The Main Characters That Only I Know Chapter 29

Episode 29

I sat in the [Observer’s Room], examining the form of the world of ideas. On one side of the vast plains was a city enclosed by towering walls, and opposite it, a dense army had assembled. ‘The 20th Siege of Constantinople; the war where the Ottoman Empire put an end to Rome’s history of over 2,200 years.’

The Ottoman Empire, intent on conquest, had at least 150,000 troops. In contrast, the defending Byzantine forces numbered only 7,000. A simple calculation revealed that the troop discrepancy exceeded twenty-fold. Even the addition of 50 Collectors didn’t seem to make a significant difference. ‘Honestly, if the gap in forces is that large, there’s no real hope—unless we’re talking about a high-ranking Collector with the power of an entire legion. Collectors able to enter here range from class 5 to class 8, so it’s unreasonable to expect substantial feats from them.’ The same was true for Kang Hye-rim, whose attributes had not fully blossomed yet.

Even so, the reason I brought her here today was because of her awakening. ‘Precisely, it was here that the Sword Marquis of a past life began to build his first reputation.’

It was during the Siege of Constantinople that the Marquis of the Sword truly earned that nickname and started to make his fame known. For the current Kang Hye-rim to fully awaken her remaining attributes, this was an essential milestone to reach. ‘Of course, the Sword Marquis’s prominent activities are still six months away… But, based on Kang Hye-rim’s current growth, that would be too late. Now is the ideal time.’

If we waited half a year, she might become too strong to even enter this realm, which was already off-limits. In addition, I had too much on my plate to wait that long.

-Yoo Hyun, you can see the scenery now, right?

“Yes, I can see it clearly.”

-…Do you think we can win this?

“Hmm. Hard to say.”

Kang Hye-rim’s voice wavered, though she tried not to show it. Facing a 150,000-strong army would rattle anyone. Some of the other Collectors with weaker spirits even slumped to the ground.

-With over 50 Collectors here, I thought it would be manageable, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“Even 500 would be insufficient. We have 7,000 defenders here compared to their 150,000. Not to mention, the Ottoman Empire’s elite Janissary infantry alone number 10,000. They’ve essentially gone all-in.”

Moreover, when we say 150,000, we’re referring to the combat personnel that can be directly engaged in battle. If you include non-combat personnel, they nearly total 300,000. Anyone would feel overwhelmed facing such numbers in defense.

-Then why did these people come here? From their reactions, it doesn’t seem like they’re unaware of the situation. And this place isn’t exactly fit for Collectors’ farming, is it?

“Because of opportunity.”

-Opportunity?

“Miss Hye-rim. More than 50 Collectors have gathered here, each bound with their Teller.”

And each Teller held a library.

“Do you know how many accumulated libraries are here? Over 35. And the number of Saints watching those libraries?”

-Uh? That would be…

“Right now, over 2,000 Saints are observing this place.”

As I stated the rough figures, Kang Hye-rim’s mouth dropped open, but she quickly closed it. Her eyes darted around, likely scanning for messages from the Saints.

“This place is not merely a space to showcase one’s own library. If you look broader and further, it’s an opportunity for Collectors to appeal to the Saints of other libraries. The same goes for the Saints. This is a chance for them to discover Collectors they haven’t previously encountered.”

-If you put it that way, it does seem like the amount of attention I’m getting has increased…

“Likely the Saints of other libraries are also scrutinizing Miss Hye-rim. They want to see if she lives up to the rumors — whether she is the real deal or not. Depending on how well Miss Hye-rim performs, those Saints might just move to our library.”

-So, it’s not about clearing the world of ideas, but rather using the presence of numerous Collectors gathered here to look out for each other’s interests?

“Well, that’s one way to put it, although it sounds a bit crass.”

A Teller appeals to the Saints of other libraries to grow their own library. On the flip side, failing to display enough charm could result in losing their Saints to another library. This was not just about clearing the world of ideas but a fierce battleground where Collectors, Tellers, and libraries clashed.

But.

“If we do just that, we won’t be any different from the rest.”

-Excuse me?

“What good will it do to repeat what others are doing? Miss Hye-rim, think back on what we’ve accomplished so far. Have we ever done things like everyone else? No. We’ve taken on outlandish challenges that others wouldn’t dream of doing. And that’s why we have succeeded and come this far.”

-That… was true?

Whether she grasped something from my words, Kang Hye-rim replied with a touch of uncertainty.

But she was correct.

“So, we will act with the objective of clearing the world of ideas here as well.”

-What?!

I reassured the shocked Kang Hye-rim.

“If things get too dangerous, we’ll pull out. However, it’s better to at least show the intention of taking on the challenge.”

I spoke of making the attempt, though I didn’t hold much hope. After all, the initial goal had been to fully awaken Kang Hye-rim’s unopened traits, just as her past incarnation had done.

‘Even the Sword Marquis of a past life failed to clear this place. She lasted longer than others, but ultimately failed.’

Nevertheless, she gained tremendous fame here and completely unlocked her traits, setting up opportunities for a significant leap forward.

‘There’s a time difference of half a year, but the current her has arguably caught up to the Sword Marquis of back then.’

She had cleared four strange worlds and acquired the ensuing points and stories. On top of that, thanks to the support of the Saints, the points that Kang Hye-rim has earned by now are probably much more than her past self ever did.

‘For a Collector, points are a measure of strength. It’s worth taking the chance.’

And if we somehow manage to defy the extreme odds and see a glimmer of possibility…

‘Then that’s when…’

It would be my turn to step in.

Certainly.

I checked my ownership points and calmed my heart even more.

