SOLO LEVELING NOVEL, CHAPTER 246
I ALONE LEVEL-UP CHAPTER 246
Side Story 3
2. Reunion (2)
After entering the gap between dimensions, Jin-Woo developed a habit he never had before. And that would be jotting down things he saw and experienced on that day on a notebook.
He wasn’t doing it with some lofty purpose of leaving behind the records of his bitter life-or-death struggle against the Sovereigns.
The gap between dimension was a perfectly ’empty’ space, pretty similar to the land of eternal rest. Without battles against his enemies, this world of nothingness where only the eternal darkness existed would have been incredibly dreary and lonesome – he’d have difficult time trying to keep his sanity as a result.
However, his reason wasn’t as simple as there being nothing to do in here.
Jin-Woo now possessed the experience of living the same timeline twice and because of that, realised something crucial – the perspective on an event would shift depending on when you were looking at it.
Meaning, after some time had passed, he might see some things he previously failed to notice.
And that was why he became rather curious as to how he’d feel after going through these records again when his memories started to fade away and grew indistinct in the distant future.
Would he become embarrassed that he left behind written records? Or would he feel regret, thinking that he could’ve done it better? Or, maybe even miss this war, although he felt almost completely fed up with it right now?
That was his reason for writing a diary whenever he had a chance.
Within this endlessly deep darkness, only the sounds of a pen softly scratching on the surface of a paper quietly rang out. As he continued to jot down the records of the day’s events, a smirk suddenly formed on his lips.
‘….Even still, I’m pretty sure I’ll never miss the stuff that happened here in the future.’
Jin-Woo raised his head and caught the sight of the monster corpses too numerous to even count strewn about in the darkness.
Yet again, Jin-Woo tasted victory in the battle against the Sovereigns, and through this particular engagement, killed the ‘Sovereign of Transfiguration’ – the one that gave him the most headache so far.
It had already been 27 years since he entered the gap between dimensions. Finally, the closing curtains of this long, dangerous, and monotone warfare was in sight.
The only remaining enemies were the Dragon Emperor and its direct subordinates, the ‘Army of Destruction’. His heart briefly beat faster from knowing that he’d go home soon.
‘What a relief that the time flow in here and outside is different.’
Only around two years should have gone by on the outside.
Coming home after two years of absence, was it?
How much would Jin-Ah have changed? What about Dad? Mom? Were they holding up well? Should he have explained a bit better before coming here?
All sorts of worries briefly fleeted in and out of his head.
‘No, hang on.’
Jin-Woo shook his head as if to get rid of all distracting thoughts. Now wasn’t the time to focus his attention on how to decorate the last pages of his ‘diary’.
With excellent timing, Bellion walked closer and bowed his head.
[My liege, the surroundings have been tidied up. There are no living enemies left.]
Jin-Woo took a look around him.
The Shadow Soldiers had finished sweeping up the battlefield and massacred all the still-breathing enemies, and now, they stood in near-infinite columns as far as his eyes could see, silently waiting for his next command.
He had already given up counting the number of his current soldiers quite a while ago. With a chuckle, Jin-Woo closed the diary.
He stored both the notebook and the pen within the subspace and descended from the top of a hill made out of the monster corpses.
It was now the time – time to meet his greatest enemy. The one he so badly wanted to meet.
It was time to go and greet the ‘one’ who handed him his first defeat ever since becoming the Shadow Sovereign. The Rulers intervened and the end result was flipped on its head, but without a doubt, Jin-Woo did lose to the Dragon Emperor in that battle.
‘….I won’t lose again.’
A cold gleam dangerously flickered within Jin-Woo’s eyes.
His heart beat only softly when he thought about going home soon, yet now his eardrums were hurting from its vigorous, thunderous pounding.
Ba-thump, ba-thump, ba-thump, ba-thump!!
Jin-Woo focused on the sounds of his beating heart, only to begin wondering if there would come a day in the distant future when he’d really start missing this war.
He then wordlessly turned in the direction where the aura of the Dragon Emperor could be felt. And, along with the soldiers that would participate in the final battle….
From next to the countless dead monsters strewn about everywhere, an equal number of shadows rose up after hearing the command of the Shadow Sovereign.
Right behind Jin-Woo, his three Marshals, Bellion, Beru, and Igrit, plus many commanders, stood in an orderly fashion.
And behind them, the enormous army, more than large enough to cover an entire continent, quietly waited on standby for his next command.
Although this world lacked the flow of air, it still felt like a wind signalling the end of the war was faintly blowing around.
