The World after the Fall - Chapter 41[Updated at: 2021-01-11 07:15:49]
Chapter 41: Doctor of Despair (8)
Jaehwan was surprised.
“You met Mulack?”
Chunghuh nodded. “I actually traveled with him.”
Chunghuh seemed to be thinking of very distant memory in the past. The name Mulack was really an old name for Chunghuh to remember.
“It was way back in the day. We’ll take a walk.”
Cold air swept over Jaehwan as they walked out. Chunghuh did not speak for a while and Jaehwan waited. The streets were filled with the smells of various foods. Jaehwan looked at the food being sold. It seemed like the people here were farmers since some of the vendors were selling were corn and other crops while most were selling meat. It felt weird. Jaehwan heard that people in <Chaos> did not need to eat. In fact, Jaehwan himself had not eaten for 30 days until he came here and he never felt hungry.
The people selling food all looked gloomy. It wasn’t like the life they were living was giving them a hard time. It was as if something deep within them was empty.
“What do you think when you see this road?”
“It doesn’t feel alive, does it? The people don’t feel alive.”
It was as Chunghuh said.
“But that’s probably normal since they are all dead.”
Chunghuh frowned at Jaehwan’s answer.
“People are not dead until they accept their death.”
Jaehwan felt the ‘death’ in this world was different from the ‘death’ he knew. These people had spirits within <Chaos>. They had their lives. Also, they also had a chance to be revived.
“This place wasn’t like this from the beginning.”
Gorgon Fortress wasn’t this gloomy hundreds of years ago when Chunghuh first came.
“<Chaos> was the land of blessings. It was a place where war-torn spirits gathered to rest and regain energy.”
People in <Chaos> did not get old. They did not die from hunger. Every being was freed from their old life and found a new life here.
“There were fewer spirit corruptions.”
The weak joined forces to hunt down horned monsters and they shared the horns. Alliances were formed when it was impossible in the Great Lands and all races joined hands to survive. Everyone was satisfied with life here.
That is, until ‘That Day’.
Chunghuh stopped. He then walked over to the outside drinking bar and sat down. Jaehwan hesitated but decided to sit next to him. Chunghuh ordered a beer and spoke.
“Ha, it’s a shame that your store is in ruins.”
The answer came back from the person who just served the beer.
“You don’t say.”
It was Claire, the woman who was with Mino. Jaehwan then realized he was on the road where he had fought earlier in the day. Chunghuh cackled.
“So, are you going to open up an outside bar for now?”
“Yeah, I have no choice. Someone ruined my store.”
Claire glanced at Jaehwan and began to prepare the food. Then she served a skewer of unihorn meat also.
“Ha, it’s good.”
Chunghuh drank the beer, took a bite, and spoke.
“So, where were we?”
“That <Chaos> was a peaceful place.”
Chunghuh smiled bitterly. “It was really peaceful back then.”
Peace. That was interesting. If the place was so peaceful and everyone enjoyed their eternal afterlives, what had driven this place to its current state?
“The reason is here.”
Chunghuh spoke as he shook the cup of beer he was drinking. He then drank again.
“…What do you mean?”
Jaehwan could only guess that it had something to do with the beer.
“Did people begin to fight while drunk?”
Chunghuh laughed while spraying the beer out of his mouth.
“Haha! That would’ve been much better.”
Claire shouted in disgust for spitting beer from the distance and Chunghuh continued, “You don’t know anything, do you?”
Chunghuh cleaned his mouth with his cloth.
“I guess you don’t know life when you’ve spent your entire life stabbing.”
“Don’t you think it weird? You don’t need to eat food here.”
It was as he said. Even when no one needs to eat, everyone ate when it was time.
“Even the beer. You never can get drunk. It just smells and tastes like it.”
Jaehwan then took a sip of the beer. It did have the distinct smell of alcohol, but that was it. It meant that the drink wasn’t really a beer after all. Jaehwan became curious.
“Then what are they?”
Jaehwan turned to two men fighting each other with red faces who seemed to be drunk.
“What do you think they are?”
“Drunk? With a beer that doesn’t get you boozed?”
Jaehwan felt something was off. He looked closely. Their faces were red, and their speech was slurred. But something was missing. Their eyes. Their eyes were too clear to be the eyes of drunk men. They were just pretending to be drunk.
Jaehwan felt like he had found an answer as he saw Chunghuh drinking a beer that couldn’t give him a buzz, or the men who were fighting each other, pretending to be drunk.
Eternal life. No death, no war. Very peaceful.
“Pretending to live the ‘life’.”
Life, a limited time given that was set to end when death came. They were just given freedom from their limited time, but they then longed for the life with it. Jaehwan finally felt like he understood. These people wanted to re-live the real ‘life’ again. The life where they had a body and a heart. A life where they would die if they didn’t eat or get drunk when they drink beer.
“Yes, life. That was the reason. People longing for the ‘real’ thing appeared.”
Chunghuh continued, “Well, there were more people who longed for it from the old times. It’s just that there weren’t much.”
“…Their numbers grew?”
“Yes, but slowly. Over a very long time.”
The one who lived long enough usually only consisted of one or two until then. They moved out of the fortress to quietly face death, or they traveled to the center of <Chaos> looking for the entrance to the <Depth>.
Then, a new group of people who chose the third option appeared.
Ones who became bored with eternal life. Men who longed for ‘real’ life.
“That was the ‘Depth Expedition’ team. The one who grouped up to find real life again.”
Chunghuh’s eyes sunk. Jaehwan then understood that Chunghuh was one of the team members.
“Why did you go to the Depth?”
“To find the [Fruit].”
“It’s the [Fruit of Resurrection]. It’s just called [Fruit] usually.”
Jaehwan realized what the [Fruit] meant when he overheard from his [Suspicion] then. This was the only way that the dead of <Chaos> could be revived back into the Great Lands.
“I was only 120 years old back then. I had nothing to be afraid of.”
“That’s why you joined?”
“Then you traveling with Mulack means…”
“[Nightmare] Mulack was on that team. He was the captain of the team.”
Chunghuh still remembered those days. The first time he met Mulack when he joined the expedition team.
That was what Mulack first said when he saw Chunghuh.
-And with an emotion… imperfect awakening? You walk the treacherous path. It must be hard for you.
Chunghuh did not feel good. All Awakeners faced the need to abandon human ego to see the real world. But Chunghuh refused to leave it behind. That was what made him weaker than his friends. That was what got him killed and sent him to <Chaos>.
-Cut your nonsense.
-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you.
Offend? It wasn’t only the topic that was offensive. Chunghuh was offended the moment he saw Mulack. He was a [Product] back in the days. He still had hatred toward anyone related to the Tower of [Nightmares]. In fact, he killed every Demon he met while he traveled the Great Lands, but he had never killed [Nightmares] until now.
-Why is a [Nightmare] is going to the <Depth>? Shouldn’t you stay put in your room and make a tower?
Also, Mulack wasn’t even dead. These [Nightmares] used [Narrow Door] to enter <Chaos> alive.
-You are not happy about me because of the [Cultivation].
Mulack thought for a second and spoke.
-I have nothing to say. It will be pointless to ask for your forgiveness in the name of all [Nightmares].
-I think it is my burden to take.
Chunghuh thought he was lying. A [Nightmare] being remorseful about making a tower. He had never heard of such a [Nightmare].
-Believe it or not, the reason I came into the Tree of Imagery and going into the <Depth> is because of that tower.
Chunghuh could not forget what he heard next even to this day.
-To end all [Cultivation]. That is why I am leading this expedition.