Chapter 29: Female President (5)
Rawiya kept laughing. She tried to hold in her laughter with all the self-control she could muster, but she failed and let out a clutter of sounds such as “Wh-hiii!” orHumph! At last, she couldnt hold it in any longer and burst out laughing, “Hahahaha.” When Shakira nudged her, Rawiya covered her mouth with her hands and kept her head down as Eshnunna guided Chi-Woo and the rest of his companions out of the camp.
Thanks to this farewell, Chi-Woo was in a foul mood the entire trip. Sure, a name could be funny. Even Chi-Woo had wanted to laugh when he heard Zelits name, but he kept it to himself and didnt make a fool out of anybody. And it wasnt as if Rawiya had just snickered at him. She was laughing right in his face. Of course Chi-Woo would feel offended.
“Im sorry. I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I didnt think she would laugh so…I personally think its a nice name. I truly do.”
“I will warn her severely, so please dont be angry any longer…” Ru Amuh apologized instead, not knowing what to do, but Chi-Woo didnt even glance at him, giving only the most succinct replies. Chi-Woo also didnt respond to Ru Hiana as she tried to appease him in a high-pitched voice.
“Ah, Senior. Im sorry. I didnt think you would be so angry. I wont laugh anymore, so please stop being so angry? Please?”
Eshnunna turned around. She seemed unsettled as well, but managed to put on a smile. “Were almost there. Its only a little bit away.” Like she said, they soon arrived at their destination. It was a large settlement surrounded by medium-sized stonewalls, thickly coated with green moss. Eshnunna stepped inside the wooden doors and said in surprise when she saw the two people waiting behind them, “Here it is. This place is…Oh my. Were you both waiting?”
“Ah, youre back? Did you perhaps…?”
The two quickly scanned the companions Eshnunna had brought with her and exclaimed when they saw Chi-Woo. Chi-Woos surly face also brightened.
“Mr. Giant Fist! And Ms. Mua Janya!”
Chi-Woo couldnt continue because Giant Fist was running towards him while shrieking.
“Y-youre alive…! Alive…!”
Giant Fist hugged Chi-Woo and lifted him into the air, so overwhelmed with emotions that he couldnt speak properly and instead kept wailing.
“Wait, Mister. Ah. Please.” Chi-Woocouldnt breathe. He turned to Mua Janya to implore her to save him, but her response wasnt much different from Giant Fists.
“Thank goodness…that you are alive…oh, thank goodness…” She didnt react as strongly as Giant Fist, but she wiped the tears falling from her eyes a couple of times. After some struggle, Chi-Woo was finally able to free himself from Giant Fists grasp. Watching from behind, both Ru Hiana and Eshnunna smiled brightly. Hawa, who had followed the group quietly from behind, simply stared at Chi-Woo and Giant Fist, who was still heaving and crying.
Then Eshnunna placed her hands together and smiled. “Arent you all hungry? I will prepare a meal shortly, so why dont we talk at the restaurant?”
Everyone agreed readily. They hadnt eaten anything since they were teleported to this place, so they were all extremely hungry. After the passionate reunion, the group followed Eshnunna into a building. The place was quite spacious, and there was even a garden and a field growing vegetables. There was also a building that was the size of a small mansion and another smaller-sized building. Eshunna explained that the smaller building was a temple, which was the main source of protection for the camp base. Perhaps its existence was the reason why there seemed to be about a hundred or more original inhabitants of Liber in the area. Of course, the size of the community was far too small to be called a village, but it was much bigger than a camp.
They soon arrived at a restaurant on the first floor and ate the food Eshunna personally prepared for them. Even though the main base was in a better situation than the other bases, the meal was still simple: a diluted soup mixed with cereals and two root vegetables that tasted like potatoes. Nevertheless, the fact that they were eating produce grown from the fields tended by the community showed how much care Eshnunna had put into the meal. No, considering the current circumstances, it was basically a feast. After all, the food Rawiya packed for them in apology was a bag of tree bark dust and a mysterious mud-looking lump. It was only fortunate that they had been able to quench their thirsts momentarily from the recent heavy downpour.
“Im sorry. I want to let you all have your fill, but I also have to leave some for the other recruits…” Eshnunna said regretfully while watching Chi-Woo scrape the bottom of his bowl.
After they finished their humble meals, Eshnunna guided them all to the dormitory where all the recruits were supposed to reside. Saying that they must be all tired, Eshnunna told them to rest and left them to converse amongst themselves in private. The rooms were old but well-maintained and clean. There were even beds to sleep on and walls to shield them from the wind and rain. In comparison to the camps tents, this was a palace. After deciding that Chi-Woo would share a room with Mua Janya and Giant Fist, they started catching up.
Mua Janya and Giant Fist were both lucky. They were teleported near the main base camp and were found early on and brought here. Although Giant Fist made a fuss, saying that he had to go look for Chi-Woo, Eshnunna pleaded for him to wait, promising to ask around the different camps once the day broke.
