But he didn’t have time to sit around with a burning gaze.
Cale immediately raised his body.
He couldn’t help but groan because of the pain he felt throughout his body.
One of the people looking down at him started to smile.
“Hey. Why did you have to run your mouth instead of doing what we told you to do?”
Cale, no, Kim Rok Soo ignored that comment that was directed at him.
‘I don’t have time for this.’
He put some strength into his shaking legs in order to stand up little by little.
This was when Kim Rok Soo’s body was weaker than ever.
Maybe that was the reason, but this weak ass body of his was this helpless after only being kicked once by an ability user.
As he heard someone sneer…
Cale fell on the ground again after someone kicked his calf.
He was flat on the ground looking up at the sky again.
Someone crouched down beside him and made eye contact.
“Why do you think you’re being beaten up like this?”
Cale recalled the name of the man looking at him from deep inside his memories.
‘Was his name Park Jin Tae?’
This bastard was the leader of this shelter.
A shelter was a place in the early days of the cataclysm where monsters never approached, a safe place in this hell where monsters could appear at any moment.
People considered the shelters a gift from ‘some being’ to allow them the chance to fight against the monsters, similar to how that being had given some people abilities.
‘And Park Jin Tae is the ruler of this shelter I’m in right now.’
This bastard was a tyrant who did everything as he pleased.
He clearly treated the ability users and regular people differently, treating the ability users much better.
Furthermore, he would approve of you even if you were not an ability user, as long as you were useful.
That was why people who were on Park Jin Tae’s good side got to rest peacefully inside this shelter.
Kim Rok Soo’s early twenties started at the lowest spot in Park Jin Tae’s shelter.
He was hated by Park Jin Tae.
“Kim Rok Soo, are you not going to answer me?”
Although Park Jin Tae was smiling gently and speaking in a warm voice, he was coldly staring down at Cale.
Cale looked into those eyes and started to think.
‘What is going on right now? Is it an illusion? Was it one of those dreams he’s had until now whenever he fainted?’
That didn’t seem to be the case, as he could move as he wanted.
He then thought about those blood-colored eyes that called itself solitude and despair and had sent him here.
‘I will make you want me.’
That was what the bastard had said.
‘Call me when you need me. Only I can destroy your despair for you.’
It sounded as if it was going to show Cale despair.
It was telling him to follow it if he didn’t like that despair.
It made him want to laugh.
The God of Death…
This blood-colored eyes bastard…
‘Why do they all do whatever the fuck they feel like doing?’
It made him annoyed.
“Hey, Kim Rok Soo. Did you not hear the leader-nim telling you to answer him?”
One of the men behind Park Jin Tae scolded Cale. He lifted his foot up and looked ready to kick Cale again.
“Huuuuuu, enough. That bastard might die at this rate.”
Park Jin Tae shook his head before starting to speak again.
“Hey, Rok Soo.”
Cale stopped looking at the sky and looked around him.
He could see buildings.
Most of the building walls were crumbling or cracked, and they were barely standing with their tall shapes mainly gone.
There were many buildings where the metal frames were barely standing as well.
Among those buildings…
He could see a three-story building with one corner destroyed.
But the rest of it was fine.
It didn’t seem very different compared to the other buildings.
Park Jin Tae whispered to him while laughing.
“Yes, that building you are looking at right now. Don’t you want to go back to the shelter?”
That building was the shelter.
It didn’t look special or different even though it was a shelter.
But humans barely managed to find that shelter to continue living.
Cale opened his mouth to speak.
“…The shelter that has been maintained for the longest time in this area since the cataclysm.”
“Yes, that is why it is the most comfortable place.”
The damn shelter locations changed every so often.
A shelter with no monsters one day could become overloaded with monsters the next day.
When that happened, a different building became a shelter.
Even the shelters continued to bleed the humans, as if to tell them that there was no eternal sanctuary.
But this place…
The three-story building Cale was looking at had remained a shelter since the first day of the cataclysm.
‘Each area had one of these locations.’
That was why people called these shelters the ‘Central Shelter.’
Park Jin Tae continued to whisper.
“And I am the owner of that central shelter.”
Cale turned toward Park Jin Tae.
‘You weren’t the owner from the beginning.’
Cale went through his memories one by one before saying one of the facts he recalled.
Kim Rok Soo’s calm voice flowed out.
“Park Jin Tae is the king of this place right now.”
Park Jin Tae’s expression turned odd.
He would normally have been angry at the fact that Kim Rok Soo called him Park Jin Tae instead of leader, but Park Jin Tae’s anger subsided because Kim Rok Soo had accepted him as king in his calm and confident voice.
Kim Rok Soo.
This was the first time that this arrogant and venomous bastard had accepted Park Jin Tae as the owner of this place.
“How dare you call the leader-nim by his name? Do you really want to die, you bastard?!”
Park Jin Tae continued to look at Kim Rok Soo who was looking at him even as his subordinate started to shout.
A grandma walked out of the shelter building at that moment.
Park Jin Tae’s subordinates started to frown at her appearance.
