Chapter 19: I take Refuge (Namu) (2)
At Chi-Woos sudden announcement, everyones eyes darted to him.
“A juk?” Zelit asked.
“Ah, I dont mean an enemy…How do I put it? Is the translation off? Or does it have trouble passing on its meaning because its a homophone?”
“No, thats not it.” Zelits eyes shone. There was only one reason why Zelit came to this camp; it was because Chi-Woo said that he would go. Like how Zelit saw Ru Amuhs potential and joined him as a companion, Zelit had felt Chi-Woos. If he had to compare, in fact, Zelit felt a greater curiosity towards Chi-Woo than he did towards Ru Amuh, especially since there seemed to be a connection between the prophecys change and Chi-Woos entrance into the recruitment process.
“Although we are unfamiliar with the term, I cant say the automatic translation device is perfect. Could you give us a detailed explanation please?” Zelit asked.
Chi-Woo scratched his head. All he did was mutter a word, and now, everyones attention was on him. They were all looking at him like they were seeing a raft in a rough current. Thus, he felt a great need to correct the situation.
“It describes a ghost that died and became a ghost again.”
“So, is it a soul that has died more than once?”
“Yes. These beings are called red ghosts or jukgwi.”
Zelit looked lost, so Chi-Woo felt the need to explain more. “Those who have become jukgwis are always like that. They try to stir up trouble and inflict harm to others whenever they can.”
“To living people?” Shakira asked.
“No.” Chi-Woo shook his head. “They not only harm living people, but also the dead. Thats why ghosts are also afraid of jukgwis.”
“Even ghosts are afraid…?” It seemed from Shakiras surprised expression that it was her first time hearing this piece of information. The heavy atmosphere inside the tent slightly changed. According to Shakira, they had been looking for ways to defeat those beings for a long time, but failed to come up with even an accurate description of it. All their attempts and plans had been completely futile and resulted in meaningless losses. Eventually, they gave up on confronting the beings head-to-head and were forced to be always on the run. But now, a man—a hero who had been to high places that no ordinary person could even imagine—spoke as if he knew what the beings were. No matter how dire and hopeless their situation was, she couldnt help but hope again.
“Its an ingenious interpretation,” Shakira said. “And it sounds like you have fought these jukgwis before.”
“Well, yes.” Chi-Woo agreed hesitantly. Jukgwis were rarer than common ghosts or evil spirits, but it wasnt like he had never seen one. While following various masters and teachers, he had encountered several and saw how they handled these beings.
“Then.” Shakiras weak voice had more power to it now. “Do you know how to deal with them too?” This was the most important point. This could finally be the end of their miserable days, where they only strived for survival because they couldnt die.
“Uh…” No one was making even a sound, and Chi-Woo had a hard time opening his mouth in the silence. No, he simply couldnt. A part of him even regretted bringing up the topic. This was because his Earth was a completely different World from Liber. There was no guarantee that this being was a jukgwi.
“I see. Now that I think about it, you were different.” While Chi-Woo was trying to find the right words to wiggle out of this situation, Zelit suddenly interrupted. “When you met Ru Hiana and explained what happened, you told her you heard a suspicious sound when you were transmitted into a storage room. You then hid in the corner as the sound approached, and the door suddenly broke. After the sound disappeared, you went outside and met Ru Amuhs spirit.”
This damn Zealot head. Chi-Woo cursed that Zelit had a uselessly good memory.
“What? You saw a spirit?” Shakira said with great shock.
“Oh, thats right,” Eval Sevaru added. He had been listening to the conversation indifferently, but now he looked at Chi-Woo with interest. “When I first heard how a spirit guided him, I thought he was just some crazy bastard. Hm.”
Chi-Woo glared at Zelit with exasperation, feeling the urge to demand why he was saying such unnecessary things and pierce a nail through his long head to spin it around. However, Zelit simply smiled at him.
“Is that true?” Shakira asked. “Can you really see spirits?”
“No. Thats not it.” Chi-Woo quickly tried to backtrack from the conversation. “I didnt see what that broken spirit looked like since I was hiding.”
“But didnt you say that you saw your companions spirit?”
Chi-Woo closed his mouth.Ha. He didnt expect that story to bite him in the neck like this. It almost made him think that he shouldnt have granted another person a favor.This is why you cant just blabber about stuff. You might regret it later.
“How surprising. I suppose that means youll be able to see the spirits who have been broken and eaten.”
