“Where am…oh, it’s just the usual place.”
A place shrouded in mist. A place with nothing.
I was inside of the Orb of Control.
“That means that the other me should be somewhere close by…ah, there he is.”
I hadn’t been able to see him at first, but he was squatting a short distance away.
I raised a hand and said, ‘hey!’…but he barely reacted.
He just slowly turned to me and raised his hand a little.
“What is it? Are you feeling low? Also…aren’t you a little pale?”
Like there was less color in him…I wasn’t sure.
As if he was fading away.
“What happened to you!”
He looked like a ghost.
He said, giving me a thumbs up to show that he was alright.
However, that in itself was painful to see.
“It’s clearly something! Are you sick? Why are you squatting? Are you in pain?”
“It really isn’t anything. Don’t worry about me.”
“Of course, I’ll worry! You look faded.”
It was like he was starting to become transparent.
“I said that I’m fine…damn it. It’s here already.”
He clicked his tongue.
“Here? What is? We’re inside of the Orb of Control, aren’t we? Is it Melvis again?”
I could not forget that presence. Is that what he was afraid of?
“No. The hole. The hole is here.”
“Hole? …Oh, you mean that hole?”
The one that we jump into in order to return.
But we had only just met, and had barely been able to talk.
“No, it’s different. This one is…very dangerous. We cannot escape from it.”
“I don’t understand. You can’t run away? What do you mean?”
It didn’t look like he was joking, but what was he thinking about?
I stared hard in the direction that he was looking.
“That? Is that the hole?”
Something that looked like a big, black tornado was moving towards us.
I’ll say it again.
It was a big, black tornado.
And there seemed to be lightning crashing inside of it as well.
“Yes, that’s the hole. I managed to survive it once earlier. Because you weren’t here.”
“It’s too big for a hole. That thing could swallow up a whole village… What do you mean you would have survived if I wasn’t here?”
You could not run away if that thing got close to you?
So how had he managed? It didn’t make any sense.
As I looked at him oddly, he slowly opened his mouth.
“It’s a hole that leads to the Under World. When I escaped it, I got a glimpse at what was on the other side. I saw the dead souls that writhed within.”
What did he just say?
A hole to the Under World? Souls?
Why the hell would such a thing appear in our Orb of Control?
No, wait. Why was I here?
Remember. Why was I sent here…
Nehyor’s head had bitten my neck.
There was horrible pain. My reflexively tore it off and stomped on it.
And after that.
My eyesight grew dark… And then what?
“I remember now. Poison… I must have been poisoned. And then…I got weak and collapsed.”
The last thing that I remember seeing was Tralzard’s face.
That old woman had been the first to rush towards me.
I had died looking at an old woman.
“You remember? I was following Nehyor’s head as it rotated in the air, but I didn’t make it in time. I’m sorry.”
“No, it’s nothing for you to apologize about. It’s my fault for not noticing it. Yes, Nehyor’s head bit me and his fangs sent the poison…”
“Aye, that’s right. And then we died.”
“In other words, the reason that you look like this is because we were poisoned.”
“This isn’t…no, never mind. In any case, the fact that a hole to the Under World has appeared here means that there is no way to escape.”
The hole had been far away at first, but it was now much closer.
It was more like a typhoon than a hole.
“Are you serious? I’m going to die here.”
Indeed, there was no way to escape from a hole that swallowed up everything in this world.
Running wouldn’t be of any use.
Besides, the other me seemed like he had accepted his fate.
I suppose I had to do the same.
“I had a fun time.”
“So did I.”
And then we shook hands.
We shook hands and then our arms locked together.
We would always be together.
Our final moment had arrived.
As if gravity were being manipulated, our bodies were sucked towards the hole.
“It’s just so sudden.”
And like that, my consciousness ended.
No, it wasn’t the case.
I had entered a dark tunnel and was not able to see anything. But once I was through it, I entered into a world of pale light.
“Is this the Under World?”
I could see an ocean far below. It was made of souls.
That was why it was glowing.
And then the sky.
The clouds were also made of souls. Glowing clouds.
So this was what the other me had seen on the other side.
“This is the Under World that Melvis visited.”
In the center, there was a thick pillar that connected the sea to the clouds.
Souls would rain down and drop into the water, while others would rise to the clouds through the pillar.
The circle of souls.
As this continued, the souls would get purified until they were brand new.
“What is it?”
We were currently just souls.
We could not see each other.
However, we could still talk.
“We’re going to fall into the Under World sea.”
“Yes. We’re descending slowly now. We will definitely fall into it if this continues.”
“Listen to me carefully. There is one way to get out of this.”
