Chapter 7: Celestial Realm (4)
Thump, thump, thump, thump!
Although she was walking barefoot, every step she took made a heavy thump on the floor. The owner of these angry footsteps stopped when she found Chi-Woo standing still.
“No! Listen to me for a bit!” Giant Fist, who was hurriedly following from behind, closed his mouth when he noticed Chi-Woo. A heavy silence befell them, and Chi-Woo looked at the angel who had just appeared.
She was beautiful. He couldn’t help but admire her beauty. Although both the gatekeeper and Periel’s beauty were one that transcended gender, this angel was to say the least… different. Her slightly arched eyebrows made her look irritated, but even that fitted her. She had the elegance of an old art piece and had four pairs of wings—not the feathery wings he had been seeing on angels up until now, but translucent ones like those of a spirit. Her appearance alone invoked reverence and devotion, and it wasn’t difficult at all to see that she was different from all other angels.
“Finally, you’ve done it…” The angel’s thin neck jerked. Her furious voice caused Chi-Woo’s shoulders to slouch. He felt compelled to get on his knees and beg for forgiveness this instant. It seemed he wasn’t the only one, since Giant Fist had also fallen into silence after making a fuss. Chi-Woo hadn’t expected an angel to be so fearsome.
“Haaaa…” Finally, the angel let out a deep sigh. Then she took in some deep breaths with her eyes shut.
Giant Fist timidly opened his eyes. “It seems…like there’s a misunderstanding. I didn’t force—”
“Force?” The angel, who was finally calming down, furrowed her brows again.
“No! I didn’t bring him here by force!” Giant Fist waved his hands and jumped from his spot. “Sir Choi Chi-Woo really came of his own will! Ask him!”
The angel looked exasperated by Giant Fist’s quick response, but said, “Well, yeah…I guess you wouldn’t have brought him by force unless you were absolutely insane.” Giant Fist twitched, and the angel continued, “However, if you hadn’t made contact with Sir Choi Chi-Woo, he wouldn’t have come to the Celestial Realm in the first place.”
“Laguel! Wait! I even got permission to enter from the higher-ups!”
“Shut up!” A high-pitched shriek rang across the hall, and Laguel turned around like she had nothing more to say to Giant Fist. Then she placed one hand on her chest and bowed to Chi-Woo. “I sincerely apologize for raising my voice.”
Wanting to break the tension in the air, Chi-Woo quickly asked, “May I ask who you are?”
The angel replied with an indifferent yet polite expression on her face, “It’s not very important who I am since you will forget it even if I tell you.”
“What do you mean that I will forget?”
“You can just think of all this as a dream. No, it’s more precise to say that’s what we will do for you, sir.”
Chi-Woo bit his lower lip at the angel’s firm declaration.
“Forget what happened today and live the life they truly wished for you to have.”
Before Chi-Woo could ask exactly ‘who’ wished for this life, Laguel opened her eyes widely and shouted.
“Expel them!” There was a short but strong ringing sound. Simultaneously, Chi-Woo felt an intangible force burst in like a thunderbolt.
“No!” Giant Fist stretched out his hand meaninglessly and Chi-Woo instinctively covered his face with both arms.
They heard a powerful collision.
Pop, pop, pop, pop!
A series of crumbling sounds followed suit. Laguel raised one eyebrow; she had expected to expel Chi-Woo out of this place soundlessly, but instead, a burst of light blinded their eyes and made a loud ringing noise. It was as if an intense ball of energy had burst out of a collision point and debris was flowing out of it…
“Ah.” An idea popped into her head. The released energy couldn’t reach its target. It went off its course and hit an unintended object. The crumbled remains from the ceiling and floor scattered like fireflies. What was going on? Laguel looked around her surroundings in puzzlement. When the array of lights faded into view, she doubted her own eyes. ‘It can’t be.’ she wanted to cry out.
Chi-Woo stood fixed in his spot. Forget getting expelled, he hadn’t taken even one step backwards. And that wasn’t all. Over his head, a giant and semi-transparent hand stretched out over him like an umbrella; it floated over him, as if it was ensuring that not even a single speck of debris would hit him.
“…Huh?” That was all Laguel managed to say. Giant Fist, who had thought everything was over, looked stunned.
But he soon struggled to pick his wavering body up. “Are you alright? Sir Choi Chi-Woo! Sir Choi Chi-Woo!” He shouted again, and the surrounding suddenly became quiet. It felt like everything was sinking; in some ways, it also felt like Chi-Woo was standing on some kind of shapeless, intangible s.p.a.ce that was abruptly created.
