(TL: I tried to self-edit this chapter. Let me know if you spot any mistakes. Thanks.)
“Hey, didn’t the first sergeant look p*ssed off earlier?” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“Yes, he was angry at the messed-up state of the barracks.” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
“D*mn, he’s so bloody uptight, man.” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
Sergeant Park Hyeong-Seok grumbled unhappily and stared at the heavens above.
Like how it always had been for him, the time seriously didn’t want to shift for him. He only had two more months till his discharge, yet those two months felt as long as two thousand years to him.
“Hah, this is bullsh*t. I’m almost done with this crap, too. So why….?” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“Eii~, you still have two months left on the clock, so you aren’t really ‘almost done’, you know.” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
“Hey, you punk. I’m telling you, you’ll drown to death in the length of time I had to spend in this d*mn place.” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“But, if you really did spend all that time as you say, sergeant, you wouldn’t be in one piece like this, though?” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
Park Hyeong-Seok chuckled in disbelief.
“Ha, would you listen to this punk? You said I’m not done yet, but you’re trying to get back at me as if I am, aren’t you?” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“Let’s say you’re half-way done, sergeant. It’s about time you let go of the stuff you can let go, but you have some time left on your clock so you still gotta do things you have to do.” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
“Wanna die?” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“Eiii~, no reason to become serious like that, sir.” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
Park Hyeong-Seok was really tempted to kick the a*s of Corporal Yi Byeong-Tae and his glib mouth, but in the end, held himself back.
Getting caught fooling around inside the guard post they were manning wouldn’t just end with them being reprimanded. If he ended up getting thrown into the brig, that would only delay him going home by a few more days.
He was already thinking that each passing day was as long as one hundred years, so there wouldn’t be a worse punishment than that.
“Uh-whew, time really ain’t flying here.” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“But, aren’t you going home in two months’ time? I haven’t even climbed up to the Sergeant yet, you know.” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
“Hey, you punk. Me getting out of this place before seeing you become a sergeant is my life’s sole consolation. Urgh, how can I even stand the sight of you becoming one?!” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“But, if things work out well, you might really see it happen, though. Why don’t you stay in the army for a little while longer?” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
“You. You, come see me the first thing when you get back to the barracks later.” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“Please spare me.” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
Park Hyeong-Seong smirked and stared outside the guard post.
Without them shooting the breeze like this, there was no way he’d endure the boredom of manning this place.
“By the way, what are those idiots on the other side thinking about?” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“You mean, our North Korean counterparts, sergeant?” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
“I already feel sick to my stomach thinking about spending two years in the army, but how long they were supposed to stay? Was it ten years?” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“That’s what I heard.” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
“Wowsers. So, when you enter in your early twenties, you come out in your thirties? Isn’t that like, turning a young bachelor into an uncle?” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“What a horrifying thing that is.” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
“If we were born slightly up north, that might have been our fate, too. You should be thankful that we were born in this country.” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
Yi Byeong-Tae nodded his head in agreement.
“By the way, Sergeant. Is it true that they often provoked us pretty viciously in the past? And even fired weapons at our guard posts?” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
“Right, yeah, I heard about that, too.” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“All of that stopped dead after Gates showed up, or so I heard, sir.” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
“True.” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“Does that mean these Gates are contributing towards the peace of the Korean Peninsula?” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
“You crazy fool, stop spouting bullsh*t.” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
Park Hyeong-Seok shook his head.
Post-Black Monday, North Korea’s provocations that happened often like some kind of a planned annual event almost completely came to a stop. However, it was bloody obvious why.
Gates randomly opened up everywhere. It didn’t care about its host nation’s strength. So, countries boasting huge territories like Russia, China, America or even Canada were saddled with an incredible amount of burden right now.
Nations like South Korea or Japan with comparatively smaller territories than others didn’t suffer as much burden of the “Gate problem”.
The North Korean situation was a bit unique, however.
Even if not as many Gates opened up, they still proved to be a considerable headache for North Korea.
Because of the huge gap in national power, the pressure the North Korean government felt when dealing with a Gate was far heavier than that of what South Koreans felt when facing a similar sized portal.
That was their current situation, so after the Gates appeared, the North Koreans had to stop their provocations almost completely, and that’s how both countries were enjoying a period of peace and calm never seen before in the peninsula’s history.
“Those bast*rds are also suffering pretty h….” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
Yi Byeong-Tae couldn’t finish his sentence and shut his mouth, instead.
