Chapter 43 – Seeking the Owners (1)
In the mayor’s office located in the Bucheon City Hall.
There were two men facing each other across a desk, a cup of steaming hot coffee sitting on the desk.
“Let’s organize some of this information first.”
One man swept back his chaotic hair with his right hand, his appearance resembling that of a tortured man.
“So was Sun Mi noonim able to tell you what your wishlist was before boss died?”
Hearing those words, another man simply nodded his head while caressing the mug of coffee in his hand and enjoying the coffee’s aroma.
Seeing his somewhat apathetic expression, Chang Sung Hoon forced a laugh.
“I don’t know who came up with it, but I have to give credit where it’s due. A wishlist······ Napoleon’s Golden Goblet would definitely be the most reliable way to transmit the information.”
Chang Sung Hoon could only sigh as he spoke those words.
Quite frankly, it wasn’t an optimistic sigh.
“Even if the problem itself lies within the wishlist.”
In essence, he was just complaining.
Kim Tae Hoon simply observed Chang Sung Hoon with an unsightly expression as Chang Sung Hoon complained. Kim Tae Hoon’s expression wasn’t a result of the coffee he was drinking.
Silence pervaded the atmosphere, prompting Chang Sung Hoon to start trying to sort things out in his mind.
He started from when Kim Tae Hoon woke up from his dream. Kim Tae Hoon had called for Chang Sung Hoon, who was waiting outside the mayor’s office, and had relayed the details to him.
Hearing the words ‘wishlist’ Chang Sung Hoon had unknowingly balled up his hands.
A completely unimaginable and unforeseen opportunity had revealed itself, and Chang Sung Hoon did not want to let it go.
As soon as Kim Tae Hoon had mentioned the wishlist, Chang Sung Hoon felt as though the path forward had lit up.
“Firstly, the Gilt-bronze Incense Burner of Baekje and the Bell of King Seongdeok.”
[TN: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilt-bronze_Incense_Burner_of_Baekje and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_of_King_Seongdeok%5D
Kim Tae Hoon recalled six things from the wish list.
Although Ahn Sun Mi had let out a long string of words and had also described many things in great detail, the dying Kim Tae Hoon could only hear six items.
The Bell of King Seongdeok and the Gilt-bronze Incense Burner of Baekje were the first to be mentioned of the six.
He had also spoken of the Gwanggaeto Stele and the Sword of Goujian.
It was from that point that Chang Sung Hoon had sensed that something was off.
Obviously, the two artifacts were real, but the two of them were of a different concept than those of the Bell of King Seongdeok and the Gilt-bronze Incense Burner of Baekje that he had spoken of before.
“Even something like the Green Dragon Crescent Blade or Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi were on the list?”
[TN: It’s all just various artifacts of national heritage. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Dragon_Crescent_Blade and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kusanagi%5D
Thinking of those artifacts, Chang Sung Hoon fell into deep thought.
Did Kim Tae Hoon perhaps go mental and play a prank on himself?
Or perhaps the shock incurred by experiencing his own death once more was enough to confuse what Kim Tae Hoon had heard?
What else could it be?
“Aren’t those just items that make frequent appearances in stories?”
They were actually just mythological weapons that one would read about in stories, they weren’t real.
Regardless, Kim Tae Hoon was serious.
Despite listening to what was said, Kim Tae Hoon was still sincere about the list of items he had heard.
“I’m going to need an analysis of the things on the wish list.”
There was no way he could take these things lightly.
This was valuable information about the future that Kim Tae Hoon had received as he died.
So if he wanted to continue to live, then he needed to change his fate once again by using the information he had gleaned.
“First off, of the six, four of them are real.”
Since Chang Sung Hoon was knowledgeable about that fact, he cut right to the chase.
“Where would they be?”
“First, the Gilt-bronze Incense Burner of Baekje is in the Buyeo National Museum, while the Bell of King Seongdeok······.”
“The Bell of King Seongdeok?”
“Ah, it’s the Emile bell. The Emile Bell. It’s located in the Gyeongju National Museum. The Gwanggaeto Stele is in China’s Jilin Province and the Sword of Goujian should be in China’s Hubei Province.”
“And the remaining two are simply myths?”
“They’re object only spoken about in the legends.”
Kim Tae Hoon took another gulp of his coffee. In a rare act of silence, Chang Sung Hoon opted not to disturb the quiet that had settled.
