Return To Player Chapter 220

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Chapter 220: Self-Awareness (3)

Bangho quietly watched Rin, who was rigid with tension. Although he had gathered some information through the collaboration quest, this was the first time he actually saw her. He definitely understood why Olympus favored her. Like Imir, she was a keeper of one half of the key and had become a monster who surpassed advanced divinities within a mere two years. The successor to Astraea’s position, the next Goddess of Justice. This young child had an endless number of titles following her.

“In truth, I had no intention of settling things this time.”

Although bound by the collaboration quest and unable to move freely, ultimately, the quest’s content was ‘to rescue Gail’s family.’ In other words, if he only gave up the family, Bangho could easily extricate himself.

However, it was a blow to his pride to do so, and he intended to obtain information on Rin Taylor and Kim Sehan.

That’s why he divided some of his power among the two heroes called the Martial King and the Ice King.

He doubted the power would be enough to kill Kim Sehan and Rin Taylor, but he hoped to collect as much information as possible.

“However…”

The moment Bangho’s foot moved, his figure vanished.

Rin reflexively drew her sword and swung it toward her right side.

Clang!

Bangho’s hand was deflected by Rin’s sword strike.

“…I can’t just let you off easy when my superior gave me such an opportunity.”

When on earth did he appear?

By the time Rin had noticed, Bangho was already reaching out from her right side.

If she hadn’t swung her sword reflexively, her neck would have been caught in his grasp.

‘I’m thankful that I mastered a technique to control the range with divinity.’

A cold sweat formed on her forehead.

She hadn’t felt his presence nor seen him with her eyes.

It was only because Bangho got tangled in the net of divinity she had spread around her.

If it had been Rin before she fought Gail, she would have been finished with the first move.

‘I can’t wait for the opponent’s attack to come in.’

Bangho’s first attack made Rin realize.

He was a formidable figure far beyond her own abilities.

“Oh.”

A small exclamation of admiration escaped from Bangho.

It was in response to the rapid swell of Rin’s divinity.

Her blue eyes turned golden, and a round golden band formed above her head and began to shine.

‘What on earth is this girl’s power that enables her to become so strong so quickly?’

It wasn’t Astraea’s power.

A mere player could not have become a superior divine being within just two years using only the power of Astraea, a mid-tier deity.

No, the strength before him stemmed from the girl’s own power.

It wasn’t just a matter of talent. She possessed some kind of special characteristic.

The very fact that she could contain a key within her body was something no ordinary human could do.

Crack!

Rin vanished.

The moment she took a step, the palace floor of the Barundark Empire cracked like a spider web.

The durability of the imperial palace, built from special materials and magical enchantments, was formidable.

Otherwise, the building might have collapsed the moment she stepped onto it.

‘I must use my full strength from the start!’

She was scared. For the first time, she faced an absolutely formidable opponent. Rin’s eyes wavered.

However, she had no intention of standing still.

What had she learned in Olympus until now?

It was all for moments like this.

She had fought against numerous mighty foes in Petroia and mastered their techniques.

She learned through experience, which is why Rin was able to wield her sword even in front of Bangho.

Turned into a white flash of light.

The Lion King’s second technique, the assault skill.

The white flash turned golden, and she dropped down from the air towards Bangho.

Boom!

Bangho deflected it with one hand.

His left hand, unwavering, aimed a stab at Rin’s waist, just before it could reach her.

Her body turned into wind and swiftly moved away in the blink of an eye, using the high-speed footwork boasted by the King of the Gale, escaping Bangho’s grasp and flying into the air along the outer wall of the hall.

‘Use everything I’ve learned up to now!’

Rin’s golden eyes shone brighter, leaving trails of light behind.

Faster, even faster.

Stronger, even stronger.

Her attacks were mercilessly launched toward the stationary Bangho.

Head, neck, waist. Arms, shoulders. Legs.

There was not a single spot she didn’t target, but Bangho deflected every attack with ease using only his hands.

Simple attacks couldn’t even scratch Bangho’s body.

