Side Story 15. After

Seol Jihu finally got a reply from the Martial God, and it was also one that he did not expect at all.

“Still, those bitches… I mean, those angels will only be allowed to go back to the Celestial Realm.”

Kim Soohyun continued.

“I will purify them of the evil that corrupted them and return their stolen authorities. That said, the Angels will continue to be under strict surveillance.”

Meaning, the Angels would still be controlled. In regards to this matter, Seol Jihu could feel a strong, unrelenting will from Kim Soohyun.

“That’s more than enough. I’m sure the Fallen Angels will be satisfied.”

Seol Jihu smiled. He knew he should not involve himself further in this matter. He did not think he was qualified. This was as far as he was allowed to go.

“Then, I will head back now. The Fallen Angels’ return will happen within a few days.”

“Got it. I’ll let them know.”

“Ah, also….”

Kim Soohyun got up.

“There’s a favor I’d like to ask of you.”

He walked toward Seol Jihu.

“I heard you won against the Court Gathering in an overwhelming fashion….”

“Court Gathering?”

“It’s a bit hard to explain, but yes.”

Kim Soohyun sighed and spoke.

“I know it may be rude… but I would like you to teach me your method. Please. I beg you.”

Seol Jihu’s eyes widened. Kim Soohyun looked more serious and desperate than ever before.

“Hoh….”

An exclamation escaped Seol Jihu’s mouth at the Martial God’s inexplicable desperation.

“I will pay you, however much you want! So please!”

“It’s fine. You don’t need to give me money.”

Seol Jihu grinned.

“I’m not the type to hide secret techniques. If you’re curious, I would be happy to teach you. We can talk right now if you want.”

Kim Soohyun’s complexion brightened. He couldn’t believe there was such a kind person in this world.

—I think you should just give up….

Zero Code clicked its tongue, but Kim Soohyun paid no attention to it. He went into the kitchen, burning with passion. And then, one hour later.

“Again!”

Seol Jihu’s angry voice echoed inside the restaurant.

Kim Soohyun was sweating bullets while repeatedly pouring and emptying a pot with water.

“Won’t this be enough…?”

“A-gain.”

“I-It’s just water. Is there really a need to go so far…?”

“Just water?”

Seol Jihu’s eyebrows rose.

Just water? The flavor of ramen is determined by the amount of water! Did I not tell you that even a 0.0001mL difference is unacceptable? Again!”

Kim Soohyun grunted. Releasing all his potential, he concentrated his senses on the tip of his finger.

“...Hmm.”

Seol Jihu did not yell for the first time. He was craning his neck, staring into the pot. It was a habit he showed whenever there was nothing to pick fault with.

“Incredible.”

Seol Jihu nodded in approval.

“Yuhui and Haeju couldn’t succeed even after weeks and weeks of training…. It seems your fame is not unfounded.”

“Then!”

“Let us go to the next step. Don’t forget the previous sensation. Next up is….”

Seol Jihu rolled up his sleeves and raised the Spear of Purity.

Kim Soohyun’s complexion brightened. However, his joy did not last long.

“Now, it’s a race against time. The process is much more complicated so pay close attention. Water is important, obviously, but fire is just as important. The temperature when you first put your pot on the stove is the key. The boiling point of water is 100 degrees celsius in one atmospheric pressure, and it only goes lower as the pressure decreases….”

A lengthy speech came out of Seol Jihu’s mouth regarding the temperature of the fire and the appropriate surface area to consider when putting in the noodles. Supposedly, this step also needed meticulous accuracy and precision.

“Garnish is also important. Take a look. When you put your chashu on, you need to angle it at exactly 37.2487 degrees, and then…”

Kim Soohyun could no longer bear it at this point.

“...Zero Code.”

He lowered his voice and called upon Zero Code, who was watching from a distance.

“He’s not making fun of me, is he?”

—I also find it hard to believe, but…

Zero Code spoke calmly.

