Chapter 568 – Qualification Test (9)
“So, Kronos threw his ego, the springs, to Earth…” After living and watching Kronos’ life, Yeon-woo knew how important the springs were—essentially, they were Kronos himself. They were the core of the legends Kronos had built up over eons from the beginning of the universe. They were cogs in a wheel that allowed the ma.s.sive domains of time and death to turn smoothly.
Since he had thrown them out, his divinity would weaken. When his divine ability of time paused, his body paused as well. The t.i.tans thought death had overtaken Kronos, and in a way, they were right since technically, Kronos’ existence was dead. However, his legends still continued.
* * *
“Where is this?” An ego separated from Kronos slowly opened his eyes. The senses that he’d forgotten seemed to come to life. He could see the night sky, smell flowers, and feel a breeze whispering against his skin vividly. At the same time, an unidentifiable pain throbbed throughout his entire body, but that felt good, too. The feeling of being alive was invigorating.
“I guess I woke up, even though I don’t know where this place is.” Kronos instinctively gripped s.p.a.ce to learn where he was, but he could only feel air sliding through his fingers. He smiled bitterly. The fact that he lost everything struck him. The immense powers that could transcend creation were nowhere to be found, and the strength that encompa.s.sed the entire universe was gone. The world of his conscious mind was so small that it felt uncomfortable, as if he were being bound by an invisible rope. He had once been considered as almost at the emperor level, but now he was a mere mortal.
However, his sense of loss only lasted a short while. Kronos shook it off and stood. He was the youngest of all his siblings, but he had taken the throne. Even though he was a mortal now, it wouldn’t matter if he regained his strength. Since he was taking a path that he had already walked on, he believed it wouldn’t take too long. Above all, Kronos was pleased with the clarity of his mind. ‘This isn’t too bad. Actually, it’s better than I thought.’
As he’d sat on the throne, he’d suffered agonizing headaches due to the Demonism shaking up his consciousness. The only solutions he could think of to escape the situation had ended horribly, but he was fine now. It felt refres.h.i.+ng. He had completely escaped from the madness. ‘I don’t know if this is because I’m now separate from the Demonism, but it is nice.’
He felt as if he returned to his youth. In fact, since he retained his memory of the past, which he didn’t have before, he had a great advantage. He would be able to make reasonable and wise decisions. He was confident that most things wouldn’t take him by surprise, and his psychological s.h.i.+eld was also at its peak. What would be a good name for his condition?
‘“Cold-blooded”. Yes, that sounds good.’ Kronos smiled. There was no better way to describe him. To others, he appeared as a cruel and heartless father trying to reclaim the throne that his children had taken.
* * *
The first thing Kronos did was to investigate the planet he was on, but he still had no idea where he was. Although he had ruled over countless universes and dimensions and observed a myriad of civilizations, he had never seen or heard of a planet like this. “Is this the territory of some other society?”’ It was definitely possible.
Even though Olympus had prospered and expanded during his reign, he hadn’t dominated all universes. There were many G.o.dly societies, after all, and a few of them were equal to Olympus.
Kronos first tried to determine whose territory this was. ‘If it’s a society that will a.s.sist me, I’ll recover my strength faster, but if not…I’ll have to be warier.’ Divine beings were extremely sensitive about their territory. They often eliminated trespa.s.sers without asking any questions, and this was the last thing Kronos wanted. ‘No. Maybe it’s better to lie low until the time comes.’
Realizing that it was possible a society might report him to Olympus, he changed his mind. Yesterday’s allies often became today’s enemies, so it was feasible that such a thing might happen. Most importantly, he didn’t know how much time had pa.s.sed while the springs traveled through universes. He also didn’t know the hierarchy and order of the societies. ‘What I need most is information. I don’t know anything right now.’ As he slowly walked forward, he began to lay out his plans. ‘I must build up strength first.’
* * *
Kronos learned that the beings of the planet called this place “Earth”. Unfortunately, Kronos had never heard of it. He racked his brain, thinking of the territories of most societies, but nothing came to mind. ‘It might be possible that it’s a territory on the outskirts and hasn’t been discovered yet.’
The beings of the planet he lived in were young creatures who believed Earth was the only living planet in the universe. It was a civilization that had only begun to take its first steps. ‘This is for the best. It’ll be easier to create legends this way.’
The less advanced a civilization was, the more superst.i.tions they were and the greater their expectations of heroes and G.o.ds. The folklore among their people would grow bigger until a religion was born. That was where faith began. It was the reason why G.o.dly societies that needed faith tried desperately to find new civilizations. ‘I will use this place as my holy territory to rise again.’
After that, Kronos lived an innumerable number of lives. His spring had the qualities of both time and death, so he could reincarnate again and again. With each new life, Kronos became a hero and made many contributions that normal humans could never achieve. They turned into legends and spread throughout the civilizations and tribes of the world. Countless religions wors.h.i.+pping him sprouted up and declined.
Kronos gained many names, but he couldn’t remember them all. At some point, he also forgot his true name, Kronos, because no one called him by that name. He only managed to retain his ident.i.ty because of how powerful he’d been in his original body. As his various lives on Earth continued, he realized something strange. ‘Why do I hear of Olympus’ legends here? Is this Olympus’ territory…? I even heard of Asgard in one of my past lives.’ How was this possible?
