I went to a restaurant with Kim Suho.
It was time for me to deal with all my personal affairs. There was something I needed to give Kim Suho.
“By the way, why haven’t you been eating with Chae Nayun lately?”
Kim Suho sat down as he looked around the restaurant.
“No reason. I have something to talk about with you.”
Kim Suho suddenly made a mischievous face.
“What’s up with that face?”
“Nothing, I thought you sounded like Chae Nayun. I must be mistaken.”
Ignoring his stupid comment, I ordered my food and placed a jar on the table.
“You forgot already? It’s the jar we got from fighting that snake.”
This Jar of Greed came with two uses. Although I thought about using both, that would be too greedy. Since I used one to strengthen Aether, it was only proper that Kim Suho uses the second. After all, an amazing greed would inevitably adhere to Misteltein.
“I remember, but I said you could have it…”
“I already used it once.”
I cut off Kim Suho before he could reject my offer.
“Plus, I’m not saying I’ll give it to you for free. I found another Dungeon, you see.”
“Another Dungeon? Do you work part-time at an information guild or something?”
Kim Suho’s eyes widened.
This Dungeon was impossible for me to clear alone, but if I didn’t clear it, the artifact lying within would eventually fall into the Djinns’ hands.
“In exchange for you using this jar, let’s clear this Dungeon. We’ll split the loot 7:3.”
Kim Suho looked at me silently, then grinned and pulled the jar closer.
It was a silent agreement.
“So how do you use this? Did you get it appraised?”
“Yeah, it’s called the Jar of Greed. You have Misteltein with you, right?”
“Then you just have to put it inside for 10 days.”
“This artifact consolidates whatever’s put inside. I’m sure Misteltein will receive a huge boost in power.”
Misteltein would undoubtedly show great synergy with any type of greed. Well, as long as it didn’t receive charm-related greed like Aether.
Kim Suho looked satisfied. If I remembered correctly, Kim Suho’s affection towards Misteltein should be at an all-time high. He should even be sleeping with it.
Kim Suho suddenly put on an apologetic look and spoke softly.
“You’ve only been helping me recently.”
“It’s a give and take.”
“No, even in Busan, it was because of you that…”
Busan. He must be talking about Jin Sahyuk.
I shook my head.
“No, you would have been fine without me.”
“…You’re pretty stubborn, you know that?”
“Like you’re one to speak.”
“Nu-uh, you’re more stubborn.”
“No, you are.”
“No, you are!”
Kim Suho and I both frowned. Our sudden exchange of praises turned into a staring contest. Soon, we laughed and smiled at each other.
That night, I went to Seoul through Cube’s Portal.
The weather was dull and unpleasant.
My chest felt especially heavy today.
When I was about to leave the Portal Station like usual, a familiar face popped out.
It was Chae Nayun.
She linked her arm with mine the moment she appeared.
“Why are you always late?”
Tonight, I had dinner plans with Chae Nayun.
It was the night I would tell her farewell.
I replied without an ounce of emotion in my voice.
Chae Nayun shrunk back slightly but soon smiled brightly.
“Geez, what’s up with that reaction? Anyways, where are we going today?”
“I reserved a restaurant near Seocho District.”
Near my apartment, there was a restaurant Evandel and I frequented.
“Yeah, follow me.”
“…Ah, wait for me.”
I walked over to a parking lot near the Portal Station.
With my one-year VIP membership, my bike was parked in the best spot.
Chae Nayun was overjoyed when she saw my bike. I drove much more skillfully than before (thanks to Dexterity) and arrived at the restaurant.
I was somewhat nervous that the waiter would notice me, but likely because I always wore sunglasses when I came with Evandel, I didn’t receive any strange looks.
Looking at each other across the table, Chae Nayun asked several questions while we waited for the food to arrive. However, I replied to all of her questions half-heartedly.
In the end, Chae Nayun seemed to have gotten tired of it, as she pouted.
Even when the food arrived, I didn’t say anything. Chae Nayun snuck glances at me as she quietly ate her food.
In complete silence, we finished our dinner.
“That will be 230,000 won.”
“Hey, I’ll pay—”
“No, I’ll do it.”
I paid for the food before Chae Nayun could and left the restaurant.
The sky was fairly dark.
I walked underneath this dreary sky, and Chae Nayun followed behind me.
After a few minutes of silent strolling, we arrived at an empty park. Chae Nayun finally opened her mouth. I stopped and turned around. A faint tinge of tears could be seen on the corner of Chae Nayun’s eyes.
Chae Nayun glared at me and clenched her fists.
“Are you tormenting me on purpose?”
I didn’t reply to her.
Chae Nayun’s angry voice continued.
“Or are you just ignoring me, fully aware of my feelings?”