—The Golden Constellation is serious. He’s also following everything he is saying with perfection.

“....”

In the end, Kim Soohyun gave up. Saying that he had an urgent business to take care of else his kid would get hurt soon, he disappeared in a hurry.

“But he was the first person to get the water correct….”

Seol Jihu murmured with a look of regret.

But with this, he now had one less thing to worry about.

“Udadada.”

Seol Jihu grinned as he stretched. He felt unburdened after solving what had been a big problem.

‘I’ll clean up the restaurant first… then I’ll call the Federation tomorrow, and… hmm?’

Seol Jihu paused while clearing away the bowls. All three ramen bowls were emptied clean. Not even a drop of soup remained in them.

‘What?’

Seol Jihu stared at the door that Kim Soohyun just left through. He recalled the huge sword that the Martial God had on his waist.

‘How did a sword eat ramen?’

Seol Jihu tilted his head.


*


Ten days after Kim Soohyun went back, Gabriel came to visit Seol Jihu Ramen?.

“Thank you.”

Gabriel cupped her hands together and bowed.

“You saved us all. I don’t know how I can express the gratitude I have for you.”

Gabriel sounded calm and unfazed, but her voice was trembling with joy. Her eyes were also watery, and it seemed like she still could not believe it.

And this was after she calmed down a bit as well. When Seol Jihu first called to tell her the news, there was a huge ruckus. Several Angels that were usually calm and rational had asked whether it was true repeatedly.

“Don’t worry about it. All I did was help you guys get a reply from the Martial God.”

“We never imagined he would give us a positive reply.”

Gabriel smiled.

“I rushed here as soon as possible after spreading the news to all Fallen Angels around Paradise. I figured I needed to see you in person, and thank you.”

“When would the Fallen Angels return to the Celestial Realm?”

“Soon, probably.”

Seol Jihu’s eyes widened at Gabriel’s reply.

“So soon?”

“The Martial God is a man of action. Since he set his mind on doing it, he is probably trying to take care of it as soon as possible. It’s not a bad thing for us. And the same goes for Paradise….”

Gabriel trailed off, and Seol Jihu smiled bitterly.

Although the Parasites had disappeared from this world, the Fallen Angels, an alien race possessing a higher level of technology, still remained. With an alien race being the cause of a long, horrific war, it couldn’t be helped for Paradise’s natives to harbor some anxiety.

The fact that most natives were relieved to hear news of their return was proof of this. Of course, they congratulated the Fallen Angels as well.

“We actually don’t mind. It makes sense for the natives to feel uneasy, and we also want to go back as soon as possible. There’s nothing to worry about since our interests match.”

Gabriel said nonchalantly before staring fixedly at Seol Jihu.

“Anyway, since you are the savior of our race, as its representative, I…”

“It’s fine.”

Seol Jihu shook his head.

“You’ve helped me out more than enough.”

The fact that they gave their all in fighting the Parasites was enough for Seol Jihu.

“I’m just glad I could return the help I received.”

Hearing Seol Jihu, Gabriel was speechless for a moment.

“...What an interesting human.”

Soon, she chuckled and shrugged.

“Still, is there anything you want? There’s still some time left.”

“I don’t need anything per se… ah.”

Seol Jihu put out a bowl of ramen he just made.

“Why don’t you have some ramen before you go? I developed a new recipe just now.”

At that moment, Gabriel suddenly turned serious.

“No.”

At the same time, she turned back in a hurry.

“Gabriel-nim?”

“As I said last time, I have no intention of ever eating your ramen. My dearest wish is finally within my grasp. I refuse to live as your slave forever.”

“Ei, slave? You’re overreacting.”

“I can’t believe it either, but I can feel that this is a possible future. The moment I eat that ramen, I will not be able to go back….”

Gabriel’s wings shuddered. With that, she left the restaurant, saying that the time was up. She was very obviously running away.

