It’s morning again, and it’s time to look after my lovely shop.
Yes, my lovely shop. I wanted to call it “The Lovely Shop” when I first opened it, but my wife said that it might sound too strange if we translated it from Koguryeon to Simlish. So instead, we settled for “Park’s Pretty Flower Sunshine Shop.” That way, these Simlish-speakers would immediately know what we’re selling. A clever marketing move, coming from a clever man such as myself.
“Good morning, Man-shik.” I hear the soft voice of my wife from behind.
“Did you remember to water the plants outside this morning?” I ask her as she takes a seat.
“You didn’t even greet me back. And yes, I already watered them like I always do.”
“I’m just making sure.”
“You could even go downstairs and see for yourself. It’s almost opening time.” my wife says with her usual indifferent tone as she gets up from the chair to make some coffee.
“Seriously, woman. What’s getting into you lately?”
My wife just sighs.
“That King’s Ginseng you bought. Who the heck would buy that in a country like this?”
“Our fellow Koguryeons, that’s who.”
“You mean Koguryeons who scrimp on every simoleon they have. Even the richest Koguryeon from San Myshuno or Bridgeport wouldn’t buy this because of it’s so-called health benefits. It’s a waste of money, Man-shik!”
She is doubting my business decisions again. My goodness, why was I married to this woman again? Oh, that’s right. It was an arranged marriage. A marriage that I didn’t ask for. I only married Hae-won just to shut up both of our families.
“For your information, woman.” I raise my voice and look at her from my chair. “It was called the King’s Ginseng for a reason. Did you know it was named after King Seong-jo? The guy who invented our beloved language?”
Hae-won just rolls her eyes as she finishes preparing her coffee.
“It is said that he took this special ginseng every day which helped him create his inventions and other ideas!” I add, justifying that six-digit purchase I made.
“Whatever, dear. But you had better get that money back. We were supposed to go on vacation to the old country with it.” Hae-won grumbles the last sentence as she heads back to the bedroom.
“Yeah, that’s right, woman. Go back to your bedroom. You just don’t understand my business decisions! And that is why I sleep on the couch in the basement; to be away from you!” I stand up and head downstairs to open up shop. It’s almost 10 a.m., but someone’s already knocking on the door. Did we have any flowers for reservation? Bah, Hae-won handles that. I shouldn’t pay it much thought.
“GET THE DOOR!” I hear Hae-won call out.
I shrug and just grumble going downstairs.
Uggggghhhhh. It’s dusk again, but I remember that it’s time to hatch the plan I’ve been cooking up for weeks with two of my best minions. I told Larry and Kumar to wait in the break room while I shifted to my normal appearance: an unassuming businesswoman.
“Gentlemen. It is a pleasure to see you both.”
“Good evening, Archon Malefica.” Kumar greets me with his usual heavy accent. I swear I can’t understand half of the words that come out of his mouth sometimes.
“Hello, mommy.” my dear ghoul Larry bellows with his deep voice. Larry is a bit… slow, (at least that’s the politically correct word for him) but he has found a place among my House as my personal muscle.
“This is about the kidnapping, right?” Kumar speaks up as I see Larry take a spoonful of soylent green to stuff into his mouth. It looks like peas, but I think you already know what it’s made of.
“That’s right. Both of you are to sneak into Archon de Guzman’s hideout and get the vampire child.”
“Umm, how do we sneak inside again, mommy?” Larry finishes chewing as I recall that he’s not very good at remembering things.
“I’ll repeat it just this once. You’d better remember it for Larry, Kumar!”
I clear my throat and begin to speak.
“I was wondering what the cat dragged in.” I smile in delight as a familiar face enters the store.
“I-it’s been a long time, uncle.” my insolent nephew squeaks like a mouse.
“Use the proper language when talking to your elders, you idiot.” I remind Shin-jae, who is the black sheep of the family. He was supposed to marry a daughter of the Kamsan Corporation’s CEO along with a deal that no man could refuse. In his case, he chickened out and left Koguryeo.
“What brings you to my store? I thought your parents disowned you for running away.”
My idiotic nephew does not reply, seemingly intimidated by my presence. That’s a good sign for a coward like him.
“SHIN-JAE!” my wife’s voice calls out from behind as I roll my eyes. Here I was basking in delight at my nephew’s shame and now she appears. “It’s been such a long time! You’ve grown!”
“Hello, Auntie.” Shin-jae says flatly, without any hint of respect for her aunt. Has he assimilated completely into Simian culture that he has forgotten Koguryeon customs? “I came here to buy something important.”
He wants to buy something? What could an idiot like him want? Nevertheless, money is money.
“Let’s talk about that later, dear! I was worried sick when I heard that your parents disowned you!” Hae-won just loves to dote on Shin-jae, even though he’s technically not part of the family anymore. “Why did you leave so suddenly? You should have seen your mother cry when she read your letter! Have you ever considered how she felt?”
“You can talk to him all you want later, Hae-won.” I interrupt her and turn to my nephew. “You just said you wanted to buy something.”
Shin-jae nods with his usual meekness.
“I wanted to buy the King’s Ginseng I saw on your website.”
“YOU? BUY THE KING’S GINSENG?” I laugh for what I thought was a whole minute and try to catch my breath. “As if a deadbeat like you can even afford that!” I remember putting so many zeroes on its price tag.
“You know, maybe he does have the money.” Hae-won tells me.
“He probably doesn’t. What would a so-called artist like him even earn in a tough country like this?” I retort.
“But I do have the money.” Shin-jae speaks up and brings out two bundles of cash from his pocket. I ignore my stupid nephew’s face and just look at the cold, hard cash in his hands.
I could already smell the crisp paper from where I’m standing; those are fresh off the mint! My favorite kind of money!
“Man-shik? MAN-SHIK!” Hae-won’s shrill voice interrupts me.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“I know a way that can create a win-win situation for all of us.”
“We’ll give you the ginseng, Shin-jae.” Hae-won tells him.
“R-really, auntie? I can’t thank you enough!” Shin-jae attempts to hand the cash over to my hands that have been shaking with excitement, but Hae-won stops him.
“On one condition.”
Oh, come on Hae-won! All I want is the cash and for this dishonorable scumbag to get out of our store!
“Damn it, woman! He already has the cash! What else could you possibly want from him?” I protest.
“Shin-jae. I’ll let you have the ginseng only if you promise to push through with the arranged marriage. Then we can fly you back to Koguryeo next week and make your parents happy.”
Oh. Well, why didn’t I think of that? That’s actually a nice plan to restore our family’s honor.
Shin-jae does not reply and mumbles something in Simlish. And what’s this Presto he’s talking about? Is it some sort of biscuit popular in this country?
“Who are you talking to? Have you gone mad?” I look at my nephew straight in the eye. He ignores me and looks at Hae-won instead.
“I’m sorry, Auntie. But I can’t agree with that condition. All I want is the ginseng. And I don’t want to be related to this family anymore.”
“Then you can’t have the ginseng.” Hae-won says in a hostile tone, which only happens when she feels incredibly upset. “Even if you have that much cash on you, I won’t let you have the ginseng unless you agree to my proposal.”
“DEAR!” I stand in front of my wife. “Have you also gone mad? Just look at those two bundles of cash! I can count at least 100,000 simoleons in each bundle! We could pay off all of our debts at once with that much money!” I tell her while keeping my eyes on the money.
Then I clear my throat and look at Shin-jae.
“Shin-jae, my boy. You can just give all of that cash to your dear Uncle Man-shik and I’ll have that ginseng packed up for you right away.” And I can’t afford his presence to add more dishonor to my shop. I attempt to head for the basement but Hae-won stands in my way.
“Family first! My sister will be overjoyed if Shin-jae comes home! It’ll restore our family’s honor, so he must agree with my proposal first.” Hae-won talks back.
“I’m in charge of this household, woman! So I say we’re taking the money and that’s that! Who cares if he comes back!”
“My sister, you crabby old man!”
And then I hear the bell of our store ring from the front door.
I just look behind and see that my nephew had already left.
With all that cash.
All that cash.
“Do I need to repeat it again?” I ask both of my minions. “Kumar?”
“I got everything, ma’am.”
“Get kid, then come back here.”
“That’s a good boy!” I praise my child-like ghoul. “Because if both of you fail…”
I bare my fangs at the two and watch Kumar and Larry flinch.
“Yes, ma’am! Failure is not an option, ma’am!” Kumar hides below the table, but Larry just nods.
“Hee. Mommy become pretty.” Larry quips as Kumar seats himself again.
“Just one last question, ma’am.” I nod to let him ask it. “Who was the Archon who owned this hideout again? Have we met him before?”
I bring out a photo from the drawer nearby and put it on the table for my minions to see.
“This is the guy.” I look at both Kumar and Larry. “He’s the same idiot who told me that I can’t bear any children.”
“Oh, this guy.” Kumar seems to have recalled something. “I think I’ve seen him at a Gathering in the past.”
“Why have this picture, mommy?” Larry asks.
“It was something he sent to show off that his hideout has a rejuvenation bath, which is apparently perfect for keeping your skin pale.” Being an Archon is all about keeping up appearances, and I swear Domingo de Guzman is quite the show-off of Northern Newcrest.
“But he’s not at this hideout right now, isn’t he?” “Kumar asks me again.
“As I said earlier, he seems to be out on some trip. At least that’s what his henchmen say. Just stick to the lines in the script if they get suspicious.”
“Got it, ma’am.” Kumar nods and gestures Larry to come with him outside.
Now if this plan proceeds without failure, that child will be mine.