An underwater cave near England’s Bristol Channel.
Chameleon Troupe founded a new base here. A guild expedition was planned near Suwon’s abandoned factory and since they’ve wanted to move to a new base for a while, they used this opportunity to finally do it.
Today, the Chameleon Troupe gathered to assess their revenue for the third quarter and to discuss the battle prowess of their ‘seat candidate’.
Or at least, that was their initial plan.
But because several members were busy with missions or personal affairs, only five had gathered for today’s meeting.
Standing in front of these five, Boss displayed a video of Kim Hajin performing his mission.
“He killed 20 people in just 21 seconds. Is that even a gun?”
A handsome man with a gentle complexion spoke with awe. He was Chameleon Troupe’s seat of Green, Jin Yohan.
“How can a gun be that strong? What a mysterious Gift.”
“So? What do you think?”
Jain urged him to give his assessment.
“Hmm, I’m not sure, but he should be around the level of a high-intermediate rank Hero.”
“What? That high?”
“Huh? How is that high?”
Jin Yohan’s tone caused Jain to frown.
This was the problem she had with strong people. They underestimated the standard of lower ranks too much.
“10 high-intermediate rank Heroes are enough to beat you up.”
“Nah~ that’s an exaggeration. Maybe a hundred can.”
Jin Yohan shook his head as he generously praised himself.
“Then what do you think, Jain?”
“I think he’s… intermediate rank. Like Kim Suho, he should be about intermediate rank grade 7 to 9. I’m not sure about how he’ll fare versus one strong opponent, but he seems helpful for fighting many weaker opponents.”
Jain quickly pointed out Kim Hajin’s strength and weakness, but if Kim Hajin himself heard it, he would collapse from being overpraised.
“Eeeh, only intermediate rank?”
“I’m being generous too. If he has that much potential now when he’s only 17… think about how he’ll be in 5 years. He’ll be an incredibly sharp weapon.”
Jain had already come to her own conclusion.
That Kim Hajin had a weapon-type Gift that enhanced and transformed weapons using his magic power, and that he had an Anti-Magic Physique that transformed his internal magic power to have an anti-magic property.
“We need Gyeong for assessments like this. Is he still in the Demon Realm?”
“Yeah, that fool doesn’t seem to want to come out.”
It was another name for a place called Pandemonium.
Although humans avoided talking about it, Pandemonium was more lavish and hedonistic than Las Vegas, and was a place that anyone could enter, so long as they had the strength to break through the crowd of monsters surrounding it.
Cheok Jungyeong was currently taking pleasure in fighting in this place.
“What does Boss think?”
Jain turned the question to the leader. However, she didn’t get a reply. Jain turned her head and saw Boss busily clicking on a gaming console.
“…Boss, you’re playing a game?”
“Hm? Ah… it’s nothing.”
When Jain asked, Boss retorted nonchalantly with her eyes still fixed on the console.
She looked rather cute.
“Did you suddenly fall in love with electronics after exchanging a few texts with Kim Hajin?”
Pibibip— A Game Over sound effect rang out.
Boss then turned off her gaming console and turned toward Jain with her black eyes.
“Jain, don’t get cocky.”
Hearing this, Jain slowly averted her gaze.
But remembering how friendly she was when she was texting Kim Hajin, she felt wronged.
Feeling somewhat jealous, she changed the subject to Droon.
“Droon, you cleaned up properly, right?”
“Yep. The victims were rescued, and I ate the rest! Both humans and bullets.”
Droon said so with a bright smile.
Jain let out a sigh.
“…Say ‘fed’. It’s creepy saying you ‘ate’ it. Also, did you find out what that wolf was?”
“Yeah, it’s Kim Hajin’s pet!”
“No, that’s not what I…”
There was one thing Jain was unsure about. That was the mysterious wolf that suddenly shot out of Kim Hajin’s chest.
“Don’t worry about that.”
Boss stepped in.
“I will ask him myself. Kim Hajin seems to trust me very much.”
“He’ll believe me even if I say you use red beans to make wine.”
“Well, if you say so….”
For now, Jain just nodded.
Two days later.
As promised, we met in front of the Korean restaurant Chae Nayun invited us to.
Han Jung Gak, a 3-star Michelin restaurant.
Although only five were supposed to come, I ended up joining as well.
“Welcome. Come in, come in.”
As a regular who enjoyed eating at Han Jung Gak since she was a kid, Chae Nayun led the group in.
Modeled after a traditional Korean house, Han Jung Gak’s interior was clean and homely.
We followed Chae Nayun to our reserved seats.
It was a long table for six, and I sat down on the innermost seat.
Next to me was Kim Suho, then Yi Yeonghan. In front of was Chae Nayun.
“The food here is amazing. You can look forward to it.”
