Return To Player Chapter 106

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Return To Player Chapter 106: The Love of a Sick Girl (Part 4)

“It’s nonsensical, completely nonsensical. I am the avatar of the King of the Underworld. A human chosen by the gods!”

“Chosen? You’re nothing but a replacement. Just an instant product created to kill me.”

I walked forward with a sardonic laugh.

His self-conceit was ludicrous.

Perhaps he too was a victim of misguided parenting.

But he had gone too far.

He’d committed too many atrocities that a human should never commit.

“Wait, just wait! Stop! I am my mother’s son!”

“…To bring that up now, you are a fool indeed.”

It was ironic considering he had tried to kill his own mother.

As I raised my sword with a bemused expression, his face contorted in desperation.

“This bloody son of a—!!”

He swung his arm in resistance as I swung my sword.

It was a desperate attack, but to me, it was as slow and clumsy as a poor dance.

Thump!

“Cough!”

With a last cry, Han Hyun-su spit out blood.

A sword had pierced through his chest, transfixing his heart.

Han Hyun-su looked down at the sword that impaled his chest with an expression of disbelief, then let out a hollow laugh.

“Heh, hahaha.”

His laughter, like that of a madman, narrowed my eyes.

“What’s so funny?”

“I just think this whole situation is shit. Who would have thought that the words of a god would be true.”

“…What?”

“I was created as an avatar by the god Hades. He told me you wouldn’t stand a chance against me. He even told me how to screw you over.”

The feeling wasn’t pleasant.

I tried to remove the sword from his chest, but he gripped my wrist tightly with his left hand.

“Of course, I rejected it. I was fully convinced that I could kill you with my own strength. But, it seems the god was right.”

Staring at me, Han Hyun-su trembled at the lips.

I could see fear in his eyes, but more than that, there was anger and a sense of injustice.

‘What’s on his mind?’

Despite his lack of combat skills, Han Hyun-su’s abilities were superior to mine.

He had always had higher stats, and Hades had recklessly boosted his basic abilities.

‘Then…’

I flicked my left finger to open a void in mid-air and fired the sword.

The sword flew out, penetrating Han Hyun-su’s head, which was clutching my right arm.

Crunch!

Yet Han Hyun-su’s grip on my wrist did not loosen.

‘Could it be…’

I looked at Han Hyun-su’s face with a sword embedded in it.

The expression of the man who had breathed his last had not changed, but his eyes were different.

I felt a grudge. A presence beyond human, furious at me.

I knew who it was.

There could only be one who could manipulate the body of the dead.

“Hades.”

“You have no idea why I’m doing this.”

Though it came from Han Hyun-su’s mouth, it wasn’t him who spoke.

It was the god Hades, who had chosen him as an avatar and now controlled his body.

“To be honest, I don’t know either. But it was a disgustingly familiar feeling. Like the feeling of my avatar being killed by you isn’t new.”

His words ‘not the first time being killed’ made me flinch.

It seemed that even if they didn’t share memories like Idra, they could still receive some impressions.

Or perhaps it was some change brought upon by Idra transforming the dungeon.

One thing was clear; this situation was far from favorable for me.

‘Never thought he’d resort to this.’

While Idra used illusions to craft his form, Hades had possessed Han Hyun-su’s lifeless body.

Of course, his time in this state wouldn’t be long.

Unlike Idra, who seemed like an ordinary human unable to wield any power ordinarily unless using points as a trade, Hades had no choice in this matter.

Even though it was possession, Hades was using a part of his power against me.

“Can you prevent the decree of death in this state?”

Hades, now wearing Han Hyun-su’s face, moved his right arm.

The sword that had fallen to the ground leaped to his hand, and a deadening aura began to gather.

‘I must sever my right arm and jump back immediately.’

I quickly reached a conclusion.

I had no way to free my captured right arm with my reduced ability stats.

Therefore, the best option was to sever the limb and move away.

Even if my arm was severed here, it would not affect my second life’s physical body.

Death, however, was a different matter.

“You’d do well to die quietly. If you don’t want my wrath in the afterlife, that is.”

‘Horseshit!’

Hades was a petty god.

He remembered every trivial matter.

