Yess & Yes - Chapter 2.1
The Spring of After Death
Anyway, he was fucked. There was no need to think about it deeply. That was the conclusion Lee Juwon came to when he saw the Gareum at the Hannam Station’s three-way intersection. I’m fucked.
When he opened his eyes again after a brief blackout, he knew he was right, as always. Whether he opened his eyes or closed them, there was only darkness.
His surroundings were endlessly silent. It was because Lee Juwon was trapped all alone in a dungeon.
Hwiiing, the intermittent sound of the wind whistling through the narrow space rang in his ears and made his already chilled body shiver even more. With each inhale, damp, chilly air seeped into his lungs, different from the dry, smoky winter air of Seoul. He could feel the damp, cold, uneven stone floor beneath his fingertips.
According to Lee Juwon’s guess, this was Gnipahellir, a one-man dungeon that would be sealed off once the one person the Gareum had brought with it entered. Even Lee Juwon wasn’t exactly sure how to get out of this dungeon.
Since it was a one-man dungeon, the clearance conditions were tailored to that person. All he secretly knew was that he had to escape, no matter what, within twenty-four hours of being dragged in by the Gareum.
However, it was almost impossible for even a hunter to clear the dungeon alone. Lee Juwon was even a civilian. He had an E-class hunter license, but it was just a certificate of honour he received as the CEO of a hunter service company.
With the ability to analyze dungeons and monster types and suggest attack strategies, Lee Juwon founded a hunter company. In other words, he was good at utilising people from outside the dungeon, and in short, he was rubbish on his own. But a one-man dungeon…? He might as well have crash-landed on Mars.
It was a dungeon with a very low probability of occurrence, with only a few cases reported worldwide, so of course it never occurred to Lee Juwon that he would be trapped here alone. Unprepared, Lee Juwon fell into the dungeon with nothing but his cell phone. However, a phone that doesn’t connect to a base station doesn’t have much functionality.
“I’m going crazy…”
It was cold and dark, as if his exhaled breath would turn to ice cubes in an instant. It was dangerous to carelessly switch on the light in this unfamiliar darkness, but he couldn’t sit still and wait for twenty-four hours to pass, so he switched on his phone’s flashlight in its lowest setting.
The dim light was swallowed up by the thick darkness, barely illuminating the tip of Lee Juwon’s feet. But in the darkness, Lee Juwon confirmed what he had suspected: the main rock that made up the dungeon was hwayeon stone.
Hwayeon stone was a rock that was occasionally found in dungeons only and had low strength and hardness. It wasn’t suitable as a monster’s habitat, as the ground would be weak and prone to erosion and easily collapse at the slightest impact. Of course, he couldn’t be sure there weren’t any monsters.
Perhaps it was because he was cornered into an extreme situation, but the pain which had made his stomach seriously nauseous rather died down. I saved money on medicine, Lee Juwon muttered to himself and stood up.
Nothing happened at the starting point, so he had no choice but to move first.
The ceiling was low enough for the crown of Lee Juwon’s head to almost touch it. The only way to avoid hitting his head on a stalactite was to crouch down and walk awkwardly. The cave was also narrow, so if he turned slightly, his shoulders would rub against the uneven stone walls.
Lee Juwon walked as fast as he could along the path, almost falling over again and again, so he was forced to slow down. The damp stone floor was slippery and his surroundings were dark.
The soles of his cheap shoes were at odds with the damp stone floor. He wanted to hurry because he was running out of time, but he felt frustrated because he had to walk slowly.
“Sigh…” A sigh came out on its own. He walked for a long time with his shoulders hunched in an awkward crouched position, neither standing nor sitting, until his neck bone, spine, and knees ached like they were going to break. It was cold enough to make his fingertips go numb, and it was frighteningly quiet. He walked and walked, but the narrow, dark road never ended.
Lee Juwon checked the watch on his wrist again. It had already been an hour since he fell into the dungeon.
Nothing has happened so far… This was so different from the dungeons he was well acquainted with. Aside from the perilous road, not a single bone or twig crunched underfoot, let alone a monster.
Only the sound of Lee Juwon’s footsteps echoed within the silent dungeon. As he kept walking in the dungeon he fell into for the first time, his sense of reality continued to lessen.
Was he really trapped in a dungeon? Or was he dreaming? Lee Juwon became increasingly confused.
How long had he been walking? The regular sound of Lee Juwon’s footsteps stopped. The road that had been one straight path so far had split into two.
