9 P.M., end of the first exam.
Chae Nayun was looking at social media while lazing around. With one exam over with, cadets became more active on social media.
[It was difficult, but I’m glad that the result was great. Good work everyone. #Cube #Exam #OurTeam]
After ending the day with three wins, Yoo Yeonha seemed to have gone to a café with her team to celebrate as she uploaded a group picture of her team eating together. Chae Nayun was a bit jealous, especially because of her team’s gloomy atmosphere.
Since the last time they fought, Chae Nayun and Yoo Yeonha hadn’t talked to each other. Chae Nayun wanted to make up with her since she knew she was the one who started it, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounded.
[NYChae and 4593 others liked this post.]
Chae Nayun left a subtle apology by clicking ‘like’, then scrolled down.
Below Yoo Yeonha’s post was Shin Jonghak’s.
[3 wins 0 losses #Cube #ShinJonghak #Jonghak #Exam #Hero #OverwhelmingVictory]
Shin Jonghak also left a group photo, but it carried a different atmosphere than Yoo Yeonha’s. Shin Jonghak looked like a ruler surrounded by his lackeys.
“I wonder when this guy will be cured of his eighth-grade syndrome.”
Chae Nayun snickered and continued scrolling through social media.
At that moment, she found a rather interesting photo.
It was from Kim Suho , who had over 20,000 followers.
[With Master Sharpshooter Hajin, Cube’s sole gunner]
“Is this guy… kind or evil?”
The photo seemed to have been taken after the archery competition, but the difference between their faces was too severe.
[leonidas357: it’s nice to see you smiling.]
[Yunseung_A: I also monitored this year’s Class Competitions ^^ Hajin-ssi and Suho-ssi were both amazing.]
“Haha, what is this unni doing here?”
Yun Seung-Ah’s comment clearly showed her ulterior motive.
After making fun of her a little bit, Chae Nayun left the social media app and entered her messenger.
While she was scrolling down thoughtlessly, she discovered something. Kim Hajin had a party hat emoticon on his profile.
“…So today is his birthday.”
Chae Nayun murmured thoughtlessly. At first, she was going to continue scrolling down, but she entered a gifticon shop
She wondered if there was anything she could gift him, but nothing really caught her attention.
“I guess a cake will do… or no, maybe I should give something to him in real life rather than online… no, why would I? I’m not crazy… just a text message is enough.”
Chae Nayun quickly fixed up a message to send him.
[Kim Hajin ㅋㅋ it’s your birthday today? ㅋ]
But even after waiting 5 minutes, Kim Hajin didn’t reply. Without a choice, Chae Nayun added another line.
[Happy birthday ㅋㅋㅋ Why aren’t you responding ㅋㅋ?]
This time, he responded almost immediately.
“…Why’s he so cold?”
Chae Nayun pouted and put down her smartwatch.
Midterm exams came to an end.
I took a total of four exams. Two of them were done in teams and the other two were done individually.
Although I didn’t do so well in the individual exams, because I did so well in team exams, I obtained enough points to enter the top 200.
Next year, I should be able to get a bigger dorm room.
The current problem wasn’t something trivial like my grades.
“…Will this be enough?”
I purchased a pinnacle-grade magic bag. It looked like a normal duffel bag, but it was magically enchanted to carry items up to 200 kilograms in weight. It cost 40 million won, and I stuffed it full with all sorts of items.
An ice box, tent, cooking wares, ramen, porkchops, etc…
My smartwatch rang.
[Cube will be on break next week.]
[Cadets will receive a 70% discount on foreign travels when using cadet cards.]
It was a notification of classes being canceled next week.
This was likely because of an external investigation. Although investigators wouldn’t be able to find anything special, Djinns would have to lay low during this time.
[There will be a field trip sponsored by Jinsung Foundation next Thursday. First years will be allowed to join on a first-come-first-serve basis.]
This was an important event.
During this field trip, the main cast would encounter a ghost. The most wicked of all ghosts, the ‘ghost of the past’.
This ghost would transport the cast to the year 1970, soon after the onset of Outcall. Of course, to be precise, it wasn’t the real past.
