Chapter 26 - Day 7, Alley
One billion won. I used to think about it often. When I was a high school student, I didn’t have a lot at home, so I thought about the things I wanted to have.
After going to college, I had to wear the same old clothes that I had worn for many years, and realized that the things my friends enjoyed were a luxury to me. Just... I didn’t need anything. I just hoped for a little more money. At least, it used to be like that.
"Hey, do you have your bankbook?”
Yoon Sang-ah stared at me with a confused expression. "I don’t understand what you are saying right now...” She didn’t know exactly, but she could roughly guess.
"Legitimate. By today. One billion won. Don’t you understand?”
"This frustrating guy...” The man, Yoon Sang-min, opened his mouth for the first time.
"It’s to avoid being pursued by the law, my proposal won’t be a problem. Is there any reason to refuse my terms?”
"There will be a record.”
He gave an answer right away.
"There will be an inquiry when you get a job, so it will just be seen as a dubious monthly salary.”
"I don't know what type of life I will live in the future, but I don't want to do anything.”
I could hear some laughter. The other people sitting in the cafe were laughing at me.
"You can become a big person.”
“Maybe you can even run for President.” They spoke nonsense as they laughed, but I didn’t bother looking at them. I just studied Yoon Sang-min.
"So legally. I want a clean one billion.”
“It’s awkward. The reality is that there’s no way to satisfy the condition of giving you one billion by today. If those conditions...”
"Then I guess I have to refuse. Realistically.” I shook my head. Many eyes looked at me like I was crazy as I opened the door to the cafe.
I could hear Yoon Sang-ah from behind me. "How funny. A beggar wearing a t-shirt is going around like he’s some big shot.”
Laughter burst out. I kept moving. One billion won. It wasn’t a small amount of money. With that amount of money, I could live a life of ease. So why did I refuse now that it came into my hands?
What if it wasn’t one billion, but five billion or ten billion? Maybe I would’ve been satisfied.
That was before entering the dungeon. I was different now. I have become physically stronger. I was a little smarter and more willing to take action.
And I would be even better in the future. I had to continue for as long as possible. Until the day when it was impossible for me to struggle any longer. The words I said to Yoo Sang-min and Yoo Sang-ah were true. I hadn’t been talking nonsense.
It would be good if they ‘gave’ all that money to me. Then I would be able to stop along the way and smell the roses.
But not anymore. A long road stretched in front of me. I would do the things I wanted to do. I would walk the path I chose and be successful. To the me right now, one billion wasn’t enough as a goal.
I walked out and left the campus. I had to wait a bit for the next step.
Late at night. I was walking down a street when I received a message.
-If you are alone now then you should contact me.
The call came straight away.
-H-hello? This is Yoon Ji-hee.
It was the number that she gave on the way to the cafe.
-Excuse me... So the money...
"Please give me the cell phone number.” Yoon Ji-hee swallowed her breath. The number shouldn’t be repeated twice.
"If you let me know, then I will protect you on the assumption that there won’t be any problems with my safety in the future.”
"If you do not want to die..." I hung up and waited. Three minutes later, I received a message. I entered the phone number I received and took a breath. I closed my eyes before pressing the call button. The ring tone continued for a while.
-Who is this?
I heard the voice of an elderly man. “I called about a matter regarding one of your grandchildren. Yoon Ji-hee.”
- ... This is a number that is only used in my family. Did Ji-hee give it to you?
The old man’s voice was grumpy. “Yes. I sincerely asked Yoon Ji-hee to tell me. It is a condition to escort Yoon Ji-hee inside the dungeon.” There was a moment of silence. Then Chairman Yoon Sang-gyu spoke again.
-I made it clear to my grandchildren. No matter what the children do in there, I decided not to intervene.
The old man spoke in a feeble voice, but the weight behind his words was fierce. Was it to make the opponent shrink back from the weakness?
-So I can’t give you anything. I think it is better for you to hang up.
Of course, I already knew that. Yoon Sang-ah told Yoon Ji-hee that she was acting on her own behalf, not on UZ Group’s. "I'll didn’t call Chairman-nim for nothing.” I calmed the trembling in my chest and spoke. "I will protect your granddaughter. I will do my best and she will be the one who stays until the end.”
-You and Ji-hee? What is the relationship?
"Until yesterday, we had no affiliation." The chairman didn’t hang up. Okay. Then I would continue. "Even if you don’t intervene, I don’t think you have a lot of expectations for Yoon Ji-hee. I met three of your grandchildren today, but I could clearly see who would die first.” From here on, I cut to the chase and pulled the pin from the hypothetical grenade.
