21st Century Archmage - Chapter 6
Chapter 6 – True Wealth
Proofreader: Masadeer (Japtem)
Shwaa! With my incantation, I felt the mana in my circle drain away with frightening speed.
“Ohh, OHHHHHHHH! I’m up! I’m floating!”
At the same time, I rose into the air as if someone was lightly lifting my body. Magic was truly something that was constantly giving me surprises. I posed with my arms stretched forward in flight, as if I had become a baby Superman.
“Huhuhu. If I were to become an archmage like Master, even world domination would be no problem.”
The uses for magic were limitless. Though this was the cutting-edge 21st century, there was no end to the things that could be done with magic. You could rob a bank using Invisibility magic to hide yourself from people, and you’d even be able to peep on the women’s baths, a land that would forever capture your curiosity.
If you installed a safe Warp magic circle, you would be able to travel the world as much as you wanted, whenever you wanted. Not only that, the various attack and defense spells could make you invincible.
Furthermore, if you were to use extensive magic knowledge to develop new medicines, substances, or magic items, raking in a fortune would be as easy as pie.
“If I keep going straight like this, I should be able to reach the 4th Circle, or even the 5th Circle, in four years.”
The new mana channeling method that Master had been unable to learn despite creating it, the internal chi channeling that combined magic with the related paths matched my hasty personality. What good would it be to become an old 8th Circle Archmage at a hundred years of age? My youth would be gone, and the beautiful girlfriends I would have been with would be reduced to bones and skin, and on the verge of returning to the ground.
‘Let’s learn it in one go! I’ll grow at a high speed that no one has achieved in the history of magic!’
There were three distinct mana circles that I could feel in my chest. I could feel that the mana in my upper and lower danjeons were forming circles while communicating with each other.
‘3rd Circle magic isn’t enough. At best, the greatest attack magic is merely Lightning. Since I can’t use strong magic, there’s no magic I can use when I’m really in danger.’
Magic theories were whizzing through my mind. In order to cast magic instantly without a formula and an incantation, you had to be one circle higher than the spell. So simply learning 3rd Circle magic didn’t mean much. Instead of slowly casting magic without any protection, it was faster and more effective to just use my fist.
‘The 4th Circle! My next goal is the 4th Circle!’
Master had said, ‘once a mage, always a mage.’
I had also somehow become a Mage greedy for circles and magic knowledge.
‘I’ll learn flight magic. Then I’ll go to the window where Ye-rin is sleeping, and… huhuhu…’ There was one lewd thought that fired up my fighting spirit. It was the reason I needed magic.
And later, I planned on passing it down to my kids, too. After making 108 spells that were very useful in real life, of course.
* * *
“Is this information accurate?”
“Yes, Master. The Magician company’s private plane that we have been watching has been in Incheon International Airport for an extended time. And the person who used the plane is a 17 year old high schooler named Kang Hyuk.”
“A high schooler, you say… he’s definitely that old man’s disciple. That old man who treats money like his own blood wouldn’t give away his plane, otherwise.”
A middle-aged man in his forties was sitting on a chair made with the finest crocodile skin. The white tiger hide and the ten odd rifles hung on the walls as decorative pieces were a testament to the man’s remarkable social standing.
“Send some useful kids to observe the kid named Kang Hyuk.”
A man with a deep scar stretching from his right eye to his mouth bowed.
The man in front, the one called master, had horrible scars over his forehead and was one of the three heads of the Triad. In Hong Kong, China, and the East, the sound of his name alone made people tremble.
His name was Chang Li.
He was one of the legendary killing machines in the Triad who had risen to his current position by his fists alone.
‘You old man… I’ve waited for this day. I can’t do anything to you, but I’ll trample all the sprouting Mages you’ve planted before they grow up. Arggh!’
Twenty or so years ago, he had gone into the Czech Republic for a contracted assassination and happened to become a Mage. At first, he had thought of the old man as a lunatic who was building castles in the air, but after seeing the terrifying magic with his own eyes, Chang Li became a Mage’s disciple. However, unable to overcome the wall of the 3rd Circle, even after several years of training. So Chang Li decided to kill the Mage and take his fortune.
There was an enormous fortune in the place called the magic tower. As well as an astronomical amount of money hidden away in every nation in the world. Even if he just robbed the magic tower, it held huge wealth that could start an organization with laughable ease. That’s why he planned on murdering the old man, but he failed.
An 8th Circle Archmage.
The upper circle magic he had only imagined was far greater than he’d ever thought. Expecting that Chang Li would betray him, the crazy Mage had already laid magic traps all over the place. And Chang Li had been forced to bash his head into the ground in order to survive.
‘Kang Hyuk… I sincerely hope you have the skills to survive me. Kukuku.’
