“But, I don’t have a lot to say, though?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon’s eyes began gleaming as soon as he received a signal from Seo Ah-Young.
“We really didn’t want to ask you for the details until now, but I can’t help but feel that this might be a good time to tell us the truth.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“But, why should I?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“With the close bond and trust we share, don’t you think that we deserve to know that kind of secret already?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tilted his head.
“Really?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Now normally, when being struck by a straight drive like this, one would become a bit embarrassed and start spilling some beans, but this guy, he….
Choi Jung-Hoon received a pretty powerful counterpunch, but he still didn’t back down from the challenge.
If it was concerning Yi Ji-Hyuk, even the timing of his bathroom breaks held the potential to become an important information.
More information equalled power!
Choi Jung-Hoon was a man who’d never give up.
“Besides, it’s not a big secret, is it?!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“And who are you to decide that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Let’s be honest here. With your personality, Mister Yi Ji-Hyuk, you wouldn’t hold any big secrets to begin with, anyway.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
What the heck is up with this guy? Why does it feel like he knows me better than I do?
What could be this feeling? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
Sensing this inexplicable chill run down his backside, Yi Ji-Hyuk cautiously took a few steps back.
“Well, yeah. Sure, it’s not that important a story anyways….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Since it’s not important, please just tell us.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk spat out a groan.
Now that he thought about it, he hadn’t told them simply because there was no real need to. It wasn’t as if he was thinking of hiding stuff that happened back in Berafe from these people anyway.
“In that case, some people should vacate the premises.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Why should some people vacate the premises? (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
“Only those with high enough security clearance will remain and the rest will have to leave.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Is my story that important? Really?
I treated it as nothing much to fret over just now, you know?
This is going to put me in a spot, don’t you see that!! (Yi Ji-Hyuk’s inner monologue)
And so…. Yi Ji-Hyuk swept his gaze around the remaining folks inside the conference room, and his expression crumpled unhappily. (TL: I didn’t make a mistake here; the raw did say the conference room. No idea when they changed from the office….)
“What the heck….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Fine, Choi Jung-Hoon and Seo Ah-Young can be here. Fine.
Well, if I’m to be generous, then I can acknowledge Doh Gah-Yun being here, too.
All good. So….
“Why are you here, then?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He could not acknowledge Jeong Hae-Min as someone falling into the ‘Important People’ category!
How could she be considered as important?!
She was just a dang shuttle!
“But, but! Why not! Don’t you know that I’ve spent ages in this place? My rank is pretty high, you know?!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“You shouldn’t have spent fake ages in here but real ages outside, which might have helped you grow a bit taller. What a missed opportunity that was….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk shoved away the madly-rushing Jeong Hae-Min’s forehead and continued to speak.
“Why are you all acting as if my story is going to be incredible or something?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Well, honestly, if it’s concerning only up to what happened until now, it’s not. Not really.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Okay, so what’s with all this fuss, then?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“She’s the actual problem. Miss Affeldrichae.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“What about her?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon quietly stared at Yi Ji-Hyuk for a bit before speaking his mind.
“She’s not from this world, is she?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“There’s something about her that doesn’t quite feel right. She definitely possesses the appearance of a human being, yet she’s not a human from this place. No, hang on. Is she even a human being to begin with?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
‘Well, aren’t you a sharp customer?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk stared back at Choi Jung-Hoon and lightly chuckled.
Indeed, this man should not be taken lightly. If he happened to possess a special ability, then what might have happened? One could only wonder.
‘Should I teach him magic or something?’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
If there was a way to procure a supply of Mana in this place, then he might be very tempted to teach Choi Jung-Hoon the ways of wielding magic. By force if he had to. He looked like he’d do well, too.
“So what?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
When Yi Ji-Hyuk subtly changed the direction of the conversation, Choi Jung-Hoon steered it back on course.
“If it was until now, then it doesn’t really matter what you’ve been up to to and where you’ve been. However…. Miss Affeldrichae is related somehow to the period of time you’ve gone missing, isn’t that right?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Well, yeah.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk acknowledged the truth without a fuss. Even if he wanted to deny it now, it wouldn’t work anyways, and he didn’t feel like hiding anything either.
Well, it’s not like he had done anything wrong, no?
“In that case, the existences from the world you’ve been to are entering our planet, so don’t you think that we might be able to defend ourselves better if we possess at least some information related to that world?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“And when did I ever say I’ve been to another world?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“It’s a simple guess work when considering the existences coming over to this side, as well as your ability to open up Gates.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“I wonder, have you heard of the old saying about smart people dying first?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….Let’s pretend that I haven’t heard it.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“But, that’s wrong, you know? I think you should really hear it, though?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk cackled ominously before opening his mouth again.
“Well, it’s not like I’ve something to hide, anyways. That’s right, I’ve been to another world.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“I knew it!!” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Choi Jung-Hoon nodded his head.