Jin-Woo quietly closed his eyes and took a deep breath. And when he opened his eyes, he uttered out the words that ushered in the end of this lengthy war.
“We march forward to attack the Dragon Emperor.”
The Dragon Emperor also felt it.
It felt that a truly gigantic horde with a scale that couldn’t even be estimated heading in its direction.
Since when did it start?
When was it that the Shadow Sovereign, initially starting off with the repeated tactic of hit-and-run to shave away the massive Army of the Chaos World, began to openly hit his enemies with the full might of his army, instead?
The position of the army chasing him down had suddenly reversed and now, they were being chased down by him.
Out of all the armies that had been scattered around on their own, only the Army of Destruction remained. So, it wasn’t all that difficult to guess where the attention of the Shadow Sovereign would land next.
The final, deciding battle.
Although the Dragon Emperor never imagined that the seemingly-everlasting war would end not with a grand battle against the Rulers but as a conflict between Sovereigns, it still believed that the upcoming battle would be a perfect finale nevertheless.
Indeed, didn’t its blood boil from just remembering the battle against the Shadow Sovereign that took place decades ago?
The Dragon Emperor quietly stood still and glared in one particular spot. In the meantime, one of its subordinates cautiously approached it.
[Oh, my Emperor….]
The Dragon Emperor standing there with its arms crossed quickly replied.
[Yugumunt has died.]
After hearing the news of the Sovereign of Transfiguration dying, the subordinate formed a stunned expression before bowing its head again.
[That is why… perhaps it is advisable to move to somewhere more distant….]
The Dragon Emperor bared its fangs as murderous aura rose up from its body in a red mist.
[I’m already sick and tired of running away. We shall fight the b*stard right here.]
That man had spent over twenty years to hunt and whittle down the armies of the Sovereigns. So, he’d not even give his enemies sufficient time to regroup and reform their army.
If it was impossible to escape from his siege, then the Dragon Emperor would fight back head-on and decide everything. Now that would be a choice befitting of the King of Berserk Dragons.
[Get ready for battle!]
One command from their Sovereign and the Army of Destruction got ready to fight in an instant.
The Ancient-grade Dragons, Dragonewts, and the Sky Dragons they were riding on, all raised their heads up high and roared out.
The Dragon Emperor’s head snapped in the direction where it just detected the movement of a gigantic power.
There was a clear reason why the Army of the Chaos World was defeated by the lone Shadow Sovereign.
No one could even come remotely close to the mobility of the Shadow Army that could be summoned freely by their Sovereign whenever he felt like it.
No matter how close one was, the distance would grow in an instant, and no matter how far away they were, they could close the distance in the blink of an eye, too.
And right this moment, the Dragon Emperor was looking at the reason why the Sovereigns’ armies had been so thoroughly defeated. The Shadow Sovereign slowly rose up from the darkness. And at the same time, millions upon millions of black soldiers lined up behind him.
The Shadow Sovereign!!
The fighting spirit emitted from the entirety of the Shadow Army standing behind him was so great that it even made the Dragon Emperor shudder from this slight sense of disgust for a moment there.
Two decades of war later, he had finally got himself the greatest army imaginable.
The Dragon Emperor roared out with boisterous laughter after coming face-to-face with this incredible army.
[Amazing. Truly amazing, oh, King of Shadows.]
Fight the smaller number with overwhelming numbers – the situation back then when he first faced off against his enemies had now completely turned on its head.
[I never imagined that you alone would be capable of completely shaking up the entire army. Who would have thought that we’d arrive here?]
The Shadow Sovereign, currently outfitted in jet-black armour, wordlessly stared at the king of all Dragons.
The previous immaturity of the Shadow Sovereign had been replaced by this still weightiness and he emitted a much stronger aura than ever before.
The Dragon Emperor’s body shuddered from excitement, as a truly powerful enemy stood before it.
It so desperately wanted to rip him into pieces.
It so badly wanted to rip him into several pieces and devour him.
The nature of a berserk Dragon began wiggling madly from within the Dragon Emperor. However, it was still too early to confirm whether this encounter was a celebration or a punishment. It wanted to enjoy this moment as it trembled from the anticipation for a little bit longer.
[I want to ask you one thing.]
Also, there was this thing it was quite curious about as well, which was rather convenient.
[Why did the Rulers use the ‘Chalice of Rebirth’? Why did they revive all the dead Sovereigns and their soldiers?]
There was no doubt that on that day, the Dragon Emperor’s life came to an end at the hands of the Rulers. The pain from the spears that pierced into its body was still vividly etched in its memory.
