Sadness when it is blue.
Sloth when it is yellow.
Failure when it is green.
Indignity when it is purple.
Wrath when it is black.
Cale looked down at his black outfit and the ends of the sleeves of his white shirt underneath before quietly mumbling to himself.
His friends who had died while going up against the unranked monster…
Even in the company that Cale, no, that Kim Rok Soo worked for, most of the members in the vanguard of his team were people who had gathered at the start of the company. That might explain why they did not have many close people around them.
That was the case for most people after the cataclysm, but this was a team formed by people who especially did not have much family or people close to them.
‘It might also be because team leader Lee Soo Hyuk gathered those kinds of people by his side.’
But it wasn’t as if most of the team members had nobody at all.
Some of them had some living family members, while others at least had distant relatives who were still alive. Furthermore, some had friends that they had been close to since even before the cataclysm.
It was so weird that it was almost laughable, but…
Choi Jung Soo, the person who had the best relationship with the others on the team… And Lee Soo Hyuk, the person who cherished the whole team and led them all forward…
These two people did not have anybody to take care of their funeral or serve as chief mourner.
Kim Rok Soo was the only one for both of them.
Kim Rok Soo, the guy who scoffed a lot and didn’t really get along with people… He was all they had.
He was the only one who could take responsibility for sending them off.
‘It’s the funeral.’
Cale realized that he had come back to the time of the funeral when he had sent Lee Soo Hyuk and Choi Jung Soo off one last time.
Once the original chaos subsided and people started to form societies and civilizations to press forward after the cataclysm…
One of the things that changed the most was the funeral tradition. The reason was simple.
Too many people had died.
And even more continued to die every day and will die in the future.
Funerals became extremely simple and short. People had to deal with so much sadness that they couldn’t even process it properly. They had no idea when the monsters would attack again. They had to bury the unprocessed sadness in their hearts and push forward to survive.
Of course, there were many who left this world without even getting a funeral. It led to a lot of people thinking that they should be thankful if they could at least say goodbye one last time to their loved ones.
“Team leader Kim.”
Cale raised his head after hearing a voice.
There was someone smiling awkwardly and reaching his hand out toward Cale, who would have been standing in the chief mourner’s spot in front of Lee Soo Hyuk and Choi Jung Soo’s portraits if this was a normal funeral before the cataclysm.
Cale knew this person very well, although it had been unexpected.
Cale had immediately succeeded Lee Soo Hyuk’s position as team leader and continued to work after Lee Soo Hyuk and Choi Jung Soo’s funeral was over.
He happened to overhear people from other departments talking about him at one point. They had talked crap about him without even knowing that he was there.
‘Hey. That emotionless bastard Kim Rok Soo didn’t even cry when the person who saved his life died. How can someone be so emotionless?’
‘…Who knows? At least team leader Lee Soo Hyuk picked a good successor before he left. Kim Rok Soo is very good at his job.’
‘He may be an emotionless bastard, but at least he is good at his job.’
Of the two people talking…
The person who was talking crap about how Cale had no emotions and didn’t cry… This was the team leader of a different department.
‘This person was here as well.’
The fact that this person had been at the funeral was new to Cale.
‘Yes, a team leader like him should have been here.’
He should have been at this place.
However, the memories of this moment were not clear in Cale’s mind.
Well, the memories were clear, but his mental state had been at a point where he could not take in the situation and environment around him such that he only clearly remembered the things he wanted to remember.
The company had stepped in to take care of most of the process, but Kim Rok Soo had enough on his plate just taking care of the send off for Lee Soo Hyuk, Choi Jung Soo, and the others who had left them.
‘I was young.’
Kim Rok Soo was young and rough around the edges at this time.
Cale observed the man in front of him.
He was sure that this guy had called him team leader Kim. Even though Lee Soo Hyuk’s funeral was not over and Kim Rok Soo had not returned to the company…
‘Team leader Kim?’
The company had respected Lee Soo Hyuk’s wishes and named Kim Rok Soo as the new team leader, but this was still wrong. Wasn’t it?
“…Team leader Kim……?”
The man cautiously called out once more to Kim Rok Soo, who did not shake his hand and was staring at him. Cale grabbed the man’s hand. He then started to speak.
“The only team leader on my team is team leader Lee.”
The man’s eyes looked flustered.
‘Man, I know that this is an illusion, but it feels so real.’
Cale could see the flustered man smile even more awkwardly.
“Ahem! Well, you’re going to be the team leader now, aren’t you?”
The man spoke gently, but Cale still silently stared at him. His eyes were not the eyes of a young and rough around the edges person; They held even more years of experience than the man in front of him. The man slowly avoided his gaze.
“Ahem, hem. It’s very hard to deal with, isn’t it?”
It was obvious that the guy was trying to be respectful and change topics.
Cale released the man’s hand and responded.
“Yes. It is very difficult.”
The man seemed to be at a loss for words as he looked at Cale. There were a lot of funerals for different team members going on here right now, that the numerous company employees all peeked toward or fully turned to look at him.
Cale understood why they were acting like this.
Cale had originally spent this time without any emotion, surviving through without crumbling down.
Cale had thought that something like that was the only way to persist at that time.
But he now knew that that was not the case.
The way to endure past sadness, loss, and this motherfucking memory…
It was not to stand firm without being shaken up by them. It was okay to be shaken up by these things from time to time.
