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Joonbum shook away his thoughts and drove to Jinchul’s store. Joonbum scowled as he breathed in the foul air of his world that disgusted him.
-Today’s fine dust level is…-
Joonbum grimaced at the polluted air and drove towards Jinchul’s store. When he arrived and started parking, Jinchul came out of the store to greet him.
“Hey! Long time no see. I heard you’re doing great now!”
Jinchul shouted excitedly as Joonbum beamed, embarrassed at the compliment.
“Don’t flatter me too much. How are you these days?”
“Not too well. Sales went up a bit but its back to normal, leaving me with all the stocks. You can never be too greedy.”
“Is it that serious?” Joonbum asked with a worried expression. Jinchul shook his head and smiled bitterly.
“Hey! Don’t worry, it’s just a joke. It’s not that bad. Don’t take it seriously.”
Joonbum was handed over a cup of coffee, which he drank while looking around the shop.
‘It did increase.’
The store had a wider variety of goods with a lot of used items also. It looked more like a shop than it did before.
“I’ll feature your store on one of the screens.”
“You know, the cloth that you cover the surface with when you clean the rifle. I’ll have your store’s name printed on it and place it on the bottom when I do it.”
Jinchul’s seemed to be at a loss for words.
“Don’t worry, it’s nothing. I have a lot of screens. Also, you let me start out with those rifles. I really appreciate it.”
“But that was more like well-decorated junk…”
Jinchul seemed to be sorry at the thought. Joonbum grinned.
“I know, but it’s still usable. You adjusted it a bit too, remember? It’s more useful now and worth it.”
Jinchul looked awkward even after Joonbum reassured him.
‘He really is a nice guy.’
Joonbum did not realize this before. He was too full of himself to earn more money. But now, after being freed from that chain, he was now able to look at other people around him.
“I am thinking about starting this business. What do you think?”
Jinchul looked puzzled as he received a packet of documents from Joonbum. He was already very successful with his videos. He was best of the best. There was no point in starting a new business.
“Can you take a look at it?”
“Hey, hey. I understand you got some money, but you need to be more careful now. Ever heard of those horror stories where people started bigger businesses and failed, losing everything?”
Jinchul told him this while shaking his head. Joonbum felt a warm feeling in his heart as he knew Jinchul was sincerely worried.
‘Is this what it’s like to have a real brother?’
Jinchul was like an older brother stopping a younger brother from going down a dangerous path.
“I still need more time. I don’t have enough money yet either. Can you look at it?”
Jinchul took out the documents and read them through. He grew more confused as he read on.
“Are you sure you want to do this? Can’t you just experience it?”
‘I guess I don’t need to do it myself if it was only for the video.’
Joonbum smiled awkwardly and scratched his head at Jinchul’s advice.
“You’ll need a lot of preparation for this. A lot of money too. I am guessing at least 400 to 500 million won.”
Joonbum nodded at Jinchul. Jinchul frowned.
“Are you thinking of purchasing an existing business?”
Jinchul grew more puzzled.
[He worked like a horse and now he has horse-like muscles!]
[I think he’s on steroids.]
[Pig Joonbum has evolved.]
[He definitely is on steroids. You can’t have that just by farming.]
[His mother looks better too. I think her skin softened a lot.]
[Look at that wolves growing. They’re already big as calves! Where are our cute puppies!]
[The puppies have grown too… No!]
[Summer is already over… I haven’t gone to the beach yet.]
The video was filled with various responses. He drank his beer while checking all the new responses.
“This is so good.”
The beer tasted so good with its coldness filling up his mouth, as if it was soaking his entire body.
“It’s the beer after a hard day of work!”
He had been working all day through the morning and was just taking a break. His mother was preparing lunch as he was resting. She was very surprised at how Joonbum’s appetite had grown these days.
‘Is it already September?’
Time flew quickly. Unlike his initial concerns, his mother quickly adjusted to life in the other world. Lately, she started tending a small farm near the other barricade. It was like she was enjoying a quiet farm life.
-Mom, are you not scared? There have been some monster intrusions here.-
-Of course I am. But if you think about it, everywhere is scary, you know. I think this place is safe with you, Galfus, and those people protecting us here. I love being here with you. I am more scared that I may be left alone on Earth.-
Her last sentence made Joonbum’s heart ache.
There was another reason why she chose to stay here with him. His mother had chronic pain in her waist and knee joints due to overworking at the restaurant. But when she started living here, those symptoms disappeared completely. Her skin softened and her wrinkles started disappearing. She was considered to have the joints of a thirty-year-old now.
‘It’s like she’s back to her prime.’
She was more like how she looked when Joonbum was young. Joonbum speculated that either the swirl or something here affected the body.
‘Hope we don’t grow horns on our foreheads.’
A loud voice was heard and Joonbum jumped up to see a man with a familiar face walking in, opening the door.
“Doral! Come in. Beer!”
Joonbum waved the beer at Doral. Doral burst into a smile.
“Mother, I’m back.”
Doral shouted again as he heard Joonbum’s mother calling him. Doral walked towards the kitchen where Joonbum’s mother was working.
