The bottom line was that Yong Yong is a boy.
Of course, there was no way I would mistake something as important as this.
The health report from the moment of Yong Yong’s birth clearly stated that he was a male.
I am relieved.
[What’s there to be relieved about?]
I should be.
Can you imagine the idea of raising a girl as a boy because I was mistaken about the child’s gender?
When she grows up, she will resent her dad.
[Instead worrying over something ridiculous, what are you going to do about my wounded heart? I got beat up by Yong Yong and was thrown to the ground. Do you know how that feels?]
Of course I do not know that. How does it feel?
[I felt like crying…]
From the distance, I could feel the clone bastard’s emotions.
He was disappointed and surprised. With the two in the mix… I could clearly feel his desperation.
I didn’t know what to say back to him, so I didn’t respond.
Instead, I put away the Yong Yong’s health report and picked up the newspaper.
Before I go out, I should check what’s happening in the outside world.
I wanted to hear about what was happening with Kim Min-hyuk. I heard that he established a clan of Awakened Warriors. However, there was nothing about this in the newspaper.
This month’s newspaper does not have much overall.
Still, there was an article that drew my attention.
[Park Jong-shik the SS Rated Awakened Warrior completes his contract with Singapore. He refused to renew his contract with Singapore. Where will he go next?]
The article was explaining Park Jong-shik’s expired contract with Singapore and making guesses on his next destination.
The guesses actually listed all countries he might be interested in making a contract with.
The article was not very detailed, but it was interesting still because the article was about someone I was close to.
The Awakened Warriors usually signed contracts with individuals, private companies or countries based on their abilities and performed assigned tasks.
Usually, Awakened Warriors who signed contracts with countries did it for life or in intervals of decades or so. However, the Awakened Warriors from Korea signed short duration contracts even with countries.
The worth of an Awakened Warrior was measured by how much the contract was.
They could earn more money more easily with short contracts. Also, they were treated better that way.
Of course, the countries who signed contract with such Awakened Warrior didn’t like the idea, but…
In the Korean server, the challengers already had an organization among themselves inside the Tutorial. It was not like the Awakened Warriors united after they graduated from the Tutorial. So, unlike the Awakened Warriors of other countries, they were able to escape the influence of the Korean government with relative ease. I wonder if the Korean Awakened Warriors are able to get short contracts with countries because of this.
I’m sure there are other reasons, but this is my guess for now since I don’t know much about the outside world anyways.
Regardless, Korea is producing world-class Awakened Warriors, but Korea only got to keep very few as a result.
So, instead of calling Korea as the country with the world’s finest Awakened Warriors, I heard that many people see the country as the one that produces the best mercenaries.
Many Awakened Warriors who go overseas maintain their Korean nationalities. Also, there is a clause that makes it mandatory for them to return to Korea in case of national crisis. However…
The world is entering the age of Awakened, and Korea is definitely in the center of this.
Regardless of what’s happening, the fact was that Korea did produce the largest number of the best Awakened Warriors.
However, the era was such that a country’s power was measured based on the Awakened Warriors that the country had.
Because the Awakened Warriors from Korea were being contracted out to other countries, it was hard to claim that Korea was leading the scene.
Well, what are they going to do?
The other countries give a lot more money.
I heard the conditions of work are better too.
I put away the newspaper and got up.
From the closet, I brought out a set of clothing and changed.
It was about time for me to head out.
I was going to the 61st Floor today.
[Didn’t you say you were going there during the next round?]
Lee Yun-hye postponed her challenge of the 17th Floor. She will be going during the next round.
I decided to go to the 61th Floor and come back before that.
[Is that so.]
After I finished changing, I got out of the room.
It was not like I need to make a special preparation for going to the 61st floor.
I just needed to change clothes and get going.
I got out of the shelter, but I didn’t find the clone bastard or Yong Yong.
What are they doing?
I could not sense them through detection. They were most likely playing hide and seek.
I decided not to get in their way and instead go straight to the 61st Floor.
It was not going to take me a long time to come back anyway.
Grumpily, I walked to the portal that lead to the 61st Floor. However, I felt a presence behind me.
