Chapter 18: I Take Refuge (Namu) (1)
1. Personal History
There were four headings to click on. With a thumping heart, Chi-Woo chose the first one.
1. [Choi Chi-Woo]’s Personal History
Name: Choi Chi-Woo
Home Planet: G-S-3-E (Earth)
-> Innate Ability
Characteristics: Three Lines
Record: A member of one of the 12 families who lit up the Celestial Realm and is the youngest son of G-S-3-E’s prestigious Choi family.
The information was much simpler than he expected.
‘Basic, Innate Ability?’ As the word suggested, ‘Basic’ was the person’s basic information, and ‘Innate Ability’ was the unique trait or characteristic that a person had to separate themselves from others.
‘It seems ‘Record’ is a collection of biographies…But what does it mean by ‘Three Lines’?’ Chi-Woo tilted his head after scanning his information. There was no explanation for it, and he couldn’t guess what it meant. ‘Aren’t there other information? Such as my strength or agility?’ Chi-Woo clicked the second heading.
2. [Choi Chi-Woo]’s Stats
[Sharp] Mental State
-> Special Ability
After seeing this page, Chi-Woo was at a loss for words. His stats were too shabby. However, when he read the explanation, he understood. For example, it said that an average adult who didn’t train rigorously would have ‘feeble strength’.
‘I see. They consider an average adult’s strength weak…’ It was understandable given the standards for a hero. It was the same for his durability, agility, and stamina since Chi-Woo had never trained professionally. The one thing that was markedly better was his mental state, and the explanation for that stat continued as followed:
-He’s sensitive to overt, hostile behaviors and, in an emergency, he knows how to prioritize logic above emotions.
-Having lived with anxiety and unexpected happenings for a long time, he is always on high-alert. At times, he’s more sensitive than necessary. In extreme situations or when he receives intense stress, he can crack easily and break.
‘Is this good or bad?’ Chi-Woo wondered and felt dejected. He couldn’t really disagree with any of the information, but that didn’t mean it didn’t disappoint him. When he saw his special ability, though, he thought differently.
-Sealed for unknown reasons.
-A blessing retaining To-be-archangel Laguel’s earnest prayers and wishes. A form of protection that’s been given by exchanging all the divine power she has gathered until now.
-It follows a different direction from normal luck. Rather than simply increasing one’s luck, it is linked to a special ability, [Weakened] Deus Ex Machina, for a pre-defined purpose.
‘?’ Chi-Woo wondered what these question marks meant and if they were something great. He thought to himself, ‘What if I have some black flame dragon sealed inside me?’ Furthermore, what was this about Laguel’s divine powers?
“Ah, d.a.m.n it. I’m super jealous of the guys who have a special ability,” Eval Sevaru, who had been looking at his stats for some time, rolled once and grumbled.
“Even if you have an inherent ability, it might not have manifested in this World,” Zelit said between reading a book. “Each World has its own set of laws and rules. There are no exceptions whether they are your innate power, bloodline, special traits, or so on—even an ability you were born with wouldn’t be able to circ.u.mvent these laws.”
“As expected of someone holding a book. You just have to be difficult~” Eval Sevaru snorted and stood up. “But hold up, brother. How did you manage to bring that book here? What is it?”
“It’s just a book.”
“If that’s ‘just a book’, I’m the super ultimate hero, Choi Chi-Hyun! You see how believable I sound?”
“I get what you mean now. I suppose I’ll just keep this a secret,” Zelit said firmly. Eval Sevaru narrowed his eyes and glanced at Chi-Woo, who was busily looking in the air. Then Eval asked, “What about you? What’s inside your bag?”
“I picked this one up in the storage I was transmitted to,” Chi-Woo replied without even turning to his direction, and Eval Sevaru muttered ‘bulls.h.i.+t’ before he flopped down to the ground again.
“Ah, d.a.m.n~ How sorrowful is the one without anything~ Although we are all heroes, some have more~” Eval Sevaru sang a song that expressed his indignation of the unfairness of the world. And it was around then that they heard footsteps approaching them.
“Are they finally here?” Eval asked.
Zelit closed his book. Ru Hiana, who had curled up in a corner, also raised her head.
‘Ah, but I haven’t checked everything yet.’ Chi-Woo lamented; he was curious about the rest of his User Information, but he s.h.i.+fted his eyes to the entrance. A figure dressed in a faded gray robe entered before a group of robed figures rushed in. They couldn’t see the first figure’s face clearly because of their robe, but the firelights revealed a wrinkled mouth and indicated that the person was an old woman.
“You can stay seated,” the old woman said to Chi-Woo, who was getting up to show his respects to the elderly. Then she stopped and bowed her head. “Greetings to you, recruits. I am the one who manages this camp, Shakira Hao.” The old woman had an old voice, and her words held a mysterious power that warmed the chilling air.
Zelit spoke first, “Are you the seer who wanted to see us?”
“You’re giving me too much credit. I’m nothing more than a grannie who can make small predictions based on G.o.ds’ will.”
“Predicting the future. It seems like an ability that we would need in our situation.”
“I suppose that means you all are in the same state as those who came before you in the previous recruitments.”
“You know?” Knowing that she was talking about how the heroes had lost their powers, Zelit smiled bitterly. Then he said, “Fine. You said your name was Shakira, right? It seems like you have made contact with the previous recruits and know our general situation. What’s your reason for wanting to see us?”
“Let me confirm something first. Are you all members of the seventh recruitment who have come from a high place?”
“And if we are?”
“Then may I ask you what the goal of the seventh recruitment is?”
“It’s to investigate the fifth and sixth recruits and find out what happened to them; and to occupy this place,” Zelit said simply, but the response he got back wasn’t so. The guard captain standing behind Shakira looked like she couldn’t believe her ears.
“…Does the high place know the situation here?” Shakira asked.
“A bit. They don’t seem to know exactly,” Zelit said and told her the prophecy he heard from the Celestial Realm.
“Is that really how the prophecy goes?”
“I know you might find it hard to believe, but it’s the truth. I wasn’t satisfied when I heard their explanation either, and I asked some questions.”
“Ha…” Shakira organized her thoughts quietly and spoke again.
“Could you perhaps gather the recruits who have come to this place as fast as possible?”
“It’s difficult to even protect ourselves here.”
“I’m sorry, but I know that you all have a device that allows you to transmit messages to each other.”
“Oh, you knew about that too?” Zelit looked surprised. “We do, but it’s impossible. The device works, but to use it to contact others, we need a connection from the outside. Since the connection is unstable here, it won’t work.”
“Then.” Shakira took out a small statue from her belongings. She placed it on her two hands carefully and lifted it up. “How about now?”
“Hm. Is it a holy relic?”
“It’s not that amazing. It’s a medium that allows my lowly self to receive G.o.ds’ words.”
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Zelit shook his head. “No, I don’t know about contacting those near us, but reaching far distances is difficult.”
[Innate] Spirit Eye
—Supernatural eyes. Ability to see and discern beings spiritually.
—With the influence of this ability, one is born with the Sainchamsagum.
The Spirit Eye part at least made some sense to Chi-Woo, since he had experience with it, but…
[Fated] Sainchamsagum (四寅斬邪劒)
—The ‘in’(寅) from the Sainchamsagum stands for tiger, and the Sainchamsagum is believed to ward off evil spirits and stop disasters; this belief has then been shaped into an ‘ability’.
—With the influence of someone’s arrangement, this sword was born on a very specific date.
—You show an absolute advantage and power when fighting with ghosts.
Chi-Woo had no idea what this was.
[Weakened] Deus Ex Machina
—The sudden appearance of a G.o.d. This is the only means for G.o.ds to intervene in the causal flow of the World. Depending on the G.o.d’s behavior, it twists the cause of events and even changes predetermined results in the future.
—One can’t try to obtain this ability or be allowed to possess it. This ability falls under an informal category created for management at a higher level. Only those who are chosen are born with it according to certain laws.
—Most of the functions in this ability have been lost, but they were transferred and partially recovered in conjunction with the inherent ability [???] ???. It occurs randomly only under specific conditions due to degradation in function.
‘What is this about? There’s question marks here as well.’ Chi-Woo was about to say ‘what the heck are these marks?’ out loud but quickly suppressed it. Even though it seemed like it would be a tremendous ability, Chi-Woo felt frustrated because he couldn’t get a clear idea of what it was. Rather than being stuck on something he didn’t know, Chi-Woo clicked on number four.
->[The 7 Ways to Become a Great and Respected Parent] has not been activated yet. Please open the book and flip to the first page.
->You have the [World’s Milestone] in your possession.
“…” Chi-Woo let out a humorless laugh. He rummaged through his bag just in case and scanned his surroundings, but he couldn’t see even a trace of the strange book he got.
‘Really, it’s no joke.’ He didn’t know anything about the will of the World. He had thought the system window would be like the ones in games, but he had been caught completely off guard. Chi-Woo decided to turn off the hologram for now. His head was muddled after receiving so much information at once.
“We can separate those beings into two main categories. The first are those who became insane under the curse; the second are those who became broken and eaten up.” It seemed that Ru Hiana was still begging them judging from what Chi-Woo heard Shakira say. “Those who became crazy from the curse are the ones I told you about earlier; they’re alive, but not really alive. They’re beings who have lost their sense of reason, leaving them with only a crave for flesh. And they sometimes mutate and evolve.”
“However, those who were broken by the curse and were eaten up are different,” Shakira continued. “They have the same instincts as those crazy beings, but they don’t have physical substance.”
“Physical substance? Do they not have a body?”
“Yes. Even if the physical body is unable to endure the curse and breaks, it’s still not over. The curse reaches even the soul and corrupts it. That’s why we describe them as broken and eaten up,” At Zelit’s question, Shakira quietly continued. “I’m sure that the one you met is most definitely the broken ones because we can’t see them with human eyes.” Her words were firm.
“Then…” Ru Hiana’s face became pale. “Ruahu is…”
“Those who are broken obsessively hate and desire to eat those who are alive,” Shakira spoke with pity. “They don’t recklessly rush towards living beings like the crazy ones. They cause harm and stir trouble in extraordinary ways.”
‘They must be causing harm and chaos.’ Chi-Woo nodded unconsciously. Shakira’s explanation gave him a general idea of what they were.
“Those who became crazy under the curse are of course dangerous, but we’re still able to defeat them if they’re less evolved. However, those who are broken and eaten up…we can’t converse with them, and no strategy, weapon, or divinity works on them.” Shakira hung her head low like there was no hope. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t be of help.”
Ru Hiana collapsed to the floor as she lost all strength in her legs.
“The information I gave you are speculations we came to from all the experience we’ve been through so far….” Shakira’s attempt to comfort her didn’t reach Ru Hiana. She still looked completely out of it. “It’s not like we’ve just been standing still. We’ve tried countless different methods and strategies. However, our reality is that we couldn’t even make an accurate definition of them, let alone come up with an effective response.”
If they had found a way, they would have definitely done something before the situation turned out like this.
“Juk.” It was at that moment Chi-Woo suddenly spoke up. “It sounds like a juk.”
1. ability to use a heavy, blunt weapon ☜
2. p.r.o.nouned as sa-in-cham-sa-gum. It is a famous Korean sword that literally means ‘Great Four Tiger Sword’ as it is made according to the year, month, week, day or hour of the Tiger; ceremonial sword used for slaying evil spirits/ghosts and shamanistic rituals. ☜
Namu (南無) is a Buddhist term that means ‘return and rely on’, ‘I take refuge’, or in Sanskrit, ‘devotion’. According to Nichiren Buddhism Library, “namu expresses a feeling of reverence or devotion, and is placed before the names of objects of veneration such as Buddhas, bodhisattvas […] and the three treasure of Buddhism (the Buddha, his teachings, and Buddhist Order)”.
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