“By any chance, is there a difference in the time scale between here and over there?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“The time scale, is it…. It’s not the exact same meaning, but sure, the flow of time is different.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Just like the place that our agents had been to, in other words.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
In that case, that meant that Yi Ji-Hyuk had spent far longer than five years in the other world.
However, when considering that, why did he look younger than his actual age?
Choi Jung-Hoon swept his gaze all over Yi Ji-Hyuk one more time.
He looked so young when kitted out in that trademark attire of his, the ‘Sam-didas’ hoodie and the blue tracksuit. (TL: Sam-didas – Korean slang for hoodies with Adidas logo on them)
No, even disregarding those, Yi Ji-Hyuk’s face looked rather young for his age. Didn’t Choi Jung-Hoon mistake him for a high school student when he first ran into the youth?
Without a doubt, he must’ve spent a long, long time over that side, yet Yi Ji-Hyuk’s face looked so young. Could this be that weird reverse age thing from the movie, Benjamin something-something?
Could Yi Ji-Hyuk’s real age be somewhere near 100 years old?
“Oh, uh, by the way….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Yeah?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“How long did you spend over that side before coming back here?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk scratched his head. This one was a bit more troublesome to answer.
“Well, I’d say, approximately….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Yes?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Like, say, a country falls several times, gets rebuilt again, and then falls again – something like that?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
What a hard-to-understand roundabout way to say things.
So, if a country falls several times, then…..
In the era of civil wars, something like that would’ve happened every handful of years, so it’s a bit hard to grasp, isn’t it? (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue)
“How about something a bit more concrete?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
Yi Ji-Hyuk scratched his head again, and made his reply.
“How about, the landscape changing one hundred times?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
….Let’s see. Ten years going on for a hundred times is…. (Choi Jung-Hoon’s inner monologue) (TL: A Korean idiom at play here. The rough translation of the idiom goes along the line of “Ten years is enough to transform the landscape”)
Choi Jung-Hoon shot right up from his seat.
“Mm?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
He then bowed his waist 90 degrees and re-greeted Yi Ji-Hyuk.
“I see that I’ve been too rude to you.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“What the heck?! Why are you doing this?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Well, you’re of a very advanced age, after all.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“That’s not it!! No freaking ways!! Who’re you trying to turn into a geezer here?!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
And here he was, feeling really depressed about being that old and all….
Suddenly, the corners of Yi Ji-Hyuk’s eyes became very wet.
My mind’s still in the teens, you know!! In the teens!!
He was feeling very wronged after being dragged to another world only to go through thousand-plus years of hardship, yet to be treated like an old geezer because of his weird age situation!!
“But, still….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Why don’t we show our IDs, then?! Our IDs, man!!” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Confronted by Yi Ji-Hyuk’s vociferous resistance, all Choi Jung-Hoon could do was to smack his lips.
“Well, in that case, let’s just say you’re in your twenties.” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Let’s do that. Please….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Yi Ji-Hyuk tightly grasped the area near his heart. This must’ve been the worst mental damage he had received so far since his return home.
“….What are you two even talking about?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Having utterly failed to understand, Jeong Hae-Min simply tilted her head this way and that.
‘What a pure-brained girl she is.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Ng? What is it?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Nope. Never mind.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
There was no real need to put it into words here. Being ‘pure’ was a rather precious thing all on its own, after all.
“Well, in any case. So, you’ve spent a long, long time on the other side before coming back, am I right so far?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Yup.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon became speechless.
Every now and then, Yi Ji-Hyuk came across as a wily old fox who had experienced all sorts of hardships and situations, but to think, he’d actually survived for over a thousand years.
‘No, hang on a minute here. It’s not exactly a thousand years, either.’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)
If a human being lived for that long, would he ‘become’ like this guy?
Although it kinda felt like secrets hidden behind that brain-with-holes had been revealed to some extent, and that certainly was cathartic, yet….
‘To spend a thousand years in another world….’ (Choi Jung-Hoon)
When he thought about how incredibly awful that must’ve been, not one word wanted to come out of Choi Jung-Hoon’s mouth.
A person would suffer from homesickness just by going to another district. And a human would suddenly transform into a patriot as soon as stepping foot in another country.
But this guy was stuck in another world altogether.
To spend a thousand years in that place, just how much pain and loneliness did he had to live with?
Choi Jung-Hoon thought that his brain was melting just from imagining it.
“So, that was why….” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Eh?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
There were times when Yi Ji-Hyuk came across as legitimately terrifying.
And no, it was not because he possessed enough power to destroy this world, but solely because it felt like something unimaginably scary was hiding in that head of his.
As it turned out, that feeling actually had some basis after all.
Humans would learn through continued experience.
….Regarding how scary and terrifying the existences called other humans could be.
If he got to experience that for a thousand years, then just how many times did he get to see the countless evils hiding in men’s heart until now?
Seeing Choi Jung-Hoon that speechless, Yi Ji-Hyuk began feeling this weird sensation. How should he go about describing it?
It was like, he spent an enjoyable Christmas with his family and took several selfies together, only for them to start bawling their eyes out while looking at the photos, something like that!
