Chapter 551: Epilogue 5 – The Eternity and Epilogue (Complete)
....Can’t upload the file to the cloud?
Han Su-Yeong hurriedly checked her Stigma several times at that sudden message.
However, it showed no signs of activating. It was as if the system’s blessings had disappeared. And for sure, her body started to feel different from a little while ago. Her body that felt like it could fly to anywhere was now getting gradually heavier and heavier.
....Could it be? No, hang on a second.
She figured that a day like this would come eventually, but it happened far quicker than she bargained for.
[The ‘Bureau’s Fable’ in your possession has stopped its storytelling.]
Han Su-Yeong hadn’t even written the novel’s final episode yet, either.
Besides, if the Cloud System was no more, even if she did finish writing the manuscript, transmitting it would still be impossible.
Right then, someone hurriedly shoved open the hospital room’s door and rushed inside.
It seemed that her companions had also realised the severity of the situation.
“There’s no way whatsoever? Seriously?”
“....For the time being, yes.”
Devices that operated through magical energy were grinding to a halt one by one. Thanks to that, Yi Seol-Hwa’s hospital was urgently swapping out the power source for the various medical equipment at the moment.
“What about Kim Dok-Ja’s condition?”
“Thankfully, there don’t seem to be any complications so far.”
Although the power of the system had vanished, the sleeping Kim Dok-Ja was still the same. A boy quietly slumbering away, neither alive nor dead. And this very boy’s other reincarnated souls living in various parts of the world-lines should be reading the manuscript she had written.
“I couldn’t update the last bit of the manuscript. At this rate....” Han Su-Yeong muttered out.
“The ‘Most Ancient Dreams’ might not get to read the last part of the story, then.”
Yu Sang-Ah’s observation caused Yi Ji-Hye and Jang Ha-Yeong to cry out one after the other.
“What will happen now? Wasn’t the last part of the manuscript the most important bit?”
“What about my side story?!”
“That’s not really important, is it?”
They didn’t know how many world-lines Yu Jung-Hyeok had paid pilgrimage to so far, but still, quite a high number of worlds should’ve seen the publication of the novel to the latest chapter by now.
“Argh, the one thing I hate so much in this world is a novel that gets dropped in the middle....”
The final part of the novel, its epilogue, was all about the ‘thing that hasn’t happened yet’ to the ‘Most Ancient Dream’.
Quite obviously, there was simply no way that all of them could perfectly imagine a story that hadn’t happened yet.
“What should we do? You said that the last episode is the most crucial one.”
“We still have one more method.” Han Su-Yeong chewing on her fingers looked up to the heavens and spoke. “There is one more person who can fix the manuscript beside me. And we don’t have a choice but to believe in him.”
“....The manuscript stopped updating.”
The manuscript was updated roughly once a day without fail. But for the last month or so, the updates had completely stopped coming. At first, he thought this was an error arising from him travelling between the world-lines far too frequently, but when he took a closer look, even the log-in history itself was gone.
[Captain, I think something has gone wrong somewhere.]
He had two theories. One, Han Su-Yeong found herself in a situation where she couldn’t write the manuscript anymore, or two, Earth’s system had finally ground to a halt.
Whatever the case might be, this was not a good situation.
[Files are being automatically transmitted to the connected world-lines.]
The manuscript’s latest chapter had been transmitted to other world-lines already. In the world where the serialisation started first, the notice for postponement had been issued already – what happened was that the author panicked when he suddenly couldn’t think of the story and hastily announced the postponement.
The situation was not good. At this rate, authors losing their composure might start cooking up their own take on the part Han Su-Yeong had failed to write and upload.
[....Captain, there isn’t much time.]
Yu Jung-Hyeok looked down at both of his hands. He then slowly clenched his fists before unfurling them.
It wasn’t as if there were no other options available. If Han Su-Yeong was not in a situation to finish the manuscript, then... The person who could, had to complete it.
[Attribute’s effect has been activated!]
[You can now edit the manuscript in the Cloud System.]
[A lot of Probability is required for the editing of the manuscript.]
Yu Jung-Hyeok slowly closed his eyes, before opening them again.
Two months passed by after the system had entered the dissolution sequence.
The system that started crumbling away didn’t show any signs of mending itself. The number of people who could hear the messages gradually decreased. Also, skills and Stigmata started disappearing one by one. Even the voices of the Fables couldn’t be heard anymore.