“Give it up,” someone sharply cut in while Shakira was speaking passionately. Surprisingly, it was the guard captain. “What if the same thing happens as last time? What are you going to do then?”
“That time…” Shakira trailed off as if she was coming to a realization.
“What do you mean bylast time? Zelit asked.
“Its not a big deal…no, I suppose I cant say that,” Shakira continued hesitantly, “Actually, there was another person who saw the broken beings real form.”
“Hm? Didnt you say that no one had ever seen them before?”
“Thats the case for us, but a sorcerer of the fifth recruitment said that he spotted the broken spirits.”
“Ah, the fifth recruitment.” Since all kinds of heroes gathered for the recruitment, it was understandable that at least one of them could see spirits.
“What did that sorcerer say? No, where is that person?”
“I dont know. From what I heard from the sidelines, the sorcerer said that there was no way of handling the broken beings, and we should avoid them rather than try to fight them. However, they also said that if another hero that could see spirits came, things could be different…” Shakira then explained that the sorcerer had lived quietly for the next couple of days until they disappeared, never to be seen again.
Went missing, huh? Perhaps the sorcerer had been bewitched. Chi-Woo wetted his dried-up lips; his face had burned some time ago.
“Help us!” It was Ru Hiana who broke and crawled towards Chi-Woo, clinging to him. “Please. You know! You said you fought them before! Please!”
Chi-Woo averted his gaze.
“Please, it can be anything. Ill do as you say. No, just tell me the method. Even if things go wrong, Ill never blame you.”
Seeing Ru Hiana, Chi-Woo became ashamed of his past self. He supposed this must have been how Laguel had felt. Chi-Woo wanted her to stop, but Ru Hiana was even kneeling and bowing to him now. “Please. Tell me…” Her voice trembled. “Im willing to do anything, however crazy, if I could just save Ruahu.” Her eyes were watery with tears. “I swear by the Ru familys name. Please help, please—”
Chi-Woo understood her state of mind. It seemed Ru Amuh was a companion she treasured more than her own life, but the problem was that Chi-Woo wasnt a hero. He had come to Liber not to save it, but for his own personal reasons.
Its not a difficult thing to tell her. However, it wouldnt even make a difference. Chi-Woo could only imitate the method after learning it for many years; there was no way that Ru Hiana would be able to do it in a few days. Irresponsibly telling her the method when it clearly meant her death would probably give him nightmares in his sleep. At the same time, Chi-Woo didnt want to go in her place at all, either.
If their enemy was really a jukgwi, there was a method to deal with them. But what if he died while trying to confirm its nature? He didnt want to die at an early age after coming all the way here. Since Chi-Woo was just human, he wanted to meet his brother in the safest way possible.
I cant…deny this part of myself.
Even though Chi-Woo could differentiate between right and wrong, he put his safety and life first.
Chi-Woo recalled this word on his user information and made a bitter smile. “No, I cant.” With a deep sigh, he rejected her. “Even if I tell you the method, you wont be able to do it, Ms. Ru Hiana. And Im not sure if itll even work.”
“To say it more precisely, its not like you cant do it, but even if you do, it wont work for you.”
“Thats enough,” the captain sharply said. “Didnt you hear what that guy said just now? He saw your friends soul.” She didnt extrapolate further, but everyone got the meaning behind her words. She was telling Ru Hiana to let go since her friend had probably died already.
However, Ru Hiana couldnt control her heart even though she was a hero, so she continued to look up at Chi-Woo with pleading eyes. She wanted him to tell her that it wasnt too late. On the other hand, Chi-Woo was also not certain about this matter.
Why couldnt I recognize it immediately?
A soul was definitely different from a living person, and he had seen one more than once or twice. Usually, Chi-Woo would have realized that Ru Amuh was a soul right away, but this time he had only come to the realization after leaving the cave.
He didnt seem like a soul. He seemed more like a “living” soul.
Chi-Woo quietly speculated, but it sounded ridiculous—how could there be a soul that was still alive? But…
If I wasnt mistaken, then…
There was one possibility, but Chi-Woo didnt say his thoughts aloud. He didnt want to give false hope in a matter he was not sure about. When Chi-Woo didnt say a word, Ru Hianas face plummeted to the ground. She tightly clenched her hands that had clung to the edges of his pants.
“I understand where youre coming from…but would you still be able to tell us how we can deal with them?” Shakira, who had been trying to find the right timing to butt in, spoke up and formally made a request. “Even if its a meaningless method to us, we want to at least keep it in mind while making our plans.”
“I think youre mistaken about what I meant.” Chi-Woo sighed. “The important part is not the method, but whether it works or doesnt work. Isnt that right?”
Shakira nodded in agreement.
“Then the first thing we have to do is to come up with a way to check if the method I suggest actually works.”
“Hmm. A way to check.” Shakira rubbed her chin. “How can we check it?”
“About that…” Chi-Woo contemplated for a bit. Even though he didnt even want to get close to those evil ghosts, it was a completely different story if someone else was willing to do the dirty work. Of course, the method alone wouldnt be enough. Chi-Woo organized his thoughts and glanced at Shakira, or more specifically, at the stone statue she was gingerly holding.
“Would you be able to let me borrow the statue?”
Shakira flinched at Chi-Woos question.
“Fucking nonsense,” the guard captain immediately refused. Chi-Woo tilted his head. Didnt they say that the statue was not something valuable?
“Asking for the statue is the same thing as putting all the lives in the camp in your hand. Since you also said you were not sure, I cant just let you have it. Ill never let that happen.”
Chi-Woo didnt think that the statue was that important, so he was surprised.
But maybe it is for the better. Chi-Woo didnt say anything because he felt uncomfortable taking a stand anyway.
“I respect you, Shikira, but I dont agree with your decision this time, especially as a guard captain who protects this camp.” The captain noticed that Shakira was wavering and firmly continued, “His words are pretty convincing, and it doesnt seem like he is lying, but thats it.”
“Stop. Did you forget about the fifth recruits?” Shakira closed her mouth at the captains angry tone. “We fell for their plan and gave them everything we have. Look where that got us.”
Chi-Woo was able to hear an update on the fifth recruits. He stared closely at the captain. He had felt this beforehand, but the captain didnt seem to have good feelings about the heroes that came as recruits here.
“Its a completely different matter to merely help and to make us trust and follow you without reservation,” the captain added. “If you want us to put our lives on the line, the first thing you should do is to show us youre worth trusting and entrusting our lives to.” The last part was directed towards Chi-Woo. An awkward silence followed.
“Great Seer!” someone suddenly came running in and shouted. “Were in big trouble! Again, Lady Hawa has…!”
“I-its a bit different this time. Please….!”
Before they even finished talking, a chilling scream rang outside.
At the captains words, Shakira turned around and said, “I apologize. Ill come back soon. Please rest for now.” She then left the tent with the captain.
“Hmm…It doesnt seem like they intend to let you borrow that statue,” Zelit grumbled in a regretful tone and turned around towards Chi-Woo as soon as they left. “Do you need it?”
“I do. Its the bare minimum to ensure my safety. I can use it to protect myself.”
“So, youre saying that we definitely need it.” Zelit glanced at Ru Hiana.
Ru Hiana was still on her knees with her head on the ground towards Chi-Woo.
“I guess it cant be helped.” Zelit said, and Ru Hiana released her hands.
“Ugh…” They heard Ru Hiana loudly gulp her breath. “Ugh. Heuk…Uaaaaaaaah. Wahhhhh—!” She began crying; it was not a soft cry but a loud wailing.
Zelit sighed, and Chi-Woo closed his eyes.
“Hey, really. Why are you being like this? Ah? Do you think we dont want to go save him? It cant be helped. Dont cry. Didnt you hear that we cant make loud noises? Come on, get up. Get up. If you act like this, itll become uncomfortable for all of us.” Eval Sevaru supported Ru Hiana and lifted her up. He made her sit down after consoling and trying to convince her to settle down.
Chi-Woo suppressed the bitterness in his mouth and laid down on dry hay. In order to calm his uneasy heart, he pointlessly rummaged through his pockets when something caught his hand.
It was the seven-sided die. It remained intriguing to him no matter how many times he looked at it. He had seen a cube or hexagon die, but hed never even heard of a die with seven sides. Even though it could technically be made, it was not geometrically equal, since it was mathematically impossible to make a perfectly equal-sized seven-sided die.
However, this die was different. It had 7 sides, and yet all sides looked equal like a cube. It wasnt something that should exist in the three-dimensional world. At that moment, the image of that mysterious girl he saw in the library suddenly overlapped with Ru Hiana. That child he saw had also been crying; however, she had reached out her hand and smiled at him.
Why did she give me this die? I wonder what this is…
Chi-Woo fell into contemplation while touching the die. He threw it onto the ground.
The die rolled and slowed down; it looked like it was about to turn over one more time.
Then, it stopped.
1. juk means enemy in Korean or less commonly,death of a disembodied spirit ?
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