3. Intoxicated by the scent of wood (Part 1)

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Bang! Surprised by the roar that shook the entire court, the dead looked around with their necks shrunk like a group of turtles. They were already completely intimidated by the atmosphere of hell, which was much more terrifying than they had imagined, but when the judges, who were mechanically handling things without any expression, began to talk among themselves in anger, the fear grew even greater.


“Why is the King so angry today?”


“Well. Maybe it’s because of the sinners who ran away? I heard that six people recently ran away. He was furious and wanted to catch them by himself. He even set a trap on the road leading to the dead, but if he had any idea where they ran to, he wouldn’t still be hanging around here.”


“Tsk tsk. You silly things. Even if they avoid the devil’s eyes for a moment, they won’t be able to get out of the angel’s hand anyway. They must have done it without knowing that if they’re caught running away, the punishment will increase tenfold. The word ‘bravery is ignorance’ is a true truth that cannot be denied, regardless of age and era.”


A dead man, who was concentrating on the judges’ conversation with his ears stretched far, swallowed a gasp and inhaled a surprised breath. The architect who was listening to the conversation and believed that he would be reborn of course, came to the Underworld because the meter of the judgment tilted to the right. He quietly looked around for an escape route, feeling so unfair inside. But officials with long and sharp weapons were guarding everywhere, and fierce flames were rising here and there that seemed to melt you just by touching it. But it seemed that there was a way out of this hell hole, and the 6 deceased who escaped must have known it.


Most of the souls were engulfed in severe anxiety even before passing through the gate of the Underworld and couldn’t gather their thoughts properly, but he was different. The first impression that he, who worked as an architect in his lifetime, felt upon arriving in the Underworld was that the area of hell was incredibly huge. There were buildings with a unique and highly complex structure everywhere, and it seemed impossible to monitor every corner of them.


He thought no one would find him if he hid somewhere here…. Yeah, since there are so many people, it won’t be obvious that one person is missing. Besides, a small citizen like him hasn’t done much wrong. He just lived hard day by day. In a competitive society, if you’re born without a background and you don’t have that much morality, there’s no other way but to crush someone else and climb up, right? Did he hit or kill a person? All he said was just a few words. Of course, he sometimes made up words that didn’t exist, but….


However, if he gets caught running away, the punishment will increase tenfold…. What should he do? I didn’t do much wrong, so should I just be punished unfairly? The architect, who was nervously biting his lips as he saw the line in front of him gradually shrinking, was shocked and determined to flee when he heard the judgment against the deceased.


“Gwen Sentieno. You’re sentenced to 60 years in prison for four fraud and two false accusations. You will serve your entire sentence in Coal Jade. Thank you for your generous disposition. Please reflect on the sin you have committed with your lips.”


60 years?! Only 4 frauds and 2 false accusations? The architect’s head, measuring his guilt, became hectic. The mistakes that he thought were nothing, and didn’t even remember them at all, began to come to mind.


If that’s the standard, I think I’ll get 200 years if I count it roughly? Swallowing his dry saliva, he crept out of his place and approached carefully, looking for a person with a limited expression among the rugged government officials.


“Well, do you know what is Coal Jade?”


“It’s a hell that makes you swallow burning coal every day. Once your lips, tongue, and throat are burned to ashes and recovered, you will receive a new coal with fire the next day. It is an easy place to live among people because you only have to swallow the coal once a day and there is no other labour.”


The architect, who turned white by the official’s blunt reply, stumbled back, unable to hide his shock. No way. He couldn’t rot in hell like that for hundreds of years. Rolling his wildly shaking eyes around, he found two government officials standing side by side looking in different directions. For a moment, his heart began to beat relentlessly.


Now’s the chance. There’s no chance unless it’s now. The architect, who began to run recklessly toward the gap without much time to think about it, made eye contact with the person who blocked him and hardened like ice.


“Where did this fearless rat come from?”


A tall young man with a gorgeous beauty that made anyone admire him naturally was looking down at the architect with his head tilted. Even though his voice wasn’t very loud, as soon as the young man’s mouth opened, the inside of the Buddhist temple, which was humming, became silent as if cold water had been poured.


Oh, this is King Yama. He’s angry because I, one of the sinners, was trying to run away…. No one told him, but the architect instinctively knew that the man standing in front of him was the most powerful person in this region.


“Chief Judge.”


“Yes, My Lord.


Hayul, who beckoned the white-headed judge sitting in the top seat with a single gesture, looked at the architect, who was caught red-handed, with a ridiculous look. At any time, he might have bet with his servants to see if the foolish deceased, who had just arrived in the Underworld, could get away safely. But unfortunately, Hayul’s mood was too dirty today.


“Take care of it by regulation.”


“Yes, My Lord.”


