Omniscient Reader 526 Epilogue 2 - Not Found Anywhere 1

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⸢Hospital room, 9:12 AM⸥
- Gather in front of the Complex's eastern entrance 19:00 tomorrow. We'll go rescue Kim Dok-Ja beyond the [Final Wall].
Jeong Hui-Won received that text message last night. The sender was Han Su-Yeong. As always, her text came across as rather curt.
After receiving that text, she dazedly stared outside the window for a long while.
⸢Jeong Hui-Won didn't want to go back to the scenario.⸥
She fought harder than any other Incarnations. She wished to save Kim Dok-Ja more than anyone, and also badly wanted to end the scenarios, too. And eventually, she reached this place.
⸢The Final Wall she saw at the closing pages of the scenario.⸥
Even now, closing her eyes brought back all those vivid memories. The memories of fighting alongside Kim Dok-Ja after he became the 'Enemy of the Story'.
She survived the horrifying flood of Fables by cutting down many things over and over again. They destroyed the wall, and she reached her own last stop.
⸢However, Han Su-Yeong was now telling her to get on that train one more time.⸥
She was telling her to go to where the [Final Wall] was once more.
She was saying that they had left something behind in the train as they disembarked.
"Hui-Won-ssi."
Jeong Hui-Won only then noticed her trembling hand gripping the curtain.
"Hyeon-Seong-ssi, did you also get it?"
"Yes."
"What do you think?"
"....Dok-Jssi we remember is right here with us."
The 'Kim Dok-Ja' they remembered was currently asleep. His lashes that forgot all the tragedies of this world quivered a little. Jeong Hui-Won quietly placed her hand over his eyes.
Some tragedies would end up disappearing just because they weren't seen.
⸢This Kim Dok-Ja was the 'Kim Dok-Ja' they remembered.⸥
Kim Dok-Ja that survived Geumho Station, Chungmuro, Gw.a.n.ghwamun, the Demon World, Olympus, and the Journey to the West, and even the Final Wall together with everyone, was right before her. He remembered the name of Jeong Hui-Won's sword, and he also remembered Yi Hyeon-Seong's trauma. He remembered the promise he made with his companions.
So, technically speaking, this was the 'Kim Dok-Ja' they loved, and the one she wanted to protect.
One would wonder if it was fine to divide a person so conveniently like that, but this problem wasn't about the issue of 'Avatar'. From the get-go, the meaning of liking someone was that you liked certain parts of that person.
The blood staining Kim Dok-Ja's wound emitted 'Psusu' noise and evaporated into smoke.
The crumbling Fables wandered in the air, before scattering outside the windows and into the sky above. Jeong Hui-Won didn't know where those Fables were heading off to. It might be that they were extinguished forever, or perhaps they could be returning to other Kim Dok-Ja.
⸢Kim Dok-Ja who remembered the 'Ways of Survival', who always loved that one single story.⸥
Jeong Hui-Won didn't know anything about such Kim Dok-Ja.

