The Novel's Villain - Chapter 87
23. Peaceful International Competition (2)
[It is a beautiful sight. This is a scene that symbolizes the combination of modern technology and Gate technology.]
[I’m really proud of it. Korea’s Gate technology is known to be the best in the world. Everyone in the world must be surprised.
To be precise, G&P’s technology was the best.
The Arena Stadium was filled with a pool of starlight. At a glance, it was obvious it wasn’t a typical hologram. A small child reached out to the flying beam. The light caught in his hand and flashed into powder, feeling warm to the touch. As more people reached out, they were shocked to find they could feel and even smell it.
The pool of light gathered to draw a world map, and a Gate in the international water appeared. The Gate transformed into a red flower symbolizing the competent people.
It was a flower called the Knight Flower. The red leaf symbolized the Knight’s blood, and the silver stem symbolized their honor. And the round flower stamen symbolized world peace and harmony. It was a flower that most ordinary people had never seen before because it grew only on islands formed by International Water Gates.
Beautiful music played as this fantastic sight was created.
[A peaceful world without war since the international competition. It is a beautiful image that symbolizes peace and prosperity. I hope that the Republic of Korea will take the lead in the flow of peace.]
[Yes, of course, I also hope so.]
After the hologram video, there was a performance prepared by the Korean Association of Competent People. An animal model that symbolized Korea’s traditional culture was wheeled out. Even already, people knew it was to be bigger and fancier than the last opening ceremony. It was so obvious that bins of money were poured into it. However, it was supported by Frontline Group.
[The Knights are entering. The country with the most International Water Gates enters first. Regardless of that, Korea, the host country, will be the last to enter.]
The caster explained. The United States and Europe entered first. Then the countries called the Third Coalition entered one after another. Everybody was wearing a Knight’s uniform with the characteristics of their country, with the design competition being just as fierce. All Knights were under fifty-five because they were obliged to retire when they reached that age. This was why the legendary high-ranking Knights did not participate but instead focused on training their juniors.
[The Korean Knights are entering!]
The Korean Knights entered the venue next. The tallest Knight was holding a flag with a Korean national flag and the Korean Association of Competent People symbol on it, and behind him was the captain of the Knights, Lee Jin-woo. When Jin-woo appeared on the hologram screen floating in the air, a great cheer rang out in the stadium.
[Lee Jin-woo’s popularity is indeed something to behold. Our Captain Lee Jin-woo’s nickname is Crown Prince, right?]
[It seems to suit him well. The greatest talent ever, great knowledge enough to establish a new swordsmanship system, and even the youngest Knight Captain. Besides, isn’t he the most handsome knight in the world? Haha!]
[Haha! You’re right.]
Heo Jin-han said so with a slight smile. Lee Jin-woo, who was growing more popular day by day, had been a hot topic. However, the attention was focused on his appearance rather than the fact that he was the youngest Knight Captain. He looked very beautiful, but not in a frivolous way. Rather, he had the grace of a noble prince.
Even the way he was walking also looked dignified. The Knights from other countries turned their heads to look at him. Since becoming a competent person, there hadn’t been much media exposure about him, and only his photos had spread out. It was the first time that Jin-woo was exposed to such a close-up and ultra-high definition photo. Many noticed the bandage wrapped down to his wrist around his right arm as a result.
[Many people are worried about Captain Lee Jin-woo’s injury.]
[Yes, he has a lot on his shoulders. Isn’t it revealed in his face? Well, at such a young age…as a senior Knight, I just feel sorry for him.]
The Knights from other countries all smiled while enjoying the festival, but only Jin-woo had a serious expression on his face. It showed how much pressure he felt. It wasn’t revealed in detail, but it was said to be a significant injury. Some had reported that the wounds from the battle with the Demon King were still haunting him. There were also rumors that a curse was placed on him, but the Association took strong action against such rumors.
There were also articles about whether the Association unilaterally forced sacrifices, most planned by the Future Strategy Office.
The screen briefly showed the crowd. Some of the younger members of the audience were seen bandaging their right arm in solidarity. The bandage had the word ‘Fighting’ written on it.
[Hehe, people seem to be rooting for Captain Lee Jin-woo.]
[That’s right. It’s really beautiful. I believe that he will achieve good results thanks to the support of our people. The Republic of Korea is currently cheering for the national team with a unified heart.]
Entrance to all the Knights was completed. After singing the national anthem, Lee Jin-woo took an oath on the podium. It was an oath that he was willing to give his life for the country and the people as a Knight.
