The 31st Piece Turns the Tables

REAPER SCANS

 

The 31st Piece Turns the Tables

[Translator –  goguma]

[Proofreader – Karane]

 

Chapter 127

“One day, I was so exhausted from this never-ending penance that I struck my own head. I distinctly remember doing so.”

What kind of ridiculous statement was that?

It looked like Toki was confused as well.

Toki, who had been acting normal this entire time, spoke about strange things after waking up from his nightmare.

“I was sure everything ended after that, but… the next day began as if nothing had happened. So, I struck my head again on that day too. Yet once again, the next day began.”

“Did you… continue to kill yourself like that?”

“I wasn’t sure whether I thought I was dead or if I was really dead. But one day… I had a dream. Someone who had turned their back on me was scolding me.”

Toki began mimicking someone.

 

- You fool, you stupid fool!

 

“When I heard that, I shouted out in anger. Why?! Why did I have to come to a place like this?! Why?! Why must I endure a life more difficult than others?! I… I… I can’t hold on anymore.”

Toki murmured to himself.

"Oh God, the pain is unbearable. But then, that guy responded to me like this.”

 

- One day, you will understand the reason behind all of this. The reason it had to be you. The reason you must endure this painful, never-ending trial.

 

Seol gritted his teeth.

Right now, it didn’t matter who it was that appeared in Toki’s dream.

It could simply be a hallucination born from Toki's pain, or it might truly be a divine god.

‘...It’s me. The person who left him here… is me. I…’

But one thing was certain, Seol was his god.

Toki’s god was Seol.

‘I am his god, and the cruel fate he condemned.’

And for that reason, Seol had to simply shoulder his guilt.

Seol was filled with an emotion that he couldn’t describe.

Toki continued talking.

“I held on… believing those words. And I still do now.”

“Then, Toki, are you… one of the ghosts of the labyrinth?”

“You know about them?”

“I’ve run into them before.”

"They are fugitives of the labyrinth. As the labyrinth eats away at you, you come to understand that it is, in fact, alive. After utterly shattering the mind of the flagellant, the labyrinth reaps them. These fugitives elude the labyrinth's eyes because they wish to avoid such a fate."

“Then how are you…”

"I don’t know. It’s been a long time since I died, and my mind broke down. Even if I want to see the end… for some reason, I can’t anymore."

With that, Toki finished.

Even though this was supposed to be a time to spill one’s heart, this time only served to prove how exhausted they were from the penance and the labyrinth.

It felt as if their search would only continue, never-ending, filling their hearts with tension, much like standing on a shaky bridge.

However, change can always come suddenly. An incident occurred that turned their tiresome journey on its head.

 

* * *

 

It had been a few days since that talk. The two of them were wandering through the desert.

Sniff… Sniff…

“Huh? Chubs? What’s wrong?”

Snort!

Chubs began hopping around, squealing with fear. Toki, upon seeing what had shocked Chubs, joined in with a shout.

“Damn it…”

Fwoooooosh…

“It’s a sandstorm! Run, Chubs!”

Snort! Snort, snort!

While searching for the door, Seol and Toki had run into a sandstorm. The swirling sands approached them relentlessly, and as the storm closed in, the pair was enveloped by despair.

‘We can’t avoid this!’

Fwooooooooooosh!

The sandstorm, faster than a human could run, swept everything up and sliced through the desert.

Of course, it had also swept up Seol and Toki.

 

* * *

 

Seol felt the gritty sand in his mouth.

He felt the thirst he had been holding back.

Seol looked around, still covered in sand.

“......”

Nothing. There was nothing.

Nothing but sand.

What happened to Toki?

Negative thoughts rushed to Seol's head. The dark, awful thoughts in his heart began creeping up.

‘Did… Did you die, Toki?’

Seol’s Mental Contamination rapidly increased.

“Haaah… Haaaah…”

He couldn’t even breathe properly.

