Cale started to speak.
“Jung So Hoon.”
“Why are you suddenly calling my name? Are you still not fully awake, sir?”
The person grumbling back was sitting in a corner of the room eating cup ramen.
Cale just stared at him. That made Jung So Hoon frown as he put down the chopsticks in his hand.
“…Should I boil another one?”
“I want regular ramen instead. Make sure to add an egg.”
Jung So Hoon who got up while grumbling slowly headed to the small kitchen.
“Team leader-nim! Is this the time to be eating ramen? Are you eating one too because that punk is eating one?”
A woman who seemed to be in her early thirties gathered the documents on the table before frowning toward Cale.
“Kim Min Ah.”
She was the one who had shaken Cale awake earlier. She had headed toward the documents once Cale had opened his eyes.
“Yes, yes sir. My name is Kim Min Ah and that punk’s name is Jung So Hoon.”
“Ah, come on, assistant leader-nim. Please stop saying punk this, punk that. It's not nice to hear.”
“Not nice to hear?”
Kim Min Ah snorted as Jung So Hoon, the man who seemed to be in his mid-twenties grumbled.
“Should I make one for you too, Assistant Leader-nim?”
“No egg for me.”
“Ah. Looks like I’ll need to use two pots.”
Jung So Hoon looked through the cabinet and pulled out a pot as he grumbled.
Cale blankly sat there watching this.
Assistant Leader Kim Min Ah.
Agent Jung So Hoon.
These two people were Cale, no, Kim Rok Soo’s team members. One was in charge of the support team while the other was in charge of the attack team.
Cale quietly sat there before starting to speak.
Kim Rok Soo’s voice had been coming out of his mouth since a few moments ago.
“I didn't come to work today?”
“Yes, sir. How about we go to work now?”
Assistant Leader Kim Min Ah was glaring at Cale.
Cale lowered his head to see that he was wearing a track suit.
He could see Kim Rok Soo’s messy bed hair when he looked at the single mirror in the room.
“Team leader-nim, I didn't even go to the morning Time Attack to come to wake you up. Do you understand? You know how much they pay for those!”
Assistant Leader Kim Min Ah was in charge of one of Cale’s team's attack squads.
She was one of the members of the vanguard.
“I have a lot of documents to organize as well.”
Agent Jung So Hoon grumbled while putting the noodles and seasoning into the boiling water.
He was a supporter with healing abilities who had come out of a guild that shut down about two years ago.
The pot with ramen was soon placed in front of Cale.
Two pots of ramen were placed on the table that was mainly used for eating.
“Here’s some kimchi.”
Kimchi was placed between the two pots.
Agent Jung So Hoon had already gone through the fridge to find the location of the side dishes.
Cale gasped as if he was shocked.
The corners of Jung So Hoon's lips twitched in response.
“It's unbelievable, right? I am very good at making ramen.”
“Team leader-nim, we’ll eat quickly and head out. Okay?”
Cale listened to the two of them as he picked up his chopsticks.
He put some ramen in his mouth.
It was a familiar and nostalgic taste and just too good.
‘…This is an illusion?’
Cale was shocked because it seemed so real.
He slightly raised his head.
Agent Jung So Hoon had pushed his cup ramen to the side and was eating microwaved rice with kimchi. Assistant Leader Kim Min Ah was quickly gulping down ramen.
‘…The two of them are illusions as well?’
Once Team leader Lee Soo Hyuk, Choi Jung Soo, and the others had passed on, Cale had drawn a clearer line with his employees.
“Ah! Assistant Leader-nim, Eun Soo is coming back soon, right? She said she was going to her grandma’s house or something?”
“Yes, she’s coming back tonight with her dad. You have a day off next Friday, right?”
“Yes. It’s my dad’s birthday and he’s been nagging at me to come down for a while. I'll be heading home for it.”
“Ah, have fun. Did you get him a gift?”
“He says money is best. He wants cold hard cash.”
“Cash is indeed best.”
It was because they had families.
Unlike Team leader Lee Soo Hyuk's time when people without families had gathered together, people with families to take care of had gathered when Kim Rok Soo had created a new team.
