Chapter 93: Went Outside But (2)
After his contract with La Bella, Chi-Woo incorporated using his exorcism attribute in his daily training. Since there was a big difference between imagining it and actually using the ability, he needed to narrow the gap between them and get used to this ability as fast as possible. Fortunately, this task wasn’t as difficult as he expected it to be. Thanks to his evolved physique, Chi-Woo was able to use the mysterious energy well. Yet, it wasn’t like there was no problem at all, which he found out amid training.
Today, Chi-Woo went to the upper floor as usual and ran with the mud monster chasing behind him. Br.i.m.m.i.n.g with enthusiasm, he ran up and down the walls as he escaped. It was easy for him to maintain balance, which might be thanks to La Bella’s blessing, and he was able to kick off the walls on both sides in a zigzag. Feeling like he was spiderman, Chi-Woo excitedly increased his speed more and more as he kept bouncing between the walls until all that was ahead of him was a cliff behind the corner s.p.a.ce. To change direction, Chi-woo jumped to the left side with all he had.
Chi-Woo was taken aback when he felt his feet sink into the wall. It seemed he had put too much force into his foot. No matter how strong a rock was, it had its weak spots. However, Chi-Woo hadn’t expected parts of the rock wall to simply crumble at his energy-filled kick. As the part of the wall crumbled, Chi-Woo failed to change directions and fell toward the cliff. Below him was a dark, empty s.p.a.ce, and Chi-Woo was surprised to find himself falling from a good distance.
Rather than being careless, he made a mistake because he hadn’t considered such a situation to arise. However, it was also true that before, he had been running for his life, but after he gained La Bella’s support, he had been slightly drunk on his newfound powers and fell into the trap of hubris. Even as he fell, Chi-Woo simply thought he would collide with some rocks, roll on the ground, and stop… That was before his head got closer and closer to a sharp boulder protruding from the ground like a stalact.i.te.
“…Huh?” Chi-Woo’s face darkened. Was he going to die like this? So stupidly?
Chi-Woo was about to tilt his head and guarded himself with both arms when—thud! He suddenly felt something grab him by the neck. His falling body came to a lurching halt, and when Chi-Woo opened his eyes again, he saw the tip of the rock almost touching the center of his forehead. Cold sweat broke out of him, and Chi-Woo wondered what would have happened if he had fallen a bit more. He felt more chills as his body was pulled back up.
Not long afterward, he returned to the narrow path he had fallen from, and whatever was grabbing the back of his neck loosened. After landing on the path safely, Chi-Woo finally let out the breath he had been holding in. He turned around with a blank look on his face and saw the mud monster retracting its long, out-stretched hand that had lengthened like a rope.
“You…” As the mud monster continued to retract its arm back, Chi-Woo was about to say something but thought better of it. The mud monster responded similarly. It stood in its spot and stared quietly at Chi-Woo. Chi-Woo didn’t know what was happening, but he was sure of one thing: the mud monster had saved Chi-Woo’s life just now like how he had saved the mud monster’s life a couple of days ago. A stretch of silence followed. Then a hand shot out of the mud monster’s body and pointed at Chi-Woo once before pointing down at the sanctuary.
There was no way they could understand each other, but Chi-Woo felt no antagonism from the mud monster. Moreover, from his actions, Chi-Woo could clearly understand what the monster was saying.
[Don’t misunderstand. I just didn’t want to hear you say it was a rock that got you in the end.]
[Since the mood is all wrong, we should stop for today. Come back after you have a good meal and a good rest. Then we can have a fair battle again.]
Chi-Woo’s face burned up, but he gritted his teeth and tightened his fists. He wanted to shout that he had simply slipped and could battle this instance, but right now, Chi-Woo had to accept the mud monster’s considerations; it was what the mud monster had done when he did the same thing. As of now, Chi-Woo simply needed to reflect on his mistakes and practice so that he could wash this humiliation away the next time they met.
Thus, Chi-Woo walked. Pat, pat. When he was pa.s.sing the mud monster, Chi-Woo stopped briefly and tilted toward the still-standing mud monster, saying in a low voice, “…Thanks…” He resumed his walk down. The mud monster laughed and tucked its hand back into its body, moving in the opposite direction that Chi-Woo was heading. Chi-Woo walked but soon stopped again; he turned around with complicated feelings. The mud monster was already far away from him, but unlike him, it didn’t turn back even once. For some reason, Chi-Woo felt sad that it didn’t but also thought it was a bit cool for it to do so.
* * *
“Can I call you hey!? Can I call you mine?” 
While shaking her head to the beat of the rhythm, Hawa continued, “We need our own pet name!”. Then, she pointed both thumbs at Chi-Woo and sang, “Honey~! Honey~!” She even curled her hands into a fist and shook her shoulders. “So please be mine from today on!” She ended the song with a wink. As soon as the song ended, the cute and energetic girl returned to her expressionless self.
