Chapter 130. Crossroad (1)


[Yoo Jinwoong’s daughter, Yoo Yeonha. Arrogation Scandal… The guild leader’s daughter is running the guild?]

Yoo Yeonha bit her fingernails as she watched the news.
Because a monster outbreak occurred in the middle of Seoul when the report first came out, she thought it would be buried under the more important news. However, that wasn’t the case.
On the contrary, more news articles regarding Essence of the Strait came out starting from the second day, and even false rumors began to circulate from the third day.
Her smartwatch was on fire because of all the calls and messages she was getting, and she was also getting attacked on her social media account.
She was on the receiving end of all sorts of derisive comments, saying that she was undeserving of her place or that she used her appearance to coax people.

“Auu….”

The amount of stress she was under gave her a strong headache. Yoo Yeonha closed her eyes and pressed her forehead.
She usually noticed such attacks before they happened, but she was caught completely off guard this time. That was how meticulously organized it was.

“I’ve been too relaxed.”

Yoo Yeonha criticized herself with bitterness. She had only used her information guild to watch out for outside threats, letting internal threats go undetected.

“It’s not looking good….”

Although most of Yoo Yeonha’s money came from her mother, it was still Yoo Yeonha who used the money to invest in various businesses. Although it wasn’t illegal in any way, it was true that Essence of the Strait’s money was used to invest to her businesses.
As Falling Blossom was an information guild that was active in Violet Banquet, she wouldn’t be able to avoid being expelled from Cube once the public found out. That would also have negative impact on the guild as a whole.
However, what worried her the most was how disappointed her mother would be.

“Who is it…”

Yoo Yeonha bit her lips.
Too much of the guild’s internal data became public. Clearly, the perpetrator was a member of the guild and likely from the vice-leader’s faction. The only problem was that no one from the vice-leader’s faction should have so much information on her.

“Argh, my stomach.”

Yoo Yeonha’s stomach churned from the stress. She buried her head on the desk as she squeezed her stomach.
The timing just wasn’t good.
Kim Hajin’s past.
Chae Jinyoon’s death.
Creator’s Sacred Grace’s Tower of Miracle campaign…

“Argh, my stomach!”

This time, Yoo Yeonha’s stomach hurt for a different reason.
Creator’s Sacred Grace was currently in the middle of conquering the Tower of Miracle. If they succeeded, Essence of the Strait would only be chasing after their shadow, but now with this scandal, Essence of the Strait could possibly fall below their rank 2 position.

“Argh, aaang…”

Yoo Yeonha rolled her feet as she cried.
For the past four days, she had trouble sleeping and eating. It wouldn’t be strange if she fainted at any moment.

—Excuse me, Young Lady.

Yoo Yeonha raised her head.

“What is it now?”

—Someone has come to see you.

Annoyed, Yoo Yeonha shot up and stomped to the interphone.

“I told you to kick all the reporters out!”

—Ah, well… he’s not a reporter, but a cadet. He keeps saying that he’s Young Lady’s ally.

“…Ally?”

Yoo Yeonha furrowed her brows.
Ally.
There was only one person who could call himself her ally.

“Is it… Kim Hajin?”

—Yes, he says he has something to give you. Should I let him enter?

“Ah… tell him to wait. I’ll go out myself.”

Yoo Yeonha left her room and came out to the lobby of her family mansion.
Although it took some time to get there, it couldn’t be helped considering the sheer size of the mansion.

“Ehew.”

Yoo Yeonha let out a small sigh as she opened the front door.
The outside air rushed in like a tide.
She breathed in fresh air for the first time in a while.
She could see Kim Hajin waiting by the main gate beyond the mansion’s garden.
When Yoo Yeonha gave the sign, the guard opened the gate.
Kim Hajin walked towards her.

“…What’s up?”

Yoo Yeonha asked when Kim Hajin arrived at the front door. Kim Hajin held up a plastic bag.

“You weren’t picking up my calls or responding to my messages, so I came here myself.”

“Ah, well, as you know, things haven’t been going so well…. Anyways, what’s that?”

Yoo Yeonha pointed at the plastic bag. Kim Hajin opened it and showed what was inside.
Spicy rice cakes, sundae, fish cakes, hamburger, fried chicken… it was filled with all sorts of food Yoo Yeonha loved.

“I, I told you I don’t like these things.”

Yoo Yeonha almost fell to the temptation, but quickly snapped out of it and reacted sharply.
It was because of her old habit. To not appear weak in such situations, she had to reveal her thorns.

“This is just a present.”

However, Kim Hajin forced the plastic bag onto Yoo Yeonha’s hands.

“Auu, really.”

Although Yoo Yeonha really wanted to refuse, the smell of food rising up from the bag prevented her from doing so.

