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I Will Make The Trash Count

Chapter Text

When the boy opened his eyes he knew something was different. The walls of his room seemed a bit...vibrant? His bed felt a lot softer and woolly in fabric. The smell of the air had a unique wooden like scent to it, a stark contrast to his dusty concrete apartment flat. What's more, there was a man in a suit looking down at him with a smile.

“Good morning young master!”

A bright voice hit his ears. The boy squinted his eyes as the other man opened the curtains, which sent a ray of sunlight that blinded his view.

“Ugh.”

“What’s the matter, young master? You usually like sunlight.”

The man with bushy orange hair looked worriedly at the boy who squinted his eyes in displeasure. The boy touched his face, feeling the soft skin of a child unlike his own. His wrists were skinny and scarless.

‘Am I dreaming?’

“Young Master Basen?”

The man with orange hair asked again, tilting his head in confusion.

“Basen? Basen Henituse?”

“Y-yes, what seems to be the issue?”

The boy scratched his chin.

‘I guess that guy is me.’

He remembered the novel [Birth of a Hero] that he read last night. If his memories had served him right then, Basen Henituse was a super minor character, his only relevance was that he would be the next count instead of the trash son Cale Henituse. Kim Rok Soo nodded at this.

‘This means I won’t be any relevance to the story.’

The only issue was Basen being the most likely candidate for the title of Count. He scoffed at the thought.

‘Don’t Counts need to read paperwork and manage the lands? Sounds tiresome.’

He didn’t want to be the Count at all, that title meant nothing to him, it would only be a leash that ties him to the office table. He looked over at the man who was beside him. It was probably a butler.

“The head Butler’s name is Ron right?”

“Excuse me? Um, young master are you asking me?”

“Who else do I ask?”

The boy crossed his arms with an expressionless face. He continued on without giving the butler a chance to reply.

“Ron has a son who is our chef, Beacrox. My mother is Violan Henituse and my father is Deruth Henituse. I have a little sister named Lily and an older brother named Cale. Correct?”

The butler was stunned. He had never seen the young master act so strangely. If it was the young master Cale it would be possible since he was a tyrant, but it was bizarre to see Basen act in this way. The butler gave a worried look.

“Also what is your name?”

The butler’s legs almost gave out.

‘What is my name? Young master Basen...did you forget me after I served you for so long?’

“Young master...are you okay…”

The butler held in the urge to cry and tried taking things professionally. If it was something serious like memory loss then they would need to call in a doctor immediately.

“I’m fine, can you bring me a cup of cold water?”

“Ah...Yes of course.”

The butler crookedly slugged out of the room, obviously sad about the young master not calling him by his name. However, the boy didn’t notice it. He got out of bed and walked into the washroom. There was a small round mirror near the sink, giving him a good view of his new appearance.

“I really am Basen.”

The boy in the mirror was indeed Basen Henituse from [Birth of a Hero], the book was always super descriptive of their characters, even for minor characters like Basen. The boy was described to be average in looks with droopy eyes, he had brown hair and eyes. Nothing about Basen popped out as extremely handsome but Kim Rok Soo thought the boy had some potential. He couldn’t be sure, however, since Basen was still young.

Basen touched the reflection of himself with the tips of his fingers, confirming that what happened to him was really reality.

‘Alright, I have at least 3 years before the Count title is passed to me. I’ll need to think of a way to throw it away to someone else.’

He thought about it carefully. Basen was obviously the best pick, his little sister was far too young and also a woman, and his older brother was complete trash. He remembered the novel mentioning about Cale’s unique behaviour as a trash.

Apparently, he only targetted gangsters and hated ill doings. Perhaps the punk had a strong vision of justice, even though half the time he wasn’t any better than the gangsters themselves. That didn’t matter to Basen, he just needed someone to take his spot. It was worth giving a try.

***

After a quick morning shower, Basen opened his wardrobe. There was nothing fashionable about his clothes, his style seemed simple and bland. Basen smiled at the previous owner’s tastes as it was the same as his. He picked a random outfit and started to change. A light knock came from the door.

“Young master, may I come in?”

It must have been the butler from earlier, his voice sounded a bit more muddled but Basen brushed it off as the door blocking the sound. An older looking man entered with a benign smile. Basen flinched in terror as he watched the butler walk in.

‘He must be Ron.’

Basen could feel the man’s dark aura spiralling behind him.

“I brought you a glass of cold water.”

“Ah yes, thank you.”

Basen tried to hide his shaking palm and slowly took a sip of water. Ron was a dangerous man he didn’t want to approach. He remembered how vicious the assassin was in the novel.

‘I can’t get him on my nerves if I make him mad who knows what will happen to me.’

Basen sighed in relief, he was a bit glad he didn’t end up as Cale who gets beaten to a pulp by the main character.

“Are you feeling alright young master? You seem a bit tired today.”

“...I was studying a bit last night.”

Basen easily lied while putting up a fake smile. Ron returned the same smile back.

“Ah yes, you are very hardworking but please don’t overwork yourself. Breakfast is ready, I will need to call your brother soon.”

“Mm, thanks for telling me.”

Basen rushed out his room, he didn’t want to stay in the same room with the assassin a moment longer.

***

“Hyung!”

Lily greeted Basen with a cheery smile, she waved at him to come over and sit next to her. Basen obediently sat down and greeted his parents. Everyone didn’t touch their food yet because they were waiting for someone to arrive. This person would always come late due to his hobby of drinking out late at night.

Basen waited patiently for his brother, slightly curious on how trashy Cale would be.

The door slammed open with a loud bang. A man with bright red hair stormed in, his clothes were extremely frilly and expensive looking. He had a handsome face even though he was frowning.

“Damnit that fucking butler, always messing with me in the morning like this.”

Cale slouched in his seat, he didn’t wait for a word and began eating without care. Violan ignored Cale’s improper eating even though she was a woman of elegance. Lily’s smile disappeared and she started to nibble on her own food. Deruth looked at Cale for a bit before nodding his head and grabbing his utensils to cut his food.

Basen watched Cale with a slightly disappointed look. As of now, it would be impossible for Cale to become the count. He sliced a piece of sausage and ate it.

“Mm!”

“Basen? What’s wrong?”

Violan looked at her son with surprise.

“Ah nothing, I think the food is really good.”

In his life as Kim Rok Soo, he never tasted something this good. This was the luxury of being rich. Basen thought of being a total slacker, being able to eat meals like this everyday and smiled brightly.

Everyone looked a little shocked at Basen’s comment. He wasn’t usually someone who would speak up about something so minimal but no one commented on it. Cale looked at his brother momentarily with a peculiar expression.

***

For the next few days, Basen struggled through the day. He had many classes he needed to take. He hated doing the homework assigned to him and just rushed through all of them without much care. It reminded him of his office days in his past life that he despised.

Basen checked the calendar on his desk, it was almost time for the first event. The appearance of the main character, Choi Han. He would meet Cale and soon beat him to a pulp. To uphold Cale’s last bit of reputation, it was Basen’s goal to stop this from happening.

‘If he gets into any more trouble then his chances of becoming the count would disappear.’

After making up his mind, Basen shifted all his paperwork to the side and stepped out the door.

“Young master? Is there a problem?”

“I’m going to talk to my father for a bit, don’t bother me.”

The orange-haired butler felt his heart crushing for a moment. Did the young master hate him now? He would not even call him by his name anymore. Was this what people called teenage rebellion? The butler sighed, reminiscing the once kinder Basen.

***

“Father.”

Deruth looked up from the paperwork to his second well behaved son.