I instinctively tried to raise my power. However, I realized the identity of the one behind me, so I suppressed my power.
I just quietly walked to the portal.
When I was almost at the portal, I suddenly turned around and extended my hands out toward the presence.
Yong Yong was hiding his presence with magic, but he was revealed.
It seemed he was not aware that he was found out. Yong Yong looked surprised and he unconsciously put on his puppy eyes. I picked him up.
“My Yong Yong, I caught you!”
Panicking, Yong Yong struggled and he got out of my grasp.
He then fell to the ground.
He moved his hand to feel his back. It seemed he forgot about the fact that he didn’t have wings in his human form.
“Are you alright?”
I bent my back and dusted off Yong Yong’s clothes.
As I looked at the clothes while dusting it off, I realized I was not familiar with the clothes. It looked strange.
He was wearing clothing that had extravagant laces and ribbons.
It looked like a girl’s clothes. However, because he was still young, he looked pretty good in it.
He looked so adorable as well.
I had two reasons why I found the clothing to be strange.
First, it was not the clothing that he was wearing when he performed the polymorph before. Second, it was not a piece of clothing that I bought him either.
[It seems he created it himself with magic.]
… Is that so. I am a little worried about our son’s preference.
However, there was another problem that concerned me even more at the moment.
No matter how I looked at it, his clothing was for outdoor adventure.
Also, there was a cross bag on Yong Yong’s waist.
He was wearing it with cross-straps. I didn’t know what was in the bag, but the bag was full of something.
He looked like a kindergartener who was going on a field trip.
Yong Yong confirmed that there was no more dust on his clothes. He said in a loud voice,
“Dad! I want to go with you! To the 61st Floor!”
[I tried to stop him as much as I could.]
Before trying to stop him, I hugged him and picked him up.
I leveled my eyes with him and shook my head.
“Yong Yong, let’s do that next time. It is still too dangerous to go together.”
“No, it is not dangerous.”
“It is dangerous. I’ll go with you when you grow up just a little more.”
Yong Yong was proclaiming that it was not dangerous as if he had been to the 61st Floor multiple times. I told him again that it was dangerous.
Yong Yong brought his hands together at his chest and started to fiddle with them.
He looked so adorable.
“Still, I want to go.”
Having heard me say that, Yong Yong sounded disappointed. He buried himself in my chest.
I wonder why he wanted to go to the 61st Floor?
[I wonder if he just wants to go somewhere that’s not here?]
I guess that might be the case.
“I really cannot come with you?”
“You cannot come with me.”
Once Yong Yong grows up… just a little bit more, then I think I should take him to the 61st Floor even if it is just the very beginning of the place.
It is not a good environment for a child to play in, but for the sake of going somewhere other than here, I don’t think it’s a bad idea.
There was a wet sensation on my chest.
It seemed Yong Yong was crying.
Oh my… my son. He must be so disappointed that he cannot go with me.
I thought he would cry a little and stop, but considering how wet it feels, I think he is going to make my clothes soggy.
I think he is crying his eyes out.
“Yong Yong, we will definitely go together next time, promise?”
Yong Yong, with his head buried in my chest still, nodded.
It seemed he was still not feeling better. He continued to cry.
I don’t know why, but looking at him like this made me smile.
Usually, seeing one’s own son cry should invoke a sense of sadness, but…
Looking at Yong Yong in my arms, I just thought he was adorable.
He was adorable in his hatchling form, but watching him moving around in my arms in a human form… His adorableness is going beyond my wildest imagination.
I know he is my son, but could anyone really be this adorable?
No, am I wearing permeant beer goggles because he is my son?
[Hey, why don’t you get going to the 61st Floor already? Hand over Yong Yong to me. I’ll hug him.]
In middle of all this, why are you acting jealous?
I ignored the clone bastard’s nonsense.
I held him up in my arms and lulled him until Yong Yong fell asleep.
When Yong Yong fell asleep completely, I gave him to the clone bastard. I was finally able to go to the 61st Floor.
* * *
I was at the top of the snow-covered mountain. It was hard to see even an inch in front of me through the blizzard. I placed my hand at a portal there.
Soon, my body was teleported to a gigantic castle made of transparent ice.