Neither Giant Fist nor Laguel could speak. Chi-Woo’s both arms were slouched downwards. He stood crookedly and raised his head slowly. After checking Chi-Woo’s face, Laguel was able to guess the cause of this abnormal phenomenon. It was because Chi-Woo’s pupils were s.h.i.+ning brilliantly as if they were embracing a light. Laguel’s eyelids fluttered. If the hand had come from a place above the highest place, the Celestial Realm…
Before Laguel could finish her thought, a tremendous collision pierced her eyes.
“Kahhhh!” After a brief moment of unconsciousness, Laguel regained her senses and found herself flying into the air. It was impossible to tell if she had been hit or if she had penetrated through the mysterious wall of energy. She simply floundered as she felt a mind-splitting pain and let out a stream of white light. And although Laguel couldn’t see it, Giant Fist saw it; Chi-Woo pulled back his tightly clenched fist and struck it down towards the ground. Laguel, who was speeding away from the white castle, was slammed onto the road and roughly yanked back toward Chi-Woo.
“Uhhhh…” Laguel groaned. Faint, white light flowed out of her body like blood and caused her to fade from view. Even though her mind was becoming blank, Laguel raised her head. The moment she met the figure’s eyes, she felt a presence she couldn’t describe; it was an overwhelming pressure that would seemingly squish and flatten her like a bug. As her body convulsed, she saw Chi-Woo raise one foot.
—You arrogant wench.
Laguel’s head was roughly stomped down to the floor.
—I was trying not to burden my child, but…
Chi-Woo spoke in a lonely and cold voice with his foot on her head.
—The things you do are beyond unacceptable. I can’t bear to stand by and watch any longer, as it enrages me tremendously.
Laguel’s body trembled.
—My child is finally trying to find his destiny.
Chi-Woo said softly as if he was trying to comfort a crying child.
—But why do you use all means possible to hinder him?
The quiet and calm voice boomed with an undefiable aura, and Laguel muttered the being’s name as she gritted her teeth, “Dear Ancestral G.o.d…” Laguel shuddered, as she desperately responded, “It’s a….vow I made with him.”
“Aren’t you also aware of it… dear deity? Please have mercy on me…” Laguel managed to plead with all her remaining energy with the knowledge that she might become extinguished by the ancestral G.o.d.
—Hm. Yes, I am.
Yet the being followed that up with mocking laughter.
Laguel clenched her eyes shut.
—Did you really think of blocking this child’s path just because of one silly vow?
“It wasn’t just a vow!”
—Was that really the conclusion you have reached?
Chi-Woo clicked his tongue and looked down like he pitied her.
—How pathetic. You are looking to become an archangel, but you are swayed by your emotions.
Laguel pursed her lips and gritted her teeth, but it seemed like she couldn’t refute the deity’s words.
—I won’t talk for too long.
After a momentary silence, Chi-Woo’s voice sounded firmer as he continued.
—I have granted the request you made on the day when the sign of the tiger overlapped with the sign of the dragon in four ways. Because you made quite the offering, I waited for some time…but.
The deity paused for a moment, as if they were going to make a great declaration.
—As long as my child wishes to take on this path, nothing can precede his will. Thus, I also can’t wait any longer.
Laguel’s face fell into despair at this clear declaration.
“Ancestral G.o.d!” Laguel shouted but the G.o.d didn’t listen to her.
—Fu, fu. I thought there would be a battle between two heroes with matching power, but it seems more like the opposite would happen. This will be quite a spectacle.
The deity made a satisfied smile and lifted their feet. Like they were leaving, they raised their hand to the sky. The giant hand that had wrapped around Chi-Woo slowly disappeared, and the dim lights in his pupils also began to dwindle. After his pupils returned to their original state, Chi-Woo stumbled heavily. His head drew two circles in the air before Chi-Woo fell to the ground. Then a sinking silence filled the s.p.a.ce. Chi-Woo didn’t move at all. He seemed to have fainted.
“Ah…” Laguel groaned painfully as she looked up. Giant Fist stood frozen in his place; after watching the scene that just happened, he partly understood how reckless he had been.
‘I thought I hit the lottery…’ Now, Giant Fist couldn’t guess whether he made a winning or losing bid. Then he recalled what Chi-Hyun had told him in the past.
[It’s rare, but there are some people who are born with unbelievable destinies. For instance, there’s my younger brother.]
Now, Giant Fist better understood what Chi-Hyun had meant by those words.
His blurry vision slowly came into focus. When he finally opened his eyes, Chi-Woo saw that he was no longer in the waiting place.
“Huh?” Chi-Woo tried to raise his body but laid down again. His body wouldn’t move. It was burning, and he didn’t know if it was him or the world that was spinning. It made him dizzy.
“Stay lying down, sir.” Then he heard a low voice. Chi-Woo quickly glanced towards his side and blinked. Laguel was standing next to his bed quietly. What happened? The last thing Chi-Woo remembered was Laguel pointing at him and commanding his expulsion. He didn’t remember what happened after that.