He had to choose which way to go on the fork road. It had been a long time since he’s had to make a choice without any prior information.
Lee Juwon decided to take the right path. Unlike usual, there was no clear reason. For the flimsy reason that he thought he heard the faint sound of water and was now quite thirsty, he continued on his way.
Drip, drip, drip…
The sound of falling water became clearer and clearer. The cave gradually brightened until he could faintly see his surroundings without turning the flashlight on more.
As he rounded a crooked corner, Lee Juwon squinted a little. Bright light flooded his eyes, which had become accustomed to the darkness.
A sudden chilly sensation made him touch his neck. Cold droplets of water dripped from the ceiling and reached his neck before running down his back. Shivering, he looked around and saw that he was no longer in a narrow cave, but in a clearing.
There was a puddle of water in the middle of the clearing. It was small, like a puddle after the rain.
The stalactites hanging from the low ceiling above the pool shimmered and glistened with the white of whatever rock they were made of. They brightened his surroundings enough to see without turning his flashlight on more.
The stones submerged in the puddle were all unnaturally white. As Lee Juwon approached, a status window popped up with a cheerful sound effect.
[Congratulations, you have discovered <the Spring of After Death>!
Drinking water from this spring will keep you from feeling thirsty for 15 hours!
It also reveals your future!!!
Ack, don’t get your hopes up…?
It’s going to be a shitty future, anyway!]
“…The spring of after death?”
Lee Juwon, who had an understanding of all the dungeons and monsters that occurred all over the world, heard of this place for the first time.
However, it was better than nothing happening at all. From dungeons to the real world, it’s a rule of thumb that once you’ve completed an event, you can move on to the next. No matter how hard or easy, unfamiliar or familiar.
Normally, he would have prepared several different detoxification potions before making someone drink it and observe the changes, but now that he was alone, he couldn’t do that. Having to drink something he didn’t exactly know what it was and having no countermeasures made him endlessly uncomfortable. What’s more, it’s supposed to show the future, and his was even supposedly something shitty…?
First thing first, Lee Juwon picked up a nearby rock and threw it into the puddle. The stone sank into the shallow puddle with a plop and turned white. The stalactites were also white, as unidentified water was dripping down from the ceiling.
Even if he hesitated, time just hopelessly passed by. Lee Juwon squatted down in front of the puddle. Cautiously, he put his hand into the spring.
He just touched the water with his fingertips, but it was cold enough to make his skin ache. His nails, fingers, back of hand, and palm gradually turned white. The water in his white hand was the clearest he had ever seen.
Lee Juwon took a sip of the spring water. He drank as little as possible, but a cool, refreshing sensation spread through his body. The thirst he had felt earlier was instantly quenched.
The puddle, which had been sloshing and rippling in concentric circles, calmed down and turned smooth like a mirror, reflecting the pure white ceiling of the cave.
In an instant, light shone and when Lee Juwon knitted his brows—
Beep beep beep beep beep-!
An unfamiliar noise pierced his ears painfully.
Lee Juwon opened his eyes and looked around quickly, searching for the source of the machine noise. But unlike before, when he was on the verge of being blinded, his surroundings were dark and he couldn’t see anything.
Beep beep beep beep beep-! Beep beep beep beep beep-!
He definitely opened his eyes, but suddenly he couldn’t see anything again. And unlike just a moment ago, when he was crouched in front of a puddle, he was now lying in a sprawl, just like when he first fell into the dungeon.
Did he get attacked by a monster in an instant and faint without realising it? It said it could show his future, does that mean this darkness was his future? The bewildering turn of events made it difficult for even Lee Juwon, who remained rational during changes, to comprehend the situation.
Trying to stay alert, Lee Juwon carefully sat up. While the loud, brain-piercing mechanical sound rung out, the floor now swayed.
Beep beep beep beep beep-! Beep beep beep beep beep-! Beep beep beep beep beep-!
Surely, even as he scooped up the spring water with one hand, he had been clutching his phone in the other, but now he had nothing in either hand. Cold sweat trickled down his back.
Lee Juwon groped the floor with his hands, trying to make sense of his surroundings. The ground creaked and sank into the shape of his palm. Had the hwayeon stone already started to erode?
When he pushed his hand forward more, Lee Juwon almost lost his balance. Now, he had nothing left to touch and felt an empty space. It seemed like a cliff suddenly appeared in his surroundings. Why the fuck did the difficulty suddenly increase?