No one could love something they didn't know much about.
"Hyeon-Seong-ssi."
"Yes?"
"If Dok-Jssi was us, what would he have done?"
Yi Hyeon-Seong didn't reply for a long time.
*
⸢Hospital room, 1:31 PM⸥
As if many people had come to visit already, lots of flowers and gifts were neatly placed on top of the hospital room's table. They were gifts prepared for the moment when Kim Dok-Ja finally woke up.
Jang HYeong fidgeted with the flower petal for a bit, before slowly making her way towards Kim Dok-Ja.
"You're the Kim Dok-Ja I remember, right? Kim Dok-Ja who saved me back in the Demon World."
The clock placed near his head was ticking by.
The man who made the 73rd Demon World's frozen time flow forward again.
The man who made her, despairing before the wall of potential, move forward again.
The Demon King of Salvation.
"Actually, I didn't want to come back to Earth back then." Jang HYeong smiled bitterly and spoke. "I didn't have any good memories of this place, you see."
She was a dimension traveller.
As was the case with most dimension hoppers, the process itself was uncertain. One day, as she was working overtime deep into the night like always, she collapsed while sensing a sudden crippling pain in her heart. The moment her breathing cut out, she thought 'I've lived too hard', and if there was next life, she swore inwardly that she'd never 'work hard ever again'. And when she opened her eyes, she found herself in the Demon World.
Jang HYeong watched the residents of the Complex rus.h.i.+ng somewhere to eat their lunch and murmured. "I ended up working hard again because of you."
*
⸢Hospital room, 6:24 PM⸥
"Toss it. It's my turn now."
Along with Yi Gil-Yeong's words, s.h.i.+n Yu-Seung flipped a 100 Won coin upwards. It spun around in the air and landed back on the back of her hand. It was heads.
"How many times did we toss this thing?" Yi Gil-Yeong asked.
"99."
"Then, it's 49 against 50."
Yi Gil-Yeong dusted his hands and stood up from his spot, prompting Yi Ji-Hye sitting on the guardian's bed to ask. "You guys, you're still making that wager? That wager about Dok-Ja ahjussi still being alive if it's heads or something?"
"What are you talking about? Ahjussi is alive right here, isn't he?"
"Okay, so what wager is it this time?"
The children didn't reply. Yi Ji-Hye frowned. "You two, do you really believe that claim?"
"What do you mean?"
"That story about the existence of another Dok-Ja ahjussi that we don't know about. About how he didn't leave the subway train...."
The two kids didn't reply again. Yi Ji-Hye, dazedly looking at Kim Dok-Ja, suddenly jumped up from her spot and pointed at him. "This ahjussi is the Dok-Ja ahjussi I know of, okay?"
"...."
"He's the ahjussi who saved you and me, got that?"
"We know."
"You think that's all?"
Yi Ji-Hye continued to mouth off why this Dok-Ja was the real deal.
But strangely enough, she felt Kim Dok-Ja was getting even further away from her as her arguments continued on.
"And, and also...."
Yi Ji-Hye grasped Kim Dok-Ja's pale hand tightly.
It just didn't feel real to her. She barely managed to grow older along with the owner of this hand. She learned of losing someone precious, and was taught the values she needed to protect. And she somehow managed to start breathing again in this messed-up world.
Kim Dok-Ja too, must've learned all those from someone else.
s.h.i.+n Yu-Seung muttered out. "...Ahjussi must've had a childhood too."
The founding Fable for the 'Demon King of Salvation' in was the 'King of a Kingless World'. However, that was the beginning of the 'Demon King of Salvation', not Kim Dok-Ja's.
⸢Most likely, the human Kim Dok-Ja's beginning wasn't as grandiose.⸥
In order to exist with the name of Kim Dok-Ja, what kind of stories did Kim Dok-Ja have to live through?
"Eonni." s.h.i.+n Su-Yeong asked again.
"What now?"
"Are you planning to go tomorrow?"
"We agreed not to, didn't we?"
"But, you're still going, right?"
"No, I won't. I don't want to go back to the scenarios again."
Yi Ji-Hye looked at the heads of the children from above that had grown taller before she even realised it.
They were kids she still had to look after.
s.h.i.+n Yu-Seung and Yi Gil-Yeong quietly looked up at her, before the girl extended her hand out.
"Noona, you want to try it?" Yi Gil-Yeong asked.
Yi Ji-Hye wordlessly stared at the coin gripped in her hand. Then, slowly tossed it up in the air. It spun around and her palm grasped it again. However, she was unable to open her hand.
"Eonni?"
The sensation of the coin captured in her hand; she couldn't tell whether it was heads or tails, but without a doubt, the coin did exist.
"Are you alright?"
Yi Ji-Hye felt the texture of the coin in her hand for the longest time.
