[At around 1 P.M. today, a group of monsters appeared in Seoul, leaving 500 wounded and 7 dead.]
A new anchor was reporting on today’s incident. With a deep sigh, Chae Shinhyuk stroked the bedridden patient. Her pale complexion seemed to stab her father’s heart. Though she was an adult who would soon become a Hero, Chae Nayun was still like a little girl to Chae Shinhyuk.
[…According to the investigation, the monster group was led by the intermediate rank grade 1 monster, ‘beast inciter’. This man-sized, badger-shaped monster has never before appeared in Korea. The Association believes that the monster was brought in by a third party, and has set out in a search.]
At that moment, Chae Nayun opened her eyes. Chae Shinhyuk immediately shot up and called for a doctor.
“You’re awake. How are you feeling?”
Chae Nayun raised her feeble body. A doctor came running in to check her pulse, but Chae Nayun pushed him away with a smile.
“I’m fine, Dad.”
“Of course. I’m not injured. Didn’t the doctor tell you?”
“I, I did.”
The doctor spoke up inadvertently. Chae Shinhyuk was a powerful figure who had the country’s economy in his palm. He knew being on this man's bad side would only make his life more difficult.
“…She seems fine, so you can go now.”
The doctor hurriedly ran out. Looking at the closing door, Chae Nayun spoke briefly.
Chae Shinhyuk replied kindly.
Her low-spirited voice evoked the dark past he wanted to forget. Remembering his son always caused a sharp pain in his heart. With a gentle smile, Chae Shinhyuk held his daughter’s hand.
“Can I go see him when I’m discharged? I’m on a sick leave anyway, right?”
“Of course you can.”
Chae Shinhyuk agreed easily.
Chae Nayun leaned her head against her father’s shoulder and recalled what happened earlier in the day.
The Djinn from the museum, the black hand that strangled her, and a voice that mentioned her older brother… At that point, Chae Nayun’s fury revived.
“Dad, by the way…”
Chae Nayun’s tone was dark. Her voice carried a heavy emotion. Chae Shinhyuk asked worriedly.
“…No, it’s nothing.”
Suddenly, she began to loathe someone from the bottom of her heart. But she couldn’t tell her father how she felt.
She thought back to when her stomach was boiling from being poisoned by the Djinn’s magic power. Even while she was writhing in pain, she could hear that man’s voice clearly.
—I’m sure her older brother will come console her.
That man had mentioned her brother. Four years ago, on the day the sky fell, everyone in the world found out. So she didn’t have the time to be sad. After that day, her brother’s name was etched deep inside her heart, and he became an untouchable subject to her.
As a cadet at Hero Academy, that man should have known about her brother’s state. Even so, he had mentioned her brother in that way.
Chae Nayun suppressed the fury rising from her heart and engraved the man’s name in her head.
Kim Hajin, Kim Hajin.
From this day, Chae Nayun would no longer forget this name.
Seoul’s sky was dyed in an orange hue. The movement of the sun was no different than usual, but the scene reflected by the setting sun could only be described as a pandemonium.
Pieces of asphalt littered the road, while a child was crying under a telephone pole snapped in half. Ambulances traveled back and forth, carrying wounded people or corpses.
Although the situation had been taken care of by the dispatched Heroes, the aftermath of chaos still remained.
“Kim Suho, Kim Hajin. We heard the story.”
Kim Soohyuk was waiting at the Portal connecting Seoul and Cube.
“We will ask for details later, so go back and rest for now. Agents will take care of the rest.”
For the record, agents were different than Heroes. Agents were those who graduated from Agent Military Academy but didn’t enter Cube. In other words, they were non-combatants. Most of them had abilities that were very useful in day-to-day life. For example, I saw a man on my way back, who was fixing the broken asphalt with a wave of a hand.
“Um, instructor. Chae Nayun is…”
Kim Suho asked, to which Kim Soohyuk gave a short reply.
“She’s taking a sick leave. She’s with her family right now.”
Kim Suho didn’t ask any more questions.
Other cadets seemed to have helped out with the unexpected emergency, as even Yoo Yeonha looked tired.
One by one, we trudged to the Portal. The odd sensation enveloping my body didn’t feel interesting anymore. After a short sigh, I found myself back at Cube.
Without any words, the group walked to the dorm.
On our way back to dorm 1, after the girls went ahead, Kim Suho stopped me.
“Why did you say that?”
“To Chae Nayun.”
What was he talking about all of the sudden? When I furrowed my brows in incomprehension, Kim Suho suddenly became a bit more hostile.
“Why did you bring up her older brother? In such a condescending way too.”
“What do you mean? I didn’t mean much by…”
At that instant, I swallowed my words.
This world had a co-author. My setting wasn’t the only setting at play.
Something had to have changed.
“…What about her older brother?”
At my question, Kim Suho stopped his steps. Gritting his teeth, he glared at me.
