Play Audio
1

Yu Jitae was sitting on the bed while Bom was sitting on top of him.

“Will it be impossible…”

Leaning in his embrace, Bom opened her mouth. Her white naked body revealed above the blanket was covered in sweat that gleamed transparently below the moonlight.

“To be honest, with the kids…”

It was when the two of them had stopped moving for a while. Even though it had already been turned down by Yu Jitae, she still couldn’t hold back the question.

Bom was hoping that none of these relationships would stay fake but until the very end, Yu Jitae was deceiving the kids and she was the only one that knew about it. She was the one at the lead deceiving them, and was the one that was making the farewell seem as natural as possible. She was a complete accomplice by now.

And yet,

“They will all understand it… and support you…”

That accomplice was once again hoping Yu Jitae would be honest. It might sound simple but was definitely not a simple request. The sun was starting to rise and it was about time to go back home. This was the last request Bom could give in his embrace with just the two of them.

There was no need to tell them the truth if this were to be the end of everything. In other words, Bom was pretty much saying in a roundabout way that she did not want to leave, since it would take more time for them to completely understand each other.

She had just requested him to die for sure and yet now, she was suggesting they live together. Bom herself did not know why she was saying this.

It might be that she had seen a small sliver of hope from the memories of the 7th iteration that she had received directly from Yu Jitae and the daily comfort he felt. The peace Yu Jitae had felt was as intense as his wish for death.

However, Yu Jitae did not move his mouth.

“It’s okay to take it very slow. If we do it aga–”

He started to move and her persuading lips came to a close.

A tempest struck the lower stomach, carrying around flashing lightning bolts and a harsh wind.

This was him telling her to be quiet.

Yu Jitae wanted deceit until the very end.

“…”

As the harsh wind penetrated deeper inside, Bom unknowingly raised her fingernails to scratch his back and clenched her lips until they were torn. She unconsciously did that while trying to hold back her tears.

It was to endure the harsh pain she was feeling;

“…”

The immense heartache.

“…”

Placing down the magic whetstone, she leaned the sword diagonally, and started rubbing it.

Sheek. Sheek.

A simple and soft sound continued. The blunt edge of the sword was raised back up as molecules of mana carrying the formula for [Amputation], [Elasticity] and [Bleed] seeped into the blade.

Slowly she sharpened the edge with care.

Five years ago, when she first sharpened a sword, Yeorum thought this was one that required a lot of patience. It was because she had to sit in one place and be careful with the angle, and repeat the process for a whole hour while constantly pouring essence on it.

It was a boring and tedious task. However, one absent-minded mistake with the blade could render all her effort meaningless and instead harm the sword so she had to focus on sharpening the sword no matter how boring it was.

But after doing it for so long, she recently started to understand how to effectively spend this boring time – it was reminiscing on the past, with the focus being on enjoyable memories.

For Yeorum who always lived the ‘present’ while thinking of the ‘future’, it was quite foreign to her.

Regardless, that was what she was doing right now.

Sheek, sheek.

She remembered something enjoyable. The fully recreated memories drew a picture in her mind.

Sheek, sheek.

Once again, she reflected on something enjoyable. All those fun, exciting and happy moments and the emotions she felt back then vividly came back to her.

Sheek–

At one point, Yeorum stopped her hands.

The whetstone was tainted with blood.

Dawn.

The dawn of a winter’s day was quite mysterious. The surroundings would turn bright even without the rising sun in sight. Christmas was just around the corner and the scenery outside the window was already forecasting the upcoming Christmas.

Yeorum left for her usual morning training routine.

Today was the day she would fight against Javier Karma.

It would be at 7 pm, and there were around 12 hours left now.

She must have been subconsciously nervous. The training today was a lot fiercer than usual and her training boots were ripped when she came to herself. ‘Fuck this,’ grumbled Yeorum on the way back to Unit 301.

“You’re back.”

Yu Jitae greeted her when she returned from training.

“Yeah… Why?” She asked when she saw Yu Jitae still staring at her.

“We need to do the last check up for today’s fight.”

“It’s fine.”

