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I Returned as a God

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I Returned as a God

[Translator – igixri]

[Proofreader – Enigami]

 

Chapter 14 - I’m Kind of a Big Deal (2)

 

As promised, Choi Soo-hyun didn’t disturb me for the entire 10 minutes.

The spacious house was shrouded in silence.

The alarm went off on his phone after the timer had finished.

Choi Soo-hyun turned his phone over and touched the screen with his finger. Choi Soo-hyun was a Hunter that had experienced what it was like to travel to another dimension when he had fallen into the crack called the dimensional rift.

In that dimension, there was a man that had worshiped a god called ‘Soter’. Due to this encounter, ever since Choi Soo-hyun had come back to this world he had been searching for that god.

‘Something isn’t adding up.’

This was because it was only recently that I’d coined the display name ‘Soter’. Choi Soo-hyun had almost died in a dungeon and left his guild only around two years ago.

‘He knew about this name even before I’d made it up…’

It seemed unlikely that the system would allow an overlap between a display name and a god’s name.

“There’s something that I’m curious about.”

Choi Soo-hyun, who had cleared away the finished pizza, sat down holding Shong-shong and placed his soju on top of the table.

For someone who looked so mild-mannered, seeing him drinking soju straight up like that was really something. Choi Soo-hyun didn’t respond, but I pushed through and asked anyway.

“What was the name of the man you met? The one who said that he worshiped the god Soter.”

“Dunno.”

“Are you kidding?”

“I’m not kidding? I really don’t know. I can’t remember.”

Shong-shong, who was perched on top of Choi Soo-hyun’s knee, looked at me and barked. While petting him to calm him down, Choi Soo-hyun poured more soju into a glass cup.

“That’s a real mystery, y’know, there’s no way that I didn’t hear his name. But that part is the only thing I can’t remember at all.”

“What about his face? What did he look like?”

“Would you know even if I told you?”

I laughed awkwardly at Choi Soo-hyun’s rebuttal. He pointed his finger at me.

“He was just around your age. His skills were real, but he was young. Besides that, I can’t remember. Now, I gave you all that time to think, so it’s my turn to ask questions. So, what happened in that place?”

I told Choi Soo-hyun what had happened.

‘But not all of it.’

The possibility was high that Choi Soo-hyun’s story about falling into a dimensional rift was his secret. It was only polite to give a comparable response after having heard the other person’s secret.

In exchange for leaving out a lot of information about the Tower of Trials, including the fact that Soter was a display name that I had made up, I peppered in a lot of extra details.

Choi Soo-hyun chewed on some dried squid that he’d brought over as a snack. As if he’d belatedly realized that he was the only one drinking, he held out the soju bottle in my direction.

“You want some?”

“You want me to drink straight from the bottle?”

“If you want a glass, go get it yourself. Who are you trying to order around? Oh, and bring back another bottle… No, maybe three more bottles while you’re there.”

With less than half of the soju left in the bottle, I had no choice but to stand up and go get more.

No matter how I looked at it, him telling me to go get a glass just seemed like an excuse. When I entered the kitchen, I was faced with an industrial-size fridge.

As if he knew that I would hesitate, Choi Soo-hyun raised his voice from the sofa.

“Look down, it’s the bottom door!”

“At this point, why don’t you come get it yourself!”

“Watch your tone when you’re talking to your senior. It’s like you’re trying to piss me off.”

Ignoring Choi Soo-hyun. I opened the fridge door at the very bottom.

“That crazy—”

At the sight that greeted me when I opened the fridge, I couldn’t help but curse out loud. 

In the fridge were cartons of soju. There was nothing but soju in a house you’d easily expect to have bottles of wine with Chateau names.

I couldn’t understand where the hell this kind of character had come from.

I scooped up three bottles of soju in my arms as well as a glass cup. Once I finished grabbing all of that, I returned to the sofa.

“Don’t you have any soju shot glasses?”

“Who drinks soju from a shot glass? Are you a kid? Ah, wait, you are.”

Choi Soo-hyun laughed at me with a snort. While I’d gone to get the soju and glass cup, it looked like he’d finished off the rest of what was in the bottle.

“Is your liver some kind of alcohol sponge?”

