Today was the first long weekend in a while. It was now winter. The weather was chilly and the fallen leaves were rolling. Kanghyun and my daughter-in-law had left for Jeju Island yesterday on a couple’s trip and said they would come back tomorrow. Thus, I decided to go hiking. Of course, it was with my grandchildren.
Tang tang tang! The sound of pans being knocked around rang through the room.
Tang tang tang tang!
“Uh, Grandfather, it’s noisy!” Jeongdo lay down and covered his ears as he shouted. I lifted the blanket with a disapproving expression. Jeongdo was still lying down in a curled up position.
“Get up, my grandson! It is time to go for a walk!”
“No, what walk? I’m not going out to drink in the neighborhood...” Jeongdo’s mouth was open as he complained. However, I was cold toward my grandson.
“Shut up. This guy! Get up quickly and eat!”
“Shit. Why did I say I would go yesterday...”
I left the grumbling Jeongdo behind and headed to Mido’s room. I carefully knocked on the door.
Asleep? Then I carefully opened the door. It was quiet and she was still sleeping. I walked quietly to not wake her and found the sleeping Mido. She was wearing pink cat pajamas today. The name... was it Citty? I didn’t remember well but it was something similar. I carefully touched Mido’s shoulder.
...She seemed very tired. Mido only responded after I poked her four times. She rolled around a few times before smiling when she saw my face. “Grandfather...? Hehe. Good morning.”
At the same time, Mido kissed my cheeks. My granddaughter’s kisses were like the sun and I seemed to melt. Kuoh, this was the taste of life. What did I have to live for if I didn’t have Mido? I smiled and said, “I made delicious kimchi stew. Come and eat. Kekekeke.”
After a while, we sat down at the table.
“Wow, this anchovy stir-fry was made by Grandfather? It’s really delicious.”
“Please eat more.”
“Grandfather’s cooking skills are the best!”
I looked at Mido’s raised thumb and was full of smiles. There weren’t many ingredients in the fridge so I made it in a hurry... my cooking had paid off.
Compared to her, that Jeongdo...
“Meat side dishes...”
This rotten guy. Make it yourself. I slapped his forehead with a spoon.
“Ack! Why did you hit me?”
* * *
After lunch, we headed for Bukhan Mountain National Park near our house. It was quite chilly so we wore warm hiking clothes. My daughter-in-law had bought it a few months ago but now I knew that Mido had chosen it. It was no wonder why it was pink...
“Noona, they might be hiking clothes but isn’t pink too much?”
“Why? It’s pretty. Isn’t it good? It is a couple’s look.”
“No, hah.” Jeongdo sighed. He seemed to have decided to give up on understanding. Well, Mido was obsessed with pink so he deserved it. Then the arrow came back to me.
“Grandfather, do you hate it?”
My heart sank as she looked up at me. Shit. In fact, I liked black...
“I'm good! Keke.” I made a disgusting laugh and could feel Jeongdo’s stinging gaze. What was I supposed to do? I couldn’t answer my grandson’s expression asking if I was certain.
Jeongdo opened his mouth with a gloomy expression, “Che, you’re only on Noona’s side every day.”
Before I knew it, I reached the top. It was decided that the last person to arrive would buy drinks but I was the first to arrive. I sat on a rock and looked down the mountain. My pounding heart seemed like it was going to explode but I wasn’t lacking compared to these young people.
“Pant, shit, I’m second.” Harsh breathing was heard from behind. The one who arrived second was my grandson who used any means. The difference between us was only 10 minutes. The other day, the difference was more than 30 minutes. He had improved his physique a lot.
Jeongdo gasped as he asked, “Grandfather, what type of exercise have you been doing?”
“Well, I just go for a walk and go hiking.”
“Is that all? Really?”
I couldn’t tell the truth. I couldn’t say that I practiced special martial arts as a hobby. It wasn’t just that. I knew all types of survival skills and dagger techniques. He would pass out if I told him to wear sandbags. In fact, I had been raised as a North Korean spy since I was five years old. As an orphan, I was raised by management since I was a child, receiving vicious training. Exercising had become a habit since that time. It was a time when I was whipped if I didn’t move.
Jeongdo muttered, “Phew, I never missed first place because I’ve been running for a long time at school. It’s amazing that I can’t beat you.”
Running for a long time… would he believe me if I said that I ran for 60 km with a sandbag and sand vest every night? He probably wouldn’t believe it. I pointed to the rock next to me. “Come and sit down.”
Jeongdo took slow breaths as he sat down. I asked him, “Is it hard?”
“Yes, very much so.” Jeongdo grabbed his head and moaned.
I looked down the mountain and continued speaking, “I am a grandfather. The only thing I can pass onto you is how to be healthy.”
I could feel Jeongdo looking at me with serious eyes. He rubbed his head with one hand and suggested, “You’re good at cooking. Teach us how to cook.”
“Are you good at cooking?”
“...No, I am useless.”
I smiled at Jeongdo’s words. “Yes, if you were talented in it then I would’ve taught you everything. However, everyone has different innate talents.”
“Then what is my talent?”
“That is your homework. Get to know yourself. All I can do is ensure that you are healthy enough to accept whatever talent comes to you.”
