We Tried TLs Logo

Chapter 61

I'm an Infinite Regressor, But I've Got Stories to Tell

WE TRIED TRANSLATIONS


Translator/Editor: Ryuu

Discord: https://dsc.gg/wetried


◈ I'm an Infinite Regressor, But I've Got Stories to Tell




Chapter 61

──────

Puppeteer IV


"Ugh…!"


Jung Sang-guk's eyes were bloodshot. His mouth and tongue were bound by puppet strings, preventing him from speaking, but it didn't matter.


Body language was a universal language. Jung Sang-guk writhed desperately, sending out an SOS signal.


I felt sorry for him, but my priority was not the parent, but the child. Jung Sang-guk's struggles only agitated Lee Ha-yul.


"……."


Lee Ha-yul silently drove a nail under his fingernail.


Rip! His nail tore. Another competitor in the same business sector had just opened.


"Ugh, please…!"


The blood loss from excessive competition drove Jung Sang-guk to faint.


I mourned for him inwardly. It was all because he was born in the wrong era. If he had been born during the Japanese occupation, a traitor of his caliber wouldn't have faced nail torture.


I spread my hands.


"Lee Ha-yul, I have no intention of interfering in matters between you and Jung Sang-guk. As I said earlier, my only goal is to persuade you to join the academy."


"……."


"Let me introduce myself again. I am Undertaker. I exterminated the Ten Legs in the Korean Peninsula. I am now the vice-principal of the Freiheit Academy."


By now, it was time for Lee Ha-yul herself to introduce herself, but that didn’t happen.


Instead, the housekeeper marionette, who had opened the basement door for me, stood behind Lee Ha-yul’s wheelchair and spoke in a mechanical voice.


"Lee Ha-yul. Puppeteer."


"...I understand you're being cautious, but can't you speak in your own voice?"


"Impossible."


"Why?"


Lee Ha-yul opened her mouth wide. Her neat teeth were visible, but beyond them was a black void.


I tilted my head.


What was this? Unless she mistook me for a dentist, this pose made no sense.


Then the housekeeper, like a ventriloquist's dummy, spoke.


"Vocal cord. Disability."


It was an unexpected statement.


"She can't speak."


"……."


"So she can't converse."


I then realized that Lee Ha-yul's disability was not only the loss of her legs.


A physical speech disability.


...Therefore, the girl in front of me must have endured extreme discomfort before awakening her ability. Mobility issues. Communication issues.


Considering she was the illegitimate child of a prominent politician, it wouldn't be surprising to add identity issues to the list.


Her [Puppeteer] ability was truly a miracle for Lee Ha-yul.


"...I'm sorry. I didn't know."


"It's fine."


Lee Ha-yul closed her mouth. The Puppeteer's expression remained devoid of any emotion.


"It doesn't matter."


"Hmm."


"How did you find this place?"


It was a bizarre sight.


The voice came entirely from the housekeeper, but the conversation was with Lee Ha-yul. The direction of the gaze and the voice were mismatched.


Despite the strange feeling, I continued to meet Lee Ha-yul's eyes.


"I followed Jung Sang-guk. His request for me to wait at the lodging for two days was suspicious. I saw him enter the House of Dolls and decided to eavesdrop for a while."


"……."


The girl's eyes softened slightly.


It seemed she liked the term 'House of Dolls.'


"Thanks to that, I overheard your conversation with Jung Sang-guk. If you saw my rampage upstairs, you would know I excel in aura manipulation."


Lee Ha-yul tilted her head.


"Aura?"


"...Hmm."


I ignited an aura in my palm. A murky flame. My aura was achromatic.


"This. You infused your puppet strings with golden aura earlier, right?"


"You call that aura."


"Some people call it inner energy. It's a matter of preference. Some call it magical energy or pronounce it as aura. Did you learn aura manipulation on your own?"


"Yes."


"Impressive."


"Even the magical girls said that."