‘In that case!’

She circled around Bangho in a wide half-moon arc.

After lightly ducking to avoid a swipe at the head, she gripped her sword tightly.

Her heart pounded, and magical power along with divinity flowed through her arm.

The confluence of mighty power shone on the sword, turning into glimmering starlight.

The number was nineteen.

Boom!

Like the steps of a bull, Rin’s feet forcefully struck the ground.

Using the King of the Gale’s footwork, she targeted Bangho’s back with her sword, swinging it at his entire body.

In nineteen places at once.

The ultimate form of martial knowledge accumulated over thousands of years by Aldebaran.

──Prosperous Star.

Nineteen swords held numerous transformations, quick as light and strong as meteors.

Breaking through Bangho’s defenses, Rin’s sword reached for his throat.

“Indeed.”

It certainly touched.

“I guess it’s to this extent.”

Boom!

The moment the sword touched Bangho’s neck and golden light carved through it, Bangho’s body moved.

Not just his. Rin’s body too was suddenly pulled backward.

‘No, it’s not being pulled!’

Time was being rewound.

Bangho’s arms moved, Rin’s arm was shoved back, and her body and legs were pulled away from Bangho.

All the way back to the moment before Prosperous Star was swung.

‘I have to move.’

Rin’s eyes trembled as she tried to stop the arm that was about to swing Prosperous Star.

But she couldn’t stop.

Rewound time tried to revert back to its original course, and Rin repeated the action she had to perform.

However, the outcome was completely different.

Bangho, who should have been blocking her sword in front, was no longer there.

“Aldebaran made quite a useful technique.”

Rin’s gaze shifted to the right.

Only her eyeballs could resist against the fixed time.

Watching Prosperous Star cut through the air, she saw Bangho had already moved to her right.

There wasn’t the slightest sign of crisis on his face.

Just a faint sign of admiration.

‘It doesn’t make sense.’

It was the line that Rin’s opponents would usually utter.

In Olympus, and in Petroia.

Up until now, Rin had fought beings that could be called mighty, including gods.

Among them were gods.

But no god had ever showed such a face in front of Rin.

Every single god that faced her was a hundred out of a hundred, taken aback by her talent and hesitant to fight.

Clang!

A crisp sound rang out, and light flashed.

Rin’s swung sword broke away, hurling silver shards into the air.

Boom!

The broken sword seared into Rin’s retina, and at the same time, she felt a strong impact in her abdomen.

Bangho’s knee had shattered the protective barrier covering Rin’s body in one stroke, and her head went blank.

Trapped by time, Rin couldn’t move as Bangho’s knee was entrenched in her belly.

The young Rin was flung backward like a shell, smashing through several walls before crashing down.

“Ugh, ah, aaagh.”

Blood and saliva mixed and dripped from the corner of her mouth like mucus.

She writhed like an insect struck by a human hand, struggling to rise.

Her sword was broken.

The sword made for her by Siu broke like it was nothing but dried stalks, and the armor she was wearing was mostly destroyed in one blow.

Her head spun, and breathing was difficult.

All from a single strike.

“You are definitely strong, not something one could call a young deity. Given a bit more time, you could become a deity worthy of a key’s keeper.”

Bangho chose not to pursue the collapsed Rin.

As if she wasn’t even worth it.

“But not just yet.”

Step by step, Bangho walked slowly.

In the direction of the fallen Rin, walking as leisurely as if he were on a stroll, unconcerned about any possible interference.

Neither the King of Overthrow nor the Light King were true opponents to him, and Sehan was being held by his superior.

“It seems you’re scared.”

Bangho looked at Rin, who was trembling and standing up.

She had tossed her broken sword onto the ground, her hands empty.

Despite that, her shining golden eyes had not dimmed.

Her eyes, trembling with obvious fear, and her legs quivering from the impact, yet this young child stood opposed to him, unyielding.

“How… What did you do? Time… to rewind it.”

“Oh? You felt that?”

Bangho stopped walking towards Rin.

