An intangible ripple across the sky. Something that wasn't mana, but had an even greater weight than that.
Seol Kim stared at the sky and frowned as it became stained a deep black. And not just to his eyes.
"What... What's happening?"
One of the Chosen who joined his camp staggered back and fell, staring at the sky.
"My, my." Dragon Princess Sakura caressed her spear and smiled. "Just who exactly is pretending to be human, Mister Vain, hm?"
Hearing that, Seol resisted the urge to let out a deep sigh.
Everything was going wrong. Of course, everyone had expected events to go off the rails due to the regression, but this much...
[<The Elusive Plotter> lets out a deep sigh and says you have your work cut out for you.]
"Tell me something that isn't obvious."
Seol grumbled and then took stock of the situation.
Completely uncharted territory. Babel should have been a simple climb with exploiting hidden pieces to power up strong enough to cut down that woman who wanted to destroy Babel. And it had been that way... for about a day.
The Corrupted Valkyrie Goddess had avoided her fall in the first stage. The Dark Tempest Knight would never come to be since the Abyssal Witch of Stagnant Water wasn't kidnapped in the second stage.
Not only that, but the <Sponsor System> and <Constellation System> seemed to have been opened earlier than expected.
[<The Elusive Plotter> says that you have always been good at improvising, so he hopes you will do well here as well until he can arrange things.]
Seol glanced at the message and then clicked his tongue.
'That old fart is as useless as ever.'
[<The Elusive Plotter> says that he is not useless! Or old! Just because he was there at the beginning of Babel does not make him old!]
'Keep telling yourself that, idiot.'
Seol flicked the message away and then focused on the surroundings.
As expected, the Chosen were starting to grow restless. That was even more true when people who clearly *weren't* Chosen started to walk into the capitol and demand answers.
A headache. But one that he had to deal with if he wanted to save the future, so...
"We want answers, dammit!"
A skinny young Asian man glared at Jon while brandishing a knife.
Jon laughed and said, "Ooh, how scary. But if you want to show me a knife..." He raised his cleaver and said, "*This* is a knife."
If it had been The Vengeful Death Specter, Seol wouldn't have minded. But that young man definitely wasn't him, so...
'Time to play the hero again. Dammit. Why couldn't Rein have been the one to go back in time? He would have done a much better job at this...'
The sky shattered. Although the brilliant blue hue had been lost a long time ago with the end of the world, now all color faded, replaced with a dark void. As if the atmosphere had been completely washed away, leaving only the infinite blackness of space and distant starry lights.
If that was it, then it wouldn't be so terrifying. Since it was the end of the world, something like that was expected.
But then 'that' began to appear.
Suspended within that dark void, a pitch black castle appeared, barely visible beneath the distant starlight.
And the moment it did...
[<Constellation: Apocalypse Eschatology> has descended.]
[<Demon Lord Seeking the World's Destruction> has revealed himself.]
[<Demon Lord Seeking the World's Destruction>: Those otherworlders who do not wish to be swept away in the end, retreat. To those Earthlings who have no recourse... Despair and pray for salvation.]
...Three messages appeared to everyone on Earth.
[You have been Chosen.]
But to Lee Shin, an additional message appeared.
"...Is this a dream?"
He still didn't believe it. Monsters pouring through portals and wreaking destruction on all of Seoul. People getting superpowers and fighting back.
Lee wasn't that. He was normal. An average high school student who just wanted to live a normal life. And when everything happened, he just hid away at home, cowering beneath his bedsheets. But...
[If the flow of events continue in this manner, everything you care about will vanish.]
[If a 'hero' does not appear, only mutually assured destruction awaits.]
[Lee Shin. Will you become the hero?]
Lee's heart throbbed.
He thought about his younger sister who had awakened to superpowers and was fighting for her life somewhere out there.
He thought about his parents who had died while heading back home.
He thought about his friends who told him to stay back while they figured out what was going on, only to die to a terrifying boss monster that appeared out of nowhere.
And with that...
Getting out of his bed, he stared at the message and then reached out to select his answer. The moment his finger touched 'yes...'
[You have determined the 'Truth' of this world.]
[You and all you know are nothing more than figments of imagination, puppets created for a play that Otherworlders are enacting.]
