Return To Player Chapter 298

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Return To Player

# 298

The World Beyond the Boundary (1)

Killing the Foreign Entity Azathoth.

Despite such an outrageous plan, the demons did not strongly object.

It wasn’t because the Demon King Jisoo had decided to do it, but probably because they knew too.

That if Azathoth remained alive, the universe would not last long.

Honestly, if it decided to reset the universe from a place invisible to our eyes, it would all disappear without a chance to respond.

The present, achieved through the sacrifice of Azazel, was our only chance given.

“Sehan, could I see you for a moment?”

About two days after roughly explaining the plan to the demons.

Luke spoke to me while I was waiting for the day to head out into the outer universe.

“Of course.”

By the serious look on Luke’s face, I could roughly guess what he wanted to talk about.

We moved to a lounge inside the building and sat down in suitable seats.

“Tekeli-li.”

“Ah, thank you.”

Quite a scare as soon as we sat down, Shoggoth Liri approached and placed two cups of coffee on the table before disappearing.

I had forgotten, but that thing was still living here.

According to Eidra, it’s something like the butler, servant, or maid of foreign entities, so it seemed only natural.

Liri went down the corridor, tapping the backs of passing staff with its tentacles in greeting.

Even the staff members, who were originally terrified, now adeptly received such greetings.

“I heard you’re going to kill Azathoth.”

While watching such a surreal scene unfold, Luke slowly began to speak.

“That’s correct.”

“The Seven Great Demons are going quietly on their own.”

“Yes.”

“Our Lynn is also there.”

Luke said this, gazing intently at the coffee cup radiating warmth.

Certainly, he must’ve heard it directly from Lynn.

I didn’t know what to say to him.

I had received help from Lynn several times.

During the process, there were times Lynn couldn’t open her eyes for a long while.

“I respect you. I think you’re amazing.”

“……Thank you.”

“But I also have resentment.”

Luke gave a bitter smile.

“Lynn is still young. Everyone knows she’s talented and remarkable, including me. She is a special being holding all the possibilities humanity has, as the goddess said.”

He didn’t continue, but perhaps Luke had always wanted to say these words to me.

He would’ve preferred to take Lynn’s place himself if it were up to him.

However, the burden bestowed upon Lynn was too heavy. So much that an ordinary Luke could not stand by, let alone bear it.

“I know too. That Lynn is essential for this fight. She’s the only one who can handle the key.”

In the past, I could have managed it through Eidra, although it would’ve been forceful.

But back then, the Shining Trapezohedron was still just a model key.

Now that it’s completed through the system into one key, no matter if it’s me or Eidra, we can’t handle two keys at the same time.

Inevitably, someone needed to handle the key, and no one but Lynn could do it.

A broken half of a key can’t be perfectly managed unless by a giant.

If other Absolutes try to manage it, their power would be significantly reduced.

But Lynn, with the trait ‘Mary Sue,’ could do anything as long as it was within her will.

Moreover, not just the key manipulation, the power Lynn herself possessed was also necessary for this fight.

Among current humanity, she was the only being with power surpassing the Seven Great Demons.

A child who carried all the possibilities and hopes of humans.

It was both a blessing and a curse.

“But as a father, I truthfully want to dissuade her. I’ve seen the power of Azathoth myself.”

A ‘god’ that can obliterate not just a star, but the unimaginably vast universe.

Now Lynn is going to face such a god.

“After my wife’s death, I swore that I would protect Lynn no matter what. But it seems I won’t be able to keep that vow.”

Luke said that and bowed his head toward me before I could even dissuade him.

“Please, Sehan. In my stead, will you be sure to protect her?”

He probably wanted to say don’t take her with you.

When Lynn was unable to open her eyes for a long time, Luke spoke to the sleeping Lynn, saying she should not have to fight.

His feelings would still be the same now.

The life of his daughter more important than the future of this world.

He undoubtedly wished his young daughter would not have to fight.

“Please, I beg you!”

Seeing Luke like this, I quietly took his hand.

“There’s no need for you to ask such a thing.”

I would surely protect Lynn even if Luke did not say it.

Because that was a failure I had once experienced.

“I owe you and Lynn a debt.”

“……A debt?”

Perplexed by my words, Luke quietly raised his eyes with a look of curiosity.

I gave him a faint smile.

This was the second time Luke had made such a request to me.

Before dying in the previous iteration after killing Aldebaran, Luke, entrusted Lynn to me, asking me to protect her as he breathed his last.

At that time, I ultimately failed to keep that promise.

But this time, I will undoubtedly keep it.

***

Aside from the demons and Luke, only Minah and Changwoo knew about the plan to head to outer space. I didn’t tell Siwoon, Yoon, or Arthur either.

Casually spreading the word could bring great turmoil to society that was just starting to recover.

Changwoo and Minah, although relieved that they didn’t need to accompany us, had faces that mixed disappointment with relief.

Changwoo is among the strongest players, while Minah holds enough power to face common deities, but Foreign Entities are on a different level.

They simply told me to have a good trip and left the rest to me.

Maybe they couldn’t quite grasp the reality of it all.

If we lose, it’s the end. The notion that this vast world could disappear in an instant still might not seem conceivable.

“…….”

I looked out the window at Seoul, which had mostly recovered and was bustling with life.

Occasional dungeons still emerged due to the remaining system, but now such events were easily dealt with by players.

“That’s……”

While looking out, I caught sight of a woman exiting the guild.

Dressed in a black dress, it was none other than Jisoo.

