Genius of unique lineage Chapter 220

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Genius of a Unique Lineage

Chapter 219: Sweet Potatoes and Stuffed Cucumbers (오이소박이)

Despite offering to work together, there was nothing to be done if he declined.

I wasn’t planning to persistently persuade him.

If I ask three times on the spot and he still says no, then there’s nothing more I can do.

I thought about it simply.

It’s a waste of talent.

He seems idle.

And it appears he has energy to spare.

Lately, he’s still going around wearing a mask, hunting Invaders.

He once came to Hwarim to help me.

Though he disappeared quickly afterward, it seemed like he had some interest in worldly affairs.

So I didn’t bother looking into the details before coming here.

“Do you know why I live in the mountains?”

As he poked at the burning wood in the fireplace with a fire iron, smoke billowed, and the waning flames surged and crackled back to life.

Although the fire needed more wood to keep burning, the teacher didn’t add any.

He simple watched the wooden charcoal, now lively with flames, burn black.

The smoke rose upwards.

“I don’t know.”

I didn’t know.

Genuinely.

I thought about asking my father why this man lived in the mountains befriending squirrels, but knowing wouldn’t change anything.

Even if I asked my father, one cannot fully know another’s inner thoughts.

Listening to them won’t make me a psychotherapist, and it won’t help me comprehend the heart of Stick Teacher, once my tutor Ju Il-ho.

I just knew his history.

Originally an officer from the Unique Brigade.

Transferred to the Ministry of Public Safety’s Special Unit, and after several years, served in the Immortals Special Unit.

Now, he had retired to the mountains to live as a naturalist.

The teacher placed the fire iron aside and sat in silence, so I added,

“Is it because you didn’t like the salary?”

“…You’re not seriously asking that, are you?”

Teacher’s eyes shifted to me with my words.

Of course, it was a joke.

“Did you by any chance have a company romance and got your heart broken? That would explain why you can’t stand embarrassing moments and such, right?”

“Company romance?”

“Company Couple.”

It’s a possibility. So many take a leave from college, and people quit their jobs over things like that.

“What do you think life is about?”

“I’m thinking about what to eat for dinner tonight. Did you grow these sweet potatoes yourself? Delicious, aren’t they?”

I finished eating the sweet potato as I spoke.

The teacher, looking at me intently, then asked,

“You started a company?”

“Yes. It’s called NS, a corporation that doesn’t conform to standards.”

I chewed on the sweet potato, savoring its melting taste.

“Why start a company?”

Did he genuinely not know why?

I blinked at the teacher and then asked in return,

“Why did you buy sweet potatoes to roast?”

“What?”

“Please answer.”

“To eat them after roasting.”

His face seemed to say, “Is that even a question?” So I nodded and replied,

“Yes, me too.”

Stick Teacher blinked, a thoughtful expression crossing his face.

I devoured the roasted sweet potato.

There was nothing left to eat. After brushing my soot-stained hands, I crumpled up the foil on the floor and disposed of it in the trash bag, then continued speaking to the teacher.

“Why else would I start a company? To make money while working freely, as I please.”

Why start a company?

There’s no madman who’d answer it’s to contribute to the national economy.

It’s because you dislike your boss, when that jerk claims your achievements, and yet, you manage the work better.

Then you start your own company.

Or you plunge in because you’re convinced it’ll make a fortune.

Am I any different?

I’m the same.

As I was almost done cleaning up,

“…You’re crazy.”

Teacher said that.

I felt a certain warmth and affirmation in his tone.

“Does that mean you’ll join me?”

“Get that soot off your face.”

Speaking, the teacher stood up.

The fire in the stove had died down. He didn’t bother reigniting it. Instead, he prepared to descend the mountain.

I wiped the soot from my face and asked,

“If you bought those sweet potatoes, can you tell me where to get them? They really are delicious.”

“…The lady next door, tending her kitchen garden, gave me some.”

“Oh, is that so?”

But why did he seem hesitant when mentioning it?

Eventually, I went to get some sweet potatoes.

There I found a divorced woman in her fifties who had returned to the countryside.

