(TL change: ‘Sky Reacher’ → ‘Sky Barrier’ [Raw: 魔天])
My father passed away when I was 10 years old.
It was an accident, or should I call it a mystery? The flight from Kimpo International Airport to Haneda Airport, disappeared abruptly. Korean students going on a school excursion, Japanese students returning from a school excursion, and teachers from both nations⎯⎯⎯guardians included⎯⎯⎯were on board. Some lived, some died, and some vanished. My father wasn’t lucky enough to be a part of the group of people who lived.
According to what I researched later on about this plane incident, although it was surrounded by mysteries and questions, starting from the disappearances, regardless of what doubts people had, the incident itself was never fully explained. I, who was living under my single father, suddenly became an orphan one morning, and once the funeral was over I ended up going to my relative’s place. The reason why I was living off of my uncle’s place was that.
Nothing in particular happened when I started living under the same roof as my female cousin who had the same age as me. Of course, nothing special happened when I started going to the same school as her as well. I was nothing more than a child who had become an orphan and reality wasn’t as warm as those animations. In truth, my cousin and I, though it’s the same right now, didn’t get along that well at the time.
At one point, I may have thought that she wasn’t at fault. My uncle hated me, and my aunt······mm, it was a bit complicated, in any case, the two of them always argued with me as the main topic. ‘Since you thoughtlessly said you’d take care of him.’, ‘What about it? You’re being inconsiderate.’, ‘Be it considerate or whatever, our lives have priority. What will you accomplish by increasing the number of mouths to feed?’, ‘Then what would you have done? No one was going to take him, that poor young child.’, ‘My older brother is a politician and has a lot of money, if we left him alone then he would have taken him.’, ‘Sure he would. He despised the idea. Really, why couldn’t you have been as successful as your brother.’, ‘If you didn’t dedicate your money to the church.’, ‘And if you didn’t spend so much money chasing after women.’, within a household where these sorts of conversations would echo throughout, that’s why my younger cousin, Miyeong, had no other option except to dislike me.
And because she was a child, a child had the tendency to honestly express their emotions. So it was obvious that Miyeong would actively display her ‘hatred’ towards me even at school, and as kids are kids, they were bound to be swept up by it easily. It was already decided whose side they would take when comparing me, who had just transferred to the school, with Miyeong, who had been going to this school for awhile now.
Thinking back at it now, in the end, the origin was this petty······I, was bullied.
That, was when I met Joo Chanmi.
A day has passed. I organized the information I had about this place where I was going to be living in.
First, this place is underground.
Second, there are stairs going upstairs but there are also steel bars blocking the path.
Third, right beside those bars is the torture chamber, past that chamber is a hallway with cells laid out on both sides, and at the end of the hallway is a prison guard room with a table, chair, lamp, and a wooden bed.
I ended up spending my time in that prison guard room. I was returned to my cell once before being summoned again, but soon after, I received the order to ‘use this room’. If I were to look back at the conversation(that took place in the torture chamber) then it went like this:
“You could have just opened the door to the solitary cell.”
“Ah hah ha. You serious? Then I wouldn’t be able to return you, Mr. Yujin, to your cell.”
“Is that your final safety precaution?”
“No, it’s not really my final option. It’s just the easiest and safest method. You don’t have any special ability, right?”
“Though there were certainly some out of the ordinary things, you were surprised by the fact that magic existed and you thought that I was a chuunibyou.”
Come to think of it, I did say that. Thinking about it now, those were unnecessary words. Those words I ended up blurting out because I didn’t properly press down my emotions. If I didn’t say something like that, then my options would have increased. For example, pretending to possess some sort of terrifying super power······. Anyway, it’s impossible now. If you bring up needless words, then those unleashed words will kill your future without any hesitation whatsoever.
“At the very least, it probably isn’t a physical ability or something that sticks out immediately.”
The Earl hummed to herself and added that line to the end. I no longer wished to murder my potential futures, so I only shrugged my shoulders in response to her.
“Anyway, you can use that room you saw earlier. Summoning someone over and over again⎯⎯⎯Well, there’s a small, circumstance.”
Circumstance, is it? The fact that she slurred the end of her sentence meant it was something that was disadvantageous to her, thus meaning, there is some sort of limit to her summoning ability.
This wasn’t the time to ask.
“It was rather empty. Are there no clothes, water to wash with, a toilet, or something to eat?”
“You’re asking for a lot?”
“Are you telling me to entertain you like this?”
“Is there a problem?”
“You don’t know how easily males become dirty, do you?”
“Ah ha? But I’m already well aware of that.”
“Then you know that in around two days, you’ll be receiving services from a guy who is covered with a bunch of dead skin, smeared with his own feces, and drinking his own piss, right?”
“······At that point, I’ll probably just kill you instead, you know?”
“Cleaning up blood, intestines, and bones is different from wiping shit.”
“That may be so, but······. Ah, people like you······.”
The Earl of the Silver Lion looked at me with annoyed eyes and scratched the back of her head.
“Ah, whatever. If it’s a bathroom, then there’s one near the guard room. It’s open so you can use that. As for water to wash with, I’ll do something about it so wait. Food······.”
“I’m not going to drink the Heaven milk.”
“Are you complaining about your meal? In this situation?”
“I said so before, but I don’t like stimulating things.”
“What you like doesn’t matter. Do I have to tell you something, as simple as, eating? Mr. Yujin, right now you’re in a circumstance where you have to eat whatever I give you, you knooow? You’re saying that while knowing that, riiiiight?”
It’s a bad sign if the end of her lines starts being dragged. Although I’ve grasped that already, I didn’t back off here.
“I don’t mind if you want to gain the initiative by picking on every word I say, but I’ve continued to be respectful to you. Hoping you would similarly be respectful towards me, that shouldn’t be a wrong desire.”
The Earl may have furrowed her brow, but she did not reveal her teeth. A long silence.
She clicked her tongue and folded her arms.
“You prattle well, for an otherworldly creature.”
I didn’t tell her that she was doing the same from my perspective. If I uttered those words, then the ‘equal treatment of human beings’, which I piled up until now, will break apart. I can’t lash out at her. Regardless, trying to push on any further than this would be dangerous, so I kept my mouth shut and waited. The peerage title of omission.
“I’ll give you food. Though, it’s not really because I respect you.”