“Hmm? Joonbum, do you know what this is?”
Joonbum smiled as she was looking at an organism that was handed over to her confusingly. It seemed that Doral had already taken the blood and intestines out of it.
“Delicious, Mother. Fry it, bake it, boil it, still delicious.”
Doral explained with gestures and Joonbum’s mother nodded, roughly understanding what he was saying.
“I guess I’ll pull my sleeves up and work on it.”
She was a skilled chef with over ten years of restaurant experience. Her hesitation at the sight of the meat that she had never seen before disappeared.
Doral grinned as she started working and came to sit on the empty chair next to Joonbum.
‘He’s really is making himself comfortable now.’
It was July when Doral returned to the fortress. He came with four women and a baby. When they first appeared, Joonbum’s mother was very surprised at the sight.
Every one of them was armed with spears, swords, and bows. But when Doral turned to the woman standing behind him, they knew what was happening.
The woman was holding a sleeping baby. All four women bowed when Doral muttered something to them.
-I am Agelie. Thank you for saving my son.-
-I am her sister Vegit. Thank you for saving my sister’s son.-
-I am her sister Hessrah…-
-I am her sister Mayze…-
Joonbum and his mother could guess what they were saying right away. They were here to thank them for saving the baby. As if to prove it, they laid down their weapons and put down what they had been carrying. The first was a wooden barrel filled with something. The second was a small silver bottle. The bottle was covered with beautiful engravings, proving it was not some ordinary bottle. It was also sealed like the wooden barrel as it was filled with something as well. It seemed to be a token of gratitude for the saving of the baby and for the gift he gave to the Ainos during their first visit.
The language barrier was still there but Joonbum’s mother quickly made friends with them.
-Why is that weird? I worked at the restaurant for ten years and met many foreigners. You don’t need to speak their language when you have all your hands and legs. It’s bit embarrassing at first… They don’t speak our language either.-
It was a life experience.
A small party was held. Joonbum’s mother cooked up her delicious dishes and the women were astonished. They were mostly astonished at the fried dishes as that kind of cooking method did not exist in their environment. They were also fascinated by the various cooking utensils. They eyed them as if they were some kind of treasure. They were also very surprised at how bright it was with all the artificial lights even though the sun had gone down.
They left the next day, but Doral started visiting once every two days. Joonbum was now happy to see Doral. It was a bit awkward at the beginning, but his visits were extremely useful. Joonbum was learning their language through Doral.
‘They aren’t elves… but they’re very pretty.’
The woman who caught Joonbum’s attention was Mayze, the youngest of the sisters. She had a slight reddish face with freckles scattered all over. She had a tall nose with greenish blue eyes.
‘Wonder how she’s doing?’
Joonbum was deep in thought as Doral urged him. He shook it away and handed the beer over to Doral.
“Here, drink it!”
Doral opened up the can and started drinking it.
“Beer has to be cold.”
Joonbum was speaking in the Ainos language.
“Okay, let’s study until lunch.”
“Sure, let’s do it.”
Doral laughed with joy. Joonbum pulled out a picture book for babies. It was a book full of drawings such as fruits, animals, or stuff on Earth.
The study method was simple. When Joonbum pointed at an object, Doral taught him what it was called. Joonbum also learned the words to describe a behavior by showing him the actual motions.
Joonbum stopped thinking and started writing down the word Doral taught him. The study continued until dinner time. It was to be continued after dinner.
“Joonbum, you must hunt too.”
Joonbum looked at Doral, confused.
He knew what the word meant, so it brought him more questions. Doral acted as if he was using a bow or throwing a spear.
“I need to do this?”
Joonbum turned on the computer and found a hunting scene that he had saved from a movie. Doral nodded.
He nodded again.
‘What? I need to hunt?’
“Wohaa! Ugu! Kieh!”
Doral suddenly rose up, imitating different kinds of animals. He then pointed at the forest, then to the fortress, then to Galfus.
“Monsters are invading Galfus’ territory. We’re driving them out, but it’s not enough. You need to do it on your own if you want to protect this place. All of the men at the village are on guard until those monsters are found. It can take days for them to spot those monsters at times.”
Joonbum’s eyes widened. He was able to roughly understand the situation. He looked at the note he wrote down and found the words Doral had spoken and understood.
‘Those monsters are coming back.’
It was only natural because there were no more packs of wolves guarding the forest. Galfus was alone. The cubs were growing fast, but they were far from being much help. Even the fully-grown adults had a hard time dealing with those monsters. There was no way Galfus could handle those monsters alone.
‘She needed my help back then.’
Joonbum felt a sudden chill run down his spine.
Doral grinned as Joonbum looked concerned.
“Don’t worry. It’s safe here. Women from the tribe will come here. They will not hunt, but they will protect her,” Doral explained carefully as Joonbum nodded.
‘It’s fortunate that I prepared for it.’
Joonbum thought about the business he talked about with Jinchul.
Doral nodded in excitement as Joonbum spoke to him in the Ainos language.
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