Sinyoung was quiet after Valhalla left.
The executive members had returned to the building and the majority didn’t have very pleasant expressions.
The woman at the reception sensed something was off and did not lift her head until all the executive members had gone upstairs.
Not a single person dared to carelessly open their mouth.
The always bustling lobby ceased its activities and became deserted.
The dead silence that flowed within the building made it look like a department store right before its closing hour.
There was only a single person smiling in that sullen atmosphere.
“Here. Please get this done within this week.”
Yun Seohui handed over a pile of documents that she tidied up by tapping their edges twice against the table.
They were the contracts that Valhalla had presented in return for keeping Sinyoung alive.
“Executive Jang, please take responsibility to receive the signatures of all Sinyoung employees. It will take approximately six days from Scheherazade to Eva, so it’ll be best to complete it by then. We’ll then be able to send a notice that we have fulfilled our promise the very day that Valhalla arrives in Eva.”
She shook the papers in her hand, signaling him to quickly take it, but the man didn’t respond. The middle-aged man called Executive Jang looked at her with a sad look.
“We need to issue an order for all branch offices in other cities to retreat…”
Yun Seohui shrugged before placing the contracts back down and continued.
“…Also, we need to look for my successor. We’ll call an assembly next week to decide—no, to convey the news.”
“By a successor, you mean…”
Executive Jang, who had been silently listening, spoke up with difficulty.
“You’re not asking because you don’t know, right?”
Yun Seohui smirked.
“Is there anyone else but her? It’s a family company after all.”
Executive Jang hung his head after hearing her speak nonchalantly.
“I feel like…”
Yun Seohui calmly spoke.
“It would have been another story if we had any other options. But what we had to choose from was only between life and death. Shouldn’t we choose to live no matter the cost?”
She was right.
Valhalla had stormed in, bringing all of its members with the intent to wage war.
Blood would have flowed if they had been the tiniest step out of line.
Their opponent had the power and justification to turn such a hypothetical situation into reality.
“It’s all good since we survived. We’ve even managed to maintain our position as the representative organization.”
“It’s better to go all the way if we’re going to bend over anyways. As far as our waists will allow.”
Sorrow deepened on Executive Jang’s face as Yun Seohui continued her words.
As someone who had watched over her since childhood, he knew better than anyone else how hard Yun Seohui had worked to reach the pinnacle of Sinyoung.
Her efforts were enough to make Yun Seojin, a man who didn’t even trust his relatives, retire without worry after leaving Sinyoung in her hands.
It was finally time for her to shine, but…
The results she had achieved after toiling and struggling for over 20 years were swept clean after a single mistake.
She didn’t let it show on her face, but he couldn’t even fathom what she must be feeling at that moment.
“It won’t be bad going under Manager Yun. Rather, it’ll be for the best. Valhalla’s representative will shower her with lots of care.”
Yun Seohui smiled before getting up from her seat.
She picked up her ivory suit jacket and wore it.
“Then I’ll leave it to you. I’ll be going home early today.”
She slung her black handbag over her shoulder before nimbly walking out of her office with steps as light as feathers.
Executive Jang gripped the stack of contracts in both his hands before slowly bowing.
The place Yun Seohui headed towards after coming out of the Sinyoung building was the warp gate within the temple.
She had returned to Earth via the portal. The return coordinates were set for the company.
She saw the familiar scenery of her company after coming out of the president’s office.
When she stopped in place to emptily stare about her, her gaze met the eyes of several people.
An employee panicked and lowered his head. Then Yun Seohui’s eyes which had dimmed for a second suddenly livened up before she flashed a bright smile.
“Yes, hello to you too!”
“What brings you here Director… Ah, Manager is away at the moment…”
“No. I’m not here to see Manager Seo. I’m just on my way home.”
“Mister Kim Sungsoo, was it? Aren’t you getting off work?”
“Ah, no. I still have to receive feedback for something…”
“Looks like our Manager Seo made another excuse to slack off again outside.”
Yun Seohui grinned after raising her left arm to check her watch.
“He’ll call around 7:05 p.m. after exiting the sauna and say that his meeting with the customer lasted too long so that he’ll go home instead.”
The employee, Kim Sungsoo, gave an awkward smile when Yun Seohui knowingly predicted what was to come.
“You only have to wait 42 minutes and 17 seconds more, then. Good luck.”
After winking at him, Yun Seohui resumed her steps.
Everyone she met as she walked down the hall greeted her, and Yun Seohui returned their greetings with a smile.
Because she stopped to chat with half of those individuals, she took 20 minutes to arrive at the lobby.
After finally leaving through the front door, Yun Seohui walked down the street at sunset to arrive at a towering officetel.
“Aigoo, it’s been a long time since you’ve last come.”
Even the guard at the entrance amicably greeted her as soon as he saw Yun Seohui.
