Chapter 266. Becoming One (3)
Chapter 266. Becoming One (3)
The next day, Chi-Woo went to see La Bella as Byeok instructed him. He unlocked the two abilities in his user information that he had sealed: synesthesia and extrasensory perception. At first, Chi-Woo didn’t know why those two were the abilities he was to unlock. But after returning to reality, he was hit with a strange feeling. It was as if he was wearing clothes that didn’t fit him. No, rather than that, it was as if he was forced to wear a couple layers of mismatching clothes. His extrasensory perception and synesthesia that he shared with Ru Amuh seemed to be interfering with the new senses he’d awakened this time.
“How do you feel?” Byeok asked.
“It’s strange…” Chi-Woo didn’t know how to answer and spoke as he felt.
“I’m sure it is,” Byeok said knowingly and nodded. “Then, do you think you can tie up all your senses into one?”
Chi-Woo contemplated deeply over this question and shook his head.
“What is difficult?”
“Hmm…I think something is lacking.” Chi-Woo chewed on his lip. “But I don’t know what it is. I just need one more puzzle piece, but I think I’m missing that…”
Byeok was a bit surprised to see Chi-Woo struggle.
“He did say he had a good intuition…” Byeok planned to scold Chi-Woo if he had tried to forcibly combine all his senses and didn’t expect him to take a step back by himself.
“Then you must fill up what you lack,” Byeok smiled at Chi-Woo and said. “This is where your test begins.”
Chi-Woo’s eyes widened.
“I will control the image representation from now on. You must showcase a true battle.”
It was quite a vague condition.
“Let me see…yes. Once is too little, so I will acknowledge your success if you manage to make two effective hits.”
Though he had his objections, Chi-Woo calmly accepted her condition. He was already used to the way his master taught by now. Byeok wasn’t the type to carefully explain everything to him in detail and spoon-feed him new information. She gave him simple guidelines and explanations about the general situation, leaving him to figure out the rest.
‘I can do it,’ Chi-Woo thought. He might have felt fear or hopelessness in the past, but that wasn’t the case anymore. After becoming unified with his surroundings, Chi-Woo changed. He now had the confidence to accomplish anything no matter how difficult and arduous they were. He didn’t have to rely on pure motivation anymore but could trust in himself. Yet reality always surpassed his expectations, and Chi-Woo was stunned to see his opponent.
Chi-Hyun had suddenly appeared.
“No, wait. Are you really telling me to fight my brother?”
Even though he had made amazing progress recently, his current opponent was someone who had far surpassed such an achievement. He was the world’s best hero. It was obvious someone like Chi-Hyun would’ve accomplished becoming one with the universe ages ago, and it was unimaginable how far he had climbed since then. Thus, it was nonsensical that Chi-Woo would have to fight someone like that.
“Don’t worry too much,” Byeok said leisurely as if she had expected the response. “This is just an image representation of him. And I’ve imposed suitable restrictions for the fight.”
“Yes. You both are prohibited from using mana and weapons. You both must only fight each other with pure martial arts alone. This would make it possible for you to deal with him.”
Chi-Woo thought that did change things. He looked at Chi-Hyun with a perplexed expression. “…” Seeing Chi-Hyun’s haughty eyes stare back at him stirred up the pent-up rage in Chi-Woo’s heart. He could still remember it as clearly as yesterday—the attitude that Chi-Hyun showed him and the way he slammed the door fiercely in his face.
‘…She said it was a mental image.’ Perhaps this was his chance.
“Master,” Chi-Woo said.
“Is this really an image?”
“…Huh, yeah? Why?” Byeok stammered at Chi-Woo’s unexpected question, and Chi-Woo raised his tightly clenched fists.
“Then I suppose it won’t matter if I beat that bastard to death,” Chi-Woo said confidently, but he gasped when he heard another voice. Looking vexed, Chi-Hyun’s image shouted, “What did you say, you bastard!”
Byeok laughed at Chi-Woo’s unexpected declaration and glanced at Chi-Hyun.
“How dare you…to your older brother…” Chi-Hyun heaved, but when he saw Byeok’s signal, he calmed his breathing.
“How is it? Doesn’t he feel just like the real thing? I paid special attention to it,” Byeok said.