Through the tenacious constitution he had been born with, and bloody training, Chang Li had trained 3rd Circle magic to its very limits.
Magic had gotten him to where he was now and was the true source of his strength.
* * *
“Hyuk, what should I do, I think my grades will fall this time.”
“A man shouldn’t cry just because his test scores fell a little!”
‘Kukuku! Our midterms have finally ended.’ Even for an archmage, midterms were an unavoidable part of Korea’s education curriculum.
Joong Hyun was shaking as he held his last test paper, as if he had bombed his test.
‘There’s really no way for me to not love Master. Kukuku.’
I had grown smarter after learning magic. Truly, I had become so sharp that I could memorize everything in a book I read once, while concentrating. And then, I took the tests.
There wasn’t a single problem I couldn’t answer.
‘Now that I think about it, didn’t Master say he also raised Einstein? Since he was said to have used about 20% of his brain… oohh! Then have I also come to possess such an outstanding brain?’
Like peeling an onion, I was discovering the immense benefits of magic one by one. If this kept going, I felt like I could even win a Nobel Prize.
“Hoho, good work, everyone. But since the end of midterms doesn’t mean that your life’s exams are over, please don’t lose steam and keep going strong. There’s nothing to lose by studying, after all. Hohohoho!”
Ms. Wang, the Dreaded Snow White who deflated everyone’s spirits every time she opened her mouth. She was blathering on without even knowing the feelings of the kids who had been liberated from exams.
“Teacher, my grandfather told me to bring over all my friends who finished their exams.”
“Oh, really? You’re saying Chairman Hwang said that, right?”
“Yes. He said he would invite everyone to our Ohsung Hotel.”
‘Just look at him.’ I had warned him not to flaunt his money, but Hwang Sung-taek yapped through his snout with a proud look.
“The Ohsung Hotel is good. I was there not long ago too, and the food is really flawless and tasty.”
The Ohsung Group was second to none in the Republic of Korea. As the direct grandson of that Ohsung Group’s chairman, Hwang Sung-taek was proudly treating the group like it was his.
“A bus has been prepared outside. We can go now.”
“Hoho, sounds good. Everyone, your friend’s grandfather invited us, so we all have to go, right? Let’s play as much as we want, today.”
Though she had been pressuring us to study because ‘the end of midterms doesn’t mean your life’s exams are over’ just a moment ago, Ms. Wang’s lips stretched ear to ear at the mere mention of an invitation to the hotel, as she roused the kids.
“Wow! I heard the Ohsung Hotel buffet is tasty; we get to stuff ourselves today!”
“Hoho! It’s good to have a well-off friend after all.”
Along with the Daehan Group, the Ohsung Group was one of the big conglomerates in Korea. The kids in the class were clamoring and looking forward to it.
“Well, if you’re busy and don’t want to go, then you don’t need to force yourself to go. I’m especially saying this to those who could get lost from the hotel.” Laughing coldly as he spoke, Hwang Sung-taek looked at me.
‘That, that brat! Arrrggh!’ I had planned on giving him a scolding even if he hadn’t said that, but now this Hwang Sung-taek was really testing the limits of my patience. ‘Fine, I’ll go once. To see how well-off you really are.’
I had never been to the Ohsung Hotel before in my life. I smiled as I ground my teeth.
Mask the dagger in thy heart.
A blade was hidden well within in my smile.
* * *
“Isn’t this nice~?”
“As expected of the Ohsung Hotel!”
Wearing our school uniforms, we all arrived at the Ohsung Hotel’s buffet. The mellow sound of a 10-person chamber ensemble filled the air, around what seemed to be over a hundred different kinds of top-class dishes. The dishes were clamoring to be put into our impoverished stomachs.
‘This is pretty good, isn’t it? My house is nearby and I won’t have to worry about my meals, too.’
A ridiculous thought occurred to me as soon as I saw the Ohsung Hotel’s buffet.
“Yes, is there something wrong?”
I called the female staff member who seemed to be a manager. She was looking around while stiff with tension because the chairman’s heir and his friends had come.
“How much is this?”
The manager, whose nametag read ‘Lee Yun-shil,’ followed my finger to the buffet. “At dinner time, it is about $120, including additional tax. But Daehan High School students, and even their immediate family members, get a 50% discount by the chairman’s special orders.”
As befitting an employee at a top-class hotel, the manager put on a business smile and kindly explained.
“No, not that— how much is this hotel?”
“What? The, the hotel?” My nonchalant query about the hotel’s price briefly confused the manager Lee Yun-shil. “Our hotel is an unlisted company, so I do not know the exact price. But since it’s $50 per unlisted share… I can say that about $1.2 million would be sufficient.”
Perhaps thinking that it was just a student’s thoughtless remark, Manager Lee Yun-shil emphasized the $1.2 million part.
