< OFF (2) >
“Wh-what can I do for you?”
A young employee in his early twenties standing at the entrance was frozen stiff after seeing Kim Sunghan. Well, it was a face that would be scary to meet in a dim place.
“Do you know Kim Minee?”
Kim Sunghan asked in a low voice, as if interrogating. Like that, the kid might cry. He was completely terrified.
“Ki-Kim Minee… Ah, Minee hyung? Yes! He contacted me!”
I was wondering why he was asking that out of nowhere, but it seemed like Kim Minee had said he would put in a word since it was one of his hangouts. Relieved, the employee forced on a smile.
“So you were Minee hyung’s sunbaes. Please come in! We left a quiet place for you!”
How should I say this, it felt like it became an atmosphere where we would be ushered into a room. Of course, there weren’t anything like rooms, and it was seats that were off to the side in a corner. The location was good, but I most liked that there was a partition put up.
It was a feeling where I wanted, in various ways, to hide.
“I will bring over the most popular ones quiiickly! For drinks, imported beer? We also have hard liquor, but 17-year-old Valentine is the best. It didn’t sell well so we only have a few bottles.”
The employee, who had recovered his spirits during that time, chattered frivolously. Kids these days had no fear.
Sitting across from me, Kim Sunghan looked at me as if telling me to order. I raised the menu that was on the table and then lowered it gently. There were too many snacks and drinks. My staple was just Iseul.
“Please bring a reasonable amount of beer and soju.”
Up to you, reasonably, nicely.
The employee gave a 90 degree bow and sped away.
The sound of the fast-paced music and the sound of laughter were noisy. When I was coming in, I noticed there was even a small stage space near the longish bar. It seemed about half a club.
While I was looking around the surroundings a little, the alcohol and snacks came out. It was fast. Assorted fritters and fruits, budae jjigae, types of snacks, and such were spread across the table. This was chicken… salad? Why salad?
“If you need something, please call me anytime~.”
You would be full with just eating the snacks. First, I lightly moistened my throat with beer and ate some snacks. This potato fritter tasted good. The greasy salty-and-sweetness from the well saturated seasonings and being heaped with sweet-based cheese sauce was really great.
“I would like to apologize once again for my misunderstanding.”
Kim Sunghan said with a sincere face and a sincere voice and a sincere attitude. Against the background sound of the fresh and lively popular song that I really liked.
As expected, this atmosphere really wasn’t it. I wanted to get drunk quickly.
“I did act in a way that could be misunderstood. The matter with the Awakening broker too.”
It wasn’t a misunderstanding, but he kept on saying it was one, so let’s just call it that.
After adequately replying, I took some of the chicken salad with a fork. Wow, this chicked salad was tasty. What was the sauce? It was hot and spicy and made you want to drink beer with it. The meat was juicy and chewy, and it seemed like they used the leg region. As expected, for boneless chicken, thigh is the best. Student Kim Minee knows great places to eat.
“Wasn’t that also because of different thoughts? You don’t seem like someone who would be fooled by conmen and the like.”
Kim Sunghan said with conviction. Right now, I had no reason to be fooled. Like this, a conflict might happen, how should I pass this?
“That’s, truthfully, it was because of personal curiosity about Awakening brokers. I have a lot of interest in Awakened People and dungeons. I’ve done some other investigations and study as well.”
I did in the future.
“Department Head Suk also said that the Yoojin-ssi is knowledgeable about Hunters. But it was still a dangerous thing to do.”
“That was because it was obvious Yoohyun wouldn’t be still. As predicted, he grabbed and pulled me away right away. Exactly speaking, it was faster than my expectation.”
Kim Sunghan drained his beer and smiled.
“Yoojin-ssi seems to move in a considerably calculating way.”
No, I’m the embodiment of impulse. Starting from the regression, it was impulsive. If I had cooled my head and acted calculatingly, I would have just become the strongest and lived well, managing critical dungeons.