Even if I quietly succumbed to his blade now, like Sisyphus in Greek myth, I’d be tormented eternally.

“Aaaahhh—!!”

At that moment, Ji-su, who had been observing the situation, rushed toward me. Intuitively sensing the danger I was in, her eyes were dyed a vivid red.

“What the hell is with that speed?”

Ji-su took less than a second to reach us.

In just two leaps, she was already baring her teeth at Hades’ right arm.

“That rabid bitch has lost her mind!”

“Kyaaaah!!”

Even Hades, who was preparing the decree of death, was taken aback and canceled his attack, opting to fight back with his sword instead.

But Ji-su was not one to receive it casually.

She dodged as nimbly as a cat and sprang towards him like a coiled spring.

“Nice, Han Ji-su!”

Seizing the moment, I delivered a knee kick to Hades’ elbow, snapping it in two.

With his arm broken, the grip weakened and I withdrew mine.

“Aren’t you afraid of the gods?”

“What need is there to fear lifer scum like you?”

“Impudent brat!”

Whether in the past or now, it was the same for gods and humans alike.

Beings of intelligence that pursue pleasure.

So, I didn’t fear them. Surely there must be gods worthy of respect, but the majority of the gods in this game were like Hades.

Clang! Clang clang!

Hades’ expression twisted with fury as Ji-su and I coordinated our attack.

No matter his remarkable powers, he was confined to Han Hyun-su’s body.

With his arm busted and his body suffering fatal injuries, he stood no chance against me, even with extraordinary strength.

The moment Hades lost grip of my right arm, the outcome was all but determined.

Hades probably realized this as well, hence his twisted face.

“Alright, I admit it. You win this time.”

Eventually, cornered and defeated, Hades gritted his teeth and conceded.

Then, as if readying himself for a powerful strike, he concentrated magical energy into his right arm.

‘The moment he launches the attack, I’ll finish this.’

Han Hyun-su’s body was already battered beyond repair.

An ordinary human would have perished a dozen times over.

Only because Hades manipulated the corpse like a zombie was he able to put up such a fight.

I tensed for any eventuality.

After all, my opponent was a god. Without knowing what he was capable of unleashing with his points, I had to be prepared.

“I may have lost, but you will ultimately fail as well.”

With that, his sword moved.

I focused intently, ready to dodge at any moment.

Powerful magic gathered, and an aura of death billowed forth.

Kwooosh!!

As the sword swung down, I simultaneously struck at Hades’ neck.

I dodged his attack and aimed for a counter.

Ssshlick!!

Hades’ neck was severed in an instant.

No matter it was Hades manipulating the body, a decapitated head meant no longer being able to function.

‘Was he smiling?’

As I cut off Hades’ head, I caught a glimpse of a smirk on his lips.

‘Could it be?’

Despite the head being detached, Hades’ arm continued to move.

If it was aimed at me, I could evade it.

But Hades’ true target in his final moment wasn’t me.

It was Song Chae-yeon, trembling from afar.

“Dodge!”

I shouted hurriedly, but it was futile to think Song Chae-yeon could evade.

It was a blade of magical energy gathered from the decree of death.

Even a slight graze would be fatal for an ordinary person like Song Chae-yeon.

“Aaaaack!!”

Song Chae-yeon screamed in anticipation of her own death.

Hades had known all along she was his target and had played his hand accordingly.

‘If only I had Shadow Rush!’

There was no way for me to deflect the magic blade attack.

I cursed my decreased ability stats.

Not even opening a void and firing a counterattack would suffice.

I was too late.

But there was one person who could save her.

“──!”

Han Ji-su, who had already reached Song Chae-yeon’s side, reached out to her.

It must have been inevitable that Ji-su was there.

Being sensitive to murderous intent due to her destiny with the stars, she would have noticed where Hades’ gaze was directed more precisely than I could. Perhaps Ji-su, driven by instinct as her rationality faded, had sensed it too.

She didn’t think twice.

She just ran.

And before the blade of magic could touch, Han Ji-su was able to push Song Chae-yeon aside.

Without a thought for what would become of herself afterward.

Ssshlick!!

Blood sprayed.

The deathly blade cut through the fragile human flesh, severing Ji-su’s waist in two; her upper and lower body split.

