Chapter 176 – What Happened on the Beach (1)
The sea stretched out before him. He was currently on a beach in Gangwon-do, facing the East Sea. Ian had been stuck in his house all day playing Elder Lord, so his body was a bit stiff. He'd gone on a solo trip in order to rejuvenate himself, and he'd picked this place because he missed the sea. Just looking at the blue sea made him feel better. He stretched his body and took in the fresh air. The sunshine was also pleasant.
"You have to tilt your upper body. You shouldn't bow. Don't touch the board."
On one side of the beach, a surf class was in session. Brightly dressed men and women were repeatedly lying down and standing up on the surfboard. It seemed moderately amusing.
Surfing… Ian should learn it once. He had never learned any sports apart from martial arts. Turning his gaze away, Ian saw surfers splashing in the water. Most of them weren't able to stand properly, but they didn't get tired, and some managed to slip nicely towards the beach.
"I don't like the lash guards."
Ian turned his head as he unexpectedly heard a voice. A man was standing there. He wore glasses, and his hair was strangely gray. However, he didn't seem old. In fact, he was in his mid-30s.
As he stared into the sun, the man spoke with furrowed brows, "It is annoying. People should go into the sea with bare skin. That is real. But the clothing companies make all these things, and they cover up their body unnecessarily. Youth is just a fleeting moment. Don't you think so?"
The man looked at Ian. It was the first time they'd met.
Ian started laughing. "That’s right."
This might be the attraction of traveling. He had accidentally met an interesting person.
The man nodded. "Take your clothes off. The sun should see you."
Then the person in question took off his coat, revealing a body without any obvious fat. He was wearing aloha shorts. He walked forward with clear eyes.
"Do you know how to surf?"
"I don’t know."
"Indeed, you look like you don't know how."
Ian's eyebrows twitched. He looked like he didn't know how? What did that mean? Ian had never failed at any exercise. Even when he played with a ball during his childhood, his natural athleticism meant he could easily get the ball past his peers.
It was like Cristiano Ronaldo with a soccer ball, Stephen Curry with a basketball, and Roger Federer with a tennis ball. They were different. Although it was true that Ian didn't know anything about surfing, it was unacceptable to be seen as a desk-bound person.
The man didn't sense Ian's anger as he spoke casually, "Then do you want to learn from me?"
Ian made a questioning sound and laughed. "You can surf?"
"Didn't I say it? This friend, you should learn how to look at people." The man draped his jacket around his neck. "Follow me. I’ll teach you one on one. This opportunity isn't common."
Ian was interested… in surfing, as well as this person. The man left the white sand with Ian and headed to the surf store across the road. There was a man with a suntanned body and a reggae hairstyle sitting on a rocking chair. He raised his sunglasses to his head and waved. The eyes behind the sunglasses were unexpectedly innocent.
"You look good."
"Hah, I was active until dawn…"
"I'm teaching him how to surf, so please give me a few things."
"I understand. Jinchul! Get me one set of equipment! One set!"
An answer called out from inside. Then a charming young man appeared. He greeted Ian with blurry eyes as if he had also been awake until dawn.
"Ah, hello. It must be your first time."
"Do you want separate clothing or lash guards? If not, there is this suit. Your height is similar to me, so the size should be…"
Ian received a full body suit which appeared to be used for scuba diving. Then when Ian tried to pay for the rental, he was rejected.
"This is fine. Hyung-nim's guests always receive it for free."
Ian looked at the man outside the store and the store owner. The man outside was looking at the sea with his hands behind his back.
He asked, "What is that person like?"
"Hyung-nim? I have no idea." The young man laughed. "He is just close to the boss. Shouldn't you know?"
"We met for the first time today."
"Really? How strange. Well, it is like this. You can change inside."
Ian put on the equipment, received a big surfboard, and exited the store. Ian's board was thick and felt like a sponge, while the man's was nice and waxy.
"This surfing equipment sucks."
"It isn't good?"
"That isn't the main part. Surfing is. It's cool."
The man said before looking at Ian. Ian jumped with surprise. The man now had blue makeup on his face which drew across his cheekbones and nose. It was like seeing the battle makeup barbarians wore in movies.
