Chapter 48. Tit for Tat (1)


“Huu.”

Standing in front of the classroom, I took in a deep breath.
Today was Friday. Cadets who had gone home or on vacations had all returned by now, and Cube was back to normal after all the chaos. Cube was continuing its normal routine.
I opened the classroom door, holding in my nervousness. Immediately, several meaningful gazes fell on me.
For now, I sat down on my usual seat. I could hear everyone whispering about my bet with Chae Nayun.
I tried my best to ignore them as I opened my textbook. I was at least happy that blatant bullying stopped after I beat up Kim Horak.

“Guys, grades are out for the written exams.”

At that moment, Yi Yeonghan appeared, carrying large scrolls in his arms. He put them up on the wall one by one. The results for each theory class were listed along with a ranking of the combined results.
Everyone stared at the scrolls while groaning.
Not long afterward, everyone turned towards me.

===
Rank 1. Kim Hajin
Rank 2. Rachel


===

My name was on top of every exam and the overall rankings.
Not just in Veritas class, but in the entire academy.

“Kuhum.”

Feeling awkward, I let out a dry cough as I stole a glance at Rachel. She was sitting behind me with her face buried on her desk. I could faintly hear her sigh and murmur in English, ‘I should have worked harder.’

“Also, I hope everyone knows that we have new classes.”

Yi Yeonghan added.

“Look at the first year announcements if you haven’t. Starting from today, Fridays will have two classes.”

For first-year cadets, classes changed after their first semester midterms. It was Cube’s way of giving cadets a diverse selection of classes.
In addition, magicians would join in from the second semester and cadets would be able to choose the classes they wanted to take. In reality, they were taking classes that fit their roles.

I turned on my smartwatch.
The new class today was [Practical Magic and Intermediate Rank Magic Power Control]

Drrrrk—
The door opened and the Phenomenon Realm Analysis professor walked in.
The noisy classroom instantly fell silent.

“Take your seats.”

The Phenomenon Realm Analysis professor peeked at the scrolls on the wall and grinned.

“I’m sure you’ve all seen the exam results.”

The cadets groaned slightly.

“Now, now, your tests were easier than the ones I give to college students. Also, Kim Hajin cadet.”

Suddenly, the professor pointed at me. Others also followed his finger and turned towards me.

“An unconventional outlook and logical judgment, I could see true ‘wisdom’ from your answers. Frankly, I can’t believe you’re only 16. You’re good enough to be writing thesis papers for graduation.”

If the professor’s praise ended there, I would have simply been happy. After all, it was the first time I was being praised for doing well on an exam.

“Since today is the first class after exams, I will give a quick lecture using Kim Hajin cadet’s answer sheet and call it a day.”

But for some reason, he put up my answer sheet on the screen.
I was caught completely off guard.

“Now, take a look at this answer. He wrote, if monsters had linguistic abilities…”

The class continued. I put my hands over my face, feeling it heat up and ready to explode.

**


It was now 3:30 in the afternoon and the time for Friday’s second class. 98 cadets of the Veritas class were gathered at the Magic Library.
The chief magician in charge of the class was waiting in an empty lecture room, which only had desks and chairs in case of a magic accident.

“Hello, I am the chief magician from Seoul Magic Tower, Kim Hyojun. Every Friday, from 3:30 to 6, I will be teaching you practical magic and magic power control. But of course, today’s class will only be 30 minutes.”

The chief magician introduced himself with a gentle smile. However, I couldn’t help but furrow my brows.
Kim Hyojun was a prick.
He led a successful life as the third generation child of a magic clan, but his talent wasn’t good enough to land him the chief magician seat. Although he ended up becoming one thanks to his clan’s lobbying, that was the limit of his career.
In the end, he acknowledged his limits and turned to education.
But his poor character – arrogance, jealousy, and perverseness – would cause problems in the future. Eventually, he would even fearlessly touch Chae Nayun while pretending to teach her.
The only good thing about him was that he didn’t form a contract with a devil.

[Kim Hyojun – Currently considering a contract with a devil.]

…But he might soon.

“You might be thinking, ‘why should I learn magic when I’m not a magician?’ That’s a valid question, but as I’m sure some of you know, qi reinforcement and sword qi are an extension of magic.”

Kim Hyojun released his magic power into the air as a demonstration. The soft and jellylike magic power he emitted instantly hardened when he concentrated.

“Now, if you simply use your ‘physical power’ to reinforce your magic power, that becomes qi reinforcement or sword qi. But if you refine your magic power with some calculations…”

Immediately, a pink flame rose up from his magic power.
Cadets instantly exclaimed in awe.

