Chapter 81: Finally a Tutorial (23)
The path was more complicated than Chi-Woo had expected. They had to turn corners often, and it wasn’t uncommon for new paths to suddenly appear; in such cases, they had to choose which direction to go, and it was truly fortunate that Hawa was there with him because she always managed to choose a place where she heard water running. Chi-Woo felt like he was wandering inside a labyrinth. After dozens of minutes, he arrived at an open s.p.a.ce that resembled a rotor with multiple paths connected to the center; among these paths was a unique, tunnel-like pa.s.sageway. Hawa said that she could clearly hear water running from there, and the two of them treaded inside.
At the end of the dark pa.s.sageway was a s.p.a.cious clearing. While it was only dimly lit, it was bright enough that they didn’t need a torch.
‘Where is the light coming from…?’ Chi-Woo tilted his head and noticed stalact.i.tes hanging from the ceiling like icicles. Glowing softly, each piece lit up the surroundings like a light bulb, and Chi-Woo’s breath was momentarily taken away from the magical scene.
“How amazing. Is this perhaps…” Chi-Woo was about to ask about the stalact.i.tes when Hawa’s expression gave him pause. Her usually expressionless face was twisted with shock, and her eyes were wide open.
“What is it?” Chi-Woo asked, but Hawa didn’t answer; she simply stared at the scene in front of her.
‘There isn’t much here.’ The area was s.p.a.cious, but there wasn’t much except for an unusually large entrance that headed to who-knows-where and a deep pit beside it that stretched outward in all directions like a channel. There was nothing inside the pit, and it seemed that there used to be a lake or other body of water there.
“Please give me a moment.” Hawa finally spoke. “Please wait.” She carefully distanced herself from Chi-Woo’s side and ran frantically to the place that looked like a channel; as soon as she reached the pit, she kneeled. She gathered her hands together and placed them inside the pit before carefully bringing her hands to her lips. It was as if she was drawing water from the lake and drinking from it.
“Ah!” After making a loud shriek, Hawa repeated the same actions.
‘What is she doing?’ Chi-Woo looked at Hawa with confusion. No matter how hard he looked, he couldn’t see a drop of water.
“What are you doing? There’s no water. Why are you…” Chi-Woo asked, worried that Hawa had gone crazy from her thirst. But Hawa tipped her head backward and smiled slightly. It was the first time Chi-Woo saw her smile.
Hawa placed her hands back into the pit and swung them hard back at Chi-Woo.
‘Does she want to pretend play with water or something?’ Chi-Woo thought, concerned that Hawa’s mind had suddenly regressed into that of an infant, but then, Splas.h.!.+ Chi-Woo recoiled reflexively.
“…” He blinked in astonishment, feeling a burst of coldness. .h.i.tting his face and liquid dripping down the ends of his hair strands. Although he couldn’t see the water, he could clearly feel it.
“Huh…Huh…?” Chi-Woo rubbed his face. His palms were wet with invisible water.
“What…?” Chi-Woo spluttered.
His reaction seemed to have amused Hawa. She began to scoop up water and drink again. Chi-Woo crawled towards the area blankly. When he edged closer and looked down, he was surprised to see how deep the pit was. Inside the pit, he saw seaweeds and corals glowing softly as they swayed, seemingly to waves he couldn’t see. There were also small fishes swimming with their tails swis.h.i.+ng, and clams breathing with their plump siphons. If only water existed, it would have looked like a lake inside a cave. But Chi-Woo couldn’t see the water, and anyone who saw this place would have been shocked to see fishes swimming in the air.
“It’s not that there’s no water,” Hawa said while continuously drinking from her palms. “It’s just too clear to be seen.”
Hearing this, Chi-Woo reached into the pit and felt his hands sinking into something like water. Swis.h.i.+ng his hands about, he was. .h.i.t with a strange sensation. He felt much less resistance than he would have from plain water, and this substance felt several-fold fresher and cooler. Although he had felt it for himself, Chi-Woo still didn’t think it was water.
“It’s not just any water,” Hawa added when she noticed Chi-Woo’s expression. ” According to the teachings, this water has several names.”
“‘Water of Voices’ because it is said to hear your pleas. ‘Water of Promises’ because it is said to grant wishes. ‘Water of Infinite Changes’ because it is said to change depending on the situation.” Hawa drank another gulp and added, “Our tribe called it ‘Water of the G.o.ds’.”
“Water of the G.o.ds?”
“Yes, it means that the G.o.ds had given us the water, since there’s no way a water can possess so many different powers unless it has been honed by the G.o.ds.”
“…It sounds like the water is very precious.”
“Yes, this water has been pa.s.sed down from generation to generation in our tribe. I’ve seen it before, but only once.”
“It was when I was chosen to be the shaman that will serve G.o.ddess Shahnaz. They dropped a droplet of this water into my mouth then.”