Ignoring him, Yeorum was about to go into her room but he blocked her path. There was now a large wall in between.

“What do you mean it’s fine. I heard you refused the Association’s support as well. Why did you do that.”

“Well, why not.”

“It’s still not late. Let’s go out together. I will help you dope properly.”

“No.”

Yeorum refused him again.

“I’m fine.”

She turned her body and walked into her room after opening the door.

“You should still do it.”

However, Yu Jitae’s voice stopped her on her tracks. He sounded slightly less energetic than usual.

“You know how important this is. All the training you’ve endured until now was all for today.”

“I know.”

“It’s better to do everything including a mental preparation with someone else. People either get agitated or shrink before a big fight and neither of them are good signs.”

“Right. I know that too.”

After saying that much, Yeorum closed the door behind her. The living room on the other side of the closed door stayed silent but after a while, he also turned his feet.

Using [Cleanse], she got rid of the sweat and cleaned her body. She closed the curtains and laid down on the bed.

Suddenly, she remembered the day she first dropped her pride to Yu Jitae – the day she did the [Pulsation] training with him; the day she shared her inner concerns while gasping for breath with her heart restricted by chains.

That was already more than 4 years ago.

Has it already been that long? Even though each passing day felt excruciatingly tiresome, looking back, she realised how fast everything had gone by.

Although the farewell was right before her nose, she didn’t particularly feel anything. She was puzzled by him suddenly announcing the farewell despite living happily together, and slightly thought of him as a traitor, but that was it.

There wasn’t anything she wanted to say either.

A farewell with him was simply a farewell.

The other kids seemed to have accepted it in their own ways. Kaeul who had been crying buckets out and the stupid Gyeoul who had been dumbfounded from the abrupt turn of events all seemed to have accepted it. They didn’t cry anymore, and they stopped talking about the farewell towards the end of the trip. As if it was nothing outside the realms of daily lives, they simply waited for their return.

Yeorum was the same.

She too had accepted it.

Every Amusement had an end and this one was just a little bit faster.

She did feel betrayed by the sudden farewell, but he must have had some circumstances himself as well.

If not, then oh well.

All she had to do was go back and kill her oldest unni at the Selection Ceremony, and convey those words that had yet to be conveyed.

And then,

The Amusement would be left behind in a corner of her memories as a success, and she would live a new life,

In a world without him.

That should be enough.

It is.

“…Is it?”

Is that enough?

…Is that, really enough?

Maybe I…

Her thoughts gradually turned messier and it was becoming more and more confusing. She should be wholeheartedly focusing on the upcoming fight and something like this was definitely not what she was supposed to be doing.

Walking out of her room, she wetted her face with cold water and placed a cigarette between her lips. Then, she carried her feet towards the entrance, heading for the roof.

But on the way, she found the boots, which she had randomly hurled behind, neatly put back together. Upon closer inspection, she noticed that the part ripped from the training had been sealed with magic. It was done very awkwardly.

At a single glance, she immediately realised who it was done by.

“…”

Yeorum was frozen stiff.

And she stayed still for a long time.

The doubts that had been harassing her mind reared their heads again. Someone was asking inside her head.

Is that really enough…?

Those stray thoughts were once again throwing her mind into an unpleasant confusion so she chucked the boots into the rubbish bin.

That feels better, Yeorum thought to herself.

What in the hell even is a farewell?

I don’t know what that is.

***

Time did not wait for anyone.

By the time she came to herself, she was stepping on a warp station in North Africa. Yeorum was here for the fight against Javier, and was being followed by the related agents of the Association in addition to Yu Jitae and Unit 301.

“Uwah. There’s so many people…”

“Come closer. Stay next to me.”

“Ah, okayy.”

The security officers of the Association were guarding Yeorum who was wearing a hoodie and a pair of shorts that weren’t suited for a fight.

The warp station was bustling with people. News had already been spread through rumours and a fair bit of rankers, reporters and fans of the two superhumans had flown in to watch it live.

That was just how rare it was to see a fight between two one-digit rankers. It was even more rare because one of the parties included Javier, also referred to as the guardian deity, who stayed in seclusion in North Africa.