 

[Your Mental Contamination has reached 75.]

 

No, he didn’t want to be alone.

“Is… Is there anyone out there?”

 

[Your Mental Contamination has reached 78.]

 

Please don’t leave me alone in this desert.

“Toki! Toki! Nooooo!”

 

[Your Mental Contamination has reached 82.]

 

Seol sprinted through the desert like mad.

However, Seol was now beginning to experience hallucinations as well, so even he was uncertain whether he was currently sprinting through the desert.

“Am I… alone now…”

 

[Your Mental Contamination has reached 85.]

[The labyrinth senses your Mental Contamination.]

 

I can’t do anything alone.

Did I fail?

“I can’t do it… I know… that I can never do it on my own…”

 

[Your Mental Contamination has reached 90.]

 

Yeah, let’s… let’s just give up.

Seol accepted his failure. He made a decision that he would never do originally.

The labyrinth was on the verge of breaking down his mind to the point of no return.

But then, Seol felt something wrap around his body. It pulled him out of the sand.

Grab.

“Krgh…”

“Wake up!”

“Kghh… Krg…”

“Breathe! Breathe, you bastard!”

“Haaah… Haaah… Who…”

“Haah… Haah… Didn’t you say you wouldn’t lose to the labyrinth? Look at me! Do you recognize me?”

Seol’s dull gaze lazily focused in.

He saw Toki, smiling like always.

“I’ve been looking for you.”

Seol’s Mental Contamination stopped climbing up after seeing his smile.

“Toki…”

“It seems like the labyrinth has contaminated your mind a lot. The labyrinth was about to swallow you up, y’know? You need to hurry up and get out of here.”

“But there’s no door…”

Seol really did love Toki dearly.

He was someone who always brought hope with him.

“I found the door.”

Toki was Seol's one true saint.

 

* * *

 

“...You found the door?”

“Yeah, we can finally leave now!”

As Seol shook his head to regain his focus, Toki continued.

“I’m not lying. Now, get ready. We’ll be getting out of here.”

Toki moved and acted as if he was finalizing everything here.

“Chubs is dead. I think he got unlucky with an awkward fall… a shame, really.”

“I see… Chubs is…”

Seol had also grown somewhat attached to Chubs, so he was saddened by the news.

As long as it was something Seol could converse with, it didn’t matter if it was a monster or a person.

“Still, I gave him a burial so he shouldn’t be too sad. We’ll leave tonight, so get ready.”

Toki moved quickly, and his words seemed truthful, evidenced by his unwillingness to leave their spot. The two of them continued talking.

“Are you serious?”

“I’m telling you, I am. Why are you surprised that my first love was the daughter of a noble?”

 

- Because it’s surprising.

- Really surprising LOL

 

The two continued to talk for quite a long while after too.

However, Seol's mind continued to be under attack, making it increasingly difficult for him to distinguish between reality and hallucinations.

It felt like a dream.

The situation itself… the stories that Toki shared…

It was a scene that didn’t fit the scenery.

Seol was in the Labyrinth of Penance.

And despite being in the Penance of Patience, the toughest of the Gates, he had been happily having conversations with someone else for months.

For that reason, they savored their happiness more.

Seol listened to Toki’s every word, recognizing how precious this joy was. He did not miss a single word and treasured them all.

And when it finally became night, Toki’s stories stopped.

“Haha… Looking back on it like this, maybe my life wasn’t that bad at all! Then why don’t we… leave now?”

“Toki.”

Seol became sure of something through their conversation.

It was about the door that Toki had discovered. The origin of that door.

“Stop…”

“Hm?”

“Don’t do it, Toki.”

“...What are you talking about?”

Toki was preparing to do something a fugitive of the labyrinth should never do.

“...You weren’t able to find the door, were you?”

“...Kid.”

“You didn’t find the door! Tell me the truth!”

Toki gave Seol a big smile.

