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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“Please, you don’t have to be so formal.”
“Right. Thanks,” Sang answered without hesitation, shaking hands with Juho while staring intently to the point of making the young author uncomfortable. “It’s an honor to meet you, Yun Woo.”
“Now, now. We’ll save the conversations for the game,” Dae Soo interjected, and Sang and Juho sat at the table where she suggested they sit. Then, going through her board game collection stashed in a drawer, she said to Sang, “Choi, you mind cutting up some apples?”
Without any trace of displeasure, he took a knife out and turned down Juho volunteering to do it himself. Seeing as how Sang even knew where to find the plates, he seemed rather well acquainted with the task.
“Do you come here often?”
“Not really. I do cut quite a bit of fruit, instead”
“Why is that?”
“Because I eat ’em often.”
Realizing that there wouldn’t be much point in asking questions, Juho said no more. After washing the apples in the running water, Sang peeled the apples using simple wrist motions. As the flesh revealed itself, he took the seeds out while cutting the apples in halves, placing them on a plate. With that, he reached for his lunchbox and opened it. It contained apple slices on the top section of the dual-layered container. Although they were slightly discolored, they were as uniform in shape as the ones he had just cut up.
“You just said that you don’t take food from other people, right?”
“Right,” Sang said with an apple slice in his mouth.
“Why is that?”
“Because I can trust my hands.”
“And you can’t trust other people’s hands?”
“I trust ’em less.”
Juho opened his mouth after looking down at the container, but Sang beat him to it.
“Don’t you argue with me by saying things like, ‘Those apples you’re eating are raised by other people’s hands, too.’ I don’t care one bit. I’ll do things as I like. Nothing beats food that I made with my own hands, and that goes for fruit that I cut myself, too. I’m just trying to look out for myself. That’s all.”
He took care of himself with the most trustworthy-pair of hands, and for that reason, he refused to eat any food or fruit that was cooked or brought by another person. Instead, he chose to pack his own meals. He was quite eccentric.
After blinking awkwardly for a little while, Juho went on to say what he had been meaning to, “I like your lunch box.”
At that, Sang glanced up and down at Juho as if he was observing a strange creature.
“I paid thirteen dollars for it.”
At that moment, Dae Soo returned, smiling as if she had been listening to their conversation.
“You can just tell by his name. I mean, c’mon. His alias means ‘The Top.’ I think I’ve said enough.”
“Envy and jealousy tend to follow those who are distinguished. Just be honest with yourself, Dae Soo.”
“I am. Why do you think I call you ‘Choi?'”
The reason why she hadn’t given Juho Sang’s full name was that she didn’t want to say it out loud. Then, setting up the board game on the table, she handed out the pawns to each of the two authors. Looking at a blue pawn in front of him, Juho realized that he had never played a board game with someone he had met for the first time.
“OK. Now, let’s see how Yun Woo’s like with board games,” Dae Soo said, putting down the dice. Although it was a simple game of who reached the finish line first, the board was filled with all sorts of obstacles that prevented the players from progressing in the game. Those who were less fortunate were bound to end up either having to backtrack or lose their turn.
“Are you any good?”
“Let’s just say that I enjoy playing it. Although, it does get pretty annoying quickly when you play against Choi. Well, I try to be the bigger person and not act on my emotions.”
After deciding on an order, Dae Soo went first and rolled the dice, rolling a six. Then, the turn went to Juho, and he rolled an eight. Next came Sang’s turn.
“I’m a lucky guy,” he said confidently just before rolling the dice. It almost sounded like a declaration. “I’m sure I’ll roll the highest number possible and finish in first place. Just like that.”
“Well, then. I guess all you gotta do is roll.”
At Dae Soo’s words, Sang raised his hand up high, and Juho’s eyes followed his hand by reflex. Then, the dice that were in Sang’s palm, juxtaposed with the fluorescent light, rolled onto the board, and just as he had predicted, they came out a ten.
“Oh!” Juho let out, impressed.
