Book 2: Chapter 89
“Why do you hunt Demons? Where does your hatred for them come from?”
Kran shook his head.
“I never thought about stuff like that. I just don’t like the thought of Demons.”
It wasn’t for moral reasons or justice.
Kran never thought of himself as a good person. He was an extremely selfish and self-centered man. The reason why he’d started hunting the Demons was simple.
He didn’t like them.
To him, their thoughts and behaviour were disgusting.
So he killed them. He killed them because he didn’t like them. Even a little child would probably be able to think of a better reason, but it was the truth.
As he kept killing them, stronger and stronger opponents kept appearing. And as a result, Kran’s life became more and more hazardous. But every time he managed to overcome the struggle, he grew stronger.
He faced bloody battles day after day after day, and before long, his vision felt like it was constantly enshrouded by a red veil.
Then, when he finally awoke from his blood-fueled haze, Kran realised that he was suddenly being called one of the ‘Top Three’ by everyone. Humans and Demons alike.
“I suppose that’s why you always hid your true identity. So that you would be able to use it as a trump card when faced off against strong enemies.”
“Why did you bother saying it if you knew already?”
Kran spat those words in an irritated tone. The way this man spoke as if he knew everything was really annoying.
Lukas looked at him for a moment before opening his mouth.
“Let me express my respect.”
“I would like to express my respect and admiration to you for becoming the master of your life, your actions, and your beliefs.”
“You… Did you not understand what I just told you? I just did as I pleased without caring about anyone else. I’ve never done anything to deserve anyone’s respect.”
“You said you didn’t like the Demons.”
“You were able to instinctually tell that their thoughts and actions were wrong. This shows that you are a good person in nature.”
Kran had probably been ostracised by humans in the past.
No. Lukas was certain that was the case.
When he was more innocent than he was now when he thought that he was more human than Demon.
He wasn’t sure how that memory affected Kran.
But the important thing was that despite having those memories, he still chose to walk the path that he thought was right.
But the strong would always stand out from a crowd. Especially if they didn’t have any discretion about standing above others like Neil Prand.
Kran didn’t have the talent nor the charisma to be a leader.
Nevertheless, it couldn’t be denied that he could be living a much better life than he was right now. Gullard’s attitude was the best evidence of this. He could have become the Demons’ subordinate, spending his days slaughtering humans without fear.
In fact, it wasn’t even just the Demons.
For example, North America would gladly welcome Kran with both arms wide open if he chose to join them.
There was no organisation in the world that would refuse The Strongest, Kran.
But Kran didn’t join any of them.
He still stayed on the frontlines, the most dangerous place in the world, on his own.
He still continued to fight for his life every day.
He did something so troublesome and dangerous simply because he didn’t like them.
Or, in other words, because he couldn’t tolerate what they were doing.
It was clear that Kran had lost a lot over the years, but one thing he didn’t lose was his pride.
For a while, Kran didn’t say anything. Instead, he just quietly stared at Lukas. Then, he looked away from him and turned around.
Seeing this, Lukas was also about to turn around. After all, there were still a lot of things for him to do. But something suddenly flew towards him.
Lukas caught it and looked at it.
“That’s your cut. For helping me with Gullard.”
It was a soul crystal. Moreover, the energy within it was pretty dense. This meant that it was at least a Count’s soul crystal.
Lukas turned around again. But Kran had already disappeared.
* * *
The process of occupying the city of Zinga took exactly half a day.
After all, Gullard had made use of all of his means in the previous battle. The Demon Beasts, Demons, and Hybrids, or, in other words, the troops who usually guarded the city, were already dead.
The Gray Sun was also not in the best condition, but they still had the presence of strong individuals like Kran, Lee Jong-hak, and Elijah.
Thanks to that, they were able to recapture the city rather quickly.
The residents of Zinga, who lived with the Demons, and the Africa Branch’s hunters were unwilling at first and ran wild. But this uprising quickly subsided when they were overpowered with brute force and their leaders were made an example.
In the first place, that was the type of people they were. Leech-like individuals who latched onto whichever side was stronger. This trait of theirs was remarkably similar to the Demons.
This made Elijah even more disgusted with them, and he had the urge to just kill all of them, but if he did that, he would be no better than the Demons.
So instead, he suppressed his dark desires, pulled himself together, and focused on organising the newly acquired Zinga.
The next day.
Lukas was told that Joanna had woken up. Now, they had to get ready to return to North America. Of course, there was no reason to rush since their mission hadn’t taken as long as they anticipated.
With an unhurried gait, Lukas headed towards the room that Joanna had been placed in.
And in front of the door that he soon arrived at was a man with a familiar face.
“This is the second time we’re facing each other like this.”
His eyes were serious, and it seemed he had something important to talk about.
Although Lukas had an idea of what he wanted, it was still hard to ignore him.
He stopped and looked at him.