“Yes, Basen what’s the matter?”

“Can I get some money?”

“What’s that?”

“I want to go out for a few days.”

“...Is there a reason why?”

“Ah well, I heard of a tea shop that is open nearby, I want to check it out.”

Deruth put down his pen, a bit more intrigued in the conversation now.

“Ho, I didn’t know you were fond of poetry. Well, I don’t have anything against it, just make sure you don’t stay out too late as your brother does.”

“Of course.”

Deruth took out a check and handed it to Basen. Basen gave a polite smile and walked out. He touched the slip that was inside his pocket and started to sweat.

‘That’s way too much money. This house is loaded.’

It was a 10 million gallon check, for a 15-year-old boy. This father really loved recklessly spilling money to his kids, did he not even care about what Basen might’ve done with all this money? Basen chuckled evilly for a bit, he was glad he found someone he could leech off of whenever he wanted.

***
“You can stop here now.”

Basen gave the driver a wave telling him to stop. He stared at the shop name, [The Fragrance of Tea and Poetry]. The driver looked at Basen and smiled.

“The young master is so mature, I wish my son liked these types of things instead of fighting all day haha!”

Basen ignored the driver’s gossip and hopped off the carriage.

“You don’t have to pick me up tonight.”

“Excuse me?”

“Yes don’t worry about it.”

He didn’t need to be picked up today, it was more like he would be picking up somebody else. Basen didn’t bother listening to the driver and entered the shop.

“Welcome.”

A fat man that resembled a piggy bank sat behind the counter and greeted Basen. The man’s name was Billos, he would be important for the novel later on. A few townsfolk recognised the young lord and greeted him respectfully. Unlike Cale, it was pretty rare to meet the second lord, since he spent most of his days studying, unlike the trashy brother he had.

“Hello, I’d like to take a spot on the third floor, please. Any tea is fine as long as it’s not bitter, do you have any novels or do you only have poetry?”

“Of course. We have a lot of novels as well, young master Basen.”

“I see, bring a few interesting ones.”

Basen flicked a fat golden coin onto the counter, Billos watched the coin wobble, it’s metallic sound ringing through the room. As Billos went to get the change, Basen started walking up the stairs.

“Young master Basen, what about the change?”

“It’s fine, I plan of drinking more tea later so you can keep it.”

Basen enjoyed wasting money like this without care, he went over to a table with a good view and sat down. It was a great spot to see the Northern Gate of Western City, the gate where Choi Han would jump over. Basen planned to wait for the monster’s arrival.

Chapter Text

‘Choi Han will arrive at the Northern gates around the morning.’

 

Basen watched carefully at the entrance of the gate. Surely soon enough, a man in a black coat approached the gate. After the mass murder that happened in Harris Village, Choi Han sprinted his way to the Western city because he wanted to report the news to the lord at the castle. He needed answers and clues to the people who attacked Harris Village. 

 

The guards blocked Choi Han who staggardly walked up to the entrance. He looked completely exhausted, it was to be expected for someone who ran all the way from Harris village within a day. It was beyond human capacity. Of course, Basen wouldn’t put Choi Han with average humans. He seemed more like a dragon. 

 

The guards seemed to be asking Choi Han a few questions, in which Choi Han shook his head.

 

‘They’re probably asking for an identification card.’

 

Choi Han lived in the Forest of Darkness for most of his life, so he wouldn’t have one. After talking a bit longer, the guards shooed him away. He didn’t seem to try any harder either even though he could’ve easily passed through the guards with the strength he held.

 

 It was amazing to see someone still stay sane after all their loved ones just disappeared like that in an instant. Of course, if someone annoyed the hell out of him, then his strings would snap. 

 

Basen recalled the lines of the novel, the scene where Cale comes up to Choi Han and mocks him. 

 

[“Why should my father care whether or not some useless villagers are dead? This cup of alcohol in my hand is worth more than all of your useless lives combined.”]

 

Choi Han starts to laugh at Cale’s words as he asks back.

 

[“What an interesting thought. I am very curious to know whether you will change your mind or not.”]

 

[‘Shall we test it out?’]

 

Afterwards, Cale was beaten to a pulp to the point he nearly died. What shocked Basen more was that this brother of his never changed his mind even after receiving the cruel punishment. Was it because of his stubbornness? Or was it something else? Both Cale and Choi Han were strange. 

 

‘Choi Han will jump across the gates during the night and meet Cale.’

 

That would be how the two meet, he needed to interfere while still maintaining the plot. 

 

Basen pondered for a bit longer. He remembered something rather important. 

 

The Indestructible Shield.

 

That was the name of the ancient power. It was a useful power to have. Certainly useful if Cale was going to be the next count. Basen could protect himself if his brother made some rivals.

 

‘Even though I’m not trash I’m still related to him. When you hate someone you’ll target the people they are close with to mess with them.’

 

Basen got up from his seat and walked down the stairs. He was greeted by Billos who had a great business smile spread across his face.

 

“I’ll be back, so don’t clear my spot.”

 

“Yes, young master. I look forward to your return.”

 

Billos gave a light nod and watched the young boy leave his tea shop. The townspeople slowly started gossiping about the young lord.

 

“He’s a cute little boy isn’t he?”

 

One person teased.

 

“He’s very mature for his age haha!”

 

Most were compliments about Basen, the people seemed satisfied to have him as their future lord.

 

***

 

“Can I buy some bread please?”

 

The baker looked at the young boy with a gentle smile. Not everyone knew what Basen looked like, and his simple clothes could easily be mistaken as a commoner. 

 

“Ah yes boy, what would you like?”

 

Basen lifted up his hand and pointed at every bread section available.

 

“I want everything from here to there.”

 

“Y-yes, I beg your pardon?!”

 

The baker could not hide his shock. He examined the boy closer and saw a very faint turtle stitched into the vest that the boy wore.

 

“P-perhaps you are the lord’s son?”

 

Basen ignored the question and folded his arms. 

 

“Please pack everything up.”

 

The baker stood frozen in time, not sure what to say to Basen. 

 

“Is two or three gold coins enough for all of this? I can go somewhere else.”

 

Basen looked around, catching a glance at a few other shops without much interest. As a businessman, the baker quickly got back to his senses.

 

“No, it’s possible! I will pack everything up, young master!”

 

Basen turned back at the baker and gave a smirk. He slowly placed three coins in the baker’s hand.

 

“Good.”

 

***

 

After a short while, all the bread was shoved inside a massive bag. Basen headed west, where the slums would be, sweating along the way from the weight of bread. People stared at him curiously, watching this boy carry a bag half his size towards the slums.

 

Basen ignored the stares and continued walking. His trousers were now muddied from the puddles of the slums, an unknown stench now filled the air. It was unpleasant and it made Basen walk faster than before.

 

After finally reaching the hill with the dead looking tree that was fenced off in all areas. Basen spotted a rotting fence he could easily pass through thanks to his small size. He kicked the rotted wood with his feet, it tore away like paper. As he was about the enter he heard something behind him.

 

“Stop! Don’t go there!”

 

A voice younger than his called out to Basen. He turned back and saw a pair of kids shyly looking at him with worry. 

 

“Don’t be stupid, that’s a man-eating tree!”

 

The little girl warned Basen, but it felt more like a scolding. Basen didn’t like the feeling of being treated like a kid by a kid, but he brushed it off. He continued crawling his way towards the tree.

 

“You’re going to die! Don’t do it!”

 

Basen found the cries annoying, his brows frowned deeply.

 

“Sigh.”

 

Basen looked at the girl, who seemed roughly 10, similar to Lily. The girl held a red headed boy’s hand, who seemed to be her younger brother. The girl saw Basen’s glare and she stumbled on her words.

 

“It’s a man-eating tree, you’re going to d, die.”

 

“I won’t die.”

 

Basen watched the girl shiver, she and her brother were obviously malnourished. He took two pieces of bread from the bag and tossed it over to the kids. 

 

“Take those, don’t bother me.”

 

He pointed towards the road signalling them to leave. The boy instantly took the piece of bread, however the girl hesitated. Basen couldn’t do anything else about it, as long as they didn’t bother him it didn’t matter. He turned away from the siblings and crawled inside. 

 

The little boy tugged the girl’s sleeves, he held the other piece of bread that had been tossed to them and gave it to his sister.

 

“Noona.”

 

“Uh huh.”

 

The young girl hesitated, looking back and forth at the piece of bread and the broken fence. The boy was pulling her away, trying to stop her from doing anything stupid. She called out one more time.

 

“You can’t die.”

 

Basen sighed listening to the girl constantly telling him not to die. He looked around to confirm that no one else was around and sat down underneath the tree. He opened the bag and tossed everything in slowly. Each time the bread fell into the hole, there was a cold rumble that shook the earth. 

 

Basen could feel his hand getting sucked into the hole of darkness. He quickly snatched it out before the tree ate him completely. The hole was still as dark as before even after half a bag of bread. It was said in the novel that the darkness would disappear only when the tree was fed enough. 

 

He looked up at the dead looking tree that had no leaves and only spiny sharp branches.

 

“If you die with a grudge, you have to resolve that grudge.”

 

He pushed the bag towards the hole, his arms were now trembling because of all the labor he had to do earlier. The bag of bread fell straight into the hole, and just like that everything was gone. The hole gave a low grumble of satisfaction. The darkness only slightly lightened. It was a little scary for Basen.

 

“Is ten bags enough?”

 

He still had 3 million gallons, and could snatch more money from his father if he needed to. Ten bags wasn’t a big deal for him.

 

“I’ll be back tomorrow.”

 

Basen got up from the ground. He looked down and saw his muddied trousers from kneeling on the ground. He tried brushing it off but that just made his hands more dirty so he stopped. He exited the fenced hill and returned to the slums. 

 

On his way back he spotted the pair of siblings who were munching away at the piece of fresh bread. The pair of siblings were staring at Basen’s dirty appearance, they seemed curious on where the huge bag of bread had gone to. Basen thought it wouldn’t be good if the kids went to the man-eating tree and stuck their heads inside to inspect it.

 

[The children of the slums have no fear. It was because they treasured a single grain of rice more than a blade coming their way. Death is always around them, so they do not fear death. They fear being hungry more than death.]

 

That was something written inside [Birth of A Hero].

 

“I’ll give you guys more bread tomorrow, but don’t say anything to me.”

 

The girl immediately understood and covered her brother’s mouth. She walked away with her brother pretending not to know Basen. He smiled thinking the girl was pretty smart. He left the slums and went to a nearby fountain.

 

His reflection showed his poor appearance, though he couldn’t do much about it. He washed his hands and face with the running water and went back into the tea shop. 

 

“Ah! Young master are you alright?”

 

Billos looked at Basen’s dirty clothes worriedly. 

 

“It’s fine, I was playing. Bring me a new cup of tea, a refreshing one would be nice.”

 

Basen headed back to the third floor which was still nice and empty. Perhaps because he was the son of the lord, even though the shop was bustling with people, they didn’t want to bother him. Basen relaxed. 

 

“Here is your tea, young master. I also brought up some desserts.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

Basen continued to watch the city gates through the window. Billos looked at Basen with a curious expression. 

 

“Do you like to watch the scenery?”

 

Billos smiled watching this young boy act so maturely. Basen ignored the comment. Billos laughed and quietly left Basen to his business. 

 

Every hour or so, Basen would order more tea and deserts. He waited patiently until the sky turned into a bright red orange. He didn’t get up until the sky was completely dark. It was about time for the first encounter to happen.

 

It was now time to stop his brother from getting beaten up by a crazy dangerous dude.

Chapter Text

By the time it was late night, Basen got up from his seat. He went downstairs, most people had left by now and he was the only one present other than Billos.

“Are you heading out now?”

“Yes.”

“I look forward to your next visit, young master.”

Basen nodded at Billos’s statement.

“The tea was great. And the book was good even though I only got through half of it. I especially liked the main character whose abilities are appreciated and the way he grows.”

Basen shared his thoughts with Billos, who in return politely laughed.

“I see, well I will be sure to recommend you more novels by this author in the future.”

“Sure, please reserve that book for me if you can, I want to read it again the next time I come.”

“Yes of course, enjoy your night young master!”

Billos smiled brightly and gave his farewells to Basen. Basen stepped outside the tea shop, the street lamps decorated the roads with bright yellow lights. Shouts and laughter could be heard from the bars that now opened.

There were numerous night markets now open, most of them selling delicious treats. Basen shifted his attention to a stand that was selling chicken skewers.

“Hello, can I have a bag of these?”

“Oh my young man, do you have a big appetite?”

Basen didn’t look like someone who could eat a bag load of chicken skewer, so the old lady behind the stand was surprised.

“Hmm, yes I have a big appetite.”

Basen chimed in, not bothering to explain his circumstances. He got another golden coin from his pocket and gave it to the lady. He took the bag of chicken skewers and left. He could hear the lady’s shouting from behind.

The busy streets and market stands slowly disappeared one by one. The further away he got from the capital, the dirtier the streets got. Bars and taverns filled the area, miners who got back from work late at night were now partying away with beer. Thugs could be seen around trying to woo prostitutes. It wasn’t the best place for a 15-year-old kid to be, so Basen stuck out like a sore thumb.

He briefly stopped at one bar that was near the city gates. He could hear the sound of plates and bottles crashing, people screaming. Basen nodded his head slowly.

‘Cale should be in here.’

He looked across the street and spotted a rather dark alleyway by the corner. It was exactly 100 steps away from the city gate, a place where there wasn’t any light other than the torch placed on the guard tower.

‘And that dangerous dude should be there.’

He readied himself and walked towards the dark alleyway. His eyes took time to adjust to the darkness but surely, there was someone curled in the corner under the city walls. Choi Han looked like a mess, beside him were two kittens who slowly crawled out due to the lingering smell of chicken.

“Are you two hungry?”

Basen turned his attention to the kittens ignoring Choi Han completely. He had to tear the chicken into little bits because of how small the kittens were. He crouched down and placed the pieces near the kittens.

“Here you go.”

The kittens seemed wary of him but they still complied when he pet them. Their fur was soft but obviously very dirty. Basen did not dare to look towards the shadow looming in the corner. Instead, he started to talk.

“Do you have somewhere to go?”

He didn’t hear a reply from Choi Han. He continued to speak without waiting. Soon the guards who were on patrol would come, he needed to stop things before they came.

“Or a place to stay?”

Basen petted the silver kitten which was not used to human touch but was willing to oblige his pets. The red kitten was just waiting for more chicken scraps from Basen. The two kitten’s yellow eyes shined brightly even in the dark. As Basen lifted his head he could see Choi Han silently staring at him in the darkness.

“Are you hungry?”

Choi Han turned away and kept silent for a moment. Then he started speaking up, his low dry tone made Basen shiver.

“Someone like you shouldn’t be here.”

Basen’s eyelids shook violently.

