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The Returner - Chapter 311


Chapter 311

“Wow, this hotel’s pretty nice, isn’t it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk jumped into the very-plushy-looking bed.

 

Seeing how deep his body sank, it must’ve been a really expensive mattress. How wonderful would it have been if his own house had a bed just like this one…. His mother’s declaration of “It’s too tiresome to upkeep” pretty much killed all possibilities, though.

 

“It’s barely on the level of ‘passable’.” (Erukana)

 

Unfortunately, it seemed Erukana wasn’t truly satisfied.

 

She had enjoyed all sorts of luxuries back in the demon world, so not even the seven star hotels could catch her fancy. Indeed, this place should come across more like a horse stable in her eyes. She was only willing to spend the night here simply because of Yi Ji-Hyuk’s presence.

 

“What an interesting place this is.” (Erukana)

 

“This country?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Ng.” (Erukana)

 

Erukana formed a thick, meaningful smile.

 

“Fear and anxiety, something I hadn’t been able to sense too often in this world, have completely filled this place up. It’s the kind of mood you might feel back in Berafe.” (Erukana)

 

“I’m sure it is.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk replied disinterestedly and buried himself even deeper into the bed.

 

Well, the worst level of unfairness existing on Earth took place in North Korea for real, so one could say that it’s not that far removed from Berafe in that regard.

 

“Still, the living standard is slightly better here.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Ng, that’s true.” (Erukana)

 

With that, Erukana purged all remnants of her interest on North Korea out of her mind. This wasn’t a matter she should concern herself with.

 

“By the way….” (Erukana)

 

“Ng?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“I felt this evil intent, you know?” (Erukana)

 

“Evil intent, is it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Ng. A hostile intent directed at you, darling. I sensed sticky, really tasty hostility.” (Erukana)

 

“H-mm….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk raised his torso.

 

It wasn’t strange to see someone from North Korea holding negative sentiments towards him. First of all, the NDF could very much be the biggest threat/enemy in the North’s eyes. And Yi Ji-Hyuk was the strongest combat force in that organisation.

 

If he were to disappear, then the impact on the South should be unimaginable. So, it’d not be a surprise to find some pro-war nationalists wanting to assassinate him and hurt the South using this opportunity.

 

‘Still, they should have functioning brains at least.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

The North Koreans didn’t have the power to stop the monster wave without Yi Ji-Hyuk’s presence. So, they wouldn’t try to assassinate him while fully knowing that fact.

 

“I wonder, will they really show up to kill you later?” (Erukana)

 

Erukana hummed slightly as if she was excited about this.

 

“Groan….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk simply shook his head.

 

Although….

 

Thinking of assassinating him when the Succubus Queen, the protector of the night, was here


? That was the same as fighting a shark buck naked underwater.

 

“Don’t go and cause an incident, you hear me?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Ng? Me? Eii~, darling. Am I the kind of woman who’d go around causing incidents?” (Erukana)

 

“………”

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk swallowed back his tears.

 

‘Did you just ask me if you’re an incident-causing woman??’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

If I’m to chronicle all the hardships I had to go through trying to put out the fires you caused, forget about one full day, I might need a whole month!

 

Just who do you think caused me to become a demon king in the first place?! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk began trembling uncontrollably, causing Erukana to quickly pounce on him.

 

“Kyah-hat! My darling, are you angry?” (Erukana)

 

“Grooooan….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

He smoothly pushed her face away from himself.

 

“When are you going back to the demon world?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“I will, soon.” (Erukana)

 

“When?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Mm, when my darling dies?” (Erukana)

 

“….That’s way scarier than the answer of ‘I’m not going back’, you know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

For Yi Ji-Hyuk, it’d be for his lifetime, but for her, it’d be more like the blink of an eye.

 

“By the way, darling?” (Erukana)

 

“Yeah?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Aren’t you scared?” (Erukana)

 

“Of what?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“This thing called dying.” (Erukana)

 

He didn’t answer right away, instead choosing to lie down and stare at the ceiling. A short while later, he finally opened his mouth.

 

“I’ve lived for too long.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“But, it doesn’t seem that way to me, though….?” (Erukana)

 

“That’s just from your perspective.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Stop judging humans through the standards of demonic beings!

 

“When seen from a human standard, I’m more like a living fossil. I’ve been living for too long.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“H-ng?” (Erukana)

 

Erukana snorted softly.

 

“Stop lying. For you, darling, the time you’ve spent back then was nothing more than frozen, unmoving picture. Like a dream, in other words. A human wouldn’t become a real old man just because he spent a thousand years in his dreams, now do you?” (Erukana)

 

“……..”