– An airliner operating on magic energy engines has crashed in the East Sea...
Artefacts from the bygone world that hadn’t been replaced yet began causing problems as well.
“Argh, that’s why I told them to replace all of that stuff!”
Jeong Hui-Won watching the news on the screen finally blew her top.
Han Su-Yeong asked her. “Who went over there?”
“Ji-Hye and the kids. Although pretty weak, they can still activate their Stigmata, so....”
The two of them watched the live broadcast of the rescue attempt. The screen now displayed the figures of Yi Ji-Hye, Yi Gil-Yeong, and Shin Yu-Seung – as well as their turtle ship and Chimera Dragon, both of which were a lot smaller than before.
“The waves are too strong.”
Survivors were continuously extracted and rescued one at a time, but the incoming waves were getting rougher by the second as well. The Chimera Dragon and the turtle ship tottered precariously. The rescue operation continued on despite the rough, inclement weather, but the situation didn’t seem optimistic at the moment.
Han Su-Yeong, unable to look on anymore, stood up from her seat. “Call Yu Sang-Ah right now and get a helicopter ready. It’s gonna be impossible for those three alone.”
“I already did, but due to the storm....”
Han Su-Yeong quietly spat out, “Dammit,” and began packing her stuff.
– Breaking news, just in. An unidentified flying object has broken into the East Sea’s atmosphere and entered the.....
Inside the screen, they could now see an object flying in through the pitch-black storm clouds. Accompanied by a massive explosion noise, a distant spot in the ocean was enveloped in bright light. Drones broke past the winds and waves to fly there, and continued to transmit real-time footage from the nearby ocean.
Soon, the exterior of the flying object was revealed among the pulsating grey foams. It was a capsule-shaped ark, and someone was standing up from within it.
After confirming the news, Han Su-Yeong and the rest of the companions all rushed to the East Sea.
– All of the injured survivors have been safely rescued with help from the alien being...
– The alien in question has been identified as the terror suspect who had left Earth two years ago...
Breaking news continued to inundate the airwaves.
How long did they wait by the docks? Finally, the rescue ships approaching the port could be seen in the distance – Yi Ji-Hye’s turtle ship occupying the central position in the formation. She and the kids were waving their hands.
And right behind them was a man looking at the dock and at his companions.
It was an unfamiliar sight. Although his face hadn’t changed a lot, his dishevelled hair sported several grey spots now.
“Been a while,” said Yu Jung-Hyeok.
Han Su-Yeong paused, not knowing what to say – before shooting back reflexively at him. “What about the mission? Why have you come back so soon?”
She knew full well she shouldn’t have said that. The length of time Yu Jung-Hyeok must’ve endured should not be simplified with such words.
Yu Jung-Hyeok replied. “I had no choice but to return.”
Yu Mi-Ah ran in from behind the group and jumped into his embrace. He gently held her as she sobbed nonstop.
Han Su-Yeong quietly observed the scene before asking him. “Who’s the girl you brought with you?”
That prompted the girl behind Yu Jung-Hyeok to peek her head out and say something. “Seriously, you too....? No one recognises me.” The girl grandly sighed out and muttered as if she was tired of doing this. “Bah-aht.”
Yu Sang-Ah personally went to fetch the companions with her limousine. During the transit, as Yi Seol-Hwa performed the medical check-up on him, Yu Jung-Hyeok began recounting all the events that had happened to him.
From the moment of leaving Earth, lost and drifting between the world-lines, receiving help from the Outer Gods, meeting Biyu in the Dark Stratum, and to eventually completing his trip around the world-lines.
“....You had no choice but to return because you ran out of Fable energy?”
It seemed that the dissolution of the system had affected Yu Jung-Hyeok in outer space, as well. In other words, this was the worst possible situation that could happen.
“Just how long were you out there in space?”
“Are you curious?”
A faint smile-like expression floated up on Yu Jung-Hyeok’s lips before vanishing completely. As that was a rather un-Yu Jung-Hyeok-like behaviour, Han Su-Yeong ended up frowning deeply.
“....You actually smiled?”
“Rest easy. I’ve already visited all the world-lines that I could have gone to. With Biyu’s help, a link that updates in real-time has been established, so the authors of those world-lines should be uploading the novel in the correct sequence.”
The companions eavesdropping all breathed a sigh of relief at Yu Jung-Hyeok’s words.
However, one important point still remained.
