Life, Once Again! - Chapter 1016
Chapter 1016. Han Haneul
“This is a game without a bad ending. The higher-ups have bestowed mercy upon you as I’m sure you must be sad about your husband’s death. However, you can keep continuing the challenge. Now, how beautiful is that? As long as you can endure a little pain, you can start your lives over.”
I threw my gaze to my lower right. I could see my husband during high school. He was running towards a soccer ball. Even as my heart was torn asunder, I felt okay when I looked at him. A game without a bad ending. A game I can challenge continuously as long as I can keep enduring the pain.
“Will he and I really be happy if we win the game?”
“Happiness comes in many forms, so I cannot tell you that for sure, but he will not lie in bed for ten years and meet his demise.”
“Good, I will do it. What is the condition for this victory?”
The man smiled and shook his head.
“That, I cannot tell you.”
“You cannot tell me? What do you mean by that?”
“Ms. Han Haneul, I have told you that there are prices to be paid for a reward, right? And going against the laws of this world to revive a man near death is breaking one of the most important rules. High risk, high return, you call it? If the people of this world wanted to pick a fruit from the tree, they have to take the risks that come with it.”
I was thinking about folk tales; that while it might be dangerous, I would be able to achieve happiness as long as I can endure this endurable pain, even while knowing the risks. What the man was telling me was that this was not such a trivial tale.
“You told me in the beginning, didn’t you? That staking lives is too simple of a trade.”
“It seems you are finally seeing reality for what it is. This is definitely an opportunity for you. I can tell you for certainty that this is the miracle that many people dearly wish for. However, miracles aren’t so easily achieved. If they were, then people wouldn’t call them ‘miracles.’ Even the mighty saints of lore have disregarded their bodies in order to achieve miracles, no? If an ordinary housewife such as you want to cause a miracle, you have to do something that my higher-ups would be satisfied with.”
“Are those higher-ups of yours really the gods I know? Are they really the gods that take pity on humans?”
“How am I supposed to know what their intentions are? It’s just that, if they did not pity you, they would not have provided you with an opportunity like this in the first place. They would throw you in the pits of fire, or just erase you outright. Oh, ‘pits of fire’ is just a figure of expression on my part. It’s up to you to decide whether it exists or not.”
I pondered, however, the answer was already there. There was no way I would change my answer just because I thought more about it. Even if I suffered the pain of my flesh being torn asunder, or my bones being crushed, it would be better than sending off my husband in vain.
“To continue explaining about the victory conditions, you will not be able to know the condition until this game is over. The one to realize it will be your husband. Mr. Han Maru.”
“Yes. Also, the game might be quite prolonged, but it is destined to end.”
“And that is a happy ending, you’re saying.”
“Yes, at least from my experience, everyone was relieved when they finished the game. Everyone was glad that the game was over. There you have it, a happy ending.”
“There must have been a lot other than me, huh?”
“Indeed. There were too many to count. Among those numerous people, not one has failed to finish the game.”
I nodded and asked a few questions,
“My husband died in the fire just now, didn’t he?”
“Yes. Mr. Han Maru has died twice in total.”
“And if he manages to die after fulfilling those victory conditions, he’ll return to his high school days.”
“Precisely. There are no exceptions. If he cannot fulfill the condition, he’ll return to the starting point. It is a literal game.”
“Then does that mean my husband will start a new life being conscious of the fact that he has died twice?”
The man smiled.
“This is the first time someone I’m in charge of has asked me that. Everyone’s too excited and doesn’t approach the problem cautiously. To answer your question, Mr. Han Maru will return to the past with his memories before his death intact. However, that only applies to the life just before his reincarnation. Currently, the memories of living as a vegetable have disappeared from Mr. Han Maru’s mind. He has died in a fire and he is encountering his first reincarnation.”
“And you’re saying that the ‘first time’ will repeat indefinitely?”
“Yes, that is the case.”
“And he must look for the victory conditions in that process.”
“To be precise, rather than finding it, it will be announced. Some exceptional people find it themselves and take it into their own hands, but usually, the higher-ups send a signal. You can get bored of games if it’s too long after all. If they want to see the ending, the higher-ups will tell your husband the conditions of victory. In any case, you just have to keep in mind that this game will ultimately be over.”
My husband was smart. He also had the boldness to not lose his calm in the face of a difficult trial. He would be able to do well. I believe in him.
“So you are willing to do it,” said the man.
“Then allow me to tell you one last thing. There is nothing you have to do while this world progresses. You just need to keep on watching. However, once Mr. Han Maru dies, you will have something to do.”
“And what’s that?”
“You must act as a guide. Then you must ask for his intention to participate in the game. You just have to do these two things.”
The man clapped three times. The scenery changed. It was a dense forest. A young woman and a man in his early thirties were talking in a pine forest. The woman was explaining to the man about the reincarnation. The man understood and eventually, a ray of light enveloped the man.
“You understand, correct?”
I replied yes. Knowledge flooded my head. I just had to guide my husband to accept the reincarnation naturally once he dies. At that time, my outer appearance would change so that he would not recognize me.
“You also realize who it is you have to ask for their participation, correct?”
Hearing the man’s question, I looked down below me. I would have to ask ‘Han Haneul’, who would be me, yet not me in the future; I would have to ask her whether she will decide to bring my husband back to life, or just give up and accept reality.
“If that me below me does not wish to bring my husband back to life, what happens to the game?”
“It ends there. However, that will not happen. Not a single person has refused the proposal of the higher-ups.”
“What if it does happen?”
“Ms. Han Haneul. Do you take yourself to be so clever? Do you believe yourself to be one of those special people who do not stay within the boundary but pioneer new fields? There are no ‘ifs’ in my standard. Everyone is desperate and loves their counterparts more than anyone else. That’s why they don’t give up.”
“Any other questions?”
“You said my husband will live a new life every time, right?”
“Then he must have the choice of not getting married to me?”
“That is the case.”
“If that happens….”
“The two of you will just enjoy your lives. That consequentially means that a dead person has been brought back to life, so isn’t that a happy ending for you? If you dislike him meeting and living with another woman, then you just have to end it here. Mr. Han Maru will die as a vegetable, and you will live on with your young daughter. Should I put everything that happened until now to naught?”
“No. Maybe that’s for the best. Perhaps he met misfortune because he met me. If he can be happy, then I’m satisfied with that.”
“Then I ask you to give me an official signature. This is a necessary step for procedures.”
The man gave me the blank paper that he showed me at the beginning. He said that the contract would be formed if I put my hand on the paper. I opened my palms and put one on top of the paper. Just before my palm touched the paper, I spoke,
“The me down there will not retain her memories, right?”
“Everyone except Mr. Han Maru will not retain their memories. They will simply return to the past.”
“That’s quite amazing, reverting the time of so many people just for the sake of one person.”
“I’m sure it’s nothing much to my higher-ups, whether it’s solving a puzzle, or unsolving it and solving it again.”
“What happens after the game ends?”
“Everything will just return to as it is. I will explain when the time comes.”
I pressed the paper with my palm deeply as though to leave a handprint, with a deep breath.
“All of the procedures are complete now. Now then, shall we start?”
The man clapped. When the forty-nine claps ended, the halted world started moving again.