“...Gabriel-nim?”

Standing in a daze for a long time, Seol Jihu hurriedly chased after her with the ramen bowl in tow.

“Please! Just try out the soup…!”

However, Seol Jihu soon came to a stop. It was because he saw Gabriel in the distance, looking up at the sky and praying on her knees. That wasn’t all.

Hwarrrrr!

Gabriel’s wings were burning in a clear blaze. Her black wings quickly regained their original color. Pure white feathers shimmered in the light.

The sky opened up, and a ray of light descended. The city turned bright even in the midst of broad daylight.

Gabriel then got up, her body slowly floating up. The crowd below buzzed. But soon, the city turned silent. Everyone had become speechless by the sight of an angel ascending to the sky.

Similarly looking up, Seol Jihu did a double-take.

“Gabriel-nim!”

Gabriel glanced down at Seol Jihu’s loud calling. Seol Jihu raised the ramen bowl in his hand up high.

“Come visit when you can! And don’t forget to try the ramen when you come!”

At that moment, Seol Jihu could clearly see Gabriel’s hesitating look. Gulp. Her throat also drew a huge gulp.

That day. Fallen Angels from all over Paradise were purified of their corruption and allowed to ascend to the Celestial Realm.

It was the day that Fallen Angels disappeared from Paradise.


*


Seol Jihu went back to Earth. It was to thank the Martial God for keeping his promise. But when he arrived at his home, he was the one who got thanked instead.

“Thank you so much.”

“Thank you!”

Seraph and Ahn Sol both expressed their gratitude.

“My race was saved, thanks to you. With this, I can be at peace.”

“You’re incredible! To think you can get Orabeo-nim to change his mind…!”

Seraph gave Seol Jihu an expensive-looking makeup set, recommending him to give it to his girlfriend. Ahn Sol gave him a cross necklace, saying that she prayed personally and that a miracle would occur one day when he dearly wished for it.

Seol Jihu did not reject them. After all, they weren’t anything extraordinary, just a simple makeup set and a common necklace. Of course, he could only say so because he did not know their true value.

The two of them weren’t the only ones in the house.

“I’m sorry.”

Goh Yeonju apologized as soon as she saw Seol Jihu.

“If I knew things would turn out this way, I wouldn’t have tried to stop you from meeting him…. I never imagined a bowl of ramen would change my dear so much.”

“I’m not sure what you mean, but I’m glad it was of help.”

Help doesn’t begin to describe it. His change livened up the house. Everyone’s laughing and smiling, thanks to you.”

Goh Yeonju grinned and then gave him a rectangular box.

“Will you please accept my apology?”

From the looks of it, it seemed to be liquor.

“Oh, you didn’t need to.”

Seol Jihu did not reject it this time either. Since she said he helped her, he figured it was okay to receive a bottle of liquor as a gift.

“I brought the best one in my store.”

“I’m sure my father would love it.”

When Seol Jihu said with a smile, Goh Yeonju also smiled back.

“Let me know if there’s anything that troubles you on Earth. I would be happy to take care of any problem if it’s you, Mister Seol Jihu.”

“Thank you for your kind words. And thank you for the gift as well.”

With that, Goh Yeonju went back.

Seol Jihu contemplated on what to do with the gifts. For now, he gave the liquor to his father. His reaction was noteworthy.

“T-This is The Macallan 1926...!? How, where did you…!”

“I got it as a gift. There was a big trade recently, and I played a big role in making it a success.”

“Just how big was the trade? Hyaa, to think I would get my hands on a liquor that’s worth a hundred million won…. Hahaha!”

Seol Jihu had never seen his father so happy. He even shook his hands, calling him the greatest son in the world.

“Oh right, where’s Jinhee?”

“Jinhee! What are you doing!? Your oppa is here!!”

“F-Father!”

Seol Jihu tried to stop him in fright, but it was already too late.

