Chapter 30: Female President (6)
The shadowy figure was moving extremely carefully. It seemed to be a small baby animal, and it was sneaking towards the fields like it was aiming for the crops there.
‘Im so lucky. While protecting their precious food, Chi-Woo could also secure meat, which Giant Fist had been whining about. He moved as quietly as possible. When he approached the shadowy figure, though, he realized that it wasnt a small beast, but a person wearing a dark robe.
“Huh” The robed figure said in surprise and stopped pulling out a root vegetable midway to look over his shoulder. A pair of small and cute eyes met Chi-Woos. The two of them stood still in awkward silence until the child plopped down to the ground.
“Ah…Ah…” The childs lips closed and opened like he was greatly flustered. Chi-Woo immediately understood the situation. He had heard from Ru Hiana that the original inhabitants of Liber got far worse meals than the heroes. Thus, it wasnt difficult to guess why this child was clutching a piece of root vegetable tightly with both of his tiny hands. Chi-Woo strutted forward, and the child lost his grip over his harvest, at a complete loss of what to do.
“I-Im sorry,” The child responded weakly. Chi-Woo stopped walking and looked down at the child before picking up the root vegetable from the ground. Then he spoke in a firm voice, “Follow me.”
“Sorry” the child asked.
“If you dont come, Im going tell on you to Lady Eshnunna.”
“Ah, please dont!”
It was a childish threat, but it was clearly effective. Eshnunna was a great authoritative figure among the original inhabitants in the camp base. At the mention of her name, the child hurriedly got up to his feet.
“If you follow me willingly, I wont tell Lady Eshnunna what happened here,” Chi-Woo said in a low voice and turned around. After taking a few steps, he glanced behind and confirmed the child was following him. Although the child was trembling, he kept walking. Chi-Woo didnt direct the child to the restaurant where a meeting was still taking place, nor the area where Eshnunna was.
“Make yourself comfortable,” Chi-Woo told the child when they arrived at his lodging place. However, when the child remained hesitant and lingered around the door, Chi-Woo shook his head and said, “Ah! I guess I dont have a choice. I have to go to Lady Eshnunna.”
The child clearly wanted to keep this from Eshnunna at all costs; he scrambled to sit on the bed. Chi-Woo smirked and opened the bag he had placed on the corner of his bed. He took out the food Rawiya had packed for them and thought about his options briefly.
‘Since I brought a lot, I can give away one… After pondering for a bit, Chi-Woo took out a long box of snacks. He opened the box, took out the wrapper inside it, and placed a pack of chips in front of the child.
“Please eat it.” Chi-Woo smiled at the blank eyes that stared at him from behind the hood.
The boy didnt immediately reach out. He seemed very wary. Thus, instead of mentioning Eshnunna again, Chi-Woo picked up a chip and placed it in his mouth. A savory and slightly salty flavor tickled his tongue. Given his current circumstances, it tasted so heavenly to him that it made him want to cry and sent a tremor through his body.
“If you dont eat it quickly, Im going to finish everything.” Chi-Woo kept egging the child on and pretended to pick up another chip. When the child saw the big deal Chi-Woo made out of the chips, though, he only grew warier. Chi-Woo let out a sigh and personally popped a chip into the childs mouth.
“Urgh!” The child shut his mouth to keep the chip out.
“I told you its tasty. Try it. I just ate one,” Chi-Woo suggested gently, and the boy closed his eyes like he was making a serious decision and bit into the chip. His eyes opened wide, and it didnt take long for him to… Crunch. Crunch, crunch. Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch!
As the childs mouth moved faster, the chips disappeared like it was getting sucked in.
“Wow…” the boy let out a soft exclamation. Chi-Woo offered him the remaining chips with a smile, and the boy stretched out his hands. He was no longer refusing Chi-Woos offer.
Hes like a squirrel. Chi-Woo looked at the boy warm-heartedly as he ate senselessly. The bag of chips was quickly emptied. Chi-Woo stared as the boy sucked his fingers clean and asked, “How old are you”
After licking his lips, the boy replied warily, “Ten…”
‘Thats around third grade. Chi-Woo nodded and asked, “Do you have an older sister or brother Or a younger sibling”
“…I have one…older sister…” For some reason, the child hesitated; it seemed he was unwilling to reveal this part of himself to Chi-Woo. Thus, Chi-Woo didnt question the child further and took out another bag of chips from the snack box, saying, “Eat this with your older sister. This, too.” Chi-Woo handed the child the small portion of food that Rawiya had packed for them as well as the root vegetable the child had secretly dug up. The boy looked lost at the unexpected gift from Chi-Woo.