“What is your dream, miss?”
“What? My dream?” The manager lady thought for a brief moment while looking at me, a person asking weird questions instead of eating. She was probably thinking that I was asking all sorts of questions even though I wasn’t a matchmaker or life counselor. “Of course, it’s to be a Hotel Administrator, the biggest dream a hotelier can have. To that end, I have lived while doing my best.”
‘Oh! This lady is pretty cool.’
It was said that those who dream are beautiful. The pretty lady in her late twenties said that she wanted to become a Hotel Administrator with sparkling eyes.
“Then you’ll get some good news soon.”
“What? Good news?” asked Manager Lee Yun-shil, failing to understand what I meant.
“I need a better place to eat, you see. So I was thinking about buying this hotel,” I whispered quietly in her ear, as if telling a secret.
But she was completely silent for a moment.
“If you really do take over the hotel, please leave the administration to me. I will make it the top hotel in all of Korea, no, the entire world.”
Manager Lee Yun-shil must have taken it as a joke, because she regained her composure after a moment and whispered into my ear with a grin. She was such a charming woman that I would want to introduce her to an older bro, if I had one.
* * *
Munch munch. I dipped meaty king crab pieces in kiwi sauce and digged in.
‘The taste is phenomenal.’
Even though our school meals were considered the best in the nation, they couldn’t match up to a first-class hotel buffet. Moreover, having been unable to eat a proper meal for the past few days because my mom was gone, I was busy stuffing my face as I went around the buffet booths, thematically arranged by country— Korea, Japan, China, as well as cuisine from every continent.
‘The seasoning is just right, and the ingredients are fresh, too. Kyaa! Since the food was also made skillfully by the chefs, it’s seriously the embodiment of perfection.’
Cooked to match the special characteristics of each dish, the full-course meal of delicacies melted gently on the tongue.
“You were hungry, weren’t you, Hyuk?”
“Hm? Not really. It’s just that I’m offended by our ‘friend’s’ consideration, so I’m eating up for him. But Ye-rin.”
I called Ye-rin, who was only nibbling on a few kinds of salad even in the face of global delicacies. “My mom says this, but you’ve got to eat heartily to be able to pump out babies later when you get married, y’know?”
“Pump out? Pfft, this isn’t the primeval times or anything.”
I was worrying about our future, and at my suggestive words, Seo Ye-rin made a unique ‘pfft’ sound and blushed.
‘Gosh, just looking at her makes me full.’
“You, you two are acting weird?”
Whether it was coincidence or inevitable, Joong Hyun and I sat together— we were as inseparable as elastic bands in panties, after all. But Ye-rin sat next to us without reserve, making me happy. That made Joong Hyun, who had been stuffing his face with food, look at Ye-rin and me with suspicious eyes.
‘The rascal, he’s more perceptive than he looks.’ I was gratified by Joong Hyun’s unexpected senses.
“You sure are eating as well as pigs.”
While Joong Hyun, Ye-rin, and I were happily eating our meal, we heard a voice in which all respect had seriously been thrown into a ditch.
“Since you were begging like a loser in Europe, I suppose you’re hungry.”
“Kuku! Pig out, you retard.”
‘Would you look at these kids?’
The three young brats were ignoring the saying that you shouldn’t mess with a dog when it’s eating. They had appeared out of nowhere and were ignorantly pissing me off. Especially Hwang Sung-taek, who was wearing a big smirk on his face, even though he was just a lump of three hundred thousand years of bad luck.
‘Should I give him a taste of hell today?’ I briefly fell into contemplation.
“Kang Hyuk, eat lots. When else will brats from poor families get to come to a place like this, after all. Kuku. Though I can feed you every day if you please me, the Crown Prince. Isn’t that right, Seo Ye-rin?”
[T/N: I just realized it, but Hwang Sung-taek’s nickname, Crown Prince, is a play off of his last name. Crown Prince in Korean is ‘HWANG tae ja.’]
The barbs went from me to Ye-rin.
But the proud lily wasn’t meant to answer a weed. Ye-rin made a ‘hmph’ sound as she turned her head to look out the window.
‘This little brat seriously doesn’t know what’s really going on.’
The me of the past would have suffered a wounded pride, but after becoming a rich man who had nothing to be jealous of, Hwang Sung-taek’s bitching was laughable.
“The Chairman is coming.”
“What, for the Chairman to suddenly…”
As I was contemplating how to mess with Hwang Sung-taek so that the rumors would fly, the buffet entrance became noisy.
‘Grandpa? Chairman Hwang Man-hyuk of the Ohsung Group?’
Dragging a retinue of 10 or so attendants behind him, the chairman of the Ohsung Group, Hwang Man-hyuk, a person I had seen often on TV, came inside. Seeing that, Hwang Sung-taek ran towards him like a puppy, calling his grandpa.
