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The Great Storyteller (Web Novel) - Chapter 154 – Nothing Lasts Forever (1)

Chapter 154 – Nothing Lasts Forever (1)

This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog

Translated by: ShawnSuh

Edited by: SootyOwl

Juho was at the same beach he had visited several times previously. A small seagull flew over his head, making Juho wonder if it was the offspring of a larger seagull he had seen during his last visit. Unfortunately, the tide was far out in the distance already, and it reminded Juho that he had arrived a tad too late.

Then, he walked toward the water. Being at the beach at a later time wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, and one of the benefits was that he got to see tiny crabs coming out of their holes, crawling about busily. On top of that, the crabs left trails of lumps of sand, indicating where they had had their meals. Once they finished feeding off of the tiny creatures that lived in the mud, the crabs would litter around their holes with what was left after the meal, and what seemed like excrement on the sand was actually sand that had been purified. Juho was quite envious of the fact that their consumption and disposal of food had a positive impact on the planet, capable of creating something so beautiful from that mere act.

For no apparent reason, Juho tried stepping on the lumps of sand. The crabs paid no attention to what he was doing. Then, Juho remembered the conversation with Nam Kyung on the phone a few days after sending him the translated manuscript. As soon as he answered Juho’s call, Nam Kyung had said, “This is top notch!”

A satisfied chuckle sounded from Juho’s receiver for a while.

“We had a plenary meeting today, and everyone in the office had a lot of great things to say about your translation, including people from other departments!”

“Really?”

At that, Nam Kyung said frivolously, “How did you manage to sound like Coin so much in your translation? It made the culture in the book feel very realistic. It’s like a bibimbap flavored taco. It’s suits my taste perfectly!”

A bibimbap flavored taco. The analogy didn’t sound all that appetizing, and made Juho second guess whether Nam Kyung really was complimenting his work.

“This translation will forever be the example of how Kelley Coin’s books should be translated. We even decided on the slogan: ‘Looking to get the full of experience of Kelley Coin? Read this translation by Yun Woo!'”

“That sounds a tad too fancy.”

“No, it’s just right,” Nam Kyung said emphatically, and he finally got to the main point, “So, we decided to publish this book first before all the other books in the collection instead of publishing it last.”

Because Juho had no preference as to whether the book should be published earlier or later than scheduled, he gave Nam Kyung an affirmative answer.

With that, Juho went outside and sat on a rock. Currently, he was in the process of writing the sixth volume of ‘Language of God,’ and the long-awaited encounter between God and the four companions was just around the corner.

Juho thought back on the feedback he had received from Hyun Do Lim on the phone.

‘That was refreshing.’

His feedback indicated that he had been reading Juho’s books, and Juho found himself remembering it repeatedly. Wanting to become an even better writer, he made the trip to the beach yet again to see for himself the beginning and the end.

“Hello.”

As the voice greeted Juho from below, he turned around and saw an old lady with bent back selling boiled clams.

“Hello,” Juho greeted her back.

“Can I interest you in some boiled clams?” she asked as if she didn’t remember Juho.

“Yes, I’ll take some,” Juho said, nodding and remembering her face.

“I’ll give you some extra, young man.”

“Thank you.”

Then, after taking the paper cup that was filled with boiled clams, he took a piece and brought it up to his mouth.

‘Slurp.’

The meat popped out of the shell and into his mouth, filling it with a familiar, fresh, briny flavor. With that, the old lady walked away in search of another customer, and as Juho watched her from behind quietly, he was relieved to see that there were things that changed and also remained unchanged. There was still a clear boundary between the sky, the sand, and the ocean, and the grains of sand were still small. Although he had yet to start writing ‘Language of God’ during his last visit, he was now on the edge of nearing the end of the series.

‘Slurp.’

As Juho ate another boiled clam, his phone started ringing. Wondering if Nam Kyung was calling, he checked the phone and realized that the call was coming from Jang Mi. Although Juho intended on enjoying his alone time in peace, the rest of the world was as busy as ever.

