“F-father?” Gi-Gyu whispered, trying to control his growing confusion. Why had his father appeared out of the blue?

For the first time, Gi-Gyu had addressed Kronos as Father.

Kronos smiled warmly and replied, “Thank you for still calling me ‘Father.’”

Gi-Gyu remained quiet, and Kronos didn’t approach him. An awkward silence fell until they heard a sudden shaking.

“Lou?” Lou, in his ring form, was shaking.

And El quickly transformed into her human form and warned Kronos, “Do not get any closer.”

El had always taken Gi-Gyu’s permission before taking her human form; this time, she had skipped this show of obedience. She was now aiming her sword at Kronos with a threatening glare.

“I can see that you have made some good friends,” Kronos commented with a smile.

Gi-Gyu asked, “Are you really my father?”

Even as he spoke, Gi-Gyu wasn’t certain how he should address the man. Should he continue to call him “Father?” Or was Kronos more apposite? The man looked like his father, but Gi-Gyu had no memories of him.

“That’s right. I am Kronos… And, I am also Yoo-Jung’s and your father, and Lee Su-Jin’s husband.”

“Ha.” Gi-Gyu didn’t know what else to say. Just what was happening here? Even his new and improved brain couldn’t come up with an answer regardless of how hard he thought.

Lou growled,

-I’m going to kill you…

Gi-Gyu could understand why Lou was furious. All this time, Lou had pretended to be calm, as no one had expected to meet Kronos so soon. However, given Lou’s personality, Gi-Gyu knew Lou would erupt if Kronos ever appeared before him. After all, Kronos was the one who had dethroned Lou, the arrogant former king of hell. Lou’s fury was so intense that it even affected Gi-Gyu’s emotions.

“Ugh…” Gi-Gyu groaned as he tried to control his feelings. He begged, “Lou… stop…”

-I’m… going… to… kill… you.

Lou didn’t budge an inch; soon, a bit of smoke wafted out from one of Gi-Gyu’s rings.

“Lou?” Gi-Gyu gasped in surprise since Lou had never used Death without Gi-Gyu’s help before. A single wrong move could result in Lou exploding. His confusion at seeing his father, Lou’s hatred, and El’s anxiety combined to overwhelm him.

El ordered firmly, “Lou! Control yourself! This isn’t the time for this! Please don’t get too agitated!”

Shockingly, Lou’s fury subsided instantly, and the uncomfortable silence returned.

Lou muttered,

-I see… That’s not the real thing. There is no reason for me to get angry. I can’t believe what an idiot I am… I couldn’t even tell that it was just a fake. I guess… my fury was greater than I thought.

Lou finally stopped shaking and added,

-I have embarrassed myself.

“Lou. You have the right to feel what you feel. But we must figure out this situation first.” El consoled Lou before turning toward Kronos again. After a few seconds, she faced Gi-Gyu and asked, “Master. This man is Kronos, but he isn’t either. Please don’t let your guard down.”

It seemed that El had figured something out because she sheathed her sword and took a step back.

Kronos shrugged and announced, “I guess we can finally chat, Son.”

Gi-Gyu was still confused, but he had enough brain to think now. He calmed down his hyperactive emotions and replied, “If you want me to keep calling you ‘Father,’ I need some answers.”

***

“I’m sure you haven’t received your reward properly yet. I stopped the time before it could happen.” Kronos waved his hand, and a long table—like the ones seen in western palaces—and two chairs appeared. The chairs were located at each end of the table.

“Have a seat,” Kronos offered.

However, Gi-Gyu only looked at him.

As if Kronos had read Gi-Gyu’s thoughts, he added, “I can see that you want me to explain myself…”

With a curt nod, Kronos continued, “I have obtained control over this space. Here, I am above Gaia. That is why I can do anything while I’m here.”

Kronos waved his hand as a magician would.

Gi-Gyu’s eyes widened. All Kronos had done was wave his hand, yet the changes that had occurred were incredible. A mountain of crystals had appeared before them. In the modern world, crystals were another form of currency. Yet, in this space, they were littered everywhere like common stones.

Kronos smiled bitterly and asked, “Are you surprised? In this place, I…”

He sat down before finishing his sentence, “Am like God.”

Kronos raised his hand again and made the second chair slide toward Gi-Gyu.

With a nod, Gi-Gyu sat down and asked warily, “What did you mean by I haven’t received my reward properly yet?”

Kronos replied, “I blocked Gaia from rewarding you after you passed the test. Didn’t you think it was odd that you couldn’t remember getting the reward? And that you felt exhausted?”

When Kronos waved again, food appeared on the table. Gi-Gyu had never seen these dishes before. He picked up the knife and the fork to begin enjoying the food.

Kronos explained, “I took away Gaia’s authority here and stopped time. Don’t worry, though. Once our conversation is over, you will receive the reward you deserve. What I did was get us a bit of time to chat.”

