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21st Century Archmage

Chapter 219: Fly to the Sky

Translator: Lei

Proofreader: Enigami

 

“Father, what kind of company is Ohsung?”

It was an important matter, so I asked my dad about the Ohsung Group when he came home from work.

“Ohsung? What do you want to know about them?” 

I figured there was no one who knew more about Ohsung than him, a former fund manager.

“I want to know if it’s the kind of corporation that can be left to lead Korea in the future.”

“Mm… A difficult question.” My father fell into serious thought. “It’s a good corporation. To create a corporation able to put our humble country on the world stage… It’s not easy. When you add up the employees of Ohsung's major companies, Ohsung Electronics and Ohsung Heavy Industries, and their subcontractors, the conglomerate as a whole is providing hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

‘A good corporation, huh…’

“You’re saying it’s not a respectable corporation.”

“It may be a good company, but I can’t say it’s a great one. I can’t say exactly why, but even its current success is built by extorting profit from its subcontractors and imitating the world’s first-rate companies, so Ohsung will soon hit its limits. A company without dreams… is bound to be short-lived.”

Ohsung was doomed to be a company without dreams. Three years ago, I asked the CEO of the Ohsung Group, Hwang Man-hyuk, what his dream was. CEO Hwang said this: he didn’t have anything as unnecessary as a dream, and that he was just fiercely living his life.

“Ohsung appears to be merciless to its subcontractors.”

“It is. The other conglomerates are all the same, but Ohsung’s a little worse. At first, they throw out a big piece of bait like they’re catching a fish and then slowly decrease the food. Once they’ve assimilated the useful companies into subsidiaries or sucked them dry of honey, it’s not uncommon for Ohsung to cut them off. It’s something most people involved in the industry know about.”

“The government must know, but they’re not doing anything, are they?”

“The government? They know. But why would they mess with Ohsung? The government’s been on Ohsung’s side for a while. I would put my bets on the government never taking action until Ohsung falls to ruin. The personal connections CEO Hwang has built up have long since been at the level where even the President has his hands tied.”

Be it here or Kallian, they were all the same. The nobles’ power was based on the help of the major merchant groups, and those merchant groups and nobles worked together to suck the people dry and fill each others’ coffers.

“Then what should be done with Ohsung?”

“Ohsung? Hard to say. Ohsung’s morals are far from exemplary, but there are Korean citizens making a living because of them, so the conglomerate must continue to exist. Just not the way they currently are. They must find a CEO with a dream and a philosophy.”

“By that, do you mean to say that a professional CEO should steer the company?”

 

TN: A professional CEO is any CEO who is not a founder.

 

“Oh! I’m surprised you know all this, Hyuk.”

My father smiled proudly at me, not knowing that this was basic common sense any Korean kid knew.

“Ohsung Electronics is a core corporation that Korea absolutely needs in the future. A professional CEO is needed to further develop Ohsung Electronics and turn it into a leading company worldwide.”

“I understand. Thank you, Father.”

“Haha, didn’t think I’d be having this conversation with you.”

My father gave a hearty laugh.

‘CEO Hwang… The time has come for you to step down.’

With the power in my hands, it was easy to do something about him. But I didn’t want to cause the country to decline by inciting chaos in a figurehead corporation of Korea due to my mistaken judgment. But now, everything was clear.

The time for hesitation was over.

 

* * *

 

“Marisol, have you looked into the Ohsung Group?”

“Of course. The order came from you, after all.”

Marisol and I sat down to talk at the Ohsung Hotel’s coffee shop. She was once again staying in Korea because of me.

“What is the Magician Group’s assessment of the Ohsung Group?”

“They have currently been assessed to be top rank, but they won’t last another decade.” Marisol continued giving her precise evaluation. “The Ohsung Group is made up of a total of 12 core corporations and 10 related businesses. The corporations possess stocks in the other corporations within the group, a structure that protects them from hostile merging. You can say they are following the management structure most Korean corporations have.”

