Split in Half. Pt.(3/8)
Under Park Don-Gul’s suggestion, An-Hyun looked deeply troubled. If someone other than Park Don-Gul was making a team, then I am sure he wouldn’t be this conflicted. An-Hyun’s natural inclination could not allow him to trust Park Don-Gul. No matter the glossy speech, there was some unspeakable darkness that An-Hyun had sniffed out.
An-Hyun’s anxiety had grown as large as it could. He couldn’t abandon his sister, but the very action of said sister at the clearing already answered his dilemma. To make matters worse, he lost the privilege to choose. Having given that privilege to Park Don-Gul, he was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
If the advantage continued to roll toward Park Don-Gul, then the chances of An-Hyun, An-Sol and Lee Yu-Jung being left behind was high. Ironically enough, Park Don-Gul himself did not know that such action was leading him in digging his own grave. My perspective was completely different from others. I looked at the person’s Alignment and their Attributes and judged it the person can survive. Park Don-Gul, however, did not care for such abilities or even wanted such things.
From the very beginning, the team I and Park Don-Gul wanted had different standards. I wanted companions that could help me after we arrived in Hall Plain, Park Don-Gul just wanted a team he could dominate.
This situation, if you see it in one way, was quite a boon for me.
Still, the power would slide in whichever direction Kim Han-Byeol and I went. As I wasn’t there, the gaze naturally turned to Kim Han-Byeol. Speaking of her, she had been thinking for a while now. She looked around the surrounding for just a moment, shook off the dirt and stood up. Seeing her lightly biting her lips, it seems she hadn’t made her choice yet.
“I think we should bring the person keeping watch back here.”
After thinking for so long, the words she spoke did not contain any choices. The party who had been anxiously waiting on Kim Han-Byeol’s choice gave out a loud sigh.
Babbling something like, “Ah, yeah, right.” Park Don-Gul gave out a vague acceptance.
“Well…. Bring him on board. On the way back, explain to him what happened and tell him to choose. We don’t have all the time in the world, so stop with your setups. Ah. Wait a moment. ”
Park Don-Gul’s words managed to latch onto Kim Han-Byeol from turning away. Fixing the best smile he possibly could, he continued on.
“You or he can be a big help. So when you are coming back, please speak well. I will make sure you won’t regret it. Anyhow, seeing that….”
While speaking, he glanced hastily at An-Hyun and intentionally muddled his words.
“Anyhow, you two are welcome on my team. So I hope you make the right choice.”
Park Don-Gul’s acting had reached its climax and was putting on the finishing strokes. Lee Shin-Wu seemed already reliant on Park Don-Gul, as he sent an encouraging signal to Kim Han-Byeol. The winner of this round was Park Don-Gul. No matter how distasteful it was, he had achieved the goal of his scam.
While he stumbled at the start, his age wasn’t just for shit and giggles. Lee Shin-Wu and Lee Bo-Rim just knew yet that they were no more than meat shield or his plaything. Or maybe they did know but surrendered everything for the sake of living.
Seeing Kim Han-Byeol approaching, I slowly closed my eyes. I had a headache and on another side, I was quite lucky. If I was determined I could have impeded Park Don-Gul’s plan, but then I would loose all purpose of leaving that discussion in the first place. Although it wasn’t intended, this could become a win-win for me.
Park Don-Gul had grabbed the initiative and chased off An-Hyun and Lee Yu-Jung, allowing me to secure three of the four I had in mind. Before his murderous intent was a hindrance, and it would be a complete stupidity in not letting him disappear by his lonesome.
While it was frustrating to see the people I had in mind hanging onto his ornate speech, it had come down to each of their own personal problems, so I didn’t need concern myself with it. Now if I could lead the last remaining person in the right direction, I felt this debacle would solve itself quite quickly.
While my eyes were closed, I could hear the grass shuffling behind me. I didn’t need to turn around to guess who it was. I immediately arose myself and mounted the crossbow on my left arm. Whenever I saw Kim Han-Byeol, it always created a weird feeling in me as it reminded me of ‘her.’ Pointing my crossbow in the general surrounding, I did my best in pretending I was hard at work in keeping watch. Soon, I heard a rather low voice calling for me.
As I turned with a slight surprise on my face, I could see Kim Han-Byeol tranquil eyes staring back at me. I intentionally massaged my left arm as I tried to look pained.
“I did hear one or two roars, but I don’t think they are near us yet.”
“Thank you for the hard work. The discussion is almost over, so I think you should come back now.”
“Then let’s head back right now.”
Looking as naturally as possible, I turned around to head back. As I predicted, Kim Han-Byeol caught me.
Turning around once more, I could see a hesitant Kim Han-Byeol opening her mouth to speak.
“Well…. The conversation went into a weird direction.”
“Yes. It happened like this….”
Kim Han-Byeol nodded and explained everything that had happened. I wanted to discern what she was feeling inside as I listened to her story, but she was very objective and only spoke of the core issues. I was quite impressed by it as in situations like this, the person usually took a side.
“So presently, that is what happened. Well…. What will you do?”
After finishing her story, Kim Han-Byeol bit into her curiosity and asked which side I would take. I had already decided long ago, but I showed a worried face as I stooped around.
“I didn’t expect it would go in that direction. I am still undecided.”
“Me as well.”
“What do you think about this Ajussi’s words?”
Looking into my eyes, she spoke in a quieter voice than usual.
“I don’t think it’s wrong, but….”
“Is there something not to your liking?”
“...Yes. Whenever I see that Ajussi, I feel very uncomfortable. But strangely enough, I can’t find anything wrong with what he said.”
Lee Shin-Wu and Lee Bo-Rim had gone over to the other side. Seeing them, Kim Han-Byeol began to worry.
I realised then, for the first time, why she personally came to bring me back. Though I wanted to talk more, quite a significant amount had passed so I kept quiet and continued walking. Just confirming part of her worries and spreading seasoning over it should be enough.
Both of us were silent, but without a doubt, Kim Han-Byeol was following behind. After I thought this issue stewed enough between us, I opened my mouth to speak again.
“I don’t like what that Ajussi said.”
“From the beginning, he mixed logic with loopholes. That’s why what he said can only be wrong. He wrapped these blindspots in logical reasoning, and made it sound advantageous for him.”
While there was no response, I felt a silent gaze telling me to continue. While Park Don-Gul pulled out all his stops, there was no way I could let Kim Han-Byeol go. So I decided to explain one by one what she was troubled with.
“There is one way to differentiate the truth from lies. Can the person keep his words? That Ajussi, does he look like a person who can keep his words?”
Kim Han-Byeol answered immediately.
“Since the moment we met, I had a dirty impression of him and all his actions is trying to destroy the team. Rather than trusting in his uncertain words, it would be better to stick with the remaining people than joining his team. So I will remain.”
Taking a peek behind me, Kim Han-Byeol seems to be chewing on my words. Not a minute had passed, but from afar the party came into view and she whisper to my back.
“I am worried about the two people that joined.”
This was as good as a confirmation on Kim Han-Byeol;s decision. I thought it was good that I decided to go about a roundabout way describing my thoughts than throwing a straight ball. If I said from the beginning, “That bastard Park Don-Gul is trying to swallow Lee Bo-Rim and Lee Shin-Wu alive. So please don’t go, if you do, you are going to be taken advantage of” she would distrust me as well. She looked like a smart person, and from the small hint, she seems to have immediately grasped the meaning.
After a short while, I could clearly see the two separate groups on the hill. The situation was no different than the last time I view them from afar.
On one side was An-Hyun, An-Sol and Lee Yu-Jung. On the opposite side was Park Don-Gul, standing along with Lee Shin-Wu and Lee Bo-Rim.
When we reached the hill, all six pairs of eyes was focused on me and Kim Han-Byeol.
“You came only now. Anyways, thanks for the hard work in keeping watch.”
Seeing Park Don-Gul spewing his nonsense already, disgust surge within me but I forcefully kept it down. An-Hyun had silent eyes. An-Sol had uneasy eyes. Lee Yu-Jung had nervous eyes. Lee Shin-Wu had trembling eyes. Lee Bo-Rim had helpless eyes. Seeing various emotions, I felt strange. I didn’t go straight to them but stopped my steps. Kim Han-Byeol followed suit and she also stopped.
“I thought you would come quick. Anyway did you at least hear what happened?”
“Yes, I heard.”
“Somehow it became like this. It’s difficult but try to understand. This is all so that we can survive.”
I could hear Lee Yu-Jung spewing profanity in a low voice. Regardless, Park Don-Gul strode toward me and opened his hand toward me.
“Come to our team. We can become friends. If it’s you, and that Agassi behind you are welcome.”
The atmosphere rose to maximum tension and everyone awaited my reply. Without a care for the other’s nervousness, I rejected his hand and answered in a cold voice.
“I can judge for myself who I can become friends with. Thank you for the invitation, but I must decline.”
Park Don-Gul didn’t even blink. He didn’t withdraw his hand but rather asked Kim Han-Byeol.
“... and you?”
“I can’t trust you.”
Of course, Kim Han-Byeol turned away from him. Looking at the two of us, Park Don-Gul made insidious remarks.
“Ha~. So that’s how it is. I don’t know what story that fox told you, but you will definitely regret this.”
“If you know the value of your own life than I hope that you would value to lives of others.”
“Stop with the bullshit. Even though I tried….do as you like. I have no plans to force people who hate me. Don’t bother asking to join the team later.”
“That won’t happen.”
“Shin-Wu. Bo-Rim. Let’s head out! If we stay with these hypocrites any longer, we won’t last the day!”
Seems like they already introduced themselves. Seeing him forcefully dragging out Lee Shin-Wu and Lee Bo-Rim, it felt like a huge burden has been lifted. I walked sedately toward the remaining people. In their eyes, I could see reassurance and unfamiliar kindness toward me. An-Hyun gave out a large sigh as he spoke to me.
“Thank you for the hard work. As you saw…. That happened.”
“Hmm. It’s good that it happened. We shouldn’t let this get us down. They are the ones that wanted to leave, so let them do as they like. Live or die, they will sort it out by themselves.”
I was surprised by myself as I laughed at Lee Yu-Jung thorny words. As she said, they had left. We weren’t the ones abandoned, rather, we were the ones that remained.
These two words, they held a huge distinction.
Apologies for the late update. Really busy trying to finish my degree, need to submit a mini-dissertation in exactly 3 weeks. So this is quite rushed.
Also, the slow pace of the story is the largest comment that this story gets, so for the readers now you will see that every title now has Pt. numbers. On my side, I will begin stockpiling chapters and look for a new project to work concurrently.