Side Story 14. For 17 Years

Seol Jihu took out 17 pots one after the other.

A light flickered in one woman’s eyes after staring at the glossy surface of the black pots. They looked just like any other pot, but she could sense the strange mana surrounding them.

“These aren’t just regular pots, are they?”

Seol Jihu activated the Nine Eyes. Fortunately, he could see the woman’s status window this time. Her name was Jegal Haesol. She was a magician of a fearsome caliber.

“No, they’re not.”

He answered, taking a bottle of water out of the ice bucket.

“I only made these pots recently. They’re made of Lipiritur.”

“Lipiritur? These look pretty reflective….”

“You’re spot on. Lipiritur ores are naturally reflective. But for these pots, I’ve modified them to reflect only the taste, smell, and heat.”

“Hmm…. But couldn’t you just cover the pot with a lid?”

“A lid will definitely help the noodles cook through completely, but it’s less efficient. Moreover, when putting the noodles into a pot, there is an average difference of 0.17 seconds from the time the first strand reaches the water till the last strand reaches the water. These ores help reduce that difference.”

A look of slight repulsion crossed Jegal Haesol’s face. Seol Jihu’s explanation was logical, but there was something creepy about his thoroughness.

“Look…. I don’t know if you’re serious or just making fun of me, but if you are serious, you should consider becoming a magician.”

Jegal Haesol chuckled, crossing her legs.

Seol Jihu said nothing and concentrated on pouring water.

“Oh? Is that actually water?”

Another woman widened her eyes in surprise at the sight of the water falling into the pot. This water was strikingly clear, almost invisible. There was a cool, refreshing smell about it that strangely enough made her feel invigorated.

“I got this water from the Mountain of Beginnings.”

Seol Jihu explained to the woman named Jung Hayeon, who was also known as Mage of the Blue Moon.

“This water was formed when the world was first born. It’s free of all impurities and contamination. I strongly recommend it to those who prefer a fresh, clean taste.”

“I-I see….”

Jung Hayeon blinked her eyes. So even the water was one of a kind.

She never thought this place would be an ordinary restaurant from the moment she heard about it from Hwajung. Yet the reality surpassed even her wildest expectations.

“What’s that?”

A different woman asked when she saw Seol Jihu pull out another bottle of water. She was one of the four women he met at SY Apartments, who equaled Seo Yuhui in terms of—

Anyway, her name was Im Hannah, not Kim Hannah.

“This is groundwater from the subterranean world.”

Seol Jihu answered calmly and poured the water. The liquid emitting a blue aura fell into the pot, swaying like a fire in the wind.

“It’s extremely hot due to the influence of lava. It looks blue now because I cooled it down, but even the slightest amount of heat can turn it red. I recommend this to those who crave a strong taste.”

“Hoh….”

Gehenna let out a small exclamation of surprise. Lava ramen? Now she really couldn’t wait for it.

Seol Jihu turned on the stove and quickened his speed. He would be racing against time from here on. He had to move as quickly as possible as there were many requests to be fulfilled, one of which required 30 pieces of chashu toppings.

“Woah….”

The Mercenary Queen, Yi Yoojung, gulped in admiration at the sight of the huge chunk of meat that Seol Jihu was now slicing. She had never seen a piece of meat, so pink and succulent.

On the other hand, Kim Hanbyul’s gaze had been fixed on the mushroom-shaped vegetables for quite some time now. They looked soft and smelled wonderful. She gulped in anticipation, imagining how they would taste in her mouth.

“That meat….”

“Those mushroom-like things….”

In the end, they could no longer resist their curiosity and began to rain questions on the chef.

‘Look at that.’

Hwajung was impressed. Seol Jihu’s ramen had already succeeded in attracting his customers’ attention, and the situation was leaning in his favor.

‘Still, the taste is the most important factor…. Hmm?’