With the paper cup still in his hand, Juho answered the call.

“Hello?”

“Mr. Young.”

It was a calm voice, but it also sounded anxious for some reason.

“Is everything OK?”

“So… I’m not sure where to begin.”

Her voice indicated that she was either flustered or filled with urgency.

“We received a call today asking about you.”

There was nothing unusual about that. After all, there were countless people in the world who were curious about Yun Woo.

‘What’s making her so anxious?’

“And the caller turned out to be a middle school student. It turns out that this reader has a younger brother who’s suffering from leukemia, and I was told that the he’s a fan of your work.”

“Yun Woo, or Won Yi Young?”

“Won Yi Young.”

It had to be a fan of ‘Language of God.’

Then, Jang Mi lowered her voice and added, “The sibling wishes to know the ending.”

“How bad is his sickness?”

“I don’t have any details, but from what I was told, there isn’t a whole lot of time.”

There was no time. Juho looked at the tide in the distance.

“I thought I should let you know.”

Then, she waited for his answer quietly. There was a reader who was on verge of death who wished to know the ending of the book. Juho thought about his manuscript. While he was starting to get a clearer idea as to how he wanted to wrap up the story of ‘Language of God,’ he was yet to think of a definite finale. With the offshoot volume being the most recent, Juho was just getting around to writing the next volume after meeting with Kelley Coin and focusing on the translation of his book. Writing a book took a lot of time, and his reader who was suffering from a terminal illness would never be able to get his hands on the last volume of the book.

“OK.”

“Pardon?”

“I don’t have the manuscript on me, so I’ll go visit them and tell them the ending of the book in person. Could you arrange a meeting with them as soon as possible?”

Though she was initially caught off guard by Juho’s quick decision, she came to her senses quickly and said, “Of course. I’ll get on it.”

As he hung up, Juho rose him his seat immediately and made his way toward the subway station. Because there was no way to predict when the meeting was to take place, he felt the urgency to head back home.

A middle school student had called the publishing company, and Jang Mi had answered the phone as usual, saying, “Dong Baek Publishing Company. How can I help you?”

To which, the reader said, “My brother is really sick, and I need your help.”

While Jang Mi was still at a loss after what she had just heard, the reader on the phone said, “My brother is a fan of Won Yi Young, and he loves ‘Language of God.’ He’s really into the characters and the world they live in, and he’s been staying hopeful in the meantime that he’ll stay alive until he finishes reading the last volume, but yesterday, his condition started getting worse all of a sudden. He’s much younger than I am, and I want to do something for him. Please, ask Mr. Young to grant my brother’s wish.”

Sensing the urgency in the voice, Jang Mi asked for and received the reader’s contact number. The student was sincerely wanting the best for their brother.

“Time’s running out,” the voice said.

Gasping for breath, Juho ran as fast as he could. While translating and writing, he had been putting off exercising, and now, that inactivity had inevitably caught up to him, hindering his ability to run and his lung capacity.

‘When I get back, I’m gonna start running again,’ Juho thought to himself.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until he arrived at the subway station that he started asking himself if taking a taxi would have been a better idea. Coming to a crossroad, Juho was faced with the decision of which path to take in order to get to the destination quicker.

‘Is there going to be traffic? Would it be faster to take a taxi?’

Nobody would be able to answer those questions or help him to make the better decision. At that moment, his phone rang again, and he answered as he swallowed nervously.

“Mr. Young. I am terribly sorry.”

Juho’s heart beat uncontrollably.

‘Time’s running out.’

An unfamiliar voice sounded in his head, and he thought of the image of a tide that was distant from the shore. Although he had arrived at the beach a tad too late, he had still been able to enjoy a view that was different from his usual visits, and it was not a bad view at all.

‘What would it be like this time?’

“Turns out that reader was lying.”

‘Time’s running out,’ the same voice sounded in his head yet again.

“Pardon?”

“I should have checked first. I am so sorry.”

“… I’m sorry, pardon?”

