Episode 35 : Encounter (3)
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Chapter 177 :

Episode 35 : Encounter (3)

A cave that was beautifully connected to the beach, was an appealing sight to anyone who came across this place.

And no doubt, someone who had discovered this while taking a jog along the beach, was walking inside it through the extensive entrance.

"Hm.."

At that moment, JoonChul stepped with caution as he looked around the cave, only to realize that there weren't any menacing objects or creatures in this area.

"This should be safe for everyone to rest in. The view of the sea and the sky would be a sight to see when everybody sleeps here." JoonChul murmured quietly to himself.

"Should I continue looking around until I confirm this place is safe first? No matter how peaceful it is, I must confirm it with 100% certainty."

Searching along the wall in search of anything suspicious or dangerous, JoonChul kept his eyes peeled for anything within this cave.

Sooner or later, JoonChul found himself at the end of the cave before entering back into the cave to further check the ground.

Since crabs and others can hide within the sand, JoonChul moves around the cave, going in circles to feel that there is nothing underneath the sand.

"Nothing's here." Spoke, JoonChul.

..or is there?

SPLASH!!

Without expecting it, JoonChul, who flinched by the sudden noise, turned around to see whoever or whatever it was that caused that sound.

"You.." JoonChul narrowed his eyes.

Swoosh..

Right in front of him, there was a person who JoonChul would be expecting to meet in this ‘Atlantic’ World, but to think that this person appeared too early..

Wave like hair as well as the color of a red coral, it stretched long until it ended at the length of her lower waist.

Wearing a signature purple quahog clam on her hair, the same color as her violet irises, she gazed at JoonChul with a deep stare.

With reddish lips, she spoke in a soothing yet seductive tone. "My.. What do we have here?"

"No one's here." 

JoonChul turned his gaze away from her, considering the way she speaks was a bit different compared to the past.

"How rude~! Can't you see how beautiful I am~?" She spoke, accidentally hitting something.

Smack!

Sighing, JoonChul looked back at the lady with an indifferent expression. "Should you be harming your transportation by smacking it with your tail?" 

"Oh, I was too mad! Sorry, little one." 

What JoonChul meant by transportation was the fact that the lady was sitting on her pet turtle, and by tail, he meant.. 

..the lady's prepossessing mermaid tail in the shade of violet.

Yes, she was a mermaid..

Enough of that, the mermaid lady gave her turtle head pat as an apology for hurting it with her tail, caressing its head with love minus the turtle munching her hair.

"What am I looking at?" JoonChul with no clues in what he's seeing, sighed again while rubbing his temple.

"Do I know you, sir? You look like someone I know~" The lady asked.

Immediate answer. "No." 

"That was fast!"

"..Just leave."

But then, the mermaid continued to voice her words in an attractive and bewitching way. "Oh really~? Do you want me to leave that quickly? Aren't you curious about me~?"

"Not interested in the slightest."

"Come on~"

"Go away."

"Want to touch my pet? I can let you ride him if you carry me~"

"I reject that."

"Come on~"

"..Oh Atlas." Irritating JoonChul, he couldn't understand why she kept on insisting.

"My~! You know my great ancestor~?"

"You're mistaking it."

"Stop being a bummer and—"

ZAP!

In a blink of an eye, with a discharged step toward the mermaid, JoonChul emerged before her as he stood with an irritated glance locked on the mermaid.

"Etheldreda, shut up."

The surprise wasn't about her real name being called out by a random stranger, but it was JoonChul who was very close to her that stunned her into flustering.

"M-My.. How daring you are~!" Gulping in her nervousness, Etheldreda whispered seductively into JoonChul's ears.

Eventually, JoonChul held her chin and moved her face to allow her to take a good look at his face, gazing intensely into her anxious eyes.

JoonChul sneered. "Shh, you shouldn't pretend who you aren't."

A line that was being spoken casually by JoonChul, erased Etheldreda's anxiety in that moment, and was immediately replaced with bafflement mixed in a hint of resentment.

"You know nothing about me!" Said, Etheldreda with her bewitching voice instantly switched to a rough one.

"I know everything about you, from your disability in swimming to your conscientious personality."

Not even a moment later, Etheldreda with her eyes widened by astonishment, dazed at JoonChul and questioned his identity in the process.

‘Who might this man be if he knew that I can't swim? Only a few know that.. Then, could it be?!’ Etheldreda pondered.

And with that, her desperate glance shifted to JoonChul when a picture of a man she used to know numerous times flashed on JoonChul's face.

"..‘Savior of Salvation’..?" She muttered with awe.

"I'm not your ‘Savior of Salvation’."

"But you must be..!"

"Why do you always call me that? People will misunderstand. Isn't that right, Mya, Noel and Noelle?" 

