The thought of breaking her arms behind her to shut her up crossed Isaac’s mind, but Isaac needed a place to avoid the non-humans’ relentless pursuit—which had continued despite the Directorate of Surveillance formally halting all activities. When she mentioned that not even the non-humans knew of the location’s existence, Isaac reluctantly let the two lead him forward.
“This is the Land of Atonement.”
“Land of Atonement?”
Isaac asked back with a frown, annoyed by loose feathers flying everywhere each time her wings moved. The woman politely pointed at the cave to her side.
“There is someone waiting for you inside.”
Isaac smirked at the woman’s words and grabbed for his cigarette.
“Have you heard what happened to that three eyed fucker after he ignored me?”
The woman looked away from Isaac, but her quivering wings did little to put on a brave front.
“We don’t have permission to enter. Isaac-nim, you are the first human of this world and the second Invader to step foot in this place.”
“Hm. I assume the Queen’s the first Invader. And do you guys consider me, a human of this world, a Type 3 Invader? I’ll take that as an honour.”
Isaac watched the winged woman like he would an adorable animal—even though she didn’t dare to meet his gaze, she continued to speak. He then walked to where she pointed.
The shining crystals lit up the cave enough for Isaac to see without trouble. He wondered if this cave was man-made or was a work of nature.
The walls and ceilings looked rugged and natural, but the well-polished floor was evidence of an artificial touch.
After walking on for a bit, Isaac finally exited the cave to enter a long, well-furnished path. To his right and left were countless sculptures. Isaac quickly realised what those sculptures represented with a glimpse.
“They are in the shape of non-humans.”
Humans, elves, dwarves, beastmen. Isaac had seen many of these races before, but many more of them were his first encounter with them. Isaac was almost baffled by how many races lived in this world, seeing how these sculptures lined the entire path.
With so much time on his hands, Isaac decided to carefully observe each sculpture like he was in an art museum.
“Hm? Scale and fins? Did they live in the sea? Actually, a mermaid does seem plausible in this world, although I’ve never seen one. I wonder if they taste nice?”
If mermaids were present now, they would be furious at what Isaac had said. Isaac smirked, his gaze moving onto another sculpture.
“Hmph. Probably a bad idea. I’ve definitely seen somewhere that eating a mermaid gives you immortality. Definitely shouldn’t eat something that dangerous.”
Isaac had been ogling the sculptures in fascination, but it only lasted a little while longer. Having lost interest, Isaac’s footsteps grew faster. When he reached the end of the cave, he looked down into the plaza below him and whistled in astonishment.
“Wow. Now that is a sight to see.”
A half-buried dragon’s sculpture laid in the middle of the plaza, with tens of thousands of sculptures surrounding it. It reminded Isaac of Qin Shi Huang’s terracotta soldiers.1EDN: This is in direct reference to the famous tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huan. He was buried in a tomb filled with terracotta soldiers, which were meant to protect him in the afterlife. To give an idea on its scale, it had over 8,000 soldiers alone—not counting chariots, horses, other officials, and miscellaneous sculptures. Source: Wikipedia
“Thats the fuckers with eyes in their forehead—thats the winged ones. Huh? That’s the werewolves! Why are they here?”
Isaac peered at each of the sculptures as he approached the giant sculpture of a dragon. He reached for a new cigarette. The dragon looked like it was sinking into the mud; only its head was above the surface.
Isaac, who was about to light his cigarette, realised the sculpture’s left eyelid was opening. Isaac looked eye-to-eye with the dragon in a daze. Isaac took a deep breath of his cigarette and muttered.
“Hm? Now that’s an interesting technique. Is that telepathy?”
Isaac tapped his own head in surprise and muttered. He exhaled the smoke and asked.
“I assume you are the one who was waiting for me. So what’s the reason?”
“There is something I must tell you.”
With that, the memories of the days before 7 Days of Calamity flooded into Isaac’s head.
