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Son Oh-gong looked at Woo Hwi-chul.
‘Did you miss me?’
‘I missed having your coat on my bull statue, and the disruption you caused, nutjob.’
He #had# missed Son Oh-gong at times. He would not mention the link to Hong Hae-ah (better think of him as the Peddler’s grandson for now) could imagine the sort of disruption across the realms the two could do between them. The lad was proving something of a handful, always coming up with new ideas and plans – but his exuberance would be useful in Lucifer Entertainments even if it would be a while yet before he could take on the role planned for him.
‘I hear you will be made a deity soon.’ One reason for this afternoon’s visit to Soo Bo-ri.
‘Congratulations accepted. Do you wish to learn from my example?’
‘Do you really want to be a deity? I found the Spiritual Realm boring – and so will you. What can it provide that Lucifer Entertainment cannot?’
‘It is because you enjoy being a monkey that you do not understand.’ Woo Hwi-chul could also understand the point Son Oh-gong was making. But, came the thought, he need not transfer immediately he had achieved the points. Perhaps he could negotiate something with the Spiritual Realm, knowing that he #could# go there but presently chose not to. What would they make of #that#?
‘I am also looking for Jin Seon-mi.’
Woo Hwi-chul could also understand that.
‘I asked while you were on your travels – the Spiritual Realm do not know when Sangean will be reborn or in what form she will reappear.’
‘I understand that – and the Egret was female and protecting a male Sangean. But she was also an ordinary person – and I have the power to cause sufficient disruption to bring her back.’
‘Even when Jin Seon-mi is reborn it will be some time yet before she will be old enough to understand what was between you.’
‘I can be patient.’
For a few moments at least Woo Hwi-chul could believe him. He looked at Son Oh-gong’s companion. He could not quite work out the evident tension with Ma Ji-young.
‘Who is this?’
‘I said I would consider getting a cat demon secretary – so I did. But I then decided that perhaps she would be more appropriate working with Lee Han-joo and searching for evil spirits with him.’
‘I will make arrangements,’ Ma Ji-young said, suppressing her amusement. From what she had heard Son Oh-gong had been irritated by the cat demon’s air of innate superiority.

****

‘I have investigated what you have told me,’ Soo Bo-ri said, ‘and I can provide a partial answer.’
‘Tell me.’ Woo Hwi-chul had become aware of a blood-scent, as attracting as that of Sangean had been... and the faintest trace of a lotus-scent.
‘Jin Seon-mi was Sangean – but there are also others such as she ... was.’ The pause was almost unnoticeable. The logical result was that she had been reborn. ‘To simplify a complex story: while the Black Dragon’s existence was known, the context and circumstances in which it would become active were not.’
‘The tree could have been destroyed at some other time – or the offer of linking up not accepted, on either side.’
‘Exactly. The dragon may arise again, but it would take a long time for it to be a threat. There are also... other entities which could be... a threat to the cosmic harmony – and which would require a particular set of circumstances to be made “active.” So there are others serving the same functions as Sangean – and who can sometimes be otherwise used.’ The premises were logical and elegant, so likely to be at least partially true.
Woo Hwi-chul was interested by the ideas that came to him. ‘So Son Oh-gong and I got involved by chance.’
‘You could say that.’ Soo Bo-ri was thoughtful. ‘However you have almost sufficient points to achieve your goal of becoming a deity.’ Was Soo Bo-ri attempting to distract him?
‘I have come to enjoy my time among the mortals ... and I might be interested in dealing with such as the Black Dragon, in some manner.’
He was slightly puzzled by Soo Bo-ri’s faint smile – had his decision been expected?
‘I will have to discuss that with the Spiritual Realm to see whether this would be acceptable.’
‘I can be patient.’ Woo Hwi-chul would also enjoy himself.