Jae Hwan silently gripped his sword.
This woman would become his enemy.
Jae Hwan couldn't understand why did「Selflessness」tremble whenever he looked at her. In the end, she was just going to lose herself. Why did his mind not listen?
His emotions were only in his way.
Emotions made people weak.
She had asked him for death, so why would he hesitate? He knew what would happen to her, and it was what she had asked of him.
Someone urgently grasped Jae Hwan's wrist.
"It might not be too late. Just a bit......"
The middle-aged woman who owned the pub was standing before Jae Hwan. If he recalled correctly, her name was Claire. Thanks to Carlton's warning, she was fortunately able to get out of the pub in time and avoided the Black Clouds. The fort's medical staff quickly flooded into the interior of the pub.
"Hurry, over here!"
Gorgon Fortress' response was rather quick. The medical officer directed the fort's medical workers to carry off Carlton and Mino to the medical center since they had yet to turn into a Deceased. While watching Mino being escorted away atop a cot, Jae Hwan looked at her and asked.
"This woman. Can she survive?"
"If this transformation continues, then there will be almost no chance......"
One of the medical workers replied with a grim expression on her face.
Transformation of the Neglected.
As soon as those words came out, Jae Hwan didn't miss the fear on the faces of the surrounding people.
[Warning! Soul Pollution has exceeded 90%]
The pollution measuring device in Carlton's hands was incessantly letting out a warning. Sirens began to ring out from somewhere in the fort.
[‘Gorgon 4th’ grade alarm!]
[A Small Sized Deceased has appeared inside the fort!]
[Residents near the northern streets should evacuate immediately!]
The entire fortress was in shambles.
Having faced up against a Deceased on his own, Jae Hwan couldn't help but think that the current situation was bothersome.
‘Are the Deceased really that dangerous?’
Through the usage of「Doubt」, Jae Hwan received information regarding the Deceased. It was then that Jae Hwan began to hear some Whispers being exchanged. Suddenly, human silhouettes wearing dark clothings appeared everywhere in the surrounding rooftops.
[Magic Extermination Squad First Company has just arrived.]
[Magic Extermination Squad Second Company has arrived.]
After hearing those reports in quick succession, the leader in the middle of all of them nodded his head.
"We need to destroy them before the transformation of the Neglected finishes.
The cleaning of the Deceased began soon after. Most of those silhouettes were either at the 3rd Order or higher. Looking at it from the whole, it was a force that didn't fall behind the forces of Forbidden Heavens. In fact, it was possible that they surpassed the Forbidden Heavens' forces. They immediately went into the pub.
"Mino! Wake up!!”
Claire was pouring all sorts of medicine into Mino's mouth. She didn't distinguish between One-Horned gaksus and Two-Horned gaksus. The medical officer spoke to the crew.
"How many are left?"
"......there aren't too many left now."
"How? There should be a new medicine.”
"That, all of them were sent over to the castellan to help treat his sickness……"
Their pollution levels were still rising.
It looked like something was eroding the soul of both Carlton and Mino. Something so powerful that it couldn't be stopped with medicine made from the horns of just a One-Horned or Two-Horned gaksu.
Having arrived at the medical center, the guards at the entrance looked at Claire with a difficult expression on their faces.
"The checkpoint inspector Carlton can be hospitalized, but the woman cannot. With the remaining medicine......"
"I'll provide the medicine, just let her use the tools!” Claire shouted.
"Well if you say so……"
The medical facility was worse than Jae Hwan had expected.
It was more like a wide tent than a medical center. The figures of hundreds of patients lying down on field cots entered his line of sight. They were all suffering from varying degrees of soul pollution.
"Move out of the way! Emergency patient!"
The medical team briskly moved about, bringing respiratory devices to both Carlton's and Mino's mouths. The drugs they were using were meant to be administered directly through the respiratory tract.
Outside of the medical tent, the pub with the black smoke coming out of it could be seen.
