The 31st Piece Turns the Tables

REAPER SCANS

 

The 31st Piece Turns the Tables

[Translator –  goguma]

[Proofreader – Karane]

 

Chapter 124

Seol was more than just shocked. He was utterly astonished.

‘My piece… was still alive?’

All of the pieces Seol had encountered so far were dead when he met them.

While he could usually somewhat contain the intense surge of emotions upon meeting them, this time was different.

"There's nothing better than dragon fruit when you're on an empty stomach like that. You're free to skip it if you're too suspicious, but are you sure you'll be okay? You look like you're on the verge of death."

“......”

“Tsk, tsk… What’s with your face? Ah, are you experiencing pain mentally?”

Toki was referring to the labyrinth’s Mental Contamination. Seol shook his head and answered back.

“Thank you for your kindness, Toki. I… My name is Snowman.”

“I see. Well, it’s nice to meet you.”

“So how… in here…”

Toki completely ignored Seol and simply watched the horizon.

“The sun will set soon. Since this isn’t an appropriate place to talk, let’s go.”

“Go where…”

“Where else? My house.”

Seol realized that Toki had arrived here using some form of transportation.

Oink… Oink…

A large desert boar was nearby with luggage dangling off of its back.

‘...Did he tame it?’

Desert boars were monsters that appeared in the Penance of Patience. With a violent disposition and incredible strength, desert boars were prone to stabbing anyone who dared to provoke them with their tusks.

“It’s two people today, Chubs. Think you can handle it?”

Oink oink…

“Alright, hop on.”

Seol looked confused as he got on the back of the desert boar named, ‘Chubs.’

‘...It’s more comfortable than I thought?’

 

- It’s so comfortable, Snowman thought it was a sedan.

- Did you see how confused he got? LMFAOOO

- Who would ride something like this… (falls asleep)

 

“Let’s go.”

Oink oink…

Rumble…

Chubs wasn't lightning quick, but its speed was still commendable, especially considering the challenging desert terrain that would catch your feet.

Fwooosh…

The hot desert winds breezed past Seol’s skin.

It was something that would’ve originally annoyed Seol if he was still walking through the desert.

However, now that he was riding on the boar's back, it even felt somewhat pleasant to him.

‘Why is Toki still here?’

There were more than just a couple of questions in Seol’s head.

How was Toki still alive? How had he managed to survive?

‘I need to ask him…’

However, Seol found himself on the verge, both mentally and physically.

Simply traversing the boundless desert on Chubs's back brought forth all his accumulated exhaustion at once.

Even though Seol would typically never do something like this, meeting his own piece had instilled in him a sense of security.

‘I’m a bit sleepy…’

Nod…

And like that, he lost consciousness.

 

* * *

Reaper Scans

Translator - goguma

Proofreader - Karane

Join our Discord for updates on releases! https://dsc.gg/reapercomics

* * *

 

“May God watch over our wandering hearts.”

Seol heard a voice amidst the sound of a crackling fire.

Crackle… Crackle…

It was a familiar voice.

The warm heat enveloping him made Seol quickly realize he was lying by a fire.

“Hm? You’re already up?”

“Haah… Haah… My body is…”

“I know, heavy, right?”

Toki's response sent a shiver down Seol's spine.

Had Toki done something to him while he was asleep?

“Don’t worry, that’s natural. It’s normal to be like that for a while when you first enter the desert. It was like that for me as well…”

“My body… isn’t…”

Alarms were blaring in Seol’s head.

‘My body… isn’t moving.’

 

[You are exposed to Abnormal Status: Dehydration.]

[You are exposed to Abnormal Status: Malnutrition.]

[Your Mental Contamination has reached 50.]

[You are exposed to Abnormal Status: Mental Fatigue.]

 

There’s a saying, ‘When it rains, it pours.’

Despite being inside the Labyrinth of Penance, Seol found himself currently helpless.

Clatter…

And it seemed like Toki was making something.

“Alright. It should be edible with this.”

The pleasant smell of a savory, sweet aroma slowly spread from the fire and into Seol’s nose.

Fuu… Fuuu…

Toki blew gently onto the hot food on his spoon, a gesture clearly showing concern about its temperature.

“Alright, eat this.”

Seol avoided eating anything offered by others. His distrustful nature, akin to a disease, often led to him declining the goodwill extended by others.

And like always, Seol refused the food given to him by a stranger.

However…

‘I haven’t eaten anything for days…’

Agony from starvation consumed Seol, and due to his empty stomach, his guard was much lower than usual.

According to Seol’s memories, Toki was a monk faithfully devoted to a god, and he was extremely good-natured.

If Seol had met Toki elsewhere, he would have eaten the food Toki offered him without much worry.

‘However, right now, we’re…’

In the labyrinth.

