Chapter 143. Truth (3)


“…Go to North Hamgyeong Province.”

Yoo Yeonha spoke as soon as she entered her limousine.

“…North Hamgyeong Province?”

“Yes.”

“….”

However, the driver felt uncomfortable.
Less than 10% of North Hamgyeong Province was habitable, and half of that 10% was an intermediate rank danger zone. In that sense, it was surprising that North Hamgyeong Province had a population of 200,000.

“W-Won’t it be dangerous?”

It was a place where mercenaries and hunters looking for a quick way to get rich stayed. The driver didn’t want to drive to such a dangerous place.

“Don’t worry, I sent in a message.”

Yoo Yeonha had one-sidedly texted her father and uncle.
To Yoo Jinhyuk, she wrote, [I’m coming to meet you. I told Father too, so don’t worry about it.]
To Yoo Jinwoong, she wrote, [I’m going to go meet Uncle.]
Yoo Jinhyuk was afraid of Yoo Jinwoong.
As such, he should come out to greet her.

“Step on the gas.”

“Y-Yes.”

The driver stepped on the accelerator. The limousine drove forward smoothly.
Looking at the outside scenery, Yoo Yeonha fell into deep thought. She couldn’t quite organize her worries with mere words.
Soon, the urban scenery disappeared, and an empty road to North Hamgyeong Province filled her vision.

**


…Four days passed since then.
Chae Nayun still hasn’t woken up. She was still in her hospital bed, sleeping for unknown reasons. Chae Shinhyuk stayed up all night watching over her, and Chae Joochul appeared on TV with a somber expression.

[…Despite everything that happened, Daehyun will fight and march forward! We will not forget our values! Just like how we arrived at our current glory, we will fight back lawlessness and violence!]

Using the tragedy his family suffered and the recent organized attacks by Djinns, Chae Joochul put on a show to glorify the name of Daehyun.

“Hmm…”

The world thus began to turn, but the May sky was still peaceful, clear, and warm.

“Haa….”

Today, I visited Cube’s administrative office. It was to submit my dropout form.
Cube’s administrative chief glanced at the dropout form and let out a deep sigh.

“You’re dropping out after working hard to climb to the top 100? Is there a reason?”

“….”

I silently nodded.

“Because of your special Gift, the Hero Association already prepared a title for you. The sole gun-using Hero, Gunner. If you graduate, you’ll be able to live as a celebrity.”

A Hero with a life of a celebrity. I held myself back from laughing.

“Plus, several guilds are already eyeing you. Even Essence of the Strait showed interest in you. Do you still want to drop out?”

“Yes.”

“…There will be no turning back. Will you not regret it?”

“Yes.”

I nodded strongly.
There was no reason for me to stay in Cube anymore.
There was nothing to learn or obtain here.

“I see.”

Koong.
The administrative chief stamped a red seal on the dropout form.
I stared at it for a moment, then left my seat.
As I left the room, I could hear a faint prayer ring out.

“May this poor child’s future be full of blessings….”

It seemed the administrative chief was a good person.
I closed the door. Then, I left the building and began walking towards Cube’s Portal.
Then, as I was walking past a garden, somebody blocked my path.

“Hajin-ssi.”

“…Ah, Rachel-ssi.”

Rachel was looking at me sadly.
Then, she approached me and put something in my hand.
It was a small box.

“This. It’s a present.”

“Ah… thank you.”

“Open it later.”

“Yes.”

I tried to walk past her, but Rachel blocked my path once again. With a thin smile, she spoke.

“In England, we hug to say goodbyes.”

“…Gladly.”

With a smile, I hugged her warm and cozy body.
After about 3 seconds, we separated. Rachel spoke first.

“See you later then.”

“Yes.”

“…Oh.”

Rachel grabbed my wrist as I started walking past her.

“P-Promise.”

“…Of course. Next time, we’ll meet in England.”

I retorted with a smile and pulled my arm out of her hand.

“I’m going now.”

“…Yes, goodbye.”

I began to walk towards the Portal Station again.
I could feel Rachel’s gaze behind my back, but I didn’t turn around.
It was then.

“Kim Hajin!”

Someone loudly shouted my name and ran up to me.
It was Kim Suho.

“…Hey! You bastard!”

Hearing him shout for a second time, I couldn’t help but stop.
Wasn’t it class time right now? Oh right, cadets had free periods because of the recent invasion incident.

“What?”

“What do you mean ‘what’?”

Kim Suho looked angry.

“Why didn’t you tell me that you were dropping out?”

“…Well, we’ll be seeing each other often, so I didn’t really see the need to tell you.”

“…Eh?”

“What, you were going to stop seeing me? Are you discriminating against non-Heroes?”

“N-No, not at all…”

Kim Suho still didn’t loosen his expression.

“Then where are you going? Chae Nayun is still unconscious. Shouldn’t you wait until she wakes up?”

“That’s my business to take care of. Also, Chae Nayun will wake up soon.”

I asked the Book of Truth when Chae Nayun would wake up, and it answered, ‘soon’.

“By the way, when Chae Nayun wakes up, don’t talk to her about me.”

“….”

