The Hero Returns - Chapter 554
Black smoke tried to envelop Su-hyeun’s figure. However, he surrounded his body with the clouds to block the smoke, fired his spear forward, and charged straight ahead.
The spear missed Shiva’s body by just a hair’s breadth.
Not a hint of a smile could be seen on Shiva’s face. He was currently fighting with the gravest expression he had ever made in his life.
“Looks like you’re indeed scared, Shiva.”
“Well, that power of yours is a bit too dangerous even for me.”
The “power” Shiva was talking about, of course, was the Soul of the Dead.
This ability was powerful enough even to kill Vishnu. No matter how strong Shiva was, things would get very dicey for him if his soul was directly interfered with.
The demonic energy wafting around Su-hyeun took on a visible shape and began moving. It instantly swallowed up the surroundings to create a pitch-black space.
[The Dark World – Thousand Hands]
The Dark World was known as Thomas’s skill, but it was originally copied from Osiris. Su-hyeun had absorbed that Predator’s power, so it became pretty simple enough for him to use this skill after a few practice runs.
Thousands of hands shot out from the pitch-black darkness to restrain Shiva.
All thousand hands were ripped apart, and the Dark World Su-hyeun had created disappeared instantly.
It was because of the power of Destruction spreading all around with Shiva in the center. While taking on the Demonic Aura Su-hyeun was generating, Shiva grinned in enjoyment.
“This power called Demonic Aura is just a poor imitation of the power of Destruction. There’s no way an imitation can win against the real deal.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
The Dark World was gone, but Su-hyeun wasn’t perturbed at all.
“It did its job of diverting your attention for a bit.”
A large, heavy hand landed on Shiva’s shoulder. Almost simultaneously, six spheres rose around Shiva and began tying him up.
The hand belonged to Gluttony, while the spheres were Prince Nezha’s Yogoe Capturing Rope.
“Something like this—!”
“I told you, didn’t I?”
The spear left Su-hyeun’s grip and stabbed straight into Shiva’s abdomen.
“I only need a little bit of diversion.”
The power of Destruction permeating the spear flowed into Shiva’s body.
The pain he felt was truly horrifying. Not even once did Shiva think that someone else besides him and Vishnu would get to wield the power of Destruction.
Not only that, but when Destruction directly entered one’s soul, the target would feel a truly unimaginable pain.
“What a… stunning… talent… you have!”
Before Gungnir could return, Shiva quickly grabbed it. He had already witnessed Su-hyeun using and calling this spear back plenty of times, including during the battle against Vishnu.
To disarm Su-hyeun, Shiva injected as much power of Destruction into Gungnir as he could afford through his hand. The spear shaft turned black in no time and began getting erased.
Shiva blew away the head of Gluttony that previously held his shoulder. He then beheaded Prince Nezha wielding Yogoe Slaying Sword behind him next.
He didn’t even bother to look back. Only their presence was enough for him to figure out who they were. Not only that, but Shiva would be the only creature strong enough to blow away the heads of Su-hyeun’s summons with a flick of his hands.
“However, you also won’t last long at this rate.”
After dealing with the summons, Shiva wobbled for only a brief moment before regaining his balance; then, he quickly took a look at Su-hyeun’s current state.
Su-hyeun’s hand that absorbed the power of Destruction was visibly trembling right now. On top of this, Su-hyeun was also maintaining the Soul of the Dead.
The authority to interfere with all the souls within the space he “perceived” now belonged to him but at the price of his soul being eaten away.
“It doesn’t matter.” Su-hyeun pulled out the sword he got back from the Bull Demon King now that Gungnir was gone. “I’ll finish this soon, anyway.”
His body might be tired, but the fire burning in his eyes was more alive than ever.
For some reason, Su-hyeun began recalling his last battle against Fafnir as Kim Sung-in.
His opponent had now changed from Fafnir to Shiva, but that was about the only thing that had changed. If he lost this battle, his fate would be the same as back then.
And it was not feasible to bet again on a variable like Samsara – Heavenly Ways of Reincarnation.
The power of the Six Paths already used up once could not be used again. Also, maintaining the Soul of the Dead required a massive price: his soul.
