‘What should I do.’
I briefly considered it.
I had matured far too much to be unable to see through Manwoo Yang’s dark intentions. At the time when I was young, I was scared by his oppressive manner of speech and actions, so I reluctantly obeyed him then, but now? In my eyes, Manwoo Yang was far too small and pathetic.
It would be a blow to my pride if I were to be dragged around by someone inferior. Before my return to the past, I wouldn’t have tolerated such impertinence.
The problem looming over my head now was that my actions would influence the future: the unknown changes that would occur upon choosing differently.
I gazed at Eunha Yang in a slightly blank manner. Showing a look of understanding towards my gaze, she began to move about with confidence. She first put on a pair of rubber gloves to wash the dishes. Of course, she was terrible at it, doing no more than coating the dishes with water, looking like she had almost zero experience doing housework.
Meanwhile, Manwoo Yang smiled, full of self-satisfaction, on looking at the expression on my face.
“Hansung. You can’t live alone forever in this large house, no? Leave the rest for me to handle, and let’s first go to our home. I would be too ashamed to see your father in heaven if something happened to you.”
“The world is harsh. You someone to lean on. Ahjussi will become a reliable pillar of support for you. If you wish so, I would be happy for you to call me your dad.”
Manwoo Yang knew my family circumstances well. My father was an orphan, and mother had married him despite the intense opposition from her own family. Thanks to that, all contact with my mother’s side of the family was cut, and there were no relatives that came to take me under their wings at the funeral.
He was surely thinking now that I was all alone in the world, I would grab onto his proffered hand.
I didn’t bother wasting my words on this man. Truthfully, most of what he spoke didn’t enter my ears. I was merely weighing my options. Accepting his offer would mean losing freedom. Refusing would catch the attention of Minshik.
Misreading the look on my face as ‘acquiescent’, Manwoo Yang continued speaking.
“I’ll transfer you to the same school as Eunha if you want. She’ll take good care of you. Eunha is a year below you Hansung, but she can introduce you to many friends, so you won’t have any trouble fitting in.”
Eunha Yang certainly did take ‘good’ care of me. The problem was that she treated me like a peon. Thanks to that I had no time to study properly and in the end, failed to enter a university. Not that I was good at studying in the first place.
I had already been expecting this since five days ago. I knew that Manwoo Yang and Eunha Yang would come find me, which was why I had already come to a conclusion somewhat, but still I deliberated with utmost prudence.
‘I’ll choose freedom.’
At any rate, this was an opportunity. Minshik coming to me straight after returning to the past shouldn’t have been a dream. The given assignment, was merely a matter of how I should wrap it up.
Manwoo Yang was making an expression full of confidence. He must be thinking of me as a fish already caught on the hook.
I made up my mind and shook my head.
“I don’t need it.”
“…What are you saying? You don’t need what?”
Manwoo Yang’s face instantly hardened, a hint of anger showing through. But that made no difference to my decision.
“There’s no need to be concerned about me. I want to look after myself.”
Manwoo Yang groaned.
“Just look at the state you’re in. Looking after yourself like that? A passing beggar would mock you.”
He swooped down on me with an oppressive look and the words to match it. I didn’t avoid his eyes. Since I decided to refuse, I had to do it properly so he wouldn’t be able to cling to me again.
“I’ve reflected a lot after hearing ahjussi’s words. I’ve realized that I was in such a serious condition that I would be in danger without being cared. You’re right, life has to go on.”
“It’ll be too hard on your own. We need to stick together especially in these moments. There are so many unsolved matters to attend to, can you figure it all out on your own?”
Manwoo Yang was desperate. There was a huge debt looming over his head. Gambling. That one word explained it all by itself. That is why he coveted the money I possessed.
“I want to try on my own. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the fortnight. Listening to ahjussi speak has convinced me. Wouldn’t Father and Mother worry if they saw me like this?”
Manwoo Yang’s eyes shook with disbelief at how I was staring him in the eye with an upright look on my face. I was clearly a different person from that time during the funeral.