“…Huu, I’m going to throw them in the trash. I can’t just have them lying out here.”

“Sure, do whatever. By the way, are your parents home?”

“They’re outside dealing with what happened. I don’t know if it will be recoverable though.”

Suddenly, Kim Hajin grinned. After rummaging through his pocket, he pulled out a large envelope.
Yoo Yeonha tilted her head and asked.

“What’s that?”

“Bullets.”

“Bullets…?”

Kim Hajin handed her the envelope.
Though confused, Yoo Yeonha received the envelope and opened it.

[Truth Agency]
□Thank you for using Truth Agency, the center of trust and honesty.
□The information you wanted has been summarized below.
□The following is the list of individuals related to the Yoo Yeonha Arrogation Scandal.

On the first page was a logo of a half-bitten apple with the words ‘Truth Agency’.

“What’s this?”

“Truth Agency. You haven’t heard of them? They’re the hottest information agency right now. I splurged quite a bit of my money.”

Kim Hajin sounded like he was acting.
Dumbfounded, Yoo Yeonha asked again.

“What’s up with the half-bitten apple?”

“It’s their logo, I guess.”

“Why is something like this their logo?”

“I’m sure you’ll get addicted to it if you stare at it long enough.”

“…It looks bad though.”

Yoo Yeonha glanced at it once again.

□The following is the list of individuals related to Yoo Yeonha Arrogation Scandal.

The final line caught her attention especially.

“…It’s fine, I can deal with it on my own. I’m not so shameless as to receive help on such a private matter.”

“Who said it was free?”

“Eh?”

Yoo Yeonha tried to return the envelope, but Kim Hajin snatched it out of her hands before she could do so.

“You make armors too, right?”

“Um, yes, of course.”

“What about armors for beasts?”

“…Why would we make that?”

“Try it.”

He then gave the envelope back. Yoo Yeonha took the envelope as though she was enchanted by a spell.

“And read that carefully.”

With that, Kim Hajin turned around and left.

“…What was that?”

Yoo Yeonha watched him leave with a blank face.
Once he was gone, she remembered the envelope in her hands and peeked inside.

===
[Perpetrators]
[1. Park Sangho]
▷Kept secret records of Yoo Jinwoong’s dealings in his personal database.
▷Greedy for money. Has participated multiple times in the vice-leader’s illegal Dungeon campaigns.
===

Yoo Yeonha widened her eyes. The list inside the envelope didn’t just have the names of perpetrators, but also definitive proofs of their wrongdoing.

“W-What is this?”

Yoo Yeonha quickly raised her head. However, Kim Hajin was already driving away on his bike.
Yoo Yeonha’s eyes chased him in a daze.

**


The tide was quick to reverse. Although Yoo Yeonha was at the center of the scandal at first, that quickly changed when the wrongdoings of the vice-leader’s faction were brought to light.
Smuggling, illegal hiring of mercenaries, unreported Dungeon conquests and tax evasion…
Of course, as they were still members of Essence of the Strait, it was impossible for the guild to avoid a temporary fall in rank and loss of public trust.
However, only growth and prosperity awaited them with all the rotten roots pulled out.
Yoo Yeonha would undoubtedly lead Essence of the Strait to the world’s rank 1 position.

[Thank you so much. Please convey the message to Truth Agency as well.]
[Thanks to you, guild members from the vice-leader’s faction are groveling at my feet ^^]
[Oh right, what did you mean by armors for beasts?]
[We’ve never made them before, but we can make as many as you want of the highest quality. Just give us the details.]
[(emoticon of a squirrel clasping its hands and thanking)]

Today was February 13th.
After replying to Yoo Yeonha’s message in detail, I checked the announcement Cube just released.

[Cadet Rankings]
[Kim Hajin: rank 334 → rank 121 (213↑)]

Cadet rankings had changed.
I climbed 213 ranks and was now at rank 121, reaching the top 10% of cadets in my grade. It was a drastic change, considering I was at rank 934 a year ago.
Curious about how people were reacting, I logged onto Cube’s cadet community.

—Damn, Kim Hajin;; he’s shooting up in the ranks.
—I mean, he’s a god in theory. Apparently, he got perfect scores on all PRAII tests. I don’t think anyone can deny that he’s a genius.
ㄴI heard the professors say that he can easily win a Nobel Prize if he focuses on theory.
—But isn’t there a rumor about him wanting to become a mercenary?
—Why would he do that? Even with his gun-related Gift, many high-intermediate rank guilds are after him.
—Um, I heard he might enter the English Royal Court guild…
ㄴEnglish Royal Court guild? ㅋㅋㅋㅋ Wait, is this Rachel?
ㄴNo;; I don’t know what you mean by that ㅋㅋ;;;;

Just as I expected, my name was all around the cadet community. For the record, PRAII was an acronym for Phenomenon Realm Analysis II.

