Choi Han looked at the weak and skinny hand on his shoulder before smiling toward Cale.
“What’s there to smile about?”
Cale was grumbling, but his face was unable to contain the emotions flowing inside him.
Lee Seung Won who walked up to Cale looked at this with shock.
It was extremely rare for Kim Rok Soo to show his emotions like this.
But Park Jin Tae was even more shocked than Lee Seung Won.
‘For Kim Rok Soo to have such an expression-’
The fact that Kim Rok Soo was trying his best to get rid of the gratitude and emotions visible on his face was shocking.
There had been many things to be shocked about thanks to Kim Rok Soo today, but nothing was as shocking as this look right now.
‘Who is this? Is it someone he knew before? He seems extremely happy to see him.’
Park Jin Tae’s eyes started to shake.
He was shocked by Kim Rok Soo, but he was also shocked at this new person that had shown up.
Park Jin Tae barely managed to open his mouth to ask the same question again.
“…Kim Rok Soo, who is this?”
Kim Rok Soo, who was trying to calm his emotions, looked toward Park Jin Tae.
Kim Rok Soo’s eyes clouded over at that moment.
Park Jin Tae was cautiously looking at Choi Han without being able to directly look at him.
Park Jin Tae could see Kim Rok Soo smile while looking at him.
Park Jin Tae realized it after seeing that smile on Kim Rok Soo’s face.
‘Ah. This bastard really does know.’
This bastard really knew about his other ability.
Kim Rok Soo launched a confirming blow.
“What’s wrong? Are you scared, sir?”
Park Jin Tae’s mouth opened and closed without being able to say anything.
Cale chuckled at this response.
Park Jin Tae’s second ability.
That ability was quite abstract but in some ways, extremely detailed.
‘Pressure based on the opponent’s strength.’
Park Jin Tae could tell whether an opponent was stronger or weaker than him based on the pressure he felt.
There was less pressure if they were weaker and stronger pressure for stronger opponents.
That was why he had quietly done his job without complaining while Lee Soo Hyuk who was stronger than him was at this central shelter.
‘That’s also why the death rate during Park Jin Tae’s hunts was 0%.’
There were times when they came back without any food, but at least nobody who went hunting with Park Jin Tae ever died.
It was because Park Jin Tae avoided all the strong enemies.
‘But he hid this from everyone.’
He hid his second ability from everybody else.
But Cale knew about this special ability.
It was because of the past when the central shelters were destroyed.
Grandma Kim had said the following to Park Jin Tae as the shelter was falling.
‘Jin Tae! It will be fine if we all fight together!’
‘No! It won’t matter!’
Park Jin Tae had opposed it very firmly.
“Why are you saying that without even trying?’
Grandma Kim asked back and Park Jin Tae looked around at Grandma Kim and the others who didn’t want to run before almost shouting at them.
‘I can tell!’
Park Jin Tae was extremely annoyed.
Actually, thinking about it now, it was fear.
‘…It’s doable now, but we can’t deal with the bastards behind these bastards! We must run away!’
‘How would you know that-?’
‘I told you I know! It’s my ability! I’m able to tell whether something is strong or weak based on the pressure I feel!’
Park Jin Tae had shouted at the top of his lungs.
‘I’ve never felt such pressure before! We’ll all die if we don’t run!’
But the punk who said that didn’t run away until the end.
He did that even though he should have known that he was going to die.
Based on Park Jin Tae’s strength at that time, the pressure he felt was probably extremely heavy to the point of death.
He would have felt the strength of the Grade 1 monsters charging at them like a tsunami.
Cale had only one term to describe Park Jin Tae.
Park Jin Tae was quite a crazy and funny bastard, but Cale could now understand why he had not run away.
He was planning to do the same thing himself.
Cale quietly observed Park Jin Tae who was quietly staring at him with a piercing gaze.
Park Jin Tae’s clenched fists were probably full of sweat right now.
Based on the cold sweats on his forehead, his back was probably covered in sweat as well.
“He must be feeling an overwhelming pressure right now.’
The pressure that the current Choi Han gave Park Jin Tae must be severe.
