“I really can’t stand living my life. I only have one child, and she doesn’t listen to her mother.”

The sinner remains silent. Despite the relentless bombardment of her mother’s nagging, Ji-an was unable to respond, only silently rushing her steps up the mountain. A more apt description would be to say that she had glue between her lips.

Rough breathing continued to flow from the mouth as she climbed the steep ridge. Each step was as heavy as wet cotton. In the meantime, the nagging of the mother who constantly pours was enough to make the already heavy steps heavier.

Oh, that tiresome nagging.

Ji-an was disgusted. The familiar mountain scenery in front of her, the shape of the temple now engraved in her eyes, and the constant nagging of her mother were all truly exhausting. But it seemed like her mother had no intention of letting Ji-an go.

“That’s why I told you, why you don’t listen to me, and give me this bad thing! I’m just so embarrassed.”

“Oh, okay, okay, please stop!”

“Did you get a call from that brat girl who took you to the emergency room? It happens to be on the same day you’re coming to the temple?”

“That, that’s……!”

Under her mother’s sharp scolding, Ji-an stammered. When she opened her eyes, she found herself in the emergency room. She first noticed Jo-ah and a nurse tending to her, and as she began to grasp the situation, she could see her mother rushing into the emergency room with a face like an angry goblin.

She had fallen into the valley water.

Song Ji-an, a drunken new student, almost drowned in the valley water. That’s why she can’t come to school now. There was probably a rumor in the department like this. And the rumor was also half true. If it hadn’t been for Jo-ah, who happened to be taking a walk near the valley, along with an unknown hero, Ji-an might have actually lost her life.

“Why would you go into the valley at dawn? And more importantly, why did you crawl up the mountain on that day! Just to show your mother your pathetic state?! What do you think your mother brought you to this mountain, to this temple, for the last twenty years!”

Every year, every hour, year after year, without fail. A temple to visit before the birthday.

Despite her mother’s urging, Ji-an stubbornly broke her promise, turned off her phone, and disappeared. Ji-an, who opened her eyes at the hospital without knowing why, ended her several days of hospitalization and became a high-ranking sinner and visited this temple again with her mother.

“Will it be all right, master?”

“You can’t hold water for what’s already passed.”

“This stupid thing doesn’t listen to me and is making this disaster……. Isn’t there something I can do?”

As always, when she bowed and prayed until her hands and feet were swollen, the sun was already hanging in the middle of the mountain. Her mother had a lot to talk about with the monk. The conversation continued on one side of the yard. Ji-an, having completed the usual prostrations and offerings, took a step back and waited for her mother and the monk to finish their conversation.

The warm spring sun, the wide mountain ridge, the buzzing of insects, and the strong scent of old wooden pillars. Ji-an slowly stretched out, now so familiar with the temple’s surroundings that it had become tedious.

Hoam Mountain.

From the time Ji-an was born until she was in her twenties, it was a mountain she visited at least once every year. And within the deep mountain valley of Hoam Mountain existed a single temple, Hoap Temple, which literally meant a temple that suppresses the energy of a tiger.

For some reason, in Ji-an’s family, whenever a girl was born, they had to offer prayers and make offerings at this Hoap Temple every month and year. According to her grandmother, one of their ancestors had incurred the wrath of a tiger in ancient times. In order to cover the eyes of the angry tiger and avoid the anger, they must pay tribute here, bow, and pray every month and year without fail.

However, Ji-an eventually broke this taboo. Why? Because she didn’t believe in such nonsensical tiger stories.

“I think I need to talk to Ji-an for a moment.”

With a deep sigh from her mother, the head monk looked at Ji-an. Holding a prayer bead in one hand, the head monk had a very compassionate expression, but there was a solemnity that was different from usual. Ji-an, facing the wrinkled face of the monk, unconsciously straightened her posture and swallowed dry spit.

Late dawn, when the deep darkness is still in place. The hand of the man who was filling out the documents that had not yet been processed, came to a halt.

“What the hell is that…….”

As he looked out the window, birds were flapping their wings wildly and acting like they had gone mad. Pigeons banging their heads against the utility pole with a thud, sparrows circling in the same place with no sense of direction. Neither pigeons nor sparrows were nocturnal creatures.

Normally, they would be sleeping after a full day’s work, just like humans. Seeing the erratic movements of the birds, the man’s suspicion quickly turned into certainty. The air had changed. An immense force that could distort the very axis of the air.

The man swallowed hard at the overwhelming energy, the first he had felt in nearly 500 years. There was only one man who could change the auras in the vicinity just by its existence, and one who could drive countless animals to madness at the same time. A mountain god, a mountain lord, a lord that men worshiped.


Having made up his mind, the man moved quickly. This wasn’t a situation where he could leisurely handle paperwork. Where is it? He asked a question and laughed low because he was speechless. The white fur on the back of the head was telling everything.

Inwang Mountain.

