I ended up being confused momentarily by Minshik’s absurd outburst. When I saw Syria, I did get the feeling that ‘this guy is trying to form the Avengers!’, but I hadn’t expected him to fit me in as well.
It’s because this guy Minshik knew…just how sick and tired I was of playing hero. He had also said it himself, how he envied me to the point of hate. After the both of us returned to the past, I had thought that maybe our relationship could have gone differently but we remained the same, unable to escape our ‘love and hate relationship’. And yet, he would have me join him?
“Is the world going to be destroyed or something?”
“It will be destroyed, in the near future. But if you follow me, you can obtain a special power beyond ordinary people.”
“It’s all too sudden so I can’t quite understand.”
It felt like I just got uppercutted right in the chin.
A month was just barely about to pass since I’ve returned to the past, and yet Minshik had already contacted Syria, recruited a pair of unusual Chinese, and also wanted me in his team to boot.
‘Looks like the future is going to turn out alot more differently than before.’
I was cautious when it came to this point. I took action while considering and predicting as much variables as I could, but it looked like Minshik was thinking of creating a big scene of things. I could tell he intended to make his moves with even greater haste while taking into account that the future will deviate from its course.
‘He’s just like a speeding train.’
The problem was whether or not Minshik knew when to put on the brakes. His current pace was going too fast. Of course the current situation was urgent so acting with haste on its own was alright. The problem was that Minshik was about to take things to the surface.
People were more narrow-minded than you could expect. Would the people accept those ‘beings’ that escaped the boundaries of their own understandings and simply accept them as heroes? No, it was the opposite. They would definitely be labelled as evil and shunned as such.
In my case (in the past) I had made my appearance after the existence of ‘Gates’ and ‘Awakened’ rose to public attention so I hadn’t met much opposition, but Minshik would be no different than Superman dropped into the middle of Seoul city all of a sudden.
Ordinary humans and Superman. A Superman who didn’t know how to control his own power was bound to cause problems even if unintentional. Tough times would definitely be ahead, and there was no guarantee that Minshik’s heart wouldn’t change through it all.
I opened Mind’s Eye just in case, keeping the possibility of going as far as using ‘Dominate’ on Minshik.
Name: Minshik Kim (Value – Impossible to Dominate)
Occupation: Magic Swordsman
🌑 Outstanding Novice (Lv1, Str+1)
Special Note: None
Skills: Three Form Sword Art(Lv2), Elemental Magic(Lv3)
His value was displayed as ‘impossible to Dominate’.
What? Was there some sort of criterion to this? This had never happened with the gnolls.
Frowning inside, I looked at Syria and the two Chinese siblings.
Name: Syria (Value – 30,000)
Occupation: Priest of Light
🌑 Holy Light (Lv3, Int+5)
Special Note: She is under the effect of the Blessing of Light.
Skills: Holy Light(Lv3), Providence of Light(Lv2)
Name: Linlin (Value – 23,500)
Occupation: Cait Sith(猫族)
🌑 Fearsome She-cat (Lv3, Agi+5)
Special Note: She has made a contract with the King of the Cait Siths.
Skills: Scratch(Lv2), Instant Reflexes(Lv2), Breakfall(Lv2)
Name: Shaoting (Value – 20,000)
Occupation: Beast Warrior
Special Notes: None
Skills: Beast Transformation(Lv3)
The number of their values were clearly shown. Perhaps because their potential exceeded 400, their assessed values were all high. There may be some other reason to it, but I couldn’t find a reason why only Minshik’s value turned out as ‘impossible to Dominate’.
‘Is it because he returned to the past with me?’
Was that why he wasn’t a target of Dominate? At any rate, this was the first variable of its kind I had come across; I couldn’t Dominate Minshik no matter how much points I gathered.
As I sat there blankly, Minshik asked,
“No…I was just, doing some thinking. It’s hard to accept having to leave home so abruptly.”
“I understand. You’re also going through a hard time. But you won’t have to leave forever. It’s okay to come back at any time.”
I tried putting up a reluctant act, but it appeared he wouldn’t give up.
“It’s a bit complicated for me right now.”
“I know. But seeing how you’ve even made a girlfriend and did your hair, you’re trying to move on aren’t you? That’s great. Because what we’re going to do will definitely change you.”
I couldn’t say no at this point.
Minshik nodded once and continued to speak,
“I thought over it as well, but I think it’ll be faster if I show you through actions rather than words. Look closely.”
Minshik held out his right hand-
-and at the same time conjured a small flame from it.
I was expecting it to a certain extent, nevertheless I politely jerked my body backwards and made a surprised face.
“Wh-, what? Why did fire come out of your hand all of a sudden?”
“This is fire magic. You can use this kind of ability too if you follow me. It just so happens that I’ve prepared something for you.”
“Real magic, not just a trick?”
“If you still doubt me then I’ll show you something else.”
Water, fire, air, earth. Four kinds of magic were manifested through Minshik’s hand. He looked like he was having a pretty fun time.
It couldn’t hold a candle to the magic I’d used in the past, but he was definitely learning fast. A cup was sliced in half before my eyes, and water appeared out of nowhere.
I decided that was enough and opened my mouth,
“I, I get it. Enough! I’ll believe you. All my tableware will be broken at this rate.”
“As long as you believe me.”
It was then.
It felt like the snake I had hidden in the sleeve of my clothing was moving.
“Is something wrong?”
I spoke while hiding my right arm behind me.
“I was just, too surprised. Magic you say. I’d never have imagined that I’d actually come across something out of a fantasy. I’m not being secretly filmed or anything right?”
The snake slithered up my wrist and finally came to rest near my heart region. This had never happened before; Jörmungandr hadn’t budged an inch until now. Its size was small so thankfully it wasn’t noticed. I was trying hard to ignore it when Minshik put on a grave expression and shook his head.
“Hansung, I’m being very serious right now. I’m sure it’s difficult for you to make a decision. It must feel so sudden. It’s only been a month since that incident. But I would still like for us to be together.”
Was this a love confession?
He sure was being persistent unlike his usual self, so eager in his intention to take me away. If I refused him here then that would become a problem in itself.
‘What a fastball out of the blues.’
Just how many boys in their teens could resist and turn down the temptation of having the chance to gain a mysterious power? If it were my friend asking, the answer should be obvious.
‘I should play along appropriately.’
I didn’t want to keep using my parents as an excuse. I barely had any thoughts about my parents during that time when I was in the Ancient One’s altar. I was terribly unfilial. If I had no photos of them then even their appearances would be hazy in my memory. The time they weren’t here was far longer than the time they were here, after all.
Anyhow, unlike Minshik, I didn’t have the slightest of intentions of revealing myself to the world. Hadn’t I resolved to become a hunter of the shadows, to become a sword with no other purpose than to behead the enemy?
So I would play along appropriately. I would have had to go through this once at least, so I may as well get it over with quickly. If I drew disappointment on myself then I would be able to get myself naturally dismissed from the ‘Avengers’ group.
“I have a condition in exchange.”
“Condition? Just say the word.”
“Give me permanent leave when I want, not just allowing me to simply come back home. This feels like multi-level marketing from how I hear it.
“…Alright. It hurts my pride a little to be compared to multi-level marketing, but I can’t force you. Is there anything else?”
I nodded, and Minshik gave out a small laugh. I supposed he was confident that I would end up being spellbound after a single wondrous encounter. Although it was true that my past self would have been immersed in games at this time. It was a period of time when I went several days without sleep to play games. A couch-potato to the extreme. Minshik had also lost important people before so he was well familiar with such phases. It wouldn’t be strange if he thought it was better to let me experience the unknown and make me fascinated in magic instead of leaving me be to be a couch-potato.
‘He doesn’t seem to hold any bad intentions.’
Minshik definitely didn’t suit being an executive of Aletheia. His current self was more natural.
However, I was thinking of leaving them when the time came. That, or distancing myself from them appropriately. There was no information I held that wasn’t of utmost secrecy. Only I could control these information, and other meddlesome variables weren’t exactly welcome.
“What should I be doing by the way?”
“We’ll be going to Mt Bukhan.”
“Ahem! Mt Bukhan? That place where all the commotion is right now?”
I calmly acted ignorant. The hubbub was caused by the gnolls I had Dominated but I couldn’t reveal the truth.
“It seems like there’s another Gate over there. Ahh, Gates are entrances to another world and…”
Minshik entered into a long-winded explanation.
Apparently Minshik didn’t know about the ‘gate’ in Mt Bukhan.
‘So it’s not like he knows everything.’
The golden Gate of Mt Bukhan was quite the secret as well. Only 56 people could pass the trials and gain something from the altars, so not much was known about it, not to mention that the only monsters there were gnolls.
I casually listened to Minshik’s explanation and then nodded.
“Mt Bukhan…I got it. So I have to pack my stuff is that it?”
“Pack clothes only. I’ll take care of the rest.”
“O-, okay. Whew, really. Just what is all this.”
I put up a naive appearance as I went into my room. Then I closed the door, made a casual show of packing things, and eavesdropped on the conversation in the living room.
“Seems like an ordinary person, will he really be of help?”
“Linlin. He is someone amazing. He will definitely be of help.”
“If you say so then it must be. Though my cat senses don’t really agree.”
“Elder sister. We mustn’t forget the promise we made. We follow Minshik.”
“Shaoting, thank you.”
Distrust in me was being expressed in passing. What’s more, Minshik’s attitude toward them was slightly different than the one he displayed toward me.
I shrugged my shoulders.
The powers, and potential, of those people were too amazing, to the point I wondered how he could have gathered them in this short period.
Syria was quiet. She wasn’t someone of many words to begin with.
‘I never expected for us to meet again in this way.’
Saintess Syria. We were once lovers, albeit for a fleeting time.
I laughed bitterly as I continued packing.
A scenery full of life, quiet and serene. How could I have known I would return here like this. Minshik gave orders to the four people, including me, in a familiar manner.
“Hansung and I will search near Insu Peak. Syria will take the south, Linlin and Shaoting take west. Make immediate contact upon finding the mutant harboring the ‘Gate’. Otherwise we will meet here again 6 hours later.”
It appeared that Minshik was the leader of this team. The others moved quite cooperatively.
I ended up being together with Minshik…
‘I’m gonna go crazy.’
…but it wasn’t long before I was despairing over my lack of luck.
“Ha! So there really were monsters than crossed over the Gate.”
“To think there were 20 gnolls. Damn, Hansung. Take cover. I’ll buy us time.”
It had been 3 hours or so since we’d been wandering around Insu Peak and we ended up encountering 20 gnolls. Minshik wasn’t capable of handling 20 gnolls at present. This was a crucial moment, yet I was merely sighing inside.
The gnolls held no hostility. How could they?
Contrary to expectation, they were simply looking toward me with innocent, sparkling gazes.