"But Yoon Ji-hee will survive the longest. If only one of your grandchildren is left, it will be Yoon Ji-hee.”
"She has me." I heard a faint laugh.
-In other words, the grandchild that has you... Perhaps Sang-ah and Sang-min... You are better than those children.
“Yes. I am the ace in the hole. The two of them... Even if they have the people that they’ve already gathered, I will still win.”
"In addition, none of your grandchildren are better than me. So naturally, Ji-hee will stay the longest.” What did I want? I said it first before the old man could ask. "As you said, you won’t be giving me anything right now. Anyway, if my words are proven correct...”
-You won’t need to ask for anything since I will do it.
The old man’s voice was filled with laughter. Yes. He was right. If Yoon Ji-hee survive longer than any of her siblings or cousins, it meant she would be the successor of the UZ Group. And I would have been responsible for the safety of the successor.
"I just wanted you to know. This is your insurance against damage. Even in the worst situation where the dungeon surpasses the ability of your grandchildren, it is insurance that at least once grandchild survives.” The next moment, the old man’s loud laugh entered my ears.
-That is fine.
-Yes, then should I call the other children and tell them not to hurt Ji-hee and the person who is calling?
Goose bumps formed on my spine. I hadn’t said it yet.
-Sang-min more than Sang-ah... That child feels a desperate sense of urgency. I’ve told him several times to be vigilant to other parties. I can’t stop him.
“...” Even though there was no hope, I wanted him to keep his grandchildren in check, at least in reality. It was for my personal safety rather than Yoon Ji-hee’s. I knew he was going to say that.
-Ah. Don't worry about it. This business is okay. Free insurance. It is free so I will take care of it.
- I personally feel sorry for Ji-hee since she isn’t the type to make an active move or to play dirty. Tomorrow, I will tell the children. Now, is that all? Can I hang up?
"That's it. Thank you for listening to my words.” Just before the call was disconnected, the old man suddenly spoke.
-I haven’t heard your name.
-Well... It doesn't really matter right now. I don’t know about later, but there is no point knowing your name now.
I heard a short laugh.
-Then, work hard.
The call was disconnected.
“... Hah.” I let out a long breath. I did it. I hadn’t stuttered, nor did my voice shake, despite my heart racing quickly. With lighter footsteps, I entered an alley lined with buildings.
As re-development proceeded in this area, more than half the buildings were empty. There were places where the streetlights had gone out. It was annoying during the day, but it was even worse at night. I stood in front of a building and examined the mailbox installed outside the entrance.
"You're living in a place like this?" I turned around to see several people in the side alley. The alley on the other side had people as well.
"It’s surprising. I didn’t think such a great person would live in a place like this.”
"Originally, great people are frugal. Can’t you tell by looking at his t-shirt?” They moved forward and narrowed the distance. Two people on the left. Two people on the right.
They were people that I saw at the cafe--those who followed Yoon Sang-ah and Yoon Sang-min.
"Who sent you?" I could roughly guessed but I asked anyway.
“Wah, did you hear? He asked ‘who sent you?’ I just now realized it was a drama."
"I have goose bumps.” The tallest of the two on the right spat out.
"You never know. You didn’t want money so we came to persuade you in another way.”
"Are you planning to use violence?” I raised my head and looked around.
"Well, in some cases... It’s as I thought. This neighbourhood looks pretty good. No one seems to be here, and there doesn’t seem to be proper CCTV.” There was a guy who was already shadow boxing in the air.
“Whatever happens, it is because you angered the people behind us. You shouldn’t have rejected them.”
“... I see.”
“Wah. Look at that calm expression. As expected from a great person.” They were getting closer and closer.
"If you’re scared then why don’t you rush into your house, lock the door and call the police? Of course, we already know the location of your house so we will always be here. I saw the mailbox you were looking at. You’re not very smart, are you?”
Indeed. I took out my gloves.
“What? Do you plan to fight?”
"It looks like it. What should we do?”
"Then let’s call the police.” They wouldn’t do such a thing. If the police came to catch me then they would get caught as well. I didn’t think that Yoon Ji-hee would get a lawyer for me.
So… They picked this place.
"The police wouldn’t believe it anyway.”
This neighbourhood wasn’t where I lived. Of course, this building wasn’t mine. The mailbox that I was looking at also had nothing to do with me.
"What did you say?" There was no one else around. The lighting was dim. It was an area where the CCTV was underdeveloped. I had searched for a suitable place during the daytime.
“Hey, grab him.” They headed towards me at the same time. I twisted my neck and chanted something in my head.
Activate. Darkness Cloud.
A darkness that was darker than the night wrapped around us.
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