‘Someone like me?? Does Choi Han know the future? Was he waiting to beat up Cale.?!’

His mind was in a complete mess. He didn’t know whether to abandon the mission or risk to carry on.

“This place isn’t a place where kids should be.”

Choi Han finished his sentence. Basen felt a pressure being released from inside him. He held in the urge to sigh in relief.

‘He was just treating me as a kid!’

It made sense, perhaps this child-like appearance made Choi Han less wary of him. Indeed, Basen looked like a weak kid through and through. There wasn’t much that made him look suspicious.

“...Mister I, if you want you can stay at my place for a night, it won’t be a big deal.”

“…Why are you talking to me?”

Basen stopped petting the kittens and stood up. He looked around from out the alleyway.

“Soon the guards will arrive, you should follow me if you don’t want to be caught. I’ll feed you.”

The best first impression was to be the one who provides delicious food. Choi Han thought for a bit before he stopped leaning against the wall to stand up.

He seemed pretty injured from how he was limping, but Basen didn’t do anything to help him.

Meeeeeeeeow.

The kittens mewed softly and rubbed their cheeks on Basen’s dirty trousers. Basen started awkwardly petting the kittens while trying to push them out the way. He didn’t like cats very much, but he knew Choi Han loved small animals so he couldn’t be mean to them in front of him.

The silver kitten seemed to be trying to stop the red kitten from bothering Basen. The red kitten continued to look at Basen as he walked away with Choi Han, meowing to him every few seconds.

Meow, meoooooooow.

The sad cries of the kittens were getting farther away. Basen took a peek backwards. Choi Han was limping but keeping up with him.

They made eye contact once more. Basen flinched as he quickly turned his head back. He was walking slowly to make it easier for Choi Han to keep up.

They passed the residential area and soon got back to the bars. Basen started being more cautious, carefully scanning the area of any red-headed man holding a bottle of wine. He inched a bit closer to Choi Han hoping to hide his figure.

“What are you doing?”

Choi Han watched Basen’s suspicious actions.

“There’s nothing you need to worry about, just keep walking.”

They walked on the sidelines trying to blend into the background. By the time they reached the front gates of the Count estate, Choi Han’s face grew a little twisted.

“Are you not going to come in?”

Choi Han resumed walking probably hoping to not miss the chance to gain more information as well as to host the funeral for the villagers of Harris Village.

“Y, young master?”

The guards stumbled on their words as they saw Basen’s untidy clothes and dirty face. They also saw this suspicious dangerous-looking man with a sword looming behind him.

The guards glanced at each other, staying very alert, their hands touching the hilt of their swords.

“The hell is going on here?”

An annoyed voice yelled from behind them. Cale stomped his way near the tense scene with a bottle of wine in his hand. His face was bright red and he reeked of alcohol.

The guards shook violently as they saw Cale approach. The young master loved throwing things when he was drunk so they did their best to stay away from him.

Cale ignored the guards and looked towards Basen. For a moment his eyes lit up in surprise seeing his brother covered in dirt, his grip on the bottle tightened as he glared at Choi Han. Choi Han didn’t know why Cale was glaring at him so he looked down at Basen to see what he could do about it.

“Is he with you?”

Cale flicked just his hand that was holding the bottle of wine towards Choi Han. The guards yelped in fear, preparing to hear the sound of glass shattering, but it didn’t happen.

“Yes, he’s with me.”

Basen nodded his head and gave his brother an earnest stare.

“Tch.”

Cale put down his hand and turned away and left Basen to his business. That was also something funny about Cale, even though he was trash, he never bothered his siblings.

‘That was close.’

Basen held a hand close to his chest to calm his heart.

“You follow me.”

The guards were hesitant on letting Choi Han inside, but Basen’s firm order made them comply with him.

As they got close to the front door, Basen could see Ron standing by the entrance holding Cale’s coat. He smiled gently at Basen.

“Welcome back young master. Your parents were quite worried about you, they would like to speak with you later.”

“...Yes, Ron.”

Ron’s gaze turned toward Choi Han, and his benign smile suddenly stiffened.

‘Ron should be at a level where he can estimate Choi Han’s strength.’

Choi Han also stared back at Ron. Basen didn’t care what kind of attacks they were sending each other through their eyes and did what he needed to do. He was not done just yet.

“Follow me.”

Basen called out to Choi Han once more and started to walk. The servant, Ron, quickly followed Basen.

“Young master, what is going on? I will take care of this guest if you tell me what is needed.”

“No need.”

Someone else rushed in as Ron was speaking to Basen.

“Young master, the Count is terribly worried!”

It was Hans, the deputy butler. Basen had learned his name after he finally decided to ask.

“Not now.”

Basen continued to walk ignoring the 3 people following behind him.

Kitchen #2. Basen pushed the door open as soon as he saw the sign.

“Young master?”

He could hear Hans’s confused voice from behind him. Basen smiled brightly, just a little bit more and he could get rid of these freaks. Beacrox was standing near the counter cleaning his knives, giving a murderous smile. Basen quickly spoke before Beacrox had a chance to respond.

“Give him something to eat, he’s hungry.”

“Excuse me?”

Beacrox stared at Basen dumbfounded.

‘The hell is this brat thinking.’

Beacrox gazed at Choi Han, the knight knew how dangerous the hooded man was, although normal people wouldn’t. He clicked his tongue in annoyance feeling the young boy’s gaze.

“I will do as you instructed, young master.”

Basen's heart sped up. It was done. The three crazy bastards had met. Basen smiled brightly, he had managed to keep the plot going. The four men watched Basen’s happy expression, all having different feelings.

Chapter Text

It was now late at night. Hans urged Basen to go to bed leaving Ron, Beacrox, and Choi Han free from the eyes of spectators. Ron’s gentle expression immediately disappeared the moment Basen left with Hans. His eyes revealed an icy glare targeted towards Choi Han shot the look back not caring about his manners in front of them. Beacrox picked up his cooking knife and threw it towards Choi Han’s face. As Choi Han dodged he too drew out his sword. There were no gaps in his movements, the fight broke out instantly with no words given.

***
Deputy butler Hans stood in front of Count Deruth. He started to make his report while Deruth quietly listened until he was finished.

“He is currently sleeping in his room.”

Hans finally finished his report and Deruth started to speak.

“The driver reported that he went to the Flynn Merchant Guild’s illegitimate son's tea shop. Today, he brought a young man whose identity we cannot verify.”

Hans’s report was short, but Deruth found that short report interesting. Usually, Basen would not waste his time like this sitting in a tea shop all day. Not only that he also brought back a complete stranger.

“I’ll talk with him tomorrow, Hans keep a close eye on the boy to make sure he doesn’t get into any danger, his actions today were quite risky.”

“I understand.”

Hans did not say anything else as he bowed his head.

Deruth scratched his beard a little longer. Basen had certainly changed these days, although it wasn’t extremely obvious. His son was still well behaved like usual although he seemed to have gotten a little more...reckless?

“Ah, Hans.”

“Yes, Count-nim?”

“Bring me some information about the Flynn Merchant Guild.”

Tea shop owner, Billos. Deruth knew about this bastard son of the Flynn Merchant Guild. This was because the Henituse’s largest trading partner for wine was the Flynn Merchant Guild.

“I will get right on it.”

“Great.”

Deruth watched Hans walk out of his office as he started to think. There were a lot of things for him to think about other than the change in Basen’s demeanor.

***

“Young master it’s time to wake up.”