By the way, 'magical girls' referred to the strongest group of awakeners in Japan, who later essentially succeeded the role of the Japanese government as the 'Magical Girl Council.'


How such a chaotic situation came about… well...


Let's just say that awakeners get stronger the crazier they are. I'll have another chance to discuss them later.


"The magical girls? Did they try to recruit you?"


"Yes. I refused."


"May I ask why? I want to reduce the chances of failure by learning from rejection cases."


"They're weird."


"……."


"Dresses. Lots of frills. Terrible fashion sense. They end their sentences with 'nya.' Abnormal."


"……."


It was quite an assertion coming from a girl currently giving her father's fingernails a strip show in real-time.


Anyway, the small talk served as a good icebreaker between us.


Contrary to what I expected, Lee Ha-yul was quite easy to converse with. If you ignored the strange puppet voice.


"Is it alright if I ask why you’re trying to kill Jung Sang-guk?"


"Ugh…?"


Jung Sang-guk reacted to the word 'kill.' Even when he was dragged to the basement and had his nails ripped out, he hadn’t expected his daughter would kill him.


But Jung Sang-guk was always meant to die.


In the 18th cycle, Lee Ha-yul killed Jung Sang-guk, hung the housekeeper, and then killed herself.


Everyone but Jung Sang-guk himself knew his death was an inevitable part of the schedule. Lee Ha-yul naturally answered my question.


"This man betrayed my mother."


Mother? She must mean Lee Ha-yul's biological mother and Jung Sang-guk's second wife.


"He said he'd bring a doctor. That there was medicine. That the treatment was progressing, but mother died."


"Ugh…!"


"Mother wanted to stay in Korea. This man forcibly brought her here. And neglected her."


Lee Ha-yul's 'voice' remained unchanged. An unchanging mechanical tone.


But her 'eyes' burned as if melting gold. That was the temperature Lee Ha-yul originally possessed.


"I remember. Since I was five, this man rarely visited our house. He found mother annoying. Me too. He was afraid of staying in Korea. Afraid we'd be discovered."


"Hmmph!"


"On the day mother died, I awakened. This is mother's revenge."


Jung Sang-guk struggled desperately, indicating it wasn’t true. His old wheelchair creaked noisily.


...I could feel the sincerity in Lee Ha-yul's words.


But I also knew that sincerity did not guarantee the truth, past or future. That was the most painful truth about human nature.


"Can I hear Jung Sang-guk’s side too?"


"……."


Lee Ha-yul looked up at me, her golden eyes scrutinizing my face for intent.


Nod.


"It doesn't matter."


"Ah…!"


Jung Sang-guk’s tongue finally regained its freedom. Spider threads still wrapped around his tongue and teeth, but they loosened a bit.


"Lies! Mr. Undertaker! Please don’t believe the words of a child, especially one who tortures her own parent! I am Jung Sang-guk! Jung Sang-guk! A man who dedicates himself to the nation and people!"


"Ah, I’m sorry. I pretended otherwise at the drinking party, but I actually think of the Second Provisional Government as a farce."


Jung Sang-guk wore a blank expression.


"Excuse me?"


"I treated you well out of respect for the Fukuoka officials. I have no interest in you. Mr. Jung Sang-guk. Why would awakeners who stayed in Korea and fought the Ten Legs have any affection for you?"


"……."


"Besides, as I said, my goal is to take the Puppeteer to our academy. Now I just want to verify if Lee Ha-yul’s claims are true. As you know, a teacher needs to understand a student’s family background to some extent."


"It's a lie!"


Jung Sang-guk shouted.


"How did I neglect anything? What? Neglect what! If I were to take my second family in secret, should I have announced it to everyone? Think about it! If I really intended to neglect them, I would have left them to die in Korea!"


"……."