That was why Kim Rok Soo could not get close even when his subordinates tried to get to know him better.
His body warmed up eating the hot ramen.
‘…Did she say despair?’
Elisneh the First had said she was going to show Choi Han despair when she cast the illusion on him last time.
She had said that she showed him his worst moment.
That meant that this was the worst moment for Cale.
Cale’s eyes looked up aimlessly.
‘Why is it not the past?’
He was asking himself.
Why had he not ended up at the worst moment from his past?
Why was it not showing him that moment?
However, he soon realized the answer.
He had met with Team leader Lee Soo Hyuk who he had to send off during the worst moment of his life.
He was still dead, but the moment Team leader Lee Soo Hyuk died no longer pained him anymore.
“Huh? Team leader-nim, why are you suddenly laughing? Is my ramen so good that you can’t help but laugh? Wow!”
“Hey. The Team leader-nim probably finds your reaction more entertaining.”
Cale started to laugh.
When he had opened his eyes as Cale Henituse inside ‘The Birth of a Hero’…
He had no regrets about the real world.
He had no cherished friends, family, nor anything.
However, he had been a bit concerned.
What would happen to his team if he was not there?
That was what he had been worried about.
They would have sent someone looking for Kim Rok Soo who did not show up for work, and his subordinates such as Jung So Hoon and Kim Min Ah would have been the ones to come.
What would they have seen once they arrived?
Would it have been Kim Rok Soo’s corpse?
Or would it have been something else?
Cale had been curious, but that curiosity had not been enough to let go of the new life he had received.
It was just enough curiosity for him to think about it every so often.
“Excuse me? Ah! That’s okay. It’s fine to laugh at me.”
“Aigoo, you, you- really should not talk. Do you think the team leader-nim is sorry because of that? He means he’s sorry we had to come to get him. Team leader-nim, we’re fine. To be honest with you, we’re happy we get to skip work!”
Jung So Hoon and Kim Min Ah each brushed aside Cale’s apology.
However, it was quite serious for Cale.
He realized it.
He realized the despair that came looking for him.
“We’ll be down at the car. Please come down once you're ready.”
“Shall I do the dishes?”
Cale responded to Kim Min Ah and Jung So Hoon once he was done eating.
“Okay. I'll get ready and head down. You don’t need to do the dishes.”
“You don’t need to rush so please feel free to take your time.”
The two of them opened the door and headed out of his rental room.
Cale quietly observed them.
The scenery outside the door was Kim Rok Soo’s old world.
“Then we will see you in a moment!”
“See you soon.”
The door closed and the automatic lock made an odd noise as it locked the door.
Cale was left alone in the room.
He looked around.
He saw the outfit he always wore.
Cale reached his hand toward the black shirt.
He saw his scarred arm and felt the shirt with the tips of his rough hands.
‘Should I go to work? It’s an illusion, but wouldn’t it be fun to see the team members for the first time in a long while and experience the difficult but bearable company work and relive the tiring work life?’
“Fun my ass.”
One corner of Kim Rok Soo’s lips twisted up and formed a cold smile.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
Cale sighed while hearing a noise that filled the quiet room.
His hand headed inside the top of his track suit.
“Is it because it is an item from a god?”
He had been certain it was an illusion from the beginning.
He believed it was an illusion after seeing that Kim Min Ah and Jung So Hoon could not hear that noise.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
The letter from the God of Death.
That letter was in Kim Rok Soo’s track suit pocket.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
“How can I head out that door when I can hear this noise?”
This letter, the item from the God of Death was still telling him that his remaining time was going down.
That was why Cale realized the identity of his despair.
It was more of a fear than despair.
The true identity of his fear…
In this world…
“It doesn’t exist.”
‘The Birth of a Hero’ was not real in Kim Rok Soo’s next day.
It was just a story inside a novel and not real.
It would mean that everything Kim Rok Soo experienced as Cale was fake and just part of a novel.
“Surprisingly, I have a lot of fear.”
Cale sighed after realizing his fear.
He then looked toward the closed door.
The world was outside that door.
That was why he would not head out the door.
“I need to go.”