"What is it? Do you want some?" The man handed the tube to Ian. It was sunscreen. Unlike other clear sunscreens, this one had a vivid color. "Just put it on your nose. It is expensive, so I am saving it."
Surfers seemed to pursue their own beauty, so Ian tried it as well. Thus, they headed towards the sandy white beach.
"We can only surf in this area, so be careful."
A separate surfing area was designated on the beach. They headed there. In addition to them, there were other people receiving surfing lessons. Most of the people on the surfboards weren't able to ride the waves properly and hung on like seaweed.
"I am harsh, so you should be prepared."
Unlike his harsh words, the man was a really shabby teacher. He just said that Ian had to move his arms on the board and get up. Then he demonstrated once or twice before immediately pushing Ian into the sea.
Ian couldn't even practice and had to try it out on the waves. Of course, that was enough. Ian did well with his natural athleticism. He waited for the waves before gently getting up at the right time. Then he balanced himself.
lan was satisfied. He was like Ronaldo with a soccer ball, Curry with a basketball, and Federer with a tennis ball. Now, he took on the board… like Phelps with swimming.
The man spoke. Ian replied, "You are really good."
The man was skillfully riding the waves. His hair barely got wet, unlike most of the people who couldn't ride or balance.
During a moment of waiting, a woman slipped on her surfboard and slid towards Ian. Her board hit Ian's back…
And he was pushed by it.
Ian and the woman tangled together, and the two of them fell below the surface of the water. They struggled for a moment before reaching the surface. The woman with wet hair apologized to Ian,
"Wah! I’m sorry. Are you okay? I'm so sorry."
Ian touched his back. It was fortunate that the woman's board was for beginners. So, this was why they used a sponge-like material. If it were the board, which the man teaching Ian had, that hit him, his flesh would've been torn.
Ian smiled as he touched his back.
"I'm fine. Please be careful."
"Ah…" The woman was speechless at Ian's gentle reaction. Then she grabbed Ian's arm as he moved away. "Are you sure you're okay? That would've hurt. What can I do?"
"I’m really sorry."
Ian shrugged, saying that it was okay. Then the woman grabbed her board and said,
"Please tell me if you get any problems later on."
"If you need a number…"
"No. It's really fine. Have fun surfing."
"Ah, yes. You too."
The woman bowed and pushed her board towards the other side of the beach.
"You didn't notice."
Ian flinched. The man had approached.
"You surprised me," Ian said.
"No. You noticed."
"What are you talking about?"
"Look." The man shouted, "Hey, you over there! Come here! What are you doing just hitting someone?"
The woman turned around in surprise at his shout. She looked at Ian and then at the man. The man beckoned and she returned.
"Girl, you were wrong."
"You shouldn't hit people with your board. Isn't that right?"
"That’s right. I'm sorry…"
"You are a very dangerous girl."
"So, give me your phone number."
"I need a phone number to contact you if there are any problems later."
"Ah, yes. Yes. Then my number…"
She gave her number. Then he spoke to Ian, "Tell me your number as well."
"Do you really not know? Quickly."
"Give your number to the other person so they will know it is you."
Ian gave his number. The man repeated it a few times for the woman to remember.
"Girl, you do remember it?"
"Yes. I remember."
"That’s great. Did you come here for a few days to play? Is it a vacation?"
"Yes, I leave the day after tomorrow."
"This boy as well."
The man winked. The woman laughed.
"Then I'll be going. Have fun."
"Yes, I'm sorry. Have fun."
The woman smiled and pushed away on her board. The woman's group were watching her anxiously, and she waved.
Ian laughed and asked, "What are you doing now?"
"This is youth. Eat a lot, pray a lot, and love a lot."
"But my situation…"
"You don't have a girlfriend?"
"Then it's okay." He tapped Ian's shoulders. "Let's get out. I did a lot. I'm thirsty. I'll buy you a beer."
The man spoke informally to Ian, but Ian didn't feel any anger towards this unknown man.
Ian smiled and followed him.
They put their equipment away and found a homemade beer store not far from the beach. There were surfboards and equipment displayed inside the beer store. Surfing was famous at this beach, so it had a lot of influence.
