Chapter 13: Special Privilege (3)
—Transmission will begin soon
—Countdown starting. 100, 99, 98…
The announcement quieted the murmurs. As everyone stopped moving, someone approached Chi-Woo. Although the person looked familiar, Chi-Woo couldnt recognize her right away.
“You finally came?” Giant Fist asked the woman with short brown hair as she staggered towards them. “Where is your hat?”
“I dont know. They told me to leave it behind,” she said with a scowl. “Its not even a big deal. How annoying. What about you?”
“They took everything away. Thankfully, they let me keep my fists.” Giant Fist lifted both his hands up.
Chi-Woo finally realized then that the woman in front of him was the woman with the beret hat. Without her hat, her face was in full view, and she gave off a different air than before. At a glance, she looked human, but further inspection revealed an alienness about her that suggested otherwise.
I didnt know she looked like this. Chi-Woo looked closely at her to find the reason for her alienness and ended up meeting the womans eyes. As soon as she saw him, she fixed her posture and said, “Nice to meet you, sir.” She gathered her hands together and bowed. “Its an honor. My name is Mua Janya.”
“Ah, I am—”
“Yes, I know. You are Giant Fists childhood friend, right?”
Chi-Woo closed his mouth. What was she talking about? He knew the woman was aware of his identity. However, the beret hat woman—no, Mua Janya, quickly darted her eyes sideways, and Chi-Woo didnt question her. It appeared that she was purposefully speaking wrong information out loud, and he could make a guess why she was doing this.
She is telling me to keep my identity a secret. It was the same in every world. People connected to a famous person always garnered a lot of attention, especially if they were a blood relative. If one had to rank heroes and line them up in order, Choi Chi-Hyun would be on the first row; and even in this row, he would be standing right in the front. He was the hero of heroes, the king, and the legend. It was only natural that Choi Chi-Hyuns one and only brother would attract all kinds of attention.
And while some of this attention might be positive, there would also be those who saw him in a negative light. Although there didnt seem to be anyone eavesdropping on them, Chi-Woo decided to be careful just in case.
“I bet you were really surprised when we first met,” Mua Janya said in a low voice. Chi-Woo smiled, remembering when Mua Janya suddenly intervened in his meeting with Giant Fist.
“Yeah. A ton.” It especially shocked him when he saw her aggressively drag away a titan of a man like Giant Fist. “That time, I thought you were collaborating with Giant Fist to con me.”
“As if. Im more like a stalker than a collaborator.”
“Haha…is that so…wait, stalker?”
“I had been spying on you guys from within a 100-meter distance for 24 hours straight,” she said calmly.
Chi-Woo was a bit taken aback. He was joking, but she readily admitted that she was…what?And for 24 hours straight? He hadnt noticed her at all then.
“Its because I was asked to do so,” Mua Janya clarified.
“By my brother?”
“Yes. He told me to protect you…”
Chi-Woo stared at Mua Janya intently. The captain of the boat who drove him to the island had also said similar things.
“Did he tell you to make sure I didnt come here?”
“Something like that.” Mua Janya admitted.
“Why?” This was the most pressing question he had; why did his brother and his whole family hide their identities from him? It was the first question he wanted to ask his brother when Chi-Woo met him.
“Sorry. I only received the request and didnt hear anything else.” It was a reply that Chi-Woo had expected. Mua Janya continued, “I also asked him for an explanation, but he wouldnt tell me.”Of course, he wouldnt. “Truthfully, Im not even supposed to tell you this.” Mua Janya shook her head sideways.
“Why are you telling me this now?” Chi-Woo asked, and Mua Janya stopped shaking her head.
“I wanted to tell you before it was too late. However, things have already progressed to this point, and its not like you can turn back now…” Mua Janya spoke bitterly and slightly hung her head. Her lips twitched a bit before she muttered quietly, “We dont know what will happen after we are transmitted. Moreover, since I failed to fulfill Sir Chi-Hyuns request…I felt like I had to atone for it in some way.”
Atone- it was his second time hearing this word today. He wondered what in the world his brother did that Laguel and Mua Janya would act like this. Chi-Woo blamed his brother for putting him in such an uncomfortable position.
“Its all my fault. Theres no need for you to also come— ” Giant Fist began to feel sorry as he listened to Mua Janya and spoke up to apologize, but Mua Janya cut him off immediately.
“You, shut up.” It was completely different from the way she addressed Chi-Woo.
“Anyways, its fine,” Mua Janya said. While Giant Fist slouched in the corner, she cleared her throat. “Its my decision in the end. I wont regret it.”
Chi-Woo became speechless. It seemed many had become involved because of his actions without him meaning to. Although he hadnt forced anyone to act, there was a part of him that felt slightly guilty.
A strong vibration shook the area. Shocked, Chi-Woo saw a faint halo of light rise from below and fill up the space. The floor lit up, and straight lines were drawn to form a geometric shape, which emitted a white light and shone straight at Chi-Woo, enveloping him like it was trying to take over his body. It didnt take long for the light to submerge him and transform his body into dazzling particles.
My body is…? It was turning into light. And that wasnt all; Chi-Woo realized that he couldnt hear any sound at all. He saw Mua Janya move her lips, but he couldnt hear what she was saying. He had lost all his senses except for his sight. His surroundings suddenly morphed into a very bizarre and silent space. The surging light had reached the top of his head now. Chi-Woo watched as giant pillars of light shot up from the shining floor like they were trying to break the ceiling.
Every hero underwent the same transformation following Chi-Woo, and they all simultaneously sprung upwards with the pillar of light. There wasnt even a moment to gasp. The crowd of angels who had been standing around to pay their respects suddenly became dots and disappeared from their view.
The light then vanished. Chi-Woo lost his sight, which meant that all his senses were gone. It felt like he had become a nonexistent being. Complete darkness rushed in. It seemed like he was being swept somewhere, or perhaps he was just swimming in a vast sea of darkness. He didnt know where he was going nor whether he had stopped. In his anxious state, Chi-Woo spotted something in the darkness: the milky way, an embroidery of blue and red lights against the canvas of nothingness.
Various shapes quickly flashed past him, reminding him of what one saw when they pressed their arm to their eyes for a long time. Then a ball of light approached him at an especially fast pace. It was a tiny, sparkling star. At first, it was the size of a dust speck, but it grew bigger and bigger. The light pillars that had vanished appeared faintly into view again. Its long tails stretched outwards and bent towards the star; and following the pillars trajectory, bursts of lights shot down like meteorites- Chi-Woo being one of them.
That star is… It was the star that placed the entire galaxy in danger: Liber.
…What? Chi-Woo wondered. Something was strange. He felt himself distancing from the meteor shower. He was falling behind the others until he seemed to have stopped altogether. No, he and only he had stopped moving. It wasnt his imagination. The meteor shower of lights grew distant from him until they disappeared, and he was all alone. Before he could wonder why, the space in front of Chi-Woo stretched horizontally.
What is it this time—!
The space swallowed the one still-standing ball of light in one bite and closed instantly, as if it was hiding from someone.
* * *
Chi-Woo thought he had lived a special life, but considering the way his life unfolded, it was difficult to think that special necessarily meant good. In fact, dictionaries defined the wordspecial asdifferent from what was usual. If he had to measure his life between good and bad, he considered it more to bebad—especially since he had to grow up seeing things normal people couldnt see. Furthermore, since he was young, his house was never free from incidents. Thus, Chi-Woo always had to live in fear and anxiety, not knowing what would happen next. He had to worry about strange beings causing him harm once they met his eyes or worry about getting winded into some strange incident and exposing his family to danger.
Before he even entered elementary school, he was diagnosed with anxiety disorder; he had believed the beings only he could see to be the cause. It was only after he grew up a bit that he thought the spirits might not be the cause for his anxiety after all. He got used to them. Eventually, he reached the point where he saw spirits so frequently that they no longer scared him. They were merely annoying and tiring to deal with later on. And so, after he grew indifferent to these beings, there was no need for him to shiver in anxiety. This was the same for the tumultuous events that happened to him. After facing all kinds of strange situations, Chi-Woo was now unfazed by even the most bizarre situations. Yet, even then, Chi-Woo was always anxious. He couldnt really understand why, and his childhood trauma wasnt enough of an explanation.
Everyone probably experienced this sensation at least once as a student—the anxiety one feels at having not studied enough for an upcoming test. In this case, the solution was simple; they just needed to study more. With this same thought process, Chi-Woo concluded that the cause of his mysterious anxiety might be he hadnt accepted his role as a shaman and served a god.
This was a common story among shamans. If a person who was fated to become a shaman didnt accept their fate, the gods would become furious and send punishments through misfortune and sickness to the person or their children. People who might not be familiar with shinnaerim would just laugh and move on, but Chi-Woo, who had an uncanny life, seriously considered becoming a shaman. When Chi-Woo was young, he was more precocious than children around his age thanks to his unusual life, and after a few days of consideration, he declared that he would become a shaman.
He would eagerly accept a god and become a shaman if it meant his family wouldnt need to suffer because of him, and he would be able to get rid of the mysterious source of anxiety that plagued his life. Surprisingly, his parents didnt object and even helped him after saying that they wouldn ’t stop him as long as this was what he truly wanted. With his parents help, he met various shamans. He had even become a disciple of a skillful and highly respected shaman. However, long story short, Chi-Woo failed to become one himself.
It wasnt that Chi-Woo didnt want to accept a god into his body; he couldnt. Every time he became a shamans disciple, he was chased out in a matter of weeks or even days. It didnt help when he apprenticed under a different shaman; they all said the same thing. According to them, they wanted to help him because they pitied his circumstances, but their powers fell short. The powers of the gods they served were not strong enough to help him out. Chi-Woo was crushed. He had thought he could finally break his repetitive and ill-fated life.
However, Chi-Woo didnt fall into despair. No, he tried not to fall into despair. If other people could help him, he didnt need to be a shaman. With this in mind, he went to Buddhist temples and churches and repeated the same process again. The more hopeful he became, the further he fell into despair. Regardless of where he went, how much he begged and pleaded, held on for dear life, and tried with all his might, it was all pointless. When there was no longer anywhere for him to go, Chi-Woo became furious. He became angry at his parents and cursed the world in spite. He didnt know what else to do.
However, his period of hating his parents and cursing the world didnt last long. His parents, who always pitied their youngest child, comforted Chi-Woo with tender hearts. Moreover, good fortune eventually came knocking. The sixth pastor that he served under introduced him to a teacher while saying,if he cant help you, theres no one in Korea who can. After going through years of misfortune, it was extremely fortunate that Chi-Woo met his teacher at the lowest point in life.
As soon as the teacher saw Chi-Woo, he clicked his tongue and complained,Ha, damn it. What a guy…Even in my old age, Im shocked. However, without further complaints, he accepted Chi-Woo under his wings. Unlike the others, his teacher didnt make Chi-Woo accept a god or ask the gods to give him some more time until he became a shaman. His teacher also didnt make him read Buddhist scriptures or the Bible or make him pray. Instead, he acted like Chi-Woos grandpa and made Chi-Woo study and brought him along to many different places. Unfortunately, his teacher passed away not long after living together for just two years.
Depending on how one saw it, the time Chi-Woo spent with his teacher could be considered long or short. Chi-Woo learned many things while following his teacher. He listened to various stories and went through different experiences and changed his mindset. Looking back to his memories, these were one of the few times in his life that he felt peaceful and happy.
[Please cherish life, whether its a ghost or not…and also believe in yourself no matter the circumstances.]
Following his teachers wishes, Chi-Woo tried to accept his situation even when his present circumstances were painful and extremely difficult. Moreover, he firmly resolved to not go astray for his devoted family and enlisted in the military. However, before he was discharged, one of his family members had gone missing—his brother, Choi Chi-Hyun. They were ten years apart. Not that big an age gap, but it was still a gap. It was around then that his parents became exhausted and drained. In order to find his brother, he employed all possible efforts. However, the more he looked for his brother, the more unanswered questions came up, and Chi-Woo steadily became wearier and wearier.
Moreover, when he experienced incidents that were a little more intense than usual like today, old, pessimistic thoughts came back into his mind. Perhaps his brothers disappearance was a continuation of God ’s punishment…
No. Chi-Woo shook his head. His teacher had told him to not be consumed by feelings of guilt, or itd be much easier for him to become corrupted.I cant be pessimistic.
Chi-Woo shook his head one more time and suddenly heard a strange sound. It sounded like papers fluttering.Oh, come to think of it…
* * *
“Ugh…” Chi-Woo frowned deeply and slowly opened his eyes. With narrowed eyes, he quickly scanned his surroundings. What he saw made his jaw drop and his face go blank in surprise
This is…? He was in a library. No, to be more specific, he was in a space that looked like a library. Countless bookshelves lined up all over the place and reached unknown heights. There were an immeasurable amount of books on the bookshelves. Aside from the sudden appearance of the library, what kept Chi-Woo from recovering his jaw was the extremely strange shapes of the books. There were small books, big books, books of all sizes, shapes, and colors, and the books were moving by themselves. Chi-Woo could not hide his amazement as the books moved like living beings. Some flew all over the place with wings, and others opened on their own and fluttered their pages. He even saw a book flip through another book to read through it, and a book using another book as its pillow to sleep. He was literally in a world of books.
—Heh. This is pretty interesting.
A sudden voice rang in his head, and Chi-Woo flinched.
—Its no wonder. Even a wild beast recognizes those who will save them. Youre probably even more desperate.
“Who are you?” Chi-Woo replied with a question, but the only sound that came back was a quiet laugh.
—Rather than finding out who I am, wouldnt it be better for you to quickly choose?
“What…do I choose?”
—What do you think of those things around you?
The mysterious voice spoke as if it was gently trying to persuade him.
—Theres not much time.
—This space is the last ability that the World has saved for the very worst-case scenario.
—If the channel disappears, this space will also disappear with it.
—So, find your partner before this space disappears.
Find my partner? Chi-Woo was about to ask another question, but he hesitated. The movements of the books had become strange. All of them had come to a sudden halt. Chi-Woo felt an enormous number of gazes on him. Of course, books didnt have eyes, but he felt as if he was being stared at.
As soon as Chi-Woo faltered, all kinds of books quickly flocked to him. Their covers fluttered like wings and rotated around him as if they were asking him to look at them and choose them. Among these books, there were several that forcibly rushed forward and pushed the other books behind. They all fought to show Chi-Woo their titles and opened up to show their content. However, there were so many books that were doing this that his mind couldnt stay focused, and Chi-Woo didnt even think about reading any of the books.
At that moment, a book flew through the huge crowd of books. Its unusual qualities were clear even at first glance. The book was big and very thick. The edges were decorated in gold, so it looked expensive. The other books also seemed surprised by this books appearance as they quickly scattered away like fish facing a ferocious shark. The book arrived proudly in front of Chi-Woo. It seemed to think that it was only natural that Chi-Woo would pick it. It swept over Chi-Woos legs and climbed up, and the way it tickled his legs made it seem even more mysterious.
And this wasnt the only behavior it showed. As if to tempt him, the book subtly opened and closed itself as if it was debating if it should show its inside or not.
“What the heck is this?” Chi-Woo kicked the book as it continued to play its tricks. In the first place, Chi-Woo didnt like the way it appeared, and he also didnt feel anything special from it.
Flutter, flutter? Whoosh, whoosh!
A commotion erupted around Chi-Woo. The books around him seemed as if they couldnt believe that Chi-Woo had kicked the gold-rimmed book without hesitation. After being dumped by Chi-Woo, the gold-rimmed books bookmark trembled as if it was humiliated, but Chi-Woo didnt give it another glance and continued on.
Hm? After looking around without rest, Chi-Woos gaze fell on one area.That book…before.
It was the first book he had seen as soon as he opened his eyes in this place. Unlike other books, it had beautiful white wings on its outer cover, and after flying around, it laid on another book to rest. It was still lying down. Even though the other books had caused a commotion at Chi-Woos appearance, it stayed quiet by itself. In the first place, it looked completely uninterested in Chi-Woo as if it was saying, “Hmph. Im different from the other books that make such a big fuss.”
It really was elegant and chic. It also looked noble, and he felt the same dignity from the book as when he first saw Laguel. Perhaps that was why it had first grabbed his attention.
“Well…if its not interested, I also dont want it.” Chi-Woos attention immediately shifted away. There was an overflowing amount of unique and special books anyway. There was no reason for Chi-Woo to stay fixated on this book just because it had wings.
“!” When Chi-Woo really began looking around at different books, the winged book flinched.
1. Calledshinnaerim in Korean ?
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