They seemed more uncomfortable than angry or annoyed.
The white-haired grandmother cautiously walked over to Park Jin Tae and Cale.
“Why don’t you stop? I’ll make sure to talk to Rok Soo.”
Cale’s eyes teared up at that moment.
This was someone whom he could never see anymore except in his distant memories because she had passed away.
Nobody knew her first name. They just knew that her last name was Kim and called her Grandma Kim.
She was the only person Park Jin Tae could not treat horribly in this shelter.
Cale avoided Grandma Kim’s gaze as she looked at him with concern.
More than getting kicked in the stomach as soon as he opened his eyes…
More than having his calf kicked…
This hurt more.
Cale then heard Park Jin Tae’s low voice.
“…Looks like you finally realized the reality of the situation.”
The reality that Park Jin Tae was the king.
Park Jin Tae did not say that latter part out loud while Cale calmly agreed with him.
“That’s right. I need to accept my reality.”
Cale was thinking to himself without realizing that Park Jin Tae was looking at him with an odd gaze.
‘Yes, let’s consider this to be real.
Whether it is the blood-colored eyes’ test or whatever…
Whether this situation was an illusion that’ll disappear later…’
Cale slowly raised his body.
‘Let’s get rid of any regrets.’
He would get rid of all of his regrets during this chance.
He looked into the eyes of Grandma Kim who was looking at him with concern.
He then recalled one very important fact.
‘This shelter will be destroyed soon.’
He didn’t know when exactly it was right now, but…
It was around the end of fall and the start of winter.
As if it was an alarm announcing the appearance of the unranked monsters…
All central shelters that existed on earth during this time lost their special properties.
That meant that the central shelters were attacked by monsters and destroyed.
And they would attack differently than normal, as if they were trying to invade the shelters.
These monsters would attack the central shelters in waves.
‘That also means that there will be new central shelters.’
Central shelters that looked different than before would appear exactly 24 hours after the first central shelters were destroyed.
He did not like Park Jin Tae and his lackeys.
But he could not let the people here die.
Himself, Kim Rok Soo.
Then, there was Grandma Kim. Oh, there were some other people as well.
People that team leader Lee Soo Hyuk had saved were here.
Before Park Jin Tae showed his greed…
Lee Soo Hyuk was in charge of this shelter.
‘But the team leader has already left.’
Team leader Lee Soo Hyuk who had now left for more dangerous places had been the ‘center’ of this central shelter before Park Jin Tae.
‘And the team leader left this place in Grandma Kim and Park Jin Tae’s care.’
Both Grandma Kim and Park Jin Tae were good people at that time.
‘Of course, Park Jin Tae revealed his true nature as soon as the team leader left and started to rule over this central shelter like a tyrant.’
The central shelter had to create a new system under the person who was the strongest attack-type ability user after Lee Soo Hyuk.
And that system was one that Park Jin Tae wanted.
‘…But even Park Jin Tae found it difficult to handle Grandma Kim.’
Park Jin Tae could not treat Grandma Kim, who had healing abilities, rudely.
He slightly bowed to the grandma and looked toward Cale.
“It’ll be smart to act with that reality in mind next time.”
Park Jin Tae offered him his hand.
Cale grabbed that hand and stood up.
Park Jin Tae watched Kim Rok Soo sit back down before letting go of his hand.
He then turned around and walked away from the shelter building.
“We are going to hunt.”
His subordinates followed behind him.
Lee Chul Min who was Park Jin Tae’s right-hand man caught up to him and started to speak.
“Are you going to let Kim Rok Soo go like this? Shouldn’t we beat him to a pulp when we have the chance?”
Park Jin Tae’s fox-like eyes turned sharp.
Lee Chul Min’s shoulders slightly shook after seeing that gaze.
Park Jin Tae quietly looked at him for a while before finally starting to speak.
“That bastard was the only one.”
“…Kim Rok Soo is the only initial shelter member who still considered Lee Soo Hyuk, the person who has still not returned, to be this shelter’s king.”
Many people came and went from the central shelters since the beginning of the cataclysm.
There were some people who had survived since then.
These people were called the initial shelter members and Park Jin Tae just considered them ‘Lee Soo Hyuk’s people.’
But it had been over 10 months.
Lee Soo Hyuk who left to help a different region that was having difficulties had not returned, and Grandma Kim, as well as the rest of Lee Soo Hyuk’s people had started to accept Park Jin Tae’s system one by one.
They probably had no choice.
They wanted to survive as well.
But Kim Rok Soo…
This useless bastard without any abilities never accepted Park Jin Tae as the owner of this place.
“No, that bastard is someone who didn’t accept the concept of, ‘king’ in the first place.”
Honestly speaking, Kim Rok Soo’s acceptance did not matter.
He was the same as the other useless parasites that were surviving in this shelter.
But he found that venomous gaze annoying.
That was why even an ability user like Lee Chul Min was worried that he got on Park Jin Tae’s nerves just now.
But Kim Rok Soo was different.
Park Jin Tae started to refreshingly laugh out loud for the first time in a long while.