Many new religions of Earth depicted the G.o.dly societies, shocking Kronos. The legends of different societies couldn’t be told at the same time. The fact that mortals could understand the legends of transcendence so accurately made him uneasy. What was even more surprising was that he never saw any divine beings, even as Earth continued to advance. ‘It’s like something is interfering to eliminate them or seal them somewhere…’
Earth’s civilization continued to develop, and soon, his achievements became only village tales. They were no longer legends. His progress finally met a wall. ‘Just a little more, and I could have exuviated…!’ Kronos was no longer suspicious of Earth. He pondered how he could clear this final wall. After exuviation, it wouldn’t be that long until he transcended, but he had to get past this first.
Even though his strength had been built up throughout his reincarnations, he hadn’t even reached 10,000 years. It was nothing compared to the amount of time he had lived as Kronos. He found it hard to keep his composure. Most importantly, Earth wasn’t progressing towards a magic-based civilization or an enchantment-based civilization. Instead, it was on the path of technology and science. These types of civilizations focused less on the supernatural—which religions needed—and more on evidence-based studies. It was difficult for a divine being in this environment.
In the end, Kronos felt the need to change his plans for the first time.
* * *
‘Am I an orphan this time? It would have been nice to be the youngest son of a millionaire.’ Kronos realized he had reincarnated in an orphanage located on the periphery of South Korea. His eyes narrowed. He had no intentions of accomplis.h.i.+ng feats or becoming a hero. Instead of creating legends for himself, those would only get him branded as a witchcraft pract.i.tioner.
He was going to live easily and slowly organize his thoughts. Since he needed a change of direction if he wanted to exuviate and transcend, he would take this opportunity to come up with something. Thwak!
“Ow!” At present, Kronos was just a five-year-old child, and the pain on his forehead made him jump to attention.
“Kids shouldn’t frown like that from such a young age. Who said that’s OK?”
Kronos moaned, gripping his bruised forehead, and glanced up. A girl who looked two years older was looking down at him with her chubby hands on her hips. Suddenly, the memories of the child appeared in Kronos’ head. The girl was like the drill instructor of the orphanage. She was so mighty and a.s.sertive that even the boys older than her couldn’t do anything.
“I’ll punish you if you do that again!”
As he looked at the confident girl, Kronos felt like things were already going downhill.
* * *
Kronos was correct. After that day, the girl followed Kronos everywhere and nagged him. “Have you eaten? You’re tiny! You’d better go to the cafeteria.”
“I heard you ditched school today. Wanna die?”
“So, you hit your friend again? What will you amount to when you grow up?”
“Aren’t you studying?”
Kronos desperately needed some time to himself, so he felt like he was going insane. ‘And her name is Le-ah.’ The girl’s name was s.h.i.+n Le-ah. Their orphanage was managed by a church, and the children had been given baptismal names. In the Bible, Leah was the mother of Judas, who was Jesus’ ancestor. There was nothing strange about it, but the p.r.o.nunciation of the name p.r.i.c.ked Kronos’ heart with a needle.
Although Kronos was so busy that he almost forgot his own name, he couldn’t forget Rhea’s name that easily. It bothered him whenever he went to sleep. He knew that he only ever hurt her, and he couldn’t even apologize to her. There was always some guilt at the bottom of his heart. It was so bad that sometimes whenever s.h.i.+n Le-ah bothered him, he felt like she was the real Rhea, who was watching from above.
After some time, the nagging felt like warm interest, and Kronos began to see Rhea in s.h.i.+n Le-ah. For the first time in thousands of years, he felt love.
“Ugh, idiot. What took you so long? Took you long enough. I gave you so many hints…gos.h.!.+ You made it so difficult.”
When he nervously confessed to her, Le-ah’s scolding was all he got back. However, Kronos learned what an ordinary life was like for the first time after marrying s.h.i.+n Le-ah. Working a job, going on dates, and returning home hand in hand… After exhausting lives spent building up legends, it was a heartwarming lifestyle. He wanted to live like this forever. Kronos’ thoughts of creating legends fell away. He no longer wanted to grow stronger.
What was so important about a future that might never happen? It was a future that was now a mere illusion. His reality with s.h.i.+n Le-ah was much more important than that.
“These… are my children?” Kronos’ eyes shook when he looked at the ultrasound s.h.i.+n Le-ah showed him.
s.h.i.+n Le-ah carefully stroked her stomach, and her eyes narrowed. “Idiot, I told you to be careful. You came home like a beast after getting drunk that time and…I have to go to graduate school, but look at this! I’ll kill you if you say you don’t remember!”
“Haha! Of course not! My child! Our child! And two of them! We have two at once!”
s.h.i.+n Le-ah couldn’t help grinning at the sight of Kronos jumping in excitement. The pregnancy was a surprise, but she was happy. However, since they would have two more members to add to their already financially strapped household, they would have to rack their brains to find a way to meet their expenses.
Kronos stopped jumping and looked a bit melancholy. Le-ah c.o.c.ked her head. “What’s with the gloomy face?”
“H-huh? N-Nothing. I’m fine.” Kronos couldn’t say that the ultrasound made him think of the children he’d had with Rhea in the past. Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon…and the poor child he’d never been able to love, Zeus.
Once upon a time, he resented them, but now he felt like he knew the despair and frustration they must have felt. He felt remorseful and apologetic towards his children and Rhea.
“Is it because of Zeus and the others?”
When s.h.i.+n Le-ah suddenly said those words, Kronos’ head whipped around towards her. She was smiling at him. “Don’t worry too much. They’re doing fine tearing away at each other.”
“Idiot. I gave you all those hints but you still didn’t catch on.”
Kronos was speechless.
“Do you really have to make me say it…hey! What’s with you?”
Kronos pulled s.h.i.+n Le-ah to him tearfully. He stroked her head again and again. There was only one thing he could say to her. “I love you. I really love you, Rhea.”