Cale put some strength into the hand placed on Choi Han’s shoulder.
He looked at Park Jin Tae and Lee Seung Won as he started to speak.
“This is my dongsaeng.”
Choi Han looked toward Cale.
“His name is Choi Han.”
Cale pretended not to see Choi Han’s gaze and continued to speak.
“And he’s the strongest person here on this ground.”
Park Jin Tae’s Lee Seung Won eyes opened wide.
“We will definitely not lose if this punk is with us.”
Cale had a bright smile on his face.
Park Jin Tae and Lee Seung Won could see the total trust in Kim Rok Soo’s eyes.
* * *
“You can chat here.”
Park Jin Tae was peeking at Choi Han even as he said that.
‘…The strongest person on this ground?’
He wondered whether Kim Rok Soo was telling the truth, but he had no choice but to accept it.
‘He’s definitely stronger than anything I’ve seen.’
Park Jin Tae had felt an incomparable pressure coming from Choi Han that was worlds apart from the Grade 1 monsters they discussed earlier.
‘Even Lee Soo Hyuk can’t match him.’
Lee Soo Hyuk would be nothing in front of this punk named Choi Han.
‘How could such a person-’
He thought that they might be able to survive through the horde of Grade 1 monsters as Kim Rok Soo expected, especially with such a person here.
‘Of course, I don’t know for sure.’
This Choi Han character was stronger than one Grade 1 monster, however…
Grade 1 monsters were going to come at them like water flowing through.
He couldn’t expect how Choi Han would compare to a large number of monsters.
“Thank you very much.”
He looked away from Choi Han after hearing Kim Rok Soo’s voice.
“…Enjoy your conversation.”
Park Jin Tae then closed the door and left the room.
The space Park Jin Tae provided for them was quiet.
It was good enough for the two of them to chat.
Cale sat down on a chair and pointed to the chair across from him while saying that and Choi Han sat down.
The two of them silently looked at each other until Cale opened his mouth to speak.
“Tell me in detail about what happened.”
Choi Han started to speak as if he was expecting that question.
“Currently, the Gate to the Demon World… Well, the Endable Kingdom is impossible to approach right now.”
The sinkhole. The entrance to that hole was covered by a black barrier right now.
“Naturally, it is impossible to teleport into the Endable Kingdom as well.”
Cale immediately started to speak after hearing that it was not possible to teleport.
“What about Eruhaben-nim and Miss Rosalyn? What about Bud?”
“I knew you would worry about the others first.”
Choi Han shook his head while looking at Cale.
“How can I not be worried? Hurry up and tell me.”
Choi Han resumed speaking at Cale’s urging.
“You remember Deputy Chief Priest Cotton, right?”
“That person was the God of War’s Holy Maiden.”
‘…Ho. She was a Holy Maiden?’
Cale didn’t think Deputy Chief Priest would be a simple priestess as she could use the God of War’s divine item, but he had never expected that she would be the Holy Maiden.
“There was a shelter that she had created.”
“…The place she had kept the Ranger Brigade members imprisoned?”
“Yes, that place. Eruhaben-nim and the others are currently sheltering there. It is apparently not budging even at the White Star’s side’s attacks.”
Choi Han recalled the conversation he had with Eruhaben.
“According to Eruhaben-nim, that place has the God of War’s blessing, so it should be able to last for at least three months.”
Originally, the Temples of the God of War were shelters for the weak during times of war.
They were said to have extremely strong defensive capabilities.
Although that place was not an official shelter, it had the god’s blessing and was created by the Holy Maiden, so it should be able to last three months as Eruhaben mentioned.
Cale started to speak.
“…Something is weird.”
But Cale felt that something was weird.
The Gate to the Demon World was one of the Eastern continent’s Three Restricted Areas.
“I thought the hands of the gods couldn’t reach there?”
That was what Duke Fredo had said.
“Originally, that is the case.”
“…Are you saying that there are exceptions?”
Choi Han hesitated for a moment. Cale became tense while wondering what he would say and Choi Han finally started to speak.
“I don’t know.”