The big dough Seol Jihu took out the next moment caught even Hwajung’s eye. It was no ordinary dough, evident by the golden light surrounding it. And strangely, the dough seemed to get more and more viscous over time even though Seol Jihu had not put a single drop of water in it.

“What’s that?”

“Wheat.”

Seol Jihu said simply.

“I ground the rice grains into powder and kneaded it. The natives of the area where I found this rice call them ‘golden rice’.”

Seol Jihu continued.

“I can’t say much because it’s a trade secret…. But to put it simply, first, I boil red beans in water sprinkled with sun-dried salt. Then I mash the boiled beans and apply them to the jar where I store the dough. Finally, I put the dough in the jar and ferment it. This removes all unpleasant odors from the dough and creates viscosity.”

Suddenly, Seol Jihu’s hands stopped.

Hwajung widened her eyes.

The dough was now shining with majestic golden light.

“Please excuse me. I have to concentrate now.”

Seol Jihu put another pot on the stove and threw the golden dough into the air.

And then….

Papapat!

The dough was sliced into 17 equal pieces midair. No one even saw Seol Jihu’s spear move.

“M-Mind Spear?”

The housekeeper, Cha Sorim’s eyes widened in surprise.

The dough did not fall. Like a spinning top, it spun round and round in the air. Then, after a while, it began to disintegrate like a peel coming off a fruit to the precise thickness each customer had asked for.

“Limitlessness…!”

The Sword Empress, Nam Da-Eun, gasped in shock.

But Seol Jihu was far from done.

The seventeen lumps of dough soon turned into long strands of noodles and fell in a spiral toward the pot.

Thousand Stream Convergence.

The noodles were thrown into the pot at the same time that the first bubble rose through the boiling water.

Silence descended upon the room. Everyone gathered was experienced enough to immediately recognize the complexity of the techniques that Seol Jihu had just used to make the noodles.

But soon, this silence was replaced by sniffing sounds. The kitchen was now filled with all sorts of smells—the aroma of meat roasting over the straw fire, the smell of blanched vegetables…. Not to mention the enigmatic fragrance of the noodles.

All these scents combined to give off an immeasurably rich and delicious aroma.

They couldn’t resist anymore.

“How much longer do we have to wait?”

“Come on, hurry up!”

Some complained, some whined.

“I’m almost done.”

Seol Jihu scooped the noodles out of the pot, then quickly placed them in ice water. Suddenly, a look of surprise flashed across everyone’s faces.

“The noodles…?”

They were moving as if they were alive. As soon as the noodles touched the ice water, they began to bounce up and down like a ball.

The water he had put on the stove earlier was now shining bright gold. Seol Jihu threw all the ingredients into the pot and stirred carefully. He waited long enough for the flavors of the ingredients to melt into the soup and then calibrated the taste with his secret soy sauce and fragrant liquor. Finally, he moved the noodles into each pot and decorated them with the toppings that the customers had chosen themselves.

No one could take their eyes off him while all this was happening.

Seol Jihu’s fingertips were shining.

He hadn’t even activated Spear God, but his whole body was emitting a golden glow.

Unable to withstand his glare, those watching closed their eyes.

Tak!

They flinched at the sound that followed.

Suddenly a rich aroma overwhelmed their nostrils.

They opened their eyes slowly and saw a brightly shining bowl of ramen on the tabletop in front of them.

“Here is the ramen you ordered.”

A quiet voice rang out.

“Please enjoy.”

Seol Jihu lowered his spear.

Silence ensued. They all stared at the ramen bowl in front of them before simultaneously picking up their chopsticks. Their faces looked solemn, almost reverent.

“This is gonna be good….”

Yi Yoojung, who picked up a big slice of chashu with the noodles, gulped loudly.

“This can’t not be good….”

Pushing her hair off her face, she brought the chopsticks to her mouth.

Slurp!

And the moment she slurped in the noodles….

“Eut!”

Yi Yoojung’s eyes widened. Her head leaned back, and her body became stiff. With her eyes fixed on the ceiling, she began to tremble.