“······Haa. Then what, I have to provide you clothes, water, and food, these three things? Moreover, since they’re expendables, it’s tiresome······.”
“If it’s okay, I hope I can get a pen and paper as well.”
“It’s not okay, it’s annoooying······. Really, should I just kill him?”
This girl who muttered those words indifferently. Quickly, I have to create my foundation⎯⎯⎯’something that she would regret’, underneath me. At this rate, 4 days would be my limit. If someone asked me why I thought I only had 4 days left, then I could only say it was thanks to my intuition······.
“I’ll see you later.”
As if she had lost interest, the Earl dusted her coat, put away her rod, and raised her left hand. From her little finger to her index finger, her nails were polished black, excluding her remaining nail which was painted white. A necklace, which I have no idea when she took out, was held in her hand. And then⎯⎯⎯
Something appeared in front of the Earl of the Silver Lion.
Someone of the same age as me, however, not a part of the same homo sapiens⎯⎯⎯a girl, from another world. She had blue hair, blue eyes, and similar to the Earl, she had a crack in her pupils as well. She had a pretty appearance, but a sense of coldness was emanating from her as well. Her height was nearly the same as my own and her entire body was equipped in armor······the me who was able to notice all this within the span of a single second, truly, I should be thankful to the first half of the 8 Years’ War.
“Kyaahuu······!!” A scream. Seeing as she fell backwards the moment she was summoned meant that she must have been sitting down. She was holding a knife in her right hand and a fork in her left hand, so that probably meant that she was in the middle of a meal. The blue-haired female⎯⎯⎯that’s too long, the female knight fixed her gaze at the Earl.
“Korza! Biess–Krinknte’ zes!!”
It seems the Earl was laughing while placing the black nail, of her left thumb, near her mouth.
Wait. Come to think of it, back in the torture chamber as well.
“Zia. Sitro–kosa, Brink–aizio.”
“Noveme, Korza··· Isurasias’ zes.” The female knight, who let out a deep sigh, glanced around the room once and a tired expression appeared on her face. “Aikaz akshmidao’ zes’ niano···.”
“Tobok Sanke, Zia.”
“Kabo’ zes’ na.”
The female knight let out another sigh and, without even giving me a single glance, put out her hand towards the Earl. The Earl grinned and jumped into the female knight’s arms, ignoring the knight’s outstretched hand. With an expression of resignation on her face, the female knight hugged the Earl. The Earl then spoke.
There was a glimmer.
That was it. Without leaving a single trace, the Earl and the female knight disappeared. In an instant, I ended up in a situation where the only things remaining in the room were me and the otherworldly creatures bound to their racks. Since it wasn’t really a delightful place, I returned to the prison guard room I was assigned. I then fell asleep on top of the wooden bed and woke up. I was exhausted.
My fatigue didn’t go away even after sleeping. Rather, it felt as if it had become worse. It was mainly because I had confirmed that this situation wasn’t a nightmare, but in truth, reality. I was able to organize my thoughts a fair bit, so I had a grasp on how the Earl was able to disappear earlier. She had canceled the summon after having ‘attached’ herself to her summon target. It most likely went along with the logic behind why a summoned being was summoned with their clothes on and not naked.
Furthermore, I understood why she had resorted to that method of leaving. She most likely didn’t want to show me the sight of the bars leading to the stairs being opened. Although I’m now able to move around more freely down here, don’t be mistaken. My prison has become only a slight bit bigger, nothing more than that······. It was that kind of subtle warning. She’s similar to Chanmi in the fact that she’s obsessed with gaining the initiative. Albeit, there’s also the chance that she’s simply just too lazy to walk up the stairs herself······. This too is similar to Chanmi.
Whichever it was, let’s put it aside for now since I already have a fair grasp on both situations······ I thought of something else, something more important.
About the Earl of the Silver Lion’s nails.
About those nails on her left hand that were colored black from her pinky to her index finger, but were definitely black all the way to her thumb when she had summoned that female knight.
Assumptions themselves weren’t difficult to make, but I believed that a different basis was also required. Furthermore, even if my assumption were true, I would then need a separate time to contemplate whether that fact would indeed be helpful to me in my current situation. It probably won’t be that helpful in the end, though. But it’s fine. Information that is gathered in a calm and orderly fashion will most certainly become useful in the future.
Although, at heart, I didn’t want to prolong this situation long enough to rely on the term ‘in the future’.
I’m investigating because of that reason. Nothing will be gained if I doze off.
First, the things I have on me. My pajamas, prayer beads, and a smartphone. Referentially, there’s still no signal. Of course, if this really is another world then something like a cellular base station wouldn’t exist. Although it seems like there’s no problem with the functions on the phone······ would there be an occasion where I could use them? Should I just listen to music until the batteries die? It would have been a good idea if I had brought my manual battery charger.
I rummaged through the prison guard room. It must not have been used in quite awhile since there was a layer of dust piled up everywhere. I should clean······ the moment these words came to my head, I noticed a broom, a dustpan, and a mop leaning against the wall. I cleaned and wiped each corner of the room until I was able to make the space reasonably clean. But there were no water sources so there was a limit to the wiping.
Cleaning finished. Resume investigation. If I were to explain the layout of the guard room, then it’s a doorless area that’s directly connected to the hallway. When you first enter the room, there’s a table with a lamp placed on top of it situated directly in front of you. On the other side of the table is a chair, and to the right, there’s a single bed. All of which were made from wood. There were 3 hanger-like objects fastened to the left wall. For first impressions, this place was truly a bare space.
Sitting on the chair, I could see the hallway that’s enshrouded in darkness, and the iron doors laid out on both sides of the hall. Back during the time when this place was still actively being used, would the guard have sat here while on duty? The guard would have read a book, wrote in their journal, and when the time arrived, they would have grabbed this lamp and patrolled each and every one of the cells, peaking inside all of them. I examined the lamp. Although it had run out of oil a long time ago, it seemed to still be in working condition.
Wondering if a type of journal was left behind, or if something else was under the bed, I lowered myself to the floor and searched the underside of the bed, but to no avail.
At that point, I stopped my investigation of the guard room and went out to the hallway. She said there was a bathroom near the guard room, and there was certainly a door adjacent to the guard room in the hallway. Once I opened the door, I saw an old fashioned toilet and an old fashioned foothold, both made from wood, and a yellowish brown color smeared here and there.