“Do you remember what Melvis said? If the soul and flesh are connected, then you cannot leave the Under World.”
“Yes. The reason that he was able to return to the Demon World was because his soul was still connected to his body.”
In other words, resurrection. Or call it a near death experience.
Dead souls would come here.
However, there are times when someone isn’t actually dead.
And in such cases, those souls are returned.
And it seems as if they have come back from the dead.
And there was one other thing.
Our true purpose.
“You can also leave the Under World if you become a pure soul, right?”
When you are purified and cleansed, you are sent out and reborn in another world. The circle of reincarnation.
“Yes. Listen to me, if this continues, I will be reborn.”
What was the other me saying?
He had been acting very strange ever since I met him today.
“In fact, my soul is already mostly purified. And so I don’t have much time left. I can tell… “
And then he laughed.
“Why? Your soul is purified…are you sure? But that means you will lose your memories and everything. Why is this happening?”
“Because of the salt. It started to carve away at my soul.”
I knew what he was talking about.
The Wild Hunt soldiers had died so easily when exposed to the salt of holy power.
It wasn’t that those soldiers were weak. Nehyor had brought them with the intention of killing Tralzard.
Would salt be enough to kill such soldiers?
So why had they all died?
It damaged them with no regard for strengthening abilities and mana levels.
And yet I was fine.
Was it because I had a human soul?
If that was true, what about the other me…?
“To be honest, I was in such pain that I wanted to roll on the ground. But strangely, it doesn’t hurt anymore now that we are here.”
The reason that he barely reacted.
The reason that he was pale.
“You…so it was the salt of holy power.”
“I’m sorry for not noticing!”
“No, it’s nothing. Even I had no idea that it would have such an effect.”
The reason the salt of holy power was dangerous to residents of the Demon World.
It was because it directly affected the soul.
“I put you through something horrible. That damned Nehyor. If I ever see him again…”
“He’s already dead. He is here, isn’t he? …No, nevermind that. More importantly, I’m only going to say this once, so listen closely.”
“Say whatever you want. I’ll listen to what you have to say. I’ll do anything!”
“I’m glad to hear it. I won’t last here much longer. You may not believe me, but I can tell. Preparations for my rebirth will be starting soon. However, our souls are connected.”
“Yes. We’re always together.”
“And I don’t think that will be allowed when I am reborn. And so when it starts to happen, I want you to move away from me and go! Push me to the side so that you will be reborn instead.”
“What are you talking about!? I thought we were going to stay together.”
“You just said that you’d do anything that I asked. I want you to ride the wave of rebirth instead of me. That is my request. I don’t know where you will be reborn, but I’m sure that you will manage.”
“As if I could just abandon you here!”
“You must! I am going to lose myself. My memories will be gone, and I will be just like the other souls that are here. And then I will be prepared for reincarnation. If we stay together, then your soul will be purified as well. I don’t want that to happen. This is my wish…my first and final wish. Please…please make it come true.”
“No! We have to stay together! You can’t just decide that I should leave!”
“Leave me! See, we’re almost there. Once we are inside of the water, I will lose consciousness. Listen…it’s a promise. It won’t be my soul. But you can take my memories with you…”
And then we sank into the sea.
The other souls floated to the surface and were pulled towards the pillar. But we continued to sink.
After some time, I could no longer see other souls around us. And then I saw that the bottom of the sea was shining.
And we were pulled towards it.
So this is where you were reborn…I thought, but then I got stuck on something.
I suppose souls could not go any farther.
“Hey, can you hear me?”
There was no reply.
But I continued to talk.
“Apparently, we can’t go any farther… Maybe they have high standards for rebirth. And we’re not allowed.”
I could feel that my soul was caught on something.
“We’ve always stuck together. There is no way that I would leave you here.”
“You knew this would happen, didn’t you? You’re terrible.”
“I would have stayed here with you until my soul was purified. Forever…”
“But I made a promise. I doubt that you would be angry if I broke that promise. You would just look annoyed. You know what? That gets on my nerves even more. You have a knack for doing that…you’re a genius.”
“Hey, you. I’m sorry… I really am. It’s not like you wanted to separate from me either.”
“And yet…and yet…I forced you to say such things. I’m sorry.”
“Saying sorry won’t fix anything…but I’ll do it. I’ll…make your wish come true.”
“I’ll do it, no matter what.”
And so I removed the other soul, which was now just a foreign substance.
And I threw it up to the surface.
The soul of the other me rose up and disappeared into the distance.
“I’ll carry your memories. And so…and so…let’s meet again…in our next life.”
And like that, I entered into the place that he should have gone, sinking towards the floor of light.