Chapter 49. Tit for Tat (2)


A familiar face flashed by the window. Although she was covering herself with a mask and sunglasses, I could see through her face.
Vice-leader of Korea’s rank 1 guild, Yun Seung-Ah.
She was walking somewhere with a companion.
This was something that didn’t happen in the original story. She was someone who shouldn’t be here.

“Wait for me here.”

“What? Hey, where are you going!?”

Leaving behind the shouting Chae Nayun, I ran out of the restaurant.
Thankfully, Yun Seung-Ah wasn’t walking fast. I quickly ran up to her and grabbed her shoulder.

“Hey.”

“Huak!”

Startled, she jumped up with an odd scream. Yun Seung-Ah turned around, her head creaking like a machine. When she saw my face, she flinched. She definitely recognized me.

“…W-Who are you?”

She feigned ignorance. Was she here on a mission?
I looked at the person standing next to her, a Caucasian man, but I couldn’t recognize him from his outer appearance.
Naturally, I turned on my laptop.
There was an alert as I’d expected.

[Setting change – An ill relationship kindled between Jain and Yun Seung-Ah through an anonymous informant.]

Jain and Yun Seung-Ah.
I knew their relationship better than anyone else.
It was a cat-and-dog relationship. Jain had the Chameleon Troupe’s Yellow seat, and her Gift was specialized in stealing and disguising things.
Solely out of boredom, Jain disguised herself as an old classmate of Yun Seung-Ah and entered Creator’s Sacred Grace. Through several events, the two of them would then get extremely close.
Eventually, Jain would become the only one Yun Seung-Ah could call her friend, but she would betray Yun Seung-Ah in a critical moment. While fighting a group of Djinns over an artifact, she would critically injure Yun Seung-Ah to take the artifact for herself.

I knew that Jain would be infiltrating the VIP masquerade party happening this evening.
It was to steal a certain ring.
Although the ring wasn’t worth much at the moment, that was only because its abilities weren’t fully awakened. Once its potential exploded, its value would skyrocket immensely.

What made this even more complex was that this ring would eventually belong to Chae Nayun. When she eventually changes her position to a swordsman, her father would gift this item after buying it from the black market.

“Um, I don’t know who you are, but we have to go.”

Yun Seung-Ah still denied knowing me, and the man next to her separated me from her. He was taller than me by a head.
But…
The man was actually a ‘she’.
My eyes saw through her diguise.
Jain Valerin.
She was currently disguised as Yun Seung-Ah’s subordinate.

“…Ah.”

Yun Seung-Ah was currently standing right next to her fated enemy, but she couldn’t recognize her at all. I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry.

“I’m sorry. I must have mistaken you for someone else.”

I bowed in apology.
Since we would meet at the masquerade, I backed away for now.

**


“That crazy bastard…”

Kim Hajin ran out of the restaurant. Chae Nayun was wondering what illness of his relapsed this time, but since he was always acting strange, she didn’t think too much of it. In truth, the person she was more concerned about was elsewhere. Not to mention, with another girl.
After agonizing over what to do, Chae Nayun held up her smartwatch.

“…Hey, Yeonha, where are you?”

The receiver of her call was none other than Yoo Yeonha, who was paired with Kim Suho.

—Me? I’m shopping. Why?

Shopping. There were too many shops around. Where was she exactly?
Chae Nayun feigned indifference and asked.

“What shop?”

—I’m buying some clothes.

“A-Alone?”

—No, with Kim Suho.

Yoo Yeonha’s immediate answer made Chae Nayun feel a bit uneasy.

“…What are you doing with him?”

—Hm? I’m just making him try on some clothes. He’s got the face of a model, but you know how he dresses. So I'm buying him some clothes.

“What? Why are you buying him clothes!?”

Chae Nayun shouted inadvertently.
The gazes of the customers sitting nearby fell on her. Feeling awkward, Chae Nayun modestly dropped her head.

—Huh? What, I can’t? It’s for the masquerade party we’re going to later.

“…No, not that you can’t, but you know… it’s expensive. You have to save money when you can. If you buy him things, he’ll get used to it.”

—…Um, sure…. So, Nayun, where are you?

“I’m at a restaurant.”

—With Kim Hajin?

“Yeah, he brought me here. But you know, there aren't many restaurants that fit my taste. I’ll just have to endure it like I did with Agent Military Academy’s lunch.”