 

“Darling, you might be a demon king who lived for thousands of years, but at the same time, you’re a twenty-something young man, too. And the longer it goes, the closer you’ll get to the latter. You’re simply finding your way back to your original self, right?” (Erukana)

 

“H-mm….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk couldn’t retort to that.

 

During the initial period of his return from Berafe, nothing could faze Yi Ji-Hyuk. None could have stopped him were it not for his family.

 

However, what about now?

 

He swore he’d not, but somehow, he found himself tangled up in all sorts of matters already. This was what it meant to live on while forming connections.

 

Even if he didn’t want to care, once these connections were made, he simply had to care.

 

Having experienced pain from countless betrayals already, yet still unable to let go of his attachments – one could say that he was being foolish here, but….

 

“But, that’s what being a human is like, right?” (Erukana)

 

“I told you to stop reading people’s minds, didn’t I?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Erukana smiled seductively. It contained traces of mockery within. As she was a Succubus by birth, there’s nothing she could do about that smile, but he still disliked it very much.

 

“If you really want to cut off all ties with humanity, then just don’t be a human anymore. Become a demonic being.” (Erukana)

 

“Is that what you want?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Darling will never do that, though. I find it so funny watching you quiver in rage whenever I say stuff like this.” (Erukana)

 

“That’s why you demonic beings can be so….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out a sigh.

 

The traits of demonic beings, the one about manipulating humans as a form of their entertainment, wouldn’t change even if their relationship was this advanced.

 

“Is it fun to make a fool out of people?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Nope. It’s fun making a fool out of you, darling.” (Erukana)

 

“Even if I don’t like it?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“You might say that, but I know you don’t really hate it.” (Erukana)

 

“Whew….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

He just shut his eyes.

 

Knowing each other inside out could be this uncomfortable at times.

 

“Just how long are you planning to help humans?” (Erukana)

 

“Depends on my whims.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Even though you know it’ll be impossible to defend them in the end?” (Erukana)

 

“I’ll defend them until I can’t.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Darling.” (Erukana)

 

He didn’t reply and simply stared at her. She too didn’t avoid his gaze and held it.

 

“Please, you must look at the reality of the situation.” (Erukana)

 

“I know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Darling, you are no longer the Bringer of Apocalypse, nor are you a demon king. Your back is too small to bear the weight of the entire human race. Your spine will break first, you know?” (Erukana)

 

“I know already.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Oh, do you really?” (Erukana)

 

He frowned and stared at her. She couldn’t endure it anymore and turned her head away.

 

“Please don’t look at me like that. I also don’t want to say stuff like this. The fact that my husband has weakened is also deeply hurting me, the wife. Don’t you know?” (Erukana)

 

“You sure know how to talk.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“In any case, darling. Do only what you can do. You grew more and more disinterested in the matters of humans the closer you got to godhood. Yet, why are you so obsessed about it now?” (Erukana)

 

“You think Berafe’s humans are the same as the ones this side?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Is there a difference?” (Erukana)

 

“You saying there is none?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Erukana formed that mocking grin again.

 

“Don’t be delusional, darling. Those people or these ones, they are the same. If something is different, than it’s simply the folks here see you as one of their own, and the ones over at Berafe didn’t. Even here, if your outer appearance was as different as what they felt back then, the treatment towards you would still be the same. Who would call a human with five arms, six legs, and talking in an unknown foreign language a fellow human being?” (Erukana)

 

“……….”

 

“The humans of Berafe aren’t strange. That’s just the way humans are. You know this already, don’t you?” (Erukana)

 

“Fine, I know.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk nodded his head.

 

“I know very well that the ones who persecuted me were humans, and the ones who tormented me were also humans. And I also know that the ones I slaughtered were humans, too.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Denying it was simply escaping from reality, that’s all.

 

“However, I’m originally a human, too. So, even though I know they are not different, I can’t help but feel that way.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

It was rather similar to how a feral dog wasn’t really the same as a house-trained pet dog. They might be the same in terms of being dogs, but at the same time, not.

 

“If you say so, then I guess it is. But….” (Erukana)

 

Erukana stared at him with complicated eyes.

 

“But, you know that trying to shoulder the burden you can’t really handle will only lead you to a life of living hell, don’t you?” (Erukana)

 

“So what?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk smirked.