‘Lol, short legs run in the family.’
With his grizzled hair, the 70 year old Chairman Hwang Man-hyuk crouched like he was taking a poo, a posture that matched his low height, to embrace his grandson.
“Ahh, you rascal. You’ve grown so much you could get married the day after tomorrow, you rascal.”
Hwang Man-hyuk made a smile that made him look good-natured as he tousled his puppy’s hair. Contrary to my fund manager father cursing the chairman, calling him a vicious conglomerate that razed small businesses, he looked decent on the outside. He looked as mild as the generous KFC grandpa.
“Hello? Hoho! I am Wang Sun-nyeo, Sung-taek’s homeroom teacher. It is an honor to meet you like this. Hohoho!” said the Snow White Ms. Wang Sun-nyeo, with a sophisticated air just dripping with pretense.
“Ah, so you are Sung-taek’s homeroom teacher. I should have sought you out and said my greetings, but we finally meet.”
“Hoho, please. How could the person leading Ohsung Group, which drives South Korea, come to the school? I will look after Sung-taek both materially and emotionally, so please do not worry.”
Caked in makeup, Ms. Wang Sun-nyeo defined the epitome of social life and flattery.
“If you do, I won’t have anything to worry about. Then, I will send you a small token of my sincerity sometime, please accept it. I leave Sung-taek, who will lead our Ohsung Group in the future, in your care.”
When else would you get to see the chairman of the great Ohsung Group paying his respects to a teacher? Moreover, at the words ‘small token of my sincerity,’ Ms. Wang Sun-nyeo beamed with joy, even under all that makeup. It was seriously embarrassing that she was our homeroom teacher.
“Yes, Chairman.” At the Chairman’s beckoning, the hotel’s General Manager answered immediately.
“Tell the kitchen to make their special menu. The friends of my grandson are here…” Maybe he usually talked like this, but the end of Chairman Hwang’s sentence trailed off lightly.
“Before you arrived, sir, I already informed each kitchen to make their special menu.” As if he were frozen in front of a lance-corporal division commander in the army, the General Manager was stock-still before Chairman Hwang.
‘Tch, the brat is that old man’s grandson after all.’
I thought I could surmise why Hwang Sung-taek was so fucking rude. The person he had watched and learned from, his grandpa, just treated everyone under him like shit. That’s why the young bastard had lost his sense of manners.
“Alright, everyone! Shouldn’t we thank the chairman of the great Ohsung Group, Hwang Man-hyuk, who invited us today?”
Ms. Wang Sun-nyeo emphasized the ‘great Ohsung Group’ part even though she wasn’t even a public relations manager of the Ohsung Group.
“Thank you very much.”
“Chairman, you’re the best!”
Clap clap clap!
For some reason, because there were only a few guests outside of our group and it was mostly the kids from our class, the raucous greetings and applause vigorously filled the hall. Only Ye-rin and I were silent with apathetic expressions. Only Ye-rin and I were silent with apathetic expressions.
“Thank you. Now, please return to your meals. It seems that the senseless appearance of an old man like me simply got in the way of your meal.”
As was appropriate for a tycoon who held politics and the economy in his hands, he presented himself as benevolent even in front of the kids.
‘I know. Your heart is no better than a coal-black crow.’
Unlike the other kids, I had heard of the Ohsung Group’s extremely terrible deeds through my father. It was said that Hwang Man-hyuk’s specialty was controlling skillful small businesses and either slowly cutting their unit prices, or threatening them, by picking on them to make them do as he wanted.
“Then everyone, please enjoy your time here, before you go. Sung-taek, go take your friends who can make it to Ohsung Land tomorrow, too. I’ll let them know.”
[T/N: Ohsung Land is a theme park, like Disney Land.]
“Thanks grandpa. Hehe.”
‘He’s seriously gonna roll over.’ Though he was all sorts of arrogant at school, in front of his grandpa, the bastard was wagging his tail and panting like a mutt.
I pushed out my chair and stood.
“Hyuk, where are you going?”
At that, Ye-rin asked me where I was going.
“There’s someone I have to admonish with some advice about life.”
I answered her and ran outside to where Chairman Hwang had gone. Something I absolutely wanted to tell him had suddenly occurred to me.
* * *
“Chairman Hwang!” I called loudly to Chairman Hwang, who had left the buffet and was standing in front of the elevator.
“You are? A friend of Sung-taek?”
He must have thought that I had followed him out in order to express my thanks, because Chairman Hwang Man-hyuk greeted me warmly.
“My name is Kang Hyuk. There’s something I want to ask.”
“A question? Haha! You are brave for a youngster.” Though he said that, the guards and attendants around Chairman Hwang had somehow increased to 20 or so people. “Alright, what is your question?”
