Chapter 40: Let’s Go! (5)
A while ago, right after Chi-Woo pa.s.sed the test for the seventh recruitment and entered the portal.
—First, I request a change in the composition of the number of suitable persons that were selected earlier.
—Second, I request a change in the transmission point of the 7th recruits and the first achievement goal for this mission.
Raphael’s smile faltered, and her soft curving eyes became slightly distorted. Change of prophecy wasn’t a common occurrence at all. It was the first time she had experienced something like this, in fact.
‘If a prophecy changed…’ It meant that Liber’s destined future had also changed, or to be more specific, there was now a chance for it to be changed. It should be obvious that it was almost impossible to change a destined future. And yet someone had accomplished just that—it was the new variable and recruitment partic.i.p.ant, Choi Chi-Woo.
“…Explain everything in order.” Raphael looked down at the dazzling orb with an uncharacteristically expressionless face. Her voice was also much lower as she asked for more information. “First of all, why did you reject the examination, and why was your function terminated at his touch?”
—It’s because Princess Sahee’s nature and my origins are at opposing ends.
One of Raphael’s eyebrows slid up. The orb wasn’t created in the Celestial Realm. It was an existence born from one of the forces standing in opposition to the Celestial Realm. The two forces engaged in an inescapable war for centuries, and in the process, they repeatedly stole each other’s valuables. One such loot was the prophecy orb, which used to be a treasure from one of the adversary groups fighting the Celestial Realm. When they first retrieved it, the orb emitted dark energy, but the Celestial Realm recognized its prophetic values and kept it.
“I don’t get it. What does that have to do with your origins?”
—The person who changed the prophecy was born in the year, month, day, and time of the tiger.
“So? Are you saying that he is some embodiment of the Four Tiger Sword or something? The sword that is the best weapon for defeating evil spirits?”
—Not a living embodiment, but his nature is certainly similar to it.
“Are you kidding me? What little energy he has is enough to damage your function? Plus, haven’t you already gone through a purifying process?”
—If you think his energy is ‘little’, you are greatly mistaken.
—Think of the one who had arranged his fate.
Raphael couldn’t fathom what the orb was getting at. Was it saying that there was someone who could read and prepare for a distant future so far away that the orb itself didn’t dare touch it? She could only think of one existence that could carry out such an unbelievable feat.
—The one who rules over spirits, controls death and presides over the underworld: the shaman G.o.d.
The orb’s mechanical voice rang across the room.
—I was born out of darkness, and I died twice and was reborn again.
The situation had been more dangerous than Raphael had thought. Both Chi-Woo’s given destiny and the G.o.d who arranged it was a natural bane to the prophecy. It wasn’t at the level where they would sabotage one another, but they did stand at opposite ends. One force could diminish the other’s existence with a simple touch. Raphael nodded. She had finally understood the situation.
“I see. Princess Sahee…” she muttered. Then something else made her frown in confusion. “Still…that doesn’t change the fact that he had lived an ordinary life.”
—That is true.
“And yet his partic.i.p.ation is enough to change the prophecy? When it has never been changed before?”
—You are misunderstanding. It’s simply a guess that the destiny placed onto that one is in the form of a gift for the future.
The orb began to address Chi-Woo more politely.
—I requested the change because of that one’s singular existence.
In other words, the orb was distinguis.h.i.+ng Chi-Woo’s existence from everything it had said so far.
“It’s because of his existence…” Raphael was vaguely aware of Chi-Woo’s background, such as the reason why he hadn’t been able to step into the Celestial Realm for so long. It was simple; there were those who didn’t want it to happen; and neither the highest beings in the Celestial Realm, the archangels, nor the shaman G.o.d could simply ignore their requests. However, she only knew the story on a surface level and wasn’t privy to the details.
‘Why?’ Truthfully, she was curious. She wanted to know why somebeings had tried so hard to cover Chi-Woo and hide him.
‘Even after I met him in person, I can’t figure it out at all…’ She wondered if the secret around him was connected to the change in the prophecy. If only she could grasp onto an inkling of a clue, she would be able to understand the situation better. Thus, she had to ask the orb something else. After taking a deep breath, Raphael spoke again.
* * *
“Have you been paying attention to the composition of the seventh recruits?” Raphael asked suddenly.
Laguel furrowed her brows.
“Don’t focus on the fact that it has been changed. What did you notice in particular before and after the change?”
Laguel closed her eyes; she hadn’t noticed much because her mind had been too occupied by Chi-Woo.
“One plus one,” Raphael answered for her, and realization dawned on Laguel after a moment of visible puzzlement. Generally, there would only be one hero at a time from each world, and after proving their worth, they alone would ascend to the Celestial Realm and begin their heroic pursuit. Even when two heroes emerged from the same world, they were usually from different eras. In other words, it was very rare for a hero to meet someone from their world.
