Author: Lilac Editor: Lilac

As night fell, the fog gradually lifted. Though the rain had started again, it was now just a drizzle. Nuri headed to the dock before the ship set sail.

 

Just as Ko Cheol Woong had said, the four of them boarded the boat, and Oh Jung-tae’s family, including his wife and mother, came out to see them off.

 

“Oh my, our Jung-tae. Please bring back our Jung-tae to us.”

 

“Jung-tae’s mother, hold yourself together. I’ll quickly go and bring him back soon. I’ll make sure he is alright.”

 

“Oh my, that darn troublemaking lad. Mr. Young-chun. (Village head’s name) Please bring our Jung-tae back to us. Oh my, I’m going to die.”

 

Next to Oh Jung-tae’s wailing mother, his skinny foreign wife said nothing. She could only utter in her broken Korean, “Omoni, it’s okay, Omoni.” (Mother: Omoni feels a bit too formal and distant, so it’s often used when referring to a mother-in-law or by a super polite kid.) Tears fell steadily down her tanned skin. Her eyelashes were jet black and long.

 

“Nuri, if possible, don’t sound the foghorn for now. Let’s search until we find him.”

 

“Oh my, Cheol Woong’s dad, please don’t say that. Without you and Cheol Woong, how can we survive? It’s our village.”

 

The village head’s wife also shed tears. There wasn’t a single person who didn’t cry. Ko Cheol-woong stood silently behind the village head, while Oh Sung-jin, wearing gloves, cleared the nets from the boat and put a bottle filled with hot water in the wheelhouse. If they found Oh Jeong-tae alive, his body temperature would likely have dropped significantly.

 

While the family was in chaos, crying and making a scene, Go Won-taek arrived late. He was wearing the village self-defense leader’s vest and holding a first aid kit. He carried a sense of duty as the village self-defense leader, even if the vest he wore was covered in dust and he only wore it once a year.

 

“Oh my, don’t cry. We’ll do everything in our power.”

 

“Mr. Won-taek, please, take care of my child. Just keep him alive. Please, for heaven’s sake. Oh my.”

 

Oh Jeong-tae’s mother sat on the dock and sobbed. She didn’t seem to care that her clothes were getting wet. While Nuri was quietly observing this scene, Ko Cheol-woong tapped Nuri’s shoulder.

 

“You should go upstairs. We’ll be leaving soon.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Nuri gave a brief reply and bowed in greeting. Then, he left the place. The spot where Nuri had left remained unchanged, as if nothing had disappeared.

 

Nuri was such a presence. Like being there, yet not. For some reason, Nuri thought that his legs were losing strength and wobbling. It might have been because their heart was trembling.

 

With a tired body, Nuri climbed up the ladder. As he gazed at the sea, the boats started moving slowly.

 

Nuri poured oil into the lantern and lit it, then turned it up brightly. It was something he didn’t do because it was a waste of oil, but today it seemed like everyone would understand.

 

Searchlights shone brightly from the two boats. Nuri leaned back in the warm glow of the lantern and watched the two dots diverge in different directions. Fortunately, the low-setting sea fog was dispersing.

 

Nuri stared at the calm sea for a long time, as if watching a television that had stopped broadcasting. The sea was gradually calming down. It was as if the anger had already been vented.

 

It was different from the morning when the waves had sharply pierced like saw blades. Now there was stillness and gentle ripples. The undulating shapes seemed as if they would be plush to touch and warm to feel.

 

However, in reality, no one knew where it ended, extending widely and deeply. That’s why the sea was a fearsome space. So was the land beyond. Nuri was ignorant about more things than he realized, and ignorance easily summoned fear and loneliness.

 

Nuri was worried about the guests, but he was also worried about Oh Jung-tae. He was one of those mean villagers who pretended to be someone he wasn’t.

 

Perhaps, among those who lead the atmosphere, he might not have known that he was possibly the strongest. He was like a pawn who was out to make sure no one did anything to the head of the village and his family.

 

However, Nuri still wished he was alive. At the same time, he hoped that Ason wasn’t involved in this. If it was Ason, who kept killing people… If someday it became Nuri’s turn…

 

Just the thought of having such imagination was painful for Nuri. He had thought he might become his only friend, but he wasn’t. Maybe he had pretended to like Nuri, the lighthouse keeper, in order to manipulate people. Nuri’s mind was filled with various thoughts.

 

If he was trying to use him, should Nuri avoid meeting him in the future? Whose side was Nuri on now?

 

Navigating these feelings was difficult for Nuri. The idea of having gained a friend turned out to be a delusion. Nuri still hadn’t found where he truly belonged. He couldn’t be on anyone’s side. Perhaps no one even wanted him to.

 

Nuri’s mood sank like the settling sea mist, damp and moist. Flies buzzed above him, as if they were there to highlight the uselessness and meaninglessness of his thoughts.

 

Trying to shake off his sadness, Nuri reached out for a peach and took a big bite. The peach’s juice trickled stickily down his fingers and even his chin. The sensation of the peach’s texture seemed to throb in his mouth.

 

Nuri continued eating the peach. It was sweet and tangy. However, for some reason, Nuri felt tears welling up. It was so sweet and delicious. Yet, the sky and the sea in front of Nuri didn’t reflect that sweetness, and the things beside Nuri weren’t that way either, so tears welled up continuously.

 

Trying not to cry, Nuri squeezed the peach tightly. Juice seeped through his fingers, giving him an unfortunate feeling as if tiny flies were going to crawl over it.

 

* * *

 

After quite some time had passed, a boat was seen approaching the island at high speed. However, there were two boats that had left. Nuri sounded the foghorn, wondering if something happened to one of the boats. Despite the swollen and blistered hand that was causing pain, Nuri moved the hand as much as possible.

 

Boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-.

 

 

A dull, thunderous sound spread through the ground. The boat was initially heading towards the dock but then changed its direction towards the lighthouse. It seemed like there was something to say to Nuri.

 

Nuri let go of the foghorn and hurriedly descended the lighthouse. His legs were already trembling from sitting for a long time, making them even more unsteady.

 

“Argh!”

 

The stumbling leg couldn’t manage to step on the ground. Because of that, Nuri tumbled off the ladder and hurt his knee. With a sharp pain, blood flowed profusely. Without even attempting to stop the bleeding, Nuri rushed outside as is.

 

However his own blood was nothing compared to what he saw. It was because everything from Ko Cheol-woong’s head to torso was drenched in blood.

 

“Wha- What happened? What about Jung-tae hyung?”

 

“We found Jung-tae hyung.”

 

“But why do you look like this?”

 

“We found Jung-tae hyung on that remote island. There was a massive wound on his leg, and blood was gushing out. He said some monster had bitten off his leg, and the blood was all over the place. Father took Uncle Won-taek and went to the mainland. They didn’t think the village clinic could handle it.”

 

“……”

 

“So, I came to tell you that you can stop blowing the foghorn now.”

 

Nuri couldn’t hide his shock. Oh Sung-jin, who was in the wheelhouse behind him, looked almost the same as Ko Cheol-woong. After Cheol Woong gave him the sign, Oh Sung-jin slowly turned the boat around. They were heading towards the people waiting at the dock.

 

It was good news that they had found Jung-tae alive, but there was something creepy about it. Did the guest do that? Did the guest eat Oh Jung-tae’s leg?

 

[I don’t need to eat anything].

 

The guest had said that. Nuri couldn’t stop thinking about Ason. A merman who eats humans.

 

Did the guest consider Nuri as one of his prey as well? No. Why did he wait for Nuri with such intentions? If he only harmed without eating humans, what could be the reason?

 

Nuri’s head hurt. His knees hurt, his legs hurt.

 

Everything was just difficult, confusing, and painful. Nuri sank down without energy and cried. If someone were to ask why he was crying, Nuri wouldn’t be able to give a single reason. He just wanted to cry out loud.

 

Facing the sea, Nuri sat down and sobbed. To the point where someone might ask what was wrong. But the sadder part was that no one answered his crying.

 

Nuri cried until all the water seemed to drain out of his body. Yet, the emotions within Nuri remained untouched. The sea remained as calm as ever.

 

 

 

* * *

 

Author's Thoughts

Hello, I hope you are enjoying the novel so far, this is really a great story so give it a try and
Consider buying me a kofi if you enjoyed my translations so far. Thank you!

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