Chapter 203 – The Boundary between Reality and Virtual Reality (1)
Meeting Room inside Bibi’s Castle Control Tower.
The news was running on the large monitor. The voice of the news anchor rang out inside the silent room.
「An explosion of unknown cause has created a large sandstorm inside the Gobi desert. A research team was dispatched to see if a Dungeon Break had occurred nearby. We have a satellite image taken right before the explosion….. Our next story….」
In the past, this story would have been treated like breaking news. However, it was now being treated as a passing news story.
There were too many Dungeon Breaks occurring everywhere now. It wasn’t treated as breaking news unless a Dimensional lord powerful enough to destroy a country had appeared.
The people of Alandal was looking at a figure within the blurry satellite image. Their expression didn’t look too good.
“Doesn’t that look like our king?”
Woo-soonghoon’s words broke the silence, but everyone fell silent again.
“Uh? There are more details on the internet.”
The explosion at the Gobi desert was a nuclear weapon level explosion, and the related information was being quickly uploaded onto the internet.
There was also a video being circulated aside from the satellite image.
「Oh shit! What the hell? It’s a pegasus.」
The person filming the footage spoke as he recorded the sight of the Phantom Steed streaking across the sky.
“Isn’t that Shing Shing?”
“Where was this filmed?”
The description under the video said it originated from China.
“All right. It says he was heading west.”
Jung-minchan was silent for a brief moment before he asked the question.
“He’s still alive, right?”
“Of course, he is. Our king was fine after taking a direct hit from a missile. Ha ha.”
At Woo-soonghoon’s words, everyone’s expression relaxed a little bit.
“Master is alive. I still exist.”
“Ah, of course.”
A definite sense of relief was felt when they heard Bibi’s words.
“Whew. Recently, I don’t know why, but every little incident makes me anxious.”
Minchan was barely able to calm his racing heart. It was akin to letting a child play near the river. Whenever Woojin went somewhere, he became anxious.
“So did he go to the Moon World or whatever?”
At times, Woojin went to visit his Dimensional Domain or Alphen. So his absence wasn’t a surprise. However, they were afraid of the piece of truth he’ll bring back.
“I guess so. What happens if this place is really a virtual reality?”
At Soonghoon’s worried voice, Minchan spoke in a low voice.
“That means we aren’t real either.”
If the virtual reality disappeared, would only the Roused wake up in reality?
Minchan, Soonghoon and Haemin weren’t Roused. They had a complicated expression on their faces as they kept their silence.
「This is breaking news. The members of a Chinese guild called Limsum guild was dispatched to investigate the explosion that had occurred at the Gobi desert. All communications with the team was severed. This footage was sent before….」
As the anchor spoke, the footage filled the screen.
The dust clouded the field of vision. It was as if one was walking within a fog.
「I detect a strong magical energy in front of us.」
「Clear this away.」
Soonghoon understood Chinese as if he was a native to the language.
The Roused used his power to stop the flow of air. Afterwards, he gathered the dust in a single location, and he sent it away.
When the field of vision cleared, one could see a large doll standing in place. It was wearing an armor that looked like a vest.
“Is it a Golem?”
It didn’t look like a human. Moreover, it didn’t look like any of the analogous races. It looked more like an inorganic object than a living being.
It looked like a Golem similar to Dolsae.
The unique characteristic of its body was the fact that the body was made out of a black substance that made it impossible to tell if it had a solid or a liquid body. It was roiling as the substance moved like oil.
It looked like a clump of oil. It also looked like a collection of black clouds.
However, the important part was what happened afterwards.
The strange monster swung his hand, and all the members in front was sent flying after being hit by a force.
It let out a bizarre laugh. The person holding the camera was dead, and the footage shook as the camera was dropped to the floor. The camera was lodged in the ground, and the footage came to an end.
「The Chinese authorities are assuming that this being is a new Dimensional lord. They are in the process of gathering a special task force. Moreover, they are thinking about approving the use of a tactical nuke….」
“Huhk. What the hell? They are thinking about using a tactical nuke over that?”
Minchan was showing his dismay over the news when an employee ran in.
“Prime Minister. The Chinese government is asking for our assistance.”
“Is it because of that?”
A still image of the monster was filling the screen. When Minchan pointed at it, the employee nodded his head.
“I believe so. The situation is much worse than what the news is reporting. The monster is bulldozing through cities as it destroys everything in its path. It has already reached the western region of Zhangjjakou.”
“…isn’t it traveling way too fast?”
“The more important fact is that our king isn’t here.”
Kim-haemin quickly minimized the news as the screen of the computer was projected. His expression hardened after opening up a map.
“It is traveling in a straight line.”
Jung-minchan groaned as he looked at the red line.
“Mmmm. It is almost at Beijing. I can see why they are so nervous.”
“No, you should look beyond it.”
Kim-haemin spoke with a serious expression. The flight path was was extended in a straight line, and the line came to an end at a city.
Minchan’s expression stiffened as it turned cold.
“Seoul…. No, is it aiming for us?”
It was an uneasy prediction, but he somehow felt he was right.
“An incredible bastard appeared accompanying an explosion and the king went missing…”
He had been barely able to tamp down his anxiousness, yet the feeling was getting larger again.
A different employee ran into the room.
“Prime Minister. South Korea is on the line. There’s been a large Break in Busan. They are asking for help.”
“Prime Minister. New York has…”
Employees kept coming in with a phone in their hand. Minchan massaged his temple as he watched them.
“The king isn’t here, so what can we do…..”
Kahng-woojin was a one man army. Kahng-woojin was missing, and it was as if the monsters all over the world had agreed to go crazy all at once.