The man ordered beer and fries for himself.
The screen in the store was showing Elder Lord.
"There was an uproar."
The man leaned back in his chair and pointed to the screen. The headline was 'Shocking Heaven and Earth Clan.' It was a coverage about the Heaven and Earth Clan's crime.
"It is a scary world. Drugs to put people into a game world."
"Yes. Their actions have eventually come back to them."
Ian told the Rehabilitation Brothers the information he received from Rommel. Then Edgar's former lover, Robina, reported it to the police, and the prosecution started working with the Rehabilitation Brothers.
The 'sleeping room' was formerly a workshop. There, they were able to find countless people who had disappeared, and Edgar was also rescued. They had started voluntarily for money. However, they testified that they hadn't been able to quit even if they wanted to as they were subjected to intimidation.
'Keynes' Choi Sunggil, who planned all of this, and his right-hand man, 'Luin' Kim Hyunchul, were arrested. Public opinion turned against them. The Heaven and Earth Clan turned from South Korea's pride to their disgrace. The overseas community was also shocked at this situation, and it was a rude awakening for some people.
"What happened to Rommel?"
"I don't think it will be hard to check if he participated or not."
"He was the commander? Right?"
"That's correct. The War Maestro."
"How was it? Is he like the rumors say?"
"He was definitely great…"
Ian stopped talking. He looked at the man. The man smiled at him quietly. He looked to be in his mid-30s, and the glasses gave him an intelligent air. The man's black eyes seemed to pierce through Ian.
"What did you say?"
The man chuckled.
Ian leaned back in his chair. His mind felt like a mess as he opened his mouth, "You…"
"It has arrived. Please enjoy."
At that moment, the employee served the beer, and the conversation between Ian and the man was suddenly halted. The employee put a beer down in front of both of them. There were cold water droplets on the surface of the bottle, and Ian touched it with his fingers.
Then the employee went away. Ian sipped the beer. It was cool, and he felt his mind calm down.
The man also drank his beer. Then he asked Ian, "How was Rommel, Crockta?"
Praise the Orc:
Current schedule: There will now be 14 chapters a week, meaning two chapters every day.
Chapter 177 – What Happened on the Beach (2)
This man… Who was he? A chill ran down Ian's neck. However, while looking at the man's carefree face, Ian decided to drink beer instead of pursuing it.
Ian said, "He was a great commander."
The man nodded.
"Yes, he is a decent friend. He would've been the best if it wasn't for you."
"I'm not sure. He and I are different. To say who is better…"
"You’re the best."
The man laughed. There was a cheering sound from the next table. Tanned men and women gathered while enjoying the music.
"Isn't the atmosphere good?"
The man picked up some fries and put them in his mouth. "Anyway, you are the best."
Ian looked around. It didn't feel like a suspicious situation. He drank the beer and pretended to be unconcerned.
"That reminds me, how much is a surfboard? If it is fun, I should buy one." Ian threw out some meaningless words while thinking of a few possibilities in his mind.
First of all, the man might be related to the Heaven and Earth. He might've appeared for Keynes' revenge. However, that didn't fit. No one knew Ian would come here. Additionally, this guy seemed to have already been here for a long time.
Maybe he was an acquaintance of Ji Hayeon? The game publisher might've finally figured out Crockta's identity through the Elder Lord system and informed him.
The man stared at Ian.
"How clever. But I don't like this. Just ask, who am I?"
"Not doing what the opponent expects. Did you learn that in the Middle East?"
Ian knocked at the table with his fingertips. The feeling of being caught was always unpleasant. Ian detected danger, so he tried to break the rhythm of the opponent. To do so, he always ignored what the enemy expected.
If they expected an attack, stay in place. If they expected a defense, strike forward. He didn't want to give a reaction that the opponent expected.
"How did you know?" However, this time, there wasn't enough information. So, Ian just asked him. "Who are you?"
"Look, this is how easy it is."
The man smiled and drank his beer. The two people had a light toast and looked at each other while drinking their beer.
"Eat the snack as well. Otherwise, I am the only one eating." He ordered more beer and ate the fries again. "Your presence was truly unexpected. I never expected it."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm talking about Elder Lord. I didn't expect a person like you."
