Chapter 121: Chapter 120: Bringing Up the Past, Part IV
“Jiwon oppa, you’re here.” Haein was waiting in the first floor lobby, as if she knew I was coming.
“Yeah. I heard about what you found at the King-Emperor’s Tomb. Congratulations.”
“It was all thanks to you, anyway.”
I couldn’t tell if she was just saying that or if she figured out my hint that day.
“They’re waiting for you upstairs.”
“Okay, let’s go.” I followed Haein to the elevators.
As we headed for the 96th floor, Haein spoke up. “Did everything go well… with the Hitman Guild?” she asked in a slightly trembling voice. So, she knew about them as well.
“Yeah. They just caused me some grief in the past. I just went to get some compensation out of them.” I didn’t say any more on the matter.
Haein didn’t ask any more questions either and we rode the rest of the way in silence. When we arrived at the 96th floor, Haein led me to the chairman’s office, just like five years ago.
Song Daechul once again felt that same feeling he had five years ago when Lee Jiwon entered his office the second time.
Even when everyone around him said that looking after the sleeping Lee Jiwon was a waste of time, Song Daechul had thought differently. He couldn’t forget that confident aura Lee Jiwon had when he first walked into this office. He couldn’t abandon him when he fell asleep, and looked after him for three years, especially when Lee Jiwon looked as if he would wake up at any moment.
-Unfortunately, after those three years, even I had changed.-
In those three years, Song Daechul had forgotten the importance of Lee Jiwon, and didn’t look for him when he woke. Song Daechul didn’t take action even when his grandson had tried to hurt Lee Jiwon. Song Daechul had believed that Lee Jiwon no longer had any use to him anymore, but he was completely proven wrong. In less than a year, Lee Jiwon had become a force to be reckoned with!
“Welcome again, Jiwon.”
“Hello, Chairman Song.” Even after I had left the country, I always heard about the Sunbin Guild, and especially about the man who led the guild to greatness.
“Please, have a seat here.”
I sat down next to Song Myungsoo at his invitation.
“I heard about your skills at the King-Emperor’s Tomb.”
“It wasn’t much.”
Song Daechul chuckled. “Really now? You did more than both guilds in less time. Are you sure it wasn’t much?”
“I was just lucky.”
“Well, if you say so, then it must be true,” Song Daechul said with a smile. “Ah, that’s right. Haein, go ahead and give him that.”
“Yes, grandfather.” Haein took something out of her inventory.
“This is the Rank 8 item that came out of one of the random chests when you offered yourself as the sacrifice.”
I gave a wary look to Song Daechul as he placed the Rank 8 item on top of the table. I doubted that he was trying to show off.
“I’ll be blunt. I’m confident that your final gesture to Haein was a hint to open the fifth chest. It was from there that Haein obtained a Rank 9 item.”
“…” I didn’t say anything.
“I’m sure you know that I can’t hand that over. If I do when we’re not in good graces with the Cheng Long Guild… it won’t look good for us,” Song Daechul said as he pushed the item towards me. “However, I would be more than happy to give you this one. Think of it as compensation for taking on the irreversible 70 death penalties.”
I didn’t take on those death penalties, but I wasn’t about to correct him. I already received 1.3 billion golden rings to keep that a secret. I could also keep pretending that I didn’t gain anything from the raid, and keep them distracted that I had lost so much of my progress because of them.
However, while I did really want to, my real goal here was to find out why Song Haechang wanted me kidnapped. It probably wouldn’t do me any good if I were to take it.
“I believe you did the right thing by taking the golden rings from us. It’s more than reasonable since you had to take on that many penalties,” he continued while nodding. “However, while this is to thank you for helping us get the Rank 9 item…it is also to ask for forgiveness as Song Haechang’s grandfather. I would like you to accept it.”
With that, I lost all traces of suspicion I had toward the older man. I did come here almost sure that he had some hand in it; it was different hearing it directly from him.
“If you already knew about what happened and about the existence of the Hitman Guild, why have you done nothing about it?” I was more curious about that then why Song Haechang gave the order.
“I suppose there’s no such thing as an eternal secret, is there? Even if I could deal with the Hitman Guild, I can’t do anything about Haechang. He is my grandson, after all.”
I nodded. Song Daechul was still human in the end. “I understand. Then I’ll just…”
“I would like you to meet with Haechang, as well.”