As Hayul, who gave a short order, disappeared like the wind, waving his red sleeves, the look of the architect, who was staring blankly at his back, slowly turned black. According to regulations…? With a smart brain, he understood what Hayul’s order meant right away.


“They don’t know that if they’re caught running away, the punishment will increase tenfold….”


At that moment, the architect, who had lost all strength in his hands and feet, slumped to his seat with a stunned face. Soon after, he began to tremble like a leaf. But no one handed a hand of sympathy.





Hayul, who arrived at the palace across the court with a great anger, took off his coat and threw it roughly to the floor. He did something impulsive to meet Gaon in a relaxed manner in a place where there was no one, but the cheeky eyes of that young lad who had been with her scratched his uncomfortable feelings without mercy.


It was his first time seeing him, but he could see at a glance that Ji-Won’s heart was directed at Gaon. In the end, men, whether they are humans or animals, are bound to reveal their hostility as soon as someone invaded their territory, as he did. Ji-Won recognized him as an enemy as soon as he saw Hayul.


She’s the woman he’s been longing for. He has waited patiently for more than 900 years, but how dare a young lad who didn’t even pass over 30 years covet her…. When Hayul gritted his molars and hit the wall with his clenched fist, a loud thunderclap rang throughout the Underworld once again.


“My Lord…”


“Don’t come in .”


Hayul answered with a cold voice to the worried call of the servant, and opened the bottom of the palace and flew inside the distant darkness. Hayul, who had been falling endlessly through various and countless hells, was only able to reach the ground after two hours of fall.


The place where he landed was like an open pit. Landing in a space which contained nothing, let alone a light, or small noise, Hayul began to walk through the terrible darkness. After walking for a long time, a faint glow came into his eyes in the distance, and at that moment Hayul, who was in such a state of extreme anxiety and anger that his hair was all on edge, finally regained his composure.


In the midst of complete darkness, where the walls and floors could not be distinguished, two white scrolls floated. The two scrolls were of the same size and shape, but the condition of the two were clearly different. Hayul, who was staring at the scroll tightly tied with a strong string, reached out to grab one. And the scroll, which had been loosely floating around, was released without a sound. It was surprisingly Gaon’s portrait that was painted inside the scroll.


Hayul, who carefully spread the scroll, looked at Gaon’s fine face for a long time and smiled gently. The moment he first saw her face was still clear and vivid to him even after a thousand years later.


At that time, Hayul, who had been looking around the legal palace as usual, sat on his desk with his legs crossed and that’s when he saw her, being dragged in. How can the Emperor of Heaven act so strict like that…. She didn’t even notice that her skirt was rolled up. She looks scared no matter who sees it. Hayul shook his head and grabbed the scroll thrown by Chae-yi reflexively.


“What’s going on?”


“Last candidate. This time a 22-year-old girl.”


“22 years old? Isn’t she too young for this? How can she make judgment at such a young age? I don’t expect much from a person who won’t live for a hundred years, but no matter how much you want to be a judge, at least you have to be over 40 to….”


“Why don’t you take a look?”


Hayul unbound the scroll with an unwilling face due to Chae-yi’s urge, but soon hardened his expression. Then he raised his eyes fiercely and glared at Chae-yi.


“What do you think?”


“What do you mean?”


“Hayul, the King Yama.”


As Chae-yi’s always playful tone changed solemnly in an instant, the overwhelming air that made the world’s King Yama also nervous wrapped around him tightly.


“I don’t want to choose this time. I always pick out the fairest of the young, stupid children. I showed you three candidates, so you can choose this time. Do you want to make her the Lord of Jungcheon?”


He had never regretted his choice of that day. Hayul gently swept the knot of the tightly sealed scroll with his fingertips, and murmured in a languid voice as if he were chanting a spell.


“Yes, there’s not much time left now. Just wait a bit longer. Then this time she will be mine.”


Hayul, who nodded his head solemnly, floated the scroll in the air once again. Then he slowly turned back the way he had come. Only two hanging scrolls were emitting a subtle light in the darkness where all the light was erased.






“Sir. Speaking of which…. I checked the map, and the location of my exhibition was close at hand…, That’s what happened.”


Ji-Won smiled as much as he could, thinking that the time had finally come. Yeah, I was wondering when I’d bring this up. From the time the young painter, who was always full of unknown confidence, stepped into the gallery with a face full of expectations, Ji-Won could clearly guess his business.


If he’s here to complain anyway, he should start it quickly. What’s the point of talking about cars for 30 minutes? Apparently, Ji-Won’s mood was not in a state where he could show generosity to others, but for now, he decided to listen to some of the childish complaints that he didn’t care much about. He wasn’t afraid of public criticism, but in reality, it was difficult to treat the son of the former Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism carelessly.



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