Kronos took a bite of something Gi-Gyu had never seen before and added, “It’s nice that I finally get to have a meal with my son.”

Gi-Gyu didn’t know how to respond to this. So instead, he asked, “As I said before… I need an explanation. I am not even certain if you’re really my father. You just look like him, that’s it. How do I know if this isn’t just another test? What if this is my enemy playing a trick on me?”

Kronos’s eyes widened in surprise. “All right. I understand. What is it that you want to know?”

“You died.” Gi-Gyu directly said. “You died from an accident. That same accident caused my mother an untreatable injury. You died, and that’s the truth. So, how could the real you possibly be before me?”

Clack.

Kronos put down his utensils and replied, “You’re lying.” His face turned slightly rigid as he muttered, “I know your mother recovered thanks to you. She was healed with the elixir you brought her. Am I wrong? I’m assuming you’re asking these questions to see if I know your current situation.”

Kronos was definitely correct in his assumption. Gi-Gyu was curious to see if the man knew about things happening in the outside world.

‘And he knows.’ Gi-Gyu thought in awe. Kronos knew Gi-Gyu had succeeded in healing his mother. This meant…

“If you’ve been watching us… Why didn’t you do anything to help? Mother was in such pain, and I was suffering too. I had to give up my childhood to take care of our family… So what were you doing all this time?”

Kronos only gave Gi-Gyu a bitter smile. After a long silence, he murmured, “Would you believe me if I said I couldn’t help? That I had no choice?”

Kronos’ voice had turned a little warmer and kinder, but…

Gi-Gyu muttered, “You aren’t my father.”

If this man was his real father…

If he had loved his family at all…

He should have apologized instead of making up an excuse. This was what Gi-Gyu wanted—an apology from his father.

Gi-Gyu continued angrily, “Even if you are really my father, I can’t accept you. I still remember the rancor with which you looked at me. So don’t pretend like you care. Don’t try to act like my father now. You’re just…”

Drop.

Gi-Gyu was surprised to find tears rolling down his cheeks. Why was he crying? Why was he sad?

What was it that he had expected from his father?

Gi-Gyu wiped away his tears and whispered, “You just took the form of the father I have been desperate for. Am I wrong?”

Gi-Gyu continued to stare at Kronos, never looking away. His eyes no longer wavered, as they were filled with determination.

“You’re right,” Kronos finally replied. Something had also changed in his eyes. They looked calmer as if they were void of all emotions. “But I need to tell you one thing. The Kronos who married Lee Su-Jin and had you and Yoo-Jung was me, but not me either.”

Gi-Gyu’s face crumpled in confusion, but Kronos ignored it and clapped his hands. He announced, “I’m sure you can figure it out. Take some time to think about it.”

Suddenly, the table disappeared, and Kronos and Gi-Gyu found themselves standing.

Kronos explained, “I think this is the end of our father-son dinner. We don’t have much time left. Gaia found a way into this place.”

Kronos continued as if he was briefing Gi-Gyu, “You are the only one who can solve this problem. The world has become twisted due to God’s absence, my arrogance, and Gaia’s obsession.”

Kronos seemed self-deprecating as he added, “Everything has been ruined in this world. The only one who can stop it and bring back order is you, my Son.”

Gi-Gyu remained quiet.

Kronos seemed to be thinking quickly as he offered, “Since we don’t have much time, I can’t answer your questions. But I will tell you about the things you were curious about. The missing pieces in the memories you have.”

Kronos slowly walked up to Gi-Gyu, who didn’t flinch away. Kronos explained, “Gaia not only gained God’s power but that of Chaos and all the dimensions. She even took my Scythe of Time.”

Kronos got closer to Gi-Gyu as he continued, “The plan was for me to take all the powers to become God and rule the world. God had always been an apathetic bystander. I believed that Gaia and I, who had human emotions, could turn the world for the better. Something cleaner and more beautiful… That was what we believed.”

“That’s it?” Gi-Gyu asked in suspicion.

Kronos came even closer as he answered, “No, that’s not all. There is a backstory to this, but I can’t tell you that right now. All I can tell you is what I am allowed to tell you. Anyway, to my disbelief, Gaia went against my plan. Instead of directing all the powers to me, she swallowed the whole thing and began controlling Babel.”

Gi-Gyu nodded, and Kronos added, “It was clear that I miscalculated. I should’ve known that someone who was nothing more than one of God’s many creations couldn’t control Chaos and the entire world.”

Kronos was now so close that Gi-Gyu could touch him if he reached out. Kronos continued, “Everything became humbled, and she lost her humanity. She became both God and Chaos.”

“...?”

“She is both God and Chaos, which is exactly why she did what she did.”

Kronos slowly reached out toward Gi-Gyu. As he grabbed Gi-Gyu’s wrist, he whispered, “She recreated the world with the power she obtained.”

The wrist Kronos had grabbed was the one with the watch.

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