When he had woken from his long dream, Jeong-woo thought it was a relief that his suffering had helped his brother. But another thought came to him: if he were back in reality…‘Won’t they be here somewhere?’
* * *
Jeong-woo grinned at the sight of Aether pale with fear. However, it wasn’t a smile of happiness but disbelief. ‘I thought I’d be angry when I saw him again.’ Jeong-woo remembered the lives he’d endured.
Each time he repeated the special benefit, he repeated the bad ending, as well. In the lives where he’d managed to survive past the middle, most of them had ended from his friends’ betrayal. He had to repeat the pain of his heart being split each time.
Although there were times when they didn’t betray him, they were infrequent, and he was always betrayed for the same reasons: greed, desire, hunger for power. The same thing had occurred in reality.
In hindsight, he had been one of the reasons Arthia had splintered. He’d turned a blind eye to his exhausted friends and encouraged them to keep climbing for the elixir. Many clans had grown wary of them, but he always ignored them. Then, things ended badly because of the frustrations, annoyances, and misunderstandings that kept stacking up.
All the lives that had ended in betrayal were a result of his self-righteous behavior. It didn’t excuse the betrayals, of course. Sadi had been concerned about her friends until the end. Kun Khr cried for his lover. Jeanne died trying to lift his weary spirits. Not everyone made the same decisions.
However, Bahal, Leonte, Bayluk, Aether, and Vieira Dune always chose the same path in both reality and the other lives. They had laughed when they stabbed him in the heart.
That was why Jeong-woo couldn’t understand them. He wanted to ask them why they did it. Why did they make the same decision in every situation? Why did they turn their backs on the laughter, conversations, tears, and joys of their friendship? Were they happier in the end?
However, Yeon-woo had already killed Bahal and Leonte, Bayluk went off the grid after climbing to the higher floors, and Vieira Dune had become a strange god after swallowing Mother Earth, so he had no way to find an answer to his questions.
But the heavens were helping him because Aether was still here. He could finally ask someone.
White wings spread over Jeong-woo’s silver armor. It was his signature skill which earned him the nickname “Heaven Wing”. Winds whipped out of him and wrapped around them both.
Unlike Yeon-woo’s Sky Wings, Jeong-woo’s Sky Wings had the extreme potential of Dragon Factors. Draconic Blood heightened his senses to their peak, and Pressure pushed down his surroundings. The Dragon Breath that came spewing out marked his territory. Whenever he spread his wings, no one could compare to him. Boom! Jeong-woo kicked off from the ground, creating an impact so powerful that the darkness shook. He split through the air and reached Aether at a speed that broke the sound barrier.
Aether collected himself belatedly. He was flustered that a dead person had come back, but the most important thing was to protect himself.
Clapping his hands together, he turned them over and raised them over his head. A thick curtain of light blocked Jeong-woo’s approach—or at least, tried to. Boom! The light should have been as sturdy as a barrier, but the Sky Wings’ force shattered them like glass. Under the shards of light, Jeong-woo turned to the right, holding a gigantic sword in his hands that shone as brightly as his armor: Dragon Slayer.
[Category: Doublehand Longsword]
[Rank: A+ (*Original: EX)]
[Description: A sword the master blacksmith Henova made from bones provided by Kalatus. As it is created from Dragon Bone, it has outstanding durability and magic power conductivity. Beads of Orichalcom are studded throughout the sword, amplifying its effects. It’s currently stronger than normal because magic conductivity Cores have been added.]
[* Dragon Catcher
If fighting with an opponent who holds even the slightest trace of the Draconic species, the holder of the sword will be able to dominate them.]
A high probability of taking health and magic power from an injured opponent. The opponent will be trapped in fear as if they are exposed to a dragon’s gaze. The immunity and durability of the opponent will be nullified.]
Magical formulas can be engraved along the blade. The magic will never disappear because it is converted into the dragon language, and only a small amount of magic power is needed for activation.]
Not only was Dragon Slayer a great weapon, it was also an incredible magic tool. Its durability guaranteed it wouldn’t break no matter what type of weapon clashed with it, and the magic engraved on the blade only used a minute amount of magic power, which meant it was more effective than reciting a spell.
The dragon language was one of the most superior types of magic; a few words could change the laws of nature. The Draconic species made it possible because they were blessed by mana, and this was what allowed them to be equal to gods and demons at one point.
On top of that, magic conductivity Cores had been added, so it had an immense potential for destruction. The Dragon Slayer Jeong-woo had was only a replica, but Jeong-woo remembered all the minor details and functions of the Dragon Slayer, and he’d contributed his knowledge to the creation of the replica. As a result, it was only a few ranks below the original, and its capabilities were outstanding.
It was the sword that suited Jeong-woo the best, and it was better than most holy artifacts. It wasn’t just the Dragon Slayer. The items he wore—Heaven Crupper, Ogre Power Gauntlet (OPG), Feather Cloud Shoes, and so on—were items he’d worn when he’d been Heaven Wing. Jeong-woo expressed his gratitude once more to the person who’d helped him recover his things. ‘Thanks, Nemesis.’
