Chapter 20. Connections (3)


[Updating in progress… 79%]

Currently, it was 9 A.M., Saturday.
Clearly, my laptop was still dead. It only went up by 79% in a whole day. I wondered what amazing new features it would get. On the other hand, I was dying of anxiousness as I waited.

I was staring at the laptop’s update percentage when my smartwatch rang.

[Brokerage account for Kim Hajin has opened.]

“Oh, it’s done!”

I was also concerned about this too. It would have been easy if I was an adult, but I was still a minor. Just like in the previous world, a minor couldn’t open a brokerage account without a guardian’s agreement. If I wasn’t a cadet at Cube, it would have been impossible to open an brokerage account.

Now that I had an account, I immediately began to work.
First, using my smartwatch, I moved money over to my new brokerage account. One million won from the previous monster hunt and two million won that I already had, a total of three million. It was a pocket change compared to what many of the other traders had, but it was enough to get me started. I opened the stock trading program. The guild stock market operated on weekends to differentiate them from the normal stock market.

[Guild — Packhorse Master]

The Packhorse Master guild was listed on the exchange. Each stock was worth 170 won.
Since I wasn’t knowledgeable about complicated things like short stock selling, short stock buying, and price fluctuation, I simply bought however much I could.

[17,647 stocks of ‘Packhorse Master’ guild purchased.]

It didn’t take long.
But since it felt a bit weird to just leave, I looked up a stock-related forum board.

[Gathering of people who enjoy stock exchange.]

With 930,000 members, this was the biggest forum for stock-related topics.
I searched for Packhorse Master.

[List of new guilds.]
[Guilds newly listed]
[Guild market is hard nowadays ㅜㅜ None of the new guilds look promising…]

None of the posts were specifically about Packhorse Master, only mentioning it briefly.

“Well, what did I expect from an online forum…?”

I clicked my tongue and turned off the smartwatch. In this world where information was equivalent to money, even the existence of a website had to be found out through money. Thus, expert brokers did not even spare a glance at free-to-use online forums.
Information guilds had their own intranets where one could buy information, and those who wished to stay secret would use something like the Violet Banquet…

“Oh, right.”

Speaking of staying in secret, there was one group inhabiting the dark.
Chameleon Troupe.
First revealed halfway through the story, the Chameleon Troupe was the most powerful gang in my novel, whose members would play an important part until the late stages of the novel. The group’s name was derived from a chameleon’s ability to camouflage. Just like how a chameleon changed its color to hide, the Chameleon Troupe was a secretive group whose members’ identities remained absolutely hidden.
As of now, one seat of the Chameleon Troupe was empty. This seat would remain open for another year or two, and come to play an important role in the story.
I knew who the Chameleon Troupe’s leader was and where she operated. Other than Chameleon Troupe’s members, I should be the only one who knew this information.

Chameleon Troupe was a gang of criminals, but they also rejected Djinns. And in this world, Djinns were the absolute evil. If I could become Chameleon Troupe’s member… well, that was unrealistic, so if I could at least become friends with its leader, I might be able to transform them into a supporting role…

Just when I was thinking such things…

“Uk!”

Completely out of the blue, an intense pain emerged on my left upper arm.
It was as though a heated knife was carving my skin. Blood spurted out from my arm, hitting my widened eyes. I hurriedly pulled up my sleeve. A strange scar was being drawn on my upper arm.

“The hell…”

It was an incomprehensible scar and pain. I clenched my teeth and put my hand over the scar gushing with blood. At the same time, a tsunami of information flooded into my brain.

[This Stigma is one of the authorities of the Creator. It contains magic power.]
[One streak of Stigma will be inscribed each time your total acquired SP reaches a certain level, which is when your ‘fame’ increases by a level.]
[You can freely use the magic power stored inside Stigma, which will slowly regenerate over 24 hours even if depleted.]

“…Ah.”

An indescribable throbbing pain rang out in my head and arm. But even in the wave of such paralyzing pain, I could clearly see the laptop screen.

[Update List]
▷’Book of Truth’ has been added to the Gift, 「Observation and Reading」

……

**

The weekend sky was clear and blue. The early spring weather was a chilly, but still had a bit of warmth to it. But I was unable to enjoy this beautiful day to myself, as I was summoned to go to Seoul’s ‘Association Tower’.
It was to receive commendation for subjugating the Djinn in the recent incident.

…Really, couldn’t they just come to give it themselves?

