21st Century Archmage - Chapter 4
Chapter 4: This Beautiful Bastard’s Love
Proofreader: Masadeer (Japtem)
As soon as I opened my eyes, I saw an unfamiliar sight. In a place that looked just like the inside of an airplane, my body was reclined in a plush seat. Stupified by the faint hum of the engine, and the slight turbulence from riding the currents, I returned to consciousness right away.
“Mister Hyuk, did you sleep well?”
“Ack! Wh-who are you?”
I was on a spacious bed-like seat that was immensely plushy. Without even getting a chance to regain my bearings, a strikingly beautiful blonde with long straight hair greeted me amiably, while wearing a stewardess uniform.
“My name is Marisol.”
Her bright smile was similar to Jeon Ji-hyun. Even in my surprise, the sight of her skinny legs bore into my eyes.
[T/N: Jeon Ji-hyun is a popular Korean actress and model.]
My face flushed.
“We are scheduled to arrive in Incheon International Airport in one hour.”
“What? In-Incheon International Airport?”
Amidst the woman’s friendliness, the words Incheon International Airport soared into my ears.
“Hoho, you have slept for a whole fifteen hours.”
‘What? What in the world happened? Why am I lying here?’
Until my last moment of consciousness, I had been sitting on top of the huge magic circle Master had made. And then countless glimmering lights had penetrated my mind. I only remembered that a mix of unidentified things had burrowed into my mind. I hadn’t been able to figure out what they had been, though.
‘Wait, am I speaking French right now?’
I was able to converse to some extent in English, but I was still far from speaking French. But the woman named Marisol was definitely speaking in French. And I was skillfully answering her in French, as if nothing were out of the ordinary. It was incredibly natural, as if I had learned French from birth.
“I have something here that I must relay to Mister Hyuk.”
While I was stunned by the unbelievable things that were happening to me in succession, a white envelope was pushed onto me. Sealed with gold leaf, the envelope was light.
I unsealed it and opened the envelope. A letter appeared as I had expected, but there was also a single platinum card.
Surprisingly, the letter was written in runes, a language that only mages could read.
‘How am I able to read this?’ While learning 2nd Circle magic, I had acquired about 300 runes. In this language, a single dot changed the meaning and each rune had a meaning of its own, like hanja. From what I heard from Master, at higher circles, you had to learn up to a whopping ten thousand runes.
[T/N: Hanja is the Korean name for Chinese characters. Like kanji.]
Though I possessed outstanding intelligence, even I only knew 300 of them. But now, I was effortlessly able to decipher runes that I hadn’t known in the past.
‘Did I hit my head or something?’
Maybe this was like what often appeared in movies: a strange twist of fate? If my head wasn’t messed up from being hit, how else would I be able to comprehend French and read runes?I tried using my imagination to make a guess, but it was all too unbelievable.
Turning my head, I read the letter Master had written.
To my beloved disciple, Hyuk.
‘Blech!’ I suddenly felt a surge of nausea from the incredible first sentence.
I feel such regret that the three months I spent together with you are already over. Even as I send you off, this master of yours already longs to see you, the one with whom he shared that brief time.
‘Is this old man crazy?’ The lines were oozing with love and almost felt like a proposal. The impulse to rip the letter into pieces raged in my chest.
Having met you thanks to the grace of the Goddess of Fate; Pallan, this master of yours was truly happy. When you later raise a disciple of your own, you too will be sure to understand this tingly pleasure that I’d never before known, in my two hundred years of life.
‘This… sick old fart!’
Even if I couldn’t see him, I could just imagine Master Bumdalf’s evil face. Thoughts of Master; a man immune to laws or strength, got me so heated up that I’d need to grind on a few chunks of ice before I’d be able to rest easily.
My dear Hyuk. Unfortunately, God will not permit our eternal love. I wanted to make you into a mighty Mage over ten or twenty years, but the wheel of fate has decreed that you and I will be separated like this.
My hands trembled.
‘Saying something like eternal love to me, a pure, virgin soul! Graaah! This perverted sea anemone, this orc cousin Mage Bumdalf! GAAAAHH!’
[T/N: Sea anemones = tentacles = perverts.]
