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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Been a long time since I heard the name of that book.”
“… You don’t say?”
“That’s right. Nobody dared to mention that book in front of me.”
Juho sensed that something was wrong.
“I didn’t overstep a boundary, did I?”
“Boundary? Not at all. I’m curious if anything,” Coin said, still looking serious. “What’s your reason? Of all books, why ‘Witch Hunt?’ It didn’t even make it into the collection.”
His debut title, ‘Witch Hunt’ was one of his least popular books. Not only did it get left out of the ‘Kelley Coin Collection,’ the compilation of his masterpieces, but every renowned critic considered it the worst book he had ever written. Yet…
“So what? I like it.”
Juho was fondest of that book. Regardless of how it was received, he felt drawn to ‘Witch Hunt,’ and to him, it was the greatest book ever written by Coin. Reaching with his hand, Juho grabbed the same book that he had had in his hands while previously at the bookstore. Because of its unpopular nature, the book was still in the same spot where Juho had left it before leaving the store.
“You see, I happen to be a writer myself.”
“I’m part of the Literature Club in my school, and one would often identify me as an ‘ace.'”
As Coin snickered at Juho’s answers, his once intimidating face softened up slightly.
“So, I’m well aware of how powerful and hurtful words can be. You can’t see or touch them either, so you can’t even put up a warning sign. At least knives and swords are simple. They make you tense up the second you hold one in your hands. Unlike words, it’s much easier to recognize that it shouldn’t be used against other people.”
Then, Juho looked at the back of the book, where the synopsis was. There was a character who lied habitually in ‘Witch Hunt,’ and the book never explained in detail how he had become a liar. There was no moral lesson or excuse. The character would just rave about meeting Santa Claus to a child, or describe the journey that his dying mother was about to take to her.
“Whenever I read this book, I think of paprika.”
“Yes. Not only is it good for you, but it tastes great.”
As Juho changed the course of their conversation from sharp objects to spices without warning, a perplexed look appeared on Coin’s face.
“Paprika can’t hurt anybody, and it’s quite colorful. I eat it for my own good.”
One’s decision not to pick up a knife was not for the benefit of other people.
“Think about it. You get to turn a sharp, metal object into paprika! How fascinating is that? It’s exhilarating how alchemic or magical it is. You know what’s even more fascinating though? It’s not even that difficult. There’s just no reason not to do it.”
Anybody was capable of holding a knife in their hands to hurt those around them. However, they didn’t use it. After all, it was a knife. What was more interesting was that it was a choice that was or would be common to people. In ‘Witch Hunt,’ there were a number of people who were ordinary, yet smart.
“This is not a book that encourages lying. One can tell by reading it. It’s just a get together of people who prefer having paprika over a knife in their hands…”
For that reason, Juho was fond of the book. No matter how unpopular it was or how ill received it had been by the critics, he was drawn to it the most. Although the book had brought the author himself a flood of criticism, it had had just the opposite effect for the young member of a school literature club.
“… and some find that encouraging and comforting.”
Coin stayed silent for a little while, and then opened his mouth to say, “I hate paprika.”
“What do you like then?”
At Juho’s question, he shook his hand, shaking the brown liquid in the cup with it.
“Don’t worry. You can’t see or touch words.”
They were not limited to paprika, either. They were free.
“You arrogant little…” Coin muttered as smile spread across his face.
That day, he was impressed by a boy he met on the other side of the planet. He realized that what was once the bane of his existence had become just a bit more pleasant to him. If the book had always had the power to impact its readers like how it had done to Juho, that meant that it was a good book, no matter what anybody had to say about it. What was once a festering wound transformed into something entirely different.
Coin reminisced to the day when his book was first published. He was infuriated by the criticisms, and he decided to retaliate against those who had hurt him. However, it wasn’t enough to abate his anger.
“You got guts, kid. I’ll give you that.”
Despite knowing who Coin was, the boy wasn’t afraid to share his opinions, and before the author knew, his heart softened in the little time he had spent with the boy. Coin reached for his book on the shelf and opened it for the first time since it was published. Although he couldn’t read a single letter in the book, remembering the content was hardly a challenge. ‘It can’t hurt to revisit the past. If a kid was drawn to it, then it might not be such a bad book after all.’
Then, Coin came to the sudden realization that he hadn’t been drinking his coffee.
“How old are you?”
While puzzled by his sudden question, Juho answered, “Eighteen.”
“Same age as Yun Woo.”
That day, the name “Yun Woo” became something much more significant than a mythical creature like a unicorn. With his debut title in his hand, Coin said, “I’m giving this to my mom as a gift.”
“Does she know how to read Korean?”
“No, but it won’t put her to sleep at least.”
With that, Juho followed Coin to the cashier and interpreted on his behalf. Suddenly, he heard a shout, “Kelley Coin!”
The voice sounded familiar somehow. She had been arguing about who was the better author between Yun Woo and Won Yi Young with her friend when Juho had been in the bookstore alone. They must have stuck around. Each was wearing a look of disbelief, covering their mouths with their hands and squealing with excitement.
“You’re Kelly Coin, right?!” one of them said as she paced back and forth.
“Ah, crap! I forgot to keep my sunglasses on,” Coin said as he brushed his hand down his face.
“They might have recognized you even if you were wearing your sunglasses,” Juho said as he thought back to the author’s less-than-welcoming tone of speech. He was chugging his coffee like beer even at that moment.
“Could you give us your autograph?! Please?!”
The two squealing, excited fans attracted even more attention, and as more people stared in their direction, Juho distanced himself from him one step at a time.
“Well, I better get going now.”
“Hey, kid,” Coin called for him, and he stopped in his tracks as he made his way to the exit. “You said you write, right?”