This was a necessary event for the cast to go through. Not only Kim Suho, but Shin Jonghak and Yoo Yeonha would also…
At that moment, Evandel’s shouting interrupted my thought.
When I turned to her startled, Evandel was staring at Hayang with a shocked face. I followed her line of sight.
In Hayang’s mouth was the boneless chicken Evandel was eating before.
“Hayang… Hayang you… put that down now!”
When Evandel tried to run, Hayang quickly bit down on the chicken. Evandel stopped immediately at the sight of it.
“Ah! O-Okay! Okay, Hayang. Let’s calm down. Calm down…”
Almost like she was trying to appease a hostage situation, she held her hands up and tried to calm Hayang.
“Right, calm down… that’s not something a cat can eat….”
Hayang chewed the chicken, ignoring Evandel’s persuasion. Immediately, Evandel’s expression crumbled down.
I glanced at Evandel’s plate. It was completely empty. It seemed Hayang ate the last piece of chicken.
“Iiiiing! H-Hayang, you…!”
Evandel chased Hayang. However, Hayang was quick and Evandel was slow. Unable to catch up to her, Evandel ran into my arms and began to sob.
“Hajin! Hajin! Hayang ate my chicken….”
“Don’t worry, she won’t die.”
Hayang wasn’t a normal cat.
She had a noble bloodline with a grade-4 rating on mana affinity. Animals with higher mana affinity had higher recovery rates, longer lives, and higher intelligence.
Such animals were called ‘mystical animals’.
“No, not that! She stole my food!”
“…Oh, that’s the problem?”
After calming down Evandel, I left my dorm and walked to Cube’s park.
I had a few appointments to tend to this evening.
Yoo Yeonha waved her hand from a remote area of the park. Even though it was dusk, she was wearing sunglasses.
My first appointment was with Yoo Yeonha. I could see a suitcase next to her.
When I approached her, Yoo Yeonha spoke as she handed me the suitcase.
“Here are the bullets you asked for. Because each magazine carries 45 bullets, there are 900 bullets in here.”
“Ah, wait, there’s something else.”
Yoo Yeonha then handed me some sort of a protector.
When I tilted my head, Yoo Yeonha grinned.
“A wrist protector. Monday was your birthday, right? It’s quite expensive, so use it well. I planned to give it to you on Monday, but as you know, everyone was busy because of the exams.”
“…Ah, um, thank you.”
I took the wrist protector and put it on.
“Oh, it’s great.”
It stuck tightly to my skin, and I could feel that it was protecting it.
Yoo Yeonha looked at me in satisfaction, then turned back.
“Then I’ll be leaving now.”
“…Yeah, thanks again.”
I waved my hand at her as she left.
Next up was karaoke.
Cube had an entertainment district for cadets’ mental health. It had a karaoke, LAN café, bowling alley, pool hall, and other arcade facilities. Most cadets gathered here after exams.
When I arrived, my teammates were waiting for me.
“Yo~ Kim Hajin~”
Jin Hoseung waved his hand.
Everyone was wearing casual clothes, and I was the only one wearing a cadet uniform. Rachel’s outfit was especially eye-catching. Her pink sweater and blue jeans suited her beautifully.
“The main character always shows up late, eh?”
“Ah, sorry, I had an appointment before this.”
Because we were going to karaoke, my shoulders went up in pride. I still had my singing Gift with me.
“Now that Hajin-ssi is here… let, let’s go.”
Rachel pointed at the karaoke bar hesitantly.
“Yeah, let’s go in.”
Jin Hoseung took the lead.
The karaoke bar was loud, and many cadets were already inside singing in different rooms.
Rachel peeked through the windows and observed them. She looked a bit mystified by the whole scene.
Jin Hoseung went to the counter and showed his cadet card.
“For six people.”
“Thank you. You can go into room 17.”
Rachel, who overheard this, began to march forward as she murmured, ‘room 17, room 17…’
Room 17 wasn’t far away.
Rachel went in first. When I was about to enter, the door to room 16 opened.
The person who came out of room 16 looked at me and widened her eyes. I reacted the same way.
“Kim Hajin? You’re also here?”
“Yeah… you too?”