“Excuse me?” Whatever reason he had, I wanted to end it here. I already extorted the Hitman Guild, and he had just handed over a Rank 8 item. That was enough for me to bury the hatchet, and I didn’t want to argue what was right or wrong with him. I had no desire to have my revenge and beat Song Haechang black and blue for what he did to me. It wasn’t like he actually hurt me or anything. I didn’t get why he wanted me to meet him.
“I’m sure Song Haechang hates my guts right now. Why do you want me to meet him?”
“I know that very well, but I still want you to at least see him. You can do whatever you like when you do. You can kill him a few times if you wish, or you can just leave after seeing him. Can you do that for me?”
I stared at him for making such a strange request. “Okay, I’ll do that.”
I was getting a little curious now. I wanted to see for myself how he could become that messed up. I placed the item on the table into my inventory and followed Haein out to where Song Haechang was.
A few had stayed behind in Song Daechul’s office when Lee Jiwon left.
“Father, why are you letting him meet Haechang?” asked Song Myungsoo.
“I believe that it is the best way to save Haechang.”
“I was too conceited to realize Lee Jiwon’s uniqueness. But I’m sure you remember as well when we first met Jiwon.”
Song Myungsoo nodded in agreement at his father’s words.
“He was so confident even after the world had changed, while we couldn’t make heads or tails of what was going on. We owe everything we have to him.”
It was all thanks to Lee Jiwon’s information and advice that the Sunbin Guild could take advantage of the eight months before the Otadolon stage was in full swing. Lee Jiwon was no doubt the Sunbin Guild’s greatest benefactor.
“When we had all given up on him, Jiwon proved himself and made his name known throughout the world in less than a year.”
“I know that as well, but he’s…”
“Yes, he did it all alone. There are still many out there who look down on him for that, but he proved to everyone that he could become powerful on his own. He did it in Egypt, in Macau, and he did it again at the Tomb.” Song Daechul took a sip of his tea before continuing, “It took him less than a year. He has the potential to be more in the near future. He has many rivals to overcome soon, so let’s watch over him.”
I followed Haein down to the third sub-floor of the building, where she led me to a large, metal door.
“My brother is inside, the same brother who wanted you kidnapped,” Haein said with a sad smile. “I also don’t expect you to do anything for him, but just know this before you go in. The reason he hates you so much is because of his inferiority complex towards me and his inability to be acknowledged by our grandfather. He also let down many people; I believe that is what started it all.”
“But why me?” That was the million dollar question. I had nothing to do with him!
“He was taking it out on the one person who I and my grandfather cared so much about. He believed that he was still better than you since you just slept. He saw you as some sort of rival, but when you awoke and became so much stronger, it just threw him into a downward spiral.”
“Ha…” I didn’t expect a reason like that.
I opened the door as Haein turned around to leave. I saw a disheveled and bleary-eyed Song Haechang inside.
“Are you here to kill me? I bet you’re here to have your revenge!” he exclaimed with a cackle. His powerful, menacing voice didn’t match his unfocused, fearful eyes. “Go ahead, kill me! Just know that the entire Sunbin Guild is my family. It doesn’t matter how many times you kill me; I will always recover!”
I walked towards him and the closer I got, I could see that his eyes were twitching and his body was trembling. I stopped at an arm’s distance from him. “No, I won’t kill you. You’re not worth it.”
His eyes twitched even more.
One thing I noticed after returning to the past was that only the monsters and their spawn locations had changed. The people were more or less the same. The conflict between the Blood Prince and the Myth Guild still existed, and the San Tuan Guild was still ripping people off. Wai Chung and his guild had also been one of the first to reach the Tomb. Only Song Haechang had been different. Only he had hit rock bottom. In the past, Song Haechang had been powerful. He wasn’t the best protector of weaker devas, but he still did his best.
“Are you looking down on me as well?!” His eyes were filled with anger now.
“Yeah, I am. What else did you expect?”
“You son of a bitch!” He pulled out a sword and stabbed at my chest, but the attack was in vain. His Fatigue was obviously extremely high.
I kicked his chest faster than he could attack. He couldn’t dodge or block it, and rolled back three times.
“How is it that only you became like this?”