The smell wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. My confusion was answered when I peered inside the toilet in question. There was a sewer system under it and I could see some water flowing down a waterway. It was about 2 meters down? My older cousin would have measured it more accurately.
If one were to examine the hole more closely, then they would know that there’s a walkable pathway on both sides of the waterway. Is this prison really okay? It seems incredibly lax······ this thought came up for an instant, but if you think about it properly, this bathroom can only be used by the guards, and a prison guard has no reason to go down to the sewers to escape. Of course, I’m not a guard, so······ if the sewer system is connected to the outside, then it’s possible for me to go through it and escape······.
It doesn’t matter where I go, if she cancels my summon then I’ll return to the solitary cell. Even if she didn’t do that, as long as she has my ‘catalyst’, she can summon me regardless of my location. It literally meant that it didn’t matter where I was⎯⎯⎯has she not already dragged me into this different world?
Therefore, I’ll pass on this sewer system. If some variable occurs later on, then I’ll come back here at that time. Since I was already here, I emptied my bladder and then returned to the hallway.
The only things left were the solitary cells.
Iron doors that were facing one another, there were 20 in total. Each door had a hole going through its center to allow people to peer inside. Before looking inside each and every one of those holes, I tried shouting out first.
“Is there anyone here!?”
“Is there perhaps, someone, other than me, here······!?”
“Is there, no one, here!?”
No response······after giving up on that idea, it was at the moment I was about to peer inside the hole on the door directly beside the bathroom.
“I see your vocal cords are good.”
Korean. It was a voice that I had heard before as well.
Alarmed, I turned towards the source of the voice. I saw someone walking down the hall from the torture room. I recognized the person and also understood why it felt as if I had heard their voice before.
Standing there with a strapping height, cold face, and wearing armor, was the blue haired female knight that the Earl had summoned earlier. In her hand, she was holding something that looked like a basket with a white cloth covering the top.
“Food and clothes. Her Excellency the Earl ordered me to give these to you.”
I blinked. No, it’s a bit troubling if you speak so naturally.
“Uh, well, what should I say······ Korean?”
“? Is there a reason why I shouldn’t be able to speak Korean?”
“No, there’s no particular reason you shouldn’t, but······. You didn’t use it earlier.”
“Well, I didn’t have a reason to do so at the time.”
“······Did you learn it?”
“Like I said, is there a reason why I shouldn’t have? I also know a little bit of Ezantel··· underwater world language and the world of heavens language.”
That’s interesting. Our language, which isn’t really that popular even back on Earth, is being treated the same as the language from the world of heavens.
“By those words, that means other people besides you and the Earl also know Korean.”
“A little in the castle, but if you’re asking on a global scale, then I’m not too certain. In the first place, researching other worlds was incredibly difficult to do before Her Excellency the Earl discovered her own ability. Even now, although it seems like a fair amount of people are learning the language of the heavens, Korean, not so much.”
“So it wasn’t being treated the same······.”
“If I say it in your people’s terms, then it’d be a third world language.”
Seriously, just what kinds of Koreans came here before me for it to be ‘in your people’s terms’.
“Referentially, Her Excellency the Earl knows how to speak Japanese and English as well.”
“That’s impressive. 3 languages. That’s 2.5 tiers higher than the average on Earth.”
“It’s talent. It’s a matter of time for canine teeth to grow on carnivores.”
It was like the saying that talent relating to one’s capabilities will follow behind them. The blue haired female knight stepped towards me and handed me the basket. After setting the basket down and pulling aside the piece of cloth, I could see bread, soup, cooked meat, and a fruit that looked like a tangerine inside. Further in the basket, there was a container with water and well-folded clothes.
“If you want to thank someone then do it to Her Excellency the Earl of the Silver Lion. I’m just a mere envoy.”
(TL note: The word ‘Lion’ and ‘Envoy’ uses the same word in Korean, ‘사자’.)
Though it feels like I heard a very slight play on words just now, let’s ignore it.
“Are you going to leave immediately?”
“I’m not busy.”
“Then can you be my conversation partner for a bit?”
The blue haired female knight raised an eyebrow. Despite that, whether it was because she didn’t feel right taking back her words of not being busy, or because she originally planned to do this anyway, she nodded her head. I lifted up the basket and headed towards the prison guard room, the blue haired female knight following behind me silently.
Setting the food out on top of the table, I then yielded the chair to the female knight. I found a reasonable place and sat down on the ground nearby. The female knight sat down on the chair, but she turned down the food.
“I’m fine. If it’s a meal, then I already had mine. I’m always taking care of things like that thoroughly.”
“Well, you were eating during that time when you were summoned before.”
“Really, I’m contemplating on whether I should set up fixed times for when I’m available to be summoned. One time, I was summoned right when I sat down in the bathroom with my underwear down. It was a big deal.”
“Certainly, that’d be troubling······.”
“Of all occasions, it had to have been when I was going to take a big one, so it was an even bigger problem.”
(TL note: ‘Big one’ and ‘Bigger problem’ uses the same Korean word ‘큰일’.)
Though it feels like I heard a very slight play on words again, let’s ignore it. She seems like a person who’d get along well with Soohyeon.
“You aren’t going to eat?”
“If it’s because of what I said that you lost your appetite, then······.”
“I assure you that isn’t the case. I didn’t lose my appetite, it’s simply because I don’t eat while talking. It’s not appealing to look at and it’s disrespectful to the other party.
The blue haired female knight raised her eyebrow once more. I looked up at the female knight, who was like that, straight in the face.
“Han Yujin. Nineteen. I’m a student.”
“Gia Batsand. Eighteen. A member of the Silver Lion Royal Guards.”
So she’s 18.
“How does a year work here?”
“If I were to explain it in terms you’d understand, then 7 days is 1 week, 4 weeks is 1 month, 12 months is 1 year, and adding the holiday at the end of the year, it’s 337 days. However, since a day is 26 hours, the actual time is similar to your world.”
“What month is it right now?”
It was January in my world too. Certainly, the days were similar. 18, huh.
“To be a knight at that age, that’s impressive.”
“There’s nothing to be impressed by. Since I’m an esteemed daughter, and there was a need for a female knight, I received the education to become a knight ever since I was a little girl. Of course, since I’ve become a knight, I can boast a refinement that befits one.”
Well, rookies participating in the Olympics are usually around that age too.
“And who did you learn Korean from?”
“Her Excellency the Earl and Ahyeon.”