Su-hyeun’s blade sliced past Shiva’s head.
A sword also materialized within Shiva’s hand. Two blades collided, causing the two similar types of powers to clash.
Two powers of Destruction slammed into each other.
The aura of extinction and another one similar to it roused up simultaneously. Su-hyeun’s power had the Demonic Aura mixed in, but Shiva devoured it all.
“How reckless of you.” The corners of Shiva’s lips curled up for the first time during this battle. “This kind of a direct confrontation suits me more. Without your spear, you no longer pose a threat to me.”
“Sure, that might be true.”
“Huh!” Shiva’s eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets. It was all thanks to Su-hyeun’s sudden and unexpected move.
He had grabbed his opponent’s sword. He used his bare hand to grab Shiva’s sword permeating with the power of Destruction.
“Unfortunately, you never learn, do you?”
“I already did it once, so why wouldn’t I do it again?”
[“Predation” is activating.]
[“Destruction” is being absorbed.]
Su-hyeun’s hand began swallowing up the power of Destruction oozing out of Shiva’s sword.
In turn, Su-hyeun’s comparably weaker power began pushing back against Shiva’s. Almost simultaneously, Shiva’s lips that were curling up only a second ago froze stiff in their place.
“You—Are you trying to kill both of us?!”
Two exact powers collided, causing the ripples from the aftermaths to grow larger and larger in diameter. It no longer looked like Su-hyeun was being pushed back one-sidedly but two powers boasting similar levels evenly pushing back against each other.
“Not really. I won’t die.”
“Maybe not right now, but you will definitely die later. Not only that but in this space…!”
“You don’t have to say it. I already know.”
To burn away Shiva’s soul, Su-hyeun had to maintain the Soul of the Dead.
As a consequence, Su-hyeun’s soul was also dissipating right now.
Shiva clenched his teeth at how driven Su-hyeun was. He then said, “The power of Destruction will continue to eat away at you, including your soul. You can’t revert it anymore. How many more years do you think you can live on like this? A thousand? A hundred years, maybe? No, it could be right this minute, too.”
“A hundred years sounds good to me.”
Su-hyeun never expected anything more than that, to begin with.
“Unlike you lot that can live on for eternity, that span of time is just about right for a human being. Someone once told me that.”
The two powers of Destruction clashing violently began to shave away and erase the lower halves of both Su-hyeun and Shiva.
“You fight a battle while putting your own life on the line, or so I’ve been told.”
Believing that you wouldn’t get killed during a battle to kill your opponent would be egotistical and careless. Sun Wukong taught Su-hyeun that important truth.
Sun Wukong possessed the Godhood of Immortality, but even during the battle against Vishnu, he didn’t care whether he would lose his life or not.
It was the same for Su-hyeun, too.
Trying to preserve his life while fighting Shiva was indeed being lackadaisical. One should be prepared to throw their life away if it meant they could secure that sure chance of victory against an enemy of a similar level.
Su-hyeun was maintaining the Soul of the Dead even now. Still stuck within this space, Shiva chuckled hollowly while swallowing up the power of Destruction controlled by Su-hyeun, “You ruthless bastard…”
“Thanks for the compliment.”
“Very well. Have a nice life, then!”
The power of Destruction enveloped the figures of both Shiva and Su-hyeun.
“Who knows how many years—? No, no one even knows if you can survive this moment!”
The two powers of Destruction collided. Then, a massive explosion went off right at that moment.
A massive hole gouged out from the moon’s center swallowed up both Su-hyeun and Shiva.
* * *
Time ticked by quickly. Various projects to rebuild and recover from the damage incurred by the sudden appearance of dungeons and monsters all over the world continued to chug ahead without a rest.
Several months had gone past by now.
However, Su-hyeun hadn’t come back yet.
“It’s already been four months, hasn’t it?”
Seasons had cycled around to greet a new spring.
Lee Ju-ho looked up at the moon floating over the sky as the night deepened. Sun Wukong was sitting inside Lee Ju-ho’s office, munching on some snacks.