“Usually, one cannot even feel time moving. So, that is why your eyes were moving.”

Bangho had the ability to loop a few seconds of time.

Among his many powers, it was one of the most formidable.

Ordinarily, even a top deity wielding supreme divinity couldn’t perceive time repeating itself.

“You’re certainly special. My thoughts have changed.”

Rubbing his bottom lip with his thumb, Bangho continued.

“How about joining us instead? We’ll treat you fairly well. Only, you’ll need to hand over the key to us.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Hm, you don’t like the terms? But ultimately, you have no chance of winning. Earth might have gained independence from the publisher for now, but everything will return to the way it was before. When that happens, you won’t even be able to save your own life. In fact, you’re about to lose it now.”

“That, we don’t know!”

“I don’t understand why you’re angry.”

Bangho genuinely couldn’t comprehend.

“After all, as the Goddess of Justice, you should naturally side with us.”

“What?!”

“You are the next Goddess of Justice, right? Then why are you standing with Earth? Now that I think about it, I’m curious. Despite being the Goddess of Justice, are you planning to renounce justice?”

“What, what are you talking about?”

Confusion clouded Rin’s mind.

Bangho’s words seemed to suggest that their side represented justice.

“Arbitrarily making peaceful stars into a game, that’s what you do!”

“What’s wrong with that? Additionally, turning stars into game boards isn’t our choice. It’s dictated by the system.”

“The system?”

“Yes. Haven’t anyone told you? We are just operators. Hence, the publisher. Turning stars into game boards is the system’s job. It usually starts with stars that have reached a certain level of civilization.”

Rin stared intently at Bangho, who was calmly explaining.

Rin possessed the power of the Goddess of Justice.

She could discern good from evil and distinguish truth from lies.

There was not a sliver of falsehood in Bangho’s words.

Indeed, there was no ‘evil’ to be felt.

As she realized this, Rin became even more confused.

“Then that’s bad! When the game starts, numerous people die! Even we, so many have died…”

“The system transforms stars into games based on risk level. If a civilization has advanced to the point where it can affect other stars, the game begins. Or when a star’s consumption of entropy has reduced, it changes too. Your star is likely the latter.”

“Why must it become a game? There’s no need for that…”

“There is a need. Otherwise, advanced stars could invade other stars. Or the balance of a star could collapse, leading to destruction. Earth too would tread the path to self-destruction with just a little more advancement in civilization. The system has made that judgement. Additionally, by becoming a game, points can be extracted from the gods who have lost the right to interfere in the world. Stars without gods experience reduced entropy.”

The truth again.

Then was it correct that Earth was turned into a game?

“It might be hard to understand as a human. But you are the Goddess of Justice. Justice requires a standard. And divine justice takes the order of the world, even the universe, as its standard. That’s why we can’t be evil to you.”

Bangho stated this and watched Rin with serene eyes.

“If you can’t trust it, call upon the Scales. It will discern for you. After all, the Goddess of Justice without a weapon can’t judge us.”

“That’s…”

“I’ll wait. Specially for you.”

The pain had somewhat subsided by now.

But her mind was in far greater turmoil.

Confidence brimmed in Bangho’s vowing voice.

They believed themselves to be the incarnation of justice.

“Libra.”

Therefore, Rin had no choice but to call.

The celestial scale that always watched over her and protected her.

The weapon symbolizing the Goddess of Justice.

Boom!

A meteor pierced the palace ceiling, most certainly directed by the Scales constellation from the unseen sky above.

Rin reached out her hand, catching the falling meteor in her palm.

The seventh of the twelve zodiac signs of the Ecliptic: Libra of the Scales constellation.

The celestial scale that judges evil.

Should the Scales tip toward ‘evil’, it would transform into a sword that judges anything and everything.

‘It can’t be.’

Her hand holding the Scale trembled.

The Scale would unquestionably make the right judgement, unlike herself.

Bangho must be deceiving her senses.

Rin struggled with these thoughts as she held up the Scale and pointed it at Bangho.

But the Scales did not tip.

Not even slightly.

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