The same was true for Jung Hayeon.

“!?”

The noodles rolled like a wave inside her mouth. She felt as if a tornado of flavors was sweeping through her mouth.

“Eup! Euuuuup!”

Jung Hayeon covered her mouth and groaned. Tears began to well up in her eyes, full of confusion and shock.

Han Soyoung frowned as she watched the two. No matter how delicious this ramen is, I refuse to be anything like them. With renewed determination, she carefully slurped the noodles.

And then….

"Heeeeut!"

Her back arched against her will.

‘These noodles…!’

They were dancing in her mouth. At first, they seemed to flow peacefully like a river, but now they were doing the tango. Their movements could also be described as a well-choreographed figure skating program.

‘No, no….’

Panicking, Han Soyoung quickly chewed the noodles. But this only made the situation even more confusing. The elasticity of the noodles pushing lightly against her teeth harmonized with their soft, chewy texture and created music in her mouth. Then, all of a sudden, the noodles melted over her tongue, leaving behind a creamy aftertaste.

“Ah, ah…!”

A moan escaped Han Soyoung’s lips. She could now understand the reactions of the two. She knew she had to swallow but couldn’t. She wanted to keep this taste in her mouth for as long as possible until she died—no, even after she died.

As Han Soyoung hardly managed to resist the temptation and swallow….

—Haaaa~!

A burst of exclamation rang in the air.

Han Soyoung wasn’t the only one. Everyone else in the room was also breathing hard, their faces red and sweaty.

“NOOOOO! It’s good! It’s soooo good!”

Jegal Haesol cried.

“I spent my whole life without this ramen! I feel cheateeddd!”

The grand magician wailed as she continued stuffing her face with the ramen.

“You’re right…. This is good.”

Mercedes looked relatively calm, inspecting the taste in her mouth.

“This water is from the Mountain of Beginnings, you said? It really does have an exceptionally clean taste. The ingredients are amazing, but I’d also like to praise your….”

She paused in the middle of her sentence because she noticed that her bowl was already almost empty. Her brain ordered her to remain calm, but her hands would just not listen to reason.

“This… could be bad….”

With a troubled look, Mercedes cupped her cheek in her hand.

‘I’m serious…. This is bad…. For me to lose track of myself….’

She chewed her lips. She knew she had to stop here, or else she would not be able to live without this ramen from now on.

However….

‘I… I give up….’

Her hand was already lifting a spoonful of soup into her mouth. She had succumbed to the temptation.

Next to Mercedes, Gehenna was holding her bowl in both hands and drinking from it.

“Huuuu!”

Kwrrrrr!

Flames shot out of her nose and mouth, but she seemed not in the least aware of this.

“Unnng…!”

Hwajung, too, let out a groan. A look of surprise covered her face.

‘I didn’t know it would be this good….’

As soon as she took a bite, her eyes dropped to the bowl. She could not find the words to describe the taste in her mouth. It was that remarkable.

‘But for it to affect us this much…. Now I’m worried about the others….’

Hwajung looked around. The restaurant was already in a big mess. Most people had gotten up from their chairs and were dancing and slurping ramen. Even Cha Sorim, who was usually quiet, was bouncing her shoulders up and down like a Friday-night clubber.

Surprisingly, the dancers were the most normal of the group. Vivian was wriggling on the floor like a worm, trying to imitate the movement of a ramen noodle. Seraph stood upright, raised both arms into the air, and swung her body back and forth.

“Noodle…! I am a noodle…!”

She claimed that she was a noodle.

“How come I can see The Angelus…?”

Yoo Hyun-Ah wiped the tears from her eyes as she stared into the empty air.

“I can see you, Mister Chef…! I can see you plowing the fields and harvesting rice… all for the sake of this ramen…!”

She seemed to be hallucinating.

“What a mess….”

Hwajung clicked her tongue. Then she glanced to her side and let out a soft chuckle.

“You’re holding up pretty well.”

