I'm Not a Regressor

REAPER SCANS

 

I’m Not a Regressor

 

Chapter 219: Intermission - Reunion (1)

 

"You're going to save Mr. Ohjin really??"

Isabella bit her lip hard. 

The image of the frenzied mother beast charging recklessly towards the rift flashed through her mind.

Even if they went to save him now, what meaning would it have? 

"Mr. Ohjin, Mr. Ohjin... He's already...."

"He's not dead, Ohjin-whatshisface."

"How, how do you know that, unnie?!"

Isabella bolted upright in bed and shouted.

"Because I do."

"That isn't an answer. Not a real one, anyway." 

She clenched her fists tightly.

"I... I should have stayed. Not Mr. Ohjin, but me!"

Even if she had stayed, the chances of surviving were extremely slim.

If it was hard for her, how much worse must it have been for Ohjin?

"......."

Ha-eun remained silent, lips pursed as she watched Isabella sobbing with tears streaming down her face.

"But we still have to go."

Even if the odds of his survival were slim, they had to cling to that faint glimmer of hope and attempt a rescue.

"But what if... we get there and find nothing? Or even discover Mr. Ohjin's dead body? What will you do then?!"

She cried out in anguish. 

Only now did she allow herself to hope he might still be alive. 

But if they found his corpse...

Wouldn't that fragile strand of hope snap entirely?

"What would I do? I'd follow him, obviously." 

Ha-eun's response came with a nonchalant shrug.

"I'll follow him always, even to death."

She stated it matter-of-factly, then turned her head, her silence questioning why she would ask such an obvious question. 

"What?"

Isabella stared at Ha-eun, her mouth agape. She couldn't fathom how Ha-eun could utter such absurd things with a straight face. 

Would Ha-eun really die for Ohjin if she found him dead?

"What do you mean?"

"I meant it when I said that I can't live without him."

A life without Ohjin had no meaning or value for her.

"I'm sure that bastard feels the same." 

Ha-eun smirked confidently.

"That's...."

Seeing her so boldly claim something with so much confidence, Isabella could only gape.

Follow him to death? Their bond seemed unimaginably deep, well beyond her reach.

"...That's not okay."  

It infuriated her.

How Ha-eun could discuss 'death' so casually and confidently.  

Her utter certainty that Ohjin would feel the same.

It seemed so cowardly and audacious.

"I like Mr. Ohjin too, unnie."

"I know."

"...Aren't you two dating?"

"I guess so? Though we only officially started recently."

Isabella looked at her incredulously. 

Shouldn't she be angrily shouting things like 'you little rat' about now?

"Are you okay with that?"

"With what?"

"The fact that I like Mr. Ohjin too."

"Well, honestly it doesn't make me too happy."

Ha-eun shrugged lightly with arms crossed.

"What matters isn't how you feel about him, but how he feels about you, right?"

"...You're that confident you won't lose to me?"

"If I thought I might, I'd threaten to kill myself or something."

She giggled.

"I told you, I can't live without Ohjin."

"......."

Isabella's forehead throbbed visibly.  

She glared at Ha-eun, biting her lip hard.

"We'll see about that."

At first she thought second place would be fine. 

Even just a portion of his love would be enough.

But now....

"Those words, I'll make you regret them."

She shook her head. Those words made her think harder about her position.

If there was to be another, it should be Ha-eun, not her.

"Yeah, yeah. Go ahead and try your best."

Ha-eun giggled and ruffled Isabella's hair.

"Hey, don't touch my hair!"

"Damn, the smell. My nose might fall off."

"Liar!"

"But you haven't showered at all since coming here, right?"

"That's...!"

Blushing, Isabella rushed into the bathroom.

Watching her scramble away, Ha-eun chuckled softly.

"Heh, that's one interesting girl."

She brought her hand that had stroked Isabella's hair to her nose and sniffed, giggling.

Despite the fierce battle and lack of bathing facilities, a delicate rose scent lingered pleasantly.

"...I should say that it's unfair, really."

Sighing, she stared at the firmly shut bathroom door.

"......."

A deep silence fell.

Ha-eun uncrossed her arms.  

Her freed hands trembled violently.

'Ohjin.'

She clenched her shaking hands into fists.

A vague terror choked off her breath. It felt like she was going to suffocate. 

'You are…alive, aren't you?'

Looking up at the pitch-black night sky through the window, she bit her lip.

"Noona will come to save you, so hang in there a bit longer."

Ha-eun's eyes flashed sharply as she turned.

* * *

After Isabella showered, she and Ha-eun headed to the Sanctum.

The majestic temple shone with a faint silver light.

Inside the utterly empty temple, a silver-haired goddess stood tall.

[You've come.]

Vega, who had been standing with her eyes closed and hands pressed together in a semblance of prayer, gradually opened her eyes. Her mere presence inspired awe, a sacred aura that was beyond words. It was like witnessing a scene straight out of mythology, leaving Isabella gaping in overwhelming awe.

"You're... Ms. Vega?"

Until now, Isabella had only seen Vega's smaller manifestation. The sight of her true form was shocking.

[Yes, I am.]

"Oh...."