This hell like world was a problem if it was the real world. It was a problem if it was a fake world.
It felt as if his limbs were missing.
No, was his entire body gone?
He started having auditory hallucinations.
Please don’t abandon us.
You could have protected them!
I want to live. Please save me.
Faces brushed by him.
These were familiar voices and shapes….
Was he dreaming again?
Was he being tormented by the vicious evil spirits again?
His vision was blurry, and he could see the despairing souls approach Woojin. The souls were tangled up with each other, and it was a sight that could probably be seen in hell. They started to touch his body.
It felt itchy and hot.
The funny part was that he no longer had a body.
He was conscious, and he had self awareness. However, he couldn’t feel his body. It was as if he had melted into the air, and the only thing he could see around him were the evil spirits.
He watched them swipe at the empty air, and he felt some unidentifiable emotion. Maybe this was a wish he had desired for all this time.
It felt as if he had been freed from everything that had been put on his shoulders.
In this state, he felt as if he would be able to run away from the outcry of the evil spirits.
He tried to leave. He was about to leave, but….
A butterfly flew in, and it landed in front of Woojin. It slowly fluttered its wing as dusts scattered into the air. Soon, the butterfly disappeared, and a girl took its place.
Her face was familiar. She was the girl sacrificed in the terror attack.
The armless corpse, who had crawled across the ground, had reappeared in front of Woojin. She coalesced from dust, and the arms she lost in death was back. She looked normal.
It has been an honor to fight with you.
He remembered him.
During his mercenary days, he was a free knight, who had fought with Woojin in the battlefield.
The old man bleeding from the head solidified from smoke, and he bowed towards Woojin.
I do not resent you.
His memory was fuzzy. These were people, who had died by his hands….
The tormenting evil spirits reverted back to the appearance they held at the time time of their deaths. They appeared in front of his eyes.
They all bowed towards him as they smiled. Woojin was swept up by an unidentifiable feeling, and he had no idea what expression he should put on his face.
Thank you for not giving up on us.
Each of them spoke similar words to him.
He felt sorry, because he hadn’t been able to protect them….
This was the space of emptiness.
The state of his body was uncertain… He was unable to perceive himself in this space, yet the souls surrounding him confirmed his existence.
These were the lives, who he hadn’t been able to protect. They were all looking at him.
As if they were protecting him…..
Leone’s ship landed at a desolate basin.
The door opened, and armed soldiers wearing gas masks descended the stairs.
“We are ready to wheel him out, captain.”
A cart was floating in the air. It was akin to the ones that were used to transport patients. It was questionable to call it a stretcher, but all the preparations were complete.
“Has the professor contacted us?”
“The professor failed to convince him.”
Captain Leone let out a groan as he activated the device on his wrist. A holographic screen came alive, and one could see Dr. Toppler.
“Professor. If he doesn’t have the Code, it’ll be meaningless to log him out.”
「I know. This is why I ordered Kim-kahngchul to acquire the Code. We have to bring him out too.」
“Mmm. All right. We’ll rescue the Recovery Code first.”
「Understood. When he acquires the Code, I’ll notify you immediately.」
They needed both the Earth’s Code and the Recovery Code.
“Where’s Kim-kahngchul located at?”
“He is at the Seoul Station.”
Fortunately, they were located in the same sector.
“Please ready another stretcher.”
Another stretcher was taken out of Leone’s ship. When the crew was ready, Captain Leone stepped forward first.
The road was desolate, and after walking for 10 minutes, a stairway heading below suddenly appeared. The stairs were damaged in places, and it looked pitiful. However, it was good enough to allow people to enter underground.
Before they entered the entrance, Captain Leone warned his crew members.
“The defense system will be neutralized for only 10 minutes. If we want to save both of them, we’ll have to move quickly.”
“We are ready to deactivate it, captain.”
Captain Leone looked up, and he stared at the words engraved on the ceiling of the stairway.
It had been eroded away by time, but he was sure it said Seoul Station.
He had found the right place.
This was where Kahng-woojin’s real body was jacked in. They just had to extract him after saving him.
The crew members moved efficiently as they activated the device that will neutralize the Guardians.
The place with the most security guards and security measure inside the Flying Fortress was Sooah’s room. In recent days, she hadn’t been able to go out even if she wanted to. She wasn’t a prisoner, but she lived the life of a prisoner. It was tortuous for Sooah.
However, Sooah had matured too much to express her feelings. She struggled to keep her feelings to herself.
“Isn’t this too suffocating for you, Sooah?”
This was for Sooah’s protection, but it wasn’t as if she could live by herself. This was why Lee-soogyong stayed next to her daughter.
“Why doesn’t oppa come and visit me?”
“Huh? Maybe it is because oppa is busy?”
The flustered Lee-soogyong gave an answer. Kahng-woojin had been purposefully distancing himself from Sooah, and it seemed the little one had realized it.
“Hoo. I hope the war ends soon.”
“I wish so too.”
“When is Jiwon-unni coming?”
“She’ll be here soon.”
This thread of conversation had been repeated a dozen times before by the mother and daughter.
While they were having this exchange, a guest arrived.
“Is it Jiwon?”
Lee-soogyong opened the door in a welcoming fashion….
A stranger walked into the room.
He wasn’t the usual employee, who cleaned and brought food everyday.
Moreover, this man didn’t look anything like a security guard…
Lee-soogyong instinctively pushed Sooah behind her as she regarded the man.
“Who are you?”
The man let out an agreeable laugh as he scratched the back of his head.
“Ah. I’m Kim-kahngchul.”
“W…what do you want?”
“I’m here to save the world.”
Kim-kahngchul smiled as he stepped forward.