“Yu Yeorum…!”

“Ah, she’s here! Camera!!”

However, Yu Yeorum was seen as a candidate for the future sovereign and was even more attention-grabbing than Javier.

She was 20 years old this year. Looking completely like a human, no-one in the world knew she was a dragon and her courses of actions were therefore extremely shocking.

The speed of her improvement made her gain the title of a ‘genius’.

“Maybe she really will beat Javier as well?”

“There’s no way… Even though she’s a genius, that’s still…”

Genius.

It was a word that was used too frequently these days, but the world didn’t have that many true geniuses.

“I heard that same thing four times by now.”

“Well… No-one knew she would beat Simon that easily either.”

“That really was very absurd.”

The ones looking from a distance might just marvel at their talents but the closer ones that were walking down the same path tended to despair when seeing true geniuses. At times, they would even feel fear and awe.

And all the soldiers here were ones that were walking the same path as Yeorum.

Tension was thus in the eyes of the onlookers.

Soon, the crowd was guided into the prepared arena and was met with the insignia of a desert serpent which represented the North African Nations united (NAN). The insignia was printed onto a curtain.

“Yu Yeorum.”

He tried calling her but she did not reply. Without even showing him any gestures, she silently walked onto the arena as the manager from the Association followed from behind.

It was obvious that the kids had also sensed that peculiar sense of distance. They were looking at him with eyes full of concern so he shook his head.

“It’s alright. She should be fine by herself.”

“Yes…”

“Let’s just cheer for her.”

In that building that resembled the colosseum, Yeorum climbed onto the arena. The large arena had a diameter of 500 metres, and that sheer size made it bigger than most sports fields. Yu Jitae and the kids gazed down at the arena while sitting at one of the corners.

Booooooo–!

Before long came the solemn sound of a warhorn, followed by the war cries of North African soldiers. Their cries trembled the surrounding air.

Kugugugung…

Yeorum was raising her vigour at the face of the important battle and so was the opponent.

The curtain was lifted up as a small boy poked his head out.

“Huh? Who’s that?”

It was when someone voiced out their confusion.

The curtain quivered greatly in the hands of the boy and from within appeared a large body with a tall height – a man that looked as if he was born for a battle walked out from behind.

However, there was something strange about him.

There was something blocking his eyes. He was blindfolded by a red cloth.

“Huh? Why did he cover his eyes?”

“That’s weird… Is he doing that to make it more fair? He wasn’t like that right?”

“Yeah. The last time he was seen in the media was five and a half years ago, and he didn’t have that back then.”

“Did he become blind in those few years…?”

He could hear the dumbstruck voices of the crowd.

In fact, the answer was within one of them.

Five years ago, Javier did not heal the wound that was created by Yu Jitae on the day he took in Yeorum. It was to always remember the powerlessness of his defeat.

“He’s almost like a different person… I think he’s stronger than most of the transcendents at the Association.”

Bom said and she was right.

Ever since his loss against Yu Jitae, he had been crazily immersed in training with his sword for the past 5 years. As a result, he was slightly stronger than his former selves of the previous iterations.

Javier and Yeorum both recognised each other. While the one-digit ranker of the Association that had come as the umpire was announcing the specific rules of the fight, Kaeul asked him a question.

“Do you think unni can win…?”

She sounded very concerned.

“It won’t be easy.”

Because a will had an endogenous nature, it was impossible to clearly tell how strong it was before being released and thus, Yu Jitae also had no choice but to watch.

Soon, Yeorum took out her Level 3 sword artifact that had the onion core embedded inside and activated it as red and round bits or aura started exuding out of the sword. On the other hand, Javier Karma also took out his Level 4 artifact, [Sword of Ra], and activated it. A golden light of aura raged outward.

The two swords vented their energies. The world was divided into two at where the swords’ energies were colliding as they each claimed their territory. That intense vigour created a hail that made the onlookers weak at their knees.

As the arena was being enveloped with more and more tension,

Ding—

The ringing bell marked the start of the fight.