“Eat the chips in secret. I would share my snacks with everyone if I could, but I dont have that much.” Chi-Woo winked. The child seemed to have understood and nodded. He hesitated for a while before mustering the courage to ask, “Um…”
“Are you…a hero”
Chi-Woo closed his mouth. Although it was a simple question, he didnt want to lie.
“Did you come here to save our World”
“You did, didnt you”
The boys questions made Chi-Woo nervous; it sounded like he wanted assurance, which made it even more difficult for Chi-Woo to come up with an answer. He couldnt tell a white lie to mislead the boy, nor did he want to make a promise he couldnt keep.
‘Still… The boys blatant staring pressured him to open his mouth.
Someone was suddenly pounding on the door.
‘What Is the meeting over
“Who is it”
Chi-Woo was getting up when the door slammed open.
“Excuse me,” the intruder spoke in repressed rage. “Didnt you bring a small boy with you” Salem Eshnunna spoke quickly. Her eyes zeroed in on Chi-Woo, and the look on her face took him by surprise. Her usual gracefulness and friendly smile were replaced by fierceness, and she had a chilly air about her, making it clear that she was extremely enraged.
“Yes, you were right. I brought him here.”
“Sister! No!” The boy jumped off the bed and ran in front of Chi-Woo, saying in a protective tone, “Its all my fault. He didnt do anything wrong. Instead…!”
Chi-Woo stared at the child and thought, ‘Sister…
“Yohan!” Eshnunna kneeled so that her eyes were at the boys level and placed her hands on his shoulders. “How could you…!” She was so overcome with emotions that she couldnt finish her sentence. In response, Yohan looked at his sister and explained the situation so precisely and articulately that it impressed Chi-Woo.
As Eshnunna listened to Yohans explanation, she gradually calmed down. She regained her usual composure and sighed at the ground.
“So thats what happened…why did…” She bit her lower lip and quietly got up from her seat. “Yohan. Could you leave us”
“But Eshnunna—” Yohan replied.
“I get the situation. Its late; why dont you go to sleep now” Eshnunnas tone left no room for arguments. Her attitude was completely different from before, and Yohan turned back to Chi-Woo.
“Um…Mr. Yohan” Chi-Woo spoke up, debating what he should do. “Before you leave, I have to tell you that I honestly dont know how I should answer the question you just asked me.” Both Yohan and Eshnunna widened their eyes. “Since its my first time coming to a world like this, I dont know what to do in this situation, either.”
“Even then.” Chi-Woo cleared his throat. “Well find the answer as we always did.” He smiled at the dazed-looking boy. “Good night and good bye.”
It wasnt until Chi-Woo waved at him that the boy blinked and cracked a small smile for the first time. He bowed to Chi-Woo before running outside while clutching Chi-Woos gift to his chest tightly.
‘Hmm. Wasnt I a bit cool just now While Chi-Woo praised himself inwardly, Eshnunna stared at Yohan with a complicated expression and sighed again. She quietly closed the door, fixing her posture before turning around.
“I apologize.” Eshnunna deeply bowed towards Chi-Woo. “Ive made you uncomfortable. I dont know how I can make it up to you…”
“No, its fine. Please stop.”
Eshnunna only straightened her back after Chi-Woo repeatedly asked her to, but she was still unable to lift her head.
Chi-Woo said, “I heard him call you sister.”
“…Yes. Hes my little brother,” Eshnunna replied while looking at the floor. “Hes the only family I have left.”
“Ah. Thats why…”
“When I heard that he was missing, I was so worried…I apologize again for this embarrassing blunder.”
Chi-Woo observed Eshnunna; her face was red, and she was wearing a white lace pajama. It seemed that Eshnunna had rushed here in the middle of sleeping since her usually neatly tied up hair was loosely sprawling down her shoulders.
Chi-Woo said, “Im sorry. He seemed very hungry, so I brought him here to give him something…I didnt know he was your brother, Lady Eshnunna.” Chi-Woo apologized readily. Putting himself in her shoes, he understood how worried she must have been.
“No. Its me who should… And…” Eshnunna waved Chi-Woos apologies away, but hesitated before she continued, “What Yohan did today is…” Eshnunna looked guilty as she struggled to say, “Would you be able to keep this a secret…”
Honestly, this was not a big deal for Chi-Woo; the boys actions were completely understandable. However, not everyone would think the same. There were some who wouldnt be as understanding. Giant Fist, for example, had complained about the lack of meat as the food ration decreased. Eshnunna seemed concerned about heroes like him.