“I’m here with my friends. What about…”
Chae Nayun peeked through the half-opened door of room 17 and saw Rachel. She then nodded with a somewhat disapproving look.
“Well, have fun….”
“Ah, wait, Chae Nayun. You’re going to Jinsung Foundation’s field trip, right?”
“Huh? Um, yeah, I am. Why? Are you also going?”
“I have nothing better to do, so I applied.”
At that moment, while I was talking with Chae Nayun, someone pulled on my sleeve.
It wasn’t Rachel, but Tomer.
Tomer was speaking with her eyes.
“Ah, okay. Hey, Chae Nayun, I’m going in now.”
Chae Nayun shooed me away.
Next, I had a short talk with Tomer. When we went into room 17 afterwards, Jin Hoseung was looking to reserve a song with a remote, while Rachel for some reason had two tambourines in her hands.
“Alright, I’ll be the first one to sing as we discussed in our group chat. Rachel-ssi is next, right?”
Rachel’s shoulders shook.
Trrr. The tambourines in her hands also shook.
Jin Hoseung’s song began.
“Horse~ Let’s run~”
His shoulders jumped up and down as he sang an exciting rock song.
However, he stopped after the first verse.
As Rachel was up next, Jin Hoseung made a mischievous smile as he handed her the remote.
Rachel pondered for a while with a nervous face, then picked a song.
The accompaniment rang out, and we held our breaths as we waited for her to sing.
“Th, this- bru-shing wi-nd”
Her voice was pretty.
But that was it.
She ignored the beat and tune, and sang as though she was reading a book…
I heard someone’s mocking laugh.
Outside the door, Chae Nayun was laughing with her hands on her belly.
“Huu… I’ll also stop after the first verse.”
Her singing finally ended. Thankfully, she only sang the first verse.
Rachel wiped off the sweat on her forehead and handed me the remote with a look of satisfaction.
Did she think she sang well?
I took the remote.
When I put the remote down after entering my song, Rachel stealthily took the remote again. She seemed to have gained confidence with her previous singing and was planning on reserving another one…
That day, Rachel sung a total of six songs and caused quite a bit of pain for me and our other teammates.
It was finally D-day.
A field trip organized by the Jinsung Foundation, the turning point of the main story. The participants of the field trip were unchanged other than me being included.
“…What good weather.”
A clear autumn sunlight glared down. I barely managed to arrive at Seoul Portal Station on time.
“Ah, Kim Hajin’s here.”
The five people who were already here pointed at me.
I ran up to them.
“You’re two minutes late.”
Shin Jonghak spoke as he pointed at his watch. I also checked the time. He was right.
Currently, it was 6:02 A.M.
I cusped my hands and apologized sincerely.
Shin Jonghak waved his hand silently. I could see that a limousine was already here waiting for us.
The six of us went inside one by one.
The interior of the limousine Shin Jonghak prepared was spacious and luxurious. It had a high ceiling like the limousines I saw in movies, and had a long seat that stretched from one end to the other.
I sat down on a random seat.
“Hajin, do you want some?”
Kim Suho sat down next to me and offered me a jelly.
“No, I’m fine….”
“Then give it to me.”
Chae Nayun snatched the jelly away. As she nibbled on the bear-shaped jelly, she asked Shin Jonghak.
“Hey, what are we doing there?”
“Lots of things. Wind Mountain is Jinsung group’s property. We’ll meditate on the mountain peak and also spar a bit.”
Our destination today was Wind Mountain, a mountain on the outskirts of Seoul that was 800 meters above sea level.
Wind Mountain was a named mountain that was famous even in Korea. It was created after the magic power explosion 50 years ago and had a high concentration of mana.
“Ooh, that sounds fun.”
I didn’t know how fun it would be, but I knew it would be quite a spectacle.
I slowly looked around the limousine.
Kim Suho, Chae Nayun, Yoo Yeonha, Shin Jonghak, Yi Yeonghan.
They were all looking out the window like they were going on a picnic.
In the original story, they suffered greatly from lack of drinking water and food. They better thank me later.
I let out a dry cough as I crossed my legs. The duffel bag behind me couldn’t feel more reliable.