Chae Nayun said as she looked into my eyes. Taken aback by her straightforward gaze, I looked down while pretending to nod.
Chae Nayun initiated the conversation in a cheerful voice.
“Being here together reminds me of the past.”
“1972. We were there for about 7 weeks. My skills improved so much while I was there. I haven’t lost once since I came back.”
“…Didn’t you lose to Rachel?”
“That was a tie!”
The others chattered happily. They talked about what happened in the world of the past like an enjoyable memory and spoke up about the worries they had about the upcoming exams.
Waiting for the food to arrive, I listened in silently. Then suddenly, I noticed that someone was acting strange.
It was Shin Jonghak.
“Oi, Kim Suho, is your exam preparation going well?”
“It’s so-so. What about you?”
“Have you seen me study for an exam? I’m different than you.”
“Oh, is that so?”
“Right, I’m different than you from birth. Someone like you who succeeded through hard work probably can’t understand.”
Although Shin Jonghak was showing rivalry towards Kim Suho, he wasn’t acting particularly hostile.
He should have been more intimidating if he was the same as in the original story, but Shin Jonghak’s current actions were mellow to the point it was funny.
Of course, this was a good thing, but still… I was curious.
Why did Shin Jonghak change so much?
“Your food is here.”
A waiter came into our private room, cutting off my thought.
All sorts of dishes like braised short ribs, soy sauce marinated crab, kimchi, and stone pot rice, were placed on the table. They were your typical Korean food.
Of the over dozen side dishes, only the grilled short rib patty was limited one per person. As it was also my favorite food, I picked up and took a bite.
“Wow, this is amazing.”
The patty practically melted when it entered my mouth, leaving an incredible taste that left me exclaiming subconsciously.
“Yeah, it’s really good.”
Kim Suho also commented from next to me.
He seemed to be the type who savored his food as only a small corner of his patty was bitten off.
However, I wasn’t that type.
I put the entire patty in my mouth.
“It’s good, right? Right? See, I told you it was going to be good.”
Seeing me chew the patty, Chae Nayun cheered ecstatically.
“It’s good, right~?”
“It is, so quiet down.”
I swallowed the patty and went back to observing Shin Jonghak.
He was staring at Kim Suho with hawk-like eyes. He seemed to be on the lookout for any breach of table manners so he could nitpick and attack, but soon, he gave up and focused on his own food.
I also looked down at my plate.
For some reason, there was another grilled short rib patty on my plate.
What happened? Did I spit it back out?
After looking at the patty in bewilderment, I raised my head. At that moment, my eyes met Chae Nayun’s. She was smiling at me contently.
So this was her doing.
When I pointed at the patty with my chopsticks, Chae Nayun moved her mouth without making a sound.
‘You can have it.’
Her kindness was a bit burdening.
However, the patty’s savory smell tickled my nose.
I swallowed hard.
In the end, I surrendered to the patty and took a bite. While I was chewing on it, a sudden current of electricity sparked in my head.
I looked at Chae Nayun, who was eating bibimbap, then turned to Shin Jonghak.
Kim Suho, Shin Jonghak, Chae Nayun.
In this three-way relationship, the biggest source of Shin Jonghak’s character development was…
I stared intently at Chae Nayun.
Did giving her the time capsule affect her too much?
No, that was impossible. Chae Nayun liked handsome men.
At that moment, Chae Nayun laughed.
“Why are you staring? Do you want me to order more?”
“Huh? Oh, um, no.”
“Excuse me, Aunty~!”
Before I could stop her, Chae Nayun called a waiter.
“Can we get two more grilled short rib patties?”
With sadness and inexplicable anxiousness, I watched Chae Nayun ordering cheerfully.
The next course after lunch was karaoke. The group went to a karaoke bar near Han Jung Gak and took turns singing.
Chae Nayun was surprisingly good at singing, and Kim Suho and Yi Yeonghan were decent as well. Shin Jonghak, whose singing Yoo Yeonha looked forward to hearing, was also better than average.
However, Kim Hajin was… on a whole different level.
He was in a league of his own, so much so that he would have been successful as a professional.
“Wow~ my ears are melting.”
“Why don’t you just go pro?”
While Kim Suho and Yi Yeonghan were making a fuss, Yoo Yeonha glanced at Chae Nayun.
Kim Hajin’s singing had just ended, but Chae Nayun still had her eyes closed, seemingly savoring the lingering imagery.
It was then.
Yoo Yeonha received a message on her smartwatch.
[Come outside. I have something to talk to you about.]
The sender was Kim Hajin.
Yoo Yeonha glanced at Kim Hajin, then left the karaoke room.
After waiting for about three minutes…
Someone called her in a friendly tone.