Chi-Woo nodded. Chi-Hyun’s image responded so realistically. For a moment, he thought his master had colluded with his brother to trick him.
“Since you’ve cast away your doubts now, start. It’s up to you whether you kill this image or not.” Byeok then added, “if you can.” But Chi-Woo had already stopped listening to focus all his senses on his brother. The atmosphere changed, and silence circled around the two. A suffocating tension that felt like it would blow up in an instant built, but a small smile soon formed on Chi-Hyun’s face. It looked like he was smirking. Chi-Woo didn’t know why Chi-Hyun was smiling, and then he suddenly had a feeling that something was wrong.
Boom! Chi-Woo hurriedly tilted his head back, and simultaneously, there was an explosive sound in the air.
His bangs swayed from the shockwave, and between the hair strands, Chi-Woo saw his brother look slightly surprised. It appeared Chi-Hyun hadn’t expected Chi-Woo to evade the attack. Chi-Woo didn’t even have the chance to confirm how powerful the hit was when Chi-Hyun suddenly rushed forward. Chi-Hyun’s right foot aimed for his temples. Chi-Woo hastily raised his arm and blocked the kick, but powerful hits quickly aimed for him in succession. Though Chi-Woo arched his torso and evaded the attack, he didn’t have the luxury to catch his breath. As soon as he tried to straighten his back, he felt a fearsome punch fly towards him.
‘At this rate…!’ Chi-Woo extended his fist. He planned to make a counter-strike and change the trajectory of his brother’s punch, but ended up hitting only air. It appeared Chi-Hyun had read his intention and stopped his attack. And when Chi-Hyun saw Chi-Woo miss, he moved his arm again and swung his fist down hard. Chi-Woo hurriedly backed away when he felt the terrible blow coming.
“Are you going to keep backing away?”
Chi-Woo heard his brother’s voice. Simultaneously, he felt his balance crumble. Something struck his legs. Chi-Hyun had spun his body around with his hands on the ground and tripped Chi-Woo. Chi-Woo looked like he had no idea what was happening.
‘What is he trying to do?’ Though he couldn’t see all his brother’s attacks, he could sense most of them. And yet he was struggling to follow up with them. If he was moving like the flow of water, his brother was moving like—
It was then Chi-Woo felt Chi-Hyun’s strike from above and below simultaneously. Though it didn’t seem possible, that was what Chi-Woo clearly felt. Chi-Woo arched his body instinctively and felt a strong current sweep past his back. And with his head lowered, Chi-Woo saw Chi-Hyun's knee move up.
Thud! Chi-Woo’s nose stung. He arched his head back from the pain, and in his defenseless state, he felt a strong kick to his chest and ended up slammed to the ground.
“Kuh! Cough, cough!” Chi-Woo coughed and heaved. Though he tried to get up, his body didn’t listen to him, and all his nerves seemed frazzled.
‘How…’ Even in his dizzy state, Chi-Woo couldn’t hide his shock. Before, he would’ve easily accepted that his brother wasn’t an opponent he could deal with, but the current Chi-Woo couldn’t do that. He could now see his brother’s attacks clearly and see how unbelievable Chi-Hyun’s moves were—even if they were just quick punches and kicks. Chi-Hyun didn’t allow Chi-Woo to move in a flow. Even when Chi-Woo tried to grasp an opportunity, his brother pierced through the gap and broke his flow; then he forcibly dragged Chi-Woo into his pace. Chi-Woo raised his head in a dazed state.
His brother was staring down coldly at him like he always did. Ch-Hyun’s cold eyes seemed to be asking Chi-Woo, ‘is it already over? Was this all he had?’ Seeing this, Chi-Woo gritted his teeth and pulled himself back up.
‘Just now…’ For some reason, the disharmony he felt after unlocking two of his abilities disappeared when he thought about his brother’s movements.
Soon afterward, Chi-Hyun rushed at him in an instant. Chi-Woo couldn’t tell which attack Chi-Hyun was going for first—a punch or a kick. But that wasn’t the important part.
