Chapter 572 – Qualification Test (13)
Kronos scoffed and chuckled. Even in the future, Yeon-woo was the same. Kronos was reminded of how he used to speak to his own father, Ura.n.u.s. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
‘But… “Father”.’ Kronos’ scoffing turned into a deep smile. ‘That’s nice to hear.’
It came from Yeon-woo, the son who avoided him and pretended like he didn’t exist, no matter how s.h.i.+n Le-ah and Jeong-woo tried to persuade him. But now, Yeon-woo had called him “Father”. Kronos didn’t know how long it had been since he last heard the word, probably not since Yeon-woo was a baby. ‘I suppose I really was an irresponsible Father.’
That must have been why the world pulled at his heartstrings. He felt like he had finally been acknowledged by his son. He had become a proper father. Kronos was also proud of Yeon-woo. When he’d seen into the future, he’d seen how difficult Yeon-woo’s life would become. But he avoided saying anything to encourage Yeon-woo or motivate him to work harder. It would be too awkward. Yeon-woo would probably curse him out if he did.
Yeon-woo was likely thinking the same thing because he awkwardly looked away, the smile on his face stiff. The two had become an ordinary father and son who couldn’t speak from the heart because of awkwardness. What would his wife have said? Kronos smirked, and he realized what he needed to do.
The world he was in might be legends that were already in the past, and the Yeon-woo he was looking for was only one of the many future Yeon-woos, but he knew one thing for sure: ‘I have to look good in front of my son.’ He would be an impressive father.
Whoos.h.!.+ Yeon-woo’s image scattered in the breeze, but Kronos could feel Yeon-woo’s gaze on him. ‘If Yeon-woo is really there and that kind of future exists, this is what I have to do.’Kronos put more strength into his domain of time to look deeper into the future where this Yeon-woo was. The cogs in the springs grew overheated from use, and they were almost on the verge of being destroyed, but he paid no mind to them. It was possible he might meet his true death here, but the smile never left his face.
At that moment, the paused time rewound. Fwoos.h.!.+ The sensation of transcendence that allowed him to see the future disappeared. Allforone had shaken off the chains and was regaining his powers. The darkness that stained the world of light was being split up by rays of light. The world was being purified.
Boom! Kronos and Allforone collided as light and darkness battled for dominance. Of course, victory was on the side of light. Dududu! The Illusory World trembled.
“Darn. I was trying to be a proper father for once…! You know about my situation, don’t you? How come you can’t give in just once?” Kronos pushed against Allforone’s attacks and pleaded for Allforone to yield.
『…』 However, Allforone didn’t respond. Although it was possible that Allforone was ignoring Kronos or scoffing at him, Kronos sensed a sadness in the light.
“Or did I commit a grave sin against you in the past?”
『I don’t have any personal enmity with you. This is the first time we’ve met.』 Allforone’s voice seemed despondent.
『This is my duty.』
『It’s more accurate to say it’s a curse.』
Yeon-woo didn’t understand what Allforone was saying, but he became certain of one thing. Something was forcing Allforone, and he was deeply resentful of it. It was possible Allforone had once seen this as a sacred duty, but as time pa.s.sed, it grew to feel like a curse.
Allforone spoke again. 『Anyway, whatever the reason, I cannot allow you or the other transcendents to enter the Tower and ignore its laws. In fact, I do not understand why you want to cause chaos. I know you’re in a pitiful situation, but as long as you disrupt order and fight destiny, I have to stop you.』
Kronos couldn’t understand what Allforone meant, but he could tell Allforone saw transcendents like G.o.ds and demons in a negative light, believing that their actions challenged the order of the universe.
Perhaps Allforone was right. The movements of the divine beings sometimes shook the path of the universe. Even though they managed the laws of the universe, they tended to be selfish at crucial times. It was the result of having free will.
‘But that’s not my problem.’ Kronos didn’t sympathize with Allforone. People in his way could only be his enemies. ‘Then what should I do?’ Kronos gritted his teeth. Allforone had untied the chains faster than he’d expected. Even now, the light was tearing away the darkness in an attempt to bind his soul. The connection to his true body grew weaker.
[The pairing with your true body is growing faint. It is on the verge of disconnection.]
[Warning! Your divine strength is in danger!]
[Warning! Your divine strength is in danger!]
At this rate, Allforone would seal him up even before he could do anything. He still had to ensure the correct future for Yeon-woo. It had to be a future that was certain to happen. Only then would there be a new ending that would deviate from Jeong-woo’s tragic ones. What did he need to do? Thankfully, he didn’t need to think long to find the answer. ‘A singularity.’
His plans began to form. ‘If Yeon-woo becomes a singularity, I can leave the rest to him.’ Those who were designated as singularities would never change no matter how much the wheel of time and s.p.a.ce spun or how many variables there were. It was fate.
Kronos wanted to turn Yeon-woo into a singularity. It wasn’t a guaranteed solution, but he wouldn’t be able to see whether or not he succeeded because Allforone was in the way. However, Kronos believed Yeon-woo could do it. ‘Because he’s my son!’ Resolve appeared in Kronos’ eyes.
It was time to designate a singularity. Kronos stopped fighting Allforone and looked above, where his sick wife was waiting for her son and husband to return. ‘Sorry, Rhea. Looks like I’ll be quite late this time as well.’