Not to mention, Toki had survived here for quite a long time.

The Labyrinth of Penance ate away at the minds of the people who entered it.

Seol had no idea if Toki had experienced a change of heart and become extremely twisted.

However, as Seol was busy thinking, Toki stuck his spoon into Seol’s mouth.

“Urgh…”

“You haven’t eaten something like this before, have you?”

“Haah… Haah… What…”

It was a taste that made you feel better. Moreover, it was warm, just enough to provide comfort.

Seol realized something as Toki flashed a big smile once more.

‘What did I just…’

Seol doubted Toki even though he was the one who forced him into the labyrinth.

The familiarity he felt from Toki slowly changed into comfort, then trust.

‘You haven’t changed at all, Toki…’

And like that, Toki began looking after Seol for a few days.

Seol couldn’t understand Toki’s behavior at all.

Why was he going so far to help a stranger in this empty desert?

“Your stomach must be shocked. You should sleep a bit more.”

“...Why?”

“Hm?”

“Why… are you being so kind to me?”

“Ah, I see. So you were curious about that, weren’t you, kid?”

Toki laughed and flashed his missing teeth once more.

“It’s because all this time… I’ve been lonely…”

Seol fell asleep once more after hearing his response.

Seol felt much better the following day.

However, his body felt bloated, like a cotton ball that had absorbed way too much water. The most he could manage was to lie down, as even moving was difficult.

Despite this, Toki continued taking care of Seol.

A day had passed, and then another.

 

- Is this the new nursing simulator?

- Is the Penance of Patience supposed to be a battle against sickness?

- So Toki’s the MC, right?

 

And like that, Seol eventually fully recovered.

“You’re up.”

“I feel a bit better now.”

“Haha, that’s a relief. I would have left you if you couldn’t get up today.”

“......”

“It was just a joke. Don’t take it too seriously.”

Seol pulled himself out of bed. Still, that didn't mean it was morning. It was night, and darkness had enveloped Seol and Toki completely. As Seol was getting up, Toki was cooking something by the campfire.

“Is it meat?”

It’s been days since Seol last had meat.

“Yeah, there’s nothing better than meat when you’re recovering.”

Even though Seol was drooling, he had a bigger question. Where did Toki find the meat?

‘Well, I’m sure it isn’t that big of a problem.’

Seol, in a short period of time, had come to trust Toki.

After all, if Toki had bad intentions toward Seol, he would have acted when Seol was unconscious and couldn’t move.

Considering Toki had been the one caring for him during his struggles, it wouldn't make sense for Seol not to trust him.

“Toki, I have a question.”

“Haha… a question when you just got up? You really keep yourself busy, don’t you. Alright, what is it?”

 

- How did he know?

- He does keep himself busy, though LOL

 

Seol asked Toki while accepting the meat Toki had cut for him.

“How… did you end up here?”

“Ah, it was something like that?”

“I was curious.”

In truth, Seol already knew about Toki’s circumstances.

After all, every piece in The World of Eternity included a detailed backstory when the player created them.

It offered players all the necessary information about the character's life so far and the reason why they got into this line of work.

“While I don’t particularly enjoy talking about the past… I guess there’s no reason to hide it when it’s been a long, long while since I’ve met someone. It’s not like you can spread rumors about me either, don’t you agree?”

“...Well, this is the labyrinth.”

“Haha… exactly.”

Toki took a bite of the meat and began talking about himself.

“I was an orphan, abandoned at a remote town when some epidemic was going around. The townspeople, taking pity on a baby who still needed breastmilk, took me in and raised me. It was a miracle when you considered how eating children was common then due to the lack of food.”

Seol nodded.

Toki’s backstory was exactly as Seol remembered it.

"I always made an effort to express my gratitude. Repaying the people and the god who bestowed life upon me seemed only fair, didn't it? I… had faith that this hope would one day save me."

However, Toki’s faith did not last.

As Seol expected, Toki’s eyes showed a deep sorrow.

“One day, my wife, my daughter… and most of the townspeople died.”

 

- Hold on, I have to go. I can’t watch this.

- You cannot escape. This is the labyrinth.

 

Toki looked extremely calm for someone who shared such a shocking story.

"It happened while I was outside the house for a bit. Due to our village's remoteness, we often faced bandits who pillaged for food around that time of the year. I thought we had safely passed over such threats this year, but... that became the source of our troubles."

“Did the bandits do it?”

“Yeah, it was them.”

“......”

"I devoted my entire life to the god I worshiped. Creating a happy family wasn't just about personal fulfillment. It was also a means to draw closer to him and to protect my beliefs."

There was a reason Toki went on about this.

Seol simply nodded, a gesture for him to continue.

“I chased after them.”

“And then?”

