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The moment the shelling began, I grabbed Yi Ji-Hye. It felt as if the entire world had us in its crosshairs. Our ship quickly turned its heading. I could only pray that she wasn’t too late.
The ear-rending cacophony of cannon firing noises filled up the entire great ocean. Foams around us evaporated into steam. With almost no room left, the [Turtle Dragon] managed to turn around in time. Even then, we couldn’t dodge everything.
As the acrid burning smell filled up our noses, the Fable metal quickly branched out and covered up the entirety of the deck. Soon, it covered the entire hull and started glowing in white-hot heat. So hot, in fact, one’s skin would be cooked instantly. As the impact force on the outer layer of the metal decreased, Yi Hyeon-Seong undid the [Steel Transformation].
When we saw the sky again, we realised that our ship was falling to the bottom as if the ground beneath had disappeared. I quickly activated [Demon King Transformation], spread out my wings, and shouted out.
She hurriedly grabbed the helm and controlled the movement of the ship. Flames lit up below the hull and the [Turtle Dragon] began flying.
Only after securing our balance were we able to take stock of our surroundings. Just what the hell happened here….?
⸢And then, Kim Dok-Ja couldn’t close his slack jaw.⸥
A ship in the middle of the ocean suddenly fell to the ground – meaning, the water supporting that ship had disappeared.
The great ocean had been split in half and its deep, dark bottom was now fully exposed. Aquatic creatures were flapping around painfully down there, and we could see the horde of ‘Outer Gods’ gleefully tearing into those helpless creatures.
The swarm of Outer Gods were running on the bottom of the ocean, their bodies wriggling like worms. From either side of the now-dry ocean, the huge tsunami waves were flooding in.
I shouted out and Yi Ji-Hye urgently turned the ship around again.
[[Load the cannons]].
It was then that we heard the noises of cannons being loaded for the second time. Just hearing that true voice alone instilled fear deep into the very marrows of our bones.
I raised my head and saw Yi Hyeon-Seong sweating buckets as well. Even if it was the [Fable metal], it wouldn’t be able to withstand attacks of such calibre too many times.
“Ahjussi! Do something!”
I was planning to act, anyway.
I finished my crappy construction effort on the [The White Flag of Complete Surrender] and raised it up high.
[Item, ‘The White Flag of Complete Surrender’, is activating!]
[Now your enemies should be able to spot your complete surrender from even afar!]
[A portion of Constellations are shocked by your action!]
[A small number of Constellations are pointing accusatory fingers at your cowardice!]
Cowardice, my foot. You haven’t even bothered to show up here.
I used all of my strength to wave this white flag around.
“Yi Ji-Hye! Over here!”
I called out, yet no reply came back my way.
No, the one to tackle me down figuratively was our own Yi Ji-Hye, instead. “Ahjussi, have you gone insane??”
“It might not look it, but this item is an SSS-grade.”
“There’s no guarantee of us surviving just because we surrendered, you know!”
“Well, Yi Ji-Hye on that side could be a kind girl. Let’s believe in that.”
“How can you crack jokes in this kind of situation??”
Unfortunately, I wasn’t joking.
The cannons finished reloading and just as they began emitting light, I diligently waved my white flag and shouted out my prepared speech. “Oiii, Yi Ji-Hye! Did your master teach you to attack the opponents waving white flags??”
And then, that side stopped moving for the first time ever. The fully-loaded cannons had stopped just before they could fire. The thick, grey steam dissipated to reveal a lone figure standing on the deck.
It was the Outer God, the ‘Master of the Sunken Island’.
Yi Ji-Hye from the 999th turn was standing there, her long hair dancing in the wind.
Even though she had lived an unaccountable amount of time, her looks were still in the 20s. It was as if her time had frozen still in the moments of the 999th regression turn’s ‘Conclusion’.
As if she wanted to count the emptiness of that time, her lips began parting slowly.
“That’s right, this flag. You remember it?”
Old pages were flipping past within me. Scenes from the 999th turn were being replayed – the intense stench of blood, the eerie darkness of the subway…
[Exclusive skill, ‘Reading Comprehension’, is activating!]
[Attribute, ‘Scenario Interpreter’, is activating!]
[Your words have awoken the ancient Fable within your opponent!]
⸢Within that darkness stood Yu Jung-Hyeok.⸥
Sparks burst out from the shattered, broken headlights of the train; the light flickering intermittently illuminated Yu Jung-Hyeok’s sword slaughtering the monsters.
⸢On that day, the wounded Sword Demon met the Conquering King.⸥
The Sword Demon shuddered after seeing his sword easily rip through the enemies she had so much trouble fighting until then. Yi Ji-Hye shouted out, her eyes chasing after the sword’s trajectory that seemed to disappear in pure disinterest.
⸢”If I follow after you, can I become stronger, too? Then, will I be able to survive in this stinking world?!”⸥
Sparks danced violently before my eyes. The vicious storm of Probability’s aftermath was so powerful that I couldn’t even see my front properly.
