Chapter 50 – Judge, I am Innocent (Part 1)
— So… what’s the RNO? — Kang Yu asked Echidna, who was sitting on his lap, as he drove his new car home.
Originally, Kang Yu offered for her to sit in the passenger seat, but she stubbornly refused.
‘Well, it’s not that much of a hindrance.’ Echidna, having shrunk in size, aroused affection rather than annoyance.
— I don’t know what you mean… — Echidna answered, frowning.
If an earthling had been asked, ‘What is Earth?’, he probably would have reacted in the same way.
— Mm-hmm… Well, are there any countries where you’re from? And what do people do there?
— Ah… First of all, Arnan is the biggest country.
And then… — Echidna continued her story.
By her description, the RNO seemed like a fantastic place to Kang Yu.
A world where swords and magic are used, where dragons live…
‘Do the monsters at the gate come from the RNO?’
There were no goblins or trolls in Hell.
Those were monsters that exist thanks to Maryok, not Magi, unlike the Demons.
The main difference between ordinary monsters and Hell’s creatures like the Hellhound or the Boer appears to be their superior power.
But that’s not exactly true.
‘When the Boer appeared at the Level B Gate, it made a fuss and caused a problem.
If it had appeared at least at the Level A Gate, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal.
After all, if you compare S class monsters to ordinary ones, the latter would seem much weaker.’
Sooner or later everyone will be able to compare them, as they get to the higher level gates.
Turning the wheel, Kang Yu continued:
— Echidna, tell me about yourself.
— About… me?
How did you live? How did Ronald find you?
— I… I lived with my dad.
But one day he went somewhere and disappeared.
After that, all I did was read.
But one day, somebody came to me…
Echidna nodded her head.
Kang Yu continued quietly:
— You must have been lonely.
Very, — Echidna said in a sad voice.
Kang Yu couldn’t fully understand her feelings.
He didn’t understand loneliness.
Since he was abandoned right after birth, he didn’t have a single person he was close to.
So he’d always been alone.
It was the norm for him.
How could he feel lonely if he’d never experienced having friends or family?
— And how did the summon happen?
— When I was fighting Ronald, I got the feeling that someone was calling me.
And then suddenly there was a gate.
Kang Yu didn’t know how the creature calling mechanism works, but it certainly didn’t work by the caller’s wishes.
— Here we are.
They’d arrived at Han Sol’s shabby house.
— So that’s where your nest is…
— No, the word ‘nest’ isn’t exactly right… And it’s not my house.
— Kang Yu felt awkward when he parked his car in the parking lot.
Among the cheap domestic cars, Kang Yu’s car stood out.
‘Maybe we should look for a new house?’
At this point, Kang Yu didn’t want to be separated from Han Sol and her mother.
But they couldn’t accept the fact that their house was too small and long worn out.
It would have been nice to save some money and move into a new, whiter, and more spacious house.
‘As close to Red Rose’s office as possible, to make it easier to get to them.’
It was more important now than ever because he and Chae Young-ju were partners now.
Kang Yu was more than satisfied with their current relationship, and he wanted to keep that friendship going.
That’s why he thought it would be a great idea to buy a house in that area.
‘We should go to PC Bang together sometime.’ Kang Yu laughed when he remembered the image of Young-ju losing her temper.
— Let’s go.
— Yes, let’s go.
Kang Yu and Echidna went inside the house.
There was a shriek in the living room.
— What a cutie! — Han Sol was squealing, pulling Echidna out of Kang Yu’s arms.
She waved her wings and helplessly wiggled her short legs in the air.
— Sa… save me, Kang Yu! — Echidna cried out.
Watching Han Sol hug Echidna to her chest, Kang Yu gulped.
‘I envy you.’
He had no idea that Echidna might not be happy being in Han Sol’s arms.
— Ka… Kang Yu…
Echidna whined like Han Sol was putting her through torture.
— Did you say her name was Echidna? Oh, look how cute she is!
— I couldn’t have imagined that your reaction would be so positive.
— What do you mean? How could anyone resist such an adorable creature? — Han Sol’s jaw dropped.
Kang Yu grinned and continued:
— It’s still a monster.
— It’s cute, though.
And friendly! — Han Seol exclaimed and pressed Echidna even harder into her chest.
Kang Yu, who had always seen only the serious side of the girl, smiled at her behavior.
— Sa… save me…
— It’s a little hard on Echidna, so loosen your grip.
— Oh, excuse me.
I didn’t realize that I squeezed her so hard.
The girl relaxed her hold on Echidna and the dragon immediately flapped her wings and flew to Kang Yu, leaving behind a pouting Han Sol.
‘It seems that along with her size, her strength decreased.’
If she had her original strength, she wouldn’t have to ask Kang Yu for help.
— Kang Yu, I’m afraid of her.
— Don’t worry, she doesn’t have any bad intentions, — Kang Yu talked to her like a small child, stroking her head calmly.