“Did you transmit everything? What about the last part of the manuscript? What did you do with the final episode?” Han Su-Yeong asked.
“Are you talking about the part you didn’t send to me?”
“That’s right! The last part of the manuscript that you could have fixed!” Han Su-Yeong finally exploded in impatient anger. “You also have a writer’s attribute, right? If you’ve been reading my novel from the start, you should at least be able to guess how the conclusion is supposed to unfold, right? Ng? So, did you write it? You did write it instead of me, right??”
Yu Jung-Hyeok wordlessly stared at Han Su-Yeong. How long passed by like this? He quietly shifted his gaze outside the window.
Han Su-Yeong’s voice began trembling. “You... You couldn’t have....”
“Do you believe that I should’ve written it?”
“What dogsh*t are you talking about, you bastard?! Obviously you....!”
“Do you believe that it’s reasonable to write our wish that didn’t come true as the novel’s conclusion?” He looked at Han Su-Yeong’s expression hardening up in an instant and continued on. “Han Su-Yeong. No matter how hard we try, this story is different from the lives we had lived.”
“....You, you think I don’t know that....”
Indeed, she also knew. Rather, she knew it better than anyone out there.
She kept feeling this sense of separation with every sentence being written. No matter how precise the words she wrote were, no matter how painstakingly considered each expression she came up with was – it was still impossible to fully capture the history they remembered and to fully reproduce Kim Dok-Ja who used to live in this world within the story’s pages.
“It’s not as if I didn’t give it a shot. I utilised the Fable that I still remembered and tried to write the final episode, just like how you did. However....”
In order to recreate Kim Dok-Ja, the Fables of the companions had gathered. One piece, two pieces... The sentences they remembered were piled up to become the imaginary ‘Kim Dok-Ja’.
⸢....You wish to hear what my boy was like when he was young?⸥
⸢The ‘Dok-Ja’ ahjussi that I remember was....⸥
⸢I’m telling you, hyung really did that! For real!⸥
One percent of Kim Dok-Ja, then two percent...
Many people still remembered him, and Kim Dok-Ja as gathered in that manner could potentially have ended up as the 99 percent.
“Even if Kim Dok-Ja came back to us alive through the story we have crafted, do you truly believe that he will be the real Kim Dok-Ja?”
That remaining one percent of Kim Dok-Ja they couldn’t remember.
That Kim Dok-Ja none of them could remember, where would he be left behind in this universe, then?
“Even before his soul scattered, Kim Dok-Ja was the ‘Most Ancient Dream’. Haven’t you ever thought about how strange it was? Why didn’t that fool ever dream of his own happiness?”
Han Su-Yeong shot back in near hysteria. “....Even if he is the ‘Most Ancient Dream’, you can’t just imagine a world the way you want. Most of the dreaming itself is done subconsciously!!”
“In that case, Kim Dok-Ja’s subconsciousness must’ve thought that this conclusion is the right one.”
An existence who had never imagined his own happiness. The ‘Kim Dok-Ja’ they knew was such a person.
“I also know that! I knew that Kim Dok-Ja was such a person... Why do you think I started writing this story in the first place? Why, why I have....”
Drops of something wet were falling onto the backs of her feet. She wanted to say something, anything. To shout out, to grab hold onto Yu Jung-Hyeok’s neck and choke him, shake him around. However, she couldn’t.
A voice mixed with indescribable fatigue entered her ears.
“In order to save someone....”
Han Su-Yeong raised her head at Yu Jung-Hyeok’s voice fleeting past.
“Because of your story, I was able to survive until now.”
She glared at him with her reddened, tearful eyes. “That’s not something I wanted to hear from a bastard like you.”
The distant view of the Industrial Complex could be seen.
That was their home. A place where every member of <Kim Dok-Ja Company> used to live. A place created by someone’s seemingly impossible dream.
Everyone now looked at it.
Yu Sang-Ah holding the steering wheel spoke. “....So, that’s what happened. Thank you for telling us the story, Jung-Hyeok-ssi.”
No one was crying. No one criticised Yu Jung-Hyeok for his choice. This wasn’t because their sorrow had been watered down. No, perhaps they had grown that much stronger.
It wasn’t just Yu Jung-Hyeok alone.
The companions regained enough strength to carry on with their remaining time by writing the story, then reading what had been written all the while praying for a certain someone to read this story with them. The courage not to crumble even when the miracle they dreamed about evaporated right before their eyes.
