The World after the Fall - Chapter 25[Updated at: 2021-01-11 07:15:43]
Chapter 25: World of 1% (5)
Lived too long? It was the artisans around them that became enraged at Jaehwan’s words.
“How dare you?!”
But Meikal was calm. He was deep in thought at those words.
“…What do you mean?”
Jaehwan did not answer him outright.
“Use your skill again.”
Meikal stood up and followed what Jaehwan told him to do. He held the chisel and the hammer and tapped on the horn. Once, twice, and a third time. Jaehwan stopped Meikal and asked, “What did you see?”
“When you used the skill, what did you see?”
Meikal became confused but Jaehwan shook his head.
“Look closely and do it again.”
Meikal used the skill again. His ears were filled with the message saying ‘Skill Failed’. He ignored the message and glared at the point where he had used the skill, but he couldn’t see anything. All he saw was the hammer and the chisel.
“Yes, you will see that kind of thing.”
“…Are you joking with me?”
Meikal almost threw the hammer at Jaehwan out of rage. Jaehwan asked, “Do you know how the chisel and the hammer manage to work on the horn?”
Meikal pondered and answered, “The [Craft] skill works…”
Jaehwan shook his head.
“I asked you the wrong question. Let me ask you again.”
Jaehwan looked straight at Meikal, found the right words, and asked, “Do you know how your [Craft] skill works?”
Meikal’s face turned grim.
“Young man, do you know what you’re talking about?”
Meikal seemed angered.
“Do you want to know how the skill works?’
There were countless skills, but all skills were based on another. The skills of the origin. The [Craft] of [Nightmare] was one of those kinds of skills. They existed way before any other skill. They existed before the world even came into existence. At least that was what everyone living in the <Great Lands> thought.
How could a human explain the origins of such an existence? And what was the point of doing that?
“Right. So you do not know what exactly you are doing and just kept on using your skill.”
Meikal gritted his teeth. Jaehwan’s words had injured his pride.
“…The spiritual power empowers the hammer and the chisel and wields the power to work on the horn. That’s probably how the skill works.”
“Really? If it’s that simple, then why can’t anyone else use it?”
It was simply because they did not learn the skill. Meikal tried to answer, but held back. It didn’t make sense. If how the skill worked was that simple, then it did not make sense that one needed to learn the skill to use it.
“You don’t know your skill, but you’re using it.”
Meikal started to hate the man. No one knew about how the [Craft] skill worked and this man was insulting him just because of it.
“You sound like you know how it works.”
“Yes. I found out just now.”
Jaehwan then touched the horn with his hand. The surface swirled as if it was reacting to his touch. In the next moment, something unbelievable happened in front of Meikal.
“H-how did you use [Craft]…?!”
Jaehwan cut the horn with his finger as he ran it along the white marking. Meikal became dazed. He felt his legs losing strength and slumped to the floor. He was filled with jealousy and despair.
“…Wha-what are you? How did you earn such blessings and talent?”
“It’s not a talent,” Jaehwan answered firmly.
“Look again closely and tell me what you see.”
Meikal looked at Jaehwan’s fingertip again. The particles that his finger touched were dug up as if something had eaten them.
“…The particles are being destroyed?”
Jaehwan shook his head. Meikal focused closer.
“It won’t be easy. Your hard work has made your ‘world’ more durable.”
Jaehwan was correct. Even when Meikal was watching with his own eyes, he didn’t fully trust Jaehwan. He was blinded by the suspicion that he was being cheated on. There was his distrust toward the young, and his stubbornness for his work. The product that he strengthened over the years weren’t his skills, but his pride.
“Your work itself wasn’t wrong.”
“If you tried that much, you must’ve realized it by now.”
The parts of the horn where Jaehwan’s finger touched were destroyed.
“If trying that hard did not work, it’s this world that is wrong. Not you.”
Meikal couldn’t understand. How was that possible? Meikal thought about the days when he first learned the [Craft] skill. His young days were full of uncertainty. He believed that he could become like a [Nightmare] one day, but he was full of doubt. He wasn’t sure that doing the same thing that a [Nightmare] did could advance him beyond those [Nightmares].