Chairman Hwang still hadn’t dropped his facade.
“What is your dream, Chairman?”
Hwang Man-hyuk was slightly confused by the sudden talk about dreams.
“You! Are you holding up the busy Chairman with a joke!” A man who looked to be the Chief Secretary came forward with a slight scowl on his face.
“I don’t have anything so unnecessary as a dream. I’m simply fiercely living the life I was given.”
‘To not have a dream… I see.’
When I was young, my grandpa held me and told me something, as if telling me a story. There is no one as happy as someone who dreams, and nothing as wretched and fearful as someone who doesn’t have a dream.
“Thank you for your time. I will continue to think deeply on it.” I sharply bowed and returned to the inside of the buffet hall.
“You, what is your name?”
I heard the Chairman’s stout voice behind me.
“Kang Hyuk, my name is Kang Hyuk.”
‘It is a name you will come to hear often in the future.’
The leader of conglomerate at the forefront of South Korea was someone without a dream. It was understandable if the people below him were that way, but a leader couldn’t be like that.
In an organization, the leader’s dream was the dream of those beneath him.
* * *
“Hwang Sung-taek, I ate well thanks to you.”
“Yeah? Looks like you’ve finally figured out your place?”
I came back in and relayed my thanks to Hwang Sung-taek, who was holding a glass with a cocky posture.
“You brat, I thought you might be rich or something from the way you went around with your head raised high and all despite being utterly penniless, but heh…”
“Keke, keep your head down in the future.” At Hwang Sung-taek’s words, the two domesticated hunting dogs by his side barked noisily.
“So that’s why, I’m giving you guys an invitation for tomorrow.”
“All you little kids!” I simply ignored Sung-taek’s question and called all the kids who were immersed in stuffing their faces with food.
‘The rascals! I’ll show them a proper paradise on earth.’ I couldn’t lose to the likes of the insulting Ohsung Group.
“Tomorrow, by 10 am, come with your passports to departure gate A in the Incheon International Airport.”
“Passport? Puhaha! Why? Are we gonna take our passports and go abroad or something?”
Still failing to understand the situation, Hwang Sung-taek laughed his head off.
“Teacher, you are free from tomorrow throughout the weekend, right?”
“Huh? Well, I don’t really have any plans, but…”
It wasn’t that she didn’t have any plans; the spinster Ms. Wang actually didn’t have anything to do. She didn’t know that there was sauce splattered on her lips.
“Then please come. Each and every one of you kiddos should come too. If you don’t, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”
I would teach them what true wealth was.
“Hwang Sung-taek, and you two. Be sure to come. Don’t be cowards that reject my invitation. Kuku.”
“What did you say? Hmph! Alright. I’ll definitely come, you shithead!”
This was the baiting skill I had learned from Master. Without fail, the thoughtless carp head fell for the bait.
“Also, you don’t have to bring much. Just bring some underwear to change into and the swimsuit that matches your figure the most.”
My exceedingly confident voice rang within the buffet hall.
‘You rascals, this is just the beginning!’
And then, I steadily made plans. I would show the youngsters the paradise I dreamt of.
* * *
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* * *
“What’s going on today?”
“You didn’t know? You remember the kid who got off on the A380 last time, right?”
“Yeah. Of course I remember. Even now, it seems like a dream when I think of it, seriously. Jeez, I heard that prime ministers from Europe and the leaders of several nations called the airport president, saying to give the kid maximum priority and protocol.”
“The kid in question is departing on a flight today. And with thirty-five kids from his class, at that.”
“W-what did you say?!”
The protocol team of the Incheon Airport received immeasurable jealousy from every other department each month. Yet they were thrown into chaos again by a single call that came in late on Saturday night. They had gotten word that the plane would be formally departing through Tollgate 9. And though they would be serving not a high-ranking bureaucrat, but a mere kid, they were busy early in the morning. There was much to do in order to screen not just one or two, but thirty-five kids for departure.
“Omo, even the National Intelligence Service staff are here!”
While swiftly moving through their protocol routines, the protocol team had seen just about everything they could be surprised at. As top veterans, their work wasn’t difficult for them, but…“I am the Section Chief of National Security, Choi Byung-yul. I ask that you make it so that the people who will depart today can leave after a basic departure screening.”
Wearing gray trench coats, the three NIS members gave a notice to the chief of the protocol team.
“Yes, I understand.”
Everyone besides the President had to undergo a departure examination. But the person related to National Security was telling them to give the kids a basic departure screening, and they had to follow the orders of a national agency.
That threw everyone into anxiety again. A single kid, who was neither the President nor a high-ranking VIP, was departing under the primary protection of the National Intelligence Service.
