“You don’t understand how difficult it was. Everyone was so tense because they couldn’t make even a tiny mistake. Our hearts would sink whenever your condition suddenly worsened or whenever you stopped breathing for a moment….”
Yi Seol-Ah’s complexion darkened as she reminisced the past.
“Grandpa also stayed up all night day after day…. It was really a hellish week. I was only tasked with taking care of minor chores, but just being here and seeing the situation develop had me exhausted. Ah, I’m sure it was hardest for you though….”
Seol Jihu looked down at the needles that were densely sticking out of his arm. Jang Maldong must have performed acupuncture, just as he expected.
[Tell Tsuji Yuki this.]
[The moment you bring up even the ‘nee’ in ‘needle’ in front of me— I will cut off all connections with you.]
Seol Jihu remembered how resolute Jang Maldong was when he refused Kazuki’s request in the past. While he felt grateful that Jang Maldong broke his self-created pledge to save him, he couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed as well.
“How did the Federation save me?”
“I don’t know what the Princess Unni said, but they really brought the Elixeer.”
“Yes. Grandpa was shocked too. He said he never would have imagined that the Federation would give something this precious without demanding anything in return….”
“Can you tell me more about it?”
“Mn~ I didn’t get to see the treatment process directly…. Ah, but I did hear that they had some of the medicine left over after treating Orabeo-nim and decided to treat the Daughter of Luxuria Unni as well….”
Yi Seol-Ah suddenly groaned.
“You can just tell me what you saw and heard.”
Hearing this, the troubled Yi Seol-Ah suddenly brought a gown over and put it on. She pushed the hood down, then stretched her arms out.
“Not only did we confirm the perishing of Undying Diligence, but we also confirmed Unsightly Humility’s use of Divinity Manifestation. Driving the Parasite army towards destruction on top of all of this… it is more than worth to use the Elixeer for a human who achieved such ridiculous feats. The value in keeping him alive is immeasurable. This is the unanimous decision of the Federation, including the Beastmen Alliance.”
She spoke with her voice a tone lower. Seol Jihu immediately realized that she was imitating someone from the Federation.
Yi Seol-Ah nodded her hooded head and crossed her arms.
“We thank you for preparing his body to accept the Elixeer. The treatment went smoothly because of that. I’m sure it’s the same for you all, but we’ve also done everything we can to the best of our abilities. Whether this human can wake up or not now depends entirely on his own willpower.”
Hearing this, Yi Seol-Ah dropped her arms and tilted her head up.
“In any case, what the Federation couldn’t do after detonating thousands of Thunders over the course of 10 years, unifying the power of five races, and shedding unimaginable amounts of blood, a human who has only been in Paradise for less than a year managed to accomplish in just a single battle… it’s incredible, no matter how many times I think about it. Well, I’ll admit that I’m a bit bitter as well. Just what was the Federation doing wrong?”
“Is that really what that person said?”
Yi Seol-Ah took off the hood, then spoke as if she suddenly remembered something.
“Yes… ah, he told me to tell you this when you woke up. With this, we paid back the debt from the tomb.”
[Thanks to you, the four of us managed to survive as well. What is your name?]
[Seol, is it? Thanks for the info. I will remember you.]
Seol Jihu opened his mouth and went ‘Ah’. He knew who’d come from the Federation.
‘To think the connection from that time…’
…would come back like this.
Ian was right. Fate liked to be mischievous, leading to a completely different result with a single choice.
He suddenly became depressed when he remembered Ian’s warm smile and white beard. He couldn’t muster up the courage to ask whether he was alive.
Teresa, Prihi, Arbor Muto, and even Jan Sanctus had come to visit him with his soldiers. The fact that Ian didn’t come… could only mean one thing.
“Is there anything else you’re curious about?”
Seol Jihu stopped his train of thoughts at Yi Seol-Ah’s somewhat flushed voice. He put on a forced smile.