『It’s nothing, ex-Master, I’ve been waiting for this moment as long as you have.』
Nemesis’ skill, Dreaming Illusion, trapped people at the border between an empty dream and a nightmare so that Nemesis could weigh them down with emptiness and make them panic. But when it was activated for just one person, it would trap them on the other side of space, where they would be killed. It was a tactic Jeong-woo had used frequently with Mirne, Nemesis’ previous identity. When Nemesis’ properties changed, the environment changed to the brink of dreams. However, Jeong-woo liked it better there because anything was possible if you imagined it properly. Even with a half-broken soul, he could regain his old appearance for a while.
- Let go of it. All of it.
This was a stage that Yeon-woo had made especially for him. Boom!
“Urk!” Aether couldn’t withstand the attack and was blown back. Jeong-woo flapped his wings again to follow him, swinging Dragon Slayer.
It was a skill Jeong-woo used frequently against his enemies. It was ordinarily an ordinary skill, but in Jeong-woo’s hands, they shot lightning bolts with a thunderous noise, yellow sparks flickering over the blade.
〈Wave of Light〉
Rumble. When Jeong-woo first created Wave of Light, he could barely control its destructiveness. His friends always ran whenever they saw the skill, and they teased him by calling it a suicide skill. However, as Jeong-woo’s ranking went up, his control grew until it became an overpowered skill that destroyed everything.
“Impossible!” Aether screamed as he saw the Wave of Light and Slash rushing to him. He was stunned to see the techniques he’d thought were gone forever. He gritted his teeth and brought his hands down.
Light poured out from the tips of his fingers. Slash broke as it crashed into the shards of light. The world of darkness grew brighter and hotter. Jeong-woo laughed in incredulity. “White Light? You used to say you’d reclaim it from your sister; I guess you managed to get that done.”
White Light was a power that had been lost when Aether’s father was kicked out from the tribe after committing a sin. Aether had always hated his sister, Hemera, for taking it and vowed to retake it one day. However, he’d only ever told Jeong-woo this, since they were close friends at the time. No one else knew about it, and Aether’s face turned even whiter as his features twisted. “This is an illusion! An illusion!”
It was impossible for a dead person to come back, and this was the only explanation he could think of since his mind had weakened from the stress he’d been enduring recently. Jeong-woo was even more incredulous to see Aether’s denial. “Think whatever you want.” Boom! When the second Slash cut through Aether’s White Light, it ripped towards his upper body. “Like always.”
“Urk!”Aether couldn’t move back in time. Lightning was already shooting through his body, and parts of his flesh were exploding. He was going to die, and many thoughts ran through his head. He bit his lips and decided he needed to get out of the dark world first.
However, Jeong-woo smirked at him as he planted Dragon Slayer in the ground. “You’re the same as ever, running away if things get a little dangerous. Why haven’t you changed at all?”
Letters from the dragon language floated up as magic squares grew like fruits on a tree.
It was a skill that used Jeong-woo’s Perfect Adaptability trait and Dragon’s Knowledge to release all the magic he’d memorized, all at the same time. Jeong-woo had saved up an abundant amount of magic in the Dragon Slayer, and when he released it, a magic power storm swooped down. Rumble.
Aether had nowhere to run. The brink of a dream was no different from a prison, and anyone inside would be swept away by the magic power storm. When he reappeared, his entire body was filled with all manners of injuries.
Even his lungs had been scorched, and he breathed out smoke, gasping as though he would die at any moment. Jeong-woo quietly approached Aether, who was still trying to run away, and stuck Dragon Slayer into his abdomen. Aether flapped around like a butterfly that had been pinned down.
“Jeong…woo.” Aether looked at Jeong-woo through blurred eyes. He had lost most of his vision, but he could still see enough to know that the person in front of him was real. He didn’t know how his dead friend managed to return, but there were more important matters at hand. “Save…me.”
Aether gripped Jeong-woo’s pants with powerless hands, looking up with pleading eyes. He believed that if he kept on begging, Jeong-woo would let him go because that was the kind of friend Jeong-woo was, kind and affectionate. Aether had spent a lot of time reflecting on it. “We…are friends. So…please…!”
It would be different this time. Now that his friend was back, he wouldn’t make the same mistake he’d done in the past. Of course, he knew it wouldn't be easy. He had hurt Jeong-woo beyond repair. But if he showed him how sincere he was, even if it took years, then Jeong-woo would open up to him again!
Jeong-woo pulled out Dragon Slayer and cut through Aether’s neck. Aether’s head rolled on the floor, his mouth still begging. “What a load of bullshit.” He’d wanted to ask why he did it but now Jeong-woo realized that he didn’t need to listen to any excuses. His ears would only rot from them.
Jeong-woo stepped on Aether’s head with an annoyed expression.