Even as they moved, the protocol team members were busy racking their small brains to figure out who the kid really was.
* * *
“Hyuk, hoho. I came because you told me to, but… why did you call us here today?”
It was Ms. Wang Sun-nyeo, our homeroom teacher who was childish, a bit of an airhead, and acted perfectly frivolous on top of that. Though I hadn’t said anything about it, she had appeared with the math teacher, Lee Ji-hae.
“Haha, I called you here in order to show you a small token of my sincerity towards you, who worked so hard to teach us. And to the kids whose field trip I ruined.”
“Token of your sincerity?” She had probably been curious about it all night.
“Hyuk, I came because Ms. Wang told me to, but… where are we going today?” The perfect specimen of an intellectual yet considerate teacher, Ms. Lee Ji-hae, asked about my intentions with part worry, part doubt in her eyes.
“You’ll find out if you wait just a moment, you two teachers who would make a fairy cry due to your beauty.”
“Hohoho, our Hyuk sure has perceptive eyes.”
Not knowing she was getting high praise due to Ms. Lee Ji-hae, the spinster Ms. Wang Sun-nyeo was very happy. She didn’t know… That all kinds of tragedies were waiting for her all throughout this trip, that is.
While I was chatting a bit with the teachers, the kids gathered in twos and threes in front of the gate.
‘Oh, cutie! You’ve got sense, huh?’
With a pair of sunglasses that didn’t fall behind the trends atop her head, Seo Ye-rin appeared with her long black hair flowing to and fro. The revealing denim shorts she ventured to wear even in the chilly weather, as well as the white shirt she liked, made her shine amongst the second-rate women around her.
‘Ms. Lee Ji-hae is pretty good, but youth is good after all!’
Ye-rin, a haughty lily; and Ms. Lee Ji-hae, a blooming cosmos whose looks rivaled Ye-rin’s. With these two beauties by my side, my shoulders automatically straightened with pride.
“Hehe, Hyuk. I’m here.”
Though I had lightly said we were going on a trip, Joong Hyun appeared while determinedly dragging a large suitcase. He must have picked up something from my words to pack a swimsuit, because he came with a straw hat pressed to his head.
“Y-yeah. Thanks for coming, my best friend.”
Joong Hyun, my good-natured best friend who truly believed in me, Kang Hyuk. Though Joong Hyun had a university president for a father, he never forgot his humility and performed his duty as a friend to the utmost. I didn’t feel embarrassed at all to call him my friend.
“Kang Hyuk, I came because you told me to, but… isn’t this just gonna be a waste of time? Surely you didn’t call us here to get discounts with our passports at the airport cafeteria, right?”
As soon as he arrived, Hwang Sung-taek didn’t even greet the teachers and started by picking a fight. Though I was sure I had told him to bring at least a swimsuit, he had come in his normal clothes without bringing anything. Except for the mutts at his side, as always.
“Hwang Sung-taek, do the two teachers here look like cleaning ladies to you? I thought you were raised in a distinguished family, but aren’t you just from a fractured, nameless family instead?”
“W-what! You little shit!”
‘Huhu. You brat, I’ve got you now.’
Today was the day. The day I would give these mongrels some education on morals.
“Alright, it looks like everyone is here, so follow me.”
“Hyuk, where are we going?”
“Hmph! Who is he to tell us to follow.”
They had all come because I had told them to, but they probably wanted to rest since it was their Saturday weekend, a time as precious as gold. But since Hwang Sung-taek, who dominated the class, was participating, and even the teacher had said she was coming, they had also come. Actually, a few of them probably just came because they were curious about what I was doing.
‘I’m seriously a noble here.’
Ms. Lee Ji-hae was walking by my side because she was a teacher, and Seo Ye-rin was walking by my side as if it was the obvious thing to do, while receiving the glances of the other kids. My heart raced and pumped like crazy at the alluring fragrance of the two most beautiful ladies.
Like that, I walked towards not the regular departure area, but to the VIP room used by distinguished guests.
* * *
“Is this the VIP room I’ve only heard of?”
“Isn’t it called the Pine Room?”
The VIP protocol room, which could only be used by former and current presidents, as well as high-ranking figures, including the three heads of departments. Having followed me in, the kids were busy crying out inside the vintage VIP room, also known as the Pine Room.
“Hyuk, what’s going on?” asked Ms. Wang as she looked around in all directions. As soon as she had stepped in, the scenery inside the room had made her lose her nerve.
“Welcome. Please wait a moment, we will guide you to the gate right away.”
Wearing a formal ivory suit, the beautiful protocol team lady I’d met when I handed here bowed her head. The fellows in my classroom just stared at me, without even being able to think of sitting on the precious sofas. It was as if they were kindergarteners who had come out on a picnic and were looking at their teacher for directions.
“Everyone, sit down. The lady told us to wait a bit. Teachers, please sit.”
As I flopped down onto my seat and asked them to sit, Ms. Wang and Ms. Lee Ji-hae very carefully sat down on the pine colored sofas.
“Wow, so soft. The sofas at my house are like hemp cloth in comparison.” Ms. Wang, the chattermouth, spat out something without any dignity as she sat down.
“What will you drink for tea? We have wild ginseng tea, Korean honey tea, lingzhi tea, 20-year-old pu-erh tea, black tea, and Arabian instant coffee. We will also immediately prepare any drinks you require.”
The hospitably smiling protocol team ladies approached the kids, who were awkwardly incapable of even sitting down.
“Please give me black tea.” Having carefully sat down on just the edge of the sofa by my side, Ye-rin was the first to speak.
“Hoho~ even amongst all those bla bla teas, isn’t the wild ginseng tea the way to go? Ms. Lee, you’re going to drink the wild ginseng tea too, right?”
“N-no, I want to drink a cup of the instant coffee.”
Unlike Ms. Wang, who practically advertised her old spinster ways in neon letters, Ms. Lee Ji-hae maintained her dignity. Whoever it was, the person who married her would be winning the jackpot.
‘Rascal, are you finally getting a bit scared?’
From the moment we had gone into the airport protocol VIP room, Hwang Sung-taek had realized something was wrong and was making an expression like that of a puppy that needed to poo. He was speechlessly exchanging serious looks with his two cronies in the corner.
“Mister Kang Hyuk, where are you?”
‘Hm?’ While I was feeling happy because Hwang Sung-taek’s distress was my happiness, I heard a low voice call my name. A sharp-looking man in his early forties wearing a trench coat was looking for me.
“I am Kang Hyuk.”
“I am the Section Chief of the NIS, Choi Byung-yul.”
“Huh? Th-the NIS?”
‘What? Why the NIS?”
Even I didn’t expect the NIS members, who strove to gather intelligence for the national interest, and catch spies, to show up.
“If at anytime there is any discomfort in your daily life, or something you need, please contact me at this number.”
Even though he wasn’t some worker at a real estate agency, the section chief named Choi Byung-yul passed me a business card with a courteous smile.
‘Awwh yeaah! You’ve got to meet a well-off master after all!’
I roughly understood. That Master was at the center of everything.
“Haha! Thank you for working day and night. I will give you a call next time.”
Section Chief Choi raised my value with his appearance. Though he had suddenly made me slightly worried about the nation’s security, today was really my day.
“The departure screening has been completed. You may now board.”
A lady of the protocol team appeared with the passports they had collected from us in a tidy wooden basket.
‘Then shall we depart?’
After talking big to the kids last night, I had come back home and asked for big sis Marisol’s help. I asked for a place where we could swim regardless of the season because I was going to go play with the kids in my class.
It was the beginning of a fateful day.
* * *
“T-this is a plane?”
“It’s wider than the living room in my house!”
“Welcome. We hope you have an enjoyable trip.”
‘Who are these goddesses?’
The moment we boarded the private A380 plane, 10 or so beauties from various nations greeted us at the entrance. Including big sis Marisol, beautiful crew ladies from Europe, Japan, and Korea courteously greeted the kids.
“Mister Hyuk, it has been a while.”
“Haha! Big sis Marisol, you have become more beautiful in the time I hadn’t seen you.”
“Hoho! Hyuk, you have also become manlier in a few months time, to the point of being desirable.”
‘Hohshit, I’m desirable.’
Having seriously answered something I said jokingly, big sis Marisol’s bewitching blue eyes sparkled. All the kids were shocked by the French that skillfully flowed from my mouth, and were staring at me.
“You can look forward to it, Hyuk~!”
‘Why does my tongue roll like this?’
The French language was already as smooth as oil in a frypan, but when I rolled my tongue even more, it felt like butter and oil had combined and I was dancing the blues.
‘Kuku, a private plane has gotta be at this level, at the very least.’
Even to my eyes, the A380 boasted enormous space. The kids who had been shouting and cheering had shut their mouths at some point, and quietly followed me in.
And from that moment on, I was king.
* * *
“Wooow~! The plane doesn’t even shake.”
“So you’re saying this is the A380 I’ve only heard of, right?”
‘Brats, so uncouth…’
Even though Daehan High School was sponsored by the Daehan Group, at the time of the Europe field trip, we had been assigned to the economy class. After having to sit on a plane without rest for several tens of hours, the kids had nightmares about planes. But this two-floor airbus’ enormous size swallowed dozens of kids without any sign that we were here.
‘You rascal, I see you’ve completely lowered your tail. Kuku.’
