Chapter 19. Connections (2)


Friday morning. I opened my eyes while in bed. My entire body started aching immediately.

Iron hog and black pelican… No matter how much I thought about it, the monsters I hunted yesterday were too heavy. Thankfully, I made it back before curfew. Otherwise, I would have faced disciplinary punishment on top of minus points.

“Argh.”

Fortunately, today was Friday, so there wasn’t a class that required me to use my body. Getting up tiredly, I checked my smartwatch first. There were three unseen messages.

[810,130 won has been deposited.]
[450,270 won has been deposited.]
[Here is the payment for yesterday’s monsters. I hope to work with you again. SH Agency Head Manager, Park Soohyuk.]

The payment was quicker than I expected. If I remembered correctly, exclusive contracts had monthly payments. Mine must have been quick because it was a one-time deal. But still, to have them taken care of overnight… he sure was quick with his work. As expected of Park Soohyuk.

Thanks to Park Soohyuk, I now had something to do for the day. I could now open up a brokerage account and buy Packhorse Master guild’s stock. One million won sounded like a good start.
I walked into the shower with various thoughts in my head.

After washing away my remaining drowsiness with cold water, I dried myself, put on my cadet uniform, and headed out to class.

*


Friday’s first period class was on ‘Phenomenon Realm Analysis.’ From what other cadets were saying, it seemed we were assigned the most difficult theory class since we didn’t have physical training today. Of course, this didn’t apply to me.

I sat down on a random seat and took out my laptop. After finding out that only I could see it, I openly fiddled around with it in class.

===
▷「Master Sharpshooter」
[Low-intermediate rank] [Spirit attribute] [Evolving — Grade 8] [Proficiency EXP 13%]
—Master Sharpshooter’s Training
*Familiarity with all long ranged weapons
—Thousand-Mile Eyes
*Can see far away and predict a target’s movement path.
*Increases speed and perception by 0.3 points.
—Bullet Time
*In combat only and once every 24 hours, you can spend 10 seconds in ‘Bullet Time’.
—Sharpshooter of Reversal
*Depending on Kim Hajin’s invariable stat, ‘luck’, you can deal bonus damage against a stronger enemy.
===

Sharpshooter of Reversal, a low ranked skill I got from defeating a Djinn, was quite decent. Master Sharpshooter had also reached grade 8. Of course, its growth speed would decrease the higher its grade went.

“Sit down.”

While I was observing my growth in delight, the professor walked in.

“There is a written exam today like I mentioned last time.”

A test was announced out of the blue. Heartfelt groans erupted from the cadets. It seemed I wasn’t the only one only now hearing about this.

“Really? I didn’t study at all!”

In front of me, Chae Nayun muttered in despair. Kim Suho, who was sitting next to her, promptly showed her the notes I took down yesterday. Chae Nayun coughed in embarrassment.

“Now, now, quiet down.”

The professor silenced the cadets in a heartless tone before handing out the exam sheet. After a few scuffling sounds of paper, I also received an exam sheet.

Problem 1. Describe the monster, ‘Pygmalion’.
Problem 2. Describe the Nine Evils (Djinns).
Problem 3. State the attributes that humans can manifest in the Phenomenon Realm.
Problem 4….

The problems’ difficulty and ambiguity were higher than what I had imagined. Other cadets also sighed the moment they glanced at the problems. But I was different. I had answers to all of the problems on my laptop.

[Pygmalions are Fallen Ghosts whose intelligence exceeds that of humans. They cannot be seen in the Phenomenon Realm, and they act as humans after possessing them. Because of this behavior, some argue that they should be classified as a Djinn …]

Of course, I would get the problem wrong if any of their settings were changed, but that was even better. It meant I would learn more about settings that had changed.

“…What?”

After I was almost done writing all the answers…

“What happened?”

My laptop suddenly shut down. That is, my lifeline shut down. I began to sweat from the unexpected occurrence. And because I was in the middle of an exam, there wasn't anything I could do. Then, blue words suddenly appeared on the LCD screen.

[A month has passed.]
[The laptop’s functionality will be updated.]
[Target Kim Hajin’s Observation and Reading Gift will be strengthened.]

**


There was a meeting on every even-numbered Fridays. Yoo Yeonha called this social leadership meeting, Noble Society.
Yoo Yeonha wanted Noble Society to be a source of vital connections once she graduated, but Chae Nayun, who was the most important connection, didn’t have much thought about it. To Chae Nayun, Noble Society was like an alumni reunion, where she met with her childhood friends.
Today’s Noble Society meeting was at a coffee shop in Seoul.

“How are your grades?”

“It’s good enough.”

“The Jonghak I know isn’t content unless he gets first place.”

Only Shin Jonghak and Yoo Yeonha were in the coffee shop. No other customers were present. It was a popular coffee shop, but Yoo Yeonha had talked to the owner to rent the place out.

“Like I said, it’s good enough.”

“…Yeah, okay.”

Clang—
The bell on the coffee shop’s door rang. Yoo Yeonha and Shin Jonghak turned towards the door.
It was Chae Nayun, who was wearing Chae Nayun-like clothes – blue jeans and a black jacket over a slightly see-through white shirt. She walked like a man, but her elegant figure was more charming than any other woman.

