Chapter 22: The status window opened on the first day of enrollment (VI)
Maximilian was a reincarnator. In fact, there were more.
That’s not the point; what happened to them?
The hero disappeared. He went into hiding somewhere in the deep mountains of Tylesse, abandoning his wife and daughter.
No one could understand it. But Ivan thought he could. That’s…
“Did he go back… ?”
Ivan lowered his head with a pale face.
Could he go back? Was the condition killing the Demon King? What about me… what’s my condition…?
His vision brightened, and his head jerked. The pain came after. Ivan felt his numb cheek and turned his gaze.
Enrique was looking at him with sad eyes.
“Get a grip, boy. We’re not done talking.”
“Yeah. You recognize me. Good.”
Enrique sighed as she buried herself deep in the sofa.
This guy is not getting enough sleep. No, he’s not getting enough rest. I just realized why.
It’s not a matter of mental illness caused by the war. This guy is now alienated. He recognizes this place as reality while at the same time wishing it wasn’t reality.
Therefore, he could not have rested. He must have been lonely for a long time. He must have chewed on the loneliness of every night and been tormented by the ideal of every day.
Reincarnators. Wanderers who were ‘brought’ from another world. Enrique felt sorry for these people. Especially in the case of this taciturn and twisted madman.
She looked her disciple straight in the eye and slowly spoke.
“They all say they brought their own stories. There are very few records left, but it was the case in most cases. Some had stories, some had legends or myths, some had novels, sometimes they were plays, and there were also cases where they described something else.”
“…They were all different…?”
“Yes. As I said, they had their own stories.”
There is no commonality in what story led them.
But they all felt that they had fallen into the story they longed for.
It is impossible to grasp how, or in what way, this happened.
“They… what kind of ending did the reincarnators meet…?”
This was the most important question that Ivan was holding. What fate was in store for him?
“Some disappeared again, some died, and others remained.”
“The hero, Maximilian?”
“As you know, he went into hiding. Well, I don’t know if he’s gone back, or if there was another reason. I can’t go and ask him, and I have no way to meet him.”
Ivan lowered his head with a dizzying feeling.
Everyone has a different story, everyone has a different ending… what is his ending? Is it to be forever trapped in this world? Is there no way back? He want to believe that death is not the only ending…
Enrique banged the desk. As Ivan raised his head, she looked at him with sad eyes.
“So, how do you see us?”
“In your world, are we just peripheral characters in a novel? In your worlds, do we just end up as ‘characters’ consumed by lines of text?”
“No. That can’t be. It goes without saying, right?”
In a world where a million stories are intertwined, if there are a million protagonists.
Does the protagonist have to see the other protagonist as a supporting role?
No, no. They are all simply the protagonists of their own stories. So then…
“Then are your world and this world fundamentally different worlds? Is that place reality and this place just a fragment of a story? No. I am alive, breathing, I hate sunlight, I hate blessings, I drink blood, and I enjoy tea, just like you.”
“Maybe you think you’re just a supporting character? Don’t say ridiculous things! You are the protagonist of your life, and I am the entirety of mine!”
Her eyes were burning as if they were about to devour Ivan.
Ivan looked at her face quietly.
“You don’t want to be a supporting role, right? Then how do you think of us? What did you think of me? Ivan. Little Ivan. Did you live thinking that the king you respected was just a supporting role in a story? Did you laugh inside while saying ‘Do not mourn those who have left first’?”
“No, I would never….”
“Then live. Live your story and end your story. The ending that the story will meet is not something that fate or the world decides. That’s something you have to decide.”
At the end of each story, there is a different ending.
The direction that leads to that ending is not necessarily due to a predetermined destiny.
Even if the journey of the hero party has become a legend, each individual is not a hero in the legend. They are just ordinary individuals who are still alive and breathing.
Enrique held Ivan’s hand tightly and looked at him with straight eyes.
“Do you want to go back? To your hometown?”
“Then don’t wait for fate to end your story. Disciple. Turn your page with your own hands. All the way. To the end.”
“At the end, is there anything I can decide?”
“The choice to turn the page is entirely up to you. Like everyone else. Like all the people in this world and your world.”
The hero, Maximilian, always laughed. He always smiled and took one step forward.
Thinking back to that time when hope was so scarce, Enrique thought quietly.
He missed his hometown. He missed his lover and parents who would be in his hometown. Every time he heard about his comfortable life and mysterious civilization, Enrique felt sorry for him.
Poor wanderer. Wanderer of the dimension. Stranger.
But the hero laughed. He said that normalcy means the same thing in that world and this world.
So he wasn’t a wanderer or a stranger, but an ordinary person.
With countless burdens on his shoulders, he took one step forward. One step forward again to achieve what he believed was ‘normalcy’.
One step at a time towards the darkest hell of the continent where hope had disappeared.
One step forward, willingly becoming a lighthouse for those who did not have the courage to go ahead.
His courage was in his belief in normalcy and ordinariness. That’s why he became a hero. Regardless of any privileges, talents, or qualities. Endlessly continuing what he believes is normalcy.
To those who say it is extraordinary, he laughed. He is just a person who does the work that anyone else can do.
“If I had met you a little earlier… If I had listened to your story a little more seriously, it wouldn’t have turned out this way… I’m sorry, disciple.”
“I’ll stand guard. Get some sleep.”
“I can see that you haven’t been able to sleep properly because you couldn’t feel at ease anywhere. At least for four years. If it was longer, it would have been your whole life.”
