Mu-ryeong’s Spirit - Chapter 19
EP 19. Lost Soul (14)
His throat felt as if it were blocked up. The swirling emotions inside him only pointed towards his being deeply moved. He had heard the words “thank you” countless times in his life, but this time, it felt particularly special. It felt like when a cat that always acted coldly approached you for the first time and rubbed its face against you.
“Well then, I’ll go.”
As he turned away, Mu-ryeong instinctively grabbed his wrist. A refreshing energy was transmitted through his palm. Hwan-young, who had taken a step forward, furrowed his brow and turned back.
“Do you have something to say?”
Mu-ryeong held onto his hand and rolled his eyes awkwardly. He felt panicky as he had nothing to say, but luckily, something quickly came to mind.
“I just wanted to tell you that Seung-ju isn’t hurt.”
Despite the natural conversation topic, the reaction coming back wasn’t very good. Hwan-young’s expression turned cold as if he had been hit on the back of the head. His rigid and stiff face was enough to ruin the pleasant atmosphere.
That was the end of it. Hwan-young only uttered those words and took his hand off Mu-ryeong. He quietly lowered his gaze and tightly pressed his lips together, and when he raised his gaze again, his eyes were as void as the distant feeling.
This time, Mu-ryeong didn’t grab hold of Hwan-young either. His retreating figure in the hallway somehow seemed precarious.
* * *
Why did he make that expression?
Throughout the entire first-period math class, Mu-ryeong’s mind was filled by nothing but Hwan-young. The fleeting glance kept flickering in front of his eyes. He spent his time as his hand wrote along with the board, yet his head stayed fixated on Hwan-young. As soon as the first period ended, he abruptly stood up from his seat.
“Are you going to see Ki Hwan-young again?”
“I’ll be back.”
Mu-ryeong’s steps towards class 3 were confident and resolute. He strode through the hallway as if heading off to war.
However, when he confidently arrived at the classroom, he couldn’t see Hwan-young anywhere.
“Hey, do you know where Ki Hwan-young is?”
“Ki Hwan-young? I don’t know; he left earlier.”
Had he gone to the restroom? Mu-ryeong waited with that thought in mind, but Hwan-young didn’t return until the start of the class bell rang. Mu-ryeong had to reluctantly turn back to class 7 with lingering eyes of regret.
And when the second period of Korean class ended, Mu-ryeong headed back to class 3 once again. This time, he had a bar of chocolate given to him by a friend from the front row. He was planning on figuring out why Hwan-young was acting that way while giving him this.
Unfortunately, his ambitious plan ended in failure once again.
“Do you know where Ki Hwan-young is?”
“Um, I don’t know either.”
Exhaling a rare sigh, Mu-ryeong leaned against the back door. People who knew Mu-ryeong asked him what was wrong with concern-filled questions. Mu-ryeong kindly answered each person’s question before leaving at the sound of the bell, signalling the start of class, waiting for the next chance.
However, during the next class, Mu-ryeong returned to the classroom without any results once again. Why did no one in the same class know the whereabouts of Hwan-young? He wanted to ask someone to relay the message that he was looking for Hwan-young, but everyone seemed uneasy at the mention of his name, so he couldn’t bring himself to do it.
“What’s wrong with you?”
Seung-ju looked at Mu-ryeong, who had a crumpled face, something rare for him, with concern. Mu-ryeong was the type of person who wouldn’t even get annoyed if he stepped on dog poo, so his slightly furrowed brow seemed out of the ordinary.
“Did you have a fight with Ki Hwan-young?”
As Seung-ju subtly inquired, Mu-ryeong blinked his eyes slowly. His crumpled face relaxed as usual. However, his eyes narrowed, and he looked sullen.
“It’s not that…”
They hadn’t had a fight. In fact, this morning, he even heard a thanks. The umbrella was still hanging next to his desk, and that overwhelming sense of gratitude couldn’t be just a dream, could it?
“Why would I fight with him?”
Mu-ryeong calmly waited for lunchtime first. He thought that since Hwan-young also needed to eat, he could quickly run and meet him. Of course, he left the classroom before the teacher as soon as the bell rang, so it wasn’t exactly calm.
“Is Hwan-young not here?”
However, once again, Mu-ryeong experienced a painful failure. Hwan-young was not in his usual spot, and his classmates sadly informed him that the class ended 10 minutes earlier. Mu-ryeong bit his lower lip and gently touched his forehead.
‘Something seems off…’
As an exorcist, he had a hunch. No, even someone normal would know. Hwan-young was clearly avoiding Mu-ryeong by not being present during class time and now even during lunchtime.
“Hey, let’s go. The line is already so long.”
Mu-ryeong and Seung-ju headed to the cafeteria together and finished their lunch as they always did. Having seen Mu-ryeong’s expression, Seung-ju didn’t dare ask about Hwan-young. He simply waved his hand without much intent after finishing his meal and speaking.
“Don’t act like a Baekseolgi that needs to poo; just go.”
Normally, Mu-ryeong would have been polite and said it was fine, but he just gave a brief apology and quickly left the cafeteria. Then he headed towards class 3, like by habit. He planned to endure even when the bell rang to start the next class to finally see Hwan-young.
Of course, this time, the situation wasn’t favourable either.
“The next class is PE…?”
Mu-ryeong opened his mouth in surprise as he looked at the schedule hanging next to the teacher’s desk. He should have noticed when the kids were wearing their gym uniforms in the morning.