At that moment, Ian realized who this person was. Ian's quiet eyes stared at the man, who looked different from the photo. The man was tanned, and his hair and eyebrows were strangely white. He had muscles, unlike his skinny appearance back then. The changes were so diverse that he never imagined it would be the face from that photo.
The man closed his eyes and smiled. It was the man who made Elder Lord, the man who developed the core system, Albino.
Ian's face stiffened. Ian had wanted to meet this man, but he couldn't figure out what to say now. Did Yoo Jaehan know about the gray god or that Elder Lord was another world? It felt like his soul was rising from his body, and he was losing his sense of reality. Maybe everything he went through was just a dream, and Elder Lord was actually just a game.
"You already know. Have you been searching for me all over the place?" Yoo Jaehan asked.
"Maybe I should've checked here."
"Yes, I suppose." Then Yoo Jaehan suddenly said, "That woman likes you a lot."
Multiple faces entered Ian's eyes, then they were erased. However, Yoo Jaehan noticed his expression and laughed.
"Who are you thinking of? Are there many people like that around you?"
"There was also that girl earlier. How sinful."
The new beer was a little different. Yoo Jaehan nodded as he drank.
The two clinked their cups together. As Ian placed his cup to his mouth and sipped, Yoo Jaehan suddenly asked, "I heard you met Albino?"
Ian's throat spasmed when he heard that, but he managed to calm down.
"Drink slowly. Don't choke."
"Cough, cough. Albino…"
"The white woman, the gray god…"
Yoo Jaehan already knew about the gray god. Ian put the beer down and calmed himself. This was the man who made Elder Lord. It was obvious that he was related to the matter.
Yoo Jaehan was a physicist. Did he link the two worlds by joining forces with the gray god and using an unknown theory? If so, why did he make Elder Lord? What was the real purpose of the gray god?
Ian said, "I met her. I also heard that Elder Lord is another world."
Yoo Jaehan nodded. "I guess so."
"What is Elder Lord? Why did you make it, and what is the gray god's purpose?"
"If I tell you one thing,…"
"You should tell me."
Yoo Jaehan looked upwards. He seemed to be thinking of something.
"Your name is Jung Ian?"
"Have you ever looked up at the night sky?" He reached out. "It is dark in Korea, but there are numerous stars in the sky. Have you ever looked up at the sky from the desert?"
"How was it?"
"It wasn’t scary?" He smiled faintly at Ian. "Isn't it scary to imagine the vast universe that stretches between the stars and us?"
"I haven't thought of that so far."
"All of them will cool down in the end." Yoo Jaehan seemed to be touching on the idea of the abyss, which had been conveyed by the gray god and the demon belt. "Entropy can't be reversed. Forever."
This also went along with Gordon's story.
"The sun, the stars, and the many galaxies in the universe will eventually cool down."
"What does that have to do with Elder Lord?"
"Albino was thinking about this before me. So, she found me and told me there was a way out. Then I helped her make Elder Lord."
"Maybe it was a good choice," he added on, muttering.
Ian looked at Yoo Jaehan and realized this genius was different from ordinary people. "Did you create it in order to prevent the destruction of the universe?"
"Something like that."
Yoo Jaehan was afraid of a future that wouldn't happen in this life but in later generations. The idea overflowed in his head, and he couldn't think of anything else.
"How can she prevent the destruction?"
"I don’t know."
"You just believed her and created Elder Lord?"
"She is a god. I could only believe it after meeting her. She used incomprehensible powers. But it is bigger than I thought."
"People think it is just a game and are killing others. Don't you feel guilty?"
Yoo Jaehan looked at Ian with calm eyes. They seemed emotionless.
"They are people who will die anyway."
"That doesn't mean they need to be killed."
"Everyone dies. They will live for less than 100 years. So, why does it matter?"
"It is up to here. I've told you enough."
"Can you stop Elder Lord…?"
"What was Albino's purpose?"
"Didn't I tell you? It is up to here. The rest you can figure out yourself."
Yoo Jaehan's expression was firm. Ian struggled with two options: leave now; or try to make him say more. Maybe Ian could even use some force.