“The Korean that Her Excellency the Earl summoned when she was 8-years-old. He was around for about 4 years, and if you spend that much time together with someone, then it’s a given that you’d learn their language.”
Gia Batsand spoke with somewhat dimmed eyes. By the looks of it, it seems they must have been quite close. Well, if they weren’t that close then she wouldn’t have been able to speak Korean this well. ······For me, that 4 years time was a surprise.
“What happened? To that person, that is.”
Gia shrugged her shoulders. No reply.
“After that······ did more Koreans come?”
“What happened to them?”
Gia stared straight into my eyes. And then,
She called my name and continued.
“There are a countless number of things in the world that you are unable to do something about. Putting your world as an example, there are an innumerable number of people who are killed in a car accident every day. Among them, there isn’t a single one who thinks something like, ‘I’m going to die in a car accident’ as they walk out onto the street. However, car crashes are a reality. Dying is a reality. A reality that occurs. It can’t be changed.”
“You, will die.”
Gia looked down at me with her blue eyes.
“Your limbs will be torn, nails will be stabbed into your eyes, your tongue will be ripped out, your abdomen will be lacerated, and your internal organs will be dug out. You will die, incredibly, painfully. It will be an indescribably painful death. There’s no way out.”
I let out a sigh.
“Thanks for the advice. Your point?”
“Although it’s your freedom to try and find hope in your conversation with me, I don’t have the ability to give you that hope.”
“And the reason why you’re having a conversation with me despite that?”
“? You’re the one who wanted me to be your conversation partner.”
So, if I’m to organize this : Since you’re a poor fellow who’s going to die soon, the least I can do is listen to your trivial requests. Something like that? Sort of feels like a last wish gimmick.
“Even if, there’s no horse here.”
(TL note: ‘Conversation’ can be read as ‘horse’, and the line ‘conversation partner’ can also be read as ‘go against a horse’ in Korean ‘말 상대’.)
“······You’ve been wanting me to go along with your word play since a while ago, haven’t you?”
“What, so you’ve noticed? Ahyeon was incredibly skilled at this.”
“I’m starting to get a feel for what type of person he was······. Do you want me to? I can if you want.”
“Give it a shot.”
“In the first place, are there even horses in this world!?”
“There are, but they have beaks.”
“They aren’t horses the moment they have beaks!”
“Of course, they also have wings and wattles.”
“I didn’t ask! Those aren’t characteristics of a horse!”
“When dawn breaks they all cry out together, and the stables instantly become disorderly.”
“What are you talking about!? Aren’t those just excellent chickens!?”
“Additionally, they’re tasty if you fry them.”
“They’re just chickens!”
Gia Batsand stood up while letting out ‘kuh’ sound. She had a satisfied look on her face.
“You, you’re impressive.”
“Are you satisfied?”
“It’s been such a long time since I’ve had a true conversation like this······.”
“Although I could satisfy you more by saying something like, ‘Your parameter for measuring the trueness of a conversation is strange!’ or, ‘A girl shouldn’t be attached to something like this!’. I’m sorry, it’s not really my style······.”
“Even if you ask······ it just isn’t my preference.”
“That’s a weird preference.”
Though it feels like ‘Look who’s talking!’ would be a good tackle point here, let’s put it aside.
“I have a friend named Soohyeon and he really enjoys things like this.”
“Is that it! Is the point in the present!?”
(TL note: ‘hyeon’ and ‘present’ uses the same Korean letter, ‘현’.)
Though it feels like ‘It has no relation to the name!’ would be a good tackle point here, let’s put it aside.
No, really. It’s not my style, so stop looking at me with those expecting eyes.
“Going past that for now, I’m grateful that you explained it in a way that’s easy to understand while using car accidents as an example.”
“You don’t want me to have needless expectations, right? That’s nice of you.”
“It’d be troubling if you died while resenting me, after all.”
“Have you not considered the possibility that you’ll end up being resented for having said that? Some people don’t resent the person who confines them, but they’ll rage against the person who tells them that they’re being confined instead.”
“I believe you aren’t that kind of person.”
“How do you know?”
“Since you’ve gotten to the ‘second day’.”
“If you were a normal person who’d get upset from hearing those kinds of words, then it would have been impossible for you to have gained Her Excellency’s interest and remained alive. You would have had zero chance to wake up in a place that isn’t the torture rack, and you wouldn’t be able to place your mouth on something other than Her Excellency the Earl’s waste. However, you are alive right now. You’ve received food and clothes. Moreover, you haven’t fallen into a state of panic either.”
Although they were thankful words, there was something else that attracted my interest.
“So there’s been others. Other people who got past the first day.”
“Not a lot, though.”
I didn’t ask her about what happened to them. Despite that, Gia continued to speak.
“The number of people who got to the third day is two. No one has gotten to the fourth day. But, if you judge those creatures tied up in the torture chamber as ‘having passed the fourth day’, then it’d be a bit different.”
Of course, I didn’t plan to judge them as so.
“What about Ahyeon? You said he stayed alive for 4 years.”
“Even Her Excellency the Earl wasn’t like this back then.”
“Certainly, you said she was 8-years-old······ Is there a reason why she became like this?”
Gia shrugged her shoulders. This girl seems to have a clear distinction between the incidents she can talk about and the ones she can’t.
Organizing the information I couldn’t hear : What happened to the Earl’s first summon, Ahyeon, and the reason why the Earl became like this.
Okay, let’s dig into these later.
“Want to make a bet?”
“If I’m able to safely enter into my fourth day. When the Earl tries to kill me······ even once is fine, so please stop her.”
Gia looked at me with pity. I quickly took the words out of her mouth.
“Don’t say something like, ‘I said that earlier because I knew you might get this kind of hope.’. Wouldn’t a single time be possible for you? You seem to be receiving quite the amount of trust from the Earl, after all.”
“Is that your assumption?”
“You said you were a guard. You also talked about the time that Ahyeon was summoned. Wouldn’t that mean you’ve stuck close to the Earl ever since you were young? Furthermore, the Earl’s personality is really bad too.”
“I don’t really get what you mean by that last part.”
“I’m saying that her human relations must have been limited. There are many cases like that in Korea too.”
It’s the characteristic of these childish people to dig further into others the more they’re limited from contact. While recalling Eun Minseon, who was one of the mid-bosses in Chamni’s faction, I spoke.
