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The secret unknown even to the plotter

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The ‘Secretive Plotter’ watched the train pull away, carrying with it the last surviving nebula of this worldline. He felt some regret, because he knew that the freedom of ‘The Most Ancient Dream’ could only come at the imprisonment of one other.

But his own story was ending. He no longer had the strength to keep fighting, not when his promised final chapter was finally here. He had almost lost this chance, destroyed it while seeking some false manufactured future, and he could turn his back on it no longer.

The ‘Secretive Plotter’ turned back to the slowly waking ‘The Most Ancient Dream,’ and found that the other was still staring at him with wide eyes. Had the boy even looked away in the first place?

No, he wouldn’t have. A familiar unfamiliar thought flashed across his mind like someone turned on and off the lights quickly. He fumbled for the lingering bright spots of that brightness and came to a realization.

“Hey, give it up. The story behind the 0th turn.”

‘The Most Ancient Dream’ blinked rapidly in confusion.

“There’s no way you would have let it go. You said it was the story you wanted to see most.”

Those wide eyes lit up in realization, if not in remembrance. The little hands of the ‘Most Ancient Dream’ clutched at his school uniform, creasing it. The boy bit his lip, unsure. The ‘Secretive Plotter’ felt exasperated. What did this fool still want to protect, when they’ve already come this far?

“I want to see it. Hurry up.”

[[Master!]] scolded the Naval Admiral as the Archangel and the Emperor of Steelsword took turns frowning at him. [[You can’t speak to him like that! He’s just a child!]]

[[Someone who’s lived that long can still be called a child?]] scoffed the Demon of Delusion. Ignoring the glares directed at him, the devil leaned down to grin at the boy whose hand was cradled in his. [[It’s okay to grow up a bit, don’t you think?]]

“Silence.” Catching the eyes of the awakening dream, who continued to look at no one else, the ‘Secretive Plotter’ said, “You’ve always given me what I wanted. Is this your limit?”

The ‘Most Ancient Dream’ froze, and then shook his head rapidly.

[Fable, ‘The World of Zero’, awakens after a long time and is looking at its most beloved protagonist.]

The Emperor of Steelsword smiled wryly. [[So it turns out Joonghyuk-ssi was the spoiled one, huh.]]

Ignoring him, the ‘Secretive Plotter’ also released the hold he had on his two fables.

[Fable, ‘Hellscape of Eternity’, wishes to listen to ‘The World of Zero’.]

[Great Fable, ‘Pilgrim of the Lonely Apocalypse’, wishes to listen to ‘The World of Zero’.]

[....Fable, ‘The World of Zero’, has begun its storytelling.]

The other Calamities closed their eyes so that they could listen more clearly. Only ‘Secretive Plotter’ refused to break off eye contact with the boy.

It was the story of the most perfect worldline. He had wanted for nothing, because he was given everything. There was a person behind the scenes who wanted so desperately for him to be happy that the entire <Star Stream> bent down on one knee and fulfilled his wishes.

[An unknown reaction is occurring!]

He gained many companions, and lost none of them.

He gave up the role of ‘king,’ but still was beholden to nothing.

He lived his life to the fullest, became the most worshipped and beloved incarnation in any possible worldline….

[Fable, ‘Hellscape of Eternity’, asks ‘The World of Zero’ to listen to its story.]

[An unknown reaction is occurring!]

...but was still not at peace.

He who remembered no parents but had a miraculous sister; he who worked by playing and earned generously for it; he who was created with good looks but a bad personality and loved exactly as he was; he who was created to have this perfect life.

He was given everything, because there was someone who wanted to give him everything. He had given nothing, because that someone did not ask for anything. He never had to struggle, because that person paved a road for him so smooth and frictionless that he could probably slide along it to the end.

How could this be fair? What had he done to deserve this?

What can he do to deserve this?

To find the answer, and to repay his overwhelming debt, ‘Yoo Joonghyuk’ could only try again and earn his belovedness with his own merit. Because while he wasn’t aware, the biggest proponent of his happiness had also became the biggest component of it.

[Fable, ‘Hellscape of Eternity’, has begun its storytelling.]

[An unknown reaction is occurring!]

[Great Fable, ‘Pilgrim of the Lonely Apocalypse’, asks ‘The World of Zero’ to listen to its story.]

[Great Fable, ‘Pilgrim of the Lonely Apocalypse’, has begun its storytelling.]

[An unknown reaction is occurring!]

[An unknown reaction is occurring!]

[An unknown reaction is occurring!]

The sentences spoken by the three connected fables began to tremble and distort, words falling from one fable only to be picked up by another fable. But the fables weren’t competing, but instead supplementing each other. They corrected each other, exchanged sentences with each other, and listened attentively to each other.

It was no longer possible to see where one story began and another ended.