Isaac struggled to stay on his feet. When the flood of memories subsided, Isaac began chuckling.
“Kukuku. What sick joke is this?”
“Our original sin.”
“Original sin? Sure, of course. All of this bullshit happened because of you guys.”
Isaac rubbed his cigarette on the dragon’s nostril, extinguishing it. He then reached for a new cigarette.
“We merely wished that you knew of our original sin.”
“Bullshit. You guys got sick of fighting heaven and hell and wanted to delegate the job to another world, and when that failed, you realised what a big mess you created, so you guys are ‘atoning’ for it? In secret, hiding from everyone else?”
Isaac climbed onto the dragon’s nose, looking directly into the dragon’s pupil. He ridiculed the dragon with a mocking smile.
“Let me ask this. Why are you hiding it?”
The dragon remained silent. Isaac smirked.
“Yeah, of course. If this world finds out that the 7 Days of Calamity started because of you guys, this world wouldn’t let Central herd them around like obedient sheep. They’d be busy busting each other’s heads in. No wonder the Queen lost her mind.”
“Shut. Up. I’m not in a good mood.”
“So, how did it feel to watch the humans put on a meaningless struggle until the end, all the while devouring each other in greed?”
“We realised our mistake and wanted to atone for it.”
“And why does that atonement only apply to this world!”
Isaac bellowed and he took out a knife to stab the dragon’s eye, only to stop at mere millimetres from it. He grumbled.
“Shit. I’d love to spill that ink, or is it gold?2EDN: According to MOYOYO, it’s a Korean thing to refer to someone’s pupil as ink because Korean peoples’ pupils are normally black and brown. Hence, he’s figuratively saying “I’ll suck that ink out of your eye,” but he’s literally threatening to gouge the eye out. From that eye of yours, but that would cause disaster in the world and the Queen will figure out my location. Hooo….”
Isaac let out a deep sigh. He took a deep puff of the cigarette to stay calm before he continued to speak.
“Did you know? We humans like to be compensated for our losses. So what drives us crazy is when the culprit apologises sincerely but without a way to actually compensate the victim for the crime.”
“… I can undo the disaster if that is your wish.”
The dragon announced. Isaac snickered and jumped down the dragon’s nostril.
“Yeah. That’s the reason why the Queen lost her mind. I know you aren’t just saying that. You will release Calamity into the world if I want it. You don’t—no, can’t understand why I’m acting like this despite how serious you are with your apology, right? That’s because you’re not human.”
Isaac spat on the ground and turned around to leave the cave. The dragon called out.
“Will you stop the Queen?”
“Man makes the plan, and heaven decides its success.3TL&EDN: The original saying is 모사재인 성사재천 in Korean or 謀事在人成事在天 in Chinese. It has its origins in one of Zhuge Liang’s (aka Kongming’s) expeditions in the North against Sima Yi, where Zhuge Liang used fire to corner Sima Yi, but it rained, thus allowing Sima Yi to escape. Zhuge Liang never actually said those words, but it’s used to refer to many situations where even the best-made plans can fail from divine intervention, such as the Manchu invasion of Japan failing due to typhoons. Source: Namu Wiki It’s my favourite proverb. I can’t stop now, so it’s up to the heavens to decide the victor. And you better thank that heaven. If the first Invader that came was me and not the Queen, I would have demanded that you undo the seal over calamity without hesitation.”
“… Then why do you not demand it now?”
The dragon’s voice echoed in Isaac’s head. Isaac answered without looking back, walking back to where he came from.
“That happened 300 years ago in this world. You’ve admitted your mistakes and aren’t assholes who refuse to make a decent apology for your actions. I may be crazy, but I’m not retarded to demand that everyone dies over something you’ve already apologised for so long ago.”
“So how did you guys find me?”
Isaac asked with a satisfied face after devouring a bowl of rice and kimchi stew made with thick slices of pork—still a complete mystery as to where the girls got it. Kunette, whose mouth was stained red from the stew, answered in the midst of eating.
“The Old One brought all the chieftains of every race to him.”
Isaac lit his cigarette and asked as he let out the smoke.
“Did that thing say everything?”
“Everything huh… So that’s why you have those complicated expressions from time to time.”
Even if everything was an inside job, Isaac did murder Rivelia’s father. A grudge borne from something like that was difficult to forget. When Isaac’s eyes moved to Rivelia, she responded with a bitter smile.
“I found my father’s will. And I heard from the Old One too…”
“Hm. I know it’s weird coming from me, but time will take care of everything.”
Rivelia glared at Isaac. His consolation wasn’t much of a consolation at all. She turned her head around abruptly.
“Sob, sob. Sunbaenim, what do I do?”
“… You’ll get sick if you force yourself through spicy food.”
Isaac sighed, watching Reisha choke down the stew and rice despite bawling her eyes out with swollen lips from the spice. To think an elf couldn’t even handle the spice of a stew. A Shin Ramen or anything hotter might’ve been enough to assassinate an elf.
Meanwhile, Kunette furiously devoured her portion of the stew, almost as if afraid that she’ll lose it if she didn’t. Isaac took a puff of his cigarette.
“Leave some for me to eat later, will you?”
The three didn’t stay by Isaac at all times. They were all very busy, and could visit Isaac only occasionally. Rivelia spent her days working tirelessly as the Duchess of Pendleton. Kunette and Reisha were no different, staying only for a few days before leaving.
Isaac spent his days alone, and whether it was for protection or a watch, non-humans swapped places with Mr. Gonzales as suppliers of food and choyu leaves. Isaac could tell they were trying to make his life easier.
Many winters passed, and Isaac spent his days leisurely. One day, all three of them had come together at the same time—a rare occasion. They all sat and enjoyed their meals together, enjoying their cups of tea when Rivelia announced.
“I need a child.”
Rivelia’s sudden bombshell of an announcement froze not just Isaac but Reisha and Kunette in their tracks. The three looked at Rivelia in a daze. Not even a hint of embarrassment was on her face; her expression was completely serious as she stared back at Isaac.
Isaac quickly took out a cigarette to mask his panic, and Kunette and Reisha finally came back to their senses—rather loudly, too.
“Kyack! Rivelia, I’ll hit you!”
“Wow! You’re crossing the red light! No—is it going over the speed limit? Anyway, that’s illegal!”
Isaac exhaled and directly addressed Rivelia, whose eyes didn’t even flutter as the other two kicked and screamed.
“Hm… I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but there’s this thing called DNA. I may be in this body now, but biologically speaking…”
“Then do you really need to have a child with me? You can just adopt an orphan.”
“No. I need your child.”
- 1EDN: This is in direct reference to the famous tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huan. He was buried in a tomb filled with terracotta soldiers, which were meant to protect him in the afterlife. To give an idea on its scale, it had over 8,000 soldiers alone—not counting chariots, horses, other officials, and miscellaneous sculptures. Source: Wikipedia
- 2EDN: According to MOYOYO, it’s a Korean thing to refer to someone’s pupil as ink because Korean peoples’ pupils are normally black and brown. Hence, he’s figuratively saying “I’ll suck that ink out of your eye,” but he’s literally threatening to gouge the eye out.
- 3TL&EDN: The original saying is 모사재인 성사재천 in Korean or 謀事在人成事在天 in Chinese. It has its origins in one of Zhuge Liang’s (aka Kongming’s) expeditions in the North against Sima Yi, where Zhuge Liang used fire to corner Sima Yi, but it rained, thus allowing Sima Yi to escape. Zhuge Liang never actually said those words, but it’s used to refer to many situations where even the best-made plans can fail from divine intervention, such as the Manchu invasion of Japan failing due to typhoons. Source: Namu Wiki