Hearing her teary voice, I closed my eyes. In my head, I once again repeated my resolve.
“Or are you really unaware?”
The only way I could remain in her mind as a good memory. That was to be a ‘bad’ person rather than ‘someone to kill’.
I had to end our relationship before it progressed any further.
Chae Nayun asked with a trembling voice.
“What are you sorry about?”
Looking into her eyes, I spoke resolutely.
“I’m dropping out.”
Chae Nayun’s shocked breath flowed through the wind.
“I’m going to become a mercenary. I already got a good offer.”
“…Yeah, but why?”
“I don’t want to tell you that.”
Chae Nayun’s eyebrows twitched.
“…Then when are you dropping out?”
“Next week at the earliest.”
Hearing these two words, Chae Nayun laughed despondently.
“And when did you decide?”
“Before I became a second-year.”
Hearing that, Chae Nayun clenched her teeth and forcefully curled up the corner of her lips.
“So you decided that long ago? Without telling me anything?”
“Why would I?”
“Ah… r-right, right, right…”
Unable to speak properly, Chae Nayun dropped her head down and smacked herself with her hand. Her hair, which had grown fairly long, shook and covered her face.
After a brief moment of silence…
“Fine, I get it.”
She raised her hand and wiped away the tears flowing down from her face.
“You do whatever you want. It’s your business anyways. It has nothing to do with… dammit.”
After cursing silently, she turned around.
Only the sound of her lonely footsteps rang out in the empty park.
I also turned around.
Breathing out in bitterness, I began to walk away from her.
My smartwatch suddenly began to buzz crazily.
It wasn’t just mine.
Chae Nayun’s watch and even the watches of people far away from us began to ring loudly.
It was an emergency evacuation alarm.
Puzzled, I turned on my smartwatch.
There was a breaking news that Creator’s Sacred Grace had failed their Tower campaign.
Since I knew it would happen, I didn’t think much of it.
“…Hey! Kim Hajin!”
However, Chae Nayun suddenly ran into me. Before I could even react, she embraced me and covered me with her body. It was as though she was trying to protect me from something.
In the next moment…
A giant explosion swept over us.
I didn’t even have time to be confused.
After a quick flash of light, a huge shockwave pressed down on my body.
Then, my consciousness faded away.
Yoo Yeonha was currently in her dorm room, which was smaller than last year’s thanks to her rank dropping.
Seeing the report that arrived, Yoo Yeonha sighed.
[We looked into every known criminal in the world, but no one had such a tattoo.]
[Our newest member, Kim Hosup, helped a lot in this investigation.]
The complete investigation only took 3 weeks to finish. As Yoo Yeonha expected it to take at least three months, she was genuinely surprised.
“The new recruit we hired last time must be quite useful.”
Yoo Yeonha wrote back a positive reply talking about a bonus for the new recruit’s hard work. Then, she went back to looking at the tattoo.
A common-looking tattoo that wasn’t so common. Although the deep color of the tattoo made it look odd, it also made it look all the more natural.
“Where did a tattoo like this come from…?”
While Yoo Yeonha was murmuring with curiosity, another message arrived.
This time, it was much more shocking than the previous news.
[Master, Creator’s Sacred Grace has failed its Tower of Miracle campaign.]
At the same time, her smartwatch spat out a loud alarm.
Startled by the emergency evacuation alarm, Yoo Yeonha jumped out of her seat.
“W-What is it!?”
However, she soon calmed down and replied to the message she received.
[Are you positive?]
[Yes. The failure of Creator’s Sacred Grace caused the Tower of Miracle’s magic power to leave the Tower, creating magic power explosions around the area.]
Yoo Yeonha made a strange face at this revelation.
The failure to conquer a Tower often caused its magic power to clash with the outside world’s magic power, causing huge explosions.
This meant one of two possibilities.
Either the nature of the Tower was like that, or the guild that failed to conquer it had been careless.
The Tower of Miracle was located in Umyeon Mountain in Gangnam. If explosions were caused by the conquering guild’s carelessness…
That would be the end of Creator’s Sacred Grace.
The corners of Yoo Yeonha’s mouth curled up subconsciously. However, now wasn’t the time to celebrate.
Yoo Yeonha quickly put on a serious face and contacted Essence of the Strait.
“Immediately deploy guild members to regions around the Tower of Miracle. Yes, as many as possible! Our foremost goal is the protection and rescue of civilians.”
The downfall of a competitor was an opportunity for growth.
Yoo Yeonha planned to make use of this situation to its fullest.
After spending about 10 minutes buried in her comfortable chair…
Her smartwatch rang once again.
She picked up the call without much thought.
However, the content of the call was something she couldn’t take lightly.
