Chapter 532: Epilogue 3 – Author’s words (1)
My thumb slowly extended and touched the cold screen.
Right at that moment, something like a spark danced just above the display.
[A new file has been downloaded.]
Three Ways to Survive in a Ruined World (final revised version).txt
In that short time period, the name of the file had changed.
…. The ‘final revised version’?
I clicked on the file almost subconsciously.
But, why was this? The file had been scrolled almost all the way down to its bottom-most section from the get-go. It felt as if the edits had been finished only a few moments ago. Without thinking too much about it, I scrolled down even further.
Did the ‘epilogue’ of the ‘Ways of Survival’ get added at the end, the one I didn’t get to read?
The file continued on from the point where the original novel came to an end. It was a story that I hadn’t seen before.
I unconsciously began reading it out loud.
Epilogue 3. Author’s words
Each regression turn would reach their conclusion in their own terms.
It was the same story for the 1863rd turn.
[You have cleared all the scenarios of <Star Stream>.]
She did it. Countless sentences brushed past her head the moment she saw that message.
The ‘Dokkaebi King’ was collapsed on the ground before her eyes, and the companions from the 1863rd turn she had led were all here, too.
“Captain! We won!!”
Kim Nam-Woon was sobbing away nonstop. Only after spotting Yi Hyeon-Seong walking in closer to support her did it feel real to her, that she had finally done it.
⸢This was the end of the 1863rd turn.⸥
What a long battle it had been.
From when she of the 3rd turn was suddenly summoned to the 1863rd, all the way to greeting the suitable end of this world.
She nearly gave up several times in the middle, though. Even then, the reason why she didn’t was because of what ‘that idiot’ said back then.
⸢”Going to the next scenario is better than sleeping forever.”⸥
That idiot, who also came from the same 3rd turn as her.
The man who wore the same coat and used the same weapon as her.
⸢”The Apocalypse Dragon being freed doesn’t mean everything’s over. You know it too, don’t you?”⸥
That idiot who ruined her plan, freed the Apocalypse Dragon, and eventually, managed to even eject Yu Jung-Hyeok from the scenario, too.
Even now, she could vividly recall the scenes from those moments by closing her eyes. The scene of a ‘Character’ breaking past his story and gaining his freedom…
“Captain, we did it. We really did it!”
Yi Hyeon-Seong could barely hide his joy. Han Su-Yeong killed the lit cigarette in her hand and addressed him. “Support everyone and return to base.”
“What about you, cap….?”
“I’ll be right behind you after smoking one more. So, go on ahead.”
“….We can’t do that!”
….This slow dude, why was he so quick on the uptake now?
Han Su-Yeong glanced at the Archangel standing next to Yi Hyeon-Seong. “Jophiel.”
The commander of the crimson cosmos, Jophiel, the Archangel that crossed to this world-line together with that idiot from the 3rd turn.
[Let’s go, meat shield.]
“No, hang on a minute, captain!”
While lighting up her very last cigarette, Han Su-Yeong watched on as the Archangel took her companions back to Earth. The companions from the ‘Ways of Survival’ were getting further away. She saw how they kept shedding tears of satisfaction derived from successfully clearing all the scenarios and could only smile wryly.
Jophiel, her wings spread out wide, glanced in Han Su-Yeong’s direction as she grew further away.
Are you planning to go alone?
Instead of a reply, Han Su-Yeong waved around her cigarette light.
And then, after all of her companions had disappeared, she slowly looked behind her.
⸢The Final Wall.⸥
The wall that blocked the end of this world-line, and also, recording everything found within this universe.
Han Su-Yeong was aware of this wall’s existence, and not only that, she knew how to open it, too. She got to take a peek at a few scenes while connected to the 3rd turn’s Han Su-Yeong, and more importantly, information she got from Kim Dok-Ja paying a visit to this world-line proved to be the crucial key, as well.
[The ‘Wall that Decides Samsara’ has discovered its intended position.]
Han Su-Yeong began slotting in the [Walls] she had gathered ahead of time into their spots.
[The ‘Wall that Divides the Good and Evil’ has discovered its intended position.]
[The ‘Wall of Impossible Communication’ has discovered its intended position.]
However, she was still short of one fragment.
Throughout the entirety of the universe, only one guy possessed this fragment – [The 4th Wall].
Han Su-Yeong silently stared at her own hand, before slowly placing it against the last open spot on the wall.
[Fable, ‘Predictive Plagiarism’, has begun its storytelling.]
She certainly didn’t possess that [Wall].
Even then, shouldn’t she be able to craft a fragment similar to that, somehow?
[Fable, ‘Ultimate Lie’ has begun its storytelling!]
Han Su-Yeong began squeezing out every Fable she could imagine.