“Im so glad…if something had happened to you, sir…I dont know how I would face your brother…” Giant Fists eyes were still red as he whimpered. Mua Janya also shook her head.
“We were so worried, sir. He almost said your name out loud several times, so I had to interrupt him.”
‘It was as Eshnunna said. Chi-Woo recalled Eshnunnas exasperated responses and appreciated Mua Janyas thoughtfulness. ‘I really shouldnt reveal my identity. Chi-Woo was taking the utmost care to not bring attention to himself right now. If people found out that he belonged to one of the twelve greatest families in the Celestial Realm and was Chi-Hyuns younger brother, Chi-Woo wondered how they would respond. It gave him chills just thinking about it.
“By the way, regarding the other recruits who came with you, sir, you didnt reveal your name to them, did you?” Mua Janya asked. After Chi-Woo nodded, she continued, “You should think of a fake name in case you need to introduce yourself.”
“Ah, that is…Sigh.” Chi-Woo was about to say something, but stopped himself and hung his head low. Mua Janya asked him what was wrong with widened eyes. Chi-Woo made her promise that she wouldnt laugh before telling her. However, she couldnt keep her promise.
“What? What did you tell them your name was?”
“I said ChichiBbong, Chi-Chi-Bbong.”
As soon as he repeated his fake name again, the two burst out laughing.
“Ahahahah! Chichibbong! Of all names, Chichibbong!”
Giant Fist laughed so hard he cried, and Mu Janya shrieked in high-pitched laughter. Chi-Woo crossed his arms in annoyance; he knew this would happen.
“Didnt you say that you wouldnt laugh?”
“No! But this is…!”
“I told you to stop laughing.”
Giant Fist and Mua Janya were so out of breath that they couldnt even respond.
“I couldnt help it,” Chi-Woo said loudly. “He immediately caught on to it after I saidChoi Chi, so I had to quickly come up with a name…ah, seriously.” Chi-Woo showed his annoyance, and Mua Janya quickly collected herself. She coughed a couple of times and changed the topic of the conversation.
“Ah, wait. You must have received a device, too, right sir? It has many functions. Lets save each other as contacts first. I will teach you.”
“Theres no need. I already know.”
“Ah, please dont be like that. I dont know that much yet, but Ill give you all the information we have collected so far. Chichi…hmph. Anyway, I will always keep it open, so you can download it whenever you want.”
“Theres a function like that?” Chi-Woo showed interest while pretending not to, and Mua Janya smiled as if she thought his reaction was adorable. “Yes, but of course, it only works if were close together, and I need to set it up separately.” Mua Janya sat next to Chi-Woo and turned her hologram on.
As Eshununna said, it seemed that the shrine had enabled a somewhat stable connection. While Mua Janya explained each feature to Chi-Woo, Giant Fist rolled around and laughed. Then they suddenly heard someone knocking.
“Senior! Weve arrived…” Ru Hiana opened the door and peeked out her head.
They also heard someone say, “How can you open the door without hearing his reply?” Judging by the persons voice, it seemed that Ru Hiana had come with Ru Amuh. And they seemed to have stopped by to make sure Chi-Woo was feeling better as well as to greet the others.
“Are you perhaps still ang…?” Ru Hiana cautiously spoke, but she blinked when she saw Giant Fist rolling on the floor.
* * *
True to her words, Eshnunna successfully located and brought the seventh recruits from the different camps. The number of heroes she brought in each day ranged from two or three heroes to six or seven. When Chi-Woo first arrived at the main camp, there were around ten heroes, but after several days, there were now more than thirty. Chi-Woo hadnt been doing much while Eshnunna brought in more heroes. However, the same was true of the others. When they did do something, it was to introduce themselves and exchange what little information they had gathered with each other. Even if they wanted to do something, they didnt know what to do.
Chi-Woo had been concerned that Ru Hiana might run her mouth about what happened back in their previous camp, but she never brought up anything related to that; perhaps Ru Amuh had warned her or did something to that effect.
From Chi-Woos perspective, Eshnunna was very busy. She was the type of person who was very active in all matters, so she never seemed to have enough time. Eshnunna woke up earlier than everyone else and went to the shrine to pray. She also went out almost every day to find the remaining seventh recruits they hadnt found yet. All the while, she had been personally taking care of the recruits meals and done her best to satisfy their needs. He couldnt speak for the others, but Eshnunna worked so hard that he was starting to feel bad about just staying still and eating the camps precious food.
On the other hand, Eshnunna didnt make them feel bad at all. Instead, she was very understanding of the recruits situation. She felt sorry for being unable to help solve the problem on Liber and constantly showed a favorable attitude towards them by thanking them for coming to save their world.
‘This is fine. Like the past few days, Chi-Woo went around the camp without doing much. He exchanged greetings with a couple of natives and fell into contemplation. Considering the recent events, his situation was not bad. However, it would be too much to even jokingly say that things were looking good. On the other hand, the natives hadnt fallen into despair and had instead busily moved on with their day. With Eshnunna as their anchor, the natives stuck together and worked hard to do what they could.
