Yoo Yeonha stared at the ground blankly. Her heels were spinning in her blurred vision. A mysterious chill strangled her. She couldn’t breathe.
After barely managing to eek out a breath, Yoo Yeonha raised her head. Kim Hajin was still lying in the hospital bed. In Yoo Yeonha’s eyes, however, his bed was shaking like it was experiencing an earthquake.
She bit her lips.
I must have seen it wrong.
That must be it.
Yoo Yeonha raised her smartwatch with her trembling hands.
A clear picture of a tattoo appeared on the smartwatch’s screen. It was exactly like the one drawn on Kim Hajin’s upper arm.
An indescribable shock pressed down on Yoo Yeonha’s temple.
Kim Hajin moved his body. In that instant, Yoo Yeonha’s body shook greatly.
Kim Hajin slowly opened his eyes. He blankly stared at the ceiling for a moment, then slowly turned his head to the side. Just like that, their eyes met.
Kim Hajin spoke.
Yoo Yeonha swallowed her saliva and struggled to move her stiff tongue.
“…He, hell, hello.”
“H-How, how has it been?”
“…Good, I guess?”
Kim Hajin was looking at her. Just this fact made her incapable of maintaining her calm.
However, she refused to lose her mind. She told herself that this was the one time she needed to stay calm and decisive.
First, she collected her breath.
As though she hadn’t been breathing for a while, a gush of oxygen flowed into her brain. As a result, her vision turned clear and her discontinued thoughts came back.
Calm down. Nothing is sure yet.
Everything might just be a huge misunderstanding.
It might be Yoo Jinhyuk’s mistake, or someone might have tried to pin the blame on him.
For now, nothing is one-hundred percent certain…
“Oh right, how’s Chae Nayun?”
Kim Hajin hurriedly asked. He was worrying about Chae Nayun, worrying about her sincerely. However, his sincerity confused Yoo Yeonha even more.
“Chae Nayun is, is fine. Uh, I, I’m going out for, a minute.”
Yoo Yeonha quickly turned around and left, leaving behind Kim Hajin who was staring at her quizzically.
Although Yoo Yeonha was in a situation where sound judgment and logical thinking were difficult, she knew what she had to do.
Yoo Yeonha messaged her information guild.
[Gangnam Severance Hospital. Patient name, Kim Hajin.]
Because her head was spinning, she found it difficult to type. She felt sick to her stomach. Holding herself back from throwing up, she shot her eyes open.
Most hospitals took written records of their patients’ identifying characteristics. Naturally, tattoos were included in them.
As such, all data about Kim Hajin gathered today had to be erased. Before Chae Joochul or Chae Nayun found out, it had to be wiped away from existence.
Kim Hajin’s tattoo had to be something only she knew about.
[Delete all data related to Patient Kim Hajin.]
Few doctors and nurses might have seen his tattoo already. However, if no information about the tattoo existed on paper, no one would ask them whether Kim Hajin had a tattoo.
“Um, Yoo Yeonha-ssi?”
The doctor in charge of the VIP rooms walked over.
“Ah, doctor, can you get a jacket for Kim Hajin?”
“Yes, he looked like he was cold.”
“…Argh, my head.”
Once Yoo Yeonha left the room, I clutched my head.
My body trembled, and my head felt like it just took an ice bath.
First, I thought back to what happened before I fainted.
I was trying to get away from Chae Nayun, then… something exploded.
“What was that?”
Although I wasn’t certain… I remembered writing something similar. Because it felt a bit out-of-place to have a rank 1 guild fall to rank 7 with a single failed Tower campaign, I added a bigger incident.
But why was it today and why was it in Seocho?
In any case, I needed more information.
I took a look around. On the shelf was my smartwatch. When I checked the news, there were only articles about Creator’s Sacred Grace as I expected.
While I was taking in the information, my heart suddenly sank. It was because I remembered Chae Nayun protected me.
Since I lost consciousness, the explosion must have struck me directly. The only reason I was unhurt had to be because of Chae Nayun.
At that moment, someone knocked on the door.
When I answered, a doctor walked in. With a calm expression, he walked up to me.
“Patient Kim Hajin?”
“Here, you can put this on.”
He gave me a jacket. I put it on without much thought.
“Are you feeling okay?”
I felt my body here and there.
Although I didn’t feel any pain, when I checked my smartwatch, I noticed that 90% of the stat points I amassed with Energy Conversion were gone.
To think all those stats points I collected painstakingly would disappear in an instant…
“…Yes, I’m fine.”
I swallowed my sigh and retorted.
“In that case…”
The doctor let out a dry cough and slowly spoke.
As his somewhat envious voice continued, my face stiffened. I could no longer hold my sigh back.
What the doctor told me could be simplified in one sentence.
‘Chae Nayun is suffering from a severe trauma.’
After losing someone she loved for the second time, Chae Nayun developed a mental illness.
“If it’s okay, can you go see her?”
I got up silently. I couldn’t feel much strength from my legs, but I had no trouble walking.
Chae Nayun was next door.
After taking a deep breath, I walked in.
The nurse checking Chae Nayun’s pulse stepped back. With a bitter smile, I sat down next to her.
“I just have to stay here?”
The doctor checkmarked something on the clipboard he was holding, then glanced at the nurse.
“Let’s leave so they can be alone.”
“Ah, yes, doctor.”
Then, they left.
In the blink of an eye, only Chae Nayun and I were left in the room. I scratched my neck and waited for her to wake up. She seemed to be sleeping peacefully, but I could see a hint of tears around her eyes.
With Stigma’s magic power, I wiped away her tears.
It was then that I noticed something.
I knew for a fact that she recently started going to beauty parlors to get her hair done. However, her hair was now cut short.
I touched my hair, wondering if mine was also cut, only to find it perfectly fine.