“What is it, Dad!?”

Seol Jinhee peeked her head down from the second-floor guardrail, her lips protruding out in a big pout.

“Look at that grin. You really sold yourself out for a bottle of liquor?”

“N-No, it’s been a while since Jihu last came. Besides, what happened before is….”

His father coughed. He never took his eyes off the liquor box. He even slept with the box in his embrace.

As for the makeup set, it obviously wasn’t Seol Jihu’s to use. And so, he went back to Paradise and just told everyone to grab what they wanted.

At first, everyone was apathetic. Most of them seemed to be thinking, Just what strange stuff did he bring back this time?

But when Teresa opened the box, unable to hold back her curiosity.

“Wait, wait, isn’t that…”

Kim Hannah’s eyes split open.

“Beauty Vivian! It’s their newest healing pack set too!”

Eun Yuri gasped.

“Fuck!”

Maria shot up from her seat.

In the next moment, the women flung their bodies forward like tigers.

“This is mine! That’s mine too!”

“Ah! Give the cream to me!”

In the blink of an eye, several women were fighting among themselves around the gift. Even Seo Yuhui and Baek Haeju joined in, using holy spells and reinforced sword qi, respectively.

“Just what is that thing…?”

“Beauty Vivian. It’s a world-renowned brand.”

Chohong said with a yawn. As she wasn’t interested in makeup, she did not join the brawl that was going on.

“How much does it cost?”

“Money isn’t the issue.”

Phi Sora, who likewise had no interest in makeup, said while cuddling with a groaning yellow rice cake.

“The supply can’t keep up with the demand. I’ve heard that you need to wait two years to get your hands on even one product. The one you brought is a full beauty set and a limited edition product at that.”

Phi Sora glanced at Seol Jihu.

“Anyway, I’m surprised. I didn’t take you to be someone sensible enough to bring such a gift. It must have been hard to get it.”

Seol Jihu was taken aback. All he did was bring back a couple of gifts, yet the way his friends and family saw him changed both in Paradise and Earth.

Anyway, setting this aside, another interesting matter was an offer he got.

A few days after he rejected Han Soyoung’s offer of opening a restaurant in SY Apartments, a guest came to visit him.

At first, when he opened the front door at the ringing of the bell, he did not see anyone.

“...Over here.”

When he looked down, he saw a small girl.

Red braided hair. It was the little girl who was among the four goddesses.

“You.”

The little girl pointed her baby-like finger at him and spoke.

“Be my personal chef.”

The offer really came out of nowhere.

“It’s only natural to be flustered.”

When Seol Jihu showed signs of being taken aback, the little girl nodded her head in understanding with her hands behind her back. Though it was a bit cheeky, it was cute.

“Why don’t we go inside and talk.”

The little girl glanced inside.

“Ah, come in.”

Seol Jihu turned around.

Immediately afterward, he jumped in a startle. He surely was on Earth but suddenly found himself in his ramen restaurant in Paradise.

“This is…?”

The little girl had sat down on a seat before he noticed and was looking at a distant mountain. The way she had her head turned away nonchalantly, it was obvious that she was pretending to be oblivious.

“Mm…. Can you tell me what you wanted to talk about?”

Seol Jihu chuckled and tried to sit down on the other side of the table.

“Eeek!”

But because the little girl glared at him, he laughed and walked into the kitchen.

“Would you like to talk while eating then?”

“Mmn. I’ll take some ham… and sausages….”

The little girl filled out checkboxes in the menu with twinkling eyes but then quickly put on a serious face after feeling Seol Jihu’s stare.

“Well, I’ll leave you to it.”

Seol Jihu had a hard time holding in his laughter.

“Anyway, I want you to become my personal chef. It shouldn’t be too difficult since we’re neighbors. All you have to do is make me ramen every breakfast, lunch, and dinner or whenever I want it.”

“...So, you want me to be your personal chef.”

