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The Great Storyteller (Web Novel) - Chapter 74- A Plateful (4)

Chapter 74- A Plateful (4)

This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog

Translated by: ShawnSuh

Edited by: SootyOwl

“Nothing’s sadder than not having enough to eat,” said Yun Seo.

“She always says that when she cooks.”

“I agree. There’s nothing sadder.”

Juho was able to relate to her as he reminisced about his old days when he had to rely on soup kitchen rations for survival. He knew the sadness in watching another person eating while he himself had been starving.

“Huh… I was under the impression that you grew up in a wealthy family,” Geun Woo said.

“I do get that a lot,” Juho answered.

“Here, why don’t you have some more peppers?”

In the end, Juho finally took a bite.

After dinner, he went out to the backyard and sat on the wooden bench.

“What are you doing?” Joon Soon asked.

“I’m watching the ants.”

Before his feet, there were ants lined up to return to their nest. As if they had understood what Juho and Joon Soo were talking about, they stopped for a brief moment. Juho moved his foot aside to let them through.

“Did you get enough to eat?”

Juho nodded as he thought about the generous portions.

“Of course. It was delicious. I don’t think I can eat another bite.”

“Uh-oh! That’s not good. Mrs. Baek is about to bring out the desserts. The portions are probably going to be just as generous.”

“Hm.”

He really was in trouble, but he rubbed his belly. ‘Would I be able to eat more?’

As he counted his blessings, Joon Soo said, “I’m actually pretty full too. Would you like to look around the house? We might as well get some steps in.”

“The house?”

Juho got up instead of giving an answer. Since he didn’t have anything better to do, he followed Joon Soo’s lead.

Walking past the classroom where he had talked to Joon Soo and Geun Woo, he was met with two rooms to either side of him.

“The rooms used to be for lodging, but we use it as studios now.”

“So, this is where you write?”

“Yep. It helps me focus. I asked for it as a favor from Mrs. Baek. By the way, Geun Woo is using the other room.”

He opened the door. As it opened quietly, the first thing that came into Juho’s view was countless poems that covered the entire room.

“You must like poetry.”

They seemed beautiful even from a glance. He looked around the room. There was a desk and, on top of it, papers. Laptops, books and traces of research were scattered throughout the room. Surprisingly, there was also a bottle of alcohol. He hadn’t seemed like the type to enjoy drinking.

While Juho wondered curiously, Joon Soo said, “It’s a hobby of mine. I recite them from time to time too.”

Juho took his eyes off the bottle and slowly walked toward the wall. There was another poem there.

“It’s in Chinese characters, so you might not be able to read it. Would you like a copy of the translation?”

“Oh, no. It’s fine.”

Joon Soo stopped abruptly. He hadn’t expected that Juho would decline, but Juho said as he looked at him, “A jar of wine amid the flowers, without anyone knowing, I drink in solitude.”

Joon Soo’s slightly droopy eyes widened gradually.

“I raise my glass to the moon, there are three including my shadow. The moon doesn’t know how to drink, and my shadow follows everything I do in vain,” Juho read out loud.

“You know how to read Chinese?”

“I’m interested in language.”

“I’m impressed.”

Juho asked as he looked at the poem, “I’m seeing a lot of Li Taibo’s works.”

Li Taibo had been a legendary figure in the poetry world, and there were a number of his poems in Joon Soo’s room. Juho had also liked the poem that he’d just read.

“I’m a fan. It’s been a goal of mine to be a poet.”

Juho was caught by surprise, then. He had never known that Joon Soo wanted to be a poet. That was when he understood why Joon Soo had a bottle of alcohol in his room. If his role model was Li Taibo, it made sense that Joon Soo liked to drink. After all, Li Taibo was known for his love of liquor.

Juho asked the novelist before his eyes, “So, what made you become a novelist?”

“It wasn’t for me, being a poet.”

Juho became curious as to what had made Joon Soo move on from poetry and switch over to novels. Seeing the curiosity in Juho’s eyes, he willingly explained, “I never enjoyed the taste of alcohol.”

“Then, what’s the bottle for? Is it for viewing purposes?”

“You could say that. It’s closer to being data than what it actually is,” he said as he poured it into a stubby glass. It was clear. He tapped the glass with his fingers two more times.

“I started writing because of poetry. I fell in love with its beauty, so I wanted to be a poet.”

He calmly shared his past dreams.

“You didn’t become a poet just because you didn’t like the taste of alcohol, right?” Juho asked with his eyes on the glass in Joon Soo’s hand.

‘That’s right,” he said as he raised the glass. The moonlight shone onto the glass and made it sparkle. The sun had already set, and the moon had come up. It was lighting the world that had grown dark. Juho had spent quite some time in that house.

“In other words, I didn’t have the skill.”

“But you write so beautifully now. Is there a difference between poetry and novels?”

“Of course!” he answered as he kept his eyes fixed on the glass. “I’m sure you understand what it feels like when you finish your story for the first time.”

“I do.”

