Chapter 508. Can’t Cry (6)
It was just as Princess Sahee said. Chi-Hyun realized as soon as he saw Elrich’s belly. ‘Ah, it’s you.’ He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t dare to define it as order or chaos. It was the first unknown existence Chi-Hyun had ever faced in his life. If he had to describe this existence, he would say it was limitless. Something inside Elrich’s stomach, something far beyond his understanding, aroused feelings of both wonder and fear in him. A child that wasn’t even born yet was already at this level; how great would the child become once born and grown? Only then did Chi-Hyun understand the meaning behind what Princess Sahee had told him.
[No, I can’t even imagine what kind of existence they’ll be.]
[Originally, it wouldn’t have been such a problem since you could just pass over it. But things have become very complicated ever since you became determined to change your own fate.]
[With the meddling of your fate, you’ve accumulated quite some karma. Furthermore, for you to cover up this amount of chaos, you will need a bigger fate than that.]
So to speak, it was like a shaman’s spirit possession. A shaman couldn’t simply refuse it because they didn’t want to serve and accept a god, and even if they refused, their fate to become a shaman itself did not disappear. Even if that person was able to avoid it somehow, the fate to accept a god would be passed down to their descendants. This was the first method that Princess Sahee had thought of—to hand over the fate that Chi-Hyun had to bear to his future generation. However, things became complicated as Chi-Hyun showed signs of awakening as a demon lord—no, chaos.
In a way, this fate followed the same rule as the law of causality. Chi-Hyun provided a reason for something that he did not have to go out of his way to do, and as a result, he now needed to pay the price of his karma to change the result. And this karma was no other than to—
[Wait 20 years. Then, you should take responsibility and deal with the fate that was born from your accumulated karma. What you wish for will come true after that.]
To kill his blood relative who would grow up 20 years later with his own hand. His younger sibling, who was about to come into the world—would be born with his fate that had grown to an unknown extent and become greater than anyone else in the whole universe. Or to be more exact, this child needed to die at the hands of his own brother before reaching that future. In that way, Chi-Hyun’s wish would come true when his younger sibling took all the fate together with their death.
Chi-Hyun let out a hollow laugh. He had wondered what Princess Sahee was talking about regarding paying the price for karma and whatnot, but essentially, he would be made to experience what his parents might have felt. If she thought he’d give up with this much, she would be sorely mistaken. If he could be free, he would commit as many crimes as he had to. To do so, he needed to make some preparations from now on.
“It’s because of me,” Chi-Hyun easily admitted his hand in this matter. “It was because I was so lonely.”
“Yes, and it was so hard. So I prayed.” To have a younger sibling. “I wanted someone, anyone to share my work, yet no one was qualified enough. But…” Chi-Hyun continued, looking at Elrich’s bulging belly. “It would be different for a younger sibling who has both Choi’s and Ho Lactea’s blood like me. I’m sure they’ll be useful. Perhaps they might be even better than me.”
“A sibling will help me and ease my burden significantly, then I’ll have at least more leisure than now,” Chi-Hyun spoke as if he was given some reprieve, something like this would not happen again. “Well…I would be lying if I said I didn’t have such selfish thoughts, like I wanted to feel comforted by someone of the same blood being in the same situation as me. Then It wouldn’t just be me alone. Yeah, I did it out of momentary anger. I’m sorry.”
Elrich looked back at Su-Ho. Soon after, they both nodded at the same time.
“Chi-Hyun,” Elrich softly said, “After that day…I talked a lot with Su-Ho, and I thought a lot about you.” She continued with a melancholy voice, “It was hard for us to understand, but…when I thought about it as a parent rather than a member of our families, I finally understood. Only then did Su-Ho and I do something called self-reflection.” Elrich went on with great difficulty. “Of course, I know it’s already too late. I wish I’d noticed earlier, but since we can’t turn back time even if we wanted to, I was left speechless, suffering from a distressed heart every day.”
She paused and said, “Then…suddenly my stomach began swelling.” She looked carefully up at Chi-Hyun. “At first, I was flustered, but...Su-Ho and I decided to consider this as an opportunity. No, we want to make it so if that’s alright with you.”
Chi-Hyun, who had been listening silently, suddenly frowned. Opportunity? What opportunity?
“The opportunity to correct what we have done to you for this child. Whatever may have happened, it’s my child anyway, a child born from my stomach.”
At that moment, Chi-Hyun’s heart was ready to shatter without any warning.
“I…don’t want to repeat the same mistake anymore.”
The words, ‘Then what about me!’ came right up to his mouth, and he wanted to spit them out, but Chi-Hyun barely managed to suppress it because Elrich, who saw Chi-Hyun’s reaction, hugged her stomach with both hands and withdrew as if she was protecting her child. No, not yet. The child in that belly needed to be born and raised safely, until at least twenty years later. Chi-Hyun had to try his best to quell the raging fire burning inside his heart. Yeah, it was all right. It was good, rather. It worked to his advantage that he hadn’t revealed everything truthfully.