Beep beep beep beep beep-! Beep beep beep beep beep-! Beep beep beep beep beep-! Beep beep beep beep beep-!
In the darkness, Lee Juwon removed one of the buttons on the shirt he was wearing. He threw the button into the air, trying to gauge how high the cliff was. He might not be able to hear it if it’s buried in this loud noise, but…
He heard the button hit the ground much faster than he expected. To the point it was weird how close it sounded.
Beep beep beep beep beep-! Beep beep beep beep beep-! Beep beep beep beep beep-! Beep beep beep beep beep-! Beep beep beep beep beep-!
As his eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness, he could just make out the surrounding silhouettes. Unlike the cave of Gnipahellir, which he had never seen even in writing, this place was very familiar even in the dark…
Beep beep beep beep beep-! Beep beep beep beep beep-! Beep beep beep beep-
Lee Juwon struck the alarm clock placed on the bedside table.
The alarm stopped. The room was instantly silent, as if the noise from earlier had been an auditory hallucination.
Lee Juwon had never heard the alarm before, as he always woke up earlier than it, although he set it just in case. He didn’t want to run the batteries down any further.
Lee Juwon got out of bed and walked to the window. After taking a moment to catch his breath, he opened the curtains and looked down. The alarm clock was ringing, meaning it was 4:30 a.m. It was winter, so the sun was still a long way from rising.
The river outside his window was dark. Only the headlights of cars carrying people starting their day early or finishing it late lit up the road.
Even from the bedroom, it could be seen that the old, shabby furniture inside was out of place in this secure officetel overlooking the Han River, which was quite expensive for the land price.
It was the address that mattered, not the interior. The value of the land along the Han River will go upwards anyway, but his space, which was based on his pet theory that you can’t spend money on interiors that will cause depreciation, was definitely right.
If it weren’t for the security concerns, he wouldn’t mind renting out his home and living in a flat or a goshiwon.
 Very small room that students live in while studying for an important test, or if their normal home is far from their school. However, there was no helping his choice because if he did that, his face would become well known to the not very good side.
“…It was a shit dream.”
Looking down the window, Lee Juwon took a small breath. He thought he was fucked, but it was a dream, and the useless act he did when he thought the bed was a cliff made his face turn hot, but it didn’t matter because no one saw it. No, what if they did see? It’s not like it costs money.
When Lee Juwon woke up, he didn’t go straight to the bathroom, but flopped back down on the bed. The springs of the bed, which was so small Lee Juwon, who was taller than the average height, had to lie down straight like he was in a coffin or else his calves would poke out, creaked as it had long given way.
It had been a long time since he’s last taken his time in the morning. The moment Lee Juwon realized it was a dream, he felt nervous because of the questions that popped up.
He couldn’t remember how he got home. Since when was this a dream?
“…Was it a dream since the Kang Inheon thing?”
The idea of Kang Inheon doing volunteer work in Gangjin instead of going to BH was more realistic and scarier than being trapped in Gnipahellir. Lee Juwon didn’t turn on the heating even when there was a cold wave warning, but he got goosebumps and rubbed his arms.
He tried looking for his phone by his bedside to contact Kang Inheon. However, no matter how hard he looked, he couldn’t find it.
“…Had I been drinking?”
There was no way he could have done the uneconomical and inefficient thing of drinking until his memories were cut off again, but with no idea how he got home and no phone, he looked just like a hammered person.
But he felt much better than he did last night. He had a clear head, no thirst, and no heartburn. He wondered if he unknowingly drank a recovery position or something like that, but contrary to the refreshed state of his body, he was very displeased.
Lee Juwon went in to wash up first. Whether he had gone to Gangjin or to BH, Kang Inheon must’ve posted an accurate report, and he had to check the situation again from when he left work yesterday. Standing at the sink and drinking Arisu, Lee Juwon mentally organized his tasks for today.
 Current name of the tap water in Seoul
But there was another problem…
“Ha… my car keys aren’t here either.”
Not one to waste time looking for things, Lee Juwon always kept his phone, car keys, watch, and receipts in their fixed places. But no matter how much he looked through his bag, trouser pockets—of course, on top of the shoe basket, in the medicine box on the kitchen table, and all over the house, he couldn’t find his car keys.