“Yeah, I couldn’t find it.”

“Then don’t look for it.”

“No, I must.”

“Why…”

Toki’s eyes were blazing with passion.

“At this rate, we’ll both be devoured by the labyrinth.”

“You…”

While Seol found himself in a perilous situation with his Mental Contamination nearing critical levels, Toki, on the other hand, could endure as long as he wanted by simply continuing as he did before.

Even if Seol failed, Toki was safe from the labyrinth.

“Snowman.”

“......”

“Have you… realized the way to find the door?”

Seol nodded.

Usually, one should discover the door after traveling the desert for a while. There was only one possible reason they hadn’t found the door yet.

“Toki… there… there has to be another way…”

"You remind me of myself when I was young, so confident in myself despite my openings. I'm convinced God brought us together for this very reason."

“If someone has to die, then…”

“No! You’re only saying that now because the labyrinth has eaten away at your mind. I’m sure you’ll think of it differently once you escape the labyrinth. Also, this is a simple problem. It’s a question of whether one of us dies or both of us dies. I thought you’d at least be able to do subtraction…”

“...Both?”

Toki spoke solemnly.

“I… no longer have the confidence to endure it on my own. I’ve learned how fun it is to be together.”

“......”

“If only one of us can escape the labyrinth… it should be you, not me.”

Toki, with a grave look on his face, resolved himself and began his plan.

“Oh, labyrinth! I, Toki, am here! So…”

Toki had endured all this time, hoping to learn why his life had been so difficult.

But now, Toki was releasing the final barrier keeping his mind safe.

An incredible energy swept through the desert.

“...come and take me!”

 

[An individual’s mind has been completely tainted.]

 

Seol ran and shouted toward Toki, begging him to stop. However, he was the one who stopped after hearing Toki’s words.

“We only have one opportunity! Don’t waste it like a fool! Escape the labyrinth and greet the morning. As you already know, I’m already dead. Something like this… is a job for a person like me. And never give up, okay?! Those without tenacity…”

Seol bit his lips and answered Toki.

“...will always finish last.”

Smirk.

“So you haven’t forgotten. Well then, don’t be last.”

Creaaaaak…

The creak of a door opening.

It was loud enough for both Seol and Toki to hear.

Hum…

A large, strange door opened. Hands of an ominous hue stretched out from the door and grasped Toki.

Grab!

Toki closed his eyes and murmured to himself as the hands wrapped around him more and more.

"The reason I've lived up to now, the reason I'm here... I've realized it now. So, you've prepared me a seat for where I should be, haha! You really have no gaps, God. Urgh..."

As the strange hands wrapped around him more and more, Toki left Seol with his final words.

“The reason behind everything… was you.”

Fwoooosh!

“Graaaaaaah!”

Crack… Snap…

Toki was sucked into the door by the mysterious hands.

“Toki!”

Seol sprinted as if he was mad. He hoped that he could still grab him.

However, the hands of the labyrinth were much quicker. Toki was dragged through the door in an instant.

Then that meant… there was only one way left to save Toki.

Sprint…

After Toki was dragged through the door, Seol leaped into it just as it was closing.

Creaaaaak…

Thud!

The door closed.

 

* * *

Reaper Scans

Translator - goguma

Proofreader - Karane

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

* * *

 

“Haaah… Haaah…”

“Hyung… I was just trying to help you… Hyung…”

“Krgh… Krah…”

The labyrinth’s final gate.

No one was seated in their chairs, but that didn't necessarily mean everyone was standing up, either.

Changsik looked down at Jaeho, who had Changsik’s sword embedded in his stomach.

As Seol was going through the difficult trial in the desert, they too were faced with a difficult trial.

“Why… did you do that to Taegyu…”

Taegyu was far from average after making it through the Penance of Pain. He was gasping for air with his chest caved in. It didn't take long for him to breathe his last breath.