“Up to finding Bak Yerim-yang, I thought it was simply luck, but gaining Yerim-yang’s trust and getting rid of a source of future troubles ahead of time and neatly finishing contracts with Department Head Suk, all of that being due to luck is impossible.”
“No, quite a bit of luck also went into it.”
If you have good luck and regress, Sunghan-ssi would also be able to do that. That’s right, skills had to cooperate too. But getting skills was also about half luck. As expected, relying on luck was the best.
“And when you went to save your friend, truthfully speaking, I was moved. You didn’t spend a lot of time together and were just old friends that happened to meet, but you endured even danger for him. How should I say it, I thought you were someone that one could trust and entrust with one’s back.”
“T-to that extent…”
I saved him because he could get an SS-Rank skill. Being treated like someone who purely did righteous things without self-interest, for my actions full of ulterior motives, I was ashamed and had goosebumps. Yoo Myeongwoo was like that, and Suk Simyeong was like that, and misunderstandings piled up, but there was no way to clear them.
To hide my awkwardness, I drained my glass in one gulp. It would be great if I got drunk quickly. Even if you pointlessly expected things from me, there was nothing I could show for it.
“The matter with my friend was just impulsive. It was a reflexive thing, like helping up someone you found collapsed on the street.”
“Even if you say it was on reflex, simply helping someone collapsed on the street is completely different from pulling out someone who had fallen on tracks where a vehicle is coming in.”
“…It wasn’t that dangerous since Sunghan-ssi was there.”
That’s enough already. I wasn’t even drunk but my face might become red.
Let’s change the conversation topic. What should we talk about? Popular things lately? …Thinking of, I couldn’t remember a single thing that was popular and trendy lately. There should be a new release of the Xble series. Did 4 episodes of Monster Taming come out this year? When did that variety show that gathered only Awakened People start to air, again?
“Do you know Hunter Starting Today, by any chance?”
I guess it hadn’t started yet. HST was fun. Even high ranking Hunters came out as guests. When they were recruiting for the cast for the low rank Hunter special episode, I applied too. Though I didn’t make it.
“Sunghan-ssi is also an initial Awakened Person, right?”
I really didn’t know the ways of the world, so I just changed the conversation to the thing that I knew best, Hunters. I should just live holding onto a TV and computer.
“Yes. More than half of the current Awakend People, of course including me, Awakened in the first dungeon shock.”
When the things called dungeons first appeared around the world, while people were just peeking at them like primitive men who discovered fire, half with vigilance and half with curiosity, supersaturated dungeons burst open one by one.
During the misfortune, thankfully, the initial dungeons were only F- to E-Rank. Only monsters that could be handled with ordinary weapons with hardly any mana poured out to the outside world.
But, ordinary people with bare hands, who weren’t the armed military, had a difficult time dealing with even F-Rank monsters. Of course there were a lot of casualties, but the actual damage was surprisingly little.
It was because many of the people who were attacked by monsters Awakened.
Awakening initial skills differed according to the Awakening environment. Initial Awakened People who felt a threat to their life mostly all got attack and defence skills as initial skills. Although they were mostly F- to E-Rank, they were a lot more useful for dealing with low rank monsters than ordinary blades that you weren’t familiar with.
And at least a small number of mid to high rank Awakened People appeared and the situation quickly calmed down. Even so, just in Korea, there were millions injured and thousands dead.
“The place where I was at the time was rural so it was even more dangerous. Most were elderly so it was hard to Awaken, and even if they did Awaken, stats were low.”
Kim Sunghan said, draining his glass again. Like he said, if dungeons burst in areas with an aging population, the damage was larger to the point that there were cases where there were no survivors.
“Thankfully, I Awakened as an A-Rank, and was able to reduce the damage.”
“Kim Sunghan-ssi must have been a complete hero for that area.”
“I’m still in frequent contact with the village adults. I send them various things as well.”
He smiled a little shyly.
“It was good fortune that I had gone down to my grandfather’s house for the weekend after getting a vacation. If I hadn’t… I wouldn’t have been able to see my grandfather again.”
“It seems like you are close to your grandfather.”