“It’s been awhile Ahjussi~ How have you been lately?”
“Nothing much. Every day is the same.”
“Fufu, I’ll be coming more often from now on. I bet you won’t be so bored if you see my face every day.”
After lightly joking with him, Yun Seohui waved her hand as she got on the elevator.
Her face remained smiling until she got off at the top floor and stood in front of the door to her room.
She tapped the password on her door lock before opening the door.
The large room that was over 330 square meters big was very dark inside.
Because there were blackout curtains everywhere, not a single ray of light could be seen in the room.
And when she switched on the lights, a shockingly empty house was revealed.
The commonplace decorations were nowhere to be seen and only the bare minimum furniture needed for a living was visible.
It was absolutely bare.
Just like Yun Seohui’s face that had suddenly changed as soon as she entered through the door.
Her face only had two eyes, a nose, a mouth, and other essential features but was void of any expression. It was the extreme of nothingness.
With an almost aloof face, Yun Seohui was about to hang her handbag on the hanger out of habit before pausing.
Frowning, she let the bag in her hands drop to the floor.
She carelessly took off her jacket and tossed it on the ground as well. She unbuttoned a few buttons of her shirt before flopping down on the rocking chair near the window.
With practiced motions, she placed a cigarette in her mouth before lighting it.
“…I’m so bored…”
Smoke spilled out of her red lips as she sighed.
How much time had passed?
As the street dyed in sunset hues darkened and the night deepened, the number of cigarette butts in the ashtray on top of the table increased one by one.
Yun Seohui showed no movement until then.
There was too much going on in her mind ― thoughts about the meeting, or more specifically, of Seol Jihu.
Strictly speaking, the results weren’t bad.
Negotiations only worked if both parties were equal or if the weaker side had something the stronger side wanted. It didn’t apply to situations like today where the two parties were on the opposite ends of the stick.
Not to mention that Kim Hannah was at Valhalla.
Since she was grinding her teeth at the mention of Sinyoung, she must have been thoroughly prepared to take the utmost advantage of their superior position.
Kim Hannah, who was skilled at scamming people in deals, would have been persistent in winning over two provisions if they gave up on one.
Thus, immediately accepting the initial conditions offered was, in anyone’s eyes, the best possible move she could have made, and in reality, she obtained the best results.
Yes. Yun Seohui had taken responsibility and done an excellent job.
But even so, why was she feeling so vain despite all this?
Was it because she had to lower her head in humiliation?
No, she had experienced countless similar situations in the past and was confident that she could endure more.
Was it because Sinyoung’s influence had diminished?
She had been prepared for that.
Was it because she was forced out of the position that she had sacrificed her childhood, her teens, and twenties for, which were the prime years of her life?
This might be a part of the reason.
Yun Seohui pondered for a while before being able to find a clue in a memory that suddenly flashed in her mind.
A few years ago.
Yun Seohui found a delicious-looking company in the same pharmaceutical field and had forcibly tried to push for the acquisition and merger of the company without their consent.
However, the opposing company didn’t bat an eye and returned a terrible counterattack, and as a result, Sinyoung was at risk of losing control of its own company.
In retrospect, there had been no way out, just like this incident.
When Yun Seohui visited the opposing company, the young female CEO of Haesol Research Institute looked at her, begging for forgiveness before saying this.
[You’re quite an interesting person, aren’t you? I’m not being sarcastic. Really. I feel like you’re similar to me.]
[You probably feel everything will go your way, that you can grasp everything in your hands if you put your mind to it, and now living itself is boring…. Am I correct?]
[I’m like that, too. Rather, I was like that. Before I met a certain person, that is. Our meeting seems like fate, so should I give you a piece of advice?]
[The world doesn’t revolve around you. The world decides its own center, not you. It’ll be good for you to realize this fast. You’re going to die if you keep living like that.]
[Me? I quickly stuck myself to that center as soon as I realized this. I didn’t want to die.]
Everything was because of Seol Jihu.
[If you can’t forcibly snatch it, you can make it come to you instead.]
[The cause and effects of every major action are surprisingly clear. And since the cause and effect is clear, retribution is even more so. Unless your brain is wired with the principle of causality…]
Thinking back about how ridiculous her first thoughts of Seol Jihu were when she first noticed him…
She only realized it after 3 years had gone by.
Actually, she had felt it earlier, but it was already too late by then.
She still didn’t think her thoughts were wrong.
Only, her opponent completely exceeded her expectations, making her thoughts seem laughable.
Seol Jihu had flown past her with frightening speed, just as she was about to grab the ends of his clothes.
He was so fast that she couldn’t run after him, even if she tried.
“I think I understand that Unni’s feelings now…”
After talking to herself for a short moment, Yun Seohui buried herself in the chair and stretched her neck back.
She listlessly looked up at the ceiling with lonely eyes.
