Jae Hwan asked after listening that far.
“....End all [productions]?”
“Mmm. That was what he said. He was a very… unique Nightmare.”
Jae Hwan threw another question.
“Did the expedition succeed?”
“It did. I had to stop at the entrance of <<Abyss>> because I fell behind….. But Myullock probably reached the top of the illusion tree.”
“”How do you know?”
“The [fruits] fell. From the branches.”
Chung Heo remembered the scene where countless fruits fell from the sky. It was the feast of golden meteorites that descended to return their hopes.
“I have to say we were lucky, getting the fruits. Because of it each one of us could carry an armful of fruits back to <<Chaos>>.”
But then, if they succeeded in the expedition and acquired the [fruit], why had this old man still remained in this place?
At that moment, Claire interposed.
“Do you think being dead gives you the right to spout such bullshit, old man? Succeeded in the expedition?”
Chung Heo chuckled at her censure.
“I was wondering if you'd stay quiet all day.”
“That expedition failed. Are you delusional?”
“..... What would you even know. You weren't even alive back then.”
Claire frowned and went to serve another table. Chung Heo clicked his tongue and chugged his beer.
“What does she mean. The expedition failed?” Jae Hwan asked.
“What does it sound like. It failed.”
“Didn't you say it was a success?”
“....We succeeded in getting the [fruit].”
The meaning was clear. Something had happened on their way coming back with the fruit.
“They were awaiting us in the entrance of <<Chaos>>.”
Waiting for the exhausted expedition team were the ones who were stuck in <<Chaos>> for the longest, but had no courage to enter <<Abyss>> themselves. And they were stronger than anyone in the expedition team.
“The clan leaders and the Sovereigns from the Great land.”
Chung Heo said with wrath burning in his eyes. He had not forgotten the hate he felt hundreds of years ago.
“In the expedition we had the Castle Lords and the ten Arks of Chaos. But they were no match.”
A terrifying difference in power. They were on a whole different scale. Between the two groups there was an insurmountable gap that will never be able to fill, no matter how long it takes. Chung Heo’s hands were trembling.
“That's how you lost the fruits.” Jae Hwan said.
Chung Heo chugged his beer. Despite the fact that he couldn't get drunk, his eyes were clouded and his voice distorted.
“Even now, they are coming back to life using those fruits. There's even a <<Temple of Revival>> dedicated for them, where the Sovereigns and the five Great Clan heads go when they die, to await their turn to revive.
“... I see.”
“Chaos is just a part of the Great lands. Privileges are decided by birth.”
Jae Hwan looked around the streets of <<Chaos>>. It was filled with depression and despair.
In this world there clearly existed something called fruits, and there certainly existed those who could use them to revive, however these people were not them; the ‘real’ life they want was somewhere where their souls could never reach.
That was why they despaired.
Like this old man.
“What happened to Myullock?”
He had forgotten about Myullock while listening to the story.
But Chung Heo was silent. Jae Hwan peered at his face.
“Oi old man.”
What kind of joke was this.
Chung Heo was sprawled on the table with his nose buried into it. Was he not the one who had said that people cannot get drunk in Chaos? Then what was this gramps doing?
“He won't wake up even if you call him. The old man gets drunk for real.”
Claire said as she wiped the tables.
“....Drunk for real?”
“Dunno the reason but the old man actually goes out cold after drinking. Getting drunk by a drink that can't make you drunk. Its one of his greatest talents, should I say.”
Jae Hwan observed the snoring face with interest. It was the face of someone who have lived for a thousand years. Watching the drunk facies of Chung Heo, Jae Hwan felt somewhat uncomfortable. He wondered if those who lived in a ‘fake’ life for such a long time tries to find a way to turn ‘fake’ into ‘real’...
“You wanted to know about Myullock, right?”
“...You also know about him?”
“There's no one in Gorgon Fortress who doesn't know about the [Abyss Expedition]. It's something the old man chatters about when he's drunk.”
She sighed before continuing,
“Basically, that Nightmare disappeared.”
“No one saw him after the expedition ended.”
She paused and wiped a cup.
“The old man said the Nightmare left after leaving a few words…”
“What were they?”
“What was it….”
Claire frowned, trying to remember as she cleaned the remaining dishes, mumbling what he could have said.
“‘I have failed’.”
Her tone was so sombre and convincing that Jae Hwan had to briefly wonder if she was not Myullock himself.
“Yes. it was something along the line of ‘I have failed’.”
I have failed….
Jae Hwan could guess what he had meant. Myullock could not stop [productions] although he had acquired the fruit.
“Is that all?”
“Mmm. there was something after that…”
Claire tried hard to remember. And at that moment, someone collapsed into a chair besides Chung Heo. He was one of the man who was fighting across the street a moment ago.
“Haa. This gramps drunk again.”
The man’s face felt familiar to Jae Hwan. Now that he thought about it, he was the man who had intercepted him at the Fortress gates.
‘James, was it.’
It was a great timing. Claire said,
“What do you want.”
“The words the Nightmare Myullock left behind before going away, do you remember?”
“Myullock? The lunatic Nightmare who went around saying he'll end the [productions]?”
“Yes you renegade.”
“It's a story this gramps made up. There's no Nightmares like that.”
Claire threw a pen at James and it hit him on the forehead. As he was rubbing the spot that was hit, he mumbled,
“‘I have failed. However, not completely.’.... Are you talking about this?”
“Ah, right! That one!”
“Fuck it hurts like hell. But why are you asking?”
“The guy beside you wanted to know.”
James glanced sideways at Jae Hwan.
“Hoh. What a coincidence.”
“I've been searching for you. If I think about how much I suffered because of you….”
James grinded his teeth. It looked like something bothersome was going to happen again. Jae Hwan was thinking how to react, when unexpected words came out of James's mouth.
“Thanks for this morning….”
James avoided his eyes.
“I'm talking about our head inspector. If it wasn't for you he would have died.”
An awkward moment flowed. James snatched the bottle Jae Hwan was drinking and gulped the whole content down. He then walked up to Claire.
“Hey, owner. Ill pay for this guy. How much?”
“Shove it. I wasn't going to receive anything from him anyways.”
“What, you have a conscience now?”
“Stop being a bother and scram.”
James rose from his seat, complaining at Claire. And as though he was talking to her, he said without looking at Jae Hwan,
“Oi. Whatever you are, the next time you have to enter Gorgon Fortress, come in from the north side. If you don't want to be bothered by identification.”
He coolly turned around and didnt forget to add in a small voice:
“Of course, it's a secret from the head inspector.”
The abundantly named James faded in the distance.
From his front Jae Hwan heard Claire’s knife hitting the cutting board, and from his left he heard the snoring of Chung Heo. The sound of something utterly inane being created, and the sound of it being consumed, the action equally as inane, reverberated throughout the streets.
The world without salvation. The people who acted the real in a place where there was no real. The melody of them clinging to life, with their earnesty completely gone.
‘What is this feeling…’
Jae Hwan was facing an unfamiliar emotion. This emotion was not [understanding]. It was rather closer to [misunderstanding], or a [delusion]. Although he clearly knew that, Jae Hwan felt that he was understanding something new all over again.
At that moment Jae Hwan saw someone running towards him with a panicked expression.
He was searching every food stalls with his subordinates like a madman.
“Saint!! Saint!! Where are you! Saint!”
When he discovered Jae Hwan and Chung Heo, he approached with haste and a relieved expression.
“.... Your eminence was together with the Saint?”
The MES leader bowed to Jae Hwan and looked at Chung Heo.
“Ah shit! So I couldn't contact him because he was in this condition. Saint! Please wake up!”
But no matter how much he shook him, Chung Heo did not stir. Jae Hwan said to the MES Leader,
“What’s the problem?”
“The Castle Lord’s condition suddenly deteriorated. It usually happens every week, but strangely….”
It seemed like something only the Medical Saint, Chung Heo, could resolve came up about the castle lord. At the same time as when the MES Leader stopped talking, a small explosion came from inside the palace. The MES leader’s complexion paled.
That evil and powerful aura that rose like smoke from the palace was something incomparable even to that of Zanya, no, rather, it was stronger than any human Jae Hwan had faced until now. He narrowed his eyes.
‘So the condition of the Castle lord was this bad…’
Actually, when Yulewen had asked ‘please save the castellan’, Jae Hwan had vaguely guessed his conditions. The way he asked it hinted it had something to do with a ‘forceful approach’.
‘The inner palace… underground’
Jae Hwan looked through the palace with [doubt]. The structure of the palace was strange, now that he looked. It was made to resemble the stomach of a beast, and at the very center, was where he saw the outlines of a black mass.
Even with [doubt] Jae Hwan could not read what that thing was. Tentacled limbs with huge mouth. But he knew what it was.
Yes. the Castle lord of Gorgon Fortress was in the stage of turning into a deceased.The ground vibrated.
Something terrible was about to be born.