NovelsWd

The Hero ReturnsThe Hero Returns

Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Chapter 3

Act 2

Dong-ha University was one of the top three renowned universities in Korea. Su-hyeun was still attending this school until the day before, when he was Sung-in in his past life. But….

“It’s not here?”

“How many times must I tell you?” The man who looked like the faculty’s teaching assistant replied nervously. Su-hyeun knew him. It was the same teaching assistant back when he had studied here. It was this school, but….

“Student number 201413109, Kim Sung-in. This student isn’t from our school. You may have come to the wrong place; it’ll be faster for you to double-check.” It was evident that the teaching assistant was suppressing his anger while answering. Perhaps he should have been, since he was wasting his time on something so time-consuming. Su-hyeun could only trudge out of the faculty department.

As classes ended, students came pouring out of the classrooms. Seeing this brought a probable thought to Su-hyeun’s mind. However, no one knew of the student named Kim Sung-in, even if he remembered their faces and names.

It couldn’t be….

A sudden thought got Su-hyeun to flip out his smartphone. Su-hyeun opened his bank’s website and entered his name and resident number, which then brought him to the authentication page.

The result: The name and resident number do not match.

The result was the same, regardless of how many times he tried. Could he have misremembered? No, it couldn’t be. Su-hyeun wouldn’t be able to get into Dong-ha University if he couldn’t even remember his resident number. Did I… disappear?

It was hard to believe. As Su-hyeun’s mind turned blank and cooled, his steps steered toward one direction. He immediately headed to his old house.

Su-hyeun rang the doorbell to his old house in Pyeongchon, Anyang. Ding-dong. The bell rang. Su-hyeun’s heart started racing, and his blank mind was immediately filled with complicated thoughts as soon as the door opened. “Who is this?”

It was his mother. Not Su-hyeun’s, but Kim Sung-in’s mother. Why was she home? She wouldn’t be in most of the time, except for a day or two a month. Should he consider himself lucky? But Su-hyeun couldn’t bring himself to speak in front of his mother. “Who are you?”

“I’m….” Su-hyeun then forced a smiling face and asked, “Is there… someone named Kim Sung-in here?”

“Kim Sung-in? No, I live alone here. Did you perhaps get the wrong place?” As expected, the answer was no different. It was his mother, not anyone else. Su-hyeun half-expected that she might not have remembered him. He was now certain that his life as Kim Sung-in did not exist in this world.

“Ha….” It eventually came to this. It didn’t take him long to get this straight in his mind. It was one of the possibilities he had in mind.

That’s true — I’m here. There shouldn’t be another me since I’m here. It was easier to think of it that way.

If so, mother too… would not have remembered Su-hyeun. It was an awkward feeling. The woman standing in front of him now was no longer his mother. But why? She didn’t look disturbed. It was just him who felt confused. If so….

As expected, I can’t get any closer.

Su-hyeun lowered his head and bowed. “I seem to have found the wrong place. I’m sorry.” Su-hyeun left the premises and headed towards town with a knotted heart. He gradually calmed down as he walked along the busy streets.

I’m Kim Su-hyeun. There was a question that he had been asking himself numerous times for the past month: Am I Su-hyeun or Sung-in? And the answer to his question finally came. I’m now… Su-hyeun.

He repeated this countless times in his head so as to not be wavered by it, and to avoid confusion. Out of nowhere, he heard Shin Su-yeong’s voice. “I’ll not ask why you’re trying to change. Just don’t go astray, and don’t go too far away from home.”

Why would she say that? Now he seemed to have understood. Shin Su-yeong felt anxious. Su-hyeun realized that she too had the same worries that he was having now — that he might leave for somewhere further away, that he might go somewhere far away and not return at all.

He slapped both his cheeks hard with his hands. That woke him up. He was no longer attached to his past life. There was no one to remember him and nothing else for him to leave or regret.

No, just one. Su-hyeun’s eyes sank as he started to walk. Fafnir.

Not from the past, but the future. No, more accurately, something that he would encounter in the future. If it was 2018 now, Fafnir would appear someday, and this world would fall. If this was a world where Kim Sung-in did not exist, then this world would only become worse, not better. That is, if he did nothing.

On his way home, Su-hyeun observed his surroundings while walking on the busy streets. The sky was blue. Being in the bustling and lively landscape seemed to make one feel strangely excited. Until now, he would not have thought that he would miss this moment. In this landscape, in this setting. He wanted to protect the future that he would be living in.

To do that, first…. Su-hyeun turned his head and muttered while looking far into the horizon. “I’m going to have to suffer for a while.”

