Chapter 14: Special Privilege (4)
W-What? Didnt he just see me? But hes still looking at another book? Really? The winged book tried to hold onto its pride, but when it saw Chi-Woo reach for another book, it hurriedly flapped towards him.
Look! Look at me! I have such beautiful wings! How could you look at any other? The winged book dropped all pretense and tried to appeal to Chi-Woo aggressively, but it was too late now.
“Ah, seriously. Go! Go away!” Chi-Woo scolded the book for hindering him and pushed it back. The book flew weakly away like a fly hit by a fly trap, lost consciousness, and flopped down to the ground.
This is driving me crazy. Chi-Woo looked visibly tired now. He picked up books by random and tried to read them, but he couldnt process the writings on the pages. There were simply too many of them. Even if he only read the title of the books and flipped through them, it would take him several decades to get through them all. He didnt know how he was going to find a fitting book in this case.
—I understand your confusion in this unfamiliar situation.
—Arent you the one who said its easier to make mistakes if youre in a hurry?
—Dont be so anxious and take things more slowly.
—Follow your intuition.
The mysterious voice muttered in his head.
You were the one who told me to pick fast since I dont have much time… Chi-Woo grumbled inside his mind and soon closed his eyes. It was his habit whenever he had to concentrate.
With my intuition… It didnt seem like he would get anything done by standing still, so he moved both hands. Like he was swimming, he swerved his arms in the air and heightened all the senses in his body, feeling books sweeping past him like water.
…Oh? To his surprise, his intuition was telling him something. He felt a variety of sensations?—cold and hot and even hard and soft… Among these sensations, he just had to find one that he liked. Flip. He didnt know how much time had passed. He opened an eye to peek as he swam in a circle of books, following his intuition and tightly grabbing the book that tickled his left hand.
Its this one. He felt nothing but basic physical sensations from other books, while this particular one gave him a special feeling. When he grabbed the book, the feeling became stronger, and he felt a burst of assurance rise in his heart.
I know it. This is the one! It was just like the feeling one would have when seeing an ally amid a losing battle.
“Ok, I ’ll pick you,” Chi-Woo said. As soon as he declared these words, everything halted. The movements of all other books—the gold-rimmed book with a shaking tail, the crying book that hid its cover with its wings, and the book that flew around in a frenzy—seized. Then they began to disappear. Like ice melting from the sunlight, they gradually evaporated, starting from their tops until there was nothing left. Soon, Chi-Woo was standing in a white space without anything in it. Chi-Woo looked around in amazement.
A voice rang. Chi-Woos eyes naturally darted towards the front and saw a gentle ripple. There hadnt been anything just a moment before, but now he was seeing something glimmer in the air.
A child? The figure looked like a child, or a girl, to be more precise. Her body was covered in wounds, and she was crying. She cried so sorrowfully as if she was an orphan who had just lost their parents on the battlefield. She looked so pitiful that Chi-Woo wanted to approach the girl and hug and pat her, telling them that everything would be alright.
The voice rang again.
—You are the owner of this space.
I am the master of the library I just saw? Chi-Woo wondered. Simultaneously, the child lifted her head. As tears dripped down her face, she stared at Chi-Woo and approached him, taking one slow step at a time. When the child finally reached Chi-Woo, she looked up at him and stared for a moment. Then she fumbled through her belongings and carefully stretched out her hand.
A die lay on top of her small palm. It wasnt a normal, cube-shaped die, but a seven-sided one. Chi-Woo couldnt hear the childs voice, but he could understand what she was trying to tell him. It looked like she was asking him to take the die, but Chi-Woo couldnt accept this offer easily. He didnt know who this child was and why they had invited him to a place that looked like a library and made him choose a book—and why they were suddenly giving him a die now. Questions popped up in his mind and formed more questions.
—Why dont you take it?
Chi-Woo felt a slight push against his back, and he took one step forward towards the child. The child raised both hands as if she was pleading to Chi-Woo to take the die. When Chi-Woo met the childs eyes, he stretched out his hands like he was hypnotized. He wiped away the childs tears and picked up the die from her palm.
The voice rang again.
—You have received it.
The childs eyes darted around, and her mouth opened slightly.
—You have suffered a lot. It must have been very difficult, but now, you can go on and finally rest.