The international competition called the War of the Stars or Proxy War marked the start of it. No one could see Jin-woo sighing slightly. The international competition was a small war over the operational rights of the seventeen International Water Gates that appeared worldwide. Although the value of each Gate was different, running a single Gate could produce a lot of profit.
Even the value of the rare resources that could be extracted from the Gate was astronomical, not to mention the artifacts. Earth’s modern society had become so fierce that it couldn’t go back to a time without the Gates. It was only natural that the competitiveness of each country would rise with a desire to own more Gates.
The international competition consisted of two main parts: a tournament that was open to the public and a survival battle that was conducted privately.
‘Where the hell did they get that reference?’
Jin-woo had a question about that. It felt amazing that the whole world had agreed to these rules. The international competition was a battle for control of the seventeen International Water Gates. After the competition, Gate lottery tickets would be awarded according to the results. The higher the score, the more lottery tickets you would receive. At the closing ceremony, the Knight Captains of each country drew from the lottery directly.
‘It sometimes feels fair but sometimes not…’
It felt a little childish. There were seven lottery tickets for the open tournament and ten lottery tickets for the closed battle. So the real competition was the closed battle at the International Water Gate battlefield. Each country had a fixed number of gates that could be owned, and if they had more than that, they could rent or sell it to other countries.
Knights who participated in the tournament weren’t allowed to participate in the close battle. Jin-woo was watching the public tournament on the boat going to the International Water Gate. The Captain had all the command, but Jin-woo deployed Choi Hee-yeon and the best Knights to the open tournament.
Although Choi Hee-yeon’s skills were great, the rest of the Knights were insignificant. Jin-woo didn’t expect much.
The Knights groaned. In both individual and team matches, an unprecedented situation occurred in which they were eliminated in large numbers from the preliminary rounds. Only Choi Hee-yeon made it to the finals. It was a similar flow to the one in the original. Japan was strong. However, now the United States and Europe had filled that opening.
Merlin flew around with his long golden hair fluttering.
Come to think of it; it was Jin-woo’s fault that Merlin became so strong. Anyway, he didn’t care as long as they had good results. It would be the best record in history even if he took only three out of ten, so he thought he would do just that.
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Jin-woo arrived at the International Water Gate. Other than the seventeen Gates, the other places had no value as Gates. One such place was the battlefield managed by the Federation, which was just a vast forest with no special characteristics. Although the tournament was a global festival, this was a tomb for the Knights.
Jin-woo wore a bracelet. His score would be automatically increased when the opponent Knights surrendered or lost their lives. The highest score was received when the Knight accepted surrender without taking the opponent’s life. It responded by reading the will of the wearer so that it couldn’t be manipulated. It was an artifact created by a collaboration between the Frontline Group and the International Federation of Competent People.
‘It’s like a cartoon.’
Jin-woo laughed when he read the description in the original novel, but it was implemented now. The other Knights behind Jin-woo looked stiff as they stood in front of the Gate. The tension was great.
“You smell like garlic. Get out of here!”
Come to think of it; there were some extra Knights like that. It was a role that openly ignored the main character. It was a typical development but rather fresh in some ways. The Korean Knights tried to say something as they were furious, but Jin-woo raised his hand and stopped them. If they fought here, they would be eliminated.
‘In the original story…’
Jin-woo recalled the international competition that appeared in the original. The Korean Knights were all annihilated, and the main character was left alone, then the huge Emperor of Maze rose by breaking the battlefield.
Coincidentally, it appeared here. As most of the Knights of other countries became incapable of combat, the main character and Dang Xiao Zhen went inside the maze and destroyed the core. The main character survived alone and became a Korean hero. He became a high-ranking Knight in a single attempt after being recognized for stopping the Maze.
‘It won’t happen, right?’
Jin-woo nodded. The Knights began to enter in order. The President of the Korean Association of Competent People looked at Jin-woo.
“Sir Lee Jin-woo.”
“Come back safely.”
It was a very serious atmosphere.
Inside the wall was a thick forest. The trees weren’t distinctive except for their considerable size. Everything was free here, whether it was killing each other, forming alliances, or negotiating. It was a small war that required political intelligence and strategy.
‘This part was very dark.’
Did the original author watch a war movie?
Everyone looked at Jin-woo. The other countries had moved among their allies, but South Korea was excluded from the negotiation list due to a severe power dislocation. A chilly silence settled. First, as planned, they decided to set up a base camp and hold out. Korea was a coveted prey so that they would come on their own.
As time went on, there was a huge crowd as expected. Although Jin-woo was participating, Korea seemed to be prey to other countries’ Knights. Whether or not they fought a fierce battle, the Knights’ conquests were bloody. It seemed that they have concluded that they should deal with Korea first.
