Chapter 318. A New Path (1)


I was currently in a guardhouse. Well, perhaps it was a prison cell. Whatever the case, the point was that I was locked up. Locked up and working out. Push ups, plank, pull ups, etc.

[Your strength increases by 0.1]
[Your vitality increases by 0.1]
[Your stamina increases by 0.1]

As the above alerts showed, the exercise was going pretty well. I experienced an increase of 0.6 points in just 36 hours. I couldn’t have experienced such a rapid increase on Earth.

“…”

I looked at the veins protruding out of my forearm. At this rate, I believed I would be able to regain my original abilities in a couple of months.

KWANG—!

Suddenly the door burst open.
I lifted my head and looked at the door.
Tap, tap. I heard heavy footsteps approaching. Clang. I heard the sound of metal clanging against metal.
A person in a robe stood in front of my cell.

“Are you the F-rank sharpshooter Kim Hajin?”

A clear voice flowed into my ears. It was a beautiful voice, one that no one would ever forget once they heard it.

“I am,” I answered.

A woman wearing a hooded robe gave a small smile.

“Is it true that you broke into the library to read books?”

The woman looked at me and asked, and only then did I realize her name and her status. Observation and Reading had activated a little late.

[Airun - Knight Commander]

“…Yes.”

“So does that mean you can read?”

Was the illiteracy rate in this world high? Airun gave a broad smile when I answered that I could read.

“Great, that’s good to hear.”

She took out a copperplate and a card from inside her robe.

“I understand that only those who are competent can enter the Lorenzio Secret Service. Statistics prove that the soldiers in the Secret Service are usually a rank or two better than soldiers in other squads,” Airun said and threw the copperplate and the card into my cell.

“I heard it’s only been three months since you joined the army.”

I examined the copperplate. Short sentences were written on it.

[1:30 AM, March 8th, a stable near the eastern gate of Lorenzio]
[I need an sharpshooter to guide me through the Rotio Mountains]
[He needs to be able to read this copperplate]

I thought the last sentence was a bit odd but decided to move on to the card for now. The card had the words [Supply Card] written across it in black.

“Can you read that copperplate?”

“…Pardon? Ah, Yes. I can. 1:30 AM, March 8th.”

When I read what was written on the copperplate, Airun smiled and continued.

“Alright. Now, listen up. I’d like to hire you on a secret mission. Surely you’re aware that as an F-rank soldier, your career in the army can end at any moment now that you’re in jail.”

I listened to her carefully since I didn’t know anything about the situation I was currently in.

“However, if you come back alive from this mission, I’ll guarantee you a spot in the army, not just as an ordinary soldier but as a commissioned officer. …Oh, and you’ll be released immediately if you accept my offer.”

It turns out she was asking for my help.

“Mm….”

I was wondering whether I should accept her offer or not, when all of a sudden several sentences popped up before my eyes.

[New Event]
[Summary - Airun has chosen you as Harin’s bodyguard.]
[Difficulty - High]
[Goal - Escort ‘Harin’ safely to the ‘Republic of Leores’ in the south.]
[Reward - A piece of equipment that you lost.]

“I’ll do it.”

I immediately nodded my head.

“Good. You’ll change into regular clothes and depart tomorrow. You’ll be able to get all the equipment you need from the armory with that card.”

Airun smiled and turned around. Her movements were very graceful.
As she walked down the hallway towards the exit, the guard approached me and opened the cell door.

“You’re being released, F-rank Sharpshooter Kim Hajin. You’ll have to fill out a short form before leaving.”

**


KOOOONG—!

The guardhouse door closed shut. Airun let out a sigh as she watched the iron door close. As always, it was too heavy and bulky for her taste. A simple magic processing would’ve been enough to solve the issue, but whoever constructed it had not bothered in the slightest.

“…So this is where you are.”

Suddenly, an annoyed voice caught Airun’s attention. Startled, Airun turned her gaze to where the voice had come from.
There, her subordinate ‘Draven’ was waiting for her.

“Draven.”

“Commander, are you up to something again?”

“…That’s no way to speak to your superior.”

Airun put on a solemn expression, but Draven was persistent. Now even more serious than before, he blocked Airun’s way.
Left with no other option, Airun spoke with a sigh, “An old frenemy of mine has asked me to lend her a sharpshooter”

“An old frenemy…?”

“Yes,” Airun smiled bitterly and continued, “I’m sure you know her as well.”

“…?!”

Draven widened his eyes. There was only one person he could think of, the sister of the man who had been executed for spreading false rumors about the prince.

Draven exclaimed in aghast, “Commander!”

“…Shh.”

“They might think we’re working with the traitors. They-”

“It’s okay. That’s why I came here specifically.”

Harin, the eldest daughter of the Leon Clan.
Because of her brother’s treacherous prophecy—‘Someday the prince will become the devil and destroy the world.’—her entire family had been killed off, and she was the sole survivor.

“She’s in need of a sharpshooter to help her escape. He’s not even D-rank. I can spare her an F-rank soldier. No one would notice that he’s gone anyway.”

Airun had already tested the F-rank sharpshooter named Kim Hajin.
The copperplate that Airun showed to Kim Hajin, only those with good eyesight could read the letters engraved on it. It was a magic item designed specifically for that purpose.

“Lending her a soldier won’t change her situation, but it could change ours-”

“Draven.”

Airun interrupted Draven adamantly.

“It’s something I decided, and you have no right to stop me. And, I know for sure that you’re also indebted to Leon.”

“….”

Drevon fell silent. It was just as the Commander said— The Duke of Leon was an ardent supporter of Arunheim’s knights. He lent support to those with talent regardless of his or her status and offered financial support so that the beneficiaries could focus on honing their sword skills.
Airun was one of Leon’s beneficiaries. Though she and Harin drifted apart because of something that happened in the past, she had yet to forget all the support she’d received from her family.

“…Fine.”

Draven, a local aristocrat and another beneficiary of Leon, finally gave in.

“But, Commander, it’ll be fine if that soldier dies during the mission, but if by any chance he comes back alive, I’ll kill him myself. We need to keep this to ourselves.”

“….”

Airun said nothing. She passed her subordinate quietly and Draven followed her in slow steps.

**


[New Event]
[Summary - Airun has chosen you as Harin’s bodyguard.]
[Difficulty - High]
[Goal - Escort ‘Harin’ safely to the ‘Republic of Leores’ in the south.]
[Reward - A piece of equipment that you lost.]

I scrutinized the details of this important mission and changed into new clothes as soon as I got out of the guardhouse. I started feeling itchy again the moment I put them on.

My next destination was the armory. The guards at the armory tried to stop me at first, but stepped down when I showed them the card; as Airun had told me to do. They then gave me the necessary weapons.

“Chainmail, hunting backpack, crampons, iron crossbow, 40 bronze magic bolts. Are you all set?”

“Yes, sir.”

I picked out the best equipment from the armory. Of course, all of them were mundane at best, but I could probably make them more useful through [Random Consolidation System].

“Good luck.”

“Thank you.”

I exchanged greetings with the guards and left the armory.
I then headed to the shooting range. My mission was to begin tomorrow and I felt the need to sharpen my skills.

“It’s big.”

The shooting range was 15 meters wide and 500 meters long. It seemed pretty well taken care of.

I stood in a lane and took out the crossbow.

Kiik—

I cocked and loaded the bolt against the bowstring and aimed at the target.
Then I fired.
Tang—!
Immediately after I shot my first bolt, I shot the second.
Tang—!
My second bolt fiercely chased after the first.
It was as if I shot them both at the same time. This ‘rapid fire’ technique was made possible by my Gift.

Koong—! Koong—!

A heavy sound rang out. The first bolt landed in the center area and the second bolt split the first bolt in half and penetrated the target.

“…”

I nodded in satisfaction. Despite the fact that my stats had decreased, the result was great. With the combination of my accuracy and Stigma, I was confident that I could dominate almost all enemies with a single shot.

“…I wonder what everyone is doing.”

A sudden curiosity captured my attention.
There were a total of 200 Earthlings in this world.
Did they all start at the very bottom like me? Or did they start higher, more towards the middle? Or maybe some of them became aristocrats and were in a better position to see how the wind was blowing.
I took out the Book of Truth to find out the answer.

“Where is Kim Suho in this world?”

I assumed this question would take up 2 streaks, which was risky now that my physical abilities were limited. But I wanted to know where Kim Suho was no matter what.

[…Kim Suho is in the Republic of Leores to the south.]

“Oh?”

My eyes widened.

“That’s where I’m going.”

A small laugh escaped my lips as I thanked my luck.

**


Arunheim, March 8th of Kairos calendar, one late night at the duchy of Lorenzio.

“…Huu.”