“It becomes magic.”

Kim Hyojun smiled.

“Even if you can’t wield magic of this level, you will learn to use more practical magic, or learn to wield things like qi reinforcement and sword qi more naturally. Since today is the first class, we will only go over what we will learn in the future.”

Suddenly, a blue sphere the size of a ping-pong ball shot up from his palm.

“This is a necessary magic to learn before entering a Dungeon. It’s called Light Sphere. It will be your light source in many dark areas. It may look simple at first glance, but to wield it skillfully…”

Kim Hyojun gave a complicated explanation.
To simplify things a bit, we had to compress magic power and air into a spherical shape that lights up.

“Now, before I teach you where to begin, try doing it yourself.”

Cadets began to emit their magic power.
I stared at my desk blankly before joining my hands and thinking, ‘Appear, sphere of light. Appear, sphere of light.’

Stigma’s magic power didn’t require intense focus or complex calculations. Soon, Stigma’s magic power flowed down into my hands and formed a white sphere of light. The cute sphere floated around on my palm.

Wiing—

At that moment, my smartwatch vibrated. Startled, I canceled the Light Sphere.

“Please turn off your smartwatches during class.”

Kim Hyojun’s disgruntled gaze fell on me.

“Sorry.”

I bowed slightly and checked my smartwatch.
It was a message from Yoo Yeonha.

[Um, we can’t do something like that yet. If you show people what you just did, they’re going to misunderstand~]

“What.”

I quickly scanned the room and found Yoo Yeonha sitting diagonally from me. When her eyes met mine, she smiled sweetly and mouthed silently.

‘Amazing. You did that after listening to his explanation once?’

After hearing her sarcastic remark, I glanced at the cadets around me. Less than half of the cadets were able to compress their magic power into a sphere, and even those who succeeded couldn’t maintain the form for long. No one was even close to being able to make the sphere shine.

“W-Whoa!”

At that moment, a nameless cadet suddenly shouted.
In the frontmost seat, blue light was shining from the Light Sphere in his hand.
Other cadets exclaimed in shock, while Kim Hyojun’s face stiffened. After staring at Kim Suho’s Light Sphere for a good minute, he suddenly snapped.

“Stop.”

Oh right, this was the reason Kim Hyojun came to be jealous of Kim Suho.
Kim Hyojun scowled for a moment but he quickly straightened his face before continuing in a kind tone.

“…If you make it like that, you’ll be overburdening your magic power. Now, pay attention everyone. I’ll give a more detailed explanation.”

Kim Hyojun then began to give Kim Suho a private lesson. It seemed he wanted to test Kim Suho’s limits.
While I was watching them quietly, Yoo Yeonha sent me another message.

[It must look like child’s play. You can easily make brilliant white light, while someone else is being praised for what’s really only a faint glow.]

“…What is she saying.”

I ignored Yoo Yeonha’s alien talk.

**


The next day, 12:30 P.M. on Saturday.
I arrived at the traveling club’s meeting place. Most of the others were already here. They seemed excited it was an overnight trip.

“Hajin-ssi is here too. Alright, let’s form our teams before setting off.”

The club leader, Oh Hanhyun, took out a box for drawing lots just like before. According to the original story, Kim Suho would be paired up with Yoo Yeonha. I didn’t care about the rest.

“First, Suho-ssi? Please step out. You’ll be drawing lots first.”

I was still a bit nervous. Hopefully, everything was the same as in the original story.
Now, who will Kim Suho pick?

*


France, Paris.
I stepped foot in this European country for the first time ever. Thanks to Seoul-Paris Portal, we only needed ten seconds to arrive.

“So it really is a bit different.”

Paris’ scenery looked like what I saw in pictures, but it was also different than what I had seen in the old world. Around the Eiffel Tower were buildings built with state-of-the-art technology, and Paris Hero Academy’s cadets were around the streets with swords and spears.
For the record, France was the leader of the European Union in my story. It just showed how well-operated France’s Hero system was.

“Korean cadets, over here!”

When we were looking around Paris’ scenery, someone called us over. Turning to the direction of the voice, we saw a limousine. The club leader, Oh Hanhyun, walked up to the limousine with a hearty laugh.

“Nice to meet you. You must be Raymond.”

“Yes, nice to meet you.”

“Can we drop off our bags real quick before we take a look around the city?”

The man name Raymond nodded with a smile. We stuffed our bags into the limousine.