There was no bedroom in this room.
This guy must have just slept on that desk or that sofa every time.
While worrying about what if the protagonist in this world suddenly eliminates the supporting role one day. What if the story ends in a situation where he can’t do anything.
While being arrogant that he himself should not be a supporting role, even though he thought of others as supporting roles. And yet believing that he was never the protagonist.
“If necessary, I will stand guard every night.”
Ivan did not refuse. He was too tired.
Kim Sunwoo closed his eyes quietly.
He made a mistake. This world is not a strategy simulation or a royal RPG. It could have been someone else’s story, but it wasn’t his own story.
Not a soldier in a strategy simulation. Not a scout for a party of heroes. The story of Ivan Petrovich, Kim Sunwoo, did not even unfold the first chapter.
30 years have passed since the prologue.
Now the prologue of the story is over. The name of this story is not “genre”, but “life”.
Perhaps it’s an academy work. Ivan laughed as he reflected on his situation.
He was no longer angry at that sentence.
He was too tired and tired to be angry.
The hand patting his shoulder was warm.
He felt relieved.
It was a day when Kim Sunwoo was 16 years old, and he had been rolling around on the battlefield for two years.
Kim Sunwoo rolled on the floor, gritting his teeth. Because the sword he received as a supply broke. The bullets were all gone, and the demons finally broke through the line of defense.
When the sword broke, he picked up a spear by rummaging through the floor, and when the spear shaft broke, he slammed it down with a shield. He took the axe and swung the great sword to hold on.
He himself had never thought he could fight like this. He was surprisingly skilled at using his body, and he didn’t feel tired easily.
Of course, it seemed that he was forgetting his fatigue thanks to the adrenaline that was bursting out violently at the moment.
Considering his athletic ability, he should have been exhausted and collapsed by now. However, Ivan rolled on the floor and picked up the sword. He picked up the spear. He swung the axe and pushed it with the shield.
How much time has passed like that?
My body is still moving. My vision was still clear. The only sounds I could hear were my own breathing and the sound of my heart that felt like it was about to burst, and my nose had long forgotten any other smell except the smell of blood.
He just lived by blocking, pushing away, and swinging the things that came his way.
When silence came at some point, Kim Sunwoo noticed the giant shadow that was already covering him.
“You fought well.”
A thick voice rang out from above his head. When he turned his head, he saw a military flag. The military flag of Krasilov.
It’s an ally. Kim Sunwoo lowered his shoulders and bowed his head.
The man was riding a horse, so he must be someone important. Since he was under the military flag, he must be the commander.
“What is your name?”
“My name is Ivan Petrovich, sir.”
“How old are you?”
“I am sixteen.”
“I am a conscript.”
The man, with his back to the sun, had his face hidden. His appearance, with the sunlight shining like a halo, was blinding.
He followed the commander’s orders and turned around. Ivan thought he was telling him to go back to the main camp.
His eyes were filled with so many corpses that he couldn’t see the ground. Countless bodies, both demons and humans.
When Kim Sunwoo was about to frown, he heard a voice that seemed to comfort him.
“Look up. Look at those who are standing.”
Only then did he see others. Not corpses, but people.
Survivors. The wounded, the ones who were barely standing with their broken spears, the ones who were shaking and somehow still alive.
“Originally, this campaign was destined for defeat. The situation demanded shifting forces to other fronts.”
“…. Long live Your Majesty!!”
The commander’s words caused the attendant behind him to scream. The burly man continued speaking without a care.
“But they survived. Ivan Petrovich, look at those you have saved. Stand tall. You have saved them, and the villages behind them, and the families and residents of those villages somewhere.”
The commander got off his horse and stroked his head. It was a big hand.
“So stand tall. ‘Little’ Ivan.”
“…I am not little.”
He was taller than the average height of this era. He had become to the point where the inspector thought of him as an adult.
“When I was your age, I fought like you and earned the name ‘Great Ivan.’ I dare not be called by the same name as me.”
“Long Live Your Majesty…!!”
The attendant screamed again. The man with the big hands patted Ivan on the back once and then got back on his horse.
“Treat this child and teach him.”
“Will you take him in?”
“I’d rather raise a lion in a zoo. Just make room for him. If he reaches a position where he can stand on his own, won’t you see him again?”
The commander rode away, leaving Kim Sunwoo standing there in shock.
Kim Sunwoo, who had been called “Little Ivan” by the commander, felt a strange sense of excitement and pride. He knew that he had done something great, even if he didn’t know what it was. He was determined to live up to the commander’s expectations and become a true hero.
It was five years later that he met the man again.
Five years later, he was assigned to the “Royal Guard.”
After that, he was called “Little” Ivan. It was a very honorable title.
Ivan did not have nightmares that night.
Since he had seen the late king for the first time in a long time, Ivan was able to fall into a deep sleep.
[“???-Rank Quest” The Gardener of St. Jan’s University -Cancelled-]
[Your miraculous luck has stopped your dice. You have survived.]
[Goal: Kill Ivan Petrovich, the gardener of St. Jan’s University -Cancelled-]
[Optional Goal: Persuade Ivan Petrovich -Cancelled-]
[Optional Goal: Conceal information -Cancelled-]
[Additional Goal: Survive -Cancelled-]
[Failure Penalty: Death -Cancelled-]
“What the hell is this? Really, what the hell is this…! Give me an explanation!!”
Eugene screamed as he stared at the blue light display.
Of course, this damn status bar didn’t give him any answer.