“What’s wrong now?” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“First Sergeant Park.” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
“Say it, you punk.” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“What are those?” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
“Ng?” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
Park Hyeong-Seok stared at Yi Byeong-Tae with a questioning look on his face.
“Can’t you see that, sir?” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
“See what?” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
Yi Byeong-Tae raised his hand and pointed to the distant location in front of the guard post.
Park Hyeong-Seok had been manning this particular post for several months already. So, quite obviously, the view in front of his eyes was intimately familiar to him. However, something rather unfamiliar had intruded upon that familiar view now.
They were very ‘blue’ portals.
A gigantic doorway, as reflective as a mirror’s surface, was caught in his eyes as clearly as day.
“….F*ck me.” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
Park Hyeong-Seok spat out a curse word even before he noticed it.
If his eyes were functioning properly, and also, if he and Yi Byeong-Tae weren’t hallucinating at the same time, then for bloody sure, a d*mn Gate has just materialised in front of their eyes.
“It’s not just one, so what the….” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
From the nearest place, to a location some distance away. Even at a casual glance, there were nearly ten Gates here, utterly filling up his vision.
“Call the HQ on the radio.” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
“….What should I tell them?” (Yi Byeong-Tae)
Park Hyeong-Seok smirked and addressed his junior.
“What do you mean, what? Dumb*ss.” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
There was only one thing anyone could say in a situation like this one.
“Tell them we’re screwed.” (Park Hyeong-Seok)
Like a soldier manning a guard post, Oh-Sik stood by the entrance of the house with a stiff, alert posture. His previously-empty side was filled by his new mate, Oh-Sun. (TL: pronounced as “Oh-Soon.”)
These two were no bigger than small pet dogs so them standing at attention like that didn’t look threatening at all. They just looked cute as buttons, instead. So much so that if some passersby saw the duo, they would whip out their phones and snap some photos out of sheer cuteness of it all.
However, Oh-Sik just couldn’t feel at ease.
The worst threat ever to face him after crossing over to this world was now upon him, that was why.
Oh-Sik managed to eke out a sorrowful whimper.
He could at least whimper like that only because he was a high-ranking creature; Oh-Sun next to him couldn’t even breathe properly and was frozen stiff like a stone statue.
Oh-Sik let out yet another sorrowful whimper.
It was already unfair to run into Yi Ji-Hyuk in this world. However, he thought that he’d be able to adopt and survive somehow.
A demon king showed up.
Every hair on Oh-Sik’s body stood up from the thick, heavy demonic aura of a demon king he felt on his back.
To a demonic beast like him, the existence called ‘demon king’ was an absolute being. Sure, he did try to attack one earlier due to the slave seal planted in him. That was only possible because he was in a berserk state where he had lost his reasoning. But normally, a demon king was an even more frightful figure than a grim reaper to a creature like him.
Well, a reaper would simply take you to hell, but the demon king inside the house was someone who’d not let you enjoy a quiet, painless death, you see.
Oh-Sik’s head dropped low to the ground.
Out of so many demon kings in existence, why did it have to be the thirteenth one?
Her infamy was a pretty well-known topic in the demon world. Even the most high-and-mighty, top-of-the-food-chain demonic creatures would all start wetting themselves the moment they saw the 13th demon king and grovel on the floor right away.
But now, such a being was staying in the house, and Oh-Sik was the guard ‘protecting’ such a house.
Moisture welled up in his eyes.
I am Oh-Sik, the one who climbed up to the position of the Ogre Lord in that perilous, tough demon world with nothing but my own power. Yet why can’t I catch a break in this world? (Oh-Sik’s inner monologue)
His sorrowful whimper reverberated throughout the front yard of the house once more.
“…Hey you, what’s wrong with you?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Oh-Sik raised his head. Even before he had noticed it, a group of humans with Jeong Hae-Min as its centre was standing before him.
Was it okay to let them through?
Oh-Sik pondered deeply about this before raising his front paw to point at the intercom.
“….I should call inside?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Jeong Hae-Min felt somewhat mystified by the fact that she was actually talking to a dog. Of course she knew that Oh-Sik was not an actual dog, but the resemblance was so uncanny that she couldn’t help but feel like she was conversing with one here.
“Ng, okay.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Without saying anything else, she pressed the intercom.