He wondered if he’d been drinking and left them somewhere, but he wasn’t relieved of his doubts. No matter how high a dosage of alcohol he drank, there was no way his memories could disappear so cleanly like they were scraped out.
“…Did I do drugs?”
No matter how much he thought about it, whether he unknowingly did drugs or drank a memory removal potion, he found no answers.
When he went down to the parking long just in case, Lee Juwon’s car wasn’t there. The compact grey car he had no choice but to drive because he always got off work late was always parked in the same area, but even though he looked around the parking lot a couple of times, he couldn’t find it. Lee Juwon even went down to the third level of the underground car park, but he couldn’t find his car and had to come up to the lobby.
“To think my luck is this bad…”
After spending almost every day driving from building to building with his eyes fixed on the road ahead, Lee Juwon looked at the sky for the first time in a long time. It was still dark, but the sky was cloudless, as if laughing at the weather forecast saying it’d snow. There were traces of snow on the roadside, so it must have fallen overnight.
There weren’t many people or cars on the streets, perhaps because it was early in the morning on a holiday when the sun hadn’t yet risen. Shop signs, street lamps, and strings of lights hanging from barren trees all looked ashen in contrast to the colourfulness of last night.
Walking quickly, Lee Juwon arrived at the bus stop to see if there were any routes to Yeouido, but he couldn’t help but be distracted by something else. The front pages of several newspapers on display at the stall next to the bus stop all began with Lee Juwon’s name. The titles conveyed the same message with slightly different postpositions.
<Breaking News> CEO Lee Juwon dies in a car accident on Christmas Day
“What is this…?”
Lee Juwon swallowed the swear words that rose up in his throat the moment he saw the article.
It was a world where articles with attention-grabbing titles were used as bait. There were many people with the same name, and the name Lee Juwon was fairly common. There were many companies, so the position of CEO must be somewhat common.
He was alive right now. So, the main character of this article would be another Lee Juwon.
A 67-year-old owner of a shoe factory must have been killed in a car accident in Jeonju. The reporters probably just picked a provocative headline based on the world’s desire for him to die.
However, despite his rational reasoning, for the first time in his life, Lee Juwon bought a newspaper from a stall. All the newspapers on the stand were folded into one fourth, so it was impossible to read the entire thing.
He tossed a thousand won into the small semicircle of the stall, where he couldn’t even see the inside, and opened the newspaper, forgetting to ask for a cash receipt.
The first paragraph made it clear what he was most curious about: which company’s CEO Lee Juwon was it?
<Breaking News> CEO Lee Juwon dies in a car accident on Christmas Day
December’s CEO, Lee Juwon, was killed in a car accident.
According to the Yongsan Police Department, on December 25th at around 11:57 p.m., CEO Lee Juwon’s (32) evening car, which was turning left towards Hannam Bridge at the Hannam Station three-way intersection in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, hit a street tree and was overturned. CEO Lee Juwon was reportedly killed instantly on the spot.
The police confirmed that the passenger car in which CEO Lee Juwon was riding was captured on closed-circuit (CC) TV at the point of the accident, and are investigating the exact circumstances of the accident, considering all possibilities, including vehicle defects, inexperienced driving, and drunk driving.
Reporter Shin Sunhee
Lee Juwon’s grip on the newspaper tightened. Crinkle, the thin grey paper crumpled.
How could you kill someone who’s alive and well in such a detailed way? Even though it was a world of fake news, they only selected a portion of fake news. It was what the public wanted to hear, what fit the stereotype.
Did they want to hear news of his death that bad? Lee Juwon raised the corners of his mouth. Now everyone will be disappointed. Because he was alive.
They wouldn’t have written an article like this without any evidence, so it must have been a tree, not a Gareum, that he hit yesterday. The police took his phone and car as evidence, so no matter how much he looked, they wouldn’t be there.
But just that didn’t relieve his questions. It was an accident serious enough for his car to turn over, but how did he come home safely? There was no corpse, but why did they jump to the conclusion he died and wrote an article? He had to get a proper sense of the situation and consult his lawyer.
While collecting his thoughts, Lee Juwon had a strange feeling and reread the newspaper.
“On the 25th at 11 p.m.?”
He remembered that yesterday was the Eve, the 24th, and today was the 25th, but when he checked the publication date, it was Monday, the 26th of December. Was the newspaper wrong? Was he unconscious for a day? Why the hell can’t he remember? Lee Juwon couldn’t get a clear picture of what was happening.