The desire to kill had firmly taken root in the heart of the Heavenly Death Star, growing stronger each day. Even with the martial arts of an assassin, the urge only intensified. She needed a way to control it.
Assassination, rest, martial arts training, and then more assassination.
Her repetitive daily routine was solely to control that one urge. Her entire life was a fortress built to seal the innate nature of the Heavenly Death Star within her.
This fortress seemed stable, but in reality, it was as fragile as a sandcastle that could collapse with a single wave.
Once unleashed, the murderous intent would kill everything around her.
Cheon Sohee feared it.
On occasions when she was consumed by the murderous intent, she barely returned to her senses. But would she be able to return the next time? The anxiety constantly pressured Cheon Sohee.
Maintaining mental calmness was more crucial than anything for the current Cheon Sohee.
‘I have to kill.’
Cheon Sohee thought as she looked at Kang Yun-ho’s neck while he slept.
A few days ago, a massive storm had hit Cheon Sohee’s life, which was barely maintaining its equilibrium.
A man who knew, or potentially knew, her past.
If this man truly was her childhood friend, could his mere presence help her regain her memories? That was the hope she had when she declared her intentions the previous night.
But now, Cheon Sohee’s resolve was wavering.
‘Is knowing the past that important?’
Just one day.
One day with this man.
How many times had her mental calmness been disturbed?
Struggling to maintain her inner peace and confine the murderous intent, being with this man seemed to threaten that peace.
A breach in that peace could allow the real Cheon Sohee to creep out. She could forever lose herself.
Cheon Sohee was gripped by fear.
‘I’ll find peace in killing him.’
In Cheon Sohee’s life, the solution to all her problems had always been murder. If this man disappeared from the world, she wouldn’t have to ponder these thoughts anymore.
Murder was not to quell the murderous intent but to protect her routine life.
That was what she needed to do now.
Cheon Sohee quietly drew her short sword in front of Kang Yun-ho.
‘He’s not my childhood friend.’
It wasn’t just because his presence threatened her mental calmness. Cheon Sohee mulled over everything he had said that day.
His words were not wrong. Cheon Sohee, with no memory, couldn’t find any flaws. And that made her more suspicious.
His one-sided kindness towards her was also problematic.
The man treated Cheon Sohee kindly, regardless of whether she spoke rudely or threatened him with a knife. It was the kind of kindness you’d expect from a character in a book.
Of course, such people exist, but Cheon Sohee had never encountered one in her life, which made her even more suspicious.
‘He remembers too much about me.’
Knowing too much about Cheon Sohee was also a problem.
They were both too young to discern right from wrong ten years ago.
It’s understandable to remember playing together at such a young age. But he remembered too much about her.
‘Is it even possible to remember the color of the wreath and the flowers I used for the flower ring I made ten years ago?’
A sense of incongruity arose.
Cheon Sohee’s instincts, unable to pinpoint the exact source of discomfort, rang alarm bells. Not logic, but intuition. And so far, that intuition has saved Cheon Sohee’s life countless times.
“You’re a con artist.”
Cheon Sohee whispered quietly so that Kang Yun-ho wouldn’t hear.
This man wasn’t her childhood friend. He was a con artist. Thinking this way, a single slash could bring relief.
She could return to her daily life. The life of confining the nature of the Heavenly Death Star within her. Returning to being the killer number 5, a first-class assassin.
Just one slash would suffice.
The Heavenly Death Star raised her sword high, the blade reflecting the ominous light of the star.
Suddenly, the voice she had been hearing all day echoed in Cheon Sohee’s heart.
‘Why would I run away from you?’
Cheon Sohee gripped her short sword tightly.
She must not waver.
She could not become a monster. If she cut ties with her past, she could start anew.
This man was a swindler. Cheon Sohee’s intuition, which had saved her life time and again, screamed it.
Just one slash at this fraud, and she could revert to being a killer for the Salmak.
‘Sohee. Sohee. It’s your brother Kang Yun-ho. Can’t you recognize the brother you used to play with?’
If she swung her sword now,
If she did that,
She would never be Cheon Sohee again.
Everything was a novel experience for her.
‘This is a dish you used to enjoy at my house when you were little.’
It was a dish she was tasting for the first time, and the man lied effortlessly as he presented it.
If she did not recall anything after eating, then the man was surely a charlatan. She would end his life. That was the resolve she held before taking a bite.
The first taste of the dish assaulted her taste buds, sending a jolt through her brain. It was an ecstatic flavor that enraptured her from head to toe.
Bliss, from food.
Feeling joy from eating—wasn’t food merely meant to satisfy hunger?
How could such a dish exist? A past that eluded her memory, yet a taste she could not resist. She couldn’t stop herself from eating more.
Just before mere food, her assassin’s discipline disappeared.
Was the past her like this?
The Salmak trusted no one. One master, two disciples. To become an assassin, one had to kill the other.
Even their closest person had to die to cultivate the heart of an assassin.
And yet, he casually sought her trust, despite their recent acquaintance.
‘Brother doesn’t want to see his sister covered in blood. I’ll handle it.’
Murder was routine.
In Salmak, kids who hesitated to kill were deemed defective. The end for the defective was always the same.