“Yes,” Juho answered calmly.
“I think you have what it takes to write a decent book.”
With those words, the author walked toward the crowd, and as he saw the author taking pictures and giving out his autograph to his fans, Juho leisurely made his way out of the bookstore. The ‘Harpy’ on the other side of the storefront came into his view, and that place was much more peaceful. Retracing his steps, he made his way back home, receiving a phone call upon arrival.
“Mr. Woo,” it was Nam Kyung, and Juho took the opportunity to share the news.
“Guess who I just met.”
‘How’d he know?’
“He’s in Korea right now.”
Somehow, it didn’t sound like that statement was in response to Juho’s, so he listened more carefully and noticed that Nam Kyung was suppressing his voice.
“Yes, I’m aware.”
“You read it on the internet, huh?”
Although Juho had met Coin in person, he quietly played along with Nam Kyung as he sensed something serious. He did it to hear what Nam Kyung had to say as well.
“Do you know why he’s here?” he asked.
The only thing Juho knew about Coin coming to Korea was that the author had come to meet someone. Because of that, waiting for Nam Kyung’s answer was all the more nerve-racking.
Thoughts flooded into Juho’s mind as he remembered the intimidating look on Coin’s face whenever he mentioned Yun Woo or that he had come to meet someone.
“You, Mr. Woo. He’s here because of you.”
Juho thought for a little while, only to ask again, “… I’m sorry, what?!”
“Kelley Coin came to Korea to meet Yun Woo, and we just received a call from his publishing company. What should we do?”
“… What do you mean?”
“Would you like to meet him or not?”
It was time for Juho to make a decision. ‘What do I do?’ he thought as he thought back on the things Coin had said to him.
“I think you have what it takes to write a decent book.”
On the other hand, he had also expressed strong displeasure toward Yun Woo.
“I mean, I gotta do better than a unicorn, right?”
“The stakes are high here, and I have a terrible feeling that my nose is one of them,” Juho said as he rubbed his nose.
“I can’t believe what’s about to happen,” Nam Kyung murmured as he paced back and forth anxiously in the largest conference room in the entire building. It was also the space they had prepared for their meeting with Kelley Coin. It wasn’t common for the Zelkova Publishing Company to have a visitor from overseas, let alone a world renowned novelist. In most cases, meetings like that tended to take place after a prior agreement for things like lectures or special events. The author would often be invited to meet with someone from the publishing company staff in between their scheduled events.
In other words, Kelley Coin was the first author ever to fly to Korea without letting anyone in the country know, just so he could meet with an author.
“Mr .Woo, this day will be among the greatest achievements in the history of our company.
“I think my heart it about to jump out,” Mr. Maeng answered the editor-in-chief.
There were less than five people in the room waiting for Kelly Coin’s arrival. While Coin did demand specifically for a smaller meeting, Yun Woo’s uniqueness as an author was also one of the major contributing factors. There weren’t many people who knew what Yun Woo looked like even within the company. It almost looked like a secret mission as the handful of people waited for the world renowned author in the large conference room.
“Are you sure that you won’t need an interpreter, Mr. Woo?”
“Yes, I’m rather fluent in English.”
The editor-in-chief asked out of concern, but the young author seemed quite confident. As he was about to ask one more time, the phone broke the silence.
“Yeah? All right, I’ll be out in a minute.”
As everyone in the room sensed Coin’s arrival immediately, Mr. Maeng and the editor-in-chief rose from their seats and said, “Mr. Woo, prepare yourself.”
The editor-in-chief left a warning as he left the conference room in order to greet Kelley Coin, and Nam Kyung let out a heavy sigh because he had already heard the news that Coin had already met the young author, who had introduced himself as “Juho Woo.”
Nam Kyung looked at Juho, who was calmly looking around the room for a potential exit. The editor had never seen or heard of the young author losing his composure to that very day. However, Kelley Coin had a reputation as a trouble maker. It was a stark contrast to Yun Woo, who led a quiet life despite shaking the entire country with his writing.
Although they both debuted at an early age, there was also a stark contrast in the way their books were received. Whereas Yun Woo’s debut title was widely recognized and well received from the start, Coin’s had been neglected and ill received. Yun Woo resembled peaceful waters, while Coin was violent and boiling with anger.
Nam Kyung grew more and more anxious as he anticipated the first official encounter between the world renowned author and the young, sensational author. They were about to meet as authors, and Nam Kyung was nervous about what their conversation would be like. Considering Coin’s reputation, it was more than possible that he would try to throw a punch at the young author.
At that moment, a series of footsteps sounded from outside. Preparing himself, Nam Kyung opened his mouth and told Juho, “I might be able to hold him back for a few seconds.”
At that, Juho chuckled and answered, “Thanks for letting me know.”
“I’m not kidding. Keep your nose covered.”
At the end of those words, the door opened, and Mr. Maeng, the editor-in-chief, Isabella, and Coin walked into the conference room in order. Nam Kyung and Juho rose from their seats as the editor-in-chief and Isabella, Coin’s editor, exchanged cheerful words and Coin walked in looking indifferent. Everyone’s heart was rushing with excitement and anxiety. As Coin looked around the room, Yun Woo stared at the foreigner intently until their eyes locked.
Then, Coin stopped in his tracks suddenly, forcing everyone in front of him to stop with him. As the air sank into a strange silence, Nam Kyung took a step back slowly while everyone quietly analyzed the situation.
“Coin?” Isabella called for the author, but Coin’s eyes were fixated on the young author standing in front of him, his opponent who had been writing astounding books under the name, “Yun Woo,” the kid who stood on top of his lifelong achievements.
“You little…” Coin said angrily, and everyone tensed up, except for the young author.
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