Chi-Woo was so satisfied with this place that he wouldnt mind living here for a while. Of course, his future was still unclear, but he could leave such important matters to the other heroes. Chi-Woo thought he could spend his time helping with small matters while asking about his brother and, after finding him, went back home with him.
However, Chi-Woo also had no intentions to just sit idly by like a slacker. To stay safe in the future, he needed to stabilize his surroundings, and to do that, he needed to help out to a certain extent.
‘I should aim to be average. Chi-Woo had no intentions to do more than what was necessary, but he couldnt wash his hands off everything. Not too much but not too little. He should avoid standing out and just do as much as everyone else was doing.
‘And in order to do that… Chi-Woo, who had been contemplating for a long time, began walking to the cafeteria as dinner time approached. Food rations were distributed two times a day. If he didnt receive his food right now, he would starve until the next afternoon, so Chi-Woo couldnt miss it. The ration he got was the same every time: A bowl of soup with grains and produce, as well as root vegetables similar to potatoes. They used to get two of those root vegetables, but due to the main camps situation, Eshnunna had to decrease the portion to one and asked for their understanding.
“Tsk. Im tired of eating the same thing every day.” Giant Fist, who was huge in stature, made a long face when he heard that their rations decreased.
“Im sorry. We were successful in locating and bringing more recruits than we expected…But of course, this is great news.”
“I understand that it cant be helped, but is there no meat? Any meat at all?”
“In regard to meat…I apologize.”
“No, Im just asking if there was a way I could try to get meat.”
Eshnunna bowed as if there was nothing for her to say, and Giant Fist kept pestering her, going so far that the others narrowed their eyes at Giant Fist with disapproval.
“Hey, whats up with you?” Mua Janya tried to stop Giant Fist, unable to stand by and do nothing, but he snorted instead.
“Why? I cant even ask?”
“…What?” The tails of Mua Janyas eyes began to slowly curl up.
“Whats your problem?”
“Come on. Your old habits are coming back agai— ”
“Sir, Ill try to obtain it.” When Eshnunna saw that the situation was starting to become tense, she hurriedly tried to mediate the conflict. “Its true that weve been focusing less on finding food since weve been putting a lot of our efforts into locating recruits…I cant guarantee that well be able to find meat, but Ill tell the others to keep an eye out from tomorrow. Well try to look for it inside the camp as well.”
“Yeah, you should do that. Look into it.”
Eshnunna bowed deeply and turned around. As she took their empty bowls and left, her steps seemed weaker than usual. Mua Janya kept her mouth shut, but she looked a bit bewildered. Ru Hianas face was red. She glanced at Giant Fist, who was now gulping his soup straight from the bowl with an indifferent expression.
“Did you know?” In the end, Ru Hiana could not stand it any longer. “The natives here cant even eat food like ours and try to sustain themselves with grass roots and tree barks.”
“Ah, is that so?” Giant Fist replied indifferently and bit into his share of root vegetables; he looked at her as if he was sayingso what? Ru Hiana let out an angry huff and stared intently at Chi-Woo. It seemed that she wanted to yell at Giant Fist, but was suppressing her anger since Giant Fist seemed close to Chi-Woo. Chi-Woo also didnt like Giant Fist, but he didnt step forward and instead quickly finished his meal.
* * *
After the meal, the heroes didnt disband immediately. At Zelits suggestion, they all participated in a meeting. The agenda was simple—it was to discuss what they could do here and what they needed to do in the future. However, since the meeting was sudden and the atmosphere during the meal was far from amicable, the meeting turned out horrible.
Some of the heroes argued they couldnt just sit and do nothing, while others retorted and asked what they could possibly do in a situation like this, suggesting that they waited a bit more to observe the situation. Then another group argued that if they waited any longer, theyd all starve. Then another side quickly countered that by saying if they were so concerned, they should go and find their own food. It was basically just a dog fight. Frustrated, Chi-Woo quietly got up in the middle of the meeting and left the cafeteria.
‘We need to do something, but… There were a ton of things to do. Chi-Woo knew they had many problems to solve, but what would be the best way to go about it?
‘I need information. Eshnunna didnt know what exactly had happened to the fifth and sixth recruits. Chi-Woo recalled what she said previously.
[Im not sure about what happened to them.]
[We gave them as much support as we could, but they didnt tell us their plans for important matters. I think they considered us useless to them in those regards.]
Thus, Eshnunna had just trusted them and did as they said.
‘How, how the heck do I…. Chi-Woo smacked his lips. ‘In comic books, notification windows would pop up at these moments and kindly explain to users what to do.
While Chi-Woo looked at his wrist and thought about fruitless thoughts like this—
‘Hmm? Chi-Woo saw a figure furtively moving in the dark night.
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