Juho was a writer himself, and he knew what that felt like. It almost felt like everything was swept away as if he’d broken a window. Perhaps he would be able to replicate that feeling if he were to shout for about three days. He had put in everything he had. Like flowing down the river, he had let everything go in the current. More so than emptiness, he felt joy.

“It felt like I spent every bit of what I had.”

“That sounds right. I felt the same. It kind of feels like this…”

He brought the glass to his mouth. As the wine flowed down his throat, Joon Soo shook the glass three times. The glass emptied, with nothing remaining in it.

“What happens next?” Joon Soo asked.

“You gotta fill it back up,” answered Juho.

“That’s right,” answered Joon Soo as he filled his glass back up. The wine sparkled in the moonlight once again.

“You know, I just never got into this.”

He had had his first taste of alcohol. Once the glass was empty, he had filled it back up. However, he didn’t want to drink it.

“Then?” Juho asked.

“I wanted something completely different. That burning sensation in my throat was more than enough. Once I felt that, I was content. I didn’t want to repeat it. To me, wine was a poem.”

He brought the glass to his mouth once again. The wine flowed into it, and the glass emptied once again. Juho recited another passage from the same poem he had read, “If the sky hadn’t the appreciation for wine, there would have been one less star at night.”

(TL’s note: there seems to have been a belief in China that one of the stars was responsible for wine and anything related to it.)

“If the land hadn’t the appreciation for wine, there would have been one less well to drink from,” continued Joon Soo.

(TL’s note: The poem seems to be referring to the well either as a figure of speech for ample amount of wine or the city of Jiuquan, which the letters translate to ‘well of wine.’)

“So, what else do you want to do instead of filling up your glass?”

With a mischievous face, he flung open the window. The expression didn’t fit his usual friendly appearance. A gust of wind rushed into the room and blew against the poems on the walls. ‘What did he want more than poetry?’

“Like this,” answered Joon Soo as he hurled the glass out the window onto the backyard. It landed not too far from the wooden bench.

Then, he reached out his hand and grabbed a leaf from a nearby branch and put it into his mouth.

“To go out looking for something weird and unconventional.”

He was pursuing a new flavor. Rather than remembering the first taste of wine, he preferred chewing on meat and vegetables.

“You’ll find yourself chewing on rocks at that rate.”

“Don’t worry. I have strong teeth.”

He’d been born to be a novelist. Without the tenacity of being able to chew on a pebble, an author would not be able to survive the challenges of his craft.

“Although I still have a long way to go as a novelist.”

“I’ve been enjoying your work quite a bit.”

“I appreciate that. My new book is coming out this month. I’ll send over a copy.”

“Is that so? I didn’t know! Congratulations!”

“I have a good feeling this time. It’s my ninth novel since the debuting title,” said Joon Soo playfully. Ninth. In his theory of luck, it made sense.

“Sounds like it’ll do well.”

“Right?”

“Although, I regret to inform you that my book is coming out soon.”

“Ah, bummer,” said Joon Soo as his smile turned to a sad face.

As Juho looked at his face, he realized something about Joon Soo. His beautiful, elegant style had come from his past goal of being a poet. Maybe was able to write like a poet because of his memory of tasting wine for the first time rather than being lucky.

When they returned to the wooden bench, they had an awkward laugh at the sight of all the desserts she had brought out.

Juho headed to the park for his late evening exercise. Jogging had to have been a big help. He hadn’t been running out of breath as easily as of late, and he felt great after sweating. Its refreshing sensation had a lot in common with the sensation of finishing a story for the first time.

He ran past familiar sceneries for a while. As he reached the vending machine at the resting area, his phone rang in his pocket. He checked it after purchasing a drink. It was a text message from Seo Kwang. It was the time and place for the gathering between the club members. The following day, the club members would be coming together for the first time since the beginning of summer break. The place was Seo Kwang’s house – in other words, a book store. After writing back with a brief response, he continued running.

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“Whew, it’s getting warm.”

It had been a hot day. By the time Juho arrived at Seo Kwang’s bookstore, all the club members were already there. It was the same place where Juho had counseled Seo Kwang about his first love. Before walking over to join them, Juho stopped to greet Seo Kwang’s mother.

“Hello, Mrs. Kim.”

“You’re back! Would you like anything to drink?” She welcomed him gladly. Seo Kwang must have taken on after his mother.

After a brief look at the menu, Juho said, “I’ll have an iced tea, please.”

“You got it. Go join your friends!”

“Yes, ma’am.”

When he joined the club members, they were already eating and drinking.

“I didn’t think I was late.”

“I’d never been here, so I left early just in case, but it turns out it’s pretty close to where I live,” said Sun Hwa. Bom nodded in agreement. They must have come together.

“Baron? How about you?”

“I came right after the contest, so I ended up getting here early.”

He had come from the sketching contest, but he didn’t seem even a little bit tired. His endurance was admirable.

When Juho took his seat, everyone sat exactly the same way as they did in the science room. Bom was opposite to him, and Seo Kwang was beside him. Sun Hwa sat diagonally from him, and Baron on the opposite side. It had been a while.

“So how have you guys been?”

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