*
⸢Hospital room, 10:48 PM.⸥
The first person to open her mouth was Yu Sang-Ah.
"The Fable level is still dropping lower."
As if the break down of a lifeform that should've normally taken several decades was happening at once, Kim Dok-Ja's blood continued to evaporate. Yi Su-Gyeong asked. "Seol-Hwssi, is there any way to....?"
"As of now....."
"Can't we go with the method used to save both of us? Such as, repairing the Fables."
Yi Seol-Hwa sighed softly and spoke while s.h.i.+fting her gaze in Yu Sang-Ah's direction.
"We chose the Fable repair method for both Su-Gyeong-ssi and Seol-Hwssi because the 's system was functioning properly back then."
It was a world where skills and Stigmata existed. Everything in the world acted as the components of stories. And so, the 'treatment' in such a world was all about repairing the Fables.
"Recently, the skills or Fables have stopped activating as before. Even Aileen-ssi and I are gradually losing our powers," said Yi Seol-Hwa
"....Is that because the 's influence is disappearing?"
"With how things are like now, that's the likeliest possibility."
"The reason why Dok-Jssi's wounds aren't healing must be of a similar nature."
Kim Dok-Ja before their eyes was an existence created out of the [Avatar] skill. And the [Avatar] was a skill belonging to system.
Yi Seol-Hwa made her final diagnosis. "Dok-Jssi will eventually disappear if he remains in this place."
Yi Su-Gyeong wordlessly stared at Kim Dok-Ja.
The world he spent all of his life to establish was now killing him. As if, the world where the stories had ended no longer needed Kim Dok-Ja.
Yi Su-Gyeong reached out and touched the sleeping Kim Dok-Ja's cheek with her hand. "....If I knew you'd end up like this, maybe I should've stopped you back then."
The moment her extended hand touched his cheek, a Fable bloomed between the two. It was the story of two people fighting inside the [Dark Castle]. Yi Su-Gyeong still remembered what happened back then.
His face looking back at her through [The 4th Wall] between them; a wall always existed between the two. However, Kim Dok-Ja knocking on that wall before she could was the first time he had ever done that.
Even if she turned back the clock, she'd still fail at stopping her son.
Yi Su-Gyeong stared at Kim Dok-Ja for a long time before holding her son's hand, a hand that always loved books. Most likely, the other Kim Dok-Ja was still busily 'scrolling' with these very hands while riding on the subway.
"Maybe I shouldn't have given you the name of Dok-Ja."
*
⸢Industrial Complex eastern entrance, 8:00 PM.⸥
While standing like a pair of trees with mismatching height, Han Su-Yeong and Yu Jung-Hyeok were waiting for their companions to arrive. Cold winter winds moistened their cheeks, and warm breath leaked out of their mouth.
Han Su-Yeong shoved her hands inside the parka and grumbled. "....No one's coming."
They figured that something like this might happen. Han Su-Yeong elbowed Yu Jung-Hyeok on the side.
"Hey, isn't it fine with just us? If we combine my ingenious brain and your nonsensical fighting prowess, then...."
"It's impossible for us two."
"Argh, why not? You've been fine so far all alone, right? But this time, it'd be two of us, you know?"
Rather than replying, Yu Jung-Hyeok quietly looked at his own hand. A transparent ring was swirling around above that very hand.
[Stigma, 'Regression' is evolving.]
The countless regression turns he lived through were writhing within that ring.
"You have no idea what it means to 'regress'," said Yu Jung-Hyeok, as he slowly distorted the ring within his palm. "You don't know what happens every time I go through the regression."
Fables grasped tightly within his fist howled out in agony.
Sentences were exploding like insect eggs. Those were screams of the ones that repeatedly died many times throughout his life.
"There is no such thing as the perfect regression, just like how there can be no Fable without sacrifices. If I regress again this time...."
More than likely, he'd lose someone again.
The world would sink into yet another tragedy.
The world about to be created in order to save Kim Dok-Ja could be destroyed without managing to save anyone, instead. Han Su-Yeong replied. "I know that. Also..."
She s.h.i.+fted her gaze over to the Complex's entrance and continued on. Since when was it? Several lengthy shadows were drawing closer to them under the cold wintery light.
"Those people also know it, too."
Fin.

Omniscient Reader 526 Epilogue 2 - Not Found Anywhere 1

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Omniscient Reader 526 Epilogue 2 - Not Found Anywhere 1 summary

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