“Now, we’ll travel in the pairs we formed.”

I was paired up with Chae Nayun. I didn’t know why, it just happened that way. It was good that Kim Suho became paired with Yoo Yeonha like in the original story, but I wasn’t too comfortable being Chae Nayun’s pair.

“Alright, it’s 1 P.M. right now… so meet back here at 7.”

Then, Oh Hanhyun left with the girlfriend he brought on the trip using his authority as the club leader, as she wasn’t a member of the traveling club. They were likely going to the masquerade party happening later today.

“…”

Chae Nayun stared at Kim Suho with a wistful look before walking up to me.

“Hey, where do you want to go?”

She asked me.

“I’m getting lunch.”

Since I was in France, I had to try its gourmet food. I had already researched several places since I was excited for my first Europe visit. After looking through several pamphlets, I even used the Book of Truth to find the best place to eat.

“Lunch? I guess it is about that time. Where are you going?”

“…You’re coming with me?”

Chae Nayun didn’t seem to mind coming with me. It was surprising, considering there were rumors that she practiced archery with pictures of my face on the target.

“We drew lots and what’s done is done. What, do you want to split up?”

“…Oh right.”

Come to think of it, Chae Nayun had no sense of direction. She would get lost as easily as a five-year-old in a forest. She could find her way home from desolate places using her magic power and scent, but places she visited for the first time were like mazes to her.

“What’s right?”

“Nothing. Just follow me.”

Chae Nayun crossed her arms as though she doubted my manliness. She pouted and spoke curtly.

“And how do you know where anything is?”

“I know better than you.”

Book of Truth showed only two restaurants – a cheap and delicious restaurant and an expensive restaurant that was worth its cost. I was okay with either, but the latter should fit Chae Nayun’s taste more.
I turned on the GPS guide to the more expensive restaurant.

“Follow me.”

“Hm… Okay, but I’m letting you know, I’m a really picky eater.”

“I know.”

She acted like a tomboy but because she ate only the highest quality food from a young age, her palate was nobler than that of most nobles.

“…How do you know that?”

I ignored her question and walked to the restaurant. Chae Nayun followed after me like a cat.
After walking for about 15 minutes, we arrived at the restaurant.
[Goût Céleste]
I had no clue what it meant, but anyone could see at first glance just how fancy it was.

“Oh, this is the place?”

“Yep.”

“Ooh~”

Chae Nayun and I walked to the entrance. Immediately, a man in a suit stopped us.

“@!#[email protected]#[email protected]#$”

He was speaking in French, so it only sounded like gibberish.
Chae Nayun tilted her head and asked.

“What?”

The man cleared his voice and asked again in Korean.

“Do you have a reservation?”

“Oh, he speaks Korean. Hey, you didn’t make a reservation, right? Don’t you know you need to make reservations for high-end restaurants?”

I opened my laptop silently. I didn’t make a reservation, but I could hack into their reservation list.
Using the laptop’s internet function, I accessed the restaurants' reservation list. Because I only needed to access a restaurant's private server, I only had to pay a cheap price.
I found the reservation list and put my name down around a 1 P.M. slot.

“Hey!”

Chae Nayun shouted into my ear. I took my eyes off the laptop and saw Chae Nayun right in front of me. Even up close, I couldn’t see a single flaw in her smooth skin. I swallowed hard.

“Eh? W-What?”

“Reservation. Did you make one?”

Chae Nayun asked again, and I nodded.

“Yeah, I did.”

“…Really?”

“Tell him my name.”

Chae Nayun still looked doubtful but approached the man nonetheless.

“Kim Hajin. Is his name there?”

The man checked his smartwatch.
It seemed he found my name as he let us through with a smile.

“Yes, Kim Hajin and one companion. Welcome.”

“…Oh wow.”

Chae Nayun looked at me in surprise. Then, we walked in together.

“I like the atmosphere.”

I agreed with Chae Nayun. The inside of the restaurant was just as imposing as the outside. A calming classical piece flowed beautifully, while each and every decoration was delicate and elegant.
Customers inside were also wearing dresses and suits, despite it being lunchtime.

“Follow me.”

We followed the waiter and sat down next to a window.

“Welcome to Goût Céleste. Do you need help with the menu?”

“You handle it.”

I let Chae Nayun take over. She took the menu and skillfully finished ordering.
Once the waiter left, silence descended. We were staring at each other but didn’t have much to say. Feeling a bit awkward, I turned to the side and looked out the window.

“…What?”

At that moment, I caught sight of an unexpected individual.

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