The thoughts made Chi-Woo feel some pity towards the woman in front of him. Moreover, Chi-Woo felt indebted to her. He was able to enjoy what little protection and food the main camp could offer because of her and the natives efforts. He shouldve paid them back for what they had done for him. However, Chi-Woo had only been thinking about ways to make as little effort as possible instead. Now that he thought about it, he felt even more apologetic.
“Well…theres no reason for me not to keep it a secret.” Thus, Chi-Woo decided to do her a little favor. “But Lady Eshnunna, Ill only keep it a secret if you do something for me. Haha.”
“…A request.” Because of the way Chi-Woo said it, Eshnunnas eyes narrowed slightly. It was only for a brief moment, but there was even a look of contempt in her eyes.
‘Geez, how were the previous recruits like for people to react like this… Chi-Woo clicked his tongue and took out a box of snacks. It was a sweet one with strawberry cream. He felt a bit apologetic to his brother, but there were still some snacks left.
“Please eat this.” Chi-Woo opened the box and unwrapped it before offering it to Eshnunna. She accepted it, but she looked visibly confused.
“Its a snack, but a different variety than the one I gave to Yohan.”
“You also gave one to Yohan”
“Yes. He seemed to like it. Do you perhaps not like sweet food”
“No. I like it.”
“Please eat it then. Its sweet and tastes good.”
Eshnunna looked up while smoothing her finger over the box of snacks. “I am sincerely grateful for this, but must I really eat this right now This seems very precious.”
“I would also like you to eat it at your place, but I think youll share it with everyone else then.”
Eshnunna became speechless.
“Please just finish this snack here. If you do it, Ill keep what happened with Yohan a secret.”
Eshnunna fidgeted with her fingers, and in the end, took out a piece and carefully took a bite. As she slowly chewed it, her breath hitched in surprise. She let out a fake cough when she saw Chi-Woo smile as if he had expected her reaction.
“Is it good”
“…Yes. Its good.”
“Please eat a lot. As much as you want.”
Eshnunna nodded without saying anything. She looked at Chi-Woo like she could not understand his actions.
“I just…it doesnt really mean much,” Chi-Woo looked into the distance and said. “I once heard someone say that when youre tired and having a hard time, eating something delicious would be the best remedy.”
While watching Eshnunna eat, Chi-Woo continued, “I hoped that you would at least be able to feel a bit better.” To say it simply, he was telling her to cheer up.
“Honestly, I can understand your situation.” Chi-Woo linked his hands and cradled the back of his head. “You and the natives have been offering us the majority of the crops that all of you harvested after much toil. Even though were called heroes, we hadnt been doing much except for eating. Some of us even complained about the food we got. I cant even imagine how unfair you must think of this whole situation.”
Eshnunna doubled over coughing, shocked. With widened eyes, she shook her head. “Ive committed a…! No, thats not true at all! We dont think like that at all—!”
“Also a kid can eat if hes hungry.” Chi-Woo shrugged. “If someone complains about that, that person is the one with the problem.”
Eshnunna stared at Chi-Woo. “…Sir.” She tilted her head in confusion. “Sir, youre not really like a hero.”
“Is that so” Chi-Woo silently praised her for having a quick mind and smiled cheerfully.
Eshnunna smiled back and eased up. “Could I eat one more”
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“Lady Eshnunna, I told you that you must eat to your hearts content.”
“Its really good. Its the first time I had soft cream with such a subtle taste. It makes me want to keep the taste in my mouth for a long time.”
The atmosphere was now much gentler than before. Chi-Woo was enjoying a snack break with a beautiful woman late at night under the moonlight. It wouldve felt like a date if they were elsewhere. Given the current situation, however, they didnt think too much about it. Chi-Woo made a bitter smile.
“Now that I think about it, I dont see the others…” Eshnunna gulped down a piece of snack and looked around.
Since it was a good time to change the topic, Chi-Woo went along with the shift of conversation and said, “Its because were in a meeting.”
“Yes. Since the meeting was progressing so slowly, though, I left halfway…”
“Would you perhaps be able to tell me what the meeting is about Or would that be too intrusive”
“No. Youre not being intrusive at all.” There werent any important matters being discussed in the meeting anyway. Chi-Woo didnt think it would matter if he told her, so he relayed to her what had transpired before he left. Eshnunna listened with a serious face and closed her eyes after saying she needed to think for a bit.
It wasnt long before she opened her eyes and asked, “Could I ask you a favor”
“What But you havent even fulfilled my request.”
“Ill eat all of the snacks you gave me if you lend me your ears for a moment. I promise you.”
Chi-Woo couldnt help but laugh, finding Eshnunnas words cute. “Lets hear about it first.”