Humans were not trees that break during typhoons or reeds that sway in all directions. Furthermore, not all humans were the same. They each had their own styles and just had to live in the style that best suited them.
Cale had learned many styles as he got older, and felt as if he now knew what the best method was for him.
It was not because he had met Lee Soo Hyuk in his dream and heard that Choi Jung Soo was doing well.
Cale’s memory made it so that he could not forget his sadness, but it also meant that he did not forget his joys and happiness either.
That was why Cale could now say the following. He turned toward the portraits.
At the time, it was difficult.
He was sad.
No. That was still the case.
“I am sad.”
That was why this moment came up as the illusion.
He had been young at this time. He wasn’t too young, but the fact that the cataclysm struck just as he was about to become an adult made him mature but childish at the same time.
He had wanted to continue the things that Lee Soo Hyuk had created and his friends had helped to develop and make them even better.
He also wanted to fuck up and kill all of those motherfucking monster bastards.
“That is why…”
Because of that…
“I need to do my best from here on.”
He needed to do even better for his friends who had left him first.
A faint smile appeared on Cale’s face. However, nobody frowned after seeing the smile. Everybody could tell that it was a smile that was full of emotions, a bitter smile that appeared after a lot of anguish.
“I will find a way to persist if I keep doing that.”
Cale didn’t know the method of overcoming this memory.
He will simply persist through it for the rest of his life.
‘And now I can persist through it quite easily.’
He looked at the portraits of Lee Soo Hyuk and Choi Jung Soo with the smile still on his face. He then turned to look at the man who had just shaken his hand.
The man was looking at him as if this was quite unexpected and could not hide his shock.
“This isn’t bad.”
The man asked after not hearing properly, but Cale ignored him and continued speaking.
“This test isn’t bad either.”
At that moment…
Cale saw the face of the man in front of him crack.
That wasn’t all. Everything Cale could see started to crack.
The blue light that symbolized sadness soon covered Cale’s sight.
He soon saw yellow light rising at the end.
That symbolized sloth.
* * *
“Your highness! You must be careful!”
Alberu raised his palm toward the Knight Captain to stop him. The Knight Captain could not say anything else but his face showed how much he was struggling.
Crown prince Alberu Crossman had woken up.
People in Puzzle City were saying a lot of things regarding the orb on top of the temple.
The chief executives had told everybody that the real Cale and the rest of the first dispatched team were fighting against a fake Cale, but the chaos and fear did not subside easily.
Alberu Crossman had opened his eyes at that moment.
The chaos among the Roan Kingdom’s soldiers in Puzzle City had mainly subsided.
That had happened even though Alberu had not said or done anything.
The Knight Captain realized something while looking at that.
‘His highness is already the sun.’
It seemed disloyal toward his Majesty, the current king, but the incidents at Puzzle City led to people both inside and outside the Roan Kingdom treating Alberu as the king.
Such an important individual was leaving City Hall and heading for the temple as soon as he opened his eyes.
Alberu did not hesitate to swear despite a lot of people being around him.
To be more specific, he did not have the luxury of considering all of that right now.
‘What happened all of a sudden?’
He had been communicating with Cale’s side through the cintamani as the Dark Tiger. However, a black smoke suddenly covered the cintamani before it could no longer be used.
‘…The cintamani has no cracks or damage so something must have happened on the other side.’
The cintamani on this side had no issue.
That meant that something must have happened on Cale’s side.
‘Alberu, what is going on?’
‘I don’t know either.’
‘Hey, how can you not know either?’
Alberu had ignored questions from Lee Soo Hyuk and Park Jin Tae as he observed the cintamani.
That was when Alberu felt the Dark Tiger lose all strength.
‘Huh? What’s going on? Hey, Tiger! What’s wrong with you?’
‘Are you okay? Rok Soo! Call the Doctor outside!’
Park Jin Tae, Lee Soo Hyuk, and Kim Rok Soo who was just coming into the room all started to turn faint. He felt everything go dark and he was back in his body when he opened his eyes.
He had no choice but to come out and head toward the temple as soon as he figured out the situation.
“…This is driving me crazy.”
On top of the temple…
The orb was split evenly as if it was an apple pie.
The six even pieces were maintaining the form of the orb.
These pieces symbolized Cale, Mary, Rosalyn, Choi Han, Clopeh, and Toonka. There was one piece for each of the members of the first dispatched team.
Alberu suddenly stopped running toward Eruhaben, Raon, and the other Dragons.
All of the pieces were glowing blue.
However, two of the pieces started blinking almost at the same time.
The Knight Captain shouted in shock while Alberu stared at the pieces with a piercing gaze.
The two pieces turned yellow at the same time.
“…It’s the original test.”
Alberu realized that the six of them were currently going through the test, and that two of them had already managed to get past sadness and into the sloth illusion.
Who were those two people?
“I can’t tell who is who!”
Alberu immediately started climbing the steps up to the temple.
His eyes were full of frustration and concern.
* * *
“…This is my sloth? Ha!”
Cale looked around him.
He had thought about what sloth would be like when the yellow light swept over him.
Many words came to mind.
It was talking about a time or a situation that makes you lazy or bored. It could also mean being drowsy. He thought about the meanings of sloth as he knew it.
“But this time of all things……?”
Cale looked down at himself.
He was wearing a brown jacket. He also had on beige pants.
He was wearing a school uniform.
17 years old.
He was Kim Rok Soo as a freshman in high school when he was still living in the orphanage.