“Yeah, thanks for telling me.”
While he wasn’t sure, he guessed that he fell into a coma after the Federation finished their treatment. For 15 weeks, he had remained in a comatose state with only a sliver of his consciousness awake.
Thinking about it this way, he felt like waking up so early was in fact a stroke of fortune. After all, he’d heard that a comatose patient could stay unconscious for dozens of years.
“It’s nothing. Okay! Now it’s time….”
Yi Seol-Ah’s excited voice suddenly got farther.
Seol Jihu raised his head and saw the girl taking deep breaths in front of the door. She seemed to be saying that she had been eagerly waiting for this moment.
But before he could say, ‘Everyone should be asleep right now. It’s better to wait—’, Yi Seol-Ah threw the door open.
“EVERYONE GET UUUUUUP!”
She ran out screaming. Seol Jihu blankly stared at Yi Seol-Ah’s departing back, listening to her voice echoing through the hallway.
A fierce storm descended in the intensive care unit. As a result of Yi Seol-Ah running around, screaming at the top of her voice, people barged in before the sun even came up.
Consequently, other than the time Jang Maldong spent to take the needles out of his body and the time Seo Yuhui spent to examine him, he had to hear the same words over and over again from early in the morning until the sun hung in the middle of the sky.
Even a praise got tiring after hearing it three or four times.
He was initially touched by everyone’s caring words, but by the time noon rolled around, the feeling had vanished completely. Moreover, his body, which had just now recovered its senses, was screaming from exhaustion.
But still, he couldn’t just kick out the people who came all the way here to visit him. He was really caught between a rock and a hard place.
“Toot, toot—! Carpe Diem’s leader, Seol the War Hero, has returned! Tuturu—!”
Hugo had been pretending to blow a trumpet since the morning, biting his poor halberd backward. As Seol Jihu remembered Hugo always having the halberd deep inside his crotch, he couldn’t find the sight more disgusting.
“I’m glad… I was so worried… that you’d never wake up again….”
Teresa cried. Seol Jihu smiled bitterly as he saw the girl stealing tears with her finger.
Teresa seemed to believe that Seol Jihu had no clue, but he clearly remembered the barbaric acts she committed every time she came to visit.
Was it the sixth time she visited? Or the eighth?
Teresa had looked down at him fixedly before drawing her face close and getting their noses to touch. Seol Jihu didn’t know what she was doing at first since he couldn’t feel a thing. But when her nose touched him the fourth time, he finally realized that she was kissing him.
Setting aside how dumbfounded he always got, he wondered what she was always murmuring while kissing him. Only when his hearing recovered slightly was he finally able to figure it out.
—This is the 500th time… why isn’t he waking up?
—I heard that sleeping princesses wake up from their prince’s kiss…. Shouldn’t it work the other way round as well?
—Do I need to use my tongue too?
—I’ll keep trying until I reach 1000, and then I’ll have to try kissing elsewhere.
When Seol Jihu remembered that time, his hair stood on end and he shuddered involuntarily.
Acting all innocent and tearing up after sexually harassing him while he couldn’t move an inch.
How should he put this…
‘You’re too flirtatious….’
“I’m curious about something.”
As Seol Jihu was considering telling her that he knew everything, a restrained voice flowed out. Agnes was looking at him with a somewhat serious face.
“I’d like you to answer me.”
Seol Jihu had a hunch it would be about Future Vision. Just as he was preparing the invincible I-don’t-remember-anything argument—
“By any chance…”
Agnes stepped closer, frighteningly tilting her head to the side for some reason.
“Were you always unconscious while you were lying in bed?”
Seol Jihu flinched. Why was she asking about that?
“A rubbish title was added as my alias recently. I developed a habit of checking it every day thanks to a certain someone, and the day I came here….”
When Seol Jihu asked in a fluster…
Agnes’s voice grew deeper. She slowly adjusted her glasses with her middle finger. Seeing a sharp light flashing from the lenses, Seol Jihu gulped.