She was looking at Goh Yeonju.

“….”

Goh Yeonju’s face was completely stiff.

“You are having a tough time, aren’t you?”

“What…!?”

“Your lips can deny all they want, but your actions speak for themselves.”

Indeed, Goh Yeonju’s shoulders and hands were shaking by themselves. She was desperately fighting the urge to just get up and join the dancers behind her.

“Or should I say that your lips are also honest?”

Hwajung smirked as she looked down at Goh Yeonju’s bowl, which was already empty.

“Don’t you want more?”

“Keuk…!”

Goh Yeonju clenched her teeth. She seemed frustrated, but her mouth opened slowly regardless of her will.

“If you want more, you should just say so.”

“I…!”

“Go on, say it. Just be honest with yourself.”

Hwajung whispered, and Goh Yeonju lowered her head.

Her throat moved as she swallowed.

“One more….”

“What?”

“Give me….”

“I can’t hear you. You need to speak louder.”

Goh Yeonju raised her head with a grunt.

Her face was still full of indignation, but her eyes gleamed with an intense need.

“Please…!”

Finally, she said it.

“Please…! Give me one more bowl…!”

She begged with tears in her voice.

“…Order received.”

Seol Jihu said quietly and placed another pot on the stove.

While cooking, he noticed the little girl sitting in the corner of the restaurant.

He had seen her once before.

“Whaa…. Woahhh….”

The girl’s fork busily moved between the bowl and her cherry-colored lips. Exclamations rang out incessantly.

‘She finally looks like a normal kid.’

Seol Jihu smiled quietly at the girl’s chubby cheeks and her cute smile. He already thought it was cute that she specifically ordered ham ramen, but the way she ate it was even cuter.

“Yummy…. Hmm?”

Suddenly, their eyes met.

“Ah!”

The girl flinched before suddenly feigning a solemn expression. She raised her fork again in an aloof manner and tried to resume eating. However….

“!”

Her bowl was already empty.

Flustered, the girl quickly glanced at the kitchen. She saw that Seol Jihu was still staring at her.

“Eek!”

A sound of frustration burst from her mouth.

Seol Jihu let out a chuckle before approaching the girl.

“How’s your ramen, Miss?”

He asked in a polite voice.

“Ba-Bad?”

The girl answered in a sullen tone.

“So it was bad. I see. My apologies.”

“Hmph!”

“Do you mind telling me what exactly you didn’t like about the food? I’ll try to improve next time.”

“Uh…. I mean…. Ummmmm….”

The girl hesitated. It seemed she was desperately trying to think of what to say but to no avail.

“I dunno!”

“You don’t know?”

“I can’t help it!”

The girl shouted in anger.

“How am I supposed to judge when I’ve only had one bowl? I need like 10 more bowls!”

“Hmm…. But I’m afraid you won’t like them again…. Do you still want them?”

“T-That’s….”

She pouted.

“Come on…. Just give me…. I won’t know unless I have more….”

Tears began to well up in the girl’s eyes as she pushed her empty bowl forward.

Seol Jihu laughed inwardly.

“I would like seconds as well.”

Gehenna chimed in.

“Don’t mind that kid. She’s been like that from the moment she was born. Not kidding.”

With that, Seol Jihu decided he'd had enough fun and headed back to the kitchen.

He asked as he pulled another lump of dough out of the jar.

“Anyone else want seconds?”


*


Dinner was finally over.

Everyone was satisfied—perhaps too satisfied—with the food.

“Thank you.”

Hwajung expressed her gratitude.

“I didn’t know the day would come when I understood humans.”

Gods didn’t need food to survive. Rather, it made no difference whether they ate or not.

“I always thought it was inconvenient…. Today, I enjoyed consuming food for the first time in my life.”

“I’m glad you liked it.”

“You’re too modest.”

As Hwajung turned her gaze around the room, she sighed. She saw that Kim Hanbyul’s face was still buried in her bowl. She was licking the bowl, almost as if she had been possessed by the spirit of a dog.