Isabella's eyes trembled. The sight before her was breathtaking: silvery hair and golden eyes that sparkled, skin as white as freshly fallen snow, and an air of elegance and nobility. She had always been confident in her looks, turning heads wherever she went. But seeing Vega in his true form made her self-assurance crumble away.

'Come to think of it, Vega also seems especially fond of Mr. Ohjin.'

Whenever she manifested on Earth, she would perch on Ohjin's head and cling to him.

She assumed it was maternal affection, as Vega would call him 'my child.'  

'Winning first place won't be easy.'  

A deep sigh escaped Isabella's lips.

* * *

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"You don't know where Ohjin is now either, right? Like you told me before."

[That's right.]  

Vega nodded heavily.

The relationship between Celestials and Awakeners could be simply likened to that between a tree and its seed. 

The Celestials could grant the seed, known as the Stigma, allowing their power to germinate and flourish within the Awakener. 

But ultimately, the Stigma nurtured within the Awakener's body inevitably transformed into a 'different tree'. 

There was no way to know in real time if the Awakener who received the Stigma was dead or alive, where they were, or what they were doing.

"What about manifesting in a small form?"

[After overusing my power previously, manifesting will be difficult for a while.]

"Hmm."  

Ha-eun clicked her tongue.

With the urgency of the situation, they couldn't afford to wait for her restrictions to lift.

"...Then we have no choice but to go to the Demon Realm."

[How do you plan to go there?]

"Well, since the Sokcho gate is closed, we're left with only one option." 

Ha-eun's eyes flashed with determination. 

"The First Fissure."

The massive gate, spanning 50 kilometers wide, was situated in the Arctic. 

Known as the most dangerous place on Earth due to the influx of powerful demonic beasts from the Demon Realm, it was their only path in.

[But.]

"I know. It's dangerous."

Ha-eun continued resolutely.

"But we still have to go."

[...Thank you.]

"Tsk, it's not like we're saving him for your sake."  

[Hehe. I know.]

Vega smiled faintly and nodded.

She looked at Isabella and Ha-eun.

[Still, it's too risky with just the two of you.]

"Then?"

[Follow me. There is a Celestial that I could ask for help.]

Vega slowly walked out of the temple.

Following the long, starlight path, she arrived at...

"Whoa... What is this place?"

A temple overflowing with all kinds of flashy decorations.

Unlike Vega's bare temple, this one was crammed full of treasures, as if all the world's valuables had been gathered into one place.

[Deneb.]

Entering the temple, Vega softly called out that name.

Woooosh!

Dazzling lights filled the temple.

Piercing through the brilliant rays appeared a boy with black-and-blue hair.

His small body was heavily adorned with gemstones that glittered brightly. 

The vulgar abundance of jewels initially gave him a gaudy appearance, but his flawless features transformed even his bad taste into something profoundly noble and awe-inspiring.

"...What is this?"

Deneb jutted out his lips sullenly.

[I've come to ask for your help.]

"Huh? Help?"

Deneb snorted. 

"Do you... know what I've been through since the proxy match?"

Following his devastating defeat in the previous proxy match, life had become a struggle. The number of Celestials already questioning his worthiness as the 'North Star' had only grown. 

Just as in human society, when a renowned, influential figure makes even a single error, others swarm like flies, eager to tear them down. 

The Celestials were no different.

"I could bear it if I was the only one insulted!" 

He was no stranger to scorn and contempt. Despite his long life, he was forever measured against Vega and Polaris. 

But his children...

"My... my children!" 

Deneb sobbed. 

The thought of his children enduring undeserved mockery due to their inferior Celestial father ignited a fire in his chest.

[You were the one who demanded the proxy match first.] 

"That's, that's...."

[Well, I agree my child went overboard back then. I apologize.]  

"......."

Deneb pursed his lips tightly and bowed his head deeply.

Vega approached gently, placing a hand on his shoulder. 

[Don't be discouraged. Remember, you're a part of the North Stars, no matter what.]

"...Hmph. You think just saying that will make me grant your request?" 

Sulkily, Deneb crossed his arms and turned his head away.

With a hand still on his shoulder, Vega spoke in a low, quiet voice.

[...My child is trapped in the Demon Realm.]

"What?"

Deneb's eyes widened in shock. The Demon Realm was a mystery, even to Celestials. The implications of being trapped there were dire.

[Save my child, please.]

Vega stepped back from Deneb, her movements slow and deliberate. She smoothed out her dress and began to lower herself into a kneel.

[I kneel and beg you...]

Before Vega's knees could touch the ground, Deneb sprang into action.

"What do you think you're doing?!"

He rushed over, preventing her from kneeling and assisting her back to her feet.

"A Celestial shouldn't kneel! If your child heard about this later, how do you think they'd feel?"

Deneb spoke sulkily as he turned away.

"You said that you are going to the Demon Realm, right?"

Running a hand through his hair, he snorted.

"Wait. I'll gather my children."

A faint smile crossed Vega's lips.

[Thank you.]

"Tsk! I'm not doing this for you! If that Lightning Wolf punk dies a useless death, it'll damage the legacy of my children who lost to him!" 

With an irritated look, Deneb grumbled.

[...]

Vega gazed at him warmly with a faint smile lingering on her lips.

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