I'm Not a Regressor

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I’m Not a Regressor

 

Chapter 221: Intermission - Reunion (3)

 

“O-Oh, what the hell is that?!”

Ha-eun cursed as she stared at the hordes of demonic beasts flooding towards them, so densely packed that the pristine white snowfield was no longer visible. The number of demonic beasts she had faced when trapped in the Demon Realm before was considerable, but this was on another scale entirely.

"Could all the demonic beasts near the First Fissure have gathered here?”

 Even if their attempt to enter the Demon Realm had alerted the beasts there, meeting all of them sounded absurd. It's like the entire 400,000-strong army swarming towards a single collapsed section of barbed wire fencing.

"This is my first time seeing something like this."

Shaolin said as he swung his sword, neatly decapitating a charging demonic beast.

Passing through the First Fissure into the Demon Realm was dangerous, of course, but it had never been this chaotic before. If beasts gathered in forces like this whenever someone tried to enter or leave, how could the handful of Awakeners like Megrez, who lived there permanently, survive?

"The elder Megrez said that usually, only demonic beasts within a 1–2-hundred-meter radius would notice if someone tries to breach the gate."

"This looks like way more than 1-2 hundred meters, though."

The undulating wave of beasts spread out for kilometers, far beyond just one or two, filling the surroundings.

"And also…"

Ha-eun squinted and gazed at the horde of demonic beasts filling the snowfield.

"They don't appear to be heading toward us.”

In fact, the demonic beasts close to them were rushing right by them. The demonic beasts close to the gate started to align themselves in front of the gate, seeming indifferent to them. A lengthy, side-by-side row of demonic beasts formed on each side. The beasts knelt with their heads lowered deferentially, like servants awaiting the arrival of their king.

"What are they doing?"

Ha-eun stared blankly at the kneeling horde.

"Could the ‘Snake’ be coming through the gate?"

Allen muttered just then.

"What do you mean the ‘Snake’ is coming through?"

Ha-eun threw a fireball toward the horde of demonic beasts and turned her head toward Allen.

"I once heard something from Megrez a long time ago. It was that the only time demonic beasts guarding the perimeter of the Demon Realm gathered in one location was when their master, the 'Snake,' personally visited outside of the Magic Realm."

"So, does that mean the Queen of Snakes is there?"

"No, that's…"

Allen frowned in confusion.

"I received a report just this morning that the Queen of Snakes is currently in South America."

"South America?"

"Yes. A region completely under the control of the Musca faction."

"Then what on earth are we to make of that?"

If the Queen of Snakes was in South America, who could the beasts be expecting to emerge from the gate?

"I don't know. There's almost no information about the Serpens faction."

As the Black Star Organization had only recently been recognized as a global threat, detailed intelligence about them still remained scarce.

"In any case, as we are now, it is too dangerous to take the direct route through them. We should retreat and—"

"We can't." Isabella shook her head resolutely. "Time is of the essence. We cannot afford any more delays."

Even now, the wounded Ohjin could be drawing his last breaths. "But—"

"Then I will go alone if I must."

“....”

Allen watched Isabella recede as she strode forward. She would have no compromise.

"You didn't need to follow me."

"After being entrusted by Deneb, I cannot simply abandon you both. And…" His voice was low. "I understand well the absolute agony of knowing someone precious is dying."

Allen gazed regretfully into the distance, as though recalling his past. An unmistakable grief shone in his eyes.

"Thank you."

Isabella replied softly.

Allen effortlessly cleaved through two beasts swooping at them with large wings.

"The passage into the gate itself shouldn't pose much difficulty, despite the number of demonic beasts."

The snowfield was choked with beasts, their count staggering, but the party gathered here could easily raze nations if they so wished. Water may fill a vessel to the brim, but a needle can still pierce through. Breaching their ranks would not prove challenging, as long as they didn't have to turn to a defensive stance.

"The issue is breaking through quickly before we're surrounded."

"Leave that to me."

Ha-eun retrieved a cigarette from her pack.

"We just need to stab through the bastards to start with, right?"

"The gist is similar."

"Then buy me some time. I need a bit to prepare."

Tssst!

The tip of the cigarette flared red. Ha-eun removed the black eyepatch over her left eye and tucked it into her pocket.

"Heuup."

She inhaled deeply, gazing at the cigarette pinched between her fingers. She visualized flames, angrily blazing, voraciously devouring all things around them—the searing breath of an enraged dragon.

"Ugh...!"

A dizzying pain lanced through her left eye, as though stabbed by needles. The hideous veins covering her left temple pulsed and crept down her neck.

'I can do this.'

Thump, thump. From within her forcefully pounding left heart, she called upon the Dragon's Heart slumbering inside. The aloof heart of the dragon, curled defensively as a sullen teenager, refusing communion—now stirred restlessly.

Whoosh! Whoosh!

Massive flames erupted and were sucked back around Ha-eun's body in repetition.