[An unknown reaction is occurring!]

[Distinct fables are merging into one fable!]

The Calamities remained silent. The Archangel opened her eyes and turned to look at the child in her shared embrace. The Emperor of Steelsword bowed his head. The Naval Admiral sniffled, and the Demon of Delusion shuffled closer to her.

They listened to the massive story until the end, because they had nothing left but time.

[Fable Part, ‘The World of Zero’, has finished its storytelling.]

[Fable Part, ‘Hellscape of Eternity’, has finished its storytelling.]

[Fable Part, ‘Pilgrim of the Lonely Apocalypse’, has finished its storytelling.]

[Massive Fable, ‘Salvation’, has finished its story.]

The 'Secretive Plotter' sucked in a breath, and slowly exhaled. “1864 turns. You’ve waited for a long time.”

The ‘Most Ancient Dream’ trembled inside the warmth of the ‘Living Flame’s embrace, and turned his face so that it was half covered by the ‘King Of Silverlight Heart’s shoulder.

[A temporary channel has opened up!]

The former Calamities blinked in confusion. The Dokkaebi were already gone, and all but one of the nebulae were extinguished. Who would still…?

Ah. Who else but the pitiful child before them?

[Constellation, 'The Most Ancient Dream', asks if 3rd turn’s ‘Yoo Joonghyuk’ regrets his decision to regress.]

“...you can ask directly, you know.”

The child in their embrace looked up at him blankly, and said nothing. When the question went unacknowledged, the child shivered, and a new message appeared.

[Constellation, 'The Most Ancient Dream', asks if 41st turn’s ‘Yoo Joonghyuk’ regrets his decision to regress.]

“They’re already me. You’re wasting your time.”

Stubbornly, the messages continued.

[Constellation, 'The Most Ancient Dream', asks if 362nd turn’s ‘Yoo Joonghyuk’ regrets his decision to regress.]

[Constellation, 'The Most Ancient Dream', asks if 666th turn’s ‘Yoo Joonghyuk’ regrets his decision to regress.]

“Hey, do you take my words for a joke?”

The next question made him pause for a moment, and the other Calamities stiffen in response.

[Constellation, 'The Most Ancient Dream', asks if 999th turn’s ‘Yoo Joonghyuk’ regrets his decision to regress.]

“Even if his ■■ was different—”

[999th turn’s ‘Yoo Joonghyuk’ replies that his ■■ is in alignment with the ‘Secretive Plotter’s ■■, only they hadn’t known before now.]

That regression always had so much to say. “....don’t be cheeky.”

‘The Most Ancient Dream’ finally broke eye contact, and looked down.

[Constellation, 'The Most Ancient Dream', asks if Outer God, ‘Secretive Plotter’, regrets his decision to regress.]

“.....”

[Outer God, ‘Secretive Plotter', asks if ‘The Most Ancient Dream' wishes he didn’t have to wait so long.]

[....]

[Constellation, 'The Most Ancient Dream', replies that this is the story he wanted to see the most.]

“Well, you’ve seen it.”

[Constellation, 'The Most Ancient Dream', has fully awakened!]

[Constellation, 'The Most Ancient Dream', has regained an old modifier!]

[Constellation 'The Most Ancient Dream's new modifier is ‘Demon King of Salvation.’ ]

The Archangel smiled, and teased, [[What a tiny little demon king.]] The ‘Demon King of Salvation’ flushed.

[[Looks like you have a lot to learn. Luckily, you have a demon hyung here to teach you.]] The Demon of Delusions puffed up and jabbed a thumb at himself.

[[No, don’t,]] deadpanned the Naval Admiral. [[He doesn’t need an influence like yours.]]

[[Huh? E-even if it’s you I won’t take this offense lightly!]]

[[You think I need you to go easy on me?!]]

The Emperor of Steelsword looked up and winced. [[Joonghyuk-ssi, you have a scary look on your face…]]

“Shut up and hand him over.”

After a lot of grumbling and a lot of unwillingness on the opposing side, the ‘Secretive Plotter’ finally managed to pry the awakened dreamer out of the stupidly unyielding arms of his companions and into his own. His companions crowded around him the minute they could, inconveniencing him in any way they could. The minute the ‘Demon King of Salvation’ entered his embrace, the child turned and threw his small arms around the ‘Secret Plotter’s neck.

One of those arms had a bruise in the shape of a large hand, and the ‘Secret Plotter’ had to look away or lose himself to rage. Instead, he focused on the small breaths of the little face buried into the junction of his neck and collar bone, and those quiet words spoken with the boy's true voice.

[...thank you.]

And felt something he’d never experienced before. Not in his 2nd turn, nor his 110th, nor his 356th, and even in his 999th it was only a fleeting sensation.

Yoo Joonghyuk tasted the joy that came with freedom.