At a glance, it was clear she held special regard for our Stick Teacher.

This man has truly lived while secluded in the mountains, occasionally even enjoying romance. He was not merely a hermit but an ordinary human being involved with the world.

“I’ll buy all the sweet potatoes.”

The harvested potatoes from the kitchen garden yielded roughly 50 kg, and I bought them all.

It was a tribute to the years the Stick Teacher had taken care of me.

* * *

Ju Il-ho thought to himself while looking at Kwang Ik.

‘This guy is really crazy.’

It was a thought he had again and again.

His student nicknamed “Century’s Special,” a mixed-blood of the century with the lineage of Immortals and Transforms.

In his youth, Ju Il-ho had been in the army, the Ministry of Public Safety, and Immortal Special Unit and came away disappointed.

“Why won’t you fight for humanity?”

He had rebelled with such questions.

Immortals don’t die easily. They should fight, even if it means sacrificing themselves.

That’s what he believed.

“Sacrificing for humanity, to create a utopia.”

“Why don’t you fight against terrorist organizations?”

Such were his youthful and rebellious thoughts.

Maybe there was some resentment towards the rigid system that didn’t utilize his abilities to the fullest.

Even Ju Il-ho himself did not know the exact reasons.

Things just happened and lead him here.

When Kwang Ik was asked what he intended to do with the company, if he had said he would fight for the future of humanity, then perhaps…

‘Would I have followed him?’

No, he would not have.

But Kwang Ik didn’t say that.

Instead, saying that he wanted to live freely, to eat well and live well struck a chord in Ju Il-ho’s heart.

It didn’t come off as youthful rashness.

He genuinely believed he would do it.

To beat up those he disliked and smash the places he hated – it felt like that’s what Kwang Ik would do.

So he instinctively found himself tempted to join.

He wanted to be there, watching over him.

The thought alone was exhilarating.

To do what his younger self couldn’t.

To take down terrorist groups, to stand against Hughes Gates.

Where else would you find someone like him?

“Will you teach the kids I bring with me? I have one with me, but I’m at a loss trying to teach him.”

“Sure.”

The offer came amidst his thoughts.

Ju Il-ho nodded.

The landscape passed by the window.

A new life was starting.

It seemed it would be nothing less than spectacular, different from anything before.

Ju Il-ho, before retiring, paralleled only by Phantom among the Immortals, was returning.

* * *

“It’s been a while.”

Kang Seul-hye spoke calmly.

She had reminded herself many times not to get excited on the way there.

Her husband had also advised her.

“Do as you wish. I’m on your side. There’s no need to force yourself or do something you might regret.”

Since they had shared secrets, their relationship had deepened.

Their eyes grew warmer by day and their nights, hotter.

It was not what one would expect from a couple with a child over twenty.

Thinking of her husband, she no longer flared up at the sight of her father.

“Return to the company.”

Her father was the same as always. Unchanging.

He began with the main point, as was his habit.

“Where?”

“Where else? To the company, of course.”

The bodyguard, a friend standing behind, could be seen.

He was the one who had given her the nickname “Rehabilitating Witch.”

“If I return now, my half-siblings with different last names are sure to be delighted.”

While she didn’t show excitement, her words weren’t exactly gentle.

Her father showed a surprised expression.

“Do you worry about such things? Living with the Immortal, you’ve become too sensitive, haven’t you?”

He laughed as he spoke, and before I could respond, he continued,

“Fight for it. Earn it. That’s how the transforms are.”

“No, thank you.”

“Are you going to leave Kwang Ik to his devices? A company? Good, there’s nothing like child’s play at that scale. If you want, putting you as the head of an affiliate isn’t a bad idea. So come to the company, be a support for your son.”

Father urged.

I couldn’t help but contemplate.

As much as I had changed over time, so had Father.

“Think about it.”

He didn’t press his opinion further. It was different from before.

As he departed, Father called out,

“Seul-hye.”

I halted and turned at his call.

“You’ve become prettier.”

Father’s unemotional compliment brought a surge of emotion to Kang Seul-hye.

Leaving the house didn’t make him any less her father.

Nor did taking her mother’s last name lessen their bond.

