Chapter 22. Second Incident (2)


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「Information Agency – Truth」

Welcome.
If you are here to look for true information, visit the following room.

¿Room of Inquiry?

[                             ]

Write your question in the above empty space. As long as it meets the following guidelines, it will be answered.

—Condition 1. Naturally, only answers known by the agency will be answered. If we do not know the answer to a question, we will say so, so do not worry.
—Condition 2. We cannot give an answer about a person with just his or her name. We require the person’s name, picture, physique, identity, and other personal information.
—Condition 3. We cannot answer questions that are too trivial. For example, “I lost my cat. Where is it?” is not an acceptable question.
However, the same question can be answered if the scope of the question is narrowed down with specific details.

*Note 1. The minimum cost is 100,000 won but is subject to change drastically depending on the question.
*Note 2. Please keep in mind that replies will come quicker if you use respectful language and expression.
*Note 3. The information we provide is all true. Thus, we cannot refund your purchase.

*The above cost and conditions are subject to change at any time.
===

“This seems good enough.”

I looked at my laptop proudly. This was the form I submitted to Violet Banquet as an information seller. Now that I had a Gift like the Book of Truth, it felt like a waste to not use it.

For now, I gave it a grandiose name – ‘Truth Agency’.
Since reputation played a huge role in Violet Banquet, I didn’t expect to get many customers to begin with. It was perfect since I didn’t think my magic power would last long anyways.
But in 2~3 years, Truth Agency’s name would surely spread among the members, starting from small interest like ‘Why is this still here?’ or ‘Should I give it a test since I’m bored?’
Since I would have three or four streaks of Stigma by that time, I wouldn’t need to worry about running out of magic power either.
It was a risk-free, long-term investment for the future. If it worked, great. If it didn’t, that was fine too.

“Okay.”

After looking over the form one more time, I pressed the [apply for seller] button.
Now, everything was taken care of.
The only thing left to do was my daily work out.
I stretched and stood up.

**


Late night, Sunday.

Kim Suho was working out at the Novice Fitness Center. Kim Suho was a regular visitor of the fitness center, but today’s scenery was different than what it was at the beginning of the year. Today, the fitness center was booming with cadets. It was undoubtedly because the midterm exams were coming up.

“Kuu.”

After finishing a set, Kim Suho looked around the place while resting. Jin Hanjun, Kim Horak, Shin Jonghak, and even Yoo Yeonha and Rachel, who were rare visitors, were there.

“Are you checking out girls?”

At that moment, a sudden coldness touched his face. Kim Suho pulled his head back in surprise. There was only one person who would play such a prank on him. Kim Suho glared at him. Yi Yeonghan shrugged and handed him a drink.

“So, are you?”

“No, I just…”

“Yeah?”

“…I just thought it was a rare sight.”

Kim Suho pointed at Rachel with his chin. Yi Yeonghan looked at Rachel and nodded in agreement.

“I guess you’re right. This is the first time I’ve seen a real princess working out at a fitness center.”

Blonde hair that glistened brilliantly and eyes that were like refined sapphires. Her figure showed no imperfections and flaunted elegance and charm.

Even while covered in sweat, she looked like she came out of a painting. The girl, Rachel, was from England’s royal family and was the descendant of a noble lineage.

“Who do you think she’ll marry in the future? Not with us, right?”

At Yi Yeonghan’s comments, Kim Suho smiled.

“Is that a sneer? What, you think you can marry her?”

“No, it’s not that. I was agreeing with you. I don’t think she’d marry someone like us.”

“Uuk!”

While the two of them joked with each other, a sudden loud grunt grabbed their attention.

“Huuuk!”

The strange breathing sound came from a man having a life-or-death battle with a fitness equipment. However, the weight on the equipment was a pitiful amount by any cadet’s standard.

“…Is he really struggling with that?”

Yi Yeonghan looked with pity.
It wasn’t just Yi Yeonghan. Almost every cadet snickered as they walked about. Kim Suho couldn’t tell whether Kim Hajin was oblivious or too focused to notice, but he continued his struggle resolutely.

“At least he’s doing it for a long time.”

Kim Suho replied briefly.

“Please, with that weight, I can do the same thing for half a day. I’m curious how he was even admitted to Cube. Even sharpshooters have a minimum physical requirement they need to meet, and wasn’t he a swordsman before? Why don’t I remember him? …Oh, look, it’s Chae Nayun.”

Chae Nayun came out of the gravitation room at just the right moment. Covered in sweat, she was slightly staggering with an exhausted face.
It looked like she was planning on heading straight back, but when she saw Kim Hajin, she stopped and began to glare at him.
Jiing— Two laser beams shot out of her eyes.

“…What’s she doing?”

“They’re not really on good terms.”

Kim Suho smiled bitterly.

“Tsk.”

After glaring at Kim Hajin for a while, Chae Nayun clicked her tongue and turned back. At the same time, her eyes met Kim Suho. She let out a dry cough as though she was embarrassed and walked towards them.

“Hey, Kim Suho, isn’t he a bit strange?”

What nonsense was she spouting now?

“…Strange?”

“That bastard, he’s acting.”

“What are you talking about?”

Both Yi Yeonghan and Kim Suho furrowed their brows. They didn’t understand what Chae Nayun was saying, but Chae Nayun glared at Kim Suho as though he was being dense.