Chae Nayun recalled painful memories of the past. At the Agent Military Academy, the academy’s food was the only lunch option for cadets. She would be starving if she didn’t eat anything, but she would feel queasy for the entire day if she did…
Chae Nayun let out a light sigh.

—Really? What’s the restaurant called?

Chae Nayun looked around the restaurant. There was a sign engraved with the restaurant’s name, but she didn’t know how to read it.

“I don’t know…. Hold on.”

The waiter came with the appetizer at just the right time.

“Excuse me, how do you read that?”

“…Yes?”

“The restaurant’s name.”

“Ah, it’s Goût Céleste.”

“Can you say that again here?”

Chae Nayun held up her smartwatch to the waiter. The waiter was slightly dumbstruck but still pronounced the name clearly.

“Goût Céleste.”

“Thank you.”

“Um, have you perhaps not heard about our restaurant?”

“Hm? Ah, no.”

Chae Nayun shooed the waiter away and went back to her conversation with Yoo Yeonha.

“Hey, did you hear that?”

—…Did I hear that right? Goût Céleste? Flavor of Heaven?

Chae Nayun didn’t know whether Yoo Yeonha was talking about the same place, but she said the same thing the waiter did.

“Yeah, I think so. Why? Is this place famous?”

—…Kim Hajin brought you there? How?

“Hah?”

Because of Yoo Yeonha’s odd reaction, Chae Nayun tilted her head.

—I tried to make a reservation and failed. Even with a VIP membership, you need to make a reservation at least a week in advance.

“Really? Is this place that famous?”

—Ehew…

Chae Nayun’s innocent question caused Yoo Yeonha to let out a deep sigh. But Chae Nayun, who didn’t care about such things, truthfully had no way of knowing how famous this restaurant was.

—That’s De Jubon’s restaurant. You know, the cooking Hero.

“Ah?”

De Jubon. Chae Nayun had heard of the name before.
There were all sorts of Gifts in the world and all sorts of Heroes. De Jubon was special even among the countless number of Heroes. He was lauded as the Hero who could move people with just his food.
It was said that Djinns and Heroes were equal in front of De Jubon’s food.

—Paris’ Goût Céleste is his flagship restaurant, so it should be him cooking and not his apprentices.

“…”

‘This place was that amazing?’ Chae Nayun became lost for words.

—Oh right, Nayun, do you remember being in Kim Hajin’s class in the third year of Agent Military Academy?

“Eh? Was I?”

—You didn’t know?

“No, not at all. How am I supposed to know that?”

That was something she had no memory of. Not to mention, she was entirely focused on training at the time.

—…I see. Well, since you’re there, enjoy the food. Ah, don’t forget to take pictures of every dish before you eat. I want to see them later.

Yoo Yeonha’s voice carried a clear envy.

“Uh, um, yeah.”

—Mkay, I’m hanging up.

‘Should I be happy? Or should I feel uncomfortable?’ The call ended before Chae Nayun could make up her mind.
Chae Nayun stared at the appetizer in front of her. It was a simple soup and salad, but for some reason, they seemed to glisten like jewels.
Picking up her spoon, she slowly scooped up a spoonful and took a sip.
The moment her tongue made contact with the soup, her eyes widened and her body trembled.

“…”

She was at a complete loss for words.
So this was the reason De Jubon came to be called the world’s greatest cook, the so-called ‘flavor of mana'.
Just a single spoon was enough to shock her refined palate. At that moment, Kim Hajin came back.

“It’s already here?”

He sat back down on his seat and picked up his spoon.
Chae Nayun carefully stared at him.
She had too many questions she wanted to ask.
First was how he managed to make a reservation.
Yoo Yeonha said even VIP members needed to make a reservation a week in advance, but Kim Hajin had done it.
It was strange. Even if he had a VIP membership, the announcement for the trip only came out four days ago.
It was unlikely that Oh Hanhyun told him about the club’s trip beforehand…
Suddenly, a thought flashed in her head. She recalled her conversation with Kim Hajin twenty or so minutes ago.

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

Kim Hajin said he “knew” that I was a picky eater. In other words, he must have planned on taking me here from the start…
Even though pairs were chosen by drawing lots, it was something that could be easily manipulated if he talked to the club leader beforehand.