Kim Suho frowned.

“Did you guys break up?”

We weren’t even in a relationship…
Kim Suho was just too dense. I guess you could say it was a basic passive skill of handsome main characters.

“…We never dated.”

I didn’t know how my relationship with Kim Suho would change. If Chae Nayun exposed the truth, I wouldn’t be able to properly stand in front of Kim Suho.

“Then why—”

“I don’t have time. I’ll see you later.”

I put my hand out. Kim Suho grabbed it subconsciously, but soon, he widened his eyes as though he remembered something.

“Oh right! So I used the jar you gave me…”

Kim Suho took off the branch hanging on his back.

“It might not be the best time to ask… but I’m dying to know. Can you appraise this for me?”

“Of course. You can ask me whenever you want.”

“Sorry, I think I fell in love with this sword.”

“I know, I know.”

I gladly appraised Misteltein.

===
[Greed of Accomplishment]
The desire to overcome difficult situations has adhered to Misteltein.
—Misteltein’s functionality will be strengthened each time a difficulty is overcome.
—Misteltein will now change form to reflect its user’s character.
—Current direction: [Righteousness 99%]
===

A smile emerged on my face.

“…It suits you perfectly.”

I handed the sword back to him.

“Really?”

“Yeah. Every time you overcome difficult situations, Misteltein will get stronger. Also, its form will change depending on your character.”

“Um….”

Kim Suho looked like he didn’t quite understand.

“What that means is it can become a demonic sword or a holy sword depending on how you use it.”

“Ah~ then for me—”

“It will be a holy sword.”

Kim Suho and I exchanged glances.
Immediately afterwards, Kim Suho burst into laughter.

“Thank you.”

This time, Kim Suho put out his hand first.

“No, I should be the one thanking you.”

I took his hand gladly.
Under the warm sunlight, Kim Suho’s expression was blindingly wholesome.

**


After officially dropping out of Cube, I went to an empty park in Seoul’s Seocho District for an appointment.
I turned on my smartwatch while waiting for Boss.

[Yoo Yeoenha – (0)]

Yoo Yeonha didn’t contact me today either.
Did she leave after being disappointed with me? Or was she still trying to confirm the truth?
When I was passing time sighing…
Tak, tak.
Boss’ footsteps woke me up.

“You’re here.”

“…Sorry.”

Boss apologized as soon as she saw me. From her face, I could tell how sincere she was.

“Don’t be, it’s too late now anyways. It’s not entirely your fault either.”

Without Chameleon Troupe’s help, I would have never been able to murder Chae Jinyoon.

“…I see.”

However, Boss was still sullen. Her usually perky ears were drooping.
Despite the situation being what it is, I found this side of Boss cute.

“Cheer up. It’s not like I can slap Boss because of it, right?”

I already decided to enter Chameleon Troupe. I wouldn’t leave because things didn’t perfectly go my way.
I couldn’t go back to Cube, and I couldn’t become a Hero. In this situation, becoming a member of Chameleon Troupe was the best way to interfere with the story.

“….”

However, Boss suddenly turned around and pointed the side of her face towards me.

“What are you doing?”

“If you want, hit me. This is my fault.”

“…Eh?”

“Hit me. As much as you want.”

‘I can take a slap to the face—’ is what she seemed to be saying.
I scratched my neck for a moment, then pretended to slap her.

“Uuu.”

When my hand touched her, Boss shut her eyes close and shuddered.

“…I can’t. How could I?”

I decided to ignore what happened.
Boss opened her eyes and coughed.

“Good, your respect for your boss is excellent.”

I was actually making fun of her though.
Boss spoke excitedly.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes.”

“Good, then follow me. Khalifa is waiting for you.”

Boss pointed behind me.
There, a familiar black man was waving his hand at me.

**


Using Khalifa’s Portal, I arrived at a dark cave of some sorts.

“…Where are we?”

“Our hideout. It’s in England.”

“…Ah.”

It was likely their new main hideout.
Currently, I had a grand goal.
That was to influence Chameleon Troupe to become my core ally.

“…I don’t think anyone would think this place is a hideout.”

“Exactly. No one can find this place, and there’s nothing here.”

Boss nodded in satisfaction, but I didn’t mean to praise the hideout.

“Mm….”

Even though this cave was only a hideout, it was just too bad. I could see bats everywhere and mysterious insects crawling in crevices. It was even hard to stand properly with so many sharp protrusions on the ground.

“I always sleep here.”

“…Eh?”

I jumped in surprise at Boss’ words.

“Don’t you have a large mansion? Why don’t you sleep there?”

“That mansion is a place to stay. I only need to sleep 5 hours a week, and it’s also the time I’m the most vulnerable. I don’t want to let my guard down for even a second.”

“…I see.”

I looked around the cave carefully.
I just couldn’t see where she could possibly sleep.

“Oh right. Hold on a second.”

I turned on my smartwatch and checked this area’s description.

