The World after the Fall - Chapter 26[Updated at: 2021-01-11 07:15:43]
Chapter 26: Dead man (1)
[There’s something worse than dying. If you have visited <Chaos> at least once, you would know.]
-Yoo Surha, the 2nd Squadron Captain of [Rupture]
Episode 5. Dead man
Three days later.
Jaehwan was standing at the entrance of <Twilight’s Fall> with his scabbard. The work that he thought would take one day actually took three, but it was still much shorter than the average of three weeks for processing a horn. Meikal and a few artisans came out to say goodbye.
“…Are you really going on your way?”
“Yeah, I got what I needed.”
He also had some unexpected information. When Jaehwan [Understood] the [Craft], he acquired some interesting information. Those monsters were not naturally occurring. The Garnak horn had already been [Crafted] before they worked on it. That meant-
‘Monsters are the creation of someone else.’
There was no telling who did it and for what purpose, but they were carefully crafted masterpieces for sure. Jaehwan tapped on the scabbard and said, “I like it.”
It seemed like his sword also liked it as it let out a satisfied cry. The scabbard glowed with a black light. Its durability and ability to cut off dark energy from the outside was great, but the scabbard also had a power to scare off trihorns and below with something called [Presence of Garnak], which was useful. Meikal looked at the scabbard and asked,
“Oh, did you choose your sword’s name?”
“If it’s alright, can I name it for you?”
Meikal smiled and said, “I felt something after watching you for three days.”
They were short but impactful days.
“I don’t know what you wish to do and why you showed me that ‘world’.”
Meikal remembered the world. After he came out from it, everything seemed like a lie. He would probably never be allowed to see that world again. It was because of Jaehwan that Meikal, who was too used to the skill and interface, managed to see the world. Was it a dream? A hallucination? Or…
Meikal looked at Jaehwan.
“But I know one thing.”
Whatever it was, one thing wascertain.
“The people in this world will not like you.”
In this world, the truth did not mean justice. People here were too used to the reality of their ways. They did not like uncertainty and complication and this man was a mix of all that.
“Some might be astonished by you, but most will not.”
Meikal thought about Jaehwan when he first walked in. A man who knew of no modesty.
“Some might fear you.”
He was violent.
“Some will belittle and look down on you.”
And he looked foolishly weird.
“Some will ignore you.”
Meikal knew. He knew what Jaehwan did would buy him hatred. The world would reject him and some would even want to kill him.
“But you still want to save that ‘world?”
Meikal wanted to stop him. Even if the world he was shown was great, and the world contained something that all people of <Great Lands> had to know, Meikal wished for Jaehwan to give up on it and live instead.
However, Jaehwan did not answer. Meikal then knew that the man did not have a choice. The world was his life. He would brave the world alone no matter what.
“The only name fitting for that sword will be one.”
Meikal ordered someone to bring a hammer and chisel and used the [Craft] skill to engrave the letters on Jaehwan’s scabbard.
Jaehwan nodded and walked away. Before Jaehwan could walk too far, Meikal said, “Let me ask you one thing.”
“In the ‘world’ that you see… what am I?”
Jaehwan did not turn back, as if he refused to turn. He answered, “…A human.”
He then walked away. Meikal knew why he did not turn back. Meikal sighed.
‘Who can understand his world?’
There was a woman walking toward him. Meikal laughed.
Jaehwan felt something had changed as he walked. Something that was normally beside him wasn’t there. It sometimes poked him while he was at the blacksmith and lurked around like a cat, but it had gone missing since yesterday. Maybe it was finally gone.
“Are you looking for me?”
Mino appeared in clean clothing. She wore a short dark top with black tights. She still had the dark robe over her though.
“Where have you been?”
“What did you do?”
“Stuff. I’m a busy woman you know? Oh, and take this.”
“What is it?”
“Your clothes. You can’t keep walking around like a beggar.”
He then remembered his clothing was still ragged and took the clothes. It had a medieval style, but it was okay. Everything was black up to the coat.
“…It’s just a token of my apology.”
“Maybe you should say thank you?”
Mino then turned around to look at <Twilight’s Fall> in distance. Meikal and the artisans were still watching.
“They must have liked you.”
“You looked like you were close to that old man though.”
“You’ve got it wrong.”
“But he looked at you like a lover or something.”
Jaehwan did not reply. They walked the wide streets for a while. Then they came to the side of the road with more people.
“Why are you still following me?”
“Why? Do you think I might have some dark motive or something?”
“I’m also considering that.”