The Bull Demon King and Lang Mei had settled down somewhere by now. The Roc Demon King was still living with humans in the same rural village, leaving Sun Wukong with no place to go. So, he decided to stay with Lee Ju-ho and wait for Su-hyeun’s return.
“Oh, hey, this is pretty good.”
Sun Wukong emptied the last crumbs from the crisps package in his mouth and then licked his oily fingers clean.
When the Yogoe showed up unannounced on Lee Ju-ho’s doorstep while saying, “I’ll be in your care!” the latter ended up getting incredibly flustered, but he had gotten more or less used to this sight by now.
Whenever Lee Ju-ho stared at the moon, he couldn’t help but think, “Is he really dead?”
There hadn’t been any news for a long while.
The only person to return to Earth after the battle of the moon ended was Sun Wukong. He then explained to Lee Ju-ho just what kind of battle it was.
Su-hyeun vanished with Shiva. As its aftermath, a gigantic crater could be seen on the moon even with naked eyes.
“Nope, he’s still alive,” Sun Wukong’s thoughts were different from his, however. “The system is still functioning, you know. So, he’s not dead.”
Lee Ju-ho couldn’t understand what Sun Wukong was saying here. Unlike the Yogoe, Lee Ju-ho still had no idea that Su-hyeun was responsible for repairing the system, making him the “master” in the process.
However, Sun Wukong didn’t bother to explain it in detail. He lightly jumped up from the chair instead.
The system was still functioning. That alone was the definitive proof of Su-hyeun still being alive.
“When you come home, I’m gonna—!”
Later that day, Sun Wukong rode on his cloud to fly up to the moon.
He arrived at the exact spot where Su-hyeun had vanished. He had no doubt that Su-hyeun was still alive, but he hadn’t come back yet for some reason.
Even though he came, Sun Wukong didn’t know what he should even do here.
There wasn’t any detectable presence here nor any noises to listen to. Also, the moon’s surface was a barren wasteland with no buildings or forests, so Sun Wukong didn’t even have to search around meticulously.
Sun Wukong circled the area while riding on the cloud, but he couldn’t see Su-hyeun anywhere, somewhat unsurprisingly.
“He’s still not here, I guess?”
Sun Wukong came here every day, but the results remained the same, including this time.
He scratched his head, thinking that it was another bust. Waves of disappointment and irritation rushed over all at once.
“Eh, dang it,” Sun Wukong kicked a small rock rolling around on the ground for no reason. He then loudly yelled out, “Heeey, little bro—! Are you still alive somewhere?”
“Yes, I am!”
He shouted without expecting anything in return, yet he still got a response in the end. It came from the location he was surveying earlier while riding on the cloud.
The ground there suddenly caved in deeper. Sun Wukong’s wide-open eyes began shaking considerably, his crimson irises taking in the sight of a hand emerging from the lunar dirt.
Someone was pulling himself out of the ground.
Dirt caked his hair, and gray ash completely covered him from top to bottom, making him unrecognizable.
“I’m still alive, Third Brother.”
It was obvious who he was without even asking for identification.
Sun Wukong wasn’t suddenly overcome with a great wave of relief or happiness. He already knew that Su-hyeun was alive, to begin with. Plus, four months for him wasn’t that long to wait for someone.
Still, he completely forgot about his plan of smacking Su-hyeun in the head. Instead of a violent welcoming party, he grinned like usual, “Why are you coming out of there?”
“Not sure myself. Why was I even buried down here?”
Su-hyeun didn’t sound concerned at all. As for his expression, he seemed to be feeling incredibly refreshed, much more so than Sun Wukong had ever seen.
“You worked hard, kid.”
“Really? Is that all? I thought I was going to die, you know.”
“Didn’t I tell you? You’re supposed to risk your life when fighting someone. Besides, you survived in the end, right?”
Su-hyeun lay down sprawled on the ground.
He didn’t know how much time had passed by or what had happened to everyone else, but for the time being, he wanted to enjoy this refreshing feeling fully—the kind of feeling one would get after realizing that an intense battle had finally ended.
Su-hyeun smiled brightly, “Let’s go home.”
It really was over.