“Wake up. We have to go home now.”

Hwajung flicked her fingers.

Hwrrrrr!

Crimson flames surrounded Kim Hanbyul.

“…Ah?”

Kim Hanbyul raised her head, but only for a moment. She looked around in confusion before bringing her face back to the bowl.

“Looks like it’s my turn now.”

Gehenna stretched her arm.

Kwrrrrr!

A wave of lava swept over Kim Hanbyul.

She finally came to her senses after being purified by both the best and the strongest fire.

“If the two of you have to work together…. This ramen may really be too much for regular humans.”

Mercedes clicked her tongue.

“Anyway, we lost.”

Hwajung said.

“There’s no room for complaints. I’m sure everyone will agree with me.”

She was straightforward.

“It sucks that we lost, but… I’ve never felt this good after losing.”

“You’re right. This was a delicious defeat, indeed.”

Gehenna and Mercedes agreed as well.

“Golden Constellation…. Be my personal chef…. Hehe….”

The little girl had fallen asleep on Mercedes’ back after eating to her heart’s content. Judging from the smile on her face, she seemed to be having a happy dream.

“We lost, which means we have to keep our promise.”

“You mean….”

“Are you open tomorrow?”

“Of course.”

“Good.”

Hwajung smiled.

“A man will visit this restaurant tomorrow night.”

And he did.

The next day. After finishing a day’s worth of work, Seol Jihu was waiting for the promised guest to come when suddenly he heard the small bell attached to the door chime.

“Excuse me.”

A deep voice rang out from the direction of the door.

“Welco….”

Seol Jihu paused in the middle of his sentence.

He saw a man walk through the open door.

Neat hair, kind eyes with well-formed, masculine features…. The man standing in front of him was unusually handsome. And for some reason, Seol Jihu instantly felt a kinship with him.

‘So this man is….’

The Martial God. Kim Soohyun.

Their gazes met in the air.

‘…Should I try the Nine Eyes?’

He wasn’t sure whether it would work or not, but he was curious.

However, just as he was about to activate the Nine Eyes….

Seol Jihu blinked.

‘Huh?’

The Nine Eyes had once again activated automatically.

And this time, its effect didn’t end as fast as last time.

‘What’s going on?’

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, purple, black, and gold…. Nine colors filled his vision in a flash. He could sense that the Nine Eyes was angry. It was trying to push something away from Seol Jihu.

Then, in the next moment, he felt something quickly retreat away from him. At the same time, the effect of the Nine Eyes slowly faded. When his vision returned to normal, Seol Jihu noticed that he and Kim Soohyun had been staring at each other for a while.

“What the…. The Third Eye backed away…? I haven’t seen that before….”

Kim Soohyun muttered words Seol Jihu couldn’t understand. Then, after a brief pause, he did a double-take.

“Ah. My wives told me they loved your ramen… so I thought I’d drop by. Are you still open?”

Confused, Seol Jihu nodded nevertheless.

“Yes, of course. I’ve been waiting for you. Please come in.”

“Thank you.”

Kim Soohyun gave a light nod and closed the door behind him. Seol Jihu guided him to an empty table.

“May I take your order?”

“Mm….”

Kim Soohyun looked at the menu, then gave a nervous smile.

“I’m afraid I don’t know much about ramen. Can I leave the choice to you?”

“Of course. I’ll prepare the most basic version, then.”

“Thank you.”

Seol Jihu returned to the kitchen and placed a pot over the stove. He glanced at Kim Soohyun while waiting for the water to boil. The Martial God was looking around the restaurant.

‘He looks normal enough….’

It could just have been the white t-shirt and jeans he was wearing, but he seemed ordinary.

—I want his ramen, too.

Except—he wasn’t. Seol Jihu noticed that Kim Soohyun had placed a small blue orb on his table.

“Zero Code? What’s going on?”

—I want to eat his ramen. That’s all.

“Seriously…? Okay, then.”