“That student lied to us. I just talked with the student’s guardian on the phone.”

Only then, was Juho able to hear Jang Mi’s voice clearly. Neither flustered or anxious, she sounded entirely different from the last time they had talked on the phone. This time, her voice was filled with guilt and embarrassment.

“A lie,” Juho reiterated the truth slowly.

“Yes. It seems like the student lives with her grandmother, so I gave them a call, but they didn’t pick up. They must have not recognized my number. Eventually, I got a hold of them, so I asked, and it turns out that they were both orphans, and the brother had already passed away…” Jang Mi said, slurring her words in the end.

What had really lacked in the situation hadn’t been the time Juho had left to reach the reader. Instead, it was their parents. Then, the violent storm in Juho’s mind suddenly died down, and he felt his lungs fizzling out. He was chuckling.

“I’m truly sorry for putting you through all this, Mr. Young.”

“Oh, no. It’s not a problem.”

Jang Mi’s quick response might have shone if the phone call didn’t turn out to be a lie. Although what happened was unfortunate, Juho wasn’t angry about it. Feeling slightly dazed, he hung up his phone after calming Jang Mi down, who kept apologizing profusely.

There was silence, and people were going about their way, looking indifferent toward what had just happened to Juho. Smelling the faint saltiness in the air, he stood still for a little while, and then got on the subway back home. Upon arriving, he washed up and laid himself on the bed as it was time to sleep.

‘Strange,’ Juho had thought uninterruptedly throughout the entire ride back. Despite having lied, the student had left a contact number. In fact, she had left the actual number for her grandmother, who was also her legal guardian. Essentially, it was a confession.

‘Why? Was she desperate to get in trouble or hungry for attention? If so, there had to be another way. Then, why the publishing company? What about Won Yi Young?’

A series of question marks floated around in Juho’s head. Brother, grandmother, and the mysterious student.

In a daze, Juho stared up at the ceiling, and because he couldn’t sleep, he sat up on his bed. Instead of forcing himself to sleep, he took the time to think and speculate, and eventually, he picked up a pen and paper to write down whatever came to mind until sunrise. As he filled more pages with his thoughts, his head felt all the lighter.

Then, Juho called Jang Mi early in the morning.

“Yes, Mr. Young,” she answered her phone immediately, and Juho went straight to the point without hesitation.

“So, what happened with that student?”

“Ah! About that. I was planning on calling you.”

With that, she updated Juho on the aftermath of the incident with the mysterious student.

“The grandmother wanted to visit the publishing company and apologize in person.”

“And where does the company stand in the matter?”

“Well, as long as you’re OK, we’re looking to let it slide.”

‘Of course.’

A publishing company wouldn’t want things to blow out of proportion. Not only was the incident brief, but there was no actual loss of any sorts. On top of that, the author himself took no offense to the matter. Between Yun Woo, who was at the peak of his success, and Won Yi Young, there would be no benefit for a publishing company to cause a ruckus.

Although Juho wouldn’t have made a big deal normally, there was something that he wanted out of the incident.

“I’ll accept it.”

“Pardon?”

“The apology. I’ll accept it. Would you arrange things?”

“… Pardon?” Jang Mi asked in a flustered sounding voice and said, “I would like to express my sincere apology about what happened recently. I should’ve been more careful and I didn’t handle the situation very well. This will never happen again.”

Misunderstanding Juho’s request, she apologized yet again, and Juho answered light-heartedly, “I told you. It’s really OK. I just wanted to have a talk with that student. Something’s been bothering me.”

After contemplating the entire night, Juho decided to meet and ask the student in person.

“So, please let the grandmother know that she doesn’t have to come in person. I wouldn’t feel at peace about making an elderly travel a long way. As long as I get to meet the student myself, I’ll be content. I wouldn’t mind talking over the phone, either.”

“Uh… Sure. I’m on it.”

“Thanks a lot.”

Hanging up, Juho sat up on his bed as it was almost time for him to go to school.

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