“It is because he raised me.”
“Ah… Then your parents……”
“They are alive. But after they divorced, my mother remarried and my father left for a foreign country and only sent child support. After I became an adult, I lost all contact so I wondered if my father also found a new family. Thanks to that, even their faces are vague.”
So it was like that. Somehow there weren’t many who had smooth family lives.
It was different from Kim Sunghan’s or Yoohyun’s cases, but among initial Awakened People, there were actually quite a lot of people with broken families. Awakening at that time was because they were attacked by monsters and… there were many cases where they happened to be with their families during the weekend.
Even if it wasn’t like that, it was an unprecedented situation where the wounded were as much as millions. There were a lot of injuries and there were a lot of people with wounds that still weren’t healed.
“My grandfather who was as good as my parent also passed away last year due to illness. At that time, Guild Leader and Department Head Suk gave me a lot of help. They even invited a nursing specialty healer from overseas.”
“Is that so.”
Healers couldn’t treat diseases but they were excellent in replenishing energy and reducing pain. Unlike narcotic analgesics, skills didn’t have side effects. It being expensive was the biggest drawback.
As the conversation continued, the number of empty alcohol bottles increased. But strangely, I didn’t feel any intoxication. It wasn’t that there wasn’t any, but I was stuck at the unsatisfying feeling of teetering on the edge of becoming tipsy.
“It seems like you are better at alcohol than you look.”
Kim Sunghan said. That wasn’t true. My limit wasn’t that much. 5 years later, my level went up and through my stats, I was able to hold my alcohol better but right now, I was level 1 so it was normal for my face to flush with one bottle of soju. So why was I okay?
“…It seems I’m drinking well today.”
I tilted my head and answered. Why wasn’t I drunk? Of course, I wasn’t planning on getting completely drunk. If I got close to speaking nonsense and blurted out about my skills, then it would become difficult.
But, I needed to be slightly tipsy for it to be easier to spit out the keyword. I wouldn’t be able to say it at all sober.
“Well it is better to not be too drunk. The way I act when I’m drunk is embarrassing.”
Still, I laid the groundwork for it first.
“Do you cry?”
“Eh, there’s nothing embarrassing about that. The way I act drunk… I confess to anyone.”
Without needing to act, I automatically put on an awkward expression.
“There was even a time when I was slapped after a drunken confession.”
Of course, that didn’t actually happen… there was an instance when I was slapped after confessing when I wasn’t drunk and was in my right mind. I still didn’t understand why they slapped me when it would’ve been enough to refuse with words. Did they hate me that much?
“That’s quite embarrassing. Among my fellow college students, there was one guy who would grab anybody and push his lips on them when he was drunk. There were a series of victims during reserve days.”
…What was reserve? He wouldn’t be talking about reserve corps.
It was embarrassing to ask so I just sipped soju and passed it over by smiling. Should I also try going to college? I would have enough time so I could study and take the CSAT…
‘I’m not even drunk and I’m thinking nonsense.’
What college. But really, why wasn’t I drunk? If it was normal, I would have already become blackout drunk. Now that I thought of it, the beer I drank yesterday didn’t affect me at all. I thought it was because I only drank half a can.
What was the problem? For items, I only had on the earring that increases Mana, and my skills… was it because of my skills?
‘Is Poison Resistance the culprit?’
It was the only suspicious skill. Over a certain amount, alcohol was also considered poison so did it block it? It had toxicity and if you were excessive then it was bad for your body, but still, it wasn’t to the extent of poison.
…If it really was because of the Poison Resistance skill, could it be that I couldn’t get drunk anymore? It was an eternal farewell from the reasonably uplifting, good feeling of intoxication? That’s crazy?
“Your expression doesn’t look good, was the alcohol too much in the end?”
“Ah, no. I just thought of… something worrying.”
My alcohol! My chicken and beer! The Awakened Person League that would be coming out soon was super fun, but I would have to watch that chaos sober!
‘Damn, why did it have to be a passive skill of all things? Could the skill be turned off? I haven’t heard that you can turn off passive skills.’