At that, Kronos forcefully grasped his fading divine strength and set it off. Boom! A large explosion boomed between them.
『You’re being foolish again!』 Allforone used Shukuchi to put a gap in between them, and he managed to escape unscathed. Allforone quickly extended a hand to prepare for an attack, but he was surprised when Kronos didn’t fight.
Instead, Kronos gathered what remained of his strength and holy power into his heart, then he used his hand to slice open his chest. Spurt! Blood sprayed like a geyser from Kronos’ body. It was thick and mixed with the holy power of darkness. Inside Kronos’ heart was a s.h.i.+ny and round machine part with tiny cogs. A spring floated up into the air.
At that moment, Allforone realized that the peak of Kronos’ achievements during his lifetime was the spring. It was a chess piece the Black King had left behind and a vessel for the domains of death and time. It also contained the legends that Kronos had built up through eons of life.
Allforone was bewitched by the spring; its mystique and beauty were beyond measure. Although Kronos had pulled out his own lifeline and revealed his weakness to his enemy, he was smiling, certain that it would save his sons.
Crack! Without any hesitation, he broke the spring in two. One half was time, and the other half was death. Kronos let go of the spring of time, and the darkness flowing under his feet rippled, swallowing the spring.
Darkness was connected to emptiness, and emptiness transcended time and s.p.a.ce. The spring of time would swim against the tide of the river and land in the moment Jeong-woo entered the Tower. It would be the special benefit. ‘He can’t recognize it’s me, so I’ll call it…an invitation from the future. That sounds nice.’
If he couldn’t change the past and prevent Jeong-woo from entering the Tower, he had to give Jeong-woo a weapon that no one else had through a special benefit. Although Jeong-woo wasn’t in the best of health, his talent was something that even divine beings would desire, so the special benefit would become his wings.
Some might say it was cheating and Kronos could only do it since he was connected to his true body. However, no matter how powerful Jeong-woo became with the special benefit, he still wouldn’t be able to avoid any of the sad futures. At that point, the spring of time would change again. ‘Jeong-woo, you’re a smart boy. I believe you’ll learn how to use the spring quickly.’
Kronos put his faith in the Jeong-woo of the past or future, whichever one it would be. This time, he let go of the spring of death. Once again, the darkness swallowed the spring. It was headed for the future that would allow Yeon-woo to become a singularity.
After arranging everything, Kronos could feel the holy power rapidly leaving his body. With the core that connected him to his true body gone, his divinity was deteriorating.
[The ‘spring’ cannot be found. Your connection with your true body will be released.]
[You have been given a penalty due to a countervailing force.]
[Your divinity has been rapidly destroyed.]
[Your holy power has been rapidly destroyed.]
[Warning! The ‘spring’ cannot be found. Find the ‘spring’ and equip yourself with it. The destruction of your soul may lead to the extinction of your ident.i.ty.]
[Warning! The ‘spring’ cannot be found…]
Warnings messaged frantically popped up. Whoosh. Kronos couldn’t endure the countercurrent of holy power flowing to him, and his body began to fall apart bit by bit. Starting from his feet, he began to scatter into tiny letters.
He had been able to reincarnate because of the spring, but now that he’d given it to his sons, he couldn’t expect that anymore. True death was right in front of him, but Kronos looked relieved. He only felt sorry that this was the only thing he could do for his sons.
“I’ll leave the rest to you, son.” Kronos said to Yeon-woo, whose gaze was still on him, and he vanished in Allforone’s white light. Right before he disappeared, he smiled.
* * *
[Full playback has been completed.]
[Kronos’ legends are finished.]
[The synchronization is still in place because the quest has not been completed.]
As the messages popped up in his vision, Yeon-woo was frozen, unable to say anything. He wasn’t angry, nor did he cry. He just felt…blank. He couldn’t forget how his father had smiled at the end. It felt as if his father were still smiling at him from beyond.
[Find the location of the ‘springs’.]
Yeon-woo lifted his head. The secret that had been revealed was profound, and he still needed to carry out his father’s will. In fact, Yeon-woo already knew where each half of the spring was. It was impossible for him not to know. “One is… the pocket watch.”
[You have found the spring of time.]
He had expected Jeong-woo’s spring of time to be something like this. Their father’s arrangements allowed Jeong-woo’s talent to flourish with the special benefit, and later, it became an element of the diary. Just as their father hoped, Jeong-woo understood its use and moved the special benefit into the pocket watch.
When it fell into Yeon-woo’s hands, it became a cheat code that allowed him to be the Shadow King today…and it was also a vessel that held Jeong-woo’s ego. Their father had arranged things so no matter what happened, the brothers would be able to reunite.
The spring of death moved to the future, to the moment that Yeon-woo entered the Tower. “The other half of the spring.” Just as the spring of time had appeared in another form to Jeong-woo, the spring of death took on a different form to Yeon-woo as well.
Their father had placed his divine abilities and all the legends he’d built up on Earth through his multiple lives into the spring of death so that Yeon-woo would be able to grow rapidly and steadily since the legends of past heroes would a great help to a player building up achievements. It would also become a weapon to protect his son. “Vigrid.”
Whoos.h.!.+ Yeon-woo muttered under his breath, and Vigrid appeared in front of him with a flash, as if glad to see him again.
[You have found the spring of death.]
[You have successfully found all ‘springs’!]
[You have completed the quest!]