What was this? Why were his eyes moistening up like this?
“So, when did you cross over? Perhaps, during the Black Monday?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Yes, well. I think it’s around that time. I don’t know what that Black whatever thing is but… Well. After I got dragged there and somehow came back home, I’ve been told of Gates opening up here and there on that day.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Choi Jung-Hoon’s frowns deepened.
If this was the case, then did that mean the Gates were not one-way but actually a two-way street?
“By any chance, could another person have been dragged there along with you?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“I don’t know about that. But… Mm, I guess it’s possible.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
There was no reason why something special like that would happen only to Yi Ji-Hyuk, so there should be others who had experienced something similar as well out there.
Of course, if there were anyone among them who managed to make it back alive, then…..
‘Asking for too much there, isn’t it.’ (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Even Yi Ji-Hyuk had to spend over a thousand years there, and fought against gods in order to earn his way back home.
Could anyone else do something similar like that?
Yi Ji-Hyuk knew it very well.
His soul and his body getting ‘fixed’ into an unchanging state was not something that would happen as a matter of course. No, it only happened after one coincidence after another piled up on top of each other.
If one’s state got fixed whenever crossing over the worlds, then monsters crossing over should’ve become the undying immortal existences by now.
Meaning, Yi Ji-Hyuk was definitely a special case. If not, he’d have become monster snack the moment he crossed over. Even if someone got lucky and appeared near where people lived, just how bad were the odds of surviving the next three years in that place?
“Yep, it’d be too difficult.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Pardon?” (Choi Jung-Hoon)
“Nope, never mind.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
Jeong Hae-Min had been listening on the side and tilted her head again.
“Okay, so, like, you went to another world that’s different from this one?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Yup.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“….But, why haven’t you said anything?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Was there a need to?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“No, well, not really, but…. It’d been nicer if you did….” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“Why would it be?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
As if she found the whole situation lamentable, she couldn’t continue on with her words.
Yi Ji-Hyuk looked at her and snorted once.
“It’s only because I have power now that I’m standing here all fine and the like. Imagine if it was some other schmuck who went to another world and came back! He would’ve been dragged to some shady place by the government and got dissected by now.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“But, that’s not true at all, though?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Jeong Hae-Min stared at Yi Ji-Hyuk as if she was looking at a pathetic fool and accessed internet right away – then, clicked on the interview footage that came up at the top of the search results.
In the footage, a young man was giving a press conference while surrounded by countless microphones.[Is it true that you have returned from another world?] [Yes, that is true.] [How long did you spent in another world?] [I think it must’ve been twenty years or so.] [But, are you aware that it’s only been five years this side?] [The flow of time is different in that side.]
Yi Ji-Hyuk stared at the screen with a pair of dazed eyes.
“…What is this?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“He’s a guy who’s the hottest trending topic right now – the man who returned from another world. He’s being inundated with all sorts of interview and filming requests, not to mention every talent agency worth their salt is trying to recruit him, too. He’s like, garnering as much attention as the biggest celebrities out there, you know?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Yi Ji-Hyuk’s hands began trembling.
“….Why isn’t he getting dissected?” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Just what kind of world do you think we’re living in now?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Jeong Hae-Min stared at Yi Ji-Hyuk with criticising eyes.
“And besides, if it happened in Korea, wouldn’t such a case be under the jurisdiction of the KSF?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“You think these guys would do something like that?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Yi Ji-Hyuk powerlessly plopped down in his seat.
“In that case, just what have I been worried about….” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
The sweat drops of the mind began flowing again.
Yup, the sweat drops of the mind….
Choi Jung-Hoon groaned under his breath as Yi Ji-Hyuk held his head in his hands while both of his shoulders trembled sorrowfully.
Living for a thousand years or not, a dumba*s would always remain a dumba*s.
A woman’s voice that sounded higher than most.
A voice so sensuous that clung onto one’s sense resounded throughout the dark and dank chamber.
Although her voice was capable of seducing anyone who heard it, all those who did hear it could only bow their heads while their bodies shook around like a lone leaf against the stormy winds.
“The, the 99th Demon King…. We have located him.”
“Who, did, you, say, it, was?” (?)
When she stood up, the whole world began to quake in fear.
A pair of long horns on her head.
A pair of long wings sprouting from her shoulders.
And her jet-black hair that seemed to suck in everything.
A black leotard that tightly clung onto her dangerously voluptuous figure.
In contrast, skin so pale as if it was frozen in ice.
And finally, the only part with a colour that was neither black nor white – her lips as red as the fresh blood.
Her lips parted ever so slightly, then her stunningly seductive tongue snaked out and licked her lips slowly.
“Oh, our dear Demon King!!”
“So, that’s where you’ve been hiding, Yi Ji-Hyuk!!” (?)
She was the 13th Demon King.
Her pitch-black eyes became a shade darker still.
< 125. A guy who’s not blessed can’t achieve anything -5 > Fin.