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This chapter is updated by Wuxia.Blog
Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
“What!?” the Chinese official said, looking around, taken aback. At that, the tall man desperately waved his hands, trying to communicate something. However, Juho couldn’t understand the message.
“I think he’s a fan.”
“You think so?” Juho asked.
“Just look at his eyes.”
‘Does he want a picture? Or an autograph, maybe?’ Juho asked himself, thinking about a spot where he would be able to provide that for his fan. However, the time and place were less than ideal in every sense. When Juho made an X with his hands, the man stopped what he was doing. Upon looking down slightly, Juho saw the man’s expression hardening as if noticing the young author was about to leave at any given minute. Nevertheless, Juho had no choice. If the man was one of the officials from a publishing company, he would understand the situation soon enough. Finding himself in somewhat of an uncomfortable situation, Juho decided to give Nabi a call and meet up with Isabella.
“Would you excuse me?”
As Juho made his way through the crowd, he looked back and saw that he wasn’t being followed. After that, he walked off to the side and toward the stage, past the monitors that were installed on every pillar, locking eyes with several clones of Kelley Coin. Then, Juho called Nabi and asked, “Where are you? I’ll come to you.”
“To me?” she said, adding, “I’m behind the stage. Meet me there.”
“OK, I’m on my…”
At that moment, Juho stopped in his tracks by reflex. A hand had kept him from going any further. Following up the arm with his eyes, Juho was met with the familiar blue eyes.
“I came from the States just so I could meet you,” the man said, sounding like he already knew who the young author was. Juho couldn’t make sense of the situation in any way.
“I made a perilous journey here, holding on to the slightest possibility of meeting you. And finally, here we are. Face to face. I was so happy!… Until you shut me down, that is. I’m not gonna lie. It hurt a lot more the second time around,” the man said, his shoulders drooping weakly. Juho was bothered by the fact that it wasn’t the man’s first time interacting with him. Upon observing the man, the young author concluded that he wasn’t merely a fan who was especially enthusiastic.
“Is everything OK, Mr. Woo?” Nabi asked. Although Juho opened his mouth in an attempt to explain the situation to her, he simply couldn’t put it into words.
“There’s a person from the States who came to see me.”
“Do you not know who I am?” the man asked. His eyes made Juho quite uncomfortable. No matter how hard he tried to remember, Juho simply didn’t know the man, which forced him to say… “No.”
“No!?” the man said, his nostrils flaring.
“Do YOU know me?” Juho asked that time.
“Yun Woo!” the man shouted with impressive volume, which was loud enough to echo through the building. At that, Juho shook his head in a hurry, “No, no, that’s not what I’m asking. And you don’t have to be so lou…”
“You’re Yun Woo! Yun Woo! Yun Woo! Yun Woo!” the man said, opening up his chest and shouting at the sky.
“… Mr. Woo?” Nabi asked nervously.
“Nevermind. I think somebody forgot their medication,” Juho said, looking around and locking eyes with the Kelley Coin clones on the screens. When he turned toward the stage slowly, Juho saw that the audience, the host and Coin were all looking in his direction. The boredom that had been visible on Coin’s face was nowhere to be found. At that moment, an evil look appeared on his face, and Coin said, “It’s Yun Woo!”
The best thing Juho could do in that situation was to make sure his that hat was on properly. Needless to say, a disturbance arose in the audience. Meanwhile, the tall man with blue eyes was glaring intently at the young author, as if he couldn’t hear anything.
“Yun Woo’s here!?”
“I did hear he was in Germany.”
“Is it him?”
‘What do I do?’ Juho asked himself. It was a sticky situation. Then, as the young author was searching for a way out, Coin, whose face shone from the spotlight, rose from his seat, walked toward Juho and said, “I didn’t realize the two geniuses knew each other. Please, come on up to the stage.”
‘Two geniuses?’ Juho thought to himself and turned toward the tall man. Only then, was there something familiar about him. ‘Who is he?’
“Remind me of your name again?” Juho asked. To which, the man answered in a loud, confident voice, “Zara Jenkins.”
