‘Du du dudu, du du dudu’
He could hear the sound of subway in the distance. Soon he was able to see a 17 m^2 apartment with worn out wallpaper pasted over moldy walls. Anyone who saw such a place would not have a positive reaction, but for Sungjin who was looking into the future shouted internally
‘Yes! I’m alive!’
This was a rooftop apartment in the middle of Seoul Jung-ju district (1). It was the place Sungjin had lived before being dragged off to the raids. Him being here means that the final 256 hunters had successfully completed the last Raid.
‘So it’s finally over!’
Sungjin cheered internally. Finally, the death game of carnage and mayhem was finally over.
‘But… where is… me?”
Sungjin searched for his future self. The room was too dark and the lights were off.
‘Am I… sleeping already?’
A cell phone ringing could be heard. Above the worn out bed, which took up a third of the room, a cell phone lit up. His self was lying in bed looking at the cell phone. Sungjin wanted to shout at himself
‘Great work Sungjin. You have become the savior of mankind.’
But it was then
His future self let out a long sigh. Sungjin was surprised
He came back from a successful raid, so why was he sighing? Something wasn’t right. Sungjin peeked a look at the old cellphone his future self was holding. There was a text message open.
‘Hey, rooftop young man. I’m sorry to say that if you don’t pay your rent by this month then it really can’t be helped. I’ll wait just one more week. I hope that you’ll be able to pay during that time. Either that or move out.’
The future Sungjin read that and let out another long sigh.
He threw his phone on the pillow. And then he stood up with great difficulty to grab his crutches. It was then that the Sungjin from the past saw the cast around his right leg.
‘Oh… right. It was like that’
Back in reality, Sungjin was barely meeting rent from month to month with a part time job. But not too long ago when he was running a delivery on his motorcycle, he hurt his leg in a hit-and-run accident. And for that reason, he was unable to do his part time job and had been laying in bed ever since. His entire savings went into paying for his medical fees and he was terminated from his part time job. That’s how rent begun to stack up. His legs were healed at the time he was summoned so he had forgotten about it.
‘…if I go back… I will come back to this kind of environment…’
Sungjin thought to himself while staring at tomorrow’s Sungjin.
‘But… did people all lose memory of the raids…?’
It was a topic of interest for previous life’s final 10 members, or with the Chosen Ones.
‘We’ll become heroes of humanity once the raids are over.’
‘It wouldn’t be strange if we become superstars with companies begging us to appear in their commercials.’
‘Once the raids are over, we will become rich. Unimaginably so.
It might be to a point where we no longer need money in our lives.’
It was a beautiful dream. The Hunters shared stories like these to help cope with the terror of the raids. Sungjin was always off to the side during one of these discussions, but that didn’t mean he had no expectations. He had grown up in such a deprived environment that, more than becoming a hero or super rich, his simply thought that his living circumstance will improve. But from what he saw, he comes back to life being worried about paying rent. It was very different from what he had imagined.
‘…So… I’m going back…to exactly where I started…’
It made sense. Becoming ‘Savior of mankind’ as the Hunters imagined was only going to come true if ‘The whole of mankind returned to Earth with their memories intact’. If the Operator erased everyone’s memories before returning them to Earth, there was no savior, nor hero or whatever.
Seeing himself in 24 hours later made Sungjin sigh, much like his future self had done. The future self waddled over with the crutch and opened the door of the fridge as tall as himself. The only edible thing in there was Banana Milk (3). He took it out of the fridge, opened the lid, and drank it all. Sungjin who was drinking the milk looked filled with worry. And Sungjin who was watching wasn’t exactly all that happy.
‘…It’s not that I wanted acknowledgement or something but…’
The thought of going back now and having to immediately worry about rent was horrifying.
‘Hell after hell…’
He then remembered Igor’s words.
‘This place is similar to reality’
Thinking of such thoughts was making him depressed. Sungjin, as of now, carried four different swords and clad his entire body with legendary gear, but back in reality, he was wearing an old white shirt and sweatpants.
‘Master Hunter Kei’
He was treated like a hero here, but if he were to go back then he returns to life of being unemployed and in poverty. Sungjin thought to himself while looking at his future self.
‘…Wait a moment… what about me… do I go back without my memory as well?’
There were many terrible memories within the raid, but there were lots of good memories as well. He just didn’t want to go through it all again, but there were experiences from going through the Raid that he didn’t want to lose.
‘But… if that’s what the Operator does… then I guess that’s that…’
When Sungjin was thinking of that, the future self hobbled over towards the desk and opened a drawer. There, Sungjin’s eyes grew wide. Between books, scissors, batteries and other miscellaneous items was a small cube given by a Dragon.