Upon naming those who were spying on them, JoonChul averted his gaze toward a small hole at the ceiling of the cave, spotting four familiar faces before they hurriedly disappeared from the spot.

Not long after, Etheldreda's shaking voice resounded. "You.. You're back yet again..?"

As quickly as possible, JoonChul stepped away from her, almost like he predicted a dutiful and responsive behavior soon.

"Savior..!" Etheldreda called out.

Just like that, Etheldreda tapped her turtle's shell which signalled her turtle to walk forward toward JoonChul while he was walking backwards.

Immediately, JoonChul said. "Don't come close, Ethel." 

"No!" 

Thud.

An uno reverse card played on JoonChul by an immediate response from Etheldreda, he was eventually caught behind the corner of the cave's wall when Etheldreda pinned him.

"Finally! Another chance is given to me, so I must use it to its fullest! Savior, be my king, and do it with me!"

"Shut it."

"No, you can't make me! I'm definitely going to make you king, so let's do it together, please!"

"Stop it, you unyielding coral."

"..! You remembered that too? You really are the ‘Savior of Salvation’!"

"I regret letting you know who I am now."

"This time, I'll make you king! You deserve this position more than anyone else, so you cannot escape from me again."

Shortly after, JoonChul sighed before glancing at Etheldreda, watching her smile in victory as she thought she caught him for real this time.

Etheldreda with a desperate look leaned closer to JoonChul's chest before her hands rested on JoonChul's face, moving her face closer as if to attempt to kiss him.

..She was really hoping to see him submissive to her request.

But unfortunately for her, JoonChul smirked right before her eyes, causing her to second think to herself as he moved close to her ear and whispered the following words.

"Too bad."

At that point, Etheldreda was dumbfounded by him while gasping as she witnessed not a submissive JoonChul, but a JoonChul that was dissolving straight in front of her eyes.

"Noooooo!" Etheldreda exclaimed before going in to hug him, trying to keep him with her.

"This isn't.. Why must you leave ‘Savior of Salvation’!? I only wish to fulfill my duty!"

Her distressed plea didn't reach him..

Sooner or later, the JoonChul in her viewpoint was nowhere to be found again, and the only one who was in this cave was just her and the turtle.

"If that's what you chose, then I'll find you again, ‘Savior of Salvation’.."

 

Her voice had shaken with her hands clasped together, praying for her effort to prevail.

"Or else.. my kingdom will fall.. and I'll fail my people as well.." Etheldreda murmured to herself, noticing her turtle looking at her pitifully. 

"..I'm sorry for showing you this side of me."

With a forceful smile, Etheldreda patted her turtle's head before slowly but surely making her way to the ocean.

"I shall find you again, savior. I must.."

———

[Imitation of ‘Clone’ Lv. 4 has been deactivated.]

‘I couldn't believe I got to hear a cringy title like that this early into the stages.’ I stretched my arms.

Eventually, I murmured to myself. "Calling me ‘Savior of Salvation’.. Huh?" 

To a devil like me, no less.

"Idiot coral." I meant Etheldreda.

While taking the time to relax, I asked Mirai who was creating training clothes for everyone. "..How unlucky am I, Mimi?" 

"Eh~? Captain isn't unlucky. What makes you think that?" Mirai responded before leaning in to gaze at me.

Understanding me as well as I understand her, Frostina informed Mirai. "My liege must be referring to Ethel."

With Frostina saying the nickname that I gave to Etheldreda the mermaid, Mirai instantly remembered who she was. 

Mirai then asked me. "Sou desuka. I almost forgot that Ethel resides in this world! Captain, did you find her while searching the island?"

* ( "Sou desuka" Japanese → English "I see" )

I nodded to her.

"Souka.. Obviously, captain is unlucky to encounter her." Mirai muttered.

An extremely eerie scowl formed on Mirai's face, and I knew very well what her expression translated to a foreshadowing of a bad omen toward Etheldreda.

To this day, I would never understand why Mirai has such a deep hatred or envy toward Etheldreda, or anyone who dared to try to 'do it' with me triggered Mirai to a whole new level.

Could it be her sense of duty to protect me from those kind of lustful women? Either way, it's a pleasure to have Mirai expressing her wrath toward those lewd women.

‘I ain't got time to be having fun with ladies.’ I mused. 

Despite my thoughts, I'm fully conscious of people who are the opposite of me, and surely, it wouldn't be odd when anyone does the 'thing' with others.

We remain earthlings even as we travel across the worlds. No matter where or when, there will always be the worst of us humans.

As a result, I despise those types of people who wish to satisfy their sexual desire. 

‘What good will it ever bring?’ I bit my lips as I was unconsciously reminded of Etheldreda's past.

Soon, I mumbled with contempt. "To ruin a person's life to that degree.."