“Hmm…”

Chae Nayun gave Kim Hajin a meaningful glare.

“Hey, where did you go?”

“…Hm? Oh, I just thought I saw someone I knew, but it turns out I was mistaken.”

“There’s someone you know in Paris?”

“Something like that.”

Kim Hajin gave a short reply.

“How did you make a reservation for this place? I heard it’s really famous. Did this acquaintance of yours help you?”

At her words, Kim Hajin’s hands shook slightly, and it didn’t escape Chae Nayun’s eyes.

“Um, yeah. Anyways, aren’t you going to eat?”

Kim Hajin quickly changed the subject.

“…I will.”

The lunch continued. The two of them ate without further conversation.
Once the appetizer disappeared from their plates, the waiter came back with the main entrée.

Chae Nayun’s suspicion was quickly melted away by the transcendental flavor of De Jubon’s food.

**


“Whew, I’m stuffed.”

Chae Nayun and I came out of the restaurant. As expected of a course menu, food streamed in endlessly over an hour, and I was stuffed full as a result. Of course, I could have stopped eating in the middle, but the food was too good to pass up.
It was a good experience.
I had to thank this world for letting me try this heavenly flavor.

“…Hey.”

When I was rubbing my puffed up belly, Chae Nayun suddenly called my name. Just like me, she had a satisfied expression.

“What.”

“Thanks for the food.”

“…Don’t be. You paid for it.”

Chae Nayun insisted on paying for the food, saying that it was only natural since I made the reservation. The bill came up to 700 euros, but she paid for it nonetheless.

“The membership fee must be expensive, so it’s the least I can do.”

Chae Nayun said so as she glanced at me from head to toe.
I didn’t know what she meant by membership fee, but I just nodded understandingly.

“Right.”

“…So, where are you going now?”

At her words, I glanced at my watch. It was almost 3:00.
Since the masquerade started at 5:00, I needed to go now and look around the venue for a good place to observe the inside.

“Do you want to split up now?”

I had to keep my eyes out on the masquerade party. To do so, I had to get away from Chae Nayun.

“Yeah, that’s a good idea. I’ll go ahead first.”

Chae Nayun nodded and started walking the opposite direction.

“Hello. Yeah, Yeonha, where are you? I’ll meet up with you guys.”

With my Gift, I could hear Chae Nayun’s voice even from a distance.

—What about Kim Hajin?

She was obviously talking to Yoo Yeonha.

“We just split up.”

—Huh? Why? We still have time left.

“It just felt awkward being alone with him. I don’t know what to say either. By the way, can I also go to that masquerade party you were talking about?”

Chae Nayun’s final words caught my attention.
The masquerade party… wasn’t in that direction.

**

Yun Seung-Ah quickly ran away to a nearby café. After ordering two cups of coffee, she took a seat and breathed out a deep sigh.

“Whew, that surprised me. Why did he pop out of there…?”

Her heart was still pounding from an earlier encounter.

“Who was that?”

“A cadet. Someone I’ve seen before. His name is Kim Hajin.”

“…Is he any good?”

At her subordinate’s question, Yun Seung-Ah gave a firm nod.

“He’s all the talk recently. Last week I think it was? A video of his duel was released to the guild community. He shattered a qi reinforcement using a single bullet. I’m pretty annoyed by the whole thing. I was the one who noticed his talents first.”

Yun Seung-Ah complained with glaring eyes.

“Haha.… That aside, do you think that woman will really come to today’s masquerade party?”

“Yeah, she will. I know it.”

The subordinate furrowed his brows at Yun Seung-Ah’s confident reply.

“…How can you be so sure? Was it the informant?”

“No, it has nothing to do with the informant. That woman just likes parties, especially if there are things to steal.”

“I see….”

The subordinate answered somewhat bitterly. Yun Seung-Ah stared at him fixedly and asked.

“Why, do you want to know the informant’s name?”

“…No.”

“To be honest, I don’t know either.”

Yun Seung-Ah smiled as she leaned on her chair.

“It’s not just one or two people who have animosity for that woman.”

‘That’s good.’ The subordinate put on a thin smile and asked another question.

“…What will you do if you capture that woman?”

Yun Seung-Ah’s answer was simple.

“What will I do? Nothing. I’ll just hand her over to the Association.… Ah, let’s get going. It’s 4. I have to buy a dress too.”

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