At these words, the child smiled brightly as her face glittered from dried-up tears. It was a smile that filled all on-lookers with happiness. The child closed her eyes like she was finally relieved now. As if she wanted to thank Chi-Woo, she opened her arms widely and leaned her body towards him.
But before she could, she disappeared. The child was gone as if she had never existed in the first place. Chi-Woo felt a sense of regret and squeezed the die twice before he stretched his hand back out and lowered his arm. It felt like he was dreaming. What was the die? And what about the book? Chi-Woo raised the book he was holding. It was a simple book with a deep blue-indigo cover; just the right thickness, and it pleased him whenever he looked at it.
Chi-Woo thought he just heard laughter.
—How surprising. Of all the books you couldve chosen, you chose that one.
“What kind of book is it…No, before that, who are you, really?
—Fu, fu. Why dont you take a look at your book first?
It felt like he was getting ridiculed, but since Chi-Woo was curious, he decided to open the book to its first page.
“…” Chi-Woo was speechless when he saw curly shapes that he didnt recognize at all. Yet the shapes soon wavered until they changed to Hangul, which Chi-Woo could read.
Is this the effect of the translation device? Chi-Woo read the writings that had changed shape. The title said:
[7 Ways to Become a Great and Respected Parent]
“…What?” Chi-Woo gasped when he saw a title he hadnt expected at all. It wasnt an instruction book, detailing celestial martial arts or a legacy written by a wise sage. It wasnt even a guide to a hidden or hard job. What need did a 20-year-old young man who had barely lived his life have for such a book?
Before Chi-Woo could finish his sentence, he heard bookcases fall over and saw a blinding flash of light burst in the center of the books. Simultaneously, Chi-Woo felt his body drop.
* * *
Chi-Woo trembled on the floor.
“Ah, ughhhh!” He stretched and wrapped the back of his head with his hands, rolling sideways.
Chi-Woo groaned for a while, but eventually sat up. His face was all scrunched up in pain.
A heavy bag struck his face and slid down his body.
“….” Chi-Woo tilted his chin and closed his eyes. How great—not only was he suddenly dragged away to some mysterious place, but he was also thrown back like some baggage. “Damn it…” It almost killed him, getting treated this well. The pain gradually dwindled. He could move his body to some degree, but his mind was still blank. It felt like he had just woken up from a deep sleep, and he had to recover his senses first.
I have to get my bag first… Chi-Woo picked up his bag and looked around.
“Hm…” As his surroundings slowly came into view, he realized that he was in a place completely different from what he had expected to be brought to.It seems I am…in a warehouse for trash?
A pile of moldy, wooden boxes was disorderly stacked in the corner, and debris littered on a floor covered in crushed hay. Perhaps that was why the room appeared so full. It was about 252 to 288 square feet and as big as a one-room apartment. From the look of it, it seemed big enough to accommodate only one or two people at most. Usually, when heroes traveled to another world, they appeared out of a magic circle and a princess would greet them in their confused state. Then they would meet the king and hear about the situation facing the kingdom.
This is a bit… Chi-Woo hadnt expected his first stop to be an old storage room. It looked to have been abandoned for many years judging by the thick layer of dust on the floor and the stale smell permeating the air. Chi-Woo frowned and scrunched up his nose.
“Ugh…” He hadnt realized it right away since he was so dumbfounded, but he now noticed that the odor coming off from this room was quite awful. It seemed they hadnt let fresh air come into the storage since they built it. But besides that, he didnt see Giant Fist, Mua Janya, or any of the rest of the seventh recruitment team.
Was I that late? But I dont think those two would leave without me. They would have most likely looked for him if they didnt see him. It was more reasonable to conclude that all of the recruits had landed in separate places because of the unstable connection.
Im sure of it. Im the only one who fell here.
If there was someone besides him, there should have been some traces left. However, Chi-Woo didnt even spot a footstep, and all he could see were layers upon layers of dust save for the place he had landed. He wouldnt be gaining more information by staying here. Chi-Woo organized his thoughts, shouldered his backpack, and got up. In order to gain useful information and meet other heroes, he needed to start moving.
“What the hell. Why isnt it openi…!” While Chi-Woo struggled to open the rusty door, he heard a strange sound.