The future Sungjin had no items from the raid with the exception of the cube. The future Sungjin picked it up and rubbed it as he said,
That was the name of the dragon that had given him the cube. He had memory of the raids; he did not lose his memory of the past. The future Sungjin opened the lid to the cube. But there was nothing in there. The future Sungjin on seeing it sighed deeper than before.
‘Is Keeping tradition.’
‘What do you mean by that?’
‘You know as well. Humans who defeat avaricious dragons… They rescue the kidnapped princess or… Take the treasures in the Dragon’s Lair… Stories like that. Human. Since I lost, I’m giving you a reward.’
‘I have a bigger cube. Just where am I supposed to use this one?’
The Dragon’s eyes shone once he heard Sungjin’s question. He gestured to the Operator’s Cube as he said,
‘That Cube is something you’re using, but it’s not yours. Right? However, this cube that you’re holding, this one is yours. Do you understand what I’m saying?’
Well, just know that this is the case. Anyways, when the time comes, you’ll understand.’
Sungjin stared at the cube as he thought.
Meanwhile, the future Sungjin threw the cube into the drawer and returned to bed. And when he did, the background suddenly turned dark and the vision of the future disappeared.
Along with a shout, Sungjin stood up from the bed of Ninety Nine Nights. All sorts of thoughts came and went.
‘What’s left… is just one cube…’
“That… give me that small cube.”
Soon the small cube the dragon had given him popped out of the Operator’s cube. The small cube with the engraving of a blue dragon. Sungjin opened it. There was nothing in there. Just like he had seen from the future. While he was holding it, he suddenly got a thought and so he raised the star shaped accessory over his head again.
Ios – The Revelation of the Stars
Starlight (I) – You can see what will occur 24 hours in the future from now. If the user exerts his will, then it is possible to change the future. Can be used once a day.
I hold within me the Vision of the Gods
On this day, a new pair of eyes opened from within me.
Sungjin read the message there again.
‘If the user exerts his will, then it is possible to change the future’
“Possible to change the future…”
Sungjin stared at the cube while mumbling to himself. The cube was small enough to hold in one hand comfortably. Large enough to hold a single item.
If he were to do as he thought, he might be able to change his own future. It’s just, the cube’s size being what it was, only small items could fit in there. Sungjin checked his fingers. On the fingers were the best quality rings he had been collecting. But of all the rings he had, the one he had the most interest in was the ‘Ring of the Great Sage’. It was a ring that allowed him to use magic freely.
‘What if I could use magic when I go back to the present?’
Sungjin’s heart began to beat faster. He placed his hands on the ring and,
Was what he was about to say when
He remembered that he needed to use this Ring tomorrow. He could only reverse time if he had this ring.
‘If the user exerts his will, then it is possible to change the future.’
This meant that the future could change for the worse. If he failed the raid because he unequipped this ring then he won’t be able to return to the rooftop room.
‘Thats… no good…’
Sungjin took his hands off of the ring. Then he checked around at the other rings. But now that he took a look at them, all of them were combat focused. It was possible that removing them and putting it in the cube would result in him losing during combat.
‘These… I can’t take them off yet…then… what else is there…’
Sungjin then recalled the conversation he had with the Black Market merchant as he left.
‘When you have to choose one thing, choose that. The truth is always precious.’ Sungjin brought his hands over his ear. ‘Eye of Jeremiah’ allowed him to see the thoughts in others.
‘If it’s this…’
This would not have utility for combat tomorrow. It’s the last raid so there was no need to peek into the thoughts of others.
Sungjin took off the earring and placed it into the cube. The earring went right into the cube.
‘With this… I won’t have to worry about being scammed…well… not that I have money to be scammed out of…’
Sungjin thought as he was about the close the cube. But then, he saw the star shaped accessory he was still holding with his other hand.
Sungjin put the star shaped accessory next to the cube to check their size. It looked like it might just fit. But then the earring in the cube would get in the way. Sungjin first took out the earring and tried to place the star inside. It didn’t fit right away, but after several tries, he found a configuration that let the accessory fit the walls exactly and the accessory fell right in.
Sungjin yelled in happiness. Sungjin then tried to put the earring back into the cube, between the arms of the five pointed star. Luckily, the earring fit right in. Sungjin yelled again
“This is it!”
Jung gu is the least populated, smallest, and perhaps the poorest part of Seoul.
In korea, especially on poorer districts with smaller buildings, there is a practice making a tiny apartment on top of existing structures to rent out. Google rooftop living in korea. It is where the poorest residents lives.
Banana Milk is famous in Korea. Google Banana Milk advertisements.