One droplet for a person’s lifetime—no wonder Hawa was drinking it so pa.s.sionately. With his tongue sticking out, Chi-Woo gained a new curiosity and edged his head closer to the pit. He felt a substance meet his mouth and was about to suck some in.
“I’m not sure if that’s a good idea.”
Chi-Woo turned to Hawa and asked, “Why?”
“Because you’re injured.”
“Am I not supposed to drink it in an injured state?”
Hawa tilted her head and shrugged. “Well, I guess it’s fine since it won’t kill you.”
It sounded like Hawa was telling him to try if he really wanted to, so Chi-Woo decided to go with it. He swallowed the shapeless substance that he had sucked in with his mouth.
“Umph!” Chi-Woo’s body spasmed. “Urgh! Ahh!” He flopped to the ground and rolled like mad. As soon as he drank the water, the throbbing pain across his body suddenly grew exponentially.
“Ah! Kaah!” The dull pain became sharper and clearer. After suffering for a while, Chi-Woo became used to the pain. He looked up with saliva dripping down the corner of his mouth.
“How is it?” Hawa asked indifferently. “Can you hear it now?”
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‘Hear what?’ Chi-Woo was about to ask what the h.e.l.l she was talking about, but he was shocked into silence by what he was hearing.
‘Doctor fish?’ Chi-Woo remembered hearing about the Garra Rufa, a type of healing fish. The fish seemed to be something similar. Soon, his blood began to spread in the transparent water, which had seeped out from his wound whenever his injury was bitten by the fish. However, the transparent water seemed to be cleansing itself, and soon his blood had vanished altogether. The fish’s saliva seemed to also have a hemostatic effect as his bleeding had quickly stopped.
“Ahh…” A groan escaped Chi-Woo’s mouth. It felt nice. To put it into words, it felt like he was cleaning his wounds and applying disinfectant. He almost wanted to roll around in the water, basking in the feeling of being treated. Then the fish that had flocked around Chi-Woo’s injuries turned around. They began trembling as if they were trying to push something out.
“?” Chi-Woo saw white powder come out from what was possibly the fish’ a.n.u.s. ‘p.o.o.p?’ He had no idea whether it was p.o.o.p or not, but Chi-Woo stayed still. Since the water was restraining his body, he couldn’t avoid it anyway, but he was also captivated by such a strange sight. In all the areas that the white powder came in contact with, the bleeding stopped, the injuries healed, and new skin began to form. His pain also subsided significantly.
Soon after, he could move freely again. The fish also began swimming away leisurely, as if they had no time for him after their work was done. Chi-Woo slowly raised his hand with a look of disbelief on his face. “Wow…” he exclaimed almost involuntarily. His completely ripped palms became smooth like a baby’s skin. Was this a dream or reality? Unable to suppress his awe, Chi-Woo quickly stood up.
He waved his fists around and even tried jumping. It seemed as if they hadn’t healed his internal injuries, as he still felt a string of pain. However, it was much better than before. He could walk and even run. “Ms. Hawa!” Chi-Woo got out of the pit and shouted with a bright expression. “I’m healed! I’m really healed!” He expressed his delight without any embarra.s.sment.
“…I can’t believe it…” Hawa looked shocked. “I begged for 37 days and got only a drop…”
Chi-Woo didn’t know exactly why, but Hawa was murmuring to herself with a slightly disgruntled tone. While jumping up and down in joy, Chi-Woo suddenly realized his nakedness. It was then Hawa recovered from her shock and looked at him head-on.
Silence pa.s.sed between them. Chi-Woo forced his stiff head to turn around robotically. He was able to see clearly what happened next: Hawa’s eyes flicked downwards and widened in surprise. Her jaw dropped a little as well.
“…” Hawa made a fake cough and turned away.
But she already saw everything. Flushed, Chi-Woo picked up his clothes and put them on. “Darling, I’ve finished was.h.i.+ng myself. Why don’t you go in now?” Chi-Woo tried his best to make a joke as if he was completely unfazed.
Hawa snorted and threw his bag at him. She pointed her chin towards the source of the water. “Let’s keep going.”
Chi-Woo followed her gaze. He could clearly hear the sound of water flowing from deep inside.
“I might become a living witness to a historical moment,” Hawa said in a strangely loaded tone that was unusual from her.
“A witness to a historical moment?”
“Yes, just think about it. This is a place overflowing with holy water, a substance so rare that even a drop is hard to obtain.” Hawa was saying that if they went deeper inside, there might be something momentous waiting for them. “Now that I think about it, you said something about a forgotten G.o.d…”
Hawa glanced sideways at Chi-Woo and continued as if she could now understand what he had meant before. “You never know, we might have really come to the forgotten G.o.d’s paradise—a place pa.s.sed down only in legends.”
‘Uh?’ Chi-Woo’s eyes became big as saucers. He hadn’t even told everything to Hawa, but how did she know the full name of the place? Chi-Woo tilted his head and quickly followed behind her.
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