The grand army of the Chaos World would have crumbled pretty quickly after their leadership was lost through the Dragon Emperor’s death. And with that, the lengthy war between the Sovereigns and Rulers would have come to its natural end. With the Rulers as the final victors.
It’d have been a perfect defeat for the Sovereigns, with not even a bit of room for any excuses whatsoever.
However, they went ahead and revived every Sovereign for some unknown reason, by reversing the time through the ‘Chalice of Rebirth’.
Ever since that day, it tried to decipher the intentions of the Rulers over and over again, but failed to even come close to guessing the reason. That was why it simply had to ask the Shadow Sovereign, who was with them at the time.
[Because I wanted it.]
….That completely unexpected answer caused the brows of the Dragon Emperor to shoot up.
[What did you say…?]
Jin-Woo slowly spoke again, enunciating every word clearly so his opponent could understand him.
[I wanted to kill you lot with my own hands again so I asked them for the favour of using the ‘Chalice of Rebirth’.]
Crazy son of a b*tch!
The Dragon Emperor somehow managed to suppress a torrent of swearing that rushed up to the tip of its tongue. To attack an army of over ten million-strong soldiers with just one hundred thousand combatants, he resorted to using a Tool of God to reverse time?!
Although it was a truly nonsensical declaration, but at least, it did resolve one of the questions burning up inside the Dragon Emperor’s head.
The reason for the Rulers using the Chalice of Rebirth, and the Shadow Sovereign suddenly going on a rampage – these two matters were actually related, as it turned out.
As if it found the whole thing too absurd, the Dragon Emperor shook its head helplessly and roared out in a burst of loud laughter.
The Shadow Sovereign wanted to fight the massive army of the Chaos World again on his own volition, and just as he wished, managed to succeed in driving his enemies to a corner.
This feat demanded a level of respect that transcended all types of respect. The Dragon Emperor had no other way to express its opinion on the Shadow Sovereign who had managed to almost succeed in a challenge that seemed utterly impossible to accomplish in the face of it.
And he was now staring down on one final hurdle of that challenge.
Whether to devour, or be devoured.
For the first time ever, the Dragon Emperor became curious about the name of its opponent, the one that would either devour it, or end up getting devoured by it, instead.
[My name is Antares.]
The name bestowed unto it by the Absolute Being, but revealed to no one until now – the Dragon Emperor readily revealed its name to the Shadow Sovereign.
[That is my name. Remember it well.]
It did so, in order to learn the Shadow Sovereign’s name.
With a sombre, serious expression on its face, the King of Dragons asked its question.
[What is your name?]
The Shadow Sovereign, Jin-Woo, decided to answer what could very well be the last-ever question of the Dragon Emperor.
[It’s Seong Jin-Woo.]
And then, he spoke up in a tone of voice implying that there wouldn’t be any further Q&A session after this.
[Is there anything else you want to say?]
The power of death in a pitch-black aura ominously quivered and rose up above Jin-Woo’s shoulders.
The gap between dimensions was very similar to the world of eternal rest and it was rather easy to summon out the power of death in this place. The Shadow Soldiers that were resonating as one with their Sovereign’s power also raised up their fighting spirit higher.
The entirety of the Shadow Army seethed and writhed. The corners of the Dragon Emperor’s lips curled up as it witnessed this spectacle.
‘Anything else I’d like to say, is it?’
Would there be a need for any further discussion when there was this grand feast laid out before its eyes?
[….I don’t have any.]
The Dragon Emperor transformed into a burning Dragon and stood before Jin-Woo, who also transformed into a humongous black giant as well.
A mountain against another mountain.
The two gigantic existences glared at each other just before the final battle. But, that lull only lasted for a moment.
The Dragon Emperor roared out loudly as if to shake the dimensions themselves, and the entirety of the Army of Destruction charged forward.
Jin-Woo was far quieter than his opponent as he simply pointed to his forward. Right away, near-ten million soldiers made their move.
At the same time, he too dashed forward towards the Dragon Emperor with everything he had.
The end of the lengthy war was here. He had been waiting with bated breaths this reunion with the Dragon Emperor just so he could witness the end.
A chilling ray of light began gathering within the Dragon Emperor’s maw.
It was now Jin-Woo’s chance to display the amount of growth he had gone through due to the experiences he earned before reversing time, as well as things he learned during this long war.
The flow of time slowed down to a crawl and only him and the Dragon Emperor remained within Jin-Woo’s vision.
Just as the light of destruction exploded out slowly from the maw of a burning Dragon, Jin-Woo’s fist enveloped in jet-black aura was thrust forward.
And so, light and darkness clashed once more inside the gap between dimensions.