The conferment ceremony took place at a garden in Association Tower, and many people were already gathered by the time I arrived. However, the conferment ceremony seemed nowhere close to starting. Kim Suho, Chae Nayun, and I were forced into a ceremony rehearsal because we would receive our commendations from a dignitary, but the dignitary himself was late and we were forced to wait.
Because Chae Nayun was next to me, it felt like I was sitting on needles.

“…Haaam.”

“Happy?”

Once. I yawned once because I was bored. But Chae Nayun, who was looking for an excuse to pick a fight, finally shot back at me. I retorted briefly.

“What.”

“You’ve had a smirk for a while.”

“…”

It was unfair that she could look so pretty while making such remarks.
I planned to stay silent at first, but I suddenly remembered the reason I was here.

“You didn’t forget, did you?”

“Forget what?”

Each of her words was covered in thorns. I spoke as I stared into her eyes.

“That I saved you.”

“…”

She still looked angry, but she shut her mouth at a loss for words.

“That’s that and this is…”

“Stop, both of you.”

After a momentary contemplation, Chae Nayun opened her mouth to strike back, when Kim Suho cut in.

“W-What?”

“Chae Nayun, switch seats with me.”

For the record, our seats were ordered: Kim Suho, Chae Nayun, then me.

“And if I refuse?”

“Hurry.”

“No, why, I don’t want to…”

Seeing them getting all touchy didn’t feel too good.
Thankfully, their obscene(?) scuffle quickly ended, and Kim Suho replaced the seat next to me.
Kim Suho looked at me and let out a dry cough.

“Thank you for back then.”

"...What?"

I was struck dumb with amazement. I wanted to be left alone, so why was he still talking to me?

“Back at the museum, if it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t have won.”

“No, you would have won even without me.”

If I wasn’t there back then, Kim Suho might have awakened an even higher-dimensional power. Main characters always became strong through hardships and dangers.

“….No.”

With that single word, Kim Suho turned his gaze back.
At that moment, an extraordinary undulation of magic power rang out.
The ‘dignitary’ had finally arrived.

“H-He’s here. Everyone get ready!”

He was today’s commendation conferrer, the Master rank Hero titled ‘Wolf of Valhalla’.
His shoulder-length hair was curved up slightly, and he had a well-trimmed beard uncommon for an Eastern man. The regality given off by his extraordinary appearance wasn’t limited to an invisible feeling. As though a wind was blowing, each of his steps caused a thin undulation of magic power. His raw power had already reached a realm where even he couldn’t fully control it.

“…Huu.”

Looking around the room with his wolf-like eyes, the Master rank Hero, Yoo Sihyuk, murmured quietly.

“These fuckers telling me what to do…”

It was so quiet that only I could hear it with my Gift. With a moderate arrogance and a lethargic attitude, Yoo Sihyuk pushed back the guests flocking towards him.

He walked up to the podium commandingly. His attendants ran up and handed him a paper which listed the order of the ceremony. Clicking his tongue, Yoo Sihyuk glanced at the paper before he threw it away. His attendants took the discarded paper and ran off.

—Now, the conferment ceremony will begin.

The host announced the start of the ceremony.

—The commendation will be conferred by the rank 37 Master rank Hero, Sir Yoo Sihyuk.

As we rehearsed, Kim Suho, Chae Nayun, and I walked up to the podium.
Yoo Sihyuk smirked as soon as he saw Kim Suho.

“Are you Kim Suho?”

“Yes.”

“Mm. I can see why those guys want you.”

Intense interest was reflected in Yoo Sihyuk’s eyes. With an unusual kindness, Yoo Sihyuk advised Kim Suho.

“Don’t join the Association. It might even be better to join the Vast Expanse and become a hunter. Being a Hero is nothing but a baggage of responsibility and no fun.”

“…Still, a Hero fits my personality best.”

Kim Suho revealed a clear refusal with a smile. In response, the corner of Yoo Sihyuk’s mouth twisted up.

“You’re a boring guy. Fine… And you, it’s been a while, eh?”

This time, it was Chae Nayun. When her eyes met him, she made a bitter expression.

“…It’s been a while.”

“Your father told me to take care you, but I don’t plan on doing that.”

“I… Master—”

“I’m not your master. A bow user like you think you can call me Master? Do you want to die?”

At his open reproach, Chae Nayun only stuck out her mouth in a pout. Seeing her reduced to such a pathetic state, I struggled to hold in my laughter.

“…And who are you?”

“I am cadet Kim Hajin.”

“Oh… Okay.”

That was it for me. A completely different treatment than what Kim Suho and Chae Nayun got.

It seemed indifference really was more painful than hatred.

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FudgeNouget's Thoughts

Wednesday chapter~