‘That must be what makes this our second interaction,’ Juho thought to himself. He definitely remembered hearing the name from Nabi at some point. Jenkins was one of the directors who were after the movie rights, and whose offer and request to meet, Juho remembered turning down. The young author had no intention of doing another film adaptation. Not only had he experienced it already, but he also concluded that there was nothing to gain from it.
“You mean, you came all the way to Germany just to see me?” Juho asked upon discovering the man’s identity.
“You went to a local gelato shop recently, didn’t you?” Jenkins asked, smiling confidently.
“How’d you know?”
“I came across a trace of you by complete coincidence. The shop owner had your autograph on the wall.”
“Besides, getting a hold of your pictures has gotten significantly easier than before.”
“I thought they didn’t let civilians in during business days?”
“C’mon, Mr. Woo. I’m a former actor turned screenwriter/director. It’s hardly a challenge to gain access to the fair.”
“Could I have you two gentlemen come up to the stage? The audience is waiting,” the host in the eighties-style suit said, his face burning bright red from excitement. Before Juho had realized, the cameras that had been aimed at Coin at one point and the stage crew were all looking toward him, Nabi, and Isabella.
“I suppose damage control is in order,” Juho said, slightly irritated. However, Jenkins replied cheerfully, as if completely oblivious to the emotions behind the young author’s words, “Well, what are we waiting for? I love being onstage!”
As the director went up to the stage, Juho followed him. At which point, the faces in the audience became clearly visible, including those of the people he had left behind. Everyone’s mouths were parted open. Soon, the audience erupted into cheers and applause, whistling loudly.
“Oh, my goodness! I would’ve never known that I’d see you here!” the host said.
“Likewise,” Juho murmured. Then, the host wearing the tacky suit asked, still sounding excited, “How come you two are together?”
The host started with a difficult question right off the bat. As the young author hesitated, Jenkins replied confidently, “Aren’t we all here for one reason? To see Kelley Coin, of course.”
Then, walking right past Juho and the host, Jenkins reached over to Coin and offered a handshake. After shaking hands with the director against his will, Coin wiped his hand on his pants, looking disgruntled. Having Jenkins return to where he was suppose to be, as if trying to keep everyone in line, the host asked him and the young author, “So, what was happening earlier? What did we see?”
“Oh, it was nothing. Call it a small surprise that makes life just a little more interesting. You know, something God would do if He had a sense of humor,” Jenkins said as if rambling random thoughts. Moving on from the director, the host looked toward Juho, appearing as though having trouble making up his mind on what to ask first.
“I’m gonna be honest. I don’t know what to ask first. Were you watching Mr. Coin this entire time?”
“That means you heard us mention your name too, right?”
“We have a lot of people in the audience here, and I’m sure everyone was really looking forward to meeting you. If we can hear it directly from you, Mr. Woo, that’d be an honor.”
In actuality, the eyes within the audience were quite piercing. Finding himself being thrown in the middle of a publishers’ festival, Juho swallowed the urge to sigh.
“We were in the middle of discussing freedom. Do you consider yourself as being free?”
“Yes and no. There are times when I feel like nothing’s holding me back. Other times, I feel like I’m completely tied up. It happens to everyone. I’m sure everyone understands what I’m talking about,” Juho said.
“What do you think of yourself, Mr. Woo?”
“That’s a tough one,” Juho said, smiling despite the uncomfortable attention he was getting. He was feeling the piercing gazes from all directions getting fixed on him like arrows, which almost made them painful. As soon as he answered a question to the best of his ability, another question followed.
“Is this your first time at the fair?”
“Yes. This is my first time.”
“How is it so far?”
“I like that I get to experience the publishing market in person.”
“As far as I’m aware, you’re a polyglot, am I right? Has that helped you at all?”
“Yes, it has. There are all sorts of books from all across the world in this place. I actually got to meet people who have been working hard to get my books published. It was a lot of fun. Although, that isn’t to say that that happened solely because I’m speaking English. There is plenty to see around here, whether you speak the language or not.”
