The restaurant's bell tinkled with his entrance.
He quietly strode over to a table and sat down, briefly taking note of his acquaintance opposite him.
"...When will Jinsung arrive?"
His companion idly fingered her red tresses, smiling slightly.
"I'd expect he'll be here in a couple of days or so. You know how he adores you," she responded lightly.
His expression did not waver, but his body tensed.
"I guess you're not one who's naive enough to let the reason of his visit escape you. Not anymore, at least."
He brushed his bangs aside to reveal a set of molten irises, their gaze finally locked onto the person across the table.
His silent inquiry did not go unnoticed.
"Don't worry," she assured, drumming her slender fingers on the wood of the table. "He holds your judgement above all else. He'll give your new teammates their fair shakes."
Several minutes passed in silence.
"Hwa Ryun," he started.
The crimson in her functional eye shifted its focus on him once more. She tugged loosely at her eye patch.
"Never mind," he muttered.
Her complacent smile remained adhered to her face.
"You know, I said you weren't as naive anymore," she said as she leaned back in her chair. "But in reality, you haven't changed a lick, Viole."
His lips parted in confusion.
"For all your empathy and trust and belief those six years ago, for all you did to unite those you called friends, you were rewarded with betrayal. From the one person whom you held most dear, no less. You tried, with all that your soul comprised of, to stave off loneliness, but it manages to engulf you regardless."
She reached out and patted his hand with an almost ridiculing nuance.
"You alone stood out from the rest. An Irregular, one who insists upon ascending the Tower with everything intact. One who, unlike others, is determined to climb without any sordid notion of needed sacrifice. And yet," she daintily exhaled.
"You lost everything anyway. Tossed aside to be swallowed whole by another's self-serving desire. Ironic that you, the one person in the Tower who hadn't discarded his soul, was himself discarded as part of someone else's soul."
She looked at him, the smile gone from her visage.
"Now," she spoke softly, as if afraid to disturb something. "Cast aside, left for dead, being forced into the role of a lapdog by FUG, you've been deprived of your unqualified trust, and unable to maintain your wholehearted pursuit for friendship."
A suggestion seemed to be lingering in the air, as if it were some morsel to be desperately snatched from in front of Viole's nose. It wasn't a question, and it wasn't a matter born from uncertainty, but for Viole, it was loafing about, just out of his reach.
Hwa Ryun blinked with her single eye.
"Despite everything you've gone through; or should I say, everything you've been put through...You haven't forgotten."
Viole fumbled with the cloth of his shirt.
"I asked you whether the reason you were searching for her was revenge. You replied that you'd know once you reached her. You are climbing the Tower to topple Zahard, something in which you have no interest, solely because your old friends' lives are in the palm of FUG's hand. You have not killed a single person thus far, in your journey to the twenty-first Floor."
He continued fidgeting with thread as he listened.
"Throughout these six years," Her expression seemed to soften, although Viole couldn't be sure. "You haven't once forgotten why you truly have a need to climb the Tower. For one who so fervently devoted himself to friendship so long ago, only to have it all crash down on his shoulders, you have not given up an ounce of your compassion."
"Baam," she whispered, using his true name. "From that day forth, you have always been alone. And for that, you have suffered. But what keeps you eternally capable of ascending is something much stronger."
Hwa Ryun placed her hands upon the table and pushed herself to a standing position. She began walking quietly towards the door.
"That day, you may have lost something. But you've thrown nothing away."
She felt a tug at her sleeve, and for the first time, she appeared caught off guard.
Viole kept his gaze fixed upon the far wall while speaking.
"I haven't been. Alone, that is."
He turned to stare at her, unsmiling.
"I've been lonely. But I haven't been alone."
Bewildered, Hwa Ryun barely registered anything at all when Viole stood up, embraced her for a split second, and let go in the next. He stepped briskly away from her and towards the door.
"I don't give much thought to what happened if I can help it," he admitted. "But it's hard not to realize that you're the only one remaining from back then whose been with me for the past six years."
Hwa Ryun seemed to considered this, before she started chuckling.
"You realize I've been by your side for just about everyone's convenience except yours?"
"You realize I've been acting in complete inconsideration to your personal well-being?"
"You realize that, the entire time, I've been following orders to regard you as nothing but a pawn?"
"That above all else."
She shook with laughter as she came up behind him and mockingly returned the hug.
"Like I said, Viole," Her tone dripped with amusement as she heard the tinkling of the restaurant's bell.
"You haven't changed a lick."
I just started Tower of God a few days ago, and at first, I didn't really like it that much. As I kept reading, though, I found out just why it spawned such devotion from fans. It has a way of drawing you in, and I fell for its charms hook, line, and sinker (Get it? ...Don't kill me). Of course, one of the main reasons that made me so in awe of the manwha is probably the same reason it drew so many other readers in: Baam's despair-driven transformation into Viole. That much is apparent, to be sure, and nobody doesn't like to see a meek-boy-turned-badass, but what really fascinated me was the ambiguous, cryptic relationship between him and Hwa Ryun. There isn't too much revealed about her as of yet, but whether for better or worse, she is the only one of those who took an exam alongside him in Floor 2 to have remained with him the entire time.
That said, I can't really draw any conclusions at all until more chapters of ToG are released, but I just couldn't stifle the urge to vent my feelings regarding the matter. I also feel like I did a horrible job of keeping Hwa Ryun in character. I couldn't help but have her spew out all of this dialogue when it's clear she probably would have never done anything of the sort. I apologize if I completely butchered this attempt.
I do sincerely hope that she gets more exposure later on in the actual story, though.