Thus, quite a few had come. The Korean Knights nervously predicted the end, but Jin-woo was different.
“If you come to our side of the European Union, I will guarantee your safety, Lee Jin-woo.”
“Of course, as long as you meet our conditions.”
They planned to take advantage of Jin-woo’s influence.
‘Let’s not kill them.’
Jin-woo just thought so. Death in the battle was inevitable, but there was no need to kill them all. When Jin-woo didn’t answer, the Korean knights were moved. He could survive alone, but he felt the will to share the end.
The Knights rushed Jin-woo and the Korean knights. Yet, even if they all rushed in, they could not be a match for Jin-woo acting moderately. The Korean Knights were also by his side.
It was then that something unusual happened.
Suddenly, a shadow fell over them. Jin-woo raised his head and looked up.
A dimensional rift had formed there, as seen when the Emperor of Maze moved. A large piece fell.
The Knights in front of him were sent rolling on the ground.
Not all of them, it appeared. After all, the Maze was in the Sanctuary. What fell from above was part of the Maze. Demon energy flowed out whether the dimensional rift was connected to the Demon Realm. The surrounding area began to be covered thickly by it.
All the Knights who couldn’t stand the demon energy were knocked down. Jin-woo looked back. The Korean Knights tried to keep their eyes open, but they couldn’t hold out for long and fell.
There was a setting that there was a dimensional rift here. That was also the reason why the Emperor of Maze had moved there. The dimensional flow was established because Japan frequently engaged in Realm.
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‘I don’t think it can be retrieved properly, though.’
Jin-woo calmly grasped the situation. Fortunately, only a small part seemed to have crossed.
Jin-woo looked at the fallen Knights. Demon energy had broken in and hardened the mana in their bodies so that they lost consciousness. However, their lives weren’t affected. There were also some Knights who were holding up by raising their mana as a shield. But it wasn’t just one or two that crossed the dimension.
Parts of the Maze fell in with a roar. The screams of the Knights could be heard in the distance.
“I must be okay, he…”
There were also Knights who went into the maze to avoid the demon energy. Dimensional rifts opened, and temporary Gates were created everywhere. Looking through the Magic Eye of Information, it was said to be connected to the Demon Realm. The scale was smaller than the original story, but this was still a problem.
One Knight, who had barely come to his senses, looked at the large structure. What he saw before he lost consciousness was something engulfed in demon energy. Jin-woo looked at those who came out of the crack.
“My Lord Emperor?”
It was the woman he met before when listening to the demon’s business propositions. She was the Succubus Queen, Lilith. She brought her troops, but when she saw Jin-woo, she wore a slightly surprised expression.
“There was a portal in the Demon Realm, so I entered. It seems that you have called us! Thank you for calling us.”
Lilith and the demons were moved. Jin-woo nodded, avoiding the burdensome look in their eyes.
‘I’ll have to fix it and send them back.’
The international competition has taken a new turn.
The demons took good care of the Knights and laid them down in a row. The Knights who escaped the demon energy by entering the Maze were found miserable, but they were still breathing. The unconscious Knights were eroded by the demon energy and suffered nightmares. They could return to normal if the Maze was returned and the demon energy disappeared, but they would remain unconscious for now.
‘The number has decreased a lot.’
There were many traces of a fierce battle. Many people witnessed the demons, so Jin-woo had to take action. It was a big deal to hear such a rumor that the Demon King descended again. But, just in time, there was a demon who had mastered this field.
It was the Succubus Queen Lilith.
“It’s possible. I just have to cover it with a dream.”
Jin-woo explained the situation roughly and asked her to erase their memories in moderation. Lilith nodded. The people who were lying down were eroded by demon energy, but they were quite outstanding. Some people were even at the level of high-ranking demons.
‘Brainwashing is my specialty. So, he is saying that I should use my special skills, huh?’
Lilith thought so. She filled the space of their memories with the image of the ideal Emperor, in her opinion. Each dream was embodied by mixing the Emperor with fantasy. They couldn’t help but fall in love with, admire, and adore him!
It was the beginning of a very long dream.
Lilith couldn’t ascend to Demon King because of her bloodline, but she had the power to rule over dreams. Now that the Demon Kings disappeared, she possessed the most incredible power among the high-ranking demons. Lilith didn’t know that the Emperor of Gold and the Incarnation of Evil were working together.
“Thank you. Thanks…”
The faces of the Knights who were suffering from nightmares brightened.