 

“Are you telling me to not lift a finger since I can’t handle it anyway, and when the time comes, die quietly? Is that the simpler, easier way you’ve been touting all along?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Darling, you don’t have a reason to obsess over this place, do you?” (Erukana)

 

“How will you react if the demon world disappeared?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“I’ll probably miss it a little. But that’s all. I’m more important than the demon world, after all.” (Erukana)

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head.

 

“I’ve lived way too long for me to care more about myself rather than the world. I’ve experienced way too many times first-hand how horrible it is to live a life with no place to call home.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“In that case, are you saying that the reason why you need this world is for your sake?” (Erukana)

 

“Correct.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Hmm, it’s like, I can sort of understand it, but at the same time, I can’t….” (Erukana)

 

“No need to understand it.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

He didn’t need her to understand it, anyway.

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk never wanted such things to begin with. He was already accustomed to living a misunderstood life by now.

 

“Fine. Regardless of what, I’m fine with it. However….” (Erukana)

 

Erukana slowly approached him and licked his cheek.

 

“If you die without my permission, I shall never forgive you.” (Erukana)

 

“Kekeke.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“You’re always so stubborn.” (Erukana)

 

“About what?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“You always did whatever you want no matter how much others try to talk you out of it or throw a tantrum to stop you.” (Erukana)

 

“I did?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Wasting my breath mentioning it. You’re such a stubborn mule.” (Erukana)

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk quietly studied Erukana.

 

She really knew how to torment people, so much so that he’d get the compulsion to kill her from sheer irritation she caused. Yet, without her, could he have returned to this world in the first place?

 

Compared to the likes of Affeldrichae and others who said they’d help only to block his path, Erukana really did wholeheartedly help him out.

 

“….Although, I don’t want to admit to that.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“H-ng?” (Erukana)

 

Erukana stroked his cheek.

 

“You’re a man loved by a demon king, so it’s perfectly fine to be more proud of yourself. Especially when I’m so special.” (Erukana)

 

“With your own mouth, no less??” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“I’m beautiful, aren’t I?” (Erukana)

 

“Groan….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk shook his head.

 

Sure, you’re beautiful. Because you’re the Succubus Queen.

 

If we’re to only talk about your beauty, then you should be the best looking in the whole of the demon world. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk got up from the bed, opened the door to his fridge and grabbed a bottle of Cola before popping its lid off.

 

“Kyah~!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

This is it.

 

I’ve searched high and low for a thousand years just to taste this…. (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)

 

He walked over to the window and saw the darkness pervading the landscape. Looking at all the turned-off city lights made him newly appreciate the fact that he was now in North Korea.

 

“Mm….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“What’s wrong?” (Erukana)

 

“Mm, how should put this…. It’s like, this place feels a bit off. Should I say that I can’t seem to relax here?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Really?” (Erukana)

 

“H-mm. I wonder if I can sleep at all tonight.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Erukana tilted her head, looking confused.

 

“In that case, why don’t you just go home?” (Erukana)

 

“Uh?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“Call the lizard over. Let’s go home. You’ll just sleep at home and come back later.” (Erukana)

 

That made sense?

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk promptly opened a Gate.

 

“Now I see. There was a reason why I haven’t slept in any other place other than home ever since coming back to this world.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

He was able to open a Gate, which meant he could sleep in his own bed. What was the point of sleeping in a place like this, then?

 

Hotel, shmotel! His own bed was the best!!

 

“Okay. Let’s go.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Yi Ji-Hyuk finished opening the Gate. In the meantime, Erukana fetched Affeldrichae, too.

 

“M-Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk!!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

 

Choi Jeong-Hoon somehow discovered her dragging the Dragon Lord away and must’ve caught a certain ominous whiff from that, because he dashed into the room in a hurry.

 

“Hey. I’m going home to sleep. So, like, I’ll be back later.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

“W-where are you going again?!” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)

 

“My home.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)

 

Why are you going back home, you crazy fool?! (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)

 

Even before Choi Jeong-Hoon could say something, Yi Ji-Hyuk and Co. entered the Gate.

 

“………..”

 

Wow. How considerate.

 

He didn’t even close the Gate, too. If he did close it, then…. (Choi Jeong-Hoon’s inner monologue)

 

Right then, the Gate closed.

 

“……………….”

 

Choi Jeong-Hoon stared at the empty air where the Gate used to be for a long time, before shifting his gaze to the ceiling to let loose a string of loud expletives, the kind he’d never utter again for the rest of his life.

 

Unfortunately, the next thing he had to do was to desperately explain himself to the security guards that showed up soon after.

 

< 311. Pardon? Did you eat something bad? -1 > Fin.


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