"Sure, it’s tough here too, but you know! The Ten Legs! That damn bastard! Our military, the South Korean Army, was annihilated! Even the North Korean Army was wiped out! Knowing that, should I have left So-yoon and Ha-yul to die there? Yes! I’m a traitor! I, Jung Sang-guk, am a traitor! But I wanted to save my family. I wanted to save my family, so I pandered to Japan and survived!"


I could also feel the sincerity in Jung Sang-guk’s words.


But I knew that mimicking human pain was a politician’s instinct.


"If I were a selfish person who only thought of myself, I wouldn’t have cared for Ha-yul! But how can a daughter, no matter how resentful, treat her parent like this?"


Spider threads quickly bound Jung Sang-guk’s tongue again.


At first, I thought Lee Ha-yul was forcefully silencing him.


But it wasn’t that.


"He brought us here and neglected us."


Jung Sang-guk's mouth moved. It was his voice, but not his words.


They were Lee Ha-yul's words.


Lee Ha-yul was manipulating his tongue, teeth, and throat, speaking through him, either deliberately or driven by emotion.


"This house was originally shabby. I used my ability to control people and renovate it."


"Ugh! Even that! In these times, that was a blessing and a luxury! Now that you’re grown, don’t you see that?"


"Lies. Your house was completely different."


From then on, a very strange thing happened.


Both of them were using the same tongue and mouth to talk. No, to argue.


Lee Ha-yul’s words were choked and broken, sounding like mechanical stutters. Jung Sang-guk must have been resisting.


But his resistance was unsuccessful. So the two ended up conversing in turns.


It was as if I didn’t exist, and the father-daughter emotions erupted violently in a single, yet diverging, direction.


"I have never treated you as my daughter! You’re a crazy girl who tortures people!"


"You’re not my father either."


Their anger peaked.


But I thought both of their statements were wrong.


Jung Sang-guk was also a puppet.


As the mayor of Busan, he was a puppet saying whatever the citizens wanted to hear, and as the representative of Busan in Fukuoka, he said whatever pleased the Japanese.


To him, language didn’t matter. He could name the exile group the Second Provisional Government. He could rename Fukuoka as Busan.


Whether in his own country or a foreign one, Jung Sang-guk was a lifelong servant to state power, a 'national slave'.


If language is the essence of humanity, Jung Sang-guk merely mimicked it.


Something that imitates a human. We call that a puppet.


Strangely, the genes of a puppet were passed down to another puppet.


To Lee Ha-yul, who grew up watching her mother and father, to a child, the archetype of a human was imprinted as a doll.


Parents inevitably pass down some legacy to their children, whether they wish to or not.


Even the parts they ignored, their children did not. They couldn’t ignore them.


That was the destiny of humans.


"Lies."


"No, it’s not…!"


And if one has devoted their life to power, they must accept this outcome too.


In a spiraling conflict, the winner is the one who holds the stronger power.


Before they crossed to Japan, immediately after, the power holder in this family was undoubtedly Jung Sang-guk. He had the power to control other puppets.


"Lies, everything. All of it."


Not anymore.


The owner of the 'House of Dolls' was no longer him, but Lee Ha-yul.


"Ah—hmm?"


Jung Sang-guk’s throat was constricted.


Lee Ha-yul said nothing. Just as she had been since birth. She looked at her blood relative as she had at birth.


Puppet strings dug into his flesh.


Ugh, the sound of a convulsion.


"……! ……!"


Struggling.


A little.


And then.


"……."


The puppet went limp.


The basement fell silent.


In the end, the final words of a politician who stirred up turmoil in this end-of-the-world era were:


Lies.


Everything.


All of it.


His last words were cut into three parts. Three sections of his throat.


As someone who had lived as a politician, were his final words closer to truth or lies?


"……."


Watching Lee Ha-yul, covered in blood, I pondered for a moment.


Some might argue that those weren’t his final words since they weren’t spoken of his own volition.


Maybe.


But it was undoubtedly his legacy.




Footnotes:





Join our discord at https://dsc.gg/wetried




We Tried TLs Logo
All rights deserved. Website coded by Heaning.