‘Did I just imagine it?’
He was sure that the temperature had gone down. Cale opened his mouth again.
“White Star. Pffft.”
Cale couldn’t help but chuckle.
‘It wasn’t just my imagination.’
The chill against his skin… It was not just a feeling, it was actually happening.
On one side of this pretty empty park…
Cale and Choi Jung Gun… A half-transparent barrier appeared and surrounded the two of them. That barrier separated this place from the outside.
Cale felt an odd sensation as if he and Choi Jung Gun had come to their own world.
And at the center of that sensation…
Choi Jung Gun was quietly standing there while observing Cale. The cluelessness that Cale had felt every so often from his stoic face was not visible at all.
A cold aura surrounded him, as if this was his true self.
Cale looked back at him without saying anything and Choi Jung Gun slowly started speaking.
“Nelan Barrow. White Star.”
Choi Jung Gun mumbled those words a few times, as if he was savoring those words, before nonchalantly commenting.
“Those are names you can’t accidentally say.”
It was at that moment.
The moment he felt as if a breeze had brushed past him…
Cale let out a short gasp.
Choi Jung Gun was suddenly right in front of Kim Rok Soo and quietly observing him.
Choi Jung Gun’s hand was stopped right in front of Cale’s neck.
That was all Choi Jung Gun said before looking at Cale’s eyes.
How did you know those names?
Where did you hear such things?
What the hell? What is going on?
Such anxious and clueless questions did not come out of Choi Jung Gun’s mouth.
He probably decided that questions were meaningless and chose to take action as soon as he heard the names, ‘Nelan Barrow’ and ‘White Star.’
‘That makes things easier for me too.’
Cale had no need to pretend to be a good little club hoobae if the other side was going to come at him like this.
“I had a dream.”
That word made Choi Jung Gun flinch. He frowned after seeing that Cale saw him flinch.
Cale simply smiled at him.
“Someone called the White Star appeared in my dream.”
Cale had thought a lot about how to lead this conversation with Choi Jung Gun. Should he say that this was an illusion, a test, and that he was Kim Rok Soo who had transmigrated into Cale Henituse’s body?
The answer was simple.
There was no need to do that.
‘I just need to tell him enough so that I can get through to him.’
But if the conversation does not go well…
Cale felt the ancient powers inside his body as he continued to think.
‘We’ll just need to have a nice refreshing fight if the conversation doesn’t go well.’
Cale pushed back Choi Jung Gun’s hand that was stopped in front of his neck. He then observed that hand. It had so many calluses on it and was even rougher than Choi Han’s hand.
“White Star. Someone named Cale Barrow showed up in my dream.”
Cale was starting to seem less and less like an affectionate little hoobae, but it was the same for Choi Jung Gun.
“His face was similar to mine?”
In the five days he had been a member of the book club at Raon High School… Would Cale have slacked off during that time? Would he have enjoyed that time?
‘Of course not.’
He had so much to do.
“Sunbae, you urgently closed your notebook that you were writing in on the day that I went to the library to join the book club.”
It was Cale’s turn to walk up to Choi Jung Gun as he placed his hand on Choi Jung Gun’s shoulder.
“I saw this word called Roan.”
Cale gasped, even though he sounded not shocked at all, as he continued speaking.
“But that Roan thing showed up in my dream too.”
He patted Choi Jung Gun’s shoulder as he continued speaking.
“I’m sorry, sunbae. I observed you for a bit.”
Choi Jung Gun nonchalantly asked back and Cale responded just as nonchalantly.
“You guarded your notebook so much that I only saw a few words in the last four days.”
He really had not seen much.
During the times Choi Jung Gun would go to put away a returned book or help someone locate a book… Cale only managed to get a few glimpses during those short periods of time. The normal Cale wouldn’t do something like that, but what could he do? It was not just his issue but related to his friends as well.
Choi Jung Gun commented without any emotion.
“I’m sorry. But it seemed as if it was not something I need to feel sorry for?”
This time, it was time for the emotion to disappear from Cale’s face and Choi Jung Gun slightly frowned.
“White Star, Roan, Puzzle… The words from my dream were in your notebook too, sunbae. I looked in the notebook and saw the title of the book you said was a guidebook.”
He recalled the moment he saw the title and author’s name written in there as he continued to speak.
“The Birth of a Hero. Author, Nelan Barrow.”
Cale moved his hand off Choi Jung Gun’s shoulder and took one step back. The two of them made eye contact.
“So, I wanted to know what was going on. I wanted to ask if you were having the same dream as me, sunbae. But what is this barrier? It seems magical. It’s as if-”
Cale’s voice was quiet but sharp.
“It’s as if you are from another world, sunbae.”
“That doesn’t seem like the type of thing you would say with a smile on your face.”
“You’re smiling as well, sunbae.”
Choi Jung Gun touched the corner of his lips.
“You’re right. I’m smiling too.”
He continued nonchalantly.
“It must be because I’m so baffled right now. I never expected something like this.”
Choi Jung Gun scoffed a few times as if he really had not expected this. He did not seem like a high school senior at all. In fact, he seemed to have lived an unfathomable number of years.
“So you’re saying that you are dreaming about this person called the White Star?”
“Yes, sunbae-nim. He seemed to be a terrible bastard.”
“Have you had these dreams for a long time?”
“No. It hasn’t been that long. I could see what that guy was doing to the Western continent whenever I had a dream.”
Choi Jung Gun looked up as if he was deep in thought for a bit before he continued.
“…Does the White Star not only influence his life, but also his memories and his dreams?”
Cale had a thought while looking at him.
‘I’m glad he misunderstood on his own and gave me an answer. This is great.’
Cale, who was calmly assessing the current situation, asked the question that he wanted most answered.
“Sunbae, who are you?”
Cale looked around.
“This barrier and how you instantly moved in front of me earlier… These are things you would normally find in movies. It’s as if…”
Cale slowly started smiling.
“It’s as if you are a god. Someone who is outside the logics of this world.”
“A god? Ugh.”
Choi Jung Gun seemed to be trying to hold back his laughter as a suppressed laugh came out. He lowered his head to calm himself down.
Cale faced an extremely cold gaze once Choi Jung Gun raised his head again.
“You can’t see me as the same as those motherfucking things.”
“Then what are you, sunbae?”
Choi Jung Gun quietly observed the eyes looking at him. The gaze seemed adult-like but also pure. It was because the firm gaze was so clear that they reflected everything.
Choi Jung Gun couldn’t help but sigh and the truth flowed out with the sigh.
“A soul that may end up that motherfucking thing in the future?”
Cale did not miss that sigh.
“You’re a soul that may become a god? There is such a thing?”
‘This is good.’
That was the thought on Cale’s mind. He might get some hints about single-lifers and gods with this opportunity.
“Yes. There are souls that will become gods. Of course, there are other ways to become gods besides being one of these souls, but they are rare.”
These souls that he was talking about had to be single-lifers. He should be talking about the tribulators.
The Sun God was one of these single-lifer souls while the sealed God of Despair was a Hunter who hunted single-lifers. He probably did something with the soul that he hunted to become a god.
“There are multiple gods? Then which god would you become, sunbae? What do you do when you are a god?”
Cale asked with an expression that seemed to be saying he knew nothing at all.
Choi Jung Gun sighed again, checked his watch, and walked over to a nearby bench. Cale followed behind him.
The barrier surrounding the two of them was still up.
Choi Jung Gun sighed a few more times while sitting on the bench before he rubbed his face a few times and then looked up at the sky.
“Yes, I’m sure there is a reason for this too.”
He turned his head and looked at Cale.
Cale felt an unknown pressure at that moment. Choi Jung Gun’s eyes that were looking at him… There was definitely something that had surpassed human limits in those eyes.
That was a bit scary to Cale.
‘I’m… a bit scared.’
He was cowering just a bit.
Choi Jung smiled as he spoke.
“Listen carefully to what I am about to say.”
However, his eyes were not smiling.
“Pay so much attention that it goes beyond your memories and your consciousness. Make it so that it stabs deep into your subconsciousness. Focusing very hard on what I have to say will be helpful to your life.”
His eyes looked so sharp, as if they would attack at any moment.
“There are some absolute rules or laws in this world. There are also gods that watch over numerous domains. Those gods do not ever perish.”
Cale knew this much as well.
“Mm. For example, let’s say that there is a god who oversees death. That god cannot perish and will have to take care of death for all eternity.”
Choi Jung Gun continued without any signs of a smile on his face.
“How hard do you think it must be for that god?”
He did not seem to be concerned at all about how hard it was for this god.
He continued speaking.
“Of course, the God of Death is a motherfucking bastard. It’s not enough for him to suffer for all eternity. It’s disappointing.”
He looked away from Cale and mumbled to himself.
“He’s a bastard who cannot die. It’s so disappointing.”
Cale found this to be somewhat odd.
The God of Death and Choi Jung Gun…
The two of them seemed quite close. But was that not the case?
“Anyway, most gods find their eternal tasks to be difficult after some time. This is the reason they can retire.”
The sealed god had mentioned retiring to the God of Death in front of Cale while looking at the cintamani sometime in the past.
“…It sounds like an office?”
“It’s similar. There are gods who used to be office workers too. Pffft.”
Choi Jung Gun chuckled as he continued speaking.
“Retiring means that they lose their standing. Standing refers to the absolute power a god has over their domain.”
If standing was the power the gods needed to take care of their domain, a god who had lost their standing could not be considered a god.
“They could relinquish their standing on their own, or lose it for breaking one of the rules of the world.”
Cale thought about the God of Death who had interfered in the sealed god’s test.
The God of Death had changed multiple rules. It led to the sealed god breaking rules as well in order to destroy the test and make them have to go through this new test.
“Of course, losing their standing does not make them perish. It is impossible for gods to perish. They can just enjoy the retirement life if they lose their standing and retire.”
“…A slacker life?’
“Huh? Uhh, uhh. Something like that. I guess it would be similar to a slacker.”
Cale’s expression turned odd and Choi Jung Gun found this to be a bit odd before he chuckled.
“Isn’t it weird for gods to retire? Living there or living here, living is pretty similar no matter where you are.”
Choi Jung Gun had a bitter look on his face as he said that.
“Retirement naturally looks different for every god. The ones who relinquish their standing on their own terms will enjoy their retirement while the ones who have it taken away will find retirement to be punishment.”
“What if they don’t lose their standing?”
“Then they will be the god over that domain forever. Do you think they would want to do that? The world is such a complicated place. There are a lot of gods who want to rest. Being a god is quite difficult too.”
“Sunbae, then are souls like yours the ones who will receive those domains after them?”
“Oh, you figured it out right away?”
Choi Jung Gun responded with a carefree look on his face.
“Those souls are called tribulators. I am a tribulator.”
The tribulators that the World Tree had mentioned…
These were the ‘single-lifers’ that Cale’s biological mother, Drew Thames had written about in her diary.
“The tribulators sign a contract with a god of a domain and go through a transition process of sorts. When a god retires, the tribulator with the closest nature to that domain will be the one to receive that domain.”
“Which god did you contract with, sunbae?”
Choi Jung Gun was silent for a moment before he responded.
Cale subconsciously asked.
“I thought you didn’t even want to be associated with him.”
It was rare to see Choi Jung Gun swear like this but he could not hide his annoyance. He answered in a suppressed voice, probably because he couldn’t get angry at Cale about it.
“To be more specific, I made a deal.”
“No, it was different from a contract. I rejected the transition process. I simply made a deal.”
It was just a give and receive type of relationship without any special requirements or anything to tie them together.
That was how Choi Jung Gun was describing his relationship with the God of Death.
“Tribulators do not have to become gods. They can choose.”
“What can they choose?”
“They can become a contractor, or… they can also become a wanderer.”
People who sign contracts with the gods versus people who do not.
“Then sunbae, are you a wanderer?”
“Wanderers are similar to mercenaries. The wanderers have a bit more freedom from the rules compared to the gods or contractors, so they take on tasks that are difficult for the others and get something in return.”
“Sunbae, you are working with a bastard you don’t even want to be associated with?”
“…Are you making fun of me?”
“You look like you are.”
Choi Jung Gun looked at Cale as if a cat got his tongue for a bit before he sighed.
“The God of Death is a bitter enemy of my family. However, we both have the same desired end goal.”
“What is that end goal?”
Cale felt as if the temperature around him was going down again. He had goose bumps on his arms despite wearing a cardigan.
“…Are you curious?”
Choi Jung Gun’s eyes were oddly vicious as he smiled.
‘Ah, I have a bad feeling about this.’
It felt as if he was looking at Choi Han who had gone crazy. Cale would usually not have asked about it. However, this was an illusion and he needed to gather information. Cale responded in what he believed was a cautious tone.
“Yes. I am curious.”
Choi Jung Gun’s smile became even thicker.
“You got balls.”
‘Me? Absolutely not.’
Cale wanted to say that but Choi Jung Gun was already leaning toward Cale.
“Killing all Hunters.”
His voice was low and deep. It was so deep that he could not fathom the bottom.
“Making it so that there are no traces of them having ever existed in the world. Killing every single one of them.”
Cale looked toward Choi Jung Gun.
“Thoroughly killing them all. Making them perish completely without even a single blood stain left in this world.”
Choi Jung Gun’s lips were not smiling. However, his eyes were smiling for the first time.
Cale realized it at that moment.
‘…He’s totally nuts.’
Choi Jung Gun. This ancestor of Choi Jung Soo was… crazy.
Cale decided to follow those smiling eyes and smiled back. He was trying to match Choi Jung Gun, but what Choi Jung Gun saw was a punk who was smiling after hearing that he was going to kill people.
“Oh man, that sounds vicious. Sunbae, what are these Hunters that you want to do that to them?”
Cale had an idea about the answer even as he asked.
It was probably related to the sealed god who was originally a Hunter as well.
Choi Jung Gun responded in a jovial voice.
“They are bastards who steal the fates of other people. Those guys go around looking for tribulators. It’s almost disgusting. Hey Kim Rok Soo, did you know?”
Choi Jung Gun whispered in Cale’s ear.
“Those sons of bitches know how to cross through dimensions and mess with people’s memories. Of course, crossing through dimensions and messing with people’s memories are both extremely difficult and tiring to do. Even gods have trouble with those things, but anyway, they are capable of doing it. They can do it even though they are human. Isn’t that weird?”
But you see…
“Do you know why I am by your side? Because you dream about the White Star? Would I be by your side because of something I don’t know about?”
‘Ah, this is bad.’
Cale started to think that things were taking a terrible turn.
Choi Jung Gun’s voice was low and deep but he could slowly sense a mysterious passion. Choi Jung Gun seemed quite happy right now. He was sure of it.
Choi Jung Gun continued speaking at that moment.
“There is a Hunter. A Hunter is by your side.”
The moment Cale’s eyes opened wide…
“That bastard is probably observing you to figure out whether you are a tribulator or not. It is because your presence and fate are peculiar and different from normal people because of the White Star’s influence.”
‘There is a Hunter in this world right now? And that Hunter is by my side? He is observing me?’
Cale was asking for more details but Choi Jung Gun did not oblige. He still had things to say.
“I plan on giving you quite a wonderful memory today.”
Choi Jung turned away.
The half-transparent barrier surrounding the two of them was disappearing. Choi Jung Gun continued speaking before the barrier completely disappeared.
“I also came to kill that Hunter bastard.”
He quietly added on.
“If that bastard followed us here to observe you… Or if he tries to talk to you while saying it is a coincidence seeing you here, that is.”
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