A short groan left my mouth. My body ached everywhere. Skeleton bones were littered around me, and I was lying on the ground.
It was a difficult fight. I had no talent for close ranged combat, but I didn’t want to waste precious bullets on skeletons, so I transformed Aether into a club to use as a melee weapon. Now that the ginseng’s effect had worn off, I wondered why I did something so bold. It seemed it was true that a strong mind arose from a strong body.
“I would have died if they were black skeletons…”
Each time I swung the club, I destroyed three to four white skeletons. That was how strong my body was, but the fight had still taken 25 minutes. If the monster I fought weren’t the low ranked white skeletons… I didn’t even want to imagine the outcome.
I raised my upper body and pondered as I scratched my back using a skeleton's bone.
I managed to obtain Aether and Evandel’s Seed. It was the biggest accomplishment I made since being transported into my novel.
To confirm my achievement, I opened my laptop.
[A fraction of the ginseng’s effect melts into your body. Your strength and stamina increases by 0.02 points!]
[You obtained 47 SP.]
But what I gained from the system wasn’t much. Was it because Aether wasn’t a well-known weapon at this point? It wasn’t much SP.
[Magic power 1.925]
But the increase in variable stats was something to note. Thanks to Aether boosting each stat by 0.6 points, my stats looked much better. Now that my core stats were above 2, I was now on the level of a cadet, though I was still at the bottom of the barrel.
“…It’s time to go now.”
After appreciating the numbers for some time, I closed the laptop. It was time to go back. I wasn’t sure if I could walk properly, but if I stayed here any longer and was discovered by a monster, that would be the end of me.
I forced my creaking body up and began to walk back the way I came from.
At 10 P.M., I finally came back to the dorm, barely making it before curfew.
I headed to the shower immediately after I opened the door and washed away the dirt covering my body. Because of the rough work-out I had, the warm water gave me a refreshing feeling.
After turning off the shower head, I wiped myself off. I could see the 0.6 point stat increase on my body. Even without flexing or holding my breath, there was a clear six-pack on my stomach. …Though, I guess it was the same for other cadets.
I stopped fooling around in front of the mirror and got out of the bathroom.
After putting on my underwear, I put my laptop and Evandel’s Seed on the desk.
“I brought it but…”
—Seed containing the soul of Evandel the witch.
When this seed germinates, ‘Evandel’ the Witch of Despair would be born. Her title made her sound evil, but if utilized correctly, she could become a valuable ally. The environment where one grew up was the most important thing in raising any living being. So, I just had to raise her well.
Feeding the seed was simple. Instead of water, I just had to give it small amounts of blood. A witch’s personality and growth were dependent on who the blood came from. Chae Nayun’s or Kim Suho’s blood would be the best, but acquiring them wasn’t easy.
“I’ll just hold onto you for now.”
I wrapped Evandel’s Seed in a handkerchief and put it in a drawer. Chae Nayun and Kim Suho were model citizens who regularly donated blood. Perhaps, I could pull some tricks to acquire their blood packs.
Next, I accessed Chae Nayun’s smartwatch to prepare for tomorrow’s event.
Coincidentally, she was currently talking with Sven.
Sven: [You’re coming to the club tomorrow, right?]
[Yeah, when are we meeting?]
Sven: [Come to the Portal at 4.]
[Why so early?]
Sven: [The meeting place is in Gangwondo, so let’s bet on who will get more kills before the seniors arrive.]
[Sure, that sounds nice.]
From the looks of it, they seemed to have gotten fairly close. The meeting time was 5 P.M. according to the club announcement, but Sven had asked to meet an hour early.
After noting the time in my head, I accessed Violet Banquet to sell the ginseng I picked up. Packhorse Master’s stock price was going up. I had wanted to buy more before it was too late.
[Violet Banquet Online Auction House]
[Item for Sale]
[Description – 7-year-old ginseng dug from Gangwondo’s mountain.]
[Please place the item on the Portal for appraisal.]
A circular hologram projected out of the laptop screen. Once I placed the ginseng on it, it would be transported to Violet Banquet’s appraisal center, and the item would go on auction once the appraisal was complete.
I couldn’t explain how this technology worked. A Portal was created from magic engineering, but I had no clue how it could be projected remotely. Modern technology wasn’t advanced enough to achieve such a feat.
But Violet Banquet could do it.
The reason was simple. Violet Banquet itself was the reward of ‘Tower of Information’.
Just like the textbook said, Towers gave rewards that were beyond anyone’s imagination.
[The item has been transported. The appraisal result will come out within the next 24 hours.]
After seeing the ginseng disappear into the Portal, I closed the laptop.
Thursday, 3:30 P.M.
I got dressed before it was too late. Thanks to the modified fatigue recovery potion, I was at my peak condition. Now, I just had to “coincidentally” join up with Sven and Chae Nayun, and prevent them from being together. I wanted to chase Sven out if possible, but that was beyond my ability.
I left the dorm and arrived at the bus station. A bus arrived not long after, but I passed it by. I had to wait for someone. Thankfully, she was noticeable from a mile away.
Just like now, her face radiated light wherever she went.
“What are you doing here?”
Chae Nayun at least acknowledged my existence. I tilted my head nonchalantly.
Sven should already be waiting at the Portal Station, but I knew Chae Nayun would be late. That was just how her personality was, and I had also peeked at the message she sent Sven.
“Why didn’t you get on the bus?”
Chae Nayun asked. For a moment, I flinched. So she was watching me waiting for the bus. Come to think of it, Chae Nayun had good eyes as well.
“I was hesitating. I came out too early, so there was too much time left over until the club meeting. I just decided to go through, since I don’t have anything better to do.”
“Oh? What club are you in?”