“Well, the personality of the person I know, who was in a similar situation, wasn’t as bad as the Earl you’re serving···.”
“I’m contemplating whether I should challenge you to a duel.”
“You don’t have to. The Earl never told me to keep my manners, either.”
Gia folded her arms. Although they were words that I uttered on purpose, despite having already understood the situation earlier, I felt regret. If you think about it, I didn’t have to bring up the Earl’s personality. A long time hasn’t even passed since I decided to not get swayed by my emotions and say pointless things, but I ended up like this again. It can’t be helped. I’m not 100%. I am⎯⎯⎯after all, nothing more than a high school student who has experience in overcoming bullying.
“Okay, but why do I have to accept that bet?”
“If you believe that the conversation earlier was sufficient.”
“Payment for the tsukkomi, is it?”
No, damn it.
The Koreans that came here, especially that Ahyeon guy, are all bad.
At least call it a tackle or a straight man act. Do you have to use the original language? Really, even in a different world, otakus are still otakus······.
“Well, it’s not only that······ I’m saying that in hopes that you’ll help me.”
If I’m going to survive, then the assistance from the right-hand person of the Earl is absolute. For a person who knows Korean and isn’t hostile towards me, to appear in front of me, this was a lucky break.
If you look at it in that viewpoint, then commenting about the Earl’s personality earlier was truly an unnecessary remark.
What can I do about that slip-up?
I said that and lowered my head. A moment of silence.
Gia let out a sigh and stood up.
“I’ll do what I can.”
I expressed my gratitude with my utmost sincerity and certainty.
I watched as Gia, who had shrugged her shoulders, turned around and walked away.
The meal was surprisingly good. I was already feeling hungry, so I ended up eating everything. If I had some green tea to go along with it, then I wouldn’t want anything more. Twisting one’s body in accordance to the heat that radiates throughout it from drinking a hot glass of green tea after a meal, is an incredibly satisfying sensation. It was truly unfortunate that I wasn’t able to experience it now.
I examined the clothes I had received. Surprisingly, I found sweat (Training? But if I say training pants then you wouldn’t understand.) pants and a t-shirt. Also, instead of socks and shoes, I was provided a pair of slippers instead. Were these used by that Ahyeon guy? If you consider the Earl’s ability, then going back and forth between worlds is simple, so bringing useable household goods wouldn’t be difficult.
(TL note: Sweat suits are calling ‘Training(츄리닝)’ for some reason in Korean.)
Looking at it like that, it should have been an easygoing other world life, but what could have possibly happened for things to end up like this? Why did the Earl become a psycho and what happened to you, Ahyeon?
No matter how much I thought about it, the answer didn’t come to me. I was lacking too much information.
I changed my clothes within the darkness of the prison which made it feel like weights were pulling my body down. I put on the slippers as well. I folded the pajamas that I was wearing into a neat pile and put them at the edge of the bed. I planned to use them as a pillow.
Next, resume my investigations.
I looked into the hole of every cell. The size of each cell were all different. There were several doors that could be opened and shut.
I organized the rooms with any type of significance.
Placing the guard room as the reference point, the cells closest to the room started from 1, and the left side was row A while the right side was row B.
Cells with openable doors : A-1, B-4, B-7, A-10
The cell I was in : B-5
Cells with wreckage-like objects(does not move) within them : A-2, B-3, B-7, B-10
In rooms like B-7, since the door could be opened and there was something inside as well, I surveyed the cell thoroughly. There was something similar to a small stone coffin and a rotting corpse covered by a straw mat within it. Although the body was almost completely decomposed, so it was difficult to be certain,
it appeared to be a Korean person.
Furthermore, many graffiti that were written in blood remained in most of the cells. Should I call it their will······? There were a lot of symbols that I didn’t understand, but I could see some Korean among them. 〈Save me〉 〈Who put me here?〉 〈Mommy〉 〈I’m scared〉 〈My name is Kim Gwanhyeong, I live in Beuchon〉······.
············, ······, ······························, mm.
Bear with it.
Calm down, Yujin.
Prayers beads, while touching my beads.
Something like emotions······ control those completely and······ pull yourself together.
I only have bad recollections in regards to churches, since it relates to my aunt, but I know of no other method to commemorate the memories of the deceased. There are other worlds, and the Earl did mention ‘your world’s heaven’. If that’s the case, then perhaps, wouldn’t that mean there’s a chance that Gods and Devils do possibly exist? If there really is some greater existence that’s watching over all of us, then please, God in Heaven, give these pitiful souls mercy. And in the end, allow them to enter your embrace.
Once I finished my investigation on the solitary cells and the hallway, and the only place left to investigate was the torture chamber, the Earl of the Silver Lion threw open the door to the torture room and appeared.
“Anten!” Throwing me something similar to a greeting, she started spinning like a magical girl who was transforming. “I’ve come to plaaay.”
“Now then, Mr. Yujin. Entertain meee. You have to entertain me a lot, you know? Ah hah ha ha.”
The Earl then needlessly summoned me in front of her, with a poof, and beamed at me. I examined the appearance of the girl who had just appeared. She was wearing a similar attire to yesterday, but with shoes this time. Seeing that there were splotches of blood here and there on her clothes, she must have enjoyed herself in the torture chamber for a moment before coming here. Moreover, the tattoo on the back of her hand was black now······ My assumption might be correct.
“Surely you won’t say it’s impossible this late into the game, right? Ah hah ha. It’s okay! Even now, I can tie you up to a rack. Ah ha, ah ha ha ha. I’ll play with you all the way down to your bone marrow. And by marrow, I mean it literally. I’ll pull some out and put them into a beaker with some other weird liquid······ Gya hah ha ha!?”
That last laugh most likely wasn’t done intentionally by the Earl. She let out a ‘kya’, after all.
“What are you doing!? Mr. Yujin!”
“You told me to entertain you.”
“Even if I did, do people normally resort to ticklin······ gya hah ha? Uh, stooop it.”
“It was a joke.”
“A physical joke like this, I don’t neeeeed it!”
“Alright, but you’re really defenseless. Earl, is it fine for you to allow me to approach your body so easily?”
“Hm? Ah, that’s⎯⎯⎯.”
“If there were feathers attached to my hands, then just now, you could have been tickled by twice the amount.”
“A subtly peaceful warning!?”
“Since I don’t like things that are too stimulating.”