“Thank you for worrying for me. You can go now. I’ll clean up myself. It doesn’t look like she can do it properly anyway.”
Eunha Yang paused washing the dishes to glare at me with a look appearing to say, ‘How dare you?’.
‘Too young.’ I shrugged my shoulders.
The girl was bold and pretty, but that was all. I was powerful enough to be called the last hero of humanity. I’ve met and embraced plenty of women whose beauty exceeded hers. Among them were models and top stars from all over the world. The standard of the girl before me just wasn’t enough to move my heart. Even supposing she could move me, I had experienced too much to be attracted by simple appearances alone.
Manwoo Yang swallowed gulped nervously.
“Will you really be alright? I’m just worried for you. Drink a glass of water first and-”
“I’d like to stop discussing this.”
“That’s because you’re just feeling uneasy right now. Eun Ha! You say something as well.”
Eunha Yang snorted as she stopped dishwashing. Putting away the rubber gloves, she coolly walked over and sat right before my eyes. She had a look on that said, ‘what can you say now that I’m right before you?’. Her subtle flirting would have turned the heads of many men.
“Come with us. By the look of things, you probably don’t have many friends. I’ll be your friend.”
Eunha Yang smiled disinterestedly, as if to say I should be honored that a beauty like her would be my friend and held out her hand.
I spoke while ignoring the proffered hand.
“Having many friends isn’t necessarily a good thing.”
Especially in the world to come, you had to choose friends wisely. I also knew that by ‘friend’, Eunha Yang meant ‘slave’, or ‘peon’.
Eunha Yang raised her brows at my nonchalant words.
“Still, isn’t it better than being alone?”
“I’d rather be alone.”
I looked away, clearly showing my disregard for her. Eunha Yang looked infuriated, but I paid no mind to that. Eunha Yang’s actions were of no consequence to me.
“Ahjussi. Have you come to make fun of me?”
“How could I! It was purely because I wanted to help you-”
“I think leaving would be the way to help me. I want to be alone right now.”
I was openly chasing them out. Manwoo Yang’s face became red with fury.
I put the final nail in the coffin.
“Please take care on your way. The door is that way.”
Manwoo Yang stood up with difficulty from his seat. It seemed like he’d never expected me to so obstinately turn him down.
“Eun Ha. Let’s go!”
Hearing him, Eunha Yang whipped her head around to glare at me before turning away.
The door closed, and now that I was alone, I immediately headed to the bathroom.
‘I should wash first.’
I’ve sent away Manwoo Yang and Eunha Yang, so that was one crisis resolved. Manwoo Yang was especially stubborn, so for the time being he shouldn’t come making trouble for me. With this, I’ve secured myself some freedom. No one was spying on me either.
I looked into the mirror. I was in horrid shape due to not washing for half a month, but at the very least, my eyes appeared lively. I could finally come to terms with returning to the past.
The future, could be changed.
The next day, late at night. As if he’d made a promise to, Minshik came to my house. I was vaguely expecting him so I wasn’t surprised. Besides that, his appearance was shocking. His clothes were torn, his hair disheveled, his body covered all over in dirt.
But Minshik was looking at me with even greater surprise in his eyes.
“Did you meet a disaster or what?”
“Just what happened?”
Minshik’s pupils were trembling at the sight of my clean appearance and clean room.
“What do you mean? I should be asking what happened to you.”
I asked naturally. Even I could tell my acting was perfect. Truthfully, I could roughly guess at what Minshik had been doing these past few days.
‘He went to awaken.’
He must have searched for a gate to the abyss. Because one of the conditions required to awaken was making contact with a ‘gate’. Seeing as he came back, he must have succeeded.
I furtively turned my gaze to Minshik’s left shoulder. 3 dots that hadn’t been there before. And in his chest pocket there was a single worn parchment. It was clear what these things entailed.
‘Magic swordsman. He became a magic swordsman.’