I couldn’t scream because Marisol was radiating a refreshing smile from a distance away. But if I were to shout, this airplane would explode. My hostility towards Master was even greater than that time in my childhood when the neighbour’s mongrel had bitten me, making it my bitter enemy.
Separated from you by the will of God, I write this letter while enduring the pain.
Hyuk, my beloved disciple. While bearing the cruel capriciousness of fate, this master of yours has left you a few presents. The card you are holding in your hand right now is the only one of its kind in the world, an unlimited withdrawal card. At any bank, if you present this card, you will be able to withdraw as much money as you want.
‘Geh! Un-unlimited withdrawal?’
An unlimited withdrawal card, which I had only heard of! Moreover, it was a ridiculous card that could be used at any bank in the world.
‘Master, what in the world are you?’
I had known that he was rich, but I hadn’t known that he was so insanely loaded.
And the personal plane you’re riding right now is the promised present I’d prepared for you. Use it as you wish, if there’s anywhere you want to go, use it any time.
‘E-even this airplane? Woah!’
It was an immense gift from my master, someone who exceeded all imagination. Suddenly, a warm breeze blew over my Siberian tundra-like feelings of hatred and loathing towards Master.
‘That’s right, Master isn’t that bad of a person. How lonely must he have been in these two hundred years, for him to have kidnapped and forced a person like me into becoming his apprentice. It was only a crappy three months, that’s all.’
Our family motto of ‘Honesty’ was written on a wooden board, and 128 specific rules were written all over the back of that board, so that only members of the family could see them. They were rules of ‘Honesty’ that you could only see once you were an adult.
Not long ago, when my parents had been away, I was dusting our proud family motto and discovered it.
One of the rules popped into my head.
‘Those who reject what is free, are hypocrites who are betraying their true feelings. Those who look at the free item and feel love for the giver deep in their hearts rather than rejecting it are the ones who possess true and honest feelings— they are the descendants of the Kang Family.’
There was also, ‘Look at women as if they were gold,’ ‘Covet thy neighbor’s possessions as much as possible,’ ‘Flattery is a necessity for success, so use it honestly,’ among others.
These bits of wisdom that one had to learn while living life were all engraved behind the single word, ‘Honesty.’
And I was an honest man.
This generous heart of mine, which was forgiving the master who had committed a permanent sin. Even an angel would kneel at the sight of me, and request a teaching from me.
One last thing. No matter what happens in the future, do not blame or resent this master of yours.
Everything that happens is simply your master’s deep love for you.
If Master had been by my side, I could have even forgotten the misunderstandings that had accumulated so far, and embraced him warmly.
The human Kang Hyuk was not such a petty Korean man.
‘The next time I see him, I should ask him to give me his inheritance inventory. It’s an upright Mage’s custom for the sole disciple to take responsibility for the treasures left behind by the master!’
I tried holding it back, but laughter slipped past my lips and trickled out.
There was no one else in the world who owned a personal airplane at this age, as well as an unlimited withdrawal card.
‘So my dream is becoming reality at last! My eternal desire; paradise!’
The utopia of paradise that appeared in myths had been my dream ever since I was young. The glutted and plush Shangri-la, where I would live with those I loved.
In this day and age, if you had money, nothing was impossible.
Just then, I strongly felt that the goddess from the other world, the Goddess of Fate; Pallan was on my side.
‘I should raise a glass in her name sometime. Kuku.’
I lay comfortably in my seat while engraving the last of Master’s love deep into my soul.
“Yes, Mister Hyuk.”
At my call, the golden-haired beauty approached, a smile blossoming on her lips like a blooming marigold. I involuntarily gulped at the sight of her.
“Haha! As it turns out, this airplane is mine. But what are its specs? Seeing as it’s quite big, it seems worth using.”
It wasn’t just at the level of being ‘worth using.’ Though I didn’t know what kind of leather they were made of, the brown seats inside the airplane were immensely soft. I could also see that the plane was filled with cutting-edge equipment and had luxurious interior design. Far away, I could even see huge sofas and a bar where you could drink alcohol, so it didn’t seem like the plane was small at all.
“It is an A380 specially manufactured by Airbus.”