"I understand." The latter was the more interesting choice, but he was no longer Raven. There were many questions he wanted to ask, but he decided to just nod. "Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter. I am thinking about doing it in moderation now."
"Are you thinking about stopping Elder Lord?"
"I think I will soon."
Ian recalled when he had been Crockta and received a 100% assimilation rate.
In that moment, he really had been Crockta, and his mindset had been that of an orc warrior. He had no fear. For him, even dying was an honor. He'd been willing to stand alone on the battlefield despite the risk of death. At the time, he didn't worry about his surroundings. The most important thing was the battlefield.
However, that wasn't the case. Yiyu was still young, and he was her guardian. Cafe Reason was also his responsibility. He couldn't consider only himself when it came to his death.
When he disconnected and returned to being Ian, he regretted the thoughts and actions he had made when being Crockta. If he continued with Elder Lord, that would keep happening in the future. He needed to refrain from that, for Yiyu's sake. In the end, the empire had been blocked. There was no need to get entangled with dangerous beings or the gray god.
"I hope it can be like that."
"By the way, you're here. But Elder Saga Corporation has been looking for you."
"They are bad at their jobs. Albino has also been helping."
"Have you been here the whole time?"
"Yes. I just came to empty my head, but it was fun. The sea and the people."
Ji Hayeon, the heir of the Myeongsong Group, was sure that Yoo Jaehan wasn't in Korea. However, he was at a beach resort in Gangwon-do, and his body looked better than before.
Ian started laughing. "How did you know I would be here?"
"It's a coincidence. I was also surprised."
"Do scientists believe in coincidence?"
"You never know. The more I dig, the more amazing the world is. I believe in coincidences."
It was difficult to believe. However, Yoo Jaehan seemed to have stayed here for a while. The people from the surf store knew him well. It was a purely impromptu idea that Ian had decided to go here, so it was a coincidence they met. Ian decided to be convinced.
Yoo Jaehan rose from his seat.
"This is a vacation. Go out and enjoy it."
They left the store. It was summer, so the days were long. There was still a dim light coming from the sky.
"Call that girl."
"The girl who hit you during the day."
"I don’t want to. I don't even remember her number."
"I do." Yoo Jaehan grabbed his phone. Ian stopped smiling as Yoo Jaehan entered the number and hit the call button.
"What are you doing?"
"It is okay. By the way, do you really remember it?"
At the time, the woman had only said her number once. On the contrary, Ian had repeated his number several times.
"I have a high IQ. I remember everything."
"Good for you."
"It is. A man shouldn't be shy. Otherwise, how will you be popular?"
"That isn't the problem…"
Suddenly, Ian's phone rang. It was a familiar number.
Yoo Jaehan laughed. "Women are more active in this world."
Yoo Jaehan lay on the hammock and stared at the sea as he waited for Ian to return to his accommodations. The lights from ships shone on the horizon as the sea breeze blew.
Yoo Jaehan shook his body on the hammock and felt the rhythm. He closed his eyes and whispered,
"Did you send him?"
There was no answer. Yoo Jaehan asked again, "Albino, did you send him?"
"It’s a coincidence."
He opened his eyes. There was a fuzzy shape by his side.
"He decided to come by himself."
"You helped him make that decision. Using your power, you can project any image into his imagination. No?"
"I haven't seen you in a while."
The white, fuzzy shape revolved around him and said, "It will be soon."
"It will be soon thanks to Ian."
"He doesn't know anything, but he is helping you."
"It is an inevitable flow."
Yoo Jaehan got up from the hammock and stared up at the sky. There weren't many stars at the beach. Still, he could imagine the vast landscape beyond it.
"Keep your promise." He demanded.
"I think you are insane."
"I am a genius."
Ian appeared in the distance. Yoo Jaehan waved towards the distant Ian, and the blurry cloud hid behind Yoo Jaehan. Her image disappeared within a short time.
He could feel her disappearing and muttered, "Geniuses are never sane."
Then Yoo Jaehan's eyes narrowed. Ian neared him, but Ian wasn't coming alone. A woman was with him.
"Is this youth?"
Praise the Orc:
Current schedule: There will now be 14 chapters a week, meaning two chapters every day.