“Auu, Chae Nayun, you crazy idiot….”
Chae Nayun scorned herself as she smacked her head. Because of the words she carelessly muttered, the drowsiness she felt disappeared completely.
“Uuuu… ah, wait.”
While circling around the room in embarrassment, she suddenly remembered something she had to do.
Chae Nayun quickly made a video call to Yoo Yeonha.
As expected, Yoo Yeonha was quick to pick up. Yoo Yeonha usually only slept three hours a day. Since it was only 1 a.m. at the moment, it was unlikely that she was asleep.
—Why did you call… why is your face so red?
Yoo Yeonha tilted her head and asked. That was how red Chae Nayun’s face was.
“Ah, it’s, it’s nothing.”
Chae Nayun fanned herself frantically.
Pushing her hair back nonchalantly, she sent a file over to Yoo Yeonha.
This evidence was a critical piece of info. Yoo Yeonha opened the file and tilted her head.
—Tattoo…? What is this?
Chae Nayun’s voice turned serious.
“Yeah, this tattoo was on the murderer’s arm.”
In response, Yoo Yeonha also put on a serious face.
Two lines forming a cross and a crescent arc standing over it like an umbrella.
Yoo Yeonha scrutinized the tattoo carefully.
“Is, is it not that useful?”
Chae Nayun asked without confidence.
—It’s not a conclusive piece of evidence, but it’s still better than not having anything at all. First…
Yoo Yeonha began to type on her keyboard like an IT expert. Chae Nayun stared at Yoo Yeonha in awe.
—I’ll look into arrested criminals or active villains and Djinns.
“T-Thanks, Yeonha! …Haam.”
Chae Nayun then yawned. Now that the tension left her body, drowsiness came over her once again.
—Are you sleepy?
“Yeah, I’m going to collapse any moment now.”
Yoo Yeonha grinned.
—Good, then sleep.
“Yeah, you shouldn’t overwork yourself either.”
Chae Nayun waved her hand through the screen as she walked over to her bed.
Although Chae Nayun promptly buried herself in her bed, Yoo Yeonha remained busy on the other side of the call.
Pharmaceutical company management, core technology development, information guild monitoring, dungeon research and resource distribution, and Essence of the Strait’s management reformation.
She still had too many things to take care of.
—Hello? Ah, yes, Yi Jin-Ah-ssi.
At that moment, she received a call.
Of the past vice-leader’s subordinates, she was the sole person Yoo Yeonha reached out to. Although she had a personal conflict with Kim Hajin, Yoo Yeonha decided her talent was too important to be wasted.
—Ah, don’t worry about it. I don’t think you were involved in that incident. No, you don’t need to thank me. Oh, rather than that, I’m going to send you a special tattoo image. I want you to…
Stopping in the middle of her sentence, Yoo Yeonha looked over to the side.
—Hold on, I forgot to hang up a video call.
Yoo Yeonha waved her hand, and soon—
Chweek. The floating hologram screen disappeared.
Just like that, all noise disappeared from Chae Nayun’s room.
In this absolute, lonely silence, Chae Nayun fell asleep alone.
In a desolate park brimming with killing intent and clouds of war, I was hard at work trying to convince Boss.
“Calm down, Boss. That’s how stocks work.”
“Ha, that’s how they work?”
Boss laughed mockingly. At the moment, she was seriously angry. I couldn’t blame her as I could only imagine the amount of money she invested. If she used stock market leverage, even a mere 2% increase should have net her hundreds of millions of won.
“It will plummet soon. Trust me.”
Boss shut her mouth. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath as though to appease her inner fury.
Despite her cold personality, she valued her comrades greatly.
“From now, I don’t think I can trust you deeply. No, I can’t even trust you lightly.”
However, I couldn’t prevent my credibility from falling. If this matter ended this way, my level of trust would probably fall to F from C.
Puuu. Sighing like a kid, Boss turned her back towards me.
“Ah, wait, since you suffered a loss because of me, I’ll make up for it.”
I stopped Boss from leaving.
“I’ll give you some solid information.”
Boss’ interested seemed to be piqued as her ears perked up.
I nodded confidently. Of course, even I didn’t know what would happen in the future economically.
However, I knew a few companies that would rise to the top of the world.
“If you invest a million, you will become a billionaire. If you invest a billion, you will become the ruler of a country.”
