Chapter 29. The Djinn and Gari Mountain (2)


11 P.M.
I finally returned to my room 12 hours after the start of the Mock Dungeon Trial.
Cube told the cadets that an internal investigation would occur rather than deploying an external police or Heroes of the Hero Association. It was only possible thanks to no cadet being killed or injured.

In other words, the Djinns making up the upper brass of Cube had succeeded in masking this incident. An extensive external investigation would only occur after the end of the ‘second incident.’

“…I got super lucky.”

In any case, the Fitness Center was closed because of the ruckus, so I was loafing around in my room, looking at my laptop.

[An incredible luck applies, blocking a silent ambush!]
[Narrow Escape from Death (1/9) – A special stat, accumulation of luck, becomes partly unlocked!]

As I thought, it was by pure luck that I dodged the poison arrow. Because of it, a special stat called accumulation of luck was unlocked.
A special stat was… Well, to explain this, I had to first explain how stats worked.

In this world, stats were divided into three major categories: variable stats, invariable stats, and special stats.
Variable stats and invariable stats were something people were born with. Even a baby had strength, magic power, vitality, intelligence, and other basic stats.

But special stats were something that most people didn’t have. For example, every human was born with magic power, the power to wield mana. But they weren’t born with ‘magic power control’ and ‘mental power’, which were needed to conjure and utilize magic power. These two abilities came from an innate talent and continuous effort.
As a result, cadets generally had a different number of special stats. Most had two basic special stats – magic power control and mental power. In the case of Kim Suho, he also had an additional special stat called ‘resistance’, and Chae Nayun had an additional special stat called ‘intuition’.

“…Hm.”

[Accumulation of luck – 11%]

And I had just gotten one too.
It was only 11% unlocked, so there really wasn’t anything I could do with it. Plus, there was no explanation about the stat, so I didn’t even know what it did.

‘Well, I’m sure I’ll found out eventually.’

The more important matter was Sven. I needed to know what he was planning. He was undoubtedly scheming on Chae Nayun, and he would likely lose control once he was alone with her. After all, one of the negative side-effects of a Djinn Contract was amplification of emotions and obsession.

Should I contact Chae Nayun? …No.

I opened my laptop. It felt like a crime… no, it was most certainly a crime, but I didn’t have any other choice.
Using my laptop’s Internet Access functionality, I accessed Chae Nayun’s smartwatch. I only needed to spend a small amount of SP.

[Chae Nayun → Kim Suho]
[Hey, what’s up?]

[Shin Jonghak → Chae Nayun]
[Hey, do you want to go grab a late night snack?]

Several messages were coming and going, and I tried my best to not look at them. The only conversation I needed to see was Sven’s.
As expected of Chae Nayun, she was receiving messages from several male and female cadets. I only found Sven’s name after scrolling down for a while.

===
Sven: [Thank you for yesterday.]
[Yeah, you did well too. By the way, why do you keep using polite speech? It’s uncomfortable.]
Sven: [Is it? I’ll talk casually then.]


Sven: [I hear the hunting club is going to Gangwondo this week. Wanna hunt together?]
[Yeah, sure.]
===

It was a common conversation among colleagues, but Sven’s last message caught my attention.
‘Hunting club, this week.’
‘Hunt together.’
In the original story, this was also the day Sven went berserk.

At that moment…

[Hajin.]

I received a message on my smartwatch. When I saw the sender’s name, I couldn’t help but grow curious.
It was Kim Suho.

[Do you have time this Thursday?]

“What’s up with him?”

Why was Kim Suho contacting me all of the sudden? …Oh, it’s that.

For the internal investigation of the previous incident, Cube decided to select the most trustworthy cadets from each grade to search for the culprit. The freshman year representatives were unsurprisingly Shin Jonghak, Kim Suho, and Chae Nayun.

“…But isn’t it too early?”

I wasn’t sure of the exact date, but I remembered it being around early April. Currently, it was the end of March. The investigation team had formed quicker than I thought. Plus, I couldn’t understand why he would contact me.

[Why?]

[I can’t tell you yet. I’ll tell you about it when we meet in person. For now, just know that Nayun recommended you.]

“Chae Nayun?”

Why would Chae Nayun recommend me? Because I have good eyes?

I hesitated. The time wasn’t a good match. Classes were canceled for Wednesday and Thursday, so I planned on going to Gari Mountain Dungeon on Wednesday and the hunting club was on Thursday.
I replied.

[I’m busy on Thursday, but I’m free on Friday.]

[That’s fine, we can meet then.]

Kim Suho replied instantly.

“…Well, it’s better for me the closer I am to the storyline.”

After replying “okay”, I went back to looking at my laptop.
Next on the list was Sven’s social media accounts.

**


Gangwondo was Korea’s biggest mountainous range. The region included Baekdu Mountain, which was known for its rich life energy, and other mountains like the Kumgang mountain, which were rich in spirit energy. As such, martial artists called this area the ‘Mecca of Training.’
Because of the rich life energy and spirit energy in Gangwondo’s mountains, it attracted all sorts of people including hunters, poachers, Heroes, and mercenaries.
Among these were one special occupation known as ginseng digger.

