Friday, 1 April 2016

[Me and the Tigress v01] 01. Starting Story

The first chapter! No, this isn't an April Fools Day thing!

Translator: Dijon
Editor: Narane

A word from the translator:

Hi readers, I’m Dijon, the translator, and I have a disclaimer to give. My Korean is not good, but my English is perfectly fluent. In other words, I am incredibly sorry for any translation mistakes. Also, there's a manhwa out of this. In light novel terms, chapters 0-28 are volume 1, 29-70 are volume 2, and 71-ongoing are volume 3. So if you're okay with spoilers, here's the link:
http://bato.to/comic/_/comics/my-love-tiger-r14598
This light novel is a ridiculously long series, so don’t expect any closure in the near future.

____________________

01. Starting Story

Everybody must have felt their heart beating out of their chest. Like when showing your parents the worst report card ever, or when the evil boss you fought against whom you thought was a complete stranger said "I am your father," or when the girl you liked turned out to be a boy.

Now in a situation where my heart’s beating hard, I too understand. Since I’m giving the confession of a lifetime. My life will change based on how this confession goes.

The target of my confession, the slightly arrogant and dignified Miss Seo Narae, stands before me. Our class president and my childhood friend, she’s the girl I like. Her shoulder length, half-curly hair is waving, and because of her sharply rising eyes that made her look a little fierce, it was easy to tell her personality. Which was to say...

“The hell is it? If you want to say something, spit it out already!”

“Ah, sorry.”

She gets angry easily. Of course, I understand Narae’s feelings. Class was over and she was going with friends to play when I, of all people, grabbed her and brought her to a secluded place behind the gym. Folding her arms and looking nervously at me, I know for sure that her mood was bad.

But Narae. Don’t pose like that. It makes your already-huge breasts stick out even more. If you compare her to our other classmates, the other girls looked almost pitiful compared to her explosively large... ……What am I thinking about right now?! Get yourself together, Kang Sunghoon. Aren’t you the one who was just childhood friends with Narae, but are now upheaving your relationship with her?

With a confession of love?

“Hey, Narae.”

“What?”

Na-- Narae’s always gotten angry easily, so don’t be intimidated by her cold response, me.

“……Um, the thing is--”

One step. I just need to take one more step! Keep it up! Being unable to confess here means you’re not a man! I have no time to spare. Look! Narae’s so angry now that her face turned red!

“I-.”

It was then.

[♪♩♬]

A familiar cell phone ring tone cut off my words.

“Just, just one sec.”

I was cursing the caller to become impotent for generations for that damn timing when I found it was actually my dad, so I stopped.

What the hell is it? Does he want me to hurry back and make food for him?

“What--……”

[You need to hurry back home.]

“I was going to go in just a bit even if you hadn’t told me to.”

[There’s an urgent matter. Come home now.]

He doesn’t know his own child’s circumstances. Because I got upset I also unthinkingly replied,

“What the hell is it?! The side dishes are in the refrigerator, I made rice, you don’t need to do the dishes, I also did the laundry, ironed the clothes we’ll wear, threw away the compost when I left, and the newspaper’s on top of the dining table!”

……I was shocked to remember that I was still in front of Narae. She was still there, looking at me with pitying eyes. Since she knows full well of my domestic circumstances. Because mom doesn’t come home often because of her work and dad’s a patient with uncommon laziness, our family situation is that I have to do housework in their place.

For now, I should hang up on this damn father. But dad continued, blowing away what I’d assumed he was going to say.

[Ah, it’s nothing special. Just that my dad died?]

Dad’s dad. In other words, my grandfather?!

“.....Eh?”

[So hurry back home. I’m hanging up.]

“Dad? Oy, Dad!!”

The only return was the segmented beeps of the phone.

“What’s going on at your home?”

“No, that’s…..”

Obviously something’s wrong. Is it okay to tell Narae about it? After worrying a little, Narae quickly turned her head and spoke bluntly.

“Fine. It has nothing to do with me anyway.”

She may be saying that, but she’s definitely inwardly worried. Others may misunderstand her often, but Narae’s fierce appearance is different from her truly caring personality. I fell in love with her because of that side of her. And as vacation starts today, I wanted to make my confession of love, but…… Now doesn’t seem like the right situation.

“Narae. I’m sorry, but I have to go now. I wasted your time after you made time for me, so I’m really sorry.”

“What, all of a sudden?! And after you went and called for me!”

Ah, she’s really mad. If I leave without saying anything, I’ll probably pay for it later. It couldn’t be helped so I explained my situation.

“My dad just told me my grandfather passed away….. So I have to go now.”

Although, from the time I was born until now, I haven’t seen him once.

“Ah.”

Narae understood my situation and nodded her head and spoke in a depressed voice.

“Okay. You can go.”

“Sorry.”

“But are you going to the countryside now?”

I’m not really sure, but,

“I guess?”

“Then contact me when you come back to Seoul.”

“…..Eh?”

Why do that? After I asked, Narae’s face turned bright red and she shouted.

“St--stupid! Do you think I’ll just let you off free after wasting my time?!”

Ah, so that’s it. Is she trying to cheer me up?

“Ah, then I’ll apologize to you properly then.”

“And send me a message when you arrive in the countryside.”

“…..What?”

“If I said to do it, just do it! Why’re you talking so much!”

But all I said was “what.”

“What, you unsatisfied?!”

Eek. Narae must have shouted because she read my expression. After knowing each other for so long, she can understand what I’m thinking even without me speaking. I spoke while keeping both my hands in the air.

“Not at all.”

“Then message me!”

“Yep, understood.”

I said bye to Narae and headed home.




"Go by yourself."

Dad instructed, as absurdly as the idea of him doing chores around the house.

Ah, before that I should simply explain our household situation for you to fully understand how I feel.

Right after Dad graduated high school, he cut off all his ties with his family and ran off to Seoul. Because of him, I've never seen any family on my dad’s side. And telling me to go by myself to give my condolences is what you’re telling me to do, Dad. After you said that, did you expect me to say “yes, I understand?”

“And what about you, Dad?”

“I’m not going to go.”

“Even at fifty years old, you’re stubborn like a child.”

Even at fifty years old, his fists still stung.

“I can’t just go back after running away. But you should go, since you’re his eldest grandson”
“You’re his eldest son, Dad.”

Wrinkles formed around his eyes as he spoke.

“Since when did you start constantly talking back to me?”

“You didn’t know? I just started today, Dad.”

It seems like adults often don’t acknowledge that their children have grown up. Rather than try and persuade me properly,

“If you don’t want to go, then get out of the house.”

“Who does that?!”

“I do.”

He likes to threaten others.

Thinking about it, I should’ve left the house right then. I should’ve also thought about why Dad ran away from home to go to Seoul. But without even a thought, I lost to Dad’s threat and could only think about leaving Seoul as I got on the bus line headed for the countryside.




After riding the bus for 4 hours and getting off, I arrived in the eldritch world of... I mean, I found myself in Jirisan [1]. Maybe because it’s Jirisan, even the air itself feels different.

…..Right. It’s hot. It’s really hot. Seriously, it’s so hot I might go crazy. Just the temperature itself isn’t a joke. It’s not that it’s really humid, but even under shade it’s hot. Even the breeze is hot. I didn’t know that was because of the bus’s air conditioner, but what in the world? Aren’t mountains supposed to be nice and cool? It may have been because of the crazy weather, but the terminal was completely empty. But, of all places, there was a beautiful woman there.

Looking to be about my age, she was pretty and gave off a cold appearance. But it was her attire, and the place she was wearing it, that immediately caught my eye.

She was wearing a modernized hanbok [2]. The hanbok was uniquely beautiful, but while it was designed to allow the wearer to move freely and comfortably, that’s right. It’s good up to here. Be it wearing a modernized hanbok, a suit, a kimono, a China dress, or a traditional African outfit, that’s all a part of her freedom. But it’s a different story when the hanbok is completely black.

That’s right. Black. Like a night with no moon or stars shining, the kind of black you see if you enter an empty room and close the door. No wait, looking in-detail I can see a Norigae [3] on her waist and there’s a pattern on the skirt, but this doesn’t change the fact that the woman standing in front of me is wearing a pitch-black hanbok on this hot day, with an expressionless face, standing in the sun, and without a single drop of sweat showing.

At a glance, she gives the impression that she wants to become a mannequin. She doesn’t give off the sense that she’s a living human. Definitely a feeling that she’s a corpse that was connected to an invisible string and set there. But I could see her chest heaving slightly so it seems like she’s breathing; it must’ve just been my imagination. That’s right. Instead of thinking about that, I should find a bus going towards my dad’s family. I looked at my surroundings as I thought where could it be.
Then our eyes met.

A fearful chill strong enough to make me forget the heat for a moment swept through my back. That was just one of her footsteps, and it only got worse as she stepped closer to me. More than anything, her gaze was directed at me.

Is there someone behind me? I turned around and saw a bus with no driver in it. Ah, does she want to get on the bus early? I stealthily stepped away from the woman’s path. Then she altered her course to head towards me. All while looking straight at me.

One sec. What is this. Is this strange woman interested in me? The one wearing a short sleeved t-shirt, long pants, and sneakers. The one carrying a backpack with several changes of clothes packed inside. Ah, is that it. Is it my face. Quite humbly, I have to say I am handsome. Although this is limited to my reflection in the bathroom mirror. And this isn’t the bathroom.

At some point while I was thinking these dim-witted thoughts, she approached and faced me. Before I knew it? I hesitated, moved a foot back so I would be ready to run away if necessary, and spoke.
“Seeing that foolish face, I can see that you are the young master Sunghoon.”

I lost my initiative to those strange words.

“Um, who are you?”

Suddenly calling me “young master.” What is this woman saying?

“I am Saehee, the one who had no choice but to come here from the main house to fetch the young master.”

“If you’re from the main house, then you’re Grandpa’s granddaughter?”

Huh? Does this mean she’s a part of my dad’s side of the family?

“No one told me that someone’s going to fetch me here.”

Just then, my phone suddenly rang.

“Ah, excuse me.”

“Yes.”
 
I answered the phone as I asked to be excused. I can hear a familiar voice.

[Have you arrived?]

“Ah, yes. Dad.”

[I totally forgot to tell you, but the youngest said she’d go get you when I told her you were coming.]

Did you seriously not tell me. Rather, your what? Youngest?

“What?”

[Your youngest aunt is going to meet you.]

An ominous feeling enveloped me.

“And what’s her name?”

[Saehee.]

“And her age?”

[Now she’s 40? Or maybe 39?]

I looked at the woman in front of me. No matter how you look at her, she’s clearly not a 40-year-old middle-aged lady. Do they have the same name? If not, then maybe my aunt’s daughter? No, there’s no way she gave her daughter the exact same name?

[Ah, she’ll look a little young. She has a baby face.]

Baby face? If the woman in front of me is my aunt, then the baby face explanation…… doesn’t make any sense!

“Any special characteristics?”

[She’s expressionless, cute, speaks strangely and harshly, and she won’t seem like a human. You’ll know her when you see her?]

I’m looking at the woman, I mean my aunt, who is right in front of me. I made eye-contact and my head is spinning.

[Then do your best, my child. I’m expecting a lot from you.]

The call ended without a chance to talk further. He’s always been this kind of a dad. Now, well, it’s nothing new. More than thinking about Dad’s words, the bigger problem is how this woman can be my aunt.

“Then shall we get going?”

Let’s check. Since I honestly cannot believe this woman is my aunt.

“Back then….. what’s your relationship to my dad?”

“That human trash would be my older brother.”

What could he have done for you to identify my dad as human trash? But now, rather than that, out of the many things I was told I feel there’s one thing I have to say.

“But you’re not my aunt, right?”

“Based on the family tree I am.”

“And what is your age?”

“I am 40.”

We have a winner. The prize is loss of sanity, failure of reason, and absurdity.

“What?!”

“The weather’s quite hot. We should get going now.”

As if she didn’t hear my reply, Aunt Saehee began to walk. For now I followed my aunt and opened my mouth.

“Today’s definitely hot, right?”

No matter how much you’re mourning, isn’t moving around in those clothes stifling? --Is what I meant, but,

“I’m fine. It seems only the young master is having a hard time like a mutt on the dog days..”

My aunt understood a little differently. No matter where you look at it, she had to be dying of heat compared to me when she’s dressed like that. That’s that, but as Dad said her words are really harsh. She’s not outright insulting, but I think I’ll lose it if I keep hearing her say stuff like that.

“But Auntie.”

She suddenly stopped walking. If I did something I would have crashed onto her back. Before I could ask why she did that she spun around, looked me in the eye with those emotionless pupils, and spoke.

“From now on please call me Saehee, young master. Also, there’s no reason for the young master to treat me with respect.”

“…..But you’re my aunt, so I should call you that.”

“Since I was adopted, I do not share a single drop of blood with you, young master. So there’s no need to call me aunt.”

If you suddenly say that it makes me never want to speak again.

“But still, because of your age…..”

“A woman’s age is just a decoration. Do you understand, young master?”

The first time I saw her smile- I was terrified.

“A woman’s age is merely a decoration. Since I’ve told you that please call me Saehee.”

“Ah…. Yeah.”

I shut my clueless yet energetic mouth and could only nod to au… I mean, Saehee’s words.

“But have you always talked like that?”

“Is there a problem with the way I speak, young master?”

If you speak like that to a weak-willed person like me, there’s nothing I can do but droop my tail.




Outside of the terminal I could see an expensive and fancy car waiting for me.

“Please get in, young master.”