Now, they could carry on knowing that some people were reading their story in the distant, far-flung other side of the universe.
Yi Ji-Hye asked. “....By the way, that novel? Was it popular?”
“It wasn’t bad.”
“You think Dok-Ja ahjussis were enjoying it?”
“Hey, you sooty bastard! Have you seen the reincarnated Dok-Ja-hyung? How was he?”
As if they wanted to ask about everything they were dying to know until now, questions from the companions bombarded Yu Jung-Hyeok next.
He calmly replied. “I haven’t seen any reincarnated Kim Dok-Ja. However....” He looked at Kim Dok-Ja’s statue brushing past the vehicle’s window and continued on. “....That fool definitely has read the story. I have a hunch.”
“Dok-Ja ahjussi must be really irritated about now. Not being able to see the conclusion again....”
How would the Kim Dok-Jas of other world-lines remember this story’s conclusion? Han Su-Yeong had no way of knowing. Coming up with a good conclusion was as difficult as making your ex accept the reason why you were breaking up with them.
“....Wait, Dok-Ja-ssis from other world-lines aren’t going to invade this place, are they?”
That question prompted someone to whisper softly.
“That might be nice.”
At the end of those words, deep silence descended on the companions. With great timing, Yu Sang-Ah turned on the music right then. Notes from the instruments cascaded like falling raindrops. No one tried to look at each other’s faces. That was the only courtesy they could exercise, at least for this moment.
Within this weighty tenderness of the moment, Han Su-Yeong’s thoughts drifted towards her novel still stored inside her notebook PC.
The story without the last chapter.
And now, no one would get to read about this novel’s conclusion.
But perhaps, this world sometimes needed a story like that, she mused.
“How about we.... start living in one house again?”
Everyone raised their heads at someone’s suggestion.
A realisation was gradually dawning on Han Su-Yeong.
⸢This was the story that Kim Dok-Ja had given to them.⸥
The companions had regained their daily lives, and Yu Jung-Hyeok came home, too.
This was the end of <Kim Dok-Ja Company>’s adventures. The conclusion that the person they all loved wished to see had finally been completed.
Han Su-Yeong abruptly shifted her gaze over to Yu Jung-Hyeok. “...Okay, so. Did you get to find out what your ■■ was?”
“Not yet. However, at this point, I think it no longer matters whether I get to learn it or....”
It was right at that moment a strange sensation suddenly assaulted him.
The sounds of ‘Tsu-chuchuchut’ could be heard coming from somewhere.
A noise wavered within their ears like a faint, distant song. The moment Yu Sang-Ah turned the music off, Biyu’s appearance as she sat in the front passenger seat suddenly changed.
Biyu had morphed back into the figure of a large furball. But that couldn’t be possible. Before climbing into the car, she clearly said that the dissolution of the system had paralysed her ability to shapeshift.
The voices coming from the empty air grew clearer and clearer. This was definitely sounds of Fables busy telling their stories.
“....What’s going on? The system should still be broken, though?”
Han Su-Yeong stared at Yu Jung-Hyeok, but he was looking back at her with the exact same eyes as hers.
[Fable, ‘King of a Kingless World’, has begun its storytelling once more.]
Groups of blinding letters were streaming past in the skies outside the vehicle’s windows. They were from a Fable the companions knew intimately.
Yu Sang-Ah hurriedly stepped on the accelerator. Meanwhile, Han Su-Yeong answered her phone loudly ringing inside her pocket. The call was from Aileen.
– Su-Yeong-ssi!! Right now, it....!
Her voice couldn’t be heard properly because of all the noises coming from the surroundings.
[Fable, ‘Predictive Plagiarism’, has begun its storytelling once more.]
Fables that had vanished without a trace along with the system’s dissolution were now streaming towards somewhere while following after one another. Every single one of them were stories that had come to an end a long time ago.
⸢Is the story really over when the author stops writing it?⸥
Han Su-Yeong looked up at the letters floating around in the skies.
The letters that didn’t hold any meaning when existing independently of each other were beginning to find their mates and groups one by one.
“....Disconnected film theory?!”
The companions soon drove into the Complex and hurriedly jumped out of the limousine. Then, they began running. The Fables they had acquired until now, the Fables they had been telling until now, were brushing past their sides.
No one knew what the conclusion to this story was.
No matter how hard they tried, ‘Kim Dok-Ja’ would never come back. Even if they did recreate the ‘99% Kim Dok-Ja’, that missing one percent would always be there.