Her father from her childhood was just that – her father.

He would give her piggyback rides and share ice cream.

“Next time, bring your Immortal friend.”

It seemed the word ‘son-in-law’ didn’t come naturally to him.

“Yes.”

Kang Seul-hye responded and turned away.

On the way home, she was half-determined.

To return to the company.

To be a support for her son.

To be the wind beneath her soaring child’s wings.

With that in mind, she approached her home.

Reporters seeking her son swarmed everywhere.

They couldn’t approach her, though.

“If you come any closer, we will act according to the security protocol.”

It was the word of an employee from the security company sent by the group, Real Guard.

“If you take unauthorized photos and publish articles, we will come for you.”

There was also an employee from the group’s legal firm, Balhae, accompanying them.

The reporters closed their mouths.

Once home, I started preparing dinner as my son returned.

“You are home early?”

I greeted him as usual.

“Yes, I finished my work early and got here before traffic got heavy in Seoul.”

“Where have you been?”

I asked while preparing the seasoning for stuffed cucumbers.

Chives, carrots, onions, shrimp paste, fermented anchovy sauce, salt, sugar, minced garlic, red chili powder.

The seasoning tasted just right.

I held a knife to slice the cucumbers, and using the strength of a Transform without any need to hide, I cut them neatly to the perfect thickness and size. It was the skill of a master.

“Why go through so much effort just to slice cucumbers?”

My son asked.

“It’s a habit.”

Even after retiring from active duty, I never stopped training.

“Mother, I have a favor to ask.”

From across the kitchen counter, my son, sitting at the dining table facing me, spoke.

“If it’s an unreasonable request, it’s going to cost you.”

It was an ordinary joke of mine.

“I’ve grown up now, and Mary isn’t at an age that needs tending, right?”

“Mhm.”

I finished slicing cucumbers and mixed them with the seasoning as I replied.

What was he going on about?

“So please, be a strength for me.”

At that, the hand that was mixing stopped. Half-coated cucumbers in the seasoning gazed back at me.

I had been thinking of going back to the company anyway. I didn’t know he would ask first.

“Please join us.”

My son said.

“I told you, it’s a paid service.”

I spoke, gathering my thoughts.

I resumed mixing the seasoning. I didn’t cut the cucumbers all the way through, maintaining their shape, and smeared the seasoning between the cuts.

My son continued,

“It’s for our company.”

“Our company?”

I stopped again.

Lifting my head up to ask,

“Yes, my company.”

“Not the Dangun Group?”

“…Why would you go there? Did they make you a scout offer? Mother, stay loyal to your son. Or, is it loyalty to Father that’s troubling you? If you’re conflicted, I can’t help that.”

“Isn’t it easier to have the backing of Dangun Group?”

I interrupted with a question. My son seemed flustered.

There was no joking in my inquiry, and my son answered,

“It would be good to have.”

That’s exactly my point.

By having mom there, you’d be able to do whatever you desire much more comfortably, wouldn’t you?

Just as I was about to say that,

“It’s fine if we don’t. It’s just business.”

“Huh?”

“It’s not particularly necessary.”

Is this boldness, or does he simply not understand?

But it didn’t seem like ignorance.

“I trust our son.”

My husband’s words came to mind. And I recalled that I had similarly concluded recently.

My son had grown up.

“I’ll pay a good salary, and you’ll get some shares too.”

“Got it.”

“Eh?”

“I said I got it.”

I replied while tearing a piece of cucumber.

“Want to taste it?”

My son opened his mouth to receive it, chewing contently before giving a thumbs up.

“Wow, perhaps opening a restaurant might be the right call.”

He praised extravagantly.

“What’s that at the front door?”

I had sensed on my way in that he was bringing something.

“It’s sweet potatoes. They were really tasty.”

“Where did you get them from?”

Sweet potatoes, out of nowhere.

My son looked straight at me and replied,

“Erm, I bought them from my tutor’s ex-girlfriend.”

I was puzzled by his response.

Later, I came to understand.

My son always had a plan.

He intended to bring me in.

And also to bring in his father’s junior, the Immortal tutor.

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