In truth, he had all sorts of thoughts while he was lying in bed. After all, that was the only thing he could do.
One time, when he was bored out of his mind, he created a song that went, ‘Ting~ Ting, ting, ting~ Tang~ Tang, tang, tang~ Ting, ting, tang, tang, frying pan butt!’ Although he sang this multiple times, he couldn’t muster up the courage to confess.
“Well, I have no clue.”
So, he played dumb.
“Hm… got it.”
Agnes was clearly suspicious, but she must have considered his status as a patient as she quietly backed off.
Next, just as Seol Jihu and Teresa both breathed a sigh of relief while hearing Agnes say, “Damn it. Then who was it?”
“It’s time! The visiting hours end now.”
Chak! A clap rang out.
Seo Yuhui had stepped in, seeing how tired Seol Jihu was. When she added that a thorough check-up was needed just to be sure, people began to leave quickly, just like water during a low tide.
Of course, there were people who pretended to be deaf and stayed, like Teresa and Chohong.
“You don’t have a fever…. How do you feel?”
“I’m fine, just a bit tired.”
“And your Status Window? Is there anything noteworthy, like lowered physical level?”
“My stats have all gone down, but it says it’s temporary, not permanent. I think it will go back once I’m fully recovered.”
“I’m glad. I guess there’s a reason why the Elixeer is considered a treasure.”
Seo Yuhui breathed a sigh of relief, then sighed bitterly. The fact that his Status was like this even after receiving such a powerful treatment meant that the Elixeer had used all of its energy to heal him.
“It doesn’t hurt anywhere? Any uncomfortable areas?”
“I’m a bit hungry, I guess.”
Seol Jihu smacked his lips and stared at the get-well presents stacked next to his bed. When he saw a soft-looking bread and reached out to grab it, Seo Yuhui quickly snatched his hand mid-air.
“No. Your stomach must be contracted right now. You’ll get a stomach ache if you eat something wrong.”
“I think just one should be okay….”
“Let’s first clean up your stomach with saltwater, then eat porridge. Noona will feed you all sorts of delicious food once you get discharged, okay?”
Seeing the brightly smiling Seol Jihu, Seo Yuhui felt a little torn.
“…Let’s get started. Lie down comfortably.”
Seol Jihu got down on his back. He felt like he knew what Seo Yuhui was going to do.
Seo Yuhui had not simply been feeding him nutritional supplements and wiping his body while he was in a coma. No, her care had gone beyond the usual simple and general care-giving.
When a body lay still for an extended period of time, it naturally grew weaker. Seo Yuhui had considered this point and worked out Seol Jihu’s body to prevent his muscles and limbs from getting stiff.
“Relax your body.”
What she was doing now was something similar — chiropractic.
Every time Seo Yuhui skillfully twisted a joint or a muscle, Seol Jihu’s bones let out electrifying screams.
‘Agh, that feels good.’
“You’re a doctor, Noona?”
“No, I just have a license in physical therapy. Can you cross your arms over your chest and raise just your upper body?”
Seol Jihu obediently did as she said.
Seo Yuhui firmly embraced Seol Jihu’s back from the front, then slowly pushed his upper body down. And when she put more strength into her arms just before Seol Jihu’s back touched the bed—
Seol Jihu moaned from the pleasant pain springing up from his shoulder blade and joint. He felt like the knotted muscles in his body were getting untangled in an electrifying way.
But there was something that felt even better.
The warmth he felt on his face was truly cozy enough to make him shudder. Drowsiness immediately swept through him.
‘This is great….’
When Seo Yuhui got up to wipe her sweat, she blinked in confusion. She had let go of Seol Jihu and straightened her back, but Seol Jihu’s face was still stuck to her chest, coming up with her.
‘This feeling… I’m used to it….’