“Healthy enough to accept whatever talent comes...” He seemed touched by my words and fell deep into thought.
I spoke to Jeongdo again, “One day, you will have to protect our family in my stead.”
“...I know. It is the promise I made with Grandmother.”
I was smiling at Jeongdo when I heard a voice from behind me. “Hey, I came up!”
Suddenly, Mido appeared. She stretched and shouted loudly. I saw this and smiled. “You came now? It wasn’t hard?”
“Yes, I’m fine! Very refreshing! Would you like to see it? Yaho~~!”
The clear voice echoed throughout the mountain. The echoes came back to my ears and my mood wasn’t bad. I shouted along with her, “Yaho~!”
* * *
At this time, Kim Sujeong connected to Arkstar. She sat at the central fountain of Arkstar and was distressed.
“I need to tell Father the truth...”
In fact, she wasn’t working as a doctor right now. It had been since that day a year ago. The person who regarded Kim Sujeong as a daughter passed away and Sujeong got something called ‘hemophobia.’ She was in such a bad state a year ago that she followed the volunteer public service for treatment. Playing Arkstar right now was actually for the purpose of treatment.
“Let’s call it quits for today.”
Somehow, she was bored without Father or Cer. Kerenos had a high status and was obviously busy, so she couldn’t just blindly go to find him. She was killing time by playing with the water when someone spoke to her, “What are you doing?”
‘Eh? This child...’
She knew him. The little boy in front of her had a familiar face. It was the boy with a donkey that she saw when she first came to Windia. Was it because he was an old acquaintance? She was happy when he saw the boy.
“Hello, child. I’m just hitting the water here.”
“Bah! I’m not a child! My name is Daniel!”
‘His name is Daniel.’
She smiled at the name that was more wonderful than she thought. Daniel said, “Sister, have you ever been chosen to be dragged away by a monster?”
“No, I’ve never been chosen like that?”
“I see. You are good. You weren’t chosen.”
Kim Sujeong was bewildered. Monster... what type of story did this child have? She couldn’t help worrying when she saw the gloom on the child’s face.
‘Last time, he said something about his sister being sacrificed because of a monster...’
“Is it because Dorothy was taken?”
“Do you know my sister?”
It looked like she was right. Daniel looked up with red eyes. He felt like a younger brother and she felt sympathy. Kim Sujeong decided to lie for the moment. “She is an acquaintance. Do you want to eat something delicious? I’ll buy it for you.”
The two of them held hands and walked through the food market. There were many snacks. The most delicious one was the slime wheat pastry, a specialty of Windia. The wheat pastry used the slime mucus as jam and the addictive melon taste was excellent.
“It’s really delicious, Sister!”
“Eat a lot. Do you want to eat more?”
“That! I want to eat that!”
Every time Windia’s snacks entered the mouth of this cute little brother, the troubles in her heart faded a bit more. Moments later, Daniel grabbed his swollen belly and groaned. “I’m full! It’s time to go home!”
“Can you go alone?”
“You will take me there!”
‘He is a good kid.’
She saw Daniel holding his little finger and her heart sank. What type of story did this child and Dorothy have? She wanted to ask but was patient. She was worried that Daniel's face would become gloomy again. As they headed north, Kim Sujeong wondered, “Are you living with your sister?”
“Yes. My father and mother passed away early.”
Her nose became sour due to the family environment that was similar to herself. Her father passed away when she was a child and she lived alone with her mother. She couldn’t help thinking of that time. After a long walk, they arrived at the destination.
“This is my house!”
She followed the direction of the hand and saw Dorothy coming out. She was holding a laundry basket in her hand.
Daniel started running. “Sister~!”
Dorothy put down the basket, smiled, and hugged Daniel. Kim Sujeong couldn’t help smiling at the sight.
“Daniel, what did you do today?”
“I enjoyed eating delicious food with Sister’s friend!”
“My friend? Who?”
“Sister Crystal! Over~ here!”
Kim Sujeong saw Daniel pointing at her and smiled. She raised her hand and waved. “Haha... hello?”
* * *
“I'm sorry. The only thing I can give you is Aiolia tea.”
“No, it’s fine. It is the first time drinking this. I’ll drink it well.” Kim Sujeong savored the tea that Dorothy handed her. The clean aroma was very interesting, like a clear river. It was like the love between Flora and Aiolos. “Delicious. Thank you.”
“That, by the way...” Kim Sujeong faced Dorothy and couldn’t ask. She wondered if she would be kicked out if she asked. Kim Sujeong had a complicated mind while Dorothy was confused.
“Do you have something to say...?”
‘Yes. I’ll just close my eyes and ask.’
“I accidentally saw the two of you at a cave outside Windia.”
“Ah, it is like that.”
“I heard you’re going to be dragged by a monster... If you don’t mind, can I hear the story?”
In fact, it was a sensitive story. Kim Sujeong just couldn’t let go of Dorothy because she felt like Daniel was a younger brother. Dorothy opened her mouth, “In fact...”
Tang tang tang tang!
Suddenly, there was the sound of bells ringing. The two of them looked surprised. Daniel, who was playing with the donkey outside, came running in. “Sister!”
Kim Sujeong felt something unusual when she saw the two people hugging each other tightly. At this moment...
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