Marisol nonchalantly stated the name of the airplane while smiling broadly.
“Cough! Cough, cough!” The cold fresh juice that Marisol had handed me caught in my throat, just like that.
‘A- A380! That terrifying jumbo airliner that can seat a maximum of 800 people?’
A unique method of transportation created by humans, a single one cost $400 million.
My jaw dropped and I blankly thought of Master.
This beautiful bastard’s love came surging deep into my heart. Somehow, it seemed like I had come to truly love Master.
* * *
“An A380 is suddenly landing? It hasn’t formally landed in our airport before, so what airline is it?”
“I don’t know, I heard it wasn’t an airline, but a personal plane.”
“W-what? An A380 as a personal plane?”
In the control tower at the gateway at the South Korean Incheon International airport, the staff were kicked into a flurry of commotion due to the A380 that had suddenly flown in.
Not long ago, Airbus’ next generation airliner had landed once in Incheon Airport for a test flight. Capable of carrying up to 800 passengers and flying nonstop around the world, the airliner that was called a moving five star hotel was currently making an unscheduled landing.
But they had been informed that the plane was for personal use.
The VIP airport passage that only high-ranking public dignitaries like presidents, foreign generals, or chiefs of the Constitutional Court were permitted to use was reserved in advance.
The ten women of the Airport’s protocol team in charge of the VIP lounge were stiff with tension, watching the huge airplane moving down Runway 9. They were truly curious about the identity of the person who was arriving in a $400 million personal plane while getting VIP treatment.
The airplane was moored and the sound of an unknown person’s footsteps slowly drew closer. As the sound of the footsteps grew near, the dolled-up women in the protocol team were able to lay their curious eyes on the man who slowly appeared.
Though they knew it was certainly a gaffe, low cries burst out from their lips.
“Haha! Hello there!”
Having imagined that it would be Arabian royalty rotting in piles of money, or at least a famous foreign celebrity, the protocol team felt themselves freeze the moment they saw the robust Korean-speaking young man. Or rather, the student who still showed signs of being a child.
A high school student whose face they could now clearly see was getting off after riding the giant airliner, the A370 which even the wealthiest Korean couldn’t use as a personal plane.
Wearing frozen business faces, the protocol team lightly bowed their heads towards the student who was raising his hand and smiling broadly as if something very good had happened.
The male student’s flustered voice rang loudly above their heads. “Wh-where do I go for the Customs Inspection?”
As if he didn’t even know how to use the VIP lounge, the clumsy high schooler was scratching his head.
The faces of the bowing staff members went slightly stiff with shock.
* * *
‘It, it was real!’
Having kindly reissued my passport, Master Bumdalf had made it so that I could safely return to Korea again. I had come out of the flashy and elegant VIP lounge, which I was seeing for the first time in my life, but I actually didn’t have a personal car. As such, surrounded by the protocol team that followed me even outside the lounge, I went to an ATM.
And then, the withdrawal.
‘That 0 was THE 0?’
The card’s password was 1111, a number befitting my simple master, and as soon as I put in the card, I saw the unlimited number, 0. At first I thought it was a fake card that didn’t have any money. But once I made a withdrawal, a hundred or so ten dollar bills came spewing out without a single hitch.
My jaws dropped at the sight of the lump sum, an amount I had never held before in my life.
With the realization of the dream I had imagined, my heart was pounding so much I thought it would burst.
Wearing the brand-name jeans and white shirt that Marisol had prepared for me, I was also decked out in some fitting sunglasses and several accessories. I was directly able to get a taste of the luxury life I had only heard of.
‘Let’s go! To home!’
Before I knew it, the seasons had changed to the end of summer. While under the cool, air conditioned breeze, I grandly walked out of the airport.
And then, the blinding August sunlight.
The rays of hope that signalled the end of suffering and the beginning of happiness were energetically shining on me.
* * *
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* * *
‘Surely they haven’t sold my family register because I died or something, right?’
I had arrived at my house via a limousine taxi. I was curious about how my parents, who raised their son as if playing a safari wilderness simulation game, had fared while I was gone. I was truly curious about whether they had flown all the way to the Czech Republic in tears because their one and only son had disappeared, or if they were comfortably living their daily lives while believing that I was alive and would return.