Short blue hair and sharp facial features. Not even dirt and bulky armor could hide the beauty that once charmed the entire kingdom.

Anyone would notice this mysterious yet filthy woman. This fact made ‘Harin’, the last survivor of Leon, tremble in fear even more.

“Huu….”

In a stable near the castle wall, she was wandering alone in fear. She managed to arrive at the duchy of Lorenzio thanks to the help of the knights. Currently, she was alone. Her only companion had left her to divert the attention of the enemy.

—Wait!

It was then she heard a man shouting.

“Hup!”

Harin hid behind a wall and covered her mouth.

—Let’s hit up another place! The night is still young.
—Great idea! Let’s go!

“…Haa.”

She waited in the dark for Airun’s help to arrive, whilst continually being startled by the footsteps of the passersby and wild animals.

“How much longer do I have to wait…?”

Harin felt humiliated that she had to ask Airun for help, but she had no other choice. She decided that staying alive was more important than her dignity.
She had asked for a sharpshooter. To escape from Arunheim, she had to cross a rugged mountain range.

“Wait, did she…?”

But she couldn’t rule out the possibility that Airun betrayed her. She knew Airun wasn’t the type to go back on her word, but…. Harin put her hands together and prayed for Airun to remember all the good things that the Leon Clan had done for her.
It was then.

“Is that you?”

A voice captured Harin’s attention.
Startled, Harin took a step back and raised her head. She saw in the shadow of the castle wall a man hidden under his robe.
Harin gulped and looked at the man.

“…You are?”

She felt relieved, but only for a moment. The tension in the atmosphere heightened as she began to suspect the man as an assassin sent by the royal family to kill her.

“I’m the receiver of this copperplate.”

The man showed Harin the copperplate she had given to Airun. This was the proof that the mysterious man was on her side.
But Harin still felt doubtful, for she couldn’t deny the possibility that Airun had betrayed her.

“Did Airun send you?”

“That’s right, I’m the pawn.”

“…Pawn?”

Harin felt confused by his word choice, but nevertheless chose to believe him. This was because she knew that if Airun did actually betray her, then she wouldn’t be able to make it to Leores alive no matter what.

“…Nice to meet you. I’m Renha.”

Harin presented an alias and reached out her hand.

“I’m Kim Hajin.”

The man also introduced himself and took her hand.
Just like that, she shook hands with the man who would become her bodyguard.

“Kim Hajin….”

It was a rather strange name, which made him appear more suspicious.

“Yes, that’s me.”

But the man nodded as if he wasn’t suspecting anything, and this made Harin feel a little more comfortable. For an assassin, he did seem too lax, after all.

Harin asked nonchalantly, “I have one horse. Do you know how to ride horses?”

“Hm? Ah, yes, yes, I can.”

“Well then.”

Harin nodded and pulled the horse out of the stable. She was big enough for two people.

“Let’s ride her together. …Ah, but before that,”

Harin suddenly realized that she didn’t know her bodyguard’s rank.

“Are you….”

But she stopped midway through her question.
If this man was a knight, it would be rude for her to ask him about his rank. And if she could actually make it out of Arunheim alive, it was better that they knew nothing about each other.

“…a sharpshooter?”

So she decided to change her question. She wanted to confirm that Airun sent her a sharpshooter.

The man nodded with a smile. “Yes, I’m a sharpshooter.”

That was enough for Harin.
But apparently, not for her bodyguard.
He added another sentence that she would've been perfectly happy without.

“I’m Kim Hajin, an F-rank sharpshooter.”

“…Pardon?”

Harin’s mind went blank.
F-rank.
Was this man talking about the F-rank that she knew? The F-rank that was synonymous with trash?

Dumbfounded, Harin looked at the man for a while before asking, “Did you say… F-rank?”

“Yes.”

“…”

Only then did Harin finally get a good look at the man. The way he was dressed was nothing like a knight and more like a common soldier.
Coincidentally— the man even showed her his ID card.

“You can trust me. This is my identification card with my name and my rank.”

[Secret Service Soldier, F-rank Sharpshooter Kim Hajin]

“This is just-”

Trust me? How could I trust you?
Harin stumbled in sudden dizziness. It was stress-induced anemia.

“F-rank….”

She grabbed her head in dizziness. Suddenly resentment overtook her.

‘Airun, how could you? I know I was asking a lot but an F-rank is just too much. He won’t even be able to survive in the mountains I have to cross…..’

“Why….”

Troubled, Harin sank to the floor of the stable.

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