The Novel's Villain - Chapter 152
44. Original and Side Stories (4)
Jin-woo checked the author’s answer.
Title: Hello? This is Life-or-Death Twist.
Thank you for sending me a direct message. I haven’t started writing my next work since the completion of my previous work. The publisher of my previous work went bankrupt… so, I’m having a hard time…
I want to talk with you. Due to current circumstances, I don’t have a cell phone, so I’ll contact you around 4 p.m. this Friday.
I’ll contact you!
Editor-in-Chief, Lee Jin-woo.
Thank you very much.
-Sincerely, Life-or-Death Twist-
The content was short, but it felt desperate. Jin-woo usually cursed at the author, but it felt strange that everything turned out this way. Jin-woo replied to the direct message and closed his laptop. He had a hunch that it would prove an interesting meeting.
When Jin-woo arrived in Korea, he first visited the studio he was originally living in. It was shabby, but he managed to live there comfortably before. Familiar scenery greeted him as soon as he entered, alongside small piles of bills.
‘Right, it’s a bit…’
Memories were just memories. Now he had become someone that couldn’t stay in such a place. Jin-woo put away the useful things in his subspace and threw away the rest, then connected the studio and the moon with a portal. It was much better to install this and that on the moon without buying a new house.
Jin-woo opened the Dimensional Store. He hadn’t been using it much as he was able to head to other dimensions directly. However, the Dimensional Store was still actively trading. The Demon Realm and Heaven disliked each other, but they traded through the Dimensional Store because they each had items the other needed. Elonti was also using the Dimensional Store rather than going directly to other dimensions.
Jin-woo purchased a small dwarven-made building from the store. He only had to wait a little longer before the house was summoned.
The Earth was viewable from his window. A house with a view of the Han River was good, but it couldn’t be compared to a house with a view of the moon. Even better, the noisy city wasn’t right outside. He was curious how Yoo-na would react if he showed it to her.
* * *
It was Thursday. When the promised time arrived, Jin-woo received a call from the author Life-or-Death Twist. Even his voice over the phone was ordinary, but that was to be expected. Jin-woo already knew the profile of the Author Life-or-Death Twist. He was a man who just turned 30 this year, and a full-time writer, so he wasn’t working.
Jin-woo immediately scheduled an appointment and walked outside. Their meeting place would be closer than expected. After riding the subway about 30 minutes away from the studio, he arrived.
‘This was a shortcut.’
Jin-woo knew the shortcut to the subway system as it was one he often used when he was commuting to work. Now, he had been fired because he hadn’t shown up to work in weeks. Anyway, it was also a road frequently used by students.
Attention was drawn to Jin-woo. The Earth where Jin-woo came from had quite a few good-looking men and women. Rather, looking at competent people with good skills and the Knights, many possessed unrealistic appearances.
Jin-woo was the pinnacle among them. His original Earth was extremely realistic, however, so he drew plenty of attention walking around. Still, he was used to these gazes, so it didn’t bother him much.
‘There it is.’
Their meeting place was supposed to be in front of a cafe. A man who seemed to be Life-or-Death Twist was standing and looking around furtively. He was an ordinary man wearing a sloppy hoodie and glasses, but there was a reason that Jin-woo could recognize at once that he was the author.
As soon as Jin-woo saw him, he thought of someone. He looked just like Kim Young-hoon, who was working hard in Jin-hu. Except for his skinny physique and slightly older appearance, it was enough to believe that he was Kim Young-hoon.
Jin-woo looked at him with the Magic Eye of Information.
[-] Lee Young-hoon (Life-or-Death Twist)
*Representative Work: SSS-Ranked Absolute Ability
Status: Poor, Downturn, Depressed
Possessed Technique: [-F] Cursed Writing Skill, [-F] Patience
Special Technique: –
He wasn’t special, just an ordinary writer. Jin-woo approached Young-hoon.
“Are you Life-or-Death Twist?”
Young-hoon nodded while staring blankly at Jin-woo. Jin-woo was wearing a neat suit for the occasion. It gave him a little boost as it felt that he had returned to his old business days.
“Nice to meet you; I’m Lee Jin-woo.”
“Ah! Yes! My name is Lee Young-hoon.”
“I was surprised to see my name in SSS-Ranked Absolute Ability.”
“Ha, haha, i-is that so?”
Young-hoon smiled awkwardly.
“Let’s go inside and talk.”
He followed Jin-woo, hurrying after him. Jin-woo ordered a drink and sat down, but Young-hoon couldn’t make eye contact with him. His shoulders were sagging, projecting a depressed and unconfident air. Although he was the author who made him suffer, he still gave Jin-woo a lot. It happened because of his novel, but Jin-woo also could protect the Earth because of him.
Jin-woo felt sorry to see him like that.
“Are you preparing for your next project?”
“Ah… I’ve been thinking about it… I am not confident.”