Ji-su’s tumbling body hit the ground like a slow-motion scene, blood scattering as she fell.

I gasped in shock.

“Han Ji-su…!!”

Though Ji-su pushed Chae-yeon out of harm’s way and succeeded, she had to absorb Hades’ ultimate strike in her stead.

Her slender waist was sliced by the blade, separating her torso from her legs.

I hurriedly picked up Ji-su, who was convulsing on the ground, with no thought of Song Chae-yeon’s safety.

“Why… why did you do it?”

Ji-su’s eyes, once red, had returned to their usual black.

She was pale, but a sanity I hadn’t seen before returned to her black eyes.

“…Because you told me… to protect her.”

“You’ve come back to your senses…?”

“It hurts, so I guess… I have…”

Ji-su chuckled feebly.

I was at a loss for words. Indeed, I had given that order.

To protect Song Chae-yeon.

Ji-su’s actions were right.

She was, after all, a being that would vanish once I left the Temple of Illusions.

Preserving Song Chae-yeon, the goal of the quest, was the correct choice.

Normally, I would have made that clear distinction and judged accordingly.

“…”

Yet no words came out.

I should have praised her actions, but I couldn’t.

The affection in Ji-su’s eyes for me sealed my lips.

She gazed at me and then spoke to Song Chae-yeon as she slowly approached.

“Mom… are you… okay?”

“Uh, yes. Ji-su, my child.”

Song Chae-yeon was making a complex face as she looked at Ji-su.

She must have known Ji-su was about to die too.

Certainly, the sorrow of losing her daughter was evident on Chae-yeon’s face.

That would have been fine, but another emotion was also present.

‘Relief.’

She felt relieved at Ji-su’s death.

“Song Chae-yeon…!”

My head filled with blood.

I didn’t expect her to show such a reaction in this situation.

Wasn’t her daughter sacrificing her life for hers?

Crying wouldn’t have been enough, and yet relief?

I tried to calm the boiling anger inside me and shielded Ji-su from Song Chae-yeon’s gaze.

In case Ji-su saw the look on her mother’s face.

At my action, Ji-su smiled faintly.

“I know. Mom… was scared of me… wasn’t she?”

“…It’s not like that.”

“Even so, when I was a kid, mom was kind… Just where did everything go wrong…?”

Ji-su’s body grew colder.

Only her identity as one destined with the stars allowed her to cling to life this long.

But that too wouldn’t last much longer.

I tightly held Ji-su’s chilling hand.

“You’ve done nothing wrong.”

“Yes… you’ve told me the same before.”

“Back then?”

“You might not remember, but…”

She smiled bitterly, and placing her other hand atop mine which was still holding onto her.

“I’m sorry, oppa. It seems I won’t be able to protect you anymore…”

“…Don’t worry about it.”

“I wanted to keep protecting you…”

“From now on, I’ll make do somehow.”

“Yes, oppa is… strong. Surely, you’ll clear this game. I believe in you.”

How could Ji-su claim I was strong?

Her experience of me had been nothing but one of pathetic fleeing and crying.

“Survive to the end, stick it out to the last… you can clear it. You always boasted to me about it… Once you’ve committed to a game, you finish it, no matter what.”

Was the original Ji-su of the first round like this too?

Until she died alone, without revealing her survival, had she believed this strongly?

“Cough!”

After saying those words, Ji-su coughed weakly.

Blood trickled from her mouth.

“…And one last request…”

Her black eyes gazed straight at me.

Even close to death, determination shone in her gaze.

“Never, ever forget about me.”

“…Isn’t it usually the opposite?”

“I don’t want to be forgotten.”

Ji-su’s hands tightened.

Perhaps it was the last of her strength.

Her eyes were filled with intense longing and affection.

“…I won’t forget.”

My lips were reluctant to part, but I managed to speak.

“Never.”

How could I forget?

Even when clearing the first round, I hadn’t been able to forget Ji-su.

Now, it seemed I’d be even less likely to forget.

Reading the sincerity in my words, a sense of relief washed over Ji-su’s face.

As if she had gained the world, she smiled brightly.

“Good.”

That was Ji-su’s last word.

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