He did not look toward where Kim Rok Soo was anymore and headed for the hunting ground.
That’s what it was called, but it was more of a difficult battle for food that could result in them losing their lives.
But it was his responsibility.
Grandma Kim confirmed that Park Jin Tae was moving away before putting her hand on Cale’s shoulder.
“Aigoo, why didn’t you just run the errand for him?”
Cale slowly remembered why he had been beaten up.
Errand. In other words, starting shit.
As Grandma Kim mentioned, Park Jin Tae always made Kim Rok Soo, who didn’t accept him as king, to run errands for him.
He seemed to have been beaten up today after trying to not do that errand.
‘Whether this is an illusion or whatever…’
Cale touched his stomach.
Anything that hurts was real.
‘Let’s change it.’
It was at that moment.
– Do you think it will go as you please?
Cale’s shoulders shook.
It was that bastard.
The blood-colored eyes. It was the voice of the bastard who sent Cale into this situation.
– Look for me if you want to escape this despair. Then you won’t have to face these past despairs any longer.
Cale responded internally.
‘…Is he plotting something? I need to go back quickly.’
The other being must have heard it as it responded.
– I will not plot anything.
‘…Then you’ll just sit back and watch?’
– Yes, I’ll just watch. Until you ask me for help, that is.
‘…Will this situation end if I ask you for help?’
– Yes. And you will need to let me in if you receive my help.
‘Let you in?’
– I mean that you will become a member of the Demonic race and carry on my will.
Cale started to frown.
‘Become a member of the Demonic race?’
He heard the blood-colored eyes’ voice at that moment.
– I’m sure you don’t want that right now.
– But will that continue to be the case? Will you be okay while you are helpless and facing these despairs again?
– I will just sit back and watch all that. I will wait for the day you come to me with delight.
Cale quickly asked after hearing the voice become faint.
‘Is this real? Did I return to the past?’
– I do not have the power to turn back time.
The voice sounded as if it was laughing.
– This is just an endless despair that will repeat itself without ever ending, and a test.
The voice sounded as if it was looking forward to something.
– Flail around in despair. I will give you the power to escape from despair.
He did not hear the blood-colored eyes’ voice any longer.
“Hey, Rok Soo.”
Cale felt a warm hand over his hand that was on his stomach.
Grandma Kim cautiously continued to speak.
“I like your temperament, but can’t you be a little more flexible?”
She knew that Park Jin Tae was in the wrong, but she could not attack him.
All she could do was treat the injured with her healing abilities.
She might be the reason Kim Rok Soo managed to survive under Park Jin Tae since team leader Lee Soo Hyuk left.
Cale opened his mouth to speak.
“I’ll need to stay on good terms with Park Jin Tae for now.”
Grandma Kim’s eyes opened wide.
“…Do you mean that?”
Cale slowly nodded his head and looked toward Park Jin Tae’s back in the distance.
That bastard was a dictator and treated people differently based on their abilities, however…
On the day the central shelter was destroyed…
‘He protected this place until the end.’
Park Jin Tae fought until the last moment.
That was how Kim Rok Soo and some other people who had no abilities were able to escape.
‘What are you doing? Why the hell are you so slow? A bastard like you without any abilities should at least run! Get lost! You’re in my way, so hurry up and run!’
Cale recalled the things Park Jin Tae had shouted to him in the past.
Park Jin Tae ended up dying while fighting to the end.
Grandma Kim had lost her life in that battle as well.
Park Jin Tae was a bad bastard and he hated him, but…
‘In some ways, he saved my life.’
Kim Rok Soo was able to survive in the past thanks to him.
Cale looked toward the shelter.
He would erase his regrets one by one.
He would save this shelter, and then…
‘I’ll go meet the team leader and Choi Jung Soo.’
That was where an unranked monster first appeared.
Cale subconsciously blurted out loud.
“I wonder if everybody is okay-”
He started to recall the faces of his friends one by one, starting with Raon.
How would he be in the real world right now? Would he have fainted?
He started to become concerned about his friends.
Honestly speaking, he was most worried about them.
That was why…
‘I need to find a way out of here first.’
There had to be a way to get out.
There had to be a way to get out of here without accepting the blood-colored eyes’ offer.
He recalled the last thing the blood-colored eyes told him.
‘Flail around in despair. I will give you the power to escape from despair.’
The corners of Cale’s lips started to go up.
Cale clenched his skinny hands into fists.
‘Flail around in despair? That won’t happen. I’ll just make it not a despair anymore.’
He had no way to know for sure, but he felt as if he would only be able to return if he destroyed the despair.
‘It’s just a feeling.’
It was his intuition.
However, there was a good amount of analysis in it as well.
It was because of what the blood-colored eyes told him.
‘I will give you the power to escape from despair.’
Didn’t that sound like he would be able to get out of this situation and return to the real world if he had the power to destroy the despair within it?
It had also called it a test.
Cale thought that it was a reasonable thought.
And looking at this situation with that in mind…
The current Cale was able to destroy these despairs.
It was worth trying.