“I’m not sure whether I should say that you’re unwavering, that you’re full of gusto despite seeming like an idiot, or question why the feathers would be attached to your hand and not be held by them···.”
“I’ll say it now, but you’re too late to say the third option.”
“You dropped your guard there on purpose······!?”
She’s really enjoying this. Well, seeing as her royal knight was like that as well, what else could she have learned when Ahyeon, the person who taught her Korean, probably had that kind of personality.
In any case, it seems the mood is softer compared to yesterday. Since the situation has changed from ‘Certified torture death’ → ‘Spared for now’, her correspondence probably changed accordingly. I shouldn’t misunderstand. My life is still hanging by a thread.
“Anyway, Earl. Is there something troubling you?”
A question mark appeared on the face of the Earl who was enjoying herself.
“Your complexion doesn’t look that good, so I thought something might be on your mind.”
I said that because I did feel that sort of mood coming off from her, but, I was also planning to ask that question even if I didn’t feel anything. The Barnum effect. A vague but appropriate guess was a good method to make the other party give out more information about themselves.
Sure enough, the Earl of the Silver Lion went into thought for a moment. It seems I momentarily won’t have to worry about going on the torture rack.
“What? Not really? If I had to say there is one, then there is something.”
“What is it?”
“Ah ha ah. Why do I have to tell you? Mr. Yujin.”
“Ah ha ah. Why should I tell you? Mr. Yujin. Jinx······ I failed.”
“It was dangerous······!?”
“Keep your guard up.”
“Uh, mm······.” It seemed the Earl of the Silver Lion, psycho, serial killer via summoning & torture, sincerely went into deep thought. “It’s nothing special. Just some trial problem.”
While ushering me with her hand, the Earl started to walk. Not towards the torture chamber, but to the prison guard room.
“You deal with court stuff, too?”
The Earl showed her teeth and laughed.
“Ufufu. Isn’t that obvious? I am a person who was allowed the Silver Coffin and the Green Orb, Korza! The Earl.”
“Wouldn’t you normally have a separate department for that?”
“NoNoNoNo! In this City of Confinement, I have to handle it.”
“What’s the scale of this city for you to do that?”
“Mm, Mr. Yujin. That’s not important, Mr. Yujin.”
It must be small then.
“What’s the case?”
“Should I call it a demolition issue? There’s a group called ‘Fedchant’. It’s a gathering of merchants that holds its position in one of the 12 major factions. It’s also a religious clique that worships one of the 12 Gods, the Superior Iyanko Niyaon. Well, in any case.”
If there are 12 factions and 12 gods, then that means there are 12 groups that are around the same size here. Let’s keep this in mind.
“Federation of Merchants. Fedchant for short?”
“YesYes. Just like that abbreviation, it’s also quite the shitty place. Their headquarters bought the land of one of my city people. However, that citizen doesn’t want to leave. The headquarters of those Fedchants requested of me to demolish that land. End of story.”
“These sorts of problems exist in any world, huh······no wait. They bought the land? Did they make a contract?”
“YupYupYupYup. Documents are valid. Seal stamped. Not forged. Thank you very much.”
“Then isn’t it over? If you’re going to deal with the issue with legitimacy, then don’t you have to comply?”
“The problem is this civilian, is holding out saying that they’ve never stamped any documents. Claiming that they’re being set up, they submitted a direct petition to me.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Since English, is difficuuult.”
(TL note: Another play on words, the ‘it’ in “I don’t get it” is written the same as ‘English’ in Korean(영문).)
“I don’t understand Korean, either.”
“He received it naturally······!?”
“Did a spouse or relative sign the contract in that person’s stead?”
“Oho. An enduring elderly person. A son who lived somewhere else. Fedchants holding out money. The son swallows that up. Something like episode 803 of Screening Humanity?”
“I think there’s a subtle difference, but······ you know Screening Humanity?”
“It’s enjoyable······ Anyway, that’s not it either. That person lives alone, and they’re not old.”
It’s a story that made me want to say ‘What nonsense is this?’, but after rotating my prayer beads and organizing the information calmly······ what nonsense is this?
“So you think the person was controlled by magic and was made to sign it, something like that?”
In order to solve an unfathomable situation, I have no other choice but to bring in magic. It’s a relief that this is a world where magic exists. The Earl of the Silver Lion nodded her head.
“That’s one of my assumptions. There’ll be some traces remaining if mind magic was used, but I think the right answer might be that someone stole the seal in secret and used it.”
While we were having our conversation, we entered the guard room. The Earl, who had sat down on the chair and took off her boots, crossed her legs. She then looked at me with sparkling eyes······ I held back a sigh.
The moment I went under the table, the Earl continued speaking while wriggling her toes.
“The problem is that this isn’t the only, mm, case. The Fedchants acquired land on quite a large scale this time, and eleven people came to submit direct petitions······ hm-mm, all with the same story. No matter who looks at this, it’s clear that those shitty people are messing around. How dare they do so in my city.”
“Didn’t you brag about being the First Sky Barrier out of the Twelve Sky Barriers before?”
“Shuuut uuuuup! Ah, a little bit more there. In any case······ I’m a newcomer among the Twelve Sky Barriers.”
For the First Sky Barrier to be a newcomer. I guess it’s not in order of who joined first. Either the order is correct, but it counts upwards, or the rank is determined by one’s ability? This is ambiguous, too. I’ll keep note of this.
“Well, you’re young, after all.”
“YupYupYup. I’m still a young and healthy 16-year-old, you know? Sweet sixteen, you know?”
“Who loves torture, that is.”
“If you compare me to a flower, then a withered rose. If you compare me to a color, then a viscous deep red.”
“That’s an acidic combination.”
“It’s a sick combination!”
“No, it’s more fermented.”
“Isn’t that worse?”
“Who cares? It’s my preference, please respect it, bracket lol bracket.”
Although that’s something I should nitpick towards that guy, Ahyeon, since I’m busy with this massage, I’ll let it go. She must have felt ticklish since the squirming Earl cleared her throat with an ‘ehem’, and spoke.
“Furthermore, among the Sky Barriers, the Odd Sky Barriers that I’m a part of is, how should I say it, different from the Even Sky Barriers.”
“Since the Sky Barriers who receive an odd number and even number are different.”
“Yeess. If you make them all pair up in two’s, then structurally, a loner will remain among the Sky Barriers. It’s determined by the academic value of one’s inborn talent.”