Clunk, clunk!

Suddenly, the giant sword tied to his waist began to shake.

“What the. You too, Excalibur?”

Clunk.

“What are you talking about? How can a sword like you eat ramen? Oh, come on, please. He’ll think I’m weird.”

Clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk!

The sword called Excalibur rattled from side to side. It seemed to be throwing a tantrum.

“Fine, fine! Excuse me, may I add two more bowls, please?”

Kim Soohyun shouted and covered his face with both hands.

Seol Jihu revised his assessment of the Martial God. Carrying around a living orb and sword, this man was in no way ordinary.

Once again, silence descended upon the restaurant.

Rather than striking up a conversation, Seol Jihu focused on cooking.

Kim Soohyun chatted with his orb while waiting.

“By the way, what’s going on? For you to suddenly show up is….”

—Does the reason matter? You already know what’s going on.

“Yes, but I’m asking about you.”

—No reason, in particular. And… I have a connection of sorts with this world.

Kim Soohyun seemed surprised by Zero Code’s remark.

“Yeah?”

—This world should have perished a long time ago…. But at the request of a certain goddess, I granted a partial time reversal.

“But you don’t do that often.”

—I couldn’t just ignore her.

Zero Code replied.

—I won’t say it’s entirely because of you. But you are related to this world, albeit indirectly. Don’t deny it.

“Hmm….”

Kim Soohyun smacked his lips.

“See, what I’m wondering is…. I remember splitting her divinity in half. She should have died naturally after a while. How did she survive?”

—Through greed. Even gods have it.

Zero Code replied nonchalantly.

Kim Soohyun seemed convinced.

Suddenly, he glanced in Seol Jihu’s direction.

“Hey, Zero Code.”

He dropped his voice to a whisper.

“I activated the Third Eye just now, and….”

—It can’t be helped.

Said Zero Code.

—In human terms… the Third Eye and the Nine Eyes are like siblings.

“Really?”

—The Third Eye was born first. Try hard, and you will see through the Nine Eyes. But it won’t be an easy opponent…. The Third Eye has a higher level of existence, but the Nine Eyes is more enhanced in terms of ability.

“….”

—Well, just think of them as brothers and sisters. They aren’t exactly compatible.

“What an odd analogy…”

Finally, the food arrived.

“Here is the ramen you ordered. Please enjoy.”

“Ah. Thank you.”

Three bowls of ramen were placed on the table. The first in front of Kim Soohyun, the second in front of the blue orb, and the third in front of the sword leaning against the chair.

“Thanks for the food.”

Kim Soohyun put his hands together with chopsticks between his palms.

—Mm. Let’s eat first.

Zero Code rose into the air and immersed itself in the bowl.

Excalibur remained completely still.

Slurp.

Finally, Kim Soohyun took a bite of the ramen.

“….”

He flinched.

Slurp, slurp!

The Martial God inhaled the rest of the noodles in a flash and began to blink. He raised his head and looked at Seol Jihu, his eyes full of confusion and curiosity.

“?”

Seol Jihu too tilted his head in return.

“Is something wrong?”

“N-No, it’s nothing.”

Kim Soohyun seemed unusually flurried as he dropped his gaze back to the ramen in disbelief.

Seol Jihu looked at him for a moment and turned his gaze to the other side of the table. He wondered just how the sword would eat its ramen.

It was then.

“Huaaaa.”

He heard an exclamation.

Seol Jihu turned his head to the sound and saw Kim Soohyun tilt the bowl to his lips and then put it back down on the table. His bowl was completely empty.

‘Already?’

But Seol Jihu had only taken his eyes off for a moment. What could have happened in that short time?

“This….”

Kim Soohyun let out a long breath and then smacked his lips. His face looked brighter now than when he first arrived at the restaurant.

“…Doesn’t make any sense.”

He said after a long silence.

—Right?

Zero Code responded.

—You must have felt it, too. The darkness inside you has been partially neutralized.

