“Here is the Chicago pizza that you ordered. Where shall I place it?”
Baltren raised his hand in response to Dalupin’s query.
A whole Chicago style pizza covered deep with yellow cheese and pepperoni slices was placed before Baltren. Upon seeing this, Franz swallowed his saliva as he said,
“Ooh, that looks delicious. Baltren, can I have a slice as well?”
“Of course. Here.”
Baltren picked up a slice of pizza. The cheese on the pizza stretched an incredible amount. Franz deliberately spoke in a loud voice as he saw this,
“Uwah…. That looks great!”
As he did so, he took a quick glance around. Ninety Nine Nights. It was the dinner time for Master Hunter Kei and Kei’s ‘Chosen Ones’. As always, a sumptuous feast was laid out on top of the table, but the atmosphere was different from usual.
The mood seemed to be more solemn than before. Even as they ate, the others did not say much. The only one who was excitedly talking was Franz. The reason for this atmosphere was because of Serin and Kei.
It seemed that something had happened during the raid as the two people did not say a single word. Furthermore, even if Franz did not know what happened, there was a chilly atmosphere that surrounded the two. Franz was the only person speaking at the table; Baltren and Nada did not speak up as they were mindful of Serin and Kei, and Mahadas was reserved from the beginning.
‘Did something happen?’
Franz stole glances at the two, but he was unable to obtain a single clue about what happened between them. Nevertheless, he tried to bring up feel-good topics to liven the atmosphere.
“Though this raid was incredibly difficult, it’s a relief that everyone finished safely. Since it seems that there’s not much left until the end, hang in there everyone. When the raids are over, we’ll be the world’s heroes after all.”
Baltren reacted to his words.
“Of course. The Operator said it when the raid was over that there are… six thousand people remaining? That means that, excluding these six thousand, everyone else is trapped inside the purgatory. If some people are able to free them, then wouldn’t they definitely be treated as heroes?”
Baltren nodded his head as he chewed his pizza.
“Not just any heroes, either. We’ll definitely become heroes on a global scale. Global popularity is natural… and we’ll probably earn an incredible amount of money?”
This time, Nada showed some interest.
“Of course. Companies all over the world will be anxious for us to be in their commercials. Don’t you think so? For example, sports companies like Dike or Idaas… No, we’ll become VVVIP commercial models for all businesses.”
Nada placed her elbow on the table and supported her jaw with her hand as she said,
“Hrm… That sounds likely?”
“When the raids are finished, everyone will probably become incredibly busy since you’ll likely be invited to places all over the world. And you might also have to prepare an autobiography of your experiences since they’ll probably sell like hotcakes.”
Even Mahadas, who had silently listened up until then, said something.
“If it’s writing a book, then I’m a bit interested. Since in Buddhism, it is said that spreading Buddhist doctrines is one of the methods that accumulate the most virtue. I believe that a fairly decent book could be written if I combine the experiences I’ve obtained here with the teachings of Buddhism.”
As the conversation continued, the stiff atmosphere became slightly relaxed. Wealth and fame. These two topics are topics that everyone enjoys.
“If this happens, what do you guys want to do? I want to travel around the world. I want to see all of the attractions while eating great food, seeing great places and staying at great locations. Since we’ll be welcomed wherever we go… We’ll probably be received very warmly. Whether it’s hotels or restaurants… They might even want us to come.”
Baltren had more humble dreams in comparison.
“Travel? I don’t enjoy going to places. If I become that rich… I want to buy a building in Manhattan. A place where I can clearly see Central Park. There, I’ll drink some whiskey as I look down from the top floor. Though in the past I could only look from over the police car…”
Baltren grinned as if he was happy simply imagining it. Nada, as expected, seemed to have interest in real estate.
“I want to buy an old castle in France. After buying one, I could be like a queen every vacation… No, if it turns out like that then there wouldn’t be any need to work, right? Ah, right. When I quit, I want to slap my superior on my way out. And then chuck my exit compensation envelope in his face. I always wanted to do it.”
She slapped the air twice with empty as she spoke. Mahadas did not have any desire for physical possessions, but there was something he did want to do.
“There were plans for some fellow Buddhists in Canada to build a temple in Toronto, but it was delayed for a few years due to the lack of funds. If I were to obtain money, I would like to donate to the cause.”
“The country will probably do it for you even if you don’t give them money. That is, if Rev. Mahadas wanted it.”
“Of course. You’re a hero that saved the Earth. Do you think they wouldn’t do at least that much?”
As they continued to converse, the atmosphere at the table began to grow lighter. However, despite this Serin and Kei remained silent. Even after the meal was finished and it was time for dessert, they still continued to hold their silence. It was obvious that something had happened to the two, or perhaps between the two.
“Then I’ll take your orders for dessert.”
When Dalupin brought a pen and paper, Serin rose up from her spot.
“I’m sorry but… The briefing will be tomorrow, right? I’ll get up first. Since today was too tiring…”
Now that they looked, she had only eaten half of the gooksoo* that she had ordered for dinner. The hunters were slightly taken aback, but no one stopped Serin who left saying that she was tired. As she had said, the raid was two days later, and today was a free day.
“Then, farewell. Have a good night.”
After bidding farewell, Serin turned her head to the Operator Cube and said,
“Operator, send me back to my dimension.”
With those words, she disappeared from the table at Ninety Nine Nights. At the same time, Franz glanced at Kei who was wordlessly staring at the table that she had disappeared from. Franz thought,
‘Something definitely happened between the two.’
“Everyone, you did well. Since the resting period is until tomorrow, get a good rest today.”
Sungjin said as he rose from his seat. The hunters returned to their respective dimensions one by one.
Left alone, Sungjin returned to his room and opened the door. The figure of Serin who did not say anything throughout dinner was stuck in his mind.
‘Can you stay for a bit?’
He wanted to keep her here and talk to her, but she claimed she was tired and left. Sungjin’s feelings were complicated. Of course, it was not as if he did not understand her feelings.
This was because Edward was someone who truly seemed to be a good person. However, instead, he was more dangerous because of this reason. Last time, the final ten were people who did not mesh well together, but everyone like and trusted Edward. However, at the final moment, he stabbed them in the back. His betrayal was so much more effective because of it.
‘Do I have to explain what had happened back then…’
Although it wasn’t something he wished to recall, he had no choice. This was the only method that he could use to persuade her. However, for some reason he felt sad.
Even if she did not understand immediately, he had hoped that she would help him. Sungjin sat on top of his bed inside his room. After having eaten dinner, there wasn’t anything to do in particular. He was not going to go shopping in the Black Market, nor was there a raid tomorrow. However, suddenly, Sungjin thought of what the Dragon Archae’ard’s had said.
‘Ah, right. Before when I read your memories, there was something that I was also curious about.’
Having thought about that time, Sungjin called out the Operator.
“That… Eye mask that I obtained this raid. Was it Ever Dream? Take it out for me.”
At Sungjin’s request, the eye mask appeared from the cube. Sungjin held it up and examined it. The Dragon that had taken a peek at his past had said something strange as he handed the eye mask to Sungjin.
‘Why did Edward, at that time, shoot spells at his allies?’
The Dragon had also said,
‘There is a topic that I was thinking about recently… If you can know the past in its entirety, then could you not also predict the future in its entirety? Something like that. With that in mind… I’ll give you this.’
Sungjin held the item above his head as he once again pulled up the Operator’s explanation window. He then read the ability of the Active Skill ‘View of Fantasy’ again.
‘Shows what you want to see from inside the gaps between time that has flown past. Only activates when sleeping for longer than 7 hours.’
Sungjin asked the Operator,
“Operator, what time is it?”
[The time is 07:45:33 PM.]
Regardless of things, he had to go to Darker than Black at four thirty in the morning.
‘Since I have to get up at 4 AM in that case…’
In order to sleep for longer than 7 hours, he had to fall asleep by 9 PM at the latest. Since he could not fall asleep the moment he laid down, he had to attempt to fall asleep by 8:30. Sungjin said to the Operator,
“Operator. Set an alarm for 8… 8:20.”
[It’s 8:20, Mister Hunter]
Sungjin glanced at the Operator Cube. He had a set an alarm in case he forgot, but instead he constantly thought about it and had become filled with tension. Sungjin held up the eye mask and laid down on the bed. Afterwards, he turned off the lamp next to the headboard.
The rooms of the inn ‘Ninety Nine Nights’ were optimal for sleep, even for people who were sensitive to light. After turning off the last lamp, only an inky darkness was left, though it did not compare to the darkness of Darker than Black. Sungjin put the eye mask on his face as he thought,
‘Even though it’s this dark, to wear an eye mask…’
Afterwards, he laid down on the bed. Though it appeared to be rather large, it weighed almost nothing.There was no sense of discomfort when lying down while wearing it like this.
‘Hrm… If I fall asleep like this… Is that it?’
He could not get a feel for how he was supposed to activate it. However, it was definitely identified as a ‘Passive Skill’, so there was likely nothing that he had to deliberately do. Still, since it said that it would ‘Show what you want to see from inside the gaps between time that has flown past,’ he should at least think about what he ‘wanted to see’.
Without much further thought, Sungjin thought about that incident. That time, when Edward had shot magic at his teammates.
‘However, even if it’s like this… The reason why he shot magic at us… Isn’t that impossible to find out?’
Sungjin had his doubts, but still decided to listen to the Dragon’s words. He attempted to fall asleep while thinking about that time. However, since he was forcefully attempting to fall asleep, sleep did not come easily.
A person ate and slept based on the cycle of his body. Regardless of what he desired, for several weeks, Sungjin had been living a life where he went to sleep at about 10 and woke up at 4. All of a sudden, he began to worry.
‘This… What do I do if I can’t fall asleep?’
Failing here would waste the whole day. Since he couldn’t just take a nap for seven hours. Sungjin asked the Operator while lying down with his eyes closed.
“Operator, what time is it?”
[The time is 8:31:21]
There was still a lot of time remaining. Sungjin attempted to fall asleep a bit more. However, sleep did not come.
“Operator, what time is it?”
[The time is 8:45:02]
There were 15 minutes left.
‘If it’s like this…’
Still, it was an item that he had obtained after going through many difficulties for it, so it was not as if he could simply not try it out. Sungjin decided to turn off the 4 am alarm so he could try sleeping for 5 more minutes.
He attempted to go to sleep one more time while thinking of that incident. However, for some reason sleep again did not come easily. Feeling helpless, Sungjin was about to get up and call the Operator, when at that moment, he could suddenly hear someone else’s voice.
“Hey Sungjin, come here for a bit.”
When Sungjin lifted his head and looked, Illich was gesturing towards him. The Illich that he had personally killed not long ago.
Even though Sungjin was thinking so, his body began to walk towards Illich. He soon realized that he had arrived inside a dream.
*Maemil gooksoo (the actual full name) – Buckwheat noodle soup.
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