STORYHansaneega@Lee Jongbeom
The Nine-Tailed FoxNine captivations and massive sorrow.A fox with nine tails. Its traces can be found in various SYL. Her endless desire to become something other than herself manifested into the divine powers of captivation and transformation. While everyone else dreams of a greater being, she alone yearned for normalcy and dreamed of being a human. What might she want to be in a world mixed up with Stroke? “She went that way!” “She’s hurt, so she couldn’t have gotten far.” There weren’t just happy-go-lucky sorcerers like Jeon Woo-chi. Rather, it was safe to say Jeon Woo-chi was eccentric. Those who walked the path of spiritual training were a long ways away from joy and levity. “Umm…” The woman being chased stopped in a deserted place. Red blood was oozing out of the long wound on her stomach. Her face, paler than snow, looked like a flower bloomed in darkness. “They’re keeping up with me pretty well.” The woman looked down at the wound on her belly. A beautiful sound fell from her redder-than-blood lips. Even the sorcerers who chased her paused and listened to the sound.  “Wake up!” But the man in front—the geumbudosa—dressed in a black suit and sunglasses, was firm and wasn’t affected. His mechanical shout brought back the remaining sorcerers to their senses. “Her crime of seducing numerous people when she’s a lowly wicked woman is nothing to be taken lightly!” The geumbudosa pulled out a purple sword and continued shouting. How any monsters had died by this sword? The iron tang of blood permeated the air. It was obvious the sword would have been used plenty for decades, but the sword was immaculate, not a single chip or crack. It was to be expected of the key figure in evil sword engineering. “It‘s been a long time.” Even while standing in front of a hunter of his own kind, the woman, Gumiho maintained her smile. At some point, the wound on her belly had healed. “Your voice has changed a little.” She smiled in a way that couldn‘t be described as anything other than capricious. Thankfully, there wasn‘t anyone who lost their minds. It was because they were very nervous. But just one person, the geumbudosa couldn‘t stay calm. He couldn‘t stay calm because of the one who stole his voice. “You wicked woman!” “Do you hate my greeting so?” Gumiho just pushed aside the sorcerer who ran at her with his sword with a wave of her hand. The strength in the push was great, but its inward politeness caused the dosa to only stumble a few steps to the side. “You… How…!” Rather, the one who hurt the sorcerer was himself. He couldn’t contain his anger, and when he released his energy, his black suit was ripped to shreds. His upper body came into view. It was full of scars and traces of being put back together with thread and steel. “Thanks to me, you gained a body that won’t die. Why do you hate me so?” asked Gumiho to the dosa. Other dosas were already surrouding them, but Gumiho’s gaze stayed on the geumbudosa, and her voice was calm. “When did I ask you to do this?!” “Are you saying you didn’t?” “I… Back then, I…!” “Are you saying the love you whispered in my ear every night was a lie?” No, it was a desperate voice. She contined speaking as she used her nine tails to wrap around the men surrounding her, pick them up, and toss them far away. She was worried they would harm the geumbudosa as well if they heard this conversation. No, more than that… “Shut up! You vile woman!” The geumbudosa swung the ugly sword at the top of Gumiho’s head. The propeller on the sword lit up. Just as it did, the ground Gumiho was standing on blew up. “How is it you’re trying to hurt me?” “Try talking like that in front of the people you hurt!” “Are you talking about those who died with their bellies cut open?” “Yes!” The geumbudosa didn’t stop his sword. One might say that his swordsmanship created with evil sword engineering and the monster power Gumiho gave him combined with his innate divine ability to reach the sky. But Gumiho simply swayed like a reed and dodged it. “I’ve never hurt anyone since that day.” “Lies! You…” “It’s true. After I hurt you… Look. Even my nails are short.” “You vile creature!” Now the geumbudosa knew as well. Gumiho was toying with him. ‘No, maybe…’ ‘No, that’s impossible… There’s no way!’ The impatient geumbudosa swung his sword even more recklessly. But Gumiho stood even closer than before, dodging his blade. “You know…” Now, the geumbudosa couldn’t even reply. He was truly swinging his sword with all his might. Gumiho was leisurely in comparison. She continued, speaking in a peaceful tone. “Your aged face isn’t that bad either.” His tainted sword screamed. He must have increased the capacity of swordsmanship. “Ugh.” This was something Gumiho didn’t expect, and a long gash appeared on her shoulder. It wasn’t fatal. But she couldn’t escape the wound to her heart. The geumbudosa was panting, catching his breath for the next attack. “I cannot hurt you so I am simply dodging your strikes… How is it you’re trying your hardest to hurt me?” The geumbudosa’s sword struck straight and true even in front of the trembling voice and wavering gaze. “You’re not human!” ------ Gumiho didn’t die that day. No, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that she did die. This was not because a monster who needed to kill to live was prevented from killing. She had long lost the ability to hurt people. For Gumiho, who had surpassed being a monster and took a peek at being a divine beast, that was the reason for her frailty, but it couldn’t be the reason for her death. “I wish to become human.” But carrying a dream that cannot ever come true is a dangerous act. Jeon Woo-chi looked at Gumiho. He concealed his mischievousness, which was rare for him. “That is the one thing that‘s impossible.” “How is it impossible? The virtues I‘ve gained by myself are quite numerous.” “I‘m not denying your virtues. No one who would claim to be righteous could be better than you.” He was in awe. The vilest creature in history, the one that appeared in all sorts of legends, became a divine beast and was standing in front of him. Surpressing an instinct even for a moment couldn‘t be easy, but Gumiho had lived like that for hundreds of years. And she was doing so even though it was clearly linked with her diminishing life. “Then what am I to do?” “I… do not know.” “Sigh…” Gumiho sighed. It was a sorrowful sigh, like it was her last breath. “Why do you dream of becoming a human so much?” “I cannot tell you that.” “I think I know…” “Do not tease me.” The normal Jeon Woo-chi would have stopped teasing her when she demanded it, but right now, he couldn’t. It wasn’t because he was scared. It was because he felt guilty. No, perhaps he admired her. What was the love in her heart like if she could act like this? “Oh.” As he tried to understand that love, he remembered the glimpse of mystery he’d seen by coincidence. “What?” Gumiho noticed the mystery in Jeon Woo-chi’s mischievous eyes. She asked in a desperate voice. Jeon Woo-chi looked at the desperate Gumiho and replied, “Stroke. If you experience it… You might be able to find a way.” “Stroke? Isn’t that something for humans?” Every time Gumiho spoke of humans, her face became plaintive because she knew an impossible dream was connected with an impossible love. “No, there are even evil spirits and grim reapers.” “Huh. Is that truly…” “From what I can see… I’m sure there won’t be another gumiho like you… Oh, did you hear that just now?” “I did. Then what should I do there?” “That I don’t know. Wouldn’t it be strange if my dreams ended with humans?” “True. You inherited my dream when you were born.” That was the last thing Gumiho said before disappearing from Jeon Woo-chi’s view. And yet, Jeon Woo-chi thought about her for a while. Her last words made him think. ‘I’ve tried to do everything my whole life to escape being a human…’ An immortal wanting a mortal life. And the reason for that was love for a lowly human. Was there anything stranger? ‘Either way, I’m behind you.’ Jeon Woo-chi shook his head and shattered the mirror that geumbudosa had requested previously. ‘Now he’s truly strong. No, Gumiho, you’ve become weak. Be careful.’ He prayed she would be able to make her wish come true.