‘It doesn’t seem like she’s going to chase me away this instant…’
Laguel seemed much less energetic now. Perhaps he was imagining it, but her complexion appeared paler than before, and it seemed like she was struggling to remain standing. It was difficult to believe that she would simply have a change of heart after seeming so ready to remove him from this place. It was much more likely that something happened while he lost consciousness. Unable to hold in this curiosity, he was about to ask what happened when Laguel spoke first.
“Sir Chi-Woo. I wish to speak to you about something.”
“I will keep it brief, so please pay attention and listen to me.” Soon, Laguel kneeled and arched her torso so that almost half of her body was over the bed. “I’m sure that even you think that you had lived an unusual life.” Her face looked sincere but also desperate. “It’s a life you probably thought of as unfair. Even though you tried to find a way to escape, you ended up in a slump. Despite it all, you did your best to adapt and endure, but when your brother disappeared, you couldn’t help but burst out in anger.”
Laguel continued with sorrowful eyes, “And so, when you saw this Celestial Realm…yes, I understand. I suppose you thought it was the escape route that you had been looking for so long.”
“I also know that your first priority is finding your older brother.” Laguel nodded like she understood everything. “But as someone who knows what you don’t know, I dare to give you a warning.” Laguel’s tone sounded more solemn as she said, “The means and methods through which you’re about to embark on this journey are definitely wrong.”
Chi-Woo’s eyebrows wiggled.
“I beg you. You can turn back everything even right now.”
Chi-Woo got basically what Laguel was telling him: she wanted him to return to his original world, forgetting everything he saw here.
“What do you mean by the means and methods being wrong…?” Chi-Woo muttered, “Who…decided that…?” While glancing at Laguel, he let out the breath he had been holding in and steadied his breathing. “I am curious…about…many things….”
“I’m sorry,” Laguel apologized. Both knew that meant she couldn’t tell him. She said bitterly, “It’s not that I don’t want to tell you. It’s just that I can’t. I can’t even give a small clue to you. That’s how strong the vow I made is. Even revealing this fact to you is dangerous to me.”
Hearing about the vow, Chi-Woo didn’t know what more to say. “Then, I…guess…it can’t be helped…” Chi-Woo took a short breath. “I have to meet…my brother personally…and ask.”
“Sir Choi Chi-Woo.” Seeing that it was unlikely for Chi-Woo to change his mind, Laguel’s voice became firmer. “Please. The only one who can turn things around now is you, sir!”
Chi-Woo understood why Laguel’s att.i.tude had changed so much now. He asked, “If I follow what Gripping Giant Fist and Rising tells me, do you think I will be able to find my brother?”
“…He could be using you for his own personal gains.”
Chi-Woo didn’t care about this; it didn’t matter as long as he used the other party too.
“I am also an angel, sir. Should I tell you the truth? If a person of your status came to this place on his own free will, I would have welcomed him with open arms. At least, in normal cases!” Then, she put her hand on her chest so strongly that it made a loud thump. “Still I’ve gone this far to stop you because you don’t have an inkling of what lies before you.”
*** You are reading on https://webnovelonline.com ***
Chi-Woo closed his eyes. His heart wavered for a bit. Yes, he knew she must have a good reason to plead with him so strongly. For now, going back home like this was a viable option. It wasn’t like he had no fear or hesitation about what the future held for him.
Laguel took a step back without meaning to. She immediately raised her guard to the highest level.
Raphael smoothly said, “Hey, hey. Calm down. This person really wants to do this, so there’s really no reason for us to go out of our way to stop him, right?”
“Sir Chi-Hyun wouldn’t stand still.”
“Uh…Yeah, he probably won’t.” Raphael also seemed bothered about this. “But Princess Saheu spoke through him, and won’t he also explain the situation well to Sir Chi-Hyun? It doesn’t seem like he’ll stab us in the back later on.”
“In the worst case scenario—!” Laguel was about to say something but shut her mouth. It seemed that she couldn’t say it in front of Chi-Woo.
“Well, it’s not like you're wrong.” Raphael smirked. “When I eavesdropped on you two, I heard some funny things. ‘If a person of your status came walking here, I would have welcomed them with open arms…’ Was that it?” Raphael mimicked Laguel and chuckled, and Laguel flinched. “Yep. That’s right. Well, I won’t go as far as welcoming them with open arms though.”
Raphael’s eyes spun around, and she turned her head. “I don’t have any intentions to object to anything in particular. Honestly, there are some things I’m kind of hoping for him as well. Well, that’s basically where I stand.” She stretched out her thumb and bent it.
Chi-Woo gulped several times. Even though his head was muddled from the fever, it seemed like the conversation was going how he wanted it to.
