I asked Choi to keep the construction strictly confidential and not to ask anything about the building, when he signed the investment proposal of the paper company I arranged the business loan through. While such requests would inevitably raise questions in Choi’s mind, the building itself was already mysterious enough.
“No matter what I say, the firm is constructing an ugly building. It will look awkward, and once it is built, reporters and local politicians will come running. Large firms are weak against such pressures.”
“Large construction firms co-exist with the media and local politicians, so they will not be able to refuse their requests.”
“I understand what you’re saying, and I will remember every word.”
“While such a thing should not happen, the firm has taken the position that it would be easier to control your small company instead of hiring a big construction firm. I made this point at the board meeting, to try and get you the contract.”
“You have…done so much for me. I will make sure you have nothing to worry about.”
“You do not have to pay much attention to the investment company, as it is busy with other businesses. Your company is a sort of test case they have bought to prepare to enter Korea’s construction market.”
Choi gulped at the words.
“Moreover, you may suddenly be requested to hand over documents detailing various aspects of your company for stockholder meetings, and if you think keeping foreign investment companies satisfied is easy, due to distance…I cannot help you. They can be extremely cruel.”
“Yes, I know that you’re speaking out of worry. I will not forget this debt for three generations.”
The contract was nearly over, and Choi said he would take me to a good place instead of drinking lukewarm coffee. By his tone, I guessed that Choi had prepared liquor, women, and a thick envelope filled with cash.
The chance I had given Choi could not be paid with such things, and Choi also knew it. His eyes looked like he would do anything I say. Anyway, I refused his offer and continued to talk about the construction of the village café. I spoke about the fact that the firm is prepared to continue building such projects in the future, to continue buying the goodwill of the locals.
“At the risk of sounding forward, won’t that become a problem in the future?”
“That’s a good point, and I am also worried about that. While I am obeying the orders from the higher-ups, this is my responsibility. If something goes seriously wrong in this project, I will be fired.”
“There’s a mountain behind where I live, but no one goes up there. While it’s not as big as the wall planned for this facility, there’s a long wall surrounding the mountain. However, the reason no one goes up that mountain is not because of the wall.”
“Is it a mental hospital?”
“That may also work. However, the wall is topped by traditional roof tiles, and the road going up is blocked by a traditional gate. It looks like a temple to outsiders, but they all came back down in disgust.”
It was then Choi spoke a name I had heard for the first time.
“Have you ever heard of a religious organization called the Church of the Spirit World?”
“I also heard the name for the first time after I moved into that area. No one knows what they do, and while everyone dislikes even looking at the direction of the mountain, no one ever filed a complaint.”
“I understand, as religious cults are scary.”
“Who knows what they will do.”
“I don’t know what to say since I do not know the purpose of the building, but I will ask the higher-ups whether the project needs such elaborate disguise.”
“Oh, no. I only said this in passing.”
“Since this is just a suggestion, you have no reason to worry. Since there will be many projects like this, the higher-up will also need to think about such problems if they want to proceed forward. They will choose the best solution out of many suggestions, and I thank you for the idea.”
“It’s not that much of an idea, and I hope that it helps.”
“You can go first since I need to organize some things here.”
“Then, I will contact you once I start.”
Choi left. The best solution for securing the dungeon would be to sign a contract with the military and raise the walls as part of the defense industry, but there would be far too many questions. So, rather than bringing other elements here, disguising the buildings as mental hospitals or cult facilities may be more effective. They both raise primal fear in people even before approaching, especially in these times.
I finished making some decisions and moved my gaze to the table. It was filled with documents Choi had brought, and I had to look them over just in case.
I took out the copy of his national ID card with his Citizen Registration Number and family register, as I could confirm his family relations and previous homes with those documents. While I wanted to trust Choi, who seemed trustworthy, I also knew that such a belief was naïve.
Jonathan had been courageous, and I had been cautious, and we did not criticize each other for having opposite traits. We trusted each other’s strengths, and while we did fight a few times, our relationship had been good.
Jonathan tended to act before thinking and then cleaned up the mess afterwards, as that was his personality. He was at an advantage in situations requiring quick, decisive action and had also faced death due to his rashness.
All of us Awakened at the Trial Tests did things differently. Mine was to prepare for all circumstances, and I gathered and calculated data until I was satisfied. Only then I made my move, and while I had been slower than others, I tended to get more rewards and a higher possibility of success when I took a chance.
When I had been a manager, I had refrained from investing in long-term positions, but when I lived to survive, I had been a different person.
This cautionary trait had kept me alive after finishing the Trial Tests. I remembered Jonathan’s advice from a long time ago. He said that if I gave my all to everything I did, I would not have any reserves left when things go wrong, as they always do.
Well, I had grown more powerful after Jonathan and I parted ways and managed to irritate the Eight Evils and Eight Virtues with my principles.
Moreover, what Jonathan had said seemed right for this occasion, as I did not need to overcomplicate things.
Father had come in drunk, and he had passed out. Mother had prepared a place to sleep in the living room for Father and went into the master bedroom after waiting for him to fall asleep. The light in the master bedroom turned dark, and I had waited for this moment.
“Father, are you asleep?”
I only heard snores, and I sat next to Father. In his past life, after he was fired, Father was known only as the owner of a grocery store, and he would die when the gate opened in Seoul.
Our family had not even been able to recover his body, as I had been dragged into the military while Mother was lying unconscious in a makeshift hospital.
We had been notified of Father’s death by only a single document, and this was only possible, in that bloody, chaotic time because I had become an Awakened. So many other families would never fully know the fates of their loved ones…
We had to do Father’s funeral without a grave or ashes, and I cried while holding the passbook he had given me when I had been a student. Also, I blamed myself and the military. I understood why they had to re-activate me from my reserve status, but I believed Father would not have been sacrificed like this if they had not kept me in. (EN: A passbook or bankbook is a paper book used to record bank or building society transactions on a deposit account. Traditionally, a passbook is used for accounts with a low transaction volume, such as savings accounts.) (EN: A building society is a financial institution owned by its members as a mutual organization.)
I did not return to the military after Father’s funeral and went to a foreign private guild whose offer I had refused a few times in the past. I secured Mother’s safety by working for them, and the period I worked there had been due to Father’s death.
Of course, history was changing, and such a thing would not happen again. However, it was not a reason not to transfer the insignia over to Father. While he had lived a healthy life until now, I did not know what would happen to him in the future. There may be natural catastrophes and building collapses, and one really did not know what would happen tomorrow.
I only regretted that I only had one insignia, and I looked in the direction of the master bedroom and turned my gaze back to Father. I used the System Menu only the Awakened could use.
[Will you transfer ownership of the Revival insignia?]
The system asked again.
[Will you transfer ownership of the Revival insignia?]
Since the insignia was from a challenger box, the system was asking why I was handing over another chance to live like this, especially when I would have to go to the dungeon alone. Well, I did not think that the system would understand such a thing.
Edited by Userunfriendly