Seol Jihu had his face buried in Seo Yuhui’s embrace, like a squirrel with nuts crammed inside its mouth. Seo Yuhui made a troubled smile before gently petting Seol Jihu’s head.
Chohong and Teresa, who refused to leave previously, glared fiercely at the patient and doctor. They even coughed loudly, announcing that they were still in the room.
Still, the man and woman acted as though they were in a world of their own.
“Um, Miss Seo Yuhui, are you sure that this is part of the treatment? Which treatment requires you to touch his butt like that? I didn’t think you were like that. I’m disappointed.”
A fierce protest immediately broke out.
“Hey, you, get your face outta there. Don’t you know that’s rude, even if it’s irresistible— hup!”
Chohong blocked her mouth in the middle of her speech. However, Seol Jihu didn’t catch this slip of the tongue and turned his gaze.
He asked, still clinging on.
Hearing this, Seo Yuhui said she’d bring the porridge and tried to squirm out. But Seol Jihu held on to her even tighter, not wanting to let go.
After a small tussle, Seo Yuhui raised the white flag and came clean.
Yi Seol-Ah had not told him about the Ceremony, so this news came as a surprise.
“N-No way. Then…”
Because Seol Jihu looked like he was ready to dig through a tunnel again, Seo Yuhui shook her head.
“I already recovered. I have no trouble carrying out my daily activities.”
She wasn’t lying, technically speaking. She had just cut out a lot of the important parts and told the bare minimum. If she came out honest, it was likely that Seol Jihu would be racked by guilt.
“It was a bit dangerous at one point… but you heard that the Federation treated me too, right?”
“I did… but still, your lifeforce?”
Seol Jihu continued.
“I’m worried your lifespan’s gone down….”
Seo Yuhui couldn’t help but laugh, seeing how cute this question was.
Seol Jihu stared at the giggling Seo Yuhui dazedly.
“It’s not like that at all. I’ll say this again. I’m fine. You’re the one who has to be careful.”
She stopped her laughter, then placed her hand on Seol Jihu’s head with an ambiguous expression.
“Accepting someone else’s lifeforce isn’t easy. For example… right, consider someone who was rushed to the emergency room from loss of blood. Do you think he’ll wake up just because he received a blood transfusion?”
“Right? The blood has to circulate through the patient’s veins and become his. It’s the same with lifeforce. It’s doing its job for now, but for it to get used to your body and become a part of you… I think it will take quite a bit of time. There might be unintended side-effects in the meanwhile.”
“Don’t you have the urge to cling to me?”
Seol Jihu flinched. How did she know?
“You don’t have to be embarrassed. That’s one of the side-effects. Since the lifeforce inside you originally belongs to me, it is instinctively trying to get back to me and making your body be attracted to me in the process.”
Seol Jihu tilted his head. He understood what she meant, but looking back, he had experienced a similar urge even before he received her lifeforce.
‘What happened then?’
“So if you have this urge, don’t suppress it and let it be. It might take some time, but it’s better to let this side-effect disappear naturally. If you keep suppressing it, we don’t know how it will change… okay?”
I see. There’s no choice then.
Murmuring inwardly, Seol Jihu pretended to be deep in thought before letting out a deep sigh. Then, he tried his best to put on a reluctant look before opening his mouth.
“Sorry, because of me….”
Although that was what his mouth said, his body was more honest.
He now had a justifiable reason.
Just like the saying, after a storm comes a calm, he felt like the horrible experiences he had during the war were being washed away.
“No, you don’t know how grateful I am that you woke up.”
Seo Yuhui tightly embraced Seol Jihu and murmured.
“I’m so glad you’re alive. Really….”
She even put her cheek on his head and gently caressed it.
Two pairs of eyes examined the embracing man and woman from top to bottom.
Chohong, who was already sending them a less-than-pleasant look, snorted.
Teresa opened her mouth too with a what-the-hell-is-this kind of face.
“Fwuuuuck.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter