan said, “You never know without trying.”
“I’ve tried. Hundreds. Thousands.”
“Then you should do millions.”
“What if millions don’t work?”
“Billions? Haha, you’re young,” Meikal laughed.
“You probably think that I didn’t try hard enough.”
“But I did. Believe it or not, I did. I’m not sure if I tried a billion times, but I something close to that. I tried and tried. That’s how I got here.”
Meikal thought about his past. It had been a long time since he had arrived at this blacksmith workshop.
“How long have you lived?”
Jaehwan counted his age. He was 20 years old when he was summoned to the tower and he had lived 30 years within the tower.
“Really? So you must have died early.”
Jaehwan looked like he was in his 20s. It didn’t make sense if he died at the age of 20 and lived 30 years here. Meikal spoke,
“I have lived for 150 years.”
Meikal’s tone became a bit arrogant. He felt relieved after knowing Jaehwan’s age. He thought that no matter how great this man was, he was too young to understand.
“You will not understand no matter how hard I try to explain. You have not lived as long as me.”
No one could fully grasp another’s time. It was true. Jaehwan answered, “No, I know.”
Meikal chuckled. It must be the young blood in Jaehwan that make him insist. Meikal thought he should give this young man some gentle advice but Jaehwan spoke first, “You have tried harder than anyone else.”
“You got here by trying and trying.”
Meikal couldn’t reply. It was just a simple sentence with basic facts, but Meikal was surprised. Shocked. There was none who accepted what he was. He was praised when young and admired when old. However, not once did he feel like he was accepted for what he was.
‘I may have grown old.’
Meikal became bitter.
“Thank you for that.”
Jaehwan did not answer and Meikal became curious about what the young man thought of Meikal’s life.
“I want to ask you something.”
Meikal took out another cigarette.
“What do you think I lack?”
“Talent? Birthright? Luck?”
Jaehwan looked at him. It was deep. No, it was more than just deep. His stare made Meikal feel uncomfortable.
“You do not lack anything.”
“No. It’s more like…”
“You have too much.”
“Too much? What do you mean?”
Meikal asked back in confusion and Jaehwan answered, “You have lived for too long.”