"Captain, you should relax." Mirai worried about me, comforted me with her embrace which I didn't expect.

Hiss..!

"Meow.." Behemoth gave us a dead stare.

As a reply, Mirai stuck her tongue out at Behemoth which irritated him. "Bleh." 

"Why you, lil spider!!"

Here they go again with the start of their argument, though I wouldn't mind it since our surroundings were getting too quiet.

In addition, I was using my normal fishing rod to catch some fish to keep my promise of cooking up a feast for the members of my guild to munch on.

I could use something to pass the time while I fish, so watching Mirai and Behemoth being themselves isn't half that bad.

Suddenly, I flinched by the sensation I just sensed. ‘What is this? This..’

"Captain? Where are you going?" Mirai gazed at me when I was standing up and leaving toward the east.

And so I lied to her. "To the east. I want to check up on HwanGi just to make sure everything is fine."

‘Fine my ass..’ I scowled after sensing an ominous feeling. ‘What is this strange sensation? As if something is going to happen just like my dream.’

"Okay, captain! Have fun~" Mirai bid me farewell.

In the end, I waved at Mirai before leaving to the east with the feeling of eeriness. ‘I pray that my dream isn't true.’

‘I don't want to get my hands dirty over this..’ 

Rustling~

Slowly but surely, I mumbled. "What are you up to, Michael?"

———

Somewhere on the east side of the island, there was a dense jungle with rivers and lakes everywhere that the eyes could see.

For the one who witnessed these, was none other than HwanGi, walking through the jungle with caution as he moved away the bushes and vines in his way.

HwanGi murmured. "I wonder what I'll find on this island." 

Rustling..

Among the trees, HwanGi's hand had grabbed onto something unexpected when he had realized what it was.

"This..?" 

His hand that was supposed to touch the branches of a tree, was holding something completely light and different. 

A royal blue feather was the object he was grasping. It was something unprecedented when his vicinity had nothing that resembled this feather.

There were birds, but none of them had this type of color. And if it were from birds, there would be no bird that matched the size of this feather.

The feather HwanGi held was the length of his hand. Much bigger than the small bird that fits in the palm of HwanGi's hand.

"What's this doing here?" HwanGi spoke as he looked around for more.

To his surprise, HwanGi spotted a trail of the exact feather leading him to somewhere, whether it be dangerous or not, something tells HwanGi that it would be wise to not follow those strange feathers.

HwanGi said. "I should report this to JoonChul-ssi."

Swish~

[..Seong HwanGi..]

"..!?" Stopping him on his track by his full name being echoed throughout his head, HwanGi jolted back. "Who's there?!"

[..Follow the trail…]

At last, HwanGi remembered that feminine voice so clearly. "That voice.. You were the one who gave me that cursed quest." 

This time, the voice was clearer and firmer than the past, so it took a while for HwabGi to recognize it.

[..You must..]

HwanGi's voice got louder as he was starting to feel upset. "Must you be here to request for me to end JoonChul-ssi yet again? I won't trust nor listen to you after what you did." 

[Follow.. the trail..]

"If I do, misfortune will befall on my friends once more. And I'll never allow that to happen again!" HwanGi shouted.

[...]

"I'm sorry for being rude, but you were more ill-mannered in asking me to kill JoonChul-ssi."

[..It's for his own good.]

Out of the blue, the feminine voice which was echoing like a ghost, was now talking normally for this instance, startling HwanGi for a bit.

Even as HwanGi was bewildered, he continued onward. "What good will it bring with the death of my friend and the cries of his comrades?"

After a short while, the voice waited for a moment before speaking to HwanGi. [It is.. for the benefits… of his future..]

HwanGi furrowed his eyebrows in disbelief. "I have no means to trust you." 

[..His future will end.. in the near future..]

"..?"

In a few seconds of silence, HwanGi could hear how sorrowful the voice was, hinting a bit of grief and heartache within her elegant tone.

..The voice felt too honest to HwanGi..

‘Why is her voice so disheartening to hear? It's as if my pains of losing my parents and loved ones are less heartbreaking than her despair..’ HwanGi frowned.

The way her voice conveyed to him was something heartwrenching to hear, even for HwanGi who has never felt this way before except the times where he screamed in pain of losing the people he once loved, was something uncalled for.

"..Uh." Second thinking to himself, HwanGi was naturally reluctant and hesitant to believe whatever the voice was speaking of.

Meanwhile, the voice echoed in a depressing tone. [Please.. I beg of you.. I wish to save him.. from the agony of.. the anguishing future.. that was cursed.. upon him..]

"..." HwanGi kept his lips shut. 

‘I don't understand what she means.. But I feel like I shouldn't deny her.’ HwanGi pondered as he took a long look at the blue feather.

[..You must follow..]

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