I nodded my head and entered as she opened the back door with the ease of long practice and guided me in. I moved my butt over so she could get inside, but she closed the door. She went to the opposite side of the car and entered the car. Somehow, I felt like an idiot.

The car took off and she began to speak.

“Before we leave, there are several things I must inform you of. Is that okay?”

“Yes……”

I twitched.

“Ah, yes.”

“First, Father’s funeral was a lie.”

She told me something totally unexpected.

“What?”

“My scumbag brother made the lie to get the foolish young master to come to the countryside.”

Let’s stop paying attention to the words she attaches to people. Be brave, me.

“Wait, what are you saying?”

“Father directly gave the command.”

…..Dad, I’m beginning to understand why you left his home back then.

“Then why are you wearing mourning clothes?”

“These are my normal clothes, not mourning clothes.”

This woman’s fashion sense is as distorted as her personality.

“Then, is grandfather at home?”

“No. When he heard the young master was coming, he went on an overseas vacation.”

Dangerous. I’m beginning to understand a little as to why Dad cut off all ties with his family. I want to go back home. But I’m already in the car, and there’s no way I can go there and say “it was nice to meet you. Then I’ll be going now~.” There has to be a reason for why they would lie about someone’s death just to get me here.

“Why did you call me here?”

Saehee gave me an incomprehensible reply.

“In order to keep the promise you made long ago with my master.”

“What promise? And who’s this master?”

“I cannot tell you right now.”

I asked her multiple times but she consistently remained silent. There’s nothing I can do.

“…Wait.”

I got my cellphone from my bag and called Dad.

[The phone is out of power. Please leave a voice message.]

He planned it, this guy. He planned it. Without a doubt he turned off his phone on purpose. Yeah, I’ll gladly turn my phone off too. I pressed the power button on my cellphone for a long time and then shoved it into my backpack.

“Then what do I have to do?”

“You just have to live in the residence for a few days.”

“Whaaaa-t.”

“I prepared everything you need beforehand so you do not have to worry about anything.”

“I am worrying about what you just said!”

“You can think of it as returning home.”

“My home is Seoul!”

“There is nothing more to tell you. Please excuse me until we arrive home.”

You’ve already changed from calling it a residence to a home? You’ve decided on that? I kept talking but she remained silent.

After 30 minutes of driving on the steep mountain road to deep in the mountains, I got out of the car and was greeted by cool air and a wall bigger than I could imagine. And also a massive gate. It was an old-fashioned, traditional house and it was incredibly big. Is my dad’s side of the family rich?
Looking at the massive wooden gate that seemed to belong in a historical drama or a folktale, I felt the sudden urge to shout “Come out.”

“Come out!” [4]

She said it. She really said it. Not me, but Saehee. As soon as she shouted, the gate opened inwards and someone came out to meet us….

“Welcome, young master!!”

I dropped my bag, turned around, and ran full force.

Dad, I think I know now. Why you left your home. And why you didn’t want to go back. It feels like I might hate this house. Actually, I do hate it.

Dad. It seems that I’ve misunderstood you all this time. I thought that you were a geezer. But I thought wrong. Dad, you really grew up to be normal with a fine personality...


Considering that the household has a dog the size of a bus greeting its visitors!


A yellow dog, big beyond common sense, opened the door with its front paws, blew gusts of wind by wagging its tail, and spoke in human language. Being raised in such a house and becoming the way he is now, Dad must have been a very gifted child! Hahahahahahahaha!!

What the hell is that!!

“Did you forget something in the car?”

She asked in a bored voice, and I turned my head towards her, surprised. Although I was running as hard as I could, Saehee was easily walking next to me.

What is this. It’s weird.

“Were you surprised?”

I’m surprised even now.

“Did you think I wouldn’t be? Haa, No wait, what is that? And what are you?! I, now, haa, running, haa, but, you?!”

“It’s teleportation magic." [5]

Who are you, Hong Gildong?! [6]

“And what, haa, is that?!”

“A phantom.”

“Phantom?!”

The wall between reality and delusion is collapsing. Is this a dream?

“Before that, suddenly moving on this hot day without warming up is not good for an unathletic person like the young master, so if you’ll excuse me.”

Without the chance to even ask“What are you excusing yourself for?”...

“Huh?”

She grabbed my waist with her strangely cold arms and I was lifted into the air, bringing me back in front of the large dog. In this ineffable situation, Saehee spoke to me as I was dazed.

“Welcome, young master.”

I wanted to pass out.




I sat down on the wooden main floor as Saehee, sitting dutifully in front of me, gave me an explanation.

It is said that in the beginning, the phantoms were born in chaos. The phantoms lived freely with their mysterious strength and some viewed humans as friends, some as food, and some as enemies. And to put an end to this time for the sake of humanity came Hwanung [7]

“….Why the Dangun myth all of a sudden?”

“This isn’t a myth, but a true story. And it is polite to wait until others are done speaking.”

Saehee scolded me and continued her explanation.

In order to open up this world for humans, Hwanung stood fast in his resolve to stop phantoms from harming humans. And by that resolve the two strongest phantoms, the Tiger and the Bear, sought to become his wife. And the tiger wasn’t chosen because she ran away.

“Our master is that tiger. And our ignored master was sealed away by Hwanung and the Bear.”

“That’s too severe.”

Getting sealed because she wasn’t chosen. How could they do that so arbitrarily……

“I think so too. She got sealed away just for trying to tear apart the mountains.”

She’s talking about a tiger, right.

Anyway, at the same time the phantoms were forced to live hidden from human eyes. Sometimes a crazy phantom that lost all reason would appear, but by borrowing Hwanung’s power the humans made it so those phantoms were eradicated and could no longer be found on this earth. And Hwanung, the orchestrator of these events, lastly sealed the tiger away but by a moment of compassion, was said to make a kind of promise with it. It is at this point that I raised my hand.

“And what is that promise?”

Saehee didn’t answer.

The tiger believed in that promise and quietly slept until now. After that a family was chosen to protect the seal, and continued that duty for generations.

“And that is why the young master was brought here.”

I may be confused, but I still couldn’t believe this.

“And Dad?”

“He cut off all ties with his family and fled from his responsibilities. If my scumbag older brother had kept his promise, the young master would not have had to come here.”

Dad, I did misunderstand you. You’re really just human tra--…, no, you’re still my dad, so I shouldn’t curse at you. Anyway, I’ve already experienced a situation beyond common sense so there’s nothing I can do but believe her.

“And what do you mean by protect? I don’t know such strange things.”

“That’s okay. The ability to protect it is in your blood.”

“If a person is supposed to protect the seal isn’t that bad for you guys?”

“No it is not.”

“Why?”

“It’s just a title, anyway.”

“….What do you mean by that?”

“We call it the protector of the seal just for convenience’s sake. For generations you were just observing the seal. They, like the young master, are powerless humans.”

It was just for a bit, but I felt embarrassed for thinking that I might have special powers.
“Is there anything else you are curious about?”

“So you’re saying that all phantoms are keeping their bodies hidden?”

“Yes.”

Is that so. In that case,

“What is that?!”

Until now I was intentionally ignoring it, but I spoke while pointing at the dog with its tongue sticking out and its tail wagging that was sitting in the yard behind Saehee. That’s right, a dog. It’s a dog, but a monstrously huge dog.

“It’s a dog.”

“That’s right, it’s a dog. A monstrously huge dog.”

“It seems you know quite well.”

“I don’t mean that! I mean, what the hell is it? Is that dog a phantom too?!”

“That is correct.”

“And you said phantoms are hiding?”

“It’s hiding even now.”

“Where is that?”

But the dog is scratching itself with its hind leg?

“Normal humans are unable to see it.”

“Could you not deny me my once-normal 17-year-old life?”

“Compared to an earthworm, the young master is closer to a normal human.”

Ah, I’m really thankful for that.

“Then why am I able to see it?”

“The protectors of the seal are powerless humans, but you are able to see it because, at a young age, a ceremony was conducted to open your spiritual eyes.”

I can assume that the spiritual eyes are meant to explain the power to see phantoms. But she said something about a ceremony. What the hell is that?

“What do you mean by a ceremony?”

“I cannot tell you right now.”

Is your catchphrase “I cannot tell you, please wait for now”? As I wrapped my head around what to do next and worried about how to get more information, this woman-- I already stopped thinking of her as my aunt-- turned around and spoke to the huge dog.

“Since it seems that the young master understands us now, please change into a human.”

“Okay!”

There was smoke and a bang! No, the bang didn’t actually occur, but it would have fit the mood. When the smoke cleared away, there appeared bobbed-up hair in an almost unnatural shade of brownish yellow, on top of the head were raised dog ears, and the girl had on a dirt-covered hanbok jeogori [8] and pumpkin-colored pants; she spoke while shaking her hands and speaking to me. She looked so young that it seemed like she should have been getting admitted into elementary school. With shining eyes that fit her appearance, the dog-turned-child spoke.

“I’m Baduk! It’s nice to meet you, young master!”

Even as I am swept by her vigorous attitude and making me nod in response, I couldn’t hold back from asking,

“Are you that dog from before?”

“Yes!”

And one more question.

“….Who gave you your name?”

“Grandpa did!”

Grandpa’s naming sense is the best. [9]

“But young master. Is it okay to ask you for one request?”
Baduk went up to the house floor with shining eyes. I nodded my head, unable to betray those expectant eyes.

“Yeah.”

“Please pet my head~!”

Before I knew it, Baduk was stretched out on all fours and spoke with her chin on my thigh. When the hell did she do that? But until just now she was standing behind Saehee?

“Please do it~.”

I don’t know if Baduk could see how embarrassed I was, but she implored me with the tail on her butt shaking from side to side. I was barely able to reply while keeping my composure in this situation.

“I know now that your name is Baduk and that phantoms exist…… how does that lead to me petting you on the head?”

Even while saying that, I was petting that girl’s head.

Huh? Since when was I doing that?

“Hawooo---.”

To say that I enjoyed seeing her close her eyes, her blush, and being sprawled out totally carefree… there’s no way I could even think that. Pull yourself together. Yet even while thinking that I slightly touched that girl’s ears. She flinched. I pulled on them with my fingers. They’re warm. They’re not like toys. They’re real ears.

“Awuuu~. Our ears are our weakness, young master~.”

Seeing Baduk twisting her body, blushing as she used my thigh as a pillow and rolling around, if time stopped as I found and stabilized my inner peace… no way I could say that. I shook my head from side to side. Seeing Baduk sprawl out nearly made me lose my mind.

“Then I shall continue my story from before.”

Saehee started her story as though nothing happened. If everything that happened just now was a plan to calm me down, this woman must be a snake phantom.

“We all live here as a part of our master’s household”

Since before I came here, there was something I kept wondering so I asked her one more time to make sure.

“That master you’re talking about is the tiger that was sealed away, right?”

“That is correct.”

“And I came because I had to protect the seal.”

“That is correct.”

“But there’s also a promise I have to keep?”

“You’re unexpectedly intelligent.”

What do you mean, unexpectedly? Anyone could easily comprehend your story without that crazy self-introduction in the middle.

“Then what the hell do you mean by a promise? Can’t you tell me now?”

I blurted out the question again after first asking in the car, but Saehee replied with something totally unrelated.

“Do you like hiking?”

Why are you talking about hiking all of a sudden? I’ll answer her anyway.

“I don’t hate it, why?”

“In order to answer the question you just asked, we need to move from here.”

“….Where to?”

“Into the mountain.”

….Great. Because things turned out like this, I want to know why I came here and why I met phantoms. I’m not the kind of person to cluelessly do as he’s told. I brushed off my seat and got up.

“Let’s go.”




There are a lot of things in this world that I don’t know.

“Huff— huff— huff—.”

“It would be best for you to exercise more, young master.”

Don’t you think that you two are the weird ones?

It’s already been 40 minutes since Baduk and Saehee guided me where to go from the house. I’m not physically unfit. On a continuous uphill trek, the weird ones are Saehee who was easily climbing the uneven road, and Baduk who was animatedly climbing next to her feet.

“Young master. If you’re tired shall I carry you?”

I shook my head from side to side at Baduk’s words. Just look at yourself. How in the world could I ride on the back of someone with the appearance of a child.

“Just- huff- a little, let’s- huff, -rest.”

My back was already smeared with sweat, my legs were shaking, my breathing was ragged and my chin was rising and falling. Until now my male pride was keeping me going, but this is my limit. I can’t go. I can’t walk anymore.

“That won’t do.”

But Saehee cut off my words in one strike.

“Young master, you are walking slower than a turtle. We need to walk for 6 hours without rest to get there before the sun sets. If it becomes night, this will only become more tiring.”

We need to walk for 6 more hours. I raised my arms in surrender.

“I can’t go. I said I can’t go. Don’t you know that I’m a normal human?”

“My normal human father was able to make it there in 3 hours without a rest.”

What does that matter to me? I bet Grandfather could do that teleportation thing too, right?

Ah! Then, I thought of a solution that could end this situation. It’s really embarrassing, and I don’t want to do it twice, but it’s probably better to be embarrassed than have to walk for another 6 hours. No, it’s definitely better.

“Say...”

“Yes?”

“Uh, can’t you grab me and use teleportation magic to take me there?”

“Yes I can.”

A cool reply.

“Do you really want to do that? Even though back then you said quite confidently that we should go up the mountain?

I just noticed. This woman hates me.

“It’ll be better than being so exhausted.”

“Although this displeases me, if you’ll excuse me.”

Saehee hugged my waist and picked me up.

“Eh? Young master. Can’t I carry you there?”

Baduk was next to me, incessantly shaking my leg. Saehee treating me like a parcel, or getting on Baduk’s back like a savage? There isn’t a dilemma. Even if you were to change to your original form, I refuse.

A 6 hour hike for me is a 10 minute walk for Saehee. Looking at the one who nimbly climbed the mountain without sweating a drop even while carrying a person, and at Baduk following with her tail wagging as if going on a walk, I could feel in my bones that these two really weren’t human. Suddenly curious, I asked Saehee a question.

“So what kind of phantom are you?”

“I am unable to answer your question.”

What are you, an online game admin? I gave up on asking any questions.

“We’re here.”

Saehee dropped me off at a huge cave entrance. At a glance, I could tell it was over three times my height and about 10 meters wide, and my jaw dropped. What in the world, was there such a big cave in Korea?

“Please enter.”

Saehee went in first. I followed behind her and entered when……

“Wait. It’s too dark.”

Only travelling a bit, I had to stop. I entered the cave, but I couldn’t even see me feet properly. So I couldn’t properly walk anymore. Do I have to take out my cell phone? I stuck my hand in my pocket and, damn. I put it in my backpack and left it behind. Baduk came right up next to me and spoke as I was unable to do anything.

“Heh heh, then this time, I’ll help you.”

Before I could even ask “how?” Baduk-

“Uwak?”

I was thrown to the sky. What is this all of a sudden?!

“Com~bine!”

Baduk lightly leaped underneath me and put her neck between my legs and landed on the ground.

Can I just die?

“Wait, hey! This isn’t right!!”

A little girl smaller than me is carrying me on her shoulders. Thinking about this objectively, this is a laughable situation, but by my perspective I was so embarrassed I could die.

“Eh? Then, should I walk on my four feet so you can get on my back instead?”

“I hate that even more!”

Isn’t that perverted? No wait, this entire situation is perverted!

“Then I’ll go like this.”

Baduk turned her head from side to side as she tried to look at me.

“Hey! Hey!! Don’t, don’t move your neck!!”

“Hawuung?”

Baduk tilted her head indicating she didn’t understand, but there was absolutely no way I could  explain the reason to her! How am I supposed to explain the reasons to handle with care when it comes to teenaged boys?!

“Just keep going like this!”

“Yes~!”

In the end, I just decided to give up.

Some time after Baduk was carrying me deeper into the cave.

“The master’s seal will break in a few years.”

Saehee suddenly told me that. Suddenly hearing her voice so clearly surprised me, but what was even scarier was the meaning of what she said.

“What’d you say?”

Are you telling a man that a phantom who was dumped and had a huge tantrum is going to be freed?

“So much time has already passed that the seal is reaching its limit.”

“Then if that seal were to break what would happen?”

“Master would probably eat you first?”

Baduk said such a scary thing with an innocent voice.

“Please don’t worry. Our master does not eat food that will make her sick.”

“And who’s the food?”

“Of course, our master wants to keep the promise so there is no reason for her to do so.”

I was concerned about the promise ever since before. But,

“Can’t you tell me what the promise is that I have to keep?”

“I am unable to tell you myself.”

Saehee closed her mouth again.

A long time passed as I was unable to see a thing. Then I saw a soft light in front of me.

“We are almost there.”

At Saehee’s words, I tapped on Baduk’s head and spoke to her.

“Let me down.”

“I’ll go just a bit more.”

“No, I mean for the sake of my innocent sensitivity, please put me down.”

“Hawuung?”

Baduk’s body language showed she didn’t understand, but she let me down anyway.

“Thank you.”

For now, since Baduk succeeded in getting me here without injury, I should express my thanks.

“Heh heh~.”

Baduk laughed happily and thrust her head towards me with her tail wagging. It’s that, right? I petted Baduk's head.

“Hawuuuu.”

Her ears were even pricking up.

Saehee’s walking towards the light. And the light is slowly getting brighter, and I kept walking until I discovered what was in the middle of the light, at which point I stopped and my mouth hang loose, speechless.


A tiger the size of a mountain was sleeping.


White fur, close to silver in color, with talismans stuck shining and illuminating the cave and black stripes were swallowing that light. The white tiger, even lying down, was exerting an overwhelming presence.

“Words can’t even…”

For such an unreal sight, I wasn’t open-minded enough to go “Ah, that’s right. Of course that kind of a tiger exists. If there’s a dog the size of a bus, who says there shouldn’t be a tiger the size of a mountain? After all, the world is huge! Hahahaha-.” My two legs were firmly implanted onto the ground and my eyes couldn’t peel away from the giant white tiger. But really, that’s a tiger? As big as a mountain? One that looks like, if that thing stood up, it’d tower over huge apartment buildings?!

“This is our master. Please do not lose your mind, young master, and move forward”

But Saehee grabbed my hand and dragged me forward. Baduk was pushing me from behind.

“Wa, wait! I need to prepare my mind!”

“How much time will you need?”

I thought hard at Saehee’s words.

“70 years?”

“You have 7 seconds.”

Hey, that’s too short.

“Your time’s up.”

“Uwak?!”

As I was being dragged to the tiger that was big beyond belief, I was overwhelmed and amazed all over again. The fur was shining and silvery, the curves on its body made like Goryeo porcelain. And,

“…….”

“…….”

With pumpkin-sized and thin pupils bigger than my head, it felt like it was capable of casting spells on people no wait did it just open its eyes? It just opened them!!

“I came with the young master, Master.”

Saehee spoke as she politely dropped to her knees. Baduk fell to the ground and exposed her belly, showing an expression of obedience.

“I have arrived, Master.”

“So you’re here.”

But the tiger’s eyes were only directed towards me. Should I pee myself? Or have my legs tremble? Go insane? But out of all those choices, my one action was,

“The tiger spoke!!”

I pointed my fingers as I shouted, and I thought even then that this was an idiotic act. The tiger revealed its teeth as it laughed. I just hoped that its smile didn’t mean “I feel like eating human meat for lunch today.”

“Why are you so surprised? Is my ability to speak that weird?”

Honestly, your existence in and of itself is weird.

“Yeah.”

Why in the world did I naturally speak so informally? Maybe it’s because I was so scared. Or maybe I got used to acting like this because of Baduk.

“You’re quite bold and honest.”

If you throw away common sense, then those concepts will become meaningless.

“That’s right, boy. Do you know why you came here?”

“I came here to fulfill a promise, but I don’t know what that promise is.”

The tiger directed its gaze at Saehee.

“So you didn’t tell him.”

“I felt it would be best for Master to tell him directly.”

“Is that so.”

The tiger looked back at me.
 
“You look alright with coming here without being given a reason.”

“The shock of all this is so big that I look okay. So, let’s start over from the beginning.”

“What do you mean?”

Instead of answering I took a deep breath and cried out loudly.

“Run for your lives!”

I turned around and ran with all my strength.

……They brought me back.

“It seems you were raised to be a delightful child.”

I sat with my legs folded in front of the tiger after getting captured, and spoke in submission.
“I was raised normally.”

The gigantic tiger bared its supernaturally large teeth as it laughed.

“That’s right. But still, you are here to keep a promise between us from long ago.”

This tiger! What are you saying to a person who doesn’t even know what that promise is?

“Shouldn’t you explain it first? I said this before, but I don’t know what that promise is.”

The tiger’s avoiding my eyes. Ah, it forgot what I said. It’s obvious.

“Then I shall tell you.”

After going ahem as if readying its voice, the tiger growled lowly as it spoke.

“The one who placed this seal on me left me with one prophecy. When this seal would yield to my strength and I would be freed, a man to be my husband would be sent to me.”

“……What?”

“And if I fall in love, even if the seal is broken they swore to never bother me again.”

“……What?”

At this, I looked pointedly at Saehee, the one who dragged me back here, for an additional explanation.
 
“That is what Master thinks it is.”

But Saehee skillfully avoided answering with those words. I wanted to ask for more, but the tiger opened its mouth and I decided to listen for now.

“Now the seal upon me is weakening, and after a few years I will be freed without effort. And this generation of protectors includes a boy who I have laid my eyes upon. I suppose this could be called fate.”

“Excuse me? What are you saying?”

“My husband who has been blessed by the heavens. I am saying that this man is you.”

I can’t hear it, I can’t hear it.

“Ahhh, I have waited so long for this day. Finally I can receive love.”

“Um, I can’t understand what you’re saying right now…….?”

“Do not worry. Although I have lived for a long time, I have never allowed another man to lay his hands upon me.”

Do you really think that that’s what I’m worrying about?

“So let’s have a wedding.”

“Like I said, who will?

“Who else but you?”

“…..Eh?”

“You are the wonderful man to be my husband. You are quite handsome and raised to have a nice personality. In other words, you were raised lovingly by the heavens.

Your appraisal of me is too generous.

“So, when would you like the ceremony to be?”

Someone’s really jumping the gun here.

“Um, I never said I’d marry you though?”

The second I said that, the air within the cave changed. I guess this could be called a mourner’s house? It suddenly felt as if my shoulders became heavy.

“Are you saying you hate me?!”

“That, oh, I’m sorry, but our differing species create an insurmountable wall?”

“So you’re saying you cannot accept me because of my animal form?

Even if that tiger is surprisingly speaking the same language as me?

“That’s right! It may be possible to overcome differences ethnicity, culture, age, and gender, but a difference in species is too much! Because I’m a human…”

As I kept talking, I realized the truth. Even now there was a little girl lying at the feet of the tiger. Her name is Baduk. Whose real identity was… a massive dog!

“Is that it? Then if I become a human, everything will be fine!”

“No, that’s not it!”

I was too late. The once massive tiger’s body became covered in white smoke, and there was a girl’s appearance appeared…… Ara? Something’s weird?

“So it’s okay as long as it’s like this?”

Without a chance to get my thoughts together, I could only look at where the tiger disappeared and at the talking little girl who was looking up at me, and I was able to return to reality. That’s right. She was looking up at me while she was speaking. The tiger that was bigger than a mountain before it disappeared was nowhere to be found, and in its place was a cute little girl who looked to be in the third grade!

A mysterious looking girl with tiger ears pricking up, a tail elegantly shaking, and silvery white hair tinged with black stripes acted as a replacement. Excluding her hair that was hiding her flat chest and other embarrassing areas, in other words, she was standing proudly even while in the same state as she was when she was born. That’s right. She’s naked.

Why are you talking so coolly! You’re naked! Completely nude! You took off all your clothes?! When Baduk changed shape she had on a hanbok, so why are you totally naked?

“Achoo-. Human bodies really are delicate. Just from this slight cold- achoo! Uuuu, it’s cold.”
Of course it’s cold. Even if it’s summer, did you think being naked while being deep in a cave wouldn’t be cold?

“You, where are your clothes?”

“Hm? Why do I have to wear such bothersome things? And why are you saying such things now? I had nothing on since the beginning.”

So she’s a nudist.

Of course, I can understand the tiger’s words. Since animals don’t need to wear clothes. But if you transform into a human you have to wear clothes like a human!

“That is because the naked body of the opposite sex cause excitement, Master.”

Saehee, who until now remained a passive observer, brought up an unnecessary subject. At her words, the tiger had a smile of satisfaction on her face as she took a step towards me.

“Is that so?!”

And another step. My eyes were dazzled at her pure-white skin.

“You’re......”

Another step.

“Aroused by me!”

The tiger that was approaching right up next to me… or rather, the little girl that took its place, hugged my waist. From what I could feel beyond my clothes, the little girl’s body heat and her slim chest on my hips were causing me to be…… Sorry, it wasn’t actually arousing. Although I was in a situation where a naked girl was stuck right onto me, I remained strangely calm. Rather than girl, I suppose I should just call her a child? Or maybe it’s because I know her true form is a tiger. Or perhaps because strong, older sisters are more to my taste.

“No, I’m just embarrassed to see you like that.”

I took off the t-shirt I was wearing,

“Do you want to have our first night in this place? Of course, I’d like to, but I need to prepare myself……”

While spouting nonsense, I spoke to the reddening tiger.

“Hands up.”

“Hands up?”

As the tiger raised her two hands, I sneakily clothed her with my t-shirt. Even to me it was decently sized and it exposed one of the tiger’s shoulders, but it perfectly covered her down to her thighs so it’s good.




Yeah, it’s good. With this, I was relieved from her overexposure. Let’s just be satisfied that she’s only half naked. But, showing that she didn’t understand my nice feelings, the tiger puffed out her cheeks and displayed her dissatisfaction.

“Why are you making me wear this?”

“Human’s sexual preferences are such that rather than being totally naked, having some covering is……”

“Hey, don’t say weird things.”

“So you like it like that, young master?”

“I don’t.”

“If my husband is a man with these kinds of tastes, then it is my duty as a wife to accept them.”

“I said I don’t!”

What the hell do these people think I am?!

“So now that I’ve taken the form of a human, are you content?”

The tiger looked up at me with eyes full of expectation. Her gaze looked as though she was going to play a fun game with Baduk, who was right next to Saehee. But in the tiger’s gaze, I could feel that something was different. Although I don’t know what that is, although I really don’t know what that is. Although I don’t know other things, I could tell that this girl… was nervous.

So rather than rejecting her directly, for now I’ll change the subject.

“I’ll just ask one question.”

The tiger nodded her head.

“Why me? It’s a little embarrassing to say this, but to me, you’re pretty. You could get lots of other men if you grew up a little…”

“You said I’m pretty! This is the first time I heard that!”

The tiger blushed deeply, embarrassed.

“Really, are you trying to make me embarrassed?”

“Hey, hey. You. You’re missing the main point of what I was saying. And if you’re nitpicking over being embarrassed, doesn’t it make more sense to be embarrassed about being naked?

“How much longer until you answer my question?”

The tiger was clearly excited as she answered my question.

“Because long ago, I fell in love with you at first sight.”

“But this is the first time I’ve ever seen you.”

“Although you don’t remember, you came to see me once to open your spiritual eyes when you were a newborn.

...Could that have been the ceremony? The tiger reminisced while looking far away and talked.

“Until then, all children felt an instinctive fear and cried when they saw me. But you were different. Even after seeing me, you smiled widely and gave me a hug. As you suckled upon my breast, you fell asleep on my bosom.”

But I can’t remember. I can’t remember being such a brave child.

“At that time, I felt we were fated for each other. This child to be my husband was above comparison from other children. You are the partner I was waiting for. Look here. Even now, you are confidently standing in front of me. In this place where my powers are large, no other human could stand so confidently as you do.”

I looked at Saehee.

“It’s the truth, young master. Even now, Father cannot raise his head near the Master, and the scum humans who looked upon the Master fainted. The only exception is the young master’s mother.”
Ah, if it’s mother, then I can understand. Since she’s always been that kind of person. I have heard that I took after my mom a lot. All that aside.

“But today is the first time I’ve ever seen you. Suddenly saying we should get married doesn’t make any sense, right?”

A question mark appeared above the tiger’s head. No, I’m not joking and it’s not a figure of speech, it’s real. A number of strands of hair stood up on her head and formed a question mark. To be able to move her hair so freely, even if she’s taken the form of a child, she’s still a phantom?

“Why are you like that? Your parents gave their blessing and I have been unable to see the face of my partner for so long, isn’t it obvious?
 
What planet are you from?

“Ah, is that it? Do not worry. When we were performing the ceremony, your mother already gave her blessing for our marriage agreement. By your species’ standards, I have already been accepted by your family. So it’s obvious that our marriage would happen.”

Mother, just what the hell were you thinking? You thought about marrying your son off to this phantom. That’s too much.

“That may have been obvious in the Joseon Dynasty [10], but times have changed. I have no intention of marrying someone I don’t like.”

Because there’s someone else I like. Although I didn’t confess to her yet. But marrying a phantom I’ve seen for the first time. That’s nonsense.

“…You don’t like me?”

Struck by my words, the tiger looked up at me. Her eyes became downcast and her mouth lowered, making me look like the bad guy. Uuu, I wavered at the sight of a tiger who looked like she was about to cry and answered her as I turned my head away.

“How am I supposed to like you if I just met you today?”
 
“…Is, is that so.”

The tiger looked as though she was hurt by my words, her face frozen, and then she lowered her head, depressed. Her tiger ears on her head also drooped naturally. Although my words were backed by common sense, I couldn’t help but feel guilty. But I can’t back down. Because I could feel in her gaze that she sincerely wanted to get married with me. Married to a phantom at the age of 17, one that’s a tiger as big as a mountain! How does that make any sense?

…But right now in front of me was a crestfallen little kid. Even knowing I was speaking in a straightforward manner, I tried to comfort her.

“Well, someday you’ll find a partner who likes you too, so don’t be too depressed.”

“There’s no way that’ll happen.”

But what came back was a cold denial.

“After being rejected by you, I’ll stop seeking love.”

Are you planning on labeling me the worst man in history?

“No, there’s no need to do that……”

I shut my mouth.

I had goose bumps. Ominous energy emanated as if it would kill every living being. And in the center of that energy: the tiger. A girl.

“If my fated partner isn’t you, nobody else will be able to accept me. If that’s the case, I will wait like this until the seal is lifted.”

Remembering the private story I heard earlier, my mouth moved on its own.

“If the seal is lifted… what will you do?”

“I will burn this land asunder.”

That horrified me. My hair stood on end, my terror was like fireworks, unable to handle the tiger that was exuding such energy, and I felt such chills that I was could not speak.

“I will have the Sun fall, and I will swallow the Moon. I will show to humanity that the end of the world has arrived. With others of my household, we will find and kill every single member of the human race.”

In each word she said, she made clear her powers. No matter how you look at it, she was being serious.

“If this is Master’s decision, all of humanity’s lives will change before the sun has set.”
“Master’s scary when she’s angry. I hate it.”

I saw Saehee give an additional explanation in her usual expressionless manner, and Baduk was trembling and hiding behind Saehee, so she must not have been exaggerating.

“You…”

The tiger looked at me. Deep within her gaze I could see a terrible hatred, and I may have gone crazy, but I could also see a deep-seated sorrow. It was as if she were a normal girl who was cruelly hurt by a womanizer.

…What kind of simile is that?

“Leave this land. I do not want the blood of the man planned to be my husband to dirty my hands. Saehee.”

“Yes, Master.”

“Deal with the aftermath as you wish. I want to be alone. Nobody is to enter here until I say so.”
“Yes, I understand.”

Saehee bowed her head respectfully as the tiger turned around.

“Let us leave.”

Saehee took me by the arm, leading me.

Is it okay to leave it like this? Is it okay to return home and then run away from this country? And after the seal dissolves, will the tiger devastate this country? This... doesn’t make any sense.
What is this. This is absolutely crazy. This is completely crazy. It’s crazy for phantoms to exist, and it’s crazy that a phantom was hurt by my words, and it’s crazy that because of my choice I got a phantom to massacre people. But above all, it’s crazy that I shook off Saehee’s hand and turned the tiger back around.

That’s right! I didn’t do it because I felt pity at her incredible sadness when I looked at her back! Nor is it because I could see my young self in her! I just did it because I was scared of what the tiger would do later!

“Hey!”

The tearful tiger looked up at me with a surprised expression, and perhaps she finally realized she was crying because she hid her eyes with her wrists as she spoke:

“This, this isn’t what it looks like! I, I’m not crying!”

She was making a ridiculous excuse. That’s right, you’re not crying. I can see that dust got into your eyes first, Tiger-nim [11]. But, hey. Why are you speaking like that? Although, the way you're speaking now definitely fits your child-like appearance bette.[12]

“You, don’t you know you’re not supposed to interrupt people when they’re talking?”

“Huh?”

She peeked up at me with her tear-filled eyes.

“Of course I can’t marry a girl I don’t like. Even if you are my fiancé, it’s impossible. But I don’t want to reject you just like that.”

“That’s… What are you saying?”

Her parlance changed back, but that’s not important.

“I can’t just leave you.”

Narae, I’m sorry. Although I like you, this is for your sake and to keep our country safe and peaceful, so please forgive me.

“Let’s go together. I don’t want to leave you behind in a place like this.”

The tiger’s ears pricked up. If you compare her from before to now, it was as though she was outshining the sun and moon; her expression clearly brightened immensely and she squeezed with the hand that grabbed mine and spoke.

“Are, are you serious?”

“I am.”

“You’re saying that you’re going to be my husband and love me?!”

Hey, hey. When did I ever go so far as to say that.

“It might be possible when we get to know each other better, and then when we’re in love.”

And that’ll also be possible when you’ve grown up a bit. Rather than speaking of marriage, it’d fit you better to be talking about your times tables. …disregarding her true age.

“I’m happy! I’m happy! So you didn’t give me up! You chose me!”

“The young master is clearly a lolicon.”

I heard words that I couldn’t ignore to my side.

“Hey, who are you calling a lolicon?”

“What’s a lolicon?”

How am I supposed to explain to the tiger that’s asking me with such round eyes…

“It’s a word for people who are sexually interested in underaged girls.”

“Don’t say weird things!”

But the tiger expressed joy at Saehee’s words.

“So that’s it! So you were aroused because you like me! So my eyes really weren’t wrong!”

What, do you like lolicons? And do I have to give up on stopping those phantoms from calling me a lolicon as they pleased.

“Then does that mean that because the young master is a lolicon, you like me too?”

No, I have to properly tell them. After seeing Baduk's naïve questioning, I couldn’t just leave it like this.

“I just don’t want to leave you alone in a place like this. I’m not a lolicon!”

“In public, that’s called being a lolicon or pedophilia.”

You’re noisy, shut up. My preference is large-breasted, older sisters. When I should hurry home and look at some pictures of big breasted ladies on the internet to reinforce my sexual identity.
Ah… but then there’s that.

“But you’re sealed to this place, right?”

“That is correct.”

The tiger nodded her head. Thankfully, the topic about lolicons seems to have been passed.
“Then what will you do? Can you leave this place?”

“Do not worry. At this stage, the seal has my true form trapped, but following you is no problem. I’m here now because the weather’s too hot.”

…Wait.

“True form? That tiger form from before isn’t your true form?”

The tiger smiled and answered.

“That shape is just a spiritual body. My true form is all of Jirisan.”

“…What?”

“The entirety of Jirisan is my true form.”

At the ridiculous scale, I lost what I was going to say.

“Do you now know of my greatness?”

Looking at my blank face, she stuck her chest out with pride, but looking at the tiger, I could only say these words.

“And yet you’re so small.”

I put my hand on top of the tiger’s head. It seems like it’d be comfortable to lay my elbows there.
“Uu-! I’m going to grow! In a little bit, I’m going to grow up!!”

Looking at the tiger who raised her arms to hit me, it feels like I’m going to end up forgetting that her true identity is a tiger. Ah, but I didn’t ask the most important thing.

“But what’s your name? I’m Kang Sunghoon.”

“My name is Ho Rangii.” [13]

“…What?”

After Baduk, it’s Ho Rangii? I blankly looked down at the tiger as she yelled at me furiously.
“I, I have a different name given to me by heaven! But I’ll only tell you it when you have enough determination! Our names are like that! Or do you want me to tell you my name?”
I have no idea what she’s saying, but I firmly refused.

“That’s  a nice name, Ho Rangii.”

“Awooo…”

Why do you look so unhappy.
 
“Then let’s go, Rangii.”

Since she’s Ho Rangii, I’ll call her Rangii. After calling her that, it seems like a really good name. If I name my daughter Rangii she’d be… Kang Rangii. …let’s forget about that. Narae would kill me. Since I’ve chosen Narae to be my wife. Ah, I just remembered I should send Narae a text. Looks like I’ll have to message her while going down the mountain.

“Yeah!”

With the tiger by me, we left the tiger’s cave. Although, I didn’t want to experience that old proverb to survive in a tiger’s cave: keep your wits about you like this.

“Ah, but one thing. Are Corn Fla*es your main diet?”

“…What is that?”




After coming back down the mountain, showering, and putting some clothes on, I turned on my cell phone to text Narae when the messages came flying in. In total there were… 13 of them. And the sender of all of them was my childhood friend and unrequited crush, Narae. The messages started out as [have you arrived?] [Well? Why aren’t you replying?] but changed to things like [wanna die?] [Wait there. I’m going there right now to get you!].

Just one day after summer vacation started a problem like the east and west lines blowing up simultaneously has occurred. And Rangii, not knowing my miserable situation,

“Why do I have to wear such bothersome things?! The clothes Sunghoon gave me is enough!”

While saying things like that,

“In order to live in the human world, this must be done, Master.”

She kept up her stubbornness to Saehee. And Baduk? She was curled up on the floor dozing, not caring at all to those two. In human form. She must feel totally at peace. I also wanted to go back to the days of my carefree childhood… No, no. That’s not the problem right now. For the time being, I called Narae. Before one whole ring could finish, Narae answered the phone.

“Hel…”

[The heck! Did something happen?! Why was it off?! If I call you, you’re supposed to answer, you idiot! Don’t you know what a cell phone’s for?!]

I stopped mid-word in reaction to Narae’s bullet-like voice. Ah, it’s scary. But still, in comparison to Rangii who was adamant about not wearing anything underneath a lone shirt, and the expressionless Saehee who was preaching the importance of attire, I was so thankful for this normal conversation that I could cry.

“Ye, yeah. Something came up while I was going up the mountain, so I forgot about my phone. I’m sorry.”

[Then there’s no point in you having it at all!]

She’s still talking about that.

“I’m sorry for worrying you.”

[Who, who was worrying!? Why would I worry about you?]

“Because we’re friends?”

[These days, who cares enough to bother their friends during vacation?!]

“You.”

[…….]

Hello, Miss Narae? Why are you not saying a word?

“Narae?”

[I didn’t hang up! That’s right, like you said I was worried because we’re friends. So what happened?]

She asked about me after regaining the use of her words. I want to tell her I’m alright, but the truth is I’m going to die. That’s because this place is a phantom paradise. And also, Narae still thinks that I’m here to attend a funeral, right? Since I thought that it until I got here. I hadn’t even imagined that someone would lie about a person’s death to lure me here.

“Just, I somehow sent…”

It was then.

“Sunghoon! Say something to Saehee as well! Why must I put on such cumbersome articles as that! I said I am comfortable being naked!”

That was Rangii yelling loudly inside of the house.

“Wait, I’m in the middle of a call.”

[……Who was that just now?]

I felt a chill on the back of my neck. Has Narae’s voice ever been so cold? …no. Never.

“No, that’s…”

“The lolicon young master should persuade Master. Will the young master not be aroused if the Master continues to be naked?”

You’re making my life harder.

[……Master? Naked? Aroused?!]

I listened to her as goose bumps popped up. Na, Narae. Since when were your ears so good?

“No, that’s not it. The situation here is more complicated than the ocean is deep and the sky is wide, so there’s definitely nothing weird…”

“In the first place, when a man and a woman mate, things like clothes are…”

“Uwaak!!”

I quickly covered Rangii’s mouth with my hand and yelled out at Narae over the phone.

“I can explain!!”

But all I could hear in my ear was the segmented beep, beep, beep of my phone. A message arrived as I was stunned. It said, [Go die. Just die there.] ……How was I supposed to explain this later on?

Slurp--.

Rangii licked my palm with her rough tongue.

“Uraaak?!”

What are you doing, getting me dirty? There’s saliva on me!

“Why are you blocking my mouth? I said nothing wrong!”

Looking at the indignant and angry Rangii, I felt my patience explode and I spoke to her.

“Nothing wrong, my ass!! Humans have to wear clothes! And what kind of girl talks about mating and being comfortable when naked! Learn to be embarrassed!!”

I clenched my fist and hit Rangii on the head.

“Owie!”

She raised her hands to her drooping ears, caressing her head. Thanks to that her t-shirt started flapping, and a secret hidden part was dangerously close to being seen.

“He, he hit me! Sunghoon hit me!”

Close to tears and acting as if this was unfair, Rangii ran screaming to Saehee, and looking at Rangii clinging to Saehee’s chest, I felt like a complete bastard, but, hey! You were in the wrong first!

 Saehee, who has no idea how to educate a child, rubbed Rangii’s head while calming her down.

“It’s okay, Master. That just now is how the young master expresses interest and love.”

You’re speaking complete nonsense again.

“The young master is mentally immature so he expresses his affection for the Master in an abusive manner. Specifically, the violence like before is a sign of affection.”

“Don’t do as you want and label me as an elementary school brat who can’t express his feelings of love! That just now was punishment!”

Her ears and even her tail pricked up and Rangii gave protest.

“What did I do wrong!?”

“I was talking to someone on the phone and you were screaming weird things right next to me!”

The tail drooped down. In its place, her hair formed a question mark. Oh man. What a convenient body.

“……What’s that phone thing you’re talking about?”

Do I have to start explaining from there?

“A phone is used as a means of electrical communication, turning sound waves from spoken words into electrical currents, transmitting and travelling far away, turning into a voice so that spoken words may be exchanged. In this case, a conversation is being struck with the recipient of the phone call.

My jaw dropped at Saehee’s explanation. What are you, a living encyclopedia?

“How amazing!”

Rangii’s hair flew straight up.

“You mean humans have created such a device?!”

I’m more amazed at you in many ways.

“Then does that mean I was interrupting Sunghoon’s conversation with a person?”

This tiger’s quick to catch on.

“Yes. That’s right, you brat.”

“I’m sorry.”

Oh? I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed when Rangii bowed her head to me. Her tail went straight down, too, so it seems like she’s really apologizing. I never thought that she would apologize so honestly.
 
“Ah, no. It’s fine. Nothing terrible happened, anyway.”

Something terrible did happen. After hearing all that, Narae sent me a message telling me to die. Ah, while I have the chance, let’s message her, telling her I’m sorry. When I sent the message, Rangii spoke.

“Then that’s a relief. Since I mustn’t cause trouble to the man to be my husband.

At those words, Saehee’s eyes suddenly flashed with light. No, that had to be my imagination. There’s no way a person’s eyes can shine like that.

“Master. If you do not wear human clothing, you will cause the young master much trouble.”

No, actually, I don’t think it was my imagination. My thinking was wrong from the beginning. Because she’s not human.

“…Is that so?”

Rangii carefully asked me. Although her gaze was almost begging me to say no, walking around like that with only a t-shirt on is a nuisance. Think about it. If she passed by my head when I was lying down on my bed…

“Yeah. It’s a nuisance. It’s a huge nuisance.”

“……If that’s the case, then I have no choice.”

Rangii bowed her head while speaking lowly. Saehee didn’t waste this opportunity, and with the hands of a master craftsman, she skillfully began to dress Rangii. It looked like a white hanbok for the top and blue shorts, but……

“Hey. You need to take off my shirt first.”

Why are you dressing her while she has on my clothes?

“Is that so?”

Rangii looked up at Saehee when she asked.
 
“No.”

What do you mean, “no?” Ask those questions to me.

“That’s my shirt. Take it off quickly.”

“I know that couples are to share even a grain of rice.”

These days, property management tends to happen separately.

“I will prepare clothes like this for you, young master.”

But that’s not the problem. Until now I told myself this situation couldn’t be helped, but the fact that a girl is wearing the clothes I wore for half a day doesn’t make me happy. Moreover, it’s clothes drenched in sweat while I was climbing the mountain, and now the wearer’s a phantom who looks like a child. I feel embarrassed that that shirt is over her bare skin. I opened my mouth to have a word with them, then I quickly turned my head.

“Hey, hey! Don’t dress her right in front of me! No, why is she changing here in the first place?!”
Because I caught a glance of something when she was raising her leg to put on panties! Do you lack understanding of the word shame?

“Is it embarrassing to change clothes?”

“It is not.”

“Then shouldn’t he not care?”

“What do you mean, no?!!”

At this cry from my soul, Rangii answered.

“But it seems to me that Sunghoon is embarrassed when I change clothes? Then I won’t wear clothes.”

So then Rangii moved to take off her panties. Before Rangii’s hand that grabbed her panties could move downward, I hit my head to the ground, bowing to her as I spoke.

“I am not embarrassed when you change clothes, so please go ahead and change here.”

Let’s throw away common sense. That’s right. Rangii is a child who knows nothing. She may be old, but she’s just a little kid who has no common sense. No, she’s a newborn baby. Let’s think of her as that. Seriously, let’s think of her as that. But why are there tears coming out of my eyes? Farther away, Baduk yawned. ……really, a dog’s life is enviable.




After she took off the t-shirt -I was desperate in my own way-- and she put on the clothes Saehee prepared, I was unable to look at Rangii with a different meaning.

She had the bangs of her black and white hair left alone, her long hair neatly braided with a black band tied to the end, dressed with traditional Korean wear as her top, with blue, hot pants-like shorts, and looking at her from the front makes it look like she’s not wearing pants.

Ahh, the human imagination is truly mighty. There’s obviously something there, but imagining such a vulgar lack of covering… why am I imagining that from a little brat?

“It’s the first time I’ve ever worn clothes, but it’s definitely uncomfortable.”

Rangii complained to Saehee.

“You will get used to it. Above all, won’t the perverted young master like this?”

“Is that so? Does Sunghoon like it when I wear such bothersome clothing?”

I was unable to answer back I like big breasted older sisters wearing clothing that shows off a lot of skin because I couldn’t ignore Saehee who was standing behind Rangii, expressionless. And I didn’t want to reject the excited Rangii because of my tastes.

“That’s right. It really fits you. You definitely look prettier than before.”

Her ears were fluttering and her tail was wagging. I wanted to say this before, but are you really a tiger? You’re a lot more like a dog or a cat.

“I’m happy! I’mhappyI’mhappyI’mhappy!”

Seeing Rangii express her happiness with her excitement and by jumping about, I could only see her as a normal little kid. I couldn’t believe that this innocent kid and that tiger screaming “I’m going to burn this earth and kill everyoooone~” were the same phantom. But,

“Sunghoon! I’m really glad that I met you!”

Seeing Rangii running up to my chest, there was definitely no way a human could jump…… wait. That kid jumped way too high? Rangii’s thin thighs were acting right before my eyes. Thank goodness this brat was wearing shorts properly. I could clearly see her top-obscured shorts. No wait. What is this?!

Rangii wrapped her two legs around my neck, hugging her body to my head. Maybe it’s a child’s unique smell, but although it was very small, I have to emphasize that there was a definite fragrance coming from Rangii’s body as she pressed her chest to my head.

“Hey! What are you doing!”

“It’s an expression of my happiness!”

So you express your happiness by wrapping your legs around people’s necks? Is that supposed to be a wrestling move, too?

“I can’t see in front of me! Get off!”

“Then I’ll go like this.”

Rangii skillfully moved to be on my shoulders before I could react. Rangii’s long tail wrapped itself around my chest. You should change your job from cat to monkey, seeing as you’re so similar to one. Will you be happy if you got to meet Jaecheondaesong? [14]

“……You’re heavy.”

A young kid weights 20-30kg (tn: 44-66lbs), so it’d be weirder if having that kind of weight on your shoulders wasn’t heavy. But the one directly causing said weight is going to deny that obvious fact.
“No way! A person you love is on top of you so there’s no way it’s heavy?”

While saying that she hit my head multiple times. It hurts. Why are you hitting me. Did I say something weird? Is what you said not incorrect, Miss Tiger? Although if the one riding on my shoulders was Narae I’d attest to your statement, since this monkey-like, cousin to a cat little brat is on me, how could it not be heavy.

“It seems like you’re thinking of something unpleasant.”

She’s quite perceptive. In order to shift Rangii’s attention, I grabbed the ankle of the girl hitting my head and……,

“Why are you doing that?”

She turned around energetically.

“Ack, what are you doing now?”

Then a moment after she said that.

“Kyahahaha! How fun!!”

She lied flat, beginning to scream cheerfully. I’m starting to get dizzy too, so I should stop. Since if I make a mistake it’ll be dangerous. I slowed down little by little, stopping. Wow, everything’s spinning. Rangii hugged my head with her legs, making sure she was sitting up on me and then collapsed. Her waist is strong.

“Was it fun?”

“Yeah! So human bodies are so weak that this makes them dizzy? But that was fun!”

“The young master is shockingly good at caring for children.”

“What do you mean shockingly? I took care of my younger relatives on my mom’s side so I got used to it.”

“No matter where I look, that kind of personality is nonexistent.”

“Thanks for the compliment.”

I spoke while Rangii, who made a nest on my head, was tapping her legs on me.

“Hey, now get down. Like you said, humans are weak and get tired easily.”

“Okay.”

The tiger released her legs from around my neck and tumbled backwards, falling. ……what?! I turned around, surprised, but I could see Rangii had landed on all fours, and a question mark formed on her head while she looked at me.

“What’s wrong?”

Ah, you’re a member of the cat family.

“The clueless young master worried about Master.”

“So my being worried makes me an idiot.”

“I’d prefer it if you were loving rather than worried.”

“Ah, that’s impossible.”

Love can’t suddenly form just from one word. Falling in love at first sight is an exception, but I already fell in love with Narae, so I can’t fall in love with you.

“Where else could you find such a lovable girl?”

Puffing out her lacking chest, she spoke proudly while tilting her head up, and while she may be lovable, something was different. Rather than love for that girl, what I felt was…… That’s right, fatherly affection. I suppose you could say that it’s too easy to feel fatherly affection for her. And so, holding onto all that affection,

“That’s right. Our Rangii is very, very lovable.”

I patted Rangii’s head. Seeing Rangii smile so happily at this, it made her really look like an innocent little kid.

“Really?”

“Yes—.”

Since she’s a lovable little kid. Rangii clearly showed a happy expression at my words, but strangely, it disappeared after a moment,

“Then what should…… I do……”

She started muttering something I couldn’t understand.

What’s wrong? This is the first time I saw a kid look so down after getting complemented.

Ah, this is the tiger from Dangun mythology. Could my words or actions have brought up bad memories?

Ah, I don’t know. If she doesn’t tell me, then I don’t have a clue. For some reason I got upset and lied down in my room. Then at that auspicious moment, a stomach grumbled.

Grooowl—.

That was my stomach. Now that I think about it, I haven’t eaten anything since getting here.
“Then, please excuse me. I shall prepare a meal for the pig-like young master.”

Let’s filter those words through my brain. That is easily my favorite thing that Saehee said today.
“Food?”

Baduk woke up after hearing the word food.

“Will you greedily eat what I bring?”

Are you hiding some side dishes somewhere is what I thought.

“Yeah.”
 
“I understand.”

I came to regret what I said.

A moment later. Saehee came carrying a table with enough on it to break its legs. Even at a glance, I could tell there were over 10 side dishes on it. How bourgeois. I’m not jealous! There’s no way I’m jealous of how luxuriously you can fill your table! I’m just going to gracefully eat it!

But after that well-endowed table was laid in front of me, rather than pick up a spoon, I raised a finger to ask Saehee a question.

“…..What is this?”

“It is grilled salamander. Marinated, barbecued salamander.”

 “Then, this?”

“It is steamed snake. Recently caught with its internal organs removed, braised to keep taste and nutrition. Even the shape was perfectly preserved.”

“And this.”

“Deer antlers.”

“That?”

“The gallbladder of a bear.”

“That?”

“Centipede blanched in boiling water wrapped with kimchi made 3 years ago into bossam. [15]

I wanted to flip the table.

“What kind of side dishes are these?! Are you making it so I only eat rice?!!”

Even a frog’s side dishes would be better!

“It is not good to be picky.”

“That’s right, being picky is bad! And I’m not picky!”

I was raised by an ill-tempered dad and my mom whose days spent at home I can count with one hand; I wouldn’t have survived if I were picky about side dishes. But, but who can eat this stuff?! Do you think I’m a person from TV? Did you think I’d eat it while saying “It’s a really dangerous animal, but it’s also high in vitamins and proteins”?! Are you going to record Man VS Phantom? How the hell am I supposed to eat this?!
 
“Who could eat this?!”

“Looks great.”

“Looks really extravagant.”

I’m sorry. The residents are phantoms. Seeing Baduk eyeing the barbecued salamander and Rangii concentrating her sight on the bear gallbladder, it felt like I was Alice in Wonderland.

“Say, Saehee.”

“Yes, young master.”

“I’m a human. A normal one at that, until yesterday.”

And I saw some shocking things, so I thought I’d finally started to revolt. Why, you may ask? Because before my eyes, I saw Saehee’s eyes widen and her hand cover her open mouth as her brain comprehend this distorted information!

“Is, is that so?”

She’s also stuttering?!

“I had always thought the young master was a thoughtless, moronic human.”

“……Even if you say I’m a thoughtless, moronic human, I can’t eat that.”

“I understand. Then I will prepare the food again.”

I spoke to Saehee while she was getting up.

“No, you don’t have to. Well, I’ll just eat it this time.”

I may have difficulty eating such impactful side dishes, but if I look closely, I can see a few seasoned vegetables there. I had been holding a spoon, thinking I would eat like this without realizing that fact. There were only my eating utensils on the table.

“You’re not eating?”

Rangii answered my question.

“We’re going to eat in the kitchen, so do not worry.”

“Why?”

“That is proper etiquette.”

Like I asked, what era are you from?

“Who does that these days? Let’s just eat together.”

Rangii spoke, embarrassed.
 
“No, it’s etiquette. We cannot do that.”

……Even though you’re worrying over this now.

“Eating alone makes the food taste bad. Saehee.”

“Yes, young master.”

“Prepare the table so Rangii, Baduk, and you can all eat.”

“What? Me too?”

Baduk looked questioningly at me. Why are you doing that?

“But I can just eat the mixed up leftovers?”

Ah, that’s right, you’re a dog.

Hm?

……Ah.

Mother. Your son has gotten to the point of treating a house-sized phantom, a phantom transformed into a human, like a normal dog.

If I saw Baduk eating my leftovers all mixed up in a dog bowl, I would lose something important as a human being, so I’ll have to make her eat with us by force.

“That’s enough. Just eat together.”

“Yes, young master.”

She may have made it seem like she refused once, but a little later, her tail was wagging and her head was nodding. She’s not happy just because she gets to eat food sooner, right? Saehee left the room for a moment. Saehee came carrying rice, utensils, and more side dishes for me to eat on a tray and set them on the table. If you had that, you should have brought it out earlier. I let out a small sigh and held my spoon.

“Then let’s eat.”

“Yeah.”

“Yes.”

“Thank you for the meal~.”

I heard each respective reply and with my spoon in hand…… but I put it immediately down and hit the tiger in the head.

“Ow?! Why are you hitting me? Don’t you know the saying that even Baduk shouldn’t be bothered during a meal?” [16]

That’s because you’re a tiger.

“Who eats food with their hands?”

Is this India? Look at who’s next to you. Baduk's eating while using her utensils like a civilized phantom! She is eating a little too fast, but never mind that. How can a tiger not do what a dog can?
“What’s weird about eating with my hands? I’m a tiger!”

“Ah, yes. You’re a tiger who changed into a human. If you’re going to eat like that, change back into a tiger.”

“……Is that okay?”

I only said one thing to Rangii who was carefully studying my expression and whose hair was creating a question mark.

“If you are, then go back to the cave.”

“Uwuuuh—. How mean. Suddenly saying that, Sunghoon you’re mean—.”

Looking at how depressed Rangii looked, I felt like a bastard but I really didn’t do anything wrong?
“Young master, you truly are the son of my scumbag older brother.”

I didn’t do anything wrong!

“If you don’t like it, then eat with your utensils.”

At my words, Rangii’s shoulders drooped and her tail fell to the ground as she clumsily held her spoon-- no wait-- she held it in her fist like a kindergartener and started shoveling the rice. When she wanted to eat the side dishes, she picked up the chopsticks, stuck them through the food, and barely brought it to her mouth. But as grains of rice fell and side dishes dropped, her tears began to fall. She was totally crying.

……I can’t watch this anymore.

“Hey, Rangii.”

“Sniff, what is it, Sunghoon-the-meanie-who-enjoys-bullying-me?”

My name isn’t that long.

“Bring your rice bowl and utensils and carry them over here to eat.”

“Why?”

“Come over here and eat.”

I spoke while patting the seat next to me, and Rangii moved cautiously towards me. It seems she remembers how I hit her before. When Rangii moved to the spot I indicated, I sneakily moved behind Rangii and sat.

“Hm? What are you doing all of a sudden?”

I crossed my legs and lifted her onto my legs. It’s heavy.

“Hueek?!”

Her totally straight tail was tickling my chin. It’d be tough if she got the wrong idea so I spoke to her before that could happen.

“Don’t think anything weird.”

I spoke while picking up the spoon and putting it in Rangii’s hand properly with my right hand.
“This is how you hold the spoon. Understand?”

“Y, yeah. I understand.”

“Try and eat.”

Rangii moved her spoon to eat the rice. It was sloppy, but she was eating her rice a lot better now that she was holding the spoon well. She was totally cute, going nyam nyam while eating.

“And this is how you hold chopsticks. It’ll be tough at first, but this’ll be the most comfortable as you get used to it so make sure to hold them like this. Okay?”

I held the chopsticks in Rangii’s hand. Since holding chopsticks is complicated, I fiddled with her hand until I noticed something and stopped. Until I noticed how small and smooth Rangii’s hand is, and her face turning red.

……Right now I’m doing something that would be totally embarrassing in public. Even though the truth is that all I did was teach a child how to hold her eating utensils. Un-until I was a sixth-grader in elementary school, whenever my mom came home she’d put me on her knee and eat like this with me! I’m not the weird one!

“You are calmly doing incredibly embarrassing things, young master.”

My face became red-hot at Saehee’s words.

“Ah, no! I’m just teaching her proper etiquette!”

“I understand. If that is what the young master says, then it must be true.”

In times like this, I can’t tell if she’s making fun of me or being serious because of her expressionless face.

“A, anyway! You get it now, right?”

“Y, yeah. I get it. Thank you, Sunghoon.”

I suddenly felt embarrassed so I set Rangii down and I began to eat. I moved my chopsticks to pick up a vegetable, but then I saw Rangii reach her arm out to get the wrapped centipede.

……Her arm is too short to reach. It’s a tear-worthy sight. I don’t know if she thought it was improper to get up during the meal, but her but her butt remained stuck to the ground.

“U—uk.”

She groaned like this while and all I could think was so this is why stature is important. I tried to get the attention of those two with a ‘you two should take care of your master’ stare, but Baduk was too busy eating, her butt moving up and down and her tail wagging. Saehee was staring expressionlessly at thin air, so she didn’t notice my gaze.

“Uu—. I can’t reach it. I want to eat it…… Unya—.”

Ah, she’s even beginning to cry. …..There’s no helping it. I endured the strange food and grabbed the centipede wrap with my chopsticks.

“Ah—.”

I heard Rangii’s gasp. If I put it on my own rice bowl and ate it then it’d be the perfect way to bully her, but, ah, that’s impossible. Like I said, my stomach isn’t strong enough to eat a centipede wrap. I nimbly put it on top of Rangii’s rice bowl.

“If there’s a side dish you want to eat then tell me. I’ll give it to you.”

“……My eyes truly were correct!”

Looking at Rangii’s big smile, I felt an inexplicable sense of guilt.

Sorry. I don’t know if I did anything wrong, but sorry.”




After eating dinner, the sky was already darkened.

I guess despite the weird side dishes, Saehee’s actually a really good cook? One thought suddenly came to my attention. I accidentally overate a little, as a result. Though Rangii ate more than me. I have no idea how she could be putting all that in her tiny body.

As I was blanking out while digesting the food, I heard my cellphone’s ringtone. Is it Narae? It’s probably Narae? Does she want to forgive me? I quickly got up and checked my phone.

It’s Dad.

My anger was surging within me. I shouted immediately after opening my phone.

“You sure called at a good time! What kind of parent tricks their son and sends him to a phantom den?!”

The receiving party didn’t say anything. Hm? Why’s he like that? If it were Dad, then he’d go ‘hahaha, that’s your dad for you,  I guess if it’s unfair, then your dad did it, hahaha’? It was then. I heard her voice.

[O—oh. Our son. So you’ve even learned how to yell at your mother? You’ve really grown up?]
I screwed up. It’s Mom. My hands were shaking and a cold sweat chilled my back.

“M, m, m, mother?”

[Why’re you like that, my son, whom I love, who also stabbed a dagger into my heart? You’re not going to give me the excuse that you saw it was your dad calling you so you didn’t know it was me, are you?]

“……But that’s what happened.”

[Your mother is sad. At how you bit your mother who worked to the bone to raise you. I was worried for my son so I came immediately from my work in China to Korea, half-killed my husband, and called you with his phone just to have you raise your voice at me…….]

Then mother deliberately stopped talking and took a deep breath.

[I’m so sad.]

“Ah, ha, ha, ha.”

My mouth which moved so easily in front of the tiger was stuck.

[To thrust such a claw at me, my son who just screwed up, shall I use this opportunity and time to break you?]

He—ek!

“I’m sorry! I made a mistake! Please spare me!”

[Oh my, but there’s no reason for me to kill the son who I went through great pains to give birth to?]
No, it seems like you’re going to kill me. My hand was shaking so much that I had to struggle to hold onto my cellphone, and then I heard my mom give a small sigh.

[More importantly, has everything gone well?]

That’s a relief. My affectionate and merciful mom seems to have decided to skip over my blunder.

“Yes.”

[Really. This louse—kwajeek—without any explanation—uwaaak!!—sent you there, do you have any idea—pok!—how word this mother was?—kyaaaak—]

I’ll just ignore the noise in the background.

[Really, when will you grow up?—I’ll die before that! I said I’m going to die!—will you get yourself together if you die?—I’m really dying!!—]

Ah, they really are a close couple. I’d better marry a gentle, completely non-violent woman.

[So did everything go well with Rangii?]

“Oh? Mom, you know about Rangii?”

[Isn’t it obvious? Who do you think took you there before you were even weaned off your mother’s milk?]

Ah, of course. Mom took me to Rangii and then…… created the engagement.

I totally forgot that the main culprit was my mother.

[Really, there was a girl who was so cute I wanted to take her as my daughter, and I think I remember making a promise but it’s all a little hazy. Well, it can’t have been that important.]

Am I solely surrounded by people who totally lack common sense?

“……You really didn’t notice anything after seeing Rangii?”

[So what if she’s a tiger phantom? When that’s just her astral body?]

She’s open-minded. Way too open. To the point where I have nothing else to say.

[So come back tomorrow.]

“What? Why?”

I was thinking about bringing Rangii to Seoul with me, but tomorrow? Isn’t that too fast? Because I was thinking about teaching her about the human world at grandfather’s estate before going back to Seoul. But, mom……

[Why? Are you talking back to me right now?]

She changed my thoughts in just one word.

“I shall obey.”

[Then let’s eat dinner together tomorrow. Okay?]

“……Yes.”

After saying that as if I would eat in hell if I didn’t agree, Mom hung up the phone. Ah man, dear God. Please save me.

“Are you done with your call?”

Of course, it’s not the time to find God, but deal with this. Seeing Rangii appear by opening the paper sliding door, I felt as if I still had a long ways to go before completing my 12 labors. But what did she just say?

“Oh, were you waiting?”

Rangii went “ahem” and stood proudly.

“Of course I did. I know it is improper to interrupt in your husband’s phone call.”

If she hadn’t added the part about husbands, then I would’ve honestly wanted to compliment her.

“Ah, yeah. Thanks.”

That’s why I thanked her so curtly.

“So why did you come here? It’s getting dark so a good kid should be going to sleep now, right?"

“That’s why I came here.”

I had an ominous feeling so I’ll just cut this at the bud.

“So you came to say goodnight before going to bed? Yeah, goodnight to you too. Okay, now leave. Right now.”

“I came to sleep with you.”

“He—y.”

Are you just going to ignore me?

“It’s okay. Even if you cannot stand your adolescent vigor and attack me, I shall accept you with my whole body.”

Does she even understand what she’s saying? And do you really think I’d attack a little kid like you if I couldn’t stand my adolescent vigor?

I was worrying about how to send her back when,

“Excuse me.”

Opening the door even more and carrying blankets, Saehee entered the room. ……how did she just open the door? She didn’t use her foot and she was carrying blankets with both her hands.

“I shall prepare a place for you, young master.”

“By whose decision?”

It seems like Saehee didn’t have an appropriate response to what I said.

“Because if I do not prepare this, then a terrible situation will occur.”
 
“Like I said, why?”

“It’s because of me.”

“This is your doing?!”

She ignored my words, but seeing her skillfully lay out the bed, I stopped thinking about stopping her. I guess you can call it despair. But after she prepared the bedding, she said,

“Then I shall go back. Please have a good night……”

I couldn’t do anything but grab Saehee.

“Hey. Why did you set two pillows but only one blanket?”

“Ah, were you going to have her sleep on your arm?”

“That’s not it. And why the hell is there a tissue box right next to the bed?!”

Where the hell did you learn that kind of thing from?!

“I heard on the internet that when a couple sleeps together, this is necessary.”

“……Does internet work here?”

“It is wireless.”

I was shocked at how our country’s technical prowess allowed access to wireless internet deep within the mountains, wait, that’s not it.

“We’re not a couple yet, Saehee.”

“You will be one starting tomorrow. Since the young master is a lolicon.”

“You’re saying that again?!”

“Then I shall take my leave now.”

“Hey! Hey!!”

While saying that, Saehee disappeared like she was fog and closed the door.

Just staring blankly at the door won’t change the situation. I wish someone would press the rewind button on my life. Even two minutes would be enough.

“Aren’t you going to sleep?”

“……When did you get in there?”

Rangii was unexpectedly underneath the covers, with just her head poking out. Who said you could get in. I’m saying it’s more comfortable for me to sleep alone so get out! is what I wanted to yell at her, but I shut my mouth after seeing her clothes laid neatly next to the blankets. I could see Rangii’s outer clothing and lady’s panties. This must be that, right?

“……Hey.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Did you take your underwear off too?”

“I was told that not wearing underwear when sleeping is good for your health.”

That kind of saying does exist, but who told......, it was Saehee. There’s no one else but Saehee. After releasing a big sigh, I got up while packing the shorts I brought to wear as pajamas.

“You sleep here. I’ll sleep in another room.”

“Why are you going to do that?”

Rangii sat up. The blanket that was covering her up to her neck naturally moved down and I could see…… couldn’t see her pale skin.

“Hey.”

“My name is Ho Rangii.”

“No, just ignore the small stuff. How did you end up wearing that.”

The pronoun that, in this case, is being used to indicate my t-shirt. Speaking of Rangii taking off her clothes, after I took that t-shirt from her and stuffed it in my bag, she’s wearing it right now.

“Yeah, do whatever you want. Wear it or don’t.”

I got up and pulled the sliding door to the side. It’s not moving. ……huh? I’m using all my strength to try and pull a door made of wood and thin paper, but it won’t budge.

“Why won’t this open?”

I was talking to myself, surprised, but then

“For Master and the young master’s time of intimacy, I applied magic. Until the first chicken cries even I cannot open the door, so no matter what kind of hard play you do, you can relax.”

Saehee answered. Hey, dammit. So you were there.

“Open the door right now!”

There’s no response. It doesn’t seem like anyone’s behind the door. Has she disappeared for now?! I tried to open the door again, but it really won’t open.

“What are you doing there?”

……Should I ask Rangii for help? No, there’s no reason why Rangii would listen to my request. Would it really be so bad to just sleep? I still remember a thought like that from before. But still, I should at least try and ask her.

“Hey, open this door.”

“I don’t know how to use that kind of magic.”

“……Why?”

“Saehee knew those trivial magics so I didn’t have to learn them. I can break it by my own strength. Should I do that?

“It’s fine.”

Whatever, I don’t know anymore. I’ll just sleep here for today. I’ll just think of it as sleeping with a younger cousin. It, it’s embarrassing because this came about so quickly. It’s okay. Rangii’s still a child. If I were sleeping with Narae or some other big-breasted older sister type I might be able to escape virginity through some means…… no, I mean I would be able to escape it, but since it’s Rangii, it’s okay.

“Let’s just sleep.”

I decided to just get this weird activity over with. I got in quietly next to Rangii. It’s a large blanket so there’s a lot of space left for me.

“I haven’t prepared myself for our first night yet……”

I prepared myself to hit you on the head a while ago.

“Owie! What in the world do you think my head is?!”

“A cure to stop you from spouting nonsense.”

“Uuuu—. You are the only one since I was born to ever hit me on the head.”

“Think of it as a good experience.”

More importantly, the blanket is very nice and thin. The feel of the wind blowing softly through is really refreshing. Did she put into consideration the fact that it’s summer?

“Then I’m going to sleep. You go to sleep too.”

“Is the first night really meant to be like this?”
 
Don’t ask me.

“I heard that we’re supposed to do something more the bigger our love for each other is, before we go to sleep. How strange.”

“……Why are you so fixated on that?”

After hesitating for a moment, Rangii responded to my question while grabbing my hand.

“This will be a long, boring story, but would you like to hear it?”

“It’s fine, I still think fondly of grandmothers telling an old folk tale.”

“In what way am I like a grandmother?”

Rangii pinched my side.

“Hey hey hey.”

I spoke as Rangii took the blanket from me and rolled it around herself as she spun away.

“Even if I don’t know other things, I know that Sunghoon needs a punishment for making fun of someone’s age.”

This may be a bit of a late response, but you have to be over 4000 years old, so if you think about the wording of what I said I’m not wrong? But even if it is the middle of summer, I might catch a cold if I sleep without a blanket. I also don’t want to harm Baduk's sanctity by having her catch a human’s cold. Looking at Rangii’s back as she was sulking, I patted Rangii’s clearly visible head and spoke.
“It’s a joke, you brat. Don’t be upset.”

“……I’m not upset.”

Rangii quietly pushed the edge of the blanket that was originally around her body towards me. I grabbed my side of the blanket and pulled. She spun quickly and got right up next to my chest. It’s way too warm with you on me is what I was about to say when,

“It was a long time ago.”

Rangii started her story right after she hugged my chest.

“I was watching over and protecting the children who were eating humans. My fellow chiefs and I, as great phantoms, had no reason to eat humans, but the normal ones ate the spirits of humans to increase their strength.”

On this topic, back then this was a natural occurrence. Because after phantoms ate humans, other humans’ fear would act to prolong the life of the phantoms for days.

“And so, one day, I found a strange sight.”

A mother and child. And a phantom. The phantom was going to eat the pair when,

“I couldn’t understand. One’s own life is more important than any other’s life. This is the logic of all those who have life. But then the moment they were about to be eaten, the mother attempted to save her child’s life by sacrificing her own.”

At first, I thought that was just an instinct to save her species.

“But it wasn’t. I thought that their mating and creating offspring was all this was, but a man and woman who were completely unrelated by blood, despite their fear being plain to see, sought to sacrifice themselves. And when I saw this, I found out my thinking was incorrect. What could be making this pair, who were so deathly afraid and facing death, act for the sake of another.”

And so, one day, she asked the wisest human. How can a human sacrificing herself for the sake of another, and he answered like this.

“Dear mountain god, that is love.”

The mountain god, Rangii, was shocked by this.

“Then if I were to receive this love…… How happy would I be. I was so bored and bored and bored. Receiving love is the only way for me, who lives without a purpose, to have purpose. So, how could I not be interested?”

At those words.
 
“I want to be loved.”

I suddenly felt as if Rangii, who was hugging my chest, was far away.

“I heard that all couples who love each other get married. So I want to get married with you and receive your love.”

Rangii’s thoughts on love are wrong. You can’t call that love. Simply for fun, to love just to make yourself happy, is not what I view love to be. That’s closer to a kind of game.

But I couldn’t bear to tell Rangii that her thinking was wrong. Rangii believed that was love for such a long time because of the seal. A long time that I couldn’t possibly fathom.

Could I even explain to her what was wrong if I told her that her thinking was incorrect? And could I explain to Rangii what love is?

It’d be impossible. I’m not the one who should tell her about that anyway. So I said,

“Is that so.”

I responded to Rangii’s words,

“Yeah. It is.”

To Rangii, who so thoroughly believed she would receive love from me and was smiling so innocently, I couldn’t do anything but rub her head.

“Huwee~.”

Rangii was happy so her ears were down and she was smiling brightly. I wish someone would quickly appear and properly teach this baby-like phantom what love really is.
Since there’s no way that person can be me.

Could it be because of what happened today? After patting Rangii’s head, I lost consciousness and I fell asleep.

“……Are you sleeping?”

The last thing I heard was Rangii talking, embarrassed.




It’s cold. Even though I have the blanket over me, it’s cold. The cold woke me up. Ugh—. How is it this cold? I curled my body together, but I’m not a bug so I couldn’t just roll into a ball. I flailed my arm on the ground out of the blanket to find anything extra to cover me with. My bag should be around here somewhere…… Ah, I don’t know what it is, but I grabbed something warm. With my hand outstretched, I used it as a substitute heater and hugged it to me. It was big, a perfect fit on my chest, and extremely warm. With even a nice fragrance coming from it, it was the perfect thing to hug and sleep with.

“Uu-ung…… What the…… Su, Sunghoon?”

Hm? The heater was wriggling and now it’s talking. Well, not like I care. If a dog and a tiger can talk, why can’t a heater talk. But still, it might be a strict heater, so I slightly opened one eye to look at the heater and as I lifted my head, I saw Rangii looking at me. Ah, the thing I thought was a heater was actually Rangii. Then I don’t care.

“Since it’s cold— I should sleep like this……”

“Ye, yeah.”

Even if I didn’t like this, it’d be nice to sleep like this. But it’s not as warm as before? Back then, I clearly…… Ah, back then, her tail was wriggling because she turned around. This little minx. I turned Rangii back around and stuck close to her back.

“This side…… is warmer.”

“Uu—uk.”

With my face on Rangii’s head and my arm under her neck to give her an arm-pillow, I wrapped my arm around her hip and thanks to the heat and smell radiating from her, I fell asleep.

“I, I can’t…… go to sleep like this.”

I can go to sleep easily.

“……it feels wrong to go through something so troubling.”

It’s definitely troublesome. It felt nice to hug her because her body is so soft. I moved my hand and touched her belly.

It’s soft.

“Unyak!”

*Feel, feel* A kid’s belly is definitely soft and round. This might become a habit. Then how will other places be? And so I fell asleep while caressing Rangii’s soft body like this.

“U, unyaaang—.”




It’s troubling. I woke up and was greeted with an unprecedented development, unable to figure out how to deal with this, so it was extremely troubling. I, I should calm down. I calmed down and objectively examined the situation.

Right now I’m lying on the bed like a shrimp in the blankets. And Rangii’s lying down with her back on my chest. My left hand is under her neck, giving her an arm pillow, and my right hand is on her stomach. No, it was touching it. Since I moved it right after I woke up.

This brat, her belly is strangely softer than her chest…… no, I mean right now I look perfectly like a degenerate. A pervert. Like a lolicon. What should I do in this situation? I can’t even change my position because of my left arm. It’d be counterproductive to move my left arm and wake up Rangii. And while I was unable to do anything,

Cock a doodle doo~.

A totally generic-sounding chicken’s cry echoed through the air. Ah, has the first chicken cried? For the sun to rise now, I must’ve woken up really early. Actually, it’s a relief I got up so early. Since I woke up before Rangii.

Right then,

Du-ru-ruk.

The door’s open.

Wearing the same black modernized hanbok and maintaining her lack of expression, Saehee opened the door and entered, although just saying ‘it was Saehee’ would have sufficed, I purposefully increased the amount of words I used to try and slow down time, but it didn’t work.

“……”

“……”

Our eyes met. A moment later the corners of Saehee’s mouth rose slightly.

“Lolicon. Pervert. Human scum. Which do you prefer, young master?

“You’re wrong! What you think happened didn’t really happen!”

“It seems your exhaustion from last night has not been reduced, so I shall contact you later.”

 This damn woman doesn’t have any thoughts about listening to what others say.

“I said that’s not it!”

“U—ung. What’s…… not it?”

Oh God. Rangii woke up.

Rangii rubbed her eyes and while still half-asleep,

“Ha—ahm…… I wasn’t able to sleep properly because of Sunghoon…… so I’m going to sleep more.”

After saying something bound to cause a misunderstanding, she spun to my side and after looking towards me,

“Snoore—.”

She fell asleep.

Du-ru-ruk.

The door’s closed.




With Saehee acting as if she knew everything already, I gave up on explaining the situation to her, and for whatever reason there was only stamina food for breakfast, so after eating that I started packing up. Mom said for me to go back to Seoul so I’d better thoroughly prepare beforehand. Rangii crouched beside me and started talking.

“Is there somewhere you’re going?”

“I need to go home. I can’t stay here anymore.”

“Home?”

“My home.”

“……You’re going to Seoul?!”

After being lost in thought for a bit, she jerked back in surprise. What’s wrong?

“Wha, what are you going to do about me? Are you just going to throw me away and leave?”

Are you a dog I picked up from the street? Throw you away? I tried to say of course you’re going with me, but Rangii stopped me with a shocking statement.

“Then what was all that last night? Was it a midsummer night’s prank?!”

“Don’t say something that can be so easily misunderstood!!”

What do you mean what I did last night?! All I did was hug you and go to sleep!

I’d better change the subject before she says something strange again.

“Also, of course you’re going with me, so who’s going to be thrown away?

“……Eh?”

A question mark appeared above Rangii’s head.

“Then are you not going to go? You’ll stay here alone?”

“I--I can come, too?”

Rangii looked like she was about to cry. That expression made me uneasy. A kid shouldn’t make that kind of face. So I spoke a little angrily.

“I told you in the cave. Let’s go together. Do you have dementia?”

Rangii’s tail stretched out straight.

 “The Sunghoon who talks about dementia is bad!”

I’ll ignore that.

“So is there any problem with following me?

After getting lost in thought about it for a moment, Rangii shook her head.

“……There’s no big problem.”

Are you saying that there’s a small problem, then?

“But if I follow you I may be a nuisance.”

“What about it?”

“Can’t you remain here?”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“My mom told me to come to Seoul immediately.”

And since it’s best to fix the misunderstanding with Narae as soon as possible. But Rangii, this brat. After hearing about Mom, she lowered her head and her tail was shaking from side to side. She seems depressed?

“What’s wrong?”

“If it’s a command from my mother-in-law, then there is no helping……”

“And just who’s your mother-in-law?”

“Is it strange to call the mother of my husband mother-in-law?”

Your assumption is wrong in the first place.
 
“No, moving on from that.”

And I’ve gone beyond the level understanding her as a little girl saying nothing more than when I grow up I’m going to marry Dad~. I guess I’ve grown up.

“But your reaction to me saying it was my mom was weird?”

“Ah, that.”

Rangii fiddled with her tail as she spoke.
 
“Mother-in-law is difficult to go against, even I cannot do anything.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Mother-in-law believes that if she put her mind to it, she could do something even to a spirit like me.”

“……It must be difficult when someone’s so delusional.”

Her real body is Jirisan and just her spiritual body is the size of a mountain, so if there’s someone who deludes herself into thinking she can take on Rangii, then of course it’d be difficult to face her.
“But for that to be truly possible……”

“Eh?”

What kind of nonsense is that? Mom’s definitely a little unusual, but she’s still a normal human? How can Mom face a phantom like you?

“Listen well. We phantoms most fear humans who believe in themselves and think they can do anything. Even great phantoms such as I cannot injure humans without having a material form.”

“So you’re saying my mom’s that kind of person?”

Rangii nodded her head. Wow, Mom. You were acknowledged by the tiger from the Dangun myth.
“Well, is that so.”

Even if I didn’t know that, Mom’s the one who married Dad to reform him. If you look at it in a certain way, she’s more of a freak than Dad. She had the strange confidence that led to her motivation to fix Dad’s personality.

Maybe it’s because I inherited that from her, but I grew up believing only in what I thought was right while totally disregarding others no matter what they said. I know it’s a bad habit, but it’s really hard to fix what’s called a personality.

But the problem I need to think about right now isn’t my personality, but how I can go to Seoul with Rangii. Because Mom said to come back to Seoul together, if I don’t do that then my life may be in danger. So I looked at Rangii again.

“Are you saying you won’t go with me?”

“But if I go to Seoul……”

Rangii shook her tail from side to side, lost in worry. I don’t know what you’re worrying about, but I might end up being beaten by my mom if you don’t go to Seoul.

So I’m saying it.

“I’ll protect you.”

“......Eh?”

“No matter what my mom does, no matter what happens I’ll protect you, so let’s go together.”

Don’t go together and get killed or go together and something happens. Between those two, obviously I’ll pick the latter.

“Sunghoon……”

Rangii was shaking.

“Do you really mean it?”

“Of course.”

Even though if you don’t then I’ll die.

Totally clueless of my circumstances, Rangii crouched down and,

“Truly, I knew you were my fated one!”

Uwak! Rangii made me fall by suddenly jumping up and rubbed her face on my cheek. Even as I was surprised by how soft and warm she felt, I grabbed her waist to try and pry her off when,

“There is a saying that teenage boys are like dogs in heat, but that seems to be the truth.”

At Saehee’s words, who inexplicably opened the door and was sitting respectfully outside, I hugged Rangii, set her down to the side, and got up.

“You should stop with the nonsense, you silly person.”

“I am not a person.”

Now I’m not even curious about what you are. I’m talking about what kind of phantom you are.
“More importantly, Rangii’s going to Seoul with me, but is there a bus that comes here?”

But Saehee ignored me and looked at Rangii then spoke.

“Are you planning on going to Seoul, master?”

Rangii nodded her head. Saehee’s usual emotionless expression collapsed for a moment but returned to normal in an instant, leaving me unable to know what that expression was.

“Is that so. In that case, I will prepare the car.”

“But what are you going to do?”

“Obviously I shall attend to Master and remain at her side.”

Couldn’t you just stay here? For the sake of my sanity.

No, I should look on the bright side. If I go with Rangii alone then I’ll have to take care of her as well. Since Mom’s busy with work and Dad’s that kind of person. In that case it’d actually be best for Saehee to come with us. But I’m still going to ask what I have to ask.

“What about the house?”

“Baduk will be here.”

Baduk became a guard dog.

“......Will it still be okay? Won’t Baduk be lonely if she’s all by herself?”

“You do not have to worry. The children that left because of the smelly young master will return after realizing you have left and they will play with her.”

If I respond then I lose. I ignored Saehee’s deliberate word choice and asked a question.

“Those children you talked about, they’re phantoms right?”

“That is correct.”

Then this place really will become a phantom’s mansion.

“Then I shall prepare the bags.”

Just like when she came here, she disappeared silently. She really lacks a presence. If I were walking on a road in the middle of the night and she spoke to me from behind I might have a heart attack.
“I’m gonna pack my things, so you too. If you have anything to bring then pack it.”

At my words, Rangii grabbed me from behind and hugged onto my neck.

“......What’re you doing?”

“What I’m going to bring.”

Am I an object?

“Anything else?”

“None. All I need is Sunghoon.”

…...Ah, that’s actually a little touching. This brat, she’s so young that she’s able to say such incredibly embarrassing things. That’s why she’s cute. Isn’t she cute? She’s cute. So much so that I want to bite her.

“Yeah. Thanks.”

Since I couldn’t bite her, I put my hand on top of hers.




When I packed my backpack and headed to the yard, Baduk was waiting for me.

“Young master, isn’t there any way you could stay here longer?”

Although it’s sad to see Baduk with her tail down straight down and looking at me so mournfully as if she was about to cry,

“Sorry. Something urgent came up.”

Because in this world, there’s nothing more precious than one’s own life.

“Whi—ine.”

Uwak?! She’s really crying! Tears fell from her eyes like waterfalls and as I saw her wiping at her eyes with the backs of her hands, I thought such a weird thought as ‘in this word, could this dog girl’s tears be the most precious thing in the world?’

No, that’s not right. If my mind weakens here then tonight I’m going to be eating dinner in hell. For Mom, it’d be an easy task to capture her son from Jirisan. I spoke while petting Baduk's head.

“I’ll be back after I settle what I have to do. Don’t cry, you brat. If strangers saw this, they’d think we were separating forever.”

“You’re going to come back?”

“That’s right.”

“Then when will you?”

Ummm……. It’d be okay to say that I’d stay for a week before summer vacation ended, right?
“After 20 days? So during that time, you need to be sure to guard the house well.”

Baduk nodded her head at my words and, making it unbelievable that she was crying just a moment ago, had her eyes filled with resolution and looked at me as she spoke.

“Yes! I’ll protect it for sure!”

“Yeah, aren’t you a good girl.”

I was petting Baduk like that when suddenly,

“The young master is truly a lolicon.”

“Heek?!”

I was totally surprised when I heard Saehee’s voice from behind my back. (I gave up on caring that Saehee calls me a lolicon.) Ra, rather than a phantom, don’t you have the characteristics of a ghost? Looking at Saehee in the middle of the day absorbing sunlight made her seem even less like a human. Ah, she’s not a human. Anyway, she was carrying a black travelling bag with two hands.

Huh?

“......So it’s not a bindle?”

“Following common sense, I believe it would be strange to carry a bindle in this day and age.”
…...Sorry. I honestly thought you would pack things up in a bindle. But the thing is……,

“Then, does that mean those clothes aren’t weird to you?”

“This is my preference.”

Ah, yeah. Since it’s your preference, I’ll respect it.

“So where did Miss Rangii go?”

At my words, Saehee turned around and looked at the house’s roof. My eyes naturally went to that direction as well.
 
I got goosebumps on my back.

There was something there I wasn’t able to see, no wait. Totally different from how she is originally, Rangii was standing seriously, looking adamant and proud. It was clearly a small, cute child’s form, but she seemed to be wider than the sky, heavier than a mountain, and deeper than the ocean, an appearance just  like that of a character from a myth.

…...What am I thinking of while looking at Rangii?

More importantly, what is she doing there? What’ll she do if she falls and hurts herself? I opened my mouth to warn her, but,

“Then, please excuse me for a moment.”

Is what she said and then Saehee blocked my ears so I had to stop myself from talking. And then……

[————————————————!!]

A tiger’s fierce roar, indescribable in words, spread through the heavens and the earth. I could see it going through the earth and vibrating the ground. I would have collapsed if Baduk hadn’t grabbed me from behind, and I would have blacked out if Saehee hadn’t blocked my ears.

Wha, what was that? Did something just happen? Saehee took her hands off my ears. I forced open my inexplicably dry lips.

“J, just now…… What was that?”

“For Master, it is similar to a farewell. There is no need for you to know.”

Farewell? You’re saying that that’s a farewell? But to me it sounded like she was threatening something? Did I hear it wrong? Do all tiger’s roars feel like that? My head was filled with those kinds of thoughts when, without my realizing, Rangii had come down from the roof, approached me, and grabbed my hand.

“Did you wait long?”

“......No.”

Seeing her innocent expression, I felt that I somehow had misinterpreted it. I guess tiger’s roars are always like that. Rangii nodded at my words and spoke to Baduk, who until just this second was acting as my legs.

“Then, Shin-ah. Please take care of the house.”

“Yes, Master.”

“Shin-ah?”

Wasn’t her name Baduk? As I was thinking that, the kind Saehee graciously explained it to me.
“That is Baduk's name which she was blessed with by heaven. Simply put, you can consider it to be her true name.”

“Is it something important?”

Saehee nodded her head.

“More important than one’s own life. Carelessly using such a name will result in the speaker getting murdered without excuse. Although we have only just met, I hope you go to a better place.”

“......Am I being murdered?”
 
Is Baduk going to transform into her original form and bite my head off?

“It’s okay, young master.”

Whether Baduk read my thoughts or not, Baduk casually walked in front of me and spoke.
“Because the young master is the one who will become Master’s husband it is okay. If a normal human had said such a thing, I would have bitten him and rolled him around in my mouth.”

Husband, I’ve never heard the word said so magnificently.

“Yeah, okay. That’s a relief.”

“Tsk.”

Did you just ‘tsk’ at me? Actually, I won’t argue. In this world, pretending to not notice something is the better solution for many problems. Just then, I heard a car pull up outside the front gate.

“Then I’m going.”

“Good bye, Master. Young master, please return soon. And Saehee, please take care as well.”
As I received Baduk's farewell, I went out the front gate. Saehee followed right behind me, and Rangii also was…… No, she was standing in front of the gate, completely lost in thought. This brat. Does she really not want to leave? Although there’s the seal, it’s probably because she’s leaving a place she’s lived for over 4,000 years.

……There’s no helping it.  It’s not like me, but I guess it’ll be okay to just push her a little.
Since I need to survive.

“Rangii.”

“Hunyak?!”

Rangii was completely surprised, let out a cutesy voice, and all the hair on her body bristled upwards. ……Are you a cat? I gave Nyangii, no. Rangii my hand.

“Let’s go.”

“......Yeah!”

Although she was hesitant for a moment, she quickly smiled widely and grabbed my hand. I opened the door and Rangii entered first, then I went in.

But Saehee had no plans to enter the car. Are you going to ride in the front? is what I was going to ask, but she was looking off somewhere and both corners of her mouth rose into a frightening smile and after seeing Saehee my mouth stayed still.

Wh, what are you smiling like that for? I stuck my head out to see what Saehee was looking at, but all I could see was the tree’s shade shaking in the wind.

“......What’s wrong?”

“A cute few are talking amongst themselves as they watch us leaving.”

Rangii’s in the car. …...that was a bad joke.

“What is it?”

“It was three bears.”

A familiar children’s song echoed in my head in reaction. [17]

“They may have come to avenge the papa bear.”

“The father bear died?!”

“It is okay. The mama bear is still alive.”

…….I need to get them out of here to protect the ecosystem. Since the black bear family will probably end up in phantoms’ stomachs.

“My apologies. If you wish to eat them, I will prepare them very quickly.”

“It’s fine.”

“It is likely they will follow us up to Seoul, so serving them as a meal would be very simple.”

Saehee’s jokes were always scary because they never seem like one.

______________________________________________________________________

 Notes:

.1. One of the most historically important mountains in all of Korea.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jirisan

.2. Traditional Korean garment that is freaking hot in the summer.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanbok

.3. A traditional ornament on hanboks that look like tassels.

.4. Meant to be a Korean equivalent of “たのもう!” When the nobles of Joseon visit one another’s home, they would say this as a greeting to ask for a housekeeper who would then lead the visitor to the master of the household 

.5. More specifically, Shukuchi.

.6.  A Korean Robin Hood.

.7. A Korean mythological figure who's known to be the founder of ancient Korea, from the Dangun mythologies. The important part is the story of the tiger and the bear: Hwanung presented them with a trial to survive on nothing but mugwort and garlic for a hundred days in a cave if they wanted to become human. The tiger gave up halfway and the bear persisted, becoming the first female human being.

.8. The torso part of the hanbok.

.9. “Baduk” is historically one of the most common dog names, overused to the point of it showing up as actual textbook example dog names in Korean language studies.

.10. An era in Korean history from 1392 to 1897.

.11.  -nim indicates respect. Is obviously being used ironically.

.12. Rangii speaks in an old form of Korean. She all of a sudden changes it to modern Korean when Sunghoon turns her around.

.13. Literally "tiger": 호랑이

.14. 齊天大聖 . "Great Sage, Equal of Heaven." Monkey King Sun Wukong's title.

.15. Korean style of eating pork. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bossam_%28food%29

.16. Alteration on "Not even a dog should be bothered in the middle of a meal." Replacing idioms involving dogs with Baduk will happen fairly often from here on out!

.17. Korean song many children learn. Called “Gom Se Mari” or the “3 Bears Song”

6 comments:

  1. After looking up the relation between a Tiger and Corn Flakes, I had to laugh. Frosted Flakes huh?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ty for this. How many chapters in one novel?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 4 chapters, then the epilogue, then the author's note. The first chapter is about 100 pages long, the rest of them are shorter. So expect chapter 2 in like... 4 months :D

      Delete
  3. I just found out about this series not bad a forced relationship with a loli... thankyou for the chapter:)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Heeey...so this is where Lolieh master dijon baron of mangahere went, praise be

    ReplyDelete

Leave a comment if you want to voice your thoughts/thanks~