A ginseng digger was someone who searched the mountain grounds for ginseng. While they weren’t strong enough to combat monsters, they traveled the world in search of ginseng with their sense of smell and sight heightened to the limit.
Ginseng could be found in many countries, but the most expensive ginseng were found on the Korean Peninsula. Naturally, ginseng diggers were common in Gangwondo.

Kim Yunjoon was also a ginseng digger.

Gangwondo’s ginseng sold for a sky-high price even if they were young, because ginseng increased the amount of mana in one’s body. Kim Yunjoon didn’t really understand what that meant, but he spent 10 years in Gangwondo’s dangerous mountain ranges filled with monsters to dig up money.

The last ginseng he discovered was a year ago. It was a 4-year-old ginseng. In other words, he had no income for a year, but because he received 300 million won from his last ginseng, his family didn’t complain much.

Today marked the twentieth time Kim Yunjoon climbed the Gari Mountain.

“…Hm?”

Just like always, he walked with his eyes looking down. When he raised his head to wipe off his sweat, he discovered a young man. The young man wasn’t ugly nor handsome. He was simply average. Still, his body seemed to be well-built, most likely because of the well-defined muscles on his arms and legs. It was a common feature among ginseng diggers.
The man repeated walking, stopping, and looking at a map.

“A ginseng digger. But ginsengs aren’t found on maps. He must be a newbie.”

Kim Yunjoon grinned and walked towards him. The man turned around, having noticed his presence.
Kim Yunjoon asked cheekily.

“Are you also a ginseng digger?”

The man stared back at him in a daze before shaking his head.

“No, I’m just looking for a place.”

With that, he hid his map behind him. Kim Yunjoon found his actions quite cute.

“Haha, I understand where you’re coming from, but ginseng aren’t something you can find with maps.”

“…Yes?”

“That map, I don’t know where you got it from, but don’t believe it too much. Only Heaven knows where ginseng are.”

“What?”

The man tilted his head. Kim Yunjoon had a lot he wanted to say to this novice ginseng digger. He felt it was his responsibility as an elite ginseng digger.

Kim Yunjoon then began to talk about his experience as a ginseng digger and showed his cutting-edge equipment. He explained how to dig to avoid damaging the ginseng, then showed pictures of his wife and 13 year old son before laughing and smacking the man’s shoulder.

“When I see young’uns climbing the mountain, I can’t help but think they’re dreaming of striking a fortune. Jumping into the mountains with such a flimsy mindset is no different than throwing away your life. Forgive me for telling you all this, but I hope what I told you will come in handy.”

“Ah… yes.”

The man nodded with a blank face. Kim Yunjoon could feel a deep admiration and respect in the man’s eyes. Just that made his effort worthwhile.

“Then take care. I wish you good luck. In fact, I hope you can grow up to threaten me as a competitor. Don’t forget the advice I gave you today.”

Kim Yunjoon walked past the man. Just in case the man was watching him leave, he raised his hand and waved.

*


“…”

I stared at a man’s back. Then, I looked down at the watch on my wrist. Unknowingly, 30 minutes had passed.

“What is he?”

I ended up wasting time because of some talkative guy. I wanted to cut him off in the middle, but I hesitated, thinking he might be a named herbalist.
But I didn’t find anything special from the pictures he showed me or his outer appearance. It seemed he was really just a normal ginseng digger.

“I think it’s this way…”

I looked at my map once again. The map pointed to the Gari Mountain Dungeon. The map was obtained from the Book of Truth. Just like a genie lamp, all I had to do was ask, “Where is the Gari Mountain Dungeon?”, and it gave me this map.

In fact, this map showed my live location, almost like a GPS system.
Looking at my map, I continued towards the Dungeon’s location.
After about 10 minutes of walking…

“Uk!”

Thud.
I fell down after tripping on something.

“Agh, what is it now?”

I got up after falling pathetically. There was a stem of some sort tangled around my leg. At first, I was frightened out of my mind, thinking it was some plant type monster, but upon closer inspection, I noticed it was just an ordinary stem.

“Whew, that surprised me.”

I pulled on the stem. It didn’t seem to go very deep, as I didn’t need to put in much strength.
But when I pulled the stem out of the ground, something resembling a bellflower root came out.

“What’s this?”

I threw the root on the ground. After dusting myself off, I took a step to continue walking, but I suddenly remembered what the man I just met told me.
Ginseng.
I looked at the root one more time. Now that I looked at it again, it did resemble a mandrake. I took out my laptop and read the description of the root in front of me.

===
[7-year-old Ginseng]
—A plant that achieved magic power on its own through condensed life energy and spiritual energy. Has strong efficacy no matter how it’s used.
—A treasured item full of nutrients.
===

“…”

I became speechless. There was something I needed to say, but I was too dumbfounded to speak.
So, I just murmured inwardly.

Jackpot.

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