“It’s something every cadet knows, but you’re going to pretend you don’t know?”
“What? No, I really don’t—”
“Whatever. We can talk about it later. For now…”
Kim Suho quickly walked past me and got on the elevator. Under his glaring eyes were thick dark circles. Since he used 'that' ability, he needed to crash.
Since my room was on the first floor, I didn’t need to get on the elevator.
The moment I sat down on my couch, I turned on my smartwatch. An internet window popped up in the air. This world’s main search engine was Neighbor. The interface was no different than what I was used to, so getting used to it posed no problem.
First, I looked up Chae Nayun.
What Kim Suho said and how Chae Nayun reacted were indeed strange.
[Chae Nayun] (Hero cadet)
Family – Father: Chae Shinhyuk, Older Brother: Chae Jinyoon
—Agent Military Academy Rank 4
—Currently attending Hero Military Academy (Cube)
“So what’s the problem?”
Chae Jinyoon. It’s not like he was dead or missing, so why were they so worked up?
Even as I tilted my head, I looked up Chae Jinyoon.
At the same time, my jaws dropped.
[Chae Shinhyuk’s son, Chae Jinyoon. In critical condition from a Djinn attack.]
[The Djinn suppression operation, ‘Fireflake’, succeeds… However, the rookie Hero, Chae Jinyoon, falls in a coma.]
There were headlines I couldn’t understand.
Djinn suppression operation, Fireflake. I knew what it was. It was the first operation that gave Chae Jinyoon fame.
By leading this operation to a success and rescuing three comrades in the process, he would have been promoted to an intermediate rank Hero. Chae Nayun, who was only 13 at the time, would have always bragged about her older brother who suddenly rose to fame.
No, that was how things should have been.
“What the hell is going on?”
Unable to take everything in, I took out my laptop. If there was a hint, the laptop had to have it.
[Thanks to your high luck, light bullet deals critical damage to 'Dog of Lucius'.]
[With great luck, your understanding of the light attribute increases!]
[With extreme luck, you absorb part of the magic power emitted by the light bullet! Your magic power increases by 0.03 points.]
[You dealt critical damage to a more powerful enemy. The skill, ‘Sharpshooter of Reversal’, has been added to your Gift 「Master Sharpshooter」.]
[Yor SP increases by 131.]
There were many pleasant alerts, but I turned them all off.
I looked for my settings book. No, I didn’t need to look for it. This settings book was something I wrote. Since what happened today wasn’t part of my setting, looking for my settings book wouldn’t do anything.
However, I had received a message on my laptop.
[Chae Jinyoon – In the original story, he was Chae Nayun’s reliable older brother and Kim Suho’s trustworthy helper. However, it has been judged that the main character has too many helpers, and thus this setting was changed.]
[Modified setting – In his first mission as a Hero four years ago, Chae Jinyoon receives a Devil’s Branding and falls into a coma. Currently, he is a Devil’s Seed.]
[Note: Modified settings will be provided as messages once the target, ‘Kim Hajin’, becomes aware of it.]
Without realizing that my mouth was open, I stared at the screen in a daze.
By the time my saliva dropped on the laptop, I barely managed to eek out a voice.
And that was all I could say.
If this message was true, this was an extremely serious problem.
Devil’s Seed was something that only appeared in the latter half of the novel. If it sprouted, the current Kim Suho was nowhere strong enough to stop it. A Master rank Hero would be able to stop it, but most Master ranks had left the secular world.
Even if high-rank Heroes were dispatched, a few of them would surely be sacrificed.
That couldn’t happen. Their strength was needed in the novel’s latter parts.
In other words, everything would go awry if this Devil’s Seed sprouted. Of course, things had already gone awry, but it was still to a manageable degree.
Then what could I do?
There was only one answer, so I didn’t need to think for long.
“…He needs to die.”
Thankfully, the Devil’s Seed had an incubation period. From what I recall, it should be 5 or 6 years.
Four years had already passed.
As quickly as possible, before the Devil inside Chae Jinyoon’s body woke up, Chae Jinyoon had to be killed.
The problem was ‘who’.
Who should kill him?
I couldn’t hire an assassin. Even if I offered billions of won, no mercenary was crazy enough to accept a mission to kill a chaebol.
Not to mention, because the Devil’s Seed was undetectable, no one would believe me even if I told the truth. In fact, I was sure I would just be treated as a crazy person.
He needed to die.
There was only one way this could be done.
“I have to kill him.”
With a deep sigh, I closed my eyes.
Chae Jinyoon was a reliable friend and helper for Kim Suho, though he was an idiot when it came to his sister. But in this world, he had become a character that had to be killed. While this complete change was shocking, I didn’t have the peace of mind to be shocked.
I got up. My body felt especially heavy. The sense of familiarity I felt towards the world I created transformed into a greater anxiety.
But perhaps thanks to my high perseverance, my legs weren’t heading towards the bed, but the physical training room.