Cale started to frown. Choi Han avoided Cale’s gaze.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t have time to hear about it. I had to rush here.”
Cale was at a loss for words.
What could he say when Choi Han didn’t hear the explanation because he came to save him?
But Choi Han peeked at Cale before quickly adding on.
“You should be able to hear about that from Eruhaben-nim or Deputy Chief Priest Cotton once we return.”
“Okay. I can hear about it later.”
Choi Han continued to speak as Cale accepted the situation.
“Yes, Cale-nim. Based on what Eruhaben-nim told us, you’ve been unconscious inside the black orb for three days so far.”
Cale stopped Choi Han.
“Did you say three days?”
“…But I’ve only been here for about a day?”
Was time flowing differently here?
“…I don’t know much about that part, however…”
Choi Han hesitated for a moment before starting to speak again.
“…The White Star and his subordinates have a tight formation around the black orb you are stuck in, making it impossible for Eruhaben-nim nor anybody else in the Endable Kingdom to approach.”
Choi Han held back a sigh.
“Similarly, the others and I tried to approach from outside the sinkhole, but we could not break the black barrier covering the sinkhole. And then-”
Choi Han stopped for a moment.
‘Don’t tell him.’
He remembered what Alberu told him.
‘Don’t tell him too much about what is going on over here. He’ll definitely push himself too hard because he is worried.’
Alberu was the busiest person around Choi Han right now. He was doing a lot to make up for Cale’s missing spot.
‘Choi Han. Yes, first of all, you… You go and help Cale. Help him with that test or crap or whatever. I don’t know the contents of it, but I want you to help him quickly finish it and prevent him from becoming a member of the Demonic race.’
Choi Han had told Alberu about what he was going to offer the God of Death.
Alberu had added on to Choi Han who was walking away.
‘I’m sorry. You, you really are an amazing instructor.’
Choi Han knew why Alberu was apologizing to him.
He looked at Cale.
“Anyway, that was the situation before I came here to rescue you, Cale-nim.”
Cale brushed his face with both hands after hearing that.
“I’m sure that’s not everything. I guess you don’t plan on telling me what else is going on?”
“The others told you not to tell me?”
“…You’re very astute.”
A bitter smile appeared on Choi Han’s face.
He had not said it because Alberu told him not to say it, but Cale already seemed to have an idea about what was going on.
Choi Han made eye contact with Cale as he was getting upset.
“…Tell me. Tell me what the God of Death told you.”
Choi Han closed his eyes for a moment before opening them and starting to speak.
“According to Miss Cage, Cale-nim is currently inside the ‘Enemy of the gods’ who is the ‘nameless god’ and also the ‘sealed god’s test.’ ”
‘…The enemy of the gods? The sealed god?’
Cale thought about those blood-colored eyes that said it was wickedness, despair, and solitude.
“I was able to chat with the God of Death after that.”
Choi Han started to reveal the conversation he had alone with the God of Death.
“He said that you must overcome the test in order to survive that god’s test.”
He hesitated for a moment before adding on.
“But nobody has been able to overcome the test without that god’s help until now, which was why I came here to help.”
“Why you of all peo-”
“Because I have the longest lifespan. I had extra lifespan that I could use to make a deal.”
“…There’s no such thing as extra lifespan.”
“I had it.”
Choi Han smiled at the frowning Cale.
“The God of Death said he needed compensation in order to get involved in the affairs of another god, even if that god is sealed. That is the rule.”
“ ‘Rule’ my ass. They do whatever the hell they want whenever they want.”
Choi Han shook his head at Cale’s comment.
“Miss Cage said that the God of Death needed to make a sacrifice as well. This god is strong even if he is sealed, so the God of Death had to pay a steep price to meddle in that god’s test. Don’t hate the God of Death too much. That is what Miss Cage said.”
“Don’t worry. I hate both the God of Death and the sealed god equally. There’s no hating one more than the other.”
Choi Han awkwardly chuckled.
Cale nonchalantly asked the laughing Choi Han a question.
“…By the way. Can that sealed god bastard change this test as he pleases?”
“That is not possible.”