Thanks to my well-off father and mother, we were living in a fairly nice apartment in the Gangnam District.
[T/N: Gangnam is a district in Seoul. It’s known for stinkin’ rich folks who want to send their kids to really nice schools.]
Apt 707The current date and time was Saturday, 5 pm. My parents would be home at this time.
Ding dong. Taking a deep breath, I pressed the doorbell, but I didn’t hear any response.
‘Did they go somewhere?’
They weren’t the kind of parents who would throw away their lives because their son was gone.
‘I don’t even have a key.’ The door was double locked with an electronic lock and a key.
“Who is it?”
Just then, I heard my mom’s voice from within— though it was a familiar sound, it didn’t have any energy in it.
Suddenly, a part of my chest tightened. Their son had quickly grown up while eating, sleeping, and pissing well. From the voice I heard, I was able to grasp how difficult this time had been for them because of me, the son they had lost while on a school field trip.
“Who’s this?” Following my mother, I heard my father’s heavy voice.
‘They should be able to see everything through the front door camera, so what are they doing?’
And shortly afterwards, having seen me through the front door camera as I had expected, I heard my mom’s agitated surprise from the speaker.
With a voice that was as energetic as ever, I announced that I was home; it was something I said whenever I came back from school.
The door opened with a click.
“Haha! Father! Mother! This son of yours has returned!”
Thinking that my parents might possibly be worried, I went inside as if nothing were wrong.
My parents were dazedly standing in the entryway. They were blankly staring at me with faces of disbelief.
‘Tch, why have they grown so old?’
The several wrinkles that had lined my mom’s eyes in the few months that I hadn’t seen them, and the grayish white hairs on my father’s head were glaringly obvious. My heart stung as something hot swelled in my eyes.
“Son, you’re late? Hoho! Was the field trip fun?”
“Huh? Yes! It was a very, very valuable trip.”
My mother called me her son like normal as she greeted me.
With rough strokes, my mom tousled my hair, which had grown longer than hers. “You’ve grown a lot while you were away, haven’t you? What were you doing until now that you couldn’t even contact us?”
Though they knew that I had disappeared on the school excursion, they treated me as if I had just gone somewhere far away to play.
“Hehe, I tried running away for the first time in a while. If not for the school field trip, when else could I have tried traveling in Europe?”
I couldn’t tell them the truth that I had learned magic under the crazy Archmage Master Bumdalf. If I told them the truth, then they might even send me to a mental hospital.
“I’m joking. I drank something that a strange grandpa gave me in the Golden Lane. And when I opened my eyes, I was in some village in the European countryside. I helped the bad-tempered, kidnapping old man with some work over there before coming back.”
“Ah, so that’s how it is. So there was worth in your father raising you with a strong hand after all.” Father nodded as he said that it was thanks to him.
“Well, that… that’s true.”
My father had a point. If not for the parent who practiced 101 hidden rules in order to make his son strong, I might have committed suicide under Master Bumdalf’s tyranny long ago.
“Son, thank you. For coming back.”
My mom hugged me lightly. Rather, she was shedding tears while in my embrace.
The stinging in my heart was enough to almost make me shed painful tears. If not for the next thing that my mom spoke into my ear while in my embrace, I would have certainly burst into tears while hugging her.
“Surely you didn’t forget to buy mom a present, right?”
While in the midst of our unexpected, touching, and emotional family reunion, suddenly a gust colder than the air conditioner swept right past my heart.
“Oh! Those sunglasses are nice? Is it a Ferragamo?”
“Oh my, it really is? As expected of our son. No matter how busy he is, he won’t forget presents for us. Hoho!”
“Haha! This is all due to raising our child strictly, is it not?”
That was how my brief relationship with the goods that Marisol had given me ended. The whole bundle of gifts that she had passed to me were steadily divvied up in my father and mom’s hands.
Like that, I was able to return to my house for the first time in three months.
I had become both the world’s greatest millionaire, and a mage.
* * *
Never had I dreamt that coming to school would make me so happy. Thanks to Master Bumdalf, the things I treasured in the world had truly become many.