His shoulders shrank even more. Jin-woo didn’t like that look. Although he violently cursed the author in the past, he wished he could have been bold like that damn novel.
“Is there a problem?”
“…Because the publisher went bankrupt, there’s a problem with the settlement. That’s why I’m legally looking for compensation… but it hasn’t worked out well.”
The publisher wasn’t taking down the series. The settlement process was continuing, but there was no money coming to Young-hoon as of now. He said that these days, he was working part-time rather than writing.
“I tried to publish my next series, but… the hate comments are so…”
He said that he had to visit a psychiatric hospital because of the malicious comments, and that part was understandable. When Jin-woo searched for Author Life-or-Death, a lot of nasty things were being said. Of course, it influenced his next series.
As Jin-woo calmly worked on warming up the atmosphere, Young-hoon began to bring out what was hidden inside his heart.
“I have no way to see my parents. I quit school because I was writing and I was stuck in that small room… they were so happy when the first series came out, but…”
Jin-woo was surprised that he continued to write such super long episodes even in the midst of this. When Jin-woo asked, he received an unexpected answer.
“One person was reading. I kept writing because he constantly read it.”
“There are people who pay as a joke these days, but when I published the series, there was that one person. There were two views, and I paid for one.”
Rather, it was published after losing money. Jin-woo couldn’t decide whether to call this impressive or annoying. He decided to find the side stories first.
“Mr. Author, about the side stories that were serialized for free, can I read them?”
“Yes! I’ll send it to you through email.”
Was it just because he liked to talk about his work? Young-hoon replied coolly. Then, he talked about how he paid his overdue cell phone bill today, and his cell phone suspension was lifted. He sent the series of side stories in his cell phone to Jin-woo right away.
Jin-woo listened patiently to his story. He intended to chat formally and break up after having coffee. But, as he was about to stand from his seat, Jin-woo’s heart was caught by Yeong-hoon’s tearful cat-like eyes.
“Do you like Korean beef?”
“Yes! I-I like it.”
Jin-woo took Young-hoon to the most famous and expensive Korean beef restaurant in the neighborhood. Jin-woo grilled the meat himself. The meat grilled by the Great Emperor was, of course, very delicious.
Young-hoon ate in a hurry while Jin-woo watched with his sorrow swelling. Now the desire to curse him had completely disappeared. His novel was a mess, but Yeong-hoon was polite. He looked somewhat clumsy, but his personality was good.
“By the way, Mr. Author, why did you do that to Lee Jin-woo? I’m asking because I am Lee Jin-woo myself.”
“I know, right. If Lee Jin-woo came to the real world, he would kill me, right?”
“Who knows, he might think about it.”
Jin-woo asked about the original story. Since he experienced it in person, the content was very detailed. Young-hoon began to tear up, moved by how well Jin-woo seemed to know his novel.
“Yoo-na is the primary character, so I set her up in the most detailed way. To some extent, I even set some points about that. And I wrote down her tastes in quite a bit of detail!”
“I’m kind of curious about that.”
“I have the set-up notes. Do you want me to send them to you?”
He also could get useful information from that. Since it was growing late, Jin-woo decided to have a drink with him.
“Sob, I’m really glad that a good person like you came to meet me, Editor-in-Chief. I don’t get any calls these days. Sob.”
“Well, that happens sometimes. Cheer up.”
“Can I call you big bro?”
“Officially, I am younger than you.”
It was fun talking about the original novel. That was how the drinking party continued until it passed midnight. It was time to part ways. Jin-woo accomplished his goal, so he was about to head back.
“Wait a minute!”
Young-hoon checked his phone; it looked like he received a text. Young-hoon checked the message with a sad smile. Jin-woo checked the screen from the corner of his eye out of curiosity.
Mom: I haven’t heard from you lately. Son, I always believe in you.
Young-hoon could hardly reply except to let out a long sigh. Jin-woo shook his head.
‘Gosh, I also… ’
He was weak to this kind of thing. He tried to break up neatly since he had achieved his goal, but that didn’t work out. If Yoo-na had been watching, she’d probably have laughed.
“Yes? Oh, I’m sorry. I got a message.”
“You have no other place you’ve signed a contract with, right?”
“Yes, who would sign a contract with a writer like me? I’ve not sold well, and my works have received nothing but hate comments…”
“Our JW Books is a new publisher. Are you still willing to work with us?”
“Can I join you? I might be a nuisance… ”
“There’s no one good from the beginning.”
[The Incarnation of Evil creates a contract.]
The Incarnation of Evil used its power to write a contract, and Jin-woo handed it over. Young-hoon’s drunkenness suddenly faded when he started reading.
“Huh? Chief, I think this part is a little wrong.”
It was an 8:2 contract, with 50 million won royalties paid in advance and 10 million won in guarantee per volume. There was also a clause that if it sold well, it would be raised to 9:1. Young-hoon mistook it for having an extra zero. However, Jin-woo adjusted it already a little. In the past, he would have paid about 10 billion won per volume.