“One line summary : You don’t have a lot of power?”
My face was kicked. So is that the answer?
“How dare you say such ill-mannered words towards me, who’s renowned for being able to destroy the world.”
You’re able to destroy the world? Well, if there’s no exaggeration to her ability, then⎯⎯⎯⎯ something like destroying the world is trivial.
However, even if she could ‘destroy’ the world, since a contract doesn’t come along with her summoning ability, it’s a skill that’s difficult to rely on when trying to protect one’s own city.
“Is the scale of the Fedchants’ scheme too large to obstruct now?”
“That’s about right······ Moreover, the Fedchants have a Sky Barrier too. And that person is their leader. The Fedchants are led by the Eighth Sky Barrier of the Twelve Sky Barriers, the ‘Equivalent Exchange(Princess : Steel)’, who’s known as the Golden Sky.”
“Why Princess : Steel?”
“Since I’m the one who adds the expositions within the brackets. And why ‘steel’? Uh⎯⎯ it’s equivalent exchange.”
I believe that Ahyeon needs to take responsibility for this. Seriously.
“Referentially, their nickname in our world’s language is, Kurd–Ox, Qisvellro satane······.”
“I don’t understand your language yet, so you can stop. In conclusion, a fellow Sky Barrier is starting a fight with you?”
“Yeess. Well, even if you removed the member of the Twelve Sky Barriers, the Fedchants still aren’t people to be trifled with. In any case, their documents are perfect since they’re a union of merchants.”
If merchants and documents have power, then that means this world is quite civilized as well. While I was thinking that, the Earl puffed up her cheeks.
“So that’s why I’m annoyed, and that’s also why I gave an enema to my milk producing The★Maid in Heaven with its own milk earlier······.”
“And since that didn’t improve your mood, you came to me. Is that it?”
“There there. Ah, do it there a bit more.”
The Earl of the Silver Lion leaned back against the chair contently while letting out a ‘Hoo’. While I bent her pinky toe back, I asked her a question.
“What do they plan to do with the land?”
“They plan to build a Fedchant branch office here in the Confinement City.”
“Isn’t that a good thing?”
“Not really. This city isn’t that bi······ I mean, it is big, but I don’t think it’s a scale where there should be a branch office. Adding to that, if a Fedchant branch office comes in, then a Mage Tower branch office will come in along with it⎯⎯⎯⎯ I don’t want that.”
“Should I call it the Assembly of Magic or the Association of Mages? It’s a place where all mage groups and mages are a member of. Referentially, I’m not a member.”
“Why no······ You’re not going to answer that, are you?”
“Ufu. Are you sure you aren’t actually a sorcerer from the Garden world? Mm······ Ah, excuse me. You were a boy, weren’t you, Mr. Yujin.”
I couldn’t understand why being a boy was brought up there.
“Why do you think they’re trying to start a fight with you?”
“Ha-mm? There’s a lot of things that comes to mind, so I’m not suure.”
“You don’t buy grudges.”
“I can shoulder all the resentment in the world. There was a period in my life where even I thought like that.”
“So you don’t now?”
“Turn over a new leaf. The New Earl of the Silver Lion, is active. Yay.”
“What about me and those things in the torture chamber over there?”
“It’s okay! It’s fine since you’re all from a different world, so you have zero human rights! It’s fine since you’re all aliens who I don’t have to worry about the retaliation of! If you’re going to resent something, then resent your pitifully weak worlds that don’t have the technology to travel to different worlds, track different dimensions, and have the ability to travel faster than the speed of light.”
“I see your world’s Heaven is a weak place then.”
“Mm– Ah. The Milk Producer(Heaven Brand), in its own way, has a deep story behind it.”
“I helped a Devil and got it.”
“That’s not deep at all. From one Devil’s hand to another.”
“Ah hah ha. Even if you escape a depressing development, you’ll still be in another development of despair.”
I have to make sure that those words don’t end up being applied to me.
“And so⎯⎯⎯⎯what will you do?” I asked her while tickling the edge of her foot. “You should have an idea.”
“That I do, but······ Mm~ Ah hah ha. It has nothing to do with you, Mr. Yujin, right? It’s my business.”
“Since I’m the New Earl of the Silver Lion, after all. Well, although in my heart, ‘I don’t care about something like work!’ and ‘I just want to mess around’ are being shouted. Work is still work. I said I’ll do it properly······ for now.”
“Do you have a motive?”
“I left things alone for too long so this became a mess and that became a mess. Even the public sentiment shattered and unhappiness became MAX. All I did was do nothing, but isn’t this too muuuch? This is why the ignorant masses are incompetent, is what the Earl of the Silver Lion, the Earl of the Silver Lion, thought.”
(TL note: This repeat is on purpose.)
Let’s pretend I didn’t hear that last line.
“Then don’t you have to deal with it properly?”
“Hm. Are you worried, Mr. Slave? Anxious about whether your master’s work will get resolved or not? Ufufu.”
At the very least, I know well that my chances of going to the torture chamber go up depending on how bad your mood is. I didn’t say that out loud.
“What are you going to do?”
“Mm~ what should I say? My mouth is starting to hurt now. I don’t really have to tell you, you know? Put more effort into the massage······ Gya hah ha ha!?”
“I told you, physical contact is too easy.”
“Wait, that’s cheating! Out, wait. Ah. Uh, gya hah, ah, that really tickles! Stop!”
“Tell me. If you don’t, then I’ll take your socks off and tickle you.”
“Heuguk!? Uub, gya hah ha ha. Out, uh, kyaang! WaitWait, Rota—zio! How could you tickle my bare foot, how could it not be a normal type of tickling either, how could it be a transcending technique when all you’re doing is angling your nails upwards, while utilizing the snap of your wrist, and making friction by performing quick up and down movements, hagyuu, s-stop it. If I undergo something like that, mmm, if I suffer through something like thaaat······ Niyuuuuung······.”
The Earl, who was panting like an exhausted cat or animal with her tongue hanging out, pushed me away with her foot. I obediently came out from under the table and sat on the bed. While stooping over the desk and pulling on her shoes, the Earl spoke.
“There’s nothing that can be done, right? It’s a situation where the exchange has already been established. Ugh, although there’s these and those things which I don’t like and think is reprehensible, I have to obey the law.”
“You’re unexpectedly earnest.”