He needed to quickly wake up from this illusion.
Cale had a pretty good idea about what he needed to do.
The medium that connected Kim Rok Soo and Cale.
Cale grabbed ‘The Birth of a Hero.’
To be specific, he grabbed volume 6.
He snorted as he flipped through the pages.
“Ha! It really is an illusion.”
The pages were blank. There was nothing written in volume 6.
It made sense since Cale had never read it.
It was not recorded in Kim Rok Soo’s mind.
Cale threw the book at a corner of the couch and reached toward a different book.
< The Birth of a Hero Volume 5 >
Cale held this back and debated.
He had a ‘feeling’ that the illusion would break with this book.
However, he didn't know what he needed to do with this book to break the illusion.
He didn't think a normal method would work.
‘Do I rip it? Burn it? Maybe eat it?’
Cale debated before just opening the book.
He quickly turned page after page.
He quickly arrived at the last page.
< Continued in the next volume. >
Cale laughed after seeing the last line.
He then closed the book.
Once the book closed…
“…What the? …It’s that easy?”
Cale could see the world turn black.
‘Is an illusion something that can be broken so easily?’
Cale was confused.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
He heard the clock at that moment. Cale lowered his head and the God of Death's letter in his hand was glowing.
‘This must have done something.’
He could tell that the god’s item had played a role in breaking the illusion.
“Time to go back.”
Back to reality.
Cale slowly closed his eyes.
He thought about his group who would have been shocked. Cale thought that he needed to quickly wake up and take care of things as he opened his eyes.
Bang! Baaaaang! Bang! Baaaaang!
He then opened his eyes after hearing numerous explosions.
He could see the branches binding him as well as other black branches surrounding him.
Cale who no longer had the Fire of Destruction around him was captured inside this wooden cage.
He heard a timid voice before the branch he grabbed earlier approached him again.
He heard the tree’s voice.
Cale could not see outside through the black branches.
He looked through a gap in the branches and opened his mouth.
“What is going on- gasp!”
He was then shocked.
Something flew toward him.
Cale who was peeking curled up in shock.
He soon heard a loud noise and the tree shook a bit.
The person who slammed into the tree fell to the ground.
Cale knew this person.
It was the middle-aged man with glasses, one of Elisneh's subordinates.
“Ugh. T, that hurt.”
The middle-aged was shaking as he moved his hand.
The pain in his body made it feel like his limbs were being trampled, but he needed to move. His hand moved toward the glasses on his face.
He needed to grab it.
He would be able to fight if he could grab it.
No, he would be able to survive.
It was at that moment.
“I won’t let you!”
The glasses were removed.
The man whose eyesight was fine saw the person who took the glasses drop them to the ground.
The man then stepped on the glasses.
The man who broke his glasses then grabbed him by his collar and raised him.
The man who was on the shorter side flailed in the air as his feet could not touch the ground.
“Please, d, don’t kill me-”
The middle-aged man with glasses grabbed the man’s hands with both hands in an attempt to try to make him let go.
He also had a desperate gaze to do whatever it took to survive.
However, that person was not looking at the middle-aged man.
He had frozen while holding the middle-aged man’s collar.
Past the middle-aged man's shoulders…
The person who was surrounded by disgusting branches and was captured like a hostage…
That person was looking at him.
Cale awkwardly smiled toward Choi Han who was covered in someone’s blood.
He then noticed what was going on behind the vicious-looking Choi Han’s shoulder.
“I will destroy everything!”
He couldn't see Raon because he was invisible, but he heard Raon’s voice and saw the maze walls fall like dominos.
He heard the sounds of monsters roaring as they dodged the falling walls…
“Wow. I get recharged and stronger every time I use my powers!”
“You bastards, all of you need to die!”
He could see the Dark Elves running wild as they became covered in the dead mana pouring out of the falling maze walls.
“…You’re all doing a good job?”
Cale could see Choi Han smile innocently at his question.
Blood that he was certain was not Choi Han’s own blood was dripping down from Choi Han’s chin.
‘…I think I opened my eyes at an extremely vicious moment.’
Cale subconsciously clenched the tree branches.