Chapter 168: Chapter 167: Lee Kangchan Part III
My mother and I sat down with Lee Taejung in a large private room.
“Please, help yourself,” Lee Taejung said as he poured us tea.
“Thank you,” I replied as I accepted a cup.
My mother next to me looked around her, nervous, and kept sipping at her cup. My grandfather before us was a deva and the guild master at that, while she was still a mortal with her token of knowledge still on her wrist. I doubted the two were going to have a tearful reunion.
Finally, Lee Taejung opened his mouth to speak and addressed me as if I was family. “The last time I saw you, you were just a baby, but now that I see you up close, I can see that you’re the spitting image of your father.”
“My mother said the same, but I wouldn’t know.”
Lee Taejung chuckled. “Yes, I suppose you wouldn’t. You’re still using Lee Jiwon as your name, aren’t you?”
“Yes. It’s the only name I knew, and it’s what I was called at the orphanage.”
“That’s good to hear. I was the one who named you, after all.”
“I…see.” I had no idea about that, but I didn’t doubt him. “My mother called me the same when we first met.”
“I, like your mother, believed you were dead. That day, thirteen newborn babies died in that fire; all thirteen, including you.”
“Excuse me?” I didn’t get what he was saying. What did he mean, including me when I’m sitting right in front of him?
“It’s as I said. Your father ran into the burning building but couldn’t even make it to the nursery. We found his body in the middle of the hallway.”
My mother began to cry again as my grandfather explained. I could see why; it was probably the one memory she didn’t want to recall. My grandfather continued, however.
“There was no need to do a DNA test. All thirteen newborn bodies were found in the nursery, burned to death. They were still in their cribs.”
“And… what about me?”
“There were the ashes of a baby in your crib. It had to be you. We had no reason to doubt it. We buried you with your father.”
“…” I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t heard this part from my mother and I really didn’t expect to hear it. I was alive and well, but another baby had died on my crib?
“I heard your name many times recently. Well, it was impossible not to. You’re a legendary deva, hailing from South Korea. People know your name more than Sunbin. There was your face, as well. We tried to be as skeptical as possible, but all that left was left were your mother’s and my shattered memories.”
“But who would do that?” This wasn’t a simple case, nor could it have been carried out easily.
“I don’t know. We couldn’t find a single clue these past twenty or thirty years. The fire marshal ruled it an accident, and the families of the victims accepted it. No one had any reason to deny it.”
After what my grandfather just said, the room fell silent, save for my mother’s crying. I didn’t know what to make of it all.
“Don’t think about it too hard. I wasn’t telling you all this to confuse you. It’s all in the past now. There’s no way to undo anything or fix it. I’m just…” Tears began to well in his eyes, even though he had kept his calm demeanor since we met.
As my mother and grandfather sat beside me, crying, I could tell what they had been feeling all this time. They had missed me terribly and were relieved and happy I was the person of their dreams. And yet, I was cautious of them, in case they were trying to take advantage of my fame. I didn’t know why I was like that, though. It may have been because I lived my entire life as an orphan, or maybe it was just a normal, human reaction.
“Thank you…for being alive and for growing up a fine man. And thank you for allowing us to meet you.” I silently allowed my grandfather to take my hand.
We began to talk to each other much more comfortably after that.
“The Sojung Guild is yours, if you want it. Kangchan’s father may be the de facto leader, but that can be easily reversed.”
“No, I’m sorry, but I don’t care about the Sojung Guild.”
My grandfather chuckled. “You’re right. Sojung is too small for you. It would be more of a burden for you, instead.”
“No, that’s not really it. I can help you regain full power, if you so wish.”
“No, that’s alright. I’m too old-fashioned now. The radicals realized this and I let them take over. A construction worker like me wasn’t fit to be a guild master in the first place.”
I didn’t know what to say to that.
“Then what are you planning to do now? You came all this way to find your mother…”
“I want to leave with her, if she wants, and make a new home for her. I want to make a place fit for Lee Jiwon’s mother,” I said, taking my mother’s hand. “Of course, it’s up to her.”
There was no way I was leaving her under Lee Kangchan’s care. But, if she did say she was going to stay, I would get rid of Lee Kangchan and the rest of his side of the family first.
“I see. Then what will you do?” my grandfather asked my mother.
“I… will leave with Jiwon.”
“Good; as you should. You’re finally reunited with your son, so of course you should go. But, I want to go too.”
“What?” I blurted out, surprised.
My grandfather laughed. “If this continues, Sojung will be split into two; the radicals and the moderates. Or the radicals may just absorb the moderates to their side and completely take over the guild. Either way, I no longer have any ambitions or wants. All I want now is to bring along a few loyal members and follow you.”
I turned to face my mother after what he just said. I only planned on taking her, but she looked back at me and nodded without hesitation. Maybe this was the better choice. It might be easier for her to adapt if she was with a few people she knew.
“Will you be alright with giving up on the Sojung Guild and all the work you put into it?”