[<Demon Lord Seeking the World's Destruction> is revealing his true name.]
[<Vain Glory, the Heaven-Defying Human> requests your aid to turn this tale of despair into a happy ending.]
[<Vain Glory> has been designated as your sponsor.]
[Your status will be corrected by the authority of <Vain Glory>.]
[Humanity holds no limits. Pride in the face of absolute despair, pride in the bonds that connect disparate individuals, and pride in the knowledge laid out in blood by those who came before create a power without end.]
[Unique skill: <Fiction in Fiction> has been granted.]
[Delude yourself and delude existence. You can obtain and use any power you set your mind to. You are granted partial access to the authority of <Vain Glory>.]
[Title: <Heaven Defying Hero> has been granted.]
[You refuse to accept the fate laid out before you. The 'reality' that you have been presented is one you will not accept. All Fate/Destiny/Karma based phenomenon are negated. You cannot be erased by divine authority.]
A swell of power. A flurry of messages. A change in perspective.
Lee clenched his fists, feeling crimson flames wrap around his body.
No, not just crimson flames. <The Flames of Ragnarok> that mark the world's end. A power that could destroy any monster in this world with ease.
[Save Seoul, gather your allies, and then meet me at <World Breaker> in the skies above. You can do that much, right?]
An arrogant but expectant voice that echoed in his very being.
Hearing that, and on receiving information about exactly how the world was going to be saved, Lee laughed and said, "Demon Lord-nim. You're a crazy bastard... But alright." He walked over to his bedroom door with a grin on his face and said, "I'll be your hero. So don't complain when I kick your teeth in, alright?"
[...I wouldn't try it. But ask again when you get here.]
Akira spun his knife around in hand while staring at the giant floating castle in the sky. "Wow. Aniki's going all-out, huh? Knew he wasn't just an ordinary guy if could snag Freyr."
A haughty blonde woman beside Akira crossed her arms, staring at the castle as well. Her crimson eyes glimmered a faint gold before she frowned and said, "...Are you sure that your 'Aniki' is human, Aki?"
"Oh yeah." Akira nodded and said, "He had more lines and dots on him than a high schooler trying to graph an equation for a first time."
Akira blinked and then muttered, "Right. Progenitor Vampire Princess who never experienced high school."
The woman huffed and said, "That's why you have to take me home with you and show me around, Aki!"
"Yeah, you and everyone else, apparently."
Akira reached up to scratch the back of his head while imagining how that would go.
...Mm. Well, it would make life interesting at least. Might have to do a bit of explaining to his younger sister, but it should work out.
But right now...
Akira lowered his hand and tucked it in his pocket while taking a look around.
Sakura and Jon were rallying people together. That Seol guy was getting people too.
But for him...
"Hey Tsuki, should I-"
[<A Heaven Defying Human> would like to sponsor you.]
[<A Heaven Defying Human> has offered a lifetime supply of gourmet chocolate as a sign-on bonus.]
[<A Heaven Defying Human> has gifted a dozen boxes of gourmet chocolate in advance.]
Akira blinked, staring at the messages.
"Aki?" Tsuki stared at him and frowned. "What? Did another dumb god ask to sponsor you?"
[<A Heaven Defying Human> states that you won't regret your decision. Especially since you seem to be running headlong into the fate of a Harem Protagonist.]
Akira laughed and pressed the accept button.
"A-Aki?!" Tsuki rounded on him and said, "You accepted a sponsor? Who?!"
[Due to the circumstances, <A Heaven Defying Human> will use a different alias in relation to you.]
[Your sponsor is now <Unlimited Chocolate Works>.]
Akira chuckled and pulled out the box of chocolate from his inventory. "He's not a dumb god, but he sure is a goofball. Here."
"Eh?" Tsuki blinked as she took the chocolate. "...Chocolate? Here?"
"It's good stuff. Now..."
Akira stared at a few more messages that popped up in his vision before smiling. "...It looks like I've been paid to run wild for a while." He looked at Tsuki and said, "What do you think, Princess? Should we gather up the girls and show everyone how scary 'death' really can-" He paused.
Tsuki swallowed, holding a half-empty box of chocolate. "W-What?"