Since the black smoke came out from the pub and the alarm went off, the silhouettes had gone inspected the inside before coming out and securing the area. They could hear the screams of the waitresses that had turned into Deceased from inside the pub.
"You're the person that Mino was talking about, right?"
Jae Hwan looked at Claire.
Claire was speaking.
“She went to sweep away the Red Fox Clan but then...... but then she met a reaper who destroyed them.”
"Didn't you ignore all of the rules here? You, you judge the world with your own standards, and you define humans by your own standards.”
Jae Hwan didn't answer.
"I know what kind of person you are. I've seen it before."
Claire said with a hand on her chest, carefully measuring her heartbeat. Jae Hwan looked at Claire's face. It was the first time he saw her face.
"If you live for many years you see many people."
Claire said while lowering her eyes. She took a look at Mino before taking a look around the medical center.
"I didn't adapt to live here because people are stupid. I did so because I have no choice but to do so."
He spoke with a powerful voice that made one feel lethargic. It was the first time he ever spoke with such a voice.
"There was nothing I could do about it. I guess you could say I have no courage."
“Why would you need courage?”
Jae Hwan was about to open his mouth but then closed his mouth again.
It was because he saw Claire's eyes. He saw the years of pain and regrets reflected in her eyes. She had the eyes of a person who had enough courage to carry on, even when all of her effort resulted in just barely being able to make end's meet.
"A higher ideal, an ideal justice...... perhaps you are someone who gives those things."
The medical staffs’ shouts could be heard from all over the medical center. Some of those who were suffering from the soul pollution were coughing up a black substance.
“I'm sure it's something amazing and beautiful. It's so great that the people here don't dare understand...... what you said is correct. It's because I don't have courage that I don't understand what you're thinking. But there is one thing that I do know.”
The look in Claire's eyes was the same as Mino's.
"And that is that you are dangerous."
Jae Hwan recalled the words that Mino mumbled on about before she lost consciousness.
—I know now. Why I wanted to follow you. Why I constantly desired to grab onto you as you left.
Those words mingled together with Claire's words, gradually mixing together. Both Claire and Mino said at the same time.
"You need to leave this place.”
—You need to leave this place.
"The longer you stay here, the more the people will despair.”
—When people see you they will have hope.
"The illusion that something will change will bother them."
—They will hope that truly something might actually change.
“It would be even moreso for younger people like Mino. They are easy to tempt and will be easily shaken. That's why she is here like this, on the cusp of death, because she sympathized with you.”
—It goes without saying that the people here will hate you. It would be even moreso for those who have already become adapters. They will suffer from an inferiority complex like I have, and they will be tormented by it…… they will hate you. Many people will get hurt and many people will die.
"To me, people like you are really......"
—But despite knowing that, why do I keep wanting to hold onto you.
Claire couldn't hold herself back from speaking. Tears flowed from Mino's eyes. Claire hurriedly pulled out a handkerchief and wiped Mino's eyes.
—Please do not give up on this world.
The old door to the medical center opened..
It was the vice chief of the northern checkpoint, James, and his men.
Noticing Jae Hwan's presence, James almost flew into a rage. One of the guards in the area quickly explained the situation.
Everyone who heard the story, James and his men included, looked at Carlton with desperate looks on their faces.
"Take out all of the medicine you have!"
The guards that James had brought quickly took out all of the medicine that they were carrying. Most of them took out One-Horned gaksu powder, but there was some from Two-Horned gaksu included. James even willingly brought out the powder from a Three-Horned gaksu.
"Not even the Three-Horned gaksu powder......"
Some of the medical staff groaned. The soul contamination didn't recede at all. One of the guards opened his mouth with an uneasy expression on his face.
"What do we do now? If chief becomes a Deceased, then......"
"Nobody would be able to stop him.”
James said while tightly gripping his hands.
While Jae Hwan passed by them, he asked a question.
"Is there no way to turn someone back once they turn into a Deceased?"
One of the nurses violently nodded her head.