The two men shut their mouths and organized the information in their heads.
The conversation didn’t continue again until Kim Tae Hoon opened his mouth.
“It was probably me that made the wish list.”
“It would seem so.”
“Then I wouldn’t have listed items that were impossible to get.”
Chang Sung Hoon finally realized.
He knew what kind of man that Kim Tae Hoon was.
We wouldn’t record something that was impossible to retrieve.
“I wouldn’t know how much I would be able to hear when standing on death’s doorstep.”
In short, this wishlist was a contingency set in place by Kim Tae Hoon for the sake of informing his past self shortly before his demise.
It meant that there was some sort of secret, perhaps a message, hidden within the contents of the list.
Kim Tae Hoon had purposefully created the list. So would he have not taken into consideration his own personality?
“Buyeo and Gyeongju. I suppose the items there are those that we can currently retrieve.”
“That’s right. It shouldn’t take more than half a day by car if we don’t encounter any monsters. It would probably take us three hours to get to Buyeo National Museum by Gyeongbu Express Highway, and maybe four or five hours to get to Gyeongju National Museum by Gyeongbu Express Highway. But who knows if it’ll take us up to a year of fighting while putting our lives on the line to get there.”
“Buyeon and Gyeongju are included, but Seoul is not.”
So the first mystery was why Seoul was left out of the picture.
It was obvious that Gyeongju and Buyeon were areas laden with relics ripe for the picking.
However, Seoul was was a city that had served as the capital of various Korean kingdoms since time immemorial.
Even the National Museum was located in the Yongsan District of Seoul.
“That’s certainly a mystery. Even the original wood block prints of Daedongyeojido should be kept in the National Museum······.”
Although through good fortune Kim Tae Hoon and Chang Sung Hoon were able to find a secret edition of Daedongyeojido, the original print that it was based on was exhibited in none other than the National Museum of Korea.
“The golden crown of the Silla Dynasty is there······ that’s right. There are also armor, kimonos, and masks used by Japanese warriors. And although there aren’t many, there are also Chinese Buddhas and other statues.”
The National Museum of Korea was even home to some artifacts from China and Japan.
But Kim Tae Hoon’s wishlist didn’t refer to anything that could be found in the National Museum of Korea.
“What do you think is the reason?”
It was a mystery that required immediate attention.
“One of two things.”
But it wasn’t something that Kim Tae Hoon needed to meditate on.
“Either someone else has already stolen those items, or going there is much more dangerous than going to either Buyeo or Gyeongju.”
“Figures, if we were in Yongsang District instead of Bucheon City······ no, rather, if we discovered the usages of artifacts, then others in Yongsang must have as well, which means that the National Museum must have been picked clean.”
“Right to the north of the National Museum is the Ministry of Defense.”
“The Ministry of Defense? Ah, right, the War Memorial of Korea is behind it.”
The National Museum of Korea and the Ministry of Defense were not too far away from each other.
“The cadets would have flocked to their as soon as the catastrophe hit.”
In other words, the troops under the Ministry of Defense, the troops organized and led by the ministry for the sake of defending the capital, would have headed towards it.
So naturally, they would have already acquired the relics there.
Everything up till now was mere speculation, but now they were convinced of the veracity of the information gleaned from the dream
“In other words, both Buyeo and Gyeongju are ownerless mountains.”
So if they moved quickly, they would be able to acquire artifacts in both Gyeongju and Buyeo.
“Then what was the purpose of mentioning the Sword of Goujian and the Gwanggaeto Stele?”
“Perhaps the fall of North Korea and survivors migrating to China······ no, rather, it might be an indicator that there is an exchange of awakened or maybe even a war.”
He wouldn’t have mentioned the Sword of Goujian and the Gwanggaeto Stele simply because he wanted him to retrieve them, but instead, a means to transmit information about the situation.
“I know that the Gwanggaeto Stele is located in the Jilin Province. Since planes and boats are probably mostly all out of commission, then North Korea would only try to contact China if on the verge of collapse. Did you also say that the Sword of Goujian is in the Hubei Province?”
“Hubei province is located in the middle of China. Then there’s a high chance that the Chinese awakened have secured it, and are therefore on their way or have already secured the Gwanggaeto Stele. In fact, they may have already pushed into the Korean Peninsula via North Korea.”