Instead of the usual cheery voice that would wake Basen up, he heard a profound voice that left his spine shivering. Ron stood in front of Basen with a gentle old man smile. He handed Basen a cup of warm tea.

Basen slowly took a sip of tea, he glanced at the bandages wrapped around Ron’s neck.

“Did you get hurt..?”

“Oho, young master are you worrying about me?”

“No, it just looks unprofessional that’s all.”

“It is nothing much. I was just scratched by a cat’s claw.”

Is a, ‘cat,’ another reference to an innocent person?


Basen was sure that someone had their fated meeting last night. He avoided the gaze of Ron, who was smiling and headed towards the exit of his room. He wanted to leave as soon as possible.

“Will you be heading out today again young master?”

“Yes, I have things I need to take care of.”

“I understand.”

Ron’s voice dropped by an octave.

Basen tightened the grip of the door handle, he quickly swung the door open. What he didn’t expect was a man’s chest in front of his view the moment he opened the door. Basen looked up with a frown, only to pale up at the sight of Choi Han’s puppy dog stare.

Slam. He quickly closed it right back.

“…Ron.”

Ron approached Basen at his calling and whispered with a smile on his face.

“Young master, were you surprised? Your guest from yesterday is waiting for you outside.”

Ron spoke almost in a sarcastic tone. Basen was surprised. He saw Choi Han staring at him the moment he looked up, which caused him to close the door in shock. His hand headed to the inner pocket of his shirt. The 10 million gallons in his pocket calmed him down.

Ron gazed toward Basen as he continued to speak.

“I didn’t have a chance to tell you because you opened the door right away. I told him to wait comfortably in his room, but he insisted that he needed to see you and waited outside the door.”

Basen wanted to click his tongue.

‘Didn’t have a chance to tell me my ass.’

That dangerous old man obviously had the chance but chose to stay silent. Basen readied himself and looked away from the smiling butler.

‘Just act normal. Don’t draw attention.’

Basen pressed his hand on the door handle and opened the door again. He had to lift his head up to look at Choi Han.

“What’s going on?”

Basen was pretending that he never slammed the door as he started the conversation. He was paying attention to Choi Han’s appearance as he asked.

After taking a shower, fixing his hair, and wearing new clothes, a pure and clean feeling was coming from Choi Han. However, it was difficult to think like that after seeing his eyes.

Choi Han was still in a twisted state. That was why looking at his eyes made Basen feel a bit scared. Choi Han was also staring back at Basen before finally starting to speak.

“I will pay you back.”

“Huh?”

“I will pay you back for the meal.”

Choi Han was speaking more formally to Basen now. Basen frowned at this.

‘Pay me back? I don’t want anything to do with the protagonist.’

Basen’s heart dropped as he thought about who could ever dare to make the main character do manual labor. Basen just wanted to drive Choi Han out of his house as soon as possible.

‘Once you leave, I can carry on with my work.’

Basen still dreamed of his slacker life everyday. It could be called a blessing that he woke up as a rich man’s son, it’s just that a few obstacles blocked his road to peace. This innocent looking man was one of them.

“No need. Is there anything else you need?”

He quickly rejected Choi Han’s offer and asked if there was anything else he needed. Basen crossed his hands, looking at Choi Han as if he was telling him to hurry up.

“There is something I would like to request for your help.”

Basen closed his eyes at the word, ‘help.’ He did not want to get involved with Choi Han. The, ‘help,’ that Choi Han would ask about could be nothing other than something regarding Harris Village.

Basen was glad that Cale and Choi Han had minimal conflict. The Cale in the novel called the villagers of Harris Village useless and ended up getting beaten up because of it. Thinking about it made Basen shiver. If he spoke one wrong word, he might as well be the one beaten up.

“Tell Hans your request. He will take care of everything.”

After opening his eyes again, Basen made eye contact with Choi Han, who was standing there as still as a statue.

“He is a talented deputy butler. He will be able to help you out with almost any normal request.”

Basen then pointed at Ron.

“Ron here is pretty useful as well. He will also be able to help you out. Ron, he is my guest. Make sure to take proper care of whatever he needs.”

Ron smiled, but his eyes were shut tight.

“But you don’t even know who I am.”

Basen turned around to look. He could see Choi Han still observing him. The scary feeling emitting from him had disappeared, and Basen could only feel an unexplainable purity coming from Choi Han.

“Why do I need to know who you are? Is there a reason to help someone who does not have as much as I have?”

Choi Han started to frown a bit at Basen’s words. It was very faint, but Basen, who had been closely observing Choi Han, definitely saw it.

‘Is he annoyed that I said someone who does not have as much as I do?’

Basen quickly continued on.

“Based on your situation, I doubt you’ll ask for something difficult. Well, if it is something difficult, I’m sure Hans will know where to draw the line.”

Basen slid pass Choi Han’s figure that was blocking the entrance, leaving him alone with Ron.

“Then goodbye. I have a lot of things to do.”

Basen quickly headed toward his father Deruth’s office. He needed to get a large amount of allowance today. He heard Ron’s voice calling from behind.

“Young master, I will do as you commanded.”

‘I don’t care whether you do or do not.’

Basen increased his pace not batting an eye to Ron. Ron looked at the small figure that disappeared from sight.

“Interesting.”

For some reason Basen’s behavior towards Ron has changed, he seemed very wary of him now. The stoic uninteresting second son was now something worth looking into. Did Basen know something?

“Lead the way.”

Ron turned his gaze toward the source of the voice. He could see Choi Han looking at him with disgust. This punk seemed to have figured out that he was someone who killed after their short spar last night. Ron picked up the empty cup of tea by the table and turned around.

“Sure.”

Ron made sure his back was turned as he smirked. This punk, that they met last night, gave off the violent, disgusting, and murderous aura of the Forest of Darkness. The young master had brought in another murderer into the house.

Ron thought about the events of last night as he started to talk to the boy who seemed to have gone through a lot in the past few days.

“Follow me.”

Ron started to walk in order to follow his puppy young master’s order, and Choi Han followed behind him. Choi Han’s gaze momentarily headed toward Basen’s direction before turning back to Ron.

Chapter Text

Deruth heard a knock on his door, he stopped writing and put his pen down. On the other side, a youthful voice called out.

“Father, it’s me.”

“Oh? Basen? Come in.”

Basen entered the room, he saw Deruth sitting across the table with stacks of paperwork loaded on the sides.

“You did some interesting things yesterday.”

“...Yes, I’m sorry about my poor behaviour.”

Basen acted like a good boy. He apologized for his strange actions but gave no reason as to why he had done it. Deruth seemed to have wanted to ask more but didn’t force his son to do so.

“Is there anything you want?”

Basen nodded his head.

“I want to go out again.”

“Ho”

Deruth gave a quick laugh. Perhaps his son picked up a new hobby?

“Do you need anything else?”

“Ah yes, I need some more money.”

“Huh?”

“I need money.”

Basen looked at Deruth innocently. He didn’t seem like someone who was given a 10 million check a few days ago. Deruth tried to control his flustered expression, he scratched the back of his head. Basen’s attitude made him think of Cale. Was he taking after his brother? It was a little unexpected however Deruth didn’t have the heart to scold Basen. It wasn’t like he was doing anything wrong? He just needed to make sure Basen was safe.

“I see, I will give you lots of money so don’t worry.”

“Thank you. Father.”

Deruth smiled lightly hearing the end of the sentence.

“Aha I see, please come back before evening I have a few things to discuss with you tonight.”