And Chi-Woo burst into laughter, “Ahahahahahaha!”
As Hawa hung her head with cheeks flushed red with shame, Chi-Woo laughed so hard that his laughter echoed in the entire cave.
“Why in the world are you making me do something like this!?” Hawa burst out, her body trembled in utter humiliation.
“What do you mean, ‘Why?’ You lost, so you have to listen to my request.” Chi-Woo wiped the tears in his eyes and chuckled.
Hawa gritted her teeth. She had challenged Chi-Woo to a battle once again, thinking that she could win, but ended up losing. Unfortunately, they had made a bet, and Hawa had to listen to Chi-Woo’s request since she lost. Given the chance to make Hawa do whatever he wanted since he had done the same before, Chi-Woo ended up having her perform the aegyo song Be Mine. And Chi-Woo didn’t let Hawa do a sloppy job, saying that he would not make any more bets from then on if she did so. Thus, Hawa had no choice but to swallow her pride and perform the song perfectly with the right expression, voice, and rhythm.
“How cute. I guess if our Hawa wants to call me honey instead of oppa so bad, it can’t be helped.”
“Stop with the nonsense,” Hawa said firmly with her arms crossed and heaved. Then she glanced at Chi-Woo and asked, “By the way, what’s that?”
“Ah, this? It’s nothing,” Chi-Woo said while gripping his club.
“But why do you have it out like that?”
“Just cause. I was wondering if it would change under the holy water’s influence,” Chi-Woo explained while plunging the club back into the spring pool.
Hawa felt something pa.s.s her eyes; as a shaman who served a G.o.d, she could recognize a G.o.dly item. She didn’t know exactly what this blackish club was, but it appeared to be a precious item with a deep history. Hawa shook her head and changed the topic abruptly, “You made a contract with G.o.ddess La Bella, right?”
Chi-Woo felt a p.r.i.c.k of guilt at Hawa’s gaze. He waved his hands and said, “I did, but I didn’t use those powers while fighting you. I am telling you the truth.”
Hawa smacked her lips. She knew Chi-Woo wasn’t lying. If had used his powers, there would be a clear difference in his movements and strength. Moreover, Hawa was curious about a different matter.
“Why don’t we start heading out then? What about tomorrow?”
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“We’re almost out of food—fruits, mushrooms, seafood, and seaweed.”
There was only one thing left to do: to bait the monster and escape. Chi-Woo and Hawa walked while raising their guard. And soon after, they felt that something was off. The monster should have rushed towards them as soon as they climbed up. However, it was nowhere to be seen even after they climbed up another floor, and another, and another. Even when they reached a floor they had never been to before, there was still no trace of the mud monster.
“I can hear the sound of air…wind.” Hawa closed her eyes and pointed in a specific direction. “This way.”
Chi-Woo obediently followed Hawa’s lead, but he couldn’t focus; he kept looking around for the mud monster. He had unfinished business with it. Why, for what reason…
He didn’t know how long they had been walking for. They reached a wide area where the darkness subsided as light began to seep in. Hawa stopped walking and frowned at the figure in front of her. In contrast, Chi-Woo’s expression brightened up; the mud monster was in front of them, standing in the middle of the clearing waiting for him.
“You…!” Chi-Woo was about to shout in delight but calmed his excitement because the mud monster was radiating with fearsome energy.
‘This is…’ This was where the mud monster and Chi-Woo would have their final battle. Chi-Woo’s opponent had chosen their arena, so it was only right for him to respond appropriately. Hawa glanced at Chi-Woo to see whether he was going to run away or fight it.
A hand suddenly sprung from the monster’s body and pointed at Hawa. Then it pointed its thumb towards his back. Hawa, who had been making preparations to fight, was startled. It seemed as if the monster was telling her to go.
“…What?” Her voice even came out raspy because of how surprised she was.
However, Chi-Woo calmly said, “He’s letting you go.”
“Hawa, you should go.”
“Go. If you don’t want to die.”
Hawa flinched because Chi-Woo’s expression had become serious—an expression he rarely made. Hawa’s gaze s.h.i.+fted between Chi-Woo and the monster, before she gave up on protesting and started moving, still reeling from the shock.
“I,” Chi-Woo quietly said as he dropped his bag and warmed up, staring at the monster. “Will surpa.s.s you today.”
Hawa turned back. She had no idea why Chi-Woo was acting like this, or what had transpired between them. Still, Chi-Woo’s serious expression as he said those words made him look f.u.c.king stupid but also really f.u.c.king cool.
1. Lyrics of an aegyo (cutesy) song called Be Mine that was popular in Korea for some time. ☜
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