If PE followed lunchtime, there was a chance that instead of coming to the classroom, Hwan-young went straight to the field. No matter how long Mu-ryeong waited here, it meant he wouldn’t be able to meet Hwan-young.
‘I guess I’ll have to come again later.’
Mu-ryeong sighed, slumping his shoulders, and headed towards the classroom. He briefly considered searching for traces of Hwan-young, but it felt like stalking, so he gave up. If, by any chance, he did find Hwan-young and he was genuinely upset, it would complicate things.
Still, since they were in the same school, he might encounter him before the day was over. If not, he could just wait until the end of the day, even if it meant waiting until the end-of-day assembly.
With that thought, Mu-ryeong tried to relax his shoulders.
Little did Mu-ryeong know what would happen in the next period.
* * *
“Well, let’s stop here for today.”
Right after lunchtime, during class. Mu-ryeong suddenly stood up from his seat, startlingly as soon as the class was dismissed. It was disrespectful, but perhaps due to his usual image, the teacher seemed to think, “Maybe he really had to go to the restroom,” and didn’t pay much attention.
Mu-ryeong swiftly walked down the corridor and stood firmly in front of the classroom for class 3.
‘I hope nothing’s wrong.’
In truth, there was enough reason for Mu-ryeong to feel anxious. Once today was over, it would be the weekend, and he wouldn’t be able to see Hwan-young for two whole days. Moreover, it had been over a week since he last visited Hwan-young’s house, so it was essential to get enough of his spiritual energy for safety today.
‘If I can just get through today, it’ll be fine.’
If he wore the talisman over the weekend and simply handed it to Hwan-young on Monday, then Mu-ryeong’s initial plan would be halfway successful. When Hwan-young grabbed Seung-ju’s arm, the desperate gaze Mu-ryeong saw then made him not want to see it again.
Mu-ryeong waited for about five minutes. He heard a murmuring sound coming from the stairs. It was the sound of the students from class 3, who had finished their physical education class, returning to the classroom. However, the atmosphere that should have been cheerful and lively felt strangely off.
“Is everything really okay?”
“I don’t know. Nobody asked.”
“There was a lot of blood.”
The moment Mu-ryeong heard the word “blood,” he abruptly raised his head. His usually calm heart seemed to make a loud thumping sound. And that reaction became even stronger when he heard the familiar name he heard next.
“What happened to Ki Hwan-young?”
Instinctively, Mu-ryeong approached the student who blurted out those words. The student, who had a deeply furrowed brow, widened his eyes upon seeing Mu-ryeong.
“What happened to Hwan-young? Is he injured?”
“What? Oh… You were looking for Hwan-young all day today. He fell during gym class.”
He got seriously hurt.
Mu-ryeong’s face turned pale. The slight colour had disappeared, leaving his already pale complexion looking even more lifeless. Ignoring the student’s attempts to say more, Mu-ryeong hurriedly ran towards the stairs.
‘But it doesn’t seem too dangerous yet.’
Seung-ju’s words echoed in his mind, along with the confident responses he had given.
‘It’ll be fine.’
‘We have to make sure no one gets hurt.’
He leapt down the stairs, taking two or three steps at a time. He shouldn’t have been so careless. He should have created an opportunity to resolve the situation. He shouldn’t have just waited around, wasting time. Although such thoughts kept arising, he forcibly pushed them aside.
It was just a short distance from the second floor to the end of the first floor. Mu-ryeong felt that fleeting moment as if it were an eternity. He constantly imagined how Hwan-young fell and where and how badly he had been hurt.
When he reached the door of the nurse’s office, Mu-ryeong corrected his thinking and turned towards the outside. The nearest water taps are in the main building. This place is rarely used now, so he urgently moved his steps in that direction. It could be called an instinctive impulse, but he had a strong intuition that Hwan-young would be there without fail.
The distinctive smell of sand from the field brushed against his nostrils. His trembling gaze quickly found the open faucet.
In an empty space where nobody could see, a place untouched by others’ eyes, Hwan-young sat by the water tap, basking in the scorching sunlight.
His heart felt like it would explode. Mu-ryeong took a deep breath, feeling like he could burst into tears at any moment. His hurried breaths trembled weakly, and his chest pounded wildly.
It was Hwan-young. He was sitting by the water tap, washing his hands in the flowing water; his pants were soaked up to his knees. From his knees to his shins, Hwan-young’s flesh was covered in countless wounds. And there was no sense of negativity, only the presence of his spirit.
So it wasn’t an evil spirit, after all.
As soon as Mu-ryeong realised that fact, his legs went weak. He slumped down, crouching on the ground, and Hwan-young hastily tried to get himself up. With one hand covering his face, Mu-ryeong extended his other hand towards Hwan-young, waving it gently.
“No, no, stay seated.”
“I was just a little startled….”
Mu-ryeong took a deep breath, calming his startled heart. He placed one hand on his chest and focused on the sound of his heartbeat. It was foolish to think that there could be an evil spirit in broad daylight.
“Oh, thank goodness.”
Watching him silently, Hwan-young closed the faucet that was left open. The sound of water flowing stopped abruptly.
“I was going to tell you later.”
Mu-ryeong reflexively asked, raising his head. Hwan-young’s face was shaded due to the backlight. He stared at Mu-ryeong with vacant eyes for a while before turning his gaze away.
“Let’s just leave it here.”
Leave what? He couldn’t ask such a question. Mu-ryeong slowly closed his eyes, and then, with a soft sigh, his lips parted. Hwan-young’s distinctively husky voice reached him like a whisper.
“Let’s forget about the request.”