With a proud expression on his face, Sang continued on with the game. From then on, he rolled high numbers repeatedly, and just as he had predicted, he was on the lead.
“Juho, let’s team up.”
“There’s no use, Dae Soo. He’s been blessed by the Goddess of Victory herself.”
“Well, as long as you don’t roll a five.”
Dae Soo gave him a subtle warning, and looking at his pawn chasing that of Sang’s closely, Juho rolled the dice absent-mindedly. As the dice rolled a five, Juho saw something written on the board in red.
‘Go back to the starting point.’
Observing the two contradictory expressions on the two adults’ faces, Juho moved his pawn to where he had first started. It was a reset.
“You don’t seem all that sad,” Sang said after laughing for a while. When Juho looked up, his eyes locked with Sang’s. The author had been keeping his eyes on Juho throughout the entire game.
“You, on the other hand, seem rather happy, Mr. Choi.”
“You don’t have to be so polite. Call me whatever you want.”
“Well, then. I’ll call you Mr. Choi from now on.”
“Why does everyone leave out my first name?” Although a perplexed look appeared on his face, he moved on and got to the point, “Are you not competitive?”
“Oh, yes. Of course, I am. I wanna win.”
“Then, are you thinking that you can still win at this point?”
“Well, I haven’t given up just yet, but I am aware that the chances of me winning are pretty slim,” Juho said, looking at his pawn, which was back where it had first started.
“Well, I’m not out of the game, yet.”
Then, Sang added emphatically, “You’ll be remembered as one of the losers.”
“According to this game’s rules, yes.”
The game’s rules deemed whoever reached the finish line first as the winner, which meant that the rest of the players were deemed the losers.
“There’s not one game in this world where the slowest wins,” Sang said as he caught on to what Juho was about to say.
“I doubt it,” Juho answered with a smile.
“There exists a mister who prefers to carry his own lunchbox because he doesn’t trust other people as much as he trusts himself. The way I see it, that kind of games might very well exist.”
At that, Sang stared at Juho intently and rolled the dice, which rolled the lowest possible number.
“I was joking. I don’t think I can say something like that. It’s just too arrogant, even for my standards. Also, I know I told you that you can call me whatever you want, but mister is one thing you can’t call me.”
“I was joking too, Mr. Choi.”
From then on, the game continued, and the victory went to Sang. However, he wasn’t as lucky as his previous rounds in the new rounds. Shaking her head at Sang Choi, who no longer wanted to play the game, Dae Soo rose from her seat and brought out yet another board game, Jenga. Pouring the wooden pieces out of the rectangular container, Dae Soo skillfully built a tower.
“Rock, paper, scissors!”
Juho put out paper by reflex, Dae Soo and Sang put out rock.
“Seems like you’re not so lucky when it comes to rock-paper-scissors.”
“Well, the main round is always the most important, just like with everything else,” Sang answered as he recovered his confidence quickly. Then, after losing to Dae Soo, he ended up as last.
Taking the wooden block that he pulled out of the tower, he placed it on top, and after the turn circulated a few times, the tower became significantly less stable. Observing the tower, Juho found the block that would have the least amount of impact on the overall structural integrity of the tower. Then, the three tensed up simultaneously as the tower shook when Juho carefully brought his hand to it. Lowering his torso while keeping his eyes on the blocks above and below his eye level, he pulled the block out carefully. Although, it ended up partially pulling out the blocks around it and causing the entire tower to shake precariously, in the end, Juho managed to keep the tower from collapsing. However, it became even more unstable than it had been.
“You’re next, Dae Soo.”
“I know! You don’t have to remind me!”
While everyone was high strung, Sang said, “My turn will probably never come.”
“Shut up! I’m gonna do this!”