‘Just now…!’ Chi-Woo didn’t back away this time. He pushed forward, and Chi-Hyun looked slightly startled. Chi-Hyun extended his fist just in case and saw Chi-Woo turn around to evade it. Though this could be considered progress when battling someone like Chi-Hyun, Chi-Woo was still far below the standard he was trying to reach. Chi-Hyun sighed and was about to strike Chi-Woo’s turning back when—
Bam! Suddenly, a heavy thud struck his cheeks. It was an unexpected counterattack.
Unbelievably, the legend Choi Chi-Hyun was sent tilting to one side. Though he tried to regain his balance, he couldn’t withstand the force and fell to his bottom. Both Chi-Hyun and Byeok became speechless and blinked hard. Chi-Woo hadn’t only attacked. He had abruptly twisted his body around to get into an escaping and attacking posture simultaneously.
“You are already…” Seeing his brother, Chi-Hyun murmured and closed his mouth again. Then his lips curved into a smile.
‘I see. This must be the effect of the Golden Ratio,’ Chi-Hyun thought. Who would’ve thought Chi-Woo would be able to grasp this so fast?
“That’s pretty good,” Chi-Hyun smiled and got to his feet. “That attack just now was pretty good.” Though Chi-Hyun complimented Chi-Woo two times, Chi-Woo didn’t respond. But it was fine since Chi-Hyun didn’t expect a response anyways.
Chi-Woo got back to his stance and looked to be losing himself in focus. In his head, stimulations of the battle were circulating so fast that it was probably catching fire. Though Chi-Woo’s movements were impressive even in Chi-Hyun’s eyes, it was still incomplete. Chi-Woo knew this better than anyone else. He had managed to become one with his surroundings, but there was a strange sensation that made him feel like they weren’t truly one. This was probably a result that Byeok had intended, but Chi-Hyun didn’t like this part.
Was there really a skill that didn’t appear in one’s user information? It was a complete lie. Whatever one’s ability was, it had to come out in their user information. How could an ability of a mortal not appear on the system when an ability from the gods did? Even if there was an ability that the system couldn’t process or define, it should still manifest as an ability in some way, just like the one censored with question marks in Chi-Woo’s user information.
Though Chi-Hyun agreed with Byeok’s belief that ‘One must only receive a power that they could be held responsible for’, he wanted his brother to be an exception to this rule. And Chi-Hyun hoped that Chi-Woo would achieve complete unification rather than an imperfect one.
“Do it again,” Chi-Hyun said. “Prove to me that the move just now wasn’t a coincidence.”
It was then Byeok realized what was going to happen. She contemplated the flow that Chi-Hyun directed just now and the movements Chi-Woo showed.
“!” Her eyes widened. “You!” She immediately jumped from the porch, but it was too late. Chi-Hyun rushed to Chi-Woo like lightning after glancing at her. He pretended to attack but dived deeper, wrapping his arms around Chi-Woo and lifting him up. Though Chi-Hyun attempted to throw Chi-Woo, he lost his balance again when Chi-Woo wrapped his legs around Chi-Hyun’s neck and twisted it. The two brothers fell to the ground. No, it appeared that Chi-Hyun would fall along with his brother, but his neck was released. Instead, Chi-Hyun felt a strong impact on his shoulders like they were being used as step stools. It was too late when Chi-Hyun realized this and looked up.
Chi-Woo’s two feet spun in the air and struck Chi-Hyun’s stomach exactly. This whole process was instantaneous.
“Stop!” Byeok hurriedly intervened, but the situation was over by then. Chi-Woo landed on the ground. Though he’d managed to knock down Chi-Hyun twice, he didn’t appear overjoyed or cheered. Indescribable feelings overwhelmed him as he stood back up.
There was a gap, space, or interval in his flow. It was the gap between movements and what connected two flows together. Chi-Woo thought he had worked hard until now to narrow the gap between his movements and maximized efficiency. But with his recent battle with his brother, Chi-Woo realized he had been thinking the wrong way the entire time. Though he wasn’t entirely wrong, there wasn’t only one path. Combining split thread strings could be seen as creating one string, and one could attach the strands one after another or intertwine them to make one. The latter was a much more efficient process as long as he could do it.
