“I never even imagined this.”
Cale looked around. He could see a high school located on top of a steep uphill road.
This was his high school, Raon High School. The uphill road to this school was quite famous.
“Haaa, can’t they just, like, cut up this uphill road?”
“That’s crazy. Do you even hear what you’re saying?”
“My calves are on fire!”
Cale could see many students walking past him.
They were climbing this uphill road that made them swear on their way up every summer and winter. Many students grumbled about how Raon was not a fitting name for this school as, forget joy, they felt as if they would die every time they had to climb this hill.
The current time was 7:45 am according to his watch.
He was certain that his memory was not wrong to remember that he needed to be in the classroom within 15 minutes in order to not be late.
Cale was in disbelief the more he thought about it.
‘I did think that it may come up at some point.’
He had thought that his past prior to the cataclysm would pop up at least once between these five emotion illusion tests.
However, he presumed that it would be based not during his high school days but much further back, during a time when everything in his life seemed to be full of darkness.
He had been full of indignity, wrath, and failure at that time for sure.
In fact, his life as Kim Rok Soo as a freshman in high school was one of his few peaceful moments after having lived in the orphanage for a few years by then.
Unlike his mother, who was the only child of her generation, his father had a distant relative who became Kim Rok Soo’s guardian after his parents died from an accident.
He had a decent job and was a pretty good person.
At that time that is…
He enjoyed small amounts of drinking and gambling at that time, but he ended up getting extremely addicted to them not long after taking Kim Rok Soo in.
Kim Rok Soo had to deal with that bastard as he became crazier and suffered all sorts of indignity as he figured out how to survive on his own.
However, he was able to survive through it all and made it to an orphanage.
Of course, he had not done it on his own.
What could a child do on his own? The only thing he knew how to do was to submit to his uncle and do whatever he could do to survive. A lot of people helped him, and the systems set up in society helped him get out and be relieved that he did not have to get beaten anymore.
The fact that he didn’t need to curl in fear underneath his blanket or hold his pee because he was not allowed to leave the room simply made him think that he could now live in peace.
He had stayed in the orphanage until his last year of high school.
His life in the orphanage was not that bad. In fact, he was having an average but good time. It was great in all aspects of food, clothes, and shelter.
“Hey, hurry up! Do you want to be late?!”
“Ow! This rotten uphill road!”
Cale observed the backs of the students running past him.
Cale had to start walking up this hill if he didn’t want to be late either. He started to walk.
He felt a gust of wind.
Raon High School’s uphill road was famous for another reason in addition to its infamy for its steep slope. There were cherry blossoms on either side of the road during spring.
Cale felt his breath getting heavier and held back a chuckle. His health had been terrible at this time.
‘What issues did I have during this time?’
There should be a clear reason as to why this was the illusion.
He followed the memories of his past and walked through the main gate of Raon High School and headed for his classroom.
‘What class was I in during my freshman year? Ah, I remember. Class 4.’
His feet naturally headed toward Class 4.
It was the end of March. The classroom during this time when the cherry blossoms were slowly starting to bloom was just so-so.
‘There’s no way I would have those.’
His school years were nothing to Cale. They were simply a few peaceful days.
He headed toward his seat. Kim Rok Soo’s seat was the third seat in the middle row.
It was a good place to listen to the lessons, and the Kim Rok Soo of this time had been quite studious.
‘I was lazy?’
Freshman Kim Rok Soo paid attention to his studies and his grades were average.
‘I had plans to go to college.’
Kim Rok Soo was planning on continuing his education rather than getting a job when he turned 18 and would have to leave the orphanage. He would start a part-time job on the weekends during the second semester of his freshman year and slowly increase his part- time jobs while studying properly to get into college.
It had been quite a tiring and fierce time for him.
He had nobody to take care of him and had to take care of himself.
Cale sat down and nonchalantly looked at the punks talking to him from the side and back.
“Kim Rok Soo, you were a bit later than usual today?”
“Listen to this little punk.”
Kim Rok Soo was always dressed sharply in his uniform and his relationships with his peers weren’t bad.
Everything was average. Right in the middle. That was the life he maintained.
At least, that was how Cale remembered it.
However, he could not remember the names of the punks greeting him.
I peeked at their name tags.
‘Mm. Now I remember.’
He did remember them.
Their homeroom teacher walked into the room. He recalled the teacher’s face after taking a look at it.
‘What was the teacher’s name?’
He could not recall it as the teacher did not have a name tag.
‘Did I not need to remember it because it wasn’t important?’
The homeroom teacher left and the lessons continued.
Cale couldn’t help but be wowed internally.
‘This isn’t bad.’
His high school lessons that he had not heard for twenty-something years were quite interesting.
Lunch soon arrived and Cale did not have to recall much as he followed his body and some of his classmates to go eat lunch.
“Hey, see you later.”
He was then naturally left alone.
The people who ate with him split into groups of two or three and went to exercise or to the classroom. It was extremely natural, as if this was a routine.
‘Then why was I left here? Ah.’
Cale realized something.
“Ah, that’s right. Pffft.”
He couldn’t help but sigh.
He realized it now.
He remembered his issue during this time.
This problem or pitiful situation was something that he could finally realize now that he was in his mid to late thirties.
“…I couldn’t keep anybody by my side.”
Kim Rok Soo’s relationships with his classmates were at a superficial level, saying hi in the classroom, eating together, and walking to the bus station together after school.
He had lost his parents who were his everything when he was young.
His dad’s distant cousin was quite warm at first, but slowly went crazy and abused him.
Although Cale remembered only these big incidents, his school years were quite lonely.
Anybody he tried to get close to at school would suddenly become distant. Some of them would even end up transferring to other schools. Even the people who became close to him and tried to look after him at the orphanage ended up with reasons to quit their job.
He could not be close to anyone despite trying to get to know people better.
‘I’m sure it was the White Star’s influence.’
Now, Cale could tell that all of that was because of the reincarnated White Star taking his body, forcing him to live a similar life to the White Star even in this different world.
The Kim Rok Soo of this time had not known that.
However, he had not been hurt a lot because of it.
It was because he knew that none of it was his fault.
People do have differing opinions and argue from time to time, but the things that had happened to Kim Rok Soo, his parents’ car accident, abuse from his uncle, his friends transferring school, they were all things that just happened.
That was the reason he gave short responses and was nonchalant with people without trying to get close to them.
“…It was annoying. Ah.”
He had at least found one thing he found to be annoying during this time.
He didn’t know whether it would qualify under sloth, but it was worth thinking about.
Of course, the cataclysm that happened during his part-time job after his college exams in his senior year allowed Cale to meet his second family.
‘And then I lost them too.’
After reaching his thirties and becoming Cale Henituse, he had made a lot of connections with so many humans and other existences.
He needed to protect them now.
He needed to take care of this sealed god’s temple, end the White Star’s reincarnation, and kill him in order to do that.
“I just need to do it.”
All of it was worth trying.
Cale firmed his resolve again and resumed walking.
He let his feet lead him somewhere and looked up at the plaque describing the location.
< Raon Library >
Cale thought about someone while looking at the joyful library before he flinched. A yellow light roamed behind Cale’s back at that moment.
‘Hmm? Ah, right. Raon. The children averaging nine-years-old. Raon Miru, the youngest of the children who will average ten-years-old next year.’
Cale immediately recalled that individual and nodded his head a few times.
He carefully opened the door and walked in without any hesitation.
‘Yes. It was from this time.’
He soon stopped and smiled.
‘It was a bit peculiar. This school library is interesting.’
It was not the case in middle school, but Raon High School had a lot of fantasy novels. The 17 years old Kim Rok Soo frequently visited both the school and public libraries as he didn’t want to get closer to people than necessary. That had opened his eyes to fantasy novels.