Meikal eventually decided to just try harder. He used the skill over and over again. He tried so hard that he couldn’t even think. After pushing himself and being rewarded with a sense of achievement, he forgot about his doubt. However, it was natural as his success rate increased as his skill improved. It was the world that rewarded him for his effort.
That was how he got here.
There was no other way and his only way was now blocked.
“…This world is wrong?”
Meikal’s voice became heavy, “And what do you propose that I do?”
It was the voice of his 150 years of hard work.
“You want me to fight the world?”
Jaehwan looked at Meikal. It was the old man’s eyes who were betrayed by the world he believed in, but he still could not abandon it.
“…You may be old, but you can still fight it.”
Meikal’s eyes shook.
“Look again closely. Don’t rely on anything else. Just use your eyes.”
Meikal understood what he said. Jaehwan was telling him to throw away all the knowledge he had learned, and all the skills that he knew. Reject everything that he had built up over all these years. However, Meikal became curious about what he would see. Maybe it was only the part of his youth that was left in him.
Meikal forgot about the skill.
It was hard to break from the binding that restricted him, but he did not stop. He focused on Jaehwan’s fingertip. He tried hard to see what he had missed. Jaehwan picked up the hammer and chisel and the [Craft] skill shone at the end of it.
After multiple taps, Meikal felt his spirit disintegrating. All his logic and senses were broken apart. Then he felt something being destroyed and a new truth came into him.
Then he felt that he saw something that he had never seen before. He closed his eyes to shut it out, but he knew. The world he had lived in was now gone. Now, he was stepping into a new world.
There was a horn in front of him.
Yet it was not a horn. It was a giant monster as tall as a fortress wall with many sharp teeth and spikes protruding from its body. Meikal shuddered and watched on.
He had been facing such a thing until now. He was using his puny skill against such a monster.
He looked around and there were dead bodies near the area where the artisans were standing. Their skin was rotten and their eyes were full of maggots. Meikal felt like he was going to lose his mind.
Then there was Jaehwan.
With his hammer and chisel, he was facing the monsters without any skills.
The monster attacked Jaehwan and he attacked back. The monster screamed and spat blood out from its body, but it didn’t seem to be bothered. It was enjoying it. The dead bodies around them cheered, uncertain if they were cheering for Jaehwan or the monster. Among such chaos, Meikal was dazed and afraid.
‘This man… was he always looking at such a world?’
The world beyond skills, status, or levels. Nothing was hidden so it was vulgar, but it was an honest world. Meikal was afraid, yet thrilled.
This was the World after the Apocalypse.
How could this world exist? And how did that man not go mad?
Meikal then locked eyes with Jaehwan. Jaehwan looked like an ordinary man in this world. He was no hero or savior of the world. He was just a common man. The only thing he had was the courage to not give up on this world. Meikal then understood Jaehwan’s madness. His loneliness. His sadness. He understood and knew that no one could fully understand Jaehwan.
The horn ‘looked’ at Meikal.
-You cannot come here.
The fear of the world’s rejection. Meikal stepped backward in fear. There was nowhere to go. The monster approached with his large mouth wide open. The inside was filled with dead bodies and Meikal saw his reflection in the monster’s giant eyes.
‘How… how can I… in this world…’
That was what Meikal thought before the monster ate him. Almost.
Jaehwan frowned and pulled Meikal out. Jaehwan wiped off his sweat and spoke.
“Get yourself together.”
“Did you forget that we’re in process of working? Help me out.”
Meikal faced the monster again. With Jaehwan’s hand on his shoulder, Meikal gained courage. Courage to face the world without any skills. Courage to walk along a path he had never taken before. Courage to take the step that he could have taken a long time ago.
Then his hand became covered in flesh. The veins appeared within, and new blood flowed. His heart pounded, and his sight cleared. He felt his body was filled with energy, just like in the days of his youth.
He charged at the monster, toward the Garnak’s horn.
Two days later, the scabbard was complete.