Rare, but not never. Sometimes there would be exceptions. The reasons behind these occurrences were many, but nevertheless, there were heroes who had entered the Celestial Realm with their companions after receiving additional approval for them.
“Such heroes aren’t as rare as the twelve families, but still very few and far between. It happens as frequently as a common person getting into an accident in the middle of the streets,” Raphael said with a smile. “After the orb requested the change, however, this group of people made up 70% of the new recruits.”
Laguel looked surprised.
“Do you think that makes any sense?” Raphael asked while positioning her chin on her hand. “And it’s only for the seventh recruitment. The orb didn’t even specifically request me to find these types of people, but instead just gave me their names.”
“Who knows? I sure don’t. It won’t tell me more. You know the orb only tells me things that are certain,” Raphael said indifferently and rolled her eyes. “But I do have my guesses.”
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“He decided to become a hero for his childhood friend, who grew up in the same village as him. It’s a cliché but beautiful story.” Raphael snickered. “I’ll go back to the main topic at hand. What if Chi-Woo becomes connected to Ru Hiana—the reason why Ru Amuh stays as a hero—in some way?” Raphael began rubbing her two thumbs together. “And in the process, he also develops a connection with Ru Amuh?” Raphael tilted her chin to hear Laguel’s reply; it seemed as if she was expecting admiration and praise for her conjectures.
However, Laguel’s expression was grim.
“What? Why are you reacting like that?”
“I…don’t know.” Laguel shook her head. “Even if that is true…it doesn’t explain why their destination was changed as well. Why did it specifically lead them to where the fifth and sixth recruits fell?”
“That’s what you’re worried about? There’s only one reason for that.” Raphael’s expression fell slightly. “The only thing ordinary about Chi-Woo is his values. Anyone would be hard pressed to call his ability ordinary. Even though we gave him all sorts of items and benefits, the prophecy had a specific reason for sending him there.”
“But Archangel Raphael—”
“The prophecy must have sent him there without hesitation because a stage for him to show his abilities has already been prepared.” Of course, it was too optimistic a belief to hold onto. Raphael knew that it wouldn’t be easy to survive in a galaxy-scale event. “And did you forget?”
Raphael clicked her tongue at the look of confusion on Laguel’s face. “Dummy. What did I tell you just now? The things you need to be a hero.”
Laguel thought of each factor and suddenly flinched; she got a basic idea of what Raphael was trying to say.
“Since Liber’s World can’t reply, it can’t choose a hero. We’ll take that factor out of the equation. It would also be hard for him to get comrades and helpers there for obvious reasons.” Raphael directed the following question to Laguel. “Then why did the prophecy send so many heroes there, when Liber needs only one hero?”
Laguel did not reply, but she opened her mouth with surprise.
“I think each member of the seventh recruitment has been given a specific role.” If that was not the case— “Why would those who had been considered unfit for the mission suddenly be chosen as recruits?”
Laguel looked at Raphael with disbelief.
“How excessive. He’s going to have heroes as his comrades and heroes as his extras. There’s probably never been a hero with this ludicrous a journey ahead of him…Ah, should I call him a hero in training? Anyway…” She snickered and continued, “One thing’s for certain.”
Whether the heroes in the seventh recruits would become a comrade that walked with Chi-Woo, a helper that supported him, a reason for him to get stronger, or a meat s.h.i.+eld for him—
“The seventh recruits—” The corners of Raphael’s lips curved up. “They’ll act as good stepping stones for our Mr. Protagonist’s grand future.”
* * *
After Chi-Woo crossed the line of no return, Eshnunna had no choice but to take the lead again. Since those beings had found out about their existence, they could no longer turn back. She didn’t know about her or the villager’s future, but there were only two fates awaiting Chi-Woo—survival or death. However, Eshnunna still slowed her pace in case Chi-Woo changed his mind, but he didn’t say anything about turning back.
“…” Eshnunna stopped walking. The air about her was different from when she stopped last time. Rather than hesitation, she looked extremely tense. Her lips also trembled as if she couldn’t even watch the situation before her eyes unfold.
‘Have we arrived?’ Chi-Woo opened his bag and scanned his surroundings. There were dense trees and bushes reminiscent of a jungle.
Even though their environment did not even allow a ray of moonlight to pierce through the darkness, the torch that Eshnunna held onto illuminated their surroundings somewhat. Thanks to the torch, Chi-Woo was able to make out a shelter of sorts from far away. However, Chi-Woo soon realized his mistake when he got closer.
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