If this were the Kallian Continent, I could just wipe out any organizations I didn’t like with a single blast of magic, but not here. Doing damage to the advanced economic-political system could result in me being cursed as a traitor for all of posterity.

“In that case, what is the most important corporation in Ohsung? There must be a core to that web of connections.”

“Of course. We’re at that core right now.”

“Hm? Right now? Then…”

Marisol grinned at my surprised expression. “Yes. Ohsung Hotel is the core of the Ohsung Group. From what we have found out, the unlisted company Ohsung Hotel possesses 15% of the stocks of the group’s core business, Ohsung Electronics. That’s a slightly larger percentage than the Ohsung Group’s founding family.”

‘Ohsung Hotel…’

“Other than their stake in Ohsung Electronics, Ohsung Hotel’s net worth is measured at about half a billion dollars.”

‘It’s gone up a lot. I heard they were at 120 million before.’

In the past, those numbers were as far fetched as Mars and Pluto to me, but now, I didn’t feel much from hearing them. Such sums were meaningless to the Emperor of the Nerman Empire, the bedrock of the Kallian Continent.

“Acquire Ohsung Hotel.”

“What?”

“Put Ohsung Hotel under the group’s name within two weeks. No matter what you need to do.”

“Hohoho, alright. That much is nothing. There are a considerable number of companies connected to our group among the Ohsung Heavy Industries stockholders possessing Ohsung Hotel shares, so it shouldn’t be a problem. If need be, please just give the word. We can also acquire the Ohsung Group as a whole.”

Just one word, and the Magician Group would work to acquire a company that was like the age-old foundation of Korea. With Master’s insane fortune, it was possible to swallow all of the world’s conglomerates, not just the Ohsung Group.

“Excuse me. Please allow me to refill your water.”

While Marisol and I were talking over a glass of fruit juice, a female hotel server came to our table with a pitcher of water, intending to fill the glass of water I had emptied.

‘Hm? This lady is…’

I was silently watching her refill the glass when I noticed her nametag. Lee Yun-shil. She was the manager I had promised an administration position to 3 years ago if I ever took over Ohsung Hotel.

‘Why is the buffet manager here?’

She had been pretty high up three years ago, but she was now doing the job of a temporary worker.

“Are you by any chance the buffet manager?” I asked, unable to resist my curiosity.

“Huh? Ah! You’re the high school student from back then…!” she exclaimed in surprise upon turning to look at me.

‘Wow, she actually remembers me.’

It had already been a few years, but Manager Lee Yun-shil had an astonishing memory. As expected of someone whose dream was to become the best hotelier in the world, she was no ordinary woman.

“Haha, your memory is impressive.”

“Hoho, how could I forget someone who promised to make me the hotel administrator?” Manager Lee laughed, revealing two tidy rows of teeth.

“But may I ask why you are here?”

“Pardon? W-Well…” Her mirth faded and her face grew hard. “There was some company restructuring one year ago. So… I’m just a temp, but I wanted to stay in the hotel, so I’m here.”

She told me honestly.

‘She still hasn’t given up on her dream of being a hotelier.’

If it were me, I would have kicked this place to the curb long ago, but she stayed to pour water in the hotel coffee shop, still holding onto her dream.

“Hang on for a little longer.”

“Pardon?”

“Good news will come to you soon.”

“Hoho, thank you for saying so.”

Manager Lee Yun-shil smiled sweetly at my words before dipping her head and taking her pitcher to another table.

“Master…” Marisol’s suggestive voice rang in my ear.

“Wh-What?”

“You have unusual tastes. I didn’t think you would be into older women… Did you want to acquire Ohsung Hotel to give the hotel to that lady? Wow! You’re such a passionate guy.”

“...”

I was suddenly demoted to a profligate dandy who was buying a preeminent hotel to chase an older woman.