“Of course, I’m an honorable person. I’m not asking you to do it for free. What do you want? Planets? Galaxies? The power of a Heaven-rank 9 god? Just tell me. I can grant any wish you have.”

They didn’t sound like words that should come out of a child’s mouth.

What should I say? Seol Jihu pondered for a bit before speaking.

“Thank you for your kind words, but I’ll have to refuse.”

“What? Why!?”

The little girl showed a clear look of surprise, almost as if she never expected him to refuse. She even looked a little angry.

“There are two reasons.”

“...Tell me.”

It sounded like his refusal was of great humiliation and shame to her, but she spoke as if she would hear him out first.

“The first reason is… I’ve yet to reach the ultimate pinnacle of ramen.”

“The ultimate pinnacle of ramen?”

“Yes. The path of ramen is long and arduous. I have a long way to go. I need to keep advancing. And to do that, I need to continue challenging myself. If I’m tied down in a single spot, I’m afraid I will become complacent.”

“Mmn….”

The little girl fell into deep thought. This caught Seol Jihu by surprise as he had spoken half-jokingly and had expected the girl to throw a tantrum.

“So you want to stand on the same level as me…. Interesting, very interesting. Although it’s impossible, if it’s a human of your level… then maybe….”

After mumbling for a while, she nodded.

“Fine. I see no reason I cannot wait if it is for tastier ramen.”

She spoke as if she hadn’t given up but would wait for now.

“I heard your first reason. What’s the second?”

“Ah, the second reason is more realistic.”

Seol Jihu spoke.

“The ramen you had before used ingredients I found in this world… but given their nature….”

To bring items out of Paradise, one needed to expend contribution points. A little bit of time was also required for this process.

“Oh, that’s nothing.”

The little girl said casually.

“I can take care of that for you. Hold on. Oi, you’re listening, right?”

The little girl put on heavy airs and snapped her fingers. A bead-sized flame suddenly appeared before disappearing.

Just what was that flame? Seol Jihu tilted his head before suddenly pressing his forehead. It was because he could feel Gula, who had been anxiously watching, jumping in fright.

“I’ll give that to you guys, so take care of any contribution points matter he has.”

It was quite a mysterious sight. Though the little girl spoke curtly, Seol Jihu could feel Gula replying with the utmost respect.

It was at that moment that Seol Jihu finished his ramen.

“Good, good. I will back off today in hopes of you reaching even greater heights in the future. You better continue working hard. I’ll drop by every now and then.”

The little girl ate the ramen in joy.

‘She does seem incredible in some ways…. I just can’t put my finger on it.’

Seol Jihu carefully observed the ramen-eating little girl. However, he could not feel anything special. Only his desire to poke her chubby cheeks flared up.

“Oh, also.”

The little girl raised her head as if she just remembered something.

It was then. The girl’s eyes widened and turned crimson. Her hair rose, emitting a frightening aura, following which the entire planet seemed to hold its breath.

The girl’s mouth opened.

[Heed me, Universe.]

A subliminal voice soared into the sky and echoed out across the galaxies.

However, Seol Jihu could not hear it. He did not feel even a hint of fear. He blanked out completely for the split second that it happened.

“?”

When he regained his senses, everything had already ended.

The girl was stirring the empty ramen bowl with her fork. She looked satisfied, yet longing.

“You can be at ease now. I’m sure more than a few bastards had their eyes on this place. I marked my territory, so they won’t be able to touch you.”

With incomprehensible words, she hopped off the seat.

“Oh yeah.”

On her way out, she glanced back at the dazedly standing Seol Jihu.

“You can call me Suna from now on.”

“Suna…?”

“Yep, that’s my name. I will allow you to call me by it.”

With that, Suna disappeared.

“....”

Seol Jihu tilted his head.