He knew better than anyone else how effective the Choi’s system was since he had experienced it himself. He was worried how strong his younger sibling would become in twenty years. If they were raised as an ordinary person, he would be able to handle them easily in the future. More than anything, he never experienced sibling bond or affection so he didn’t know how it would work in the future, but thanks to his parents’ attitude, he could hate his younger sibling as much as he wanted. If he could turn this hate into a deadly loathing, he would be able to kill anything, blood relative or not.
“I understand. If that is what you agree on…” With his thoughts organized, Chi-Hyun pretended to obediently accept their decision. At the time, he had thought he would really be able to act like that.
* * *
A few months later, a commotion arose in the Celestial Realm due to the birth of the second offspring that would follow after Chi-Hyun. Since there was a great ‘specimen’ named Chi-Hyun, they all wondered what kind of terrifying monster would be born this time, but their interest disappeared faster than expected. For some reason, the Choi Family was extremely reluctant to disclose information on their second child. There was a lot of speculation about the reason, but no one could do anything about it since the Chois adamantly hid their new-born child. In the end, as time went by, the second child was gradually forgotten.
It was the same for Chi-Hyun. He knew his younger brother was born, but that was all. He used the excuse of being busy with Celestial Realm activities to not go home. While waiting for twenty years to pass quietly, he tried not to develop affection for his brother unnecessarily. If he formed a sibling bond, he might lose his resolve and mess up his plans. Of course, he couldn’t be completely indifferent either. In order to not raise doubts from Su-Ho and Elrich, he needed to play the minimum role of an older brother, and at the same time, he planned to cultivate his negative feelings towards his brother by watching him grow up with things that he couldn’t enjoy. Moreover, his brother would’ve stopped crying like an infant every second by this point. Thinking this, Chi-Hyun came back to Earth after a long while.
However, Chi-Hyun received a huge shock as soon as he returned home because what was waiting for him at home wasn’t any ordinary baby, but something in the shape of a baby. When Chi-Hyun saw the baby lying quietly in bed, the memories of when his brother was still inside Elrich’s stomach was revived. Should he describe the baby as colorless and odorless? The baby didn’t cry anymore; He simply stared blankly at the air all day long with no response.
Seemingly having transcended humanity, he appeared so dull and lifeless that it instigated an unknown fear inside Chi-Hyun, who was already revered as the legend. What the hell was this guy? Why was he like this? It was probably from that point that, contrary to his plan, Chi-Hyun became interested in his younger brother without realizing it.
Although he couldn’t stay with his brother all the time since he needed to work as a hero, he came home whenever he could and observed his brother, and Chi-Hyun’s mouth gaped wide during his younger brother’s growth period because it was so different from what he had imagined. He planned to leave his brother alone as much as possible until he turned at least twenty. His parents had also said that they would raise his brother like this, and Chi-Hyun didn’t plan to interfere with their plans.
However, nothing worked out like he thought it would. His brother did not get to enjoy the desired life Chi-Hyun had imagined. Instead, it was rather the opposite. He had to live an unusual life that ordinary people couldn’t even imagine. It was a strange irony of fate, as his parents tried their best to raise him normally, but outside factors wouldn’t let him be. It wasn’t that his brother hadn’t tried to live the life he wanted or didn’t want to—he simply couldn’t. His brother was born to live a life like that without choice.
Su-Ho and Elrich were confused because they didn’t know the reason, but Chi-Hyun thought he could guess why. ‘No way…’ It was because of him. It was because of his deal with Princess Sahee. Since he needed to pass over this damn fate—no, since his brother needed to endure a fate that had now grown beyond measure, there was no way he could live a normal life. That fate was so powerful that it one-sidedly decided how Chi-Woo’s life should be.
This wasn’t what Chi-Hyun had planned. He hadn’t expected this nor wanted this. As soon as Chi-Hyun came to the realization, his mind blanked out, but he managed to come to his senses. He consoled himself, saying that it would change as his brother grew up, and he would get used to this—for both Chi-Woo and Chi-Hyun.
His brother really gave it his all. He struggled and fought back and cursed and despised not just his family, but the entire world. He went through the same struggle continuously, and during this process, all kinds of malice gathered, but his brother was not stained with evil. Despite everything, he held onto order and tried his best to remain human. However, nothing changed. It couldn’t be helped because no matter what fate he was born with, his brother was still born human.
Since he was born as a human, there must have been things he wanted to do and obtain. If Chi-Hyun was born with that right but was deprived of it, his brother was born without the right nor even the qualifications to try to recapture that right and escape like he did. It was impossible to recover something he didn’t have in the first place. Eventually, before half of the promised twenty years had passed, his brother gave up his life on his own. He hadn’t ended his life, but he no longer tried to do anything or put in any effort. He lived like a patient with terminal illness, simply waiting for his death every day; even though he was a child who wasn’t even ten years old yet.
