152 His Purpose Unfulfilled Pt.4

    "So, in short, you're running away from your responsibilities?"

    Seokjin averted his gaze in disdain. Hearing it out loud was like a slap on the cheek.

    "Why? It sounds to me that you'll be set up for life. Inheriting your father's smithery and becoming a blacksmith is a perfectly respectable occupation. It's a shame to throw it all away."

    "You don't understand," Seokjin replied, going along with his lie. "I didn't return to become a blacksmith."

    "Then why did you return?"

    Seokjin had a conflicted expression. He had asked himself the same question repeatedly in the last three days, after discovering what Minseok had planned for him. With his purpose unfulfilled, Seokjin had no real reason to stay. He had no interest in politics and certainly no desire to become a court minister. After all, why would he want to further entangle himself in the establishment he sought to escape?

    "It's complicated," Seokjin eventually muttered.

    The stranger appeared disappointed by Seokjin's answer. "I see."

    The two men sat in silence as they sipped their tea. As the stranger raised his cup, Seokjin noticed something inked on his wrist. It looked like a flower.

    "So, you're leaving just like that? Without telling anyone?"

    Seokjin tore his eyes away from the man's wrist. "They don't care for me anyway," he coldly remarked. "We haven't seen each other in so long that we're like strangers."

    "But where will you go?"

    "I'll go back to my old life," Seokjin answered but under his breath, he added, "Anywhere far away from here."

    The stranger's expression grew solemn. "But what about your younger brother? Didn't you say you wanted to make amends with him?"

    A vision of a woman carrying a baby in her arms flashed before Seokjin's eyes. He cast his gaze down. "I did," Seokjin said, his chest heavy with guilt. He shook his head as another vision appeared.

    This time, it was of a little girl.

    Suddenly, Seokjin stood up. "I- I should go."

    The stranger watched as Seokjin hurriedly searched his pockets for silver. "Wait. Now?"

    "Yes. I must go back. There's something I have to do- there's a promise I forgot to keep." Seokjin hurriedly dropped several coins onto the table before gesturing to the pot of tea. "You can drink the rest."

    Before the stranger could say anything, Seokjin was already at the exit. The stranger blinked.

    "This is rare."

    The stranger turned at the sound of a feminine voice and watched as a woman in vibrant garments sat opposite him, where Seokjin was just moments ago.

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    "The great Hobi fail at recruiting someone?" she teased in a dramatic voice. "I guess you've lost your persuasive touch."

    The man called Hobi frowned. "Actually," he corrected, "I almost had him."

    The woman smirked. "Sure, you did." She picked up Seokjin's cup and drank from it. "It's a shame. He looked like a good fighter."

    "He's a swordsman," Hobi added wistfully. "I think he's a dual wielder too."

    The woman was impressed. "Did you catch his name?"

    Hobi cheerfully smiled. "Nope."

    "What is it with you and not taking names?" The woman asked, appalled. "Is it so hard to ask?"

    "Well, I haven't offered him mine." The woman tossed him an unimpressed look as he finished his tea. "Don't worry," Hobi reassured her, a glint in his eye. "I have a hunch that I'll meet him again."
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