Choi Soo-hyun poured just enough soju into my glass to make a shallow layer at the bottom of the cup. For a moment, I was worried that he might pour me a full glass, but thankfully it looked like he wouldn’t push his own attitude towards drinking onto me.

We lightly clinked our two glasses together, and I coughed immediately after taking a sip of the soju. After the burning feeling of alcohol in my throat had passed, I resumed telling my story. 

I omitted what I had to omit and included whatever I deemed okay to include.

“So to sum up what you’re saying, you fell into this dimensional rift and found yourself at the entrance of a mysterious tower, and you were the only one that survived?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“So you’re telling me you met the god called Soter and you were granted administrative rights to the tower? What about the divine name?”

“What?”

“What? What do you mean, ‘what’? C’mon, Soter is just the display name. I’m asking you what his divine name is.”

 

* * *

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Translator: Igixri

Proofreader: Imagine

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* * *

 

After taking a break to have another drink of the soju, Choi Soo-hyun stared at me.

“Do I look like an idiot to you?”

“No, but…how did you know that he also had a divine name? I thought that people generally weren’t aware of that.”

“That’s only if you’re a third-rate Hunter. If you have administrative powers by proxy, you should at least be at the Guardian rank, so it doesn’t make any sense for you not to know the divine name of the god you’re following.” 

“I can’t tell you. Well, if you were to consider following the same god as me, then I’d think it over.”

“Sure.”

“...Huh?”

After Choi Soo-hyun had left his affiliation, he’d received countless love calls from other gods. This was still the case even now, three years later.

‘Well, it’s not like I didn’t already have plans to bring Choi Soo-hyun over.’

As soon as the name Soter had come up, I was certain that I’d be able to bring Choi Soo-hyun onto my side. But I had no idea that the words I’d thrown around lightly would be so easily accepted. If it were this easy to bring Choi Soo-hyun over, then there would’ve been no reason for him to wander around as an unaffiliated for three years.

Rather, it was too easy.

“Are you thinking that it’s a trap because I agreed so easily?”

“Hrnk.”

‘Was it that obvious?’

As I cleared my throat, Choi Soo-hyun put his empty glass on the table and slightly leaned his body forward.

“I’m not saying I’ll just let you bring me in. As you know, I’m kind of a big deal.”

“I hate myself for not being able to refute that.”

“You’re just saying that right in front of me?”

“I can’t win with my fists, so I might as well live with getting an edge in words.”

“Well, I just want to know two things.”

Choi Soo-hyun continued speaking while holding up his fingers one by one.

“Like I asked before, I want the god’s real name, not his display name. And I also want to know his motive.”

“His motive?”

“Yeah, what the god you’re following actually wants.”

“Is there a reason why you need to know something like that?”

“Because this world is crazy.”

He reached out and picked up another soju bottle and started drinking. It looked like he didn’t care to hide anything anymore.

I wasn’t really concerned whether or not Choi Soo-hyun drank soju by the truckload. There was nothing more ridiculous than the thought of an S-class Hunter dying of alcohol poisoning.

“Gods want Merit Points, and Hunters gain more power based on the amount of Merit Points that they offer to their gods. You know at least that much, right?”

What Choi Soo-hyun was talking about was the crux of the proxy war that was being fought in order to gain the authority of being the dimensional ruler. 

Most Hunters didn’t know that truth. The truth that this was all just one gigantic ‘game’.

“In that other world that I went to, even ordinary citizens had Merit Points. Do you know what I’m saying? These ordinary people had to offer up their Merit Points to the devotees of their gods, and if they couldn’t, then they’d be treated like nothing more than livestock.”

“Oh…”

“These people that called themselves devotees wouldn’t shy away from trying any method to offer more and more Merit Points to the god that they worshiped. The reason why is kind of ridiculous. They said that if the god that they followed became number one, then they had promised that they would save everyone who followed them. But I’ve seen this kind of scene many times before.”

Choi Soo-hyun gulped down the soju as if he was drinking water.

‘Did something similar happen in other dimensions?’

I didn’t quite understand what had happened. While I was thinking it over, Choi Soo-hyun continued to talk.