After that, he had used some of the money he earned through his part-time jobs to read more novels of this genre.
‘They were quite fun.’
The main characters of the novels did not succumb despite their difficult childhoods and fought against the world. However, Cale had no intentions of fighting against the world starting from the moment he chose to live as the invisible person who couldn’t be noticed at home.
To be more specific, he didn’t have the strength to do that.
It was hard enough to take responsibility for and take care of his future and his life.
‘That’s why Choi-’
A yellow light flashed behind Cale again.
‘Ah, right. Choi Han.’
The yellow light instantly disappeared.
‘I thought that Choi Han was that kind of hero when I first read about him in the book. I thought that he was different from me.’
Choi Han, the main character of The Birth of a Hero. Cale had diligently read that book because Choi Han’s life was different from Cale’s.
He held a fantasy novel in his hand, as if he was nostalgically recalling the past before he put it back in the bookshelf.
‘I need to quickly finish this test and take care of the other tests as well.’
He needed to get out of this so-called sloth test in order to do that. Either that, or he needed to accept it and persist through it in some way as he had done in the sadness test.
Cale recalled how he had not gotten close to people as he had found it annoying during this time and made up his mind.
‘I need to either make better relationships with people or accept this situation.’
He could try both of those things one by one.
It wasn’t difficult for Cale, who now knew what it was like to get close to people and build affinity unlike his past self.
‘It’s even easier to accept this situation.’
It was one of the most peaceful times of Kim Rok Soo’s life.
If that peace was sloth, then it was easy to accept it.
‘But would having a wall up against building connections with people really fall under sloth?’
He couldn’t help but wonder.
‘It seems like a similar test style since it is a memory of the past like during the sadness test.’
Cale thought about it in many ways before heading toward the library door. He thought it might be good to at least try to chat with some of the other students who would be in the classroom during lunch.
Cale’s shadow created by the lights inside the library became visible as he walked away.
Yellow light slowly rose from within the shadow.
At the checkout desk by the library door… The book club member who was scheduled for the lunch shift was sitting there.
Cale was planning on walking past without giving it much thought. However, he soon stopped walking.
‘I remember we at least greeted each other.’
The member had calmly settled brown hair.
Cale had borrowed many books through this member whenever he went to the library.
The smile that had appeared on Cale’s face as he thought about this new individual he remembered slowly disappeared.
The face of this person as he had his head down while organizing something…
It was different but looked similar to someone else.
It looked innocent yet stubborn.
‘What was this member’s name again?’
Cale had an odd feeling again.
He could not remember this member’s name from his memory.
It was similar to how he did not remember his homeroom teacher’s name because unlike Kim Rok Soo whose abilities had developed completely after the cataclysm, the freshman Kim Rok Soo did not remember the names of people who were not important.
Now that he thought about it, the memories of his freshman year were cloudy.
The memories of this first semester were especially like that.
‘Why is that?’
He took another step toward the desk.
He could see the color of the person’s name tag.
This member was a senior.
‘Why is a senior here during lunch?’
Cale stood in front of the desk and watched as the book club member looked up.
This person looked similar.
He looked different, but oddly gave off the same vibe as that guy. The way they had this extremely mature look for their age and could not hide their years of experience was especially similar.
“Did you come to borrow some books again?”
The book club member’s name tag had the name, ‘Choi Jung Gun.’
The first-ever Dragon Slayer and the person who survived the final battle against the ancient White Star.
A member of the Choi family who traveled to Cale’s world before Choi Han.
Someone who was presumed to be a single-lifer and had become something else after his death to complete some task.
That was the Choi Jung Gun that Cale knew.
This senior book club member in front of Cale was also Choi Jung Gun.
Cale subconsciously had a thought at that moment.
‘Who the hell is this bastard?’
His eyes that had relaxed at this peace he had not felt for a while became sharp again. The yellow light roaming in his shadow disappeared at the same time.