* * *

Since the war had not yet started, the collectors had gathered in groups among those they were familiar with.

Groups of collectors, huddled together, eyed other gatherings with a touch of wariness.

Kang Hye-rim, watching the spectacle from a distance, thought it was pathetic.

‘Fifty people gathered together would still not be enough, and they are already wary of each other.’

From the outset, their goal was not to clear the Ideological World, but rather to stand out as much as possible during the allotted time. Naturally, other collectors were essentially potential enemies.

Disgusted by the scene, Kang Hye-rim shook her head and looked beyond the city walls.

“Hey, miss. Planning to stay here all by yourself?”

“How about joining us?”

Several groups approached targeting Kang Hye-rim.

“Join us, and we can share the glory and the pay, how about that?”

“If you join us, you’ll stand out even more than the others.”

Their intentions were all too clear. They wanted to have her in their group to attract even a little more attention from the spirit beings.

Or perhaps some were lured in by her beauty, harboring less than honorable intentions.

However, Kang Hye-rim didn’t even bother to respond to them. As always, she kept a cold expression and ignored them.

“What the… we try to talk to her and she ignores us?”

“Let’s just go. If she doesn’t want to, what can we do?”

“Tch! What bad luck. Can’t even see how she’s cleared the Ideological World by herself so far, can you? Let’s see how long she can last here on her own.”

“Oppa, let it go. Seems she knows what she’s doing all by herself. Typical of someone who crosses the boundary lines as they please. No sense of fairness. Let her handle everything on her own.”

‘Ha.’

Kang Hye-rim frowned at their behavior, which seemed meant for her to overhear.

‘In the end, they all just want to use each other. Shameless.’

Kang Hye-rim had to forcibly suppress a sigh.

Perhaps because she had always acted alone without meeting other collectors, she was already feeling an immense amount of mental fatigue.

‘Just bear with it. For Yu-hyeon’s sake, I have to endure.’

Kang Hye-rim suppressed her annoyance and gripped the sword at her waist.

Thump-thump.

The sensation of the sword in her grip set her heart ablaze, while her mind cooled down as if doused with ice water.

With the upcoming battle drawing near, her blood was certainly boiling.

But greater than that was a creeping sense of uncertainty as to whether she could truly handle it.

‘How absurd.’

She let out a sarcastic snort.

Since when had she worried about such things? The teller she trusted had recommended this place to her. That meant there was a reason. Hadn’t it always been so?

Ignoring the envious and cold stares from behind, Kang Hye-rim finished preparing for the battle ahead.

Clap, clap!

“Welcome, mercenaries!”

At that moment, someone appeared above the city wall amidst sounds of applause.

The collectors turned their eyes to him.

The man, who looked upon the crowd with hopeful eyes, was a refreshing handsome man with light brown hair.

Mid-30s in appearance, he was clad in luxurious armor that signified his extraordinary rank, followed by a host of knights who seemed to guard him.

“Who’s that?”

“Idiot, didn’t you listen before coming here? He’s the phantom entity in charge of defenses for this siege battle.”

“Something about an emperor, right?”

Most of the collectors had some basic information but seemed unclear since it wasn’t that important anyway.

The man introduced himself.

“My name is Constantinos Dragasis Palaiologos. Sorry for my appearance, but I am also the legitimate emperor of the Roman Empire. On behalf of this place, I express my gratitude to your brave band of mercenaries for coming to support our defenses.”

The fifty collectors present were regarded as a ‘scenario’ of mercenaries for the emperor.

‘So, this is how it’s meant to be.’

Kang Hye-rim mused in admiration and scrutinized the emperor. Despite his cheerful words, his eyes were somber, and his expression bore an undeniable weariness.

He bore the signs of having fought numerous fierce battles already.

“I would like to offer some graciousness for you all, but, sadly, there seems to be no time for that. The Ottoman fellows have begun to stir. It’s about time for them to surge in.”

‘This man…’

Kang Hye-rim felt a sense of strangeness in the sight of Dragasis scanning the collectors.

The emperor and his knights, as well as the defending soldiers, were all constructs of the narrative, merely phantom entities composed of stories.

To put it in game terms, they were close to NPCs.

‘And yet… they seem so alive.’

It was in their eyes, their voices, their tone. They felt like creatures who were not merely intricately crafted illusions but living beings with their own thoughts and movements.

This was further reinforced by watching him interact with his knights.

“Your Majesty. Even so, it’s best not to demoralize your troops with such talk.”

“Hmph. We’re already driven to the edge of the cliff, what’s the use in saving our words now? Might as well be honest and speak one’s mind freely, say what you want to say.”

“Can I curse, Your Majesty? I’ve got a lot pent up.”

“Well, don’t blaspheme.”

“Oh brother, can’t even talk then…”

“Ha ha! Is that not just like me?”

Discussing their impending death with a hint of transcendence could have been deflating, yet not a single soldier lost their focus.

Even as they laughed at their frivolous conversation, their gazes were lethal, staring past the city walls at the enemy troops.

Vvvrrrmm!

“They’re moving.”

The smile vanished from Dragasis’s face.

As he said, the Ottoman Empire’s elite troops, having completed their preparations, began to mobilize.

Dust clouds billowed with each of their steps, and the ground trembled slightly.

Gulp.

Intimidated by the sight, the collectors tightened their grip on their weapons amidst growing tension.

A translucent window appeared before the collectors.

[The Siege of Constantinople is beginning.]

[Withstand the enemy’s assault and lead this war to victory.]

[You only have one opportunity.]

A single chance

With everything at stake, the fight required them to give their all.



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