But then, what if there was one existence in this entire world that could fill the last void of one percent? One existence, who used to possess the letters subconsciously scattered to the distant universe?
“Su-Yeong-ssi! Over there!”
They could see Yi Seol-Hwa’s hospital in the distance. Fables leisurely streaming there guided them. Fables were gathering towards the hospital ward they were all intimately familiar with.
[Great Fable, ‘Demon World’s Spring’, has begun its storytelling once more.]
Han Su-Yeong thought to herself.
If an author didn’t write it, then a story’s conclusion couldn’t be created.
[Great Fable, ‘Torch that Swallowed the Myth’, has begun its storytelling once more.]
Even if that was true, however, did that mean those reading the story couldn’t imagine the conclusion on their own way? Han Su-Yeong powerfully bit her lip. This story was created by her own hands. But another story she didn’t know of was continuing on from the end of her story.
⸢What will happen if the moment of someone’s imagination overtaking the author’s sentences, comes?⸥
As skills and Stigma hadn’t returned in full yet, Han Su-Yeong ran out of breath rather quickly. Yu Jung-Hyeok supported her and kept running. Shin Yu-Seung rushing up the stairs tripped and fell. Other companions reached out and helped her up.
[Great Fable, ‘Season of Light and Darkness’, has begun its storytelling once more.]
[Great Fable, ‘Liberator of the Forgotten Ones’, has begun its storytelling once more.]
The Great Fables they had acquired together were returning to them one by one. Even the unnamed last Fable of <Kim Dok-Ja Company> began singing about the emotion that no one dared to name.
This desire, a wish, of those who went their separate ways a long time ago to become one once more.
To grieve for someone else, to celebrate, to get angry, and to despair. And eventually, wishing to become that someone else.
Someone was sympathising with their story. As her breathing grew heavier and heavier, Han Su-Yeong kept thinking to herself over and over again.
⸢If this story can really save you...⸥
If you regained just a little of your memories and remember us just one more time...
....Then I’ll keep writing the epilogue for you until the end of the time, for eternity.
She reached before the hospital room’s door, completely out of breath. Han Su-Yeong was now standing before the very room that she came to visit every single day for the past four years.
The rest of the companions running up the staircase one step behind were now looking at her. She looked back, and began recalling the very last paragraph to the conclusion she didn’t get to write.
⸢There are three ways to survive in a ruined world.⸥
She then heard Jeong Hui-Won shouting out.
The other companions who heard the news belatedly – comrades who didn’t accompany them to the East Sea, could be seen running over here through the building’s window.
⸢I’ve forgotten a few by now. However, one thing’s for certain.⸥
Han Su-Yeong’s trembling hand grasped the door’s handle.
She was scared. What if there was nothing beyond this door?
What if all this was nothing more than a sweet lie?
She looked to her side, and saw Yu Jung-Hyeok nodding his head.
⸢And that is, the you reading these words will get to survive.⸥
No matter what was waiting for them beyond this door, they were now ready to witness it. The door creaked noisily as it opened. Faint rays of sunlight entered through the wide-open window. The pages of the manuscript she spent the whole night revising scattered around in the wind. Letters scattered in a blinding fashion. The story she didn’t get to complete, it was right there.
The sentences she really wanted to write sometime, even if it was not now. While thinking about those sentences, Han Su-Yeong grinned like an idiot.
⸢This story is for just that one reader.⸥
<Epilogue 5. The Eternity and Epilogue (Complete)> Fin.
TL: Here it is, the conclusion to the Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint. I’d like to thank you for sticking till the end of this epic journey through the proverbial thick and thin.
Shingshong had written a separate author’s afterwords, but it’s unlikely that I’ll get to translate it, unfortunately. The first half of it is in the form of a mock Q&A session, while the latter half is a thank-you list of people who had donated and supported the author throughout the serialisation of the novel in South Korea.
I should say “authors”, because in the Q&A session, Shingshong reveals that it is neither he nor she, but a married couple, Shing and Shong. They both wrote the novel together, which apparently had been in development for many years, even before the couple’s previous work, The World After the Fall. Incidentally, one of the couple’s failed previous work is named “How to Become a Famous Author” (from Ch 549). They recommend in a half joking tone that you shouldn’t seek that novel out.
Once again, thank you for reading the Omni Reader. Your continued support means a lot to me.
Till next time, thank you and goodbye!