When I was teleported, for the instant, I felt the gazes on me disappeared.
However, right after I was teleported to the castle, I felt their sticky gazes again.
Ugh, I’m sick of this.
I wonder how I lived 24 in this stage with these ominous gazes.
Of course, back then, I didn’t even feel it properly. Still, it gives me the creeps just thinking about this 24/7.
The castle’s gigantic door opened.
Unlike a castle that was engulfed in lava, the ice castle had numerous sculptures and decorations inside. The castle was significantly larger than the other one.
I need to walk for a while before I can reach the former queen’s location.
Of course, I could get there without walking, but that would be rude as a guest.
I was sick of seeing this castle, so I was not interested in its beauty. I just walked forward.
I walked for about ten minutes before I reached the core of the castle.
I approached a door that had a beautiful engraving. The door opened by itself.
An ice giant, who was sitting at a giant ice throne, greeted me.
[It’s been a while.]
“I know. It’s been a while, granny.”
[I told you to address me as Big Sis.]
Big Sis? Is that appropriate considering your age?
That would be going too far.
[This is unexpected. I was certain that you wouldn’t come alone this time. Has that hatchling not grown up yet?]
“Not yet. Also, I have something to discuss with you regarding him.”
[Be at ease and tell me.]
“I think it will take some time.”
[Do you plan on not bringing the hatchling?]
“Yep. How did you know?”
[I figured it would be more becoming for you to wait for that woman instead of bringing the hatchling. It is just that I didn’t know you had the luxury of time.]
“I do. No, I found it.”
Lee Yun-hye is already challenging the 17th Floor.
Of course, there is a possibility that she may not get past it, but I don’t want to prepare myself for the worst even before she tries challenging it.
As if she was intrigued, the former queen looked at me.
Her gaze was similar to an aunt looking at her little brother or a nephew.
No, it was more like she was looking at her grandkids.
It feels awkward.
[You seem to be in a good spirit. Is it because you have a new friend?]
Although the news I brought was implying that their confinement to this place was going to be prolonged, the former queen was not infuriated.
Instead, with a benevolent smile, she asked that.
“More like a new family member. My mind is at ease, so I was able to make a breakthrough in my development as well.”
The former queen’s look on her face changed to a mischievous smile.
[I think the former king would jump up and down and cause a ruckus if he heard about this. Considering his personality, he won’t just overlook this.]
Now that you mentioned it, that’s true.
I was already getting a headache, thinking about that old man who would shout at me with his ridiculously loud voice.
It is possible that the old man already knew that I was going to make this choice.
Since a long time ago, the old man had been bringing up my indecisiveness and warning me.
Since I’m breaking my promise, I should be prepared to hear some nagging.
[It is your choice. We cannot overturn it as we wish. Let’s talk about something else. I sense that you had grown stronger. Is that right?]
[You are growing stronger without bounds. Can you demonstrate your power a little?]
Having heard the former queen, I smiled a little.
Even if she didn’t say so, I wanted to show off my power.
* * *
I took a moment to make preparations and activated an isolation barrier.
I felt the sticky gazes disappearing.
It feels refreshing.
At the same time, I am detecting a strong will from the outside of the isolation barrier.
Is it a threat?
“This is an isolation barrier. It blocks all power from outside, including holy power.”
The former queen didn’t say anything for a moment.
[As I thought. Betting our fates on you was the right answer.]
I’m glad to hear you praise me like that.
[I can only say that this is incredible. So, at this moment, no beings outside the barrier can look inside my castle?]
[I’m so glad. Although this will be a temporary measure.]
“Well then, I’ll disengage the isolation barrier.”
[Does it take a lot of strength to maintain it?]
“It is not difficult to maintain the barrier. The problem is that there are many higher-ups who would find it uncomfortable to have their view blocked. It seems they are quite angry about not being able to see inside the residential area already. If I maintain the isolation barrier even in this place, then they might decide to demonstrate their power to curb my ‘insolence’”
[Such rude beings.]
To begin with, they are voyeurism patients.
I raised my hand to disengage the isolation barrier. Immediately, I felt over a hundred gazes on me
Over one hundred...