Deruth waved goodbye, watching the boy step out his room. He slumped back in his chair and sighed. Spoiling your child always felt nice. Cale’s drunken face suddenly flashed inside Deruth’s mind, giving him goosebumps. He fixed his posture and cleared his throat a few times before reaching for his pen.

‘Well...As long as they were happy.’

***

“Young m-master, are you sure about carrying all that?”

The baker nervously asked as he dragged the huge sack of bread towards Basen.

“Yes, please bake more bread for tomorrow.”

Basen didn’t even bother trying to pick it up, as it would be impossible for him. Instead, he lazily dragged it out of the store. All the bread was individually wrapped, so even if the bag got wet it wouldn’t be a huge deal.

By the time Basen reached the slums, his back was drenched with sweat. It wasn’t a very far distance, but it was torturous enough for him. He saw a pair of fluffy heads that sneaked in the corner of his eyes.

The two siblings looked towards Basen in silence, just like he had told them to. Seeing this, he took out two small bags.

“Take it.”

The girl slowly approached him while limping on one side, she took the two bags out of his hand and quickly rushed back. The boy curiously looked at the two bags, his nose twitched as the bag opened.

“Wow.”

“It’s not bread. It’s meat and cake.”

Basen turned around and headed towards the hill, he could still hear the siblings talk about food as he furthered their distance. As he crawled through the hole he heard the tree greet him with a low ominous grumble.

Oooooooooooooong-

“…It’s a bit scary.”

The black tree without any leaves seemed to be moving its branches to welcome Basen. This eerie feeling made Basen nervous, but he still poured the contents of the bag into the hole a bit more skillfully this time.

The bread quickly disappeared.

It was at that moment.

“…More, give me more.”

Truly a terrifying tree. The crazy priestess that was trapped inside the tree was a glutton that starved to death. Yes, the person who starved to death was a priestess who served a god. Basen did the same thing he did last time, he kicked the back into the hole once it was narrow enough. Basen got up and quickly moved. He needed to be back before evening since Deruth had asked him to come to his study in the evening.

He planned to at least feed the tree until it was half full today. Basen trotted down the hill and fast-walked his way back to the bread stores. He could see the siblings with cream smeared around their lips.

As he reached the markets a woman approached Basen.

“Excuse me, young master? Are you perhaps still looking for more bread?”

Basen turned around and looked over at the middle-aged woman. She politely smiled and pointed at her store.

“We have a lot of bread.”

Basen smiled, he took out a gold coin and gave it to her.

“Please pack everything up.”

The woman stared at the shining coin in awe before quickly getting down to business.

“Yes! Give me a moment.”

She instantly went into the store and immediately came back out with a large bag full of bread. She had already packed it all up in advance.

“Here it is, young master.”

‘Wow. She really is a good merchant.’

This was someone who knew how to make money.

“I can also prepare some more.”

Basen liked this woman even more. However, at that instant another person came in.

“Young master! We can make even more bread than that!”

An old man across the street raised his hand as he rushed over. He was wearing a baker’s uniform. Basen looked over and lightly tossed another gold coin over.

“I will head to your shop next. Please have a bag ready.”

“Thank you very much!”

All the people around gasped in awe, many were jealous of the bakers who had received so much money that quickly. Basen carried the bag of bread and started to head back to the tree. Now that he knew a lot more stores were open for business he didn’t have to worry about a shortage of bread. He hummed, satisfied.

However, there was someone who was watching him from afar.

“Hmm.”

It was the chef, Beacrox. Just like his father, he had a bandage around his neck, and he was watching Basen from behind a corner. He just watched Basen buy the bag of bread and some medicinal herbs before heading back to the slums.

“…Did he go crazy?”

Basen seemed like he had gone crazy since yesterday.

Beacrox had never cared for Basen, the kid wasn’t that interesting and always stuck up in his study. But now he was a total mystery to Beacrox. It felt like it would be just as fun to watch Basen as it was to watch the black-haired punk. Beacrox’s eyes started to sparkle.

***

“This isn’t bread, this isn’t..”

“And?”

The girl continued to mumble “isn’t bread” while staring at the patch of medical herbs that seemed quite expensive. The young boy rushed and stood in front of Basen, his red hair was a darker shade almost brown.

“You cannot die.”

It was the young boy saying he cannot die now. Basen did not even frown as he just walked past the young boy.

Basen, no, Kim Rok Soo.

He was an orphan and didn’t have anything to his name. That was why there were a lot of people who showed the poor Kim Rok Soo a lot of sympathies.

‘Is there a reason to show sympathy for the needy?’

That was something he heard all the time when he was younger.

‘Young beggar.’

‘Poor orphan.’

‘You don’t need a reason to show sympathy.’

There was a time he just took that at face value, but he started to understand the real meaning of it as he got older. There wasn’t a logical reason for the things your heart draws you to do. You didn’t need a reason.

“Enough already.”

Basen hated to see young children being hurt. However, he didn’t have any thoughts about nursing the young girl nor thoughts of consoling her. He frowned toward the young girl who was limping toward him and the young boy next to her as he answered them.

“I won’t die.”

The kids looked at each other then at Basen’s back which was walking away from them. Basen sighed in frustration. He was unhappy at the thought that he did something he hated the most. He hated people who got involved in other people’s business without being asked, but he had done just that by giving the young girl the medicinal herbs.

Oooooooooooong.

-More, give me more.

“Yes. Eat it all.”

Basen didn’t hesitate, and he dumped the bags into the hole. The bread fell and instantly vanished. The hole dimly lit up, a soft grey light was now filling the hole.

‘I guess it is paying off for the money I spent.’

Basen brushes off the dust. It was now late afternoon and about time he should head back. He didn’t notice the pair of light brown eyes staring at him from afar. The man held a bottle of expensive wine. He lazily leaned on the pole while watching Basen walk back to the estate in a dirty appearance.

A frown appeared on his face, he turned towards the direction Basen came from, the slums.

“Huh…”

***

Basen entered Deruth’s study after changing into new clothes. The white shirt was a little big for him making the ends poof out.

“Basen, the crown is hosting a big event, and the noble families of each territory have been invited to gather. I know that you have been going to similar functions for the last two years so I’m not particularly worried for you.”

“You would like me to go as representative?”

“Yes, although your brother Cale is the firstborn, well, he’s busy with his own stuff.”

‘Like drinking and partying all night?’

Basen wanted to sigh, he really didn’t want to go, because he knew what would happen in that event.

The Plaza Terror Incident.

A secret organization commits a terrorist act when many of the citizens of the capital are gathered in one place. Our hero Choi Han is the one who manages to block about half of their plot. That would be the fourth time that Choi Han and the secret organization would come into contact with each other.

As a result, Choi Han is able to save a lot of the citizens at the plaza and becomes connected with the crown prince. They then quickly develop a friendship with each other.

It was certainly a dangerous situation. But as the novel originally went Basen was the one who went to the capital. However if he followed the plot then he might end up becoming the count.

“Father, is there a possibility that hyung-nim will get the chance to go to events like these in the future?”

“Hm well, Cale hasn’t been to one for at least 2 years now. It’s up to him.”

“Right, I think hyung-nim should go to these events in the future.”

“A-aha really?”

Deruth sweated a little bit thinking about the past mischieves Cale had done.

“Yes, I’ll go to this one though so don’t worry.”

It was better for Basen to be in this, since the secret organization would attack. If Cale went in his stead then there was a possibility of him dying. Basen knew the future, so he didn’t worry.

‘It’s worth a shot.’

He left the study and saw Hans nervously approaching Basen.

“Young master, the request that your guest has asked for-”

“Hans.”