“Hahaha… It’s because… he was trying to stab m—”

Jaeho, who made it through the Penance of Doubts, also breathed his last.

Changsik was concerned when Jaeho hesitated to disclose his Mental Contamination value, but he never expected Jaeho to strike a fellow party member.

“Urgh…”

What does it feel like to take the life of a close friend?

If there was a devil, he would have surely asked Changsik that question.

“Arghhh!”

 

[Your Mental Contamination has reached 77.]

 

Changsik writhed in pain, grabbing his head with both of his hands. It was clear that if his Mental Contamination increased any further from here, he would also meet a similar fate.

But then… a loud sound came from the door behind him.

“Guaaaaaargh!”

Thuuuud!

Something had slipped out from the door.

‘Did we fail?’

Fwirl!

Changsik cried as the soul was sucked into the statue’s lamp.

“What… What am I supposed to do now…? Wh-what am I supposed to do alone…”

Changsik was in a panic, thinking that the soul had belonged to Seol.

However, there was something that Changsik had missed.

“Cough…”

“...Huh?”

“Krgh… Krg…”

Seol heaved after he made it through the door, unable to recover from the shock.

“D-Did you succeed?!”

Seol then saw a few messages.

 

[You have overcome Patience.]

[Patience disappears from the Labyrinth of Penance.]

[Mental Contamination: 91/100]

 

Changsik quickly ran toward Seol and supported him.

“Is it finally over? Can we… Can we escape this hell?”

Seol sat down in the chair and slowly lifted his head.

“No… not yet.”

“...What?”

“We still have the final Gate left…”

Seol gathered his breath and looked around him.

‘A fight waits for you at the end of the labyrinth.’

It was a fight with a strange wooden doll.

When he cleared this Gate as the Blood Saint, he cleared it without much difficulty.

In fact, it was the easiest Gate for Seol to clear.

And then…

Hum….!

The statues began to quiver.

Their eyes began to glow red as they spat out some yarn-like thing.

 

[You begin the Final Penance.]

 

“...What is that? A doll?”

The mysterious energy began to create something, resembling a doll.

The creation had an appearance akin to a wooden doll, with distinctly unnatural joints.

The doll, which had formed in the square space between Seol and the statues, stood still as if it had no soul.

Everything up to this point was exactly as Seol remembered it. This also meant that Seol had practically cleared the labyrinth already.

However… nothing had ever gone the way Seol planned.

 

[The division of pain begins.]

[You must defeat the pain recorded within the labyrinth.]

 

Fwooosh…

Something slipped out from the statues’ eyes.

It slowly, carefully moved forward before falling onto the doll.

Click.

The doll began moving. Rattling as it began to stand up.

Seol knew many secrets about the Labyrinth of Penance, but there were still things that even he did not know.

What happens to you after your soul is harvested? What is the labyrinth’s purpose? Why did the Penance of Pain feel different from the other Penances?

Seol then began recalling a conversation he had with Toki.

 

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

 

Toki hesitated for a moment before telling Seol this.

 

- 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.

 

Seol now perfectly understood why Toki had told him that.

“Why… Why did it have to be…”

 

[Defeat Record of Pain: Finn Modria.]

[Record of Pain: Finn Modria maintains only 20% of its original strength.]

 

The labyrinth, through the Penance of Pain, recorded the flagellant’s strength. All in order to face the next flagellants.

Creak…

The soul doll creaked its neck.

A red light shone from its body.

Shiiiiine!

Fwooosh…

 

[Record of Pain: Finn Modria used Vigorous Flow.]

[The weakening effect is greatly reduced.]

[Record of Pain: Finn Modria maintains only 25% of its original strength.]

 

Seol looked at the soul doll.

Finn Modria.

He was one of Seol’s pieces who challenged Ascension.

“...Why did it have to be you?”

At the end of the labyrinth, Seol confronted the prints left behind by the Blood Saint.

____

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