After hesitating for a while, Lee Jong-hak finally spoke with a determined expression.
“Are you Lukas?”
“Please answer me. I don’t think the ability to use magic like that is common.”
This was only an assumption based on a logical analysis at best. However, as he said those words, Lee Jong-hak’s voice was filled with conviction.
After thinking about it for a moment, Lukas nodded.
Lee Jong-hak let out a small breath.
“…as I thought.”
“You look like you have something to say to me.”
Something to say.
Of course, he did.
Lee Jong-hak was still stunned by that incredible scene.
He knew just how tricky and troublesome the hybrids were in battle. And yet, hundreds of those beings were wiped out in the blink of an eye. Without much effort.
The transcendent power of that scene reminded him of the man he’d met not so long ago.
“…do you have any idea about what’s happening in the Asia Headquarters right now?”
“It has become a kingdom, in which one man decides everything.”
There was no need to ask who that man was.
“Nodiesop… revealed his power and took control of the Asia Headquarters. And he also took the loyalty of the hunters in the process.”
Lee Jong-hak couldn’t find a better word to use than ‘take’. From the start, he showed off his overwhelming power without giving anyone a chance to think. And anyone who disobeyed him was killed.
It was a reign that was built purely on fear.
“What kind of power did he reveal?”
“…his power can extend anywhere in the world. For example, in a desperate situation like the one we were in yesterday, if I had said his name and prayed for his help, he would have helped us. With his miracle-like power.”
Lukas’s expression became serious with those words.
He wasn’t sure what power Nodiesop had, but Africa and China were thousands of kilometers apart. If he wanted to use his power across such a large distance, then he would have to use his powers as an Absolute.
In other words, Nodiesop…
‘Doesn’t care what happens in this universe.’
It was irresponsible. Nodiesop alone had probably shortened the lifespan of the universe, pushing it closer to destruction.
However, this concept wasn’t something that mortals could understand.
Lee Jong-hak continued.
“When I saw that, I couldn’t help but feel that something was wrong.”
Lukas’ eyes shined slightly when he heard this, but Lee Jong-hak didn’t notice.
“I’m not saying that it’s wrong to kill the Demon Beasts, Demonic Humans, or Demons. I just wonder whether he could use such great power so freely.”
He might have been just overthinking.
However, Lee Jong-hak couldn’t help but feel as though Nodiesop’s actions were breaking some fundamental rule of nature.
After all, he’d displayed the ability to kill thousands of Demons with a single finger.
Lee Jong-hak looked at such power with awe. But at the same time, he felt fear.
“Nodiesop wants you to search for me.”
“…I could go back to the Asia Headquarters and report your location. Will you kill me here?”
When Lukas answered with a firm tone, Lee Jong-hak couldn’t help but ask.
“Why? Do you want a confrontation?”
“It’s not that either.”
He didn’t seek a confrontation.
It had been so in his days as a human, and it continued to be so after he became an Absolute.
Lee Jong-hak bit his lip slightly before speaking.
“…then why did you kill all of the Asian hunters in Europe?”
This was probably the question he wanted to ask the most.
“They attacked me first. Many more lives were lost on the European side.”
“But that caused the relationship between Europe and Asia to reach a boiling point.” (TL: isn’t this victim blaming?)
Among the Asian hunters, the hardliners who were adamant that they raze the European Headquarters to the ground were gaining support.
Asia’s distrust and hatred towards Europe was growing by the day. But this was funny. After all, they were the ones who attacked first.
And yet, no one thought about that. Instead of reflecting on their actions, they continued to declare their hatred as if they had all been possessed.
All of this was a mark of Nodiesop’s demonic charisma.
Now, even Lee Jong-hak wasn’t able to stop their momentum.
“That might be the case if everyone died.”
“…what are you trying to say?”
“What if I told you they’re still alive?”
Lee Jong-hak’s eyes widened.
“I knew that they had been incited to do what they did and that if I killed them, the regional feud would only deepen.”
“…are they still alive?”
“Not all of them.”
Those like Kim Go-hyuk had to die.
However, those who questioned their actions and stopped themselves from killing others despite their orders to do so were spared.
This referred to people like the Sword Saint.
“Where are they now…?”
“I sent them to the Korean Peninsula in Asia. They should be wandering around there somewhere.”
“I asked them about you.”
Lee Jong-hak’s eyebrows furrowed.
“What role do you want me to play?”
“I don’t want anything. Think for yourself, and act in whatever way you think is right. Just like you have done all your life.”
That was all Lukas had to say. After that, he walked past Lee Jong-hak.
It was a soft whisper.
When Lukas turned around, he saw that Lee Jong-hak was bowing deeply to him. Then, he raised his head and met his eyes before straightening up, turning around, and walking away.
As he left, Lee Jong-hak’s footsteps appeared more determined and powerful.
Lukas turned around again and grabbed the doorknob to Joanna’s room.