* * *

Su-hyeun took the bus and arrived home. It wasn’t hard finding his way back. While preparing to be discharged, he noted down his house address in advance. A two-room semi-basement apartment. Su-hyeun entered the house feeling awkward. Click—

As soon as Su-hyeun entered after opening the door with his keys, he could see the small living room and two rooms at once. It wasn’t that small for two to live, but it was apparent that they were not so well-to-do since it was a semi-basement.

Seems that she isn’t back yet. It was early evening. Though it was time for the office workers to get off from work, Shin Su-yeong had yet to return. She usually ended late.

I think we may have a late dinner…. There’s still some time. Su-hyeun went into what seemed to be his room of the two. In a small room of 10 square meters, Su-hyeun sat on the bed that took up half that space.

Although it was his first time, it did not feel unfamiliar. A weird feeling came to him. It was a different sense of relief and comfort as compared to when he stayed in the hospital. It seemed that his body remembered this place.

Pull yourself together. He was quite affected by Shin Su-yeong. It wasn’t in the wrong way. Instead, he liked the comfort, relief, and warmth, which was different from before. But from now on, these emotions would become poison to him.

Smack—

Su-hyeun slapped both of his cheeks hard. Pull yourself together, he repeatedly muttered in his mind.

From now on… I’ll be back as Sung-in. He had lived as Su-hyeun for the past month, and it would stay that way in the future. But besides that, as a Magical Awakener, no one else would be able to catch up to Kim Sung-in.

I’m now…. As if chanting a spell, Su-hyeun continued muttering in his mind. Sung-in. As the spell was finally controlling Su-hyeun. Whoosh—

Su-hyeun’s hand stretched forward and grasped his wide-open hand tightly. Rip! Su-hyeun made a tear in the air, and a space formed. A “doorway” was made such that only Su-hyeun could see it.

Step, step—

Su-hyeun walked towards the door. And after taking the first step, the landscape changed in front of Su-hyeun’s eyes.

* * *

Su-hyeun opened his eyes. The white space came back to him. A familiar place, one that he had seen before. The warm feeling from earlier subsided quickly. Su-hyeun’s eyes changed to those from his past life.

[Welcome to the Tower of Trials.]

[Kim Su-hyeun, will you start the trials now?]

It started.

The Tower of Trials. A place commonly referred to as an abyss by outsiders. Those who passed the first floor would be able to gain their abilities and become “Magical Awakeners.” Of course, it was just the first step, but that performance was also equivalent to the Magical Awakener’s level of awakening. If so, how could one enter the Tower of Trials?

No precise requirements were stated yet. And that was the same for Su-hyeun when he was still Sung-in who lived in the future. It was such that one would know when the moment arrived. For Su-hyeun, the moment he opened his eyes in this life, he realized the method of entering the Tower of Trials. No, more accurately, it seemed as though he remembered the way to enter it. His past life had a positive influence. However, Su-hyeun delayed the beginning of the trials until now.

And the only reason. In the best condition.

For the past month, Su-hyeun had been hospitalized. He had been waiting for his fractured bone to heal and for his health to recover fully. His body now had been fully recovered. While he was hospitalized, he had also done rehabilitation training on his own. He was convinced that this was sufficient.

“Let’s start.”

[Kim Su-hyeun, the trials start now.]

[Choose the level of difficulty.]

[Levels 1~10]

[As the level goes up, the level of difficulty increases, and the reward for clearing each level gets better.]

The explanation for the trials appeared in front of Su-hyeun’s eyes. The trials were divided into a total of 10 levels. The most manageable level started at Level 1, and the difficulty would have reached its highest point at level 10.

It was a tough question. There was no right answer, and since there was no wrong answer, it was even tougher — to choose level 1 and clear the level with perfection, or to choose a higher level and scrape through the level.

The choice was up to him. And….

“Level 10.” Su-hyeun’s choice was already made.

[You have chosen Level 10.]

Su-hyeun had chosen Level 8 in his past life. It was quite difficult, and as tough as it was, the bounty was quite rewarding.

The trials did not start easy. But…. It’s not enough with just this.

There was no end to the Tower of Trials. No one knew how many floors existed within this colossal tower. That was how it was known as being endless. But going up the higher floors did not mean that one was deemed to be stronger. There were cases where some Magical Awakeners who only cleared a few levels were stronger than those who completed dozens of levels. That was the difference when clearing levels and the levels of difficulty for the Tower of Trials.

High risks, high returns. Su-hyeun thought as the world began its fall. What would happen if he had chosen a level of greater difficulty? What if he had taken a tougher route? Su-hyeun soon came to regret his choice for the first time.

This time…. That was how he made up his mind then.

[Level 10 of the Tower of Trials’ First Floor will start.]

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