The sound quickly passed by, so Chi-Woo didnt pay it much attention and instead pushed the door with both hands. While he was trying to push the door with his whole body—
Chi-Woo stopped pushing the door.What was that just now? He thought he heard something crash outside. No, he was sure of it. “Who is—” Chi-Woo was about to ask who was outside, but quickly closed his mouth. He had arrived last among all the seventh-batch recruits; it would be overly optimistic to the point of naivety for him to assume that the figure outside was one of his fellow recruits. Even though they might be his companions, it was good to be extra cautious. Chi-Woo stopped moving and carefully pulled his hands away from the door. He also slowed his breathing and turned his ears towards the sound.
He definitely heard it this time; it sounded like something was being pulled.
Following that was the sound of something hitting the ground. Now that he thought about it, his surroundings were suspiciously quiet. It was so quiet that he could even hear the smallest noise.
Swish, swish, swish, swish.
The mysterious sound began to grow closer and closer. Chi-Woo wondered if he had made a loud noise when he landed here. He followed his instincts and moved back. Judging by the situation, it seemed that he wouldnt be welcomed by kings and royals like the heroes in comics.
The sound stopped in front of the door. An ominous silence stretched, smothering both inside and outside the warehouse until—
The iron door that wouldnt budge no matter how hard Chi-Woo pushed broke off with a ferocious sound. There was nothing in the warehouse. The place that Chi-Woo landed on was also empty, as he had quickly hidden himself behind the wooden boxes. He didnt even breathe. Chi-Woo covered his mouth with his left hand and quietly opened his bag with the other.
The sound of air escaping through teeth rang in the warehouse. An evil energy swept through the space in the form of cold air. After a while.
He heard the sound of something getting pulled again, then…
He heard other doors opening.
Swish, Bam! Swish, Bam! Swish, Bam! Swish, Bam!
It seemed like the unknown being was opening and checking each door. Chi-Woo sat paralyzed and didnt move for a while. He didnt even budge an inch until the sound moved far away. By that time, he was completely out of breath.
“Pw…..eh………” Chi-Woo let out his breath as softly as possible and quietly dropped to the ground. All the emotions he had suppressed flowed out of him like water. He felt an innate fear towards the unknown.
—Even if youre extremely careful, its still not enough.
He suddenly recalled Laguels words.
What was that…just now… The evil energy he felt was enough to make him shiver head to toe in fear. What would have happened if he had hidden behind the wooden boxes a second slower?
The sound of him gulping was way louder than usual. He hadnt realized it, but his heart was beating in a frenzy. Now that he thought about it, he had been way too calm about all this. Even he thought it was strange how calmly he had accepted this role and situation. He had acted way too indifferent to everything else because he was overwhelmed with the joy of finally finding something he could do. At the end of the day, however, he was not a hero, but an ordinary person.
Mua Janya said that they were now in the same boat as him, but that was not true at all. Even though Chi-Woo had lived an unusual life, he was still an ordinary person in the end. It was absurd to compare himself to heroes who had gone through all kinds of thorny paths filled with hardships and adversity.
If this is how its going to be…
I shouldnt have come… But Chi-Woo strongly shook his head. He had come here after resisting dissuasions from multiple individuals.
I need to stay focused. He needed to understand his limits and reassess himself. Because everyone he met was so awed by him and treated him so politely, a part of him had thought he had become someone great without meaning to. However, they were treating him this way not because of who he was, but because of his brother and his family. The thought jolted Chi-Woos mind awake like a bucket of cold water. He chastised himself for being way too careless, for thinking only that he needed to find his brother and bring him back.
This is not a game.
If he died, it would be all over. Before he found his brother, he first needed to be concerned about his survival. Chi-Woo took a deep breath and peeked out his head a tiny bit and stared at where he had been before. Nothing had changed except the fact that the door was now wide open. No, there was one more difference.
This smell is…
A metallic smell wafted into his nose—it was the smell of blood. He saw a hall past the opened door. It seemed that he had been teleported into a building.
I should first get out.
He couldnt just stay here all day. There was no guarantee that this place was safe, and someone might come in again. Chi-Woo got up from his seat. Pushing his trembling legs to move, he carefully stepped around the fallen door and stood in front of the entrance.
Itd be really creepy if someone was waiting outside.
He snuck a glance again. After checking that there was no one around, he went outside. The smell of blood immediately thickened. Chi-Woos eyes narrowed.
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