Chapter 0. The Story Within the Novel

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[Kim Suho]
17 – 27 years old in the story
A righteous, honest man and a hard-worker. Though he comes from a common background, he is of extraordinary character and talent. As a genius who made his name known in the military academy, he possesses a sense of justice and other upright characteristics befitting a hero. He carries a special secret that he hasn’t revealed to anyone.

[Shin Jonghak]
17 – 27 years old in the story
The fourth generation descendant of the Jinsung Corp, one of the greatest chaebol in Korea, which contends for the number one spot. As a child of a chaebol family, he is a narcissist and an elitist. Because of his personality and the sense of inferiority he feels against Kim Suho, he later becomes a villain.
'I have to be the best. I cannot tolerate anyone being above me.' With such obstinacy, he confronts Kim Suho.
===

The above two were the two main characters of my novel.
Though the novel had many more characters, write them all down was impossible. Within my novel were billions of characters. Unless the characters have ‘important roles’ like the heroine or the helper, giving a character a name wasn’t necessary.
… Why was I saying all this?

—Hero Association’s Agent Military Academy Seoul Branch Graduation, Class of 2024, Rank 1 Cadet, Kim Suho.

It was because the story in my novel was happening in front of my eyes.
Called up to the stage, Kim Suho walked up with a stiffened face as though he was nervous.
We were in a huge auditorium suggestive of a temple. In it were 3000 cadets and thousands of spectators. Their gazes all turned to one person, Kim Suho.

“He’s Kim Suho? Wow.”

“He’s so handsome~”

Several women watched with admiration and adoration.

“…This is why people say Gift is all that matters. Who cares if you try hard? People like him end up taking first place anyways.”

“That guy completely lucked out with his Gift.”

And naturally, he received the jealousy and envy of young teenagers.

“His grades are said to be the greatest in the past 10 years.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard of him. His Gift was announced too, right? What was it again… Sword Saint?”

Guild associates, who came to watch the best cadet in recent history, flashed their eyes.
They were looking down from the highest seats of the auditorium. However, I could hear their voices. They had to be at least a kilometer away, but as long as I looked their way, I could hear their words clearly.
Not only their words, but I could also see their faces, almost as though I was right in front of them.
Perhaps, this was my ‘Gift.’

“Yes, in regards to swords, he is said to receive the world’s protection.”

“Hm… That’s a pretty vague description, but I guess the information from the academy is all like that.”

“We called dibs on that kid so don’t touch him.”

I recognized one of the whispering faces.
Yun Seung-Ah. An important assistant of the main character and one of the heroines who almost became the main character’s lover. Just when the two of them were hitting it off – in reality, when the main character was hitting off with many of the heroines – I suspended my novel. Thus, the two never became lovers.

“Dibs? What dibs. When it comes to cadets, there is no such thing.”

At another guild associate’s callous words, Yun Seung-Ah smiled sweetly and rebutted.

“Is that why 'Essence of the Strait' can’t escape second place?”

I knew Yun Seung-Ah’s face. Surprisingly, she looked like my first love from college. That was probably because I thought of her when I was describing Yun Seung-Ah’s character. Though, she was my crush to be exact.

“…Can I take that as a challenge?”

“I’m kidding, of course. Plus, we still have three years to go before we can scout any of them.”

“It’s two years.”

“…You know contacting them before they graduate is illegal, right?”

“That’s only if you’re found out.”

Yun Seung-Ah and the man glared at each other. With their staring contest as the starting point, the VIP seats’ atmosphere began to heat up.
And thus, the fight for Kim Suho had already begun.

—Class of 2024, Rank 2 Cadet, Shin Jonghak.

Meanwhile, the other main character stood up.
He was the descendant of the Jinsung clan. His appearance rivaled Kim Suho as well.
The audience stirred just like when Kim Suho walked up. But unlike with Kim Suho, envy and jealousy didn’t exist. There was only admiration and adoration. With Kim Suho, they thought, ‘Why is he better than me?’ but with Shin Jonghak, it was, ‘He was better than me from birth.’
As if to show off his noble blood, Shin Jonghak walked up to the stage completely composed.

Kim Suho and Shin Jonghak.
Standing side by side, the two glared at each other.
Electricity seemed to crackle from their eyes.

Without a shadow of the doubt, these two were characters from my novel.

Then where was I?

I wasn’t on the stage but in the farthest back seat of the auditorium. I wasn’t ‘one out of three thousand’, but a member of the ‘three thousand.’ No guild associate looked my way.

“Chundong, what rank are you? I’m rank 2900.”

Next, to me, a boy resembling a piglet asked. On his nametag were the characters ‘Kim Ho Sup’. This meant that he had an eventual role. Though he couldn’t be a Hero because of his nonexistent physical abilities, his Gift was outstanding for information gathering.

“Chundong-chan★?”

“… I don’t know.”

I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t even know why my name was Chundong.
If something like this had to happen, shouldn’t I be one of the two on stage?

“Hey, c'mon, if you don’t know that…”

“I don’t know.”

Once again, I didn’t know. This world was the novel I wrote, but I was in the body of a character I had never written before. Other than being a cadet in the Agent Military Academy, I was the most ordinary and the most connectionless character, the type whose name wouldn’t exist anywhere in the novel. In other words… I was an extra.[1]

…No, I was a speck of dust.

1. In English, an extra is usually referred to as “background actor/performer/cast/etc”, but I will be sticking with ‘extra’.

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