The collapse of North Korea and contact with China.
This was also a vital hint. It meant that the situation of the entire Korean Peninsula has changed as well.
“It makes enough sense for now. Then what’s the meaning behind the Green Dragon Crescent Blade and Kusanagi? No matter how I think about it, those things don’t exist.”
The Green Dragon Crescent Blade and Kusanagi had to be signals.
“There’s no way they are real.”
According to common sense, those legendary weapons wouldn’t exist.
“It’s probably a warning against constraining our thoughts to that kind of thinking.”
But, in today’s era, those weapons would definitely exist. It was a signal telling them.
Chang Sung Hoon had organized the contents of their conversation in his head.
‘That’s right, it would be better to avoid a large crowd gathering in Seoul and instead go for an unclaimed item that has escaped under the radar for the time being.’
At the same time, Chang Sung Hoon started to feel frustrated.
“The list definitely doesn’t end with just those six. If I had heard more I could have made a clearer plan.”
Although he had been able to extract various bits of information and hidden messages through the six items on the list, he could have drawn up a much better plan had he heard more.
Furthermore, Kim Tae Hoon began to regret that he had heard only a snippet.
‘If I only I heard more.’
Using Napoleon’s Golden Goblet to transmit the wishlist was a fantastic idea.
But it was also true that they hadn’t really gained all that much.
However, instead of pitying yourself, it was of course better to figure out a way to improve the method.
“Well it looks like everyone’s going to need to learn to rap.”
It was at that moment that Kim Tae Hoon came up with his answer.
“When faced with impending doom, the best way to transmit information would be through as many words within the shortest amount of time possible.”
If Ahn Sun Mi were able to speak about twice as fast, then he would have been able to retain twice the information!
Listening to Kim Tae Hoon, Chang Sung Hoon expressed his displeasure.
“So while boss is throwing up blood and declining in spirit, you want me to rap to you even as your eyes lose focus? What about the locations of Dabotap, Seokguram, and the Tripitaka Koreana?”
“Why, is that strange?”
“Does such a scene not seem strange to you boss? Do you expect someone to quickly recite information about national treasures in front of a dying person from one to ten?”
Kim Tae Hoon drank some coffee instead of replying. It was the calm expression of a man who felt nothing was wrong.
Seeing as how Kim Tae Hoon was remaining more silent than usual, Chang Sung Hoon asked him a question.
“More importantly, what are our immediate plans? Whether it’s to capture Buyeo or Gyeongju, we wouldn’t be able to head out right away, right?”
“First things first, we should stabilize our position.”
“Our position······ of course, we have to establish a clan under our banner and choose a public representative.”
The plan was set.
Buyeo or Gyeongju.
From this moment on, Kim Tae Hoon had decided to work towards securing those areas.
The journey would be long and arduous. But before that, he needed to stabilize any internal strife.
So Kim Tae Hoon agreed.
“But before that, there is something we must do.”
Something needed to be done immediately.
“Is there something so urgent?”
“We need to figure out the owners of these nine relics we secured.”
The duo had managed to shake down Baek “Whale” Sung Taek’s hidden cache and secure nine relics. Kim Tae Hoon had proposed that the relics find owners before anything else.
“To find the owners······ do you intend to give these out?”
“They’d be worthless if not handled by an awakened.”
Chang Sung Hoon’s expression hardened at those words.
Kim Tae Hoon was not wrong.
These relics were the most powerful weapons at humanity’s disposal in their war against the monsters.
So it would be pointless to give them to a human who couldn’t even utilize them properly.
In this situation where everyone was striving to kill even just one more monster, the wisest course of action would be to seek out someone who could properly utilize the relic.
However, many of the artifacts that they found this time around were incredibly valuable.
“Is it really ok to hand these relics to the awakened who can use them?”
But it would be a pity to just freely hand them out.
Not all of the awakened under Kim Tae Hoon offered their heartfelt loyalty to him.
They follow Kim Tae Hoon simply because he had the power to kill monsters that they could not.
Kim Tae Hoon tilted his head in response to Chang Sung Hoon’s sorrow-soaked words.
“Why would I just give them out?”
“I’m looking for the owners. Afterwards I’ll charge a finder’s fee. Isn’t that common sense?”
Chang Sung Hoon vigorously nodded his head.
“That’s right, that’s what common sense would dictate.”