With that, Dae Soo brought her hand to the tower slowly, and Juho held his breath and looked intently at the top of the tower, which shook precariously everytime she moved her hand. As she realized how much the tower was moving, Dae Soo concluded that she had made a bad move. She had chosen a block that was essential in the tower’s overall structural integrity, and the tower fought Dae Soo’s hand off desperately in order to keep her from taking it, even at the cost of falling apart. However, being an author who wrote grotesque, fast paced novels, she managed to swivel the piece out of the tower successfully.
Then, Juho looked at Sang Choi since his prediction turned out to be inaccurate. Yet, he remained calm.
“Here goes nothing.”
As if he had never made the prediction, Sang started choosing a piece carefully. Just like how he had given himself the alias The Top, he was quite generous toward himself. He hadn’t given up just yet, and still held on to an ambitious hope that he would be able to keep the whole tower from toppling over. He believed in himself and that his hope would come true. Then, he raised his hand, and the tower toppled over the very moment he pinched a block.
“Seems like you lost.”
He answered while staring at the wooden block in his hand, “I won the boardgame, so I’m satisfied.”
At that, Dae Soo didn’t hesitate to mock him, and after staring intently at her and Juho for a little while, he looked at his own hands and shook them off. From then on, the three repeated the process of building the tower and toppling it over, and after a while, what was once a fierce competition for victory took on a different shape as the three began to focus more on the appearance of the tower, competing to see who could make the most bizarre-looking tower.
As Juho fiddled about with the wooden pieces after spending a good amount of time playing, Dae Soo said out of nowhere, “Congratulations on finishing ‘Language of God.'”
At that, he remembered the last volume of the book, which had been published recently. The grand journey had finally come to an end, and Juho had received countless congratulatory messages from those around him.
“How does it feel to have set a new milestone in Korean fantasy novels?”
“You’re flattering me.”
“That’s not true,” Sang interjected in an emphatic tone. “She’s not flattering you at all. If anything, it’s not enough. After all, you’re an author that I’ve acknowledged.”
Then, Juho answered while building another tower out of its remnants, “Is that right?”
At that, Sang furrowed his brows, and Dae Soo redirected the subject back to its track.
“I’ve noticed that there are quite a few readers who are really bummed about the series coming to an end. Do you have any plans on writing another series?”
“I played around with the idea of writing a prequel, but I don’t think I’ve reached a decision.”
“Prequel as in… the war?”
“As well as the mythology.”
One was able to reach God because of the mythology and the code hidden within it. In that case, who could have come up with the code, let alone the mythology?
“You see, I happen to know the person. Although, it would be perfectly fine even if I were to never talk about them.”
“I would write about them,” said Sang in a rather emphatic tone.
“Because I wanna brag about it.”
“Yeah. My skill, knowledge, existence, anything.”
At that, Juho barely managed to keep himself from laughing. Just as Juho had noticed for some time, Sang Choi was an author who loved himself rather dearly, and Dae Soo nodded when she saw the look on Juho’s face as if she understood what he was feeling.
“It’s funny how somebody like that writes romance novels, right?” she said.
She was right. Sang’s novels were filled with love toward others. The characters sought their identity and significance in those around them. Ironically, the person who was responsible for writing novels like that happened to be full of self-love.
Organizing the wooden blocks, Sang said, “There are relationships that are only visible to people like me.”
“So, you do know that you love yourself a bit too much?”
“Of course! I’m constantly comparing myself to other people, and realizing that I’m better.”
“Isn’t that tiring?” Juho asked by reflex. Of which, he didn’t deny, saying, “It sure is, but it helps when I write.”
At that, Dae Soo chuckled.
“You know, being an author isn’t all that great sometimes, having to peak your head into all sorts of worries and concerns in this world and all.”
Juho agreed. As people who wrote about dangers, events and conflicts, authors had all the more reason to keep those things close to their lives.
“You have to feel what the characters are feeling. There’s no way around it,” Juho said as he picked up an apple slice that had been set aside because of the board games for himself and handed another to Dae Soo.
“You picked the good one. This one’s sweet!”
Juho agreed as he ate his slice. Then, Sang carefully took out an apple slice out of his
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