After a brief silence, Boss shook her head. Her perked up ears lost their vitality and drooped down once again.
“I’ve lived my entire life with skepticism as my core belief. I won’t believe someone who isn’t an expert twice.”
“Um, I’m the rank 1 cadet in theory.”
Rank 1 in theory. It was a position impossible to achieve without extraordinary intelligence. However, Boss still looked doubtful.
Without a choice, I showed her my stock portfolio.
Boss’ mouth immediately opened in shock. That was how much I currently had.
The total value of the various stocks I had in my portfolio reached 2.5 billion. In terms of strict profit rate, it was almost 500%.
Not to mention, these stocks would all multiply by at least 10 times… no, 20 times in the next 5 years.
“You see? Now you believe me? Take a seat.”
I sat down on a bench near me and tapped on the empty seat next to me.
Boss finally seemed to trust me again as she looked around the park and sat down next to me modestly.
“…Right, you have to show me proof to get me to trust you.”
“Makes sense. So, I’ll recommend a few companies you should go for. There’s still one that hasn’t been publicly listed—”
Boss cut me off, then took out a pen and a notebook from her pocket.
After getting ready to take notes, her eyes flashed sharply.
I cleared my throat and continued.
“The non-publicly listed company is SH Agency. There’s also Essential Pharmacy, which will go public soon, and Essential Corporation, which is a well-known giant….”
Boss nodded passionately and frantically took notes.
My remaining days in Cube flew by. In the blink of an eye, it became the month of cherry blossoms, May.
During this time, I maintained an appropriate distance from Chae Nayun. Although I could tell that she was annoyed and confused by it, I believed it to be for the best.
That was really the only thing I could do.
Because the feelings Chae Nayun had for me were so clear, I felt like I would give in and accept her feelings otherwise.
…I knew it was an excuse, but I really didn’t have a choice.
The ‘final incident’ in Cube was nearing soon.
“Today, we are going to sculpt using magic power.”
Today’s 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. class was [Advanced Magic Power Application].
There were two familiar faces in this class – Shin Jonghak and Kim Suho.
“You will not be given any tools. Using only your magic power, you must sculpt this bronze.”
50 cadets were given a single lump of bronze. As the instructor explained, we now had to sculpt something using our magic power as carving knives.
“You’re free to make whatever you want. But don’t think of this as a dumb art class. Dexterity plays an important role in magic power application and harmonization. So, do your best to create the most beautiful sculpture. You can take your results home.”
I quite enjoyed this female instructor’s relaxed voice.
I cracked my fingers and began the training.
Forming a carving knife with Stigma’s magic power, I held it in one hand.
Looking down at the carving knife glowing with a half-transparent blue light, I fell into thought.
Who should I use as a model?
Looking around, someone caught my eyes.
Black and two-block pomade hair that strangely resembled mine. A handsome popular boy who looked like a model. With his clear jawline and facial features, he seemed like the ideal model for sculpting.
‘Alright, I choose you.’
I began to sculpt, sneaking peeks at Shin Jonghak. My fingers moved mysteriously, transforming the lump of bronze into a modern masterpiece.
When it was about halfway finished…
It was time for a break. I stealthily moved closer towards Shing Jonghak, who was in the middle of carving something resembling a chimera.
“Wow, an abstract art.”
I muttered subconsciously.
Shin Jonghak immediately turned back and glared at me intimidatingly.
His burning eyes pierced my chest. It was mainly because of the rumors about me and Chae Nayun going around recently.
“Oh, um, I was just curious. Who is this?”
Shin Jonghak waved his hand without saying much.
“Is it Chae Nayun?”
When I said that, Shin Jonghak flinched and glared at me again with his hawk-like eyes.
However, he only clicked his tongue and went back to sculpting.
“…So it is Chae Nayun.”
“Shut the hell up.”
Shin Jonghak changed his carving knife into an axe.
I quickly ran back to my seat.
Then, I went back to staring at Shin Jonghak.
“It must look like her.”
…He was murmuring in satisfaction and focusing on sculpting.
“…He really did change a lot.”
I was surprised.
The current Shin Jonghak wasn’t as bad as the one I wrote.
Many things had changed, and more things were bound to change. Did Chae Jinyoon’s death and Yoo Sihyuk’s hellish training affect him that much?