The incoming aquatic creatures and ‘Outer Gods’ targeting us got sucked into the sparks and writhed in pain.
‘Outer Gods’ turned to look at their ‘King’. However, their king was no longer standing there. As if she was lost within the distant memories, the 999th turn’s Yi Ji-Hye was reaching out towards the empty air.
As I thought.
I got this impression the first time I met the ‘Secretive Plotter’ as well as 999th turn’s Uriel, that… These people, they were clearly out of their minds.
[Character, ‘Master of the Sunken Island’, is painfully baring her teeth.]
When an existence became an ‘Outer God’, normally this being would end up as a completely different existence. It’d lose the memories of the life it lived and be reborn as a brand new creature.
However, that was the story reserved for the regular ‘Outer Gods’; ‘Kings’ played by different rules. They retained the memories and emotions of their previous lives.
The ‘Secretive Plotter’ divided his Fable into different regression turns and stored them that way, while the ‘Living Flame’ shoved her own sense of self into her vengeful obsession.
In that case, what was it like for the ‘Master of the Sunken Island’?
Was she able to remember who she used to be?
“Yi Ji-Hye! Please remember who you once were!”
I wasn’t sure why the 999th turn’s Yi Ji-Hye became an ‘Outer God’. However, I could think of one possibility.
“Don’t destroy this ‘worldline’, please! This place is the same as the world you used to live in! Yu Jung-Hyeok is here, so is Yi Hyeon-Seong, and so are you, Yi Ji-Hye!”
[<Star Stream> is closely observing your actions.]
[A portion of Great Dokkaebis are frowning at your actions.]
Fables from the 999th turn began flowing in front of my eyes.
“Don’t close your eyes! Make sure you see who you’re about to kill!”
⸢”Don’t close your eyes. Make sure to remember who your sword is about to kill.⸥
Yu Jung-Hyeok as how the 999th turn’s Yi Ji-Hye remembered him stood there, the man who taught her the ways of the sword and how to survive. The [Struggle for the Flag] began, and after taking over the Chungmuro Station, he said this to her.
⸢”Remember the deaths of those you’ve killed. This might hurt you, but that way, you’ll avoid becoming a Sword Demon.”⸥
Yu Jung-Hyeok’s flag, still white and untainted, slowly wavered in that place. It’d become red, then black, later. Yi Ji-Hye looked at the flag proudly gleaning on that man’s back and thought to herself.
⸢I wish to become someone like him.⸥
That was something I also thought about often.
[Character, ‘Master of the Sunken Island’s’ Fable is violently shaking!]
I didn’t miss this opening and continued to fire my salvo like a machine gun. I spat out the events of the 999th turn that I remembered without a shred of hesitation. “Have you forgotten everything that Yu Jung-Hyeok taught you back then? Let the ones surrendering early go! Those who scheme behind your back are usually the smart ones! We’re short on manpower, so we need to utilise even such people, too!”
Yi Ji-Hye’s jaw fell as she watched me from the side. She must’ve had no clue that I’d come out and persuade our enemy in this manner. Didn’t really matter if they slagged me off for being a coward as I simply had no choice. I had to resort to stimulating the memories from the original novel since buying time was the utmost priority for us. I didn’t have any guarantee that this method would work, anyway.
…..Goddammit, so that little wasn’t enough, huh.
The second shelling commenced.
Although the firepower this time was weaker, the destructive power behind the attack was still too much for us to meet it head-on. The only saving grace was that, rather than ‘one big shot’, the attack was in the form of scattered rounds, instead.
I watched the shells cross the vast ocean and bit my lips, hard. “Hyeon-Seong-ssi!”
“….I’m not finished with my preparations!”
Was it because he had to lend the [Fable metal] to our companions, too? Yi Hyeon-Seong’s magical energy recovery rate was extremely slow. The forged steel covering the vessel was only about half compared to before.
Meaning, we need to withstand this ‘turn’ without the help from the [Steel Transformation].
The [Turtle Dragon] began retreating with every ounce of energy in order to dodge the scattered shells. However, Yi Ji-Hye moved in contrast to the ship’s direction and stood in front to protect both Yi Hyeon-Seong and me.
“Ahjussis, stand behind me. I’ll do whatever I can about this.”
Her unexpected words made me take another look at her. With an unfamiliar light in her eyes, she was studying the frontline.
“This fight… It’s my fight.”
I didn’t know what made her move, but one thing’s for certain – Yi Ji-Hye had chosen her battlefield.
“I don’t know what the hell this 999th turn is nor what happened in that place. However, if there is another ‘me’ trying to destroy this world with the pretext of tragedy from another regression turn…..” Ghostly flames burned fiercely within her eyes after she had made up her mind. “I will never forgive another ‘me’.”
[Constellation, ‘Maritime War God’, is unleashing his Status!]
I quietly stared at her.
The oceans were the most optimal battlefield for her.
The only things I could trust right now were Yi Ji-Hye and her battleship.
[Nebula <Kim Dok-Ja Company>’s Probability is permeating within the Incarnation, ‘Yi Ji-Hye’!]
