Chapter 107: Ask and Go Double! (4)
The meeting was over. Chi-Woo saw the witch off and came down from the castle walls. When he arrived back home, there were six people waiting for him: Ru Amuh, Ru Hiana, Zelit, Allen Leonard, Eshnunna, and Hawa. They were all staying awake, waiting for the results.
“You are here!” Zelit especially had been waiting impatiently and dashed forward as soon as Chi-Woo came in through the door.
“I’m sorry.” Chi-Woo sighed. Hearing this, everyone’s hearts dropped, but they tried not to show it on their faces.
“No, what is there for you to be sorry about? They were the ones who had the upper hand anyway.”
“I only got half of the deal.”
“She said they would only accept half of our conditions.” Then Chi-Woo began to explain what Evelyn told him. She would pretend to attack the demon empire with her troops so that they could safely move the previous recruits to the fortress by drawing attention away from them. But in exchange, Chi-Woo would have to help them fight against the Sernitas. Yet Evelyn didn’t accept Chi-Woo’s request to sweep away the monsters wandering this region; more specifically, she said she would take care of the monsters she saw on her way back, but Chi-Woo’s group needed to take care of the rest by themselves. Thus, the heroes would still have to get to the capital on their own.
“How surprising. There are some considerations she had made, but of course, all the little details are at her advantage,” Zelit said after hearing about the deal, specifically referring to the way Evelyn said she would only ‘pretend to attack’ the Demon Empire, or how she would move after seeing that the results were to her side’s advantage.
“It’s fine.” Chi-Woo shrugged. “I also said I won’t fight the entire Sernitas, but just their G.o.d.” This was in response to what Evelyn had told him.
[According to my information network, the Sernitas have succeeded in capturing one of Liber’s G.o.ds and transforming them to their liking, and they’ll soon send the G.o.d to our side.]
“Still, I wanted to make it so that you guys didn’t have to step out…”
“No, I think it’s better this way,” Zelit disagreed. “We can’t keep relying on you forever. We also have to do things on our end.” In other words, they couldn’t simply suck on their thumbs while Chi-Woo went out risking his life.
“We have to prepare for times when you aren’t here. That’s what I realized keenly from the recent events.”
Everyone seemed to agree with what Zelit said.
“But still, it’s clear that most of us would die by the loads if we went on the mission in this state… We should get our heads together and discuss this matter… Oh that’s right!” Chi-Woo took something out of his pocket. It was the blood-colored seed that Evelyn gave him.
“Does anyone know what this is? I was told that it was the seed of a spirit,” Chi-Woo said and lifted the seed high into the air. There was no way the heroes would know, and even Eshnunna and Hawa, who were knowledgeable about the ancient times, shook their heads. It seemed the item was even older than he had imagined.
“Okay then, you hold onto this for now.” Chi-Woo flicked the seed at the bun, and the bun jumped up and swallowed it. A period of silence followed. Chi-Woo repeatedly gripped his fists and opened them again; thinking that Chi-Woo must be feeling anxious, Zelit said, “Fighting a G.o.d…is probably the end battle in most Worlds. But you are going to do that now without having acc.u.mulated your powers properly.”
“Well, if you word it like that....”
“I don’t know your powers well, so I can’t speak for you, but it would probably be dangerous. If you succeed, though, you will have a huge accomplishment under your belt.” Which would of course be followed by a huge reward. Chi-Woo would have a lot to look forward to if he succeeded: they could join forces with the previous recruits, expect collaboration with the Abyss, and acc.u.mulate a substantial number of merits.
“That’s not all. We would be able to serve a new G.o.d,” Chi-Woo said.
Zelit didn’t understand what Chi-Woo was saying at first, but soon, his mouth gaped open. It was unbelievable that Chi-Woo was suggesting that they could use the Sernitas’ attack to their own advantage and turn a corrupted G.o.d into their ally. It was probably the best-case scenario—if only they could succeed. Zelit gulped. ‘Has he been aiming for this all along…?’
“Would you really be able to do that?”
“I can’t give any guarantee,” Chi-Woo looked down at his fumbling hand. The World’s Milestone was on his palm.
“Still...” The conversation was over, and there was no turning back. Chi-Woo rolled the die between his fingers two times and gripped it tightly into his fist. “We have to try.”
The die had already been cast.
* * *
The next day, Chi-Woo gathered everyone and told them about the current situation. The heroes’ faces turned serious as they listened to Chi-Woo. They knew the circ.u.mstances left them with no alternatives, but knowing how strong the evolved mutant monsters were first-hand, they looked hesitant. And when Chi-Woo said that he wanted to hear all their opinions about this matter, one of them bravely raised his hand.
“I think it would be difficult in our current situation. Six or seven people had to fight as a team just to deal with one mutant before their evolution. And even then, we couldn’t guarantee victory. Considering the mutants have now evolved… Of course, it would be different for Ru Amuh, Ru Hiana, and Allen Leonard, but…”
“What? Are you seriously saying this when Senior has to go fight a corrupted G.o.d—?” Ru Hiana immediately flared up at the hero’s statements, but Chi-Woo calmed her down. After all, the hero wasn’t wrong. Thus, Chi-Woo asked what he could do so that the heroes would become more confident in going. Many people gave their suggestions, but they all boiled down to one thing: they needed to make a contract with a G.o.d and awaken their powers.
Even that had its drawbacks. First, there was the question of where they would gain the merits to make it happen. And even if the heroes established a contract, Shahnaz’s abilities or personality might not be a good match for them. Ru Hiana grumbled again that the heroes were getting too full of themselves, but Chi-Woo thought deeply. It would be meaningless for heroes to make contracts with a G.o.d that didn’t suit them. Even if he gave up the book from the White Horse General which he had kept hidden until now, all it would do was diversify their options by a tiny bit rather than solve the fundamental problem.
Thus, Chi-Woo asked again, “By making a contract with a G.o.d, what would you all gain immediately?”
The answer was mana and awakening of their powers. There was nothing more than that in their current situation, but these things had their overwhelming benefits. Whether it was mana or holy power, it exponentially increased one’s powers, and a hero could change 180 degrees depending on if they were able to use such energy or not.
“Then, are there any methods that would allow all of you to use some energy without making a contract with a G.o.d?” The heroes went silent at Chi-Woo’s question. Sometime later, much fewer heroes carefully offered their suggestions. The answer was ‘realization’, which was an awakening of sorts; even if they didn’t make a contract with a G.o.d, they would be able to use energy if they realized their place in nature and in this world. That was how humans had originally harnessed energy, unlike the modern heroes that suddenly got summoned and began their journey with all kinds of benefits and special boosts. Reaching an awakening wasn’t too difficult for true heroes who made great achievements through intense effort. However, for this to be possible, there was a condition.
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“Liber is not a world where there’s a lot of natural energy. In fact, there’s hardly any. It’s basically impossible to absorb energy in this place, and even if it’s possible, I don’t know how long it’ll take.” Of course, since they had previous experience, it wouldn’t be difficult for them to reach an awakening and store the natural energy in their body, but to do this in a short amount of time, they needed to go somewhere with as much energy as possible. In other words, the heroes were telling him they needed a yongmaek. 
“Will this be enough?”
—Of course. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough.
Shahnaz immediately replied to Chi-Woo’s question. The holy water that Chi-Woo offered was holy water from a true neutral G.o.d, who could turn into anything and join any side. Since the holy water contained a G.o.d’s own energy, there was no need to explain how pure and potent it was.
From that day on, a yongmaek formed in the middle of the fortress. And when Chi-Woo announced this fact, it became crowded in less than 10—no, 5 minutes.
“Ah, come on, you stayed for a long time, so get out!”
“If you have morals, get out when you receive a notification message. This place was not made just for you.”
Allen Leonard, who had already reached an awakening so didn’t join, smacked his lips and looked back at Chi-Woo, who was quietly watching the scene unfold.
“Don’t you feel a little regretful?”
“…What?” Chi-Woo smiled thinly at Allen Leonard’s question. “Well, it’s better than saving it and letting it go to waste.”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying.” Allen Leonard became fascinated by Chi-Woo the more he observed him. If Chi-Woo had said, ‘In exchange for creating this yongmaek, I will hide in a safe place while you go out and fight’, Allen Leonard would have completely understood. Moreover, none of the heroes would have complained, since everyone was extremely hungry for power. But instead, Chi-Woo was still going to shoulder the biggest burden in the upcoming battle, all the while paying attention to the other heroes’ concerns and thoughts to the best of his ability.
“You could’ve used the holy water yourself, couldn’t you? They’re yours originally, and since you have a huge battle coming up soon, no one would complain.”
“Hmm…” Chi-Woo tilted his head because he couldn’t really understand Allen Leonard’s words. He could always gain more achievement points later on, and he had five bottles of holy water left. “Yes, I would have done that if I could save Liber myself.” Chi-Woo shrugged. “But that’s not the case, right?”
“Well, I think that’s possible.” Considering Chi-Woo’s actions and achievements so far, Allen Leonard had a point, but Chi-Woo disagreed. It might be possible to face only the Abyss and the Demon Empire, but there were also the Indigenous Monster Alliance and Sernitas. Chi-Woo had only decided to step forward because the situation was favorable towards him. It was necessary for him to awaken the heroes that came to Liber with him for the future.
When Chi-Woo began strongly shaking his head, Allen Leonard burst into laughter. “Really, this is a problem. It’s also true for me, but you are giving people a bad habit of relying on you.” Allen Leonard said words that Chi-Woo couldn’t understand and walked toward him. He spoke with a soft voice, “But, it’s really great that you came back.” He reached out and grabbed Chi-Woo’s elbow. “Please come back alive. I’ll leave the door wide open at the capital and wait for you there.”
Chi-Woo blinked. Then he saw Allen Leonard’s face and smiled. Even though he was startled that Allen Leonard had suddenly grabbed his elbow, he could tell that it was an action to show respect for Leonard’s culture.
“Yes.” Thus, Chi-Woo also stretched out his hand and grabbed Allen Leonard’s elbow and said, “Let’s survive and meet again.”
1. in feng shui theory, yongmaek refers to the air of energy coming from a mountain range, and this energy gathers together in one place. ☜
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