"Celestial Draco, Eltanin."

Invoking the Celestial's name made the Stigma over her heart blaze.

"Well, not that you can hear me anyway from your slumber."

 Whoosh!

Nine dragons of fire untangled themselves from the Stigma and coiled around the tip of the cigarette.

"Bestow upon me a massive and powerful conflagration."

Flick!

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With a flick, she sent the cigarette flying. Like a spark hitting a pool of gasoline, the surroundings were instantly engulfed in a fiery storm.

"Go to hell, fuckers."

The nine entwined dragons opened their maws. Their fiery breath devastated beasts in a straight line.

"...Are Stigmas supposed to do that?"

Shaolan gaped at the cleared path, punched through the encircling beasts. Though invoking a Celestial's name to push a Stigma to its limits was common for Awakeners, such outlandish invocations were unheard of.

"We're breaking through!"

Allen charged forward like an arrow loose from a bow.

"Ah... ugh."

Clutching her cursed eye, Ha-eun groaned after unleashing the powerful breath. The excessive exertion of mana nearly made her blackout.

"Get on my back, unnie."

Isabella crouched down before her, showing her back. "It's okay, I-I can still move on my own...."

"If you fall behind, the demonic beasts will surround you. Hurry!"

"Uh, okay."

Swaying unsteadily, Ha-eun climbed onto Isabella's back.

With Ha-eun on her back, Isabella raced after Allen.

'Mr. Ohjin, please hold on a little longer.'

Isabella gnawed her lip anxiously as she ran. Though the battle in the Demon Realm had reawakened her agonizing thirst for blood, right now, more than the maddening thirst corroding her mind, more than the scorching ache in her throat—she desperately yearned for the warmth of his embrace.

'I will definitely, definitely—'

Swish!

Red streams of blood severed the charging beasts' bodies.

"This way!"

Allen swung his sword precisely, finding direction amidst the beasts swarming from all sides.

Crack!

With each swing of his frost-rimed blade, the bodies of attacking beasts froze and shattered into fragments.

"A large one is coming up on the left!"

Allen's head turned after hearing Shaolin's cry.

"Kroar!"

A demonic beast with immense aura was sliding his way down fast, letting out a ferocious roar as it hurried towards them…

"I'll take that one."

The aura the demonic beast emitted seemed far from ordinary.

Allen, with his sword clutched, blocked the charging beast's path. It looked to be about 50 meters in size. The demonic beast's long, snake-like body was covered in green scales, with four sets of fiery red eyes.

"A Basilisk."

The appearance of a single one of these powerful demonic beasts could take out any one city.

"Heup!"

Allen gripped his white, frost-rimmed sword and charged at the Basilisk.

"There are too many here!"

Shaolan shouted as he grimaced, holding off beasts from the right. Though not Basilisks, the demonic beasts were uniformly mighty and infamous. They crashed upon them like a tidal wave.

"Put me down."

Ha-eun slapped Isabella's back.

"But—"

"I can't fight properly when carried."

Isabella nodded and lowered Ha-eun to the ground.

"I'll hold off the ones coming from the right. Unnie, break through the front!"

"Got it."

The left was guarded by Allen and Shaolin, while Isabella and Shaolan held the right. With the horde of demonic beasts split into two, they had less numbers directly ahead where the gate lay.

"Raaargh!"

"Kyaak!"

The demonic beasts charged with maddened roars.

"Get the hell out of my way, bastards!"

Ha-eun roasted the head of a pouncing demonic beast with flames and raced forward.

'Ohjin.'

Watching the gate loom closer, she bit her lips tight.

'Noona is coming to save you.'

Please, please, please.

"Please be alive... Ohjin."

Since she returned after leaving Ohjin behind in the Demon Realm, the tears she had contained flowed from her eyes and down her cheeks.

She had told others with confidence that Ohjin would have made it out alive, but deep down, a part of her couldn't erase her fear of never being able to see him again.

What if she could never see him again? What if she could never be embraced by him again?

Every time she had these thoughts, she thought she would lose her mind from the overwhelming anxiety.

"Ohjin, Ohjin, Ohjiiiin!"

Ha-eun raced toward the dark gate, yearning for him while she desperately shouted his name. There was only 20 meters between her and the gate.

Just two or three more steps, and she could go to the Demon Realm where he was trapped.

"Noona most certainly will rescue you!"

Her suppressed emotions erupted, and tears flowed down her cheeks.

"Please... please, I only ask that you be alive Ohjin..."

As though her anguished pleas had been heard, right before the jump into the dark gate, the gate rippled. An enormous beast emerged from within. The wicked chimera had an eagle's head, lion's body, and serpentine tail.

And—

"Ohjin, Ohjin! You—huh?"

Seeing Ohjin sprawled casually atop the chimera, munching on chips like a jobless deadbeat, Ha-eun's expression twisted in confusion.

"What the fuck?"

Why is that shitbag lying there like that?

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