The Heavenly Death Star had vanished.
Warm morning sunlight streamed through the window, accompanied by the cheerful chirping of birds. To my surprise, I felt physically well and appeared to have slept soundly.
Under normal circumstances, I would be late for work in such a situation.
My brain seized up for a full 30 seconds before I sprang to life and checked my phone, finding a slew of missed calls.
What excuse could I use? I had intended to write my novel and play a game before bed, yet I stayed up late because I couldn’t finish the game.
It was too challenging to play a game where I fought bravely and won. Sorry. How can I help it if every game, except the last, was plagued with trolls?
Should I claim I was ill? Or that I drank and fell asleep in tears after an argument with my girlfriend? That’s a lousy excuse. Everyone at work knows I’m single.
Maybe I should take a shower first. Or eat since I’m already late? My thoughts were a chaotic mess that morning.
I was engulfed by that perplexing emotion at the moment.
‘Where did she go?’
Rising from my seat, I walked to where the Heavenly Death Star had been the previous night. I glanced around just in case, but there was only the neatly made bed to greet me.
The bed was made with unnecessary military precision.
“Hehe. Where did Sohee go?”
Perhaps she was concealed somewhere, observing my reaction.
Where would assassins typically hide? Naturally, in a haystack, on a rooftop with a hawk, or beneath the bed.
Might she be under the bed?
Assassins, much like children who find solace in a wardrobe, are presumed to feel secure under beds. I lay down cautiously and peered underneath. It would be awkward to make eye contact.
Then I would be the kind-hearted brother who empathetically understood the Heavenly Death Star’s peculiar sleeping habits.
“She’s not here.”
She was nowhere to be found under the bed. I searched high and low but to no avail.
She had mentioned she would be watching me.
Perhaps she was like those who paid for a year’s gym membership and only went for a few days in January. Maybe she wasn’t that committed.
‘Has she gone to the bathroom?’
There was a chamber pot in the room, but even the Heavenly Death Star, unless she had peculiar habits, wouldn’t have wanted to do that in the presence of a man.
I had never seen her go to the bathroom yesterday. There’s a saying that beauties only eat dew and never go to the bathroom, but the Heavenly Death Star had eaten something spicy yesterday.
Maybe her reaction was just slow. It took time to expel old stuff.
The villain of the martial arts visual novel, the Heavenly Death Star.
Apparently, she suffered from constipation. Remember this setting.
Unable to wait any longer for the constipated Heavenly Death Star to return, I decided to step outside.
I carefully called for Cheon Sohee as I opened the door of the guest room, pretending to be a brother looking for her in case she was outside.
She wasn’t outside either. Maybe I should go check the bathroom on the first floor.
As I was about to head downstairs to the first floor, I saw the back of the Heavenly Death Star on the ground floor.
Though it was her back, I recognized her immediately from the outfit and straw hat she had worn on the first day. When had she changed out of her ninja outfit?
The Heavenly Death Star was bent over, focusing intently on something.
“Sohee, Oh Okbun!”
Since there might be people eating on the first floor of the inn, I called her ‘Okbun’.
The Heavenly Death Star turned her head at the sound of ‘Okbun’ but quickly bowed it again.
She looked like a high school student who was caught by her teacher at a PC bang after sneaking out of a night study session. It must have been my imagination.
“Okbun, what are you doing the…”
[Don’t come down. Stay up there.]
It had been a while since I heard this telepathy. With just those words, the Heavenly Death Star turned away from me.
I was curious about what was happening, but I didn’t want to upset the mood of the Heavenly Death Star, so I returned to my room.
After a moment, the Heavenly Death Star entered the guest room.
“I couldn’t find you when I woke up. What were you doing on the first floor?”
“Here. Eat this.”
In her extended hand, the Heavenly Death Star held a simple snack. Had she gone out to buy my breakfast?
“So you ordered food from the inn. I’ll enjoy it.”
Why this sudden generosity? Was there a plot behind this? It’s not laced with a truth serum, was it?
Despite my suspicions, I couldn’t let my distrust show; thus, I took the food from the Heavenly Death Star and set it on the guest room desk.
“This looks delicious. Let’s eat together, Sohee.”
I offered a piece of the food to the Heavenly Death Star, thinking, ‘You eat the truth serum too.’
“I’m not hungry.”
The Heavenly Death Star declined with a shake of her head and sat back down in her original spot.
It’s not actually a truth serum, right?
I’m the type of person who opts for a non-sedative endoscopy because I fear spilling embarrassing secrets under anesthesia. Of course, after one experience that made me feel like a tentacle monster had invaded me, I decided on sedation for my next endoscopy.
Despite my reservations, I began to eat the food, reasoning that refusing it might arouse suspicion.