Mino’s expression changed for a short moment but Jaehwan noticed it. Mino smiled and asked, “How did you know?”
“…What are you up to?”
“I’m planning to kill you.”
“And do what?”
“And take your Spirit Stone.”
“…I didn’t think about it afterward. Well, it will get me good money, so that’s a start.”
Jaehwan smiled. Whether she really meant it or not, it was not going to happen. Mino felt her pride getting hurt.
“I’m serious, you know?”
Mino was curious about where Jaehwan gained such confidence. She thought it came from his sheer strength, but Mino knew other powerful individuals like Jaehwan, such as the leader of the clan she was in. But Jaehwan’s confidence was different from theirs. Mino then felt that Jaehwan was not from this world.
“What are you going to do now?”
“I’m going to meet up with the [Nightmares].”
“Meikal taught me how.”
“And what will you do when you meet them?”
“Ask about Tree of Imagery and find the way to go to the <Depth>.”
Mino’s face turned weird.
“…Why would you want to do that? To become strong? Or be reborn?”
There were people who wished to go up to <Depth>, the branch of the Tree of Imagery. Many failed to do so and those who did mostly never came back. Even the ones who returned and earned the title of the ‘Strong of the Depth’ became victims to PTSD which destroyed them.
Tired, Jaehwan asked, “Are you THAT curious about my motive?”
Jaehwan looked coldly at Mino. Mino flinched but did not step back.
“You won’t believe me even if I tell you.”
Jaehwan turned up to the sky and Mino looked at him. Then Jaehwan said something.
Mino became dumbfounded. She couldn’t understand it at first. It wasn’t because she didn’t understand the words he said. It was just because-
It was simply impossible.
Mino laughed out loud. It must be a joke, and that was what she thought. However, she realized that Jaehwan was not joking. She frowned.
After that, she felt even when she knew it was impossible, that Jaehwan might be able to do what he said he would do. She became angry.
“…What are you? What makes you think you can do that? Who are you to do that?”
“I hate you.”
Mino could not even understand why she was getting angry.
“You do whatever you want, you have no manners, you don’t talk, you look down on everyone and…”
She lowered her voice.
“You don’t consider others as humans.”
Mino realized she should not have said that but she continued talking, “They all are having a hard time even without you doing that. We barely got out of the roots, got to the <Great Lands>, and died to come here.”
Mino thought about why she was saying all this. Was it out of anger? She did not know. But she needed to speak.
“Did you ask me if I was human back then?”
Mino thought about what Jaehwan asked. She knew what he meant at the time, but maybe that was not what he meant.
“I am human. I’m not as strong or as confident as you, but I’m still a human.”
Maybe the word ‘human’ meant something greater to him, but that was too hard for Mino.
“As far as I know, a ‘human’ is someone who lives day by day and considers it happiness to survive. Not living with some big dream.”
There was a fork at the end of the road. Mino felt this was the fate laid out in front of her.
“In that sense, you don’t seem like a ‘human’ to me.”
And they reached the fork in the road.
“We should part ways here.”
“I can’t stay together for ‘that kind of purpose’ any longer.”
Mino then ran into the road that was full of merchants. Jaehwan stared at her until she disappeared into the crowd. The first ‘human’ he had met. After a while, he mumbled, “…I should change clothes first.”
Mino arrived at the saloon. It was Claire’s.
‘…What brought me here?’
Mino thought as she stared at the door. This wasn’t the plan. Jaehwan should’ve followed her here and opened the door first, but she couldn’t do it. She had lectured him about humans and stuff and could not bring him here. She wanted to let the man know that the humans here weren’t bad. They might lack the requirements that Jaehwan had set, but they were still humans.
Mino opened the door and walked in.
“I’m sorry, Auntie. Am I late?”
Claire was tied down to the chair with an empty expression on her face. She turned to Mino and grinned.
“…I knew it, you brat.”
“I should’ve stopped you earlier.”
Claire shook her head while laughing.
“You are ‘really’ getting us killed this time.”
Claire cleared the Tower of Nightmares with Mino and even stayed with her in <Chaos>. Mino bit her lips as she glanced at Claire. She would not be able to save her friend anymore.
“Witch of Massacre.”
A cold voice filled the saloon. It wasn’t only the saloon; the entire area around the building was filled with terrifying energy. The owner of the voice was the man who had come to visit Mino days ago.
“What’s happened to our deal?”
“He’s not coming.”
The atmosphere was horrifying. However, Mino just laughed in that atmosphere. Maybe she had been influenced by Jaehwan.
“He’s gone to destroy the world.”