“Ehe- um yes?”

“Bring that guest here.”

“Excuse me?”

Basen didn’t want to be pushed around. He’ll deal with everything in one go.

“If he doesn’t want to come then tell him this.”

Hans gave a confused look but leaned in closer to hear Basen better.

“Payment.”

“Pardon?”

“Tell him to come because a way for him to pay me back has come up.”

Chapter Text

The morning breakfast that day was luxurious. It was specially made for Basen because soon he would be leaving for the capital.

“Make sure you eat a lot, Basen.”

Violan offered him more juicy meat, which he happily accepted and stuffed inside his mouth. Lily who sat next to Basen pouted lightly and played with her food. She mumbled very quietly and only Basen who was next to her could hear.

“I don’t want Oppa to leave…”

An itch of annoyance pricked Basen’s chest. He glanced upwards and saw Cale, his face still a light flush of red, an obvious sign of him partying all night. Basen didn’t see the glare Cale gave him because he closed his eyes to enjoy the delicious flavour of meat that invaded his taste buds. His skin glowed a light pink of satisfaction.

The rest of the meal was silent, only the occasional clashes of metal. Once breakfast was finished, he got his goodbyes from the count and the countess because they had other work to do. Only Cale and Lily were standing in front of Basen as he was ready to head out. Lily seemed to be a little awkward around Cale so she rushed forward and held onto Basen’s sleeve.

Basen looked up at Cale who in return gave him a rude snort.

“What?”

He shook his head at Cale’s question and looked back at his 7-year-old sister. Even though Basen was still 15 he was mentally an adult. Lily’s childlike innocence made her look a little pitiful. Basen kneeled down to Lily’s height.

“Be safe Oppa!”

She smiled and cheered her brother on.

“Thanks, you be safe too Lily.”

“Yes!”

She vigorously nodded her head with shining eyes. Basen pondered for a moment.

“Do you want me to buy you a gift on my way there?”

“Really Oppa?!”

He thought correctly, Lily indeed did want a present.
“What would you like?”

He asked as he watched Lily’s many changes of expressions.

“Oppa, can you buy me a sword?”

Basen nodded his head. He remembered the many times Lily rushed to his side in small cuts and a wooden sword. He knew well enough that it was her dream to become a swordsman in the future.

“It would suit you.”

Lily giggled, probably glad her brother praised her. After a quick head pat, Basen looked at Cale with a dead-pan face and asked

“Do you want anything?”

“Ha?”

Cale, who now had a bottle of wine in his hand that he seemed to have gotten out of nowhere looked down at Basen who was much shorter than him. Basen didn’t mind the rude response and pointed at the bottle of wine.

“Do you want me to buy you some wine?”

Cale’s facial expression seemed to be saying “A kid like you going to buy wine?”.

“As long as it’s the most expensive it should be ok. I’ll get going now, goodbye.”

Basen didn’t wait for an answer from Cale, he put on his coat and walked away. Cale muttered some incomprehensible swears and turned to leave. Before he could get very far, someone in all black blocked Cale’s view, Choi Han coldly stared at Cale. His more trained sharp ears probably picked up the swears and Choi Han didn’t approve of Basen being mistreated like that. He noted this and dragged the red-headed drunk’s reputation down by a few hundred points. Cale’s brows frowned and he tried to knock Choi Han out of the way with his shoulder. Choi Han dodged with fast reflexes, he brushed the side of his coat that got touched by Cale’s fabric and walked away.

Basen walked up towards the exit when a hand suddenly grabbed his shoulders. He tried his best not to scream in fear and turned around to see who it was. Choi Han’s innocent smile greeted Basen’s pale scared to death expression.

“...What took you so long.”

Choi Han stared at Basen for a moment before turning a bit awkward.

‘I was rating trash.’

As Choi Han was about to answer Basen cleared his throat a couple of times and blocked Choi Han from speaking.

“Nevermind that let’s prepare to leave.”

Basen stepped behind Hans, who was peering inside the carriage in joy and muttering endless praise.

“Kya!! AA Kitten-nims are so AdORaBLE HHHHHH AHHH SO PRECIOUS AIGOO!”

Basen shoved Hans to the side and opened the door. Hans who saw Basen quickly tried to be professional again, pretending he had never squealed like a girl seconds ago.

Basen silently applauded this cheery butler’s shamelessness and opened the carriage. There were two cute kittens sitting in a seat even more royal looking than the one prepared for him. The kittens mewed and welcomed him in as they sat in a dignified manner. Basen turned to Hans for answers. Hans looked a little worried before hurriedly reassuring Basen.

“Young master-nim is just as important as the kittens don’t worry.”

‘I’m equivalent to cats…?’

Basen was curious about what went inside Hans’s thought process. He waved Hans away and closed the door. Basen observed the kittens he picked up not too long ago.

He recalled the butler’s screams of joy as Basen handed him two wet skinny kittens. Hans took very well of them, only a few days passed but they had already visibly fattened. Basen didn’t mind it, he would need to feed the two a lot more in the future anyway.

 

***

Choi Han sat silently in his room. He recalled the conversation with the young master.

“Have you ever seen a dragon?”

He remembered Basen telling him about the dragon’s abuse, and it’s freedom being taken away the moment of their birth. Choi Han’s body tensed up for a moment.

He pondered as he looked out the window. Was there really going to be a dragon at the top of the mountain? Choi Han had his doubts at first, but when he saw the firm look Basen gave he swallowed his words of uncertainty. Perhaps this boy spoke the truth. It didn’t matter to Choi Han, he would be willing to help Basen any way he could.

After sharpening his sword he climbed towards the second floor. Choi Han swiftly landed into Basen’s room which was only one story above his. He heard Basen talking to the two cats.

“You two follow me.”

The boy who should have been asleep by now turned around as he heard the wooden planks creak.

“You’re here. Put this on quickly.”

He opened the box and threw a costume to Choi Han. They were clothes similar to the ones worn by arm, except the logo was poorly stitched on.

“Did you make this..?”

“Yes, it’ll work for now.”

Choi Han thought of Basen sitting down and stitching clothes like a grandma. He coughed away his laugh and quickly got back to being serious.

“Are we doing something bad?”

“Yes, we’re doing something bad to Venion.”

“Ah.”

Choi Han recalled the blond bastard they met in the streets not too long ago. He smiled.

“I understand.”

Choi Han swiftly put on the clothes given to him.

“By the way these kids are from the Cat Tribe. They are beast people.”

Basen casually introduced these cat beastmen. Choi Han looked at the kittens and gave a polite greeting. The cats who knew the strength Choi Han held and stayed on guard.

“He’s Choi Han, this is On, that is Hong. End of introductions. Everybody get ready.”

Basen put on a black mask which covered half of his face. The clothes on him were a bit baggy so he had to tuck in the extra cloth away.

They were ready to head out. Choi Han opened the windows but felt a hand tug on his sleeve.

“Wait.”

“Yes Basen-nim?”

“I will break my legs if I jump down at that height.”

“Oh...”

Choi Han looked down. For him, the height wasn’t a big issue but for someone like Basen nim…

He looked back at Basen and saw the boy’s undeveloped body. The thought of Basen jumping down a two-story building and breaking his legs terrified Choi Han. He quickly lifted up his arms and clumsily gestured for an embrace.

“I will carry you.”

“...I think a piggyback would do.”

“Oh, sure.”

Choi Han immediately switched to piggyback position. He kneeled down and gave Basen an honest look. Basen picked up the two kittens and cradled them in his arms, he wrapped his free arm around Choi Han’s shoulders.