He lay there on the ground, unable to get back up, and coughed. I just couldn’t fathom how he reached this state. He was so much better off than anyone else. He had so many resources at his disposal; there was no reason he could be like this.
“Yes, you. Who do you think I’m talking about? Look at yourself.” I just couldn’t get it that the powerful ice mage was swinging around a sword.
“Fuck you! What do you think you are to patronize me?”
“I’m not patronizing you. I didn’t even want to see you. I’m just here because your grandfather asked me to.”
“It’s just as I said. I don’t want to waste my time dealing with you. I could be using this time training, and yet here I am.”
His eyes flashed with an anger that I was familiar with. They no longer had a trace of fear. It reminded me of the Song Haechang of the past.
“I was going to just check, see how you’re doing. It’s actually better for me if you go and self-destruct. It’s one less ‘rival’ to worry about. Don’t you think so?”
“Shut your trap!”
“You realize it too, don’t you? You can’t possibly expect the entire Sunbin Guild to keep worrying about you and hope that you’ll come back to your senses, do you? That won’t happen. What you’re doing right now is only better for those that want to take your place.”
“Fuck you! I said shut up!” He picked up his sword again and rushed me. But just because he was angry didn’t make him stronger.
I kicked him in the chest again. At first I was going to just leave right away. I had no reason to help him or deal with him in any way.
But now that I saw what he was like, I started to change my mind. Was it remorse or pity? I began to think that it was also partly my fault. That was why I began to goad him. It wasn’t a sure way to help him regain his sense of self, but it was all I could do. If he saw me as his rival, it could actually work.
I walked over to him.
“Fuck off! Get the fuck away from me!”
“I don’t know why you’re so nervous, or why you feel so victimized. You hate that you’re so weak? You hate that your sister is better than you? You hate that you let down so many people?”
“Shut up and get the fuck out of my face!”
I kicked him again when he tried to tackle me. I began to understand him a little now. He began to remind me of myself of the past.
“If nothing works, then change what you’re doing, you dumbass. If you can’t be a tank, then be something else! If you can’t be a warrior, then be something else! You have so many paths to take and unlimited resources to help you. Why do you keep going down the wrong path?” I shouted.
“Fuck you! Don’t go flapping that trap of yours!”
==[Judge’s Gavel has been activated.]==
I kicked at him again when he charged at me and the red hammer slammed down on his head. He died from the blow. I didn’t regret killing him as the Sunbin Guild could help him even if I did kill him a few more times.
I watched as his body vanished into smoke and turned around to sit down. I waited as I was told that his Respawn Point was set up in this room. “What am I even doing here?”
Three hours later, Song Haechang had resurrected and we locked eyes. His eyes were full of malice now.
“What would an orphan like you know what I’m going through?” He didn’t charge in this time.
“Hah! So what if I’m an orphan? Do you think there’s anyone who looks down on me for being an orphan? Do you think there’s anyone who spits in my face for being an orphan? Do you think your grandfather and your father do anything like that to me?”
Song Haechang ground his teeth in anger.
“Stop acting like a child. Do you want to give up? Go ahead. But do you think everything will get easier if you do? Do you think you’ll be able to adapt when everyone else is forging on ahead?” Everything I just said was the same thing I told myself in the past.
“Do you think this a fucking tantrum?!”
“If it isn’t a tantrum, then you really are an idiot.”
“I did everything I could! I poured my heart and soul; I shed blood and tears, but nothing worked!”
“Then change, you moron. No one else has that choice, but you do! If it doesn’t work, fucking do something about it!”
I walked over to Song Haechang who was still shooting me death glares. “If it were me…I would be an Ice Mage instead.”
“Well, that’s my opinion. Judge’s Gavel!”
==[Judge’s Gavel has been activated.]==
“This is so that you come to your senses as soon as possible. And for trying to kidnap me.” I stabbed the dumbstruck Song Haechang with my spear one last time.
“Ha…I wonder if I overstepped my boundaries.” I wasn’t planning on going that far, but seeing him pissed me off. I just couldn’t let him be.
-Think of this as thanks for helping me and everyone else in the past.-
I wasn’t sure if he would actually take my advice and become an Ice Mage, but I did everything I could now. It was enough to clear my conscience if I really was the reason he became like that. If he got any worse, it wasn’t on me.
I left the room, feeling a huge weight lifted off my chest.