Even in their awe, the kids who met eyes with me looked at me with respect in their shining eyes. But even amongst that respect, Hwang Sung-taek was crouched in the corner with a big scowl on his face. He might be the grandson of the Ohsung Group’s Chairman, but even he couldn’t use such a huge plane as his personal ride.
“How is it, it’s worth seeing, right?”
The wicked feelings were steadily growing in the corner. Unable to resist the temptation, I approached Hwang Sung-taek and his cronies and pretended to be friendly.
Hwang Sung-taek ground his teeth in response.
‘Would you just look at this bastard?’ He must have not lost his nerve yet with this, because Hwang Sung-taek ground his teeth as animosity welled in his eyes.
“Hey, you faithful dogs. If you’re hungry, go ask those ladies for something to eat. It’s gonna be hard taking care of your bad-tempered master for the entire day.”
‘I’m way too kind.’
Even to my thinking, I was impossibly considerate. Whoever it was, the woman who lived with me would surely send a barrage of thank you’s to the god above.
“Kang… Hyuk… you bastard…” Hwang Sung-taek spat out my name syllable by syllable.
“Look forward to it. I’ll show you what true wealth is. Huhuhu.”
Someone who had been raised through money had to return to his senses by getting beaten down by money. My insightful actions were meant to teach a lesson to this pitiful guy who had a promising future ahead of him. The sky was surely sending down blessings for the sake of a guy like me.
I began involuntarily humming.
Inside this spacious airplane, the kids who had been invited to my paradise were yelling happily.
* * *
[T/N: Hyuk is speaking in a different language with one of the crew members here. Not sure what language it is though…]
‘What in the world is Hyuk’s real identity?’
Drinking fresh, sweet kiwi juice, Ye-rin fell into contemplation. Sitting on a VIP seat that seemed to have been made for him, Kang Hyuk was communicating with the passing crew members in various languages.
He didn’t seem like the Hyuk she had known so far.
He was proficient in not only Taekwondo, but also Kumdo, and had remarkable skill in the piano and in music, enough to be able to play jazz. This time, he was surprising Ye-rin with his skill in languages.
‘At the very least, he knows five languages. And it’s perfect, with native accents too.’
Hyuk’s language ability was so outstanding that he could give and receive jokes with the crew members. Seeing that, Ye-rin fell deep into the pit that was suspicion.
‘And what’s with this airplane? From what I heard, it’s a next generation airliner made by the European company Airbus, but why is Hyuk using it like his personal plane?’
There were more than just one or two suspicious things. Because she had done her share of going on trips abroad from an early age, she knew what an airport’s protocol team did, and she was also well aware of how much a huge plane like this cost.
‘Kang Hyuk, who are you really?’
That was the question in Ye-rin’s heart.
But Hyuk did not answer. He only drank happily as he conversed, enjoying this time.
* * *
“I-is this really the human world?”
After a nonstop flight from Incheon to the Ibrahim International Airport, we transferred onto a 50-man airplane and arrived at a 6-star pool resort called Nikanilu on Dhonakulhi Island.
The multitude of picturesque rooms of the resort on the small island, as well as the pearly beach beneath our feet, made us wonder if this was heaven.
‘Thank you, big sis Marisol. Huhu.’
For some reason, big sis Marisol had followed us all the way here.
“Hyuk, I’m in total bliss.” Not just the kids, but Ms. Wang Sun-nyeo was also moved and was tightly grasping her hands. “Sobsob, the honeymoon vacation destination of my dreams is exactly a place like this! AH! Ocean, here I come!”
Crying and stretching out her arms, Ms. Wang ran into the ocean, which incidentally had a coral reef.
“Mister Hyuk, did you call?”
‘Gulp.’ Wearing a mini skirt and a sleeveless shirt that clearly revealed the cleavage of her big boobs, the slim, 5’7″ tall Marisol smiled brightly as she answered me. ‘She’s bomb. Just bomb.’
Nothing more needed to be said.
As a lady of France, a nation that preferred curves over girls with straight lines, she had a voluptuous body. If the sight of her didn’t make you drool, then you were either just a friend or gay.
“Is this also…”
“Hoho, that’s right. This is one of the group’s investments. Besides this place, the company connected to the group is investing in every tourist destination in the world, like Fiji, Bali, Hawaii, and Australia.”
There was nothing more to say. It was likely that even Master Bumdalf didn’t know how much of his wealth was rolling around in the world.
“We welcome you~!”
Diiiing~ Diiiiiinggg~Suddenly, with the sound of a cheerful music, dozens of hotel staff members appeared holding bouquets. They then enthusiastically greeted the kids and me.
‘Then shall we have some fun?’
I acted dignified in front of the kids, but how could I have experienced something so surreal before?But I had to be dignified. Because the lovable kids were standing in a line behind my back, believing in me, their ignorant general.