Yoo Yeonha couldn’t help but laugh.
“…Buddy? What’s up with the sudden English?”
“It means friend. Don’t you know?”
“Do you think I wouldn’t? …Well, anyways, you know how I am, right?”
Kim Hajin laughed and nodded.
Cutting straight to the chase.
Yoo Yeonha wasn’t the type who liked small talk.
“Of course, I do. I need you to make me some bullets.”
It was a request Yoo Yeonha didn’t expect.
“Yeah, but I’m not looking for manufactured ones. I’m asking for custom-made bullets. It’s possible, right?”
“…Yes, and Essence of the Strait’s workshop has state-of-the-art technology for it.”
Even the biggest bullet was smaller than most thumbs.
Compressing and injecting mana into such a small object was a state-of-the-art technology that was only developed in the 2000s.
“I know that. But also…”
Kim Hajin took out a small leaf from his pocket. Yoo Yeonha couldn’t tell whether it was a fallen leaf he picked it up from the ground or a fresh leaf he plucked off a branch, but it was still an item that didn’t fit the situation.
“…What’s this? A leaf?”
“Grind it up and put it inside the bullets.”
After taking the leaf from Kim Hajin, Yoo Yeonha scrutinized it carefully. But no matter how much she looked, she couldn’t find anything special about it. Yoo Yeonha furrowed her brows and stared at Kim Hajin.
“You won’t tell me what it is even if I ask?”
Kim Hajin nodded silently.
“…I just have to grind it and put it in the bullets?”
“Thanks. Ah, tell the other guys that I’m going home first.”
Yoo Yeonha tilted her head.
“We’re leaving soon too, so why don’t you stay?”
“I don’t feel comfortable. Shin Jonghak is eyeing me too much.”
With that, Kim Hajin nudged Yoo Yeonha’s shoulder. Startled, Yoo Yeonha took a few steps backwards.
“D-Don’t do that…. It hurts.”
“Ah, sorry. Anyways, I’m leaving.”
“…Yes, see you.”
Yoo Yeonha watched Kim Hajin walk away as she rubbed her shoulder. Then, an emergency message arrived on her smartwatch.
[Master, we may have found an incident related to Kim Hajin.]
Yoo Yeonha’s eyes widened when she saw the message.
[Something called Kwang-Oh Incident occurred on the year Kim Hajin was born. There is a huge cover-up of any information on it. One of our men was attacked while looking into it.]
Yoo Yeonha quickly began to type her reply. The amount of effort and money she spent on finding her investigators lingered in her mind.
[Is he okay?]
[Yes, he is recovering without any problems.]
[Submit what you’ve gathered so far to me and halt the investigation for now. The safety of investigators always comes first.]
After ending the conversation, Yoo Yeonha stared at the words ‘Kwang-Oh Incident’.
“Kwang-Oh Incident… Kwang-Oh Incident… why does it sound so familiar?”
Then, she remembered seeing the phrase in a casebook inside her family home’s library.
No, rather than a casebook, it was more like her father’s diary.
Although she was only seven when she saw it, she remembered it clearly.
She couldn’t read it in detail because most of it was written in Hanja, but her father had scolded her harshly for reading it without his permission.
“…I’ll have to take a look later.”
'Since Father is going on a trip this Friday, I can sneak a peek then.'
Yoo Yeonha felt proud.
Now, she felt like she could properly return the favor to her ‘ally’.
When she turned around joyfully, she saw Chae Nayun glaring at her.
Yoo Yeonha jumped in surprise.
“H-Hey, Nayun, what’s up?”
“I was wondering where… you went.”
With her chin, Chae Nayun gestured her to come back into the karaoke room.
“Uh, yeah… Oh, Nayun, that person said he’s leaving first.”
“What? Why? What did he talk about with you?”
Chae Nayun furrowed her brows and asked.
Finding this side of her quite cute, Yoo Yeonha poked her side with her finger.
“Ak! What is it?”
“Geez, you don’t have to look at me like that.”
“Like wh— ah, hey, aaang, s-stop!”
Yoo Yeonha kept poking her.
Starting from her side to a more sensitive area.
“Ahng, st-stop poking me.”
“What was that?”
“R-Really, aang. Hey!”
Unable to endure it any longer, Chae Nayun covered her breasts with her hands.
“Why are you poking me there? Are you mad!?”
“It’s because I’m jealous.”
Even as she explained, Yoo Yeonha kept her eye out for an opening.
She couldn’t help but wonder how someone could have such a perfect figure with such a perfect squishiness and softness. On top of all this, her skin was milky white as well.
“Ah, aah. S-Stop, d-don’t. I-I’m ticklish, ah, stop—!”
Chae Nayun ran away from Yoo Yeonha’s sensitive fingering with a flushed face.