She had lived learning more efficient ways to kill more people. She never thought it was wrong.
But this man wanted to prevent her from killing.
‘She is my childhood friend from my hometown.’
‘If I get slightly hurt and prevent you from committing murder, I’ll do it again anytime.’
This man stood up for her, even with a knife at his throat.
He prioritized her despite being weaker.
No one had ever tried to protect her.
He prioritized her in a situation where he could have been killed by a single slash.
She couldn’t believe the words that came out of her mouth.
As soon as she entered the room, she sat down immediately and covered her mouth with her hands.
What did she just say?
Instead of murderous intent, gratitude, remorse, and embarrassment, emotions she couldn’t remember ever feeling, flowed from within her.
Why did this happen? Was it the first taste of happiness? The feeling of being protected by someone for the first time?
‘This isn’t me.’
Wake up. She desperately tried to control her heart, disturbed by these unfamiliar emotions.
He was not her childhood friend. He’s a con artist.
She mulled over his words, desperately seeking clues to prove he was a con artist. Yet, she found nothing to refute.
Only a slight sense of incongruity arose as Cheon Sohee.
There must be a clue.
‘Were you always this good at storytelling when you were young?’
Calming her mind, she met the man again. Could digging into his past reveal a flaw? Hoping so, she broached the subject.
‘I used to sit you on my lap and tell you old stories.’
His response was yet another memory involving her.
‘My first audience as a storyteller was Sohee.’
He looked nostalgic. His longing gaze always frustrated her.
When he talked about the past, he didn’t look at her.
He saw someone else through her.
Her, from ten years ago.
If she shared those memories with this man, she should have yearned for the past with him, but only he could return to it.
‘I was his first audience…’
She cast the phrase ‘first audience’ into the abyss of my memory. she had been his first audience. Memories of that time, please answer her.
Of course, there was no response.
It was frustrating. A heavy burden seemed to weigh on her heart.
As she struggled with these emotions, the man callously stomped on her wound.
‘I practiced more, so that Sohee in heaven wouldn’t feel embarrassed hearing my stories. But since that day, I couldn’t do it anymore…’
She never gave him permission to tell that story. How dare he. What right did he have to speak of it?
Instinctively, her hand reached for her short sword.
But the man’s following words made her stop.
‘So I practiced even harder out of regret. To not embarrass myself in front of Sohee, who might descend from heaven to hear my stories.’
It felt as if a master of martial arts had struck her on the head.
She sheathed the short sword she was holding and looked at Kang Yun-ho, peacefully sleeping.
It wasn’t just her.
She wasn’t the only one hurt by that incident.
She wasn’t the only one in the world who suffered because of that day.
It wasn’t just her who dedicated herself to training to forget that day.
This man bore the same wound as she did.
The night in Chilgok County, as Kang Yun-ho had said, was cold.
Cheon Sohee was nowhere to be found inside the room where Kang Yun-ho was staying.
Cheon Sohee entered the room more cautiously than the day before, holding something unexpected.
She stood in front of Kang Yun-ho, clutching it in her hands.
After staring at him for a moment, she unfolded it.
It was the blanket Kang Yun-ho had given to Cheon Sohee and hadn’t used himself. She had somehow obtained a blanket and now draped it over Kang Yun-ho.
Feeling the night’s chill, Kang Yun-ho instinctively drew the blanket closer and buried his face in it.
Cheon Sohee watched, then retreated to her corner and wrapped herself in the blanket Kang Yun-ho had given her.
“I haven’t accepted you yet,”
She murmured so quietly that Kang Yun-ho couldn’t hear.
Was he her childhood friend or a con artist? Cheon Sohee decided to reserve her judgment for now.
Perhaps the intuition of the Heavenly Death Star was wrong.
If he had spent his life thinking of her and honing his storytelling skills, he might remember a lot about her.
The scale in Cheon Sohee’s heart was already tipping in one direction, but she didn’t want to acknowledge it after just one day.
However, Cheon Sohee made a resolution.
‘Let’s return what I’ve received.’
Return kindness with kindness. For now, she would repay what she had received. There’s no need to remain hostile towards someone who treated her kindly.
Even if she discovered that he was a con artist, or if she succumbed to murderous intent and cut him down, she should at least not owe him in her heart.
Cheon Sohee adjusted the blanket Kang Yun-ho had given her and began eating the food he had provided.
Although the food was cold…
It somehow felt warm.
“I slept well.”
I woke up and instinctively checked my neck.
Fortunately, it was still intact. The wound on my neck also seemed to have scabbed over. Thankfully, I didn’t wake up to the horror of seeing my severed body.
It appears I’ve safely made it through another night.
I feel great this morning after a warm sleep. No matter how much you close the doors of a shack, the draft makes it impossible to escape the cold. I always felt chilly when I woke up in the morning.
This is why people should sleep in nice places.
“The blanket is soft and comfortable.”
The blanket? I gave it to Cheon Sohee yesterday, so why was I covered with it?
I turned my head to look at where Cheon Sohee was sitting yesterday.
What’s going on?
“Where did she go?”
Where Cheon Sohee had been, there was only a neatly folded blanket.
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