Choi Han took off swiftly, he was fast and the steady. Even the kittens comfortably balanced between Basen’s arm and Choi Han’s back.

Basen looked back at the tavern, which was almost out of sight by now. They were going...really fast…

***

The guards by the cave entrance yawned in boredom. They chattered about women and drinking like the bastards they were. Basen peered out from the bushes and gave Choi Han his order. He had already given a description of the strength level of each guard to Choi Han earlier.

“Get rid of them quietly, but don’t kill them and don’t show them your sword arts.”

“I understand.”

“Also wear this voice changer, it’s expensive so don’t break it.”

Choi Han nodded and went towards the guards. Soon the black orb would activate and cut off every magic tool’s usability. This would give them a chance to attack the cave without being found out by Venion.

By the time Basen finished preparing and activated the orb, Choi Han was casually dodging and punching his way through the guards.

‘Scary bastard.’

In that short amount of time, the soldiers already had injuries on their arms and legs and were knocked out on the floor. The guards were confused and scared, they were being beaten by a mysterious man.

“W-who are you people!?”

The high levelled knight rushed towards them with his sword. He saw a weaker looking person behind the mysterious man and went to aim for him.

Choi Han swung his sword and blocked the attack. His eyes were fierce and full of rage. The voice that came out was low and most certainly not human.

“You dare..?”

Cold sweat leaked down the high levelled knight’s forehead. The last thing he saw was a fist charging towards his face before he passed out.

The other guards choked on the two kitten’s poison. It didn’t take very long for them to be defeated. Basen patter Choi Han and walked deeper into the cave.

The last person in the cave was the torturer. He was already in a state of chaos, he held the magic device in a frantic panic.

“Why, why?! Why is the Magic Crystal Ball not working?!”

The Magic Crystal Ball that the torturer held onto was one of the emergency backups that Venion had prepared in case something went wrong.

“D, don’t come here! Do you know what is in here?!”

Basen didn’t answer, he signalled the kittens to spread poison around the torturer.

“W-what kaak, urggg AAgGGH what is this!!”

The man fell down, his head swelled red as he choked on the gas. He scratched his neck begging for air before passing out completely. It was a gross image to look at but Basen stayed unfazed. He bent down and started to search the body. Once he heard a jingle he picked up the item. The keys to the prison.

“Let’s go.”

As they entered the prison cell there was a stench of blood that reeked the room. Choi Han’s eyes darkened as he saw the little black dragon curled up in a defensive position with chains locked around it. It looked extremely weak, and it’s shut eyelids shook in fear.

Basen opened the cell and crouched near it.

“Let’s leave.”

The dragon did not move one bit. Basen used the key he had obtained from the torturer to undo the chains.

The dragon flinched and opened its eyes at that moment. Basen started to smile after looking at the dragon’s eyes. He could see two blue gems staring back at him.

It was still a very strong gaze. It had not lost its will to live just yet.

It was not the dying gaze that Choi Han had run into in the novel. It still gazed with a strong desire to live. That was why it was filled with energy, anger, and resistance.

It was the gaze of a dragon.

“What a nice gaze.”

Basen gently lifted the dragon up.

Chapter Text

Basen smiled like a holy priest to the point light shone behind him. The dragon stared suspiciously at Basen who was wrapping his hands around him. 15 seconds passed and nothing happened. 

 

‘This kid is heavier than he looks. Or maybe I’m just weaker than I thought.’

 

Basen’s gentle aura faded and he let go of the dragon. 

 

“Choi Han, you carry it.”

 

Basen walked out of the prison with shaking arms. Choi Han closed his eyes in pity.

 

‘Basen-nim didn’t have the strength to carry the dragon…’

 

He was very mature for his age, sometimes one would forget that he was weaker than a twig due to his demeanor. Choi Han gently lifted up the dragon and headed out. The dragon’s blue eyes blinked in confusion as the scene played out.

 

Basen recalled the secret passageway that hid inside the walls. It was Venion’s last line of defense in case anything bad ever happened to them, they would have a chance to escape. A cockroach indeed. He was about to go and search for it, but he felt a dark aura behind him. 

 

Choi Han was viciously glaring at the torturer, the grip on his handle tightened and his lips were pale white from the force he used as he bit onto them. 

 

“Choi Han.”

 

Choi Han’s senses immediately snapped back and he turned to apologize but he was cut off.

 

“Punch the wall lightly.”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“There’s a way out, through this wall.”

 

Choi Han looked at Basen with awe. Just how did a kid like him know of all this? Was there perhaps something that Basen was hiding from everyone? No, there was without a doubt something off about him, but Choi Han didn’t want to ask. He was fine with not knowing, and frankly he didn’t want to bother Basen, his saviour. 

 

Choi Han’s heart felt heavy as he stared at Basen. His free hand tightened into a fist and slammed it into the stone wall. The entire cave shook tremendously. 

 

“...I thought I said to punch it lightly…”

 

“Ah, was this not light enough?”

 

‘Not light enough!? You almost killed us all…’

 

Basen looked at the giant hole that was a thick layer of stone a few seconds ago. He tried his best not to wipe off the cold sweat dripping down his forehead. 

 

“Let’s get out of here.”

 

---

 

The dragon squinted his blue eyes as they headed towards the exit’s opening from the other side. It wasn’t because it was too bright, in fact it was still a beautiful midnight at the time. It was due to the fact he had never once in his four years of living ever felt the touch of natural light, and the pure tender feeling of it made his heart race. 

 

‘Do I look up?’

 

He was always scared of looking up. Every time he looked up that man would stare down at him like he was some toy. He remembered being beaten countless times to the point his scales started to fall off. He was born unknowing of why he had to endure this much suffering. 

 

“Lay him down.”

 

A stoic and familiar voice entered the dragon’s ears.

 

‘It’s that older boy.’

 

The boy that had just brought him out of the cave he lived in his whole life.

 

The dragon watched the boy take out a pair of gloves and a cutter tool, that seemed so similar to the many tools those scary men used on him. 

 

‘Is it going to start again?’

 

He wondered, but he wasn’t afraid. As young as he was, he was still a dragon, he stayed calm and thought logically on what would be the most efficient way to handle things. He watched the pair of thick metal blades reach for his neck. He slowly closed his eyes and prepared for a painful slice to his neck.

 

Snap

 

“...?”

 

Snap snap snap

 

“Hey.”

 

The boy called out to the dragon. 

 

“You’re free now.”

 

The dragon opened his eyes again and looked at the brown haired boy. The mysterious boy stared back at him and without a moment of hesitation opened a potion and started to tend the dragon’s wounds. The dragon didn’t seem to mind, it was okay as long as it was the boy. Of course it’s because the boy was so weak he could do nothing to harm a dragon like him. 

 

“Go live, don’t be tamed by anyone. You are a dragon, the strongest species in the world.”

 

The boy spoke again, his confident voice ringed in the dragon’s ears. 

 

“...I will live…And I will not trust humans.”

 

The dragon replied to the boy. The boy smiled as if completely satisfied.

 

“Good, enjoy your life dragon. Let’s go back.”

 

The boy turned his back to the dragon with no regrets, and started to walk. The older cloaked man silently followed behind him and focused on altering their tracks. The kittens, who hesitated for a moment, slowly followed behind them.

 

The dragon silently watched them leave.

 

“…I hate humans…they are evil…”

 

For some reason, the dragon was paying more attention to the back of the human, the race that he was annoyingly used to and hated, rather than the enchanting clear night sky that shone thousands of brilliant stars.