Sometimes, very occasionally, he sat down, looked up blankly, and then shifted his gaze to Chi-Hyun. Every time this happened, Chi-Hyun avoided looking at his brother. He left his seat like he was running away, went into his room, and locked the door. For some reason, it felt uncomfortable to be in the same space as his brother.
The more confused he became, the more reluctant he felt to spend time with and see his brother. It was to the extent that he almost missed a call from the Celestial Realm. Even after work, he didn’t want to go back home, but somehow, his feet led him home every time. But once he got home, the brothers didn’t share one proper conversation or even make eye contact. Nevertheless, Chi-Hyun felt an unknown sense of obligation to go back and see Chi-Woo.
* * *
That day arrived when he least expected it. After returning to Earth, Chi-Hyun wandered the streets for a while as usual and headed home. He hesitated for a long time in front of the apartment complex. Then he took the elevator and stopped in front of the door. He hesitated again for a long time, and then with a deep breath, he raised his hand. He punched in the password and opened the front door. The interior of the house he hadn’t seen for a long time appeared before his eyes.
“Chi-Hyun, you came back?” When he went in after taking off his shoes, his mother came out and warmly greeted him. “It’s been a while, but you came back sooner than I thought this time. In one year and two months—”
“It’s been 52 years.”
“It was pretty difficult,” Chi-Hyun calmly continued with a slightly tired voice. “I needed to regress about ten times, so…”
His mother looked at him with pity; soon, she smiled and hurriedly put on her apron. “You should rest for now. I’ll cook for you. It’s been a while.”
“Where’s Chi-Woo?” Chi-Hyun immediately changed the subject.
Then his mother’s expression noticeably darkened. Rather than asking further, he looked around the house. He saw something small sitting alone in the living room; his brother turned around, seemingly having felt his gaze. When Chi-Hyun met his brother’s empty eyes, he looked away unconsciously because there was something indescribably chilling about them. He could guess how his brother had been doing even without asking; he could just tell by Elrich’s reaction.
‘He’s still the same,’ Chi-Hyun muttered inside his mind and said, “I’ll take a break. I think I need to get some sleep.”
“Yeah, you should. Su-Ho will be back around tomorrow evening, so let’s have a family meal we haven’t had for a long while.”
Chi-Hyun nodded and tried to run away to his room like usual.
“You can quit.”
Hearing a murmur, Chi-Hyun paused.
His brother spoke with his head turned toward him and continued with an empty voice, “If you don’t want to do it.”
He could quit if he wanted to. At that moment, Chi-Hyun’s eyes widened, and all kinds of thoughts crossed his mind. ‘You…’ He knew. His brother knew everything from birth. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have said something like this so out of the blue. Chi-Hyun suddenly felt a throb in his heart; it felt as if his heart was plummeting.
‘I can quit? If I don't want to do it?’ That was what he had wanted to hear the most, but it was also something he could never hear. However, those words came out of his brother’s mouth out of the blue. No, before that. Had he known it? Since when? Perhaps from the very beginning? Then why? If he knew everything, why did he not do anything!?
Chi-Hyun’s heart beat like crazy, and his head was in chaos due to the unexpected situation. The moment he met his brother’s staring eyes, he saw it clearly. Although his brother didn’t say anything, his brother’s eyes were saying, ‘I know everything, so I hate you. But. But still.’
…Yes. Among the numerous emotions inside his brother’s eyes, that was what always followed in the end. The emotion Chi-Hyun had forced himself to ignore, the emotion that he thought he had thrown away but hadn’t been able to rear its head.
‘I…’ Chi-Hyun’s hand shook, and his breath trembled. ‘What…’ Chi-Hyun raised his trembling hands and looked at them alternately. ‘What did…I do…’ Why on earth did he suddenly have these feelings and thoughts? How long had it been? The tremor in his hand slowly subsided. His fiercely beating heart calmed. And the mess of thoughts filling his mind washed away. It was a strange thing. Chi-Hyun felt his dizzy head clear up at once after facing his brother properly for the first time. He thought he finally realized why he had been avoiding his brother so far.
There was no need to contemplate further. The reason was simple. Just as his brother was human, Chi-Hyun was also human. Chi-Hyun wanted to live like a human. During the time his brother was born and after spending ten years together with Chi-Woo, he realized that what he had hoped and longed for had gradually changed little by little, like clothes getting wet in a drizzle. This time, he was able to open his mouth without any hesitation.
“No, that’s not the case,” Chi-Hyun answered in a slightly nonchalant but confident voice. One that came from an older brother who no longer avoided his little brother, but instead stood tall in front of him. “I’m dying to do it.”