“I’ve made my decision. It wasn’t mine to begin with. It’ll be better to just hand it over to those who want it.”
“I understand. I’ll make the proper arrangements.”
“I won’t slow you down. If it’s too much for you, you can say no.”
“No, I can handle at least that much.”
I had planned on building a small home, big enough just for my mother, but now that more people were coming with me, I decided to make a bigger home. I would make it a home for me as well, strong and sound.
While Lee Jiwon and his mother were meeting with Lee Taejung…
“What’s taking them so long?”
“I know, right?”
“Hey, if Lee Jiwon joins Sojung…does that make our guild Korea’s number two guild?”
“What? Think about it. He’s the guild master’s direct bloodline; there’s no reason he won’t become the heir. It only makes sense if someone as strong as him joins our guild.”
Already, many Sojung guild members had begun to accept Lee Jiwon into their ranks. He had already proved his strength, and if he could become their future leader, there was nothing better to look forward to.
On the other hand, the radicals felt like someone had put the final nail in their coffins, especially Lee Kangchan’s father, Lee Sookwang, the leader of the radicals.
“Calm down. Nothing’s set in stone yet,” Lee Sookwang quickly quieted his son. “Are you sure you didn’t do anything to wrong him?”
“I’m sure. The Yung Gong battle was the first time I ever saw him. There’s no way I could do that to him.”
“Hmm…” Lee Sookwang didn’t say anymore. He knew what his son said was true. Lee Kangchan had always moved under his father’s watchful eye, and he would know if his son had ever run into someone as strong as Lee Jiwon. However, Lee Sookwang clearly heard what Lee Jiwon said to his son, as he was standing right next to him.
Lee Jiwon was definitely targeting Lee Kangchan. Even if this was some sort of sick prank on Lee Jiwon’s part, things didn’t look good. Hell, if Lee Jiwon was serious about this, it would really mean the end of the Sojung Guild. Lee Jiwon could probably wipe them out on his own. No, he might just have the ten thousand soldiers that came with him act, and the result would be the same.
Lee Sookwang turned to look around him. Half of the guild members were ecstatic that Lee Jiwon had graced them with his presence, and the other half looked as if they were force fed dog shit.
-Ha…if things continue, I’ll lose everything I’ve worked for.-
He had blatantly tied his guild master’s hands and feet and slowly brought the guild over to his side. Lee Jiwon had ruined everything when he butted in during the battle and when he came here in person. Lee Sookwang was beginning to feel anxious.
Two hours later…
I paid a visit to the officers of my allied factions.
I could have dealt with building a home for my mother if it would be for just one person. But now, three hundred more were coming with her. They were from the moderates who followed my grandfather.
I had asked that no one who bothered my mother be included, but they assured me that the radicals were responsible for her treatment. They told me that they tried to help her, but she always rejected them and resigned herself to her fate.
Either way, I needed help building a place for all three hundred devas, especially from Sunbin.
“We can accommodate three thousand, if you need.”
“I’m sorry that you have to keep helping me.”
“Hah! Please, this doesn’t count as helping. We had plans to set up a safe zone in our territory anyway. Set up there for now and we’ll see what happens. You even can stay there for the next century if you so wish.”
The next morning…
The Sojung Guild became quite busy after their guild master gave his sudden order.
“I thank all of you for following this pathetic guild master all these years. I acknowledge my shortcomings and have decided to step down as guild master.”
“!!!” Both sides of the guild were shocked. Neither side expected him to make that decision.
“I have decided to take my most loyal followers and leave with my grandson. I am deeply sorry for having to leave and betray all those who had believed in me. I know whatever I say won’t be enough for you to forgive me.” Lee Taejung bowed all the way to the ground for all to see.
“I leave all guild responsibilities to Lee Sookwang.”
“Sir…” Lee Taechung was only a distant relative to Lee Sookwang. This was the chance Lee Sookwang was looking for all this time, but not like this!
“I made my decision. Those who don’t wish to stay, pack your things. We will leave in one hour. It’s best we don’t stand in their way too long.”
The choice was made for the moderates. They no longer had any reason to stay with Sojung, and now they could start fresh elsewhere.
“Ha…” I watched as Lee Kangchan stood there, dumbly. He was the main reason I wanted to get this strong so quickly. I wanted to torment him for eternity and I always imagined killing him over and over again in my mind. I always imagined him begging for his life at my feet, but in reality, I only killed him once. It wasn’t like I couldn’t; it just wouldn’t look good if I tried to kill him again.
I’d just turn into some psycho to the rest of the world who let his power get to his head. They wouldn’t understand my reason, either.
Another reason was that now that I had faced two of the Seven Monarchs, I realized Lee Kangchan was just a normal deva. I just couldn’t get over how scared of a normal deva I was all this time!
-I’ll leave you for now…but don’t forget that I’ll always be watching.-
I gave Lee Kangchan one last look as he trembled in fear under my gaze.
After killing him once that day, I no longer imagined him suffering at my hands. I was more or less done with him now. There were bigger things to worry about!