The man’s hand on the steering wheel was trembling faintly. At the same time, there were minor twitches around his mouth. Even he couldn’t determine whether he was happy or fearful about the upcoming meeting with his lord.


“Congratulations on your safe return, Ms. Song Ji-an~”

Ji-an, who entered the unusually bustling academic building, quickly made her way through the crowd and headed to the classroom. Jo-ah, who had taken a seat closer to the front, spotted Ji-an and raised both hands in greeting.

“Hush, Be quiet…….”

Ji-an muttered through clenched teeth. Her face tingled under the stares of her classmates who had yet to recognize her.

“No, why? After all, Ms. Song Ji-an, who fell into the valley water and returned safely from your mother’s nagging, as your friend, isn’t this level of welcome natural?”

“Hush. I told you to stop.….”

“Okay~ Okay~”

Jo-ah giggled playfully while poking Ji-an’s side. Ji-an took a seat right next to Jo-ah.

“But still, I’m relieved that you look much better than I thought. When you and Senior Jung-hoon were struggling in the water, I seriously thought you were a goner. I even considered reporting it to ‘I Want to Know What This Is.’ and when I found out it was you, my heart really raced.”

Jo-ah frowned as if she was dizzy even thinking about it now. Suddenly, Ji-an realized that she hadn’t properly expressed her gratitude.

“Yeah, well, once again, thank you so much. I’ll buy you a meal.”

“Of course. Buy me twice. No, three times.”

“Alright, deal. Let’s also meet that Senior Jung-hoon. I have to thank him, too.”

“Yeah~ I was actually thinking about asking that favor. I needed Detective Song Ji-an. So, tell me what he looks like.

Ji-an nodded casually and took a book out of the bag. It was around that moment when she felt something was odd. The lecture room was too noisy. The liberal arts classroom with more than 200 seats was crowded with students.

“By the way, why does the classroom seem so crowded today? Was this liberal arts class usually so popular?”

“Oh, you didn’t know because you were hospitalized. It’s amazing. This class.”


With a somewhat puzzled expression, Ji-an flipped through the cover of the book she had just taken out of her bag: “Understanding Classical Literature.” It was a general education course she had enrolled in to fulfill the timetable.

What’s amazing?

The noisy classroom suddenly fell silent at that moment. Jo-ah pulled the corners of her mouth and whispered in a hushed voice into Ji-an’s ear. Jo-ah’s gaze shifted to the man who had just entered the classroom.

“He came as I said. I guess the professor can’t be an old man.”

Following Jo-ah’s gaze, Ji-an’s eyes shifted forward. The man walking towards them, basking in the sunlight streaming through the large classroom window, was tall—so tall that you’d have to look up at him for quite a while. Dressed in all black, with a matching shirt and suit pants, his body was smooth and devoid of any excess fat. His face was not clearly visible due to the backlighting. A cold sweat trickled down Ji-an’s spine.

A strangely familiar sensation crept up through her fingertips and tightened around her throat. It felt as though the cool waters of a stream were flowing down her throat.

The man walked neither fast nor slow. Hundreds of eyes followed his leisurely and cool movement. As she looked up at his solid physique, all that could be seen were his black pupils, eyes so pure and black as if they could absorb the entire world.

Suddenly, the afternoon sun gathered over the man’s entire body as he stood in the pulpit. The sun’s golden rays flickered and flashed toward Ji-an.


Ji-an jolted to her feet. The sound of the plastic chair scraping against the floor and then thudding onto the ground cut through the silence of the classroom. And hundreds of pairs of eyes fixed on Ji-an, and within those eyes were shining golden eyes. The man was smiling slowly and leisurely with his eyes half-closed just like that night.

“What’s going on?”

‘Do you need help?’

The voice asking the question was calm. It flowed through the spacious classroom, unusually low and composed. She could be even more certain.

It was him.

The one who had thrown her in the stream, who had smiled while letting go of her hand underwater, and who had disappeared so effortlessly!

Ji-an, who was shocked, could only part her lips slightly, unable to say a word. At that moment, Jo-ah, who was standing beside her, pulled Ji-an’s arm.

“What’s wrong with you, are you still sick?” She asking noisily in low voices.

As if coming back to her senses, Ji-an sat back in her seat. Her ears felt hot as the gathered gazes had focused on her face. As if it was a brief incident, the man continued the lecture casually.

She couldn’t hear what he was talking about or what lecture he was taking. The words dotted in the book also flowed through the eyes meaninglessly and could not reach the mind. Her heart was pounding.

Why is that man here?

Unanswerable questions filled her mind.

Isn’t that the same man?

Ji-an lifted her gaze from the white paper she had been fixated on and looked at the lectern. His black eyes met hers almost simultaneously. No, that black pupils were unwavering, as if they had been staring at Ji-an the entire time. For a moment, the black eyes glowed golden as the sunlight gathered in them, and Ji-an was certain.

It was him.


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