Cale looked toward Choi Han in shock after hearing such a confident response.
“I asked. I wondered if that was possible since it was called a test.”
Choi Han had asked the same question to the God of Death.
“He said that there are rules for a god to approach a human. Those rules are absolute and even gods cannot change them, although the method a god uses to approach humans is all different.”
Cale suddenly recalled how the World Tree told him that the gods share their will with this world by making deals or contracts with humans.
“One of the absolute rules for the God of Death is to make a vow of death. Similarly, this sealed god can create tests per his absolute rule, but he cannot mess with the contents of that test.”
Choi Han held some information back.
The God of Death told him not to mention it for now.
‘That sealed god was sealed because he broke a rule once. Of course, it was not a test-related rule.’
That was the reason the God of Death cooperated with Choi Han who said he wanted to come here.
“Cale-nim. What is the test?”
Choi Han had not clearly heard about the test from the God of Death.
He just came to help Cale.
“The background seems to be Cale-nim’s past.”
“That’s right. This is my past. It’s when I was twenty years old.”
Cale looked deep in thought as he continued to speak.
“…I don’t know for sure, but… I think I just have to overcome my past despair.”
Choi Han nodded his head.
“Cale-nim. The God of Death told me to tell you this if it seems as if you don’t know much about the test.”
Choi Han’s quiet voice reached Cale’s ears.
“The past cannot be changed. However, you can overcome the despair of the past that remains in your heart.”
Cale subconsciously started to speak.
“…Ha! The despair that remains in my heart.”
“The God of Death seems to know about the test.”
Cale was silent after hearing Choi Han’s comment before he nodded in agreement.
He then hesitated for a moment before starting to speak.
“Choi Han, we are going to be fighting quite a bit here as well.”
“I can’t use any powers here to battle. You will have to do everything.”
Cale couldn’t help but grumble at Choi Han’s calm response.
“…That makes you happy?”
“Yes. I’m very happy.”
“You crazy bastard.”
Choi Han innocently smiled back.
Cale shook his head.
‘I don’t know everything for now, but…’
It was obvious that Choi Han had not told him everything he knew.
‘I’ll need to focus on overcoming this test first.’
He was worried about the others.
He felt the need to move efficiently.
But he still had no plans on rushing things.
He would take care of things one by one in order, just as he had planned.
Cale stood up from his seat.
“There will be a big battle tomorrow. Many people’s lives depend on the results of that battle.”
Choi Han stood up from his seat as well.
“We are going to head to Seomyeon, Busan after that.”
“You’ll be able to meet Choi Jung Soo.”
Cale could see Choi Han’s shoulders shake a bit.
“And there will be an unranked monster there.”
There was a reason the unranked monsters brought fear into the world.
The unranked monsters were capable of destroying the new central shelters.
That was why the future society that used the central shelters as its foundation feared the unranked monsters the most and considered them their biggest enemies.
That was where the new central shelter would appear and the unranked monster would try to destroy that central shelter and kill all of the humans in the nearby area.
“That monster is extremely strong.”
“Even stronger than me?”
He was certain about that.
“You won’t be able to defeat it alone.”
He then quickly added on.
“And that monster might appear in our world as well. The chances of that are high.”
Choi Han’s face stiffened.
Cale looked at the stiff face and continued to speak.
“Along with seven even stronger monsters.”
The two of them looked at each other.
“I’m going to kill that monster.”
Cale was planning on saving the central shelter in Seomyeon, Busan.
‘We are guaranteed to defeat the first unranked monster if you are by my side.’
Cale held back what he wanted to say and said something else.
“I can’t even feed you properly here.”
“Call me hyung. Everybody will think it’s weird if you call me Cale-nim.”
Cale reached his hand out to Choi Han who flinched.
“You are older than me, but… I’m twenty years old.”
Choi Han quietly looked at that hand before reaching his own hand out.
“I understand. I will call you hyung. Rok Soo hyung.”
The two of them shook hands.
Cale felt as if he could finally breathe a little better and felt relief from the sense of responsibility and burden he felt here for the first time.
* * *
The central shelter would lose its powers in one hour.