As I ate, I observed the Heavenly Death Star. She watched me with great interest, as if my eating was a spectacle.
‘You’re from the Korean Peninsula, too, so the concept of eating alone is foreign to you, isn’t it?’
-Look, the senior is eating alone.
-Hey, who eats by themselves? There must be something wrong with their company.
-Don’t act all knowing. Let’s invite them over.
-What’s wrong with eating alone? You digest better, save time, and if you need to speak, do it quietly.
Watch out, you guys. This could be you someday. If you mistimed your return to school, you’d end up dining solo like me.
“I’m done eating, Sohee. By the way, how much was it? I’ll pay you back.”
Fortunately, the food wasn’t laced with truth serum. Had she bought it as a favor because of yesterday? Still, it was better not to owe anything.
I should be the one doing favors, so when it came time to kill, she would feel guilty.
Upon hearing my words, the Heavenly Death Star looked as if she were caught in a dilemma and avoided my gaze. Huh? What’s this? Why was she avoiding me?
Just like when she avoided me on the first floor earlier.
Suddenly, I remembered the conversation I had with Jeom So-i outside the guest room yesterday.
‘I don’t have money.’
Could it be…
I hurriedly searched for my money pouch.
It was gone.
Turning around, I saw the Heavenly Death Star, who had been sitting in the corner, was now right behind me. She handed me my money pouch.
Really, she was something else.
The money pouch felt lighter than yesterday when I received it from the Heavenly Death Star. The weight couldn’t have decreased this much from buying snacks.
I checked the inside of the pouch while maintaining my best expressionless face. Thankfully, the valuable coins were still there. However, considering that the Heavenly Death Star also bought the same snacks, the pouch felt lighter than it should.
I mustn’t get angry. I continued to stare at the Heavenly Death Star’s face with a neutral expression.
Looking closely at the Heavenly Death Star’s face, I noticed a red stain on one cheek.
You ate it.
As I continued to glare at a spot on the Heavenly Death Star’s face, she seemed to sense something was off and wiped the spot I was looking at with her hand. Naturally, red soup stained her palm.
Was this how it ended? With just an “ah”?
Heavenly Death Star Cheon Sohee, didn’t you have a conscience?
Pretending to be the Heavenly Death Star’s childhood friend’s older brother, I had to point out what needed to be addressed.
I called out to the Heavenly Death Star in a low voice, feeling a bit annoyed. I doubted she had bought Rosé Tteokbokki, but what had she bought?
When I looked at her suspiciously, my annoyance evident, the Heavenly Death Star bowed her head slightly and confessed.
“I bought something called ‘Cupbokki’ from downstairs and tried it.”
Ah! So that was what she had bought—a popular snack in school cafeterias. It was killer when eaten with fried foods.
It seemed there was more she wanted to confess. As I continued to glare at her, the Heavenly Death Star spoke again.
“… I ate three of them.”
The Heavenly Death Star was noticeably flustered and avoided my gaze.
No wonder my wallet had felt excessively light for just one snack. It appeared she realized she had done something wrong, given that I was feigning anger.
With that price, I could have ordered regular Tteokbokki. But she had only bought the cheapest Cupbokki, perhaps out of consideration for my financial situation.
Giving in to temptation, it all ended up being for naught.
But this was just a minor mishap. It wasn’t a major expense, so as her brother, I decided to let it go as an allowance.
“Don’t do this next time. Just tell me, and I’ll buy it for you.”
I concluded with a small smile to lighten the mood.
The Heavenly Death Star nodded obediently.
I put the money pouch back into my pocket and spread out today’s work clothes on the bed.
I needed to start working again today.
As I thought about returning to work, worries filled my mind.
‘Is it really true that the Cheongsapa has disappeared?’
They could suddenly appear and take all the money I earned at the Gapsu Trading Company and in the market.
I remembered that day vividly—the chase, being dragged like a dog, the indifferent stares of passersby, being beaten until my consciousness blurred, the rain seeping into my wounds.
I couldn’t help but sigh. Could I really do this? Maybe I should move to another town.
The Heavenly Death Star, who had overheard my sigh from behind, inquired.
“Oh, it’s nothing, Sohee. I have to go to work now.”
I needed to maintain the composed older brother facade in front of the Heavenly Death Star. There was no need to show her the worries of a commoner struggling to make ends meet.
I hurriedly put on my overcoat.
“Is it because of the bullies you wrote about in your diary?”
“Sohee, you saw that diary, huh? It’s not something you need to worry about. I need to go to work today, so you stay here…”
“If that worries you, I’ll help.”
The Heavenly Death Star interrupted me and offered something I hadn’t even considered.
“Eh? What do you mean?”
“I’ll become your bodyguard.”
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