“It’s not wrong. That’s exactly right.”
“Yes? This is such an extraordinary number…”
“I’m Lee Jin-woo, aren’t I? You know the Frontline Group, right?”
When Jin-woo smiled and said so, Young-hoon was dumbfounded. It was too strange to see it as a scam, and the JW Books official website did exist. It was also very well-made.
“I’ll pay you right away.”
“Let’s sign the contract!”
Young-hoon signed it right away. The contract written by the Incarnation of Evil was absolute. Of course, Jin-woo could break it at will, but Young-hoon could not. Jin-woo transferred the payment on the spot. Young-hoon checked the notification on his cell phone with wide eyes.
“I will write hard! Sob.”
Young-hoon burst into tears. Seeing that, Jin-woo thought he had done something a little troublesome, but he had no regrets.
‘Still, he is the author who created the world I am in…’
He didn’t want to let such an author be treated as a waste. He would take care of him and make him a best-seller. Jin-woo didn’t know how talented he was, but it seemed that his ability could somehow help. After all, he was none other than the Great Emperor himself!
* * *
Jin-woo returned to his base and read the side stories. His head began to hurt the moment he started reading. He wanted to read it all somehow, but he couldn’t. It was a genre that Jin-woo hated too much.
‘I didn’t expect it to be this.’
Jin-woo’s current feelings were complicated. He stopped reading for a moment and checked his phone. He saved Young-hoon’s phone number, and naturally, he was added to the messenger. Jin-woo had been hearing from him since morning. Young-hoon was undeniably passionate.
Young-hoon: Chief! Good morning. I wrote about 30,000 characters, and I sent it to you by email!
Young-hoon: Oh! I’m writing so well; it reached 70,000 characters! I’ll send it to you right away.
Young-hoon: How about a setting like this? (Attachment: Set-Up Notes.hwp)
A manuscript already arrived this morning. The next day after drinking, he wrote 70,000 characters and sent them to Jin-woo in an instant. It felt too fast, but now he understood how Young-hoon was able to write those extra-length episodes.
Jin-woo read his manuscript first. He was confident that he had an eye for writing after reading numerous fantasy and martial arts novels.
Jin-woo held his head, feeling a new headache forming. There was no development at all. No, it seemed to have degenerated. Still, the original was somehow readable. But not with this one. He didn’t even know where to start or how to fix it. Even Jin-woo, who possessed enormous mana, was unable to read it without cringing away.
His eyesight seemed far away, and his limbs wouldn’t move toward it. It was too much for Jin-woo.
‘I can’t do it.’
If he couldn’t do it, he could only pass it on to his subordinates.
Me: I will assign you a person to take charge of edits.
Young-hoon: Oh! Thank you ^^. Then I will work harder!
Me: Please do your best.
Jin-woo sent a message like that.
‘He is nice.’
His writing was bad. Seriously bad. It was almost at the Devil’s level. Jin-woo opened the portal and returned to the Sanctuary, immediately calling Yoo-na.
“What about the other Earth?”
“It’s an ordinary neighborhood with no competent people or Gates.”
“Is that so? It must be a peaceful place.”
“Everywhere people live is always the same, right?”
Yoo-na’s eyes showed her agreement.
“Recruit some good writers among the other subordinates. Regardless of the genre, recruit all of them at once. Ah! And also some people to draw.”
“Yes, I understand.”
Yoo-na delivered Jin-woo’s order through all dimensions. After waiting for a while, subordinates from each dimension arrived at the Sanctuary. There were Succubus, Incubus, Golden Angels, and elves. Even Zhuge Mi-xian showed up. She was embarrassed because it was her first time in the Sanctuary, but she quickly regained composure.
Since Zhuge Mi-xian also became Jin-woo’s subordinate, she had received direct adaptation training from the General Manager. Additionally, she was a top writer responsible for the mega-hit in the East World known as ‘Secret Brother under the Same Master.’ Arcana also slipped in, having mastered all romance novels while she was single for ten thousand years.
“I-I know r-romance well!”
“Well, I feel reassured.”
Arcana was now able to talk to Jin-woo. However, she gasped for breath whenever they conversed. Turning from her, Jin-woo looked at the rest gathered in the Sanctuary. All of them were those who had worked on their hobby of writing for many years. There were also elf artisans who could manage the covers and illustrations.
Everyone followed Jin-woo to the base. Yoo-na was a step behind him, and though she wasn’t surprised by most of the sights he showed her, she couldn’t help but stop in amazement as they went through the portal.
It was because they arrived at the moon.
“Somehow, I conquered it.”
Jin-woo could see Yoo-na’s expression go blank, and the others were also surprised. Only Arcana was okay since she had been to a satellite orbiting the Middle World before when she used to run rampant to suppress her loneliness.
Anyway, JW Books appeared on the other Earth like that.
“Since I’m doing it, let’s do it properly.”
The Great Emperor’s pride was at stake.