“Serbia. You probably know of him because you’ve searched it on the internet, but that was the god that I was affiliated with. Forgive me for not being able to say his divine name.”

Because the names of gods had great power, there was a high possibility that as soon as you mentioned their true name, you would get their attention in some way. So instead, I changed the topic.

“What happened?”

“There wasn’t anything specific that happened. The real conflict happened over there. The god that almost won first place was the very god that I worshiped. I found my answer after watching the gods play with their devotees until they were brutally killed. Do you really think a god should do such things like order a child to strangle his parents to death?”

This was where two more questions arose in Choi Soo-hyun’s mind.

Was the god that he worshiped the only one who did this?

And if that’s true, then what was happening in the reality that he lived in?

“Actually, the number of dungeons that are appearing is increasing, and dungeon breaks are increasing proportionally as well.”

“I think I heard a little bit about the dungeons in the news.”

“On the other hand, the number of Hunters is decreasing. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the number of Awakened is decreasing. It’s the opposite, actually. The Awakened are increasing, but the number of Hunters that die early on is also increasing. And I’d bet all the Merit Points I have that at least half of those deaths were done by humans.”

Choi Soo-hyun let out a sigh.

In addition to experiencing the above for himself, the claim of a Hunter that was currently working for the Association was very credible. After returning to his reality, Choi Soo-hyun met again with the god that he worshiped in order to confirm it.

“From the beginning, those bastards never cared about us at all. This is just one big game.”

Choi Soo-hyun had accurately grasped the essence of the situation. Honestly, I didn’t expect him to understand the situation so perfectly.

Hunters didn’t shy away from any method to earn more Merit Points. Cruelty was increasing in frequency rather than decreasing as time passed.

Compared to other nations, South Korea’s dungeon management was pretty well-organized. This also meant that there were plenty of databases and a good environment for which to conduct research.

Choi Soo-hyun, who had become a civil servant, used his job as an excuse to investigate dungeons. An S-rank Hunter going into a D grade dungeon was suspicious, but there was nothing strange about a public official going into a D grade dungeon.

“Not all dungeons are like this, but some of them are really strange. It almost feels like someone has made artificial dungeons.”

It was similar to the feeling that I’d gotten in the Goblin Village. In retrospect, even the system of Merit Points as a whole was strange.

“Some people, no, most people compare this situation to that of an online video game. It’s understandable that they think of Merit Points as the same as experience points. What I want to say is, all games have developers. Someone made those games. Even if there isn’t a specific person, there has to be at least a game company.”

Comparing it to a video game, the Earth was just one gigantic server. This wasn’t a game full of hopes and dreams and adventure like an MMORPG. Not at all.

“We aren’t the players of this game.”

The NPCs that live in a game live their lives in peace without knowing that they’re NPCs. Even though it’s hard to accept, our situation was similar to this. My actions and my way of life were, in truth, being manipulated by someone else. The futility of my rage was indescribable.

Choi Soo-hyun clenched his fist tightly.

The NPCs in a game might live up until the very end as NPCs, but at the very least, Choi Soo-hyun was not an NPC.

“The god that I follow could end up being the same way.”

“The bastard that I met truly believed that the god he worshiped could save the world. Isn’t that much better than the gods that demand joint suicide as proof of their faith? On top of that, that guy had asked me to find Soter.”

“You don’t remember his name or his face, but you remember that?”

“That’s what I’m saying.”

Choi Soo-hyun muttered while leaning over his bottle of soju, as if he also knew that it sounded ridiculous. But then, who was the guy who met Choi Soo-hyun and told him to find the god Soter?

Anyways, I was convinced that if that guy had told Choi Soo-hyun to go find Soter, he must’ve been someone who trusted me quite a bit.

‘At this point, it’d be weirder if I didn’t take this opportunity.’

Instead of coincidence, it felt closer to inevitability.

“Alright. I’ll tell you. Just, don’t laugh.”

“Don’t laugh?”

“Whatever. I’ve said it, so just keep that in mind.”

I was far behind Choi Soo-hyun, whose face was flushed red due to the alcohol, so I took another sip of my drink and slowly opened my mouth to speak.

“Dark…”

“Dark?”

“The god of darkness and destruction.”

 

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