“I’m a person who can live without law. If anything, I’m a person who’d prefer no laws.”
“The front and back have different meanings. So, where are the documents?”
“Hugyuu? Documents? If it’s those, then they’re in my office. What about them?”
“I just thought that if those documents were to disappear, then you’d have no reason to worry.”
“··················, ·········, ························, ············, ·································.”
Towards the Earl of the Silver Lion, who was looking at me with her mouth slightly agape, I returned her gaze without saying another word.
Organizing the information of the situation : Fedchant vs Citizen of the City of Confinement. Documents that seem illegal are the issue. Then wouldn’t it be resolved if those disappeared? Since picking out precise information, while not being swept away by a vast amount of dummy text, was something I’ve done throughout the 8 Years’ War.
“Uh, mm······ b-but, Mr. Yujin? That’s not allowed, Mr. Yujin.”
“Because, Mr. Yujin, I received the submission of the documents, you know? If those documents disappear then, Mr. Yujin, the side that received the documents will be at fault, you know? Mr. Yujin, the Fedchants will take legal action towards me, you know? Mr. Yujin.”
“Ah. Is that a problem? You can’t make it so that the very fact you received the submissions never happened?”
“No matter how you look at it, that’s a bit······ the law has to be obeyed.”
“So you aren’t high enough to ignore the law, huh?”
“It’s rather regrettable. One day, I want to be a noble that’s great enough to ignore the law, but that probably won’t happen.”
“Yeah, that’d be difficult.”
Towards the Earl of the Silver Lion, who was letting out a sigh while wiping her forehead, I spoke.
“‘We didn’t know when it was first submitted, but after investigating closely, oh dear, we discovered that they were elaborately forged papers’, it’d be difficult if the situation wasn’t like this, that is.”
“·········, ·····················, ···, ······, ····································.”
The Earl let out a groan.
“But, if that side says something.”
“If the fact that they arranged those documents with illegal methods from the start is true, then they can’t say anything.”
She let out a ‘Hm—‘ sound.
“But, the opponent is the Fedchants.”
“You said they were reprehensible. Crush them. You’re an aristocrat, aren’t you?”
She let out a ‘Gyauu······’ sound.
A moment of silence.
The Earl sprang up. She looked through her clothes and pulled out a small necklace.
“Gia Batsand, I special summon you in attack form!”
I’m not sure if she was in attack form, but Gia Batsand was summoned. She must have been off duty because she didn’t have any of her armor on and was wearing simple clothes. She was lying down and holding a single book in her hands, it was a paperback. The title of the book was ‘And the Young Master Dances on the Hand of the Savage Butler.’. On the cover, there was a boy that gave off an elegant feeling and a glasses wearing butler with a sharp look hugging the boy from behind······.
Let’s pretend I didn’t see that.
This and that.
In more ways than one.
Gia processed the situation quickly and let out a shout. After seeing me, she froze and dropped her book. It’s a tremendous progress compared to the time she ignored me despite having met my eyes yesterday.
“Korza, Ah. Nansitondel’ zes’ ko! Libara–Siasa’ zes’ niano!”
“I’ll start doing that next time. Anyway, dispatch! We’re returning to the land where we once lived! Tarz!!”
The Earl uttered and climbed on Gia’s back. Instead of reigns, the Earl grabbed Gia’s hair······ or not. She grabbed the back part of the brassiere which Gia was wearing under her shirt. No, would that work better as a reign instead of the hair? Although it seemed like Gia was trying to say something in protest, the Earl canceled the summon and with a ‘poof’, they disappeared. The only thing that was left behind was the BL novel that Gia had let go of while struggling.
Fortunately, it seems our king, Shahryar, is going to sleep for another night.
The reason why I wasn’t able to enjoy this feeling honestly most likely wasn’t because of the BL novel that had fallen before me.
And thus, the report of my investigation afterward.
First, the Earl of the Silver Lion’s nails. I was able to confirm that the nail on the Earl’s right-hand pinky had turned black after she summoned Gia.
The only idea I could think of was ‘limited uses’. Something like being unable to use her skill anymore if all of her nails turn black······ since the tattoo on her left hand turned black after all of the nails on that hand did, and it then jumped to the nails on her right hand, that means that including the 10 fingers and the tattoos on the back of both of her hands, her limit must be 12. Since there’s no way that could possibly be the total amount of times she can use her ability, then something like the numbers resetting after a fixed amount of time······ I don’t have enough information to be certain. Let’s keep this in check.
Second, I’ve decided to push the investigation of the torture room back a bit further. I’m too exhausted to face the pools of blood beyond that door. I nearly died there, you know? I’m going to sleep.
And finally······ the novel that Gia dropped. After picking it up and examining it, I discovered that the release date was around 5 years ago. The publisher label was that place with the name of a jewel on it. There were finger marks on the pages, and by the looks of the release date, the chances of this having been brought by Ahyeon was high.
Earl, your subordinate releases her stress with BL.
You’re an otaku, too. You should relieve your stress with⎯⎯⎯⎯something healthy, like this.
Not with something like torture.
Not like a blood-covered savage.
Generally, shouldn’t the spare time of a young person be spent healthily⎯⎯⎯⎯? Something along those lines.
How good would it be if I could say this to her face······.
TL Note: I’ve tried to avoid using too much TL notes in the middle of chapters up till now, but there were a fair amount of things I couldn’t just skip in this chapter. There’s a lot of Korean word play going on, and a lot of the jokes would go over your head if I didn’t do anything.
I don’t like being obstructive with TL notes, but you’ll have to forgive this. At least they aren’t obnoxious like the ones I used to leave behind when I first started translating. Of course, someone will probably say “BUT YOU CAN JUST PUT A NUMBER NEXT TO THE THING AND WRITE THE TL NOTE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE.”. Well yes, very loud and demanding reader, I could, but I can bet you that 90% of you guys never bother scrolling down to the TL notes in the middle of your reading session. By the time you get down there, you’d have long forgotten about what the line even was.
Also, the Earl tends to mix Korean + English in her speech, so the “YesYesYes” and “Nononono” are said in English.
Anyway, explanation aside, I would love some input on the translation of the names I’ve done. Especially from someone who’s proficient at Korean.
Things like 십이마천, I know I changed it to “Sky Barrier” but I honestly need a proficient Korean’s input. “Sky Shield” is rejected cause that sounds too similar to a certain manga/anime.