“Chae Nayun, you came today?”

Shin Jonghak waved his hand in greeting. Chae Nayun walked over and spoke after looking around the shop.

“Hey, where did your lackeys go?”

In Chae Nayun’s eyes, Shin Jonghak was the type of person who liked to bring around lackeys. These followers of Shin Jonghak were generally sons of large corporations or guilds, and despite Shin Jonghak labeling them as ‘friends’, the hierarchy in their relationship was clear for anyone to see.

“They’re training. Midterms are soon.”

“Oh, those guys also prepare for exams?”

Chae Nayun made a snarky comment and sat down.

“Rather than that, how did you do on the last written exam?”

“Are you making fun of me?”

“No, it’s just that you asked whether the other guys were preparing for exams.”

“…That’s different. I’m talking about the combat exam. Who cares if you’re good at theory…”

Unlike when he was with Yoo Yeonha, Shin Jonghak actively brought up conversation topics. Chae Nayun’s replies were no different than usual.

Yoo Yeonha watched the two talk quietly. She didn’t think much of it. They were just talking as friends. But the look on Shin Jonghak’s face when he was talking to Chae Nayun, his soft smile, and kind eyes, didn’t come to Yoo Yeonha too pleasantly.

Krrk.
Yoo Yeonha lightly clenched her teeth and grabbed the cup of coffee she ordered for Chae Nayun. Because she ordered it thirty minutes ago, it was lukewarm. She released her magic power into the cup, heating the coffee.

“By the way, do you know Kim Hajin?”

But at that moment, her focus completely scattered and her ears opened up. Yoo Yeonha inadvertently joined the conversation.

“Kim Hajin?”

“Yeah.”

“…What about him?”

Chae Nayun’s face became severely distorted.

“What do you think about that bastard, Yeonha?”

Yoo Yeonha felt her heart drop. Kim Hajin. Normally, she wouldn’t have had to think about someone like Kim Hajin. Even if she did, her assessment of him would have been ‘I don’t care’ or ‘That crazy psycho.'
But the circumstance had changed.
There was something about him. She wasn’t sure exactly what, but he wasn’t so simple. But Yoo Yeonha purposefully hid her inner thoughts.

“…What do you mean? He’s just an average guy.”

“No, nevermind.”

Chae Nayun grabbed her cup of coffee roughly. Yoo Yeonha swallowed her saliva at Chae Nayun’s strange reaction.

“That bastard is hiding something for sure.”

“What are you so angry about?”

This time, Shin Jonghak asked. His face was full of smiles, as though he enjoyed seeing an angry Chae Nayun.

“You don’t know? There was a Djinn at the National Weapons Museum during the recent monster incident in Seoul. Then, that bastard…”

With that, Chae Nayun gulped down her coffee. She then immediately spurted it out.

“Aak! Fuck, it’s hot! Water! water!”

Panting, she looked for cold water. Yoo Yeonha carefully consoled her, feeling a knot in her heart being loosened.

“…Nayun, that’s coffee, not cold water.”

“You haven’t changed, have you?”

Shin Jonghak laughed, while an employee quickly ran over with cold water.

“H-Here.”

Chae Nayun quickly grabbed it and gulped it down.

“Aagh, I burned my tongue.”

Then, she caught her breath before continuing where she left off.

“Anyways, that Djinn was stronger than Kim Suho and I thought. Even I…”

At that point, Chae Nayun paused once more and watched her two listeners. Because what happened back then was embarrassing, she didn’t want to talk about it in detail.

“…Even I struggled a bit. Kim Suho’s a different story, but how can an ordinary cadet like him deal such fatal damage to a Djinn?”

“What happened exactly?”

“I don’t want to explain it in detail. Just know that he blew up a Djinn’s arm. With a gun at that! A gun! How does that make sense?”

Blowing up a Djinn’s arm with a gun. Indeed, it was hard to believe without seeing it in person.
Yoo Yeonha pondered as she rubbed her chin. She’d seen Kim Hajin fight. It was true that he was quick, but it was hard to say he had the attack power to break a Djinn’s arm.

“Ah wait.”

At that moment, Chae Nayun suddenly put on a serious tone. Her eyes looked nervous and she seemed hesitant to speak. Naturally, Shin Jonghak and Yoo Yeonha’s attention fell on her.

“Could it be that he’s… a Djinn?”

“…Nayun, if he was a Djinn, he wouldn’t have attacked a fellow Djinn.”

But Yoo Yeonha quickly broke the atmosphere with a sentence.

“I guess you’re right. Anyways, there’s something about that guy.”

“So you’re telling me you don’t like him?”

At that moment, Shin Jonghak, who was listening without a word, broke his silence. Chae Nayun and Yoo Yeonha both understood the hidden meaning behind his words.

Chae Nayun pondered on how to answer. She knew Shin Jonghak’s personality well. Depending on her answer, that man’s future would change noticeably.
After a bit of contemplation, Chae Nayun replied briefly.

“…I’m not sure, but something like that.”

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FudgeNouget's Thoughts

In bangkok. I don't even know what time it is where I'm usually from, but it's Tuesday morning here, so I'm releasing two chapters before I start the day! 


Cheers!