“…What are you doing?”
Yoo Yeonha met my eyes and asked with a quizzical look. I grinned at her and even crossed my arms. Immediately, Yoo Yeonha put on a huge frown.
[Seoul Outskirts, Wind Mountain Entrance]
A black limousine stopped at the foot of a mountain. The limousine carried a completely different atmosphere than the mountain. Soon, the limousine’s driver seat door opened, and the driver got off first.
When he opened the back seat door, five good-looking men and women got off, along with one average-looking man.
Chae Nayun, who was the first one to get off, breathed in the mountain air as she stretched her arms out.
“Doesn’t it feel like we’re going on a picnic?”
Then she hit the shoulder of Kim Hajin, who was quietly yawning next to her.
Kim Hajin’s reaction was dry. Rather than dry, he seemed somewhat arrogant as he scanned the mountain with proud eyes.
“…Pft, what, did you catch Shin Jonghak’s illness?”
“Huh? No, no way.”
When Chae Nayun remarked on it, he quickly returned to his usual self.
At that moment, Shin Jonghak’s secretary finished talking to Shin Jonghak and stood in front of the cadets.
“There is a cabin prepared in the mountain. The master Jinsung Foundation invited will be coming later tonight.”
“Ooh~ A master? Who?”
At Chae Nayun question, Shin Jonghak replied with a grin.
“You’ll be surprised when you meet him. For now, let’s climb the mountain. We have to get to the peak at 3.
The hike began without much of a thought.
The six cadets climbed the mountain in the following order:
Yi Yeonghan, Yoo Yeonha — Shin Jonghak, Chae Nayun, Kim Suho — Kim Hajin
Rustle, rustle. They climbed the mountain as they stepped on leaves blanketing the ground. Although the mountain was a bit steep, it posed no problems for the cadets, and their laughter and talking continued throughout the hike.
“Ah, the air is great. So this is why it’s nice to be in a high-mana-concentration area. It feels like magic power is being pumped into my lungs.”
“Kuhum, well you know, Chae Nayun, if you’re with me, you can enjoy better places than this whenever you want…”
“Oh! A dragonfly!”
About 90 minutes went by.
They should be reaching the summit at any time, but the hike seemed nowhere close to ending.
“…The mountain’s pretty tall, huh. Or did we take a wrong turn somewhere?”
“I don’t know. Let’s just keep walking.”
They felt that something was off, but they continued walking.
The joyous atmosphere of the hike disappeared, and they continued to climb the mountain for 30 minutes.
A strange sensation coiled around them.
“…Hey, doesn’t it feel eerie?”
Chae Nayun muttered, unable to endure the atmosphere any longer. Yoo Yeonha who was walking ahead slowed down and joined up with the rest of the group. Her arms were already wrought with goosebumps.
Yoo Yeonha asked with a quivering voice.
“Jo… Jonghak, does it normally take this long?”
“I don’t know… but I don’t think we took the wrong path.”
Shin Jonghak looked around.
Chwaaa— A cold wind blew and brushed against the leaves. Yoo Yeonha trembled at the sharp sound.
Something was strange.
Kim Suho then explained the strangeness they were feeling in a low voice.
“…We’ve been walking on flat ground for the past 30 minutes.”
Immediately, everyone came to a stop and held their breaths. The uncomfortable feeling they were having materialized into uneasiness that caressed their bodies.
They realized that Kim Suho was right.
Although they were climbing a mountain, they were walking on flat ground.
Furthermore, no one noticed until Kim Suho mentioned it.
“…Don’t worry, Wind Mountain is a mana-rich mountain, so a natural spell might have—”
Kim Suho interrupted Shin Jonghak.
He quickly looked around and said with a scary face.
“Hajin, where’s Hajin?”
The rest of the group also turned back and forth, looking around.
However, Kim Hajin was nowhere to be found.
“What… he… he really disappeared.”
Yoo Yeonha muttered quietly with a pale face.
“Hey! Stop messing with us and come out!”
Chae Nayun shouted, but her voice didn’t echo even though they were in a mountain. A heavy silence descended.
One of the six disappeared.
The remaining five stood blankly and stopped moving.
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