Though, he still was acting like a haughty young master…
Since Jin Sahyuk got herself a mysterious supporter, having Shin Jonghak become an ally would only make things more balanced.
I unleashed my magic power once again and went back to sculpting. Sssk, sssk. The lump of bronze was nothing more than tofu in front of my knife.
After focusing on sculpting for about 30 minutes, I snapped out of my daze. The sculpture was already finished.
The sculpture in front of me was an unequivocal masterpiece.
“Wow, amazing job. This gets a perfect score, Cadet Hajin.”
After getting my grade (although the class still wasn’t over), I took the sculpture and walked over to Shin Jonghak.
Shin Jonghak was focused on his own sculpture.
However, it was already at the point where it was barely recognizable. It certainly couldn’t be used as a gift.
I tapped on his arm.
“Argh, what now, you bastard?”
Shin Jonghak spoke harshly and glared at me.
“Do you really wanna die…”
However, he froze when he saw the sculpture in my hand.
I named this piece the Shin Jonghak Bronze Bust.
Although the model was also handsome, the sculpture was even more handsome than the real person. Just look at this jawline and facial features!
In any case, Shin Jonghak loved things like this. Although I didn’t make any detailed settings about this, I could make an educated guess from what I knew about his personality.
Seeing Shin Jonghak blankly staring at my sculpture, I spoke briefly.
“You want it?”
But at that moment.
A series of messages popped up on my smartwatch.
[‘Devilish Dexterity’ activates by luck.]
[‘Shin Jonghak Bronze Bust’ has been judged to be a low-intermediate rank art. It will receive a fitting special effect.]
[Special effect – why art is needed in life]
—When a person is touched by the beauty of this sculpture, their perseverance will increase by 0.1 point for 24 hours.
—The beauty of the sculpture seems to cleanse the heart.
[Aether reacts to a beautiful object. The perseverance boosting effect has been granted to Aether (24 hours).]
My dexterity was at the level of a Gift. Such ‘effect bestowals’ were an inherent power of my Gift.
In any case, Shin Jonghak looked back and forth between me and my sculpture. He looked like he wanted it…
“You don’t want it?”
However, Shin Jonghak always acted differently than his inner feelings.
“Really? Then I guess there’s no choice.”
I had no problem keeping it.
But when I was about to leave with the sculpture, Shin Jonghak grabbed my wrist.
“You can’t. That’s facial rights abuse.”
I couldn’t say I didn’t expect it, but I still laughed because it was so childish.
“Why don’t you just say you want it?”
Shin Jonghak glared at me and squeezed my wrist but didn’t say anything.
“Fine, I’ll leave it here, so you do what you want.”
Since this sculpture had an effect of cleansing one’s heart, Shin Jonghak seemed to be the suitable owner with his… anger issues.
Just at that moment, the bell signaling the end of class rang.
“Hey, Kim Suho, let’s go eat.”
“Huh? Oh, wait a bit, let me get mine graded.”
I left the classroom with Kim Suho.
In Kim Suho’s hand was a sculpture that perfectly resembled Yun Seung-Ah.
“You sculpted Yun Seung-Ah?”
“…Huh? Ah~ yeah, I guess it does look like her. But no, it isn’t.”
“Please, it’s practically a carbon copy.”
“No, no, it’s not.”
“…Fine, it’s not.”
Kim Suho was quite stubborn in his own right.
As I walked through the hallway, I turned back and looked through the walls into the classroom I just came out of. It was purely out of curiosity.
Everyone else had left, and only Shin Jonghak was left remaining.
Whistling to himself, he was loitering around the classroom.
Then suddenly! He snatched the sculpture of himself on the table and ran out the door.
However, Kim Horak was standing on the other side.
—Jonghak, what were you doing not coming out? …What’s that?
—Ah? What do you mean?
—That. Oh, it looks like you! Someone made it for you!?
—I, I guess…? Ah! It, it must have been a fan of mine. Let’s leave. I’m going to stop by my room first, so I’ll meet you at the training center.
Shin Jonghak gave a half-hearted excuse and began to run away with the sculpture in his embrace.
Looking at him, I snickered.
I'm back~ Three chapters for Friday, Saturday, and Today have all been released. We will be back to our normal schedule now.
I'm still coughing, but it's all good.