“Yeah. But…it’s a bit regretful.” With this thought, Raphael’s words took a turn. “Isn’t that so? When the game seems to be getting dangerous, what would you think when a good card suddenly comes into your hand? It might become the golden card that will save you from losing.” Raphael began to inspect every part of Chi-Woo as she continued, “So you become a bit hesitant about using it immediately, and you might want to try to a.s.sess the situation first and save the card for later. All of you know about card games, right? This is like a card game.” Then Raphael rubbed her fingers together, like she was telling everyone to focus on her hand.
Chi-Woo pondered for a bit and said, “What is it that you want?”
“…I like that you get straight to the point.” Raphael smirked. Her expression seemed to be saying, ‘look at this punk.’ Compared to how she had been acting before, Chi-Woo believed this was closer to her true nature.
Then Raphael stretched her thumb and pushed it in front of Chi-Woo’s eyes. “I’ll set the conditions.”
“Don’t misunderstand. You’re not the only one with conditions.” Raphael withdrew her hands. “Not everyone has the same goals; you aren’t the only one who wants to find your brother.” She smiled cheerfully and continued, “I can’t let everyone join, so if you want to fulfill your goals, you have to pa.s.s a test.”
“Don’t worry. Do you seriously think I’ll tell an ordinary person like you to fight someone and survive?” Raphael folded her arms. “The test itself is simple, so there’s no need for you to worry. Well, I think the level of difficulty and whether you can pa.s.s the test are completely different matters.”
Chi-Woo tilted his head. How could pa.s.sing and the level of difficulty be completely different matters in a test?
“If you pa.s.s this test, I’ll send you where your brother is.”
“I’ll accept the conditions.”
“Oh my. Really? You answered immediately.” Raphael had a cheery face the entire time she talked with Chi-Woo. “Did you hear me properly? I’m not saying that I’ll let you meet your brother, but I’ll send you where he is.”
Chi-Woo suddenly realized that while Raphael had her mouth curved upwards, the angel’s eyes hadn’t been smiling at all so far. It was not a very good feeling to see her smile.
“I’m sorry, but nope.” Raphael firmly cut off Chi-Woo’s words,
“I’m not going to say a word about you or your brother. Not even about your family. You heard the reason why from her, right?” Raphael pointed towards Laguel, who looked very worried.
Chi-Woo let out a small sigh.
“If I could, I would have explained in the very beginning. You think I want to explain in a roundabout way like this, while paying attention to my every word? I’m also frustrated.”
Chi-Woo wanted to ask about his brother just in case, but as expected, Raphael also could not reply. Chi-Woo gave up asking any further; there was no point in crying over sour grapes.
“Good. Conversation over. With this, you don’t have any complaints, right?” Raphael accepted Chi-Woo’s silence as agreement and glanced sideways at Laguel.
“What is the test?”
“Um…” Raphael rolled her eyes and smiled brightly, “You’re curious, right?”
“Come and take it then.”
Chi-Woo looked up at Raphael. Raphael was an angel that was quite talented at p.i.s.sing people off.
“Ahaha. Did I go too far?” Raphael flapped her hands to show that she was joking. “Sorry, sorry. Anyway, if you do decide to take the test…” She put her thumb on her chin and made a bright smile. “Should we first start talking about when it’ll take place?”
* * *
Intense sunlight pierced his eyes. Chi-Woo soon completely opened his half-lidded eyes. He quickly picked himself up at the same time. He had returned home. His right hand instinctively felt around his bed. When he turned on his phone, not much time had pa.s.sed since he last checked it.
‘I can’t believe it.’
When he opened his eyes, he was in his house. Did she teleport him or something? If not, it would mean that since the time he went out to meet Gil-Duk, everything had been a dream. Chi-Woo stared into s.p.a.ce in a daze. There was no way for him to check if what he experienced was a dream or reality—no, there was a way. At that moment, Chi-Woo jumped out of his bed. He searched through his pockets and opened his wallet.
‘Money, money…’ He checked to see if had the money he received from Giant Fist. Soon, Chi-Woo’s pupils fiercely shook as he took out a paper bill from his wallet.
[Let me see. Your planet is Earth, and you said your country was the Republic of Korea, right? Then…]
On the paper bill, there was Chi-Woo’s name, family, and a location and date.
[I know about Earth pretty well. I have a lot of connections there.]
[Here, take it. You just have to go to the location I wrote for you here.]
The letters were very special as it gave off a subtle silver light.
[You can’t even be one second late, got it? I can’t take responsibility if you’re late.]
After checking one, no, several times, Chi-Woo quickly raised his head. He also tightly clenched his fist. He was now completely sure.
‘It really…wasn’t a dream.’
*** You are reading on https://webnovelonline.com ***