It didn’t use up mana so not thinking of turning it off was normal. I didn’t think it would turn off in the first place. Would a passive be passive for nothing?
‘Still, if it was possible to turn it on and off, it would be great. Couldn’t I somehow try it once now? I didn’t want to say the keyword in my right mind, only pretending to be drunk. Turn off, Poison Resistance skill. Poison Resistance skill off.’
As expected, it doesn’t…
[Poison Resistance(L) Skill has been cancelled.]
“Han Yoojin-ssi? Are you alright?”
No, I’m no… crazy… I did something stupid. To think that it would actually turn off.
Like a filled dam bursting, the feeling of intoxication flooded in, in one breath. Fuck, it felt like I swallowed a ball of fire… skill, I had to use again…
‘Skill name… What was it……’
What was, it again……
And then I blacked out.
 lit. ‘how did you come here?’ though they usually don’t ask this in restaurants bc it’s a vague phrase and it’s obvious why ppl would go into a restaurant. Maybe it’s showing how rattled the server is? Or there’s no deeper meaning
 ‘sunbae’ is what you call your upperclassmen or ppl in the same work who are older/more experienced that you. Analogous to jpn ‘senpai’ I guess
 brand of soju
 ‘army stew’, stew made of kimchi, spam, sausages, often instant ramen noodles, etc. Originated during the Korean War, when people would throw in surplus food from army bases. It’s a popular anju (which I’ve tl’d as ‘snacks’ but are specically food that accompanies alcohol) and as a regular dish apparently esp in college neighborhoods
 cultural note: unlike in the u.s. where it’s mostly wings & breast, in korea (according to my dad) thigh meat is the most popular
 not really certain about the verb here. I think it might be slang instead of a typo bc when I searched it I found one ex tl instance of it, but then again, it’s one (1) ex so not sure. It might be a purposeful misspelling (as in internet/text speak) of ‘to know’ or of ‘to inform’ but yeah idk
 he actually uses a compound word with ‘set up’ and ‘conflict’ which implies ‘a conflict from setting sth up’
 it’s more like ‘team leader/head’ (team is the eng word transliterated into krn) but in this case ‘team’ probably means the ‘[human resources] team/department’ so I didn’t think ‘team leader’ got that across. I’ve only heard ‘team leader’ in terms of ‘project team leader’, so I didn’t think it was the best term to tl as. There is another proper term for ‘department head’ (diff type of department? I think? Idk how companies like that work) but I still thought that this tl would make the most sense.
 idk the ‘X’ was like that, in eng, so I’m assuming it’s a censored name or maybe it’s just a regular name of a series
 he abbreviated the title of ‘Hunter Starting Today’ so I followed suit in a corresponding manner in eng
 once again, bc of the rare usage of pronouns, there weren’t any. So I’m using neutral ones even though it’s highly likely that the author would’ve mean ‘she’. Too bad, if you wanted me to adhere to your heterosexual agenda, then you should’ve specified
 KSH was saying 예비대 (예비 = reserve), which is normally short for 예비부대 (reserve corps) which is what YJ was thinking of. However, I think he might be talking about 예비대학생 (lit. ‘reserve college students’) which means prospective students
 again, he trails off without the verb so I’m winging it. The CSAT is the College Scholastic Ability Test, which is a standardized test in Korea for getting into college, kind of like the usa SAT but more important for getting into college. I used ‘CSAT’ in the tl bc YJ also uses the usual abbrev. (수능 instead of 대학수학능력시험)
 lit. ‘film got cut off’ where ‘film’ is the eng word (as in movie film) transliterated into krn
 ‘off’ is said in eng transliterated to krn
 the ‘film was cut’ phrase again. It doesn’t necessarily mean he lost consciousness, just that he stops retaining memory bc he’s so drunk, which I guess is a type of losing consciousness/self-awareness but anywas I’m saying it doesn’t mean he passed out. I think ‘black out’ also doesn’t necessarily mean pass out (once again, my only fluent language is failing me) so it works.