I feel like I felt something just now…. Murmuring inwardly, he turned his head and took Suna’s empty bowl to the kitchen, not knowing that he now had the protection of a Heaven-rank 10 god, which even Heaven-rank 9 gods did not dare to go against.

For the record, the proclamation Suna made was as follows:

[As of this moment, I proclaim this restaurant to be my territory.]

[I will not stop you from coming to this restaurant and being its customer. But if anyone dares to touch this restaurant’s owner, I will see it as a direct provocation against me regardless of the reason.]

[If you cause even a tiny crack in this building, I will destroy ten thousand of your temples. And if you touch even a hair on this restaurant’s owner, everything related to you will be wiped from existence throughout the universe.]

[You will have to bear this in mind when using this restaurant.]

And thus, everything came to an end.

The Fallen Angels went back to the Celestial Realm, and Seol Jihu developed a friendly relationship with his neighbors.

Seol Jihu’s restaurant was also flourishing. His dream was to have many people enjoy his ramen, regardless of their race.

But it wasn’t as if there weren’t any problems.

Working busily in his restaurant as always, Seol Jihu’s eyes narrowed.

‘It’s good that all races are coming here, but….’

Seol Jihu’s gaze was fixed on a table in the corner of the room. There were three people in hoods, eating his ramen.

[I never thought a day like this would come. Who would have thought I would be sitting around a table with you, eating a dish? Don’t you think so, Elder God Zehirete, Hater of Darkness.]

A dark, gloomy voice rang out. Seol Jihu had taken a peek earlier while taking their orders, and he did not see a face under the hood, only darkness.

[It is indeed surprising, Outer God Azathoth. To think I would eat at the same table as you, whom even the almighty Great Old Ones worship.]

The being called Zehirete answered.

[Anyway, who is this?]

[Ah, I’ve met him for the first time today as well.]

The last being was even more shocking. Unless Seol Jihu had seen wrong, the thing that was holding onto the chopsticks was a tentacle that resembled a tree branch.

[Kruoooouoooo.]

He didn’t even understand what it was saying.

[Indeed, there is no reason to fight here. Why don’t we eat?]

[Agreed. Nothing good will come of offending her excellency.]

He could understand the first two.

[Krruooooououoo!]

[Mmn, indeed, the flavor is excellent. Especially this….]

[No! My ramen is much better…!]

Just like that, the three of them ate and chatted for a long time before getting up.

[Thanks for the meal. I will pay with this.]

One of them dropped an orb pulsating with darkness.

[This is my payment.]

[Kruoooouo.]

The other two dropped a chunk of red flesh and a tentacle, respectively.

“....”

Seol Jihu didn’t know what to say.

‘Just tell me if you don’t have money….’

He sighed and tried to throw them away, but upon a vehement, shocked protest by Gula, he pocketed them.

Seol Jihu shook his head and shouted.

“Your to-go ramen order is out!”

Hearing this, a woman who was waiting in a corner approached him.

Although he usually did not make ramen to-go, he made an exception because of the woman’s earnest pleas and her proactiveness in bringing a bag with preservation magic.

‘Right, it’s all good, but….’

The problem was that this woman was not a human either.

This was the first time he saw a woman whose body was shimmering with the color of water.

‘She doesn’t look like a Spirit either….’

“Thank you.”

The woman placed the ramen into her bag and bowed.

“It’s all thanks to this ramen. I don’t know how we can ever repay this debt….”

“Pardon?”

“As we were on the verge of extinction, we gave this ramen to Apophis, which had come to conquer our galaxy. It immediately went back, shocked that there was such good food in this universe and saying that everything it had done was for naught. Our galaxy has been saved thanks to you and your ramen.”

“...Uh, yeah.”

“Thank you, Lord Golden Constellation. We will never forget this debt of gratitude.”

The woman bowed and turned back.

Seol Jihu waited for the woman to leave before resting his chin on his hand.

Soon, he shrugged.

‘I don’t know what happened, but I guess it’s all good.’

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