Jae Hwan alternated his gaze between Carlton and Mino while thinking about something.
Some time passed while Jae Hwan stood there. Jae Hwan suddenly grabbed onto Carlton's collar.
"Hey, wake up. I have something I want to ask you."
Jae Hwan slapped Carlton's cheek. Who knows how hard he hit his cheek, but Carlton's cheeks swelled up, turning red. The guards who were already in a tense state rushed towards Jae Hwan.
"H-how dare you do that to our chief!"
But surprisingly enough, Carlton regained consciousness.
The guards from the northern checkpoint gathered around Carlton. The guards normally didn't seem to care about him, but seeing all of their worried faces, Carlton couldn't help but think that he had been living a better life than he had thought.
Carlton barely opened his mouth.
"......I have a favor to ask of you."
"What is it?”
"Please kill me."
Even the dogs and cows were asking him to kill them.
Jae Hwan frowned.
"If it's you, then you can do it. Please. Do it before it's too late."
They were words that held many implications. Jae Hwan's emotionless face reflected off of Carlton's blue eyes.
"Don't people usually ask to be saved in a situation like this?"
Carlton had a faint smile on his face.
"Gorgon Penal code Article 1.4. All those who suffer from a soul pollution exceeding that of 95%......"
Perhaps it was difficult for Carlton to talk, as Carlton violently coughed.
He really wasn't someone that he liked.
He didn't like people like Carlton who were so loyal to an organization. Especially since Carlton was very much blindly following along without any doubt. But despite that, there was something that Jae Hwan acknowledged.
Seeing what he had done earlier, Jae Hwan was certain.
If there were even just ten people like Carlton in the《Nightmare Tower》, no even just five people, then he wouldn't have been stuck in the tower for thirty years.
Jae Hwan slapped the about-to-fall-unconscious-again Carlton's cheek.
"Oy, I have something I want to ask."
Carlton's lips were trembling.
"Does your Gorgon Fortress Laws that you like to brag about so much have a 'crime of going back to the past'?”
"What kind of......"
"Do those who abandon their current world and escape into the past, is there no law that punishes them?"
"I don't quite understand your question......"
Carlton wanted to facepalm while listening to Jae Hwan's latest question. Carlton's body began to shine. The dark blue flesh on his body began to swell once more, all of the flesh on his body wriggling like a disgusting bug. The Transformation of the Neglected was imminent.
[Warning! Warning! Soul pollution has reached 94%...... Transformation of the Neglected is beginning!]
The medical center tent fluttered as a stream of men entered.
The face of the man standing at the front was familiar. He was the leader of the mysterious people that had shown up while Jae Hwan had been fighting against the Forbidden Heavens.
One of the strongest battalions in Gorgon Fortress.
A squad tasked with taking care of the Deceased, the Magic Extermination Squad.
The leader of that battalion.
The color drained from James' face.
"Magic Extermination Squad......"
With a cold expression on his face, the leader of the squad headed directly towards Carlton. Some of the guards slightly shifted about to try and hid Carlton's body, but it was of no use.
"All of you out of the way......"
With a 'shing', a sword blade cried out.
"He is already not the northern checkpoint inspector that you know. Shouldn't you already know this?"
Even with those words, the guards didn't move out of the way.
In the end, the leader took a hard-line approach.
"According to Gorgon Penal Code Article 1 Section 4, both northern checkpoint inspect Carlton and the other person must be extinguished.”
Jae Hwan felt that things were somewhat laughable.
‘Stubborn mule, the world that you tried to keep safe has come to kill you.’
Under the effects of「Law」, the northern checkpoint guards knelt down one at a time. 「Law」was an ability that demonstrated its prowess within the fortress.
There was no one who could resist. The leader's sword flew towards Carlton's neck without any hesitation. It was a blow that no one could stop.
Well, that is, until Jae Hwan caught the blade with his bare hands.
At that point, Jae Hwan spoke.
"You are not allowed to kill this punk. There's still something I want to ask.”