[Congratulations! ★ Rank 100 ★ (๑□◡□)!]

At that moment, Rachel’s message arrived.

[Thank you.]

After replying back, I checked Rachel’s rank as well.

[Rachel: rank 3 → rank 3 (—)]

She was still at rank 3. It couldn’t be helped since Kim Suho and Shin Jonghak were rank 1 and rank 2.
Chae Nayun was also still at rank 4, while Yoo Yeonha had fallen to rank 9. It wasn’t too surprising, since I knew she only cared about staying in the top 10.

[Oh right, when will you be coming to England? Winter break is ending soon.]

Rachel must have sent it without much thought, but it made me ponder.
The new school year began a bit late for second-year cadets. Not only would classes be reassigned, cadets had to formulate their own schedules like in colleges.
At the moment, I was thinking about dropping out.

[I don’t think I’ll be able to go. I just don’t have the time.]

[Ah… really? That’s a shame ㅜ.ㅜ]

Peebeebeep—

“I’m home~”

“Meow~”

At that moment, the door opened, and Evandel and Hayang walked in.

“Oh, welcome back.”

I got up and greeted the two kids.
Recently, Evandel has been going out more frequently. However, I wasn’t worried. As I was in a rich neighborhood, there were plenty of safe playgrounds and cafes around.

“Hajin, I went on a slide today!”

“Oh yeah? How was it?”

“It was like a cave! I went down like shooooong~”

“I’m happy you had fun. Now, it’s time to study.”

“….”

Evandel put on a sour face.
Although it was great that she was having fun playing outside and making friends, training intelligence was necessary to grow her potential as a witch. After all, Evandel would become a great boon for humanity in the future.

“I’ll do it after I eat.”

“Really?”

“Un.”

Evandel jumped out of my embrace and began to text someone on her smartwatch. It was probably the friend she said she made.

“Evandel.”

“Un?”

I wanted to ask her.

“Do you want to keep staying here?”

Even if I didn’t drop out, I could ask to commute starting from the second year. Although it would be a bit cumbersome since I’d have to go to Seoul Portal Station every morning, it wasn’t a big deal if it was for Evandel.

“…Uun, no.”

But to my surprise, Evandel shook her head.

“Eh? Why?”

“…Hajin, are you leaving?”

Evandel replied to my question with another question. She sounded afraid and worried.
Realizing why, I smiled brightly.

“No, both of us, no… all three of us will stay together as long as you want.”

“With Hajin?”

“Yep.”

“Then yes!”

Evandel happily nodded.

**


Baekdu Mountain’s [Yoo Sihyuk Martial Art School].
As soon as her hellish, 12-hour-long training ended, Chae Nayun ran to the mailroom.

“Ajusshi, is it here today?”

The man at the counter grinned and took out a letter.

“…Here ya go, kid.”

“Ah! Thank you!”

Chae Nayun took the letter.
Today was February 13th. Almost two weeks had passed since she last received a letter.

“What is he even busy with?”

Ever since the first letter, Kim Hajin slowed down in replying. From four days to a week, then to two weeks.
But now that she received it, she felt a surge of joy.
Chae Nayun left the mailroom with a big grin on her face.

“Hm? What are you two doing?”

Outside, Kim Suho and Shin Jonghak were waiting.
In truth, Chae Nayun told them what happened. That her older brother died.

“Hello? Can you hear me?”

“…No, it’s nothing.”

“Yeah, it’s nothing.”

They both glanced at each other and scratched their cheeks.

‘Ehew.’ Chae Nayun sighed.

“…If you want to help me, just treat me like you always do. Got it?”

On the outside, Chae Nayun also acted the same way.
But when she was alone, she couldn’t hide her sorrow and practically cried herself to sleep every night.
The only reason Chae Nayun put on a strong front was to resist being devoured by sorrow. She knew her Oppa would want the same thing.

“Still…”

Kim Suho sighed with an uncomfortable face.
Shin Jonghak suddenly stepped up.

“Chae Nayun, you can lean on me whenever you want.”

“Are you mad? I’m leaving. Also, don’t follow me around. It’s gross.”

Chae Nayun pushed the two away and ran to her room. As soon as she got inside, she slammed the door shut and opened the letter.

[I’m glad that you’re doing well.
It’s almost time to come back, so make the best out of it.
Don’t get hurt.
I’ve been busy lately, so I won’t be able to write often. Sorry.]

“…That’s it?”

Chae Nayun murmured in a daze.
Was she being pranked by her masters?
She checked the back of the letter, but there was nothing there.
The letter only had four sentences.
Chae Nayun was confused. She didn’t want to believe that this was it.

“…Did I do something wrong?”

Chae Nayun suddenly got a strong urge to leave the mountain.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter