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    It is said that people usually have few memories before the age of three. However, perhaps because Cheon Ryubeom was a beast-man, or perhaps because the moment was exceptionally vivid, his first memory was being held in someone’s arms, gazing at the falling snow.

    Snow blanketing the earth in white, a world sinking into silence.

    The presence that had come through the dazzling snowy field was enveloped in the biting winter wind. But the touch that tapped his nose and stroked his cheek was indescribably warm, leaving an indelibly clear mark in his memory.

    “Child, I believe there is a meaning to your birth as a tiger.”

    Only later did he realize that the person who had held him that day was his father, and the one who had crossed the snowfield was his mother. Because he had been feverish until nightfall, his mother had gone out at dawn to gather herbs, and by the time the day broke, he had miraculously recovered.

    Then, insisting on seeing the falling snow, he was carried out to the porch in his father’s arms. Though his mother had made the trip in vain, she expressed no anger and was simply happy.

    That was Ryubeom’s first memory and the first scene of his home that he recalled.


    Ryubeom moved houses many times.

    Even before Ryubeom could remember, his parents never settled in one place. They frequently relocated, never staying longer than a year. Although it was disappointing to leave just as he was getting used to a place, Ryubeom never showed it. Being with his parents was far more important.

    “We’re traveling to many places,” his father said, holding his hand in yet another house. Ryubeom came to like moving. At that time, his world consisted solely of his parents, as he couldn’t maintain friendships with other children at the playground.

    Ryubeom didn’t easily fit in with children his age. Not with ordinary human children, nor with other beast-children. Perhaps because tigers are apex predators, he feared he might inadvertently hurt others. Moreover, Ryubeom couldn’t properly control his strength.

    Beyond hurting others, he often suffered more himself. As a child, the tiger frequently endured high fevers and would collapse. His energy would fluctuate wildly, making it hard for others to approach him.

    During such times, his mother would care for him, gently brushing aside his sweat-soaked hair, softly patting him, and whispering reassurances until his energy calmed down.

    “The Tiger God will surely protect you, Beom.”

    His mother often told stories about tigers. Not just folklore but also the history of tiger beast-men, and sometimes even about their family.

    When she rarely mentioned their family, a mix of sadness, regret, longing, and unmistakable affection would cross her face.

    Ryubeom never met another tiger beast-man besides his mother, so he knew she had left her family without needing to ask.

    Through the many moves, he noticed that among their increasingly sparse belongings, his mother never abandoned a red chest. It contained only a few items like a mirror, hairpins, a comb, and norigae (traditional Korean ornaments), yet she treasured it dearly.

    He understood her deep longing for her family, enough to cherish these trivial items.


    He also knew she took pride in giving him the family name “Cheon (天).” One day, he saw the same character engraved inside the chest and confirmed it through information he overheard.

    [The Tiger Clan establishes Cheonho Foundation….]

    That day, news of the Tiger Clan founding a scholarship foundation was all over. Hearing that many human corporations attended to celebrate, his mother stood frozen on the street. Holding her hand, Ryubeom watched the TV screen and asked,

    “Do you miss it?”

    His mother looked down at him with an expression neither crying nor laughing. She didn’t affirm, but she also didn’t deny. Sensing the lingering attachment in her eyes, Ryubeom spoke confidently.

    “Did you fight with those tigers? Should I go and talk to them? I’ll ask them not to dislike you and to be friends!”

    Young Ryubeom was exceptionally adorable. Whether it was because of his looks or not, people showed him great interest and affection whenever they went out. Even if they didn’t know he was a tiger beast-man, everyone was friendly.

    At his bold declaration, his mother finally burst into laughter and lifted him into her arms.

    “Once everything is settled, let’s go to the family estate together.”

    “Huh? Really?!”

    “Yes. I’ll definitely show you how magnificent the Tiger Clan’s mansion is.”

    That day, his mother talked a lot about their family. She described what the Tiger Clan was like, how beautiful the sprawling tiled mansion was, and how breathtaking the sunrise was from the forest there.

    “Our Beom is such a wonderful tiger; you’ll fit in perfectly with the family.”

    Even at a young age, Ryubeom often felt that his mother was drifting. She didn’t belong anywhere, couldn’t stay long, and wandered from place to place. Though she said frequent moves were a chance to see new worlds, he realized then that the delicate atmosphere around her was due to her love for the family she couldn’t stay with.

    Mother loves the family dearly.

    But because she can’t stay in the place she loves, she drifts like this.

    That day, Ryubeom dreamed of the Tiger Clan’s mansion. It looked exactly as his mother had described. After waking, the memory faded, but he held a clearer dream in his heart: someday, holding his parents’ hands, he wanted to visit the family estate.

    Ryubeom was proud of being a tiger.

    However, the first time he was chased by a chang-gui was when he was eight. While playing in the yard behind their house, a chang-gui emerged from the shadows and attacked him.

    Terrified, he ran straight to his parents. His mother stepped in and drove the chang-gui away. The spirits, fierce while chasing him, retreated instantly at her gesture.

    That was the first time Ryubeom saw his mother use the tiger’s power. It was impressive, but his fear of the chang-gui overshadowed it. Sniffling, he asked why they chased him, and his father, patting his back, explained about the chang-gui.

    “They are souls that were killed by tigers.”

    “Did Mom kill them?”

    “No. They were killed by other tigers a long time ago.”

    “A long time ago? Why are they still here?”

    His mother remained silent while his father softened his gaze and smiled.

    “The power of a tiger is so strong that when someone is killed by a tiger, they lose their way to the afterlife. So, the chang-gui remain bound to this world, searching for sacrifices to take their place.”

    That night, Ryubeom learned not only about chang-gui but also about evil spirits. His father, knowledgeable about spirits, held his hand and taught him how to draw protective talismans. He emphasized the importance of caution, as the spiritual power of beast-men was particularly enticing to evil spirits.

    “Evil spirits hold grudges against the world, unlike regular ghosts that merely linger. You must always be careful. If they capture you, you’ll become an evil spirit too, wandering forever.”

    “Eek! What if they take me? You said I’m a good target!”

    Seeing Ryubeom’s frightened reaction, his mother finally laughed. She said they might have scared him too much and took him from his father’s arms, lifting him high.

    “If our Beom gets captured, we’ll come find you.”

    “No, you should promise I won’t get captured in the first place!”

    “Oh my, you already know that prevention is better than cure. Whose smart child is this?”

    “Stop saying weird things…!”

    His mother hugged the squirming Ryubeom tightly and laughed. Then she pretended to be stern and said, “A tiger should be able to handle that much.” Though Ryubeom felt a bit hurt, he secretly wished his parents would always protect him from evil spirits.

    That night, Ryubeom, who fell asleep pouting, woke up briefly to hear his parents whispering as they held him close. He cherished the moment and etched it into his memory, finding comfort in their promise to always protect him.

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