As if satisfied with the young author’s answers, the host maintained a cheerful smile on his face the entire time Juho spoke.
“Well, since we weren’t quite expecting you here today, I’m afraid we can’t take too much of your time away unfortunately. I’ll give one lucky audience member a chance to ask you any question they might have. Is that OK?”
“May I be part of this?” Jenkins said, interfering with the young author and the host, who assumed he was joking. Then, the host handed the microphone to a lady sitting in the frontmost row. She was a buyer from Spain.
“I’d like to ask a question since we have a renowned Hollywood director here with us.”
Juho sensed that things were starting to take an unfavorable turn.
“Could you tell us what you know about the long-anticipated film adaptation of ‘Language of God?’ Should the fans be expecting it sometime in the near future?”
“That’s a great question! I’ve been wanting to know about that as well.”
Thinking about the cameras aimed toward him and his clones occupying the monitors’ screens, Juho replied, “At this point, I can’t really say much. You see, I have no intention of doing another film adaptation.”
“Is that because you have a negative perspective of novels getting made into movies?” the host asked. Meanwhile, the Spanish buyer stared up at the young author, clenching her lips tightly.
“Not necessarily. It seems like there are some misconceptions about that. If I really didn’t have a positive opinion on novels getting adapted into films, the ‘Trace of a Bird’ movie would’ve never happened.”
When Juho glanced at Jenkins, he saw the director was glaring intently at him, as if watching his every move. Juho was able to imagine how the director came to decide to fly all the way to Germany just to see him. At which point, he had to suppress his urge to chuckle.
“Although, I can’t tell you how I’ll feel in the future. Just as I have the freedom to feel as I wish in the future, I’d like to add that everyone here is free to hope as they wish.”
At that moment, another audience member shouted, “One more question!”
“OK, then. Should we have one more?” the host said, pointing to a French agent who was sitting in the middle of the crowd.
“The friendship between Mr. Coin and Mr. Woo leaves a lot of people puzzled,” he said, and a quiet chuckle spread across the audience. Meanwhile, Coin was looking at the agent with a harsh expression on his face. “I was wondering if you two consider each other rivals. There have been rivalries in the literary world that are particularly well known. Do you two plan on following in your predecessors’ footsteps?”
Juho looked at Coin, who replied to the French agent without even giving the young author a glance, “I have no intention of being part of such stupidity. Yun Woo still has a long way to go to get to my level. He’d probably have to be born again.”
“That’s one scary answer,” Jenkins murmured. Hearing the audience responding in unison, Juho cleared his throat.
“What about you, Mr. Woo?”
“I respect Coin’s decision. There’s no doubt that he’s a talented writer. I often find myself getting impressed whenever I’m reading his books. On the other hand, I still fall short in many ways.”
“I’m already in a bad mood as is. I suggest you don’t make it worse and come up with a better answer,” Coin said quietly, which Juho shrugged off.
“The thing is, he doesn’t seem to know that I’ve already died once. That’s my sin. I’ve caught up to him.”
At that, Coin furrowed his brow, saying, “When I told you not to come up with a better answer, I didn’t mean for you to go off the deep end.”
“It is better than the one I gave earlier though, don’t you think?”
Then, flashes started going off from the audience. Judging from the size of the crowd in the back, which was still growing, word had to have gotten out that Yun Woo was onstage with Kelley Coin. Unfortunately, the young author was about to wrap up his spontaneous interview session. The host closed the segment reluctantly, and after saying goodbye to the audience, Juho made his exit.
“Keep at it,” Juho said.
“Why don’t you just take over?” Coin said sarcastically.
After glancing at Jenkins, Coin looked away shortly after. As Juho came down from the stage, he was greeted by Nabi, who seemed short-winded.
“Why are Jenkins, Coin, and Yun Woo together!? No, wait, what’s Jenkins even doing here?? What’s going on??”
Looking at Jenkins, who was following the young author in a hurry, Juho said, “Well, I’m sure he has a thing or two to tell us.”
Meanwhile, the director was looking intently at Juho, unshaken.
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