“…I can understand Yi Yeonghan saying this, but Kim Suho, you really are insensitive about these kinds of things.”

“What? What are you talking about out of the blue?”

“You saw him that day and you still don’t get it?”

In truth, Chae Nayun’s suspicion was justified.
Magic power was one of the most important abilities of a Hero. In that sense, the magic power Kim Hajin displayed during the Seoul Incident was abnormal. An explosion of magic power strong enough to dye the world white for an instant…
A man with such level of magic power was struggling to lift a tiny weight?
It just didn’t make sense.
As such, Kim Hajin had to be acting for whatever reason.

…Although the logic behind it wasn’t perfectly sound, it was still a justifiable suspicion.

“Hm…”

Yi Yeonghan stared at Kim Hajin once again.
His face was red as though it was about to explode.

“If that’s acting, he should get an Oscar.”

“Ehew. Whatever, stay dense, you two.”

Right when Chae Nayun was shaking her head in disappointment, three male cadets approached Kim Hajin. Kim Suho instinctively frowned. Those three were well-known delinquents.

“Hey, what are you doing here, loser?”

“Look, he’s struggling with this. I only need a finger to lift this.”

They nudged Kim Hajin, but he didn’t react in any way. Without giving them a single glance, he focused on working out.

“Hey, are you mute? Say something.”

“Let’s take pictures of this son of a bitch and post it. Look at him, working all hard when he’s a complete waste.”

Aggravated, the three delinquents began to curse openly. Why live; you’re a waste of money; I feel bad for your parents; you’re not going to graduate anyway, so why not just leave; etc…

“…Hey, I’m leaving.”

Watching this scene, Chae Nayun left the scene looking uncomfortable.
Kim Suho got up, unable to hold himself back, but Yi Yeonghan stopped him.

“What?”

“Just leave him be. By the looks of it, they’re Shin Jonghak’s lackeys. Nothing good will come of fighting them.”

“But still…”

“Plus…”

Yi Yeonghan smiled as though he found the situation funny.

“Who knows? Maybe he really is acting.”

**


When I woke up, it was Monday morning. In a daze, I thought back to what happened yesterday. Applying as an information seller on Violet Banquet, buying stocks, and working out…

Let’s shower first.

Chwaaa—
Cold water washed away my drowsiness.
I looked at my wet body in the mirror.
My body had certainly improved. My shoulders and biceps were vitalized, my abdominal muscles were well-defined, and my thighs were rock-hard. It was a robust and healthy body that I could have never achieved on Earth. I wondered, how were my stats looking like?

After drying myself, I left the bathroom and turned on my laptop.

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[Strength 1.835]
[Stamina 1.945]
[Speed 2.15]
[Perception 3.055]
[Vitality 1.765]
[Magic power 1.315]
===

As expected, I had grown a lot. Of course, it was still at the level of ‘a man who worked out diligently’, but at this rate, it wouldn’t be long until I could take Aether from Gari Mountain.
After all, the real reward of the Gari Mountain Dungeon wasn’t the ‘completion reward’, but the ‘hidden stage reward’.

Wiing—
Wiing—

I turned on my smartwatch before heading out to class and was immediately greeted by anonymous messages.

[Retard.]
[Hey, coward, get ready to have your spine broken in the upcoming combat exam. I’ll disable you and…]

“These guys again.”

It seemed I was the target of bullying. I had an idea who the instigator was, but I couldn’t be sure.
But of course, something of this level wasn’t enough to damage my 26-year-old mind. After all, I had suffered through Korea’s military service. Just like the saying went, it was just kids being kids.

After blocking the two fools who messaged me, I walked outside.
But there were words written on the nameplate outside my door.
Retard, loser, pushover… There was one more but the handwriting was too bad for me to recognize.
They seemed to have been carved with magic power to avoid being detected by CCTV. For now, I really couldn’t do anything about it. Since classes would begin in ten minutes, I had to hurry before I was late.

*


I opened the classroom door.

“Oh, you’re here, loser?”

Immediately, some kid I didn’t even know the name of struck my head.
I was starting to get a bit annoyed. Sure, it was just kids being kids, but I made sure to remember their faces. Jokes on you, the more you bully me, the more my SP increases!

“What? You mad?”

I didn’t respond. Kim Hyuksoo. I memorized his name and ignored him.
I walked past a few more sneering cadets and sat down on my usual seat. At that moment, my eyes met Chae Nayun. But she didn’t show the same hostility as before. She looked at me somewhat bitterly before turning away.

“Hey guys, the exam results are out for Phenomenon Realm Analysis.”

At that moment, Yi Yeonghan walked in with an armful of large scrolls.
Cube still had a traditional custom. The results of every written exam, whether small or big, were posted publicly on large posters.
Yi Yeonghan put up the posters while other cadets groaned.

The result was as such.

Rank 1. Kim Hajin
Rank 2. Rachel

Snap.
A sound similar to a chopstick snapping in half rang out. I snuck a peek behind me.
Two halves of a pen rolled on the table. Next to them was the presumed owner of the pen, Rachel, who was staring at the exam results in a daze. Her mouth was half-open, as though she was shocked greatly.

“…Oh, right.”

It was then that I remembered a setting I had forgotten about.

For every written exam, whether small or big, Rachel had never been pushed out of first place.

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