‘Where is she going?’

Suddenly, I realized that Jisoo hadn’t come to my room today.

That was a very rare occurrence. Whenever I woke up in the morning, she was always there waiting.

Moreover, the fact that she was dressed particularly in black today was also troubling.

Though Jisoo always preferred black attire, today felt different.

Perplexed, I watched Jisoo when suddenly her gaze sharply turned.

Then, her eyes, looking down from outside the window, met mine directly.

Her red pupils softly curved.

‘……Just realizing normally would be bad?’

At times like this, even I find her a bit intimidating sometimes.

But since our eyes met anyway, I opened a void in space and moved to where Jisoo was.

“Where are you going?”

“To my family.”

Her nonchalant reply nearly made me respond with a simple acknowledgment.

“……Why?”

“I haven’t yet told them that we’re engaged.”

Smiling faintly as she spoke, I clamped my mouth shut.

To be honest, I didn’t particularly like Jisoo’s family members.

I knew of the things they did to Jisoo through her memories, and I had no desire to associate with that mother and younger brother.

“Would it be okay if I come along?”

“Didn’t you dislike them, Oppa?”

“Honestly, I still find it baffling that you consider them family.”

They abused Jisoo, feared her, and felt relieved when she died.

In the Temple of Dreams, the scenes I witnessed often returned in my dreams, making me feel sick enough to vomit.

Her brother was no better. Plagued by an inferiority complex against Jisoo, he ultimately killed his own mother and tried to use her corpse to kill his sister.

My family background isn’t exactly pleasant, but Jisoo’s was incomparably more tragic.

They never even treated her as a person.

“That statement makes me a bit happy and yet sad.”

“…….”

I know. That Jisoo gets sad when I say things like this.

I tried to suppress my anger and scratched my head roughly.

“Alright. Anyway, can I come with you?”

“Yes.”

So, that’s why Jisoo was dressed in black today. It seemed to be mourning attire.

Now that I think about it, today was exactly the day of their death anniversary.

I had completely forgotten until just moments ago.

“It’s been a while since I’ve come here.”

The cemetery was on the outskirts of Seoul.

By some good fortune, it was a relatively untouched area despite the fierce battles in Seoul.

“Did you come every year?”

The day Jisoo went berserk.

After dealing with the bodies of her younger brother and mother, we buried them and set up graves.

There wasn’t a proper cemetery, so we buried them behind a nearby mountain and built tombstones, but honestly, I didn’t even want to do that.

Still, I did my best to construct a decent grave, and that was the extent of it.

But unbeknownst to me, it seemed Jisoo had visited every year.

“I did visit. I wanted to see them.”

Jisoo quietly looked at the formally constructed gravesite.

I couldn’t tell what she was thinking now.

Her black eyes bore no resentment at all.

“You might not understand, Oppa…”

Jisoo continued calmly.

“When I was still a child, my parents were good people.”

I knew that from what I’d heard and what I’d seen through Jisoo’s memories.

Indeed, Jisoo’s parents weren’t always strange from the beginning.

“It began when they noticed my strangeness.”

A child who obsessively craved love.

A girl who yearned for the love of others above all else.

“Indeed, I was a strange child.”

Jisoo’s parents became afraid of her and the love she had for them.

Initially, they reprimanded her, but Jisoo accepted even parental rebukes with joy.

“That much to break even the eternal love of my parents.”

These minor things accumulated, and eventually, Jisoo became an entity of fear to her parents.

Moreover, her exceptional talents only made her seem more bizarre.

I understand.

Of course, I understand.

Even I used to find Jisoo unnerving in the past.

But that should not have happened.

That Jisoo now has a greater obsession with love is because the love she received from her parents was shattered in an instant.

Unbreakable love, the longing for it.

That longing became an obsession and forced her to don the mask of the ‘Good Child.’

“Do you know?”

Jisoo spoke in a calm tone.

“Honestly, I gladly accept even Oppa’s anger right now. I’m so happy I want to go and tell my parents.”

Then she slowly turned her gaze to me.

“I wish all of Oppa’s joy and sorrow would be entirely directed at me.”

And then, smiling faintly.

“I’m strange too, right?”

Her words struck me as incredibly sad.

I held Jisoo tightly in my embrace.

As usual, Jisoo’s body showed not a tremor.

Her emotions were exceedingly steady.

“You’re not strange.”

“Is that so?”

Jisoo rested her hand on my arm that was holding her.

As if feeling my warmth.

It seemed to me that Jisoo’s heartbeat was somehow transmitted to me.

“For some reason, now that I have become a devil, it feels like I’ve finally become human.”

“Why?”

“Because my heart is beating normally, you see.”

Jisoo stared absentmindedly at the gravestone.

To her, being ordinary was something very special.

“If my parents saw me now, would they have seen me differently?”

“That might be possible.”

“Yes, that’s why I’m more regretful. I wanted to show that I could love someone normally too.”

A person who is just a bit too clingy in love.

“A person…”

Her voice held a trace of a suppressed chuckle.

“But now, I don’t have that chance.”

Jisoo slowly stepped out from my embrace, bending her knees, and gently placed her palm on the tiny headstone.

She ran her hands over the cold gravestone endlessly, utterly without cause.

Everyone fears losing something.

For Jisoo, that something was love.

Not very adept at coping, Jisoo struggled because she did not want to lose her most precious emotion.

Those people didn’t understand such a simple fact.

And now they will never have the chance to understand.

That was both satisfying and,

a little sad.

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