“But how is this possible? It’s just ramen.”

—But it’s not just any ramen. It is ramen made by the Golden Constellation of infinite possibilities, who wished to remain human with all his heart.

Zero Code continued.

—There was a reason he was designated as Universe’s Planet Cultural Heritage. I knew his dish would have a positive effect on you.

Kim Soohyun still looked dazed.

—More importantly, this human won against your 16 wives and Suna. Do you think you can do the same?

The Martial God shuddered. He finally seemed to realize just how amazing Seol Jihu was.

“So…. Will the darkness inside me disappear forever if I keep eating this ramen?”

—No.

Zero Code denied outright.

—As long as you are in need of your darkness, the chaos inside you will not disappear.

“As long as I am in need of my darkness….”

—But this ramen will be a drop of oil that grows the fire of light inside you, which has been dying down. Even that will be of great help to you. You have a lot to gain from this meeting.

“….”

—You owe him.

“Ah—I get it, I get it.”

Kim Soohyun raised both his hands into the air. With a sigh, he turned to face Seol Jihu.

“Do you have time to talk now?”

Finally, the moment he had been waiting for was here.

“Of course.”

Seol Jihu replied without hesitation.

“I’m sure you know what’s going on, so I’ll cut to the chase.”

Kim Soohyun spoke.

“I heard you’ve come to talk to me on behalf of the Fallen Angels. And you want me to forgive them.”

“Mm…. No.”

“…Pardon?”

Kim Soohyun furrowed his brow. He seemed almost to doubt his ears.

“I’ve heard what’s happened, but ultimately I’m just an outsider. I don’t know what exactly happened between you and them, and I never will.”

Seol Jihu continued with a small smile.

“How one treats others is entirely up to themselves. Whether to forgive or not, that decision is yours to make. I can’t force anything on you.”

A light flickered in Kim Soohyun’s eyes.

“I’ve only come looking for an answer. That way, the Fallen Angels can get closure one way or the other, and move on with their lives.”

Seol Jihu nodded.

“That’s all.”

Kim Soohyun stared at Seol Jihu with surprise in his eyes.

“How one treats others is entirely up to himself….”

He muttered before suddenly breaking into a smile.

“I like that.”

“Thank you.”

“Um….”

Kim Soohyun scratched his head as if he had just remembered something.

“But if that’s all you needed, then I could’ve given you an answer a long time ago. Why didn’t you just ask me…?”

Seol Jihu gazed at Kim Soohyun with a dumbfounded look on his face. Everything that happened since he returned to Earth flashed through his mind. He fought the urge to blurt out, “Are you serious?”

“…Right.”

Seol Jihu smiled bitterly.

“Your wives…. They were very nice people.”

With just that, Kim Soohyun understood everything and shut his eyes tight.

“I wondered why they kept asking me out to different places….”

“It’s okay.”

“No, I really should apologize.”

Kim Soohyun bowed his head. He told Seol Jihu that he’d scold them once he got home. But Seol Jihu didn’t believe him.

‘He seems like a man who doesn’t raise his voice against his wife.’

This was his assessment of the Martial God.

“Can you give me an answer now?”

Seol Jihu asked, and Kim Soohyun shut his mouth.

“The truth is….”

After a moment of silence, the Martial God began to speak.

“I wasn’t ever going to forgive the Fallen Angels.”

Kim Soohyun’s face abruptly turned serious, and so did Seol Jihu’s.

“But after eating your ramen…. I do think it’s kind of funny, but I’ve changed my mind.”

Kim Soohyun wrapped his hands around the bowl and raised his head.

“I’ll return the Fallen Angels back to the Celestial Realm.”

Seol Jihu’s eyes widened.

“Do you really mean it?”

“Yes.”

Kim Soohyun sounded certain.

“10 years…. No, 17 years.”

He said, looking straight at Seol Jihu.

“The taste of your ramen has shattered the hatred that has remained unshaken for 17 years.”

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