She had witnessed the actual form of [The 4th Wall], just once. She definitely saw a portion of that wall when it blocked her attempt at using the [Eye of Truth].
[Fable, ‘Predictive Plagiarism’, is being pushed to its absolute limit!]
Her fingers moved rapidly and began writing a Fable – a Fable of the wall that she came up with. The one single story that might be the basis of this wall.
⸢Kim Dok-Ja(金獨子). My father wanted me to become a strong man even if I was left alone so he gave me such a name.⸥
Right next moment, Han Su-Yeong’s hand submerged into the wall.
Next up was her arm, shoulder, head, and her torso… And eventually, her entire figure sank into the wall.
[The ‘Final Wall’s system’ is surprised by your Fable information and….]
[Temporary error has occurred in the system!]
Han Su-Yeong fought back against the rising vomit and felt around the ground.
She did it.
She managed to infiltrate inside this stinking wall unscathed.
The first thing she saw after raising her head was a small room. There were quite a few bundles of packed luggage, and several small display panels decorating this place.
She was familiar with the Fable coming out from those panels.
⸢Constellation, ‘Demon King of Salvation’, has reached his ■■.⸥
⸢’Demon King of Salvation’s’ ■■ is ‘Eternity’.⸥
That was the conclusion of the 3rd turn. That idiot had also cleared the scenario of his world-line to its very last, in other words. And at long last, he had decided to become this world’s sole reader.
⸢In the world without the scenarios – filled with only the desire to see the next story… A certain child, possessing a truly horrifying power of imagination.⸥
He’d continue to become smaller, and eventually become this world’s subconsciousness. And with that, he’d continue on with this neverending story.
The 1863rd turn’s Han Su-Yeong could tell. If you ask her how she knew, well, she just did.
‘Even I would’ve chosen that conclusion, after all.’
This world existed for the story.
Even Yu Jung-Hyeok’s story, even Kim Dok-Ja’s – in the end, they were all simply ‘stories’ marching forward towards the one true completion.
Han Su-Yeong stared at the subway train travelling further and further away inside the screen. For a long while, she wordlessly stared at this universe’s god journeying towards the world that no one would ever remember.
And then, a few steps in front of her, there was a certain existence staring at the same screen while dabbing away its tears with a handkerchief.
“So, then. You are the true ‘Dokkaebi King’ aren’t you?”
[….How did you manage to enter this place?]
The Dokkaebi King her group definitely killed outside was standing completely fine before her eyes.
Han Su-Yeong unsheathed the [Dark Heavenly Demon Sword] and asked. “I was wondering why you were so weak. Okay, so. Why didn’t you fight us seriously? And what exactly have you been doing in here?”
[Uh-uh. Hang on a second. The scenarios are already over. I don’t have any thoughts of fighting you.]
It was true, she couldn’t sense any fighting intentions from the Dokkaebi King as it hurriedly waved both of its hands.
Its eyes gleamed as it observed the sparks faintly dancing around Han Su-Yeong’s entire figure. Its irises were fixed on the [Final Wall] suffering from error.
[You repaired the ‘Final Wall’….? What a shocking talent that is… Just who are you? Your soul is… it’s like the amalgamation of various talents.]
“What were you planning by using such a puppet? Are you looking down on this world-line?”
[Hu-hut, what do you mean, looking down? Every world-line is precious. It’s just that… This world-line has lost its meaning now. Its most important Fable had come to an end just now, after all.]
While saying that, the Dokkaebi King shifted his gaze back to the panels.
Han Su-Yeong quietly roused up her Fables, but the King simply snickered back at her. [What are you getting so angry for? Regardless of what, the story of you and your group has concluded safely, didn’t it?]
“Don’t ever mess with this world-line’s conclusion.”
The moment she said that, the scenes from the 1863rd turn popped up on the panels.
Yi Hyeon-Seong and Kim Nam-Woon were supporting each other. The backs of her companions were captured in a wide-screen shot.
[Ah, of course, I won’t. It’s not even an important world-line, anyway….]
Han Su-Yeong saw how the Dokkaebi King shrugged its shoulders in total disinterest, and felt this powerful sense of futility.
Was this how the story of this regression turn ends?
Was it really okay to end it in this fashion?
[And besides… the new ‘Most Ancient Dream’ would not wish to see such a thing happen, anyway.]
After hearing that, Han Su-Yeong looked up at the empty air above without even realising it.
The ‘Most Ancient Dream’.
The ‘Kim Dok-Ja’ she knew had become one such existence.
Which meant that the current him might be looking at this spectacle, somehow.
[You think he will reply to you because you looked up like that? Your world has people who believe in their chosen deities. But, did those gods ever respond each and every time their believers called out to them?]
“This and that aren’t the same.”
“Well… You can think of it any way you want. Anyways, this one would like to ‘abscond’ from here, so can I leave now?]