===
[Chameleon Troupe’s Hideout] [Disaster]
—The Worst Place
You will become tired the more you stay in this area.
*Staying here for more than 8 hours increases the chance of catching a disease.
*Staying here for more than 24 hours decreases your stats by up to 5 points.
*Staying here for more than 96 hours increases your chance of death.
—Is There a Demon Here?
People cannot stay in this place for long.
*Staying here for more than 8 hours will mentally exhaust you.
*Staying here for more than 96 hours will cause you to be wrought with all sorts of mental illnesses.
===

Environmental Setting Description.
It was a new functionality I recently discovered on my laptop.
However, I still couldn’t ‘change’ the setting. Since changing the environment can have great benefits, it was likely that the laptop would eventually learn to do it in future updates.

“What kind of a place is this?”

Chameleon Troupe’s hideout was rotten to say the least. It was a hellish place that made you weaker by staying here.
Reading the description of this place, I got goosebumps on my skin.

“…Oh right!”

I suddenly thought of something.
With Dexterity, I had sculpted Shin Jonghak out of bronze.
This cave was half the size of a soccer field.
Wasn’t this the perfect opportunity to raise Dexterity’s proficiency? Not to mention, these cave walls even carried mana (though it was more like demonic energy).

“…Um, Boss, do you mind if I refurbish this place a bit?”

“Refurbish?”

Boss tilted her head and looked up at me.

“Yes. That way, Boss and other members can rest easily when they’re here.”

“…I don’t mind, but how? As you know, outsiders are strictly prohibited from entering this place.”

“That’s fine. I’ll do everything myself. Like this.”

I unleashed Stigma’s magic power. I didn’t even need to form a tool. The magic power moved on its own and smoothened the sharp protrusions on the ground.
Using two streaks of Stigma and about three minutes, I made about a tenth of the cave’s ground into a smooth surface.

“…Oh?”

Boss exclaimed in surprise. She squatted down and began to rub the floor.

“You refined magic power and… no, you emitted magic power… no, that’s not it either. Little Apprentice, the property of the ground changed too. How did you do it?”

“…I don’t know.”

I smiled and looked around the absurdly large cave. It was indeed the perfect place to practice Dexterity.

Although I wasn’t an architect or a designer, all sorts of thoughts popped up in my head. Of course, it would take a long time to realize everything. Thankfully, time was something I had a lot of.

“So, is it okay for me to do this?”

“Sure.”

Boss agreed heartily. At that moment, the surroundings turned noisy. With widened eyes, I faced forward. A group of nine people were approaching me and Boss.

“Kim Hajin.”

Boss called my name.

“…Yes?”

“I told you I would tell you about Jeronimo, right?”

“Ah… yes.”

“We are filthier, dirtier, and more unforgivable than you think.”

I nodded.
Chameleon Troupe.
They were designed to be this world’s worst lawbreaking organization.

“Is that fine with you?”

However, that was a judgement from the original story, and it wouldn’t be until three years later that the world would dub them as such.
In addition, I was certain.
I was certain that I would be able to change the Chameleon Troupe.

“Of course. I’m a murderer too.”

I’ve already killed many people, and I planned to kill even more.
I was no longer tied down by such vanity.

“….”

Boss nodded and pointed in front of me.
I followed her gaze.
The other members all entered my vision. They all looked exactly as I described them.
Seat of Red, Cheok Jungyeong.
Seat of Yellow, Jain.
Seat of Blue, Khalifa.
Seat of Green, Jin Yohan.
Seat of Violet, Droon.
Seat of Indigo, Yoo Kyunghwan.
Seat of Silver, Kaita.
Seat of Turquoise, Setryn.
Seat of Brown, Hirano Arashi.
And finally… the Seat of White, Boss.
Although she was clad in black from top to bottom, Boss was the Seat of White.
Ah, I guess her skin is really white.

“It’s been a while—!”

Cheok Jungyeong’s loud shouting shook the cave’s walls.
Boss stared at me with an embarrassed expression.

“Little Apprentice, I heard you two have met before.”

“…Yes, he tried to kill me.”

“I heard that too. I scolded him for you.”

“Aha.”

“Huhuhuhu.”

Cheok Jungyeong laughed with his teeth revealed. He resembled a small ogre.

“Is he also one of us?”

I pretended to be oblivious and asked.

“Yes.”

Boss replied, glancing up at me.

“…Despite how he looks, he’s not all that evil.”

“I know, he just looks stupid.”

“Oh, looks like the newbie has good eyes.”

“What are you talking about?”

Before I noticed, the other members came closer.
Boss let out a dry cough, then began her introduction.

“This is our newest member, Kim Hajin.”

I faced the nine members.

“I know, I’ve seen videos of you. You have quite an interesting Gift.”

Setryn. The Egyptian assassin looked at me and smiled.

“Of course, didn’t I tell you all? This guy didn’t flinch at all in front of my fist! Uhahaha, he sure has guts.”

This hearty laugh belonged to Cheok Jungyeong.
Afterwards, the nine colors each gave me a look. Apathy, interest, dissatisfaction, they all had their own opinions.

“I heard you use a gun. Take it out!”

“No, rather than that, show us that coin throw again!”

“Coin throw? What’s that?”

Standing in front of such powerful figures… I felt like a gazelle stuck between a lion, elephant, hippo, giraffe, and others.

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