“Have a good day, young master.”
“Driver Kim, please come so that I’m not late to cram school.”
Daehan, the most prestigious private high school in South Korea. In front of the huge gate that was modeled after the Dongnimmun Gate, the well-off children were busy getting out of their cars, as always.
[T/N: The Dongnimmun Gate, also called the Independence Gate, is a huge stone gate in Seoul. Also, most people in Korea go to school by bus or subway, so coming to school in a car is a sign of wealth.]
‘Those brats, for them to go around riding personal cars, they don’t know what wonderful exercise walking is.’
Since I possessed the biggest personal vehicle in the world, I didn’t feel any of my past jealousy concerning coming to school in a personal car.
‘Oh! I’m finally back! School! I, Kang Hyuk, have come!’
I raised my arms like a triumphant general and went through the gates. Since I wasn’t a morning person, at one point in my life, school had been a testing ground of my endurance.
“Oh! That guy, isn’t that him?”
“Yeah. That’s the 1st year who appeared in the school newspaper.”
“During class, Ms. Wang was saying that. Y’know, that one of her students might be getting dragged around by a crazy gypsy and begging on the European streets…”
Having grown sharper with the accumulation of mana, my ears picked up the girls’ gossip. My body went stiff while still positioned with my arms raised.
‘Da-damn it! Gypsy? Begging?’
The day after my arrival home and the warm yet cold family reunion, I had gone to the school with my parents. There, I had told the Principal, who hastened to hear my explanation, as well as Ms. Wang what I’d told my parents. The sad and tragic story about how I’d consumed a free drink, given to me by an old man, and how I’d been dragged around.
But for some reason, the story of my life’s troubling ordeal had degenerated into begging.
‘Why the hell is it such a vulgar thing like begging! Argh!’
My despicable homeroom teacher, who had thanked me for coming back while even crying at the time. My heart had tightened at the thought that there was still goodness in this heartless world.
But what had returned was betrayal.
‘Ms. Wang, to think that you dared to stab a dagger into my heart.’
Ms. Wang was a 35 year old spinster who taught English. Because she was a female teacher who always lamented about being an old maid that couldn’t get married, she was called the Dreaded Snow White. With that dreaded mouth of hers that made millions cringe, she had turned me into a pitiful and shabby beggar boy.
‘I won’t let this slide. Some day, I will have my revenge…’
I swore vengeance with a blazing heart. For the sin of having carelessly opened her mouth, and also for spreading false information, I would make her shit blood while feeling the volcanic rage of Kang Hyuk, the magic genius.
‘Eh, but why did the recipe for the magic reagent that makes you shit blood pop into my head just now?’
After getting freed from Master Bumdalf’s oppression and returning to my house, every night, I trained like crazy in my dreams. Runes and magic spells I hadn’t even learned, as well as countless basic magic theories and alchemy, upper circle spells, and so on. If I thought of one thing, I was reminded of associated spells or magic.
‘It’s because my body doesn’t have any energy. I should boil and eat some hundred year old wild ginseng.’
The uses for my overflowing money were endless.
While I was swearing my revenge as I walked to the classroom, I heard a sweet and gentle voice. My head turned towards the one who had called my name without reserve.
‘Seo, Seo Ye-rin!’
The lily flower was wearing a navy blue, checkered uniform skirt. A small blue ribbon necktie was attached to her white blouse. Her beautiful skin, which looked whiter than her blouse, was radiantly blossoming under the morning sun.
“You, you’re alive?” As if seeing me as a dead ghost despite looking at me with her own eyes, Seo Ye-rin asked for confirmation.
“‘Course I am. I just randomly went on a vacation in Europe for a bit.” Without cowering, I coolly lied about having gone on a vacation in front of Ye-rin.
“That’s a relief…” Seo Ye-rin nodded as she showed eyes of happiness.
‘Wut? Is she worrying about me right now?’
I hadn’t even seen my parents look at me with such doting eyes before. The angel Seo Ye-rin had presented me with such a precious gift so early in the morning. If someone just put wings on me, I could fly right into the sky.
“Let’s go in. Joong Hyun is really waiting for you, Hyuk.”