“I attacked their base. When I regained my senses, everyone was dead except one person, and I was grabbing that terrified bandit by his collar. Can you guess what he said, quivering in fear?”

“......”

The entire situation would have been new for Toki.

"God, please rescue me from this despair."

“...The bandit looked to god.”

“At that moment, I could feel everything inside me twisting and turning. It felt as if my intestines were being pulled apart and tied into knots, while my bones broke with each word he said. Everything that I believe in and I did… was refuted.”

The bandit who laid waste to the town had looked to god.

Toki must have felt his faith was being tarnished by the bandit.

“I'm sure they were also facing hardships during the winter because of the scarcity of food. And I’m also sure they couldn’t overcome their own laziness and chose the easier option than farming. Everything, even the smallest of things, has a reason behind it. Just like how they had a reason to attack my town.”

“Toki…”

“The martial arts I polished because of my faith in god… were used to break their skulls and tear off their legs. Despite my efforts to draw closer to him, I only encountered more difficulties in understanding his will, and... I drifted further away from him.”

“The last bandit…”

“I lost him. In that moment, my desire to kill him completely disappeared. Did the god I worship save him? Then why…”

Toki continued with a heavy expression.

“Why… Why did he leave me in despair? Why… Why didn’t he save me?”

“.......”

“After that day, I left the town and wandered the world, hoping to understand why my god had responded to the bandit and ignored me.”

Toki smiled.

“And like that, I ended up here.”

“...How long have you been in here?”

“I don’t know… how long has it been? It’s been so long since I’ve counted the days that I don’t remember it at all now.”

It would have been roughly 10 years.

No, since he had forgotten his time in the labyrinth, it might have been even more.

‘Still, that’s impossible… He managed to survive in the Penance of Patience for over ten years? There’s no way his mind should still be fine…’

Toki asked Seol after seeing the look in his eyes.

“What’s wrong?”

“...It’s nothing.”

“Feel free to ask me if you’re ever curious about something. Haha... I've come to realize the significance of conversation in life only now, after spending a considerable amount of time alone.”

Because of Toki’s response, Seol asked another question.

“Do you perhaps… know anything about the Penance of Pain?”

“Hm… You’re referring to the gate where you have to fight a bunch of statues, right?”

“I am. I don’t know why. It just felt a little… different from the other penances.”

This was a question even the Blood Saint couldn’t answer. Seol hoped that Toki might have the answers to it.

“You don’t need to know about that for now.”

“What?”

“You’ll learn it naturally once you reach the end of the labyrinth. Nothing good will happen from learning about it right now. Rather, you’ll just… break down.”

“Break down…?”

“Any other questions?”

 

- (Didn’t answer the question and just rambled about something else) Any other questions?

- Any other questions (that I could actually answer)?

 

Seol had only one question.

He slowly opened his mouth to ask Toki.

“How have you been able to survive in here?”

“Haha... You were just unlucky. The only reason you hadn't encountered anything was because you were dropped into a place where there was practically nothing. In fact, this desert is filled with things you can eat if you just look around. It was only the specific spot where you were that had no food.”

“Filled with things you can eat? What do you…”

Even the Blood Saint had to simply endure his hunger with his exceptional spirit. The only edible things he found from time to time were dragon fruits and lizards.

The Penance of Patience was a survival test with no known end date.

“Where do you think I got that meat you just ate?”

“What do you mean…? Isn’t it from the animals in the desert?”

"You only come across those when you're really lucky. And even if it were one, it wouldn't be enough meat to fully satisfy us both. Now, where do you think I got it?"

Seol thought to himself and arrived at the answer.

“Don’t tell me it’s… Chubs?”

 

- NOOOOOO!!!

- Not Chubs!

- You evil bastards!

 

“...Of course not.”

“Then that means… Oh my god, it’s monster meat.”

“Yeah.”

“But monster meat has poison in it which…”

Seol quickly realized something was off.

‘The meat I ate didn’t feel like that at all, though?’

In fact, the only thing Seol felt was that it was tasty.

“Haha… You can think of it as a secret skill I was forced to learn to survive in this desert.”

“A secret skill?”

“I call it ‘Monster Cooking.’ What do you think? Interested?

 

- A secret skill for cooking? There’s no way I’d say no!!!

- It’s making me drool haha

 

Seol then saw a few options.

 

[[Toki had awakened ‘Monster Cooking’ as a means of surviving in this desert. He has asked you a question, are you interested in learning…]]

 

Before Seol could even see all of the options, he answered Toki.

“Of course.”

"Alright, it feels like I've gotten my first student. You'll have quite a number of new experiences as you learn from me."

 

[You have found a suitable master for Talent 'Cooking'.]

[The hidden advancement process for Talent ‘Cooking’ to Talent ‘Monster Cooking’ is underway.]

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