“Where are you planning to go?”
[Since this world-line’s story has ended, I should go to another place, don’t you agree? I’ve been working hard all this time, so… Well, there’s this place I really wanted to visit since from a while ago, and….]
“Oh, so you wish to run away all the while abandoning the scenario, just like that?”
[Why didn’t you get born in a world-line with an honest, hard-working Dokkaebi King, then?]
Han Su-Yeong frowned deeply and emitted waves of energy once more. “Hey. I clawed and fought my way to get here… So, shouldn’t you give me some kind of a clear reward or something?”
The ‘Dokkaebi King’ spat out a long sigh. [Well, fine. Granting one wish shouldn’t be so hard.]
“…..I want to meet that idiot.”
Almost immediately after saying it, Han Su-Yeong couldn’t believe what she had done. Why did she blurt that out, of all things?
⸢”Because, you are also there.”⸥
⸢”I believe in ‘you’ of the 3rd turn, you see.”⸥
She wasn’t sure what this frustration in her heart meant.
Just that, meeting that guy again might help her understand what she felt so frustrated about, or so she thought.
The Dokkaebi King tilted his head. [When you say that idiot, you….]
Han Su-Yeong pointed to the panels with her chin.
The Dokkaebi King jumped up in shock and roared out. [Are you freaking blind or something?? That great one is no longer an existence the likes of me can ever meet.]
“I don’t care if it’s a version of him from another world-line. I also don’t care even if he’s a version who hasn’t seen the end yet, too.”
Kim Dok-Ja couldn’t be seen anymore within the panels.
“I want to meet that idiot one more time.”
[There is only one of him in this universe.]
Since the Dokkaebi King was being so adamant, it could only mean that her wish was truly impossible.
But then, the creature stared at the downhearted Han Su-Yeong and opened its mouth with a sly look on its face. [….Well, actually. There is a way to make your wish come true.]
“What was that?”
[Now normally, that world-line is forbidden from entry, but I’ve memorised its coordinates while the new ‘Most Ancient Dream’ was ascending to his position… However, the ‘Most Ancient Dream’ in that place will not recognise you.]
Han Su-Yeong’s expression brightened as she asked. “Where is that place?”
[It’s the place I wanted to visit originally. I’ve always longed to go there at least once when this universe’s great epic came to its conclusion, you see.]
While saying that, the Dokkaebi King raised both of its hands up high in the air. The aloof universe of <Star Stream> was unfolding up there.
The Dokkaebi King looked up at that view with a solemn expression and addressed her. [Aren’t you curious? Where did this universe start from, who crafted these intricate galaxies of Fables, who created this thing called ‘scenario’ in this world – just who is responsible for perfecting the world of pure contradictions where the result gives birth to the cause, and the cause becomes the result??]
Han Su-Yeong finally figured out the Dokkaebi King’s true aim.
This guy, it was trying to head towards the world-line where this universe actually began.
⸢The world where the ‘Three Ways to Survive in a Ruined World’ began.⸥
⸢The universe where tls123 was.⸥
[I’m going there to meet my god. If you want, I’ll let you tag along on my journey!]
Along with the deafening roar, the storm of Probability’s aftermaths powerfully rampaged between her and the Dokkaebi King. As she got sucked into this wall of pain akin to her soul being ripped into tiny shreds, she briefly caught the Dokkaebi King’s grin.
[Let’s meet again after making through this alive, shall we?]
That was the last memory Han Su-Yeong could remember of the 1863rd turn.
She shot up from her bed; the time was two in the morning. Her entire back was soaked in sweat. The second hand of the clock continued tick by.
….Was it all a dream?
Han Su-Yeong ungainly got up. The sensation of soft, luxurious duvet wrapped around her limbs – for some reason, this bed felt alien to her. She drank the water located on the bedside bureau, entered the adjoining bathroom and switched on the light. The orange lightbulb illuminated the darkness and her figure was reflected on the mirror.
Her neatly-trimmed hair that had grown all the way down to her shoulders. The beauty spot that seemed to get even more pronounced when she narrowed her eyes – this was undoubtedly her own face. Indeed, it really was, yet…
“…..What the hell??”
Suddenly, it felt as if her heart was tightening up.
[You have entered the ‘First World-line’.]
She dashed outside the bathroom. Plastic figurines were displayed on the dressing table alongside the volumes of manga. She also spotted the familiar school bag next to the bed. Eventually, the darkness within this house no longer felt foreign to her. Her trembling hands opened the school bag, only for the textbooks within to tumble out. Neatly-written words could be seen on the cover of one of those books.
Han Su-Yeong, student no.2, classroom 2, sixth year.
Han Su-Yeong had become a 13-year-old girl.
<Epilogue 3. Author’s words (1)> Fin.