[I’m still grateful for that day. Really.]
Only that much…
[If possible, I would like to cherish the gratitude I felt towards Sinyoung back then.]
She had sincerely helped him in Paradise and on Earth, but that was the extent of his gratitude.
“Still—wasn’t it too harsh to tell me to step down?”
Yun Seohui simpered and murmured to herself.
“Do you know how hard I worked to get here, and now you want me to leave everything behind and scram? Do you want me to die?”
She talked as if Seol Jihu was right there in front of her.
“You don’t know anything.”
These were words she couldn’t say during the meeting.
Yun Seohui stared at the ceiling with a vicious glint in her eyes.
Then suddenly, a sneer escaped her mouth. She had thought of Seol Jihu’s expression when she had signed the contract without any hesitation.
The reason she accepted everything without a word?
Was it for Sinyoung? Since she could end everything if she sacrificed herself?
No, that wasn’t it. That was what people wildly guessed, but Yun Seohui’s true intentions were completely different.
It was because she wanted to see.
‘I bet you’ll be shocked if I do this.’
She had acted on a spontaneous fit of anger.
She suddenly burst into laughter.
She couldn’t understand why she was laughing either.
Then she suddenly stopped.
“…What’s the reason?”
She glared at the ceiling and angrily spat with a scary face.
“Why is our Valhalla’s representative so hell-bent on pushing me down?”
Words similar to that time…
“How can you do this to me?”
Once she started talking, words spilled out like a dam breaking loose.
“It wasn’t me. I wasn’t the one who tried to kill you.”
“I didn’t know. I really didn’t know anything. It’s not like I know everything. What was I supposed to do if I didn’t know?”
Once she started, words poured out of her like water gushing out of a broken dam.
“I get it that you’re angry. But do you know how hard I tried?”
“Do you know how many times I protected you and your family back on Earth? You could have given me a chance based on what I’ve done for you so far, couldn’t you?”
“If you’re acting based on causality, then you can’t do this to me.”
“Then why are you suddenly being like this? Why me? Huh?”
Her voice rang out in the empty silence.
Before she knew it, Yun Seohui was crying with tears in her eyes.
Then she suddenly snickered and broke into laughter.
Inside the empty officetel, the sounds of crying and laughing alternated.
Barely managing to stop, Yun Seohui quickly took deep breaths and wiped her tears.
“Anyways, so this is how you’re going to come out, huh?”
She suddenly took out a phone from her pocket and repeatedly turned it on and off.
“I’ll live if I side with him and die if I don’t, huh…”
She muttered to herself before the end of her lips curled up.
“Fine, then kill me.”
Her fingers that had busily moved stopped.
The phone’s screen was lit.
“Rather than living long and thin—screw it all. It’s better to die.”
Short and thick, white cigarette smoke spilled out of her mouth.
“I did nothing wrong.”
Yun Seohui hummed while she tapped on her phone.
“Everything is your fault.”
The call went through but the person didn’t immediately pick up.
Once, twice… On the third ring, the sound of the call getting answered was heard.
“It’s me. Director Jung Minjong.”
“You must have heard the results of the meeting by now, right?”
The person didn’t reply.
Yun Seohui continued talking in a cheerful voice.
“I’m sorry for you. But I want you to know that I did my best since I’ve also decided to take off my uniform with you.”
Yun Seohui tilted her head.
She stuck her phone between her shoulder and her cheek while taking out a new cigarette.
“Anyways, I’d like you to take responsibility along with me since things turned out this way.”
The person finally spoke.
Yun Seohui smiled and flicked on the lighter.
“Yes. Please be sure you take responsibility for this incident.”
After emphasizing it again, Yun Seohui realized something and slowly corrected herself.
“I’m telling you because you might misunderstand, but I’m not telling you to touch Seol Jihu, okay?”
A heavy voice rang out after a long silence.
—I get exactly what you mean.
And for the first time, Yun Seohui’s face blossomed into a smile.
She liked the people that she worked with for a long time. They understood what she meant, no matter how vaguely she explained it.
Yun Seohui ended the call.
She rolled her eyes a full circle before tapping a new number.
But after two rings, she suddenly ended the call.
“I feel indignant enough handing over everything like this, so you should do this yourself, shouldn’t you, Seora?”
Grinning like a naughty child, she got up from her seat.
She drew the curtains back and pressed her face against the window.
“…I want to see.”
The window fogged up before quickly clearing up again.
“Your face being distorted while you’re on your knees in regret. I re~ally want to see it.”
“If I can’t have it…”
‘Then trying to destroy doesn’t seem too…’
Quietly whispering to herself, Yun Seohui giggled.
Then she slowly raised her eyes.
The quiet streets were illuminated under faint light. And the cold Sinyoung building was swallowed in the darkness that towered above and stared down at her.