Chapter 15: Your Name
There were blood marks. A trail of blood, broken up in some areas, followed a long line across the long corridor.
‘Was something…dragged across the floor?’ Chi-Woo shook off his frightful imaginations and turned sideways. There were two possible paths that he could take: either to the left or the right. He wanted to leave this dreary building as fast as possible, but he didn’t know which direction to take.
‘I need more information.’ In situations like this where he didn’t know anything, he simply had to take the path that appeared to be the better option. But what was that sound he had just heard? It sounded like a person was hunting something. What if that guy heard Chi-Woo and decided to come his way?
‘I think that guy was going left but turned right.’ If that was the case, Chi-Woo had to go in the other direction. If he followed the blood marks, he might be able to find the building’s exit. Of course, the mysterious hunter might simply be wandering around the building, but Chi-Woo couldn’t risk it. Chi-Woo turned left and hoped his guess was right.
“!” As soon as he turned, he flinched. He almost screamed out loud in shock. There was a man standing and staring right at him.
“Who are you?” Chi-Woo demanded. He instinctively backed one step away and reached behind his back.
“…Ah, I’m sorry,” the man apologized, his eyes widened in realization. Chi-Woo stopped reaching for his club, but he didn’t let his guard down. He was sure that there hadn’t been anyone just a moment before.
“Who are you? Where did you come out from?” Chi-Woo quickly scanned the figure. The man gave off a kind first impression, and his features were beautiful. He was an extremely handsome man, but he looked pale, almost sick. His blonde hair was rumpled and in a mess. His eyes looked dazed perhaps from fatigue, and his face and body were covered in dried red marks. His abdomen was especially smeared with red stains.
“You were lost in thought and I…” The man began.
Chi-Woo hadn’t felt his presence at all, and the man seemed to have popped out of nowhere. He couldn’t help but be suspicious. He asked, “I am asking you again. Who are you?’
The young man seemed dumbfounded by Chi-Woo’s threatening stance.
“Aren’t you a member of the seventh recruitment team from the Celestial Realm?” the man asked.
Chi-Woo’s eyes widened. Seeing his response, the young man smiled widely.
“Yes, I am. I didn’t realize that we were on the same team.” Chi-Woo twitched the fingers that were holding onto his club. Could he believe this man’s words? “But could you answer some questions for me? What’s the name of the angel who made the announcements at the seventh recruitment?”
The man looked confused at first, but he soon realized the reason behind the question and answered, “It’s Ms. Laguel.”
“Correct. What’s her hair color?”
“I think her hair is blonde just like mine.”
“Correct. Do you know Ms. Laguel’s bust, waist, and hip measurements? This is a piece of information that all heroes from the Celestial Realm know, and if they don’t, they are surely a spy.”
“Uh…I…don’t know that…” The man blinked. “To tell you the truth, I just managed to save only one world and I’m still a newbie. But I a.s.sure you that I am not a spy.” The man spoke desperately to convince Chi-Woo and appeared as earnest as his face suggested.
“I trust you. Truthfully, I don’t know that either,” Chi-Woo said.
When he realized that it had been a trick question, the man smiled slightly and remarked, “You could’ve proven my ident.i.ty easily by turning on your hologram. You sure are thorough, sir.”
Chi-Woo took his hands off his club and flinched. ‘How do I turn that on?’ he wondered. He did receive a device like that, but he didn’t know how it worked. Chi-Woo suddenly got nervous that the man might ask to see his hologram and suspect him, but thankfully, the man changed the topic of the conversation.
“Were you sent here too?” the man asked.
“Sorry? Ah, yes, yes. When I woke up, I was in this room.” Then Chi-Woo responded with his own question, “You too?” And the man’s face darkened.
“I…” He squinted one eye and placed his hand on his forehead. “I can’t…remember too well…When I gained consciousness, I…” Chi-Woo didn’t know why, but the man appeared to be in pain.
‘Did he hurt his head badly when he fell to this place?’ Chi-Woo wondered.
The man shook his head and took a deep breath.
“Did you see anyone else?”
“I’m looking for a giant man with a tail and a woman with short brown hair. Their names are Giant Fist and Mua Janya.”
“I don’t think I saw them. Sorry to disappoint you.” It wasn’t really something to apologize about, but the man apologized like he was genuinely sorry. However, Chi-Woo was sure of one thing now. He wasn’t the only one that had been dropped separately from the others; everyone was scattered to various places. After a stretch of silence, the man spoke again like he had reached a decision.
“Anyways, it seems we have confirmed each other’s ident.i.ties well enough now,” he said calmly even in this chaotic situation. “Would you like to team up in the meantime?”
“Yes. I’m sure two is better than one.” Chi-Woo didn’t refuse. Even if they didn’t know each other, they were allies with the same goals. Besides, the man might have lost his power, but he was still a hero. There was no reason for Chi-Woo to reject an experienced and skilled veteran fighter from joining him.
“I think our first priority should be getting out of this place,” the man said. “What do you think, sir?”
“I agree with you strongly,” Chi Woo answered.
Chi-Woo liked that the man didn’t just act on his own and instead asked for Chi-Woo’s opinion. ‘I also like that he doesn’t speak informally to me right away.’ Chi-Woo would only know for sure after spending more time with the man, but his new companion appeared to be a good person.
“So…Oh, that’s right. I didn’t ask for your name,” the man said.
Chi-Woo nodded and spoke, “Yes. I am Choi Chi…” He stopped midway. He had been warned to not give away his ident.i.ty if he could prevent it.
“Excuse me? If you are Choi Chi…are you part of the Choi family? Are you perhaps from G-S-3-E?”
As expected, the man caught on right away. This made Chi-Woo also wonder, ‘I thought he said he was just a newbie who joined the ranks after saving one World.’
“No, no,” Chi-Woo quickly denied. “I think you heard wrong. My name is—" No name came to his mind, and he knew he would invite suspicions if he took too long, so he blurted out, “I’m Chichibbong.” Chi-Woo could clearly see the corner of the man’s lips rise as soon as he heard this name, and a quiet ‘pfff’ escaped his mouth.
Chi-Woo laughed humorlessly when he saw the man clench his teeth. ‘Is it that funny?’ he thought. The man’s lips trembled, and Chi-Woo gripped his fists tightly. ‘Seriously?’
If Chi-Woo hadn’t been there, the man would’ve burst into laughter on the spot while yelling, ‘Hahaha! Chichibbong! His name is Chichibbong!’
“Perhaps…Is my name funny to you?” Chi-Woo asked suspiciously, but the man shook his head fervently. After talking so much, the man had become a mute now and was chewing his lower lip so viciously that it looked like it would bleed. Wanting to push this moment a bit further, Chi-Woo added, “That’s good then. It’s a precious name my parents gifted me.” If his parents heard him, they would have protested and asked him when they had done such a thing. Still, mentioning his parents seemed to have a significant effect, and the man stopped fidgeting and opened his eyes widely. Then he gulped loudly and spoke again.
“I-I see.” He coughed roughly and cleared his throat. “Ehem! I almost…misunderstood..even though…there was no…way…” The man struggled to let out each word. Chi-Woo applauded the man’s phenomenal self-control and in the meantime, the man took a deep breath and calmed himself down.
Then he said, “Nice to meet you, sir. I’m pleased to introduce myself as Ru Amuh.”
After finis.h.i.+ng their introductions, Ru Amuh and Chichibbong—no, Chi-Woo left their spots. Ru-Amuh decided to take the lead in directions while Chi-Woo kept watching. Ru Amuh had the same idea as Chi-Woo. He also thought that if they followed the blood marks in the opposite direction of where that dangerous figure went, they would reach the exit. The inside was dark and considering that they were in a building, the path was very twisted and complicated. Now that Chi-Woo thought about it, they might not even be in a building.
Even though their surroundings had been built by human hands, Chi-Woo thought that Ru Amuh was right in that they were in a cave being used as a shelter. While Chi-Woo walked through the twisted path, he was plagued by embarra.s.sment. Since he had spouted out the first part of his name ‘Choi Chi’, he couldn’t take it back. He managed to turn ‘Chi’ into a new word, and spat out the first thing that came to his mind for ‘Woo’. However, it was precisely because he had said the first thing that came into his mind that he caused this embarra.s.sment. There were so many cool and pretty names. Why did he have to pick Chichibbong? Why Chichibbong of all names!
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Chi-Woo stared at Ru Amuh. The man hadn’t said anything since he began to lead the way. Even when the blood marks stopped at some parts or the path diverged into multiple directions, he moved forward without hesitation.
“My mission and role here might have been to guide Sir Chichibbong out of this place…”
Chi-Woo let out a humorless chuckle. Ru Amuh was way too serious; it seemed like he was the type of person who became serious and fell into thought when everyone was laughing.
“Let’s stop talking and quickly climb up. Let’s get out first.”
Ru Amuh nodded. “Please go ahead.”
“No, it’s all right.”
“No, Sir Chichibbong, you should go.”
“Mr. Ru Amuh, you should go first.”
“Hurry, you must quickly climb up.” Ru Amuh made a serious face and looked at him with a hard gaze. Chi-Woo was a bit taken aback.
“Please sir, I’m asking you…” Ru Amuh looked back at the entrance they pa.s.sed through and chewed his lips. He looked anxious.
‘Did he sense that guy chasing us?’ Since Ru Amuh was a hero, his senses might be different from ordinary people.
‘Or…’ The suspicion that had disappeared after finding out Ru Amuh was also part of the seventh recruits re-emerged. Perhaps something had happened here while Chi-Woo had taken his time to get transported to this cave. However, rather than hiding an insidious plan, Ru Amuh looked eager to flee.
“I understand. If that’s what you want, I’ll go up first.” Ru Amuh spoke as if it couldn't be helped. He looked desperate to get out even a second earlier.
“…No, I’ll go first.” Since Ru Amuh was going this far, Chi-Woo didn’t say anything further and climbed up by using the rocks protruding out of the walls. He grabbed onto the flat rocks on his left and went up. He climbed left and then right, and then left again. A creaking sound rang out from the cavity of the cave. The cave was taller than he had thought. Even though he had climbed at least 20 meters up, he still hadn’t reached the exit yet. However, after using all his strength to persistently climb up, he was able to get close to the ceiling. He also saw the vague outline of an iron door that was slightly open.
“Are you following me?” When Chi-Woo almost reached the end, he asked out loud. However, Ru Amuh did not reply. “I asked, are you following me?” Even after waiting a bit, he heard no answer, so Chi-Woo asked once more.
‘What the?’ Chi-Woo huffed and looked down after tightly gripping onto a rock.
“Quiet!” It was then that Chi-Woo heard Ru-Amuh’s voice. “Sir, I’m following you. But more importantly, don’t look back and go quickly!”
“You should have replied quicker. I was worried about you.”
“How much longer until we get out?”
“There’s not much left. We just need to climb one or two more rocks.” Chi-Woo sighed in relief and climbed up another rock. There was now only one left.
At that moment—
1. Chi-Chi-bbong is what Koreans say when they say the same thing as someone else at the same time. In English, it will be similar to using the word, "jinx." ☜
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