‘Her hair should have been left intact, even if I had to become bald…’
As I sighed inwardly, Chae Nayun moved.
Her eyelids shook as though she was having a nightmare, and she tightly held her blanket. Worried that she might have a seizure, I quickly worked to wake her up.
“Hey, hey, Chae Nayun.”
Chap, chap. But even after being slapped, she remained asleep. In fact, she looked like she was in greater pain.
Chap, chap, chap. Since I wasn’t sure what to do, I continued slapping her face. However, Chae Nayun still didn’t wake up.
Should I utilize Stigma’s magic power?
For now, I slapped her a bit more.
Chap, chap, chap, chap.
“Hey, wake up!”
As she showed signs of waking up, I hit her strongly one last time.
“Ah…, it freaking hurts!”
Her roar filled the room. I quickly pulled my hand back, and Chae Nayun shot up with reddened cheeks.
Her previous cursing must have been subconsciously done as she stared at me with half-clouded eyes.
But soon, a teardrop fell from her eyes. Her face quickly distorted.
“…Ah, I, I thought you…”
Something warm and soft embraced me. Chae Nayun had jumped into my arms.
“I really, really thought….”
Unable to speak clearly, she only cried.
I let out a deep sigh.
It seemed I was mistaken.
Chae Nayun wasn’t stronger than she was in the original story.
Of course, she might be stronger in terms of might. She changed to a sword quicker, and she even received Yoo Sihyuk’s teachings.
“I, I thought you were going to disappear too…”
However, no matter how strong she tried to act, the current Chae Nayun was weaker than the Chae Nayun in the original story.
Her mind was already half-broken.
I couldn’t help but worry.
Would she be able to endure everything that would happen in the future? Alone?
“…Stop crying, you’re always crying. I’m going to call you out for being a crybaby on your social media.”
“Hmph, I’m crying because of you, you bastard.”
By the time Chae Nayun stopped crying…
“Hey, Chae Nayun!”
The VIP room shot open and Kim Suho appeared.
[Creator’s Sacred Grace failed in their conquering of the Tower of Miracle, causing a huge magic explosion. Currently, the Hero Association is investigating the members of Creator’s Sacred Grace and where the blame falls for this incident.]
A sigh came out of Kim Suho’s mouth.
It wasn’t so surprising. Currently on the news was Yun Seung-Ah who had her head down like a criminal under arrest.
In truth, Yun Seung-Ah couldn’t be blamed for this failure. In fact, she displayed outstanding leadership as the guild’s vice-leader.
Of the 1000 members and 300 mercenaries that participated in the Tower campaign, 75% had returned alive. But without Yun Seung-Ah, that number wouldn’t have even reached 50%.
“Hajin, are you okay?”
Kim Suho turned towards me and asked.
“As you can see.”
“I’m glad. It looks like Chae Nayun… is also fine.”
Chae Nayun cried herself to sleep. Her hand was still tightly holding onto mine.
“…You should contact her.”
“Yun Seung-Ah. Call her, message her, do something.”
Kim Suho shook his head with a troubled look. At that moment, the door shot open once more.
This time, it was Shin Jonghak.
He stormed into the room and looked down at Chae Nayun. I tried to release my hand, but Chae Nayun didn’t let go. She frowned and murmured in her sleep, holding my hand even tighter.
Shin Jonghak glared at me silently. His face was filled with rage.
However, he didn’t say anything. He didn’t express his anger or cry out in jealousy. He didn’t even try to separate us. He only softly caressed Chae Nayun’s shortened hair before turning around and leaving.
“…Hajin, I’ll be back soon.”
Kim Suho followed after him.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t do the same. Because Chae Nayun was holding onto my hand, I couldn’t even smoke.
But with my Gift, I could eavesdrop on any conversation.
But suddenly, a voice rang out from next to me.
When I turned my head to the side, I saw Chae Nayun staring up at me with narrowed eyes.
“…I knew you weren’t sleeping.”
Chae Nayun laughed. Then, she moved her mouth without speaking.
“Speak out loud.”
She still only moved her mouth. She might have been speaking extremely softly, or she might have been cosplaying as a mime.
Without any other choice, I moved my ear closer to her mouth.
It was then.
Chae Nayun’s arms suddenly wrapped around my neck.
We were close enough that our lips were practically touching.
Chae Nayun smiled brightly and lightly bit my nose.
“Ah! Hey, what are you doing!?”
I tried to get away, but it was impossible.
In terms of pure strength, Chae Nayun was miles ahead of me.
After struggling for a bit and failing, I stared into her eyes without a choice. Then, I spoke.
“…Don’t you remember?”
“What happened today.”
Since that was the case, I tried to get away from her. However, she didn’t let me.
“Hey, can you let me go?”
“…What if I drop out of Cube too?”
I frowned and glared at Chae Nayun seriously.
“Then I’ll start hating you for real.”
“Who would like a girl foolish enough to give up her dreams for a man?”
Chae Nayun seemed to agree as she slightly loosened her arms.
I tried to get away from her using this opportunity… but it still wasn’t enough.
Feeling like my pride as a man would be greatly hurt if I struggled any more, I decided to wait until she let go of me.
“But you know…”
Chae Nayun shook her head and continued.
“I thought about it. Even if you drop out and become a mercenary, that doesn’t mean we can’t see each other.”
“What, I can’t even see you? That doesn’t make any sense at all!”
I was at a loss for words.
Chae Nayun’s face turned serious. I could tell she was speaking from the bottom of her heart.
“We can call each other and meet every once in a while. Then, when I graduate….”
It was then.
A knocking sound rang out, along with a deep voice.
—Nayun, it’s Dad. I’m coming in.
Chae Nayun quickly pushed me away.Previous Chapter Next Chapter