“Huh? Yeah, okay. We should go in. That rascal, to think that he yearned so dearly for this elder brother of his. Heh, that’s why you’ve got to treat a person well while they’re still around.”
I walked through the hallway towards the classroom with the grinning Ye-rin.
“Um, Hyuk…” Just then, the angel cautiously called my name.
‘Hnng, she must have been super worried.’
I warmly gazed at Ye-rin’s red lips as her eyes sparkled. I was filled with boundless anticipation at what kind of happiness those sexy and cute lips would deliver this time.
“Was… begging fun?”
Ye-rin’s finishing blow!A intense groan rang ruthlessly through my throat.
‘Ms, Ms. Wang! I won’t forgive you!’
Thus, like Jack and the Beanstalk, the seed of vengeance rapidly grew towards the sky.
* * *
When I entered the classroom, Joong Hyun sprang up and energetically called my name as if he were a husband calling his wife. At the same time, all the kids in the classroom turned to look at me.
[T/N: He says this in English.]
A virulent rumor that I had begged in Europe had circulated, but I was blameless.
‘The rascals, why’re they surprised.’
Because I had lived my own way without cowering, I was able to grin even while in front of their surprised and confused looks.
“Keke, there was a rumor that you went around begging while getting dragged by a gypsy, but looks like you managed to come back alive.”
‘Ara? Would you look at that?’
There was a bastard sitting askew on his chair as he enthusiastically yapped me a welcome. It was Hwang Sung-taek, the mega brat who lived on his grandpappy’s fortune.
“Haha! Rumors are just rumors. Isn’t someone who believes such a ridiculous false rumor just an idiot?”
I laughed stiffly as I sought agreement from everyone else. But not a single person nodded in response to my words. Even Joong Hyun avoided my eyes. Even though he was the blood of my blood and a close enough friend that I would share a black bean bun with him.
‘Would you look at these guys? Should I give ’em a taste of Fire Ball magic?’
This misunderstanding could all be quickly resolved with a single spell. But for some reason, I didn’t want to. Unlike before, my pockets were lined. With the enlargement of my wallet, my generosity had also become as big as the Earth.
“You dickhead, how’re you gonna pay for getting us locked up in the hotel until the very last day? If you’re an idiot, you should’ve slept nicely in the car. Why the hell did a penniless bastard like you even go sightseeing, huh?”
Fwoosh! Hwang Sung-taek unleashed a two-part assault that made my insides blaze.
A fiery smile appeared on my quivering lips. “I do feel sorry about that point. But I don’t feel sorry at all to just one person.”
I did feel sorry that I had probably ruined their school field trip. It hadn’t been intentional, but the result was that it had definitely negatively impacted everyone. But to just one bastard, no to the two faithful mongrels beside him as well, I didn’t feel even a whit of remorse.
“Hwang Sung-taek, beware of the sky. Don’t get hit by a bolt out of the blue while walking around.”
“A bolt out of the blue? Puhahaha! The threat you come up with is lightning? You immature little shit.”
Unlike me, Hwang Sung-taek had never given serious thought to unexpected lightning strikes.
‘You’re dead! This dirty-mouthed bastard.’
As soon as I thought of a bolt out of the blue, the magic spell for Lightning; the ultimate 3rd Circle attack magic, naturally came to mind. I firmly resolved to give him a lightning bolt as my sincere school excursion gift.
“Hoho! Hyuk, you were greeting the kids?”
A woman’s awkward laugh came ringing into the classroom, which had gone quiet due to my savage conversation with Hwang Sung-taek.
‘Ms. Wang Sun-nyeo!’
Disguised in makeup, Ms. Wang the spinster came in through the open classroom door. Having debased me into a mere beggar, Ms. Wang wore a pretentious smile as she gestured at me as if we were friends.
“I have finished saying my greetings. I will go sit in my seat.”
There really wasn’t a need to say more.
‘Hm? I see. If I control the strength and use Poison magic, she should be able to shit blood.’
As I walked to my seat, twenty-one different ways to make her shit blood happened to pop into my head. I didn’t know why that was stored in my mind, but it was certainly very useful knowledge.