“Hunting? I’m in hunting too, and I don’t remember seeing you…”
The bus arrived while Chae Nayun was talking. I hopped in, and Chae Nayun followed.
“I didn’t go to the orientation. That’s probably why.”
I spoke as I sat down on a seat.
Chae Nayun sat down across from me. Then, she glanced at me with doubtful eyes before opening her mouth.
“Just how many clubs are you in? I heard from Yeonha that you were in her club.”
“Wow, what a waste of time.”
“You’re in two too.”
“I’m… So what?”
I forced myself to smile before closing my eyes. I didn’t want to continue this conversation any longer. Chae Nayun didn’t seem to mind ending the conversation either.
Without talking for the rest of the bus ride, Chae Nayun and I arrived at the Portal Station. I could see Sven in the distance. He ran towards the bus as soon as he saw it, but he paused momentarily when he saw me. But soon, he walked up with a smile.
“You came earlier than I expected.”
“Mhm. Oh right, Sven, you know him, right? He’s the one who helped us before. Kim Hajin.”
“Yeah, I know. Hey.”
Sven reached his hand out and I grabbed it. Sven tried to let go immediately, but I didn’t let him. I grasped his hand firmly and stared into his eyes. Black, lifeless eyes. My Gift of observation peered into his pupils. I could catch a glimpse of Asmodeus’ evil energy.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
Chae Nayun stepped in and separated me from Sven. No, she separated Sven from me.
“Why are you picking a fight?”
She snapped at me sharply. I turned around without saying anything and walked to the Portal Station’s entrance.
I wasn’t particularly skilled in distinguishing the state of Djinns. But Sven was undoubtedly on a dangerous edge. I could tell simply by looking at my laptop.
[In the original story, he dies after going berserk without accomplishing anything.]
[Modified setting – Increased self-control and mental power to help him better control Asmodeus’ power.]
We arrived at a residential area in Gangwondo.
As Gangwondo had high mana density, there were many monsters and wild animals. As such, the hunting club, Leonidas, obtained the cooperation of the local government and residents to hunt in this area. By hunting wild animals that frequently invaded the residential area, the cadets would be helping citizens while enjoying their hobbies.
“You met on the way here?”
At the club’s meeting place, Sven asked Chae Nayun.
Chae Nayun narrowed her eyes and observed Kim Hajin’s movements. He was sitting on a rock and looking at his watch.
He kept doing this. While pretending to be oblivious to his surroundings, he kept loitering around them.
“Doesn’t it look like he’s following us?”
Sven stared at Kim Hajin for a while before continuing.
“You heard about cadets going missing lately, right?”
“He wouldn’t do something like that.”
“He has an alibi.”
During the estimated time of the third victim, there was a record of Kim Hajin using a Portal. So Chae Nayun had recommended Kim Hajin to the Djinn investigation team. After all, Yoo Yeonha, who was known for her objective judgment, praised his eyesight.
Chae Nayun fell in thought as she rubbed her chin.
Though he wasn’t a suspect in the case, there was indeed something strange about him. Even today, Kim Hajin clearly skipped a bus to take the next one with me.
"…It’s not that he likes me, I think."
But thinking about it now, it wasn’t completely absurd.
If bringing up my older brother was to draw my attention, it all made sense. Not to mention, the unusually aggressive stance he took against Sven today… Oh, and even before then, at the National Weapons Museum, his partner should have been Yoo Yeonha, but he was at the museum for some reason.
Of course, it was only a suspicion for now. But if that was really his intention, he was going at it the wrong way. Trying to draw someone’s attention by harassing them was disgusting and shameless, and following someone around secretly was no different than stalking.
“…Nah, no way.”
Chae Nayun shook her head and got rid of the suspicions in her head.
It didn't make sense. She couldn't even remember if they had met before the museum incident.
Of course, she knew there were lots of guys who had a crush on her. Not just many, but a truckload… But still…
“Look, the others are here.”
At that moment, Sven pointed ahead. Chae Nayun became startled and looked up.
The hunting club’s leader and other first and second years were walking over.
12 hours after the start of the auction, my ginseng was sold. 546 million won. Even after the 11% auction fee, it was close to 500 million won. That was with four missing roots too (I snapped another one off in case of an emergency). Now if I threw all this into stocks…
“Now, come closer everyone!”
A cheerful voice rang out. I turned towards the direction of the voice. The club leader and other members had arrived.
Today’s event would finally start.
But to be honest, I didn’t know much about today’s event. I only roughly wrote the conclusion.
[Chae Nayun was gravely injured by a berserk Djinn, and Sven dissipated into dust.]
That was it. The whole point of this event was to get Kim Suho to think about Chae Nayun.
Because of today’s event, Kim Suho would mistake Chae Nayun to be the Djinn’s target, and while everyone was paying attention to Chae Nayun, Yoo Yeonha would be kidnapped. It was something like that.
But the biggest problem was that Sven had changed from the original story. He became calmer and more elaborate. Since he could use Asmodeus’ power better, Chae Nayun might suffer a more disgraceful situation.
“It’s nice to see everyone again. Again, our hunting club helps citizens by hunting wild animals, the so-called killing two birds with one stone.”
The talkative club leader began his speech.
“Oh, by the way, who might you be? I don’t recall seeing you in the orientation.”
But suddenly, he stopped his speech and asked me.
“I’m Kim Hajin. I couldn’t attend the orientation due to a personal matter.”
“Ah, that’s fine. We didn’t do much on the orientation. For today…”
I looked for Chae Nayun while ignoring the club leader. I found her almost instantly, but I jumped mildly in surprise.
Chae Nayun was also staring at me. Fixedly, with a suspicious look.
Edit; Portal Post changed to Portal Station
The first-person third-person narration change in this chapter was wonky...