The words of ‘I am you’.
Since he had been exposed to the Black Heart, Jin-Woo could understand the meaning behind those words.
He looked to his right.
Suddenly, a massive tree the size of several dozen skyscrapers bound together rose up to pierce the heavens above.
He looked to the other side next.
When his head turned to the left, a maglev train suddenly emerged from the distant darkness and shot past his position in the blink of an eye. These two appeared out of nowhere simply because Jin-Woo wished to see them.
In other words, something was created from nothing.
The Shadow Sovereign addressed him.
[Within my territory, you can do anything you want.]
“Because you and I possess the same power?”
The Shadow Sovereign nodded his head. His gaze shifted over to the giant tree Jin-Woo created. In an instant, the tree’s size decreased and changed to a single little flower commonly seen everywhere.
Although this power to create and change worlds was limited to the Shadow Sovereign’s territory, Jin-Woo still ended up letting out a sigh of admiration.
This omnipotent power had become his now. Jin-Woo briefly closed his eyes before opening them up, and that prompted a field of flowers to bloom before his feet and spread out in all directions.
It was the same type of flower as the one the Shadow Sovereign created by changing the tree.
Was this the result of the excellent Perception, or because he was connected to the Shadow Sovereign? Jin-Woo could sense the Sovereign feeling satisfied while looking at the field of flowers.
The Sovereign shifted his gaze over to his human counterpart.
[I have been looking forward to this moment, this meeting with you, for a very long time.]
The Shadow Sovereign officially introduced himself.
[I am the Shadow Sovereign. I am the King of the Dead, ruler of death’s power, and an administrator of the deepest part of the darkness.]
Awesome, dignified presence oozed out from the Sovereign. However, Jin-Woo didn’t feel scared even though true death capable of reducing any living being into a shuddering mess was right before him.
This being was him. He felt his emotions soar higher after meeting another version of himself.
Finally, he could ask that one question stuck in his head, not wanting to let him go ever since the System became a part of his life.
“Why…. was I chosen?”
Why did the System choose him as the ‘Player’? Was it because he managed to survive the dual dungeon that day?
No, it couldn’t have been. He believed that there had to be another reason. And this was the moment that his question might get an answer.
[I shall show you.]
The Shadow Sovereign slowly extended his hand towards Jin-Woo’s forehead. The moment that forefinger touched him, the entire world changed.
[This is our beginning and the end. And also, your beginning.]
Would there ever have been a moment in history that so many people in so many countries screamed out at the same time?
In that cruel moment when the monster’s dagger penetrated Hunter Seong Jin-Woo’s chest, people held their heads or screamed their lungs out. What came to visit them after the screaming was silence as heavy as blocks of steel.
Grief-stricken gasps escaped from the lips of everyone watching Hunter Seong Jin-Woo powerlessly crumble to the ground.
First, it was the Special Authority-rank Hunter, Thomas Andre. And now, even Seong Jin-Woo had fallen.
If so, who else was left?
There was no one.
Knowing full well that there was no one else left to stop these monsters, the expressions of people began hardening like stone.
And then, a short while later.
– Uh? Wha-what’s going on here? Uh? Uhhh??
Shortly after the cameraman cried out in panic, even the transmission got cut off.
The super-massive Gate floating above the skies of Seoul, and then, the monsters that appeared out of nowhere to continuously murder the top-ranked Hunters in the world. The viewers around the world couldn’t erase the thoughts of ‘Are we seeing the advent of the world’s end?’ out of their minds.
In the midst of all the shock and panic, people couldn’t move away from the front of their screens even though the transmission had been cut off for a long time now.
The filming helicopter, now frozen solid and smoke pouring out from the side, crashed back to earth. The Sovereign of Frost withdrew its hand, having successfully destroyed the annoying flying contraption.
Its gaze shifted over to Jin-Woo next. The creature’s ice-covered lips bobbed up and down to announce Jin-Woo’s status.
[His life has come to an end.]
The eyes and the ears of the Sovereign of Beastly Fangs confirmed the death of his prey. It could not sense any hint of life from the subject at all.
They managed to succeed in stopping one of the most powerful kings from turning into an unwelcome variable in their plan. Their eyes were now swimming in the ecstasy of victory.
However, this wasn’t the end of their work. Not yet.
The two Sovereigns raised their heads and their glares simultaneously locked onto Thomas Andre, currently evacuated a good distance away.
Lennart Niermann flinched nastily after sensing their gaze.
He had to prepare himself to lose his life just from trying to fend off one beast-like humanoid creature, but now, there was an Ice Elf on a similar level as the beast to contend with, too….
‘How did Hunter Seong Jin-Woo manage to fight against them….?’
His heart rate got faster and faster. The thing was, he was the only Hunter capable of buying even a second of time against those two monsters.
Lennart took a deep breath.
“Hey, man…. Hunter Seong’s presence vanished just now. Can’t you tell me what’s going on?”
Thomas Andre, his wounds not even half-healed yet, threw out a question.
Lennart forced his unwilling lips to part.
It was then.
The two Sovereigns walking leisurely over in Lennart’s direction simultaneously looked behind them.
Something impossible happened, just then. From the body of the human whose heart was confirmed to be destroyed, they could hear vigorous, pounding heartbeats.
How could such a thing be possible?
The two Sovereigns exchanged disbelieving gazes with each other. And then, the absolute worst possibility entered their heads next. They had been overlooking this crucial fact until now.
[Can it be….?]
These two thought that, by killing the human host, they would also get to extinguish the Shadow Sovereign within, too. Just like how they themselves would die after taking over their hosts.
However, their opponent this time was the King of the Dead. There was no guarantee that death, supposed to treat everyone equally regardless of who, would be applied to him in the same manner.
The end of one could also become the beginning for someone else.
[No…! We can’t let this happen!!]
They had to stop this at all costs.
They had to stop the descent of the true king via this fake death.
Their expression turned utterly pale before they reacted almost instinctively. Two Sovereigns instantly closed the distance to Jin-Woo and reached out with their long claws and ice spear.
In order to completely destroy the body that’d act as the tool of the King’s descent, they poured in their entire magical energy into their weapons.
A figure hidden in ‘Stealth’ lightly landed on the ground before them and his shortswords blocked the claws and the ice spear quite ably.
The Shadow Sovereign hadn’t regained his consciousness yet. In that case, who could this being be?
The two Sovereigns couldn’t hide their shock and fluster after their desperate attacks were defended against.
The owner of the shortswords undid his Stealth and finally revealed himself. It was a figure cloaked in a hood. A pair of eyes gleaming in pure golden light were glaring at the Sovereigns from below the hood.
“From here on, none shall touch this child.”
In another world.
Light and darkness existed in an age where nothing else yet existed.
The Absolute Being split the light and created the Emissaries of God. As for the darkness, it was split to create eight Sovereigns.
Heeding the command issued during their birth, the Sovereigns born to destroy worlds and the Emissaries born to maintain the worlds began killing each other’s soldiers over and over again.
At the end of the lengthy war.
Fatigued by the constant and unending war, the most bright Fragment of the Brilliant Light asked the Absolute Being.
‘Oh, our Absolute Ruler.
Why does thee not aid thy most faithful subjects fighting in thy honour?
Why does thee ignore thy subjects’ pain?
Doth thee really not hear the screams of countless soldiers dying for thy honour?
Lend us the strength to extinguish our opponents. We shall cut off their heads and offer them as the tribute to thy glory.’
However, the Absolute Being didn’t reply back to the Fragment.
It was at that moment the Fragments came to a realisation. And that would be the truth of the battle between themselves and the Sovereigns being nothing more than a form of entertainment to the Absolute Being. And that their Ruler didn’t wish for the battles to end.
Now knowing that the war would never end as long as the Absolute Being continued to exist, the Fragments fell into despair. The despair they felt transformed into rage, and rage soon morphed into hatred.
To end this meaningless war, they unsheathed their blades.
It was the start of the rebellion.
Jin-Woo witnessed the endless march of the soldiers spanning the cosmos itself.
“Oh, my god….”
However, a group of soldiers suddenly appeared from the distance and blocked the march. The Shadow Sovereign next to Jin-Woo pointed at the Fragment of the Brilliant Light with six wings, standing in front of the blocking group.
[That was the me of the distant past.]
He was the sole Emissary of God who stood up against the rebellion of the other Emissaries. In the end, though, the pitiful number of soldiers he led powerlessly fell before the united armies of the Emissaries.
The Fragment of the Brilliant Light never lost his absolute loyalty until the end. He died watching his brave subordinates get swept away by their enemies.
He thought that this was the end.
But when he reopened his eyes within the embrace of the darkness, he came to realise that the Absolute Being had hidden a certain power inside of him.
For that eventuality when everything went wrong, the Absolute Being had hidden a truly fiendish power capable of ending everything, inside its most loyal slave.
And so, floating within this endless abyss of darkness, the Sovereign of Death had finally opened his eyes towards his power. He tore off the remaining traces of his wings, all burnt away from the battle, and crafted brand new armour out of the surrounding darkness.
Souls sleeping within this abyss heard the call and swore eternal allegiance to their new king.
He led his brand new army and made his return. But when he finally came back, everything was already over.
The remaining Fragments of Brilliant Light had killed the Absolute Being and called themselves the new gods, thus assuming the position of the ‘Rulers’. And using various tools containing the might of the Absolute Being, they hunted down the Sovereigns.
When the King of Giants, the Sovereign of the Beginning, Reghia, was captured, the balance between the two sides collapsed and the remaining Sovereigns realised the severity of the situation.
It was at that moment that the Shadow Sovereign extended his hands to them. To combat their common enemy, every existing Sovereign combined their forces.
And in this manner, the war between seven ‘Rulers’ and nine ‘Sovereigns’ continued on, forever.
The longer this war continued on, however, the greater the army of the Shadow Sovereign grew. Time was on his side.
Thanks to his brilliant achievements, it seemed as if the victors of this long, long war would be the Sovereigns.
However, it wasn’t only the Rulers fearing the might of the Shadow Army that had grown, unbeknownst to all, to equal the Army of Destruction led by the King of Berserk Dragons.
Two Sovereigns feared the Shadow Sovereign. The Two of them were the Sovereign of White Flames and the Sovereign of Beastly Fangs. They aimed for the back of the former Emissary just as the war was drawing to a close.
It was at this point that Jin-Woo got to witness again the scenes he saw within the ‘saved data’ back in the dual dungeon. The armies of demons and beasts joined hands with the armies of the Rulers and pounced on the Shadow Sovereign and his army.
And that resulted in him being driven to near-annihilation.
But then, the King of Beasts, the Sovereign of Beastly Fangs ran away to save its own life, while forsaking its own soldiers. Meanwhile, the King of Demons, the Sovereign of White Flames, Baran, had to pay the ultimate price.
The words Jin-Woo couldn’t understand; when he heard the words of the dying Baran, his eyes shook around really hard back then.
And then, above his head – four angels with six wings slowly descended from the sky. That was where the video playback of the ‘data’ Jin-Woo watched came to an end.
The four Rulers soon surrounded the Shadow Sovereign, who no longer possessed enough strength to command his own Shadow Army. The Sovereign must’ve figured out what the inevitable result of this fight would be and discarded his sword to the ground.
But, if those Rulers had killed the Shadow Sovereign back then, how could the existence of this Shadow Sovereign even be explained?
Jin-Woo swallowed his dry saliva and paid even closer attention, to what could possibly be the end of the Shadow Sovereign.
The Rulers began kneeling before the Shadow Sovereign one by one. And a short while later, the six-winged angel kneeling in front raised his voice.
[Please, it’s time that you forgive us, oh, greatest Fragment of Brilliant Light.]