“It will make them dream for two days. They will wake up when the demon energy in their bodies runs out.”
Suddenly, the knights had scratches form on their bodies. Jin-woo looked at Lilith.
“It is a dream that is more realistic than reality, so it affects the body of reality. Thanks to your preparation, They were completely caught up when their mental defenses were broken.”
“Are there any side effects?”
“No, everyone is just dreaming. A very long, good dream….”
Lilith looked confident. She looked at Jin-woo as if she was asking for a compliment.
Lilith smiled shyly at Jin-woo’s words.
After the demons returned, Jin-woo moved the parts of the Maze to the Sanctuary. The Maze avoided Jin-woo’s gaze when he was looking at it. As he returned to the Gate where the international competition was held, Jin-woo looked at the Knights lying there silently.
The Knights waved their hands in the air. Although it was a gesture, they were showing their moves. Some Knights also had very serious expressions on their face. What the hell were they dreaming of? It was very peaceful until the promised time was over. It was so peaceful. So much so that Jin-woo wondered if the international competition could be like this.
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The Knights woke up right before the time to leave. At first, they looked dazed, but then they burst into tears.
“Cough! Did I make it back?”
“I-is that a success? Sobs.”
“In that damn tower….”
They embraced and hugged each other regardless of their nationalities as if they were comrades. Then everyone looked at Jin-woo. Their eyes were full of admiration and respect.
‘Anyway, is this a draw?’
Would there be a rematch? At that time, Jin-woo’s score began to soar rapidly.
Jin-woo tried tapping his bracelet. His score went up even more steeply.
* * *
The President of the Korean Association of Competent People and those related to the Association looked anxiously at the Gate. The healers belonging to the Federation were on standby, and the referees who would count the exact score were looking at the Gate nervously. Although the situation inside Gate wasn’t broadcast due to various problems, the scoreboard was being broadcast live through the Association’s website worldwide. It was a tradition of international competitions that made everyone nervous.
It was a scoreboard of fate, in which many countries were reemerging and falling into the abyss.
Inwoong: Wow, I’m so nervous.
LeeJin-beob: Is Korea going to fail? It’s ruined, right?
asqo1: We’re screwed… Let’s emigrate.
tiksol: Korean Knights are so stuffed, so all the benefits should be removed.
tistai: I heard in Japan that Korea was ruined.
rosea2: The fact is that Japan collapsed first. East Asia failed side by side.
The chat window was just one step away from exploding. Everyone was watching the scoreboard nervously.
[Regardless of the grades, all the representative Knights who sacrificed for the Republic of Korea did a great job. That sacrifice and noble spirit will make the Republic of Korea stronger.]
[Yes, it’s the time! It’s a tense moment.]
Kim Seong-jin and Heo Jin-han, who were broadcasting, also remained silent for a while. Not knowing the situation at the scene made them even more nervous. Suddenly, there was a change in the scoreboard.
[Yes, as we were talking, the scores are being counted!]
[Oh…the United Kingdom scored the first points.]
The country that came out first usually had the highest score. Next to the scoreboard were the scores earned for each Knight. Scores for many countries followed. There had been no change in Korea yet.
[Korea’s score hasn’t moved yet.]
[It is still too early to give up hope. Isn’t there such a thing as a final twist?]
[Yes, as Sir Heo Jin-han said, there was a history of twists during the Italian tournament. Despite the score, I hope that our Knights are also safe.]
Everyone looked at the scoreboard nervously.
[Ah! At this moment, Korea’s score is finally being counted]
[Lee Jin-woo, Captain Jin-woo’s name is up!]
[We believed in him! We are so proud of him! This is Lee Jin-woo from South Korea!]
The counting was complete. From the UK, which first started counting, the score slowly rose. Next to the score, it was calculated as a percentage for easy identification.
[The United Kingdom, 4 points! This is the first time the first country scored 4 points.]
[Oh! That’s a very low number. There is hope! The Republic of Korea! We still have hope!]
The scores were shown in the order of Europe, America, and Asia.
[Again, 0 points? Zero points! It is a relay of 0 points!]
[No! What’s going on?]
Zero points came one after another. There had never been a time before when there were so many zeroes. The same was true for the Korean Knights. Lee Jin-woo’s score was finally up.
[Ninety-one points! Lee Jin-woo, 91 points!]
[What an overwhelming score! It’s not a bad score! The Federation’s certification mark has been engraved! This is a score that can take up to nine out of the ten Gates.]
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[Whoa! Doesn’t this make sense?]
It was a miracle. The streets of Korea were shaken wildly.