Yoo Yeonha quickly ran to the Gangnam Severance Hospital, where Chae Nayun and Kim Hajin were hospitalized.
Perhaps because of the slow flow of information, Kim Suho and Shin Jonghak were yet to be seen. However, the hospital was still in a state of chaos. Patients were brought in by the minute, and most were severely injured.
“Yoo Yeonha-ssi, over here.”
The hospital’s chief resident quickly came to greet her.
“Um, where are the two patients you talked about?”
“Ah, neither are seriously injured, so you don’t have to worry too much. They’re currently staying in VIP rooms.”
Yoo Yeonha breathed a sigh of relief. At the same time, she couldn’t help but wonder, why did these things always happen to them?
“What about other civilians?”
“We’ve yet to grasp the complete damage, but with Gangnam being such a rich district, several mana barriers helped reduce the impact of the explosions. The damages should be within acceptable levels.”
“Ah… then can you take me to my friends’ room?”
“Yes, follow me.”
Yoo Yeonha followed her contact. She first visited Chae Nayun.
[VIP – Chae Nayun]
The nameplate showed that only one person was inside the room.
Yoo Yeonha opened the door and walked in.
Chae Nayun was still unconscious. What surprised Yoo Yeonha was that her hair was much shorter than it was earlier in the day.
“Her hair is… practically a short-cut.”
“Her hair was burnt protecting the other person, so we had no choice but to cut it.”
Yoo Yeonha immediately knew that Chae Nayun protected Kim Hajin.
“You know, he would have been fine if you didn’t protect him.”
When Yoo Yeonha murmured, Chae Nayun slowly opened her eyes.
Startled, Yoo Yeonha quickly walked up to her.
Chae Nayun muttered blankly after seeing the hospital ceiling. Then, she suddenly shot up. Her hands were trembling uncontrollably, and her eyes were filled with terror.
“Nayun, everything’s okay.”
“W-What, what just, uu, uaaah….”
Despite Yoo Yeonha’s warm words, Chae Nayun’s eyes were already tearing up. Seeing her struggling to get up with unspeakable terror, Yoo Yeonha couldn’t help but feel pity.
“Nayun, calm down for now.”
“Ah, uu, Hajin, what happened to, Hajin….”
“Patient Kim Hajin is fine. He’s sleeping next door. He’s in a much better condition than you.”
Only then did Chae Nayun’s trembling stop. But immediately afterwards, she began to hyperventilate. Then, she fainted.
Yoo Yeonha shouted in shock.
“Ah! Is she okay!?”
“Yes, like I said, she has no physical injury. But she keeps showing signs of a panic attack. This is already the third time.”
“Yes, I believe she’s suffering from a form of PTSD.”
Yoo Yeonha quietly placed her hand on Chae Nayun’s forehead. It was burning hot.
“Oh right, what about the other patient?”
“Patient Kim Hajin is next door.”
Yoo Yeonha left Chae Nayun’s room and went next door.
Kim Hajin was sleeping on the hospital bed.
Just like what the doctor said, he didn’t seem to have any noticeable injury.
“…He suffered light burns to his legs and arms, but he’s completely fine otherwise.”
“That’s great to hear.”
Yoo Yeonha stared at Kim Hajin, who was sleeping in a patient gown.
He looked relaxed and at peace.
It was almost as though he had fallen asleep, rather than fainting.
Looking at him sleeping like a child, Yoo Yeonha smiled. She also got the urge to poke his puffed cheeks.
…But at that moment, through pure coincidence, something caught her attention.
Below his right sleeve, a black line was peeking out of his upper arm.
It was a strangely familiar and ominous figure.
Suddenly, an image in Yoo Yeonha’s head overlapped with the line in front of her.
Murmuring softly, Yoo Yeonha reached out.
But when her fingers were about to touch his sleeve, her instincts roared.
To stop, to step back, to not go forward any further.
However, her hand still moved and pulled up Kim Hajin’s sleeve. Regret only came later.
Half of the tattoo was still covered by his sleeve.
However, Yoo Yeonha didn’t need to see the full thing.
Half of a cross and half of a crescent moon.
It was exactly like the picture of the tattoo she saw.
Murmuring quietly, she let go, and the sleeve fell back down, covering his arm.
Almost as though she lost her speech, she couldn’t find the words to speak.
She couldn’t think.
She only knew that her head hurt.
Her train of thought seemed to be cutting off, like it was attempting to protect her from stress she couldn’t handle.
Her brain seemed to have stopped functioning.
As a result, the only thing she could do was breathe.
Yoo Yeonha raised her hands in a daze and clenched her head, which seemed to be burning up. Her hair tangled up from cold sweat. But rather than these trivial things…
Her head hurt, like it was about to explode.
That was all she felt.
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