"What do you mean by that?"
Lee Sungmin tilted his head and asked, but Kim Jonghyun only made a suspicious smile and did not reply. Instead, he asked while taking a glance at Bern.
"But, why are you here?"
"Didn't you say so?"
"That you wanted to meet the mercenary that exterminated the ogre chimera in person."
"Ah. Ooooh… so that's it."
Kim Jonghyun nodded his head. He grinned before looking at Lee Sungmin.
"So you are the mercenary that exterminated the ogre chimera?"
"I didn't think so because you were younger than I thought."
Kim Jonghyun waved his hand as he said that. When he pushed against the empty air, the levitating ogre chimera's head flew towards him. Lee Sungmin frowned and took a few steps back. The ogre had been beheaded. The two eyes were dug out, and the thread that sewed the mouth had been taken out and its mouth was wide open.
Kim Jonghyun hummed. He extended his two hands to grab the head.
"This chimera has a variety of high-level magic cast on it. Though, I can't completely know what they are since it's dead. However, what's for sure is that the mage that created this chimera is enough to be called an archmage at least."
"That's difficult for me to accept."
Bern frowned at Kim Jonghyun's words and refuted him.
"Archmage isn't a word that can easily be said."
"You can't say that. Even though it's a different field, you must acknowledge that person's abilities, no?"
Bern groaned. Grabbing tightly onto his sleeves, Bern sighed before turning around.
"There's no reason for me to listen to it together. I'll be going back to the guild then."
Saying that, Bern left the room. Sungmin, who was left alone with Kim Jonghyun, tried to call Bern back in panic, but the doors had already shut. Behind him, Kim Jonghyun giggled.
"Isn't jealousy such an embarrassing thing?"
"Sir Bern hasn't had any progress for a long time. So what I'm saying is… it's like martial arts. To reach a higher level, one must first climb up the wall. And for a very long time now, sir Bern hasn't been able to do that."
Muttering those words, Kim Jonghyun pushed the ogre's head towards Lee Sungmin. It was as though he was throwing a basketball. Sungming dodged the ogre's head with panic when he saw that it was flying towards him.
"He may be able to reach the realm of archmages once he climbs over that wall, but he hasn't been able to. How stuffy must he feel about himself?"
Saying that, Kim Jonghyun waved his hand again. The corpse and guts of the ogre, all levitating in the air, started floating towards him.
"Well, let's leave that aside. I said a while ago, but this corpse is very interesting. If it were up to me, I want to start explain to you every little detail about how this monster had a variety of magic cast onto it and how many types of monsters were used in the creation of this monstrosity using the ogre as the base… but it should be hard for you to understand since you are not a mage."
"Let's get to the point."
"How was it?"
Lee Jonghyun shrugged his shoulders and asked.
"I heard from sir Ludd, who went with you to the extermination of the ogre. However, I wanted to listen to you, who has actually fought the thing itself. What… did you feel as you fought it?"
(T/N: Ludd may have been translated to something else before… Roode Lude. Rude… Idunno)
"…I don't get what you're asking."
"Didn't you feel something strange as you fought it?"
Asked Kim Jonghyun, receiving that question, Lee Sungmin thought back to the fight with the ogre. Something strange… he didn't feel at all. In the first place, this was the first time Lee Sungmin fought an ogre, so it was impossible for him to compare it with other gores.
"What of its durability? Regenerative capabilities?"
"It didn't even get scratched when I attacked with full power. All I could do was to attack its weak points, like its joins. I pierced its eye, but it regenerated back in less than one minute."
"Was there anything else special about it?"
"Nimble… I think it was. Also, the attacks were heavy. I would have become a pulp if I got hit on that straight on."
Lee Sungmin explained the things he felt while fighting with the ogre. Listening to that quietly, Kim Jonghyun nodded his ehad.
"Does this help you at all?"
"It's better than not listening to it."
Kim Jonghyun giggled and grabbed the ogre's guts.
"It was a helpful story. Although people say that the corpse contains a lot of information, that isn't usually the case with chimeras. The moment the chimera dies, the magic cast on it is dispelled."
The tangled large intestines opened. Lee Sungmin took a few steps back with a frown.
"Ogres are classified as top predators. However, that doesn't mean that they are capable of receiving a full power attack from a peak-level expert frontally. Although they do have regenerative capabilities, that doesn't mean they can regenerate an eye in one minute. This helped out a lot."
Lee Sungmin looked at Kim Jonghyun that said that. After a while, he opened his mouth again.
"What were you trying to say last time?"
"Oh, oooh? Oh… it's nothing."
Kim Jonghyun made a mysterious smile.
"You. You are twisted."
"The laws of cause and effect is twisted around you. Are you aware of that?"
Lee Sungmin's expression stiffened after hearing that. A being with twisted cause and effect. The ones that noticed this about him were only Msh and the mediators of Erebrisa.
"…How did you know?"
"So you did know. Wow, this is amazing. If I was in your state, I would have despaired and gone crazy."
Kim Jonghyun giggled. He took a few steps back and waved his hands. Two chairs flew from the corner and landed near the two of them.
"Would you like to drink something? There's coffee, red tea, and even green tea."
"No… it's fine."
He didn't feel like drinking. "Despaired and gone crazy". These words nagged his mind. Kim Jonghyun made a dry laugh seeing that Lee Sungmin was frighteningly staring at him.
"Who told you?"
Asked Kim Jonghyun while crossing his legs. Although he did offer, he didn't drink anything either.
"Aha. The god in the mountain of trial and suffering. So you trained in Msh's mountain?"
"Okay. How many years?"
"Is that important?"
"No, it was a personal curiosity of mine. You don't have to answer. Yes. So… did Msh tell you? That the cause and effect has been twisted?"
"Do you understand about him?"
Being asked that by Kim Jonghyun, Sungmin took a deep breath and replied.
"He told me that I would suffer for eternity after my death."
"Such an unkind explanation."
Kim Jonghyun giggled again.
"Can you tell me why the cause and effect have been twisted?"
"And if I talk about it?"
"I will be able to reply to what you are curious about."
"I cannot trust you."
"I can swear. I shall absolutely not talk about what I've heard from you to anyone else. This is an oath of a mage to the great mana, and cannot be reversed. If I do, I'll die."
Kim Jonghyun spoke as though it was nothing. As he said that, blue mana swirled around his body. An oath to mana. Lee Sungmin knew about this as well. Mages that walk on the path of magic cannot go against that oath. Lee Sungmin stared at Kim Jonghyun for a while before speaking.
"…I have died once. I have died, and I have returned."
"Do you mean you went back in time?"
"So that's why the cause and effect have been twisted. Well, of course. Birth, living, and death. This is the first rule that makes up the world as well as being the most fundamental cause and effect. All existences are bound by this cause and effect."
Tap. Kim Jonghyun tapped on the armrest of his chair.
"This doesn't only apply to life forms. It's like that for the chair below me as well. A carpenter creates a chair. It is used as a chair, and it is broken. That, is also cause and effect."
Kim Jonghyun's lips curved into a smile.
"What do you think needs to be done for a broken chair to return to its normal state?"
"Correct. However, will that fixed chair really be the same chair? Repairing the broken part, hammering new nails - in this process, the chair would become a completely different chair altogether. Even a chair is like this. Then what of life? A dead human returning to the past… is the act against the most fundamental law of the world. Acting against cause and effect causes it to be twisted. This becomes karma that the soul gathers."
Lee Sungmin listened to Kim Jonghyun's words silently. His voice now sounded excited.
"All karma are accounted after death. What Msh said is the truth, but he didn't explain enough. It won't end with just suffering. Oh, not that I know what kind of suffering you will go through."
"That's nothing different from what Msh said."
"It's not like I've died. Mortals can absolutely not know about the afterlife. Well… the study of magic is the pursuit of truth at the extremes of nonsense, so if a mage glimpses at the truth, they might be able to come to a realization about the afterlife and other things that are not allowed for mortals… but if they do, then they must be a sage that has transcended the archmagic realm."
However, Kim Jonghyun laughed. He glanced at Lee Sungmin's face before continuing.
"If all you've heard from Msh is that your cause and effect has been twisted, I have other things to tell you."
"…And what would that be?"
"You are strange."
Kim Jonghyun's eyes narrowed.
"Not only are your cause and effect twisted, but also…."
Also, also, also.
Kim Jonghyun's last word strangely lengthened out and echoed. Lee Sungmin raised his hand to block his left ear. When he panicked, Kim Jonghyun's mouth became shut. Blinking several times, Kim Jonghyun shrugged his shoulders.
"I cannot say."
Kim Jonghyun made a bitter smile while saying that. Lee Sungmin became absent minded at those words.
"What do you mean by that?"
"If I say it, I will die."
Saying that, Kim Jonghyun stood up.
"W, wait. What do you mean by that?"
"I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say this or not."
"Your life may not be yours anymore."
Those words were mysterious in meaning. Naturally, Lee Sungmin didn't understand any of it. When he was about to ask again, Kim Jonghyun raised his hand to stop him.
"Will you find me again next time?"
It was a polite request.
"I also am very confused, and need time to organize my thoughts."
"…I cannot understand."
Kim Jonghyun made a bitter smile.
"However, this is the absolute truth. If I do say it, I will die. I do not want to die. At least right now."
Saying that, Kim Jonghyun took a deep breath.
"Please find me again next time."