The Great Fables I possessed poured in all of their Status into her. Blinding golden aura enveloped her body.
She opened her eyes wide, before smiling refreshingly at me. “Thanks, ahjussi.”
Yi Ji-Hye’s battleship dashed forward.
The [Turtle Dragon] evaded the arcs of the incoming scattered shells and spat out flames from its figurehead.
“All troops, advance!”
[Great Fable, ‘Torch that Swallowed the Myth’, has begun talking a big game!]
The flames spat out by the small dragon figurehead collided with the shell fired from the other side and evaporated. The history we lived together became the Fable and was colliding against the 999th turn’s Fable.
[Great Fable, ‘Demon World’s Spring’, is aiding the Incarnation ‘Yi Ji-Hye’.]
[Great Fable, ‘Season of Light and Darkness’, has begun its storytelling!]
If one looked at the destructive power of Great Fables alone, then our side shouldn’t get pushed around by your run-of-the-mill Nebulas.
[Constellation, ‘Maritime War God’, has ceded his command to his Incarnation.]
[Character ‘Yi Ji-Hye’ is activating ‘Ghost Fleet Lv.???’!]
Her speciality, the Ghost Fleet, finally revealed themselves above the great ocean’s waters. Each of these vessels had grown past the size of a cruiser and were now almost reaching that of an aircraft carrier. They escorted the [Turtle Dragon] and spat out flames in synch with each other.
“Load the cannons!”
Yi Ji-Hye’s Ghost Fleet started their speedy forward march. Unfortunately, that side started firing first.
Waves of flames rushed in over the vast expanse of the ocean. The fleet headed straight into the wave. The gigantic wall of water blocked our front, but her eyes were focused only on a single point.
The concentrated firing caused one side of the wave to explode. The fleet dug into that small opening and continued to advance. Her fleet, now in the straight-line formation, then opened fire in all directions.
Outer Gods struck down by the cannons cried out in pain. Yi Ji-Hye trampled on those screams and continued to advance forward again and again.
She even vomited out blood after using an excessive amount of magical energy, yet she never let go of the helm.
⸢Even if it’s just one shot.⸥
Yi Ji-Hye’s eyes emitting chilling glow were still fixed on one point. On a certain battleship waiting beyond the thick wall of waves.
[[Load the cannons.]]
“Load the cannons!”
[Constellation, ‘Bald General of Justice’, is cheering on the Incarnation, ‘Yi Ji-Hye’.]
[Constellation, ‘King Heungmu’, is cheering on the Incarnation, ‘Yi Ji-Hye’.]
[Constellation, ‘Joseon’s First Sorcerer’, is cheering on the Incarnation, ‘Yi Ji-Hye’.]
[Constellation, ‘Last Hero of Hwangsanbeol’, is cheering on the Incarnation, ‘Yi Ji-Hye’.]
[Constellation, ‘One-eyed Maitreya’, is cheering on the Incarnation, ‘Yi Ji-Hye’.]
[Constellation, ‘Seo-Ae Single Stroke of Brush’, is cheering on the Incarnation, ‘Yi Ji-Hye’.]
The Korean Peninsula’s Constellations were now looking at her.
While watching her pierce her way through this overwhelmingly disadvantageous combat situation, I began recalling a certain page from the now-ancient original novel.
[Character ‘Yi Ji-Hye’s’ attribute evolution is imminent!]
Her final attribute evolution, something she also experienced during the original, was about to occur right before my eyes. Such a thing was possible only because of the current situation.
The Probabilities lent to her by the Korean Peninsula’s Constellations, her own Fable that she had accumulated with abnormal speed, and finally, Yi Ji-Hye’s determination to even risk death all combined to create this miracle.
[Constellation, ‘Maritime War God’, is looking at his Incarnation.]
From the distant skies, Yi Ji-Hye’s Sponsor, the ‘Maritime War God’, was looking down at her. He was the Constellation that protected and advised her for the longest time.
I knew what he was thinking right now; I could sense it, because I was also a star like him. He was currently experiencing an event that only the smallest number of Constellations would ever encounter.
⸢The event of an Incarnation exceeding the Status of her Sponsor.⸥
This should be what the Maritime War God must’ve realised – that the time had come for him to acknowledge the truth; that now was the time to let go of his own Incarnation from his embrace.
⸢And so – the oceans desired one Monarch to rule over the violent storms.⸥
The Maritime War God recited the Fable as if he was sending the congratulatory message to a young bird taking to the skies for the first time.
⸢Therefore, there is no need for two Monarchs in this great ocean.⸥
[Character ‘Yi Ji-Hye’s’ attribute is evolving!]
[Character ‘Yi Ji-Hye’ has acquired the legendary-grade attribute!]
Finally, the wounded Sword Demon was advancing towards her own ocean.
[Character ‘Yi Ji-Hye’s’ attribute has evolved to the ‘Monarch of the Great Sea’!]
As the ear-deafening cannon firing resounded out, everything before our eyes was enveloped by the blinding flash of light.
<Episode 89. Great Apocalypse (4)> Fin.
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