“Ah…!” Realizing this, Chi-Woo let out a gasp. He had been stupid, so foolish. Though he turned round and round and emphasized oneness, unconsciously, he was differentiating between his flows. No wonder he was unable to keep up with his brother.
‘No wonder the flow broke.’ Now that Chi-Woo looked back on his actions, his movements were going on different trajectories.
‘Chi-Hyun must’ve purposefully aimed for that…huh?’ As soon as Chi-Woo thought this, he looked a bit stunned. ‘But no way. Byeok said this is only an image of my brother…’
Chi-Woo turned around and saw Chi-Hyun still on the ground. Surprisingly, Chi-Hyun was smiling with a satisfied expression. Chi-Woo felt perplexed by the smile, but he couldn’t pay more attention to it as alarm bells rang in his ears.
[User Chi-Woo’s innate ability, ‘Extrasensory Perception’ evolves.]
[User Chi-Woo’s special ability, ‘Synesthesia’ evolves.]
[User Chi-Woo’s special ability, ‘Unknown Insight’ evolves.]
All the abilities related to his senses were disappearing one by one. They weren’t getting erased, but melting, mixing, and gathering into one—as if they were one from the beginning. Chi-Woo closed his eyes, and his body trembled. He felt it then. The faint disharmony he felt in his movements completely disappeared, and a new world opened up before him.
‘…yes.’ Byeok clenched her teeth and asked, “Are you satisfied now?”
“I simply created the situation,” Chi-Hyun replied. Byeok knew what he meant. Creating an environment for her disciple to figure things out on their own was the method of teaching she favored the most. But this method had been too bold and explicit. She didn’t know why Chi-Hyun had to go this far considering his personality.
“This was what you planned to do from the beginning.” She was played by Chi-Hyun because he knew people too well.
“Even if you didn’t go this far, I would’ve taught him this one day!”
“Master, you would’ve taught him at the time you wanted and in the direction you wanted.” Chi-Hyun picked himself up. He smiled blandly and asked, “But is there really a need to wait for that? You are the one who said we had no time.”
“Do you think that’s applicable to this situation?!” Byeok shouted. Though she sounded very angry, Chi-Hyun didn’t heed it. “I think my heart is a little bit more at ease now. He’s now at a level where he can escape without dying pretty much in any situation.”
“You damn bastard…You know why I’m so angry, but that’s all you have to say?” Byeok gritted her teeth, but Chi-Hyun looked a bit bitter.
“…I know what you’re worried about, master.” Chi-Hyun bowed. “I apologize for acting on my own and going too far.”
“I don’t want to hear it.” Though Chi-Hyun apologized sincerely, Byeok cut him off. “Leave. Don’t think about showing up in front of me for a while.”
At her icy command, Chi-Hyun didn’t protest anymore. He glanced at his brother once. Chi-Woo looked like he was tasting infinite freedom, and then Chi-Hyun disappeared. Byeok glared at the spot where Chi-Hyun used to stand and looked conflicted when her gaze shifted to Chi-Woo. The fact that there was one more ability on Chi-Woo’s user information meant one thing: as a hero, he could raise the ranks of that ability.
Although there was, of course, a balance system, he could raise an ability to its peak with the growth system. In other words, depending on the ability, he could even do the unbelievable. As mentioned before, there were two types of Celestial heroes. There were the traditional heroes who underwent considerable hardships and training to reach higher ground. Then there were the modern heroes recruited by the Celestial Realm and given the growth system to become stronger. Byeok didn’t favor one type of hero above the other, nor did she care for their differences. It was because she knew the real deal would naturally set themselves apart.
Very rarely, there were people like that. Geniuses who worked hard and knew how to utilize the cheat-like tool known as the growth system. And thus, they reached incredible heights through adept use of the system, and Chi-Hyun was an example of such an unbelievable result. As someone who cultivated heroes, Byeok wasn’t pleased with these happenings. It was because the more such cases emerged, the more risks there were.
For instance, what would happen if Chi-Hyun suddenly decided to raise havoc on Liber and go against the Celestial Realm? It was truly terrifying. There had been instances in the past where similar things happened. Byeok recalled one past memory and bit her bottom lip hard. Yet there was nothing she could do. What was done was done.
In the end, she could only stare at Chi-Woo with mixed feelings.