“I’m sad. I don’t need a hotel this big, one little resort in Bali would make me loyal to Master for life… You’ll give me a chance too, right?”

Marisol turned her enchanting smile on me, her voice dripping with seduction.

“Ha… Haha…”

The only sound I could produce was a nervous, awkward laugh.

 

* * *

 

“So Yerin’s been hanging out with that loser who came back…”

Hwang Sung-taek read the report about Seo Yerin in his hand. He had people keep tabs on everything about her. For the last three years, she had rejected him at every turn. To get revenge on her, after getting into college, he had the company her father was managing go bankrupt.

He was still young, but the company moved to carry out the order of the crown prince who would one day become the Ohsung Group’s leader. There were more than a few companies that would disappear like that even without Hwang Sung-taek’s intervention anyway, so no one felt the slightest prickle in their conscience.

“That low-class motherfucker should have never come back. This time… I won’t forgive him.”

Ever since he was a kid, he had gotten everything he ever wanted. Seo Yerin was the only thing that eluded him, even though she was his one and only goal.

“...Enjoy yourselves fully. Because this will be the last for both of you… kukuku.”

Hwang Sung-taek, who had the evil temperament of wanting to completely destroy what he could not have, nursed in his heart a vicious sentiment that didn’t match his age. The blood of the family that had raised him was luring him into the path of violence.

 

* * *

Reaper Scans

Translator: Lei

Proofreader: Imagine

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* * *

 

“H-Hyuk, what’s with this car…?”

After our date, I chatted with Yerin pretty much every day on the phone. And today, we were meeting again for the first time in ten days.

“I borrowed it for our date today.”

“I-I see.”

Though she nodded at my words, the look of shock stayed rigid on her face. Her reaction wasn’t surprising. After riding a few cars in Master’s collection, Marisol personally airlifted a few dozen more.

The most dashing of them was the Bugatti Veyron. With its 8 liter W16 quad-turbocharged engine, it boasted a max power of 1001 PS, a 7-speed DSG shift, and 4-wheel drive. Its top speed was 407 km/h, and only 300 had been produced, making it a cream of the crop luxury sports car. In addition, it had the unique two-tone dark wine and black color that made it even more rare. When my car showed up on the road of the Marronnier Park where we always met, car enthusiasts flipped out their phones and frantically snapped pictures.

“Get in.” I said, opening the passenger seat door like a gentleman.

“Wow…!”

After taking a seat, Yerin let out an exclamation. She might have attended the elite Daehan High School and lived a pretty cushy life, but a Bugatti Veyron wasn’t something she could easily encounter. The interior design was as incredible as its exterior, the mithril dashboard and real leather seats a feast for the senses.

‘It’s a little scary to ride as my first car after getting my license. Kukuku.’

“But Hyuk, do you have your license?”

“Of course. I’ve always been a law-abiding young chap who can’t live without the law.”

“Pft!”

Yerin snorted at my words. This girl had no idea how much precious time I wasted at a driving school to get my license, a barrier even a Kallian Continent emperor could not bypass, all for this day.

‘From today onwards, you can kiss your days of misfortune goodbye.’

This wasn’t the only present I prepared for my first love, Yerin. I prepared a full bevy of gifts for the girl who had become even more slender due to losing more weight in just a few days time.

 

* * *

 

“What? C-Could you repeat what you just said?”

“I am Director Kang Changsoo from Herman Consulting, which promotes promising mid-size corporations into worldwide companies by providing funds and various tips. I am here today to inform you that President Seo Dongman’s Sampung Precision has been selected as the core company for Herman to support.”

“What…!”

The betrayal of the Ohsung Heavy Industries they trusted drove Sampung Precision to bankruptcy in just one week.

The purchasing director of Ohsung Heavy Industries promised they would buy, so Sampung took the plunge and even invested in a new facility to develop a new model of processor pump, producing several dozen expensive pumps in advance. But then, Ohsung Heavy Industries suddenly brought down a one-sided transaction suspension. While he, Seo Dongman, was still in a daze, the rumors somehow got around. Sampung’s primary bank and subcontractor CEOs all came at once to call on their debts, and within a week, his company went bankrupt.

“Herman Consulting will provide about $50 million in support funds. Of course, they will be given with zero interest in exchange for 49% of Sampung Precision’s shares. Will you accept this offer?”

President Seo Dongman couldn’t tell if he was dreaming or not. Their annual sales were $10 million at best, and their total debt was about $20 million, but Herman would be giving them $50 million with zero interest, and in exchange for 49% of a stock that was basically worth as much as tissue paper due to their bankruptcy.

“Department Head Kim, President Seo seems to be in disbelief, so please show him the document and explain in detail.”

“Yes, Director.”

‘To be pushed to such a state even though their technical skills are world-class… CEO Hwang, you will pay the price for the crimes you have committed.’

An order suddenly came down from the new company Kang Chansoo had moved to, resulting in him helping Sampung Precision, a company that was on the verge of life or death due to Ohsung. He thought of the rational evaluation he had made of the Ohsung Group when his son Hyuk asked a few days ago.

For Korea’s sake, Ohsung had to change.

If it didn’t… it had to be forced to change. That was the only way for Korea and the Ohsung Group to survive.

 

* * *

 

Vroooooom! Vroooooooom!

“H-HYUK! SLOW DOWN A BIT! PLEASE!”

When we reached the Seohaean Expressway that had very few cars, I lightly pumped the accelerator, and the Bugatti Veyron swiftly jumped to 200 km/h.

‘WOOHOO!’

The frustration from not having ridden Bebeto for a few days vanished like smoke. Yerin was terrified, but I couldn’t stop.

‘Don’t worry, Yerin. There’s protective magic on the car, so it’ll never break. If it comes down to it, we can just fly out.”

I barely used magic after coming to Earth. I was determined to fully enjoy the fruits of civilization I didn’t have access to on the Kallian Continent.

“Hyuk, there’s a speed camera over there!” squealed Yerin, pointing at the radar ahead.

“What are you doing, Yerin? Make a V sign!”

“...?”

Even while driving, I raised my right hand in a V.

Flash!

There was a brief flash of the camera. Others probably couldn’t see it, but as a 9th Circle mage who commanded over all mana, I easily picked it up.

‘Huhu, this is a diplomatic vehicle, right?’

Master sure was capable. From what I heard, the car I was in right now was registered as a diplomatic vehicle and was free from traffic regulations.

“Oh! Yerin, there’s a rest stop over there. Let’s go eat walnut cookies and squid.”

“O-Okay…”

She was still bewildered by her first ever wild ride.

‘Sigh, how can each and every expression of hers be so pretty?’

The playboy inside me, this truly insatiable demon, was sighing in regret over Yerin.

 

* * *

 

“Ah! The ocean…!”

Yerin breathed a deep sigh upon seeing the ocean, the emotional pain weighing down on her visibly relaxing a little.

“It’s nice, huh?”

“Yeah! So these are the rumored Chaesokgang Cliffs!”

I brought Yerin to the breakwater with the Chaesokgang Lighthouse, which I had visited a few times with my dad before moving to the capital. The Chaesokgang Cliffs weren’t that far from the countryside where my grandfather had lived.

Shashaa.

The fierce wintry waves struck the breakwater, foaming up.

“I didn’t know there were such rough waves on the western sea! It’s really refreshing~!”

Yerin stretched out both arms in front of the lighthouse, closing her eyes and taking in the cold breeze. I could tell how much emotional pain she had suffered up until now.

“Since you say you like it… I like it too.”

“Hoho! Hyuk, you’re a real player.”

Her long hair flying in the wintry ocean breeze, Yerin smiled, looking like a gift sent to me by the goddess of the sea.

Whooooosh.

A strong gust suddenly blew over us.

“Oh!”

Yerin clutched me with a squeal of surprise, and I unconsciously ended up hugging her.

“Haah…”

In my embrace, she let out a long, sweet breath.

Thump, thump.

My heart began to race like crazy. I held Yerin’s slender back as if to protect her from the cold wind.

“...I love you, Hyuk…”

And then, drifted her confession of love along the sea breeze into my heart. I hadn’t done anything for her, but this dummy loved me anyway.

‘I’m sorry, Yerin…’

I couldn’t tell her that I loved her back. I had to return to Kallian soon. I could not harbor feelings for her.

I simply responded to her confession by holding her deep in my arms.

 

* * *

 

“I’m so full…”

On the breakwater, Yerin gave me an unexpected confession of love. But I was unable to respond. To try and make up for it, I bought her an ocean-caught flatfish at a tasty-looking seafood restaurant.

“The view’s great, isn’t it?”

“Yeah… it’s pretty.”

It had already become evening. The ocean we could see from the breakwater observatory cafe was dressed in a different kind of beauty from the day.

“Yerin, what’s your dream?”

It was the question I always asked people. Everyone had a different dream, but I had never seen anyone happier than those who treasured a dream.

“To become the ideal wife… I want to become a good wife, a wise mother, and a good daughter-in-law.”

“What? Just that?”

“What do you mean, just that? Hyuk, you don’t know how difficult it is to live an ordinary life, do you? Think about it. To become a good wife, an unfamiliar man has to foster deep feelings for you. And to become a good mom capable of raising new leaders of the 21st century, you need to master at least two foreign languages, be smart enough to easily solve complicated math problems, and be able to make tasty food for the children’s health. And if you want to become a good daughter-in-law who doesn’t have issues with her mother-in-law on top of all that, you also have to understand how the previous generation thinks. Becoming the ideal wife is super hard, you know…”

‘Wh-Who knew that becoming the ideal wife was so deep.’

I found myself speechless at Yerin’s ideal wife philosophy. It sounded like an even harder feat than feeding a hundred thousand citizens and promoting peace as the leader of an empire.

“What about you, Hyuk? What’s your dream?”

Even though it was midwinter, Yerin ordered ice cream and asked me about my dream with her petite cream-smudged lips.

“I… want to become a good emperor.”

“E-Emperor?” Yerin’s eyes grew wide. “Hahahaha. Hyuk, sometimes you say the strangest things. To suddenly bring up being an emperor… You’ve got to stop reading fantasy novels.”

It was an honest answer, but Yerin couldn’t believe me.

‘The time has come to tell her the truth.’

I didn’t want to fool her any longer. Whether she believed me or not, I had to tell her. She waited for me for the three years I was away, and even confessed her love for me. I wanted to tell the full truth to this woman who did not stop loving me despite the difficulties at home and told me that her dream was to be an ideal wife.

“Yerin, listen very carefully to what I have to say from now on. I don’t know what you will think, but I’m telling the truth.”

At my quiet voice, Yerin looked deep into my eyes. She gave a small nod.

“Remember the school field trip we had in our first year?”

“Yeah…”

“Back then, I was actually kidnapped by an archmage from another dimension named Aidal.”

“A-Another dimension? A world other than Earth?”

“Yes. If you’ve read manhwa and stuff, you should be familiar with this sort of thing. I didn’t believe that there was a world like that, either. But it was real. I became that archmage’s disciple. On the day we went abroad to play at that resort, I was sent to the other dimension…”

And so, began my story.

I told her how I was sent to a different world called the Kallian Continent, was saved by a small village, went out into the world to broaden my knowledge and entered an imperial knight academy, got a wyvern called Bebeto and became a Skyknight, was framed by the Crown Prince and appointed to a territory called Nerman, and everything that happened afterwards until there was just a tiny flicker left on the candle on the table. Yerin listened to me with rapture, her expressions changing from shock to sadness to anger as she listened.

“...And that’s what led to me being here today.”

My long, long story came to an end. We came into the cafe just as the evening began, but the time had flown by and it was already late at night. We were the only guests left among the people visiting the observatory.

“So you mean to say… that you are an emperor in a place called the Kallian Continent.”

“Yeah… so I need to go back soon.”

“Haaah…”

When I had told her everything, Yerin closed her eyes with a deep sigh.

And then, two lines of tears suddenly streamed through her long eyelashes down her cheeks. Most ordinary people would never be able to believe such a wild story, but here she was, crying. I felt my heart ache.

“Y-You can’t just stay here, can you?” she asked, opening her eyes.

“I have to go back. This place is important to me too, but there is more for me to do on the Kallian Continent as the emperor of the Nerman Empire. And… I like that place.”

“Ahh…” Yerin let out a pained groan at those words. She had believed every unbelievable word I had said. “But I love you… I’ve loved you ever since I first saw you in middle school… sob.”

She couldn’t hold back her tears.

‘You can’t be soft-hearted, Kang Hyuk.’

I didn’t want her to be hurt by me anymore. A girl whose dream was to become an ideal wife didn’t need a playboy like me.

“There are women on the Kallian Continent who love me, and I love them back. Unlike here on Earth, it’s possible for me to be with everyone I love. Yerin, I’m sorry. It’s not that I don’t like you, but I don’t want to hurt you anymore.”

Every time the name of one of the many women I loved came up in the middle of my story, Yerin flinched. When I firmly stated that I loved them, she stared at me blankly as if at a loss for words. Her traditional values were probably in shambles from my explosive declaration.

“I-I’ll believe you… since I trust you, Hyuk…” she said, her lashes trembling.

“I’m sorry, Yerin…”

It was all over now. The beautiful times with my first love, Yerin, would become a memory of a different time.

“Hyuk…” she called quietly. Her eyes were full of shimmering tears, but she was smiling.

“Yeah…?”

“You said you were an archmage, right? A really high one.”

“Yeah.”

“Then fulfill my wish.”

“Your wish?”

“Yeah, I suddenly came up with it just now.”

I, a man who had committed many sins, nodded.

“Okay.”

“Hoho. Thanks. Let’s go outside now then.”

Whatever wish she had come up with seemed to have filled her with enthusiasm.

‘I’ll fulfill every wish you have.’

How could I do anything less for a woman who had waited three years for me? I followed her outside.

 

* * *

 

After paying the bill, we went outside. The strong ocean breeze made it quite chilly outside.

Air Shield.

Air Shield was perfect for allaying the cold breeze.

Flash!

A blue opaque barrier enveloped Yerin and me at my incantation.

“Wow! I suddenly can’t feel a single breeze!”

Yerin clapped her hands upon seeing the circular dome that was the Air Shield. She prodded the barrier like a little kid.

“It’s all squishy… and soft…”

It wasn’t an Air Shield for defending against an attack, so it had a jelly-like consistency. It wasn’t just made of air, but also water element mana in the atmosphere.

“Hug me.”

“...?”

She suddenly went from touching the Air Shield to telling me to hug her.

Before I could respond, she took the initiative to jump into my arms first.

“Ever since I met you… I’ve had a dream. I’ve always wanted… to fly in that moonlit sky. In your embrace… Hyuk…”

She, a girl who remembered me when I didn’t remember her, wanted to fly in the crescent moon night sky, a smile lighting up her face as she told me her humble dream.

I wrapped my arms snugly around her waist.

Fly!

And then came my incantation. Our bodies floated into the air.

“Ahh…”

Yerin breathed a dizzied sigh at the sensation of her feet lifting off the ground.

Shaaaaaaaa.

The crescent moon hung over the cliffs, adorning the night sky. Yerin and I flew over the sleepless ocean, forgetting Kallian, the Earth, love, friendship, everything.

We simply filled our hearts with this moment.

Because no matter what anyone said, we were in tune with each others’ hearts…

 

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