Echidna glanced at Han Sol again with fear, and then, giving in to Kang Yu’s petting, she calmed down and rested her head on his arm.
‘She really is cute.’ Kang Yu continued stroking Echidna’s head with a gentle gaze.
It seemed that the emotions he had forgotten in Hell were beginning to manifest themselves again.
— Han Sol, how are you feeling? Is hunting going well?
— Ah! Yes, of course.
Our levels are going up pretty fast, so we’ll soon move to the Level C Gate after we get rank 3.
— That’s good, — Kang Yu said quietly and nodded his head.
Kang Yu wasn’t at all surprised by the rapid growth.
‘After all, Kim Si Hoon is always with them.’
He’s a gifted player with a special ability of SSS class.
Thanks to him being there to lead the party, each of them were developing rapidly as planned.
‘And Dae Su and Han Sol have basic skills that are not bad.’
Even Eun Bi was much more capable than regular Players.
They had the talent and ability to drive them forward, and Si Hoon was a capable leader.
Kang Yu would have been more surprised if they were being promoted at a slower pace.
— We’re improving so quickly… It’s amazing! It’s all thanks to you, Kang Yu.
— I didn’t do anything.
— You’ve done so much! Your hints from the first day of hunting really helped us out! And also… if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have dreamed of such a life… — The girl beamed at him.
Her smile made Kang Yu feel warmer inside.
‘The desire to be loved.’ Meeting Echidna had resurfaced the feelings he had long forgotten.
The way he wanted to be loved as a child.
‘It’s not a bad feeling,’ Kang Yu thought.
It felt pleasant to have someone treat him kindly.
Kang Yu felt a strange feeling in his chest as he sat down on the sofa.
— Ah! We should have a party to celebrate Echidna being with us.
Tonight will be my treat!
— Are you sure?
— I managed to make some money from the hunts with Dae Su, Eun Bi, and Si Hoon.
So now I can easily afford it, — said Han Sol with a big smile.
She was no longer tormented by poverty like before.
‘Liberation from Tae Hyun must have played a big role.’
Nevertheless, now she was smiling brighter than ever.
Kang Yu nodded approvingly and said:
— Okay, then let’s start with kimchi…
— No kimchi jjigae.
— But… why? — Kang Yu looked at the girl with puppy dog eyes.
Han Sol huffed and continued:
— You’ve been eating kimchi jjigae every day!
— Well… yeah?
— Isn’t it starting to bother you?
— It could never be annoying!
She just put two incompatible phrases in one sentence: ‘kimchi jjigae’ and ‘bother.’
That could never happen.
Kang Yu’s genuinely confused gaze made the girl rub her temple like she had a headache.
— Anyway, let’s eat something more expensive today.
— Something more expensive?
— Ta-da! Look at this, Kang Yu! — She showed the guy a package with a gold sticker on it.
— It’s Hanu! The supermarket was selling this at a discount today!
(P.P.: Hanu is the meat of a Korean cow.
It’s believed to taste better than imported and therefore more expensive.)
— Tonight we’ll have delicious beef loin! — She cheerily headed to the kitchen with the packet of meat, a grin on her face.
Kang Yu said sadly:
— You can just put it in kimchi…
— It would be an abuse of such good meat! Do you understand, Kang Yu?
— Okay… — Kang Yu looked to the ground with a disappointed sigh.
— It’s time for bed.
After Kang Yu’s merry meat party, he got tired and laid down in bed.
Echidna got up from the floor with a flap of her wings and laid down next to him.
— Was it good?
— It was wonderful.
— She thought of the fragrant meat they’d just eaten and her body shivered in delight.
Kang Yu grinned and laid her on his chest.
— Today was a hard day, so let’s get some sleep.
— Echidna nodded her head and curled up.
She quickly fell asleep, and he glanced at her, noticing her wounds were not fully healed.
‘If she transformed into a human, we wouldn’t be able to sleep together like this,’ he thought.
Right now she just looked like a big lizard with wings, and it didn’t make much difference whether she was a boy or a girl.
If she could turn into a human, it would make things harder.
‘It’s not bad the way it is now.’ Kang Yu petted Echidna, who fell asleep on his chest, and closed his eyes.
The fatigue he had accumulated over the course of the day plunged him into a deep sleep.
The next morning, Kang Yu woke up from the bright sunlight grazing his skin through the window.
— Huh? — At that moment, he felt something heavy on him.
If it was her, she seemed to weigh much more than yesterday.
Kang Yu determined it was a little under 30 pounds of weight.
The guy raised his head to look at what was on his chest.
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He saw a girl with waist-length black hair sleeping on his chest.
— What in the…? — Kang Yu was perplexed.
She pulled at Kang Yu’s shirt with her tiny hands and peacefully fell asleep.
‘What’s going on?’ Kang Yu frowned while staring at the girl he didn’t know.
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