– “Who is it?” (Park Seon-Deok)
“Mother, it’s me, Jeong Hae-Min. I came with Ji-Hyuk’s work colleagues.”
– “Mm, alright. Please come inside.” (Park Seon-Deok)
The front door was unlocked.
Jeong Hae-Min sucked in deep breaths and looked behind her. The elites of the NDF, including Choi Jeong-Hoon and Seo Ah-Young, were standing there.
She nodded her head and prepared to enter the house.
It had been about three days since the demon king Erukana settled in Yi Ji-Hyuk’s home. He had not come to work in the meantime, so they came here to confirm with their own eyes if something had happened between him and her.
“Let’s go in.” (Choi Jeong-Hoon)
Choi Jeong-Hoon looked like he didn’t want to enter first, simply choosing to urge Jeong Hae-Min, instead.
“Alright.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
With a determined look on her face, she nodded her head. She had half-way lost her mind after realising what had happened on that day, but today, she was finished with organising her thoughts.
Regardless of what was what, it was not her style to back off like this. Indeed, one should back off only after causing a proper scene first.
“We’re going in.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
She took another deep breath and pushed the unlocked door to walk into the living room.
“Ng??” (Jeong Hae-Min)
But after setting her foot inside, she was greeted by a rather strange sight.
Whenever she stopped by in this house before, she’d always find Yi Ji-Hyuk submerged in his computer game, or lounging on the floor hoovering up whatever snack he could find.
However, his condition today was somewhat different.
Sporting a gaunt, pale face, he was sitting on the couch with his knees pressed against his chest like some sort of a mental patient.
“Ji-Hyuk-ah?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
He slowly shifted his face and stared at her with eyes decorated by thick dark circles.
“S-shorty…..” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Who the hell is a shorty?!” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Although she got triggered for a moment there, she did feel a pang of pity for him after seeing how gaunt he had become in only three days.
“What’s wrong with you?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“P-please, save me.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“Ng?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
“I’m gonna go insane first at this rate.” (Yi Ji-Hyuk)
“What are you talking about?” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Without saying anything else, Yi Ji-Hyuk raised his finger to point in a certain direction. Jeong Hae-Min tilted her head, but still, her gaze chased after his pointing finger.
Just what the heck happened in this house?
“….Ah.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Her jaw gradually dropped to the floor.
What kind of a situation was she looking at now?
Her eyes took in the sight of a spacious kitchen befitting a big house such as this one. And inside that kitchen big enough to automatically make you want to cook something, she could see both Park Seon-Deok and Erukana making something together.
That was not the strange thing, though.
Park Seon-Deok in the kitchen was as obvious as a fish swimming in a pond. And even if Erukana was a demon king, it’d not be against the law for her to know how to cook, too.
Indeed, not every demon king would consume fresh uncooked meat dripping with blood, now would they?
However, this spectacle was still oddly strange to behold.
“Mah-der, I’m finished weeth roasting.” (Erukana)
“Oh, my, our Erukana is so wonderful with roasting fish! It’s all in appetising consistency, too.” Park Seon-Deok)
“I onlyy deed what mah-der said I should.” (Erukana)
“Even still, it’s not as easy as you make it sound, you know? You need to possess a good sense to be this great. You are so amazing with everything you do.” (Park Seon-Deok)
“Hehe, it’s all because you teach me good, mah-der. Erukana, working hard. Erukana listen to mahder very much.” (Erukana) (TL: Yup, Erukana is speaking in broken Korean.)
Jeong Hae-Min’s face suddenly developed uncontrollable twitching.
What the heck is this?
No, really! What is that??
Oh, dear demon king-nim!!
You’re the third demon king to cross over to this world.
Even if your standing is different, even if your situation is different, aren’t you supposed to at least uphold the basic dignity of a demon king?!
This isn’t some scene of a bride from Vietnam learning how to cook Korean food, so what kind of a conversation was that?! (Jeong Hae-Min’s inner monologue)
Jeong Hae-Min’s trembling eyes shifted back to Yi Ji-Hyuk. He was looking back with a face of a man who had abandoned everything.
“….You’ve been suffering a lot, haven’t you.” (Jeong Hae-Min)
Yi Ji-Hyuk desperately covered his mouth. If he didn’t, he might end up breaking out in a fit of sobs.
She shook her head in helplessness.
What a mess.
This place was a real mess.
< 276. What kind of a concept is this -1 > Fin.